Severe Weather Warning
Made on: 12 Nov 2022
Rating: General Audiences
Word Count: 3,154 words
Relationship(s): Manu Larch & Briggs Diallo
Characters of Focus: Manu Larch, Briggs Diallo (Both from Short Circuits 1 / Gamma 2)
Setting: Season 24 (The Expansion Era: Fire Sale | Save Situation)
Metadata: .DAT (Department of Applied Thaumaturgy), Fluff and Angst, Ambiguous/Open Ending, Weather, Scattered Players,
Warnings: Typical world ending via weird black hole (black hole) stuff, canon-typical angst
Summary: Before, in the prime universe, Manu Larch reports on the weather.
A weatherman must keep up with the latest news, and Manu is nothing if not a professional.
Manu’s called in to the station to report on the semi-centennial at the last minute.
They put the landline back in its proper place and turn to where Briggs is watching them from the couch. The popcorn they made is still steaming on the coffee table and the murmuring of the sportscasters on the TV is harmonizing with the buzz of the AC.
“I’m really sorry Briggs, but the station is calling me in to report on the weather tonight.”
Briggs waves them off, leaning forward to pick up the remote, “It’s alright, you're more of a blaseball fan then I am."
The TV shuts off with a click and Briggs places the remote down as they stand up, stretching.
"Do you want me to drive you there?"
"You really don't have too…"
20 minutes later it's still bright outside despite the fact that It really should be getting close to sunset. Not that this is a new development, it's been like this on and off after sun 2 appeared. The lack of consistent day and night time has only gotten worse since.
Manu tugs on their suit jacket over the blouse they grabbed blindly from their closet at the last moment, and steps out of the car.
"Call me when you're done." Briggs says before Manu can shut the car door.
Manu ducks back under the roof of the car to look them in the eye, "you really don't have to stay up, I can ride with a co-worker or get an ulber!"
"I'll be staying up anyway to watch you." They shrug, "stay safe."
Manu waves at the retreating car before booking it to studio D.
Their tabs are still there when they boot their computer up. The agency cameras give them a good shot of the field and the Meteorologist Collective gives them a couple of models for the situation. They scroll through what has been deemed forbidden knowledge easily and boy is it a doozy. It seems like every hour something different happens, and the predictions are barely above 40% accuracy.
In the twenty minute breaks between their sections, when their co-workers continue on with their script of the news, Briggs texts them with updates of the game. They can't spend much time responding, since they're elbow deep in wading through historical papers and updated models, but Manu appreciates it regardless.
They update the masses as best they can through the shifting weather when off their break.
Manu's hands are shaking by the time the pressure of the sun nears 100%. They're live when suddenly the monitors showing Manu what the green screen looks like explodes in color. They stare, suddenly still after an hour of constant, nervous, shaking, and see something they have never seen before.
"Um." They say eloquently and then their channel is taken over by The Boss.
When the channel is back under the studios control, Manu is slightly more collected and has hastily skimmed through some theoretical physics papers and NLASA articles. They barely stutter as their everywhere accent calmly explains the situation.
A new weather has been born.
Manu's resting at their desk, head resting on arms resting on legs and breathing steadily in a way that can only be done while measured carefully, when their phone buzzes against the table.
It takes a moment for them to realize they didn't imagine the noise and another for them to convince themselves that it was their phone and not a co-workers. It turned out to be a text from Briggs, plainly stating that they're waiting outside, and will be ready to drive back whenever they want.
They're still pulling on their jacket when they rush out the side door into the parking lot. There, as they have claimed, is Briggs in their steel gray car.
When Manu reaches the divers window it's already rolled down.
"What are you doing out here!" Manu's voice rises to a shrill for the first time that night, "It's dangerous! We don't know what this weather means yet!"
"I'm alright." Briggs leans half way out of the window to catch Manu's shoulders, "it's alright, Manu. Nothing happened yet."
Manu sniffs, the coldness of the sudden darkness nipping at their nose. They breathe in the crisp air and grips back at Briggs arms.
"Come on now, let's go home. You don't mind if I stay overnight, do you?"
