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Elizabeth Day stared at a whiteboard. Beside her stood two other people, also studying the board. One, Elise, is a research assistant like herself. The other is a professor, the subject of their assistance, whose name had long ago been deemed by something very important to be something very unimportant. The board was covered in a web of green and black lines, linking various reports of different things and other reports of not-things which might be related to those things.

The warning signs only lasted a moment. Most people perceived it only as a brief feeling of being watched, or a nigh-unnoticeable pressure in their left temple. Liz instead perceived at as a screaming mass of raw information streaming into everything around her. The other two figures stood stock still, the screaming ideas trying to claw into them, and finding no immediate awareness to latch onto. Liz pulled bins of paper and electronics off of a nearby dolly, and loaded her two time-frozen colleagues onto it. The screams and crashes had already begun in other parts of Site-41 by the time Liz had wheeled the pair out the door and towards the vehicle depot.

Liz pulled to the side of the forest road to get her bearings as the wave of radiation swept through her. She relaxed the time suspension around her two passengers, letting the forgetfulness do its work scrubbing away and sterilizing the risky parts of their memory. Their eyes flickered for a few moments before they slipped into proper unconsciousness. Liz regained her balance after a few seconds and squeezed the black leather of the steering wheel until her dark knuckles started to turn pale.

"Couldn't leave well enough alone, could you Wheeler? And now we've gone and lost bloody Site-41 too."

She closed her eyes and sank back against the headrest. She already knew where she had to go. In fact, there was only one place to go, unless the Foundation had some miracle site that it knew how to hide from her. She shifted the Humvee back out of park and started back down the winding road.

A site that didn't exist didn't sit in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada. Like every Foundation Site and Area, this site was assigned its own special number. The problem was, no one could ever seem to remember the number that belonged to this particular site. Still, since it had to be called something, those who worked there had taken up referring to it as The Blackbox.

Deep within the site, Director Melinda Williams sat working. Her office was spartan in design, but modern. The walls were reinforced concrete, lit by phosphorescent tubes on the ceiling. A custom Foundation desktop was placed on a stainless steel work desk, part of a matching pair with the metallic bookcase on the back wall. The small woman herself seemed to have been picked out to coordinate with the decor, with a stern, lined face and grey hair tightly wound into a bun. The only three things that seemed out of place were the pair of comfortable wood-and-leather chairs and the name on the nameplate, which had always seemed to its owner that it would fit someone's perky twenty-something niece better than a Foundation director.

The director looked back and forth between the charts on her screen and the paper on her desk, working to ensure that the letter is worded as unambiguously as possible. Eventually, upon looking up, she finds a yellow post-it stuck to the screen.

'We need to talk.'

She unholstered her sidearm and turned off the safety. She then began scanning the room. Most people would begin looking for something that was there. A direct look at the intruder would be good, but a shadow or footfall would still be useful. Melinda wasn't looking for any of those things. To see an antimeme, you had to look for what wasn't there. A spot that your eyes kept jumping over, a dark spot on the metal of the bookcase that your brain was absolutely certain wasn't a reflection, an ambient noise that you're only fairly certain is normally there.

Another note blinked suddenly into existence on the wall in front of her.

'There's been an incident. I need to know that you're still yourself.'

"Now how are you doing that…" she muttered as she looked over the note. Then she spun around and shot where the reflection in the bookcase showed. Her bullet collided with the far concrete wall. Suddenly, she was now holding another post-it.

'Yep, still you.'

Sitting in the far chair was an unfamiliar woman, dressed up in a business blouse and slacks. Clipped on her collar was what looked like a valid CCD ID card. The gun was neatly disassembled on the chrome surface of the desk. "Good evening, director Williams."

Melinda studied the coffee-skinned newcomer. British accent, probably Manchester. The clothes were in good condition, but weren't tailored, giving some idea of financial resources. Relatively new, as well. No visible weapon, but that meant very little if she could steal and disassemble one that quickly. The badge would indicate she was likely either Foundation or knew its procedures. Of course, all that hinged on her visitor running on anything resembling human logic.

"…So how did you do the magic tricks?"

"Froze you in time. I can't turn back memories while you have those mnestics in your system, but I can at least keep you from making new ones."

Melinda grunted, and returned to her seat. She had no confirmation that this thing was telling the truth, but the explanation seemed plausible enough.

"What kind of incident."

"Details are classified. The long and short is that we've lost the Antimemetics Division."

Melinda narrowed her eyes. This was always the hard part, balancing out how much information she needed to mine to take action without it developing into a high risk.

"There is no Antimemetics Division. At least, not on our records."

A look that couldn't decide whether it should be a smirk or melancholy played across Liz's face. "Exactly as it's always been. I'm guessing that you can pick out what it was, though."

"Yes, but I still have to wonder," she steepled her fingers, "what are you?"

Liz considered the question for a few long moments, before meeting the older woman's eyes. "I'm a warhead. Luckily, I'm not pointed at you."

The older woman leaned back in her chair. "And would you mind telling me why a 'warhead', who at the very least is bothering to masquerade as a Foundation agent, made the effort to sneak into my personal office? Besides to tell me about a division which I likely cannot risk knowing about and might forget even if I could."

Liz considered her words carefully. "Do you know a man named Bart Hughes?"

"No. Who is he?"

"Someone with the right brains to help shut down a very dangerous antimeme. I'm also fairly certain he's dead."

"And you were hoping you might be wrong if he turned out to be on my team."

"Not quite. I think he may have left behind something that I can use though. Plans. I haven't found them anywhere else he might have left them, at least as far as places that are still at all accessible."

Melinda nodded, beginning to put all the pieces together. "So you'll need to try to find these plans. And you'll need a crew to put them in motion if you do find them."


She studied the younger woman for a long while, picking apart her body language, going back over the terminology she'd used, the familiarity in her voice. "You work here, don't you? Been caught up in a sinkhole and forgotten a few times too, I'd recon."

Liz nodded. "Happens to the best of ud… There is one other thing, too."

"What is it?"

"I have two other agents with me. I doubt anyone here can remember them anymore, and their documentation is fried. Their names are Elise and… you know what, let's call him Steve. They've also lost their memories right down to before they started mnestics, so they'd have to be retrained and set back up, but they've still managed to make it this far on-"

"Basic competence."

Liz considered the phrase, looking to Melinda as if she were remembering something, then she nodded. "Permission to leave and stop by the registry to get our names back in the system?"

"Permission granted, Agent…?"

"Liz. Elizabeth Day."

And then the younger woman was gone and her gun was sitting in front of her, fully reassembled.

She shook her head and holstered it, wondering to herself what the story must have been behind her hiring of that particular agent. She sighed and picked up her pen. "It never gets any less insane, does it?"