The B&B Decommission
rating: +27+x

Grand Bend, Ontario was a beach masquerading as a city. The permanent population was annually supplanted by a sun-seeking crowd twenty-five times their number. But there was no sun to seek today — nothing anomalous, just the season — and there were therefore no tourists.

This came as a great relief to Dr. Harold Blank, as tourists reminded him of undergraduate students. Undergraduate students reminded him of having to share services and equipment, and that reminded him of why he'd worked so hard to get his own office at Site-43.

He didn't like being reminded of hard work. That wasn't why he'd become an historian.

The beach city featured the terminal station for the Inter-Sectional Subway System, the end of the underground road from the SCP Foundation Lake Huron Research and Containment Facility. It wasn't officially part of the Nexus surrounding the lake, because putting 'tourism' and 'Nexus' in the same proposal was a great way to get demoted. It was also therefore not a common destination for retiring Foundation researchers, but Dr. Melissa Bradbury was no common researcher.

She was standing behind the screen door of her house when he arrived. She was smiling, but made no move to open the door and greet him. She let him let himself in, and they only embraced once the door was closed again.

"You're early," she said, taking his jacket.

"I'm always early."

"To rise?"

He unlaced his work boots. "It always feels that way."

They wandered into her spacious, sunlit living room and flopped down on the comfortable couch. "So, you said this was a special occasion."

He sighed, putting an arm around her. "Yeah, real special. They're shutting down all travel to and from the Site, in…" He checked his wristwatch; she leaned in and rested her silver-haired head on his shoulder. "Four hours."

"Why?" She adjusted a contact lens, mouth open.

"Uh… fuck it, who're you gonna tell? General Bowe took Site-19, and they think he's about to dump all the skips out at once."

She looked up at him, wide blue eyes widening further. "No joke?"

"Wish it was. Overwatch is scrambling, but we don't know if-"

Something beeped in his sweater pocket. She poked it. "You bugged, mister?"

He pulled his PDA out, and grimaced. "Oh, for fuck's sake."

NOTICE FROM THE FOUNDATION EMERGENT THREAT TACTICAL RESPONSE AUTHORITY

ETTRA.png

Multiple hostiles originating from Research and Containment Site-19 have attacked Foundation facilities and civilian centers worldwide. All Foundation operations are now under the purview of Mobile Task Force Alpha-9 ("New Hope") and the Foundation Emergent Threat Tactical Response Authority.

All Sites are locked down until further notice. Please stand by for instructions.

— Dr. Daniel ███████, ETTRA

"What the hell is ETTRA?" Bradbury asked, sitting up.

"First I've heard of it," Blank remarked. "And… okay, that can't be the same Dr. Dan Redacted I'm thinking of, can it?"

Asterisk43.png

"Daniel."

"Daniil."

Daniil Sokolsky stared at the face on his computer screen. "I thought you were—"

"Dead, yeah, I know." Dr. Dan rubbed at the stubble forming on his chin. "I've been getting that all week."

Sokolsky shook his head. "I didn't think you were dead, I thought you were DeD. What's this ETTRA garbage I'm getting from SCiPNET?"

Dan blinked. "You knew I was in the Decom Department? Even I didn't know."

Sokolsky kept shaking his head. "I didn't know, but it made sense."

Dan smiled, faintly. His colour was off, and he was jittery. "I'm glad you're still preternaturally observant, because I need you to manage the defense of 43."

Sokolsky stopped shaking his head, and nodded. "You're too busy defending important stuff to worry about Canada, eh."

Dan laughed. "Canada's where we keep the decontainment demon, Daniil. That's plenty important. But no, I don't want to commit any resources to 43 unless I have to, because officially you're right. There is nothing important in Canada."

"Uh-huh. You don't want Bowe coming here, thinking he'll get a free superweapon. Do you figure we're going to get attacked?"

Dan nodded. "Maybe not by anomalies; he's deploying those to facilities he thinks are important, so he knows we'll take the bait. But he also wants to take over the Foundation, so all the Sites are in jeopardy. You need to figure out what your weak points are, and defend them."

"Good news." Sokolsky grinned what he knew was his most unsettling grin. "Our weak points are all the defense we'll need."

