Transcript of tape recovered from █████ Police Department
“Ok, let's start again. I know you were directly involved, and for the record, let's just assume I'm not an idiot and know you're guilty. So, with that, how about we try and make this much easier. What I want to know is this: who is it you work for?”
“…Alright. Let me put it this way, then. What is this Foundation that you work for?”
“We managed to recover a lot of documentation from that case. You're no idealist, gun-for-hire hack, you've got dispatches, mission parameters… this looks really, really bad, friend. Like, terrorist bad. Do you know what happens to terrorists these days? We can say there was an… accident in transport, and drop you down the darkest hole you've ever seen. You'll never s—”
“You have no idea what a dark hole is.”
“Really? Why don't you enlighten me then, tough guy?”
“Have you ever seen someone turn in to vapor? Not pulped by an explosion or anything, but real vapor. Just atomize over the space of a few seconds, screaming all the while? I've had to shoot people who I've shared lunch with, bummed smokes from, because they had a kind of eel inside them that was eating their nervous system from the inside out and turning them in to a plague-spreading serial rapist. I've sat for weeks in a sealed cell with no outside human contact, wondering if I'd start showing bumps on my skin, which would mean a long, slow degeneration into something lower than an animal. If you're going to scare me, you're going to need to step up your game from a little recreational waterboarding.”
“What the fuck are you tal-”
“None of you get it. I told you, right at the start, you need to turn me loose. I'm not a toy that anyone is going to leave just laying around. You've taken something that doesn't belong to you, Special Agent Danbury, and you've taken it from someone who does not share well.”
“Ahh, I see, friends in high places and everything? You're not the first one to try that… cry to me about such and such connection, this and that thing you can make happen with one phone call. Wanna know the thing about that? I don't care. You're not dealing with some pig-fucking local beat cop. I'm not bound by anything as silly as a code of conduct. My job is to keep my country safe. Period. Everything else is secondary to that, including your well-being and humane treatment.”
“As I said, you'll need to step it up a bit. It's been too long, which means they've decided not to play it overly nice… you might want to pick that up.”
“What the fuck are you… thought I turned this off. Hold on you little shit, i'm not nearly done with you. This is Agent Danbury, you shouAAGGG”
“That's the… oh shit, what's the word… mem-something. It's a sound or an image that can make your brain shit itself, then die. Can never remember the name. Can you hear me still? Damn it…”
(several loud noises, followed by a door slamming)
“Took y'all long enough.”'
“Sorry, we had bigger stuff on the burner than a fuckup like you, Grims.”
“Can you at least get my cuffs off?”
“No time. We popped the holding cells, turning into a real madhouse. Did you give anything up?”
“Please. Who cares what a dead man hears?”
“You'd be surprised… oh dammit, is that still on?”
“Wait, let me j-”
Intercepted GOC Communication collected from mobile command post near ████████ city, via remote audio probe
“What the hell am I looking at, Captain?”
“We… uh… actually aren't entirely sure yet. It's definitely a target of interest, but it's not really fitting any of the preset profiles as yet. We're expanding our search parameters.”
“Why is it wearing a bag on its head?”
“Ah, we're also not sure about that… we can't compel it to remove it, and attempting to do so by force has… not gone well. It's otherwise rather compliant, so we've left it alone for now.”
“I see. Now, the most obvious question is why am I looking at a big, bag-headed freak who's sitting at a table and not lying on a slab?”
“Yes, indeed… well, that's the thing. You see, we were following a lead on the fox-girl thing, and ran in to a couple of targets trying to flee the city. Happy accident, really… anyway, as we went to intercept, this big guy shows up, and starts attacking them. It was weird, though… this thing, whatever it is, is obviously extremely strong, but all he did was bash them up… then just stood there, waiting for us to intercept. I ordered Rodriguez to put a couple rounds through the big guy's bag head, but he missed.”
“Rodriguez doesn't miss.”
