'Why aren't we bringing David with us?", Rob asks. He's got a good point. Here we are, packing for a fact-finding mission, precipitated by abnormal geology, and yet we're leaving behind the geologist. Robert "Don't call me Bob" Waterhouse is from Eugene and volunteered to be the native guide for our search. I've left my sax case under my bunk at the madhouse and picked up my duffel bag for traveling. I picked Rob up near his dorm, and now we're on our way to pick up Janet.
"I believe it's because this investigation doesn't actually need him to do anything after pointing out the first signs of trouble for us. Nope, now it's up to those of us with field experience. Not that we should expect any difficulty." I park my truck in back of the library, and we slip in through a back door. A few flights of stairs later we're back in the halls of the sub-sub-basement. Fluorescent bulbs in widely-spaced fittings cast harsh light onto institutional-green linoleum leading further into the closed stacks. My phone dings- we're in the machine room- from Janet. Rob pauses as we pass the office, but I just grab his shirt-sleeve and yank.
"C'mon, man. She says to meet in the machine room." He stumbles, but we carry on to the next door. Here, the mid-century architecture has been replaced with green-painted steel, a wired-glass window showing a dimly lit row of networking gear. The door has no handle on the outside. Robert rolls his eyes as I mash the buzzer next to the door and wait. A beat later, the lock chunks, and the door opens an inch. I toe it open, and we head to the back of the room. I have to smile when I hear the door close behind us. If I weren't used to it, I'd find it creepy. I did at first. The many dozens of fans in the room make an irritating whirr, and the air is just warm enough to be unpleasant. Another door at the back of the room heaves into view, situated so that the equipment racks hide it from view of the door. This door is the usual aged wood and frosted glass, and reads 'Maintenance'. The lintel once again tells the whole story, having been inscribed 'ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ'. Subtlety is not a common trait in college students.
I try my usual knock-once-then-barge-in trick, but somebody has actually locked the door. I instead only succeed in mashing my nose into the glass. Rob comments, saying "Smooth." I decline to respond, and hammer on the doorframe. Someone was in there to unlock the outer door, so someone had damn better open this one. Finally, it does. The odd sight of an armory on a college campus greets me. Present are army surplus lockers lining one wall, a large table in the center of the room, a desk at the back wall, and a glove box in the corner. At the desk is Eric Freeman. Standing by the open door is Alexis Clark, with Janet packing a duffel at the table. Two look pleased to see us, and the third most definitely does not.
"Oh, fantastic, you're here. Before you run off on your adventure, I just want you to remember how long it takes us to make this stuff. I don't enjoy working with it, either, so don't waste it." Lexie doesn't like me very well, and she resents me for making the physics department work with some of the most hazardous materials in existence, just so I can pack some extra punch. She unseals the glove box and hands me a small metal case. It's green steel, with a canvas strap and old Cyrillic markings stencilled on it. Opening it, I find two loaded magazines for an M14 rifle. The bullet tips glow in impossible colors, and it feels like there's a tooth missing in the front of my brain. I close the case, wincing. Lexie smirks at me and walks out.
"So, what's the idea here?" Janet asks. I cross the room to my locker, turning my head over my shoulder to answer.
"Reconnaissance in force, with emphasis on force. Point being, if we find a cult, we should be able to handle it on our own. If we need any special stuff, like the gate-hopping gear, we can call back for help." I put the case of special ammo (chromatic ammunition being well-suited to killing things not from around here) in the duffel bag, and start pulling things from the locker for the trip. Web gear, rifle, field coat, flak jacket, patrol cap... I stuff it all into the duffel, with the rifle broken down and cased for transport. Janet is doing the same, but her talents run toward the esoteric, even the arcane. A cavalry saber goes into her bag, followed by a pair of brass knuckles and various other things. Rob stares at us, his eyes the size of saucers. Eric looks like he's trying not to crack up.
"Let's get going." Janet says.
"Actually, I've got some things for you two, also." Eric speaks up, somewhat uncharacteristically. The soft-spoken engineering student does most of the scutwork for our group, and as a result I have more time for him than I do for others. He opens up a desk drawer and pulls out some things. "Here. Some sensory equipment for you two, a geiger counter and a neutrino detector." Janet looks at him when he hands her a two-inch cube of what looks like blue-tinted glass. "No, I'm not joking. Clark's been running wild with your work, Janet, and after borrowing a boule from the chemistry department, she made this up. Should work pretty well." After this major speech, Janet seems rather impressed.
"Oh, and one last thing, the grownups have deigned to give you this, for whatever reason." Eric pulls out a file folder sealed with red tape. A green triangle is stamped on the front cover. "The old man said you were to familiarise yourself with it on the drive. Don't lose it, destroy after reading, you know the drill. Now you three can leave." Rob huffs from behind us, probably irritated about being ignored.
"All right, let's get a move on." I say. I'm looking forward to a nice little break from the campus.