The New Agent
(A Warehouse 13 Fanfic)
by Bobbie Cabot
Author Notes: This story is a fanfic of the Syfy TV show, "Warehouse 13." All Warehouse 13 characters, locales, and other details from the show are acknowledged. No infringements are intended. Details of Warehouse 13 have been taken from Wikipedia.
Dr. Hirschfeld and the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation, Dr. Warnekros, Dr. Christian Hamburger, Lili Elbe and Christine Jorgensen are real entities and they, as well as some details of their histories, have been depicted here with great respect, to lend verisimilitude to the story. No insult is intended.
The pictures used are collages made from pictures of the Warehouse 13 TV show and the Veronica's Secret public site. No I.P. infringement is intended.
All other characters and story details are creations of the author. This is strictly a fanfiction story, and the author has no intention to misrepresent the source materials nor to profit from them in any material way.
Prologue: A Backgrounder
Casebook nine thousand, nine hundred twenty-nine of the Warehouse 13 archive follows the exploits of United States Secret Service agents Myka Bering, Peter Lattimer, and ATF agent Steve Jinks when they were assigned to the government's secret Warehouse 13 facility for supernatural "artifacts," ably assisted by their young techno-wizard Claudia Donovan and their supervisor Dr. Arthur Nielsen.
This particular casebook excerpt from the archives chronicles how, after the death of agent Jinks and the reconstitution of the warehouse, agents Bering and Lattimer recruited Warehouse 13's newest agent, New York Police Lieutenant Devon McMasters.
- - - -
Introduction: Excerpts from the Warehouse Agent's Primer
"Warehouse 13 agents are tasked to retrieve missing Warehouse 13 artifacts and investigate reports of new ones. New agents come to understand the importance of what they are doing, as they become more used to artifact retrieval..."
"The artifacts are typically items that are in some way connected to some historical or mythological figure. Each one has been imbued with something of their creator or user - something their creators allude to in their writing, or enhances some aspect of their personalities..."
"Some are well known: Lewis Carroll's looking glass, which is a portal to somewhere, and Poe's pen and a volume of his writing, which make whatever the user writes a reality. Some are not: Lizzie Borden had a mirrored compact that compelled its user to kill her loved ones with an axe, Marilyn Monroe had a brush that turned its user's hair platinum blonde (which Myka once used on herself). The artifacts react with electricity and can be neutralized only by a mysterious purple gel produced by Warehouse 13 which the agents use to neutralize them once they have been retrieved..."
"Warehouse 13 itself is a massive facility located in a secret barren area of South Dakota, which senior agent-in-charge Dr. Arthur "Artie" Nielsen likes to call "America's Attic" (despite the Smithsonian laying claim to the same nickname). It houses all the currently-known "artifacts" collected over the centuries...."
"Established in 1914, Warehouse 13 was designed by Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and M. C. Escher. As the name suggests, there have been twelve incarnations prior to the one in South Dakota. The oldest, The first warehouse, was run by Alexander the Great. Other warehouses over the centuries include Warehouse 2, which was at the Library of Alexandria, and Warehouse 12 which was in Great Britain. Throughout history, the Warehouse has moved to whichever country/city-state was the most powerful at that time (Greece, Rome, Khmer, Russia, Great Britain, etc.) since artifacts are usually found in the world centers of commerce and culture..."
"Since 330 BC, warehouse agents, from Warehouse 1 to the present Warehouse 13, have painstakingly collected all known artifacts and put them in the warehouse for safekeeping, thereby protecting humanity from their effects. Because of the danger posed by these artifacts, the warehouse regents have always picked very capable and resourceful agents..."
Chapter 1: The Scalpel of Magnus
"The Magnus scalpel," Dr. Arthur Nielsen said, as he conducted one of his usual informal briefings in the breakfast nook of Leena's bed-and-breakfast, "was kept in a chased silver case, and it was among various odds and ends in the Hirschfeld-Eddy Stiftung in Berlin."
Surrounding the table were everyone - Myka, Pete, Claudia, Leena, and Artie, of course.
"The scalpel," Artie continued, "was supposed to..."
"Stiff-what?" Pete Lattimer, one of the three current field agents of the warehouse interrupted in his usual perplexed-exasperated tone.
"It means 'foundation' in German, all right? The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation. Okay?"
"Cool, Artie. Just askin'..." Pete made a patting-down gesture.
Myka cleared her throat, cutting off the budding argument. "Okay. The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation. So what's the foundation all about?"
"It's a foundation focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights," Artie answered.
Myka looked puzzled. "So what has a scalpel got to do with a foundation for gay rights?"
"The foundation is named after FannyAnn Eddy, a lesbian gay rights activist murdered about seven years ago, and Magnus Hirschfeld - a world-war-two era activist and physician who specialized in helping people with gender-identity disorders, and was an early pioneer in sexual reassignment surgeries. In fact, he was involved with one of the first sexual reassignment surgeries ever done. The scalpel belonged to one of Dr. Hirschfeld's surgeon assistants, who was transgendered himself. He considered Dr. Hirschfeld his mentor. Anyway, the scalpel was discovered in a bunch of personal effects in Bonn, and the doctor's family decided to send it to the foundation. The family wanted to get rid of it because it had a reputation for bad luck, that death is supposed to surround it."
"Whoa," Claudia said. "it's like, what, the scalpel of death or something?"
"Maybe. I couldn't find any records about it anywhere in the warehouse, though. Anyway, the foundation people reported that it mistakenly misplaced it along with a bunch of other medical instruments that were on the way to a local Berlin medical college. But the scalpel and its case never did arrive at the college."
"Sounds like a dead end," Pete said. "Any other details, Artie?"
"Well, at about the same time that the shipment of instruments from the Foundation was to arrive in Berlin, an American medical exchange student who was at that Berlin college flew back home to the states. Washington DC, actually, and he has been working at a small free clinic there since. And records show, since he arrived, sixty patients of the clinic have disappeared, and the clinic has also had sixty deaths of unidentified homeless people in the same period. Dying homeless people are not surprising given it's a free clinic. But it's still an incredibly high number - almost two disappearances and two deaths a day. And it's an incredible coincidence that the number of missing patients is the same as the number of dead homeless people.
"Dundun-dunnn..." Claudia said.
"That's enough, Claudia," Artie said. "This is serious."
Claudia stuck her tongue out at Artie. "Mr. Grumpy..."
"So," Myka said, "Pete and I are going to DC?" She rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
"Yes, but there's more. The regents sent me this. A totally different, unconnected thing, but the regents want us to work on it asap."
He plopped down a set of stapled papers. They all looked down at the coffee table. It was a list of people.
In a very Pete kind of way, Claudia said, "huh?"
"That's a list of about nine hundred federal agents," Artie said, "from the Secret Service, the FBI, the, ATF, the US Marshals, DEA, even a few from local police departments and SWAT units."
"What, no military types?"
Artie turned the page and pointed to a few names. There were three dozen names from the air force, army and marines, plus a couple of navy officers.
"Cool," Claudia said. "All that's left are the Men in Black, then."
Artie smiled that crooked little smile of his.
Claudia's eyes grew wide. "You're telling us there are actual men in black? Oh, god! Like, you're kidding, right? Right!?"
Artie couldn't hold it in anymore and laughed out loud. "Of course there aren't any Men in Black, Claudia! If ever there were a Men in Black, I think we are the Men in Black."
"ahh, nuts..." Claudia pouted.
"So, Artie," Myka said, picked up the list and shook it. "Why?"
"Umm," Artie reluctantly began, looking at Claudia sideways. "The regents have expressed concerns about the loss of Steve, and have given us this list to look for a replacement. After Sally Stukowski, though, the regents have become very concerned about security, and they went through great pains to pre-screen prospective agents. Their vetting process was as thorough as they could make it, but they're leaving it up to us to do the final selection."
"Why us? Interview?" Pete commented. "No one interviewed us. Just Mrs. Frederic and her 'world of infinite wonder' shtick, and here we are."
"Well," Artie answered, "Mrs. Frederic isn't around to do that anymore, so we do it the hard and tedious way." Artie went to Claudia. "Are you okay with this?"
Claudia shrugged. "No big." She turned and walked out of the room.
"Claudia?" Myka said, and moved to follow her.
"Myka," Leena said, putting her hand on Myka's arm, stopping her from following Claudia. "Let her go for now. Give her some space. Let her come back to us on her own."
"So," Artie continued his briefing. "This is how it's gonna work." He pointed at Pete. "You and Myka are going to go through this list, eliminate those you think aren't suitable or those you think can't hack it, and then go interview the rest. I've made arrangements for you to use a conference room in the Secret Service recruitment office in DC."
Pete got the list, turned the pages over and over in his hand. "How long do we have before we have to pick one out?"
"As much time as you need," replied Artie.
Pete was about to whoop in joy until Artie said, catching him in mid-whoop, "... so long as you finish up in a week..."
