Description: SCP-E15 is an Aryan female, approximately twelve years of age, which appears to release a deadly field of unknown composition. The field itself is composed of a form of radiation which is not yet identified and does not match any currently understood phenomena…
April 17, 1914:
Elizabeth Tate’s real name had vanished with her birth record and the memories of her family twelve years ago. Both she and her husband had disappeared just like their names, and now, everyone called her Eleven.
Eleven sighed as she got up from her desk, crossing to the door and opening it, walking in Albert’s office and smiling at him as he got up, came around the corner of his desk, leaned down, and kissed her—just as he did every day before lunch.
She smiled up at him easily. "Shall we?" asked Eleven.
Twelve smiled back. "But of course," he said in his tight, Boston accent.
It had been easier coming into the Foundation like this—together, arm in arm, still married. Easier to leave the rest of the world behind.
"How have things been this morning?" Twelve asked. He was always polite, allowing her to speak first, then relating his own day. He’d always been polite.
Eleven related a number of things that had occurred, from a small spat between two young officers she’d been mentoring to an issue with interoffice mail. She was talking around the problem that had actually be occupying her, Twelve knew.
"She’s arriving today," he said.
Eleven played dumb. "Who?" she asked.
"You know who," Twelve said. "The girl."
Eleven stopped for a moment, looking down, then raising her hand and rubbing her eyes. "You know I don’t want to talk about this, Albert," she said.
"Well, you’re going to have to talk about it sooner or later. You’re the expert in containment, and we’re going to need to test her limits," Twelve said. "They've kept her sedated for a while, but she’ll kick the stuff eventually. And when she does, we need to know how bad it’s going to be."
"Let’s not talk about business," Eleven said.
Twelve nodded. There wasn't anything else to talk about anymore. Their lives were the business. But he respected the request, motioning for her to lead, then falling into step slightly behind her. The meeting that afternoon would be ugly.
One opened the meeting, nodding to the partially assembled council, and gave the floor to Six, and let him relate the state of the bodies that had been recovered, the cover story that had been put into place, and the general state of things in the small, mid-western town that had just seen a large, happy family disappear with two sets of their neighbors.
Six handed things off to Four, who had apparently found some people to buy the suddenly vacated housing. And then, Twelve got up and relayed the transportation of ‘the object’ to the site, followed by the rest of the logistical problems he had dealt with concerning the nature of the effect surrounding her.
And then came the pictures. Six laid them out, a group of flat, cold pictures of a little girl. One of them had her sitting in her room reading a book, obviously from before the incident. The others were from after. Her crying underneath a table. Her unconscious, laying in a train car.
Seven took a slow, deep breath. "This is it, then? She really is one?" Eleven thought she heard a hint of anticipation in his voice. Maybe even excitement.
Six nodded. "We had some people strip her down and replace her clothes. Isolate her. Tested on animals. All conclusive." Six's voice came across too matter-of-factly for her taste. Too detached.
Eleven shuddered slightly. They’d had someone strip down an eight year old girl. With the people they conscripted for jobs like that…
It was One who had spoken. "Yes?" she said.
"Any thoughts on current containment? Her effective range seems to be growing, according to the results of Six’s field tests."
Eleven looked over at Six—who was wearing his usual, stony lack of an expression—and then back to One. "We’ll have to see exactly what the effects are on a microscopic level. For all we know, she might be carrying a disease or have eaten something—"
"Oh, for the love of God, Eleven." Five was frowning at her, a look of exasperation on his face. "We decided this two weeks ago, when the first field reports came back. She is an object."
"She’s a little girl!" Eleven said, her hackles rising slightly.
"The evidence I've collected so far is largely conclusive, Eleven," Six added, his voice obnoxiously calm. "We need you to help us contain this event."
Eleven sat back, glaring at Six for a moment. He was good at that. Preying on your sense of duty. "This is, thus far, an unprecedented occurrence. We have found statues, weapons, portals to other dimensions, anomalous signals emanating from the middle of Texas, but not… We've never done this with people."
"There is the Syrian," Two mentioned.
"Which we categorized as the coffin, not the entity that emerges from it," Eleven mentioned, shuddering a little at the thought of the thing inside it.
"Then perhaps," One said, "we should reexamine that classification rather than this one."
Eleven looked over at him, her eyes narrowing for an instant before she pulled them back to the paper in front of her. She glanced over it. "We need more test results. We need to know exactly how the people are dying. I've never seen burns like these before."
"I have," said Two. "They’re reminiscent of something we encountered working with the Curies…"
But by then, Eleven’s attention had waned, and she was lost in her own thoughts.
Eleven was finding it hard to go over the test results that she'd requested. The effect that surrounded the girl worked regardless of how conscious she was, but they had to wake her up to feed her, which resulted in screaming and tears. And at least one dead test subject each time.
Two had been right. The shielding she’d suggested was keeping the worst of the symptoms at bay, but it was increasing steadily. Soon, just opening the door to feed… Eleven didn't want to use her designation, but Six had refused to tell her the girl’s name when she asked.
She rubbed her eyes, not turning around as her door opened and closed. Only one person would come in without knocking.
Twelve’s hands fell against her shoulders, rubbing slightly as she smiled. "Hey," she said quietly.
He didn't respond, but she smelled his aftershave, and that was answer enough for the moment. Just his presence.
"I don’t know if I can do this," she said quietly.
"You can," Twelve said. "You have to. We need you to."
She nodded slightly, sighing and looking down at the paper smoothed over her desk. "If the effect keeps going like this, I’m going to have to recommend termination. There’s no other option," she continued. "Even with Two, there’s no way we’re going to develop a satisfactory containment before something awful happens."
Twelve was nodding, she knew. He went along with these things for her. Let her talk and just listen.
"I need to talk to One," she said, sighing softly. "I just can't keep doing this. I can't. We're treating her like she's the problem."
"Then talk to him," Twelve said. "He's always been reasonable. He'll listen to your concerns."
Eleven let out a soft snort through her nose. "Will he do anything about them, though?" she asked.
Twelve didn't respond, but then, he didn't know the answer. No better than she did.
"Tomorrow," she said.
"I'm not having this conversation again," One said. His voice was hard, flat.
One stood behind his clean, orderly desk. Behind him was framed a massive window that looked down on the atrium of Site-14 below. Eleven was certain he'd had it designed like this to cause awe for visitors or intimidate people with the forced perspective. She was neither.
"It needs to be had," Eleven countered.
"It's been had," One said. "It's been had three times already."
Eleven continued. "Psychics… mystics… Where do we draw the line, One? When you classify a human being like this, you have to start considering all of them. What about us? I'm seventy, and I look thirty-five. Am I anomalous?"
"You know that's from the spring, Eleven." His voice and body language were growing more and more tight. Like a coil in a watch.
"Yes, but to an outside observer, what am I? And what are we other than outside observers?"
"Enough. This is a simple matter. The girl is deadly. We've lost two good men and dozens of test subjects trying to contain the effect. Two and Five are baffled, and instead of helping them, you've spent your time dipping into a philosophical argument that was concluded weeks ago."
"It's not right! Look at the masthead. Look at what you wrote there. 'No one else will protect us, and we must stand up for ourselves.' We are supposed to protect humanity, and this girl is part of humanity. How can you ignore how wrong this is? How awful this thing that we've committed ourselves to doing really is? We're supposed to keep her safe, and we're terrifying her, horrifying her each time. We're the monsters we're supposed to fight, One!"
He had waited patiently, and when she finished, he finally spoke. "You don't always get the last word, Elizabeth." One hadn't called her that in years. Decades. Not since before she was recruited. "Sometimes, you need to accept the situation for what it is. She's killing people. We need to contain her. Help us."
He wasn't going to listen, she realized. Eleven took a slow, deep breath, then nodded her head quietly. "Fine," she agreed.
One nodded. "Good. I'll inform Five to expect your compliance," he said.
Eleven turned and left his office, a lump in her chest. She couldn't let them do this. Wouldn't.
She needed help. Only Twelve was listening to her, and the rest of the council… She wasn't ready to do that yet. She needed to start smaller. And there was only one person who might actually have experience with the situation.
Eleven found her way to the personnel wing of the building, then started searching for the personnel director. When she eventually found him, he was stooped over a table in an office, not his, with his face tucked into a file. Probably some recruit who someone had suggested. Hopefully someone who would have the luxury of a quiet, safe lab rather than the field. She knocked on the frame of the door, then offered him a brief smile.
"Do you have time to talk, Adam?"
The man turned and looked at her, nodding slightly. "Of course," he said, putting the file down on the table and pushing it toward the corner, away from the two of them. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"It's about the issue with the new… designation," she said.
Adam nodded. "The humanoid subtype," he said. "What about it"?
"I have… certain problems with accepting it," she said. "I can't seem to convince the others," she added. "Twelve is listening to me, and I might be able to convince Eight, but One is dead set on this. You're friends with him, with Two. Tell me how I can change his mind."
Adam frowned slightly. "I'm not entirely certain that his mind needs changing," he said. "The humanoid designation was an inevitability. We side stepped it before, with Oh-Seven-Six, and we called Oh-One-Four a psychosis, but… We can't avoid this problem anymore. There are objects which have too much power for their own good, and we have to contain them."
Eleven turned and looked at him, her eyes narrowing. "She’s a little girl, Adam, not an object," she said. "Surely you can understand what I’m going through, especially after…"
Adam’s eyes narrowed as her words trailed off, and she suddenly realized that she'd made a mistake. He pushed himself backward in his chair, standing up and brushing down the front of his short, smart waistcoat. "You’re my friend, Lizzy, and I love you dearly. But if you ever try to use my family against me like that, we will never speak again."
Eleven felt her throat tighten. "I didn't mean it like that."
"You did. If you have problems with our current line of action, I suggest you take it up with One."
Eleven sighed. "He doesn't listen," she said. "He’s set on this."
"Because she killed a dozen people, and she's killed a dozen more since then."
"No. Not because she killed people. That’s just how we’re justifying it to ourselves. She had no idea what she could do, no idea how to control it. She was scared and confused."
"And it put her entire family in a graveyard," Adam said. "I’m not going to discuss this with you further. Talk to Seven if you need to share your feelings so badly."
Adam reached for the file and opened it again, sitting down and leaning back in his chair. She looked at him, feeling furious for a moment, before turning and walking to the door, out it, and down the hall, her pace quickening as she did.
Eleven looked over the files that Five had sent to her. It include the original casualty report, in addition to the descriptions of bodily decay that were still being observed, and the further effects on the more recent corpses. Something Two had come up with. Studying the rate of decay to see if it had accelerated. Clever.
She glanced over the reports, wondering just how much of it had been caused by poor management of the problem. If she had gone instead of Six, this might never have gone as far as it had. But Six had been chosen, specifically because of his motivations and goals, and now… It was a debacle, entirely, as far as she was concerned.
She looked down at the daily reports, reading over them. The field was increasing by almost an inch every day, and it seemed to be accelerating. They lost a test subject at every meal, so they'd had to drop her to starvation levels…
Eleven winced and reached up to rub her eyes. She took a slow, steadying breath, then looked at the body count. Too high. Too high, in spite of the fact that they were criminals.
She knew that the girl was dangerous, but the alternatives—helping her to learn to control her abilities, studying them properly—had never been considered. It was nothing but cages and locks and morphine.
It wasn't right, to lock a person up like this, to lock up a little girl. It was wrong. Entirely and utterly opposed to everything that the Foundation stood for. She sighed and got up, dropping the file onto her desk and walking to Twelve's office, letting herself in. He looked up at her, then stood and walked around the desk. He kissed her, like he always did, then looked down at her face.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
And then, it all came out again. How angry she'd been with One over his disregard of her concerns, and how angry she was at herself for not sticking to her guns more strongly. How furious she felt that she'd not been able to head this off, in spite of her authority.
"It's not right," she said. "We're supposed to protect, people. Not lock them up. It might not be here. It might be something in her cells or in her bone tissue or… She might not even be the problem. They're making her the problem. They're punishing her because they can't see the issue beyond her."
He nodded, waited, and let her talk. As he always did.
"We have to do something, Albert," she said softly. She rarely used his name, even when they were alone, but this time, she did. "We have to do something to stop them."
"What?" he asked.
"We need to get her away from them. Stop them from getting more humanoid types. Slow them down until we can convince them properly."
He frowned. "I'm not sure we can. We signed on for this for life," he said.
Eleven shook her head at him. "Then we need to leave. To get away."
"How?" he asked.
"I need your help," Eleven admitted.
Seven raised an eyebrow, then leaned forward, smiling with easy interest and furrowing his brow with curiosity. "What do you mean?" he asked.
Seven was a coward, deep down. Resentful, on some level, that some of the others regarded him as a pseudoscientist instead of a legitimate master of his field. But then, he'd been integral in creating his field.
"I know we haven't always been friends, but philosophically, you agreed with me on this a few weeks ago, when the reports first came in."
"On what?" She knew that Seven already knew, but he wanted her to say it. Fine.
"Humanoid classification. This little girl Keter," she said.
Seven sat back again, nodding quietly. "I agree philosophically, yes," he said.
He wasn't going to admit more than that, Eleven realized. He was smart. Just cold. It wasn't that he disagreed on the concept of human beings as objects. It was the concept of human beings as human beings.
"You know why I'm here. You know what we're going to have to do to actually manage this. What they're going to force us to do. Allow me, then, to offer you this," Eleven said. "You can study them, if this works. You can take a look at all of them you want. Every one. Analyze them, figure out how they tick, what's going on in their heads. No experiments on them. But I'll give you all the access you want."
"I could get that here," Seven said simply.
"No, you can't. One is too smart, and with Two and Six on his side, you know you'll never get the access you really want. Don't you remember Five laughing in your face when you explained your theories of mental development to him? They mock you behind your back, and you know it. This is your chance. Your only chance. You'll never get to really see what this kind of power does to people. How it changes them."
She was playing on his desires and his insecurities. The lack of respect he got from the 'true' scientists. The worry about the legitimacy of his 'psychology' that he felt regularly. "This would be access that none of them would let you have, Wilhelm," she offered.
He looked up at her, then back down at his desk, fingers playing over the wood for a moment. He was thinking. Weighing the risks. "Agreed, then," he said. "What do you need from me?"
Eleven leaned back from his desk. He was, at least, interested now. "Four," she said. "We need his resources. And preferably Eight, if she can be convinced."
"Four will listen to me. But Eight and I have never seen eye to eye," Seven said.
"Then just implicate her. If she gets killed and they lose someone, that's just as good as someone coming with us. We'll have things in place soon enough."
Eleven watched as Seven's eyebrows rose smoothly. He hadn't expected Eleven to be this ruthless, apparently. Underestimated her because she was a woman, no doubt. After a moment, he nodded. "I can have Four get his men in place. Just tell me the places."
Eleven raised her eyebrow as Seven smiled. "You know already?" she asked.
Seven nodded, laughing. "Well, your husband has to be involved, doesn't he?" he said. "You'd never have come to me if you didn't already have him."
Eleven nodded slightly. "He'll do as I ask," she said. "I'll let you know the exact locations as soon as I can."
"Of course," Seven said. He was smiling more, now. More openly. With too many teeth.
Eleven left, feeling… dirty. As if she'd just had cold, dead fish rubbed over her body. She went back to her office, sitting down and making some brief notes. The strike had to be perfectly surgical to work.
"What's left to do, then?" Twelve asked.
"Seven agreed with it, and he's willing to go along, if only to see what happens. He probably thinks he can run back to One if things turn against him. We need funding and men, so we'll have to have Four at least. Seven can deliver him."
"If we could get Two…" Twelve mused.
Eleven shook her head. "She'll never go along with it. She trusts One too implicitly to let us get away with it."
"Six will never agree. Neither will Three," said Twelve.
"Thirteen?" she mused.
"I wouldn't trust him to do anything other than break a tie vote," Twelve said. "Did you talk to Adam? He's next in line, and with his family problems…"
"Adam… reacted poorly to my suggestion."
Twelve sighed quietly. "A shame. He could have really been a motivating factor. Ten and Nine will be out of range when things fall into place, and there's a good chance that we can isolate Three as well. It would keep people from moving against us quickly. How about Eight? Bella was on your side the last time we were all together."
Eleven fidgeted nervously with her wedding ring for a moment. "I've taken care of it. She won't interfere."
Twelve nodded. "Well… When do we move?" he asked.
Eleven sighed. "Soon. Very soon," she said. "They've found a little boy who can fly."
As his day finally drew to a close, Twelve picked up his phone. He made three phone calls, then sat it back down again. When he did, he stood up and moved to his file cabinet, opening it and pulling out a few folders. He stuffed them into a brown, leather case, then looked around his office one last time before he headed to the door.
Late that night, he was on a train headed for Los Angeles.
Two hours after Twelve boarded his train, Seven dropped two letters in his outbox. The first was addressed to One—explaining that he was taking a few days to head to his lab in Dusseldorf. The second was addressed to Eight—letting her know that everything had gone off without a hitch and that she could join the rest of the conspiracy in a few days.
He opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a pair of white gloves, pulling them onto his hands and fixing the cuffs of his jacket before he left.
There would be a dead man found on an ocean liner who looked exactly like him the following morning. The man would have been stabbed in the back, but all of the doors and windows would be locked from the inside. Seven always was a fan of a good mystery.
At the same time as a screaming, panicked steward was finding the body of an older gentleman in a forward compartment, Four had moved all his men into position. They struck the trains, automobiles, and ships in nearly perfect synchronicity. Four led one of the teams himself. He left no survivors.
Eleven walked to Twelve's office and opened the door, looking inside at the desk and imagining him stepping around it to kiss her. She smiled slightly, then stepped back, closing it and sighing deeply. She could almost smell his aftershave.
She turned and walked down the hall, nodding to a few people along the way, and then stepped out of the building onto the street. In no time, she was lost in the crowd.
As she walked, she looked at them. At their faces. In a city, no one actually looked at you. You were surrounded and alone at the same time. She wondered just how many of them would be in a cage if One and Six and Two and the rest had their way. How many of these nameless, faceless millions they were supposed to be protecting would be sealed away and forgotten.
When she boarded her train, she was unable to sleep.
On July 19, 1914, fourteen Foundation transports were attacked simultaneously. During these attacks, a number of objects were stolen, including two newly identified Humanoid Classification artifacts. A disturbingly large number of the objects seized were those with apparent practical uses, including the Staff of Hermes and the Midas Glove.
Given that a large number these objects were not scheduled for transport, it is currently assumed that someone in the logistics branch must have organized the action personally.
Current information suggests that this action was organized from the highest levels of Foundation administration. Implications currently point toward O5-12.
Further information will be made available as it comes forth, but we have to assume the worst. This is currently being classified as a Code Epoch situation. Trust no one.
Eleven smiled at Twelve as the two of them moved towards each other and embraced quickly. A few minutes later, Seven and Four walked across the dusty, wooden train station floor, nodding to Eleven.
"Things have been relocated," Seven said. "Twelve had information on some storage facilities that were available."
"I destroyed the files on them before I left," he said. "We can continue using the bulk of my infrastructure, and the Foundation will have no record of it."
Eleven looked up at the other three, taking a deep breath. "Do we have any word on what's happening on the inside?" she asked.
Four nodded. "They're scrambling. We either stole or destroyed a lot of documents on our way out the door, so it's pure chaos."
Eleven took a deep, slow breath. "Good," she said. "What about the two children?"
Seven smiled at Four, who looked over his shoulder at a man in a pinstripe suit and nodded at him. The man nodded, then turned around, motioning. A few seconds later, a young boy, maybe nine or ten years old, stepped out, nervously walking toward the group. Eleven lowered herself to one knee, smiling at him.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Ben," he said softly.
"Ben, I've heard you can do something amazing. Is that true?" she asked.
He nodded, looking down and twisting his foot shyly.
Eleven smiled. "Ben, there are some people who are very scary, and they want to take you away and lock you in a cage. But we're not going to let them do that, alright? We're going to keep you safe, and once those men have been dealt with, we're going to get you back to your family. But until that happens, we're going to make sure that nothing ever happens to you. Alright?"
Ben looked up at her. He looked scared, but she never stopped smiling. After a moment, he nodded.
Eleven looked at Twelve. "What about E15?" she asked.
Twelve shook his head silently, and Eleven nodded, still managing to smile down at Ben before nodding to Four, who escorted him back to the man in the suit.
Seven stepped closer, his voice dropping slightly. "We have men, weapons, tools. We're in a position to take what we need. We could gut the Foundation easily, if we move quickly."
Eleven shook her head. "No. I don't want to take this too far. Once they realize what we've done and why we've done it, they'll realize that they can't just shout us down anymore. They'll beg for us to come back," she said.
Seven nodded. "They won't be able to argue with our results. These people just need to learn to control what they're doing. They never even tried with that little girl. They just wanted to build a better cage for her," he said, a touch of distaste in his voice. Probably feigned, Eleven thought, but effective, nonetheless.
"Once we're organized, we'll move again," Twelve said. "Three has already found a location for his Site-19 plans. A site containing nothing but humanoids."
Eleven nodded, looking at the others as Four walked back to the group. "Let's move," she said. "I still have contacts in Germany we can use. The Foundation is wounded, but it'll heal fast."
Two leaned close to the glass, looking out the window at the large atrium below, watching the men and women walking back and forth. From this high up, they looked less like people and more like dolls. Toys. It was a disturbing thought. She glanced over at One standing next to her.
"This is only going to get worse before it gets better," she said.
One nodded, turning back to his desk and sitting down. "I know," he said. "But we knew what she would do when we started this."
Two sighed, walking over and resting against the corner, then looking at One. "You're sure about him? That he can keep it under control? I barely know the man."
One nodded slightly. "He'll do what he can. Warn us when he can. It's all we can ask him for, right now." One shuffled a paper, then sat back in his chair. "Do you have the promotion papers ready?" he asked, quietly changing the subject.
Two nodded. "Yeah. We can elevate Adam to Twelve's position early next week. And I think we can put Watson into Seven's position. At the very least, he's more stable and more reliable."
"Good," One said. "We need people we can count on, now more than ever."
Eleven, who had taken well to being called Command-Three, smiled across the table at Twelve, who was referred to by his subordinates as Command-Four. He smiled back at her. His fingers brushed hers, and hers slipped into his, squeezing his hand for a moment.