SCP: Origins [IC Thread]
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The scar over his eye twitched at the word as he rose from the chair, directing his attention to some menial worker in the facility. He looked tired; more than anything else, but he kept awake, despite no longer knowing what time it was. The worker across the room paused in the doorway, taking note of the officer's beard and how scraggly it had become since the first clashes with the Chaos Insurgency.
His voice was deep and gravelly, and seemed weary of the world as he heaved a sigh of contention and false hope. Bravado soon overtook him, and he, once again adopted his signature steeled resolve. Stoic expression fixed to his face, he turned toward the door and followed the worker out of the room, down a long and brightly lit hallway that measured at least fourteen feet in width. Various passersby and workers of the facility greeted him with a wave and hello, to which he replied with a simple nod.
The hallway seemed to stretch on forever, and it gave him time to reflect upon his service to the Foundation, and his many encounters with the paranormal entities that gave the Foundation its name. The moment he came across the existence of the one they called "682", he knew there was no greater hell than the things that could be found in the darkest corners of the world. It took time and many efforts to bring the monstrosity under control, but it was not without casualties in the slightest, one such being the person who initially recommended him for this line of work. Before he became the leader of Mobile Task Force O-23, he was but a simple peon that took orders, followed through, and simply tried his hardest. Then, "682" came around, and he was here, without his men, alone.
That sole thought was enough to bring him back to reality, focusing on the task at hand. The person who led him down the hallway handed over the clipboard and diverted her path down a hallway to the left, pointing down the hallway the officer was already walking through. He continued down until he came to an intersection that led off into three different paths.
In the intersection stood a line of six people, all facing the officer. They were uniformally dressed in the same gear which, at the present time, was nothing but the standard navy blue jumpsuit, adorned with an embroidered logo denoting the Foundation. The grizzled veteran flipped through the pages, calmly and briskly skimming through various notes and pieces of knowledge he felt necessary to remember. After doing so, he let the pages fall back into place, his eyes looking up to what looked to be his new recruits.
"Welcome to Mobile Task Force O-23, people," he started to address, walking back and forth in front of the recruits. "My name is Commander Michael Cross, but, for the duration of your enrollment into this unit, you will address me as 'Commander' or 'Sir'; if we happen to become good friends, 'Cross'. You are here because you've been recommended by some of the most capable minds in the Foundation, and I can sincerely hope to trust their word.
"As long as you remain in this unit, you will speak when spoken to, unless I give you permission to speak. You will do what I say, when I say it, however I wish for you to do it. I do not tell you this to reinforce my reputation as a hard-ass. This, quite to the contrary, is as much to ensure your survival as it is to make sure that we all function and coordinate perfectly not only as a team, but as a well-oiled machine. Over the course of your stay, you will learn about each other, inside and out. You will know how your teammates tick and how to exploit their strengths to benefit the team. I do not tolerate insubordination, and that is because we do not have the capacity to let insubordination infect our ranks. The last time someone was careless, they brought in the six of you to take their places. I suggest you don't become another casualty."
Cross' eyes moved back down to the paper, reading over the various pieces of information from the first page, taking a deep breath before reading aloud.
"Christopher... Graves. Thirty-two years old from New York, New York."
The 44-year-old shook his head before muttering something about Frank Sinatra, after which was followed by more reading aloud.
"Graves... says here that you were in the army. Rank of... Captain in 12 years' time. Impressive. Why don't you sound off and tell us a little about yourself, but keep it short and sweet. You've got plenty of time to tell your life story to your new friends here in the future."
Christopher only barely just got here, and it already felt like he was back in the Army. Everything from the Commanders demeanor, to being lined up and lectured. He had hoped to get away from this sort of lifestyle; he joined O-23 in hopes of something more than to be back to being a grunt. He had already gotten the full run down from the guy who did his psych evaluation. What he was about to enter was a world of unimaginable horrors. But that wasn't too say it scared him. He was, more than anything, exited. "Sir. I was a company commander in the Army. I was born and raised in New York, and am here to do my best to serve my country." Short and sweet. Christopher was sure he was going to like it here.