Asterisk43.png

"It's been a weird day," the former Foundation agent remarked.

"You're not wrong," his partner agreed, peering down the well. "You sure this is gonna work?"

"Yeah. I checked the files; they'll prefer the soil content heading towards 43. This is the spot."

They both thought for a moment about what they were going to do.

"Welp." The first agent pulled a lever on the back of the dump truck.

The barrel tipped over and a steady stream of brown puppies, yipping cheerfully, began pouring into the well.

Asterisk43.png

"Sorry, Harry, but that ban is one-size-fits-all. I can't let you come back."

"Come on, Daniil. Did you get that report from 19? Seven distinct Groups of Interest. We're in trouble, here."

Sokolsky shook his head, on Harry's PDA. "No, we're in trouble here. You are fine, there. And that's where you're staying." The connection closed.

Blank tossed his phone on the couch; it bounced from cushion to cushion, once. "That's that, then."

"I wasn't going back there anyway." Bradbury shuddered.

He smiled sadly at her. "You seem good now, though. It's been a long time. Maybe—"

She wasn't smiling. "No. Not ever again."

"You'd be surprised how sociable the mirror monster is, these days."

Asterisk43.png

"She loves you, Philip."

"Thanks, Doug."

"Doesn't that scare you?"

"No, Doug."

"It should scare you, Philip."

"Thanks, Doug."

Amelia Torosyan, Janitorial and Maintenance Chief for Site-43, nudged him in the ribs. "What's he saying?"

Philip J. Deering, Technician JM64, glanced at his watch. "Should I tell her, Doug?"

The grey-skinned, slit-faced monster regarded him coolly from the watch face glass. "She loves you, Philip, and you're keeping things from her?"

Phil laughed. "He says you like me."

She nudged him in the ribs again as they turned a corner in the hallway. "He's underselling it. Hey, did you see Blank checking out today?"

Phil nodded. "The annual B&B reunion."

"What's that a reference to, anyway? I never asked him."

"Oh, it's a history thing. Th—"

A klaxon suddenly blared, and the lights in the Research and Experimentation Section snapped from bright white to dark red with an audible kachunk. "Attention," a recorded voice demanded. "Attention. Lockdown procedures are now in effect. All personnel must return to their assigned quarters immediately and await further instruction. Attention." The message repeated.

Amelia raised an eyebrow. "What's this about?"

"I don't…" Phil grimaced. It was hard to be heard over the announcement. "Let's just get back to our place, and we'll talk about it there." He was shouting by the end of the sentence.

"It's probably your fault," Doug remarked from the watch face. Phil could hear him perfectly.

Asterisk43.png

"Alright, what have we got?"

Bradbury placed the cardboard box on the table. "Localized reality anchor, but it's a tiny one. Pepper spray, first aid kit, amnestic injector with three charges, a bunch of vitamins, a taser, and that's it." She glanced up at him. "You really think we're in danger, here?"

Blank nodded. "If they've got access to SCiPNET, they've got access to our files. They might know there's some Foundation personnel shacking up here."

She pursed her lips. "Then we ought to de-shack." She looked ready for it; she'd been hiding in this house for eighteen years, after all.

Harry clapped, excited. "The B&B Commission is back in business."

She took one of the bottles of vitamins out of the box, and threw it at him. "Please tell me you're not still repeating that obscure joke to people."

He caught the bottle, with his head. "Ow. Yeah, all the time! I regale the new hires with tales of the best research partner ever, and her incisive mind, sharp wit, and perfect skin."

She hopped back onto the couch. "You should be focusing on your files, instead. Then maybe you'd be of some use to Sokolsky, stuck out here or not."

He joined her. "Yeah, I dunno. It's not like I've got access to anything he doesn't." He realized he was sitting on something.

He realized it was his phone.

He realized something else.

Asterisk43.png

Téan looked up at the surface of the lake, shimmering just a few feet above him in the sunlight, and grimaced beneath the heavy breathing apparatus of his suit. This is not what I signed up for. "Check in," he said.

