“We need to talk.”
The old lady raised her head from the crumpled document before her, blinking rapidly through massive glasses. She sighed, pulling them off and rubbing between her eyes, gray curls bobbing in the half-light of the desk lamp.
“Indeed we do. Have you seen some of the documents they've been pulling from the old Central Archives? It's a wonder we're all not dead by lunchtime, I swear. We're never going to complete the digital migration at this rate, and we're already nearly a year overdue. It's only time now before we spring a leak someone on the chain, and-”
“Dammit, Six, you know what I'm talking about. The goddamn Black Queen.”
She closed her eyes, breathing deeply, then looked back at the long, thin, black-suited man glaring across the desk at her. She tried to smile, then abandoned it, letting her face fall to a tired, resigned neutral.
“I haven't gotten the updated dossier yet. Give me the broad strokes.”
“Yesterday, an unknown subject, now known to be the 'Black Queen', accessed Site Thirty-Two. We're not sure how, but it appears she somehow entered the primary entry on foot. There's nearly twenty miles of bare rock and salt pan between that entry and anything even remotely civilized, so-”
“Please skip the editorial, Four. I'm not some layabout Agent.” she smiled wearily, head resting in her massaging fingers.
The lean man hrumpfed and re-positioned in his chair for several moments, then continued, voiced laced with a bare minimum of malice.
“She chatted with no less than two security staff and five members of personnel, and passed through several security checkpoints, one of which was level four. The security information she used was a combination of outright forgery and stolen identification. She… it appears that she killed at least three men that we know of to do this, and not just our own. The GOC has an open complaint against us over a missing squad member who was 'pulled off his assignment by a Foundation operative' and then found with a hatpin in his eye. We're still-”
“Get to the point, Four.”
He sighed heavily, shoulders slumping. “She accessed the observation area for the SCP-682 containment cell.”
The old lady suddenly sat up, eyes wide, every hint of annoyance and boredom vanished. “Good god, you're joking! What in heaven's name did she do?”
05-4 looked over to her, shaking his head slowly as he spoke. “She chatted with the oversight staff… then, in the spare second when they weren't looking, she put her hand over the testing containment shutdown panel… and put a goddamn chess piece on it. A black queen, appropriately enough. She then left… just walked out the way she came, long gone before we even knew what the hell had happened. This was a message, Six. She could have, and she didn't. She was looking directly at the camera when she placed it. She wants us to know that she can touch us, however she likes, whenever she likes. The worst thing is, I don't know if she's wrong.”
05-6 sat back, shaking her gray head slowly, eyes wide in disbelief. “How did it come to this? It's one little girl, how can this keep happening…” she trailed off, shrugging her shoulders in exasperation.
“As I said, we need to talk. We have to do something. We can't keep hoping the normal protocols just catch her… she knows us, somehow, inside and out. We have to do something more direct, before someone else gets killed, or worse, she starts breaching containment.”
They sat in silence, a unasked question floating between them.
“This isn't my call to make, Six. You were MI-5, I'm just the biologist. I hate to actually acknowledge one lunatic as a valid threat, but I don't see anywhere else to go with this.”
05-6 looked up at the ceiling, weighing costs and variables, meetings and resources… all of it academic, as the decision was already made.
“… Fine. I'm calling it up. I'll put counter-intelligence on alert, and get a team together. Lord help me, I'll send a department of skilled, trained individuals after one mad, violent girl.”
“Your job, what's it look like?”
“We're putting together a four-man to go shoot one thief?”
“Have you not been paying attention in class today? This isn't some simple thief. Good men have died because of this lunatic bitch.”
“Who? Halgrave and Torn? They were sloppy at best, you know that.”
“Listen, it doesn't matter. It's your job, go do it.”
“Sir, yes sir, whatever you say, sir.”
“… Go get your men together, then get the hell out.”
“Sir, do we have a proposed location, sir?”
“Stop that. Now.”
“Where is she?”
“We have a partial trace hit near a hotel in Chicago. You'd know that if you read your goddamn paperwork.”
“Yeah… see you in a few boss.”
“… Hey, Rickter?”
“I hope she sees you coming.”
“Love you too, boss.”
Or forge ahead