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Of Monsters and Men

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Benji woke up barely a few minutes before his alarm went off. Even though he was fully aware of the fact that it was about to star ringing any second, he didn’t even try to reach for it. He stared at the concrete ceiling in a mix of deep annoyance and anticipation. The alarm went off then, officially initiating Monday. Well... shit.

Mondays were bad. Like really, really bad, absolute rubbish, and this wasn't some Garfield bullshit Any day of the week in the Shatterdome was cramped with work: recalibrating instruments, repairing things, maintaining the Jaegers, re-building others... Every day had a interminable to-do list that Benji as a J-Tech chief officer had to pull off somehow. It wasn’t exactly a bad thing, he loved his job, but he also liked his spare time and he hadn’t been getting any of it lately. 

But Mondays... Mondays somehow managed to be specially awful. Something always turned out wrong or broke, and Benji always had to fix it.

He sighed and slipped a hand out of bed to hit snooze. After a few seconds of mental preparation he got rid of the blankets and got out of bed, feeling the cold wet air of the shatterdome. Everything was cold and wet in the Anchorage Shatterdome.

Benji eyed the comm screen as he stretched. By the amount of notifications it seemed like his predictions of Monday were to become true. Oh god! he couldn’t do this right now, not without help. Maybe coffee could do. Yes, coffee was always a good help.

He quickly washed his face and tried to make himself as presentable as possible. Then he changed clothes as fast as he could, and left his room, comm in hand. He planned to read trough the notifications while he had breakfast. 

He dammed whoever prohibited having coffee machines in the bunkers. Luckily the canteen was a few minutes walk away from his room and they had a 24/7 working coffee machine, which he visited way too often.

Benji was a little bit lost in his own thoughts, trying to find a good reason why anyone would have to ban coffee machines when someone called out, “Watch out!” a huffing voice told him.

Benji moved out of the way of the voice and stopped at his feet as a little pack of pilot cadets passed jogging by his side, a young brunette woman leading them. She nodded in gratitude as she went on, followed by almost two dozens of sweaty teenagers.

“Good morning!” another voice came, unexpectedly close to his ear, jump-scaring him. It took less than a second for Benji to see the source of the noise. Tall, slim and in a Ranger uniform with his last name plastered onto it in big capital letters, Ethan Hunt, was now running backwards to look at Benji as he giggled. “Yeah, Yeah, very funny,” Benji thought.

“Ethan!” The lady called him out dryly. He turned on his heel and without missing a beat he followed  the rest.

Benji let out a frustrated sigh and continued his way to the canteen. 

Hunt —Ranger Ethan Hunt— Benji’s very personal pain in the ass. Oh boy! Where to start about this tool of a guy? Maybe with the absolute wreckage he made out of the Jaegers and the training gear Benji always had to fix or replace. Or maybe, with the fact that he was the one constantly breaking the Drift Training machine. Because that one was making Benji go absolutely paranoid. It had broke three times already this month! 

Technically, the person responsible for the machine constant tendency to malfunction was yet to be found. It had been four months since Benji first complained to Marshal Hunley how it was physically impossible that the machine just keep shutting down like that. He, of course, said how he’ll run an investigation in the matter, but to this day Benji had lost uncountable hours of sleep fixing over and over again the bloody thing.He had no proofs  whatsoever, but Benji had a hunch: he KNEW it was Hunt, he was absolutely convinced.

Even if it wasn’t Hunt — which, from his point of view was simply impossible— Benji had to discover who keep breaking it down. He had gone as far as secretly installing a undetectable program last time he had to repair it. The “gosht protocol” would keep a biometric record of everyone who used the machine, even if they deleted the session from the computer’s memory. Whoever it was, they were about to get caught, once and for all.

With his conspiracies freshly feed, Benji arrived at the Canteen, a big open space which managed to never be fully empty. Big screens in that showed news channels from various countries hanged just above the main event: an Industrial size coffee machine which served the whole canteen. 

Benji finally got himself a cup and then a bowl of the carton-cuts that were considered cereal in the Shatterdome. It took him less than a minute to find a big dark figure in a beanie waving at him from a nearby table.

“Morning!” Benji greeted Luther as he dropped his trail a little bit too abruptly in the table and sat across him.

“Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed...” Luther told him, frankly as always. He was reading something from his tablet, barely looking up – but just enough to see the dark circles under Benji’s eyes.

“Well, no shit!” he said as he took his first sip of coffee of the morning. Coffee quality wasn’t great neither, but caffeine was needed.

The sudden display of sass snatched Luther’s attention away from his reading, “The fuck’s gotten into you now?”

“Mhm, You wanna know what happens?” He asked as he gulped down half his cup despite Its flavor.

“Something tells me I don’t,” he said and tried to go back to whatever he was reading.

“I’ll tell you what happens! I’ve just spent almost 36 consecutive hours this weekend trying to fix the wiring on the hydraulic knee of that bloody Mark VI. Just to find out most of it is absolutely wrecked.” Benji stressed “I had to tell Huntley it needed to be fully replaced and he gave me one of those looks as if I was only costing him money.”

Luther hummed in understanding, 

“With all of that, most of the time I got left I spent it sleeping.”

“Did you had any plans this weekend?” Luther asked.

“Yeah, I had!” Benji punctuated — Halo. His plan was playing Halo as much as he could, and maybe also catching up in some reading. He got to do none of those things, “And then is the other thing...”

“What other Thing?” The other man asked in confusion.

“The Drift Simulator!” He explained.

“Oh, C’mon Benji! You are just being paranoid,” Luther told him.

“Don’t you come at me with all that shit. You know I’m right! Someone is messing around with it and you know it. It’s not normal how frequently it breaks down.”

“Benji, kids use that machine a dozen times a day, five or six days a week. The weird thing is that it doesn’t break more often,” he tried to put some reason into him.

Benji signed unable to fully disagree with that, “What about the teachers, hm? You know: Carter, Faust ...Hunt.”

“Oh God, What is your problem with Ethan?” Luther exasperated. 

Benji was kind of new in the Anchorage Shatterdome, he had been there for nine months, and his circle of friends wasn’t exactly the biggest, maybe it was not even medium sized. Apart from the engineering crew, he could probably count the rest of his relationships with the fingers of his hands. He wasn’t exactly that much of an antisocial guy, but after all that many hours of work he just wanted to relax by himself. 

Luther, however, had been there for so many years he had lost count — and he was a Chief Mission Controller Officer no less, which basically meant that he knew everyone in the shatterdome. That would also include one particular annoying Ranger of whom Benji had been complaining for weeks before he found out that Luther and Hunt had been close friends for years.

Benji of course, was clueless, until he discovered this during a drift test when he was monitoring the neural compliance from the LOOCENT. The constant back and forth, jokes and overall tone of the conversation between the two men lead Benji to his discovery. Benji felt like an asshole and apologized to Luther a hundred times before he brushed it off with an “Ethan’s my friend, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get on my nerves”

Benji had gone wordless, staring intensely at Luther as he was trying to find a way to express his hypothesis without  sounding like an absolute mad man. He couldn’t.

“You going crazy man...” Luther clucked

“Oh! You go and laugh, but whoever they are I got them this time!” Benji proclaimed.

“What did you do?”

“That information, my friend, is confidential,” Benji added, “Of course Is not that I don’t trust you. But let just say that if Huntley found out I sneaked a secret program in a ten million dollars training  device, well... he wouldn’t be so happy so...”

“The less I know, the better,” finished Luther, chuckling again. Benji winked at him as he shallowed he last of his coffee. “I’ll let you with your secret plan,” Luther said as the got up and said goodbye with a firm pat in the shoulder. Benji smiled.

He got up and served himself another cup of coffee. It was time to face reality. He opened his comm and started reading over the notifications. Things looked busy as always — No message about the Drift machine though — but that second cup of coffee had given Benji an electrifying feeling that he could pull everything off in record time, which meant having more time to himself. Before that sensation disappeared Benji hopped out of the canteen and jumped head first into  his tasks.

Morning didn’t go well— it went fantastic. Benji centered in his work and got the crew of mechanics  and engineers to do the same, which translated in a idilic fast work flow. First he monitored the deployment of the freshly repaired Chimera, he was happily enough with the results so he decided to focus on other tasks. The old wiring of the Mark VI was taken out and the space remaining, accommodated for a new one which had yet to be installed. It’s teared metal skin was slowly being replaced by operators who stitched the shiny plates to one another with thousands of rivets. It was like seeing a living organism actually heal. Once the structural issues were resolved, he could finally focus on his speciality, the Drift.

By noon they were two hours ahead of schedule and Benji decided to use that extra time to treat Luther to lunch. Unfortunately, Luther could not abandon his work spot, so Benji had to bring it to the LOCCENT. It wasn’t that much of a trouble o carry two supersized turkey sandwiches from over the cafeteria and Benji enjoyed the place.

The Anchorage Local Comand Center -or LOCCENT, for short- was this enormous glass and metal snowglobe looking structure incrusted on a 17ft cinder wall, that divided the Jaeger hangars from the deployment zone where they took off. It’s position granted a panoramic view of the shatterdome that was truly breathtaking. However, those who raised their view to look at it from the outside, could never imagine the actual light show that it was going on inside, because of the reflecting glass. The bright and intense colors of the hundreds — even thousands — of monitors emitted a light that made Benji eyes water whenever he walked in. The best comparison Benji could think of were the London raves he used to hang around when he was in his teen years. The noise was pretty similar too…

The center of the control Room was occupied by an enormous holographic table where an Shatterdome model showed the main events what were taking place in real time. A bunch of operators were constantly circling it. They would click on the alerts that popped up, analyze, and pass them onto another operator who would take care of the situation. 

During Kaiju attacks, the control room would go into some kind of lockdown. Benji had seen it. Alarms would go off, red lights would start flashing and the entire room would completely switch whenever Breach activity went off the charts. The Breach activity itself, was constantly being monitored by a whole section of the control room, but when there wasn’t an attack taking place most of the work was centered in the Shatterdome and the Jaegers that it contained.

Luther was sitting in a metal desk in front of the massive panoramic window that was oriented to the outside of the Shatterdome, which was blocked with yet another big Holographic screen where the activity of the Shatterdome was translated into graphics that Benji was just starting to understand. In the bottom right corner there was a oversimplified version of the 3D map in the table, with red dots that represented the Rangers positions. Benji had tried to get Luther to help him discover the identity of the drift machine assaulter with it, but as he had explained, the localization system could only give a general area approximation of were the rangers were, also there was the possibility that it wasn’t a Ranger.

“Support Jaeger Drone #0068 recovered successfully, you have permission to drop it off in drop zone #007, I’ll be sending a pickup team. Good job, y’all. Over and out.” Luther was saying over his ear piece, as he tipped a message requesting the pickup team he was just talking about. 

Benji sat down in the empty chair next to Luther while he answered a few more calls. It was really interesting to see him work, it gave you an idea of all the stuff that was going on at the Shatterdome. 

“This is mission controller Stickell from the Anchorage Base calling in Chimera. Chimera please report. Over.”

Luther took off his head piece of and activated the speaker so Benji could hear the conversation.

“This is Ranger Hanayway reporting from Chimera. Over.”

“How’s the test drive going Trev?” Asked Luther bringing up to the screen both: a video stream and a performance feed of the Jaeger. Everything looked normal according to the screen, even the constants of both rangers looked pretty unaltered even though they were slightly jogging.

“Pretty good actually!”

“Don’t listen to him Luther,” his partner complained “It’s absolutely amazing, it feels like it’s new.”

Benji couldn’t help but smile.

“Okay, she’s right. Babygirl is going on as smooth as ever,” Hanaway corrected himself.

“Whoever repaired her needs a raise!” Carter exclaimed.

Luther laughed “Ain’t it so? Why don’t you tell them yourself, Jane?

Ranger Carter’s head turned to look at the monitor in the Jaeger cabin. Benji blinked in surprise. He didn’t know this was a two-way video call.

“Did you fix my Baby?” She asked, big dark eyes fixated on Benji.

Under such an scrutinizing look, it took him a few instants to find his words, “Y-yes, yes I did. My name's Benjamin Dunn, I’m the chief engineer in charge of the J-Tech teams for both Chimera and Mission Impossible” he explained.

Her face lit up, gorgeous smile appearing as she spoke, “Thank you so much Mr. Dunn. You are my hero. She’s better than new!”

“It’s nothing really... And please, call me Benji” He said feeling himself blush.

“Believe me Benji, if you got her to smile like that, it means you really are the best at your job” Hanaway said, “I’m gonna need a class or two in Jaeger mechanics,” he joked.

Benji let out an awkward giggle mostly because he couldn’t think of what to say. He wasn’t used to this kind of compliments. Maybe rangers weren’t that bad.

“Well that’s enough. You two better stop messing around and get your asses back here before some Kaiju decides to show up and chew them up. That’s an order,” Luther commanded.

“Yessir!” The couple answered in unison.

Luther cut off the chat and told a nearby operator he was taking his lunch break.

“That was so uncalled for!” Benji said tossing Luther his sandwich.

“Excuse me?!” 

“Why did you have to put me out like that?”

“I thought you were having a shit day – and maybe – hearing some compliments would help. Didn’t it?

“Well, Yes! but–”

“What?”

“You know that I–I’m not exactly very good with people– Specially Rangers!” Benji sighed, “ It’s—it’s just that— I, uh... Nevermind...”

“Whatever man... It’s like you have a irrational fear for Rangers! Rangerphobia. It’s fucking absurd!” Luther teased him.

 Benji rolled his eyes, “Ok, I’m sorry. Can we, please, change the subject?

Luther scoffed, “Alright. But that’s the last time I try to inflate your ego you absolute madman.”

“Thank you,” Benji mouthed and turned in his desk chair, facing the screen “Busy day?”

“Not Really!” Luther said as he started munching on his sandwich “Apart from the Support Drone recovery and the test run on Chimera, there’s nothing else going on.”

“And...?” Benji said, not really understanding how having an easy day at work was an inconvenience. 

“It’s fucking boring! There’s nothing going on,” He explained, “All I’m getting are landing request and engineering reports!” Luther complained, gesturing to the screen.

“You have no idea how terribly sorry I am that we are not being attacked by gigant alien monsters today,” Benji answered sarcastically. Luther showed him his middle finger and he smirked in response. They both chuckled like little kids.

The rest of their lunch beak was spent discussing the performance of Chimera in it’s first run since Benji had fixed it. The conversation lasted until the owner of the chair where Benji sat returned.

“Hey There!” Brandt greeted them as he arrived, “Anything interesting?”

“You’d know if you where here!” Luther reproched him.

“I had to come down to the academy to check on something!” Will excused himself.

If Luther had had to listen to Benji bickering about Ethan Hunt, Benji had had to listen to Luther complain about Brandt. 

William Brandt was the Second Chief Controller and the Jaeger Academy Supervisor. He was probably one of the few people whose schedule was even shittier that Benji’s. Surprisingly enough, Brandt used to be a Ranger, but after an incident — which  was the only thing  Luther avoided talking about —he had decided to settle down behind a controller desk. Benji didn’t know that much about the guy, but after his fuck-up with Luther and Hunt he decided to learn a little about the other man. Which wasn’t that hard, given Luther’s eagerness to complain about  him. 

Given so, Benji thought the universe must be messing with him, because Brandt’s ex-copilot was no other than Ethan Fucking Hunt —God, he really was everywhere— However, Brandt lived off coffee, and so did Benji, so they had spent way too many late nights at the cafeteria together to not have bonded. And maybe, only maybe, the fact that Benji had avoided accusing his friend of sabotaging a very expensive training device, may have helped to develop their friendship.

When it came to Luther....Well, It wasn’t that they couldn’t work together – on the contrary, they were an amazing team. But for some reason they always started arguing about the littlest of the things. Specially when there wasn’t much to do at the Control Center. Brandt would press a button too hard or hum while he worded and trigger Luther, who was best known for taking no shit.

“Un-Huh,” was the only and not less sarcastic response Luther gave him before putting his earpiece back on.

Brandt rolled his eyes and made a vague gesture of exasperation with his hands, then turned to Benji.

“How’s it going man?” 

“–uh, pretty good actually!” He felt confident enough to say, “The Mark VI’s knee is ready to be replaced, we only need to take care of a few more things before its done. I guess we could run some drift tests by Friday... Oh! and I just did another check up on Chimera and it’s doing great, so I might get to sleep a few more hours tonight”

“Sounds good.” 

“Yeah! The drift seems to work fine but I’ll revise it tomorrow during the weapons test.” 

“Well... I hate to be the bearer of bad news... but Ilsa just told me the Drift Simulator broke up again” Brandt tried to communicate delicately, but Benji was already grunting loudly as he twisted in the chair. “Sorry...” he added.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll deal with it.” Benji said pinching the bridge of his nose “It’s my job. It was me who wanted to take the responsibility at the academy.”

Luther shot him a sneaky look. Benji caught it, Brandt did not, and Luther turned around discreetly trying no to give away his friend, “Bad luck, man!” was all he said.

Benji sighed once more and got up from the chair that Brandt did not lose time to occupy. “I better keep going,” he announced.

“I’m really sorry about the whole Simulator thing,” Brandt apologized, headpiece already on, “I’ll try and get you some time tomorrow. Okay?. I’ll pass some tasks onto Bodgam’s team.”

“Really? Thanks, Mate.”

Benji waved them goodbye and left the LOOCENT. On his way back to the engineering bay, he checked his Comm, he could see the alert about the Simulator along with a few new others.

“Okay. I can do this” he said to himself and quickly organized his new assignments. 

Given that the Support Jaeger had an undetermined malfunction of the remote Drift Control, Luther had trusted its repairing to him personally— he had a PhD in Drift Engineering and Mechanics, after all— it still had to go through decontamination though, so he could let that for tomorrow. The training machine...well, he would have to leave it for when he had accomplished the rest of his duties. He could already feel his sleep time shortening... Benji sighed once more, the energy he had that morning fading now. But he had no time to waste in self pity, so he buckled up and started his afternoon shift.

Benji worked on Chimera after it came back from the test run and then on Mission Impossible. Mission Impossible was this massive almost fresh out of the fabric Mark VI which occupied most of Benji’s thoughts. Last time it had enabled in combat three weeks ago it had suffered from both the attacks of the Kaiju itself and its reckless pilot, no other than Ethan Hunt. 

That, was most likely the source of his utter disgust towards the ranger. Benji LOVED that Jaeger and it physically hurt him to see the usage the pilots made of it.

Sure, Chimera was also a piece of pure technological art, but being a Mark V— well, it lacked the delicious complexity of the interface of the newer model. Not to mention the weaponry it had equipped. And yet, it’s as being used like it was a neolithic tool. It was frustrating, but Benji could do nothing more than repair and care for the Jaeger.

The afternoon shift stretched well into the night. There was still some meticulous work that he decided to do himself, even if it meant getting his hands dirty. It was quarter to eleven and Benji was well covered in grease and metal filings when he considered he had done enough in the Mark VI’s frame. As he took a few steps back to contemplate his work, he realized he was one of the very few people left still working. The work on the Jaegers wasn’t really ever finished and they had a quite special deadline — yeah, a enormous  sea monster that could show up at any moment really was a good motivation — but people needed sleep and there were other three operative Jaegers in the Shatterdome and a prediction pattern that told them they still had a few weeks before any event would take place. Anyway, show had to go on, so a much smaller night crew was about to make an appearance and replace for at least a few more hours Benji and the others. The only time the engineering bay was almost empty were around 4 and 5 am when the night  workers had left and the ones in the morning shift hadn’t arrive yet, unfortunately Benji had had the disgrace to be able to seen it with his own eyes.

As he was thinking about how most of his team was already getting into bed, he remembered the Simulator. He grunted loudly, ripping away his heavy duty gloves an throwing them into his tool box, only so he could bring his hands to his temples without getting anymore dirt on him. He really had forgotten about it for a moment. And it had been a sweet sweet moment 

Still dwelling in his frustration, Benji eyed the clock. It wasn’t even eleven, if he was quick he could still get a decent amount of sleep. It also helped he was pumped for finding out who was messing with the machine. So he collected his tools, comm, and what was left of his will to live and headed towards the academy as fast as he could.

Benji though that to the left inhabitants of the Shatterdome he would look like this angry sleep deprived and covered in grease tech gremlin who was almost running down the hallway. Not a sight they weren’t used to, really. But after two people dodged him with a rather intimidated expression, he tried to calm his own nerves calling the one person he was sure was and would be still awake and working for a few more hours.

“What do you need Benji?” Brandt answered, his tiredness making itself present with a yawn he didn’t even try to suppress.

“Hey! just wanted to check on you. I’m going to see the Simulator now.” He informed  him.

“At this hour...?”

 “Yeah...” Benji said trying hard not to roll his eyes to the back of his skull, “It’s Luther still there?”

“Yes, he is!” Brandt said, and Benji swear he could hear a “You bet your ass I am” in the distance through Will’s  microphone, “I think is so sweet that you’re thinking about us but I got a dozen calls to attend to so... do you need anything?”

“Ah– Yes! Shit, sorry! Do you know anything about the Simulator? What happened, who was using it ...anything?

“Yeah! Uh– Ilsa was giving a class and it broke” 

“Did she say what happened to it?” Benji asked.

“Not really! She said it just shut down mid-class and some of the kids didn’t get a chance to practice.” Benji hummed in response, a list of the reason it could have happened already materializing to his mind. For a second Benji’s blood went cold and prayed it hadn’t been his program what caused the malfunction, “I’m sorry I can’t be for much use,” Will added 

“Nah! Don’t worry. I’m sure it’s nothing ” Benji said— more to himself than to his friend.

“Good luck then!” 

“Okay. Thanks for your help. Bye!” he said and hung up as he got in the elevator that led to the academy.

The academy had its own little wing on one corner of the Shatterdome. Quarters, kitchen, gym, simulators, even an actual library... all of that distributed in three different floors, or that was what he had been told because actually, Benji hadn’t seen much apart from the instruments that were under his care. The lower level was were the Simulator was, so there he headed.

He stormed out of the elevator once it stopped and followed the short path — which  at this point was carved into his brain — that led to the training room. He stopped at the entrance and swiped his ID card trough the scanner of the security system, then typed his access code and the machine displayed a “confirming you ID, please wait” message on the tiny screen .

Trainees had to be in bed by ten, but still, Benji could hear some of them chatting nearby, in which he presumed was some kind of common area. Benji hadn’t really investigated much of the academy. Not like he had the time neither. Hopefully the room where the Drift Simulator was, was restricted to students outside class hours — a rule Benji was sure a bunch of overstimulated teenagers respected. 

The door beeped, his code and ID being recognized by the system and granting him access. The heavy metal doors slid open slowly with an hydraulic sound. Benji stepped inside and closed the door behind him again, leaving him alone and away from mischievous and noisy cadets. Silence surrounded him finally. The perfect moment to start blasting music through his headphones. Classical was his go to when he needed to concentrate.

The room itself was spacious but somehow grim at the same time. It was divided in two very differentiated parts: one, a replica of a Jaeger control station, the other, was an empty space that surrounded the Simulator whose walls and ceiling were covered in pipes that held the wires which came in and out of the machine. Under the perforated metal floor, the real guts of the machine were hidden,— processor, collectors, power banks ...everything under Benji’s feet. Just over the border that separated Simulator from the rest of the room —next to the pilots harnesses and helmets, and the creepy brain that floated in yellow liquid— there was a terminal, which was the main controller of the Simulator.

Benji lost no time, he moved to the computer and tried to turn the machine on. Emphasis on tried. The terminal wasn’t even working which meant it was most likely a mechanical problem. It also meant he couldn’t use his Ghost Protocol yet.

He needed to confirm his theory though, so he turned in his feet, and went back to the middle of the empty space in the room. He lifted one of the perforated metal plates of the floor, revealing a little ladder that went down to the machinery.

Benji got down and plugged his tablet to the main computer, which wasn’t that easy since the light could only reach so much through the holes in the”ceiling”, and he had forgotten his flashlight somewhere in his tool bag upstairs .

For a second he hoped it was a serious problem, and that they would need to take out all of the floor and get a whole team to find the malfunction in that labyrinth of wires, only because it would meant that he could let this for tomorrow and go to sleep. I would also mean an incredible amount cost of money and most likely the loss of his job... so he abandoned the idea quickly.

The machine connected to his tablet and Benji tried to forcibly start the Simulator. It made a heavy sound as it started on, then sparks came out of somewhere, followed by a decrease of the noise. Definitely an electric problem.

Benji accommodated himself the best he could in the limited space left between the ladder, the processor he was connected to, and the power banks and wires that could potentially electrocute him, and started to run a diagnostic test to hopefully find the breakdown.

With classical music playing through his headphones and the dim lights, Benji found it quite challenging to keep his eyes from shutting and focused on the running test that could not find a thing yet.

Whoever, the unmistakable sound of the door opening snapped his eyes open. Without even realizing he had threw his headphones out of his head and completely abandoned his tablet, and was already half way out of the pit on the floor.

There was a moment of confusion, of Benji not fully believing what he was seeing. It could as well had been a dream he was having because he had actually fell asleep waiting on the diagnostic. But it was real, Ethan Hunt had just walked in. Alongside him, a cadet in full training gear, except her helmet. They were half way to the Simulator when they spotted Benji’s upper half coming out of the floor.

Their eyes went wide, their faces paled, but Benji could feel his getting hotter and hotter with rage. He was so angry, the words just spilled out of his mouth, a incriminatory finger pointing at the Ranger.

“YOU...!”