THE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURING COMPANY
London * Hong Kong * Chicago * Baghdad * New Babbage
TO: Mr. Wilton Badgely-Phipps, Vice President, Irregular Research and Logistics, SIMCo HQ, London
REPORT NO.: 00000002-16
EVENTS OF NOTE:
Regrettably, I must report a rather serious breach of security.
As you know, in the entire city-state of New Babbage, only a handful of individuals who are not directly employed by SIMCo are permitted to enter Shockley Hall, and the only one who can not be refused entrance under any circumstances is Babbage’s mayor, Mr. Mosseveno Tenk. After our disastrous attempt to use a GANKER missile to disperse our experimental air kraken repellant into the atmosphere above town, I fully anticipated a summons to city hall and an uncomfortable discussion with the mayor concerning the sorts of experiments we would be permitted to conduct within city limits. What I did not expect was a house call.
After a very early breakfast at the Excelsior, I returned to the institute yesterday to find the mayor at the front door awaiting my return (long before any of the staff were due to start the day’s work). He seemed uncommonly fidgety and curt. “Mr. Solo,” he said, “we have much to discuss. Open the door.”
“A choice day for discussions I think, sir,” said I. “So delightfully gray.” My attempt to be charming was met by a blankly hostile stare so, without further pleasantries, I simply unlocked the armored portal and let him in.
“Certain city leaders have decided it’s high time we introduced stricter regulations regarding these research facilities and I quite agree with them,” said Mr. Tenk as we entered the main laboratory. “For starters, you’ll have to do something about those vats outside. Either bring them inside or raise them to at least eight meters above street level.”
“Move the vats?!?” I was flabbergasted. “Do you have any idea how expensive that would be?!?”
“More expensive than a lawsuit? Or shifting this facility to a new city? There have also been calls for you to make available an inventory of your lab equipment.”
“Now see here!” I said with great indignation, “My noble, handsome and generous supervisors would never stand for that! I must protest!” [Allow me to assure you, Mr. Badgely-Phipps, that you are reading a scrupulously accurate account of what transpired and what was said.]
“We are, of course, assuming, Mr. Solo, that you are capable of doing a proper inventory of such a… misordered facility.” Mr. Tenk cast a disapproving look over the main laboratory which, as a hallmark of the unremitting diligence of our industrious researchers, was a total wreck. The long work bench was particularly untidy.
“I suppose you’re referring to all those disassembled clocks? That’s our Mr. Sharvyn’s doing. He removed all of our mechanical clocks from the walls. He’s planning on replacing them with electric clocks powered by the surplus electricity from our diostatic ion decoupler.”
“Paint the building pink.”
“Paint the outside pink.”
“Paint it pink! Are you hard of hearing or something? Dangerous research is done in this laboratory. From now on this place and others like it will be colored a vivid pink as a warning to townsfolk. I’ll send a messenger by later with a paint swatch and a list of vendors if you can’t spare any staff to do the job. Now, about your security…”
“This is a *very* secure building…”
“TOO secure!” said the mayor. “Your neighbors are legitimately concerned about what you’re doing in here. Too many secrets! The front door… is that the only entrance?”
“Mr. Tenk, I feel your inquires are becoming overly intrusive.”
“That’s for me to decide. The safety of Babbage’s citizens is my only concern. Is that what I think it is?” he asked pointing at one of our largest pieces of equipment. “You’re keeping an operational mitocyclic poly-reactor in a residential area?!?”
“Well,” I said, “it is turned off.”
“I’m going to personally see to it that this device is removed. You will allow my engineers access to the building.” The mayor stood in front of me examining the reactor. “There should be an exhaust pipe, where is it?”
“Connecting to your head, sir.” Certain of my conclusion given the available evidence, I picked up a spare piece of metal piping and, with great force, struck my visitor on the back of his head – much as a tennis player might swing at a tennis ball. On striking the interloper with the lead pipe, I had at least hoped that he would be sufficiently concussed to lapse into unconsciousness, but as there was no guarantee that the creature hadn’t relocated its brain from it’s head, I was not entirely surprised when “the mayor” – knocked face-first to the ground by my fearsome blow – quickly recovered and turned himself over to face me.
“Have I been discovered?” asked the shape-changing mutate through its Tenk-like mouth.
“The only other mitocyclic poly-reactor in the world,” I said, “happens to be at SIMCo’s Psi-morphic Research Center, the place, I gather, from which you escaped. Also, you passed by an entire work bench covered with disassembled clocks with barely a glance. Tsk, tsk, tsk… very un-Tenkish behavior, Mr. Klone.”
“So, you know of The Great Man as well,” said the operative. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not he.” The man’s limbs elongated and became more pale as his facial features transformed into those of a scruffy, young bohemian with a receding hairline. “I am Kermit K’nid, Mr. Solo. And I believe I’ve learned all I need to report to Mr. Klone.”
“No you haven’t,” I said. “You’ve seen a cluttered lab, some broken clocks and a big, impassible door. Hardly a trove of invaluable intelligence!”
“I’ve seen one other important thing, Mr. Solo… an exit.”
Suddenly, Kermit K’nid seemed to explode. The force of his rapid expansion propelled me to the far side of the lab. I recovered quickly enough to see the living cloud of K’nid molecules above me somehow activate the poly-reactor, seep into the machine’s mechanisms and allow itself to be expeditiously expelled from the Institute through the exhaust.
This much I can draw from yesterday’s curious encounter: We must consider painting the Institute pink. It occurs to me that, if we painted the exterior a sufficiently noxious shade of pink (or perhaps mauve), it would sufficiently repulse citizens and visitors from frequenting this end of Savory Street greatly assisting our efforts to maintain a secure perimeter. Enclosed, please find a detailed feasibility study including estimates of the cost of hiring Academy students to do the painting as well as an estimate of the overtime pay I would anticipate in order to supervise the execution of this initiative.
END OF REPORT. ###