The other frogman-priests rattled off their codenames. He had chosen them, giving his team members meaningful descriptions in old Daevite. He was Téan, the "head," the leader. Geát was "stone," the heavy; Deág just meant "soldier," because he hadn't really gotten a read on the woman; Kaes was the "mountain," not because he was tall, but because he was slow; and Ṭao, well, Ṭao would probably never get to know what his codename meant.

"Proceed, in His footsteps." It was all he could do not to guffaw at his own words. The Scarlet King had done many things, in many forms, but he had likely never walked on the bed of Lake Huron.

They began to move through the water, towards the intake pipes that would take them into the belly of the beast.

Asterisk43.png

"Sewer duty. The much-vaunted Plan boils down to sewer duty."

"At least we're not on scuba duty. Wouldn't want to be those losers."

Alpha-1 turned back to face her squad. "We're an MTF, now. Fucking act like it."

Alpha-2 and -3 glared at her, somewhere under their masks. She could feel it. "I've read lots of MTF transcripts," said Alpha-2. He snorted. "Half of them are unprofessional as hell."

"And it helps relieve the tension," Alpha-3 added. He gestured at the wet cave walls surrounding them. "These tunnels are creepy as all get out, so I'm actually looking forward to the sewer."

The five Chaos Insurgents pressed forward. "I need you at your best," Alpha-1 sighed. "All of you. These tunnels go right under 43, and we've got a date with the chain gang and the gearheads."

Alpha-2 mimicked her sigh. "Why do we even need them?"

"It's in the Plan."

"Does the Plan account for our religious friends fucking up?"

"The Plan accounts for everything. We follow the Steps, we get the job done."

There was silence in the caverns for a few moments, minus the steady dripping of the dew-sheened stone.

Then, Alpha-3: "Let's just hope we don't Step into anything nasty."

Groans.

Asterisk43.png

Bradbury drove. "You get the road list from Sokolsky, yet?"

Blank checked his PDA. "Yeah, he says we need to cover Highways 7, 21, and 79. He also says he wishes he'd thought of this himself."

Bradbury pulled down the sun visor. "And we're meeting Zwist… where?"

"Kettle Point. He's bringing the paint, and the brushes, and his own magic self; Sokolsky says the billboards will be up in less than an hour."

Bradbury drummed the steering wheel, nervously. "This is gonna be fun."

"So, you've never painted anything, huh."

Asterisk43.png

Ṭao was leading the way across the bottom of the lake, because that was his purpose. Téan had told him he was "the point man," which was not technically incorrect. There were nuances to his role which this didn't quite cover, but he didn't need to know about them.

"Weed bed's getting pretty thick," Ṭao reported.

It was true. The rocky surface slipped away into murky, green-choked darkness, and that was where they were headed.

"Nothing for it," Téan responded. "We keep moving." He glanced upward for what felt like the millionth time; there wasn't much light filtering down from the surface, at this point. They were more than five hundred feet underwater.

The scarlet scuba divers walked single file into the waving weeds, which soon became so thick they could barely make each other out. Téan stepped gingerly forward, wishing he was back in the sensory deprivation tank.

At least I knew there wasn't anything in there w-

A gurgling scream over the communicator cut that line of thought short.

"…Ṭao?"

Geát was pushing against the water, brushing the weeds aside. He should've been on top of Ṭao right now, but…

Gone.

Téan removed his gloves and began tracing circles in the water. He'd expected this.

Ṭao had meant "human sacrifice" to the Daevas, after all.

"THEY'RE COMING," Deág shouted, as the rings of bubbles Téan was creating began to glow.

Asterisk43.png

"…I change my mind. I'll take the lake bed."

The six Insurgents stared up at the impossibility dominating the already unlikely, mile-high cavern in which they stood. Thousands, tens of thousands… hundreds of thousands of square feet of whirring machinery, fluorescent piping, madly spinning fans, nauseatingly-canted gantries and scaffolds and hanging metal stairways.

"This wasn't in the Step Compilation," said Alpha-4.

Alpha-1 pulled her rifle off her shoulders. "We're gonna have to add a few Steps."

"I think we've exhausted the full extent of Step-related… humour…" Alpha-2 trailed off, staring at the towering subterranean factory.

"What?" Alpha 1 walked over to him. "You see something?"

