Kakroom Projects II


Specimen Lumens

Item #: SCP-XXXX

Object Class: Euclid

Special Containment Procedures: Potential LUMENS are to be Hazed properly by a qualified Proctor within 24 hours of identification. Inconclusive LUMENS are to be released and amnesticized, and reacquired as becomes necessary. Conclusive LUMENS are to be remanded to Foundation custody, provided a cell at Site-223 and watched for signs of a XXXX-Tower event. Should one occur, Site staff are advised to:

  • Evacuate all non-essential personnel.
  • Notify Centre-North Regional Command to engage protocol XXXX-Vague Sweep.
  • Euthanize all unaffected LUMENS instances.

At this time, the occurrence of an XXXX-Tower event would necessitate a radical change in perspective regarding strategic perception of the LUMENS phenomenon, but the transmissions received by RHC Northwest 3-55-12455 indicate such a reversal is unlikely.

Description: SCP-XXXX is a pseudo-probabilistic phenomenon affecting an unknown percentage of the total human population, characterized by various psychic abilities manifesting from an outside source. Aforementioned subjects have been designated specimen LUMENS, and will be referred to as such for the remainder of this document.

It is estimated that the Foundation has acquired only 25% of active specimen LUMENS in the contiguous United States; however, it is also believed that only 13% of all specimen LUMENS will ever see their abilities manifest at all. It is still unknown what separates activated LUMENS from those who remain dormant. See Incident Report XXXX-3 for more information.

Individual LUMENS specimens have exhibited the following traits on multiple occasions:

  • Telepathy (99% active instances)
  • Telekinesis (87%)
  • Demanifestation (10%)
  • Remanifestation (0.34%)
  • Psychosomatic Subversion (0.2%)

Specimen LUMENS is near-indistinguishable from an a-LUMENS capable human. Unlike specimens MUTO and ORTUS, each of which precipitates natural phenomena in a measured vicinity (Hume levels and Blue-body radiation) specimen LUMENS demonstrates no quantifiable traits which could be conceivably detected and responded to en masse. Only minute, variable discrepancies in LUMENS biochemistry allow for a delineation between it and the general population, necessitating physical operations on the ground level.

Thus was the Hazing test developed, delivered by authorized Proctors to individuals reported as displaying one of the above traits. It is rendered as such in the original registration:

Vivisection of numerous specimen LUMENS has led us to believe that its capacity for low-level reality warping is biological in nature. The Siell-Riemann Identifier exam has been designed to test this theory.
1. The designated test-giver is to be provided with a baseline questionnaire consisting of simple logic-response interactions.
2. The test-giver is to be provided with a simple device measuring breath-rapidity, heart-rate, and intestinal distress.
3. The test-giver is to alter this format to be filled with non-sequitur answer-response interactions capable of evoking confusion and fear responses in the recipient.
4. The test-giver is to judge recipient's response on an arbitrary grade-point scale to be determined by this committee at a later time.
5. The recipient's passing such an exam would result in the test-giver either removing himself from the testing area and requesting assistance in subduing the newly acquired LUMENS, or collecting the specimen himself. Failure would result in the test-giver following standard amnensticization procedure.

History: Specimen LUMENS has proven to be useful in providing the Foundation with manpower capable of deterring threats beyond the reach of mundane arms and armaments. LUMENS operatives are regularly culled from the incarcerated civilian population, and have successfully been inducted into company societies and communal living.

XXXX-Tower is CIE code for an isolated loss of 200 separate LUMENS over the course of 29 months, from March 14 1984 to August 14 1986. Each LUMENS demanifested without audible feedback.

On January 10 1991 LU-114, an inactive, incarcerated LUMENS lost in the third month, remanifested in the cell they had departed. They were administered a Hazing test to confirm their LUMENS capabilities remained present.

[[collapsible show="+ Test LU-114-4" hide="- -"]]

Siell-Riemann (HAZE) Iteration 114-C
Proctor: Agent Violet-19
DTC: 2/5/91+0900 EST

Proctor: Subject 114.

Subject 114 is unresponsive.

Proctor: 114.

No change.

Proctor: Do it.

Guard Alpha-4 administers electrostatic shock. Subject 114 is unresponsive.

Proctor: If you're not going to cooperate, we'll need to end the test.

114: Ask me what you wish.

Proctor: Very well. Do you remember how it works? The questions don't matter; only your answers do.

114: I remember.

Proctor: Your dog barks at you. You flinch, and he rips out your throat. In the grass, a beetle drowns in your blood. Do you care?

114: It's sad.

Proctor: A robber shoots you in the chest, and then he shoots himself. The desert is big and hot, and looking at it exhausts you. You have his gun, and you're alone. Will you accept a long, agonizing death, or a quiet one?

114: That's not a choice.

Proctor: A beggar offers you his food. He asks you for money, so take his lunch, and shove it down his throat. Why did you do that?

114: I was tired.

Proctor: A man you hate asks you to eat his dog. You ask him to reconsider, but he doesn't. And he'll kill you if you don't. He's done it to other people. What do you do?

114: I tear out his trachea with my bare hands.

Proctor: The mine has flooded. The water is rising above your chest, and it splashes mud into your mouth. Your friends have drowned, and they have formed a hill which you can stand on, and wait for rescue - or drown later. What do you think?

114: I'm dead any way.

Proctor: A little girl has murdered her parents. She asks you to help her cut them apart, and wash in their blood. Do you help her, or find help?

114: I do neither.

Proctor: Just a moment. You've killed the little girl, and when you look at her body, you see that she was afraid when she died. Does this satisfy you?

114: I'm relieved.

Proctor: Just a moment.

Recipient Score: 220 over 119
LUMENS Status: Inconclusive
Proctor's Analysis: Subject response time averaged 2-3s. Registered fluidity on cardio, resp, in's. Outlier cmp. Answers inline with specimen trauma victims, post-op, and assets. Marking midway in light of this.

[[collapsible show="+ Interview LU-114-1" hide="- -"]]

Humanoid Interview
Code: LU-114
Interviewer: Agent Violet-19

V19: State your name.

LU-114: Mary Waller.

V19: On May 25, 1984, you exited containment through unknown means. This is your opportunity to explain yourself before your vivisection.

LU-114: Is this a hearing?

V19: Effectively, yes. Your time begins now.

LU-114: I'm not quite sure what you mean.

V19: Pull up file two, please.

Technician Elworth engages hardroom B's projector, displaying video feed on the wall of Site-22's humanoid wing dated '5/25/84.' LU-114 is standing in its domicile, awaiting roll call. Her form exits the frame several seconds into the loop. The feed begins again.

LU-114: Yes, that's me. I remember. I was taken.

V19: By who?

LU-114: A person. I'm not sure I know who he was, but we talked - very much.

V19: What of the other specimens? Where are they?

LU-114: In pain. With him.

V19: They're alive?

LU-114: Yes. He called it a padded room. I don't know where it is.

V19: What is he? Does he have a name?

LU-114: I don't know. I don't think so. You could give him one, if you wanted to.

V19: What did he want with you?

LU-114: I'm not sure. He wants us to hurt, but the why - I don't know.

V19: In your opinion, would he constitute a threat to humanity?

LU-114: In the sense that you mean, yes.

LU-114's vivisection revealed no anomalies in their physiology beyond idiosyncrasies consistent with those of specimen LUMENS. In light of their testimony, all previously acquired specimen LUMENS were placed under greater security in anticipation of the cosmic entity's countermove. Their reconfirmation test notwithstanding, regional high command deemed them valuable enough to be reclassified as an active leak following her reconstitution, and subsequently asked her to provide a more detailed account of her time in the matrix. LU-114 will be referred to by her official asset designation for the remainder of this document.

[[collapsible show="+ Transcript" hide="- -"]]

TTD - Humanoid, XXXX
Transcriber: Louise Schreiber, M.J. (temp.)
Transcribee: SA-Ω19, ("Sour Gryphon")
DTC: 7/8/91+1154 EST

Transcribee: I was seated before him. He first was a big rock on the edge sitting in black, and little white points. He asked me my name, but I didn't know it. He told me that in time I might grow to perform many great services. When I pressed him about himself he refused to give me anything of note. But - then we moved to his room. He told me it was the place where he had been born, a place where - light flickered, off the corner of my vision, and everything appeared stained.

We were walking somewhere and I so desperately wanted to return home, but he wouldn't let me. He said that it was here I would die, but I do not think he meant it the way we mean it. For a while, it certainly did not feel like I was alive. He brought me somewhere else, somewhere different. As we were walking through his room, towards wherever it was he wanted to bring me, we passed upon Paris. I had known it, from when I was a child. Uncle's restaurant. I was at the back of it. I could see out, into the city, but everything was only glowing brightly; I could not see anyone else.

I was sitting while a man, a very old man, prepared something for me in a skillet. I remember the fire, leaping up out of it and the staff, running around and around shouting at themselves. He brought the food to my table and then we sat, and I ate. I was hungry, you see, very hungry after everything. I - did not believe I was dreaming, but I think I wished I was. And this older man, he and I talked for a good while. He said he was a - brother. His brother. Struck me as odd, considering how polite and ordinary he had been. He told me that I was 'passerby.' He said he was due to give me my price of - kindness. My price of kindness.
He told me that he loved his brother, but that they had been in a fight, and he had lost, and now it was only a matter of time before the mountain gained dominion over… the son? I didn't understand. He coughed, and I realized he was sick - his essence had come all the way across the table, onto the dish he had prepared for me. The fire stopped, and everyone - looked at us. After that, I suppose my time ran out. I blacked out, woke up in miles more of little lights. Solid ground, again, and he was there - much smaller, as he had been before. The room was padded. Within the darkness were his matrices. He said it was the womb. And he told me that it was there I would die. I hope he was wrong, but I can't tell anymore.

It's all hurt after that. I can't distinguish it. Not in a way you could cope with.

I can say I left him wanting.

When asked if she would be willing to return to the matrices, Asset Gryphon responded strictly with hostility.

[[collapsible show="+ Incident Report" hide="- -"]]

Incident Report XXXX-3
DTC: 1/13/92+2133 EST
CIE Code: HL-XXXX-Y (Humanoid, Lethal, Contained)

Background: Armed Containment Area-44 had sustained 14 additional specimen LUMENS incarcerations over the course of several months. The uptick in acquired specimens led to increased awareness regarding perimeter breaches, but no other action was taken on the part of RHC.

Event: 3 individuals (each later identified as being interned at the facility as specimen LUMENS prior to the compound's security upgrade) manifested in several of the Area's holding wings. Subjects were hostile and casualties of security personnel climbed towards 100% within the first five minutes. Surveillance logarithms were tripped and Response was dispatched on alert level black. Intruders targeted individual LUMENS cells and, following a brief period of physical restraint, converted specimens into accomplices, eventually forming roaming packs focused on forcing open cell doors to the end of converting more specimens.

Response: IRAW high-altitude attack drone BU440 engaged the enemy at 2142 EST with shoot-to-kill orders issued from RHC. Unit climbed to an altitude of 45,200 m and engaged active camouflage before bombarding the facility with precision energy strikes. Within 20 minutes the affected Containment Wings of the Area had been reduced to rubble and the perimeter constructed by Response was lifted. At the cost of 100% of the compound's assets and 97.8% of its personnel, the threat was declared neutralized at 0900 EST. Relevant authorities are advised to refer to 'A44RIR' for a total list of casualties.

[[collapsible show="+ Autopsy SGM-3 HL-XXXX-Y" hide="- -"]]

Following Incident Beta, Special Agent Violet (Iteration 19) requested an audience with Asset Gryphon, and that they be permitted to use Directorate approved enhanced interrogation techniques (up till and including Grade B measures) on the subject. RHC approved this request due to their prior experience with specimen LUMENS under the caveat of close supervision.

[[collapsible show="+ Interview Asset, "Sour Gryphon"" hide="- -"]]

Humanoid Interview
Code: SA-Ω19
Interviewer: Agent Violet-19

Gryphon: Hello again, agent.

V19: What happened at Area 44?

Gryphon: Many people died - or, that's what they told me.

V19 indicates for the deployment of Catalyst Blue. Bio-analytics confirm that Asset Gryphon begins to suffocate; they display no emotional distress, nor any perceptible discomfort. Their trachea depresses and develops severe bruising before V19 indicates for the Catalyst's release.

Gryphon: Your desire to hurt me is well-founded.

V19: Enough bullshit. What happened at Area 44?

Gryphon: You're going to hurt me again, now.

V19: True.

V19 indicates for the deployment of Catalyst Yellow. Asset Gryphon's epidermis undergoes and sustains severe burn wounds over the course of three minutes. At no point does Asset Gryphon react to the stimulus. V19 releases Catalyst Yellow after Asset's apparel succumb to the method.

V19: Do you know what we picked up? The night of the storm?

Gryphon: A field of dead stars, full of oblivion.

V19: Gravity waves. A cluster of dwarves. A mountain on the edge of space.

Gryphon: Very good. Very good! Yes!

Asset Gryphon's dopamine receptors fire. She suffers several spiral fractures in her wrists and forearms as she breaks her restraints, to leap in presumed jubilation. Detachment Strauss move in to suppress the outburst. V19 indicates situation normal.

V19: You're going to come with me. I'll make them do it.

Gryphon: Were an army between you and I, I'd tear it to pieces. You mean to murder him?

V19: Destroy. Obliterate. Turn to rubble, if at all possible.

Asset Gryphon makes physical contact with V19.

Gryphon: He will break me. Gorge himself on my insides. Are you prepared for such things?

V19: Are you?

Gryphon: I am not the one who will suffer for it.

[[collapsible show="+ PETITION TO RHC FOR THE ACQUISITION OF SA-Ω19 ("SOUR GRYPHON")" hide="- -"]]

Petitioner: Special Agent Violet, Iteration 19
Submitted for the Approval of: Regional High Command (Dorne Symet, operational overseer)
Sensitivity Level: Secret

On January 13, 1992, Foundation installation Area-44 was attacked by a hostile extraterrestrial entity, resulting in the deaths of over a thousand men, women and children in-and-out of company employ. This entity is believed to be responsible for the genesis, nurture and exploitation of several thousand psychically-capable individuals, known at large as members of the LUMENS offshoot - official designation SCP-XXXX.

It is my intent to acquire sponsorship for a mission to AFEO-XXXX-Prime, ascertain the location of the 200 specimen LUMENS believed to have been manifested there by unknown means, and barring new developments, destroy the entity and its constituents, should any become known, in order to prevent further loss of life. Analysis of the attack on Area-44, when the object revealed its presence in the form of the large-scale gravitational anomaly, has indicated that what was witnessed was only a small portion of the damage the entity is capable of inflicting on the Foundation and the peoples of Earth.

To this end, a strike team consisting of myself, Asset Gryphon, and 3 other Foundation operatives, to be determined at a later date, shall solicit a vessel from a sanctioned contractor for the purpose of transporting ourselves to the object. The anomaly's defensive capabilities and the extent of extraspatial abilities are not known at this time, so a point will be made of taking every precaution on approach. We will require RHC's stamp of authority in order to procure the resources necessary to accomplish the specific objective.

I've approached the Engineering department's own B. A. Sanderson to mockup a charter for the mission as it's due to proceed:

Point A is focused on egress of the terrestrial solar system. This will mark the first significant objective of the journey, that being to determine whether Object Prime is averse or aware of our efforts to neutralize it, and whether its capacity to shut down such efforts grows upon our approximate distance to it decreasing by a detectable amount. Should the former or both of these assumptions be proven false, the captain will signal uniform deactivation of all primary systems prior to a period whereby the crew will be entered into a state of suspended animation; depending on the capacity of the vessel procured, this is predicted to be upwards of six months, downwards of one standard Earth century.

Point B is a step further. The surveillance group which registered entity Prime's original signals estimates its location as being several million miles departed from the circumference of our local galaxy, thus necessitating the aforementioned contract. This will indicate roughly successful egress of our local galactic arm, determined on-site by the reanimated captain and Asset, who will supervise consciously the remainder of the mission.

Point C will indicate arrival.

At this stage, all crew will be reanimated manually by the now-operative caretakers. The situation will be assessed at safe-distance - determined by the resident officers - and plans will be undertaken for

1) Analysis of the physical, psychological and anomalous facets of the creature.

2) Neutralization of its hostile tendencies.

3) Recovery of the <200 remaining specimen LUMENS presumed to be held by the creature within unknown confines.

I submit myself for the leadership of this effort. I renewed my Proctoring license in 2015 and have performed over 200 Hazings to this date, participated in 27 combat actions in which I have been provided with and enforced mortal jurisdiction over several active LUMENS, and maintained an ongoing platonic relationship with Asset Gryphon. I believe these qualities render me an above-average candidate to drive the proceedings, in addition to an irrational hatred I have observed in myself for the continued existence of AFEO-Lightfoot. Should RHC believe otherwise, I feel comfortable throwing my full support behind any nominated replacement.

In addition, we fail to secure RHC support, Special Agent Violet, Iteration 19, states their intent to declare their contract void and engage in an act of open rebellion against the O5 council and the Foundation at large.

Status: Approved. -D. Symet, A.L.

RHC's declaration of support for the project spiraled into several different developments. Agent Violet, Iteration 19 was recognized as operational director, and as such was permitted to choose an official title to delineate herself from her counterparts in the Service. Her submitted request of designation reconfirmed her birth name as well as the position of 'Captain' in recognition of her final posting. It was also approved April 1 1992.

Feelers were dispatched towards other aspects of the Foundation manpower suppliers as well as a number of independent aerospace developers with units specializing in anomalous flight and deep-space capabilities. Lockheed acquired the contract in July, and began construction on the on August 5.

[[collapsible show="+ Project Blue-92 - Operative Interview 1 - TAC" hide="- -"]]


Interview EU-XXXX-LIGHTFOOT - Iteration: 12

Interviewer: Captain Ross, Project Director

Interviewee: Unit Gold-212

Stated Goal: Enlist personnel with skills and qualities appurtenant to operational directives.

Subject Dossier: Tactical Unit Gold, iteration 212 has served in over two dozen Mobile Task Forces during their tenure and has been credited with their obsolescence on several occasions. It has a confirmed kill ratio of 304:3, one of the most effective on record and persistently the best in each of their participatory elements. Gold-212 was born in Saint Paul, MN on 4 November 1992. Shortly after their conception, both they and several other surrogate couples pursuant to PROJECT SUNSKIN were murdered by an armed group entering the maternity wing by force. Iteration 212 was subsequently raised-direct with group B specimen SUNSKIN harboured by FMed in Site-56.

Associated Observers: None.

Ross: Good morning.

G212: Hello.

Ross: You're here for the job?

G212: I am.

Ross: Right. Well, Mr. Gold, first I need to clear up some things with you. First: upon the conclusion of our discussion, you're going to be ushered back into the place where you walked in while we - I, make a decision regarding your employment. If I'm satisfied, we'll talk more. If not, the doctor will issue you Class-A. Is that agreeable to you?

G212: Yes.

Ross: All right. Second thing I need you to understand the context which was denied you in advert, if you received one. It's at this point we have most of our dropouts, so we figure it's economic to place it right up front. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the point where we'll be breaching classified territory. Sound okay?

G212: If it's all right with you, it's all right with me.

Ross: The operation is due to take place over the course of an excessive timeframe. We can't be certain of the exact duration, not right now, but we do know that if we are successful in our primary objective, it is possible that when we embark on our return journey, the place we come back to might be very different.

G212: Or not here at all.

Ross: Or that. What I need to know is if that bothers you.

G212: I'm sorry - bothers me?

Ross: Yes.

G212: Well, if I'm frank, it tickles me a little.

Ross: What about it do you find amusing?

G212: Amusing's not the word I'd use. Morbid, certainly.

Ross: Affecting?

G212: I've been in the service for a long time. I think I've seen my fair share. As long as I've got something to do, figure I'll be A-OK.

Ross: The journey will involve a period of extended inactivity on your part. Unconscious, but immobile.

G212: That's no problem.

