"Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't"
"What's up, Draki?"
"Not much. Hey, can I borrow your cat for the weekend?"
"I guess. Why the hell you'd want to borrow that mangy stray who always misses the fucking litter box, I don't know, but sure, go ahead. You'll probably find him trying to bang Josie. Stupid bastard's too dumb to realize that no matter how much she smells like she's in heat, you can't get it on when the lady don't got no lady parts."
"Thanks. By the way, what the fuck is that?"
"Oh. Doctor Lorenzo was by here earlier, with a formal request for an audit on 784 and Doctor Valentine. He thinks she's out of line, and using improper containment procedures. Wanted me to check up on it."
"That still doesn't explain the…"
"I'm just about to get to that. You see, when I first took on this position, every day I'd have people come in and complain about the stupidest fucking things. Their boss cracks one joke or makes them miss one break they come in here whining and screaming and begging for an Audit Towards Termination. So I've started testing them to see if they're serious. One of the tests is I put a knife on my desk and tell them that if they really want me to do the audit, they'll cut off a finger. When they pick up the knife, I tell them it's okay, they can stop."
"… I guess Lorenzo really felt passionately about that audit."
"Cut off his own middle finger, held it up, and threw it in my face, and implied me and my mother had improper relations, using many four letter words."
"I sent him down to the infirmary."
"So, are you gonna do that audit?"
"I kinda have to now."
"You getting soft on me?"
"Don't let it get around, I've got a reputation to uphold."
"No problem. Just shoot Gerald in the face and they'll be calling you "Clef the Killer" again in no time. Plus, you'll make Bright two grand."
"You know," Chang said, "I've done a lot of freaky, fucked up things for this group. I've mowed down an entire Sunday School classroom with a Squad Automatic Weapon because they were infected by some hell virus that turned them into bloodthirsty mutants. I've seen the sea glittering behind the gate to hell…"
"… all these moments will be lost like tears in rain?" Roybal quipped.
"Shut up, Roy," Chang snarled.
"Make me, assgike," Roybal snapped back.
"Both of you motherfuckers drop it right now or I'll chop off your balls and make dango out of them," Takahashi sighed. She touched her eyepatch, a souvenir of a bad drop over Kosovo that had sent a piece of debris flying into her left eye. That eye tended to ache when there was trouble, and it was hurting like hell now.
"That ain't fair, Lieutenant. Just cause you don't got any doesn't mean you have to take it out on those of us that…"
"Sergeant Chang, you have ten seconds to get to the fucking point before I get my gelding tool," Takahashi interrupted.
"Sir, Chang, I'm a fucking officer, not a housewife or a whore."
"Well, sir, all I'm trying to say, sir, is that riding herd on a fucked up zombie nano-machine monster thing is the most fucked up thing I've had to do in a career built off of doing fucked up things, sir," Chang said.
"And? What do you want me to do about it? Put you in for a transfer to Headquarters?"
"No, sir," Chang gulped. 'Headquarters' was a euphemism for being reassigned as D-Class personnel: a literal kiss of death for any Mobile Task Force member. "Just making a completely off-hand and innocent observation, sir."
"Keep it that way, Chang. I'm not getting shot in the head over your lousy griping."
"Heads up, here comes the Iron Bitch now," Vicks said. He dropped his clove cigarette on the ground and crunched it under his boot.
"Ten-hut!" The members of Mobile Task Force Delta Nine (Feynman's Folly) snapped to attention as Assistant Director Janice Valentine entered the briefing room. "As you were," Valentine said, laying down her laptop computer on the table. "You people probably want to get out in the field and start killing things, so I'll make this brief. Agent Sandoval has called in a report of a highly dangerous biomorph moving through the Crystal Caverns. 784 is being dispatched to contain it. You will accompany it to the operations area and provide whatever support it asks for. That is all. Are there any questions?"
"Um, yeah," Chang said, raising his hand. "What the fuck is a biomorph?"
"She means a monster, idiot. Like a big, fucking, slimy monster," Hopkins sighed.
"Fuck you, asshole, I was asking the lady a fucking question," Chang snapped.
"Suck my cock, assgike."
"I got a fuckin' question for the nice lady," Vicks said, waving his hand in the air. "How come we don't got no fuckin' maps, no fuckin' info about the target, no motherfuckin' support or any mission objectives?"
"784 has all the information you will need to know," Valentine protested.
"So how come the fuckin' Skip gets to know all about the mission, and not us?" Chang whined.
"Because you idiots don't NEED to know. And if it weren't for the fact that Foundation regulations REQUIRE there to be a task force in support of any SCPs deployed in the field, I'd have all of you morons reassigned to clean toilets until judgement day!" Valentine shouted.
"What the fuck did you just…"
"TEN-HUT!" Takahashi shouted.
"Fuck that, Lieutenant, this bitch just…"
"YOU ARE IN DIRECT DEFIANCE OF AN ORDER, SERGEANT CHANG!" Takahashi screamed. "I SAID, ATTENTION!"
The room fell silent. "Everyone but Chang and Vicks, get your gear and assemble in the hangar in ten minutes. Private Vicks and Sergeant… sorry, CORPORAL Chang will change into PT gear and report to 784's containment facility, where they will spend the duration of the mission cleaning the chamber. I recommend that he also take the time to contemplate, in great detail and with a deep sense of reflection, the meaning of the word, 'insubordination.' Dismissed."