“I know sir. He was pretty upset about it. He double-tapped first, then mag-dumped. Every one of them missed just by a hair. I'm not really sure how, the big guy didn't seems to really move or anything. Anyway, we moved in and secured the scene, tried to restrain the remaining target. He kept holding up his hands, nodding his head. He… it was trying to surrender, I think. Hopkins tried to put restraints on him. He got his wrist broken. After that, we decided to just go with it for the time being.”
“Is this one of the Foundation strays?”
“No sir, at least not one that we have any record of. We're combing the database now, but other then a vague surveillance hit from about four years ago, there's been nothing.”
“All right…so it's big, strong, and somewhat docile, ignoring the personal space issues. Again, why hasn't it been shot or gassed yet, and why did I need to come down here in person?”
“Ok, here's the thing… it can't, or won't, talk. It has to touch someone to communicate with anything other than hand gestures and body language. It's…not fun for the one being touched…but they apparently can see…something, some sort of image or language or something that is some kind of communication. It's not a direct translation, but the gist of it gets across. We thought he was attacking someone for a second, and they looked half-dead, b—”
“Out with it, man!”
“He…ah…knows where the Library is, sir.”
“…The Library. As in THE Library? As in KTE-7909-Alexandria?”
“Yes sir. He's an exile, or a escapee, or some such, we're not entirely sure yet, but whatever it is, he's kicked out and not allowed back. However, there's something important there that he wants, and he's willing to show us how to get there, if we help him get it back.”
“You don't actually intend…”
“Oh no sir, not at all… but this is a unique opportunity, to say the very least. Once he shows the initial strike team the way, we can dispose of him, then roll the main force right in to the nest. No more nibbling the edges, scraping off little corners… right to the heart, a direct punch to the very core.”
“This is some fine work, captain. How soon can you get a team ready?”
“It's already on standby, sir… we're… ahh… just waiting for the native guide, so to speak.”
“Why is he just sitting there, looking at the sky like that?”
“He said something about the sun. We're not sure what, but he was insistent that we wait.”
“I want progress reports every hour, on the hour, understood? Keep the team on Ready Two. The moment you're ready to jump, begin the operation on your own discretion.”
"Oh, and one last thing, Captain. This is real wilderness country you're walking into. Aside from rumors, we have no knowledge of the Library whatsoever. Expect anything, prepare for everything. You're authorized to escalate up to Response Five if necessary to complete the mission or extract your team. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. The boys will be happy to hear that."
"Don't be. Just because we're letting you use ray guns doesn't mean this is going to be easy. You're heading straight into the Wild West here. You'll need all the gear you can get just to survive.
Mr. Dark had settled into his office at the New York Club with a minimum of pain and suffering on all sides. It lacked the character of The Museum, but with a few homey touches, the odd bunyip-hide rug and Olmec knives, it felt almost right.
Cheryl brought him a short stack of newspaper entries, gleaned from a pile of papers nationwide. Mr. Dark browsed it with and chuckled, drinking thick, oily coffee. Authorities were debating whether Boomer’s work was a terrorist bomb gone off by accident, or a clandestine meth lab run by someone who had failed Chemistry 101. Even if Harken had escaped, he'd surely gotten the point. Several of them, most likely…
He read further, about a “person of interest” followed by a surprisingly accurate sketch and description of Boomer. That was going to be a problem. Boomer was too sweet a lad to lose to the wolves of the law, and not the sort to stand up to any kind of serious interrogation. He scribbled a note to have him replanted a good distance away… assuming anyone could uproot him with a minimum of explosions. Bah, other people's problems.
At least he had gotten started on acquisitions. The disease-controlling girl was safely tucked away in Facility B, and Willard was already starting to teach her the benefits of cooperation. When breaking in any bitch, canine or sapien, it was always best to start with positive reinforcement. Fine food, lodgings, shiny things, and an admirable parade of strapping lads had her in amicable spirits. For now. He knew her type very well, she'd soon want more, and more… and she'd get it. The anal electrical probe had the amazing ability to enact dramatic and rapid attitude change. He could have started that way, yes, but he adored watching the loving care people took when constructing their own gallows.