Ross: Very good. I see that you're qualified in - most of the areas we specified. Why don't we talk about you? Why do you want this job?

G212: Outer space?

Ross: It's not as popular as you might think. I didn't know I was coming until a half year ago. Of course, we can make pretty much anyone fit for duty, but the principle - well, volunteers are still rare. So why you? Why now?

G212: I've dreamed of leaving for a long time. It's an exciting opportunity, and I'd be happy to a part of it.

Ross: So you want to join up, because - you want to join up?

G212: In a sense, I guess, yeah.

Ross: Mr. Gold, if we're going to be working together, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to be honest with me. I can't take someone I'm not 100% on. They made that clear.

G212: What's 100%?

Ross: Just that.

G212: Well, I've been here since I was a boy. Real little, you know. Stuck me in Tac when I finished school, first kill by the end of the year.

Ross: How'd that feel?

G212: Oh, I didn't feel anything. They ironed that out.

Ross: Did that bother you?

G212: A little. Just felt - vacant.

Ross: And you've wanted to escape, is that it?

G212: No. I like doing what I do. Feels like I've got a purpose. But… I don't know. Something's missing. And I'm not gonna find it down here; I know that to a certainty.

Ross: Are you lonely?

G212: You could call it that. Tired, I guess.

Applicant Status: Approved


[[collapsible show="+ Project Blue-92 - Operative Interview 2 - ENG" hide="- -"]]


Interview EU-XXXX-LIGHTFOOT - Iteration: 18

Interviewer: Captain Ross, Project Director

Interviewee: D. Michael Collie, R&D Chief, Area 15

Stated Goal: Enlist personnel with skills and qualities appurtenant to operational directives.

Subject Dossier: Dornier Michael Collie, D.Eng. graduated from Stanford University in 1956 after receiving a bid from the French government for the rights to several highly successful weapons systems; these subsequently received field testing during the Indochina Bush War, to acclaim. He was approached by the Foundation in 1964 for a commission of Senior Researcher, which he accepted under the condition he be permitted to maintain a presence in the private sector. His further ascendance of's departmental hierarchy has led to an estimated 200-50% increase in efficiency since his appointment to Deputy Chief. The Mark I, a firearm of his own design, recently surpassed the AK-47 in units produced, due in part to its adoption by both the United States government and Soviet Union. His declining health has led him to refocus the Department's policies towards cooperation with FMed.

Associated Observers: None.

Ross: Hello, Professor.

Collie: Good morning, Violet! It's so good to see you again. I was so happy when I heard you were taking volunteers on for the mission. I hope everything's coming along.

Ross: It's all going very well, sir. We've been getting plenty of applicants.

Collie: Oh, that's so good to hear! You know, just the other day I was chatting it up with - a Tulsa, I think - the guy from Records?

Ross: I think there's a Tulsa in one of the Mobiles. E11?

Collie: The commander! That's the one; you always had such a good memory. Anyway, we were talking over lunch and he was on about this stir you guys are creating - everybody's really excited about it!

Ross: We are too. It's been very encouraging.

Collie: Fantastic. Now, I won't take too much of your time - I saw the waiting room out there, just killer, really - I do hope everything that I submitted was satisfactory.

Ross: I couldn't find a problem, sir. Your paperwork was immaculate.

Collie: Oh god, I need to give Jennifer a raise. My secretary - she's been doing such fantastic work; Jason could not have found a better replacement. Anyway, if that's all there is, I'd be happy to - heh, do a dance, stand on my head, whatever you want. This is really exciting.

Ross: Yeah, professor, it really is.

Collie: I'm sorry, am I talking too much? I've just been going since 4, this whole thing with the merger and all the new divisions and it's just driving me nuts, so I'll just let you go ahead with this.

Ross: All right. Professor, you're obviously aware of the process we'll be forced through, in order to make sure everything goes smoothly before we engage. But, before I go on, do you have any questions on that front, or…?

Collie: Why Violet, I designed the blueprints myself. I can't imagine there's anything I might've missed. Did they tell Dennis about the issue with the rear thrusters?

Ross: They did. It's being worked on; he said they didn't think it'd be too big of a problem.

Collie: Well that's good. I don't know, I'd say I'm all good when it comes to the technicals. Anything else?

Ross: Yes, sir. I singled out some files I'd like to go over - just make sure you're not getting into anything you might not get out of.

Collie: Oh. Well, all right. Give 'em to me.

Ross: First concern is, obviously, your condition. You're keeping up with your anti-psychotics?

Collie: I'm having a new iteration developed as we speak. It'll be twice as effective for twice as long, with none of the back-sass - and we'll be able to push them out a million at a time. It's gonna do a whole lot of good, let me tell you.

Ross: Okay. I see you're all up to date on your exercises, all except for-

Collie: My therapist. Julianna? I had her fired. Said I needed to take time off. Not that I resent it - she's living it up right now over with one of my colleagues. Lovely girl - but work's what keeps me organized, strong. It's why I'd love to accompany you on your trip.

Ross: Right, about that - look, Professor-

Collie: What's on your mind, darling?

Ross: Sir, I'm not sure that you understand this is an explicitly military operation. Or what's at stake here.

Collie: You don't think I can handle it? Out there?

Ross: They say they've had a lot of practice, but…

Collie: Violet, my friend, I am They. Just-just the other day, I finalized work on another dozen launches. I mean, I understand why you, why would you-

Ross: Professor. I've known you since I was taken in. I don't understand why you're doing this - why you want to-

Collie: No, no, I understand… I'm old. Even if my dietitian doesn't want to tell me, I can feel it creeping up my spine, every time I fall asleep at night.

Ross: It's not-

Collie: No, it's more than that. It's… god, I don't know. I just can't stand it any more.

Ross: If you're stressed, there's-

Collie: It's not stress. God, I haven't felt more alive - not since college. You know me - I always tried, tried so desperately to keep aloof. Away from it all, just another worker bee.

Ross: It's why I looked up to you.

Collie: Thank you, dear. I only ask because- well, maybe because I am going a little senile. But you know that's it's never factored into what I do. I'd die before I'd let that happen.

Ross: I know.

Collie: I'd pull my weight. When I look up at that rock, I see a second chance. And I've always said how much I'd give for one, haven't I? If I could just have that- one more chance.

Ross: It's only human.

Applicant Status: Approved


[[collapsible show="+ Project Blue-92 - Operative Interview 3 - MED" hide="- -"]]


Interview EU-XXXX-LIGHTFOOT - Iteration: 22
Interviewer: Captain Ross, Project Director
Interviewee: Sergeant Major Willis Kane, CIA
Stated Goal: Enlist personnel with skills and qualities appurtenant to operational directives.
Subject Dossier: Sgt. Kane received experience in the Rhodesian military during the country's civil war, later being selected for membership in Squadron "C" and then the "Devil's Company" - an 132-man military organization responsible for large-scale retaliatory ethnic cleansing following conclusion of hostilities. Sgt. Kane's repute as a skilled Type Blue was tied to his status as a field medic, and in 1983 he defected from the group to the United States, who provided asylum and amnesty in exchange for his unique services. Sgt. Kane now operates a Foundation-sanctioned clinic for crippled and critically injured soldiers in Virginia, and has been recommended to the Project on special instruction.
Associated Observers: Thatcher Medford M.D. (CIE intermediary)

Ross: Good morning.

[Subject provides no response.]

Ross: Excuse me - sir? Are you with us?

Medford: I may have overestimated the dose. [Doctor Thatcher begins a preliminary examination of the subject.] Eyes are glassy. Mr. Kane? Can you hear me?

Kane: [Subject begins to stir audibly.] Where am I?

Medford: You're all right now Mr. Kane, you're just reacting to the medicine. Here - [Doctor Thatcher administers mild electrostatic shock.]

Kane: Ah!

Medford: That should be enough. Can you speak, Mr. Kane?

Kane: I'm… fine, thank you.

Medford: All right then. I'll leave you two be, if that's it.

Ross: Wait outside.

[Doctor Medford indicates assent and exits interview.]

Kane: Where am I?

Ross: You're in our facility. Were you briefed on the context of this meeting?

Kane: No. I didn't know I would be here until - now.

Ross: Well, that's fine. I've had several of you today.

Kane: What?

Ross: Nevermind. Mr. Kane, you're currently being interviewed for a sensitive military operation. I want to know if you have any qualms about leaving the Earth for an extended period of time.

Kane: …qualms? Of course. I have a practice, patients. I'm all they've got.

Ross: Do you have any living relatives? Family you might miss given time?

Kane: My parents are dead. I don't have a girlfriend. My uncle is - well, I don't really care about him. Does that cover it?

Ross: Very much. We've been looking for a medical officer - your file indicated that you possessed an innate capacity for the reconstitution of flesh, bone and muscle.

Kane: How do you - well, that much is true. It does take a hell of a lot out of me.

Ross: We possess similar capabilities. Were you to accept our offer, your practice would be well-accounted for, in most respects.

Kane: About that - what is it you're offering, exactly?

Ross: A search-and-destroy mission. We have an enemy, and it needs liquidating. It's attacked us before, and we're worried it'll do it again.

Kane: And my stake in this, is…?

Ross: We're looking for survivors of an abduction. Patients. Given your past decisions, we were told you'd make a good choice.

Kane: An abduction? Wait- didn't you say…

Ross: 200 of them. And we've been told that they're in pain.

Kane: Jesus. Look, I'd help if I could, but I can't leave-

Ross: The Agency has offered you up to us. The cloak-and-dagger was merely precautionary.

Kane: I believe you.

Ross: So- how about it? Shall I call the doctor back in?

Kane: What was that you said- about- an extended period of time?

Ross: Projections are optimistically in the decades. Skeptically, we may not return until the next millennium.

Kane: Heavy. So we just - leave all of this behind?

Ross: And return.

Kane: Do I have time to think about it?

Ross: I'm afraid not. I've got a great number of people waiting for me to take them up, instead; people who don't have your - unique perspective. Nor your talents.

Kane: My people. Can you get me an assurance in writing?

Ross: We're not leaving for at least another year. You can supervise the changeover yourself.

Kane All right. Let's talk.

Applicant Status: Approved


The launch date was set for 1 January 1994. During the interim, Proctors began to report a severe dearth of specimen LUMENS acquisitions, both active and inactive. Acquisition rates would only return to pre-flight levels until the latter's conclusion.

Lockheed delivered the craft to Launch Site 01 three months prior to the mission; following review by FEng and personal inspection by R&D Deputy Chief Sanderson, the vessel was cleared for operation and loaded onto Reserve Dock 08, to be stored under heavy guard.

[[collapsible show="+ ENG - DCR Intake Review - October 4 1993" hide="- -"]]

On 1/1/94+1200 EST, Project Blue-92 entered its Operational Phase.

[[collapsible show="+ Received Transmission, vol. 1 " hide="- -"]]

Flight Recorder Log - D1XXXXEX
4:05 - 6:24 (EST)
Status: TRANSIT - A


[[collapsible show="+ Received Transmission, vol. 2 " hide="- -"]]

Flight Recorder Log - D1XXXXEX
22:08 - :17 (EST)
Status: TRANSIT - BC

Gryphon: Do you have any family, agent?

Ross: I did.

Gryphon: And what did you think of them?

Ross: My father left when I was young. I only knew his body, when he was dead. My mother loved me.

V19: And you loved her?

Ross: Yes.

Gryphon: I had a family once. A little girl, before your bosses took me away from her. The gift is not inherited.

Ross: Where is she?

Gryphon: Oh, I can't know. My parents, maybe. Or an orphanage. I cried over her for many nights.

Ross: Do you still?

Gryphon: No. You know, that was one of the first things he took away from me. Inside. We are his family; all that's left, I suppose.

Ross: Soldiers?

Gryphon: Would you fight? To save your mother?

Ross: Of course.

Gryphon: As would I. That might be what he wants.

Five minutes pass. Agent Violet continues to make adjustments to flight path.

Gryphon: I read your report.

Ross: What about it?

Gryphon: You said that you would disobey them, for me.

Ross: Not for you.

Gryphon: Is it common practice?

Ross: You could call it that. We can't lie.

Gryphon: But you can omit. As I did. He asked for, many things, and though I couldn't resist, I did not give him our people.

Ross: It's different. I was born this way.

Gryphon: Or grown?

Ross: Born. The Foundation cares about you, more than you know. Me, too.

Gryphon: But you would hurt them.

Ross: I'd try. I don't think I'd manage it, though. They call it seeding - back when I was a kid. It's not a matter of control, it's a matter of loyalty, of love. In any case, it probably helped them realize how serious things are.

Gryphon: Sounds like what he did with us.

Ross: Yeah.

[[collapsible show="+ Received Transmission, vol. 3" hide="- -"]]

[[collapsible show="+ Received Transmission, vol. 4" hide="- -"]]

[[collapsible show="+ Project Blue-92 - Debriefing" hide="- -"]]

[[collapsible show="+ Project Blue-92 - Final Report - 92Ross - SEC" hide="- -"]]

Noche Oscura

The Beaver's dam was leaking. Inside his cell, the Inmate slumped alone against the brick-layered wall, listening to the rain and thinking of home.

The room had no windows; only the cage and a small partition where one could come and sit and talk with him. His wild beard and hateful eyes to little to entice his visitors, however, and they completed their stated goals as quickly as possible. Mostly, to attempt to torment him and wring information from his mind. His brain felt wet; a droopy, abused thing molded into various shapes and then left to dissolve in the water. He caught water droplets with his mouth; they never reached his tongue, of course.

He had tested the limits of the cell long ago. Many circles had been walked inside; he had banged his head against the wall enough to blow away the bits from his skull many times over. He had bit his tongue, which drew no blood, and healed itself on the hour. His attempts to build himself left his muscles feeling droopy and useless. He had held his breath for as long as he could, but air found its way into his lungs through some antique port they had drilled opened in his psyche. He did not feed; he did not drink. He did not perish.

OBSKURA, he decided, was perhaps the most anal organization in the history of America. He would die when, and as they decided. It was a time, he hoped, to come soon.

He had been in the cell for 435 days. The storm had been with him since the beginning, and it had not yet stopped.

He was left to determine the facts.

The place was not simply a construct of his mind; he knew that well. Before his incarceration, he had spent many months passing this place; it was physical and it rained often. But never had they faced such a monsoon, and he refused to believe they were still.

His beard had been with him since the start of it. He had no mirror, only his own fingers. What he could deduce was that it had grown a number of inches. His fingernails, too, had propagated themselves - long, filthy daggers - and his clothes had been worn down to a degree. Of course, he thought, they could simply be growing the facets externally, while extending his perception of time.

He counted thunderbolts. There were a fair few of them; crashes, each one almost indistinct from the other. But as his time grew, and he despaired further, and his old Commandant began to press him further for information - he began to lock down inside. And when there was nothing left to do, that was when he could hear - see - the patterns in this, tapestry of suffering they had strung together for his benefit. As time passed, he attempted to count the individual drops, soon proving it to be a fruitless effort.

The leak in the corner was a source of comfort. He believed that they intended it as a source of anger, and he did everything he could to keep up the charade - at first. Within six months he acquiesced to his evening activity of catching each one without letting it splash out of his mouth, before it promptly disappeared.

His end determination was that he was being held for perhaps a week. The single execution he'd witnessed, back in the old days, had taken a month from interrogation to the man's death by vivisection, an activity he'd used to rah-rah at in the square.

There were many things he used to rah-rah at. So much for it.

All he had left was the rain.

He tried not to think about the convoy. It came to him anyway; he couldn't sleep, but for some reason, they couldn't take away the dreams. Perhaps they choice not to. He used to cry out and scream and claw at his eyes as the nonsense overlaid with his conscious sight. He saw many things; the ride, from Montreal to New York, through the ice-swept roads of the Canadian border, the popping-sounds which changed his life, the wake-up call.

None of it mattered. He was alone. Water tapped in the corner.

He thought about dying. He knew it would come, eventually; he hadn't ever wanted it, and even for the first few months, he stuck out. But gradually - the laughter and joy he could see in his dreams, that which he'd sacrificed himself to protect, was no longer enough. He began to pray, and then curse, the only god he had ever known; finally, he was left where he had begun: in solitude. Without a cause to live for. And at the last he only wanted to be relieved of the storm, and the popping-sounds, and the water which pounded at his skull.

Manna Charitable Foundation Tale:

A multifaceted group of specialists journeys gathers in Dubai to enter a sand-bound dimension where they plan to lead an evacuation. The primary character is Miles, an ex-GOC operative working for a PF contracted by Manna for covert operations like this, with a supporting liasion from the Foundation providing oversight and a representative of the Broken Church sponsoring the operation. They encounter lots of different war crimes as violence begins to completely engulf this place. It's supposed to be an subversion of the typical war drama; the through-line is about when you stop fighting and what that means for your identity. Miles has recurring dreams of dying in a blaze of glory, killing as many as he can fighting to get back to what he loves, to return to a perfect stasis, but the end moral is that he can only get back to it inside himself. Or something.

Violet bits

"You know, we've got, 300-some agents still in the field. Violets, just like you. You could take, a month. Get your head straight, back in the game."

"Doing - what?"

"Whatever it is - suits your fancy. What do you like to do?"

"What do you think I like to do?"

"Well…" "Get plastered, maybe? See a movie? Shoot?"

"Getting plastered's okay."

"There you go."

"For a month?"

He shrugged, and gave her a light grin.

She put out the cigarette, and in one swift motion, he stripped out the citation from his booklet.

"Where you goin'?"

"Home. You?"

"On-mission. Adirondacks."

"You're a Gold."

"Best in the pod. Out of Site-19 for a while now, just finished our stint with," he struggled to remember, and came upon an epiphany. "Eta-13. Spatial stuff."


"Thanks. Where's home?" She gave a pointed pause she hoped would communicate well to someone of her styling. He went on, "Am I irritating you?"


"You looked sullen, that's all. I'm inclined to sullen people. But I get it, I'll leave off if that's what you want."



"Nice place. Lots of hills. A bit of fire, now and again, but nothing we don't handle."

He nodded. "How long since you been?"

"Two years."

"Not too bad. For home. You like it?"

"I don't have much there. Violets weren't surrogated, so they took us in groups. Still it's - nice."

"Yeah. Listen, that's mine." He reached out to take her hand, which she accepted. "It was a pleasure talking to you -" He left the statement as a question. "19. Violet 19."

"212. A pleasure, Violet."

Violet goes home to quiet Idaho into her shitty little apartment. She puts down her one briefcase and sighs as she looks at all the old memories. She strikes up a match and starts to smoke again. We see her later on under the moon reading an old book with the symbol of a terrorist organization - snakes. She's reading the story of a Karcist and a Mekhanite.

Across an ancient field, a handsome Karcist found a strong, beautiful young Mekhanite to be to his liking. He knew it heretical but despite this he arranged a meeting with her through his followers. They met secluded only under the light of the Silver Titan.

He asked her, "You have machines in your bones."

"Yes," she said.

"Do they hurt?" He asked.

"Sometimes." She said.

"Why do you keep them?" He asked. "You might return to your wholesome form at any point, and be more beautiful for it.

"The beauty you see is not ours. You might know that I am the least of my sisters."

"They do not see the greatness in you?"

She shook her head. "And there is none to be found."

"Greatness only lies where one believes it does."

Then, mutually attracted, they lay with one another for many nights. Upon a year passing, the Mekhanite's sisters demanded she kill the Karcist and regain what little purity they saw her to possess. She resisted at length, but at last they dragged her before the Hammer-Father of their house, who proclaimed a Programme upon her:

"Unloved daughter of an unloved house, it is with great sadness that I proclaim my wrath upon you. With the power of these words you shall go to the heretic and kill him, and justice shall be delivered after your fell vessel summons its final act."

With the incantation recorded the poor young Karcist was cast out of her father's house, and her family shunned her, for she was dead to them.

kakroom's universe

so basically trivia is my version of roman star trek LUMENSverse is my imitating the MCU.

