SIR-II Orientation
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Two men are waiting for you; two men very different from each other. The first one is more or less fifty-five and is a true bulk: he's two meters tall, weighs at least a hundred kilograms, has a long black beard, greying hair shaved on the temples, green eyes, and hands covered in tattoos. He wears an uniform resembling a carabineer's, but you think a pair of boots and a shirt of any satanic metal band would suit him as well. He's talking with his partner, who's much younger and smaller, sitting on the desk. He's more or less forty-four and one meter seventy tall at most, with red hair and a pair of glasses lying on his crooked nose. The most remarkable detail is the deep scar crossing his left cheek. He also wears an uniform looking like a carabineer's, but you know they're neither cops or carabineers. You know they're the captains of the task force you're going to join; the only thing you don't know is which one is Leonardo Costa and which one is Francesco Galeazzo.

«Are they our future superiors?»

The rookie has spoken too loud. They look up. With a glance, the redhead leaves the word to his partners, who addresses you with a very low and loud voice:

«Future agents of SIR-II? Yes, we're your superiors. You're early, come on in»

You comply. There's enough room for all of you. The bulk tells something to his partners, who chuckles. He talks to you with a strong Taranto accent:

«Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Site Virtus. I'm captain Leonardo Costa, and this is my partner and first captain of SIR-II, captain Francesco Galeazzo»

The big guy replies:

«Don't say "first", Leonardo: you're a captain as much as I am. Although you became one more recently»

He smiles at you.

«I see there are more people in here than in San Marino. That's a good thing»

«More than in Molise»

He lets out a giggle.

«Yes, that too. We're sorry for those coming from Molise»

You're speechless. At ULIS, they described Costa and Galeazzo as men who were good at everything, except for joking: the rumors you heard talked about two hyper-violent sadists who tortured their enemies during interrogations. Costa continues:

«We know what you're thinking. You were told captain Galeazzo could smash your face with one punch and that seeing me smile is rarer than an Italian who likes pineapple pizza. I'll have you know that's true: we're bad and violent, and we know it. But above all, captain Galeazzo and I look like bad guys because we're very demanding. It's for your own good and that of Italy. We pick the best of the best. That's normal, the Foundation only picks the best»

Galeazzo takes the microphone:

«You were chosen based on your competences, especially espionage, because SIR-II is mainly a whistle-blowing SIR. There's SIR-I, but they specialize in locating potential anomalies. Our job is similar to espionage and intelligence. We're everywhere: in the police, in the Arm of Carabineers, in the army, in universities, in administrative offices… that's how we found you. Even we were found because our partners before us were everywhere. I, for one, was recruited by agents of SIR-II undercover among carabineers — because I used to be a carabineer, and so did captain Costa. Although he was recruited differently and under very different circumstances»

Now you're curious. You want to know. Costa goes on:

«And that leads us to talk about the people we keep an eye on. That we spy on. Because the Foundation has enemies, rivals. We call them groups of interest, or simply GoIs. They also contain or make anomalies, for different purposes. Some of them can be very cooperative, such as Janus' Order or MADAO, whereas others, like RIDIA or SCEMC, which you certainly heard about during your training at ULIS, were decommissioned. Others, such as CCSG, are less cooperative or more defensive. Others, such as CGOM or CFO, are particularly hostile. Lucky for us, CGOM is essentially water-based, so our partners of Site Nettuno deal with them in our stead. I'm referring to doctor Pistillo and captain Amarino, of SSM-II. However, CFO is kind of our business and it's very different»

He turns to his partner, who's visibly uneasy.

«Leonardo, care to explain or shall I do it?»

Costa shakes his head, apparently scared:

«No, you do it, please. I still can't. Even after so many years, it's still complicated. I'm sorry»

«No, don't apologize. I'll do it»

Costa extens his arm towards his partner.

«Help me get down, please»

With a sweetness no one thought he was capable of, Galeazzo helps Costa get down from the desk he was sitting on and helps him stand. Costa is shaking.

«Thanks, Francesco»

«Don't mention it»

Galeazzo turns to you.

