04/23/87
rating: +6+x

T-Minus 10 Minutes

It was a dark, rainy sunrise in North Carolina, and for the second time in forty years, the SCP Foundation was running away. Dr. Rita Denver looked up into the early dawn, through the dark clouds and up into the eye of Ares’ Hammer, that soulless machine peeking out from behind the dark drizzling clouds. Site-23 was being evacuated, the few anomalies deemed valuable enough for continued custody being loaded onto the unmarked white vans along with all of the files and technology the site could muster and transport. Everything else was the UIU’s problem now. Rita could hear the yells and cries of the site leadership as the last personnel were being herded out and into the evacuation vehicles. The first remnants of the sun’s orange glow shone brightly, creeping over the horizon.

“Denver! Stop fucking staring and get in the truck!”

One of her superiors’ shouts broke Rita out of her thoughts, and the gangly Junior Researcher jogged towards the nearest vehicle. She slammed her pale fists onto its doors, and they were pushed open by an elderly Japanese doctor. He helped pull her in, and Rita sat down on a bench against the side of the van’s metal interior. The vehicle, stuffed to the brim with plump, creamy-colored files and stuffy, lab-coated personnel drove off down the dirt road out of Site-23, joining the convoy line of plain, stark-white vans.

The rooks were lined up.

T-Minus 8 Minutes

“Trajectory plotting complete, beginning the arming of payload…”

Lieutenant Carl Wessex stood silently by, watching as the rows of sweaty, hairy operators pressed buttons, arming a weapon stationed hundreds of miles up into the atmosphere and a thousand miles away. A finger pushed a button, and another, and another. A screen flashed green, then a staticky view of Site-23 opened up on the television’s surface.

A man coughed, then continued at his workstation. Rows of numbers and variables and magic runes rolled down and across the computer monitor as the technician completed his role in the war machine. The man beside him yelled out, in a thick Midwestern accent.

“Payload armament proceeding at sixteen percent!”

Lt. Wessex checked his watch, then thought about how this, this would be the weapon that the president believed would end this… Cold War. He wondered what the president was doing now, and if he knew this test was going on as Wessex contemplated. Wessex thought he must, and that the president was proud. He flashed a glance back to one of the many men tap-tap-tapping away at his computer and said to himself. Who’d of thought magic would have this much math?

The knights were set up.

T-Minus 5 Minutes

Half a world from Site-23, Andrei Ekatrinev watched with the rest of GRU-P high command as the Americans tested their new weapon. They had spies within the UIU, always. Sending the room of aging hardliners grainy footage only a few seconds behind what the Americans were getting. One of Andrei’s fellows, a heavyset, nearly eighty-year-old Kazakh, took a hit of whatever was in his battered flask. One quietly summoned his assistant and directed him to fetch-project-something-won’t-you?. The young man calmly walked down the hall, and the group of Soviet politicians watched the scene with bated breath.

The black king was in place.

T-Minus 2 Minutes

Ares’ Hammer’s internal circuitry buzzed and whirred as thaumic energy and thurmaturgic power coursed through the machine. It sat, lazing away like a glassy massive eye in low-Earth orbit watching all the tiny little people and cars and buildings under it. If it was a person, perhaps it would have felt a bit of fear, or sadness or even patriotism but it was a machine, nothing more than a clunking hulk of welded metal, carved with runes and symbols of which it couldn’t comprehend.

Ares’ Hammer felt the hot, burning weight of the payload lying sealed to its undercarriage, and sent out a small ping to the men controlling it from Washington.

Payload armament proceeding at 99.54%… 99.76%… 100%.

Permission to fire?

The massive machine waited for a minute as the automated transmission pinged around the world for a minute before being received. Ares’ Hammer lay up in space a little longer, then received its response.

Permission: granted

Godspeed.

The white queen was in position.

T-Minus 1 Minute

The man in the Passenger seat of Rita Denver’s van pointed something to the man behind him. It was time, and the cloudy, red eye of the machine became a glassy white. Small wisps of energy collected upon the satellite's steel and tungsten structure, then more, and more. The Foundation scientists stared in awe out of the window as the symbols on the machine began to glow a thin, bright blue. For a small second, all was quiet, then Ares brought down his hammer on Site-23.

The pawns were positioned on the board.

T-Plus 0 Minutes

The thick, blinding white light came down from the machine like a call from God himself, wiping Site-23 away like the blight on American soil the Foundation had become. Lt. Wessex stared on in empty-eyed acceptance as the beam swept over the facility, and Dr. Ekaterinev cleanly asked for his assistant to go call the General Secretary, and that the GRU-P may need to counter further aggression from the Americans. The assistant saluted, and soon the entire Politburo was in damage control mode.

The chessboard was set.

T-Plus 1 Minute

The sun shone its bright, orange beams down on the American East, its glowing light peering through the dusky clouds and onto the smoking ruins of Site-23. A battalion of UIU and Pentagram personnel were en-route to secure the remains of the site. Lt. Wessex was soon to be on call with his superiors, who would themselves relay it to the president.

The morning sun gleamed brightly, just beyond the shining house on the hill. The Pax Fundamenta was over, the Pax Americana had begun.

The first white pawn moved up the board.

T-Plus 1 Hour

O5-8 stood outside his chambers in the hot courtyard of Site-06. The South Indian heat beat down on his skin, and from his chamber, he could see lines upon lines of planes emblazoned with the logos of the “Swiss Continental Force”. He smiled gently to himself, continuing to stare in pride as the planes flew into the nearby airstrip and into Site-06. He’d masterminded this entire plan himself, as the council always suspected about the day the Foundation and the Americans may not be allies. It took years of shifting powerful anomalies, information, researchers, all to Site-23. All to convince the Pentagram that that, not 19, or any of the proper sites was where to strike first. The Foundation wouldn’t have any real presence on the American continent, anymore. A small price to pay for the successful airlifting of almost half their resources.

His bodyguards wordlessly gestured for 8 to enter a more safe location, back to his quarters. They were moving in the anomalies, and killing one of the lead councilmen was not a good ending to the airlift. O5-8 allowed himself to be escorted back, smirking all the way. The battle was lost, sure, but in the end, all the Americans destroyed was a shaggy dog.

The first black pawn moved forward. The game was on.

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