Researcher Conwell looked around his office. The few meager possessions he had used to decorate were now placed in a box on the desk.
Conwell let out a deflating sigh. He wanted to say it had been a good run, but if he was being honest with himself, the work he had been doing with SCP-1360 was both frustrating and sickening. Still, he wished he had produced more results. Maybe that way it wouldn’t seem like he had failed. Maybe then it wouldn’t feel like he had let the poor droid down. A sharp knock at the door shook Conwell out of his day dream.
“It’s open,” he called. A short woman with piercing grey eyes and a large smirk entered. Her hair was done up in a bun and a small pair of glasses sat upon her pointed nose. Conwell did his best to hide his disappointment. This woman was Dr. Freemont. Although she was at least one foot shorter than him, she always managed to make him feel small.
“Relocated again?” she asked. One eyebrow was raised as she peered into the box on the table. Her voice was sweet and concerned, but her lips were curled into a sly smile.
“How’d you guess?” He replied. Conwell pulled his box of things away from his guest and pretended to rummage through them hoping to look too busy to talk. “What do I owe the pleasure?”
“Where are they sending you?” Freemont asked. Whether she didn’t notice his display or didn’t care remained to be seen.
“Site-84. Again. What do you want, Freemont?”
“Dr. Thompson made a request to see you. Guess I’m lucky I caught you now, before they shipped you to the Pacific.” Freemont chuckled. Conwell’s mouth hung slightly open as he attempted to process just how exactly it was she could be so tactless.
“Why?” Conwell asked. He had heard about poor Dr. Harold Thompson when he was working with Dr. Johnson, and even met him once in person. Freemont responded with a heavy shrug.
“I would like to know that as well. He’s been very adamant about seeing you for about the past week.”
“I thought that Dr. Collins was keeping in touch…” Conwell began, pausing when Freemont gave a sharp laugh.
“Gregg hasn’t paid Harold a visit since Johnson left. Anyway, he’s due for another psychological health visit, so I thought I’d throw him a bone with you. Can I tell him you’re going to stop by?”
Conwell sighed and placed his head in his hands before dragging them down his face. If Freemont was telling the truth, Dr. Thompson had not been visited in almost three years, and was probably nearing the end of his rope.
“I’m afraid I have a flight to catch, and a few more meetings of my own to take care of before I jet. I’m sorry. I wish I could. I really do, I just can’t,” he said as he shook his head. Freemont shrugged.
“You’re disappointing him, not me. Good luck at the Casket Garden.”
Conwell hung his head and waited for Freemont to leave. The door slammed shut behind her. He then let out another sigh and grabbed his box of things before exiting and turning off the light behind him.
Conwell pounded heavily upon the door to Dr. Collins' office. He didn’t wait for permission to enter, instead choosing to silently open the door and slide inside the room. The office itself was immaculate, a great deal of forethought appearing to have gone into the placement of everything down to the pens on the desk. He didn’t want to touch anything, lest a curator yell at him for disturbing the exhibit.
“I can assure you that you’re doing a good job,” Collins said with a small chuckle from the seat at his desk. He spoke without taking his eyes off the screen on his desktop. Conwell rolled his eyes in response. “What’s on your mind champ?”
“I’ve cleared out of the 1360-1 lab. Are you going to be taking Zach’s old office, or keeping this one here?”
“I haven’t decided yet, but I’m guessing that my office arrangements are not what prompted your visit.” Collins replied. He now peered at Conwell from behind his thick glasses.
“I know you had a hand in me being transferred. That’s why they’re giving you command over 1360. I just can’t figure out why you did it.”
Collins sighed. He looked like a father about to tell his child that he wasn’t angry, just disappointed.
“Your enthusiasm for that project was waning long before Johnson left. Command was afraid that you were no longer suited to continue to lead the project, so they asked me to keep tabs on you and report what I saw,” Collins then shook his head as he chuckled quietly. “I mean, Christ, you’re a grown man, I’m not going to visit you to tell you that you’re doing a good job. No one does that.”
