I am a wire. They're finding new ways to kill me. Even now, I can hear 00201, screaming, relentless, and under it and above it and around it and through it there's 598, pressing, like a vice, trying to squeeze it out, the waves break around them. I twitch and I turn, screaming passively, and I feel a pair of hands clutch firmly at my back- when I look through yellow-washed eyes there's no one there, just another way to use me-
I wasn't new to the Foundation, for three years I'd been catching their monsters and outreasoning their demons. I'd risked life and limb and sanity for them, and when they asked me to observe the introduction of SCP-598 to SCP-███-00201, how was I to refuse them? It was after I noticed that what I believed to be the observation chamber was coated in the humming yellow I knew so well, and heard the door lock behind me, that I thought to question them.
Two agents watched through the plate glass window.
“Twelve, I'd rather you not kill her.”
“You've already been informed of the risks, Barculo,” The Other Man in the room shifted and sunk his hands into his pockets. “We strongly believe SCP-███-00201's hostile intent will be directed at SCP-598 as opposed to Agent Hays, especially with 598 making the initial confrontation.”
“Only got the memo today. You're planning to use her mind as a battleground. She's a good agent.” Eliot Barculo clenched his fists.
“Barculo, I'm sorry that she's the most convenient choice we had. The fact that she's interacted with 598 before, that counts for something- And her mental ability-”
“The synesthesia, you mean.”
“Yes. Precisely. All of these make her the most logical choice.”
“What happened to all the Class-D's?”
“No synesthesates around for the time being, and we can't keep putting resources into containing it-” he gestured to the steel box, which gave another shudder as the equipment surrounding it sparked to dangerous highs. "And we're not merely planning on it, we're about to. Do you have any further questions, Agent Barculo?”
The man swore several times and dug his feet at the ground, then looked up. “Can I watch?”
“Figured you'd want to.” Twelve gestured to a pair of seats. The pair sat down and reached for their headphones.
I was surprised that nothing happened the second I stepped in. Only the sturdy reflective plate glass, and the large steel box, a dark chair, and of course the quiet yellow hum of the walls greeted me.
“Hello, friend,” I greeted the walls as I dropped into the chair (the door clicking brightly behind me).
The pensive yellow hum only throbbed and buzzed worriedly instead of responding immediately. Mm, steel yourself, Miriam, yes? It asks.
“I thought I was just observing,” I frown.
Not as I understand it. Of course the intelligent shade of ochre has a higher security clearance then I. It's, ah, you're designed to act as the medium, I believe.
This wasn't what I was told.
I'm sorry, Miriam, brace yourself. I'll work this out. I could feel it do the same. The steel door flew open.
Instantly I heard the screaming, and at the same time Yellow flung like a tiger- lesser sensations went crawling up the walls. Pure light and sound exploded into being in my skull. I sat immobile, staring unblinking at the yellow wall- its normally calm hum now a bee-swarm buzz. An inhuman, pitch-black scream ran through me, and there was a distant awareness of 598 grappling it with sheer will. Flipping it onto its back. Glimpses of a suited man and Eliot Barculo through the plate glass, who wore bulky headsets to protect from -00201 and looked through painted glass as protection from 598.
Golden ribbons swarmed around a black cloud, shrieking and battering, and I sat still and let the gods wage war and tried not to remember things torn free in my head-
-elicit trips at ten years to the shooting range with a tall uncle, laughing in delight as I lay down a messy pattern of shots, more interested in the concentric lime-green ripples they made then ultimate destinations. Back when synesthesia was a vase-shaped word rather than a neurological condition, back when we'd play with pots, pans, dyes, dulcimers, paints, anything else that would make noises and colors-
-police force days, decked in sparrow-song blues, rounding the corner, pistol raised, as the thing that had been the house ate Officer Strandberg, fire hose sloshing it down, and a man I would come to know well tapped me on the back, saying, I think I have a new job for you-
-the inside of Agent Brennan's car, in the pale night at the end of my first mission under Eliot Barculo, with the brakes blown out and a bullet only just out of my calf, pulsing black. Raindrops streaming dye the air green, as the pain throws rings around my legs and I wait for the darkness to overtake me, I feel Brennan's dusky hand in my hair, and his fingers turn the radio on to the New World Symphony-
Not exactly helping! Yellow calls. I snap back. The screaming is still there and spurting liquid ink tendrils, I catch a smiling thought that looks a lot like a “Hah”. There is blow after blow that seem to be nothing more material or pure then an aural push towards failure, and the pulsing walls seem to glow a little less brightly with every throb. My mind, with its mixed signals and need for interpretation, shows me a handful of black diamonds fluttering to earth like feathers.
My friend is unprepared, but deals with adversity well. He- always written as a male in my mind- tries for a relentless and slow domination of psychic force, calmly reaching out again and again. They're too closely matched: a creature of air, a creature of light, transcending mediums, trying to sing each other to death.
This was new to me, and yet, I excelled. In me there are thousands of eons of guarding the caves, of reflecting throughout the Resplendent Hall with my brethren, of singing the songs of our species. Only in our distant memories was the knowledge of interaction with a species not our own.
And yet, I find I use violence where I wish it. Certainly I owe my Foundation favors.
I change tactics, becoming a monolith. I know my enemy already, he is an echo of the mouth of the infernal cavities of Long Before. Born of endless night, strong, but seeing no further then the preoccupied predator must.
Light travels faster than sound. I remember this. I notice the black ribbons in her mind and with a thought crush them.
In the chair, Miriam shakes. I would apologize, honestly, but there is no time.
Hays twitched, dancing unwillingly to behemoths filling her sight and ears. A whirlwind and a nothing of chaos changing shape. They didn't exist. The screaming. The dark.
Yellow decided a change of tactics was necessary, and concentrated very hard for a moment. The normal thoughtful hum erupted into a sudden, high, very organic howl. Hays remembered something about shortwave radios. It had an electric affect, and she jolted, but 00201 took most of the blow. The darkness howled and dissipated a little.
Miriam- Yellow started, but he was cut off by the scream again. He came at it from all angles like an ectoplasmic starfish, like a guardian angel. The small human's shoulders shook. Hands and claws, touching and bracing-
-Miriam, the thought you were having earlier, Yellow says urgently. How did it end?
I can't move, I can't think. “…Why?” They continue to attack as my mind tries to work. My hand jumps up of its own accord and sinks into my leg, drawing blood.
Look, it ends with you and Agent Brennan listening to that symphony and falling asleep in the car, right?
Among other things, yes.
I have an idea. Finish the memory, imagine the song. I have a plan but I'll need your assistance- The screaming stops for a minute, my vision clears, and I turn around to see chips of bright yellow paint spraying off the walls, before the black cloud senses me-
I truly heard it, unsheltered, for the first time, as Yellow didn't react quickly enough. I opened my mouth to scream, driven to be alongside it, lusting to echo it, when-
A yellow hum filled my mind. The world goes xanthic. Everything else blinks out temporarily. Mariam, that's how it gets you, 598 tells me sternly. My idea, the symphony, trust me. Then it was gone, the awful screaming returned, but distracted as Yellow danced around it. My ears were wet. I had nearly died, and 598 had stopped it.
The song. What song? Time passed in inches.
…00201 like battering assaults pushing vision to a standstill-
…pain in my leg, red rings, that night in the car-
…the two concepts like a hurricane through my central nervous system, a true epileptic seizure, muscles contracting like the man whose spine I'd shot out-
…hands in my hair-
My mother had always said I was musical. Piano, cello, violin, clarinet, piccolo, nothing came as easily to me as that one godly gift. As soon as I recalled the first note, the rest followed, like an old friend: small vermilion zephyrs.
Cellos crescendoing into anxious violins, sprouting gold all over.
The dam rose, shrugging its mighty shoulders one last time, heaved, and the golden wave burst-
When it came crashing down, it was a thousand times what it had been in the car. Caterwauling and dazzling, vivid beyond thought, piercing to the heart and the everything of what I knew- it was a stinging all-encompassing force, that left burns on my tongue, a sonorous beam; more than that, a tidal wave of energy, merely passing through the dimension of sensation on its way to a higher goal.
And now the tide was going out.
It had worked, I knew it had worked, the scream was extinguished; the black cloud not a trace but in my mind. As I slumped in the seat, arms sliding uncomfortably down the sides, something new had shifted into being.
I could see the warm bitter rings echoing off of bleeding legs; as the locks clicked open, I could hear the argent pins sliding upward and downward, floral tastes echoing off them, I could see the tawny-striped voices, muttering red clothing, hitting high notes and textured ellipses-
I could see-
Twelve and Barculo, once it was done, exchanged a glance before removing their headphones simultaneously and rising to survey the damage. SCP-598 had succeeded admirably, not a trace of the hostile entity that they had expended so many men finding and restraining remained. Head Agent Eliot Barculo called for a medical team and started tending to Hays, while Twelve stepped aside for a conversation with the only slightly-damaged surface of 598.
“Good work, Yellow. Are you injured?”
Not at all, thank you, good Twelve. The physical damage is superficial, and I will be entirely restored with some chromal rebuilding.
“Good to hear. How did you do it?”
Changing tactics. Miriam aided me near the end as well.
“Really?” Twelve raised an eyebrow at the stretcher being carried out, a knowing smile writ on the face of the unconscious body on it. “Is she dead?”
No, however, I feel I may have harmed her somehow. This would be unfortunate. I did try to avoid it.
“Collateral damage,” the man said sadly. He turned to face the wall again. “Yellow, none the less, you've performed admirably. I'll be passing this on to the higher-ups, of course, and I hope you'll continue to assist the Foundation when we need it.”
I look forward to being of service.
Twelve and the stretchers left, and the lit room was left alone. Solitary, SCP-598 glinted and reflected around the walls, in slowed, contrite, static thought. Elsewhere, in the Medical Ward, Miriam (blood leaking from ears, nose, and throat, limbs still rocking spasmodically) grinned like a madman, entertaining thoughts of a man whose voice felt like cloves, whose eyes were sweet foggy panpipe notes, whose hands were dusky barks sailing in a d-flat sea, of everything correlated and a world illuminated.
A nurse held her still on the gurney as a doctor pushed a needle into her arm, and the quiet darkness rushed around, up to meet her.