End of Line
rating: +41+x

"Glad to see everyone here."

"For those of you who don't know me, I am MTF Commander Jessie Merlo of Gamma-13. This is Commander Damion Creed of Tau-51. Those of you from Mu-13, welcome."

"Let's get right to it then, shall we? Within the near future, we are anticipating a reactivation of SCP-3560, followed by an assault on the site. This assault is likely to be led by SCP-3860, or as more of you probably know him by now, Vincent Anderson."

"Our resident Thaumatologists have identified eight key positions throughout the facility that may serve as entry points for the inhabitants of SCP-3560. These include most of the labs in F and G Wings, sections of H and A, and the administrative offices. These areas have been fortified with several Hoffman Portable Electro-Thaumic Units by our on-site staff. However, they alone will not be sufficient to deter a mass assault."

"Until such a point that Command believes that SCP-3560 is likely to remain inactive, we'll be on standby. Each of your teams has been equipped with the needed materials for rapid exorcism. I'm told that the ammunition was reverse engineered from some old Specter tech by the Conwell Lab before he retired. Good stuff."

"3860 is to be terminated on sight. He'll try to make his way to the AIAD lab; we think he wants to destroy an AI construct housed there. This is why so many of you will be stationed nearby. We believe 3860 is desperate and heavily wounded, so be ready for a fight."

"Heh. Of course, this all hinges on the residents of SCP-3560 not killing 3860. Keep your fingers crossed that happens, and that this all proves to be a quiet, uneventful lockdown."


"-a quiet, uneventful lockdown."

Jessie Merlo's words echoed in her mind as she sprinted through the war-torn halls of Site-64's G-wing. A spectral Taita unit was in hot pursuit, its numerous legs crawling after her. The blood of three of her fellow agents dripped from its blades. Ahead of it, a small hoard of phantom Peregrine units led the charge.

"This is Merlo!" she shouted into her mic as she turned a corner. The Taita unit was closing in. "G-Wing has been overrun, Taita unit inbound, my team is down, need back up n-"

The agent felt her leg slip across a pool of blood. She hit the ground with a loud crack; her momentum carried her into the next intersection.

"No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NO!"

She fumbled forward for her gun, attempting to preserve as much of the distance between her and them. She slipped again.

Flipping herself over, she leveled her pistol and fired off the rest of the magazine. Silver bullets crashed into the spectral automatons. One by one, the Peregrine units were exorcised — popping out of existence. The Taita unit gave a loud mechanical whine in protest, its form beginning to evaporate as the incantation took effect. It still crawled forward, blades whirling. Jessie crawled back on her hands. She hit a wall.

She closed her eyes and waited for the pain.

"STAY DOWN!"

Gunshots. A loud, mechanical whine. Silence.

Jessie's eyes snapped open. From her left, a team of Mu-13 agents approached. Their guns were trained on where the Taita unit had crumpled. The lead agent spoke into his mic.

"Mu-13, Team C. G-Wing resecured, retrieving casualties, over."

He looked at Jessie and smiled.

"You alright, Commander Merlo?"

"Never better," she said with a nervous laugh. A Mu-13 agent helped her to her feet. She reloaded her pistol and surveyed the carnage down the hall. Then, she closed her eyes and sighed. "That thing came out of the fucking floor and eviscerated three of my agents. Too big for the Hoffman units to do much other than give it a tickle."

"Yeah, ghosts will do that from time to time." The Mu-13 leader signaled for the rest of his team to make their way down the hallway and search for survivors. "Always fun."

"Any sign of 3860 on your end?"

"Negative."

She frowned and rubbed her temple. "Come on. You've got to make your move eventually."


"We have to make our move eventually." Hector observed as he loaded a rifle he had acquired from a deceased MTF operative. The apparition turned its head to the frail cyborg that sat at the nearby security console.

"I'm well aware of that… #31," Anderson replied with labored breaths as he typed away at the keyboard. "Our move will go so much better, though… if we know where we are going. Benny will be… back soon. In the meantime, we can prep."

"Right. Couldn't we just have Benny fry the computer now? Save us the trouble?"

Anderson shook his head.

"This was always meant to be… a one-way trip. I need to say… goodbye. You understand?"

Hector nodded.

"It's your funeral."

"So, it is." Anderson gave a wheezing chuckle.

A few minutes later, a shimmering orb on spindly legs phased through the wall. It let out a little chirp to announce its presence.

"Speak of the devil." Anderson held out an open palm. "What have you got for us, Benny?"

