Arlo Wallace whistled to himself as he wandered the corridors of the DSI High Security Facility. He wasn't usually a whistler, but, today, the noise kept him company. The HSF felt unusually quiet.

 

“Laney,” Arlo called over to the other on-duty guard. “Seem weird in here to you?”

 

Debra Laney, currently logging her timesheet into the floor’s only computer, looked up. “Not any weirder than it usually does. Why?”

 

“Dunno. Just eerie.” But Arlo was stiffening, and, a little too nervously, running some numbers in his head.

 

Laney hoped nothing was overly strange in HSF. She had drawn the proverbial short-end of the stick with last month’s “promotion.” She now spent her Thursday and Friday nights on active patrol in HSF: as DSI’s premier high security location in New Albion, HSF held thirteen of the most dangerous individuals in the QZ, as well as three witches in the EN Ward and five psychics in the subterranean Breaker Ward.

 

Arlo narrowed his eyes, and looked around the first floor of the facility.

 

“Laney,” he said sharply, nerves icing his voice with an unintentional sharpness, “who did the 1300 cell check?”

 

“Um, that would be Cooper, Officer Wallace.” 1905 on a Thursday night, and her shift was almost over. Laney felt her stomach start to churn. Please let it not be weird, she silently begged.

 

Arlo nodded, but was already pulling up Cooper’s information on his P7. After a crackle of static, Cooper answered, “Hank Cooper.”

 

“Cooper, this is Arlo Wallace. I just started my HSF shift. Did you finish the 1300 cell check?” Arlo asked, trying hard to enunciate as clearly as possible. When Cooper took more than a few seconds to answer, Arlo knew he was prolonging the inevitable.

 

“Um, something was weird with my clearance, and, uh… I forgot. I'm really--" but Arlo had already shut down the communication channel.

 

“Shit,” Arlo said. Loudly, as if to try to fix what was pretty well broken, Arlo exclaimed, “Shit!”

 

Dammit, Laney thought to herself. She had been looking forward to rewatching the American Centurions documentary tonight. Preferably alone except for her cat and some Chinese takeout.

 

“Laney,” Arlo barked, “get Towers on the phone. I'm going to start checking cells. Assume there’s been a break.”

 

Arlo immediately rushed over to Cell 1001. The glowing door panel pulsed green. Like all the other panels on the floor, the green pulse indicated nothing abnormal. After a year working the HSF, however, Arlo knew that the light meant little to nothing.

 

Arlo typed his clearance code into the P7, and pressed the device up against the panel. A computerized voice responded, “Cell 1001: Inmate 1901. Present. Unconscious. Stable.”

 

“Activate P7 Precautionary Ward and Enter Cell 1001,” Arlo clearly ordered.

 

“P7 Precautionary Ward and Cell Entrance Activating in three, two, one,” the computerized voice chanted clinically. On the final syllable, a shimmer of robotic beats rung out from the cell panel and Arlo’s P7. The door to Cell 1001 automatically slid open. Simultaneously, a bolt of electricity shot through the room, briefly stunning Inmate 1901, who had been sleeping on his bed.

 

Although the P7 shielded Arlo from the shock, he felt the metallic twang in his mouth. He still hadn't gotten used to it.

 

Arlo looked feverishly throughout the room for signs of planned escape. The usual cello rested attentively, the cello solo of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals waiting in the music stand. Nothing seemed amiss.

 

Inmate 1901, a well-built elderly man, roused from the bolt of lightning. “Mr. Wallace,” he said pleasantly, “how nice of you to stop in for a visit. Did you ask Shane about my requests?” But Arlo was already exiting, and locking Cell 1001 behind him.

 

Cells 1002 through 1006 were similarly secure. Arlo began to relax. Maybe they had gotten lucky.

 

As if to reprimand him for such optimism, Arlo’s P7 buzzed. “Yeah,” Arlo said breathlessly. “Arlo Wallace-- Cells 1001 through 1006 are--"

 

“Towers says don't waste your time on those. Jump straight to the anomalies,” Laney answered.

 

Arlo raced to Cell 1009. As soon as he typed his clearance code and activated the security panel, the computerized voice announced, “Cell 1009: Inmate  2012. Inmate 2012 not present.”

 

“Shit,” Arlo exhaled sharply. “Shit.

 

Arlo continued through to Cell 1013, unsurprised but mortified to find four more empty cells.

 

“Cell 1013: Inmate 2041. Inmate 2041 not present,” signified the death knell of a peaceful weekend, and quite possibly the nail in the coffin of his career. Either that or job security. It was hard to tell.

 

He went to the next lock up. “Cell 1014: Inmate 2057. Inmate 2057 not present.”

 

“Scarlett is going to have to check on the witches,” Arlo said to Laney over the P7, “I don't have clearance on that part of the ward. I'm going downstairs to check on the Breakers.”

 

Little time for the elevator, Arlo raced for the emergency exit stairs, leaping down them six at a time.

 

He checked the first cell, larger than the others. The voice indicated, as did the flashing blue lights of the door panel, “Cell 3001: Inmate 1912. Inmate 1912 on duty.”

 

Arlo rolled his eyes, “Right, I forgot,” he said to no one as he continued to the next cell.

 

“Cell 3002: Inmate 1945. Inmate 1945 not present.”

 

At this point, expletives felt almost useless. Arlo sprinted to Cell 3003.

 

“Cell 3003: Inmate 1968. Inmate 1968 not present.”

   

Arlo stammered, “Activate P7 Precautionary Ward and Enter Cell 3003.”

 

“P7 Precautionary Ward and Cell Entrance Activating in three, two, one--" Arlo bolted into the cell he knew was empty.

 

Arlo looked around the room. His eyes caught a scrap of paper on the spartan, unmade bed. He picked it up; the roughly scrawled note read:

 

Catch ya later, doc.

 

Arlo, for not the first time in his career, muttered an exhausted, “Well, fuck.”

 

***

 

If you are a new PC you will not start game in the QZ, but with Scott. If you are a new or returning PC who has a serial number aligned with one of the Inmate numbers on this teaser, you will also start game with Scott. After opening, please go with Scott to Monster Camp to await further instructions.