Scp 5579 2

“So good of you to stop by, Darling. We’re all very pleased you agreed to our proposal.”

“It wasn’t a proposal. At best, it was extortion. At worst, it was a terrorist threat.”

A pen clicked. In the silent parlor, the sound was deafening.

“And you will call me Overseer.”


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Iris Dark and O5-5 sat in tall, red-silk armchairs, framed across a mahogany coffee table. A fire crackled in the backing hearth, cradled up in a marble fireplace too lavish for Buckingham Palace. Along the walls hung trophies - exotic beasts, unremarkable and anomalous alike, dead-eyed and ever-watching. This was the Fifth Lodge, the London hideaway of Marshall, Carter and Dark.

Iris bickered and bargained. O5-5 discussed and debated.

Iris drank her wine. O5-5 did not.

The negotiations lasted nearly six hours.


Offered:

[RESTRICTED]

Received:

  1. Three (3) Cure-All Capsules. [SCP-500]
  2. Fifteen (15) 24-Hour Weight Loss Pamplets. [SCP-4177]
  3. One (1) 950-Karat Diamond Seedling. [SCP-757]
  4. Ten (10) Birthday Candy Pieces, 70 years. [SCP-983]
  5. 400g Pure human gold. [SCP-4938]
  6. 18kg Versatile green Goo. [SCP-447]
  7. 10kg Parasitic tapioca. [SCP-5579]

“Sixteen kilograms is more than enough,” said O5-5 tersely.

“You’re lucky we’re not asking for the whole ball. Twenty,” said Iris.

“Eighteen, and you must make sure above all else that-”

“Yes yes, we know. No dead bodies.”

“Eighteen kilograms, then," O5-5 said with a note of finality.

“If only so we move on, fine,” Iris sighed. “Our final item… what was it again… ah, yes, the tapioca. SCP-5579 to you. I think we can dispense with the dickering on this one, hm? Ten kilograms, and your assurance it’s your entire stock. Save, of course, for a minuscule sample for your scientific fussing. Do we have a deal?”

O5-5 didn’t reply immediately. She tapped her pen, and stared at her clipboard in silence. Iris raised her wine glass, and wondered what could occupy such a quick-witted woman for so very long.

“Tell me why you want them,” O5-5 said at last.

Iris froze mid-sip. Two boundaries of blood-red, lips and wine, held a fraction from touching. She was surprised. Tonight had been monotonous, yes, but O5-5 had never repeated herself - she had never wasted words.

“We’ve already told you,” Iris said. “They’re singular, they’re anomalous, and they’re organic objets d’art. They’re valuable to us, and worthless to you.”

“Yes, but what do you plan on doing with them?” O5-5 asked. “Even in deep freeze, they’ll be a pile of rotting mush within a few decades. It doesn’t seem like a… stable investment.”

Iris grinned. Despite possessing a fleet of cars, a village of homes, and several private islands, she only owned three smiles. She’d never required any more than that. This was the first, a coy domineering smirk that tended to appear when negotiations finally turned interesting.

“My goodness, Overseer, are you indulging a curiosity?” Iris asked.

“I’m merely addressing an inconsistency,” O5-5 replied, calmly. “We need to ensure you won’t do anything with SCP-5579 that might threaten the wider world.”

“Like what?” Iris asked with a coy tip of her head.

“Hatching them,” O5-5 replied.

Iris snorted, then snickered, then she fell fully into laughter. She laughed so hard she had to set her glass down, otherwise she might stain her $38,000 dress with $1,500 wine.

“Impossible,” she said after catching her breath.

“We’re supposed to trust-” O5-5 began.

“It’s impossible,” Iris said again, firmly.

O5-5’s eyebrows crinkled.

“How are you so sure?” she asked.

“Because after nine million, nine thousand and sixty-four planets, you might start to guess the Avanaski are just piss-poor parasites,” Iris said.

“The what?” O5-5 asked.

“Avanaski,” Iris repeated. “They have a bit of a reputation, or so we’ve been told. Over the last few years the boys and I have been making some new business partners in… very high places.”

“Are you saying you’re in contact with extra-solar species?” O5-5 asked.

“Ah, so sorry; that doesn’t fall under our disclosure agreement, does it?” Iris said, grinning again.

“Hmh,” O5-5 muttered. “So, the ‘Avanaski’ are having trouble finding suitable hosts, then?”

“The Avanaski have trouble with everything, Darling. I mean, did they seem especially… competent to you?”

“They’re capable of extra-galactic travel.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Isn’t it?”

Iris Dark finished the last of her wine. As she held up her glass, a grey-skinned man had already appeared at her side. He collected the empty cup, and threaded a new, full glass into her waiting fingers in one fluid motion. He was there and gone in the span of a breath, but O5-5 had caught a glimpse of him in the flickering firelight. He’d had no face at all.

“The Avanaski,” Iris began, “come from a world so lush with resources it makes Earth look like a half-mossy crag. That is, they assimilated such a world. The planet they call ‘One’ is likely just the first planet they successfully infected. We're not sure where they actually come from, but given how resilient they are in dormancy, we suspect they once hitched rides on meteorites.”

“Either way, their first and only hosts were these chubby little grey things; think tiny elephant meets koala bear. These docile lumps once lived in huge, hollow trees that bore fruit all year round. It was a twin-star system - a world without winter. Better yet, it all sat atop a mantle chock-a-block with ore and exploitable energy sources. Of course, the natives would never have utilized them - innovation requires necessity, and they wanted for nothing. The Avanaski, however, wanted for everything.”