The kumiho was going to be more of a problem. She’d been spotted with her associates, and he knew them well enough: that lot of mystical (and mythical) riff-raff from The Library. She had to be there… he picked absently at the chip in his canine. Perhaps a visit would be in order? No reason not to, really… it'd been ages, and he could check on a few matters as well. He chuckled deep in his throat, tapping his foot on the slick bunyip hide. No matter how furious they might be over The Museum, they had to let him visit The Library. Rules were rules. The very idea of that impotent, boiling rage was reason enough, really.
Percival looked up from his book and over to the cat sitting on the chair. She licked her paw languidly, pointedly ignoring the sound of approaching boots. She looked up at Percival with a slow, sleepy wink. “Visitors. Unfriendly ones, I believe.” Before he could ask, she promptly curled up, stuffed her head under her ribs, and started snoring.
The three men entered in a clump of boots and the soft tap of wingtip shoes. A short, grinning man flanked by two human bulldogs, armed to the teeth. The short one had some kind of long coat, with thick, frayed cuffs and collars… or some kind of very thick fur. The thick sleeves and slight tilt of his head gave the impression of some old, threadbare bird of prey. The other two were all business, looking somewhere between cops and soldiers…but with an oozing aura of pure menace.
Weapons were drawn before anyone could say a word. Swords, sickle, crystal rod, machine guns and massive pistols were quickly pointing across the short gap between the three men and the small collection of Library residents, all aimed at areas of the body both tender and vital. The short man smiled with the slimy, cloying self-satisfaction of a ice cream man passing out treats dipped in arsenic.
She stayed in the back of the room, not sure whether to duck, or laugh. It was the most ludicrous standoff She had ever seen, but could turn ugly in an instant; She wasn't sure what She wanted to see happen more. Fear and tension radiated off the group like the heat from sun-baked mass graves. Except for the short man. He smelled of spice, and oil, and moss… and something that made her nose twitch and tendons tighten like piano wire.
He waved away the thick blade hanging inches from his nose like it was a butterfly intruding on a morning walk. “Now is there really call for all this, sweethearts? I'm just here to renew my library card…and tarry a bit with that sweet little thing perched up on the pillows there.”
He gestured to the bespectacled girl with a wink and a waggle of his fingers. She could barely decide whether to growl or blush. She ended up doing both.
The standoff was broken by a low cough.
"If I were you, I would put those weapons away," Percival said. He was standing between both groups with his empty hands held out to the sides, looking back and forth between them with an expression of utter calm.
"You can't take us all," one of the big bodyguards snarled.
"I don't intend to," Percival said firmly. "The Library will do it for me. I'm just trying to prevent a tragedy."
He looked up at the second floor balcony, where a large number of black-shrouded figures were looking down at the tableau below. More of them were coming out from the shadows, gathering around the scene in a broad circle… just waiting. Watching.
One by one, the weapons were put away, and one by one, the faceless guardians of the Library disappeared back into the shadows from whence they had come. Percival turned to the three men in black suits and nodded. "Carry on," he said, "but remember where you are."
"Of course," Dark said, "My apologies for the rudeness and short-sightedness of my companions, sir knight."
"I'm not a knight," Percival said, dismissively. He turned away and picked up the longsword he had left leaning against the wall, then walked back into the stacks.
The small man brushed a small piece of lint off his shoulder then walked to the back of the room, where a rather nondescript, mousy-looking girl was looking up at him from behind several large stacks of very old, rather dusty books. "May I sit down, dearie?"
"If you wish," She replied, in a sundew-sweet voice.
One of the big thugs pulled out the chair for the short man, who sat down with all the grace of a stalking heron. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said. "My name is Dark, of Marshall, Carter, and Dark, Limited."
"Never heard of you," She lied.