That deflated Pete almost immediately.
"And as soon as you finish selecting the guy..."
"Or girl," Myka interrupted.
"Or girl..." Artie agreed impatiently, "start a briefing. I will fly out and we can start investigating the Magnus Scalpel thing."
"What will you and Claude be doing while we're interviewing people?" Pete asked.
"Claudia and Leena will continue the rehabilitation of the warehouse's systems and I'll be in Berlin, gathering information and trying to pick up some clues."
"Why do you get to go to Europe while we get stuck in DC?" Pete asked a little petulantly.
"Das ist, weil du nicht weißt, wie man die lokale Sprache sprechen," Artie smugly said in fluent German.
"It's because we don't know how to speak German," Myka explained.
Artie bent over, grunting, and picked up two computer bags from underneath the coffee table. "Here are a couple of Secret Service standard-issue laptops, with all the Secret Service security seals still intact, which Claudia and I have souped up warehouse style. Your itinerary is inside, as well as the list of interviewees and the Magnus case file."
He opened one of the normal-looking computers and demoed. "These are guaranteed to pass muster in any security check. They look and function just like any other Secret Service computer, except they have permanent undetectable Farnsworth data links to the warehouse, which will allow you to surf any site anywhere, and they are hack-proof and virus-proof, and have practically unlimited battery life courtesy of Claudia and myself."
He noted Pete's uneasy stare at the computer. "You DO know how to use a computer, don't you?" Artie asked.
"Of course!" Pete said, feigning indignance.
"I don't mean Angry Birds!"
Pete shrugged sheepishly.
Myka brushed the discussion aside by closing the computer, stuffing it into its bag and handing it to Pete. "I take it we're already booked on a flight to DC?" she asked Artie.
"Your flight leaves in two hours, and you two are expected at the Secret Service HQ as soon as you land."
Myka nodded and grabbed Pete's arm. "Okay, Pete. Let's go pack."
Pete trailed the ever-efficient Myka. "Hey, hey! Myka, wait up!"
Artie just shook his head.
- - - -
After packing, Myka and Pete went to Claudia's room. Artie had given the young techno-whiz instructions to stick around just in case Pete and Myka needed help.
"Claudia?" Pete called.
"Guys," Claudia answered.
They found her lounging on her bed.
Myka sat beside her and pulled her into a hug. "You okay, sweetie?"
"Hey, Claude?" Pete asked. "You okay, with this? With us getting a... replacement for Steve?"
"Hey, it's okay. We need a new guy. There're too many cases for us to handle. All I ask is you pick a good one."
"We'll do our best," Pete said.
On the flight to DC, Pete and Myka went over the files they were given. Too many names, but with the help of the laptops and their Secret Service access to government databases, they were able to eliminate a lot of them. (The Farnsworth link allowed them to surf even while in flight.) They noticed no CIA/NSA names in the list, though. A note from Artie said that the regents decided not to include them since it would have required a bit more complex vetting process.
Myka envied Pete's talent - his "vibe" seemed to allow him to instinctively take out unsuitable candidates. To test it, she took one of the names that Pete eliminated and evaluated the man herself. She found that the man had some problems with high places, even more so than Pete, which made him a liability. So she agreed that the man was unsuitable. Out of curiosity, she asked Pete why he crossed the man's name off the list. Pete just shrugged and said that he just had "a feeling."
By the end of the four-hour flight, Myka had eliminated about fifty names and Pete had crossed off an additional eight hundred or so. That left them about fifty - which was an almost manageable number of candidates. Myka emailed the remaining names to Artie, and Artie emailed back promptly that he will have all of them notified and in DC as early as tomorrow.
Just then the stewardess came by and asked them to switch off the computers since they were about to land.
They both complied, and in less than an hour, they were out of customs and headed out to the rented car conveniently waiting in the courtesy parking lot. Artie was as efficient as ever.
"So, what's the plan, Mikes," Pete asked as he got in the passenger seat. He allowed Myka the driver's seat since he knew she'd want to drive. Besides, all he wanted to do was relax for as much as possible on this milk-run of an assignment.
"I was thinking of checking in with the bureau chief at the office and confirm our reservation for the interview room, check in at our hotel and have some dinner," Myka said as she started up the rented, nondescript black Ford sedan, and pulled out of the lot. "Let's be at the bureau seven AM tomorrow. S we can start the interviews asap."
"Sounds like a plan," Pete responded, and promptly fell into a nap.
"Pete!" Myka exclaimed and hit Pete on the shoulder.
"What, Myka!" Pete responded, thoughts of sleep suddenly banished.
"Don't you wanna talk about the assignment?"
"No..." Myka hit him again. "Ow! Okay, okay! Although I don't know what there is to talk about. We go in, interview some people, and pick one. Simple, huh?" He gave Myka that patented boyish grin of his that he knew irritated Myka to death.
"Not that, you goof!" Myka said. "The other assignment. About the Magnus scalpel. How about we go over what we have?"
Pete finally sat up. "Okay, okay," he said again, irritatedly. "No use trying to nap anymore..." he mumbled.
"Okay," Myka said as she smoothly steered around the ever-present DC traffic. "We know the thing is a surgical scalpel..."
"Although we don't know if it's a real artifact," Pete said.
"We'll have to find that out later, when we get it back. But what do you suppose it does, if it IS an artifact?"
"Well, artifacts are supposed to be imbued with something from its owner or user."
"Okay. It's the Magnus Scalpel, right? So who was Magnus anyway?"
Pete reached over to the backseat and retrieved his laptop. He started surfing, searching for the name. Myka was amazed that Pete was actually, gasp! computer-literate!
"Okay. Here we go. Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld." Pete started reading and Myka paid attention.
Using Claudia's self-designed search engine, Pete read aloud that the first successful human sex change took place in 1950 when Danish doctor Christian Hamburger changed GI New Yorker George William Jorgensen into Christine Jorgensen. But it wasn't the first such operation.
Twenty years earlier, in 1930, the testicles of one Einar Mogens Wegener, who would later call herself Lili Elbe, was removed. It was the first of five operations that were carried out on her over a period of two years. The first surgery, removal of the testicles, was made under the supervision of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. The rest of Elbe's surgeries were carried out by Dr. Kurt Warnekros in the Dresden Municipal Women's Clinic. The scalpel was wielded by Warnekros's partner, Dr. Walter Neumann.
The second operation was to remove the penis, and transplant ovaries, which were taken from a 26-year-old woman. These were soon removed in a third and fourth operation due to rejection and other serious complications. The fifth operation was to transplant a uterus, which was intended to allow Elbe, then nearing the age of 50, to become a mother. She soon after died of transplant rejection.
After listening to Pete's recitation, Myka was uncommonly silent.
"What are you thinking?" Pete asked after a while.
"I was thinking, a story like that really does sound like an 'artifact' story."
"So if the scalpel really is an artifact, what do you think it does?"
Myka swerved around a little Japanese Suzuki four-by-four that was changing into the outer lane of Dupont Circle. In the rear window, Myka could see the small blonde woman driving the little car, waving an apologetic hand through her window. Myka rolled down hers and waved back through her own window in polite acknowledgement.
"What it does?" she asked after getting back to her lane. "Well, it could be almost anything. Maybe it kills doctors as some sort of revenge for that woman's death."
"But Myka," Pete said, " it's the patients that are missing, not the doctors. And what makes you think they died?"
"If they didn't, then where are they? Pete, you're right, but most of the artifacts we've encountered in the past seem to cause death, or something equally bad. Artie says most artifacts get their power from strong negative energy, so it's natural to assume that."
"You're right." Pete nodded.
They traded some more ideas back and forth, but pretty soon, they were pulling up to the gate of the Secret Service recruitment bureau, and they hadn't thought up any new theories. They flashed their IDs and the guard swung the wrought-iron gate back. Myka drove in and parked in the visitors' parking area.
After a while, they met with the duty officer and made security arrangements for the interviewees.
Despite being in the Secret Service for a while now, and being assigned to DC during their last Secret Service postings before Warehouse 13, they didn't see any people they recognized. No wonder, since this was just the recruitment office. They would hardly know anyone here. And they were subtly glad for that - it saved them from having to dodge questions about their current assignment.
After a while, they were done. That's one thing neither of them missed - all the government red tape - and left the building at about nine.
They made their way to this nice hotel a block away from Dupont Circle Leena had booked them in, and after passing Dupont, Myka saw the same little Japanese four-by-four parked at the curb. Two women were getting into the car, one was the same blonde she saw earlier and the other was a pretty oriental girl, Japanese maybe. Her agent's eye saw that the blonde's hair wasn't real, judging by the dark roots that were showing. They were both in pretty nice evening clothes. Maybe they were on a date or something. Dupont was a well-known LGBT neighborhood after all. Myka sighed, recalling how long it's been since she last dressed up for a date.
She tooted her horn pleasantly and waved. The two girls looked, but neither recognized them. Myka shrugged (just as well) and drove on.