The droid vanished, then reappeared on Anderson's hand, delivering an intricate series of chirps. The old cyborg nodded. With his spare hand, he pressed the enter key on the security console.

Throughout the facility, the sound of security doors shutting filled the air. The lights died and were replaced with the soft glow of emergency lighting. Nodding at his work, Anderson removed a black flash drive from the console. A simple white ampersand was branded on its front.

"Help me up, #31." Anderson pressed Benny to his chest. The little droid phased through the tissue and vanished. "It's time for us to leave."


"Report."

Assistant Director of Task Forces Clarissa Shaw stood within the main site security office, which had since been turned into a temporary command post. The low buzz of several Hoffman Portable Electro-Thaumic Units filled the room, ensuring a bubble of ectomorph exclusion. Before her, multiple screens showed video footage of the halls, labs, and offices of Site-64.

"Gamma-13, Team B, Cafeteria has been cleared. We've managed to close the SCP-3560 instance in the kitchen. Tau-51 A assisting in mop up. Over."

"Mu-13 Team C, G wing resecured. Recovered Gamma-13 A operatives and are still assisting with evac of casualties. Over."

"Tau-51 B, standing post. No sign current sign of target or additional hostiles. Over."

"Mu-13 Team B, primary SCP-3560 instance secured top side. No additional hostiles since the fifth wave. Standing by, over."

"Think he gave up?" a security technician asked, looking up from her monitor.

Shaw shook her head. "This was a pretty elaborate effort to just throw in the towel like that. He's got something up his sleeve, we just got to figure out wh-"

The room went dark. Emergency lights kicked on.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Shaw said under her breath. "Alright, everyone, game day, whatever fucking happened I want it fixed! Tau-51 B, incoming!"


Ten members of MTF Tau-51, Team B, stood in the dim emergency lighting. Each had their weapon at the ready. The security doors up and down the hall had been sealed, leaving them alone in the dark. Within a confined space. Nearly half a mile underground.

No member of the team made a sound, save their breath. On occasion, each member of the team swore they could hear the other's heartbeat.

Where are you? A bead of sweat rolled down the operative's face. His eyes panned the dark hallway.

Click.

The lights came back on. The task force members blinked as they readjusted to the brightness.

"Control was that you?" the team leader asked.

"Negative, this is all on Anderson."

"Any visuals? Help us help you."

"Negative, those systems are still down. We're trying to get them back up as fast as we can. Hang tight."

"Easy for you to say," the team leader mumbled. "Looks like we're still in the dark, fellas. Stay-"

Two team members dropped, their armored forms ballistically shredded.

The surviving members turned, leveled their weapons, and opened fire as a phantom Peregrine sprinted across the hallway. It had a machine gun in its hand and phased through the opposite wall.

"Contact!"

The team fanned out and prepared itself for a game of cat and mouse. The game did not last long.

The door behind them opened to the sound of crackling electricity. The team leader turned his head. Vincent Anderson stood at the threshold, his index finger extended. A blue bolt of energy lashed out from its tip.

Three more members of the team dropped. The remainder scattered, only to be struck by globs of neon-orange goo. The material hardened into a shell, incapacitating the unfortunate soldiers.

"I believe… we're done here. #31, would you kindly?" Anderson stumbled to a wall to prop himself up. Soon after, Hector reappeared and approached the cyborg, offering his shoulder for support. The two began to make their way onward.

"I think that went well." Hector stepped over a cocooned MTF operative.

"Swimmingly." Anderson nodded.

There was a series of bangs. The cyborg fell to the floor, his spectral companion evaporating in an instant. Several silver bullets lodged themselves in his torso. He turned his head. The monochrome comedy mask had chipped from where it hit the floor.

One of the MTF operatives squirmed away.

Anderson let out a shallow sigh. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a glob of neon-blue goo, chucking it through the air. It landed on the operative with a small plop, then began to hiss. Anderson watched the agent squirm and howl as their skin began to melt. Seconds later the operative then became still. A baseball-sized hole had been punched through the orange cocoon.

Anderson shook as he got himself back on his feet and hobbled to the nearby wall for support.

"I-I-I-I don't think… we'll-ll-ll-ll… have any more tro-tro-tro-trouble, will we-e-e-e-e-e?"

Anderson crept onward. Eventually, he arrived at the door Benny had informed him Phineas resided behind.

As Anderson reached into his pocket to pull out more of the neon blue goo, the door opened. The old cyborg was met face to face with the business end of a shotgun. Behind it was Director Sasha Merlo. Anderson looked at the weapon then into his nemesis's eyes.

"Well played, Sasha," he sputtered.