Combined tales:

-Saudade interim
-LUMENS teamup
-Captain Ross solo
-Agent Gold solo
-Professor Collie solo
-Kane solo
-Gryphon solo
-Lightfoot and Mirror Lightfoot tale

This is the lineup. I guess I'll be working on - the Captain Ross story, I guess.

In Search of Our Better Selves


-Augustus reorganized the Legion after he had finished consolidating his power in the senate. The Legion would've been one of the 28 Augustan Reconstituted - 29 now, of course.
-The Romans had a number of different special operator services. The Speculatores were forward scouts and liable to hardassed; they wore plainclothes and were liable to be spies. The Frumentarii were not the spy commandos Fallout makes them out to be; rather they were ordinary citizens commissioned by Hadrian to relay information based on their interactions with locals in the course of their duties. Occasionally they would be attached to the Legion, but only in the vein of gathering supplies. They were bureaucrats first. The Agentes in Rebus were couriers and had a wide variety of potential responsibility, from escorting exiles to billeting soldiers; like the Frumentarii their responsibilities as operatives only extended to what they gleaned in the field. They were not spy commandos. The only ones who fit that bill were the Speculatores.
-More on the Speculatores; not only were they spies and scouts, they also guarded the emperor and were recruited from the best Praetorian cavalry. 10 were attached to a Legion.
-Legions are awesome. They'd have a name that would usually be where they were stationed or what they did, emblems, and a unit Aquila.
-The Legatus of a Legion was usually a senator! The term originally just referred to people authorized by the Senate to act as Rome willed, but under Augustus it was strictly a military rank.
-The Principate was the rule of Octavian and beyond, followed up by the Dominate, a period of repression by Diocletian.
-Legions, 5500 men ruled by legate were organized into Cohorts, 500 men (barring specialists division first cohort 800) governed by senior centurion tribunus cohortis, maybe Senior in case he fell in combat, Cohorts were divided into six centuries (100) governed by centurion. (I'm assuming in the event T. Cohortis falls in combat.) Below that point i presume we need no further delineation; there may have been instances where romans grouped together in street fighting but by and large this would've been the smallest scale formation as a phalanx.

The Story of Legion XXIX: Trivia (The Trivians)

Emperor Augstus purportedly reformed 28 legions following the death of Julius Caesar and his (proper) ascencion to godhood. In this case he is for all intents and purpose a divine entity, and after replacing Caesar as the spiritual center of Rome he is imbued as its right and proper guardian. One of his TIBERIUS reforms is establishing a unit dedicated to the roles all Legions formerly took on - fighting Daevite cultists, reality benders, sorcerers, monsters. Trivia would be covert and unofficial - under-strength, under-equipped, but with the best of the empire to offer. The first unit to have a division dedicated entirely to natural philosophy, its ranks were filled with small-time esoterics in the main force and a host of Speculatores.

I've been working the timeline wrong this whole time, 0 A.D. wasn't the birth of Christ and Pilate would not have been around in an official capacity even during the time of Augustus. If we're doing things right we need to take several things into account

-artistic license, i'm going with the popularly cited figure that Jesus' death and resurrection took place in 33 A.D., whereby 5 years later, Pilate also died. During this time, Tiberius had grown reclusive in his personal Island of Capri, where he had torture facilities and other horrible shit. In one of his final reforms, in an attempt to militarize the Empire's anomalous assets, he conglomerates all the anomalous shit Legions had collected in their campaigns in Germania and Britain and Africa, focusing the task of dealing with the Daevites and such upon one new Legion, dedicated to the goddess Trivia. At this point Tiberius is falling out of favor with the gods, and they sense that soon there is a man coming that they will need Tiberius to support in his penance for killing something beautiful. It's Pilate, and as he arrives at the Island he realizes that his appointment by Tiberius is something of a cruel joke. Tiberius no longer has love for the gods; he believes that they have abandoned him, and he believes that Pilate's cruel tendencies and past negligence will lead to his malleability and willingness to cooperate with a campaign of death.

Pilate's not having it, though.

Tiberius took a bunch of different prejudices and idiotic shit and threw it together out of spite. It is the Gods will that Pilate bring this all together so that it can survive Caligula's reign and beyond.

(sound familiar)

(yes it's a Foundation precursor)

oh also they're led by pilate.

Pilate. He who killed god. The Clean Hands Boi. The literal saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. In this timeline, after he gave

cohort i: specialists, in this instance, are standard infantry, selected by their prestige and encounter with the gods. presumably 100 archers, 300 legionnaires, and 400 builders, smiths galleymen, cattle drivers and quartermasters. of course they're all trained as such, but they have tenacity, effectiveness and strength of arms as any paranormal force in the classical woeld. almost always at full strength; they are the hard core of the legion's operations.

cohort II: the telepaths. men who demonstrate a marked psychic proclivity, whether in regards to projection, mind reading, physical manipulation, or all colors of the rainbow. includes a unit of military augurs protecting a sibyl. the first up in siege warfare and superb in scale combat.

cohort III: the sorcerers. men capable of preternatural feats using strength of will. primarily healers and technicians.

cohort IV: reality benders. the fucked; those who cannot be touched. necessarily these reality benders are fairly weak, chosen for their loyalty to the empire and disciplinary record, but they are capable of warping existence on a small scale. necessarily this unit is something of an underdog and members are not mocked, but often excluded from the proceedings.

cohort V: the dead. spirit mediums and the souls of roman legionaries they've returned from the grave to fight against various daemons, beholden to the Republic for all time. the smallest cohort, understrength at about two centuries of mediums and associated spirits.

cohort VI: Changelings. Reviled at large. Wolves are the least; seen as associates of Lupa; almost always at full strength. One of the few places a changeling can go for an espirt de corps.

Cohort VII: Divines, Les Enfantes Terribles. Constituents of the legion.

Cohort VIII: Natural philosophers. This was a new thing, as in the past pretty much Rome had no dedicated organizations based on building and implementing new things. As a result they cooperate alot with Section III Sorcerors. They're all legionnaires primarily, but their role is almost always in the background.

Cohort IX: cohort made up of female anomalous things. going directly against Augustus' decree: BROS BEFORE HOS, etc.. No no no, fuck that. Our magic people are rare enough as it is. Basically, they're taking all the people in the Empire, willing to fight for the Legion, who also have a vagina, and putting them here. Hence Cohort IX is extremely weird amongst the other cohorts as a cultural anomaly. I won't be exploring them too much here except for in the beginning, when Pilate needs to navigate between each Tribunes' prejudices and get them to march in step.

Cohort X: cohort made of ex-slaves. this happened occasionally in the empire, though its inclusion here was still odd.


There's also equites, who in this context are a rapid-response force acting in conjunection with the TRIVIAN SPECULATORES. Every Speculatore needs to be a member of cohort II through VII, though occasionally they find overlap.

on pilate being the legate: mostly a senator

THIS IS PILATE's first command

prior to this xxix answered directly to

The narrative:


Artemis was rising on Rome as the Legate trekked his way through the House of the Emperor on

The Legate is offloaded at Capri, where suffering and horror can be heard from the hills above. He meets with Macro, who brings him to the house of the Emperor Tiberius and advises him on certain aspects of meeting with the Divine one. The Legate enters and Tiberius is drinking alone in the darkness. He bids the Prefect entry, and says that he can no longer stand such light. He eyes give off a faint glow in the shadow, and says that he is glad he has arrived ahead of schedule. Per your request, Princeps. Yes. What was it you wanted me here to discuss? Come, Prefect sit. The Prefect cautiously takes a seat. My boy, I am dying. You look ill. And so I am. The blotches and scars peppering Tiberius' faced wrinkled with a faint look of melancholy. My physicians say I will fade very soon. My reign is at end, for what it was. I wish you luck with the final journey, then. Thank you. But it is not my time yet. And that is of course, the primary thing today. What would that be, Lord? I have, it is told to me, one final task for you. One that - he grinned - I highly approve of. I am glad, Emperor. Flattered. Do not let me tell you. He extended his hand. My lord? If you are to go on a journey with a friend, what would you do? The Legate and him dissipate and he meets with the Olympians. There they castigate Tiberius and place the Prefect under trial. They demand guilt, reasoning, actions. He has little to give them, only that he knows he no longer has a place in heaven and that he has deprived the world. He moves to a graveyard with Trivia, who had 'campaigned most strongly' for the 'heresy of the fallen.' Trivia takes the form of a woman and they talk. She says he acquitted himself well, and he asks what she wants. She says that, with his volition, that he take on a final post. Soon Pilate will be dead, and all the suffering he caused will go with him to his grave, but he has a chance to make all that count for something. Trivia wants to do the opposite of what Tiberius wanted; he is gathering a vast army of beautiful things, to be sent against their own kind in the quiet places of the world. Trivia would have them be a bastion of peace and an exemplar for the rest of the world to follow, a shining beacon of unity. She says that it cannot proceed without him; the gods are all artist, and he is her vision. She will simply move onto a new project; he does not need to bear the burden of painting her masterpiece. He says that he will, and they are moved back to the sea of colors, Trivia beside him, where she proposes he be posed the Legate, the Damned Lover of All Things, Digger of Graves, and the Father of Salvation. Jove asks if he will proceed in the name of the Lost Places, to find and protect all things Effervescent, and he says I will. Legate, Jove says. Legate. The chorus joins in.

They are returned to the world. Tiberius is dying on the floor; his eyes are pure black, and they return to bloodshot, sharp blue. He covers him, and crawls into a fetal position, and begins to sob.

Hard cut. Meets his wife in their villa, says he's been asked to go to war. They have a discussion. Why would he give you such a command. I don't know. Man's half dead, half insane. Maybe it's a cruel joke. Don't hate him. Pity him. She lays a hand on his shoulder. Did he give you the opportunity to decline. I spoke with them, my love. They gave it to me, I know not why. Who? Who else - I - I could hardly tell. You went to speak with - I think so. She breathed a sigh of fear and put her head in her hands. Then, after a moment, her back slowly straightened. Then there is no man better for such a post. If it is their will - there is little either of us can do about such things.


The Legate arrives at the staging area where they prepare to move across the sea into dead territory. He is met byThey are assembled in full regalia outside the walls, on the road to Citaviachee, and Pilate reviews them from the front. He walks down the line, inspecting the members of each cohort by their members. Eventually he comes to IX. On an impulse, he withdraws the head's mask, to reveal a feminine face. He looks back for a moment, and she stares stonily forward. What is your name? Delia, sir. Why are you in a Legionary's armor? It's not just me, Sir. She turned to her Vanguard, who each revealed their own faces to be similarly of the opposite sex. Pontius stared. It was sunset. He sat with the six Tribunes; a number of rich children in charge of the Legion, and the Laticlavius, wo had brought him into the camp. He sat eating meat with them as the sun faded on their party. IN their solace, they began to ask him various things.

'To be frank, pefect, I'm not sure if you're aware but - this is clearly madness.' ' Clearly, yes. MAdness of a certain variety, though, I can't for the life of me tell whose.' 'I can't imagine what would compel him to such - eccentricity. It was eccentricity, when he decreed for the death and torutre of our sons. This is something more than malicious. It may be so, and yet he is still the emperor, and we are bound to obey him. Have you seen the man? He's less than a year on him, six months at the most. How are we going to keep the unit from falling apart on the voyage itself. How large is the fleet. Twenty ships; they don't fight, but they float. And who are you. Sir. All of you. We don't understand. I don't know any of you. Do any of you know what we're doing here, the cam[aogn we've been propositioned. Do you even know why he possi bly could've selected me If we're honest sir, we were expecting you to answer those qusestions in some regard. These aren't our ways, Prefect. He chose you. If it the will of the gods, then - who are we to judge? But it is so hard to tell. Will you be accompanying us to the site? IN a separate envoy. We'll be recording your departure from Covotavecchia, and permitting certain messengers leave to sort out the matters towards the locals and the Emperor himself. But we will be there. And do any of you have designs for the mission itself? We don't know our mission. I hope you fellows will not take it to offense when I say, I am fairly glad of it. With such a, monster of

This is the Trivian Legion's maiden opportunity. It doesn't officially exist because of the and as such Tiberius has He makes something between a speech and a mission statement. It isn't received particularly well or poorly.

They're met by the Praetorian there, who came back a week ago and has been returned alone. He is half-mad and incapable of speech. Corpses littered his ship, and the fragments of his sword were covered was covered with fresh blood. The psychic from the Second Cohort enters his mind, where he speaks with the reformed part of his consciousness.


Lucius enters his mind and the emotions of the turning Legionnaire and he intermingle. They discuss through emotions and general intent. Lucius is able to constrain his consciousness and calm him I am a Roman! Do you hear me! Son of Rome! Listen to my voice! If you keep struggling, you will die in my grasp. I am Roman. I am Roman.

The tremors gradually subsided until the muddled, mad thoughts of the soldier could finally be divined. Don't bother with him, Lucius heard, turning to the odd amalgous form in the back of his psyche. He's not coming back. Slowly he approached the construct. Who are you? I'm the last. The last bits of this pitiful excuse for a Roman. It's quite impressive, don't you think? Do you remember how you got here? Yes, I remember. Who are you? I'm a man, currently standing over your - dying body. And in here. Yes. Why is that? You were deployed on a reconaissance operation. Africa. Yes.

Lucius asks the apparition about his journeys and where the rest of the Speculatores lie. He offers to show him, and Lucius and he dive into his subconscious

Where they enter a battle with the vampires. It is night and they stand on a windswept hill with Anubia in the background ; the -post where they collect three dead and tend two wounded, and he and three more are sent back to the port to flee. The fight on the ship kills the other two and he is driven insane after locking himself in the cabin for the duration of the voyage. Eventually he opens it and kills them all.

The dank air of the cabin stung his eyes. The room tossed and turned, as did the moans outside the barred room.

He shivered. He did not remember ever shivering so terribly, but it was as though his bones made to rattle out of their cages - and he, in turn, out of his. The sudden chord of a human voice made his tremors snap to attention. "Man!"

He scrambled to his feet and

They exit the mind of the Speculatore, who warns them to execute him before the infection spreads to the rest of the Empire. The Psychic ends his life with a thought, and he is given a warrior's burial before they depart for Africa.


They've made camp all around the city, but nobody has come in or out since they've arrived. Figures in full Roman armor can be seen on the parapets, and they've been experiencing losses of soldiers at night, but nothing so far can be gleaned. The Legate relates this to Sulla, who arrives in the tent at night. They don't know one another, but they do know Augustus, and Sulla presents his case to the Legate. He takes the Legate to his camp, alone, where they've killed dozens of vampires and contained their brother, who has turned. Hence there are only about three of the original Speculatores left, including Sulla. They have tried to feed their brother, but the only meat he has accepted is that of our dead enemy. Even well-provided, he has become rancid and feral. We have killed such numbers that they no longer oppose us. Thr shadows taking your men come to our tent-flaps, and scurry away when we take note. They take no wine or meat, save for that of their own brothers and that of ours.

Sulla says that it is fortuitous they have arrived. The Trivian are best equipped among them all to crush the threat. Truly we might return to your chambers, and we might plan our attack in earnest. These horrors which you have shown me prey upon my mind, Centurion. Pray to allow me rest until the following morning; need I time to determine the fate of these creatures. In mine opinion, Legate, delay in regards to this sickness is folly, but Augustus has seen fit to equip you with his favor, and so too shall I.

The following morning Sulla has stood guard in his tent, and the Speculatores have moved into the camp. Sulla says that they have saved a guard from being dragged off, and captured the murderer. They go to see him, and the Legate sees the regard with which the men of the first Cohort hold Sulla. This man is not feral, though he does stay quiet in the corner at questioning. The Legate enters his cage unarmed and unarmored and asks him again. He comes from the shadows and tells him his name. He says that he did not mean to hurt anyone. We have not done as such since the changeling took war to our borders. But we can eat no longer, and subsist only on the dead. You were starving. I thought not to murder your man. The others we took are alive, though they are equipped with our condition now. Are the leaders of your people as eloquent as yourself? They grow less so with each passing day. Our leader, Marcilius Campus, is much loved by the people, but his abstinence from the mounds which feed us has left him very weak. What do you need to survive the trip back to your city. The blood of man.

Guard, hand me that pugio. That feed bowl too. And call for a man from the third cohort - Lucius. He does this and goes off. The Legate bleeds himself for the creature as the cohort looked on and the creature greedily, guiltily looks at the stream. He finishes filling the bowl and gives it to the creature, who savors every drop. Tell Campus I want an audience. On his honor as a Roman, and as soon as he feels is appropriate. The creature nods.

And they watch as he slowly is let back into the city with the rest of the blood and the Legate is healed, he and his psychic friend You know I'm not a doctor. You're blessed among the gods, that'd good enough for for me. We have a group of doctors. Entire brigade of intellectuals - what a brilliant idea that was, mixing the two things Jupiter deigned never to set together. What's that? Intelligence and war-making. He laughed. Speaking of which - bleeding yourself in front of a bloodsucking demon, sending himself back to his army of bloodsucking demons in the hopes you'll acquire a showing with the chief bloodsucking demon was not our directive here a plague of all things. I'm not convinced they're unconnected. Sulla and him discuss the merits of sending him back with knowledge of the camp, and how he requires more men to recoup his losses. The Legate says he'll have his pick from the cohorts. He goes to bed.


Begin the last stages of the plague in the city, Anubia. The higher ups have quarantined themselves in the Governor's palace, where supplies are running low and the vampire plague is steadily taking hold of the rest of the city. The Legion stationed here has been run down and reduced to several hundred men and there's little in the way of messages outside the city, as they sealed all entry after the fact. Both of the governor's children are dead and burned, along with the rest in a courtyard. The governor is obviously ill, as are the rest of the higher-ups; it will only be a short time before the rest of them succumb. They prepare healthy messengers to be sent outside the city, where they will travel with the remainder of their food to a small reserve ship back to Rome. The rest of the healthy men and women also will attempt to make their way out through the desert, but the governor demands that all infected men and women stay within the confines of the city, under threat of force. There's a small discussion with the captain of the guard, his wife, who he kills, the messengers, and the rest of the nobles, who kill themselves as the vampires break in, and he stays. He screams as he feels his arteries harden, his muscles bulge and his teeth break themselves into horrible points.

It is the death knell for Anubia. Corpses lay about rotting in the streets. The great walls have been sealed, their guardians dead and their mechanisms frustratingly sabotaged. There is fighting in the streets as on high, the king watches his city die. He is summoned by one of the last guardsmen to the interior chamber, where, in the atrium, stand two of the bravest and last uninfected in the city. They are extraodinarily young


Once more, Sulla wakes the Legate, who proceed in a convoy to the city gates. They open, observed by decrepit looking watchmen and onlookers. The city is full of blood, although there are a handful of people left. Most feast on dead flesh, guarded by sickly soldiers, loyal to the governor. A man rushes at the convoy, but before he even is assaulted by the men of the Second Cohort, he is killed by the vampires themselves; their destroy his body and drop their masks to feast upon it. They get to the palace, where they meet the men who had been taken, in a small cage guarded by men. Their eyes are already turning green. He shakes his liege's hand. Grace, grace. I have failed you. Have you been treated well. They have fed us with what they could, grace. I fear our appetites grow weird with each passing night. We will find a way to end this, I promise you. If death be the sole path your grace, do not hesitate on our account. We have seen the manner in which these people survive. We will meet again. Grace, grace. They move inside the palace to see the noble and his captain; Marcilius Campus, who the Legate used to know. They hold up a hand in greeting, though the governor is bedridden. Hello my friend. I wish we could've met in happier times. You are sick. Your men are sick. We got your messages. I knew you would. Where is your family. At peace. Unlike us. After they broke through, he waved a hand to his ghastly visage, I ordered the city sealed - weeks ago; they told me what they did. I'm sorry, but I can't blame them. Even now, it claws at my windpipe. He looks at his food; very obviously human. What would you have me do? I cannot ask you to give us rest. We are Romans, still. The blood has not stopped running through us. As long as I live… which may not be long, I will not surrender my people. I will not condone abandoning this post. But Silas has made it clear. When Sir dies, we will move the people across the desert. There will be food for them there. We can subsist for now on the corpses of our brethren, but there is only enough for two, three weeks. He nods. Will you stop us? You're attacking Rome. We are Rome still. Would you contest that, from what you've seen? It's a question. Yes, the Legate answers. We have no more choice. We will move, or die. The governor breathes hoarsely. He holds his hand.