Chapter 2: Double-Oh Hottie
First thing the following morning, they were in their assigned interview room. Despite Pete's supposed cavalier attitude about work, anyone who knew him knew that it was just an act, and he took his job seriously. As such, he was up bright and early, just like Myka. Although Myka would have preferred that Pete finish his breakfast back at the hotel instead of finishing off his bagel, a large breakfast burrito and a huge cup of coffee here at her interview table.
There were no one-way mirrors as one might have expected, although there was a camera in one corner pointed at the empty interview chair. The new Warehouse Program Director, Mrs. Jane Lattimer, had left instructions that the interviews be recorded. Myka and Pete didn't bother to argue and kept the camera on for the duration. Also, there was a small refrigerator in the corner filled with bottles of mineral water for the interviewees, just in case. It was an interview room, after all, not an interrogation room.
The first of their interviewees came in - a tall, musclebound marine corporal - and they started the interview. But it became clear, after five minutes, despite the marine's credentials and obvious physical proficiency, he wasn't the fastest wheel in the race, to say the least.
The second interviewee fared better, but Myka and Pete were not exactly bowled over - almost immediately after sitting down, the LA police detective started hitting on Myka. As the interview progressed, Myka also noted that the man didn't exhibit any kind of team spirit, and his superiors had commented the same thing in his records, and that he was often a loose gun in their squad. Myka didn't pass the guy. Pete nixed him, too, just because he hade a "vibe" about him. Another reject.
The interviews went on, and all of them washed out for one reason or another.
Most of the interviewees were men, but some were female (Myka was not that big of a feminist, but she still felt bad about the disparity). But the women didn't fare any better. One female police detective was so focused on her career that she didn't really seem to have any empathy for the people she was supposed to be helping. Another one, a female FBI agent, felt the rules didn't apply to the FBI and has had trouble following even FBI's own rules and protocol, preferring, instead, to do things her way.
There was one particular female agent that Pete almost confirmed - she was well-dressed and remarkably pretty, but what was important was that she seemed to have all the characteristics they needed - competence, street smarts, a team player yet with an open mind as well as self initiative, and a respect for the law. Myka was about to give her a green light, but Pete signaled that he was turning her down.
"What are you doing, Pete!" Myka exclaimed while the girl went to the bathroom. "She's perfect! According to the FBI, she's one of their rising stars. A near perfect service record. She'd be a great warehouse agent."
"I don't know, Myka. She just doesn't sit well with me. I'm getting the wrong vibe..."
"I would think you'd be the first to approve a pretty agent..."
"Yeah, she's pretty hot," Pete agreed. "But there's something wrong."
Myka didn't see it, but over the years she had come to trust Pete's hunches and decided to look deeper.
When the girl came back from the bathroom, Myka continued with the interview. As they talked, Myka couldn't help but notice the girl's accent. British? But her records show she's from Wisconsin. Also, she kept on fiddling with a ring on her left hand, constantly turning it around and around on her finger. It was a pretty bulky ring for a girl. It looked more appropriate for a man. Myka was fairly sure that someone as well turned out as her would not make such a fashion mistake, given the girl's impeccable taste, well done makeup, and especially her expensive signature clothes - at once serviceable but very feminine and stylish, elegant and reserved in a very European way. She could have been dressed by Alexander McQueen, Giorgio Armani or Christian Delacroix. She looked that good. So what's a femme fatale-slash-secret agent fashion plate like her doing wearing a man's signet ring?
She looked at Pete and, just like partners who have been working together for a long time, Myka was able to communicate to Pete that something was indeed suspicious, with just a look.
Pete noted the big ring as well, and silently acknowledged Myka's look. Myka worked on distracting the girl while he opened up his laptop and behaved like he was doing some humdrum piece of paperwork. He turned to the girl and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry," he said. "Reports..."
The girl smiled, nodded in understanding, and continued to chat Myka up.
Pete opened the Warehouse 13 database of open cases, and used the key words "signet," "class" and "ring" to do a search. After a few moments, the search results came back. Pete discarded everything that had nothing to do with rings, and was soon faced with a shorter list. He scrolled down until he saw what he was looking for. "Yep," he thought, and glanced at the girl's hand. "That's the ring all right."
"Ian Fleming, Eton College Class Ring," the entry said. "Missing since 1973." Hmmm... Pete noted the details and closed the laptop.
Myka noticed that and wound up the interview.
"Well, we do appreciate you coming in, Ms. Francis," she told the interviewee. "We'll contact you as soon as we're done with all the evaluations."
"Quite all right," the beautiful FBI agent said. "You're sure you can't tell me anything about the assignment?"
"It's a need-to-know thing. I'm sure you understand."
"Indeed I do. But it IS an important assignment?"
"Very." Myka and the girl stood up, ending the interview. Myka shook the girl's hand. "Thanks again."
The girl held Myka's hand a little longer than was seemly. "My pleasure," she answered with a sensuous, flirting lilt to her voice. Myka was worried that she was starting to like it.
Pete scrambled to his feet belatedly, and reached to shake her hand as well, preparing to lay on her one of his best lines. The girl shook Pete's hand very briskly and very business-like, nodded to him and let go. Pete was disappointed - he never had the opportunity. The Pete Lattimer Charm struck out this time.
"Ta," the girl said to Myka, gave her a lingering look, and waved goodbye.
As soon as the girl walked out of the room and the door had closed behind her, Myka turned to Pete.
"Did you see that?" Myka said.
"See what?" Pete went to the camera to change the memory chip.
"I swear that girl was coming on to me!"
"Hmmm. No wonder."
"No wonder what?"
"No wonder she didn't give me a chance. She's interested in girls, not guys."
"Listen, Pete," Myka said half jokingly, "just because you strike out with a girl doesn't automatically mean she's a lesbian."
"I call them as I see them."
Myka looked a little thoughtful. "You know," she said, "come to think of it..."
Pete exclaimed "Aha!" and pointed at her in triumph. "I was right, and you know it!"
Myka giggled. "Oh, shut up."
Pete laughed a bit but his expression turned somber. He turned to the girl's file. "She's from Wisconsin," he read, "middle-class family, never been anywhere but the continental United States, studied Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, no significant or long-term relationships, no notable accomplishments or special skills until a year ago when she started closing several of the bureau's high-profile cold cases, and has been at the same DC posting for five years."
"That's all in the file, Pete," Myka said. "What are you getting at?"
"Then what's with the snooty, high-class designer clothes and jewelry, and what's a Wisconsin girl doing with a posh British accent?"
Myka looked at Pete, her eyebrows slowly climbing. She spun Pete's laptop to face her. "What did you find?" she asked excitedly.
"Our hunch was right," Pete replied. "That ring IS an artifact."
Myka looked at the picture on Pete's computer. It definitely was the same ring. "Ian Fleming's Eton class ring," Myka said in wonder.
"Yep. The guy who wrote the James Bond books." Pete hummed the iconic theme music.
"So what? The ring turns the wearer into James Bond?" Myka asked.
"Apparently. Or, in this case, Jane Bond." Pete grinned. "And James Bond is supposed to be a notorious womanizer, too..." Pete waggled his eyebrows at Myka.
Myka bleeped over that and continued reading. "It says here that the ring is a Class Five artifact. Not dangerous at all."
"It's still an artifact, Myka."
"We'll get it back later. Right now, we have to finish the interviews and then we need to work on the Magnus Scalpel case. We can get the ring back after."
"Okay," Pete agreed. "I'll just phone it in to Claude, and tell her we'll retrieve it later. So I take it we're not getting Secret Agent Jane Bond, double-oh hottie?" Pete laughed again.
"No," she huffed. "Go make your call. I'll go get the next interviewee."
Soon they were back to interviewing prospective Warehouse 13 agents.
Chapter 3: Potential Agents
It was Friday, the afternoon of the fifth and last day of their interview fishing expedition. With only a couple left to interview, Myka and Pete were very frustrated, not to mention almost out of their minds from having interviewed sooo many people. It's not surprising that they felt that way. Almost fifty interviews, all for nothing.
The next interviewee wasn't too impressive, physically. A thin blond fella a little below average height (he looked like he was five-foot-six, maybe seven - Myka was even taller than him, but to be fair, Myka was tall for a girl - about five-nine), but he had an air of quiet studiousness and confidence about him that impressed people and made them believe he knew his stuff, and based on his records, he really did know his stuff. He impressed Pete and Myka right away.
He was a forensic scientist for the New York police force, one of the best, but he wanted more than just being trapped in the lab. When Pete asked about it, Lieutenant McMasters sighed and explained that people in the CSI TV shows aren't real, that being a forensic expert is a very boring, workaday kind of job, and though being a forensic scientist helped him get dates a few times (because of the TV shows) he felt like a fake. And he always thought he could have been of more service to his city, but it wasn't to be.
