"It's beautiful," Dr. Lesley Mause announced, zooming in on the wriggling cells taking up her monitor's screen.
Dr. Drake looked over her shoulder, still wearing the same bored expression he'd had for the same half hour. "It's vomit."
Across the room, two heads swiveled in unison, hawklike, to stare at Dr. Drake. Agent Rose and Agent Walker, security. They did that every time Dr. Drake opened his mouth, each time tingling with almost animalistic animosity. The two ex-members of the Children of the Sun were objectively creepy as shit, she reflected. The way they did so many things in synchronization. You'd think they were twins, but they didn't even look alike, even if their mannerisms tended to be identical Rose (a man) was pale and androgynous, and Walker (a woman) was attractive in a classical fashion and had skin dark as pitch. She'd been working with them almost two years now, and she felt the same affection for them that she might feel for a pair of cats. A pair of extremely murderous cats, anyway.
Plus, they hated Drake almost as much as she did.
"Yes," she agreed, "it's vomit. But that doesn't preclude beauty."
She zoomed out again. Drake pointed at a structure in the gray-green mess. "Is that a bone?"
"Indeed," Mause said. "Alces alces. And they're not the only thing our green friend has been eating. I've found at least three different species of squirrel. And what's probably a squirrel. But most of the bones are Alces alces."
Drake leaned back in his chair, propped his legs up on the desk in front of him. "What's an Alces alces?"
She rolled her eyes in advance. "One of the cervids, a capreoline. Known in North America, of course, as… the moose."
Drake sniggered. "Moose, eh?" Then sniggered again. "Moose."
Mause's eyes flicked to Rose and Walker. They wore identical expressions of barely repressed fury. Mause, for her part, only felt mild annoyance. Most people knew better than to make that joke in front of Rose and Walker, but Mause heard the joke about every other day. She'd long gotten over cursing Fate for the timing of her transfer to the Special Reconnaissance-and-Research Task Force M-Omega-773 - or, as it was now so wittily referred to by other members of the Foundation, "the Deadly Moose team".
She'd been dumped from Research Team MO3-Gloria with everyone else when the O5s decided they didn't want anyone else poking at 003 and landed her directly in M-Omega-773 just in time for the disaster in which she - and every other member of the team - had stumbled through the corridors of Site 19 crazily warning everyone they came in to "beware the deadly moose". She herself had set up shop in the cafeteria with a shotgun for two hours before security tranquilized her and strapped her to a bed until the effects passed.
Memetics. She hated memetics.
"Yes," she said. "Alaskan moose, actually. A. a. gigas. Which fits with where we picked it up. Naturally."
"No Bigfoot bones in there?"
"No." She glared at her monitor. "We're not so sure that this thing has any connection to 1000 after all, I'm sorry to say."
Drake looked at the video monitor. "But just look at it. It looks like a big green ape."
"SCP-1000 instances are brown, black, red, and white in color," Mause said. "They don't come in green."
"Still," Drake said. "My gut tells me there's some connection. Keep looking."
Mause stifled her sigh. Technically, Drake did outrank her. Being on the Deadly Moose team meant you got ridiculously high clearance to a few fairly important SCPs, but outside of those small spheres you were left at basic level 1 access. And the respect that went with that. It didn't help that most of the team's assignments sounded inherently mockable. 'The Bloodstone.' (Also known as the bad-trip ruby, even though it wasn't actually a ruby.) The glorified mechanical people-eating fishing worms. Organic motherboard. ('So can 003 run Crysis?' Jesus, you'd think these people never grew out of the 90's.) Bigfoot, for chrissake. And, of course, the goddamn moose… thing.
And now, the weird thing pacing about in the temporary containment cell on the monitor, provisionally classified as Anomalous Humanoid TXCD-R.
The thing whose vomit she was analyzing for the last half hour. TXCD-R was picked up in Alaska only days ago, and had slaughtered half the task force sent to capture it before suddenly going docile and allowing the rattled survivors to bind it in a net and transport it to Site 17's temporary containment auxiliary facility.