Later in his tent, he and Sulla have a heated argument. I will not condemn an entire population to further suffering than they have already endured! You heard him they sre suffering still! If vengeance will not turn your heart, let mercy do it! Mercy turned my heart once before! In Judaea! He snarls. The people's will. It was in Jerusalem where I learned where the people's will, lay. You so brazen to match their deathwish with yournown bloodlust, and call it justice. I have slaughtered such men! Sinned in the face of our caretakers! The only difference is that I am no longer so quick to judge by the wills of men, Centurion. Are you such an animal yourself, Sulla? You are no Roman. And you? He laughed cruelly. changeling. Were it not for the Golden God himself you would still be scrabbling for action in Germania. And you so quick to deride the victims of a plague. They killed my men! And if you are to acheive your way, they will have murdered mine! Now, they might satiate the hunger through our own veins; have I myself not proved that? For the entirety? They have been hunting us, Legate; were it not for I they might be taking one of your Legionnaires this night alone. And I'm very grateful for that Centurion, only now I am faced with the prospect of a battle against a host of our own men women and children. Then cure them, kill them - do something. Command. Sir, come - the eighth cohort sir. It's asked to see you. It's about the feral. The corpses.

At the tent where they have collected and analyze corpses. Legate. Good to see you, Antony. What do you have for me. We've been extensively analyzing the physiology of all your successes, Speculatore, and your own sacrifice to the prisoner. And what is it you've found. Well, nothing yet. But this- and they show him the prisoner, who's no longer gnashing at the bars, but sleeping peacefully. How… We followed your lead, Imperator. Each of the researchers rolls up their sleeves to reveal scars. The fifth cohort has been working overtime, Sulla said, impressed. Fantastic, the Legate breathed. He's totally recovered. One Iulus Imperius Ortus, the researcher smiled, and he's in heaven. His system can't handle too much at a time, but he's made a steady return. So his wild nature wasn't simply psychological. No, sir. A physiological reaction, one produced by certain chemicals we've extracted from his blood stream. And yet - at no point did he ever bear marks of physical degradation. He's not in perfect health, but he's alive. Sulla the villagers who attacked you, were they more or less the man you see in this cell. They were wild eyedd, Legate. I heard no orders from the lot of them, only growling. Animals.

We may yet be able to stem our fell Lord's current predicament - for the moment at least. He turned back to the doctors. Antony, the sickness. Could you prevent this man from spreading it, barring his habit? The sickness appears to have been separate from the condition Legate. I would advise caution, but several men of the men who dredged these specimens came into contact with the dead citizens, unprotected. Return to the Legate You, he addressed the soldier who had brought them there. What is your name? Tiberius Locutus, sir. Locutus, bring me Centurion Agale. The Seventh Cohort, he should be stewing around somewhere in the camp yards. Yes sir. Sulla, Sir? Gather the bravest men you can find. Prepare the same men who inoculated us on our way into the city. Bring the remainder of your Speculatores. Centurion Salla, I am yours Legate. Gather your most skilled surgeons, have them prepare a small sampling from among willing donors, and a number of receptacles into which we might place larger quantities of our, life essence. I'll send out the couriers immediately. Turius! he marched off and began barking orders.

He sat around a campfire at evening as the last shoots of gold echoed across the sky with the leader of the Seventh Cohort, the reality benders. Centurion Agale he looked on with anticipation and he focused over the blood and he fell over shaking. A full bowl of blood. Centurion, are you alright I'm fine, I'm fine. Did it work. See for yourself. He handed the bowl to Sulla, who looked mildly offended. Oh, come along Centurion. A moment later, a gnarled grey wolf laid its tongue to the blood and closed its eyes in analysis. He blinked and nodded his canine head. He turned to Agale, how many of your men are capable of such a feat. I am no more skilled than the lot of them, Legate. Quickly bring as many as you can muster, back, he pointed to where they had returned from to the eighth cohort. Fill every bowl, jar, skin we have. Once we run out, use your wineskins. Take as much as you can to the gates of the city, but keep them from the Threshold.


Weeks later, Anubia is getting back on its feet. The constant supply of blood fed to them by the fourth legion has enabled them, as a society of super-active, intelligent, forever young Ubermenschen, to rebuild their apartments, and exercise their physical abilities without fear of repercussion. Marcilius Campus himself is just content - still in a deep melancholy, but glad his people are not dead. He and the Legate watch over the people of Anubia as they walk through the street. They stop to watch a group of children toss a ball around. One of them plows the other into the sand. The force of the impact bothers the Legate as they both arise, laughing. They've come about so quickly. All thanks to you, my friend. Thanks to me indeed. How goes the guard? We've reestablished a chain of command. I've pardoned most of them. The more egregious offenders will spend time incarcerated. We're understaffed but, the iron still holds them. For how much longer? Hard to say. They looked over at a group of three workers calmly toting a marble column over to the temple of Jupiter - apparently, the subject of heavy offense during the fighting. We are a new people, Legatus. Come. We'll discuss further in my chambers.

The returned through the bustling roads to the palace, once more seeing the empty cage of the two infected Legionnaires, and the sickly soldiers, now bright-eyed and clean. The guards of whom saluted them both - the Legate with an especial intensity. They entered Marcilius' Atrium, a marvelous white place, with a fire roaring in the center, decorated with various pieces of art and architecture. He called for a bright-eyed page, who brought them two goblets - the Legatus took his, and saw that it was full of wine. As the governor took a drink, his lips became stained with a familiar red tinge he noticed was now present on most of the civilians, far more prominent in the relative darkness of the Atrium. Marcilius set down the cup and laced his fingers together. Now, you had news of associated issues to be dealt with, now that our city is in the process of restoration by - your grace. I understand there will be certain complications now that - well… Yes, well, the crux of the matter is this: I came here with the orders of Tiberius to eliminate the threat posed by your people. Now, the Fourth Cohort are working day and night to ensure you have ample enough supplies to make it through the week, but even at the moment - we simply couldn't afford to leave an entire aspect the Legion here, in perpetuity. A solution simply must be found if the state is to survive. A cure. We have good men on this, but - we simply don't have a starting point. Nowhere to look for any kind of antidote to your condition.

The Legate then returns to the camp and is met with Sulla telling him to come quick. They go to a courtyard, where several members of the first Cohort have surrounded one of the soldiers captured, crying into the shoulder of his friend that was also captured, who has killed and drained another such Legionnaire. I'm sorry… I didn't mean to do it. Oh, Jupiter help me. As the Legate approached. Legate! Sulla went to defend him, but he held him back as the Legionnaire grabbed hold of his breastplate and sobbed a flurry of profanities and pleas. Slowly the Legate kneels and embraces him. Sulla stands over him with a look of incredulity, and the Legate whispered a prayer.

Line break. He and Sulla are talking. The traitor has been incarcerated. And the mob? Dispersed. I don't think they've met with such, obscene violence before. They can join our gathering, then. What of the Tribunes? I've spoken with them. They have faith, I think.

'Good.' he wiped the sweat from his brow and groaned.

They go to bed and wake up where a crowd has amassed outside his tent. The first cohort has called for the blood of the traitor. Cohort IV, supported by Cohort VIII, has formed a weak line between them and the vampire. They ask Pilate for the right. He asks for their argument. Himself demands death, lord. Alloe us to grant it to him, and fulfill that which is demanded. He has taken our blood, lord.

Pilate sees the pair where they are under guard and he explains a sudden urge came upon him, whereby he was filled with none but rage and thirst. Was it upon your volition. I do not know, Lord. So it's resolved blood rage is taking hold of the city. The more they are exposed to blood, the more fersl they will become. The blood is one end.

Pilate says he cannot give an answer. He goes into the city where blood rage is becoming more prominent. The king tells him about the ruins and they go with a detachment.


They go to the archaelogical site, passing through a dying city as it slowly devolves into blood-fighting. The Cohorts move in to secure the population as they continue into the darkness of the caverns beneath Anubia. Eventually they discover an altar hidden from the diggers, where they meet with a rogue god of the Carthaginians - Reshef, god of plague. Pilate is able to interface with him, as it sense he is no friend to the Romans. He asks why he is buried deep beneath the city, and he says that he was established by a group of zealots who brought him into the world seeking to promote the power of their decaying trade power. And you know of the bloodshed that tears at the people up above? The illness afflicting its residents? I am not bound to the will of the city, mortal; I am for the lordship of Carthage. It is my birthright, and I will claim it. By destroying Rome. Even now I live within your associates. They will return to the Capitol, where they will feast on the flesh of their wives - and their children. Then I will live in more, and all Rome will fall to the will of the Empire. Carthage is dead. Rome annihilated it; we salted your fields. How can you claim the right of a people that no longer exists?

Carthage is alive in me! I worked to preserve our heritage! Carthage is mine! And the ones who brought you into Carthage? Conspicuously missing from arrangement. They were filled with hate, plotted to overtake the righteous. I stopped them. Did you even listen? What were their thoughts, their desires? What did they want from you? I am more interested in yours, Legate. Now that you will crawl starving back to your Roman whore, and watch my herd enjoy the fruits of your destruction, what thoughts traverse the barren wasteland that is your intellect? Are you delusional, derelict? Your people are gone. Carthage is dead, I have told you - you must know this! What is your disease if not the outcry of a dead race! It is nothing. Then why do you persist? Your conquest will mean nothing for the children we slaughtered. I mean to avenge - wait… The presence burned into his mind, and he felt the sensation of being overlooked.

'The disparagement, I could see' - a sudden realization leapt to the plains of its mind. 'Oh yes. You. It could only be you.'

'My celebrity is known even to dead avengers, then.'

'Living ones. Traditions - the savage. Is this such comedy? They send to me the figure of Imperial autocracy, to -' Its confusion resolved. 'No. Not the figure of - such things. You-'

'I have suffered such beauty, derelict. And for it, I have suffered. And that will never be enough.

'An olive branch. A sacrifice.'

'Perhaps. If you wish it. Or, perhaps, to hear me speak.'

It paused, obviously deep in thought. 'Say your piece, then. And stay my hand for the good of your whore.'

'To be honest - I'm not sure what it is. You call me Legate, and they foisted the title on me, but I have not felt the weight of it in my soul. I-" He gave what equated to an ethereal sigh, "I am Prefect, still. I believe it to be true." Then you have no piece to give. You condemn your people to eradication. Maybe so. But before you judge or cause to purge-worthy, I had one idea to share with you. I hear. The lover of the dead - she left me with one image in my mind. One solitary image. I know not its context, nor its weight. But it seems to me, to possess a fineness that I have only perceived yet once in my time on this Earth. And, taking his finger, he flourished in the cosmic aether. Three arrows, a circle within a circle, and hedging on the cusp of the outer layer.

At this the derelict leered, and stayed silent for many moments. He looked to the Legate, deep into the man's eyes - his own eyes, and said:

"Perhaps, for the sake of my own vengeance, the Empire must suffer for years longer. Was this your ploy?" I have no ploys to give, derelict. But something has seized you also, if I see clearly. He leaned in close.

I will ply one boon from you, before I end my assault

For such a boon? Anything. My own life.

I am not cruel Legate. You may think me so, and I am hungry for you blood. But only this I ask, from one to mortal man.

Anything, anything.

Succeed. Do not cowtow to the wills of your dying lads. Let this dsy prevail. Do not let another such people be stamped into the ground. You see it here. I have seen your days. Let your ethos flood the empire, and let every man tremble when they say - this man was just.

The Legate accepts and the Carthaginian god is silenced. He returns to the altar, and all is quiet. The place has lost its luster; it is old and decrepit, no longer possessed of the old glory and the murals of the old kings. He returns to the land of the living, where the Legionnaires watch as the citizens are returned to their natural forms. The king has died in the madness; Sulla and the others occupied the palace, where many others expired.

And that's the end. That's how it ends. They won.

This shit

Wherever they are, we will hunt them. Wherever the concept, the idea, the mere sentiment of an oath to Der Fuhrer lies, we will snuff it out with boot and flame. All the powers which seed and plant the Swastikan germ shall be trussed up and beaten for seven days and seven nights. Every second iteration of the Enemy of humanity will be bled, burned, and buried alive. We will line the streets with the disfigured, disemboweled housings of the demons we have exorcised, not as a warning, but as a promise. And when the time comes where one of you ends the last infectee of the most disastrous calamity to be stricken upon this Earth - and that time will come - we will kill ourselves. Our bodies will be burned, and we will be thrown from our peoples by the ignorant, who need never have cause to take up arms for our Enemy again.


In all his years, Jonah had never imagined that he would spend the remainder of his life in a boat - or for that matter, even beyond a sparse, fleeting moment within one. He guided Liesl's eye as she gripped the fishing rod with sweaty palms. He disregarded the rocking of their skiff, and where an older man's wrinkled, decrepit digits might've brought her astray, his stayed steady and true. He pointed out towards a rippling in the water.

"Down here, you can see them before they want you to. They're not used to it. They get - bloated. Makes 'em feel good, but -" He tapped his chest. "Makes us feel better."

She nodded and clutched the rod with a shock as the fish grasped the bait somewhere beneath the waves. He helped her regain a tenuous control of the instrument and they struggled in silence for several minutes. The sun shone down on the bay and the blue, clear water shone with the renewed brilliance that always managed to raise Jonah's spirits, even as he wrestled with a engorged prey fish, which eventually they hoisted up onto the boat and kill, its slippery form wriggling all the while.

"Good." He wiped the sweat from his brow. "I'll finish this. Get started on those oars."

He gutted and cleaned their kill and added it to the bag containing the rest of Liesl's collection. After he tied it off, he collapsed in a state of exhaustion, and smiled at her in an attempt at camraderie. As always, her soulless, synthetic gaze bored a hole into the bottom of the boat.

Eventually, they returned to the shore. Their small hamlet had a direct look over the waters - one of the few benefits of being stationed on the edge of the world. Despite himself, he found the mass of meat to be prohibitively heavy, and without a word, she supported and took on the load herself, back into the house - a decrepit thing, hoisted on heavy, antiquated girders designed to protect it from the routine storms that once plagued the area.

They trekked back over the sand and as they reached walked up the rickety stairs and she opened the door at the stoop, he realized that the sun was already declining in the sky, and became worried that they may have missed their friend's daily visit. As they were greeted by the darker space inside the house, he was pleased that that wasn't the case.

"Load the fish in that icebox - the device near sink there," he ordered. She complied and he went to his small bedroom in the corner, creaking open the door and pulling on a small chain to bathe the space in a warm, albeit sickly light. He sat on the musty bed and began removing his vest and long boots, exchanging them for a coat and a pair of shoes.

Just as soon as he had come in, he left, to see that Liesl had already entered her hibernation stage. "Not so soon," he said, going to grind the coffee beans. "Today is your day."

She stood up and her soulless vision became filled with a semblance of life. "Why?"

"Because, I can't keep doing this forever. That's why you're here."

She started in protest, "That's not-"

"Yes it is." He filled the coffeemaker and went to wash his own cup from the morning. "Not that I have anything against it, but to be honest, sailor - you're just not good company."

"I'm a replacement?"

He laughed. "You're an updated model. And I'm a junkie."

She said nothing, and he finished with his mug, making special effort to shine out the "#1 DAD" scrawled on the side, before filling it and another, generic vessel with coffee and his usual ungodly amount of sugar. He pulled a chair out from the table to sit, laying the other cup at their friend's usual spot. She asked, "When will you go?"

"Soon. Every meal takes a little more out of me. It's gentle, but I can feel it. That's not much your concern, we just need to get you acclimated to the procedure."


He shrugged. "If you were amenable to it. We'd be cutting it close. The bakery's just about ready -" he motioned with his mug at the unassuming closet space behind her. "And those tides are looking a tad edgier than usual. I'd do it, but if you were unsure, we could always-" He left the statement as a question, and took a long, sheepish drink.

"I'm fine," she affirmed. "I can do it."

"Of course you can; that's why you're here." He put down his mug. "You just - need experience, that's all."

A loud thud shook the house and they both directed their attention towards the closet. The rusted sheetmetal opened, revealing a younger man - steaming, and completely nude. He timidly covered his organ and attempted to shield himself in the space that had just deported him. "I'm sorry, I was told I'd be, uh-" He trailed off as he took in the, in Jonah's eyes, admittedly bizarre first-sight of a kitchen, a shore, a synthetic, and crotchety-looking 34-year old.

"Let me guess," Jonah's eyes squinted in effort, while Liesl handed the stranger a towel. "Peter?"

"That's me," Peter confirmed hurriedly. "Peter Dunley. Here on - special assignment, was it?"

"You're in the right place, Peter." He pulled out the place he had set for him. "Please, sit, while I grab you something to- wear."

"I've got it, sir." Liesl looked at him, and he pointed at her.

"Better idea. Liesl, if you so kindly get them from the bottom drawer in that station our friend is currently guarding, I can go grab some of my-" He turned back to the collection of drawers by the sink, digging through them until he found a tin, placing them on the table. "Fine, fresh biscuits, and we can get ready for the evening at hand."

"Sounds good," Peter said, still protectively hugging the doorway. "Sir?" Liesl inquired, and he apologized as she moved to retrieve suitable garments for her first guest.

"You know that hyperloop is really something," Peter said as he devoured another biscuit. "I mean the speeds just - buffets you, you know? It's incredible."

Liesl sat between the two, unable to touch the food Jonah had laid out, while the latter sparingly took a courtesy biscuit. He spoke with the practised grace of a man who had grown how to entertain the same friend time and again with minimal effort, "I know it. From the news we get here, they're doing some remarkable things in engineering, even if we don't get to see the fruits. Still, duty's duty, isn't it?"

Peter nodded, cramming his mouth further with nutrition. "Duty." Realizing his more primal need for sustenance had somewhat overrode his table manner, Peter laid down his coffee and put folded his hands in preparation for more polite discussion. "Speaking of which, uh - how long you two been here?"

Jonah smiled. "Well, Liesl - you wanna tell the man a story?"

Liesl nodded. "I was moved out to the coast on special instruction just a few weeks ago, but the posts been open for a couple years now."

Jonah leaned back in his chair. "'Bright lights in the swamp at night,' 'three more fisherman missing off Gills,' - eventually it got so bad they just had to send somebody out. Too much work to ignore it."

Peter laughed. "Story of my life. All those New Zealand ops - man, what a bunch they got up there."

Jonah cleared his throat. "Quite."

Peter's smile slowly faded as the silence of the group took a moment too long to evaporate. "So we're exterminating this thing, right? I got the letter - procedure drafts, the whole fustercluck with the Trust, the briefing. How long are we in this thing?"

Peter said, "Well, we have your gear in that trunk Liesl pulled that jumpsuit out. All your custom fitted stuff. If you can get out on the surf by 2300, me and Liesl will walk you through the whole thing. Sound good?"

"Sounds good to me."


Liesl shrugged and, rejuvenated, Jonah smiled and stood. "Then I would suppose our meeting is adjourned, gentlemen. I'll get your plates."

Jonah and Liesl sat at a small, blue-iron switchboard on the cliffside, as the final rays shooting across the sky from the setting sun began to fade out to the pitch black of the night Jonah had known many times before. Through a large window they surveyed shore where a familiar figure stood; in the face of the spotlights, which sprayed a wide beam illuminating his heavily armored silhouette across a wide stretch of sea, the fading off of which only promised a greater breadth of water beyond. Peter's hulking form hefted a large rifle uncertainly, while the wind and the sea began to thrust forward with further and further zeal. He tapped on a small microphone in front of him before gesturing at a small lever adjacent to the viewscreen for Liesl, who pulled on it.

"Peter? Peter, can you hear us?" He spoke into the rod as the shutters began to wind down, leaving them in darkness, with only the singular red light of the recorder to define their sparse movements. "Affirmative, Central. This water is really coming in. You're sure about this?"