“Think of them like the spoiled brats of the universe, Overseer - a species that developed in an all-too-easy environment. They were already halfway through their industrial revolution by the time it took humanity to figure out fire. They strolled out into space, given they had ready-made, pea-sized crystals containing as much energy as 50 tons of oil. The Avanaski were handed the keys to the galaxy like it was a Cadillac from Daddy.”

“But, lo and behold, the rest of the neighborhood wasn’t nearly as idyllic, as their little broadcast might suggest. Now, having burned through what little is left of Planet ‘One’, the Avanaski have dwindled down to a bare handful. They have no concept of conservation, or adaptation - they’re utterly incapable of thinking on those terms. We suspect, or at least our business partners suspect, they’ll be gone entirely within the next decade.”

A moment of silence hung between them.

“You're avoiding the question,” O5-5 said, at last.

“Which question was that?” Iris asked.

“Why do you want the tapioca?”

“To eat, obviously.”

O5-5 paused, then sighed, setting her pen pointedly down across her clipboard.

“If you’re going to waste my time, Ms. Dark, then we can simply strike this item and call it an evening,” O5-5 said.

“I’m serious!” Iris replied with affront, hand pressed to her collarbone. “We intend to eat the entire batch! There’s a whole banquet planned, in fact - it’s very exclusive.”

“Exclusive as the café around the corner,” O5-5 quipped. “It's just tapioca.”

Alien-parasite-filled tapioca.”

“It tastes just like tapioca. SCP-5579 doesn’t even register to chemical analysis, let alone the human tongue. Why bother?”

Here came the second smile of Iris Dark: slight and impish, like an inside joke told between childhood friends. It was a smile shared with those who understood the true shape of the world - not simply the cast behind the curtain, but for the puppeteers above it.

“Have you ever had Faisan Pathétique?” she asked.

“I suspect you’ll explain what they are regardless,” O5-5 said.

“It’s a breed of pheasant,” Iris said, “Found only on a single farm in France. The previous owner hanged himself in the barn. For whatever reason, whenever a Faisan Pathétique is butchered, it experiences an instant of existential realization. It understands it’s a bird. It understands it has lived a pointless life. It even realizes it is dying purely for the sake of some human’s dinner.”

“How could you possibly-” O5-5 began.

“EEGs," Iris interjected. “Soul Cairns, empathic micro-projection… oh, and the fact they scream ‘wait!’ or ‘stop!’ or ‘please!’ just before you lop off their heads. I’ve had them on several occasions now. Do you know what they taste like?”

O5-5 did not reply.

“Chicken,” Iris said, regardless. “They taste like dry, white chicken.”

O5-5 still did not reply.

“So again you might ask ‘why bother?’” Iris said with a flourish of her hand. “Then I’d answer, ‘It’s not about the taste, Darling’. Then you’d get huffy about me calling you Darling again, but I’d carry on and say ‘The real point of Faisan Pathétique is eating something that, for one glorious moment, understood its place in the universal pecking order.’”

O5-5 squinted, but said nothing.

“Pecking order?” Iris repeated, hand frozen in the air. “Come now, Ms. Overseer, I’m perfectly happy holding both sides of this conversation, but I’d appreciate a chuckle here and there. A smile? A flinch? Anything?”

O5-5 tapped her pen against the board.

“Oh fine, be that way,” Iris huffed. “I’m only trying to add some levity to my point.”

“And what point would that be, Ms. Dark?” O5-5 asked, monotone.

“That ‘palate’ isn’t simply about taste!" Iris exclaimed. “That we needn’t be governed by such primitive neural feedback! Take this wine, for example. I can appreciate its taste, yes, but what about its history? The artistry in its production? The brutal, beautiful seizure of property we performed to claim the wine cellar where it sat for nearly two hundred years? I can’t taste that, but I can experience it.”

Iris finished her wine in one slow, deliberate sip before setting the glass down. The grey man did not return. After a moment, O5-5 set her pen aside.

“So, then,” O5-5 said. “What experience do you get from SCP-5579?”

Iris clasped her hands together beneath her chin as she leaned forward, firelight catching in her eyes.

“The same experience our ancestors had, Overseer, when hunting and killing their prey. Not flighty little morsels, no, I mean powerful prey. Boar. Oxen. Beasts that would gore you into a bloody husk if it meant their own survival. Yet you outmatched them. You, with your strength and cunning, now devouring their raw, living flesh - not peeled from a carcass, but torn from a squealing, living thing. In this you feel no shame, only satisfaction. You are the dominant life form. You are the superior species. You live, they die.”

“Now equate that to a galactic superpower.”

“Imagine it! You ‘pop!’ one of those precious little black baubles into your mouth and swallow it whole. All those colonies, all those newborn Avanaski hatch open and try to latch onto your stomach lining, onto your esophagus, onto anything! Instead, they melt and burn and churn, foiled by simple human biology. Every moment of digestion is a one-sided war against one of the greatest civilizations in the Universe. With every bite, you're affirming that we, humanity, will not simply inherit the stars, but consume them.”

There at last came the third, and final smile of Iris Dark.

All teeth.

“I ask you: what could be sweeter?”


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