Agent Silas walked through the bazaar, taking special care not to touch any of the passers-by. You heard stories about people coming down with horrible diseases after spending a day in a Luna market. He'd had his inoculations against the more common ones, like the clockworks, but you could never be too careful. He'd known a guy who'd burst into flames a few days after visiting Luna. It was one of the biggest human colonies in the galaxy, and so it was a melting pot for all sorts of contagions and viruses.
For a few seconds, the street was plunged into darkness as a sky-train passed overhead. The crowds around him didn't even seem to have noticed, being that used to the dark. Silas hurried up: he wanted to be out of this godforsaken place as soon as possible. He turned the corner and stopped dead in his tracks. Fucking Homeworlders.
They were gathered all around a big model of the Homeworld, listening to a preacher who wore a large winter coat and a necklace made of pebbles. The crowd was mainly human with a few Precursors on the fringes here and there. Precursors were a rare sight, but usually the most devout and radical of the Homeworlders. It has been their Homeworld for longer, Silas supposed. That wasn't to say every Precursor was a Homeworlder, though. Silas had once known a Precursor who was devoutly Catholic. Good guy, they'd taken out a nest of schizo-forms together.
Silas pulled his hat down over his head - there was always a chance a Homeworlders might recognize him from one of their Desecration Broadcasts. A leaflet fluttered through the air and landed at Silas' feet:
WOE TO THE DESECRATORS
TO THE MEMBERS OF SCP WHO HAVE RELEASED THEIR HORRORS ONTO OUR HOMEWORLD!
In the year of the Homeworld 2193, the Desecrators, in their pride and folly released the Horrors they kept onto our Homeworld and doomed all who stood upon it!
TO THE RAVAGES OF THE MINT ZONE AND TO THE DEVIL THAT KILLS ALL WHO LOOK UPON IT!
Those of the Colonies were forced to look in horror at what the Desecrators had wrought!
TO THE BEAST THAT NEVER DIES AND TO THE ROT OF THE ELDER!
The Desecrators continue in their sins on far-flung worlds, hidden from the eyes of true believers!
TO THE SPHERE OF DEAD THAT FILLS THE SKY OF MEXICO AND TO THE OCEAN OF BLOOD FROM WHICH NEW HORRORS SPILL!
Fear not! Every last Desecrator shall be purged from their hidden nests and forced to face the justice of the Homeworld!
WOE TO EVERY LAST TRAVESTY INFLICTED ON OUR HOMEWORLD!!!
Typical 'woe to the Homeworld' doctrine. Some photographs of the SCPs down on the Homeworld, some old pictures of Homeworld landmarks.
"My brothers and sisters!" the preacher was shouting. "We have been torn from the Homeworld, from our Homeworld, by the whisperers and agents of the Desecrators! In their pride, they have let their Horrors destroy it! Woe to the men of O5, the instigators of this destruction! Woe to the men they command, the Foundation heretics and the Foundation dreadlords, for in their mindless obedience they doomed our Homeworld!"
"Woe!" the crowd echoed.
"But fear not, dear flock!" said the preacher, raising his arms high in the air. "For the day approaches when the Church of the Homeworld will take us all back to our rightful place in the universe! The Homeworld will be purged clean of the Horrors that pollute it! Our children will laugh and play in the rain-forests of Antarctica and the lush green fields of Norway! This, the Church promises to you all!"
The crowd was chanting now, a standing ovation to the preacher. "Father New Zealand! Father New Zealand!"
With the stuff you had to deal with, being an Agent wasn't easy, but the Homeworlders only made the job harder. If they'd figured out who Silas was, the crowd would probably have descended on him and ripped him to shreds. That, or use him for the center of one of their Desecration Broadcasts. They always needed executions for those.
Still able to hear the ravings of the preacher, Silas finally reached the address he had been given and entered.
The room he found himself in was grey and bare. Most likely he was one of the only people to ever step foot in here. Two others were already there, looking like guards from the way they were positioned. One was a human man, his only distinguishable trait being the misshapen thing on his face that might have been a nose. The other one was a Begriven, standing a good foot over Silas. It walked on three legs and its thick body was framed by six stick-like arms on each side. Its long, curved neck ended with an almost comically small head. The Begriven regarded Silas impassively.
The man spoke first. "Do you have me?"
Silas nodded and placed his bag gently on the ground, careful not to damage the item within. He opened it up and lifted it out. It was rather burnt and dented, but still recognizably a toaster. "Where's Marshall?"
The man tapped at a device on his wrist. Mr. Marshall, or at least a hologram of him, appeared in the room. He was a young man with a symmetrical plastic face, wearing a black suit. He rubbed his hands together.
Silas didn't like working with Mickey and Dee, but here in the Colonies, the Foundation didn't have that many options. With the heavy Homeworlder presence, it was almost impossible for SCP retrieval to take place. The O5's had decided that trading something relatively harmless for information on something definitely harmful was worth it, and so Silas was going along with it. His was not to reason why.
"Mr. Silas!" Marshall's voice sounded cheery, but distorted and far away. Problems with the signal, most likely. "Glad you could make it. I see you've brought me."
"Yes," said Silas, starting to feel suspicious. It was kind of funny, when you thought about it: it was common knowledge that Marshall couldn't be trusted, yet people always seemed to trust him anyway. Desperation drove you to stupidity, and Silas was beginning to realize that agreeing to this deal had been pretty damn stupid. "Where's the data you promised?"
Marshall ignored him. "You've met my friends here, I see. This is Henry," he said, gesturing to the man with the busted nose. He turned to the Begriven. "And this is Bountiful Splendor of the Seventh Mother. Did I get that right?"
Bountiful Splendor of the Seventh Mother clicked in the affirmative.
"I got you what you wanted, Marshall," said Silas. "All I want is the data."
Marshall furrowed his brow in a look of mock confusion. "Data? What data?"
"You know what data, Marshall. Stop playing games."
"Oh, that data. It doesn't exist, sorry. I tricked you," said Marshall, obviously struggling not to grin. The Begriven lunged forward and restrained Silas before he could make a move. "Henry, please tell Mr. New Zealand he can come in."
Henry nodded and opened the door. The preacher from the street walked in, glaring at Silas with utter contempt.
"You're sure he's a Desecrator, Marshall?" New Zealand asked the hologram.
"Oh, definitely. He tried to pay me to tell him about one of his Horrors. Can you believe that?"
"You're mocking me, Marshall," growled New Zealand. "But you're right. I've seen his face on the Broadcasts. You've received the payment, I take it?"
"You son of a bitch!" shouted Silas. "I paid you! I brought me to you!"
Marshall shrugged. "He paid more, it's nothing personal. Thanks for bringing me, though." He nodded to the toaster on the floor, then looked back up at New Zealand. "Well, you can see we've got him. We'll have him on your shuttle within the hour, and then you can take him to wherever you film those Desecration Broadcasts of yours."
New Zealand's eyes narrowed. "You are obviously not trustworthy, Marshall. You deal in Horrors and betray your customers. How do I know you will do as you say?"
Marshall grinned his fake plastic grin. "Like I said, you paid more than he did. He'll be delivered to your shuttle within the hour."
Mr. New Zealand stood in the room for a few seconds, then looked at Henry, said: "Within the hour." and left.
Silas spat on the floor. "I heard you guys were down on your luck. This isn't very dignified, is it? Not very classy?"
Marshall's face twisted in anger. "Get him out of here," he said, and the hologram vanished.
Silas felt Bountiful Splendor's grip loosening. They were going to start moving him to the shuttle any second now, but he needed to time this right.
Henry stood in front of him. "Alright," he began. "Here's how it's gonna work. You make a move, I shoot you. You say a fucking thing to anyone, I shoot you. You even try to run, I -"
Silas' hand lunged up, holding his hidden laser pistol, and shot Henry. Fragments of charred bone and meat scattered across the room. Silas kicked Bountiful Splendor away from him and started moving towards the other side of the room.
He looked back. Bountiful Splendor was already back up and moving towards him fast. Silas fired twice, wildly: the first shot clipped one of Splendor's arms, sending the tip of it flying across the room, while the second blew off its head. It screeched in rage and charged at him, knocking him off his feet. His vision blurred from the impact.
He knew he only had a few seconds before Splendor came back to its senses and finished him off. He reached wildly for a weapon, anything, finally grabbing something light, but blunt. Splendor flipped him over, its backup jaw emerging from a cavity in its chest. Silas began to hit it repeatedly with the object, sending dark green ichor splashing across the room. Splendor fell to the floor, twitching, and Silas finished it off with one last blow.
He brushed some of the green fluid off his clothes and looked down at his hand, realizing what he had been beating Splendor with. The goddamn toaster. It wasn't much more than a wrecked piece of metal covered in Begriven blood now, though. He quickly stuffed the hunk of metal into his bag, throwing it across his shoulders. Soon enough, New Zealand would come back wondering why he wasn't on the shuttle yet. He checked the room one last time, found nothing, and left.
As Silas' shuttle took off, the entertainment module picked up a Desecration Broadcast. Since they hadn't managed to get him, Silas guessed it was pre-recorded. On the screen next to the controls, a Homeworlder priest wearing an 'I Love NY' shirt was circling a bound and gagged scientist. The priest took a sheet of paper from somewhere off-camera.
"And now," he said. "I will read from Dr. Merritt's sins, as he himself wrote them."
Silas' shuttle made the initial jump out of Luna. Now he could actually see the Homeworld, the shriveled husk that it was.
"Experiment Log 18729-1!" shouted the priest. "Test 1! D-01921 entered the testing chamber and read to SCP-18729 an excerpt from The Dark of the Eyes by Fortunate Bounty of the Third Mother! Instant incineration of D-01921 ensued!"
Where Canada had once been, there was now a great red ocean. In Europe, the massive green vortex of the Mint Zone swirled, laying waste to the country once known as Germany.
"Test 2!" screamed the priest. "D-01729 entered the testing chamber and read to SCP-18729 a copy of SCP-18729's own containment procedures! Data expunged - they themselves cannot look upon their travesties! They cannot face what they have done to our Homeworld!"
The blood ocean and the Mint Zone were the biggest dangers on the Homeworld, but Silas knew that there were a thousand other anomalies, each capable of killing in horrific ways. 682, 058, 173…there were too many to list. Silas didn't think anyone would ever be able to live on the Homeworld again. Didn't know why anyone would want to.
"The Desecrators refuse to repent their transgressions! They have brought our Homeworld to death, and so we are forced to do the same to them!" With that, the priest lifted up a pistol and blasted off the scientist's head. The image of his corpse remained on the screen for a few seconds, but was then replaced by pictures and names of known Foundation members. "Stay strong, stay vigilant, my children," said the priest. "This has been Father Brazil. Goodnight."
Silas looked at the Homeworld for another second, a withered dead ball framed by the light of the sun. Then he pulled a lever, warped, and was gone.