It really was beautiful vomit, full of living things she'd never seen, in a rainbow array of colors. Even TXCD-R was beautiful in its own way. She watched it pace, a hulking seven-foot-tall thing shaped vaguely like an ape, covered in what might be a living growth of moss, wide teeth like spades sticking out of its mouth like reversed elephant tusks. The "moss" was growing so fast you could actually see it move if you had the patience. Tiny glittering eyes peered out from under the moss curtains - not just from its "head", either. Tiny auxiliary limbs moved and twitched, peeking out now and then to groom the ever-growing moss.
As she watched, TXCD-R bent double and vomited for the ninth time that day.
"Again?" Mause scratched her head. "It's vomited up almost the entire bodies of everything it's eaten so far. And judging by the bones I see, that would be the last of its meals for the past week." She looked at the screen again. "It's not digesting anything. None of the things in here have been broken down like you'd expect if they'd been in stomach acid for hours. They have signs of chewing, and not much else. Is it sick or something?"
"I'm telling you," Drake said. "It's got Bigfoot's fingerprints all over it."
"Tomorrow," Mause said. She pushed back her chair. "I'll look more tomorrow."
Excerpt from Video Log, Observation Camera 6320945 (Temporary Containment Chamber for Anomalous Humanoid TXCD-R):
0700: TXCD-R continues to pace back and forth across chamber.
0756: TXCD-R abruptly ceases pacing and stands perfectly still until 0811.
0811: Power fluctuation related to explosive event at main Site-17. TXCD-R begins to repeatedly charge the walls of its containment chamber. Local alarms set off.
0813: Agent C. Rose and Agent I. Walker open containment chamber left and right ports and shoot TXCD-R repeatedly with tranquilizer darts. TXCD-R does not react to shots except to charge containment chamber ports.
0815: Agents Rose and Walker cease attempting to shoot TXCD-R. TXCD-R continues to charge walls of its containment chamber.
0827: External power lost. Switching to emergency power. TXCD-R continues to charge walls of its containment chamber.
Mause stumbled into the main observation chamber, eyes bleary. Rose and Walker were waiting for her.
"Wazz going on?" she managed.
"Containment breach at Site 17. Unknown insurgent forces. Tempest Night scenario. Assistant Adams currently coordinating personnel," Rose said.
"No breaches on this Auxuliary Site. Yet," Walker added. "TXCD-R is going to breach the walls of its containment chamber in approximately ten minutes."
"Where's Dr. Drake?"
"Gone to help with the Tempest Night scenario," Rose said.
"Insurgents," Mause said. "Tempest Night? How long?"
"Three hours and eleven minutes," Rose said.
"Three hours? Why didn't you wake me?"
"Sufficient sleep is required for optimal bodily function," Rose said.
"Besides," Walker said. "There's nothing any of us can do. We are not equipped to stop TXCD-R from breaching containment. We are under orders to remain here as long as TXCD-R does. On event of TXCD-R's escape, we will attempt to stop it. When we fail, we will track it."
"So you see," Rose said, "there is nothing to be concerned about, for the next nine minutes, until TXCD-R breaches containment. And sleep is very important."
Mause shook her head and watched Anomalous Humanoid TXCD-R hurl itself at the wall of its containment chamber. And again. And then again.
"For now, though," Rose added, "you should put on body armor. In case it's hungry."
Excerpt from Video Log, Observation Camera 6320945 (Temporary Containment Chamber for Anomalous Humanoid TXCD-R) and Observation Camera 6327641 (Temporary Containment Facility 17-K, Exterior):
1132: TXCD-R breaches containment chamber.
1134: TXCD-R exits Temporary Containment Facility 17-K and heads in the direction of Site-17.
1135: TXCD-R confronted by Agent Charles Rose and Agent Iola Walker, armed with S2-05 shotguns. Agents fire on TXCD-R repeatedly without effect. TXCD-R temporarily incapacitates Agent Rose and Agent Walker via physical impact.
1136: TXCD-R continues heading towards Site-17.
1140: Dr. Lesley Mause exits Temporary Containment Facility 17-K, rouses agents Rose and Walker. Mause, Rose, and Walker enter nearby vehicle and drive after TXCD-R.