Alpha-2 pointed into the darkness. "Yeah. A man."

Alpha-1 snorted. "Next man you see, you shoot. Okay? Unstrap, and let's move in."

Weapons in hand, the faux-MTF walked into the shadow of the mechanical monolith. There was a set of double doors set against one wall, bright orange, offensively cheerful in the gloom. Alpha-2 prepared to breach, while the others clustered to either side.

"Landshark!"

He kicked the doors in, and scanned the hallway. It was clean and well-lit, orange walls with a white stripe down the middle. An office complex?

"All clear.".

Alpha-1 shoved him by the shoulder with one hand. "Landshark?"

He shrugged.

At the moment they advanced through the double doors, a bald man in a beige vest appeared at the end of the hallway. "Oh," he said. "Is it today already?"

The doors slammed shut behind them.

"You must be the new assistants."

Asterisk43.png

Site Director Allan J. McInnis was not given to self-doubt. He had an entire Foundation of knowledge at his fingertips, and he made use of it, so that even when his decisions were wrong — which wasn't often — he knew they'd been the right ones at the time.

He was experiencing some uncertainty at the moment, however. "I'm telling you, I can… hear something."

"Hear what?" Daniil Sokolsky, on the computer screen, looked and sounded exhausted. "Look, I'm a bit busy right now. I'm tracking three Mekhanite strike forces masquerading as Canadian Forces caravans headed straight for B&B, and I'm monitoring an MTF response to attacks on the I-Triple-S at Grand Bend. I don't want to hear that you think your office sounds wrong."

McInnis scowled. "I know what this office sounds like. I've had this office for more than twenty years. There's a sort of… grinding in the atmospheric noise, and I think it's coming from the walls."

"You're in the deepest bedrock of the facility. There is literally zero chance that anything is coming to get you through the walls. But if it makes you feel any better, I'll send GIGO up to check on you."

MTF Pi-43 ("Garbage In, Garbage Out") was the Site's anomaly transportation team. Sokolsky was offering a token response.

McInnis sighed. "Tell you what. I'll head down to my backup office, and you can quarantine this one. I'll let you know when I'm ready."

"Deal."

He'd just switched the monitor off when the sound suddenly became unbearably loud, and the back wall of his office… disappeared. In its place…

…was a crawling carpet of tiny brown puppies.

Asterisk43.png

"The hell is that?"

The convoy driver watched the billboards roll past, one by one. There was something hypnotic about them; was it the contrast, or the words, or the way they looked like they'd been hastily put together with a paint roller? He didn't know.

Bromide1.png
Bromide2.png
Bromide3.png
Bromide4.png

What he did know was this: it was time to go home. At the fourth billboard, every single driver in every single truck swung their steering wheels to the left and retreated back the way they'd come. None of them noticed the sweat-soaked researchers, or their car, or the old man leaning on a cane beneath the final sign.

Asterisk43.png

Something was wrong. Everything was wrong.

Téan had thrown up his protective wards, the best he'd ever made. His thaumaturgy took to the water the way it never had in the air; he'd found that out in the deprivation tank, preparing for this very mission. Above the surface, he was a priest. Down below, he was a wizard.

The spined, leaping things which surrounded him in the weeds did not seem impressed. His wards put up only the slightest resistance, holding them back for mere moments. When Ṭao had disappeared, Téan hadn't been bothered. When Deág had been dragged screaming into the depths, he'd only been slightly worried.

When Geát had his left arm sliced off by a razor-sharp copper tail, and the murk filled with blood, well, that was different. Téan was able to spin the blood into a powerful counterattack, and had driven the beasts into a cleft in the lakebed, but the water was now clouded with pink and the weeds were waving crimson.

"We need to abort," Geát moaned, clutching the empty stump where his arm had been. "We need to get out of here."

Téan grabbed him by his shoulders, and pressed their masks together. He made eye contact with the other man. "You take point."

He shoved Geát into the dusky dimness, and fled.

Asterisk43.png

"Where the fuck are we."

"Shut up, Alpha-2." Alpha-1 tried to keep the fear from her voice. They hadn't seen the phantom again, and they were making good time. Probably.