"Peter, as long as you're out there the procedure should work perfectly. It's all been worked out. Now, understand that we won't be able to see you for the duration of the operation, so it's critically that you do as we say and don't deviate. Is that clear?"

"It's clear."

"Peter, I'm going to hand you over to my associate now - you must do as she says just as you do what I say - I know it may feel strange, but you have to trust me. Okay?"

"For god's sake man, I get it. Just tell me what to do, this suit's heavy."

Jonah covered the microphone. "If at any time it starts to get too much or he stops responding, just hand it back over to me, and we can do this again tomorrow - okay?"


He bent the microphone towards her, and she bent down to speak. "Peter?"

"Hello? The wind's picking up, it's getting a little hard to hear. What's next?"

"Peter, first I want you to lay your gun on the sand."

A small moment of silence followed before the crackly voice of the man could be heard once more. "Repeat?"

"Lay your service rifle on the sand, and we're going to cut the lights. It's a critical part of the procedure."

Another, shorter moment followed, before he returned. "Copy. Disarming."

Jonah hit another switch on the board. Peter's voice came back up on the receiver, "Central, I may need to report a power failure on torches - 1, all the way through 4."

Liesl took over, "Negative, Peter. Everything's working fine. Just another part of the procedure. Stay calm."


Jonah gazed at her intensely. She displayed no signs of stress, or anxiety. "You're doing very good. Just carry him in."

"Peter, I want you to look out to the water, and repeat a mantra to yourself. This will lower the creature's defenses, enabling you to pick up your gun and terminate it. You are to target the lower body, not the central eye. Do you understand."

"Understood. What do I say?"

"Repeat after me. And you need to believe it - otherwise, the entire exercise may be compromised."

"I've got it - what do I say?"

"'I am ready to be accepted. I am ready to be wanted. I am ready to be loved.'"

"'I am ready to be accepted…'"

The pair continued their exercise for hardly a minute before the water began to break.

"Ready to be w… Central, we have surface contact!"

"Repeat the mantra, Captain. You are ready to be accepted. You are ready to be wanted. You are ready to be loved, you know this."

Peter began to breath heavily through the microphone. "I know, I know."

"You need to say it, Peter."

Peter began to hurriedly rush through the stanzas as the sound of water crashing began to overflow through his microphone. Liesl looked to Jonah, who appeared to simply be taking in the performance. He noticed her gaze.

"You can comfort him if you want. Tastier meal, perhaps. You performed admirably. It's done now."

She sat stock-still as the heavy breathing continued through the microphone. She leaned slightly closer.

"Peter, it's okay. It's all right."

He was hyperventilating. "Oh Christ. It's so - I couldn't. I need my gun. My gun's gone."

"Peter, it's all right. Peter, listen to me. Peter, you were good. Remember New Zealand? Do you remember?"

"Christ, I'm going to die - I'm going to die."

"Peter, it's okay. Peter - Peter, listen to me."

"What, what? Can I - can you let me in, can I go? Please?"

"Peter, it's not going to hurt you. It's okay. It's not going to hurt you."

The microphone grew silent beyond the sound of the wind and the waves and the air in Peter's lungs, until Peter began speaking once again. "Okay. Oka-"

The microphone continued receiving the sound of the water, but the sound of Peter had dissipated. Looking immensely tired, Jonah reached to shut it off, and they were left in silence.

The fish the day after followed their usual patterns - practically leaping into their skiff the morning the went out, and slowly tapering off and fleeing as the sunset came upon them. In the dining room, Liesl scrubbed the few dings that the equipment had picked up in the night. The only evidence of Peter they could find was a small, red stain on the sand.

Liesl was never such a chatty companion, but she was even less for small talk following the completion of her procedure. Jonah had come well accustomed to such silence. He sat back in his chair, his eyes far away, thinking of seas well-away from the one they found themselves tied to, taking sip after sip of the one thing he still found quite tasteful, his Joe.

They sat there, in mild harmony, up until a small creaking could be heard at the last hours of the day, when the shoots of the sun were finding their way into the kitchen. Peter walked out of his room, into the kitchen, without any regard for his organs.

"I'm Don. I need clothes, and - something to eat. Lots of calories."

Normally, Jonah would leap to his feet and accompany his associate to the loo, but he was compelled by an ancillary force, somewhere in his abdomen, to simply look at him for a moment. Don returned his look with a gaze of ignorant expectation, and Jonah - simply stared.

"Bathroom's down the hall."

canon thing

Book I: The Tapestry of Names

Book II: The End of Knowledge

Act I: Retribution

The Defender of Mankind has been defeated. She lays young and quiet at the center of the solar system, and Earth reels in response to the vast change that has taken and un-taken place. Most everyone. In the Library her absence is noted and preparations are made for invasion.

In response to a GOC-Foundation taskforce that entered the Library and attempted to destroy it, a large force enters Earth through Mass Ways all over the world. A UIU agent catches onto a cell of the Hand building one and stops it in time with the help of an Insurgent, but the worldwide plot is set. The Mass Ways activate and the Wanderers deploy peon entities which undertake a vastly destructive campaign. Some O5's escape via craft, at least one stays behind in a secure bunker, while most die. The Administrator escapes; the GOC is largely destroyed, with all suriviving assets coordinating with the Foundation to hop off planet, to Mars, where their few offworld assets still exist on Acidalia Planitia. GAW and AWCY work to help the Foundation and existing governmental structures with a form of evacuation using their memetic expertise; large civilian exoduses are guided towards city centers which are manned and sieged while the Foundation scrambles to coordinate launches as they are badly, badly beaten. Several apocalyptic beings are released; at Area 179, SCP-2317 breaks free, a bulwark against the onslaught instead of the world's destructor. It will be destroyed defending the evacuations. All SCP's are either jettisoned, euthanized, or recruited and evacuated. SCP-682 rampages indiscriminately through Site-19; the immortal is subdued and killed by the horde.

The GRU, OBSKURA, and IJAMEA fight indiscriminately in the open to control the violence. A covert meeting leads to the formation of the Polni - a united group of anti-Horde occultists. They organize guerilla and terrorist attacks in populated areas; many die by as they are being wiped out, the Factory opens itself to them, sensing that the time of new things is near. Dr. Wondertainment and his staff have already fled into it, and begin making weapons for the burgeoning resistance. UIU militants, responsible for coordinating much of the nation's military, join shortly after as the US initiates continuity of government.

GAW's extremists are wiped out in a final stand, after refusing to join the Fascists. AWCY is dealt with similarly; anartists connected through their grapevine are offered a chance to betray universe prime but by and large rebuff this. Art cannot coexist with genocide, and so they die. Monuments will be built to them in SCP-2000 - New Earth - commemorating their sacrifices.

As Earth falls under occupation, Project Malleus fights to the last man. Salah and Mary do as well but fall back before the Vatican capitulates entirely, removing to the Canadian wilderness in the aftermath with a small group of Shepherds as the last remnants of the Initiative. ORIA is one of the few who do not resist. They coordinate with the Jinn and provide support for Evacuations in the Middle East, but they go underground. They disappear with their wards shortly after the shadow falls.

The Insurgency is broken in its attempt to fight off the monsters of the world, despite its criminal efforts. The Manna Charitable Foundation absorbs their remnants, and they become the Second Foundation. They are a largely anti-militant force, mostly helping refugees escape to the wilderness, and using anomalous technology to keep them comfortable - but the Wanderers see all, and they can do very little.

The Churchs of the Broken God and the Sarkic High Council fight tooth and nail, harder than any other group, to preserve their way of life. Operating out of advanced facilities in Eastern Europe they fight and fight until they are on the brink of extinction. In the madness they also take to open fighting amongst each other, in addition to the occupiers; a ceasefire goes into effect, only after they can no longer afford to sustain more losses. Bumaro is killed and the Churches are fractured.

The Lunar colonies watch the chaos helplessly. No evacuations take place, but they will be the first to fall when the Hand (now simply the Serpent) launches Conquest ships. It's a massacre and the few who survive are enslaved.

New Earth was launched many years ago and the various evacuations dock with it. There is food and water enough to sustain those who survived. The O5's declare the war's beginning.

Act II: Reckoning

Three years later, the Administrator is dead of old age. The line of succession is at risk and the few O5's left are vying for power while systems aboard New Earth are decaying.

Earth is under occupation. The GOC are on the verge of losing Mars; the Horde's conquest ships refuse to let up their fury against a broken and battered dictatorship.

The Black Queen has disappeared, and the Serpent receives orders only from mysterious go-betweens.

The Polni's campaign of resistance has been the most successful attempt at fighting the Serpent. The Fuhrer is manipulating actions in his favor; OBSKURA is gaining strength. He knows the Foundation is out there, and he knows the coming days will decide the new world. He desires a Reich.

IJAMEA head, Miyamaoto Ieyasu, an aged but powerful warrior, died near the beginning of the war. His son Yamato is being controlled as the new Shogun and must find his voice if the world is to be spared - or given - a new Reich. The leader of the Communist GRU, Dust, has been the stalwart against the Fuhrer's tendencies - friction is taking hold of the leaders.

The world is a place of rampant technology and magic, and we follow an unassuming young GOC colonel as he works to push back against the Martian beachhead. After several strategic victories and political maneuvering he redefines the Coalition war machine. With Mars taken, and the new O5 decided, the council decides it is time to begin going on the offensive. They deploy isolated messengers to Earth, where they negotiate with the various factions with one goal: come to Geneva. A bombed out ruin of a city, where all who would rise up against the Wanderers would pledge their oath to the Front.

The Polni: are sought and founs in Budapest. They see themselves better than the Foundation who abandoned Earth and will not easily listen to them; only orders from the hardened UIU stave off the agents’ executions. The agents there must solve the riddle of the Fuhrer, shape the future of the new Shogun, and bring Dust - who sulks, refusing to give his men orders - back into the fold. The UIU must be brought to supremacy to ensure the Polni people will not fall to the Fuhrer’s genocidal machinations. And in all of this, bring them to Geneva.

The Shepherds: Mary and Salah, in the forest in Canada, are found and must be convinced that the fight is still worth fighting, that their faith in their Gods must be redeemed.

The Second Foundation: are found hiding out in the jungles of South America. The Insurgency is offered a return to the Foundation's fold. The Charitable Foundation must be convinced to take up arms. They must come to Geneva.

The Church: has taken up its home in Europe, where Cogwork Orthodoxy, Maxwellism, and the mainstream Broken are vying for influence in similar manner as on New Earth. They all must be brought under one banner; then they must make true peace so that they can come to Geneva with

The Sarkics: On the brink of total extinction, the High Council refuses to bring its forces to bear and preaches to its dwindling population about the evils of the Church and how flesh consumes the world. They must be quelled before the ceasefire breaks and exposed for their hypocrisy, so that they can travel to Geneva as one burgeoning people.

The True Foundation: the remnants who refused to run and went underground are found after much searching in the Balkans. O5-5, the Candid Bastion, hates the Foundation now; he despises his fellow overseers after years of silence. His soldiers have worked among the Factions in secret, and if they are to come into the Foundation’s fold, he will need to be convinced the Foundation means to fight, and return to their court at Geneva.

The Outcast: SCP’s cut loose at the point of the invasion - led by a reformed 682. They are promised freedom to fight with their former wardens but resentment among them is extremely high. They are the few who openly allied with the Wanderers when they could, and it is dubious whether they will come to Geneva at all. Nobody is the Outcast who rounded them up and gave them homes. He is immensely bitter against the Foundation and GOC for their past excess. But the only hope for them to come to Geneva is if Nobody is convinced the humans are genuine in the promise of a free world.

The Serpent: Human and inhuman sympathizers abound within the regime. The Prime Overseer, directing operations over the entirety of Earth, must be convinced to join the rebellion and rebel against the masters who stole away their Queen and brethren into the depths of the Library. A rescue mission must be launched; only then will they rally behind her, and commit to Planetfall.

The Eastern Raiders: ORIA and Jinn - an integrated, reclusive society impenetrable by the Serpent. They mostly keep to themselves and are well hidden; they must be found if the power of the Jinn is to be made against the Wanderers. They must be convinced to save the world that rejected them, so that they might make a cleaner one - at Geneva.

At Geneva, all that they can gather will come together to discuss the terms of the war, inside and outside the realm of the Wanderers - and what comes after. It ends with the Colonel looking out towards the moon with his New Marines.

Act III: Return

The fleet takes the moon as the Foundation levies all of its forces against Planet Earth. Luna falls quickly, and with it so do the drop pods. A forward command station is set up on the Moon while all forces launch their attacks on the Wanderer’s forces. It is extremely bloody, but with all the powers of the universe on their side Earth is retaken in several major Campaigns. The final decision to assault the wanderers in their home territory is made, and the second battle of the Wanderer’s Library begins. Their strength exhausted in the invasion, and with the minds of the Hand on the side of the invaders, Humanity is finally able to cut to the heart of the Library, where they kill a Wanderer.

The death of one such being is a multiverse shaking event. Several important things happen. The Library closes. All those who fight within it are ejected to the exterior, as it implodes. The grass is made green and all blemishes are made whole. Ripples are seen in space as something simply stops: entropy is no longer winning the fight. Humanity shall progress to become the next Wanderers - peaceful, rather than sorrowful.

Act IV: Retrospect

150 years into the future, the world is still at peace. The Sarkics and Mechanists have merged. The Polni are a world power. The Foundation, made absolutely whole by the skips, Insurgents, and Manna, send ships out to the unknown, where the Scarlet King lies in wait, at the Battle at the End of Reality.

Book III: The Dead Stars

110 Montauk is the Scarlet King takes a human host for a short time to prevent the rise of the seventh child for another day. The Six Children were designed to be the Seventh Child's Primarchs in the War Against The Scarlet King; the only reason he has not yet fallen is because the Foundation works with him. The Seventh Child was an attempt by a young human sorceror, along with his small cadre of followers, to synthesize a being worthy of unseating the Emperor form his post - the incarnation of entropy. The Foundation has determined this being to be a greater threat than the Emperor himself and through plans devised by Robert Montauk they developed technology through which to communicate and cooperate with him. Both sides understand that this is not a truce - it is an alliance against a greater evil. When the Scarlet King returns to full strength, he will make his venture into colonized space and the war against him will begin.

The Dead Stars takes place approximately 1000 years after the conclusion of The End of Knowledge.

The Foundation no longer exists, nor do the Polni. They've coalesced into the Collective, the dominant ruling power in the galaxy and a far cry from its optimistic roots at the end of Knowledge. It has fully colonized the galaxy with very little true resistance, mostly planetside occupations. These occupations did not start with the intent to conquest, but the people on the planets understood the Collective/Foundation to be marauding aliens, occasionally. Sometimes negotiations were concluded peacefully but as time wore on the Collective acquired a more militant tone.

The Collective, naturally is an enormous entity consisting of quadrillions of people. It lies unchallenged thus far but worlds on the Galaxy's edge have been lost contact with.

The Red Paw Camp

A burly form in a thick black cloth lay against the winding jungle branch with a practiced, aware calm. Beneath the miraculous layers that fed his skin a life-giving cool and kept the microscopic calamities from his bloodstream, the sweat on his back felt routine mushed against the hard wood. Somewhere out in the blackness, an animal cried out in a tongue once alien to him.

It was perfectly dark, and as the meat from hours before finally began to settle into his stomach, he found himself drifting off for the first time in weeks. It had been a hard way up from the lines down south - as time went on, and he spent so much time dodging the watchful eyes of surreptitious guerrilla scouts, the jungle began to take on a certain society of its own. It was not one which permitted him rest quite so easily, and he could respect the pains to which the rain and the birdsong went to keep him alert, and accompanied.

Just as quickly as his eyes took the lull in activity to creep off into their sockets, their lids locking into place as his body ordered all of its honed functions to begin shuttering their various systems, they all snapped to attention at the shuffling of a number of humanoid minds coming into contact with his own inner-eye - his Primary Endowment - several meters away. Its talent was relatively minute, but even it could taste the three heavily armed strongmen cutting their way through the bush.

Without a peep, he took hold of the branch, and as he weaved his way down its expanse, he felt warm, affectionate push against his body and mind, as he drew a small portion of strength from his robes. His inner eye recoiled with disgust.

He took up position behind his tree, the slick material sliding into the brush without a sound and removed the hood covering his mild features. He spoke into the night using their own native language. Speaking with his mouth, he would be lucky to malign the language - in his mind, however, he did not trust himself not to massacre it entirely. 'Friend!'

Their minds instantly took on a quality, not of terror, but of unnerved superstition. They began to chatter among themselves before the loudest - he presumed him to be the leader, responded with elegantly with his tongue: "American!"

Lights began shining around the tree. He came around it with his hands up - after his eyes had acclimated to their light, he began to appreciate the gun barrels pointed at him.

The leader, a tall, built gentleman, came forward, and ran up and down his strange appearance with an inquisitive eye.

Finally, he signaled in Vietnamese for them to lower their gun barrels. "Welcome to Laos, Gold 3."

The group sat around a burning fire, drinking clean water. As it had turned out, their leader - whose name still eluded his inner eye's grasp - had preselected a secluded little clearing a mile North of their rendezvous point for the purpose of their meeting.

The other men in the group finished feeding the pitiful blaze and settled in around it; it was enough to illuminate their exchange but not quite enough to make it hotter than it already was. The leader's pure features took on an ethereal look in the light as he marked a map for Barnes, who sat back on the solid Earth.

"'Twas an order by the Chairman himself demanding we cease our attempts to broach the river. That place is littered with death now; I can only hope that one man will succeed where a thousand failed."

"You keep tabs on it?"

"We have sent scouts past the threshold; all have returned in a new and special way."

"Could they talk?"

"The ones that could would only scream.

Barnes leaned back against the dirt, thoughtfully. His opposite number tossed another branch into the fire. One of the soldiers stood sentry; the tip of his rifle gleamed against the lapping firelight.

"Once, I was a young boy, far from here. My home was surrounded by life - it was very beautiful."

"And we've torn it up, I imagine."

"The bombs that fell that day turned my home to ash and the fields to fire. Wide stretches of life - kindling. A man's body," he drew his hand across his face emphatically, "All gone. And he sits there, very alive, and says nothing."

"He's checking out."

The leader shrugged. Gold 3 scratched his chin.

"I come from a little thing back home. Hot like this, but never so wet. One night I heard some real noise coming out from the fields, some real - howling. This is in America, you know. My Pa takes me out there - grabs this big gun, bigger than I've ever seen. And we go out back, and we see, uh-" He gesticulated wildly in the air. "Crosses, huge, flaming crosses. Dozens of them, and there's - they had rounded up lots of our neighbors and just - hanging from the - uh, the flames. Just drifting in the wind."

"What did you do?"

"Well, my father went to the police, and they - talked to some people. And, uh -" He shrugged. "Guess they took care of it."

"You had control."

He shook his head. "Nobody's got control. Not when something's been lost."

The leader turned back to the fire. The living jungle reminded them of its presence, and the sounds of the animals crept up and over the crackling of the wood.

"They are grinding us into shadow with this. Soon, all will be quiet."

He nodded. "Beyond the river, there's quite a noise, isn't there? I expect you heard it."

"We still do. At night. As the water falls."

After the fire burned out, their leader set to work guiding them through the bush. It was very thick, and it took hours for the men to slice their way through the leaves and the branches that obstructed their path. Gold 3 swam through it as the ocean back home - another tidbit that their benefactors appropriated for their best men. How lucky they were to work so closely. He thought it very ironic, and chuckled to himself.

The way was not lit, but they could feel one another by breath. Each body's heat was unique and the noise that they made was only second to the sweat on their opposing stances. High up above them, blocked out by a million interlocking organisms, the moon made their foreheads glisten.

