"And so," Dr. Samet continued from his wheelchair, his right foot still in a cast after that terrible, accidental firearm discharge, "We must now proceed with the application of-" He stopped, staring at Dr. Bright in some kind of horror. "What is that?"
Bright smiled calmly, as his assistants continued to aide him in the final calibrations. Laying on the table before him, in pieces at the moment, were the three pieces of a rather ugly looking metal staff. Wires and cables trailed off at odd angles, and continued to look more bizarre the more the Lucky Bunch fiddled with it. "It's a staff, Samet."
"I can see that much, 963," the doctor, without a clue, snarled. "But why do you have it here?"
Firmly grasping the now assembled staff, Bright turned on Samet with a scowl. "My name is Dr. Bright. And this is to attract 682's attention. How were you planning on getting SCP-963 onto 682?"
"Well, ah, a launcher, and, ah, hmmm…"
"Exactly. With this prototype, I shall endeavor to anger it, to the point which it comes for me. From there it will be child's play to get 963 inside it."
Samet nodded. "Of course, of course, 963 - but what does it do?"
Some people never learn. And other people continually insult a vengeful immortal who holds no regard for human life. The really stupid people feed Bright straight lines. "This." He raised the cane to point in a vaguely Samet direction, and pressed a button. Immediately, a purplish arc of electricity arched through the air, grounding itself in Samet's injured foot. The doctor screamed, desperately rolling his wheelchair backwards, even as the bandages caught fire. "Hmm, Dr. Samet, it appears as if you have some sort of metal in your cast. Wonder how that happened."
As Samet's lackies hurried to put their boss out, Bright turned to Dr. Light and nodded. "All right Sophia, we know what we're doing. What're the current odds?"
Dr. Light checked her clipboard, frowning. "2-1 it doesn't work. 5-1 you get in it and rampage across the site. Side bet on that one, even odds are that you use said rampage to kill Samet over there. 10-1 says something goes wrong, and you get stuck inside 682. 20-1 odds say that this goes bottoms up, and we all end up as you, somehow."
"I like those odds."
"963!" Samet yelled, as his foot smoldered. "You! You, I! You-!"
"Dr. Samet. Understand this." Bright stalked over to tower over the other researcher. "I am about to be put in the most dangerous SCP we've ever discovered. I will offer you this deal then. If you cover your feet in barbecue sauce, I will stop at them."
And with that, Bright turned, and stalked down to the staging floor.
Jack Bright awoke with a headache, his memories fuzzy. There had been something… Barbecue sauce, maybe? No, something else… Oh yes, the memories came flooding back to him, him standing there with his staff, the beast charging, lightning and teeth, blood and pain, and that horrible indescribable feeling as he jumped hosts.
But now- Things weren't right. He could feel cold stone beneath his back, which implied that he was lying down. And he could hear other people moving around him, so there was a good chance he was still in the Foundation. And there was always barbecue sauce. Wait, what?
"Jack? We really need you right now sir." A familiar voice called from above. Slowly, Jack opened his eyes, his face fixed in a pre-emptive frown. Standing over him, in a rather strange looking chain mail hauberk, was a familiar looking Mexican man. Something about him-
"I know you, don't I?" The other man leaned down, helping Jack to his feet.
"Not really sir. Please, you have to come with me." His grip on Jack's arm was firm, his other hand holding firmly to a long staff. Jack stopped, suddenly, watching the other people moving past. All of them were dressed the same, a chain mail hauberk with gold rings in a circle over the heart, surrounding a ring of red rings. All of them held the same staff.
"You're D-113. You're the first, aren't you?" Jack couldn't help but stare. It had been a long time since that first one.
"Well, the answer to that is yes and no. And yes. But not really. Uhm. Right, we do it your way, stupidly blunt. You see sir, none of this is real." As he gestured at the castle walls, and the people around him.
"Well, duh. Credit me with a little sense."
"Oh, okay, right, that makes things, uhm, easier. See, your mind, it isn't ready for this. It can't, uhm, really deal with how 682 sees things. So, it came up with this as a defense. Only, it's not just your mind. 963 is involved, and somehow, bits and pieces of the leftovers of those you've taken over are being animated, to help. Only, it's still part of you. Uhm. Does that make sense?"
"Not even a little bit." As they pushed through a great wooden door. "But I do understand where you're com…ing… from." Jack stared upwards at the sky, for once, without a voice. Above him was the thing, the creature, what we in our limited scope called SCP-682. And it was glorious. A beautiful, nightmarish, disturbing yet intriguing creature, spread across the sky, the ground, the horizon, hell, everything that wasn't Jack and his castle. Barbecue Sauce.
"I, well, then, whoo." Jack frowned more deeply, as several armored people suddenly ran up beside him. Even the old man was there, although he shouldn't have been. He could feel the impact lessen even as they stood there. "Right, sharing the load, got it." He wrenched his eyes away from the… thing, turning to his own ramparts. A twisted, mangled castle that Escher would be proud of loomed above and below him, and from every corner, pieces of him stood, staffs in hand, striking out against the barbecue sauce creature. Purple lightning arched here and there, playing across the surface of the beast, carving inroads, yoking it to his command.
"We're stuck, aren't we?"
"Have to figure out a way to get out. We have some barbecue sauce to serve up."
"Figure of speech. Look, I need…" Bright racked his memories, oh so many of them. The answer would be there, somewhere. And then it was there, standing in front of him. Researcher Class 2 Damon Smith, promoted to Dr. Bright in the line of duty. Damon had always had a fear of being enclosed. And that would get them out of here.
"Come on, Damon, take that staff, and link up! Remember how it feels, to be in small spaces. Locked in, no one to hear you, how to get out…" The apparition before Jack raised its staff, as his limbs trembled in fear. A line of energy lashed out from the staff, scoring a long line in the creature above them.
And it began to change. From the inside, the effects were hard to tell, but everyone there could feel it. Something different was happening. The Dragon was moving.
Jack couldn't help but laugh. "BARBECUE SAUCE!" he called out - one of the absolute worst battle cries ever spoken. He wrenched the staff from Damon's hands, not even noticing as he pushed the poor researcher over the edge, not caring as a mouth of the beast snapped up the helpless researcher.
Lines of energy, a mental projection of Jack's control over 682, lashed out in force from the castle construct. He could feel that it was doing his will, doing what he told it to do. He knew some part of his brain was actually inside the creature, controlling it, seeing through its eyes, but he also knew he could never hope to understand how it saw the world. So, down here, he fought a pitched battle, using metaphor and simile to act in his stead.
But it wasn't to last. Even as he found himself filled with the knowledge that he had done what he wanted to do, the dragon fought back. Its ferocious claws ripped into the castle, shattering walls. Its foul breath played along the walls, sending body-forms reeling, tumbling back into the safety of 963. Jack knew he could not last.
With the last of his mental will, he set the creature back, commanded it to return, and then he too retreated to the safety of his nightmares.
Bright could feel the soft texture of a bed beneath him. Cotton sheets from the feel of it, so not his own bed. Thin mattress, the smell of disinfectant, the leather straps on his wrists, neck, chest and feet… Yes, he must be in Medical.
"Subject is waking up, Overseer."
Bright opened his eyes slowly, aware of the feel of cold metal pressed against his temple. His eyes flicked first to the figure holding the gun, one of the Overseer's goon squad, none of them actually worth remembering. Then, to the sound of the voice, the lovely Dr. Light doing her medical duties. Finally, to the last remaining space by his bed, filled with a monitor screen, on which a black outline of a person could be seen.
A mechanical voice, carefully filtered to remove any identifying markers, spoke to him. "Please identify yourself." With or without identifying markers, Bright still knew who was behind the outline.
"Dr. Jack Bright, Level five Researcher, Personnel Director of far too many sites, yada yada yada."
"Who is your sister?" The voice continued. Bright knew it was the questions that needed to be asked, to make sure he was himself.
"Claire Pierce. And, in answer to your next three questions, 31-20-35, the Ebola virus, and purple monkey dishwasher."
"Identity confirmed. Dr. Bright, what is your last memory?"
Bright thought hard for a long moment, then spoke. "I was… going up against 682, wasn't I? Yeah, I had the staff and everything! Guess he didn't snap up 963, huh?"
"Dr. Bright, SCP-963 was in contact with SCP-682 for the better part of a week. For the first 36 hours, SCP-682 remained in a comatose state. Shortly thereafter, it proceeded to grow large claws, and tunnel its way through its containment, causing a massive breach. Incredibly, SCP-682 only injured one researcher, and then allowed itself to be meekly shepherded back to its containment. 682 paced its room for another 24 hours, at which point it again went comatose. 10 hours ago, SCP-963 was excreted from SCP-682s brow. A team retrieved it, and immediately placed it upon the body you now wear. You have not stirred since. Can you add anything to this?"
"Sorry Six, I got nothing. Although…" Bright frowned, and licked his lips. "Why do I taste barbecue sauce?"
Someplace else entirely, the dragon curled around its newest acquisition. Such a tiny little man thing. It had never thought that the foul creatures could possibly teach it anything. But one of them had.
The beast circled around the memories of Damon Smith, absorbed them, made them its own. And, in learning how to fear, it added one more tool to its vast arsenal, one more way that it could change itself, and finally eliminate the scourge it called man.
Coming (Relatively) Soon!
Chapter Three: Confessions of a Teenage SCP