So he took an academic leave and went to the New York State Police Academy. In eight months, he graduated near the top of his class, rose through the ranks at breakneck speed when he got assigned a regular police officer posting, and ended up as a police lieutenant in a few short years.
"So, it's like a dream come true, then?" Myka asked.
McMasters smiled a little wistfully and shrugged.
Thing was, though, he explained, he still couldn't escape his forensic scientist rep, so what he ended up doing a was a mix of the duties of a regular police officer and a forensic scientist. In a funny way, he ended up being like the fake CSI guys on TV.
"But, isn't that a cool thing?" Pete asked.
"You would think so," McMasters answered. "But because of that damned TV show, the other police officers thought either I was putting on airs when I tried to help with investigations, or felt I was holding back when I didn't. A lot of them watch CSI, apparently." He sighed.
"That's too bad," Myka said sincerely.
"And I couldn't really go back to my old job. My colleagues at the lab? They think I think I'm too good for them." He sighed again. "Plus everyone resented my promotions, and my passing over so many senior officers."
Being a driven agent herself, and being promoted so quickly, Myka empathized and nodded in understanding. "Is it really that bad at work?" Myka asked.
"No, it's not that bad... but it's not good either. Anyway. Here I am."
"I'm curious," Pete said. "How did you hear about us? What do you know about us?"
"Well, I know next to nothing, really. A few months ago, a strange black woman from the government, with glasses and her hair in a bun, came and 'visited' me in my apartment." He made the quotations gesture with his fingers when he said "visited."
Pete and Myka looked at each other in recognition. It was Mrs. Frederic that McMasters was talking about. There must be something to this guy if Mrs. Frederic took a personal interest in him, enough to actually make the effort to recruit him herself, Myka and Pete thought.
"She talked about an important assignment," McMasters continued, "that would undoubtedly help save thousands of lives, but she wouldn't give any details. I was intrigued, but I said that I couldn't commit to anything without more information. She said she understood, but that I should give it some more thought. And that was that. And then a few days ago, I got a call from a Dr. Arthur Nielsen, about that visit of Mrs. Frederic, and he said he was scheduling me for an interview. I said to myself, no harm done if I go. And who knows, I might be able to get more details."
"What intrigued you about it?" Myka asked.
"That lady - Mrs. Frederic - she was pretty impressive on her own. And scary, too." The three of them laughed at that. "But I was pretty intrigued by that phrase she used - 'a world of endless wonder'..."
Pete and Myka nodded at that.
"Can you tell me something about the job?" he asked.
"Top secret for now," Pete said. "But it IS very important. Save thousands of people, like she said. When we're done with the interviews, and if you pass, we'll tell you then, and then you can decide."
McMasters nodded at that. It was what he expected. The interview seemed to be over so he stood, and Pete and Myka stood with him. He shook both their hands in turn.
"Thanks for the opportunity, anyway," he joked. They all laughed.
"Thank you for coming in, Lieutenant McMasters," Myka said.
"Devon," he corrected pleasantly.
"Okay - Devon... We'll keep in touch." And with a final nod, McMasters left.
Pete turned to Myka, grinning from ear to ear.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Pete said. "Jackpot at last! I think we found him!"
"I think so, too. But we still have one more to go."
"Ahh, nuts..." Pete grumped, and went to change the camera's chip.
Myka pressed the buzzer, and the last interviewee came in. This one was a beautiful, tall blonde, maybe six-foot-eight and covered in muscle, and she looked like she could break Pete in two without even half trying. Her bicep was easily as big around as both of Pete's arms combined. Pete looked at her google-eyed, and the girl laughed at Pete's reaction.
The girl giggled again as she shook Pete's hand. "Simmer down, darlin'," the girl said in an enchanting Georgia accent.
"I'm in love," Pete mumbled.
The girl giggled again and turned to shake Myka's hand. "Hi," said. "Ah'm Randy."
Myka forced a smile. "Hi. I'm Agent Myka Bering and this is my partner, Agent Pete Lattimer."
If Pete could have bobbled his lips, like in a cartoon, he would have. But he settled for an expression of dumbfounded admiration.
The girl was Randy Simpson, one of the best US Marshals in New Orleans, with commendations up the kazoo. Besides which, she was a medal-winning athlete with several Ironman titles to her name, a long-distance marathon winner and an olympic-level target-shooter. Through all of that, all Pete said was, "wow..."
Myka asked about her job, and how she felt about it. The girl was very enthusiastic. Myka felt a little uneasy when the big, muscly girl talked about taking down escaped convicts and hardened criminals, or protecting federal judges from gangland-style executions like a teenage girl talking about a fun excursion to the mall. And she talked about her extensive gun collection like Carrie Bradshaw would about shoes.
Despite this, Myka persevered with the interview. Pete was totally useless.
Initially, Myka felt an intense dislike for the girl, but it was hard to hate her when she was so open, friendly and enthusiastic. Eventually, Myka's feelings about the girl made an about face, and she found the girl to be totally hetero (thank god - she was worried that this would be another Agent Francis) and feminine, and totally likable. Myka finally noted the girl's outfit. Far from making her outsize muscles look bad, her outfit actually enhanced her look. Myka also noticed her makeup: it was expertly done and achieved the all-natural no-makeup look that all girls knew was hard to achieve.
"I like your top," Myka said, and it was like a light switch - Randy was just like before, but this time she talked about clothes and shoes. Myka finally concluded that Randy was all girl, except for the fact that she had several deadly hobbies.
As expected, Randy had the same questions as the others about the assignment, and Myka deflected them in the same way she did with the others.
There was only one remaining thing left that worried Myka - Randy's overly-peppiness, and her well-turned out physique. She couldn't help but think that she was on some kind of drug. But Randy had an answer to that as well.
"Listen," Randy said in her captivating drawl, "Ah know y'all probably think ah'm sorta cracked or somethin'. Or Ah'm on some kind of mood enhancer, and maybe steroids as well... So as soon as Ah got that call from yore Dr. Nielsen, Ah got these here papers from mah medical file." She handed a small sheaf of papers over. "Y'all notice it's less than a month ago so it's current, but ah'm willin' to take any test you want."
Myka and Pete looked over what she gave, and it turned out to be a complete physical, as well as a complete battery of chemical and drug tests. Myka noted the Federal seals on the papers, and then looked for the drug test results. They were all negative. She felt guilty for doing that, for being suspicious. But it was part of her job to do a thorough interview, after all.
"Ah know what you'd be thinkin'... She shrugged apologetically. "Ah know what kind of impression ah make on people. But this is just the way ah am. I like mah job, ah like workin' out, an' all that. So sue me."
Myka reached out. "No need to be sorry," she said. "You're fine."
Randy smiled a small, grateful smile. And suddenly, it became her big, sunny smile again. "Ah am?" she grinned. "Have ah got the job, then?"
Myka giggled with her. "No... but we'll let you know asap."
"Ah shore do appreciate that. Thank you." Myka and Randy both stood up, and Pete followed suit. She and Myka shook hands warmly, and then the girl turned to Pete.
"As for you, cutie," Randy said to Pete, giggled and then shook his hand. "You can give me a call any ole time." She took out a business card, scribbled her home number on the back, and handed it to him. Pete continued his imitation of a fish out of water.
With a cheery wave, she stepped out of the room.
Pete turned to Myka. "Myka, we gotta have her!" he said.
Myka nodded. "I think she'd make a great warehouse agent," she said. "But that doesn't make Devon any less great."
"But, come on, Mikes! How can that guy even compare!"
"Check your hormones at the door first, Pete, and think this through. Let's do a pros-and-cons."
"Okay," Pete said, and sighed exasperatedly. He held up both his hands. "One, they're both qualified." He held up one finger in both hands, counting out the pros. "Two, they come well recommended and they got what it takes." He held up another finger in both hands. "But, Myka, she's an incredible hottie!" He counted out with all the other fingers in his right hand and flashed the fingers over and over.
Pete sighed. "Dammit..."
"What would the regents say? What would your mom say?"
"So, you're saying we should get McMasters?"
"No, I'm not," she said.
"Huh?" he said, puzzled. "So, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying that both of them are equally good. But we're only allowed to pick just one."
Artie took that moment to pop in, big, battered doctor's bag in-hand as usual.
"So," he said, "I'm back. All done?"
"Artie!" Pete exclaimed. "How was Germany?"
"Usual. Lots of signs, lots of beer, lots of germans."
"Dug up anything?" Myka said.
"A dead end." He laid his bag on the interview table and sat down. "As you know, the scalpel was not actually owned by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld but by an assistant, Dr. Walter Neumann. It was just attributed to Hirschfeld because he was more well known. The knife remained with Neumann's family, but any family member or family friend that knew anything about the scalpel, or the doctor, are all dead. About its reputation for being surrounded by death - no one knows how it got that reputation - the older people that are now conveniently dead were the only ones who knew. In any case, no one in the family wanted to have anything to do with it, and they eventually donated it to the institute. As for the foundation, aside from its lineage, no one knew anything of its history, and that includes the people in the hospital. And that's about it."
