Thunder, Part 1
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In Site-19, the demonstration was about to begin. The woman sat in her hospital chair expectantly, watching her observers, waiting to die.

But first, the arguments.

Until today, Agent John Irons had never seen the face of an Overseer. Supposedly, no two Overseers were ever in the same place at the same time. And yet, here they were: O5-6, O5-7, and O5-8. Sitting across from a small battalion of doctors, agents, and one SCP in her designated testing area.

"I'm willing to listen to concerns, Dr. Lieber," O5-7 said. She was a fat woman, maybe South Asian, in a green pantsuit. "But I'm sure you're not just interrupting our demonstration in order to whine at me."

She was smiling. Her smile was… off. It was the smile of someone incredibly, monstrously powerful, and it bled something like malice, a kind of caprice that Irons couldn't quite place and wasn't sure he wanted to.

Dr. Lieber balked and stepped back. "I apologize, Overseer. I…" He coughed, as if to complete the sentence, then sat down next to the other doctors and was quiet.

Irons couldn't keep his eyes off the other O5s.

O5-6 stood at the side of the room to O5-7's left, having declined an offered seat. Wearing that white cowboy hat. O5-6 had a reputation as a man of action, but he'd said barely three sentences since the meeting had begun.

That left O5-8, a comparatively ordinary-looking terse white man, sitting next to O5-7, unsmiling, silent. He was less intimidating than his companions, but he still made Irons shudder a little. Irons always found the concept of the Overseers horrifying; thirteen mere humans with infinite sway over an organization like the Foundation. And that's if you ignored the rumors…

Irons had heard more than one person say that the only thing worse than thirteen humans arbitrarily ruling the Foundation was thirteen anomalies. Thirteen serial killers running the world's biggest prison.

One of O5-8's retinue, a bald woman, whispered in his ear. O5-8 nodded, then spoke up. "Please, continue, Dr. Lieber," he said. "Since you were speaking already."

"Well," Lieber said, "I just don't think 1985 is an appropriate candidate for Alpha-9. She's never been used for this purpose. We don't know — we can't know — how reliably she'll perform as a … as a super soldier. I like 1985. But I know there's always something we might not understand. With any SCP object, no matter what it is…" He stole a glance at 1985, who could certainly hear him from the testing area. "Well, it's still an SCP. You do know what I mean?"

O5-7 seemed entertained. "I think you're fortunate we didn't invite Dr. Bright to this briefing."

Bright, of course. A major Foundation director with an actual SCP designation.

Lieber murmured something about how he was very sorry if he caused any offense.

"1985 has a perfect kill switch, doesn't she?" O5-7 asked. "All we need to do is press a button, and she turns off like a light switch. And loses her immortality until we turn her back on. What could be more controllable than that?"

Kill switch. That had been redacted from the version of 1985's file Irons had read. The Overseers clearly didn't mind being careless with information security here and there.

"A kill switch that almost killed her the last time we experimented with it," Lieber said. "Agents may be unwilling to activate her kill switch when it may result in losing the SCP object entirely."

"True," O5-7 said. "But at least we won't have to nuke a facility to get rid of her."

Lieber shrugged, and looked down.

"What do you think, Dr. Gears?" O5-7 asked. "Is SCP-1985 a good match for Mobile Task Force Alpha-9?"

Irons turned his attention to the group facing the Overseers. He picked out a few people he recognized: psychologist Dr. Simon Glass and researcher Dr. Charles Gears. Jonathan Nardieu, one of the gung-ho directors of Alpha-9, standing in for Sophia Light. He hadn't said a single thing this whole interview. He looked abashed, like he'd been yelled at. Next to him, the director of Site-19, Tilda Moose (those fucking code-names). Assisting her, Dr. Blaire Roth.

Blaire was an old friend of his. She'd risen substantially in the Foundation recently. Their assignment to Alpha-9 was the first time they'd been assigned together in years. He was looking forward to working with her again.

"Based on the parameters established for me," Gears said, "I do think SCP-1985 is an appropriate choice. It possesses high physical capabilities, high information intake capabilities, and is thought to be impossible to permanently terminate by outside parties. It has already received extensive combat training from Foundation task forces. Its psych profile indicates that it is considered very loyal to the Foundation."

Irons looked across the room at the subject of conversation, the woman waiting to die.