Alpha-2 stopped walking. "That wasn't rhetorical."

Alpha-1 called turned to face him. "We're under the Site. Where else would we be?"

Alpha-2 gestured at the window-lined walls. "I dunno, in an ancient science lab? Because this looks like an ancient science lab."

Judging by the glassware and machinery they'd seen, this was an accurate assessment. But Alpha-1 wasn't looking for accurate assessments, she was looking for…

…she was looking for Alpha-5. "Hey. We're one short. Where's 5?"

The rest of her team looked as worried as they could, using only body language. "She was just here," Alpha-3 muttered.

"There she is." Alpha-2 pointed at one of the windows.

Through the sparkling-clean glass, they could see the bald researcher bent over an examination table. The table was covered in what looked like a big, wet bag of white pus. It was dripping onto the floor; where the drips landed, the floor's colour changed… and didn't stop changing.

Alpha-5 was standing next to him, her helmet missing. They seemed to be conversing; the researcher was talking, and Alpha-5 was nodding. Her eyes were blank.

"The fuck?" Alpha 1 kicked the door to the laboratory open, and stormed inside.

After a moment, Alpha-2 leaned around the doorframe to look into the lab.

Alpha-1 had disappeared.

As Alpha-2 backed away, Alpha-4 looked through the window. The lab was now completely empty, wall-to-wall nothingness. She traded a glance with Alpha-2…

…and noticed that Alpha-3 was now missing, as well.

"Could you give me a hand with something?"

They turned around, and saw the researcher standing at the end of the hallway. Alphas 1, 3 and 5 were hanging on crude meathooks from the ceiling, helmets off, looking at them with perplexed expressions.

Alpha-4 swallowed, and said, quite clearly, "No." She turned around.

The researcher was standing at the other end of the hallway, waist-deep in pink slime which terminated abruptly just inches from where she stood. It wasn't thick, it wasn't viscous, it was even rippling under the light breeze from the air conditioner. It simply wasn't flowing closer to her, as though an invisible pane of glass were holding it back.

Alphas 1, 2, 3 and 5 were reaching into the slime with their hands, gloves off, and pouring it over their faces.

Their faces had no expressions at all, because they had no features.

Not taking her eyes off any of them, Alpha 4 began running sideways back down the hall. She'd almost made it to the nearest door when a pipe that hadn't been there before struck her hard in the head, and she crumpled to the floor.

"I'll make a note of that," said the researcher.

Asterisk43.png

Eileen Veiksaar, Chief of the Site-43 Identity and Technocryptography Section, stared at the printout in front of her.

Vivian,

I have processed the material you sent me. It was very flexible.

- Wynn

"The fuck does that mean."

Asterisk43.png

"Here's one that'll piss you off. What's Columbo's first name?"

Phil wiggled his socked feet against Amelia's; they were sitting on opposite ends of the couch in their shared quarters. "He doesn't fucking have one."

She grinned, flipping the card over. "Wrong!"

"It's not fucking wrong." Phil leaned forward to snatch the card, forgetting somehow that his arms weren't as long as his legs. "Give it here."

"You're wasting your life, Philip," Doug remarked from the mirror near the door.

"We're living our best lives, thank you very much." Phil fell back against the armrest. "Okay, it says fucking 'Frank', right? That's bullshit."

She shook her head. "It says, and I shit you not here, 'Philip'."

He gaped. "What? Bullshit. What?"

Their tablets, stacked on the coffee table, both beeped in tandem. Amelia put the Trivial Pursuit card back in the deck and picked hers up. "It's Sokolsky." She tapped the screen.

Asterisk43.png
Bromide5.png
Bromide6.png
Bromide7.png
Bromide8.png

"This is… ridiculous…" Blank wheezed, leaning against the back of the billboard.

"But it works!" Bradbury passed him a bottle of water, and he scrabbled at the cap.

Thilo Zwist, Schriftsteller, word-wizard, walked around the billboard to join them. "All done." He tapped Blank's leg with his cane. "This was a good idea. Most fun I've had since I helped rig that election."

Blank's eyes widened. "Pardon?"

"Oh, is that not declassified yet? Wait a few months."