"You are not here to serve your country, Graves," retorted the commander, flipping through the pages on the clipboard. His face carried a solemn expression as he continued to speak.
"You are here to help your fellow men, across the world. These things don't localize. If they had a chance, they'd ravage the world, and they have... once."
Cross cleared his throat, flipping to the second page and reading over it a little.
"Daniel Wreath. Thirty-three years old; from... Salem, Oregon. Graduated in 2003 from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey, after transferring from Willamette University in Salem. Majored in Government Law, with a double major in Forensics. Sounds like you were straight out of an episode of CSI...."
Further reading caused him to arch a brow, becoming a little more interested.
"Says here that you were part of Mobile Task Force Beta-3, reassigned to SCP-785 before getting recommended to join O-23."
Cross' eyes flickered upwards toward Wreath, who stood at attention. "Tell me... what was your experience with this specific SCP? They reassigned you there for a reason."
The man that Commander Cross stood before was markedly different than his predecessor. He might have been nervous, but mostly because he had come into such a position to report directly to an O-5 instead of being thrust into the dark world of monsters that go bump in the night. Been there, done that, got used to it already, although much still unsettled him. You can only see the Boogeyman so many times before you stop screaming in terror and start giving him the finger instead. The Commander's influence was not lost on Daniel Wreath, he was aware of how big a deal this was, but he'd treat it like a trial to overcome instead of something to survive. You get that results that way. Raise the bar high so you jump with all your might. He was a little different from the others, other than his relaxed nature that is. He looked more like a civilian, for good reason of course, with his slicked back auburn hair and wispy mustache.
Wreath opened his mouth to speak without hesitation. Initially nervous, he could tell that he caught the Commander's eye and let his anxiety ease a little. The standards of conduct for this interview, screening, initiation speech, whatever it was called reminded him a little of the Police Academy, but the operations of the Foundation had become routine to him at this point. This wasn't anything new, although he wished he could be wearing something a little more casual than his jumpsuit and treated like an Agent instead of like a rookie with no experience. Compared to many, especially the Commander, five years with the Foundation was still pretty green, but it was something. No other choice than to play the game. For now. He'd get his chance to show his worth and relax after he'd proven himself.
"Well, Commander," Agent Wreath began, speaking more casually than his predecessor and looking Commander Cross in the eye as he spoke, "What I've gathered is before I had become an Agent, I was initially chasing down SCP-785 to begin with. If you knew anything about that particular SCP, then you would know that I had been afflicted by SCP-785-1." His tone was expository and without urgency, pronouncing every individual number to include tack marks. A trick he picked up on with his analyst work, most higher ups would prefer that you sounded knowledgeable and comfortable about your topic of expertise than to humor them with resolve. He continued speaking.
"I had been screened per standard operating procedure and given a class B amnesiac, but apparently I had impressed someone on Task Force Beta-3 and was screened into the Foundation almost two months later. Or so I've been told, sir. They placed me in a surveyor position immediately, sweeping the media and financial records for any of these instances so that we could shut them down before they... well I'm sure you know, sir." Wreath sighed before continuing once more. "Deployed me to deconstruct a few times, sir. One of them was after the event hit critical. That was a joy to contain."
"I came up with a better media analysis technique that more reliably allowed us to track SCP-785 shortly before I became a 'Hack'," he announced, all traces of his darker tone disappearing at once. 'Hack', of course, referenced SCP-567. The Foundation was simply full of good times to be had. Sure, it was for the survival of man and of course the work was challenging and satisfying, but God help him if he didn't end up in the loony bin after a few more years working this. It was like being a beat cop all over again, except now a grisly car accident was moderately pleasant compared to some of the things he'd seen. "...and I've been recommended to rejoin MTF B-3 in a higher position at a later date." Agent Wreath would loved to speak more, of course, but he could tell that Commander Cross wasn't a man to tolerate verbose explanations. He could tell that his comment about being a Hack was slightly tangential, not directly answering the asked question, and more than likely wouldn't be appreciated. The Commander had the rest of his file and could (and probably already did) read up on his experiences at his leisure and didn't need the refresher course. He had nothing else to say and subsequently clammed up after his final comment. He stood uneasy, regretting his slip of the tongue.