Manu laughs, airy in a way that laughter born from absurdness tends to be. Their voice comes out half strangled and half clogged with something else. "of course not Briggs. You don't have to ask. I've told you the couch is always available for you."
Briggs squeezes their shoulders before letting them go to the other side of the vehicle.
The drive back is silent mostly, exhaustion from the night events filling up the air between the two. The dashboard flickers from being bathed in yellow light and dull gray as they pass under streetlights.
"Gods, I shouldn't have convinced you to take tonight off. I'm really sorry Briggs."
"It's Fine, I don't imagine there would have been much work done at the lab tonight anyways."
"Still, I'm really sorry."
"There's nothing to apologize about."
Most of .DAT is working towards overtime the next couple of days. Manu already had a pretty tight schedule between their day job and Agent work, so their schedule doesn't change too much, other than their more frequent visits.
Manu swaps out their Business Clothes (trenchcoat and fedora) with their business clothes (a simple suit jacket). The blouse and slacks underneath stay the same, which Noah continues to argue defeats the purpose of Business Clothes. Manu is pretty sure that Noah practically lives in the trenchcoat he dons, so they take the complaint with a pinch of salt.
They normally wouldn’t even be going into the agency on Sundays, even with the heightened schedule, but they received a parcel they needed to pass on yesterday. It was nice to see everyone, however briefly. Even if most of them were too wrapped up in their work to give anything more than a brief hello.
The trip from their apartment to the news studio is uneventful as always, and they arrive with time to set up their report before their morning section goes live.
Prepping has been aggravating lately. Most days they can't say anything except "prepare for anything" which is the least helpful thing to say about weather, in their humble opinion.
They can't really change that though, their models don't really have the data to understand Jazz weather yet, and every circumstance just shows to have the same percent chance of happening. But, Manu is nothing if not a professional, and so they keep their chin up and continue the noble fight of declaring the weather.
Briggs is at their apartment when they return from work the day the map shows up. They sit through Manu's excited rushed explanation easily enough before huffing.
"They never had a metaphysical journey in hlockey." Briggs complains. "Why can't we go back to the good old days of splorts where teams got into normal situations. Like trying to appease the Zamboni gods or changing the ice to frozen maple syrup."
"Well," Manu hummors them, "I don't think the Canadian hlockey gods were powerful enough to change the weather."
Briggs throws their hands into the air, "of course not! It's an indoor splort!"
The next time Manu's in .DATs sanctioned building for the full day, they're greeted by chaos. The Houston spies are on their way to the desert, and first contact is about to be made by the Sunbeams.
Someone's brought out the big whiteboards out, and Noah is attempting to keep peace and order to little avail.
Zeezee has commandeered an entire board somehow, and filled it with scripts that make Manu's eyes hurt if they look at it too long and a very bad drawing of some sort of school bus? Or brick. It's hard to tell.
Whatever's on there has Jolene nodding agreeably and writing down notes, so it has to be somewhat practical at least.
Biby is busy adding to the “pros and cons” corner of having your metaphysical body being stuck in a desert. Kofi is adding some very important diagrams of cats and cacti to the same board as Biby in increasing amounts of colors. Next to them, Eleanor is writing down a grocery list of items which start mundane and end with what looks to be like the alchemist words for common chemical compounds.
Briggs watches as Manu carefully jots down the estimated times for all the teams heading to the blackhole (blackhole) and the desert.
They're about to say something when Manu's phone goes off with a notification from BBN. The reporter repeats the headline: "The -------- hit the desert!"
"Eh? Who?" Zeezee stops their mad scribbling to ask.
"The --------?" The static leaves Manu's mouth easily, "The— what on earth."
The article title is scattered when they look back down at their phone.
The Agency required radio suddenly begins to whine and The Reader's distinctive voice starts filling the waves.
Manu's at Briggs place for a change when the Houston Spies hit the desert. Briggs was painting Manu’s nails on the small balcony that their apartment has, rattling off the weird office drama that’s been happening in their blood testing lab. Office drama might be the wrong word, it’s really just Briggs rubbernecking at the very dramatic and exciting lives some of their co-workers have.