"Good," Dark said. "I spend a lot of bloody time, energy and money making sure that's the case. I, on the other hand, have heard of you. The last kumiho. Your work at that… convention… was exquisite. From an artistic standpoint."
"You are a fan of the arts, then?"
"I am a patron of the arts," Dark corrected. "And I wish to be yours."
"Interesting. Tell me more," She said, leaning back in Her chair and steepling Her fingers.
"Then I'll get to the point sweetheart. Simply put, I am a provider. I provide wondrous things to those who have the money, resources and sensibilities to truly appreciate them. I can sate any desire, quench any thirst, and one of the things my associates desire is you. In exchange, I can do the same for you. You can live like a queen in perfect decadence. You will hunt prey beyond any imagining. You can kill to your heart's content, and instead of being vilified, you will be applauded. Congratulated, even."
"And a whore as well, I suppose," She said.
He grinned devlishly. "On occasion, yes. But then again, I don't think prudishness is a vice you possess in great measure, is it, sweetheart?"
"Hmm. A generous offer. But if I refuse?"
"In that case, we call in the hounds and run you to the ground. The end result is the same. The process, however, is not nearly as pleasant for you. For me, however… well… it's been years since my last fox hunt," Dark said with an almost apologetic smile.
"How very honest," She said dryly. "Allow me to repay you in kind. I have had a better offer."
"What, from those idiots who broke you out? Small fry. Useless. They can't help or protect you."
"Not from them," She said. "From their Teacher."
"A raving lunatic who's read too much Karl Marx," Dark said dismissively. "You'll get no help from him."
"Hm," She gave an enigmatic smile, then stood up and turned to walk away.
Something about her expression immediately raised Dark's hackles. That girl was far too smug not to be hiding something… "Wait," he snarled, the playful carelessness dropping from his voice like a discarded coat. "What do you know? What are you not telling me?"
"Do the amaryllis flowers still bloom in Elysium?" She asked.
The chair clattered to the floor as Dark leaped to his feet. She allowed herself a moment of satisfaction at the shock in his wide, pale eyes. "He's alive?" the short man hissed.
"Despite your best efforts, yes," She said.
"And he's still planning to go through with it?"
"I see," Mister Dark said. "Simon?"
Simon acted reflexively: the gun was in his hand before he knew he had drawn it, and he'd fired before he was aware he'd been given the order, even as his eyes widened in horror at what he was doing. The bullets passed harmlessly through the smiling girl and blasted some holes through the bookshelf behind her. A moment later, the illusion flickered and vanished, a small, tattered leaf falling to the floor.
A moment after that, three black-hooded figures appeared from the darkness and lunged towards the big man. Simon screamed and turned to shoot, but one of the Guardians casually broke his arm and then grabbed him by his shattered wrist. By the time his brother Johan had gotten to his feet, Simon had vanished, dragged into the shadows by the sinister cloaked figures.
"Clever girl," Dark sighed, rubbing his temple. He hadn't expected it would work, but it was worth a shot.
He turned and started walking out of the library quickly but easily, ignoring the stares and frightened looks the other library denizens were giving him. "Boss," Johan said. "We gotta go get Simon! We can't let them…"
"Didn't you hear a goddamn word of what I told you on the trip here? If your brother's not dead already, he's one of THEM now. The Library always collects… and they're always in need of librarians. We're leaving."
"You're fired," Dark snapped. "Fuck off and die."
He turned away from the big bodyguard, ignoring the stunned look on his face as the man reactively drew the pistol from his coat pocket and put it in his mouth. He threw open the double doors as the gunshot rang out behind him. A twist of time and space later, Dark re-emerged in a back alley in Chicago, with a large black luxury car parked among the refuse and graffiti. The chauffeur gave him a surprised look, then shrugged. "Where are Simon and Johan?" he asked.
"Their services are no longer needed," Dark growled. "Now drive."
