Tales from Site-91 - Part I.
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A Warm Welcome

November 23rd, 1998

"And here is our cafeteria. We're having lentils for lunch today, so I brought something else from home." A man of about thirty-five years old with thinning hair and glasses laughed, and the group of newcomers he was accompanying laughed with him. Site Director Slavík was a man you had to like, especially if you wanted to work in Site-91. The word among the Foundation staff was that getting into Site-91 was a win, because it was the most boring site. This was not true, of course; there was plenty going on, as in any Foundation site, but the difference was that Site-91 had close to the lowest number of incidents recorded in its 7 years of existence.

"But you're not here for the food. You care about where you're going to work." Slavík pulled out the stack of papers he'd had tucked under his arm until now and flipped to the page with the names of the various recruits.

"Agent Majer." He read the first name, and a tall man with short cropped hair and a scar on his left arm pushed his way through the crowd. Slavík filed the page of names with one finger and tried to flip through the paper with Agent Majer's information. "You used to be a field agent, right? Collateral teams, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yes, Sir," the man began in a deep voice while scratching his head. "I got transferred because I needed a change."

"It can be too much for a man, can't it? Don't worry, I'm sure you'll like it here." Slavík adjusted the glasses on his nose. "Oh yes, I remember your request. You wanted a position with the regional security."

Majer nodded and Slavík handed him one of the papers with the information. He read on, his eyes pausing for a moment. "Dr. Arlington? You must be Professor Arlington's daughter from Site-24! I've heard a lot about you."

The only woman in the group was a young Dr. Lisa Arlington. Despite her curly red hair and taller stature, she looked around very shyly when her name was read. "Y-Yes, that's me. Um, I've applied for a spot in the Facilities Safe Object Class wing."

"But please, Doctor, you needn't worry. This is Site-91… and nothing ever happens in Site-91."

Arlington laughed nervously, as if she'd heard the joke a hundred times already. Slavík must have noticed her nervousness, because he merely handed her the paper with a smile and let her go. As she walked past the others, Slavík was already reading another name. "And then, of course, there's Dr. Christopher Erwick."

Chris lifted his head in response to his name. Until now, he had tried to avoid direct eye contact with his uncle. He hoped that he could somehow keep the fact that the regional director was his relative a secret, and he sincerely hoped that Slavík wanted it that way too. Chris's mother had no idea that her son worked for a secret organization, and she undoubtedly had no idea that her brother worked for one.

"Yes." Chris imparted to him, "I'm here for a position in the humanoid wing."

Slavík smiled at him and simply said, "I know." He passed out the information to the other recruits and then said his goodbyes. It was the end of their tour of the site; they had all received their assigned quarters and assignments, and he headed back to his office to eat his food. It wasn't much, but it was definitely better than the lentils from the cafeteria.

December 8th, 1998

"How's it going?" Chris heard a woman's voice behind him and turned around. It was Lisa in a colorful knit sweater that screamed outright that she had just finished in the lab and didn't want to see the lab coat again today.

Chris's spirits lifted a little and the corners of his mouth turned up. "Yeah, it's going. I'm not entirely fond of paperwork, but I'll get through it somehow."

"I just finished and thought I'd drop by. Besides," she pulled out a hot cup of tea, "I thought you could use something to warm you up. I'm always cold on this side of the building."

Chris gladly looked up from the pile of papers and took the cup from her. The cinnamon aroma rose to his nose. "Cinnamon. How did you know?"

Lisa smiled and shook her head. "I have such a way of knowing what people like."

"Well, maybe you should be my next subject then, Miss Anomalous. I'm thinking psychological analysis."

They both laughed.

Chris took a sip of the tea.

It tasted great.

"How's it going?"

Chris turned to the sound of his uncle's good old voice. Site Director Slavík stood in the doorway of his office, pretending to look at its frame. Chris sighed and in the most ordinary tone of voice told him, "It's going."

Slavík looked up from the door and entered the office when Chris had just remembered his tea. It had long since gone cold by then, but he decided to finish the rest of it anyway. Slavík spoke to him. "You know you can go home, right? You finished an hour ago."

Chris put his empty cup on the table and looked at the papers again. "I still have some things to finish up. I don't like leaving work for later."

"Oh." Slavík didn't let up and sat down in the chair across from him. Chris put down the paper he was currently reading.

"What is it?"

"Can't I visit my nephew at work?"

"That's a first. I've been here every day for two weeks." His tone was perhaps a little too sharp.

Slavík paused, and a touch of sadness appeared in the corner of his eye. "Chris, as Site Director, I'm a very busy man, and it's not easy for me to find time to visit. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. I'm here now."

Chris looked up from his papers, softened by the truth that oozed from his uncle's speech. He, too, was over his head with work, and he was just getting started. He was even thinking about giving up, but that was not in his nature, nor his uncle's.

"No, I should be the one to apologize." Chris forced a smile. "I get it."

They both looked guilty for a moment, then Slavík broke the silence. "What about your colleagues? Did you make any friends?"

Chris mused. "Lisa, I mean, Dr. Arlington, is very nice;" his cheeks flushed slightly in the dim light of the desk lamp, "and today I was talking to Dr. Strobel from the bio labs, and he was telling me about some anomalous fungus. There are a few others besides them, but I've never been much for making friends…"

Slavík watched him with interest, pondering something. Whatever it was, he didn't mention it. It was strange to work at the Foundation and keep it from his loved ones, but perhaps even stranger to be able to share it with them. It was very late. Chris looked at his watch and told himself that maybe the work was too much for today.

"Quitting for today?" Slavík asked, getting a nod.

"I must leave something for tomorrow," Chris said. "I have a lot of work to do."

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