Together, they watched as the last of three convoys of Mekhanite soldiers in stolen Department of Defense trucks rattled onto the unpaved shoulder and headed away from the lake.

They almost didn't hear the helicopter; as luck would have it, the helicopter didn't see Zwist shake Blank's hand before he backed away from them.

Asterisk43.png

"They're rounding up all the senior staff, Amelia, you need to get somewhere safe. Now." Sokolsky heard running in the corridors, and swore softly.

"How did they get in?"

"Puppies."

"What?"

"Puppies. Omnivorous puppies, I'll tell you later. Where are you gonna hide?"

"We're already in Phil's quarters, they'll never find us here."

"Alright, well, I'm headed for the sub-tunnels. Stay safe."

He snapped his PDA in half and headed for the hidden bolthole in his lab. And people use 'paranoid' as a pejorative.

Asterisk43.png

Blank didn't think he'd ever forget the image of Zwist standing on the ground, holding up a sign on a stick which read "I'M NOT HERE" as the helicopter pulled away. He sighed. Their captors were using a Foundation transport, undoubtedly pinched from Site-19; they were wearing assault uniforms without insignia, but judging by the Hims and Hes they were throwing around in between every other sentence, they were the weird offshoot Scarletists Bowe had shacked up with.

Blank and Bradbury were in the back of the chopper. There was one cultist in there with them, representing a serious lapse in judgement.

The guard looked out the open door, and grinned. "The ground team's already in. I can see the Site; they're flagging us down."

"It's your day for that," Blank remarked. The guard turned around, and looked directly into the business end of the business card Zwist had palmed.

Jump.png

The guard twitched, then walked to the helicopter door. Bradbury relieved him of his riot stick before he stepped out of the chopper and into the forest canopy some ten metres below.

"You waited until we were pretty low," she remarked, watching him hit the branches.

"Thilo's a pacifist." Blank watched the man hit all the branches on his way to the forest floor, with some satisfaction. "So am I, most days."

Asterisk43.png

Kaes was dead.

Ṭao was dead, Geát was dead, Deág was dead. They'd all gone to join the ancient Daevas, in hell. Only Téan remained, and for a moment he thought he might actually make it. The underwater shoreline was gradually ascending, and every protective ward he could imagine was circling him in a blur of light and colour.

How, he thought. How? Is it them? Is it the lake? How can our magic not…

That was it, of course. That was the problem. A Nexus. A genius loci. The only magic that really works here… is theirs. He wished someone had figured that out before the mission had begun. Suddenly, he wished a great many things.

An immeasurably huge serpentine form swam out of the blue-tinted blackness, and consumed him in one gulp.

Asterisk43.png

Amelia carefully closed the door. "They're out there, alright."

"They're coming for you."

Phil put his hand over the slit of Doug's mouth on the mirror, for all the good that would do. "What's the plan?"

"I'm thinking, run at them screaming like an imbecile, kicking and flailing and generally causing as much damage as possible with my boots and fingernails."

Phil nodded. "That's… yeah. Well, you don't even have fingernails."

She glared at him. "I used to be nervous, you know."

He nodded again. "You should be nervous now."

Amelia's tablet beeped, and she tapped it. "Daniil?"

There was blood running down Sokolsky's face, and he was running. She could hear the overhead lights buzzing past; he seemed to be in the hab wing. "They're bringing… Blank and Bradbury… in," he wheezed. "I'm heading… for… the elevator."

"And why are you telling me?"

"Because… I've got… a squad… of insurgents… behind me. And I'm… leading them… right… past… you."

Phil leaned in. "Maybe don't?"

"Maybe… don't… open… your… door!"

Asterisk43.png

"Did you have to hit him so hard?"

Bradbury wiped the blood on the riot stick onto her pants. "I asked if you wanted to do it."

They headed for the topside elevator, the helicopter's rotors winding down behind them. The doors slid open before they reached them, and three men in robes walked out onto the helipad.

The five of them exchanged glances for a moment, and then the cultists began waving their arms in the air.

WHACK. Bradbury brought the stick down on the first man's head, and he crumpled in a heap. The second man pointed at her and said something ancient and violent, and she whacked him in the neck so hard Blank swore he heard a tendon snap. The third man was pressing his palms out towards her, like he was trying to Hadouken; he was still doing that when he hit the pavement, unconscious.