He picked up the gold-plated car phone and started dialing. "Willard? This is Dark. Fast-track the bitch. I want her ready by sunset tomorrow… what? Then LET her break! We'll put her back together eventually, I need her ready as soon as possible! What? No, I will NOT explain myself, just get to work!"
He slammed the phone down vengefully, then quickly dialed a second number. "Marshall, Carter? This is Dark. Yes, I know what time it is over there, I don't give a shit— no, I don't care what you were in the middle of, tell them to wait. The Fourth Partner is alive."
"That's right," Dark continued. "The fucking altruist… and he's still trying to carry out his fucking revolution. I need all available assets under my control immediately… no, I don't need your help, I need your fucking resources! You two nitwits work on keeping the clientèle safe. What? I don't fucking care. Make something up."
Dark slammed the handset down and fumed silently, glaring at the phone. Blind, stupid, helpless louts…and now even more time drained to deal with everything on a direct, personal level, it was all so…uncomfortable.
He picked his chipped canine, glaring out the window, as the car slid though the streets like a V-8 powered serpent. Worthless, all of it, and all to no purpose, by all rights he should throw the whole mess in the fire, and cultivate more, instead of trying to control all of this by…
Mr. Dark froze for eight seconds, then slowly smiled a grin as slow and keen as a stiletto in the night.
Of course. Of course…The little vixen would reach out, insecure despite her posturing, but to more… intrinsic aid. Lunatics too blind or single-minded to see the danger… and in so doing, they'd force the next round, wouldn't they? When the children keep acting up, Daddy will eventually start cracking heads… and oh my, weren't they acting up now?
He chuckled softly, comfortable again, leaning into the plush seats. Unexpected, unplanned for, and perhaps dangerous, yes… but if he was anything, he was a man who loved a good, bloody streetfight.
If it just happened to take place between massive groups of well trained men and women, so much the better.
To: All 05 and Level 4 command staff
CC: Central Records, F.O.B. command datahubs
My dear ladies and gentlemen,
I understand that this has been a trying time, to say the least. Our position has been heavily rocked by both change and attack. Former situations, long held to be understood and secure, and no longer under control. That's really the heart of the matter, control. We've lost it, for the first time in countless years, we're not in the position of majority and power.
This is the opening to the letter I wished to write, but I can't. We got our heads kicked in, yes. We're still picking up the pieces, we're damaged, we're not at a solid point yet, and so forth.
A group of nothing upstarts kicked in our front door, other groups are taking escaped SCP items AT WILL, we're STILL not at capacity, and nobody seems to care. Even more, these idiotic kids have damaged the Veil Protocol, and rather than trying to maintain it, the others seem to be taking the cue from them and moving openly.
We end this NOW, goddammit. I want a semblance of control, and I want it right the FUCKING HELL NOW. I want SCP items tracked and being corralled by direct assault teams. I want intel on enemy agencies and teams moving to quash their operations. We are not a whiny, hand-wringing group of frightened children in lab coats and riot gear, we are The motherfucking Foundation.
They've decided they want to fight this fight in the open? We need to remind them why they want us to stay in the shadows.
All MTF teams are being mobilized as of 0800 this morning. Special investigation and terrorist cells are being activated worldwide. A full media clamp in the form of a “Snowblind” protocol has been enacted for North America and Europe. Worldwide coverage will be enacted within 24 hours. All currently uncontained SCPs will have hand-picked recovery teams assigned and moving within 48 hours. All current Level 4 command staff will undergo a full competency hearing immediately after the current crisis is resolved.
Direct, wide-level SCP item dispatch and authorization is currently being considered under the Pandora's Box Protocol.
Control will be restored.
We secure. We contain. We protect. And nothing is going to stop us.
When the nurse walked into the hospital room that morning, she found the bed empty. At first, she thought that her troublesome patient had just escaped his medical confinement to head down to the cafeteria and get a cup of Jell-O or a contra-indicated shot of bourbon. Again.
When she saw the note, however, she realized that things were worse than she'd thought.
Dear O5 cunts,
Consider this my letter of motherfucking resignation.