SCP-1985. She was essentially an apocalypse research device in the form of a human woman. Used to predict how SCP objects might end the world, by traveling to what were apparently alternate universes where they had ended the world.

More importantly — to Irons — she was an offshoot of Project Olympia. From another, erased timeline, where Olympia got much, much farther than it had in current reality.

Why add her to Alpha-9? She could turn into what was effectively a super-powered robot, but that only happened when she jumped into dying timelines. She was just an ordinary human, in this universe. No one had said anything about Alpha-9 being put on apocalypse exploration duty.

Irons didn't miss a glance from Moose at Gears. She looked irritated. Trouble in paradise, maybe. Moose had been one of Gears' short-lived proteges, via Agent Troy Lament, before she ascended to become Director. One of many; the man had eaten through assistants after Iceberg died, with only Lament being a consistent presence, up until he wasn't anymore.

Actually, on second thought, Irons didn't know why he was surprised that people who had to work with Gears might not exactly like him.

"Do you concur, Dr. Glass?" O5-8 asked.

Glass looked uncomfortable. "She has a higher baseline loyalty than most Foundation personnel I've interviewed," he said. "But I don't specialize in anomalous psychology. My assessments could be totally off-base."

O5-7 promptly cut in. "I recall you said something similar about Dr. Bright."

"I did," Glass said. "That wasn't a vote of no confidence in anybody but me."

"Is this a vote of no confidence?" O5-8 asked.

"No. And I hear Dr. Bjornsen, who is a specialist in anomalous psychology, signed off on 1985. I'm only… trying to caution."

"And you, Director Moose?" O5-7 smiled. "You've worked with 1985 for several years, off and on. What is your opinion?"

Moose looked wary. "My opinion is that SCP-1985 is too valuable an asset in her current role to be used as a military asset. Every day she's here performing as a member of Alpha-9 is another day we can't use her to research how the world might end."

O5-8 seemed to perk up a little. Also curious. "And anything else?" he asked. "Speak up, we're asking your opinion for a reason."

"…Yes," Moose said. "I don't like that we're putting this project in danger by putting 1985 in a situation where we may have to use her kill switch. This project is too important, and we've built it so carefully. We have gained untold valuable information from it. I don't want to see it risked. So while I disagree with Dr. Lieber's logic, I agree with his conclusions." She looked at Lieber, who looked grateful.

O5-8 grunted. "We'll take all this into careful consideration," he said. "But first we do want to see this artifact in action, for ourselves."

"Agreed," O5-7 said. "Shall we continue?"

In the open testing chamber across the room, an agent approached SCP-1985, needle in hand. He said something to her that Irons was too far away to hear. She smiled, and nodded. He injected the needle's contents into her arm, then backed off.

That was the thing about SCP-1985. She couldn't just jump to another timeline by thinking about it and glowing, superhero style. You made her travel universes by killing her. In this case, apparently by lethal injection.

They all sat there, waiting. SCP-1985 looked peaceful, but clearly awake, and clearly not dead.

Apparently Irons wasn't the only one to be surprised by this. "What's taking so long?" O5-7 asked.

"Ah," one of the other doctors said. "The intravenous injection takes a while to induce physical death."

"How long, Dr. Lang?" O5-8 asked the doctor.

"About twenty-five minutes," Dr. Lang said.

"Twenty-five?"

"We, ah." Dr. Lang pushed her glasses up his nose. It was almost adorable. "We don't have the funds for more efficient methods of termination, sir."

O5-7 cut into the conversation. "Can't you just shoot her in the head?"

"Ah…" Dr. Lang looked conflicted.

"Would that be effective, doctor?" A note of impatience was creeping into O5-7's voice.

"Possibly," Dr. Lang said. "However, there is a small chance that the bullet may ricochet and injure or even kill someone else in this area."

"A very small chance, I think," O5-7 said.

"There is also a small chance it might interfere with SCP-1985's priming."

Irons recalled reading about 1985's 'priming' process. How she targeted specific end-of-the-world scenarios to travel to. It was amusingly straightforward: she needed to be thinking very carefully about the "target", usually the SCP that she was supposed to observe ending the world. It helped if she was emotionally agitated about the topic.

Naturally, when the Foundation had first acquired her, they jumped straight to torture as their means of "emotional agitation". And only stopped when it turned out, surprise surprise, it didn't actually make her work better. SCP-1985 was one of the better-treated SCPs in the Foundation's containment… but only because they wanted to use her.

