Sehnsucht 3

Jonathan collapsed, his head coming loose from the H.E.L.M. and nearly smacking into the linoleum of the laboratory floor, if not for the arms of a welcoming lab crew member. At once, he was surrounded by a team of doctors, inspecting his suit, checking his vitals, and ensuring his safety. He had earned as much, after all the work he had put in to push this company forward. But it wasn't enough.

"IT WASN'T ENOUGH!" He pushed past the team and slammed his fist down onto the War Room table in the C.A.S.T.L.E., leaving a small but noticeable mark in the soft wood. "Evans. What did you tell me about the runic script found in Alpha-028?"

A scientist gulps. "The, uh.. script. I didn't expect it to-"

"You didn't expect it to… what, exactly? Didn't expect it to 'propagate from unintentional contact', hmm? That was the phrasing in the briefing? I think it was." Dr. Jonathan Mantell glared at him across the conference table, the harsh lighting glinting on the drop of blood beading down his philtrum groove. "I take briefings very seriously, Evans. So when you tell me that the script cannot propagate, without… what was it, 'unintentional contact'? When you tell me something like that…"

In a flash, he pulls from under the table a handgun, and fires it from the hip three times into Researcher Evan's chest. "… I make decisions and inferences based on that information. Decisions… and inferences. Decisions like… pursuing a Native in bladed combat while understanding that I have the upper hand. Which I would have, if I didn't know she could lead MY feet to concoct a spell that would freeze me in place. I lost a Monarch to that inference, based on faulty data, that you supplied. That Monarch cost more than your yearly salary. Now, I don't have to pay that."

He turns and looks around at the rest of the staff. "Does anyone else want to feed me FUCKING FAULTY DATA? HUH!?" There's a round of nervous head shaking. No one wants to admit that Jonathan was actually wrong, and even he knows it. There's a possibility that, instead of him doing it on accident… the target may have actually done it herself. That would mean that her magic, her… narrative potential… exceeded his, in order to trap him. This concept bounced around the minds of the assembled teams like a windows screensaver, but if it escaped their lips… well, they couldn't think about that.

"Dr… Mantell?"

Jonathan whipped around, clearly in a frenzy. "WHAT?!"

Samuel Hoffman offered him a paper coffee cup. "Isn't there a more productive use of your time?"

He looked away from his wife, opened a finely crafted silver case, and placed a cigarette in his mouth. He laid next to her in bed, the sheets tastefully covering the two of them, shortly after a bout of venting his frustration in a repr-… a productive manner. "I just don't get it. Why can't I beat her?"

"Dear, you know I don't like it when you get into work talk like this. Let's just… enjoy the moment." She turned over and placed a finely manicured hand, wedding band and all, on the side of his face.

Jonathan bit down on the cigarette, crunching the orange candy in his mouth. "I think I might be losing my touch. I'm just not as potent as I used to be."

"Johnny… that's hardly close to the truth. You're just spending too much time in the office, and worrying about your little videogames too much." That was all it was, to her. 'SEHNSUCHT' was a character, in a little videogame he developed and played with his coworkers after hours. It wasn't as if he could simply tell her about it… then she might… know things about him. That wasn't allowed. People couldn't know things about Jonathan Mantell, that had… implications. It was better to keep his two worlds separate and distinct.

"Sweetheart, I know, but… you know I'm invested in these things. This new glitch in the system… If I can't defeat her-"

"It, dear."

"Of course. If I can't defeat it… the game might be over. And I can't just rewrite the, er… code, now. It's already set in place." The analogy was sloppy, but it would work to convey the feelings of the situation.

"Well, when I have a problem, in the office… I have one of my coworkers deal with it. Have you tried that? You don't have to do everything yourself, you know."

He thought for a second on what that might mean, accounting for the analogy. "Yeah… no, I… yeah. I have an idea. Joanne… you remind me every day what I saw in you on the first."

"You silver tongued devil, you," she said, laughing, and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Come put that to use, won't you?" He grinned as the covers were pulled over his head and the scene faded to black, for a respectful, family friendly PG film.



"Ninjas, with katanas. Oh, and throwing stars too."

"Doctor, what the fuck are you talking about?"

Mantell paused halfway through a bite of bagel, holding up his finger while reclining in his spacious office chair. "According to"

Hoffman follows suit in holding up a finger "-which is NOT an authoritative source, I might add-"

"-Ninjas are the 38th most awesome thing of all time," he finished.

"Oh, but Yoda is 37th. Why don't we throw Yoda at her? Or maybe We use number 2, 'time travel'. We could go back in time, before she found the Gauntlet, and take it from her." Hoffman checked his notes again.

Jonathan swallowed, and extended his hand in mock incredulity. "Oh yeah, let's go down to R&D and ask them to make Yoda for the Headspace. And, and, no. We already built the Turbo Encabulator, we know what time travel accomplishes in the Headspace. Zilch. The timeline just collapses back into the Prime timeline. But ninjas… that's believable. That's accomplishable."

"I think you're just going to have to accept that we may be dealing with a… P-Scenario."

"Hoffman, I told you that-"

"-And I'll take care of the ninjas. I understand, sir, you're under a lot of stress. Your request is perfectly reasonable, if not childish. All I ask, sir, is that if I take care of this for you, and go through the effort of actually getting R&D-"

Dr. Mantell interjects: "The Technicians, Hoffman."

"- yes, the Technicians. If I go through the effort to convince them to retrofit a squadron of Knights into… 'Black Ninjas? that could use some work… If I do that, will you consider moving forward with project Anti-Hero?"

Jonathan spins around in his chair, looking out the window of his corner office on the 8th floor. He places his palms together and lines his fingertips up with his nose, exhaling sharply, narrowing his eyes in consideration. After a moment, he speaks. "On the one condition that the budget be less than the ninjas."

Samuel thinks his boss can't see him smile in giddy joy, but the reflection in the window tells Jonathan everything. "Right away, sir! I'll start with a cyborg arm, and then Jared will-"

A hand is waved in his general direction, its owner still facing the window. "Go. Get. Enjoy your project. Glad someone is…" It wouldn't be long before the two each completed their own attempt at a weapon to surpass Junior Archivist Diana Evelynn. He just had to get it out of his head that while ninjas sat at 38, katanas at 78, and ninja stars sat at 105, there wasn't a single placement in the entire top 200 for Knights.

rating: +10+x
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