Warning: If you enjoyed the way Ecce Perago ended, then read no further. If you enjoy the thought of a grimdark Foundation, or have a low tolerance for quirkiness, this may not be the story you want to be reading. If, on the other hand, you'd like to see the New Administrator get what he has coming to him, then, read on.
Fifteen minutes was all it had taken. In fifteen minutes, the world had changed, even if no one had noticed. The Administrator looked upon his work, and was proud. His seniors had always disliked his ideas. They all believed that free will was some grand idea. Only the Administrator knew that people were stupid. They needed to be led, to be guided. He was the one to do it now, with all this power at his fingertips.
All this power. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Enh. Close enough, for Foundation work. The Administrator grinned beneath his mustache as he set to work, implementing changes that would bring the world into a more ordered state. Little did he know, that his plans were not the only plans out there. The Foundation planned for everything. Even a rogue O5.
All of his plans had been built off one assumption, one purposeful lie. The O5 who had recruited him told him there was no O5-13. That the 13th vote was transferred from one O5 to another, which was true. The 13th O5 held no temporal power. While he was often invited to listen in on Overseer council meetings, and many of the council members treasured his advice, he had never been the most… stable of people.
You see, the 13th O5 made his home at a site that was not quite a site. While those who had been to it saw nothing unusual about it, Site 67 was on none of the Foundation's official books. It was an SCP, a quite powerful one, and one known as a 'little black box.' No number, just a name. The House. The easiest way to hide something is in plain sight. So, a natural landmark was built around it, and those who had to visit it were given to believe it was just another SCP.
The 13th was a special man. To survive in the House, one had to be. After all, time inside this SCP was a little unusual. If one were to use popular culture references, one might employ the phrase 'Timey Wimey Ball.' Inside the House, Cause did not often follow effect, and could quite easily loop into each other. So, the 13th had to be different, had to be able to think in more dimensions than the average man. This, of course, resulted in him being, by our standards, not altogether there.
"I think you might be starting to bore people. This is a lot of background to get through."
… Of course, when one spends a lot of time using one's mind to explore all manner of eldritch horror and power, one sometimes gets confused as to whether the room one is in has three walls, or four. So, instead of trying to explain, let's just see what happens.
"Thank you," the 13th says, to no one specific. Few are those who would enter his office. Site 67 doesn't get many visitors. He is a tall man, red haired, pale skinned, but no freckles. His office walls are lined with book shelves, and even more books somehow stay in place in their shelves on the ceiling. A simple old computer sits on his desk, an Apple IIe, still looking pristine and new. He is currently engrossed in the reports of the latest (from his point of view) exploration into his house, when a red light blinks on his screen.
"What's all this then? Ah, yes, the Mann takeover," he mutters to himself. He happens to mutter to himself a lot. Sometimes, he is even still in the room when he mutters to himself. Sometimes, he mutters back. It helps. "I thought I still had another week before that happened." His fingers fly across the keyboard, reading the reports as they file in. "Ah, yes, interesting. Full TPK. Well, almost full. Ha. Should have taken some time to find out more, Mann. Always were too eager. Well, let's see what we can do about this." This comment appears directed to the old man standing by his door, who seems to still be holding his gardening shears.
There were always fail safes in the Foundation. Each and every O5 always had a dozen or so on hand, ready just in case. Mann had found out the ones that protected the O5s, but he hadn't learned about the replacement protocols.
Which was what the 13th initiated, with a few clicks of his mouse.
"Is he… is he dead?" The nameless assistant, whom we'll now call Tim, for the ease of narration, peered through the doorway, watching. He had grabbed the first agent he saw, once his mind had cleared.
"A'yup." Agent Lament made a show of checking the corpse's pulse, then leaned back on his heels. "Y'can sorta tell by the big gaping hole where his jaw and chest should be." Lament pulled off the former Overseer's glasses, curious to see who might be behind them. No one he recognized. But, then, he wouldn't.
"Well, agent, I-" Tim paused, his eyes glazing over. After all, O5-4 wasn't the only one who could plant commands in people's minds. "By the authority vested in me, whomsoever takes the glasses from his body shall be named O5-12 in his place. Agent Lament, you were never the first choice, but you are still capable of what we need. I hope." Tim slumps, his jaw sore. "I… what… did I just make you…?"
Lament can't help but smile. Overseer was never actually a goal of his, but, since it was offered…
"Well. Maybe I can't do a better job than this poor soul. But at least I-"
He slips on the sunglasses.
"Can hold my alcohol."
Clef sat back, staring at the dead body. O5-11 had been a good friend, once upon a time. Eleven, or, as he had been known back then, Jings, had been the agent who had trained Clef, when he first joined up. When Jings got promoted, Clef had hoped the old man would change things. They had made plans, had talked things over. They would do great things, with Jings in the place to make things better!