"Artie," Myka said, "Pete and I have been trading some ideas, and we're thinking that it might not actually be an artifact."
"We'll get to that later," Artie said. "So. Are you done with your interviews?"
"Well, yes..." Myka said.
"What do you mean,'well, yes?' Are you done or aren't you?"
"We're stuck, Artie," Pete said.
"Stuck? Stuck? How can you be stuck?"
"We've done all of the interviews. And we got two candidates selected..."
"Out of more than fifty, you got two?"
Pete shrugged. "Sorry, Artie."
"Lemme see the videos of these two."
Myka looked through the pile of memory chips, fished out the one with McMasters' interview. She plugged it into her laptop and Artie sat through it, fast-forwarding it in certain spots.
After he saw the video clip, he turned to Myka. "Okay. So let's see the other one."
Beating Myka to the punch, Pete ran to the camera - the chip with the girl's video was still in it. Pete popped it out and handed it to Myka. "Ummm, I just thought you might... ummm, need some help gettin' the chip."
Myka didn't comment but couldn't stop her eyebrow from rising in amusement. She replaced the chip in the computer and started up the girl's video.
Artie watched the video through this time, without fast-forwarding any part of it. Pete watched the video with him. Myka giggled but didn't comment. She just turned on the other computer and randomly surfed the net to pass the time.
When the video was done, Artie shut the computer and turned to Myka.
"So," he said, "you guys can't decide between these two?"
"No, Artie, we can't. They're equally qualified and equally capable, and they both have the right kind of attitude."
Artie nodded and reclined in silence.
After a minute of quiet contemplation, and with a rising sense of tension from Pete and Myka, Artie sat up.
"I am going to pick McMasters."
Pete reacted. "But Artie!"
"Let me explain," Artie said, waving Pete down.
"You say both are equally acceptable," Artie said. "I agree. I am therefore picking the one who would be less controversial, all right?" Seeing Myka about to protest, he raised his hand again. "I know that sounds unfair, but given everything is equal, there are no other characteristics that would tip the scales for one of them, either positive or negative." He looked at Myka. "The girl's looks would raise comments with the regents and the public at the very least. So I am picking the guy. But how about we hold the girl's name in reserve, when we have another opening?" He looked at the both of them. "Is that good enough for the both of you?"
They nodded, if a little half-heartedly. "I guess," Pete said.
Chapter 4: Midnight Visit
Lieutenant Devon McMasters let himself into his hotel room late. After his interview, he had called his precinct and checked how everything was going. The precinct secretary told him everything was well in hand, and they'd see him after his leave, on Monday.
He then went to the bar in his hotel, had a bit of dinner and a few drinks, and thought of the interview, alone again, as usual. He felt the interview went okay. Despite the mystery of it all, he wanted to get the assignment. It was a way out.
Those two agents, Pete and Myka - he thought they made a good-looking couple though half an hour into the interview, he gathered that, though they were close, they were just good friends.
He also noticed Myka's excellent taste in clothes that, although she was dressed FBI-style, she took pains to dress as neatly and femininely as was reasonable. If he was Myka, he'd probably go for the same style.
And that was part of his problem - a secret he could not bring out among his colleagues. He had scarcely admitted it to himself, much less to anyone. In the rough-and-tumble, hyper-masculine world of the NYPD police force, his secret had no place.
Just to see, he had gone to a lingerie store once years ago, and, though in a total panic, he bought a three-pack of panties. Good thing there were small and medium sizes, so he didn't need to try and mumble out a size, and just got small.
But he never opened the package. He still had it, still unopened. He knew it was an approach-retreat thing, and he made himself evaluate why. So. Perhaps he just wanted to dress in women's clothes. But it was more than just dressing up. It was more than that... It was deeper than that. As early as he could remember, he had these feelings, that something was wrong, but as quickly as the feelings surfaced, he would submerge them, perhaps because of a fear of shaming his father. He knew his mother would understand, or at the very least, accept, but his father...
When his father died last year, he grieved for the man that he loved, but in his alone moments, since his dad was gone now, he thought that he might not need to hide his feelings anymore. But such thoughts shamed him still. And yet...
- - - - -
Like his dad, he was able to hold his liquor, and had many times in the past drank his co-workers under the table, but this time he quit after his third double bourbon on the rocks (he actually wanted a brandy alexander or a pina colada, but he was afraid people would think those were too girlie).
Just before eleven, he had gone up to his room, changed into pajamas, brushed his teeth, drank three full glasses of water as protection against a hangover, and went to bed. In five minutes, he was out like a light.
But in less than an hour, he was woken up by the doorbell. Automatically, he reached for the holster on the nightstand. He stood beside the door. "Who is it?" he called out.
"It's Pete and Myka."
He clicked the safety on and peeked through the peephole. He saw them with another person in goatee, hat and glasses.
He put the gun back in the holster and opened the door.
"We come bearing good news, dude," Pete said with his easy grin. He does look awfully cute, especially when he smiles, Devon thought.
"Hey, guys," he said, shook their hands and ushered them in.
"Nice jammies, Devon," Myka said, giggling. "This is our boss, Dr. Arthur Nielsen, senior supervising agent of Warehouse 13." She introduced the small man.
Warehouse 13, he wondered.
At his quizzical look, Artie nodded. "That's why we're here. You're in, Lieutenant."
So they briefed the police lieutenant on Warehouse 13. Needless to say, Devon had a hard time believing much of it, but after Artie took out several of the wonderful gadgets from inside his bottomless bag and demonstrated them, Devon had to believe. And if he started to believe what they were saying, even partially, then he could conceive the possibility that the rest of it was also true.
He asked a lot of questions which the three answered easily - they had fielded them before - and, though not everything that they said could all be true, Devon was willing to go along with them for now. He asked when he could visit the warehouse. Artie said that there was a major case they were working on at the moment, and Artie said he would like him to help with it. As soon as the case was done, then they'd fly to the warehouse's secret location in South Dakota.
South Dakota, he thought. Hmmm.
Then they briefed him on the Magnus Scalpel. Even if he only half-believed in artifacts, the fact that over sixty people had died or gone missing made him shut up and just listen. Artifact or not, this has to be solved.
They then left, Artie being careful to put all the artifacts he took out back into his bag, bade him goodnight, and said they'd pass by for him tomorrow morning.
The first thing he did after they left was to call his precinct commander and ask for an extension of his leave. Rather than read anything into the captain's quick yes, he just said thanks and hung up.
He then went through the two folders Myka had left for him. He took out one of those expensive mini-liquor bottles that are always in hotels, poured himself a hefty shot, sat down and started reading.
In the first folder, there were some sample reports of how some artifacts were previously recovered by Artie, Pete and Myka, although there were some that dated back to the eighteen hundreds and Warehouse 12, and where the artifacts were recovered by someone named "HG Wells." Surely not...
He then went through the questionnaire that the agents were supposed to use to identify the presence of artifacts, and found all of the questions laughable.
"Have you recently encountered something that you feel has affected your life?" one of the questions asked... Fairly serious question.
"While looking up do you have the sensation of falling?" All the reaction Devon could muster was, "huh?"
"Do you have the constant feeling that today is yesterday?" Hmmm. Happened to him a few times.
"Does your gallbladder feel numb?" Can you even feel your gallbladder?
And the funniest was, "have you recently smelled something that could best be described as fudge when there is no fudge?" He loved chocolate and often wondered why chocolate was so good. Hmmm. Chocolates are artifacts? Could be... He giggled and continued reading on, eventually reaching the other folder, and he was able to update himself with the Magnus case.
Chapter 5: Devon's First Day
The guys didn't say what time they'd be coming so he made sure he was ready by six AM. He had a leisurely breakfast and waited. And they promptly showed up... three hours later.
"Where are we going?" Devon said.
"We're going to the clinic, where the patients have been disappearing," Artie said, "talk to the staff, snoop around a bit."
"Did you read the files I gave you?" Myka asked.
"Yeah." He handed them back.
"What did you think?"
"Fudge? Are you guys serious?"
Pete and Myka laughed. Artie just frowned.
Arriving at the clinic, they found it almost deserted, or as deserted as a free clinic could be. Though there were a few patients waiting to be called, there was an absence of crowds and the long lines that one would have expected. Scared off by the disappearances and dead bodies, I suppose, Devon thought.
"Okay," Artie said to Devon, "Pete and I will go to the administrator's office and poke around their files. You and Myka try and talk to the staff and see what you can find."
They split up, and Myka and Devon went to the Nurses' Station.
"Best if you take the lead," Myka said. "They'll find it funny if a Secret Service agent is here."
Devon nodded and went up to the nurse who seemed to be in charge.
"Hi," Devon said. "Can we talk to the head nurse?"
"I'm the head nurse. Who wants to know?"
"I'm Lieutenant McMasters," he flashed his badge quickly so the girl couldn't take a good look at it and see he was NYPD instead of DC Police.