Oh well, he reasoned, better to give an honest first impression than a dishonest good one. Tactful, professional, but more relaxed and not subservient. A man that respected authority but was not intimidated by it, a man that had the capacity to think for himself with the resolve to follow orders. This, Wreath believed, would ultimately prove himself capable. All he had to do was back up confidence with ability. Wreath felt like smiling, but wasn't an idiot and kept stoic, thinking about something a little less grandiose and vain. The Foundation was a horrible place filled with horrible things, but who says that you can't take pride in being an accomplished monster hunter?
Once Wreath finished speaking, Cross stared for a few moments, gauging the man's resolve for himself. He smiled, seeing much of his early years in the Agent that now stood before him. It caused him to recall his days working throughout the various task forces that peppered themselves throughout the Foundation. One such was Mobile Task Force Gamma-5 - twenty years old and looking clueless and frightened as he and few others went from house to house, doing damage control during an undercover operation. He and several of his teammates posed as neighbors who had just moved into the surrounding area, attempting to contain a security breach when several instances of SCP-1981 had found their way into the neighborhood. Nothing like trying to convince people that Ronald Reagan was not killed. Never had to use so many amnesiacs to contain the problem.
Cross shook his head, his smile fading. "You'll do quite well here, Wreath," he spoke, giving a look of confirmation to the Agent. "Fly right, follow orders... hell, you could even take my position, someday."
With that said, he let a thought fade. But, when the time comes, you won't want it, kid.
Flipping to the next page, he saw the face of his next member. "Terrence Grisham. 31 years old, from.... hm.... it doesn't say."
He looked as he continued to speak. "Grisham, where are yo--"
Cross stopped speaking, letting his arms fall to his side as he looked upon the face of Terrence Grisham - or, more specifically, what covered his face; a standard-issue gas mask. Whereas the others were uniformally dressed to the standards of orientation, Grisham stood out with his facewear. Puzzled, he looked down at the clipboard again, reading. He sighed, running his fingers through his graying hair.
"So, it says here that had visual augmentation surgery. Your reasoning was because you 'didn't want your contacts or glasses getting in the way of the mission.' Well, if there was ever a reason, that'd be it, wouldn't it?" Instead of waiting for an answer, he posed another set of questions.
"Tell me, Grisham; what can your eyes do? I want to know how far the Foundation went to put augments into your eyes... and if I have to rip them out of your skull to keep you from killing everyone here with potential ocular-based laser technology. Before you answer that..." He scanned the page again.
"Infinitum Research. Why don't you tell me how you tripped up and killed two of your squadmates? I'm sure that a failure-to-comply story would be enough to humor us all, right now."
Standing stock still at attention, Terrence couldn't help but be reminded of his first few days in his old Intercept Squad. Maintaining straight posture inside of an eerily white facility, being lectured by an old veteran. Even now, he still had trouble believing that he was lined up like this again.
The flashbacks brought happiness, regret, and sorrow, in varying order. He tried not to think too much about it. His Psychological examiner here at the S.C.P. Foundation told him that his past would need to be near non-existent in order to function as an efficient agent. Terrence grinned a little bit as it reminded him of an old movie he liked, about men in formal suits who fought aliens.
Except we're not wearing suits. We're going to be wearing Kevlar armor, and be armed with rifles instead of plasma guns... He thought.
He listened in on the interviews of his fellow squadmates, as commander Cross talked to them one by one. The first one seemed like one of those stereotypical, overly-patriotic army veterans. But Terrence thought that he shouldn't judge until he got to know him better.
The second one struck him as one of the smarter people he'd met. Given the fact that the man (Daniel Wreath) was already an agent of the Foundation, Terrence took mental note of how impressive someone had to be in order to be accepted in the 0-23 unit. It made him surprised at his own ability to have gotten in, despite it being his first experience with the Foundation. Although, he was intimidated at the mention of "sweeping media and financial records" and "amnesiacs". It made him wonder just how many anomalies he would have seen had the S.C.P. Foundation not intervened...