They marched in silence, until the brush opened up, and they had come to the barrier. Across the river, crosses were hoisted all along the shore - the liquid within which had slowed to a crawl. His inner eyelid had fallen, and he gave it a light nudge. At once it set to scanning the horizon, and he gently directed it towards their goal - and for the first time, they both witnessed the void. The silence of the land beyond the water ate into his soul, as he grasped the enormity of the death that lay beyond them. Life had abandoned this place. His inner eye recoiled from it, wriggling its way into the darkest, safest corner of his psyche. Gold 3 forced it out. He would require it for the struggle that awaited them.

"You will cross it well enough," the Leader said. "There are no currents to lead you astray."

"I don't know about that."

"You can worry about death once you make it there alive."

Gold 3 sucked in his breath. "Bet on me?"

"My friend saw their land before he died. There is a hoisted banner there, from the place they called home. When he showed them his souvenir - a copy of their stars and their stripes - they only deprived him of his manhood."

"That's not very encouraging."

"It wasn't meant to be. You will reach the dead alive. Once you are there, I cannot tell you what you will become."

The agent held his hand out, and the leader took hold of it.

"We will be waiting to see you return. But we cannot promise we will not finish off whatever is left."

"Be a darling and make sure to do it, will you?"

The leader nodded, and they broke apart. The team wordlessly retreated into the brush, and in half a moment it was so that the only evidence of their existence were their tell-tale heartbeats slipping away.

He waded in.

The water was uncharacteristically cold. Even his relatively unendowed companion felt the faint echoes of the fire that had shattered this place, and he could feel their cold fright against the oppressively hot morning. As he reached the center of the stream, despite his drills before the war, a terrifying feeling crept up within him, that he too would be swallowed up by the water and added to its gruesome collection. Just before it overtook his will, he steeled himself, and remembered his other drills. He recited the antimeme to himself; before he knew it, his mind was quiet again, and he realized his other friend, protected deep within the folds of his cloak, had taken over during his preoccupation - frantically treading water. The Secondary Endowment.

He could clearly see his friend's sheepish form within his own clothing, and reached out with his eye. 'This is not why the life was made, little one. But you remain steadfast. Please do not forget that this is beautiful to me.'

His friend responded with a warm, affirmative feeling in his belly, and he knew that he was not alone. And for that he was glad. The inner-eye rubbed up against his mind, demanding attention, and he gave it the psychic equivalent of a pat on the head. It vibrated pleasantly, its nerves not entirely at ease, but comforted. He returned his gaze to the child.

'If I truly need you, you will feel the glory of the Elder. But for now, do not fret how I go about these waters. They are below our worry.'

Once more, he felt its touch - stronger, this time. Determined, and rigid.

He made his way to the other end of the shore. The wet dirt retreated from his feet, too fearful to impede his progress. With the gray mulch of the barrier cleared, he bore witness to the land beyond.

It was many miles in scope that he saw, emptied of all foliage. It occurred to him at that moment he walked not upon dirt, but dirt mixed with agents - burned skin and flesh covered the land around him. The crosses that lined the river bank extended on either side for miles into the darkness, such that he could not see. They were charred white; recently planted, yet spoiled all the same. They stood watch, awaiting occupants that would never live long enough to be hoisted upon them.

The friend nudged at his feet. The inner eye could sense deep anticipation within the small body, and within itself he saw seething anger. This land had been deprived of many colors.

As he took the first step into the broken land, he felt a weight fall upon his shoulders. His boots dragged in the mud, but his friends picked them up.

And he was once again glad.

He walked for many hours.

The sun's rising had taken on a different color. The entire palette of this world had been bleached red with the army's fallen. Smoky clouds blotted it out, and scarlet rays shot across the sky heralding a storm.

The ground he trod upon was bone-white and despoiled. The lush jungle he had left behind, had made and so in each direction sat only the material which crunched and crinkled under his boot. It could've been bone, or skin, but he suspected it some other malady - a cancer upon this land.

The Inner Eye dutifully scanned his quarters at every

The shriek rang all angles throughout his mind, an urgent cacophony of noise. He had heard it many times before. He checked all around, and in the distance, about forty meters from his position in the sand, standing upon two wiry components was a dark shape, set against the rising sky.

He squinted his eyes at the creature, attempting to blot out his first companion's jittery assault against the outside world. He could feel its tendrils snap to and fro among the landscape, and with a flourish, wrap around the form that observed them. They fell away from it, lifeless ash, and with the small flashes of thought he received, he could understand how so many had failed to acquire this place.

Unbidden, the form began to approach him at length. It came over to him and ate him up. He could feel the flesh wriggling around him as he was swallowed up. It gazed upon him with his one eye, and several facets of it wiry flesh spindled down to wrap around his waist. As he began to lose consciousness, he realized his mission had begun in earnest.

He woke to the smell of meat, blood, and smoke.

The room was small and wooden. He had been pitched to the floor of a dank shack once could perceive a ray of light disclosing a lush exterior, totally opposed to the harsh landscape they had previously been exposed to.

His Inner Eye was still closed, and when he felt it, it was deathly cold. He struggled to see more than the light outside; he still had all four limbs, and from what he could tell his eyes were still solid. He was missing part of his liver, but he could already feel a dull pulse in his abdomen as his friend struggled to piece it back together. As his hearing returned, a low buzzing greeted him, and as that faded out, he winced at the sound of steel on stone.

With it, he heard a voice. "Does it come to us with the promise of a new day?"

"Who are you?"

"It asks me. What a mess."

He slapped the inner eye. He could feel it throb and pulsate - it persisted, but it would be some time before it returned to the fray. His new friend filled the air in the meanwhile -

"It is third from the hills beyond the vine. And I will see to it that the promise remains kept."

"What are you talking about it? What promise?"

The lumbering shadow hefted its blade and swung it into something dead. "Would you believe me if I told you that I have never killed a man?"


"Neither would I. But the blade is clean. The blade is always clean. He keeps it for us. Deep in his hole. He'll come to get you. First, we wait. First, you eat."

The figure stomped over to his cell, where it dropped to its knees, and left a platter. It consisted of meat - Gold 3 could see that it was human, stripped and charred - and a vessel of water.

"What do I call you?" The figure had returned to sharpening its weapon.

"I am Armand. I

time loop thing

Okay I just need to get this down because otherwise I'll lose it.

A guy is stuck in a time loop. He's been stuck in it for a very long time and the Foundation has only now realized - however, they can only observe, similar to other time loops previously written. The guy clearly has full command of his environment in a Groundhog Day-y scenario; he has accepted his fate and is relatively at ease with his surroundings.

One day, the Foundation realizes his situation is changing. He has a Eureka moment in a diner and the man's routine becomes more chaotic; it becomes clear he is searching hard for something. He spends many days solely online, and other days he simply travels around, knocking on doors, asking people indistinct questions that they can roughly lip read. At this point, it becomes clear that he is searching for someone.

After a while, he searches in a specific part of the neighborhood gradually lead him to the location of, . At that point, his efforts turn from searching to full-blown resolve, because the person that he is searching for is halfway across the planet.

His efforts start out rough at first, but they begin to escalate. He begins indulging in greater and greater schemes in attempts to maximize his travel output. Like, planes and trains and cars and stuff, and it's all very dramatic as he desperately attempts to solve the problem of how to get to this, with the help of his friend.

Manna charitable foundation tale

Manna Charitable Foundation Tale:

A multifaceted group of specialists journeys gathers in Dubai to enter a sand-bound dimension where they plan to lead an evacuation. The primary character is Miles, an ex-GOC operative working for a PF contracted by Manna for covert operations like this, with a supporting liasion from the Foundation providing oversight and a representative of the Broken Church sponsoring the operation. They encounter lots of different war crimes as violence begins to completely engulf this place. It's supposed to be an subversion of the typical war drama; the through-line is about when you stop fighting and what that means for your identity. Miles has recurring dreams of dying in a blaze of glory, killing as many as he can fighting to get back to what he loves, to return to a perfect stasis, but the end moral is that he can only get back to it inside himself. Or something.

They're evacuating a group of tribesmen out of the dimension that have peaceful tendencies before they seal the hole permanently.

"We're a smaller sect. Bumaro lets us exist so long as we don't preach to the initiated. We try to focus on charity and science more than the holy war - if that's something you can understand."

"I can."

This is idea of dropping your gun and achieving inner peace of being a more powerful weapon of your war than limitless effort can be. Limitless effort to achieve goal, towards the end of concluding effort.

Die Wille

SCP-4000 - Die Willewissenschaft

Conceptualization stage

Contest theme: History, subsection Site History

Definite Leads: The revision of history to suit a narrative, tie-ins with the Nazis and how their revision suited their ideology, working with the Obskuran methodology of True New. Tie-in to the Founder's Trust introduced as a political entity, the Legend of the Three Kingdoms, and the death of will.

Centerpoint: An element that is key to not only the items involved by the theme, obviously. But what to use?

The Obskurans seek to alter humanity through the unknown - rather than the genocidal breeding out of the Nazis, alter all of humanity to one form. This was the heresy which got them cast out and almost defeated, before they were saved by their Fuhrer who led them to the cult in Japan where they festered.

This is their final plot, based around the stylings of the Nazis who sought to use their collective volk in order to overthrow the allies, not only physically, but ideologically, conceptually. Were they to succeed, history would have been resupposed. A group of Obskurans seek to apply this through Willewissenschaft - the application of pure will, directed through a lens to resuppose natural history. They failed; the Obskurans shut down their program on the grounds that it would not permit a higher ascendance of the men available - and more directly, it would lead to them losing their positions and existence. Greed. But the rogues escaped and continued their work. They are on the verge of completing it.

There are applications to this. The Foundation, through the Trust, which perceives that this "Will Science" is necessary for their continued proposition. So they deploy agents to acquire it and ensure containment from the get-go.

I want to talk about revisionism. A narrative, built through the only frame one can know. Their will to make it 'right.'

This is supposed to be about history. Watching the death of something dear to you.

In order to create this SCP first I must lay out the philosophical framework behind the drive to create - otherwise the creation will end up malformed.

The 4chan myth, that this idea of a place ruled by other people, taken eby people, for the purpose of raping it. To justify unvalidity.

The goal was never to change the past. The goal was to change how the past was seen. The goal was to change the context of victory.

The object is a signal. With strange circumstances. When one attempts to ride it, strange things happen. They design a chamber which latches on to the signal and they send one man through; it's later discovered two other men mastered the same trick,

Trivian Armor:

Item #: SCP-XXXX

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: All fully recovered sets of SCP-XXXX are to be remanded to the Charter Department, where they will be secured in the subdivision's Esoteric Arming Vault in Memphis, Tennessee under heavy guard. Any employee lacking sufficient clearance attempting to gain entry to the sets are to be intercepted and, if possible, peacefully detained. Access is also to be denied to all other qualified visitors, barring special exception from Regional High Command.

Sets recovered by any mainstream sources are to be confiscated and those responsible for the recovery placed into the Protected registry.

Description: SCP-XXXX refers to two-hundred and thirty different aesthetically and functionally similar sets of frame armor, dating variably from as far back as 75 C.E., with the most recent iteration being estimated as only two hundred years old. The chronological range of the artifacts notwithstanding, by and large the forms of the collection's visual and mechanical idiosyncrasies demand a common origin.

Deserted Contest Entry

NARRATOR: This informational video is brought to you by the Fund for the Public Arts. Feel free to donate or call 555-131-2725 to see how you too can pitch in.

NARRATOR: My name is Edward T. Howmann. I'm a local agent in History Division, or as we're commonly known - Oldsec. You may not have heard of us, but essentially we're a new division focusing on the acquiry and guardianship of essential facts and details about our own organization's past and that of the beautiful underbelly of society at large, which we often find lacking in any kind of true historical record or analysis, accessible to our wider audience - you the viewer, of course, may not have many peers with which to share your newfound knowledge, but it's been decided that your memory matters just as much as that of a hundred people's. Now please, I hope you'll join me on a fabulous journey throughout the powerful last days of the Daeva.

NARRATOR: You may have noticed, in the background behind, me, this great, steepled beauty. This is SCP-4000, recently kindled in a sort of dramatic irony as the fabulous first inception in a whole new line of assets and associates. It's otherwise mentioned in our best source for these things, the Chronology of the Daeva - or SCP-140, if you'd prefer - as Mak-Su Aliemiente, the "Owner's Pass" - the final resting place of a civilization, and, in an ironic twist of events, as these things turn out, also its birth.

NARRATOR: These weeded fields you see before you - where these fine pillared structures once would've sung water into agricultural formations, pleading with the very heart of the seed itself to let itself free and become one with its Daevite beneficiaries, are of course now laid to waste with the excess and chaos that overtook this country several decades ago.

NARRATOR: Patton tanks like this one are scattered all around the established perimeter; they were popular during the war. As you can see from these - this identifying Ouroboros, we can imagine that this group in particular would've been from the lost second special armored division - you can perhaps venture a guess to their profession at the strange hybrid structure of these specimens; weapons of blood, steel and certain rocks that appear to have come up from deep within the old mines to join with these worthy new contestants. Perhaps it was only a miracle that their pilots could not be seen from the outside, lest their humanity be consumed in a manner similar to the exterior of this vehicle. The events which led to the Americans' military deploying their best troops deep into rural Luang Prabang are a separate matter; all that is now left now are these rotting beasts, dead or abandoned on the field of battle.

NARRATOR: This perimeter wall is a fantastic curiosity. The Chronology speaks very little about the constructions of Indochinese Daevite sects, but this item in particular, speaks volumes with its orientation to that rising sun, and were we to be lucky enough to visit on the solstice, we could bear witness to quite a lights show. As such it suggests far more of an aesthetic purpose, rather than any kind of practical usage - however, from this wear, tear, this vast gap of shattered rock indicating cannon-blast, suggest by the end, it was not quite as impractical as originally intended.

Noche Oscura Revised entry

The room was dark and the hanging light disappointedly swung from the ceiling. A young boy sat bound to a thick iron chair, his eyes wide with terror as his torturer made to enjoy his work all the more.

'Where was the convoy headed? Who were its passengers? Give me names.' The torturer brought the knife down upon the young boy's head, but it did not cleave flesh. Instead, a great gray form rose up out of the young boy's body, floated across the room, and screamed to leave. With the touch of a button, the gray form zapped its way into oblivion and the young boy cut loose with a shout not unlike the banshees of old.

'In twenty two hours,' the torturer drawled, 'seventeen people will be dead, by your hand. And it will be to make the pain stop.'

The young boy abandoned the charade, and hurriedly changed his form to suit any kind of scenario where he could escape his bindings and leave the nightmare which he had been condemned to. Instead, the bindings in turn shifted and warped themselves to accommodate any strange gesticulation his flesh might encounter during his frenzied escape attempt. After much toil, and tears, he reverted back to the innocent, wide eyed young boy, and began to speak.

'Please let me out.'

The torturer took the knife, and - with another push of a button, sent a long electrical ray down its honed edge. As it came down upon the thing's arm, it sputtered and sparked and sent smoke spraying up and out through the room as the distinct odor of burning flesh could be detected. The thing screamed all the while, its unfortunate form wriggling and fighting, attempting to find some means of egress, but finding only the blade.

After he had cut through the formless mass, it fell to the floor, released from bondage, shriveling down into a small wad of paper, until he kicked it, whereby it fell further, dissolving into a heap of shavings.

'Give me names, or I shall take you inch by inch. I shall do it in many ways with many different utensils. Should you waver, I shall not release the pain, but I shall increase it tenfold. Your true reward will be the sweet release of death.'

The thing's half boy, half flesh visage shook as it looked up at him with illimited enmity.


The convoy from Atlantic Command was not a convoy in the traditional sense. During the war, many armored vehicles and smaller ones of various size and class would travel together on roads, carrying packages - whether they had been supplies, or people. In the -post, many things had changed, for everyone, but for Obskura, the most had. Now they did not travel with tanks, but with death warrants, and many men had come to make sure they paid for their various sins. They had each died.

So it was that the 'convoy' was composed of many small automobiles, composed of different colors and of different classes, going among a large number of others not of their party. In this way any given man who might see them was bound to instead simply destroy the whole lot, by which they would harm themselves in the process.

While traveling along a bridge, each of the men within these cars felt a sudden shifting of the world, as great explosions took out the supports to this span of concrete, turning it into rubble and satisfying the torturers whims.

In the aftermath, as a large group of men also leapt down into the rubble, and pulled out those still living, into huge black trucks, the torturer would indeed die, because his liver had failed, and his enjoyment of the cause was over.

So it was that for many hours and many miles, many men sat in the back of trucks with bags over their heads, being beaten to death by a number of other, more irate men. Once they got to an airport, they disposed of those who had suffered the worst of their aggressions and loaded the rest onto a plane, where they continued to sully and beat them. It was so that once they returned to Mali, all were dead but one, who had been preserved. He was thrown into a cell, his body hagrid and sullied.

Noche Oscura Further revised

They threw his limp body into the hard rock cell. The ceiling dripped with water and a small crack on the wall radiated light upon his shattered, whipped body. The moment he hit the floor, he tortuously exhaled as he was ripped from the sweet release of sleep back into the world of conscious pain.

They slammed the cell door - a huge, iron thing, which betrayed no vision of the building beyond - shut, and he crawled back over to it, moaning in agony. He began to see his pathetic attempt to rage against the dying at the light as ineffective even in the context of his meagre situation, and after a number of minutes of silently rapping his bleeding palm against the metal, he stopped.

The room was small and appeared to have been deserted for some time. He did not know where he was; he expected he was somewhere in the Beaver's Dam - the blast had destroyed the whole of his former home, and there were children there - but from the moment he had been taken he had been subjected to an endless cavalcade of sedatives, anesthetics, and poisons.

He pushed himself over against the wall, where he could feel the rain pounding against the side of the facility. He attempted to stand, and his body refused to comply. He slammed his head back against the wall, shut his eyes, and with all his might, pushed himself up against the brick. About halfway up, he let out a scream as his muscles felt they might pull themselves apart. From then on he consigned himself to crawling.

His mind was at the pace of a runaway train, blinking through a thousand possibilities in an instant. Above all, he was glad that he had succeeded, and felt euphoria at the precipice of death. He expected the gun to come along at any moment, and so every second was an hour, and he presumed every hour would be a day. It was as such.

Time was passing, and though he laughed to himself, reliving all the boisterous moments he had experienced during the last, best days of his life, he grew more and more restless as the rain continued to fall. Rain fell and pounded and lightning scorched the outside world; he made to drag himself over to the small crack within the facade of the cell, to glimpse outside a gilded, inviting cityscape. Directly below him was a fantastical plaza, filled with indulgences and gathering-places of every color and variety, close enough to taste - close enough to yell. He did not entertain the thought for one minute that it was anything beyond the local Vollstrecker's childish attempt to torment him - and yet, it did its job admirably. When he could no longer look, he dragged himself to the opposite corner of the room.

The gun did not come. Time came; hours passed when he found something to think about, seconds when he could only worry. Neither food nor water found their way into his cell.

Unit 58

Thread A follows Roe, a very good kills-people who works for the Foundation. She is the muscular arm of a three-man team of professionals setting up shop in the area. She acts on intelligence that Roy gathers. She is the team's unstoppable force, and her only vulnerability is the cover child she takes care of. He believes that she's his mother, and she believes that he's her son. Is this perception enough? What is the qualification of parenthood?

Thread B follows Roy, an FI operative responsible for interrogations and intelligence gathering. He is an auxiliary to the group; he services prisoners resistant to the influences of Dick. He's also the weak link in the group, having a variety of misgivings about what he does - though he does it very well and without reservation. He cares for a pair of elderly people he believes to be his parents.

Thread C follows Rick, a powerful LUMENS. Rick is the administrative wing of the group, and the key to the entire operation; his psychic powers allow him to manipulate any given human mind to his whim. He collects soldiers, security officers, construction workers and other service workers like figurines, and views them as such. He is aware of how this dehumanizes people, and he believes that it is part of the job. He is a consummate professional, and this is his archetype as it relates to the unit. He truly believes that what he is doing is honorable and necessary, and will not be swayed from that fact. Brainwashing - or not - his fellow operatives and possibly manipulating the shuttering of Unit 158, and even his death may have been orchestrated. Who can tell? He is a man of unlimited drive, and his love for Walsh could have been fabricated.