“So that’s it then? One subpar visit and I’m out of there?” Conwell snapped.
“Cut that out.” Collins snapped back. “You know damn well that’s not how we do things. You’ve hated working on the 1360 project for a long time now. Having you continue to serve as PI for that object was both a detriment to you and the research being done on 1360-1. I saw this and pulled what strings I needed to make sure that what needed to be done was done.”
Conwell tightened his fist. He imagined bashing in Collins head with his computer keyboard. Eventually he regained his composure and placed a large file stack down on the desk.
“Alright then, captain. Here’s the wheel, all of Johnson’s and my notes on 1360 and Anderson, including the transcript from the attempted sting last week, and all known info on Anderson’s models.”
Conwell began to make his way towards the exit but stopped when Collins called out.
“Listen, Jacob, this isn’t the first time you’ve been relocated from a project, and it won’t be the last. Hell, I’ve been moved around many more times than I care to count. The important thing is you remember that these decisions are made by command for a reason. The important thing is being able to move on. Please don’t let this come between us in the future. Overall, you’ve done a good job.”
Conwell paused in the doorway and shook his head.
“Dr. Freemont visited me earlier today. Harold wanted to see me. She said you hadn’t been by for one of the psychological health visits in almost three years. You should think about swinging by there if you get a chance.”
Conwell then silently passed into the hallway, allowing the door to quietly swing shut behind him.
Collins waited for the door to close before he smiled and quietly thought to himself:
Integration successful and infiltration now complete. I have obtained complete command of #31. Awaiting further instructions.
Collins waited for a second as his programming confirmed the message had been received. He then whistled as he got back to work.
Dr. Harold Thompson slowly made his way over the threshold of his cell, returning from another round of testing. What once used to be a tan, athletic man was now pale and gaunt. While the years of his incarceration had been unpleasant, it was those three years after his friend, Dr. Johnson, had left that appeared to have been the hardest yet. Two security officers stood behind him, causally watching for him to make any move resembling an escape attempt. Eight years of stellar behavior on Harold’s part, however, allowed them to relax ever so slightly. It also helped that his hands were not only covered by thick leather gloves, but also bound together by thick restraints.
“Hold the door for a moment,” Dr. Freemont’s honey lathered voice called out as she appeared from behind the security officers. “Good job today, Harold. We’ll continue the tests in two days. Tomorrow is going to be your psychological health visit.”
“I see…” Harold kept his back to his captors as he spoke. “Researcher Conwell?”
“I’m afraid it will just be me again,” Freemont said with a melancholy smile. “Conwell is being relocated to another facility.”
“And Gregg -” Harold began, but was quickly interrupted.
“I’m afraid I still can’t get a hold of him. He’s a busy man. I’m sure you understand.”
“I can’t even imagine…” Harold mumbled, fidgeting with his hands as he spoke. The officers gave a slight nervous glance at each other and then back to Freemont. She rolled her eyes and held up a hand as she signaled them to close the door.
As the door began to slide shut, Harold’s bare hands suddenly reached through, yanking the security officer into the door’s track. The officer let out a sudden gasp, and in the next instant was solid marble.
“Shit!” The other officer shouted as he drew his pistol, but was too late. Harold had slid the door back open and had a hand on the officer’s face before his fingers could wrap around the grip. He too became solid marble.
“No no no no no!” Freemont shouted as Harold turned to her. She attempted to run towards the alarm, but was quickly overtaken. Harold had lunged and knocked her to the ground. His hand was firmly wrapped around her ankle.
The room was silent as Harold got back to his feet and brushed himself off. He quickly undid his restraints, grabbed one of the security officer’s pistols and pass cards, and cloaked himself in Dr. Freemont’s lab coat.
He took a few moments to look himself over in a mirror. Provided he didn’t draw much attention to himself he felt that it would be easy enough traversing the short distance to Dr. Collin’s office. Blending in as a Foundation researcher wouldn’t be hard either.
After all, he had already been one in a past life.