"Terrence Grisham. 31 years old, from.... hm.... it doesn't say. Grisham, where are yo--" Cross started, but stopped as he looked at him. Terrence was used to this sort of reaction from people ever since he got his vision augments. He didn't blame them though. After all, it wasn't everyday that you would see a fully-grown man wearing a gas-mask. Personnel who met him during training simulations had taken to call him nicknames from "Masked Terry" to "The creepy dude in the mask". A fellow named Dr. Brights even took to calling him "Darth Vader" for his loud breathing.
The commander looked back to his clipboard before speaking. "So, it says here that had visual augmentation surgery. Your reasoning was because you 'didn't want your contacts or glasses getting in the way of the mission.' Well, if there was ever a reason, that'd be it, wouldn't it? Tell me, Grisham; what can your eyes do? I want to know how far the Foundation went to put augments into your eyes... and if I have to rip them out of your skull to keep you from killing everyone here with potential ocular-based laser technology. Before you answer that... Infinitum Research. Why don't you tell me how you tripped up and killed two of your squadmates? I'm sure that a failure-to-comply story would be enough to humor us all, right now."
The commander seemed to have a sense of humor, but Terrence felt that it would be best to remain formal in addressing his superior officer. He took a deep breath before speaking with a muffle from his mask.
"Sir, my eyes do nothing more than improve my vision. I can't remember the exact numbers, but I can discern objects from a great distance, and notice fine details on small objects. However, the surgery deformed my face so I always wear a mask in public" He said, pausing before continuing.
"My previous career was as a member of an Intercept Squad for Infinitum Research; a company that performs genetic enhancements. We were tracking an escaped human experiment that can disguise as other people, except for the telltale sign of an unnatural hump on its back. We managed to corner it inside abandoned docks. Our orders were to kill on sight since re-capturing was no longer considered an option given its mentally unstable state and superhuman strength."
"We split into groups of two in order to find him. I was ambushed, and my partner got his neck snapped. The experiment then pushed him into me, knocking my glasses into the sea. I tried to give chase, and I did run into him again, and he didn't know I was there. But I couldn't tell that he had a hump because I lost my glasses. I thought he was a civilian walking around the docks. Protocol says to leave no witnesses, but I assumed that he hadn't seen anything yet, so I shouted at him to leave the area or be fired upon. Then he looks at me, and sprints away."
Terrence noticed was starting to be more descriptive than what was necessary, and tried to remedy that.
"We managed to kill him eventually, but the experiment killed two of my squadmates before someone gunned him down, and even the gunner had gotten hurt. We were all wearing helmet-mounted cameras so my employers knew how I failed at carrying out the K.O.S. for the experiment. That's also why I chose to have vision augments." Terrence explained.
He did his best to maintain composure, but underneath the mask he was fighting back the guilt that haunted him. He was so pained by it that he intended to do everything he could to make sure he wouldn't fail his squad again, and that he would follow commands to the letter. He would have said it out loud, but the commander didn't ask him about that, and as an agent he must only say what is asked of him.
Cross listened intently to Grisham as he recounted the events of the event that left two of his squadmates dead, and he couldn't help but sympathize. Toward the end, the words started to become muffled and blended together until they were no longer intelligible, leaving Cross to remember the events that unfolded not long ago as Grisham spoke. Eyes glazed over, he fell back into his own thoughts of his early days within O-23.
Michael Cross sat at a metal desk, filling out paperwork for some menial task as his partner, Oswald Carley, called out to him. The man in general had blonde hair, tied into an updo that resembled a full-headed high ponytail that rogue samurai in feudal Japan were often accounted for wearing. A standard navy blue jumpsuit adorned his body, with the emblem of the Foundation embroidered over the left breast pocket. Oswald was a happy person by all accounts, and the smile on his face as he greeted Cross was no exception to the man's personality.
"Ozzy," replied Cross, getting up from his chair. He moved over to the entrance of the room and shook Oswald's hand, delighted to see his friend that day. An image of Oswald's dead corpse flashed through Cross' mind in the present day, eviscerated by something monstrous and terrifying. He stomached his immediate sickness so that the others didn't see, noticing that Grisham was finishing speaking. He looked down to the clipboard and noticed an addendum to the document, noting that Grisham's guilt was a big factor in his reformation. The ocular receptors included in Grisham's augmentation would, without a doubt, help himself and the rest of the team, especially if it could pick out objects from great distances. The facial deformities, however, were a regrettable, yet necessary sacrifice in Cross' eyes, as Grisham's new-found augments would prove to be invaluable.
