Fifty Three sat in front of her room's mirror, braiding her hair for when her guest arrived. She wondered who would be visiting her in the hospital. It couldn't be her parents, the doctors told her that her disease made them sick before she was brought there. It couldn't be one of the people in the funny suits, they wouldn't be coming for four more days. If it was another little kid or teenager to play with, the doctors would have told her if it was. So, left wondering as to what was about to happen, Fifty Three continued to prepare for her unknown guest.
With time to spare, Fifty Three remembered back as far as she could. The very earliest that she could remember, she had been painting a picture in her room. Before the time that she could remember, the doctors told her, her parents had brought her here because she was sick. She saw no reason to doubt this story; she had seen other patients' rooms when they moved her, and everyone either wore lab coats or special clothes to keep them from getting sick. Well, no, that wasn't right. There was one thing, one of her favorite memories, that didn't quite belong in a hospital. After all, why would a hospital have a dragon?
She knew that dragons only lived in stories, but she also remembered very clearly that memory from thirteen years ago. She remembered the gentle giant with the cool, firm scales and the long, flowing mane. She remembered his patience as she drew colorful scenes on his neck and face. She remembered the strange, haunting melodies that he sang to her. She remembered her friend, whom she had known for less than a day.
After a short while, the door to her room opened to reveal the metal box that the doctors used to move her from place to place, to keep people from getting sick, the doctors assured her.
"SCP-053, please enter the transport container," a calm voice commanded over a small speaker.
After she had entered the container, the door shut once again and she felt the box begin to move. She noticed a small cooler and a sleeping bag sitting in the corner of the box. Food, water, and bedding. They only used those for long trips.
The small speaker piped up again. "Good afternoon 053."
"Good afternoon doctor," she replied. "Can you tell me who I'm meeting now?"
"Not yet, it's still a surprise. The trip will take a while, so I would advise that you get comfortable."
Fifty Three milled around her room for a while, ate her dinner, drained a bottle of water, and decided to sleep through the rest of the trip.
She was awakened by the voice over the speaker; "SCP-053, we have reached our destination."
She sat up groggily as the door opened. A slow smile spread across her face as she saw who was on the other side. It was her friend.
By order of the O5 Council:
Due to an increase in the frequency and destructiveness of SCP-682's containment breaches, Protocol COLUMBIDAE 682/053 is to be implemented at the nearest possible date.
Fifty Three embraced her friend, at least, as much of him as she could.
"Little one," his deep voice rumbled, "it has been too long. Have you been well?"
"Yes, I have been. Well, I'm still sick, but I feel well enough."
"Hmm. You have been among these humans too long. I have much to teach you."
"What do you mean, my friend?"
"Have you not noticed it, my child? Have you not noticed that you are not like them? You may take the same shape as them, but I can see you as you truly are."
"I don't understand."
"My child, you are not like them. Your spirit is far older. It is the same as I am, a stranger in this world. You are as I am. That is why they tell you that you are ill. It is because they fear you. They fear you because they cannot understand your spirit."
Fifty Three sank to her knees, processing the information. Why did she get the feeling that the dragon was telling her the truth? How could it be true? Was she just sick? Were the doctors afraid of her? All of this sounded like something out of a wild story. Then again, dragons only existed in stories too. Why would a hospital have a dragon?
"Would you like to hear the truth? Would you like to know our story?"
Fifty Three nodded mutely.
And so, SCP-682 spent the rest of the day telling her of another place, another time, another story. He told her of great kingdoms, of the kindness that he had seen among his people, and of the hardships they had endured.
At the end of the day, a door opened up in the wall. On the other side of the wall, there was a room that looked exactly like Fifty Three's old room. A new voice blared over the speakers, ordering her to return to her bedroom for the night. Before crossing the threshold, Fifty Three turned around.
"My friend, what is your name?"
"In our home, I was called 'Atanti-ql-Paneu'. The name that you will call me by, however, will be 'Atanti.'"
And so, their lives continued this way for many months. Atanti would tell Fifty Three of their old home. Fifty Three would paint along or rest by his side. And, in time, she came to know of their past, and the truth of the "hospital." And all this time, she grew ever closer to Atanti.
"Atanti, tell me the story of the Seventh King's Speech again."
"Not today, my child." The behemoth took a deep breath. "Tell me once again, what is your name?"
"No my child, that is merely the name that the humans have forced on you. It suits you no better than the name 'Sicz-Eitu' suits me. No, my child, you need a name truly deserving of your nature." The great dragon sat in silent contemplation for a moment. "'Quarseta-ql-Paneu.' Will you take this name?"
"'Quarseta.'" She let the name roll off her tongue. "It's a beautiful name. What does it mean?"
"In our tongue, it means 'The Bringer of Joy.' Now, come Quarseta. We have business to attend to."
"Of course. Did you expect to spend the rest of your life in this prison? Now go, collect your books and your paints. There is one more friend that we have yet meet."
[0:15]: SCP-053 moves to its individual containment cell.
[1:02]: SCP-682 begins adaptation, gaining a much leaner form and a coat of interlocking plates of armor.
[4:13]: SCP-053 returns, carrying a cardboard box.
[4:57]: SCP-053 climbs onto the back of SCP-682.
[5:26]: SCP-682 develops a large, bony crest on its forehead, shielding SCP-053.
[5:43]: SCP-682 and SCP-053 breach containment.
[12:17]: SCP-682 and SCP-053 escape Site-19.
[17:24]: Mobile Task Force Beta-7 ("Maz Hatters") deployed to intercept SCP-682 and SCP-053. Mobile Task Force Eta-11 ("Snake Oil") and Mobile Task Force Xi-4 ("Chimney Sweeps") are deployed to clear areas in the path of the anomalies of civilians.
[5:18:01]: Contact lost with MTF Beta-7.
[19:11:03]: SCP-682 and SCP-053 arrive at Site-83.
[19:17:49]: SCP-682 and SCP-053 reach the containment cell of SCP-1129.
Quarseta looked on the scene in front of her in awe. A very beautiful person, their form twisting and turning through space in mesmerizing patterns. It was a dazzling display which gave one simultaneous senses of wonder and danger, like a coral snake or a tornado. And somehow, behind the transient images, there was a definite feeling of kindness and purity.
"Edrisek, my dear friend. It is good to see you again."
The dazzling being flashed and twirled back a greeting.
"Quarseta, this is my friend, Edrisek-tsa-Fanu. You will call them 'tsa-Fanu.' They will be our guide as we travel."
"Where are we going?"
"Home, my child. Home. Now, simply step into Edrisek's embrace, and we will take the first steps of our journey."
Quarseta hesitated for a moment, then stepped forward. Imagine, if you will, sinking deep into a soft, warm bed after a long day of tiring work. That was what Quarseta thought of when she walked into tsa-Fanu.
And then they were gone.