“…Please be seated. Let's get to business, I know you are all busy, and I appreciate all of you taking time out…”
“Cut it, Three.”
“…Very well. I think we all know the issue at hand. What with the recent…unpleasantness that occurred during our military disentanglement…”
“Oh yes, unpleasantness is just the word I would use. You know, because a near-total shutdown of all sites due to a military intervention is…”
“May I continue, Eight? …Thank you. As I was saying, recent events have caused a…relaxing of protocol. Many of our sites have had to act in near-total isolation from any major command structure, and administrative decisions have been falling to staff members who would not be in any sort of command position under normal circumstances. We've managed to set major sections back to normal, and Site Security is now under our sole jurisdiction.”
“With all due respect, Three, we know this already. Please get to the point, sir.”
“…One major hub site, our primary staff facility, and two of our major humanoid SCP-class item storage facilities have come under the sole administrative control of one Doctor Kondraki. During his period of command, the total number of security infractions, information leaks, misuse of resources, and containment breach events for his area have exceeded the sum total of all the infractions and security events of the whole Foundation for the past five years.”
“While under normal conditions, this would result in immediate termination, this has proven…difficult to do. Doctor Kondraki appears to command a level of respect and fear that could cause a minor rebellion in his commanded sites in the event of his hostile removal. He also has an uncanny knack for avoiding danger and near-certain death. Even in the event of non-terminal retirement, Marshall, Carter and Dark has made motions that lead us to believe that they would recruit or capture Doctor Kondraki.”
“So, what you're saying is that we may have a second Insurgency brewing?”
“Oh for fuck's sake, you know that whole thing is a goddamn cover for-”
“I am not saying anything of the kind, and I would remind everyone that we are in polite company. What I am saying is that we need to mobilize a deep operative. Someone who can cause Doctor Kondraki's death in a way that will leave no trace of foul play, and be absolutely exempt from suspicion. Someone who can act with total focus on the mission. Someone tried, tested, and sure of success.”
“The thing about that is, everyone's deployed currently. Who do we have on-site there who could carry out the order?”
“I know just the person.”
“Hey Draki, how'd the test go?”
“Oh man, it was great…we had a D-Class turn into vapor!”
Doctor Clef nodded, the motion always causing a slight, disconcerting blur around the edges of his head. His flickering smile widened as he continued to walk past Doctor Kondraki. “Sounds like a blast. I gotta run for the moment, but I'll catch up with you a bit later.”
Doctor Kondraki laughed, cracking his knuckles, “Ahh, no big deal…I'm going for a nap in the office anyway.” He strode away, whistling as a small cluster of butterflies suddenly appeared from a wall and started to follow him.
Had he turned, he would have seen Doctor Clef staring at his receding form, his face pinched in what could almost be called regret…if not for the smile.
Kondraki was on top of the goddamn world. He'd managed to shift all his research duties off to Bright and Iceberg, and he even had most of his actual administrative duties farmed out to terrified, hard-working cube slaves. He hadn't even heard from the bigwigs at central command for weeks…it seemed like he'd finally gotten through to them that his methods, however brutal, worked. SCP-408 flitted ahead of him, the small swarm of butterflies flickering colors seemingly at random as he reached his office door.
He strode in, tossing his beaten-up ball cap onto an awaiting hook, and started over to his desk. He was nearly seated before he noticed Doctor Gears standing near the right side of the desk, folder in hand. He stumbled in mid-step, the SCP-408 swarm flickering around him, ready to decoy at a moment's notice. “Jesus, Gears! Fucking say hi or something, I could have shot you!”
Gears nodded slightly, holding out the folder. “Duly noted. I will attempt to be more conspicuous about my presence in the future. There has been a development with SCP-408 that you need to be made aware of immediately.”
Doctor Kondraki took the folder grudgingly, muttering as he sat and flipped through the folder. He stopped two pages in, and rocked forward in his chair at the half-way point. “The hell do they mean 'third lifestage'? SCP-408 has NEVER given any indication of that!”
“Why has this even become a issue? We've know about his instability for ages, but just sat on our hands.”
“Doctor Kondraki has a unique bond with SCP-408, one that The Foundation found intriguing. It turns out a mild chemical imbalance has given Doctor Kondraki a pheromone signature that has a mildly hypnotic effect on SCP-408.”
“Hence why they follow him about all the bloody time.”
“Exactly, Six. Initially we were unable to find the precise chemical signature, but we have recently cracked it and found it rather easy to synthesize. We should be able to roll out a prototype treatment spray to some Mobile Task Forces within the year. With this development, Doctor Kondraki's continued existence has been deemed…less than paramount.”
“That still leaves us with the problem of “King of the Boooterflies” Kondraki. Those things never leave him alone for a second.”
“We already have that situation in hand. A report about a 'third life stage' that may be a Keter-level threat will be issued to all sites. Any and all SCP-408 will be collected and contained without exception. Kondraki will comply, or be held before the Review Board. Once SCP-408 has been properly contained, stage two will be engaged.”
“I still question that, by the way. He's bound to catch on, I mean your so-called 'special agent' has been on more or less desk duty for some time now. Plus, Kondraki is bound to suspect something.”
“Yes, our agent has had some down-time, but this is not his first action in this capacity. Plus, despite their initial differences, Kondraki trusts him to a certain extent. He won't let us down.”
“What do you mean, I can't enter the containment cell? I've ALWAYS had access to SCP-408, you KNOW this report is bullshit!”
Dmitri smiled uncomfortably, holding up his wrists held together. “I am sorry, Doktor, but I am in the handcuff. Command says 'no entry', I must give no entry. Security Head must set example, am sure you understand.”
Kondraki swore and kicked at the containment door, then turned and stood directly before the Russian. “Listen, how many times have I gotten you out of jams, huh? Just let me check on them, to make sure everything's ok, yeah?”
Dimitri shook his head, forced smile firmly planted on his face. “I am of the regretting, sir, but orders are orders. Nobody in, nobody out for three week. Order signed by O5 level, is nothing to do for it.”
Kondraki roared, grabbing his hat and raging for several seconds, before grabbing the big Russian's shirt. “Listen, I'm the goddamn head of-”
He was abruptly cut off as Dmitri grabbed his arm and twisted him away. He then positioned himself in front of the containment access door, arms behind his back, feet planted at parade rest. His face was a stony mask. “Was speaking as friend, Doktor. Am now speaking as Security Head. Leave area immediately, Doktor Kondraki, or you will be removed.”
Kondraki was still fuming hours later, when there was a sharp knock on his door. Before he could say “fuck off”, Clef slipped in, shutting the door behind him. He looked around the office, whistling. “Wow…did you really have to shoot the ceiling that much? I mean, the computer is still semi-recognizable, wouldn't that have been better?”
Kondraki shook his head, twirling a spent shotgun shell on his finger. “Not now Clef, I'm really not in the mood.”
Clef slid into one of the few remaining undamaged chairs, and grinned at the smoldering doctor. “Shit happens Kon, you know this. It's probably some screw-up somewhere down the chain, you know how bureaucratic shit gets up at the top. Just…roll with it.”
Kondraki rose, starting to walk around the room. “I know what they're up to. They've tried to kill me before a few times, but I always get loose. It's so fucking stupid…they recall all the research work, try and delegate everything out so when I go, I won't leave a hole…but I'm not about to let some dusty stuffed shirts brush me out of the way. I've shown the weapon potential for countless items…plus, I always have an ace over them.” He grinned coldly, looking at nothing. “They think that cutting me off from SCP-408 is going to leave me defenseless? Bullshit. Bull SHIT! Plus, nobody has the balls to try and go toe-to-toe with me!" Kondraki continued. "Hell, I rode fucking 682!” He laughed, looking to Clef.
The other man nodded, his eyes flickering slightly as he looked away. “Yeah…you're really just too nuts to kill…”
Both men chuckled for a few moments, before drifting into silence. Kondraki stared at Clef, his smile slowly fading as he warily moved back behind his desk. “So…tell me, friend…why is it you've been such a desk jockey lately? Seems weird for a…man…of action like you to just take being benched without a fight.”
Clef shrugged, his smile frozen inches from his ears. “Oh, you know, just recharging the batteries, molesting demi-humans, the usual.”
The laughter was forced, the remaining conversation false. When Kondraki pulled his shotgun and put a slug past Clef's ear, it was almost a relief.
“Isn't there a concern about fallout? Kondraki is somewhat well known for his… tendencies towards collateral damage.”
“It's been decided that, in light of the continued threat potential posed, the one-time costs are outweighed by the long-term benefits.”
“…Is the damn site nuke mentioned anywhere in the contingency plans?”
“Not in any of the primary ones, no.”
-SECURITY BREACH ON STAFF LEVEL 1-
-STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO STAFF LEVEL ONE: STAFF DOORS 1-3-
“Son of the bitch…what is going…” Dmitri hunched over the site alert console, watching the alerts pop up, several security screens switching to the site of the action. It appeared Clef and Kondraki were locked in a gun battle. Again. Still, this seemed more…vigorous than normal. For one thing, they were using real bullets this time.
Dmitri flipped the sound toggle on, letting the room fill with the sound of screaming and gunfire.
“-onna creep up, blind-side me? Oooh, you're slipping…”
<Three loud reports>
“Kon, I swear, I have no idea-”
“Oh, and now I'm going to believe a word that comes out of that polymorphic pie hole?”
“Kon, calm the shit down!”
Dmitri sighed, rubbing his temple as he reached for the security intercom. “Is to be much paperworks…” he muttered, picking up the receiver.
Before he could dial up the security team, however, it rang in his hand. Shocked, he nearly dropped it before hitting the transmit button. He listened in silence for thirty eight seconds. He nodded once, then replaced the receiver. He looked at the screens, the intercom, and swallowed hard.
He then switched everything off, and went to get a coffee. It was the first coffee break he'd taken in nine months.
“Too much seems left to chance. What if he somehow avoids the operative? Kondraki has shown some combat prowess, this could backfire rather quickly.”
“If you'll go to page eighteen of the third section, you'll see the actions detailed much more clearly. The main combat event is to assess the level of decay Kondraki's combat capabilities have undergone during his prolonged SCP-408 use.”
“…fair enough, but won't he be more on alert?”
“Yes. On the wrong subject.”
Kondraki raced down the hall, keeping to the side. His bleeding arm throbbed, but he kept running, the gradual slant keeping him at a good pace. He couldn't hear Clef any more, but he knew he was there, somewhere, waiting for an ambush. He smiled with bloody teeth as he rounded the corner. He knew where he'd be safe, be able to regroup. The one place nobody would dare fire a shot, never risk the full wrath of The Foundation for any collateral damage.
Lurching forward, he pitched himself against the solid steel door. Panting, he fumbled for the knob, smearing blood over the brass plate reading “Dr. Gears”.
Gears looked up quickly from his screen as Kondraki stumbled in, blood splattering as he slammed the door shut. “Doctor Kondraki. You appear distressed. And injured.”
The bleeding man laughed, then panted, leaning on the door. “Ooooh fuck….Gears, you have…no idea…how happy I…am to…hear you.”
Gears rose and crossed quickly to the door, easing Kondraki across the office. “Sit down. You need immediate medical attention. Is there a breach event in progress? I will contact site security.”
Kondraki tensed as Gears spoke, then grabbed the older man's lab coat. “No…no security…just…let me sit.”
Kondraki flopped into the office chair, sighing and wincing as he rubbed his shoulder. “They…they tried to send Clef after me…can you believe that? I knew they'd try it eventually. God DAMN but that hurts…Got any pain killers, Gears?”
The older man shook his head slowly, watching Kondraki. “I am sorry, but I keep no medical supplies on hand in my office. Any chemicals required for testing are kept-”
“I know, I know…Jesus…” Kondraki waved Gears away, panting and closing his eyes as he rubbed his face. “Just…need a second to regroup. Then I'm going up to master control…pop some doors…” Kondraki sighed, getting his wind back.
He didn't hear the click of the trigger until the bullet was already in his temple.
The .45 caliber slug tore through the thin tissue of his scalp and snipped a neat hole through the skull bone just as Kondraki thought “what…”. As it shredded through his collected memories, dreams, and plans, he was simultaneously aware of the location of a book he'd misplaced weeks ago, and the vague smell of wood shavings. Then all of it, wood, book, and mind exited through a much less neat and much more explosive hole in the left side of the now former doctor's skull. He twitched once, then fell forward, hitting the desk hard enough to bruise, if he had been still capable of it.
Gears shifted, replacing the gun in his coat pocket. He looked down, stone-faced, as the man emptied his life's blood and work onto his desk. He raised his hand, slowly, and placed it on the dead man's shoulder. He blinked once, slowly, eyes closed for several seconds, before opening them again. He then set about cleaning the gun, and re-positioning Kondraki's hands.
“I still question the operative choice. His last combat action was…four years ago?”
“Combat, yes. Rogue subject control is not considered a combat action.”
“…when…when was he last active for that, then?”
“I'm afraid that's still sealed.”
“…alright. Let's go with it. What are we going to do for a cover?”
“In this case, the old ways are the best ways.”
-Notice of Staff Death-
Name: Dr. Kondraki
Cause: Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
Subject has been known to exhibit extreme bipolar and paranoid disorders consistent with extreme chemical imbalance. Subject entered a psychotic episode/break down during a conversation with a fellow staff member. Subject attempted to kill several staff members, then attempted to take a senior staff member hostage. Subject was reported to be incoherent and extremely agitated, and threatened to take his own life several times during the event. Subject made several motions to execute the senior staff member, before turning the gun on himself. Security teams reported too late to prevent subject's action.
Burial services to be held immediately. Position replacement interviews underway.
“Shot himself? Really Gears? Really?”
“… You look me in the eyes. You look me in the eyes and you say that to me.”
“He shot himself.”
“You can't bullshit a bullshitter Gears.”
“…Was it at least hard for you to do?”
“You know what…don't answer. I really don't want to know."