"Grisham, I hope you'll be able to prove yourself among the ranks here in the group. You have a lot to do and, if you're serious about this, you'll go far."
He flipped to the next page and continued reading.
"Hal Rikkit. Twenty-seven years old, from Ohio. Born on Halloween. Used to be a part of a private security corporation, but was terminated because of... an SCP. Interesting. Later on, it seems you became an Agent of the Foundation."
Upon further reading, he laughed out loud a little, walking toward Rikkit. Stopping before the man, he raised his fist. "Maybe, you can tell me..."
He knocked on Rikkit's right arm, producing a metallic noise that echoed throughout the intersection.
"...how SCP-212 came to give you this."
Ah. The arm knocking. Hal had been afraid someone might try that. It wasn't that it irritated him or anything, he simply found it to be rather too cliche. Like a movie following all the tropes. Though he supposed much about him was rather trope-y when all was said and done. Born on the 'Scariest day of the Year', troublesome childhood, agent to a seemingly all powerful group up to its neck in supernatural entities. And of course the mechanical limbs more suited to some science fiction robot than a human being. Altogether it was rather silly.
Clearing his throat, Hal rolled up the sleeve of his right arm to reveal the sleek, darkened shape of his mechanized limb. The good Doctor had informed him, in between not so subtly trying to brush her foot along his legs, that he might have to explain his current bodily state to the commander of O-23. He hadn't quite expected to have to do it in front of everyone else but in the end it would likely save Hal the trouble of having to repeat himself and deal with rumors.
"As you probably know Commander, up until recently I was a part of Site security over at ABC A-14, tasked with keeping SCP-082 under control. One of the D class got it into their heads to break the little charade we had going on at the time for one reason or another and we ended up with a bit of a containment breach." Hal raised his arm above his head, rolling his eyes at the act. It was like show and tell at the freakshow. "Six agents dead or incapacitated, twenty D class personnel fully or half consumed, and I managed to get out of there minus an arm, a leg and most of what was in my chest."
Truthfully, Hal could have easily escaped unharmed, had SCP-437 not somehow had made it's way onto the scene. Nobody was quite sure why 437 was at A-14 when the containment breach rolled around and O5 still had their men digging deep to find out. Either way, Hal had made the mistake of trying to use it as a weapon to distract 082 and lost his arm and leg in the process. 082 had taken no small amount of glee in cracking open Hal's chest and messing about inside, though not before Hal had managed to crawl his way back into its cell. Luckily for Hal one of the other security team members made the wise decision to run the bastard down with a forklift, giving some others time to drag Hal out of there and get him to SCP-212. Nobody was quite happy about the unauthorized use of 212 at the time and those Agents who had subjected Hal to it's claws were all punished accordingly, but in the end O5 seemed to deem it an acceptable outcome.
Rolling his sleeve back down, Hal continued. "Long of the short of it Commander, 212 got me back on my feet and here I am, slightly bulletproof and theoretically capable of crushing a man's skull like it was made of rotten banana." Hal figured that should do the trick, though he'd likely have to explain how he had ended up at the Foundation in the first place later on. That was another matter though and Hal didn't like being the center of attention.
An unauthorized use of SCP-212, Cross thought, giving Rikkit an attentive stare as the practical and aptly-named "Man of Steel" recounted the events that led to his dismemberment and near-death experience. He heard many things about SCP-082, also known as "Fernand the Cannibal", and none of them were good. Cross hadn't seen the giant himself, but he knew someone who had, and he'd never forget the look on that person's face.
"Tell me about your experience with Fernand."
Cross stood against the wall of the psychologist's office, staring at a female who sat in a leather chair that didn't quite promote any type of comfort. She was terrified, and the widened eyes that shifted rapidly in her skull made it clearly evident. Hands gripping at the arms of the chair, she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood and let it run down her chin as she fumbled with the words she'd need to even come close to what she saw.