Act I: Hades

-The core is introduced - Roe and family, Roy and family, Rick and lover
-Unit 58 is established under force
-Unit 58's secures the principle and neutralizes all opposition

Act II: The Triumph of Sisyphus

-The Interloper is introduced
-The Interloper's group is obliterated
-Roy defects. His parents die.

Act III: Lethe

-Roe is defeated. Her son lives.
-The principle is sprung. Regional Command orders Rick to shutter the operation.
-Rick dies. Walsh is dubiously left in shock.

It is 2 am.

Roe was in her house and she wakes up and it's very dark. For a moment, she feels like she is not in her house and it terrifies her, but then she realizes she is at home, and she is glad. She moves into her son's room and tells him about a good dream that she had which has been plaguing her from many months. Her son's head nods back to sleep and she goes into the kitchen to drink some water. All of the food is for her on, because as a result of her biological enhancements, she can no longer eat. She considers going back to bed but has an irrational fear of the bedroom and decides to go on a jog. It is two in the morning.

When she is finished jogging, the sun's rays are peeking over the horizon and she is sitting alone. She has an encounter with an older man who typically walks in the park and they talk very briefly about some mundane things. Before he leaves, she tells him that he should tell his children. He knows that he is about to die and he appears momentarily worried, but his brow resolves into a form of acceptance. She is left with the sunrise.

It is 3 am.

Roy is left at home watching television. His hair is graying and as his parents in the other room slowly die he watches some kind of cartoon. He goes in to care for them and then goes on a morning walk. He goes to buy a bottle of vodka and the store gets robbed. Very quickly and brutally he murders the robbers and appears to be in great pain while he does it. Before the two of them have finished breathing, he pays the cashier for his drink. When the police arrive, address him with a level of fear and authority, and dispose of the two people he killed. Roy treats it with a level of familiarity, and tips his hat to the cashier. He wanders back into his house with an empty bottle of vodka and crashes on his couch.

"I'll need to see some I.D."

Roy's face scrunched up in a mixture of confusion and disgust. The cashier shrugged, and he began to crane around his back to search for his wallet.

As he thumbed through it, searching for an ancient driver's license, he felt the barrel of a gun dig into his back. The cashier's head exploded into paste. A pair of youths jumped over the counter and shot the c

It is 4 am.

Rick is dreaming and sees all the people he has murdered and broken the mind of, but the audience is not made aware of this fact until later. He wakes up and the sun has already risen outside; he slept like a baby. He visits his first mark - the local police station. He meets with the chief, whose mind he breaks very easily, snapping in his mind like a twig and bending it like puddy. He spends the rest of the day selecting the chief's best men and breaking their minds. He goes to his second mark - a foreman's site. He breaks the entire room's minds in an instant and they set to work on his new project. He visits his final mark for the day, a house in the suburbs, posing as a salesman. Though there are many cars on the street, and hushed minds inside, a single man who Rick cannot break opens the door.

Rick contacts Roe by phone and tells her that the mark is confirmed. Rick gives Roe the go-signal and says he'll send some help her way. Roe says she doesn't need it, and he asks her 'You sure? I smelled at least a dozen men in there. A lot of guns.'

'We're here to help protect these people, not kill them. They're no problem.'

'Suit yourself. I'll need the package by 0500.'

'Where do I bring it?'

'Bring it to the Ginsu. He'll be able to get something. Oh - and we need to meet. All of us.'

'In person?'

'They're citing me a figure sometime in January. But you can come here, and Raymond can come here. Find me a good time.'

'Yes, sir.'

Rick hung up the phone.

At this point, the first tale has ended, and the second tale has begun.

It begins with Roe entering the house at midnight. She kills the sentry by ripping his throat out. When she enters the compound, she kills everyone inside, but she sedates a guy and drags him out. he comes to in Roy's compound.

"Malcolm. Do you know where you are? Do you know who I am?"

"I can guess."

"If you could, would you?"

"South of the border, for years I'd heard talk of el cuchillo -"

"The Knife, that's right." He stepped into the the light. Grease covered his face and shirt, and his sullen expression appeared devoid of any pleasure or pity.

"Now, can you see my face plainly?"


"Do you know what that means?"

"It means I am going to die."

"Yes. You are. Malcolm," he took his seat, "I work for a very special division of our group. The one you've been hiding Mendel from. A couple years back, they used to call it 'intelligence.' Now, it has no name. And neither do I!"

"I have a friend. The woman that killed your brother and brought you here. Get a good look at her face?"


"That's because she still has one. And a name. And a home to go back to. Me? I have nothing. Not anymore. We have that in common, you and I."

Roy took something out of his back pocket and unfurled it onto the table. It was a tool holster, with a single scalpel gracing its empty leather pockets.

"Now Malcolm - you know why you're still alive, don't you?"


"You've had training, Malcolm. Even if you don't know it - especially if you don't know it. That's the best kind of training. And you've been trained well. My other friend, the solicitor, who came to your home the night before Lawrence was murdered - he can read people, Malcolm. Most people - except the ones who know he's around. It doesn't take much, he's no prodigy - but you, Malcolm. You were quite the challenge for him. Know where that leaves us?"

"You will question me."

Roy nodded. "Yes."

"I will resist."

Roy nodded again. "I know."

"But I think - eventually, I will tell you where he is."

"You're a very honest man, Malcolm. I like that about you." Roy stood, and slid the scalpel out of the holster. "I'm sorry about this."

"I know."

"Principle located."

"Really? I knew I could count on you Roy."

"You don't sound like it."

"Malcolm was hard. Even for someone like you. Overestimation isn't part of my repertoire."

"It did take 30 hours. He was almost dead."

"And I suppose he is now."

"I have a body currently stinking up my basement. You get anyone for that?"

"I can have the chief look into it. In the meanwhile talk to Roe. I've given her equipment and staff; she can take the principle."

"What about the facility? You just started."

"We can house it in something more impermanent until Sal and his men are done. It's more a concern of who we're keeping out."

"I guess I'll see you."

"Good job Roy."


"Get on your knees!"


"Do it now!"

"I'm not going to do that."

He opened fire. Bullets penetrated the bulk of her armor but

The hood-bound demon seized him by the wrists. Its grip was like iron, and it only grew stronger. With an inhuman squeak of agony, Jair watched and felt in horror as his hands separated from the stumps of his arms.

The masked figure seized him by the throat and with a *crunch*, shattered his skull. Sharp fragments of splintered bone carved tunnels of blood through his brain. Jair's body hit the floor with a *thunk* and the room full of armored guards shivered as whispers of disgust echoed through the pack.

The masked figure stepped back and

In this moment, it is occurs to me that death, in its purity and form, is the sole currency of life upon this Earth. One must only look to the agonies and injustices of war and violence to discern that our full enjoyment of the experience which plagues us all is first here.

October Convention





Representing the belligerents:

Blue-1: Incumbent Global Occult Coalition undersecretary general.

Blue-2: Incumbent Global Occult Coalition STRIKE chief.

Red-1: Incumbent SCP Foundation operational Administrator.

Red-2: Incumbent SCP Foundation head of response.

Third-party actors:

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres: United Nations Secretary General.

Michelle Bachelet: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Wilhelm Emerson Fuchs: Manna Charitable Foundation CEO.

Rafiq Farooqi: SCP Foundation Ethics Committee head.


Sajid Javid MP: Home Secretary of the United Kingdom.

Konstantin Anatolyevich Chuychenko: Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Juan Evo Morales Ayma: President of Bolivia and president pro tempore of UNASUR.

Sir Stuart William Peach: Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Dimitris Avramopoulos: Commissioner of Home Affairs for the European Union.

Paul Kagame: President of Rwanda. Chairperson of the African Union.

Huáng Shùxián: Minister of Civil Affairs for the People's Republic of China.

Green-1: Representing the United States.


II. With respect to esoteric warfare
a. Memetic warfare
b. Thaumatic warfare
III. With respect to third parties
a. Aid workers
IV. With respect to operational directives
a. Primary containment (first mission)
b. Secondary containment (second mission)
V. With respect to prisoners of war
a. esoteric interrogation


I. Opening notes

-Occupied landmass
-Casualty projections
-Crossfire projections
-Determined goals of the convention

II. Concerning Initiatives

-The opposing operations of each organization and how they will be nullified in the coming months
-The operations of contributing and peripheral states as they will be affected by the fighting
-The operations of contributing and peripheral member organizations as they will be affected by the fighting

III. Concerning warfare

-The operations under which nuclear warfare shall be conducted.
-The operations under which memetic warfare shall be conducted.
-The operations under which thaumaturgic warfare shall be conducted.
-The operations under which reality warping warfare shall be conducted.
-The operations under which magical warfare shall be conducted.
-The operations under which psychic warfare shall be conducted.

IV. Concerning jurisdictions

-The degree of autonomy the Foundation and Coalition shall have in waging their war
-Where it shall be legal to wage it
-The manner in which these boundaries shall be defined
-Requesting foreign aid
-Requesting foreign military aid
-Requesting foreign military assistance
-Nationals in regard to their status as both employees/operatives as citizens of nations

V. Intermission

VI. Concerning civilians

-The barrier between company/organizational employ
-The barrier between metropolitan/civil center and enemy territory
-The barrier between magical, memetic, thaumaturgic, reality warping, and psychic activities, as opposed to their concrete aspects of warfare
-The latter in regards to company policy
-The latter in regards to organizational policy

VII. Concerning prisoners of war
-establish the definition of prisoners of war within the context of this conflict.
-establish the limits of esoteric interrogation within the context of this degree of warfare.
-establish the extent by which aid might be considered

VIII. Concerning the conclusion of hostilities

-discussing the preconditions by which the conflict shall be considered terminated.
-discussing the treatment of prisoners of war.
-discussing the legal transfer of assets and the execution of those assets following either production.

IX. Closing Notes
-Define official opening of hostilities.
-Memory scrubbing and the specifics of the cognitohazard involved and what it will do.

Transcript I
2000 HOURS

Farooqi: Shall we begin?

Blue-1: We've wasted too much time as it is.

Red-2: I believe, considering the circumstances it'd be best that we proceed at the quickest pace you folk may find reasonable.

Guterres: Who would like to attack the opening notes?

Red-2: My opposite's men compiled the report; it seems only reasonable they be allowed to present it.

Blue-2: I haven't studied the results in any great detail. My attention was studiously preoccupied with section three. If any here claim to have more in-depth experience with the format, I'll step aside for them.

Red-2: Mr. Secretary General, if it please you, I've devoted much of my time to some of these valuable findings. I believe I possess the resources necessary to deliver them to the committee.

Guterres: Proceed.

Red-2: Well, as you all are aware, the combined territorial possessions of Madam Undersecretary and my second comprise a hefty portion of the landmass upon most continents. Uh, the Americas, Eurasia, large chunks of the Arctic coast - et cetera. Taking into account recent trends, the paper brought together by the chief's associates projects… 'a 35-40% casualty rate for

Holdup at the Sanguine Inn

Hug gazed into the clock on the wall. The mark was late, and every minute that passed drew another bead of sweat from his brow. Eyeing him at the bar was a younger, melancholy gentleman – the most reliable patron of his own establishment, and one who, even in the midst of his voyeurism, was loathe to let his mouth dry for even a moment before dousing it in alcohol. Away from their circle, and indeed from the bar itself, a well-dressed couple chatted the morning away. Hug could smell the sweat on the husband’s collar from his perch; in search of an object to take mind off his concern, he’d made the mistake of chancing a glance at the drenched man an hour ago. The acrid bite of his own bodily essence filled in for the jittery figure’s, and he was all the more off-put for it.

Of course, his runaway perspiration wasn’t nearly as bad as contemplating the motivations of the other, more world-weathered gentleman who lingered in the back of the bar – always lightly sipping at his Rosé and reading whatever it was he read. Hug feared him more than he did the stench, and every time his mind wandered toward his position, he got the distinct impression that old man knew about it. He then found immense pleasure in returning to his walled timepiece.

“You know, I hear she’s single.” Hug exited his rapture with a start, and he was shocked to see his (normally statuesque) patron had a sly grin cutting into his face.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hug asked quizzically.

“Father time! I mean, mother time, now – begging your own pardon. I’ve seen the eyes you make at her.’

Hug didn’t laugh.

“And I thought I knew hard times.” The bar patron downed his drink and made their subconsciously determined gesture for a refill. “What’s eatin’ you?”

Hug took a final, disdainful look at the clock before going to top up the patron’s glass. “Work.”

The patron raised an eyebrow, and in mock appreciation drawled, “Yes, I’m sure this is a…” He made a show of panning the near-vacant restaurant. “…taxing, profession.”

Hug finished fixing the man’s booze and handed it to him, returning to his perch. “You’d be surprised, these days. I gotta hang around for a – bigger gig.”

The bar patron wrinkled his nose in amusement. “Bigger. How enigmatic.”

Hug’s grim pallor slowly broke into a grin and a light chuckle. “I know. I’ve been working on my delivery. What’d you think? Too subtle? Did I rush it?”

The patron’s hold wavered as he raised his glass in Hug’s general direction. “You’re a regular Dick Tracy.” He knocked back the drug.

At that moment, the door to the bar burst open. A pair of men stood dark against the blinding sandy expanse outside, and all eyes were drawn to their hulking silhouette. As Hug’s adjusted to the light, their plight became apparent: on the right stood a huge man, loosely gripping a shotgun with his left hand and clutching his partner in his right. His face, coated in sweat and gore, was eerily calm, though strained. His partner’s had crumpled in the pain.

The armed man dragged his wounded companion over to one of the circular tables, throwing him upon it in a rough fashion. The companion let out a scream of pain, but the armed man paid him no mind as slammed the door shut, bolted it, and wedged a chair against the knob.

“Carl, stop – f-fucking around with that shit and help me!”

The armed man thrust a second table under his companion’s legs, throwing chairs out of the way as he did so. He laid his gun next to the body and ripped off its wrecked kevlar, vest, which had been sliced to ribbons. Underneath, tributaries of blood began to leak from the wounded man’s shattered ribcage, staining his striped shirt a deep red. When the wounded man arched his head to look up at it, his mouth opened in a silent scream.

As the armed man began to cut open his companion’s clothes in order to attack the blood loss, Hug’s customers - the patron, the couple, and the old man, aside from observing the calamity as it unfolded with great interest – had not seen fit to move or, in fact, react in any way aside from look on in horrified astonishment. All except Hug himself who, studious gentleman he was, had duly noted their visitors’ weapons and combat wounds, and from the outset had slowly begun to reach for a solution he had been provided for just this variety of situation.

The armed man, in the midst of doing his best to clean off his fussing associate’s gaping entry wounds, had begun barking off orders to the residents. “All right, listen – I need someone to grab the first-aid kit around here. You don’t have one, I’ll take booze and water. You need to keep someone at the window, we might be having a visitor soon…” He trailed off as he began to take a brief glance behind him, to directly address the bartender himself. He raised his hands and his partner, craning his neck to dare and see why, once again knocked his head back on the table. “Oh, god!”

Hug levelled a beautiful, entirely all-too-expensive looking double-barrelled shotgun squarely in the direction of their visitor’s center mass. The old man, who just so happened to be situated directly behind said mass, elegantly scooped up his wine and moved to another table.

The armed man chose his words carefully. “We’re not looking for trouble.”

“I don’t think you are. Considering the state of him, I’d say you’re well past that.”

“Look, we’re not here to fuck you around. We’re in a tough spot, and I just –”


The bar patron looked up. “Yeah, Hug?”

“Call the police.”

“No!” The armed man reached for his gun and recoiled in pain and angst as Hug raised his own. “Please, don’t call the police.”

“I wasn’t going to. Danforth?”

Danforth had leapt behind the bar and started tapping numbers into a decades-old cordless before he looked up in inquiry. “Hug?”

“Put the phone down.” He did so.

The room was quiet as the wounded man’s wailing the only noise to be heard. The armed man asked, “Are you going to kill us?”

Hug licked his lips and gestured at the screaming man. “Who tagged you?”

“Fucking crazy person. I don’t know who he is. The shots came at least a mile out - shit was coming at us through the walls and still killed the fuck out of everyone. He’s probably inching his way over here while we fuck around like this. Please do not call the police.

“That's a lot of blood. I don’t have any equipment.”

“I do! I-” The armed man let down his arms and unclipped a belt pouch, unfastening it to reveal a small cavalcade of pointed objects. Hug raised an eyebrow.

“I’ve got tools. Please, if I could just – my car’s still running. I can stop this bleeding and we’ll be out of your hair in half an hour. Please.”

The wounded man’s cries had been silenced. His chest heaved softly and erratically. Hug’s eyes darted between him, the armed man, and the door.

“If I send this man,” he gestured to Danforth, “Over there, to collect that fine firearm of yours – we’re not gonna have a problem, are we?”

The armed man shook his head. Wobbling all the while, Danforth briskly made his way around the bartop and confiscated the weapon. Hug left his own leaned up against the bartop and sat Danforth down on a stool, correcting his mawkish handle of the gun.

“Finger off the trigger the whole time unless someone walks in or out that door.” He pointed at the barricaded front. Danforth nodded, and Hug gripped his shoulder. “If somebody – anybody – comes knocking, you get everyone in the back room and get me straight. Understand that?”

“Whatever you say, Hug.”

He addressed the three customers.

“Listen up. You’re all going to have to be staying here for a little while. I know it’s inconvenient, but within the space of this afternoon we should have things sorted.” He hefted his gun for emphasis. “Any objections?”

There were none.

He slung it over his shoulder and moved closer to the armed man. “What’s your name?”
“I can’t-“

“I’m holding a gun and offering you your life back. If you can’t give me your real name, gimme a fake one.”


“Nice to meet you, Carl. I’m Hug. Your friend’s anemic. Help me carry him out to the stockroom.”

Carl hesitated for a moment, clenched his teeth, and nodded. On three, they lifted him up and struggled into a room behind the bar. Every eye in the restaurant watched them disappear into the blackness, and as the door swung closed, they were left in awkward silence.

Nothing came of it immediately. For a few minutes the party sat in edged silence while Danforth struggled to keep an eye open and manage the weight of the gun. The old man, seeing matters as fairly resolved, shook his head and returned to his book.

“Am I actually the one who needs to break the ice?” The husband drenched in sweat finally ventured. Danforth remained quiet.

“Honey,” his wife chastised, “Please don’t yell at the drunk man with the gun.”

“I’m not drunk,” the drunk replied, “I’m tipsy. There’s a difference.”

The husband shook his head. “This is insane. Miranda, come on. We’re leaving.”


“If there’s a homicidal hurtling towards our position bent on ventilating these characters, I’m not sticking around to watch the fireworks! And neither are you.” He glared at Danforth. “You do what you want, but we’re on the road. Come, Miranda.”

Danforth put his finger on the trigger and stood up. “Nobody takes off until we get Hug’s say-so. That’s how he said it, and that’s the way it is.”

“What is he to you? Where does he get off telling your ‘tipsy’ shitter who to kill and who to break? For god’s sake – do you even know how to load that thing?”

“I know how to shoot it. That’s what’s relevant to you.”

“Bah!” John stormed over to the door and kicked the chair out from under it. As he began to loosen the bolt, Danforth took unsteady aim with the gun.

“Mister,” he ordered, “I’ve not held one of these odds-on twenty years. But if you take one step out that door, I swear to god it’ll be your last.”

John continued to loosen the bolt.

“Jonah!” Miranda shouted. John twisted the doorknob.

At that moment, Miranda walked up to her husband, turned him by the shoulder, and slapped him.

After taking a moment to allow his stunned ego to recover, John croaked, “My love. This man is going to kill us.”

“No, dear,” Miranda corrected him, “He’s going to kill you.” Gently, she guided his abused facial features towards Danforth, just barely managing to keep the gun on his human target.

John grunted in frustration and went to sulk at their table.

Miranda walked closer to Danforth, who kept a beady eye on John, even as he crossed his arms and huffed in the distance.