The girl groaned. "Not another cop," she said.
"When will you guys quit sending people over already! There are no more dead bodies popping up anymore, okay? We're fine!"
"Excuse me?" Myka said, echoing Devon.
"It's been a week now, and no new bodies have been found. So you cops can lay off and stop scaring the patients away."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, look around you," she gestured at the half-full room. "Used to be there weren't any available seats. Most of the people have stopped coming since we started finding dead bodies."
"I heard there have been sixty dead bodies?" Devon asked.
"Yeah..." the nurse sighed. "Poor crips."
"Crips? They were cripples? All of them?"
"Yes. Paraplegics, many of them - a missing arm or leg, although others had different problems. Some had congenital defects like missing eyes, deformed hands or feet, missing genitals or facial features..."
"What? Missing genitals?"
"One of then didn't have a nose or ears, while others had... other missing parts."
Devon and Myka looked at each other.
"Some even had Down's Syndrome, although no one bothered to do a complete genetic exam to make sure."
"So all of them had problems?"
The head nurse nodded sadly. "Most of us think that a nursing home for handicapped people, or some place like that, couldn't take care of these folks and, when they died, they just dumped the bodies here." The nurse sighed again.
"Where were the bodies dumped?"
"At the door to the biohazard waste area. They were put in disposable body bags."
Devon looked at Myka and pulled her away from the nurse. "That didn't sound like they were just dumped." Devon said, sotto voce.
"What do you mean?" Myka asked.
"It was very considerate of our mysterious bodysnatchers to put them in body bags first," Devon said. "Contrary to what most people assume, it's not easy putting dead bodies in body bags. You don't just slip them in."
Myka's eyes widened a bit in slow comprehension.
"Chances are," Devon continued, "that the other cops missed that clue." He turned back to the nurse. "What kind of body bags?"
"The same kind of disposable bags the hospital uses, actually, though I know they didn't come from our supply."
Devon nodded. "Where does the hospital get its supply?"
"We get them from a mortuary supplier in New York."
Devon asked for the supplier's name and phone, and thanked the nurse.
He and Myka sat in a couple of vacant seats in the waiting area. Myka pulled out her laptop and located the supplier. Devon read the number and called it using his cel.
"St. Luke's Mortuary Supplies," someone on the other side answered pleasantly.
Devon identified himself as an NYPD police officer, and asked about disposable body bag orders from the clinic.
"Oh, yeah," the man said. "We got a big order this month."
"You did? How big?"
"They usually order one case every couple of months. This time, they got three cases."
"Cases? How many are in a case?"
"Twenty-five." The voice paused. "The thing is, though," the man said, "they paid for these last three cases in cash."
Devon found out that, apparently, cash payments are never done. Devon asked for the name of the person who placed the order. The man didn't know, but he was able to locate the receipts and told him who was the person who received them, and that this person was also probably the one who paid for them as well.
After hanging up, he explained it to Myka. They walked back to the nurses' station.
"Hi," Devon said. "It's us again. Do you know someone named R. Preston working for the clinic?"
"That would be Dr. Robert Preston, the new full-time resident. He just started here about a month ago. He just went off-shift."
Myka stepped away, pulled out her cel and started calling Artie, so she didn't have time to see what went down next.
The nurse gestured. "Actually, that's him over there." She pointed to a doctor in a white coat appearing from a side door.
"Hey!" Devon exclaimed. The guy turned and saw him. Some kind of instinct made him run. Devon drew his gun and took off after the guy even before Myka could react.
"Devon's pretty fast," Myka muttered. She didn't even have a chance to see the guy. She took off after them.
- - - - -
Devon found himself running after Preston out the back door and out onto the streets. He tried to run the guy down, but Preston was fast. But after three blocks, he felt the guy losing steam. Probably out of some desperation, Preston turned into an alley, slowing him down enough for Devon to catch up. Devon grabbed the guy's wrist but the man swung on him, catching him on the side of his head. Devon fell to the ground, his head spinning, but didn't give up. He grabbed at the man's white coat, pulling himself up. He pushed at Preston's chest, slamming him against a door. Something felt funny there, he thought.
The strength of the impact cracked the door lock. They both fell through the doorway, Devon on top of Preston. The man shoved Devon, knocking him back and to the right, giving the man room to stand.
All the commotion attracted the attention of the three warehouse men inside (apparently, the two had stumbled into some sort of warehouse).
"Hey!" one of the big guys yelled as the two of them struggled.
Devon finally got Preston turned around, holding him with his hands pinned behind his back.
"Stay back," Devon yelled, holding the man with one hand at arm's length, and holding his badge out to the approaching warehouse guys with the other. "Police!"
The men slowed a bit as Devon put his badge away and pulled out a set of handcuffs. But as he was about to snap them on, the man was able to pull one of his arms away.
He reached into the pocket of his lab coat and pulled out a knife - a surgical scalpel, actually - THE scalpel, and slashed at Devon's arm.
Devon pulled back, not because of any strong sense of pain, but more from an instinctive reaction to being attacked. The pain he felt was more akin to a paper cut. But the guy switched the way he held the scalpel, and pounded it into Devon's chest, straight into his heart.
Rich, red arterial blood spurted out of the wound and Devon fell back. Though consciousness was starting to slip, he saw what was happening.
"That dude stabbed the cop!" one of the men exclaimed. The other one picked up a long two-by-four and swung it at Preston's head. Preston ducked, managing to miss much of the impact and, with the same kind of grip on the scalpel, stabbed, or more accurately, pounded it into the warehouse guy's left thigh. The stabbing action was so strong, it actually forced the sharp knife into the man's thigh bone. The man screamed and fell down, writhing in extreme pain. Devon could only watch mutely, unable to move from the shock of the blood loss, and the fatal damage to his heart.
Another of the warehouse guys punched Preston straight in the face, causing him to fall back, tripping over Devon's unmoving body.
Preston shook off the punch, stood up, blood streaming from a broken nose, and blindly swung around his arm with the scalpel, catching the other man on his cheek. The man fell down, unconscious, Clearly, it wasn't the scalpel cut, since a cut like that wouldn't cause instant unconsciousness, Still, the man didn't stir. There were three men down now. Devon finally dropped into unconsciousness
The last of the warehouse guys stopped and warily circled Preston.
Preston covered his face with his hand to hide his features, staggered back through the door he and Devon came in through, holding the side of his head that was hit by the two-by-four, blood streaming down from his broken nose. As soon as the guy left, the last warehouse man rushed forward and looked at his two friends, crouched down, checked for a pulse, and then called 911 on his cel.
Just as he finished his call, Myka banged the door open and rushed in. "Federal agent!" she cried, Tesla gun drawn.
The remaining warehouse guy, still squatting, instinctively raised his hands, but when he saw Myka's "ray gun," he assumed she was some kind of kook and started putting his hands down.
"Keep 'em up," she said sharply, and fired off a shot at the far wall.
At the crackle and lightning-like bolts of the Tesla, the guy exclaimed in surprise and brought his hands up again. "They're up! They're up!" he said.
"Move away," she gestured, and the man stood up and moved away, hands still up.
Myka kneeled, gingerly avoiding the growing pool of blood from Devon, and checked the three for life signs. "Who are these guys," she asked.
"They're people that work with me here in the warehouse. The other guy's a cop. I don't know him."
After checking for a pulse, she stood up, shook her head and lowered the Tesla."I'm sorry," she said.
"What! They can't be dead! I just checked!"
Myka shook her head again sadly.
"Jimmy! Sam!" He rushed to them and checked again, but couldn't find a pulse as well.
He was about to turn one of them over, but Myka stopped him.
"Stop!" She shook her head. "You don't want to do that."
"What do you mean?"
He wanted to push the matter, but Myka deftly changed the topic.
"Where's the cop you mentioned?"
"Huh? That's the guy." He pointed at the third non-moving figure - the one in the suit.
Myka just looked and didn't react. That's not Devon, she thought. Where's Devon?
Chapter 6: Identity Cards
Ambulances, and the real DC police had finally arrived, just a few minutes behind Pete and Artie, in fact. The two dead warehouse people were brought out in body bags, and the other one, who Myka finally determined was indeed Devon (she checked for an ID), was brought to the Washington Hospital Center. Myka took the Farnsworth phone and went in the ambulance with Devon while Pete helped the police to interview the remaining warehouse guy. Artie went back to the clinic and tried to get more info.
At first, MPD was suspicious why two Secret Service agents were here. Pete explained that they were here to investigate the sixty-plus deaths at the nearby clinic, that it may be part of a terrorist plot, and they were chasing a suspect into the warehouse. It seemed that case was a hot button for MPD, and they said they'd help in any way they can (they were so desperate to solve the case that, though they still needed to iron out some legal problems, they were trying to get permission to set up a concealed CCTV at the clinic).