BANG

Anderson slumped to the floor. Sasha pumped the weapon again and fired.

BANG

Once for all the agents lost.

BANG

Again for all the careers ruined.

BANG

A third time for the grief he had given her family.

BANG

A final time for herself.

The final shells hit the ground. Vincent Anderson was still.

Sasha let out a sigh and lowered the weapon. She watched the body for a minute in silence, then began to laugh. Kneeling down, she pulled off the comedy mask and threw it away.

"Got you."

Sasha returned to her feet. She wore a satisfied smile as she went to assist the bound MTF members. She stopped when she heard a sad chirp. Slowly, she turned to look over her shoulder. Atop Anderson's corpse was a familiar Amur drone. The drone looked at her, then darted off towards the computer housing Phineas.

"No."

Sasha sprinted to the door, just in time to watch Benny dive through the air, phasing into the computer's hard drive.

"No!"

She pierced the room, slamming her hand into the button to activate the AIC. The computer sparked, and for a brief moment, a message flashed upon the screen.

Goodbye, Director Merlo.

The screen then went dark.

"NO!" Sasha howled and began to beat on the keyboard with her fists. "You don't get to win this time, Vince! No!"

She then shook the console, before kicking it several times.

"Director?"

Sasha did not hear Jessie enter, nor see the multitude of MTF operatives standing in the doorway.

"God damn it! We had you! We had you fucking bastard!"

"Director!"

"Rot in hell, Anderson! ROT IN HELL!"

"Mom!"

Sasha felt her daughter shake her. Her expression of rage melted away.

"Mom," Jessie said. "It's over. You won."

Sasha nodded and closed her eyes as tears built up. Jessie pulled her into a hug, and Director Sasha Merlo, former Commander of Asimov's Lawbringers, broke down.

Silence fell Site-64, save for an old woman's defeated sobs.


Vincent Anderson awoke upon his back, a blanket of mist obscuring the monochrome canopy above. He slowly lifted his head and looked around, he was alone.

With a relieved sigh, he got to his feet and brushed himself off. He was still dressed in the clothes he had worn when he died, the fabric pierced with countless holes from the shotgun blasts. Despite this, however, his pain was gone, and he felt lighter.

"Guess this answers one question," he said to himself. For a moment, the old cyborg took in the silence. "Rest in peace, Phineas. Where ever you are, I'm sorry."

The silence was broken by the sounds of applause.

"Well done." A familiar voice sounded from behind a tree."Selfless as always."

Saker #76 stepped into view.

"Now, I believe a debt has come due."

Anderson raised his index finger and then paused. A frown soon appeared.

"Your magic won't work here, Mr. Anderson." Another voice cooed from Anderson's right. He turned to see a Peregrine unit emerge from the mist. "You're dead."

Anderson backed away and raised his other hand. A long thin wire shot forth and pierced the Peregrine's head. The droid shot back, but within a few moments was back on its feet and resumed closing in.

"We're dead too, you idiot," laughed a third voice from behind. "You have no more cards left to play."

"Stay back!" Anderson shouted. He whipped the wire around, slicing through several droids. The laughter that surrounded him only grew louder.

The wire snagged, and Anderson looked around. His vision was filled with the smiles of scores of androids.

"Hector won't let you do this," Anderson shouted. "The Maxwellists will come for me. I'll get to the Data Transmuters. I'll escape. Eventually, I always —"

"There's no place left to escape to," Saker #76 cut him off, shouting above the deafening roar of laughter. "It's the end of the line, Mr. Anderson. Welcome home."


Six Months Later

Upon the Oregon Coast, a man and a woman sat within the confines of their cottage. Curled together on a couch, each had a glass of red wine in hand. The warm rays of the dying sun cast themselves through the glass patio door and painted the room's interior with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. The waves in the distance caught the light and danced with fluid fire as twilight set in.

The woman yawned and rested her head on her husband's shoulder. In return, he wrapped an arm tightly around her and kissed her forehead. She smiled and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

"Thank you," Gabe spoke.

"For what?" Sasha asked.

"Coming through the other side in one piece," Gabe answered. "And not leaving me to spend these years a widower."

"Well you know me, I do try." Sasha snickered.

"Do you miss it?"

"I think part of me always will. But hey, all things come to an end, right?"

"Right," Gabe chuckled. "Still, thank you all the same."

Sasha nodded and then grinned, raising her half empty glass of wine.

"To Asimov's Fuckups," she said.

"To Asimov's Fuckups," he replied.

They then returned their eyes to the horizon, in time to watch the sun fade and give way to dusk, and a sky full of countless stars.


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