"DISMISSED!" Takahashi shouted. The six other members of Delta Nine filed out of the room in silence.
"Your men seem to lack discipline," Valentine observed. She placed her papers back in their manila envelope. "I suppose that's all one can expect from a Mobile Task Force led by a woman."
"Forgive me for saying this, Assistant Director, but that seems rather ingenuous coming from you," Takahashi retorted.
"Not at all. Shouting and giving orders is such a man's way of doing things. A woman should lead with more subtlety and grace. But then, I suppose that a woman who has neither should take what she can get." She snapped her laptop shut. "Tell me, Lieutenant, does running around with a giant phallic symbol and shooting bullets at things make you feel any better about never being able to have the real thing?"
"Thank you for the observation. If you'll excuse me, ma'am." Takahashi put her heels together, bowed at the waist, and turned on her heel, walking out of the room at a crisp pace.
"God, I hate that bitch," Valentine sighed.
"I hate that fucking bitch," Vicks griped. He dipped the mop into the bucket and squeezed it out harshly. "God, if I get my hands around her neck, I'm gonna choke her till her eyes bug out…"
"Shut the hell up, Vicks. It's your damn fault we're in here anyway." Chang lifted up the toothbrush and studied the tile grout closely. "Eh, good enough for government work."
"Don't know why the Lieutenant don't just pop that bitch one. God, I'd pay good money to see that." Vicks leaned on his mop. "Specially if they were wearing lingerie and in a tub of mud together."
"Wait, you want to see ol' Scarface mud-wrestling with a bitch old enough to be her mother? What the fuck's wrong with you, Vicks?"
"C'mon, Chang, you gotta admit, Scarface has a decent bod for a molly, and the Iron Bitch has that GMILF thing going. Besides, with a name like Valentine, you know she's gotta be a monster in the sack."
"Fuckin' sick, Vicks, you've been in the Forces too long…"
"Excuse me, am I interrupting something?" a voice said.
The two soldiers looked up from their bickering. A man stood in the doorway, wearing a white lab coat and a hat that could only be described in, awe-struck terms, as 'nifty'. He was grinning, a huge, impossibly wide grin, and his nose was red and large enough to resemble a tomato. Aside from that, he looked pretty much nondescript. "If I am, I can come back another time."
"No, no problem, sir… Dr… Mr. Clef."
"Clef's my nickname. The people who really know me call me brummmm." He sang that last word, in a manner that, if the two soldiers had been at all musical (they weren't), could have been identified as a fair approximation of an A-Major chord. "Is this Andrew's room?"
"This is 784's chamber, yeah," Vicks admitted.
"I see. Nice digs." Clef moved to the center of the room, picked up a broad sheet of what appeared to be thin plastic. He rapped in the center of it: the substance was incredibly strong, for being so thin and delicate. "What's this?"
"784 makes them. Looks like he uses them to build nests, or something." Chang pointed to the piles of the substance all around the room, arranged in a vague circular approximation. "Since it's harmless, they let him."
"I see." Clef reached down and picked up a USB stick drive, reading the text written on the side. "You're letting him read Eric Drexler?"
"Director Valentine's idea, sir. She says that knowing some theory might help him to use his body more effectively."
"I see. Carry on then." Clef turned and walked out of the room, closing the heavy steel door behind him."
"Holeeee-shit," Chang whistled. "Looks like all our problems might be over soon."
"Why do you say that?" Vicks wondered.
"That was AD Clef. He's an Auditor."
"What the fuck does a tax man have to do with solving all our problems?"
"Not that kind of auditing, dumbass. Auditing Towards Termination. He looks at a situation, and if he decides that someone needs to die… poof." Chang pointed his index finger towards his head and mimed shooting himself in the head with a gun. "Scratch one SCP. Rumor has it he's so damn good at what he does sometimes the Skips don't even know they're dead until it's over."
"C'mon, Chang," Vicks laughed. "No one's THAT good."
"I dunno," Chang said, scratching his chin. "He did just walk out of here with a sample of 784's nesting material and that USB drive in his pocket."
"Please sit down. How's the hand?"
"Better. Medical is growing back the finger, but it might take a little while. Typing is… difficult."
"I can imagine. In any case, I've finished my audit. I'd like you to read over the report before I submit it to the O5s.
"… you're serious?"
"… you can't be serious."
"Doctor Lorenzo, it's my conclusion that SCP-784 is no threat to anyone so long as current containment procedures are maintained. For that reason, your Audit for Termination is denied. I have, however, recommended that you be given a short medical leave, as a psychological evaluation indicates high levels of stress and fatigue."
"… you're not serious, are you?"
"Please sign here. You have twenty-four hours to turn over all your duties to your assistant. You will report to the infirmary at noon tomorrow for two weeks of psychological evaluation and counseling."
"YOU SONOVABITCH! YOU FUCKING STUPID SONOVABITCH, THAT MONSTER'S GONNA KILL US ALL!"
"Doctor Lorenzo, if you do not cooperate, I will be forced to defend myself."
"YOU FUCKING SMILING SONOVABITCH, I'LL FUCKING KILL YO—"
"… you shot me?"
"… you'll get better."
"Jesus… <sigh> Security, this is Assistant Director Clef. Doctor Lorenzo is currently sedated in my office. Please have some big, strong men sent down to carry him to a bed and tie him to it… wow, that sounded gayer than I thought…"