Pete explained that they chased a suspect from the clinic to the warehouse, and the warehouse people got in the way. The police sent out a bolo for Dr. Robert Preston, sealed the crime scene and wrapped everything up. Artie went with the coroner, and Pete went back to the clinic to get more information about this Robert Preston, and then went over to the hospital to check on Devon.
At the hospital, Pete flashed his badge and got directions to Devon's room. Myka was outside, waiting for him.
"Hey, Myka. How's Devon?"
"She's recovering from shock. She lost more than three liters of blood, but they got to her in time. She's okay. She's just sleeping now."
"Okay," Pete said.
Myka stopped him as he was about to step in.
"Did you hear what I said?"
"Yes, I did," he said, a little irritatedly. "you said that she's okay, and that... she?"
Myka nodded. "I covered that up a little bit, and acted like Devon's always been a girl. I hid all of her picture IDs and credit cards."
Pete looked at Myka. "Devon's a girl now?"
"Does she look okay? I mean, any missing arms or anything like that?"
"Doctors say she's totally okay, except for the loss of blood, which the doctors couldn't explain."
"Does she know?"
"Yes. She was awake an hour ago. She told me what happened to her."
Pete paused, took a deep breath and walked into the room.
The new girl's face was turned towards the door. She was sleeping, long blonde hair neatly combed back (probably Myka's doing), and his angular face was softened and rounded out a bit now, making her new face wonderfully feminine and graceful. Pete thought that the new girl was gorgeous, and couldn't reconcile her with the man that he had interviewed just yesterday.
The girl's eyes fluttered open, and Pete saw recognition in her flashing sapphire eyes.
"Hey, Pete," Devon said in a tired-sleepy voice. "How do I look?"
"Lookin' just great, Devon," Pete said.
"That's a relief. I was hoping for a mirror. Maybe see the new me."
Pete was about to look around, but Devon lifted a slim, graceful hand and waved him down. "That's okay," she said tiredly. "Maybe later, when I'm more up to it."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she whispered. Pete had to bend down closer in order to hear her at all. "It's like an answer to a prayer," she whispered to him before promptly falling asleep again.
She still sounded a bit like her old self, Pete thought, though her voice sounded feminine now, although in a register that was just a tad low for a girl. Pete thought it made her sound sexy.
Chapter 7: Figuring Things Out
Artie had come in several hours later and checked Devon out, mostly looking through her chart and listening to her heart and her breathing through a stethoscope. Artie sat and was briefed by Myka, nodding in places through her narration.
It seemed Devon's arm got slashed with the scalpel, and then Preston got Devon in the chest, pushing the scalpel to the hilt. Myka suspected that Preston got Devon in the heart, which accounted for all the blood that was in the warehouse, but aside from barely-healed superficial scars between her breasts and on her arm, it seemed that girl-Devon had healed up pretty quickly.
Artie then reported what happened to the two warehouse men.
One of them had a deformity in his right thighbone, some weird osteoporosis condition that made the bones of his left leg too thin to support his weight. When the man put his weight on it, the thigh bone snapped and punctured the femoral artery. The man died from massive internal bleeding.
The other man died from a large brain hemorrhage - the left side of his skull seeming to have shrunk and squeezed the brain on that side.
"The coroner couldn't understand how that could happen," Artie said, "but those were his initial findings. Although, I think I know what happened. Take a look at this."
Artie pulled out some of the coroner's photographs from his bag and showed it to Pete and Myka.
The first six pictures showed a pair of legs, except that instead of a matching pair of thick, hairy men's legs, the pictures showed a mismatched pair - the left leg looked like a sexy, clean-shaven woman's leg from the hip down.
Myka looked at Artie. "Devon said one of the men got stabbed in the thigh." Artie nodded at that.
The other pictures were horrible. They were pictures of a man's head - the face contorted in a grimace of pain that death couldn't wipe away. Pete and Myka couldn't help wonder what the person was thinking and feeling at the moment of death. Myka hoped that it wasn't too painful in the end, but judging by the face, she was almost sure it must have been.
The left side of the man's face seemed smaller. But more than that, it was as if it were actually two halves of two different heads stuck together, neither in the correct scale for the other, one side much smaller than the other, angry, wrinkled red skin marking the juncture between the two halves.
To Pete and Myka, the smaller side seemed to be a distinctly female face. Pete thought the open brown eye on that side could only be that of a woman's. In fact, it reminded him a little of Myka's own eyes.
"The scalpel," Artie said, "apparently changes men into women, and vice versa. Which seems to be logical, given its origin and history."
"But, Artie," Pete said, "it only does it in pieces, or does it imperfectly, which results in extreme deformity and painful death." He held up the pictures of the half woman-half man face.
"Yeah," Myka said, "the nurse in the clinic also said the other dead people had extreme deformities, too."
"Except Devon," Artie said.
They all looked at the sleeping blonde. "What's different?" Artie wondered aloud. "What's different with Devon's case, that allowed the transformation to be completed and keep him alive?"
"Her," Myka said.
Artie nodded absentmindedly. "Yeah... Her..."
After a while, Pete sat up in his chair. "I have an idea," he said.
The other two turned to him. Pete recalled Devon's whispered words. "Maybe Devon wanted the change to happen and the others didn't..."
"You mean, Devon wanted to be a woman?" Myka said. "Where'd you get that crazy idea?"
"From me," Devon said from the bed.
The three whirled around and saw that the new girl was awake and sitting up. The transfusion and the intravenous fluids seemed to have helped and put color in her cheeks. Pete couldn't help but think that Devon, as a girl, was gorgeous. Double-oh Hottie didn't have anything on Devon.
Devon confirmed what Pete said, and explained a little bit. It was obviously difficult for her, but she continued. As she did, Devon felt something like a dam give way, and the years of suppressed emotion, sadness and frustration poured out. Myka went and gave the crying girl a hug.
"Devon," Artie said, after Devon was through explaining. "I don't care about that. All I want to know is that you're okay and you can get back to work."
Mutely, Devon nodded, smiled and sniffed back some tears.
"Thanks, Artie," Devon said, not letting Myka go. Pete smiled gently and gave her a wink.
Devon smiled shyly at him.
Chapter 8: Cocktail Party
It was the following evening. Devon struggled into the newly-purchase cocktail dress, still unaccustomed to women's clothes, although she couldn't stop smiling. I got boobies... After all these years, she thought, finally...
Myka came in from the en-suite bathroom, also wearing a slinky little number of her own.
"Well," Myka said. "You clean up real good, McMasters. You look great."
Devon blushed. "Thanks, Myka," she said shyly.
"Here," Myka said and handed her one of Claudia's special mini-Teslas. "you can use this smaller one. It's easier to hide in an LBD."
"What will you use?" Devon asked as she thoughtfully tucked it in her new cleavage.
"This." Myka hefted her own regularly-sized Tesla.
"That's so big," Devon said. "How are you gonna hide that?"
"Listen, missy," she laughed, "I've had more practice hiding stuff in girl outfits than you, okay?"
Devon giggled happily.
"You're liking this," Myka commented.
"Being a girl? Oh, yes!" she said. "I've dreamed of this, but I never thought it would ever have been possible so I've never allowed myself to think about it. And with my job and my dad, I never fully admitted my feelings to myself. But now..." Devon pirouetted in front of the mirror.
"Y'know," she said, "I wouldn't have minded if I was a plain girl, even an ugly girl. I can't believe I'm so gorgeous!"
Myka couldn't stop smiling in delight at the happy girl. "You're not the only one," she giggled. "You should hear Pete talk."
"Hear me talk about what?" Pete said as he and Artie came into the room Myka had been sharing with Devon. The both of them were in formal tuxes as well. Pete stopped short.
Myka and Devon struck a pose.
"You guys are drop-dead gorgeous!" He turned to Artie. "Artie? What do you think?"
Artie sighed. "I think we need to get a move on, otherwise we'll be late," Artie said, and turned around to leave.
"Awww, Artie," Pete said.
"Pete," Artie said over his shoulder, "let's leave the girls alone. Women don't need us around when they're trying to look pretty."
Pete turned, grinned at the girls and skipped after Artie.
"'Kay, girls," Pete said. "See you downstairs."
The police had done all the conventional things, but they still couldn't find Preston. They were all grasping at straws by now, so they were trying an idea of Devon's.
They were dressing up to attend a Sunday fundraising gala. The clinic's board arranged this kind of event at least twice a year - it was one way they were able to stay afloat financially, and because of the recent troubles they'd been having, the clinic really needed some positive press, so the board had moved the gala up to tonight, and insisted that as many of the clinic's staff attend as possible.
During her tussle with Preston yesterday, Devon had tried to push him away once and felt breasts under his shirt. They were probably implants. So this gave her an idea about his motivations. Anyway, it was Devon's theory that Preston fancied himself as some kind of surgical genius and had been "honing" his craft for the "betterment" of people like him, and he probably felt justified to experiment with the homeless as he perfected his surgical "skills."