«A few years ago, two carabineers infiltrated an abandoned factory, thinking some wildlife dealers were hiding there. But it was a CFO base, a hideout of the greatest enemy of the Foundation's Italian Branch — the Fascist Council of the Occult. Their purpose is to stir up fear and destabilize the social order by using chimeras, anomalous beasts crafted by them. Those two carabineers didn't know that. One of them was shot in the head, the other one was taken hostage and brutally tortured. They thought he was one of our undercover agents, but he wasn't. He told them the truth, but they didn't believe him. They kidnapped him, beat him up, had giant chimeras attack him, tied him up, starved him to make him talk, and never believed him as he told the truth. We had an agent undercover in CFO, who warned us. We were able to save that carabineer and capture one of those chimeras, which is currently contained at Site Cerere. That carabineer is now standing right here, in front of you»

Galeazzo doesn't need to tell you who that is, you figured it out. Before you, Costa can't hide his emotions. He's supported by Galeazzo, and you can easily tell he's still suffering because of that kidnapping. Galeazzo continues:

«Captain Costa chose to join us after that episode. He's been the second team leader of SIR-II for three years. A respected, feared and admired captain who commits to investigate and spy on CFO from behind his computer»

Costa wipes his tears away and picks up his crutch and the microphone.

«You won't always be sent to the battlefield. As you can see, as troubled as my walking is, I can't possibly go out in the field. But I can assure you: even if you don't go out in the field, you'll still be useful. This is 21st century, espionage is done with Internet and informatics. Some of you graduated in great informatics schools, like me and captain Galeazzo — with an expertise in data protection or safety, of course. Some of you graduated in law, others have military training. Very diverse backgrounds, because we're looking for people with very diverse competences»

Galeazzo drinks a glass of water, before resuming:

«And we're looking for plenty of people. Our team consists of two hundred and fifty agents. Two hundred and fifty people dedicating to espionage, intelligence and protection, both of our agents and the data of all the containment sites of the Foundation's Italian Branch»

«Isn't protection the job of SPeV-II?» asks Costa.

Galeazzo raises an eyebrow:



Galeazzo stares blankly at Costa, reflecting intensely.

«You run it, dumbass»

Galeazzo reflects for another few seconds.

«Ah, that's right. No, that's different, it's the protection of Foundation agents, which I leave to that extremist Venelli»

Costa shrugs. Clearly, there are disagreements between Foundation employees, but that doesn't seem to be a problem to them. At that moment, a deep and bossy voice is heard through the speakers.

«We'll discuss that later, Galeazzo»

Costa bursts out laughing.

«They're telling me through the headphones that Venelli is going to kill you»

Galeazzo sighs.

«What a pain in the ass, does he have nothing to do, other than pissing me off? And then they say Seventh is the annoying one! Anyway, let's get serious again»

«Us? Serious? Since when?»

«Leonardo, we've always been serious»

Costa doesn't look persuaded.

«I can't believe you and Venelli can run an entire section together without even seeing eye to eye, Francesco»

«It's just political opinions, Leo, don't worry»

Costa chuckles:

«I'd like to know what Eleventh thinks of your matter»

«Leonardo, let Eleventh play poker in his office. Our newbies will have plenty of time to meet him and his legendary calm. As long as they don't make him angry: he's worse than you, when he's mad»

Costa lets it go with a sigh.

«You really are a dumbass, Francesco. Anyway, if any of you prefer to protect Foundation agents, you're totally free to do that, although it's not our job. You can join SPeV-II, just talk to captain Galeazzo about it: he's their coordinator, alongside director Mauro Venelli. It's normal to change section: at first, captain Galeazzo and I were supposed to join SSM-IX and SIR-I respectively. But we're very proud to be the leaders of SIR-II. You should be proud to be part of it as well»

Galeazzo continues in his stead:

«Sure, we don't necessarily go on the battlefield. Sure, we're not very popular, not even in the rest of the Foundation. Sure, others think we fuck around and do nothing. But if the Foundation identifies agents or hostile groups or finds anomalies, they have our undercover agents to thank: they make up most of our SIR. So you should be proud of it; maybe we're less glorious than the SSMs, but the Italian Branch would be nothing without us. We're ending this orientation with these words. Now you can get out and face your new job head-on»

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