There was a fizzle from Bradbury's jacket pocket. She took out the tiny reality anchor, and sighed. "You did good, buddy."

Asterisk43.png

Amelia watched the scene unfolding on her tablet. Sokolsky was still broadcasting; he'd dropped the tablet on the floor, and she was staring up at him as he raised his hands in the air. He was standing in front of the elevator, and the elevator was making noise.

"That'll be Blank and Bradbury," she muttered.

"She loves you, Philip," Doug remarked.

Phil looked at the mirror, then looked at Amelia.

"Alright, DOCTOR," a harsh voice barked from the tablet. "We've got you covered, and we've got all the senior staff, minus two."

The elevator doors opened, revealing Blank and Bradbury. They looked surprised.

The harsh voice laughed. "Minus one, that is. Torosyan. We know she's in this wing; give me a room number, or I'm gonna start shooting down doors."

"Fucking hell," Amelia said. "They wouldn't—"

She heard the door open beside her, as Phil walked out into the hallway.

Asterisk43.png

Melissa Bradbury had spent eighteen years remembering the sight of an eldritch abomination's backside on the lens of her eyeglasses, an endless depth of horrific geometry her rational mind could not comprehend. It had driven her from the Foundation, had nearly driven her insane.

The events of the next few moments worked an incredible reorganizing magic on her mindset.

"You want Amelia?" Philip E. Deering, SCP-5056-B, appeared from around a corner. All seven armed insurgents pointed their rifles at him. "You'll have to go through me." He was trembling.

"Phil—" Amelia Torosyan began, darting into view and reaching out, a look of indescribable terror in her wide blue eyes.

"Go through him," the lead agent snarled, and then he bit off his own tongue.

He was still screaming blood and firing into the ceiling tiles when the man next to him bellowed so hard, wordlessly, that his voice broke and he fainted. The third man had been watching the elevator, and Bradbury actually saw the mirror monster appearing in one of his eyes — its hideous grey skull still staring at Deering — as they both briefly widened. He screeched like a full set of hard-braking tires, and collapsed.

In less than ten seconds all seven insurgents were on the floor, gibbering, writhing, or unconscious.

Phil exhaled for what felt like forever. "Thanks, Do—"

Amelia slapped him so hard, he nearly fell over. Only nearly, because she caught him and kissed him so hard it looked like he was going to turn blue.

Asterisk43.png

"Are you sure you're ready for this, Melissa?" Alan McInnis was gripping the top of the break room door frame, stretching his muscles. He'd just spent three hours trapped in a closet, while GIGO removed the puppies from his office and sealed the breached wall.

Bradbury nodded. "If you don't think my PhD's expired, I'd like a new psych eval."

Sokolsky grunted, kicking a vending machine with malice in his eyes. "The B&B Commission again, eh?" He retrieved a can of soda from the hopper. "What was that a ref—"

There was a spring in Blank's step as he blew into the room. "I love having access to a colour printer."

Bradbury raised an eyebrow. "What've you got there?"

"I&T just intercepted this from Site-19," he said, sticking a reddish printout to the bulletin board with four blue pushpins. He swung his labcoat back and stuck his thumbs into his beltloops, grinning; Bradbury and McInnis walked over to take a look.

NOTICE FROM FOUNDATION ELIMINATION COALITION CENTRAL COMMAND, SITE-19

Bowalition.png

In light of the recent extreme expenditure of manpower and resources towards an ill-defined and dubious goal, all members of the Foundation Elimination Coalition and its constituent groups are to immediately cease operations against the SCP Foundation Lake Huron Research and Containment Facility (Site-43).

Canada's just not worth it.

— General George Bowe, Master John Yttoric, Highest Priest Robert Bumaro, FEC

McInnis laughed. Neither of them had ever heard him do that before. Sokolsky grinned; that was nothing new.

Bradbury handed Blank a cup of coffee, and he reached around her waist with his free hand. He sipped contentedly as the four of them stared at the printout. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and whispered, "We're never, ever taking that down."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License