Manu's nails are slowly turning a nice glittery dark blue color under the careful guidance of Briggs surgeon-like hands. Without any buildup, Manu feels like they're in an earthquake despite the tectonic plates under them being perfectly still.
Briggs hand jerks, as he moves to stabilize themself against the small table and the nail polish container is bumped into by Manu's elbow as they tip over in their chair.
As soon as it starts the non-earthquake disappears.
"Are you alright --nu?" -rig-s, stands up to peer over the table.
"I'm fine! Don’t worry!” They sit up, “I think we should maybe make a call into the agency, though."
Whatever El-an-r and Ze-z-- did ended up protecting the DAT agents from total scattering. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the rest of the agency. Not that it changes much of their work flow. Departments have always been constructed to be pretty self-sustaining, and they continue to fax over their reports to the appropriate offices and put collected files in predetermined drop zones.
There's just less responses, that's all.
There's stripes of bright blue slipping into the Houston skyline.
The blackhole (blackhole) approach is slow, but the reminders marked above the city makes it so --nu can't put it out of mind. The newly harsh winds push at them through the window they opened.
They reported a 85% chance of rain tonight, and --nu hopes that that's all the clouds rolling in will bring.
No-h's the only one working on paperwork when --nu goes into .DAT's building the next week. The rest of the Agents are sitting around the biggest foldout table they have.
--nu waves back to -rig-s as they sit down before doing a double take.
"Wait, aren't you scheduled to work at the blood lab on Thursday?"
-rig-s laughs, although the grin doesn't quite reach their eyes, "Normally yes, but my boss started driving south Monday, and none of my coworkers showed up yesterday. So I have the day off."
It started to become a similar situation in --nu's weather station. Only them and the co-host showed up on Tuesdays, and --nu had to go in on their break day yesterday to show the only remaining wednesday-sunday newscaster how to work the greenscreen by themselves.
When they tell -rig-s as much, they only sigh and ask them if they're hungry for any of the sweets El-an-r brought over.
The door shuts firmly as --nu enters back into their apartment. On the couch, lounging in the same exact position they were in when --nu left, is -rig-s.
They set their muddy shoes next to the front door and go over to peer over the couch. “Have you moved at all today?”
“--nu! Hello!” They then register the question, and laughs “I did, I swear. I just got back from a visit to .DAT.”
-rig-s sits up then, despite the fact that they're sitting down they’re still a bit taller than –nu.
“Speaking of,” -rig-s continues, “we received a letter from Roman today! It seems like being an inactive agent was enough to prevent them from scattering. The department’s writing a letter back if you want to add anything.”
--nu moves around the couch to sit down next to -rig-s, who scoots over to make room.
“What did they say?”
“Oh, you know.” -rig-s twirls their hands around, “They’re enjoying the coast and the lighthouse job is going well. They sent over a portion of their novel for Jol-ne to look over.”
“Is it any good?”
“Do you think I was able to read it before Jol-ne holed up in their office with it?”
-rig-s starts hanging out at the news station, since they don't have any lab work to do and .DAT has dissolved into purely focusing on blackhole (blackhole) prevention when the Agents aren't sitting around a table and taking solstice in whatever time they have left. No-h isn't even attempting to write up reports anymore.
Neither --nu's nor -rig-s area of study are much help in the former– since the study of weather doesn’t lead so much to prevention than to categorization and there's seemingly no blood involved– so --nu has taken up being the weathercaster full time while -rig-s acts as the replacement camera man.
--nu isn't sure how many people are still around in Houston, but it's not zero so they continue to announce the weather.
“At twelve there's an 80% chance of an eclipse. Remember to not look into an eclipse directly– -rig-s.” --nu cuts themselves off to stare at their cameraman, whose shoulders are shaking in barely contained laughter causing the camera to jerk slightly. “What is it?”
“Sorry, continue on.” -rig-s says through a grin, making a shoo-ing motion at them that has the camera shaking again.
They glance down at their outfit to see if there were any odd spills on there. Upon seeing the mostly pristine state of their clothes they pat at their face.
