The Barrier Observatory in Charmington reports a system down emergency at least once a month. Magic is outlawed because it’s something that villains can abuse, true, but it’s also just highly incompatible with technology–even technology meant specifically to monitor magic tends to go on the fritz. So it’s not too surprising when the system designed to keep an eye on the barrier around the Isle of the Lost sends false alarms to the Auradon police department.
This is something that Lonnie, as the newest member of the dispatch unit, gets the honor of dealing with. Her fifth time handling a BO red alert happens at two in the morning, which isn’t as bad as it sounds–she’s always been a bit of a night owl. However this particular time, when she calls the observatory for the all clear, instead of a sheepish and embarrassed Jane on the other end, she gets a frazzled and panicked Jane.
“It’s not just the sensors this time!” Jane says, voice high and wavering, “It’s not a glitch!”
The shock of it stuns Lonnie for a beat before her training kicks in and she responds calmly, “Are you and the rest of the Observatory staff in any physical danger?”
In her peripheral vision she sees the dispatcher in the desk beside her turn, eavesdropping and as surprised by half the conversation as Lonnie is by all of it.
“N-no,” Jane stammers, fear lingering, before she pulls herself together, “We’ve had our technicians go over everything. The sensors are all in working order, and there’s nothing wrong with the program either. Our readings show that the barrier really was down.”
“It was down?” Lonnie repeats, and now she can spot more of her coworkers in the corner of her eyes as her call continues, “Is it still down?”
There’s a moment of silence, in which Lonnie can feel her heart begin to speed up, before Jane answers, “No, the barrier is back up now,” but then she adds, hesitant and worried, “At least–if our readings really are correct–”
“Okay, stay calm. For now we’ll assume that the readings are correct and the barrier is up,” Lonnie interrupts, to cut off that line of thought. It’s as much for her own sake as it is for her fellow dispatchers crowding around her and Jane on the other end. “We’ll send a couple of uniforms over now to confirm it’s not someone pulling their idea of a terrible prank,” Lonnie waves a hand at her neighbor, prompting him to begin calling the Charmington precinct, “And we’ll have a Knight head over in the morning to investigate further. Does that sound good?”
Jane sighs–in fully earned relief, no doubt, but it just creates a burst of static-filled noise in Lonnie’s headset–before asking, “Can I stay on the line until the officers get here?”
“Of course, let me transfer you to the dispatcher in contact with the local police. He’ll keep you updated on their location until they arrive at the observatory.”
“Thanks, Lonnie,” Jane says.
“It’ll be okay, Jane,” Lonnie says back, before rerouting the call to her fellow dispatcher. She takes a moment to breathe deeply, rubbing a hand over her face, somehow exhausted even though she only started working a few hours ago.
The shift supervisor is standing behind Lonnie when she turns, and she does her best not to startle too much.
“Well done, new kid,” he says, which Lonnie knows to be enthusiastic praise coming from him. Bill Packard is a crotchety, old man in the body of a thirty year old; more cynicism than serenity, but still damn good at his job. If there were such a thing as dispatcher nobility, he would be king; his grandmother, Wilhelmina Packard, was the radio operator during the fabled Atlantis expedition.
That compliment puts a little bit of positivity in what is looking to be a terrible night.
“Better call up the Knights,” he says, before returning to his desk, “See which sad s.o.b. is going to be leading the charge on this one.”
The Knights of Auradon are an elite agency designed to keep the peace. They are trained to handle any and every situation, are expected to maintain peak levels of fitness, and look quite dashing in their dress uniforms.
Which, really, is what most of their duties consist of now. With over two decades of all the major villains, the minor villains, and even some of the more despicable minions being imprisoned on an island, there really hasn’t been much in the way of crime. Nothing that requires the Knights’ high standard of skillsets at least.
Instead, Knights are mainly used for security at major political events, particularly diplomatic ones with foreign ambassadors who can admire the glittering guards and ask, “Are you really trained in such and such?” or “Is it true that Knights can do…” or, in Ben’s case, “It must have been such a surprise when the President’s son decided to be a Knight.” As if they weren’t speaking directly to said President’s son, as if he were just a statue they could speak at.
They’re not difficult assignments, but they are tedious. So it’s not surprising when, after only two hours of sleep following one such event, Ben wakes up to the sound of his phone ringing and heaves a reluctant, weary sigh into the pillow. He nonetheless reaches out for it, squinting blearily at the bright screen in his struggle to answer it.
“Hello, this is Ben,” he slurs, attentive but unable to put the effort into sounding so. Seriously, two hours of sleep, they’re lucky he even bothered to answer.
“This is Lonnie,” he hears from the other end, “Sorry Ben, you’re the Knight scheduled for on call duty,” she says apologetically.
He muffles a groan into his pillow, the arm not holding the phone to his face flailing out in agitation, before he composes himself, “What is it this time? High schoolers with alcohol crossing county lines?” he guesses from past experience, “Illegal night boating?”
“It’s the Barrier Observatory,” Lonnie says, seriously enough that Ben drags himself up and out of bed, “They’ve reported an actual red alert. Only a temporary system down but still, it’s correct as far as they can tell. We’ve already sent local police from the Charmington precinct to check things out, make sure it’s not some asshole messing around. But if it’s serious…” she trails off, almost afraid, as if saying it aloud will make the worst case scenario true.
“Yeah, I get you,” Ben says, struggling to put on his work uniform which, while less intricate than the dress uniform, is still difficult to do one handed. Frustrated, he sticks his phone between his ear and his shoulder, only to teeter sideways into the wall with a resounding thud.
“I’m okay,” he mostly yawns, “I’ll be at HQ in twenty minutes. Fifteen if I speed.”
“You’re supposed to uphold the law,” Lonnie admonishes, but at least she doesn’t sound scared anymore.
“Ten minutes, you say? That sounds terribly dangerous, Lonnie,” Ben says, affecting a scandalized tone of voice. Or as much of one as he can with his shirt still up over his head.
It elicits a laugh from Lonnie who ends the call with an amused, “Be good. Dispatch is always watching.”
Unhindered by his phone, Ben manages to dress himself without a problem and leave his apartment within a few minutes. At this time of night, there’s hardly anyone out on the streets, but he does not get to HQ within fifteen minutes. Not even in twenty.
En route, Ben gets another call from Lonnie. Tonight is apparently the night for alarms, because he gets redirected to the museum. If he hurries, maybe he can catch the intruders.
An hour later, Ben is sitting on the other side of an interview table from a stubbornly silent, unidentified young man who refuses cooperate in any manner. He wonders to himself if it would have been more or less frustrating had he caught all of the intruders instead of just the one.
A/N: Hell yeah, making up how a fake multi-functional government agency in a fictional fantasy world works. And apparently I enjoy writing Ben as a flailing dweeb. It’s okay, Ben, you don’t have to be suave, we all saw you ride the poor horse mascot while singing your love for Mal to the entire school.
Like I said, this story is going to be hella slow. There will be more Carlos in the next chapter, I promise. Can’t promise the next chapter will come out tomorrow though… BECAUSE I MIGHT HAVE ACCIDENTALLY STUMBLED ACROSS ANOTHER PLOT BUNNY. THE BUNNIES, THEY ARE TOO MANY, AND TOO GREAT.
I will try my best though.