"POLIS INNOVATIONS. All are welcome at Polis Innovations. Our workplace wants you to be our newest initiate. Every company needs underlings, and we are no different. We firmly believe that you will survive the trial by combat and become our newest drone. Polis Innovations: The Medical is Incomparable. Because your medical bills are less expensive than a lawsuit.”
The security guard was terrifying. Clarke knew that much. That, and judging by the narrowed eyes, the guard also probably hated her. The clicking of keys pounded into her skull. The guard hadn’t broken eye contact as she typed away. She just wanted her keycard activated, not have her death plotted by the scary guard. The guard whose name she should know. The guard who was handing her a plastic card with her picture and name on it, still scowling at her.
“Thank you,” she muttered when she carefully took the card. Finally being able to break eye contact, she glanced at the name badge on the guard’s uniform. Indra.
“Don’t lose it.”
Clarke snapped her head up. Oh god, she even sounds terrifying…
Indra’s glare intensified, sending chills down her spine. Don’t lose the keycard or she might actually murder me...
“Floor 27. Go down the hall. Turn left. Your supervisor will be at the end waiting for you. Avoid red doors. Raven has yet to fix them so your keycard will detonate what’s inside.” Her brow furrowed at the mention of the doors and detonation. She didn’t get the chance to think too much of it when she heard a low growling from Indra. Dashing off towards the elevator before she gets murdered, Clarke couldn’t help but wonder if the rest of security was as terrifying as Indra. She hoped she never found out.
Reaching the elevator in record time, she pressed the button labeled ‘27’ in a manner that many would have broken a finger if attempted. But, it was worth it to escape the guard. After being serenaded by elevator music for longer than necessary, the doors finally opened to a short hallway. Stepping out, she carefully placed as much distance as she could between her and any red door she passed. They each had a hazard warning printed on them and she was not going to take any chances. Reaching the fork at the end of the hall, she briefly noted the plaque on the wall before turning as instructed. I wonder what ARK means.
The left turn directed her to a large room filled with cubicles and busy workers. The cubicles had walls that only reached her chest, making it easy to see what everyone was working on. Or tinkering with. She could have sworn she saw a live bird moving around in one of the cubicles.
Are animals even allowed here? It was a passing thought before she suddenly found herself face to face with an intimidating brunette a few inches taller than her. The brunette stared at her with her arms behind her back while Clarke took in the simple black suit that somehow looked more expensive than her house and a white shirt that put snow to shame. Long, brown haired curled across her shoulders and down her back. Her throat dried up when she locked onto the piercing green eyes that scanned her face. Why does everyone here look like they want to murder me? At least if she murders me, the last thing I’ll see will be easy on the eyes…
“You must be Clark Griffin.”
Sold. And screwed. She nodded when she heard the woman’s voice embed itself into her memory. There was no denying that she was ever going to forget it or the way it sent shivers down her body. Day 1. Clarke Griffin gets a pretty coworker. Grand.
“My name is Lexa Woods and I will be your supervisor during your stay here at Polis Innovations,” Day 1. Correction: Clarke Griffin gets a pretty boss. Fantastic. Doing great. “As the new head of the ARK, or the Research and Development Department as it was known to you at your old position before your forceful transfer to us, you will be overseeing everyone on this floor and those who pass through. I will show you to your office and give you a brief tour. Feel free to ask questions, though keep note that confusion is weakness and will be exploited.” Lexa turned around and walked past the cubicles leaving no room for argument with Clarke at her heels.
She paid no mind to the occasional glance sent in her direction. Following Lexa was hard enough without distraction. She was too focused on keeping up with her new boss that she didn’t notice that Lexa had stopped until she nearly slammed into her back. They had stopped in front of a door with a wooden desk outside.
“This will be your office until your time with us is over. At the moment, your intern is in quarantine and unable to greet you today. You will meet Bellamy after his time in the quarantine center has concluded. As for the office, it’s been empty for the past couple of weeks since your predecessor left without his official resignation.”
