*Nothing belongs to me, but if it did- oh the possibilities.
The Romance of the Pimpernel- Chapter 2
"Artie specifically said no touching!" Myka slapped Pete's hand away from the top of the Amber Jewel Box. "You could get yourself sucked inside."
"Artie said that the player of the music got vacuumed" Pete shook his slapped hand, "Don't you want to see the inside of the box?"
"How long have you been working here? We don't touch artifacts unless we have to," purple gloved- just in case, Myka leaned over the jewel box. The detailing was exquisite. About the size of a small cat carrier, the box was composed of different panes of thinly cut and perfectly molded amber. Despite the dim lighting of the Dark Vault, the box truly did seem to glow from within; maintaining the golden hue of the materials despite the lavender spotlight encircling the perimeter of the pedestal that artifact sat on. Myka was mesmerized, so much so that she didn't hear the electronic whirl of Claudia's portable Warehouse database and the accompanying sound of flying fingers as the young tech recognized a black flag reference.
"Hmmmm, well, there's something you don't enjoy seeing pop up on a file," Claudia flipped through the various screens.
"What is it Claud?" Pete walked over and towered over Claudia's shoulder.
"This artifact's file has been black flagged," she shrugged, "It's not unusual, unfortunately a lot of artifacts are black flagged" Claudia frowned, "I've even put the mark on a few artifacts myself, like the Metal Spine and HG's so called "Time Machine."
Pete wasn't following, "what's the black flag on an artifact file mean?"
Claudia was grim, "well, my almost electrocuted friend, what do the two artifacts I just referenced have in common?"
"It means a Warehouse agent was killed in the acquisition of the artifact" Myka's sudden return to the conversation was unexpected. Claudia and Pete both looked up into the young woman's somber expression, "what happened Claudia?" Myka looked down at the box, suddenly not finding it quite as alluring now that she knew it had killed someone, a Warehouse agent, somebody's partner.
Pete shuffled his feet awkwardly, "Myka, do we always have to hear the doom and gloom?" He looked at his partner knowing where she was going with this, "can't an artifact just be pretty?"
"Wouldn't you want them to know?" Myka replied softly, not taking her eyes off the box. Pete sighed in defeat, a momentary distraction from the drudgery of inventory turning too serious for his liking.
"Want who to know about what?" Not following, Claudia looked back and forth from Pete to Myka expectantly.
"Want the Warehouse agents who take our place when we die in the line of duty to know how it happened," Myka looked up and met Pete's eyes, "want them to remember you, what you saved and what you sacrificed."
Uncharacteristically left without a witty retort, the young redhead's silent patter on the portable inventory database was respectful. Claudia was a Warehouse agent, there was no doubt about her level of ability to retrieve artifacts and generally take down the evil doers who would dare to thwart his royal Artie-ness. But Claudia didn't share Myka and Pete's training, both of whom had been willing to give their lives for the sake of their nation. It's why they had both been chosen for this job, and while Claudia had lost people to the Warehouse, her brother had been trapped for years by an artifact and poor Steve had actually died, the young agent did not know the level of sacrifice, even to self that Pete and Myka were willing to accept as secret service agents. Claudia began to read, "The box was under Russian control until it was acquired by Warehouse 12 agents in January of 1905."
"Bloody Sunday?" Myka walked over to Claudia and tried to read over her other shoulder. "Don't tell me this thing caused the 1905 Russian Peasant revolt?"
"Seriously Myka, you have got to get out more" Trying to lighten the mood, Pete gently shoved at his partner's shoulder, "you have out nerded even yourself today."
Claudia continued, "Apparently, recognizing the civil unrest in the Russian people that the Brits had witnessed in the French right before the whole Let Them Eat Cake revolution turned into the Reign of Terror, Warehouse 12 sent two of its best agents undercover to Russia in an effort to retrieve the Amber Jewel Box before it feel into the wrong hands." Claudia flipped to the next screen, "Obviously they were successful, otherwise we wouldn't be looking at the box here in safe and sound mode," Claudia nodded over at the artifact, "but Germany, seeing a chink in the armor of a country they were eventually going to find the time to invade, got wind of the operation and sent in their own people to steal the box."
"Germany planning on invading Russia? Shocker…" Pete rolled his eyes, "Name me a country Germany was not planning on invading last century.."
Myka walked back over to the box, "What went down?"
Claudia's forehead furrowed in concentration, "It doesn't really say," she looked up apologetically, "it just says that a female agent died in a confrontation with enemy agents and that her partner brought the Amber Box back, but not her." Claudia went back to her screen, "despite the persistent British politeness that comes with reading anything from Warehouse 12, this file is actually highly uncooperative."