But nothing had changed. Oh sure, at first, Eleven made things better, eased some restrictions on the Safe humanoids. But he didn't let any of them go, as they'd talked about. He didn't ease up on the D-class deaths. Eventually, he became just another Overseer, grinding down anyone who tried to make things better.
Mann might not be the best choice to take over, but at least he'd follow his plan.
Ha! Like Clef would let anyone else take over. The only person in this world you could trust, was yourself. Clef reached over to the body of his dead friend, and slipped off the man's bracelet.
"If there were a move past Checkmate, I'd say that. But for now, let's just say I win." He slips the bracelet onto his own wrist. "I always win."
Some transfers of power were epic. Some were quite interesting. In Ten's case, it was a simple matter of an email marked 'Urgent' showing up in the inbox of one Dr. Moose. She took a moment to read the contents, then sighed as she rolled her eyes. "Really? Me, an O5? Fuck a doodle."
O5-9 was the unluckiest O5.
Dr. Bright glanced down at his cell phone, and made a face. "Fuck. Nine got himself offed again?" He tapped his fingers together, and frowned over them. There was no one on site currently who fit the specifi— No, wait. There was one. Yes. Two birds, one stone. "Joshua!" He called to his secretary. "Tell Agent Elroy to meet me at the elevators."
A few minutes later, the doctor and the Agent were riding down the main shaft together. Bright stared determinedly at the numbers as they ticked down, towards the bottom of the site. Yoric, on the other hand, fidgeted, hummed, and otherwise made himself annoying. It was his gift. Finally, he could contain himself no longer. "Look, Jack, if this is about the cafeteria incident-"
"It's not about that."
"Ah, then feeding Kane peanut butter, look, it was really funn-"
"Not that either."
"That girl told me she was 18!"
"… That excuse never worked for me either. Yoric. You are being let in on a secret several steps above your current security level. So, shut up, and do what I tell you."
The rest of the ride continues in silence. If he had been any other doctor, he might have worried about what he was planning on doing. But Jack had stopped making emotional connections to his fellow workers. He knew it always ended badly.
The elevator drew to a halt at the bottom of the site… and then proceeded to move sideways for some time. Yoric shot a questioning look at the Senior Staffer, but chose not to ask. It wasn't until the elevator doors slid back to reveal a sign on another door that he actually spoke. "Nine Six Three Two? Wait, there's more of you?"
Jack opened the door, and stepped inside. The room was small, a large window showing the room beyond, in which a box rested on a pedestal. "Yoric. This is very important. I need you to go into that room, and open that box, and bring me back the object within." He sighed. "I've been authorized to give you the 006 you've requested if you do so."
Cautious, but optimistic, Agent Yoric Elroy passed into the next room. Dr. Bright locked the door behind him, then turned to the window to watch. 963-2 had always been his dirty little secret. It was his fault it had been created. Yoric carefully opened the box, and, when nothing jumped out at him, carefully reached out a gloved hand to pick up the odd metal symbol inside. "This the ARGH!" The agent screamed in horrible pain as his body was grabbed by an invisible force. His bones, his flesh, his entire body was wrenched, this way and that. Bright stood watching, hands clasped behind his back. This was what you got when working with inferior materials. Well. It didn't matter. In a few minutes, Yoric would be completely gone, never to be seen again. And his body would rise as O5-9, the Overseer who thought he could be immortal. Bright would have to bring him up to speed. One of the problems of 963-2: it had only copied the memories up to the point of Nine's first death. It didn't matter.
After all, O5-9 was the unluckiest O5.
Desiree Talleh walked into the O5's apartment as if she owned the place. She had always had a habit of being in the right place, at the right time. And now? She was going to be in the right place, at the right time, to end up an O5.
Desiree was a young looking girl, of African descent, her hair done up in cornrows, looking at the world through coke bottle glasses. She opened the door to the bathroom, and reached in to turn off the water with an oven mitt. She stared at the remains of Eight with some distaste. Ick. Overseer soup. Still. Miss Talleh reached her hand into the muck, fishing around for the little ring. It was her choice to become Eight, and if anyone wanted to stop her, well, she'd been planning this for a lot longer than they had. She wasn't afraid to call on help from friends in scaly places.
"Me and Clef as O5s? What is the Foundation coming to? Next they'll be asking 343 to join." And she giggles, at some private joke.
Dr. Gerald looked down at the burning wreckage of his vehicle. The flames could easily be seen for miles around, pieces of the car spread across the upper third of the road he'd been driving on. He turned his hand this way and that, studying the ivory chopstick driven through the middle of his hand. "Huh. Guess this means I'm an Overseer now, huh?"