"I-I-I... I saw h-him... eating that man..."
Cross folded his arms across his chest, his gaze fixed on her face. He noticed tears streaming down her cheeks; whether or not it was from the pain in biting her lip or the terror that shook her today, he had no idea, but he could tell that she wouldn't be the same for a long while.
"Describe it in detail."
Cross turned to look at the psychologist, who had the nerve to smile as he sat back in his office chair, hands clasped together as he tried to psychoanalyze his new patient. Shaking his head, the then-recognized Agent was disgusted with the doctor's demeanor. Everything was always for research. Even if they acted like they cared, they were more interested in results than the sanity of one of their members. After all, he was once told that they were "disposable", and that many more can be found to replace even this woman.
She was D-Class, but unlike the others. From the records he happened to see, she killed her husband in cold blood, but the way she looked to the Agent didn't match up with the reports of her criminology, so he did more research. He eventually uncovered the original documents, finding out that it was an act of self-defense. Husband was an abusive bastard and an alcoholic; typical stuff that would provoke a woman to act to preserve her own life. However, the judicial system didn't see it that way, and so she was here, serving her duty as a part of her life sentence. It was the only she was able to stave her execution, she said. He laughed at the thought. You're practically staring Death in the face everyday, lady, he thought, shaking his head. He had taken to watching over her. Protocol or not, he didn't care. They couldn't do anything to punish for being someone's guardian angel. However, when she was transferred from his Site to Armed Bio-Containment Area 14, she was out of his jurisdiction, so all he could do was wait. When she came back, he immediately went to her, disregarding all orders not to do so. He was reprimanded later, but her safety was of a higher priority. When he found her, she was pale and shaking. Her eyes were dilated from the fear and she could barely speak. Loud noises scared her and she mumbled incoherently about a giant man-eater. Cross didn't know what she meant, not until she was interviewed.
Cross' thoughts then turned to SCP-437, also known as the "Woodcutter's Ax". He heard tell of its effects, rebounding and severing, clean and at the joint, any limb of the person who attempted to use it. It was a cruel metaphor for the term "double-edged sword", if there ever was one. He had to laugh, however, at Rikkit's decision to use it. Foundation personnel were only ever permitted to use approved weaponry. His smile faded, though, when he realized the desperation in the decision. When the chips were down, one would do anything to preserve their own life. Just as the woman did with her abusive husband, Rikkit had done with Fernand. It the cruelest of irony.
The commander nodded when Rikkit had finished speaking. "Well," he began, taking a few steps back to distance himself a little from the recruits. "I have no doubt that you will be vital. You'll have no idea what you could encounter. Environmental hazards and dangerous foes are all around, and your theoretical strength could be what turns the tide to our favor. Until then..."
He flipped to the next page and continued reading.
"Viktor Mandus. Thirty-six years old, from Los Angeles, California. Used to be part of the FBI." He sighed sarcastically. "Bet that was fun."
"Displays keen observational skills. Majored in philosophy and psychology. Says here... that you suffered some sort of trauma, thought it's not really outlined here in the report. You mind filling us in? It'll help us all get along just a little bit better, and it allows me to know what you're capable of, mentally."
Viktor's eyes turned towards the commander as he spoke. As the man mentioned trauma, Viktor's mind went back. His father, the strict military man, drunk half the time and passed out the other half when Viktor and his mother were spared the almost constant physical and mental abuse. Viktor suffered this for years, until finally his mother had enough, leaving the brutish swine when the boy was only 14.
This changed him, broke him and rebuilt him, constant, ever working, like clockwork. Would he ever be the same again?
As Viktor awoke from his self-induced reverie he finally spoke to Cross. "My father beat me. Throughout most of my childhood, until I was about 14." He stated, sounding almost tired of speaking it, having explained the same thing to social workers, psychologists, and friends too curious for their own good.
"He was in the military for about 25 years." Viktor described, "I think he suffered from PTSD, something like that, but it didn't matter. He turned to drink instead of help and we paid the price for it. It's a simple sob story, Commander, and I assure you, it will not impede my progress or ability." He reassured, clearing his throat as his head cleared itself again.