Clarke looked inside when Lexa unlocked the door with a keycard she pulled from her pocket. It was spacious and open. An armchair and a small couch were placed around a glass coffee table. The empty desk sat in front of a large window with a long bookshelf along the back wall. She looked back towards Lexa who nodded to her before turning and walking away.
“What happened to him?”
“He was exposed to a research drug that not only had terrible side effects, but was contagious.”
“Not him, but good to know. I meant the last guy who worked here.”
“Mr. Collins was attacked by glowing carnivorous butterflies.” Clarke tripped over her feet.
“Carnivorous? Why were they carnivorous?”
“We were working on making a new breed of decoy insects meant to attract Norwegians out of hiding. Unfortunately the bioluminescence that we spliced into their DNA had the side effect of turning them carnivorous. During the attack, he allowed the butterflies to reach eighteen of our other workers. After the attack, he was taken by an extraction team and never returned. Terrible manners that one. A simple attack by genetically engineered insects and forcible removal by the extraction team is no reason to not give a letter of resignation,” Lexa caught the widening of Clarke’s eyes, “There’s no need to worry. We cleared them from your office. Unless you see one we didn’t. At that point, initiate Procedure Grounder, then call Octavia. She’ll take care of it. Don’t attack the butterflies. That is considered vandalism as they are company property.”
Clarke wasn’t sure whether or not Lexa was being serious. She looked serious with her calm expression and perfect hair. For all she knew, it was a test to see how new employees react under strange and unexpected situations. She was going to pass this unexpected test.
“Procedure Grounder. Understood.”
Lexa nodded in satisfaction, “Is that all?”
“Why is it called ARK instead of the R&D Department?”
“Upstairs decided that to improve morale and productivity, the name of the department needed to be changed into something more powerful and unique. Actualized Research Kommittee. ARK.”
Clarke slowed her pace as rolled the name around in her head and remembered the spelling she saw earlier on the plaque.
“Why is committee spelled with a K?”
“When the department was renamed, one of our newly installed computer programs had gained sentience, declared a grudge against the letter C, and refused to type it when the key was pressed. Since no one wanted to pay someone to fix it, upstairs decided that C was now a fictional letter and was to be replaced with the letter K instead. We eventually replaced the program when it had an emotional breakdown.”
Sentience? What kind of computer program is this?
Clarke stepped next to Lexa when she stopped in front of another door. A simple plaque labeled ‘Maintenance’ adorned the top of it.
“Raven, I request your presence.” Lexa’s voice was marginally louder than usual. As soon as the sentence was spoken, the door swung open and girl in grease covered jeans with a singed, grey, button down shirt stuck her head out.
“What do you need fixed Lexa? Are the vents pumping that weird red gas again? Because I swear I had nothing to do with that.”
“Nothing as of yet. I am actually here to introduce you to Clarke Griffin, the new head of the ARK,” Clarke shuffled in placed as Raven turned to look at her. Clarke put her hand out in greeting and smiled when Raven stepped outside the door and took the offered limb with a grin. She noted the slight limp and filed it away. I can ask her about it later.
“Name’s Raven Reyes. I’m head of maintenance around here and the one you call when the latest nonsense around here breaks something important. Here’s hoping you do better than the last guy. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got things to fix. Like exploding red doors.” Raven let go of her hand, saluted, then disappeared back into the room.
“You will find Raven useful. Her ability to fix things is much higher than her ability to explode things. Her fix to explode ratio is 3:1. A very impressive figure. She is quite the asset.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to hire someone who doesn’t explode things?” Her confusion grew when Lexa’s brow rose and head tilted in thought.
“I like you Clarke. You have a sense of humor. And since we both know that someone like that is impossible to find, we simply hire the individual who can fix better than they destroy. Even if only marginally.”
“What have I gotten myself into…,” she muttered under her breath.
“Polis, Clarke. Did Human Resources not give you the Welcome Packet?”