He glanced down, studying the ground far below. "Now if only I could get out of this tree."
Black looked at what he had wrought, and the corner of his eye twitched, just a little bit. His mentor, and his partner, both dead by his hand. It shouldn't have been this way. He was supposed to have given his life for Six. Thompson was too good to die like a chump. But this was how it had happened. All he could do was move on.
The first step was to remove Six's hat and pistols. They weren't special, but they meant something to Black. The pearl handled pistols were tucked into his belt, the hat placed jauntily upon his head. Then, carefully, reverently, Black picked up the cane. "This will not stand. You shall be avenged."
"I feel like goddamn Dorothy," Sorts muttered as he pulled the shoes off the body of O5-5. "Really? Shoes? Who makes an object of authority out of damned shoes?" He frowned, studying them closer. "Okay, these really feel kind of wei- HOLY SHIT it's human skin."
He pauses, thinking over his statement. "That shouldn't actually surprise me. The midgets… they surprise me. Fuck, I hate these cameos."
As he stalked away to get the shoes re-sized for him, a dozen instances of SCP-5555-J danced about the body of the former Overseer. They sang, in some kind of unison. I'm sure you can guess the song. It starts 'Ding dong.'
"That program crashed."
"The one that takes up all that memory on the Cray."
"Ah, fuck. Oh well, just use the backups and reboot the damn thing."
'Ding! You have a new video message.'
Dr. Sophia Light glanced up from her work with a sigh. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. Sometimes, she missed being a member of the Junior Staff under Bright. No, strike that, that was something she never missed. But she wouldn't mind less paperwork. A break from the work was welcome at this point.
The video opened on an older, familiar looking woman. "Sophia. If you're getting this message, not only am I dead, but I never found a way to tell you. I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not your mother, grandmother or such. I'm you. It's a long story, but let's just say, if you ever need to reboot the universe, make sure you're inside of it first. Your computer is currently getting an update with all of my files. See, you're going to take over for me. You're O5-2. Good luck." The video feed cuts off, then turns back on. "Side note: Why the hell do the time travelers always go after Hitler? He's got to be the luckiest man alive. Look into the possibility of his SCPness."
Light sighed, rubbing her temples. Less work? Never.
"… and that is why I have decided to pass on my mantle to you," the video continued, as Dr. Gears studied the pale trenchcoat in his hands. His face, as always, betrayed no trace of emotion. "I have done all I can to lead you to this point, where you can control the Foundation. No matter what anyone may try to tell you, your role is first among equals." The man speaking betrays no emotion himself, a deadpan delivery that wouldn't change even if he were dying while he recorded the message. Which he likely was. "And in the end, I just want to say, I'm proud of you."
At that Gears looks up at the screen, freezing the image before it ends. He stared at the man on the screen for several long minutes, letting everything process. He was now the man in charge, the Overseer at the top of the pyramid. He should feel something. Some small bit of… something. But he'd never admit it.
He simply nodded at the image on the screen. "Thank you, Father. Rest in Peace."
"Yes, yes… ha! That would be perfect!" Mann couldn't help but laugh to himself. So much information, so many things for him to do. "010! We can expand it! Humanity will do what needs to be done, not what they want to do!" His fingers flickered across the keyboard, and then stopped as his screen froze. "Access denied? What kind of crap is-"
"Hey, four, how's it going, man?" The young teen on the screen smiled. "Hey, sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the O5 council has held a vote of no confidence, and, welp, you're out!"
"O5 council? THERE IS NO O5 COUNCIL!" Mann paused, taking a deep breath and standing up. "Apparently, I didn't erase you as thoroughly as I had planned. That can be easily rect—" Again, Mann was interrupted, as 11 more video feeds popped up on his screen, each of them filled with the shadowy outline of a human head and shoulders. Each of them displayed the words 'No confidence' in green at the bottom.
"No! No! I did this! I planned it all! You cannot do this! I am the Administrator! The power is mine! The power is—" BANG! Mann, the top half of his head gone, takes two steps, still trying to mouth words. A second gun shot echoes throughout the room, and Mann falls to the floor, his body twitching. His assailant fires twice more, and, finally, the Mann who would be Administrator lies dead. The man who killed him slips into the just vacated seat. Still warm.
"Dr. Mann is dead. Took a bit to kill him, looks like the files were right about him doing some self augmentation. I'll have the boys down in research look at him. Is there any pressing business for the council, at this time?" Negatives from each of the Council members. "In that case, I, Frederick Heiden… shit, I mean O5-4, declare this Council Meeting closed."
O5-4 stared down at the corpse of his predecessor. It had been a long day. It was only going to get longer. He took a moment to kick the corpse in the side. "God dammit, you asshole. This wasn't what I wanted."
And then he turned back to the computer, and to his duties.