"He never did see Myka and he probably thinks I'm dead, so he probably thinks he's safe. If he does think that he's safe, he'll probably be going to the fundraiser. He needs the clinic to do his thing, so he would want to do everything he could to help keep it afloat."
"What about the warehouse guy?"
"He may think he was able to hide his face from the guy."
"May?" Artie asked.
Devon shrugged. "Yeah, it's a little thin, but it's the only thing I can think of. You got a better idea?"
- - - - -
They decided to walk from Pete and Myka's hotel to the Fairfax at Embassy Row, where the fundraiser was being held. It was a pleasant night and Devon wanted to show off a bit. And they weren't scared of any pickpockets or muggers - between the four of them, muggers should be the ones to be scared.
When they got to the reception desk, they gave their names and proceeded into the banquet hall. Yesterday, Claudia hacked them into the reservation file and they now had formal invitations. Artie and Pete put on their name tags that claimed they were from a bogus organization called the Irene Frederic Foundation. Devon and Myka had similar name tags but Devon had to ask Myka's help in putting hers on.
When they stepped into the banquet hall, they found themselves surrounded by Washington DC's elite. Mayor Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier was in evidence, as well as several of the city's high-profile civil servants. The event wasn't that high profile so neither the president nor anyone from the White House was there, nor anyone from congress or the senate. But it was pretty star-studded enough for the clinic's purposes.
Pete and Artie lost themselves in the crowd as they looked for Preston, but Myka decided to stick with Devon. Devon appreciated her concern, but the new girl told Myka that she was fine, and that they both had jobs to do. She didn't need a babysitter.
As they were arguing softly, a couple bumped into them - an American girl and what looked to be either a pretty Japanese or Korean girl. Though both of them weren't too imposing physically (neither of them were even five-foot-three), they did make a pretty striking pair. Devon sneaked a peak and the American girl's name tag said she was from some IT consulting company.
Myka's eyes widened in recognition. "I know you!" Myka said. "Don't you drive a little silver Japanese SUV?"
The girl smiled quizzically, and they struck up a conversation. Devon took that opportunity to slip away and started casing the joint. As she did, she found herself being trailed by a bunch of charity circuit lotharios (as Devon's favorite professor from college would have put it). Devon was tickled pink, but she tried to hide her smile. She carried a glass of bourbon, her favorite drink, and she laughed inwardly as the men tried to match her drink-for-drink.
At the far end of the room, she saw Pete signal to her. She made her excuses, and the men all made disappointed sounds.
She shuffled as she tried to make the best time she could in the restrictive dress. She envied Myka's ability to walk so fast in her dress and high heels. She and Myka made it to Pete at the same time.
"Did you find him?" Devon asked.
"Artie spotted Preston by the open bar there." Pete gestured to the end of the room. They casually walked over and saw the guy. He was talking to a group of his co-workers, drinking and having a good time. Some kind of instinct made Preston turn around. Somehow, he spotted the three of them, and he broke away from his friends and ran out of the hall. The three of them gave chase.
Artie was there by the elevator doors, stopping Preston short. Artie drew his Tesla and pointed it at him. Preston took off to the right and ran for the fire escape door.
As the rest took off after him, Devon knew she wouldn't be able to keep up with them in her dress and heels. She punched the elevator button, got in and went four floors up. She then went to the fire escape door as quickly as she could, drew out her little "ray gun" and waited. She heard the clattering of people running up the stairs and then saw Preston rounding the bend.
"Stop!" she said, and raised her gun.
Preston reached for his coat pocket and Devon pulled the trigger. Bright branches of electricity crackled out from her Tesla and hit Preston full-on. He jerked, like he touched a live wire, and fell down.
Devon looked at her Tesla. "Cool," she said.
Pete came up the stairs and saw Devon standing over Preston's unmoving body.
"Where'd you come from?" Pete huffed.
"I took the elevator," she smiled smugly. "Where were you?"
Pete made a face and looked down at the unconscious Preston. Preston's hand was still holding the scalpel. Pete kicked it away and proceeded to handcuff Him.
Devon bent down, about to pick up the scalpel.
"Don't!" Myka said as she reached the landing. "Don't touch it. Wait for me."
Myka pulled what looked like purple rubber gloves out from somewhere, put them on and kneeled down to pick up the knife. When she did, the knife crackled. "You need gloves like these to handle artifacts," she said. The scalpel an old-style pre world-war-one surgical knife without a removable blade.
Artie eventually reached the landing, too, puffing like he just finished a one-mile marathon.
"Artie, do you have the..."
Artie raised a finger, puffed some more and reached into his cavernous bag. He took out what looked like a large jelly jar full of blue gel. He unscrewed the cap and proffered it to Myka.
"Watch your eyes," Myka said. She dropped the scalpel into the goo and snatched her hand back. A powerful flash emanated from the jar. After which, Artie hurriedly screwed the cap back on.
"Okay, that's done." Myka said. "Snagged, bagged and tagged."
"So." Pete said to Devon. "How does it feel to complete your first Warehouse 13 assignment?"
Chapter 9: Epilogue
Those first three days as a warehouse agent was a wild three days for Devon, and Pete said that was all the training and practice she can expect. From here on in, it's work, work, work... She didn't mind. Looking back, without Warehouse 13, she wouldn't have found herself this way. For that she was grateful, and would have been willing to endure more just to get this chance.
As promised, they did go to the warehouse, and it was indeed full of endless wonder, as Mrs. Frederic promised. She met Claudia, and was impressed by the young genius. Among all three field agents, Devon felt she was the best among them that could identify with the teenage brainiac, matching her skill per skill, specialty per specialization and fact per obscure fact (her nerdiness had finally paid off). She had also met Leena, the beautiful proprietress of her new home. Leena had assigned her a room in her Bed-and-Breakfast, in between Myka's and Claudia's, and right across from Pete's.
Artie had assigned Devon to cleanup-and-catalogue duty, and Claudia was happy to finally have someone to boss around, but it only lasted for three weeks - just enough time for Devon to learn the ropes.
During the evenings, the main topic of discussion was how to fix Devon's situation. And they went back and forth on it. One idea was that they'll tell everyone Devon died. Artie, and Devon herself, didn't like the idea. It helps, Artie said, for agents to have traceable pasts.
One other idea was for Devon to come back as a sister or a close cousin. But then again, Claudia pointed out, they'd have to fake a background for the new sister-slash-cousin, and people can always find flaws in any fake dossier if they tried hard enough.
In the end, they decided that Devon will come back, and reveal that she had a sex-change operation in Thailand or Mexico or something. After all, she'd been on leave for more than a month now, so it's plausible.
Devon sighed, saying that would probably end her career. Sure, she can fight it, but, regardless, in the chauvinist, old-boy-network world of cops-and-robbers, she was realist enough to know that it effectively meant her career was done.
So, Artie, through the auspices of the Warehouse regents, was able to arrange an extended special assignment for her, similar to Myka's and Pete's. This way, she won't need to go back to her old job, preserve her history, and allow her to maintain her police and CSI credentials as well as keep them current.
But she still needed to go back to New York to do the final parts of her sex-change that needed personal presence, and keep everything legal - get a new driver's and firearms license, change all her credit cards and picture IDs, a court appearance, fix all her professional records, and so on. The last thing she did was to visit her mom...
When she was all done, Artie, Myka and Pete came over and Devon toured them around New York before going back to work: shopping, taking in some games and going to some of her favorite guy places (most of the people in Devon's favorite places were scandalized that such a pretty girl would bring Pete and Artie to these dives). For Myka, they trawled through the less seamy side of the city, for high-end shopping, eating at the places Devon had wanted to try for a long time, and they watched "Ghost, The Musical" on Broadway. It was a nice break for everyone.
Devon thought that she'll probably like this new life.
But she stopped her musing. She was on the clock right now - she was on her first solo mission.
She was back in DC. She had to think up a scheme for bumping into FBI Special Agent Colleen Francis, who Pete liked to call Secret Agent Double-Oh Hottie. So she thought it was time to take a refresher course on the latest anti-terrorist techniques (a legitimate class for CSI practitioners), and while at the FBI's headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, she was able to catch the eye of the FBI agent. They had flirted for the duration of her class, and, at the last day of her class, they had set up a date.
So here she was in her hotel room, all glammed up in yet another LBD, waiting for her date. She tucked the replica signet ring that she planned to swap for the real one Agent Francis was wearing back into the cleavage of her slinky dress and finished her makeup.
The doorbell rang and she got up to open the door.
"Good evening," the girl at the door said in her impeccable British accent, and leaned forward for a kiss. Devon liked it. She couldn't help but wonder how different a kiss from a man would be from a girl's kiss, but she was confident she would have a chance to compare eventually.
"Hi," Devon said. "I'm all set."
"Let's be off then." Devon picked up her handbag, and the agent crooked her arm. Devon put her arm through it, and they stepped out. This'll be fun, she thought.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
So is a lot.
- Dr. Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
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