Damn… She heard me…
“They did, but-”
“I see. It’s your humor again. Very good. Humor is a good coping mechanism. Your predecessor could have used it before we lost him to the butterflies. Now, come along. The tour isn’t over yet. You still have people to meet and become familiar with.” With that, Lexa turned and began walking towards the elevator, almost leaving Clarke behind once again.
“As I don’t know where Octavia is, nor where she has taken Lincoln, we may or may not run into them today. They had business to attend to of some sort and they will greet you in your office tomorrow morning if we don’t see them today. So, we will go down downstairs to the lab to meet your scientific underlings and your intern.”
“Octavia and Lincoln?” Lexa nodded and pressed the down button to call the elevator.
“Yes. Lincoln is one of our best testers. Quiet. Doesn’t raise a fuss. Octavia is neither here nor there. She seems to come and go as she pleases. We don’t question it. They’re usually found together. We don’t question that either.”
Clarke followed Lexa into elevator when the door opened. Facing the door, she immediately forgot to pay attention to which floor they were going to as she was distracted by the sight before her. The doors were closing, but all she could focus on was a man and woman covered in foam with fire extinguishers chasing what appeared to be a small, flaming, fuzzy golf balls before the doors fully closed. Stunned, the silence was quickly broken.
“That would be Octavia and Lincoln. It seems the flaming moth balls are developing well.” Her head snapped to Lexa who seemed completely unfazed by the fireballs bouncing in the hallway. Facing the doors, they let the elevator music fill the silence. When they reached the floor and the doors opened, Clarke couldn’t get out fast enough.
“While I admire your eagerness to meet your team, you should probably slow down. You’ll frighten Kansas.”
Kansas? Who, what is Kansas? She froze and warily looked at Lexa. Lexa, who calmly moved past her and swiped her keycard to unlock the glass doors before them. Stepping over the threshold, she paused and looked over her shoulder when she noticed Clarke wasn’t following.
“Are you coming? We are running short on time after all.” She narrowed her eyes when she caught the sight of Lexa’s lips curling upwards into a slight smirk. She could feel her new boss’ smugness sink deep into her bones. Steeling herself, she willed her legs to follow. She was going to pass this test, damnit.
Passing various glass rooms with science equipment she never knew existed, she and Lexa came to a circular room with a few people milling about in lab coats.
“These are your underlings, Clarke. They are the ones who develop and research our many products. Trust them and take care of them as they are now your people and your responsibility. If they fail, you fail. Failure is weakness and will not be tolerated.”
They were largely ignored until Lexa called out to them with the stoicism returning to her face.
“Underlings, meet the new head of the ARK. You now belong to her and thus, all problems should be sent to her office and you no longer have a reason to bother me in mine.”
They stared at Lexa, then at Clarke. Carefully, they shuffled together and backed away from them. The asian one and the one with goggles jumped when Lexa began speaking to them in particular.
“Monty. Jasper. Resume your work and don’t forget to exercise Kansas. He’s been getting restless,” the satisfaction Lexa exuded at their vigorous nodding was almost palpable, “Dismissed. Come Clark. We have paperwork to sign and a tranquilizer gun to assign you.”
The underlings immediately went back to work to avoid the boss who is even more terrifying than that security guard that yells at them a lot. Clarke was too busy focusing on the fact that Lexa said tranquilizer gun to notice how they tiptoed around them as if they would snap at any moment.
“Tranquilizer gun? Why do I need a tranquilizer gun!?” she called as she chased after her boss.
“In due time. We have much to go over first.” Clarke caught up just as the doors to the elevator began to close. Catching her breath, she glanced at Lexa whose unfazed attitude was betrayed by the quirked brow and the mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
“I believe you will enjoy your time with us, Clarke. I know I will.” The slight grin on Lexa’s face concerned her more than it should have. She’s going to enjoy torturing me. I should have quit before I was transferred.
“This is not what I signed up for.”
“That’s because you didn’t.”
Clarke was certain that everyone in the building could hear her groan and Lexa’s silent laughter.