“There's nothing in my teeth is there?”
“Nothing that I can see. Sorry, I’m not laughing at you.” -rig-s smile dims for a moment before their eyes stray to the laptop next to them and it comes back in full force. “I just figured out how to get different things up on the greenscreen.”
--nu looks at the TV screens set up to show them a preview of the broadcast to see a picture of P-g Gre-a--e in a party hat being held up by multiple hands to the sun. --nu recognizes the picture instantly: It’s from P-g’s birthday party a couple of months ago.
“That is pretty silly.” --nu has to concede, “however I’m not sure if the people watching will appreciate– Ow!”
Something hot is suddenly pressed up against their leg, they hurriedly fish out whatever is in their pants pockets to find a menting coin. They drop it onto the floor instantly, fingers already tingling from the heat, and step away from it.
When --nu looks up they see -rig-s throwing their wallet onto the ground. It’s never a quiet day around here.
“Uh, we'll be back in a moment, folks. Enjoy the commercial break!”
The next day there's a basket of homemade treats waiting for them at the front desk. They’ve been leaving the doors unlocked, mostly because --nu’s not sure who has the key to the front door at this point, so they’re not too worried about someone breaking and entering.
The cookies inside are good. They came with a note from someone who only identifies themself as a blittle league coach that thanks them for the dog pictures, paired with a scribbly drawing of P-g that's marked as coming from one of the kids in his team.
“How long did you have that picture of P-g up there yesterday?”
-rig-s grins, “That's for me to know, and for you to never find out. By the way .DAT liked it too!”
They shove their phone towards --nu, who takes it. On it is a selfie taken by Ko-i of them and No-h in front of one the old box TV at the department. The screen shows --nu in front of a picture of P-g.
It's a completely different picture of the dog.
Soon after the two of them start having to use flashlights to navigate the station’s parking lot regardless of what time it is, --nu decides to add tracking how close the blackhole (blackhole) is to their program.
"T-minus 15 minutes"
The ground started tremoring once the Blackhole (Blackhole) got close enough to swallow Austin. Despite this, --nu's hands are perfectly still as they point to the green screen behind them. They stay still when -rig-s flips the latch on the base of the camera tripod to latch it in place. They continue gesturing at what path it's predicted to take in clear, smooth motions as their friend makes their way around the table with old scattered reports still on it.
"T-minus 10 minutes." They state as -rig-s wraps their arms around them.
"We'll be alright, --nu." -rig-s repeats in between sobbing into their shoulder, "We'll… Gods. Oh God."
"It's continuing its steady approach from the west." --nu continues despite the fact that their vision is becoming blurry, “Brenham has just been swallowed. Strong winds from the north are predicted to pick up to 80 miles per hour.“
-rig-s continues to talk over them. “I’m really glad I got to know you, you know that right?”
“T-minus 5 minutes. I know, I’m glad I got to know you too -rig-s.” --nu sniffs, holding back equally as tight, “T-minus 4 minutes. Please do not attempt to exit your house at this time, the wind will make it dangerous to walk or to drive as it is now predicted to rise to 200 miles per hour. T-minus 3 minutes.”
“Whatever happens, try not to let go of me. Ok?”
“Of course -rig-s, I’m sorry for dragging you all the way out to the station today. T-minus 2 minutes.”
-rig-s laughs, something frail and shaking, more out of habit than hilarity, “Nothing to be sorry about. I know how important this is to you. I love you.”
The camera is barely staying upright, from what --nu can see out of their blurry vision. Another large tremor shakes the ground. --nu’s arms around -rig-s stay steady regardless.
“I love you, too.” --nu sniffs again, “T-minus one—”
Ending Authors Note: Double challenge of having 2+ characters with the same pronouns interacting AND said characters getting scattered.
I actually started this around, I want to say, mid october? Before Ivy fell, that’s for sure. I was planning on trying to finish it up before this fall (refering to... I want to say Rivers J?), but that didn’t work out. I just had 1-2 scenes left and the residing fall ball excitement fueled me towards finishing it off, haha!
Thanks for reading!