Who Wants To Live Forever?
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Junior Researcher Sheppard was having a rough day. The machine slumped motionless in the middle of the workshop, its central control screen displaying in bright red letters: "Defense System Armed!" A circular opening in its chest waited patiently for another incorrect activation sequence to dispense a second canister of tear gas into the room.

"Just hold onto this control lever here in the cockpit," they'd said, one of the researchers even grabbing onto the lever to show it was safe. He only grew concerned when another one of them approached wearing an insulated rubber suit. There would not be an extra one for him.

His recommendation of 'asking the head researcher on the project for advice' was dismissed quite rudely with arguments such as 'he's a dog' and 'we don't allow animals in Level-34-B,' which he'd found to be unsatisfactory.

"Don't worry, I figure I can crack the defense override in about thirty seconds. Just hold on really tight." The researcher told him as he produced needle-nosed pliers and a screwdriver. Sheppard's brow furrowed worriedly as the man brought the tools down to the walker's control panel. He shut his eyes, expecting the worst.

But nothing happened.

"Hey, it worked! We fried the defense override!"

Sheppard opened his eyes, sighing in relief. "That was the last of the defense overrides, ri—"

He was cut off by a loud metallic clunk. All eyes went to the researcher sitting in the machine's cockpit, who had thrown a lever, disgorging a hefty minigun from the lower half of the apparatus. She looked back at them, sheepishly. A moment passed. "So, uh, should we pull this out too?"

"Yeah. Yeah, we probably should."

By the time the team broke for lunch, one minigun, two antipersonnel machine guns, sixteen surface-to-air missiles, and a boxing glove attached to a spring sat in a crate labeled 'dangerous materials' for security to come pick up.


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"Project Name: Persephone. Project Lead: Kain Pathos Crow. Project Aims: To create an entity, object, or event capable of-"

Beep!

Crow stopped his diction; his computer beeped with a new report from the team working on Project Lazarus.

He read the latest update, sent by a junior researcher assigned to the project. While the report looked promising enough, Crow had long since learned to read between the written words and discern the hardships behind the scenes. He let out a low chuckle as the report glossed over the 'unforeseen self-preservation mechanisms' in place; he had entirely forgotten about those. Seeing as the report failed to mention anyone getting grievously injured, it was safe to assume all had gone well.

He had lamented his lack of energy to oversee the restoration of his own project, but Bright had pulled some strings and assured him that the most capable team at Site-19's disposal were on the case. The project had gotten bogged down early on; the waiting list for tests involving SCP-914 was vast, and even a site director's power had its limits. He had to make do with weekly updates from the team.

His temporary office at Site-19 was much more sterile than he'd grown accustomed to. Modern, efficient desks and furniture replaced the cozy wooden frames he had come to love. The only piece of home he'd been able to bring had been his computer; he didn't dare leave it behind. After all, not many computers were outfitted for canine use.

He started as his office door slid open. His paw shot up to hit a key on his modified keyboard, saving, encrypting, and hiding progress on his secret project. He looked up just in time to see the wide smile of an old acquaintance coming through the open door. Crow was sure that he was just imagining the frigid breeze that blew in alongside him.

"Clef. Fancy seeing you here. Shouldn't you be out somewhere trying to kill something weird?"

"That's exactly what I'm doing here. How many talking dogs do you see on a daily basis?" Clef reached towards his hip with his left hand, his exact actions obscured by a lab coat.

"What are you getting at, Alto? I'm sure you didn't come here just to say hi."

"You know perfectly well what I'm getting at." Clef pushed his hat up out of his eyes with his other hand and stared intently, his mouth curling into a sneer that made him seem for all the world like a cat with a cornered mouse. "You've been here over a month to oversee a new project, but you haven't been down once to check on its progress." The subtle shift in his tone raised Crow's hackles.

"Hah, well, Jack put his best team on it. I'd probably only get in the way." It was difficult, but not impossible, for a dog to smile disarmingly, as it turned out. Crow was thankful he had no nervous sweat to betray him. He stifled his desire to pant.

"Now that, I believe." Clef nodded along, then tapped his chin pensively. "The thing that doesn't add up is that you haven't accessed any files relevant to the project."

"Well, like I said…"

"In fact, as far as I can tell, you've only accessed a single document since you've been at the site. Tell me, Kain, what exactly is so interesting about SCP-485?"

Shit. Perhaps he hadn't been as careful as he'd thought in hiding his research from prying eyes. 485 was the first on his list of anomalies relevant to Project Persephone.

"Well. You know. I'm just curious about how Omega-K has interacted with some of the anomalies we have contained here."

"Mmmhm. And you found out it doesn't work."

"It hasn't been tested since…"

"It. Doesn't. Work. I looked over the old autopsy reports myself. It induces cardiac arrest, that's all."

Crow's eyes narrowed slightly. He'd seen the autopsy reports himself during his snooping; complete cessation of all biological functions had been the determined 'cause' of death in each case. He didn't press the issue.

"Besides," Clef continued after a moment, "This is normalcy now. O5 directive. No need to go digging around further into anomalies like that, right?"

"Yeah. I guess curiosity got the better of me."

"Good." He smiled. "It's not necessary for the O5's to hear about a tenured professor's curiosities. I'll make sure it doesn't wind up on their radar, because we're friends. But," - his smile vanished so quickly Crow wondered if it had ever actually been there. - "This little curiosity streak needs to end here. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it does much worse to the dog." He gave a cheeky wink as his left hand finally reappeared from within his lab coat, his index and thumb mimicking a gun. He pointed at Crow.

Crow sat motionless, his mind spinning for long after the specter of Alto Clef left him alone in his unfamiliar office.

His paw reached forward, tapping a button which recognized his carpal pad and activated the computer once more. He leaned forward, his retinas being scanned by the computer. After a brief delay, the warm colors of his base desktop disappeared in favor of a very basic and bland secondary and very secret operating system. He stared at the screen for a moment, pondering whether or not he dared open his secret project again.


"Wakey wakey, sleepyhead." Bright stood over Crow, who was lying in the circle of cushions on the couch in his office.

"C'mon, Jack, it's… three in the morning."

"I can come back later if you like. I just figured you might want to know the team just sent up word that Project Lazarus is complete."

It was surprising how quickly the old dog could spring fully awake. "Finally!"

"What do you mean, 'finally'," Bright asked as he grabbed the handles of Crow's wheelchair and pulled it into position for his old colleague to move to it. "It's only been like…" He checked his watch. "A month and a half."

Kain busied himself with moving from his comfortable ring of pillows to the chair, so he would have something to do besides glaring at Jack.

"You've been cooped up in here for the past couple weeks, anyways. I've been missing you at the cafeteria. Something on your mind?"

"Hm, no, just… just getting old, I guess." In truth, he'd spent nearly every waking moment since his unexpected visit working out a way to browse the database under Clef's, and the O5's, radars.

"Hah, well you won't have to worry about that for much longer. I've had a peach suspended in a vat of 447's slime since the late 80's, and it hasn't aged a day. A tank full of that stuff is gonna be the Cadillac of immortality. Trust me, I'd know." Jack wheeled his old friend leisurely into the hallway, nearly abandoned at this hour. "So you're sure it doesn't have anything to do with Alto's little visit?"

Kain turned in his chair to look up at his friend, curiously. "Wh… did he mention that to you?"

"Nah. Cameras everywhere. I make it a point to know where he is at like, literally any given instant. He's… Well, he's Clef. You know. So, what did he want to talk about?"

"He just had some questions about the project."

"Oh yeah? Which one?"

"Hm? Project Laz—"

"'cos it couldn't be Lazarus. I gave him the full documentation for it."

"Wel—"

"Could it have something to do with you snooping into some of the deadliest… well, previously deadliest anomalies we have documented?"

"Jack…"

"But what's most curious is how you got so interested in 2935 and 4009 after Clef paid you a visit. Wouldn't you agree?"

They shared in a silence, approaching an elevator. Bright pressed his keycard to the electronic scanner, which beeped in response. He pulled the chair to a stop, glancing around and seeing no one else, he knelt down and turned the chair to face his old friend.

"Kain. Buddy. You've got to believe me. I'm on your side here. But you've got to tell me what you're thinking. I can't keep all of the access logs hidden if I don't know which ones are going to be connected to next. It's a pretty huge stroke of luck he only found one before I got the rest purged."

Crow sighed. Perhaps this was for the best. He was beginning to realize that this would be beyond his ability to achieve alone in secret. And of all people, Bright might be the one person that he truly could trust with this. Crow turned his head from the elevator's slowly opening doors.

"Alright, Jack. You got me… How familiar are you with the myth of Persephone?"

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