"Just how small of a chance would you estimate?" O5-7 asked.

"I—"

Irons caught movement from O5-6. He was drawing a gun, a white-handled gun, and before anyone could react, firing —

The gunshot echoed through the room. Irons glimpsed just an instant of SCP-1985 looking astonished, before her side of the room was engulfed by a flash of light.

When the light cleared, 1985 was… different. She was seven feet tall, barely fitting in the chair she was still sitting in. Her skin was now made of metallic threads. Her short braids had sprouted, gone immensely long, the locks shining like the rest of her. She had become a person of living metal, something out of a classic science fiction novel.

She also looked surprised as hell.

Irons watched her eyes blink. Jet black irises. He wished he had a closer view, but he was willing to bet that even the whites of her eyes were now metal.

No one said anything. The Overseers themselves looked curiously unmoved, though O5-8 looked a little exasperated. Several of the doctors looked like they wanted to protest, but looked at O5-6 and thought better of it. 1985 herself looked confused.

But Irons understood, now. He'd expected they were here to watch 1985 travel to another universe. As she usually did upon death: vanish from this universe, appear in another. But they'd found a way to get 1985 into her superhuman form right here, at home on this Earth.

O5-6 lowered his gun, and nodded at 1985. She looked relieved.

Irons watched her release her grip on the chair. Even from all the way across the wide room, he could see that the metal armrests were twisted and distorted where her hands had clamped onto them.

"She has the focus you were looking for," O5-6 said.

"Yes," O5-7 said. "Even a year ago, you would probably have sent her into another universe where you ended the world, Six. But now…"

"She wouldn't be able to change back and forth," Dr. Lieber said. "She's certainly improved, but if she'd had more time to react to you shooting her, Overseers, her priming certainly would have been altered, and she would have transferred to another universe. In the field, if she were killed, she would return to human form, and then if killed again… she would disappear, likely to a universe where the battle ended the world. Retrieval could take a long time."

"Certainly, certainly." O5-7 sighed. "We know very well we cannot get a perfect super-soldier. We learned that years ago with SCP-076-2. We'll settle for a few friendlier monsters." She smiled. "And this woman isn't even a monster. What could be better? Tell them to bring her back, then."

The message was relayed. 1985 walked to the back of the room and stepped into the massive piece of machinery left there. Irons watched curiously as she placed her arm in an aperture, and signaled the agent operating the machinery.

The machine whirred, and ripped 1985's arm away from her body.

There was another flash of light. When it cleared, 1985 stood in the same place as before, in her normal form, both arms intact.

Irons mentally reviewed the SCP file on 1985. …a loss of more than 10% of its body mass… The clinical explanation didn't quite live up to the visual of 1985's arm being casually ripped off.

Although it was funny. Reading the files on 1985 — apparently they'd tortured her at one point? — hadn't gotten across the reality. 1985 was a voluntary participant in this experiment. Or if not voluntary, at least consenting. That was not particularly typical for Foundation treatment of humanoid SCPs that weren't Jack Bright.

"I must question this situation," O5-8 said, as if on cue. "This SCP is being treated with far too much leniency. And with far too much personal interaction."

"I hate to disagree with you so publicly," O5-7 said. "But so long as it works, why complain?"

"I agree she's a viable Alpha-9 candidate," O5-8 said. "All the more reason someone should be assigned to investigate." He stole a glance at O5-6, who didn't seem to notice. "Whether this SCP — and other SCPs like it — are being treated appropriately, or dangerously."

"What, like a reverse Snorlison?" O5-7 waved her hand dismissively. "It doesn't matter. This is a conversation for another time. And you know it."

'Snorlison'. Now there was a name he hadn't heard in years. The others were right — the O5s were reaching really far back.

"I'm not sure what you're trying to imply," O5-8 said. He had the mannerisms of someone who wanted to say quite a lot, but wasn't quite ready. Not overtly hostile, but… testy.

"Enough," O5-6 said.

O5-8 looked away in acknowledgement. And a twinge of humiliation. Irons was pretty sure anyone here was supposed to be seeing this.

O5-7 didn't notice. "I think it's decided," she said, smiling that same smile. "With both 1985 and Agent Adams… we have our new Able."


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