“Apologies for my husband. He means well, but sometimes he gets ideas into his head, and – it doesn’t turn out well for us.”

Danforth let out a contained breath and sat down. His gun fell to his lap. “He’s a lucky man.”

“Yes, he is. I’d say he’d be dead three times over by now if I hadn’t met him when I did.”

“I wasn’t going to shoot him, you know.” Danforth held a hand up to massage his temples. “Hug hasn’t asked anything like this of me before.”

Miranda took to an adjacent stool. “How do you know each other?”

“Oh, I’ve been in and out a couple years now. Lost some money, a while back. A woman, too. She was like you. Prettier, though.”

“I’m sure she was a vision.”

Danforth sniffed. “He’s not the first, you know. Just swung around about a year back – think the place came under new management. Wasn’t ever a hotspot, but – it’s been emptier than usual.”

“Suppose they like it like that?”

“Mm. Hug, he’s – well, he’s something. I caught him ogling that clock over yonder just before this mess. Hours, of just… watching, and waiting. He’s like a machine. If he’s got us sitting out here under fear of death, I gotta believe it’s for a damn good reason. Count on it.”

“I will."

While they sat chatting, John’s mouth had become restless at its post, and – notwithstanding Danfoth’s flickering, preoccupied searchlights tracking him all the while - he alighted from his seat, taking one adjacent to the old man’s. For all the commotion of the preceding minutes, the latter had nevertheless kept to his stool behind the bloodsoaked tables, behind the wrecked dining area, nursing his wine, and reading his book. John, who thought himself a rather astute judge of character, thought highly of this, and deigned to talk with him.

The old man paid him nary a glance as he sidled into place. He said, “Reckon you’ve not had a word edgewise since this whole affair began. What d’you figure our chances are?”

Without looking at him, the old man shook his head. “I don’t reckon anything.”

John shrugged, feeling a bit sheepish, and began to return to his own table. “Well, I’m sorry for asking.”


John stopped. “Pardon?”

The old man closed his book and turned around to look at him for the first time. “Why are you sorry you asked me a question?”

John thought about it for a moment. “Guess I – didn’t really wanna bother you, if I didn’t have to.”

“I don’t mind being bothered. You know I’ve come to this place every day for the past two years? In all that time I’ve yet to find someone altogether willing to provide me with the luxury of being bothered.”

John sat up in his seat. “Really?”

“That’s a fact.”

“Figured a man like yourself would choose his own path. Certainly seems like you do.”

“Oh, I’m not saying I didn’t!” The old man guffawed. “This isn’t quite a place where dreams are born.”

John’s face cracked into a smile. “No, I wouldn’t say it is.”

“What is it you were asking me before?”

John shifted in his seat. “Well, uh – you see, I was wondering if you had any ideas about – what’s going to happen to us. What you figure our chances are.”

The old man sighed, and for a moment, looked as though he were about to burst into tears. But just as quickly as his eyes had moistened, his arms had begun to shake, and his brow had begun to sweat, a steely indifference took their place, and he spoke to John directly.
 "Sometimes, I feel the world grow cold. Right now, I am beginning to freeze. It's quite refreshing."

The hushed, overlapping conversations of the patrons fell to a sudden and sharply pointed halt as the door to the stockroom swept open. Hug walked with a purpose, promptly moving behind the bar where he pulled himself out a shot glass; Miranda and Danforth watched anxiously as, to complement it, Hug ducked below the counter, noisily sweeping aside various articles of cutlery and hygiene, to withdraw an all-too-further-expensive looking bottle of (presumably aged) alcohol, discarded in a comedic show of temperance what could’ve been decades ago. He looked at the label for a long while before he cracked it open and, on second thought, tossed the shot glass in a sink behind him. It shattered on impact.

For about an eon, he sat next to Miranda and Hug, taking deep draughts of the mixture in what looked to be a state of near-catatonia, until finally Danforth broke the silence.

‘Hug,’ he said. His mouth bulging full of liquid, Hug’s deep brown eyes suddenly snapped to Danforth in shock. He swallowed and reverently placed the bottle on the bartop, before he stood, placed his hands – drenched in the wounded man’s crimson essence – deep within his pockets, and turned to address the room once more.

“Our visitor is dead.”

Nobody spoke. “Bled out. Lots of hemorrhaging. Don’t know much might be lost on you.”

Miranda asked, “Are we calling the police now?”


John asked, “Well, if you’re quite finished, can we go?”

“I’m afraid not. Not yet.” He turned to Danforth. “Remember what I said to you about getting everyone out back?”

Before Danforth could answer, the temperature room dropped ten degrees.
The doorknob was twisting. A knuckle rapped against the outside of vestibule three times; it repeated, and was no more.

Hug pointed and Danforth and jammed his thumb at the stockroom door. Danforth nodded, tugged on Miranda’s arm and gestured at the old man and John to come with. John helped the man out of his chair and they quickly hobbled out. Before he could leave, Hug pulled on Danforth’s jacket and took the shotgun, and then pushed him towards the stockroom door. As he rushed in, he was pushed into the sturdy chest of Carl, whose heavyset form stomped out to confront Hug. His face was streaked with tears, and at his side hung Hug’s own weapon.

Hug turned towards him and pointed at the door. The three knocks repeated. Carl’s grief was replaced with rage, and leapt over the bar top, taking aim with which to cover Hug.

Girding himself, Hug strode up to the door and clutched the shaking knob. He loosened the bolt, and turned back to Carl once more. He saw the face of a man ready for vengeance.

Concealing his weapon behind a leg, he cracked it open.

He saw the face of another man. The sun was setting on the sand behind him, lighting the sky in a bright blue/orange hue; Hug looked over his innocuous baseball cap, bright yellow sports jacket, thin beige duffle bag and well-groomed mug, and he realized that his troubles were beginning to multiply.

“Hello,” the man happily greeted him, “This sign here says you’re open. I tried the door, but –“ He shrugged his shoulders.

“Where you coming from?” Hug asked him.

“Silton. You’re the only rest along my road. I’m full up on gas; figured I’d pop in for a nightcap before I started up in the morning. So are you open, or not?”

“Do we have to be?”

“Figure they’d be real upset if you weren’t.”

Hug shuttered the door an inch and banged his head against the wood. “One moment, please, just a – moment –“ He shuttered it further and gestured furiously at Carl, shaking his head. After several tense moments, Carl slowly turned around and stalked his way back to the stockroom.

Seeing the empty, albeit suspiciously gore-splattered dining room, Hug reluctantly opened the door to its fullest extent. Nodding appreciatively, the guest removed his cap and walked to a stool at the bar, not batting an eyelash at the makeshift surgical table and pools of blood behind him. He dropped the bag at his feet, and, clapping his hands onto the bar top, began to remove his jacket.

Hug closed and bolted the door.

“What’ll you have?” Hug asked him as he walked past the guest’s long, thin, solid looking luggage.

“You carry any cognac?”

“What kind?”

“I’m no stickler. Whatever you’ve got.”

Hug grabbed the man a glass and clapped it on the counter. “Let me check the back.”

Closing the door to the stockroom, he turned around to find a sight.

Amidst the racks and jars of alcohol, the half-naked corpse of Carl’s partner sat on the cold concrete floor; Hug’s gun had been laid upon his perforated chest. Carl kneeled over him in the vigil he had adopted as soon as Hug had failed to clamp the artery; Danforth hunched next to a case of rum appearing exhausted. The old man sat next to him, reading all the same – John stood, presumably attempting to comfort the ever-so-softly sobbing Carl, and Miranda was the first to notice his entrance.

“Who is it?”

Hug laid his gun against the wall and crossed his arms. “I don’t know. But I don’t think he’s our mystery killer.”

Carl and John turned to face him; the former’s grimy, mud-covered, blood-accented, tear-kissed appearance made something within Hug wince. He had never quite appreciated quite how impressive Carl was physically. He approached Hug with the air of an executioner. As soon as he began to speak, his voice adopted the measured mania he had addressed them with prior to Hug’s intervention.

“We will see.”

Hug led them out carrying their new guest’s drink. The old man excitedly returned to his seat in the back of the room, letting out a contented sigh as he eased back into his chair. Miranda and John returned to their table in silence; Danforth joined them, his gun resting quietly in his lap. Carl stood up one of the chairs he had knocked over to make way for his partner’s operation, and sat at the pool of blood, fingering the trigger on Hug’s weapon. His eyes seethed at their new guest, and it seemed he bloodlust was palpable to all but the object of his hatred, and the old man, who happily turned a page.

Their new guest paid them even less mind than that of the old man. He took a single sip of his cognac before putting it down and standing to dry his brow.

“Forgive me for imposing – what was it?”


“Hug. I almost forgot to mention – I’d been riding that asphalt for miles before I got here. You wouldn’t happen to have a restroom I could use?”

Hug locked eyes with Danforth. He directed the patron’s nervous uncertain gaze, to the guest’s bag, back to Carl. He cocked his head, and Dan nodded. He turned back to the guest. “Outhouse. I’ll show you to it.”

“Thank you.” The guest smiled, zipped up his bag, placed it at his feet, and gestured for Hug to lead the way.

“We’ll go out the front.”

Leading him past the bar and the silent table of customers, Hug opened the door for the Guest, and closed it on Carl’s look of disgust. The sun had set, and stars could be seen twinkling up in the dark blue sky. Carl’s car, still running as promised, doors open and the passenger seat bathed in blood, took up two parking spaces. Hug and the guest began to circle around the building, but before they could, for a short moment, the former appreciated the small, half-dead neon sign that’d hung over the entrance since he’d first been given his position there: “SNGIN IN.” In this one of many calamities, it seemed appropriate.

He led the guest around the building, passing the fueling rig and the occasional window where the heat of Carl’s gaze could still be felt. The guest said, “It’s beautiful out here.”

“You figure?”

“I don’t spend much time out here. Lots of inland work. It’s nice to see an open field or two.” They caught sight of the outhouse.

“Sobering, mostly. Sometimes I feel like I'm setting it all on fire.”

“I suppose it was in the job description.”

“I don't mean to down; just gets lonely, I guess.”

The guest smiled - a warm, genuine smile. "We can only ever take what we can get. Wouldn't you reckon?"

"I would."

They reached the dilapidated ‘restroom.’ Hug turned to his companion.

"There's a detachable compartment behind the bowl. It's constructed in-line with the wood. Feel around for a bit and it should pop right out. After we finish here, I'll turn it over to the phase three guys. Go."

The guest proffered his hand for Hug to shake, but the bartender shook his head.

“We're on a schedule. Just go."

Their business concluded, they made their way back to the front door. Down the road, a pair of headlights glinted in the corner of Hug’s eye. He squinted as he opened door, and they stepped in.

Bolting it shut, Hug turned around to see the guest’s mouth agape. As Hug’s eyes adjusted once more, this time to the musty atmosphere of his own home, he began to perceive the the guest's bag on the floor, unzipped and empty. Carl stood above it, inspecting a long, powerful black rifle, about the length of the luggage prior to its gutting. Danforth was on the floor next to him, bloodied and barely breathing. Miranda and John were up from their seats, once more frozen and aghast. The old man was still sitting; he laughed as turned another page. Outside, two engines idled.

“What are you do-“ The guest’s question was cut short as Carl unloaded a round into his chest.

The force of the impact rolled as a wave through the guest’s body, throwing him against the bolted door. Hug instinctively jumped away from the blast, falling back against the customer’s table. The bullet had bored a bloodless hole through his clothes and rebounded on solid plate underneath; nevertheless, its victim slowly sank to the floor, wheezing.

Carl walked forward with his executioner’s air, and on his face Hug saw the same measured mania that had entered his restaurant. As it raised the gun to its eye, perfectly aligning the barrel with the guest’s braincase, the latter weakly held up an arm in supplication.

“Wait…” The world seemed to fill with light.

A second bullet was fired. Carl’s skull shattered into fragments, and his form fell back onto the same cedar floorboards.

The guest’s arm dropped with a relieved groan. His lungs continued to labor as he peered up at the door, to see a single ray of light coming through the door. A hole the size of walnut and just as roughly cut. He crawled away from the vestibule, becoming unwittingly covered in Carl’s fortuitously placed bodily fluids. He collapsed against the bar.

Another car had pulled up to the front of the bar. Its lights shone through the windows and door; Hug opened it fully and, holding out his hand to block out the brilliant headlamps turned back toward the guest as though in recognition of a single, undeniable, prescient truth that the two of them had suddenly become violently, irretrievably aware of.

We’re fucked.

Hug considered going for the weapon at Carl’s dead feet. Before he could decide whether or not to risk the run, the wraith in the doorway decided for him.


Hug turned back to the car. “Hey.”

The wraith stepped forward. In its arms was a hunting rifle – very big, and very long. Hanging at its side in a leather strap was a knife of relatively similar stature. The guest began to slowly put his hands up. Hug didn’t.

“Who else is in there?”

Hug looked at Danforth, and then at his customers. Miranda and John had retreated towards the old man. Recognizing that the time was at hand, he put his book down and stood up from his stool.

“There's four. One's unconscious. That’s it.”

“If you’re lying, I will kill you first.”

“I know.”

“Are you armed?” The wraith’s form remained static.

“No,” Hug replied. “Nobody is.”

“Tell them to lay face down on the floor, side by side. If anyone moves, everyone dies. Understand?”

Hug looked at the guest. His labored breathing was beginning to soften, and he closed his eyes. He let out a fresh wail of agony, and nodded at Hug.

“All right.”

“Is this a bar?”

Hug paused before replying. “Excuse me?”

“You got any booze?”

“Yeah. Yeah, we got booze here.”

“Get some.”

Ten minutes later, the wraith sat at the bar drinking shots out of Hug's own bottle. Behind him, in a perfectly straight row lay prostrate the old man, breathing softly with his eyes shut, John, struggling with his bonds, Miranda, who sullenly stared into the floor, and the concussed Danforth, who snored quietly. All were trussed up and gagged, excepting Hug, who poured him another round.

On the bartop, the wraith assembled a series of five syringes, each brimming with a clear, colorless liquid. Hug watched him halfheartedly test them before he moved on to a clipboard filled with thick forms, which he proceeded to attack with severe disinterest.

“Where is the other insurgent? The man who accosted your establishment? He may have accompanied the threat I removed earlier.”

“You can find his body in the stockroom I got this from. He bled out when we were trying to cauterize.”

The wraith jotted down a note on his clipboard. Hug said nothing.

Eventually the wraith finished his work – impenetrable to Hug himself, for as long as he attempted to read it upside-down – and he tucked it away in his jacket, dashing away another round as he did so.

“Mr. Baker,” the wraith began, "I have one more article of business to take care of.” He nodded towards the guest, moaning in pain, rolling in Carl’s own blood. “That man is wanted dead. I was not here for him today, but: contained within the scope of my duties, as an agent invested with the welfare of the United States government is for me to remove him from the sight of your civilian customers with due speed, preferably in your aforementioned storeroom, thrash him within an inch of his life and locate the property he has been transporting. Unless you would already have some ideas as to where this might be?"

“I don’t.”

“Then if you would please carry there for me, I should be there in half a moment, I need only have a word with my superior.” The wraith collected his paperwork and pointedly left his gun leaned up against the bar. Hug considered taking the bait, but instead, he took the wraith's cup to the sink and began to wash it. His eye caught the glint of several thick glass shards he’d accidentally created there earlier, and he was ashamed of his indelicacy.

As the wraith closed the door to the stockroom, he watched as the bartender's strained brow exuded a torrent in pent-up nerves. Perhaps he believed he was going to die.

He turned to the courier. Rollicking in his own filth in a cell even less well-lit than the bar, the pitiful thing gave off muffled cries of pain through its gag as its abdominal wound presumably tore and fractured in rote fashion. In the corner lay the rotting corpse of promise. Hopefully, the Bureau's carrion bird would live up to their punctual reputation.

As for the principle -

He withdrew the knife from its holster. “First, we will begin with fingers.”

The courier convulsed. His body shook and contorted itself into horrible shapes, but it did not cry out in pain, or in fear, or in the malice that he trained himself to retain. Count to four. Inhale. Bring it out. Fight against the dying of the light. Slip it back in. Exhale.

“You have three-fifths of a hand remaining, person #6692. This is not the worst thing that can happen. Given a short enough time, you can always have them reattached. If you are willing to provide us with other services, we will happily grow you a new set. High Command is always willing to work for smarter, better solutions for everyone involved.” The wraith delivered the words monotone, practiced to pitch - no sadism, no struggle with the malice. He found it uniquely horrifying.

Count to four.

“Only… need… one…”

“As you wish.”

Two more. Exhale.

6692 attempted to laugh. “I don’t k-know whether to p-p-pity you… o-o-or… call you a SAP.”

“I'd pity me.”

The courier giggled. “I-I k-know, right?” He devolved into a fit of laughter. The wraith remained collected.

“I suppose if I run out of fingers, I could always skip the toes. Such a boring middle-ground. After the right hand, why don’t we skip right to teeth?”

“N-not… gonna… matter…”

The wraith lowered his knife, anticipating a confession. “Oh?”

6692 caterpillared himself against a keg, his bloodsoaked, incomplete digits clutching his bullet impact. “I’ll… talk… if you’ll – l-listen.”

The wraith removed a silk cloth from his pocket and began to polish his knife.

"Corporate… wanted results. Too many dead. Not enough… bodies to go around. Trial run… see who can crack it better. Guess I got pinched."

"From the outset, actually. We picked up on your profile just outside Silton. Tell me where the principle is, and I will use my gun to kill you."

6692 smiled - his glowing, happy smile. "Count to four. Count to four. Count to four. The angels come down from heaven, hail Mary, the lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst angels, may god forgive me…"

The wraith sheathed his knife and grabbed him up by the throat. With his right hand, 6692 thrust the broken glass into the wraith's abdomen. When it failed to draw blood, he roared, and with a mighty shove, he carried the shellshocked wraith stockroom door and into the bar, careening onto his back.

The wraith recovered almost immediately. He was on his feet in a moment and caught 6692's ferocious attempt to capitalize on his momentary advantage. A single blow to his forehead sprayed the wraith with a gout of blood, and he fell backwards, dead before he hit the ground.

He paid no mind to the fresh cadaver. One sole concern dominated his headspace.


He turned, but not quickly enough. Hug's silhouette, bearing an all-too-expensive shotgun stood dark against the van's headlights. Flanking him were four civilians he'd secured before - the unconscious one had been brought to, rearmed. Beyond them, taking up positions behind tables and the counter lay a wall of soldiers: armed, armored, and bearing the stripes of a unit the wraith had seen before. Dead men for purchase.

Hug let go with both barrels. His vest was shredded and blood began to pour from his abdomen with the quality of a fountain. He shed it and drew his knife.

The soldiers took aim. Hug slipped two fresh shells into place, and joined them.

He leapt into a run. The deafening hail of lead, smoke and fire took to him as a cheese grater - he collapsed as his limbs were sawn from their joints. With his knife arm, he slowly righted himself on the floor, and began to drag his obliterated skeleton towards the bartender.

Hug forced him down with a boot on his shoulder, placed his weapon directly against the wraith's skull, and fired.

The orange solar hue was just beginning to creep over the black horizon. The wraith had deployed a transmission from his van just prior to their escape, and Hug watched as the soldiers clamored about the outhouse. The captain spoke into his ear.

"They're being debriefed now, sir."

"What are you going to do with them?"

"They're being reimbursed. Seems somebody up top feels guilty about the whole thing.

Hug scoffed. "That's not out of character."

"Still, they'll live comfortably. Gotta be worth something, right?"

"I've spent my night ventilating homicidals, Walter. It better fucking well worth something to someone."

Walter shrugged. "All in a day's work, I suppose."

Hug appreciated the sunrise while the cargo was loaded - Walter faithfully accompanied him. He studied it, trying to get a feel for the beauty of the thing.

After he tried and failed, he shook his head. "Let's get the fuck out of here."

The neon welcomer blinked off for the last time as the armored truck sped down the asphalt, leaving only a trail of dust in its wake.