Pete felt the warmth of a vibe, small and silent creeping up his spine and he turned his attention to the younger agent, "what's the deal Claud?"
Claudia loved a challenge and smirked as her fingers flew over the touch screen, "This file has either been deliberately encrypted or it's simply very old and missing information and I'm completely over thinking it."
"What was her name?" Myka reached out to touch the top of the Jewel Box, the very action that had earned Pete her admonishment not five minutes earlier. She didn't care. She suddenly got the urge to smash the delicate container to bits. No one should ever have died over this box, Myka's hand balled into a fist.
"Hey, we came, we did the tourist thing" Pete reached out and caught Myka's elbow, a stronger vibe now tingling through his body, "now we head back to inventory and all its glory."
"Oh no you don't," Claudia chuckled in victory, "why do government flunkies even bother trying to hide things from me?"
"Pete, stop manhandling me," Myka turned to swat Pete away.
"Myka, we have to go," His partner was not picking up on Pete's urgency; she was usually so good at hearing the vibe in his voice.
"Pete, relax," Myka took a step away from her partner towards the artifact pedestal, finally picking up on his facial expression, "wait-what's wrong?"
"I'm vibing something awful, Myka," Pete stepped towards his partner again, "I don't know why, but we need to leave the Dark Vault." Myka turned her attention back to the artifact, she could have sworn it was glowing a little bit brighter than when the trio had first walked in.
"Pete, do you see what I'm seeing?" Her attention divided between Pete and the artifact, Myka leaned over the Jewel Box for a closer look.
Pete looked down at the now noticeably brighter glow, "Yeah…that's probably not going to work out for us."
Lost in cyber glory, Claudia looked up and noticed that Pete and Myka had crept across the room and were both hovering over the Amber Jewel Box. With a large smile on her face she swaggered over to them, having finally decrypted the file revealing the name of the agent who died.
"Who is totally the Queen of Thirteen baby?" The grin on Claudia's face faded as she realized neither Pete nor Myka were paying any attention to her. They were both intently staring at the Amber Jewel Box. "Guys?" Claudia jabbed at Pete's midsection, "Genius at work here- stand aside and recognize." Neither Pete nor Myka turned around.
Ignored, and slightly concerned, the young agent pushed into Pete's shoulder, "Hey, Earth to Lattimer!" Startled, Pete knocked into Myka, sending her clumsily into the artifact pedestal. The three agents, completely horrified, watched as the box seemingly fell in slow motion, finally clattering, loudly-but intact, to the floor.
Speechless, they waited for the worst.
"Crap….let me know when it's over," Pete pinched his eyes closed.
The box lay on its side, closed, motionless….its glow faint.
"Well, that was anticlimactic," Claudia, huddling against Myka, stood up.
"I can't believe that just happened," still wary, Myka straightened up and took a step back from the fallen Russian treasure. "We have got to be more careful."
"For once I'm glad an evil do-dad failed to live up to the hype," Pete bent down to retrieve the fallen artifact, "but seriously, we never speak of this again."
"Agreed." Myka, relieved, turned to Claudia, the tension in the room draining away. "What were you saying Claud?"
"Oh, right," Claudia grinned back, "Back to my big reveal that I had no less than blown up a government firewall and uncovered the name of the female agent who died in the bringing down of the empire of the evil Tuppleware."
"What'd ya find girlfriend?" Pete carefully placed the Amber Jewel Box back on its pedestal.
Claudia consulted her screen, "Her name was Warehouse Agent Emma Orczy"
"Wait? The author?" Myka's look was incredulous. Behind her, Pete delicately removed his purple gloved hands from the top of the box. He looked down at the translucent lid, he could see something inside, a small figure maybe? It was carved out of a different colored amber and he didn't remember seeing it during his initial perusal.
"Hmm...is that supposed to be in there?" Pete gently lifted the lid of the box and peered inside.
"Pete! No!" But it was too late; Myka listened as the music of the box filled the Dark Vault. She rushed towards Pete; the lights flickered, but Claudia was faster. The tech grabbed the lid of the box and slammed it closed. The young redhead gave Pete a withering look, her hands still on the artifact when she realized it was too late, she could no longer feel the smooth edge of the box's surface beneath her fingers.
Panicked, Pete was defensive, "but we didn't PLAY the music!"
Myka's eyes were wide, "Oh my god, Pete! Opening a jewelry box is what plays the music!"
Claudia Donovan faded into a swirling golden mist and as she disappeared into the Amber Jewel Box Pete could clearly hear the young woman's exasperation: