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This would have been very disturbing anyway but then Pet's eye popped out and started rolling along the bottom of the boat. Great. Maybe she would be so fortunate as to have a kraken surface nearby and pluck her off the ship with one of its tentacles and kindly drown her. Petra Sleptova in Land, Ho!
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Disaster Strikes
See Inside 
December 19th, 1889 — Atrium, Candle Lighting Event

The Department of Mysteries had had its fair share of disasters during his tenure with the department, of varying degrees of severity. Some were confined to the department and easily correctable; some where confined to the department and not correctable, unfortunately for whomever had been involved. That was a risk Unspeakables knew and accepted, though, the price for doing business with the sorts of things other people weren't even supposed to know about. Occasionally the mishaps overspilled the walls of the department and affected some other people on the floor, or those who happened to be caught in the elevator at the wrong time (like that bloke who had become a chicken the previous spring, for example), which involved more paperwork, but was essentially still not that big of an ordeal, in the grand scheme of things.

Only twice in Ernest's time with the department had anything happened in the Department of Mysteries that could really be considered a catastrophe, in his opinion — once with the explosion that had collapsed all of the floors above them, and once with the... ah, time mishap. They'd had a fairly good run since then, in terms of not destroying the Ministry or the world — but it seemed their streak was about to be broken.

(A particularly frustrating thing, Ernest thought to himself as he activated the Ministry's emergency alarm system to notify the other departments, was that this wasn't even really their fault. It wasn't like they had let the brain-creatures out, or mishandled them. There had been an attempted theft — but it wasn't as though whoever was really responsible for this would be filing the report and doing all of the paperwork the next day. That would still be his job, irritatingly enough).

The things had already left the floor by the time he'd been notified of the situation, but Unspeakables had been dispatched to reclaim them. Ernest headed to the lift and pressed the button for the Atrium, so that he could disable the entrances into the Ministry temporarily. When the lift let out its tiny ding, however, the doors opened on complete chaos.

The brains were already here, for one thing, along with far more people than he would have liked for a disaster recovery scenario. He remembered belatedly that there was some sort of event in the Atrium today, which he'd passed volunteers for upon arriving that morning. That was probably how the would-be thief had gotten as far as the Department of Mysteries without encountering resistance to begin with, come to think of it.

Before he'd had a chance to think of how best to approach the situation developing before him, one of the unsuspecting civilians before him shot off a spell in the direction of one of the escaped brains — a spell that was decidedly unhelpful in this situation, though of course they had no way of knowing that.

"Oh, for Merlin's sake, don't do that!" he called loudly as he stepped out of the lift and moved to intervene. "You'll only make it worse!"

(Though, really, how much worse could it get?)

OOC: I intend for this thread to be short but plot-important; request that whoever takes it be available for semi-regular replies during December/January until we wrap it up

When Pet had set off for the Ministry her greatest concern had been making a good impression and getting through the day without embarrassing herself or selling herself short. Even if she returned unsuccessful she wanted to at least know that she'd done everything she could have, even if it wasn't enough to outweigh the fact that she was a partially sighted young female from a privileged background where possibly the only people less desirable for a job in the Department of Mysteries were the uneducated. She at least had that in her favor and possibly her father's reputation, not that she wanted to rely on that too much.

Upon arriving in the atrium of the Ministry she was unprepared for the sight that greeted her. It was pure chaos and - were those brains? Her gut instinct told her to go back the way she had come, that also seemed to be what someone else was thinking as they roughly shoved past her to escape the way she'd come. She drew her wand and silently debated as people surged towards her. What was the smart thing to do? Escape. What was the right thing to do? Probably also escape, she may potentially prove to be a liability rather than an asset and adding to the chaos wouldn't help anyone. However, her conscience was doing a marvelous job of overriding both of these observations and keeping her from turning and running.

Maybe she would be out of her depth, she hadn't had her magical abilities properly tested since Hogwarts after all, and her attempts at dueling tournaments had ended poorly. If she was out of her depth then she probably wasn't ready to work for the Department of Mysteries anyway, aside from potential injury, what did she really have to lose by trying to help?

With her mind made up Pet started forward weaving between people as swiftly as she could. Where she was aiming to go she had no idea. She came to a sudden standstill as a brain a few feet away started to rapidly swell to a horrific size. Unsurprisingly it didn't look less threatening five times larger. "Reducio!" For the love of Merlin let it be an engorgement charm!

Thank you Bee for my stunning Secret Swap gift <3
Ernest couldn't fathom why anyone would think reducio was an appropriate response here — but, then, Ernest was used to seeing these things mulling about in the tanks in the Department of Mysteries and it therefore would never have occurred to him that they might be a bit larger than the ordinary person might expect. From his perspective, these were not brains as a casual spectator might think, but rather independent creatures in their own right (or... perhaps creatures was the wrong word — beings? spirits? thought-monsters?) and shrinking them would not only fail to make them any less dangerous, it would make them considerably harder to keep track of — not to mention any potential harm it might do to the specimen itself.

He blocked the spell with a wave of his own wand and moved to stand between the misguided young girl (who looked, honestly, to be no older than his son — what was she doing here, he had to wonder?) and the floating entity. "You'll only make it angry like that. It needs to be contained, so we can transport it back," he continued, wondering belatedly if he'd said too much. Those words alone probably weren't technically classified, but the obvious follow on question would be back to where? and the answer to that very much was.

"Stand back," he instructed, before beginning a magical containment charm. Before he'd even started the incantation, however, the entity had used one of its long arms to lash out at the nearest person in the crowd.

She was watching her spell speed towards its target when it was abruptly blocked. The culprit quickly became clear and even amongst the chaos she was able to feel a wave mortification. That was Mr. Mulciber himself, wasn't it? She'd probably just ruined her chances of making it into the Department of Mysteries, assuming it still existed after the brains ravaged the place.

Pet felt her self-confidence disappear like the air from a deflating balloon. She didn't want to make it angry but surely it would be considerably less threatening as an angry little brain? She thought the person it suddenly decided to attack might agree with her. All the same, Mr. Mulciber seemed to know a great deal more about the brains than she did. Was this something to do with his department?

If she had made a blunder she'd have to make up for it which meant ignoring her doubts and not getting in the way or sidelined. "I'd like to help, sir!" Pet insisted, taking a small step forward with her wand at the ready. "You said containment charms, right?"

As if on cue a brain came whizzing towards her catching her a little by surprise which made her hesitate just long enough to be too close to hit it in time. Pet lunged to one side to avoid it not wanting to find out what it would do given the chance to latch on to her.

Thank you Bee for my stunning Secret Swap gift <3
Well, she was plucky, he'd have to grant her that. Not that it would do either of them much good if she persisted in sticking around long enough to get attacked by the nearest creature. The best case scenario was that she caused him a significant delay while he untangled her; worst case, she would end up maimed or dead. Ugh, what a nightmare the paperwork on this little incident was going to be. Anything that involved fatalities invariably was. Maybe he could talk Urquart into finding the responsible party and having them file the report, as a sort of punishment.

"That won't be necessary," Ernest said sharply as the girl dodged out of the way. "The most useful thing you can do at the moment would be to stay out of the way."

Even if she did allow herself to give up that easily and retreat from the chaos, she didn't know where he expected her to go. Most people were trying to get out of the way and that was half the problem. "Please forgive me, sir, but I'm not looking to join the Department of Mysteries to stay out of the way!" Not that he was likely to know that that was why she was there until she said it, but maybe it would make him take her more seriously.

Containment charms were not something she had a great deal of experience with, she'd had little use of them until now but she had at least read about them and practiced them a handful of times. It wasn't ideal but it was better than not knowing what a containment charm was at all. The brain swooped in again and she attempted a charm to contain it.

Thank you Bee for my stunning Secret Swap gift <3
Ernest had his wand aimed and was ready to begin casting when the girl spoke again. What she said shocked him enough that he couldn't help but look over at her, which broke his concentration and resulted in his lowering his wand. The Department of Mysteries? What business did she think she had joining the Department of Mysteries? She was just some child — barely older than Merriweather, if she was at all. At a glance, she looked like any other mousy would-be debutante, though she was a bit on the small side. And there might have been something wrong with her eyes — or maybe it was just the expression she had as she faced off against a creature that, to be fair, would have unsettled most people. Hence the rationale for keeping its existence classified and maintaining them within the Department of Mysteries.

He did have an interview scheduled today, didn't he? That had been what he was preparing for, he recalled, when the alarm had been raised in the first place. But surely that couldn't be her? If it was, he'd have to have a serious talk with the secretary, and everyone who came before him in the hiring chain. Was anyone even screening these people, or did they let every teenager with half an inkling mosey on down to the Department of Mysteries to try their luck at becoming one of the select few to understand the secrets of the universe?

Well, in any case, he was not, so far, impressed. She had been, to put it lightly, quite fazed by the appearance of the brains, which did not bode well for her prospects if she wanted to work in close proximity to them day in and day out. Not, Ernest supposed, that the interview was likely to continue at this point, regardless of how she performed.

As he thought this, her attempt at a concealment charm failed, and the brain — now exceedingly angry — whipped its tentacle out and wrapped itself quite firmly around his waist.

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