They'd followed TXCD-R nearly all the way to Site-17. Smoke rose from several of the central buildings. TXCD-R was stopped in the middle of the road, just in front of one of the Site-17 buildings, the side completely blown out by some explosion. Screams drifted out from inside.
Walker stopped the car a respectful distance from the creature. TXCD-R kneeled in the road, and seemed to be pantomiming something.
"What's it doing?" Mause asked.
"It's eating," Rose said.
Mause stared at the pale green creature. It did seem to be eating something, except… its jaws were closing on nothing, its hands holding something up to its mouth that wasn't there.
"What is it eating?" she asked.
"An instance of SCP-870," Rose said.
"The monster that only schizophrenics can see?"
"How can you tell?"
TXCD-R jerked its head up. Blinking eyes became visible everywhere underneath the curtains of moss that covered its body.
Then it bounded off. Through the blasted wall, leaping over rubble, and into the Site-17 building.
"Great," Mause said. "Just great. Where's it going now?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Rose said. "It's hungry."
Audio/Visual transcript of SCP-472 containment chamber
1149: Anomalous Humanoid TXCD-R breaches containment chamber. TXCD-R does not appear to experience any effects from SCP-472. TXCD-R briefly examines SCP-472 and removes it from its pedestal.
1150: TXCD-R appears to claw the air while holding SCP-472. At the end of its claws, red flesh appears, spurting blood, apparently extruding from midair. TXCD-R bites down on the piece of flesh and pulls. More flesh appears, with an accompanying tearing sound, splattering blood on the walls of the containment chamber.
Mause was standing in the brand new, still smoking entrance of Site-17 when she heard the scream. A long, low, inhuman shriek that rose and fell for what seemed like an eternity.
"Jesus," she said. "What was that?"
She could hear her heart beating - boom-boom, boom-boom - much too loudly, inside her head -
Mause looked at Rose and Walker for confirmation. She could tell by the looks on their faces that they were thinking the same thing.
"SCP-472 is screaming," she said.
Audio/Visual transcript of SCP-472 containment chamber
1151: TXCD-R pulls and rips with its claws and teeth until a two meter length of flesh comes into appearance, detaches from its [still invisible] source, and drops to the ground. The flesh appears to be a collection of organs, including three still-beating hearts.
1152: TXCD-R exits containment chamber, dragging the length of flesh behind it, still holding SCP-472. It tears off a chunk from the length of flesh and consumes it as it exits the chamber.
Transcript of Video Surveillance Recording
Location: Checkpoint Camera, Service Entrance H-01
1158: TXCD-R passes camera, still carrying SCP-472. Length of flesh no longer visible. It is confronted by the service entrance by Dr. Carl Drake. Dr. Drake shouts a challenge to TXCD-R, telling it that it "shall not pass". Dr. Drake elaborates that he is in possession of an SCP item. He produces a small gold circlet later identified as Anomalous Item 56428609 [previously categorized by Dr. Drake, not known to have any special effect beyond unusual chemical makeup]. Dr. Drake places the circlet on his head while shouting "Crown of Thorns, activate!" Anomalous Item 56428609 emits a nimbus of glowing light.
1159: TXCD-R removes the top of Dr. Drake's head via aggressive mastication. TXCD-R consumes both the top of Dr. Drake's head and Anomalous Item 56428609. TXCD-R exits through the open service entrance.
1200: No further activity.
"It's eating SCPs," Rose said, as a group of other agents carried away Dr. Drake's body. "That's why it killed an instance of SCP-870. And took SCP-472. It's a food source."
"Quite a theory," Mause said. "Maybe that's why it vomited everything it ate… Maybe it wasn't built to be eating … uh, natural things, for lack of a better word. Of course, why would it be able to keep down SCP items? It's not like 472 and 870 have anything in common. Or that anomalous item. Natural things have much more in common than anomalous things. How could something evolve to eat anomalous items?"
"Maybe it didn't evolve," Walker said. "Maybe it was created."
Mause shrugged. "I guess we won't know until we get it back."
"Then let's get started," Rose said.