And It Was So (SCP-001 Proposal)
rating: +3+x


Something catastrophic has befallen humanity and its defenders.

A catastrophe that we could not prevent.

Long ago, we built a failsafe. It would force a guarantee in a universe of probability.

The time has come. Travel to SCP-001 and deactivate it.

What you will do afterwards will become clear soon enough.

You do not have much time.

---

These were the words that raced through Junior Researcher Stetten's head as he woke up in the middle of a dark, abandoned forest. He was half submerged in the dirt, wearing only a long-sleeved white shirt, a black tie, black dress pants, knee-high socks, and loafers. In any other setting, one could confuse these with the ramblings of one's half asleep mind before getting up to go to work, seeing how he's currently dressed. However, he knew something much less mundane was happening. A very instinctual feeling that something grand was going to happen to him. But before any other thought could be had, he had to get up.

Stetten sat up and studied his surroundings. It was dawn, so not much could be made out, but it was rather obvious he was in a pine forest. That could place him in the Pacific Northwest, Atlantic Southeast, or a myriad of different places in Europe or Asia. Beyond that, he was confused, frightened, and could barely remember anything about himself except for his name. He thought it would be best to test how much he remembers and how much he's forgotten.

Knowledge not related to him was easy: the 44th President of the US was Barack Obama, if you don't pay your water bill you won't get any water, and you can make a rudimentary ant trap by mixing sugary soda and dish soap in a bowl. However, he didn't even know what he sounded like. But if he figured out what his accent was, he could make a rough estimation of his location. Whatever happened to him, he couldn't have gone far. And there was only really one way to find that out.

"Test, test, 1 2 3."

It was definitely American. The specifics don't really matter to Stetten at the moment, but he now has a general idea of where he is: an American pine forest. Stetten lied to himself that he had narrowed it down significantly.

"Hello? Is someone there? What did you say?"

A voice that didn't belong to him, faint but still close, emerged from behind him, deep in the dark forest. As if by coincidence, he was just about to think that he needed to find civilization or at least another human soon. Looks like that wouldn't be a problem. Stetten hopes they're not a voice stealing anomaly of sorts.

"Yes, hello? Where are you?" Stetten replies into the darkness.

"Hold on, I'll come to you."

Predictably, Stetten heard the crunching of leaves as whoever the voice belonged to began to move towards his location at a slow pace. The first thing that came to Stetten's mind was that the person probably didn't have a limp, which was good news if they wanted a relatively easy time surviving. Soon enough, only illuminated by the very faint dawn light that was piercing through the forest, he saw a woman, covered in dirt and obviously very confused and frightened. She wore the very same clothes Stetten was wearing. She was most likely in the same situation Stetten was in previously: half submerged in dirt and amnesiac. Stetten realized he was still sitting on the ground and quickly got up.

"How long have you been awake for? I woke up from what felt like a huge coma like 15 minutes ago," asked the woman. Again, it seemed like a coincidence that they were right next to each other and woke up at nearly the same time.

"15 minutes, same as you." Stetten replied. Stetten refused to believe it was just a coincidence. This had something to do with the "failsafe"… SCP-001, that they're both awake and without memory. It makes no sense otherwise.

"Right, I should probably say my name." stated the woman. "My name is Zeit. Z-E-I-T. I don't know my last name, and I work at the S-" As if struck by a thought, Zeit abruptly stopped and stared into space. Stetten was reminded that he also didn't know his last name… or, whether or not Stetten was his last name or not. It probably didn't matter at that point; it was a name, and it would have to suffice for the time being.

After several seconds, Zeit continued with her thought.

"It doesn't matter now, I'll figure it out once we're away and safe. I work at the SCP Foundation, Department of Humanity Preservation. I worked as an… intern at a project called SCP-001."

A memory slammed into Stetten's brain at the speed of light upon hearing this information. As it turns out, not only were they close together and woke up at practically the same time, they were also both Junior Researchers who were once assigned to SCP-001. This erased any previous doubts that this was just all a huge coincidence. There's no going back now.

As if instinctual, Stetten blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"SCP Foundation… stall number D997, worked for 6 months as Junior Researcher, was never informed on the nature of SCP-001…"

Before Stetten could continue with that train of thought, Zeit interrupted him.

"Stetten?"


THE SCP FOUNDATION PRESENTS

AND IT WAS SO

A story of humanity's true nature





CHAPTER 1


Rude Awakening




At a place before places and a time before time, there stood a boy and His family.

Born from His father and mother and raised alongside his twin brothers, this is all he would come to know until it was too late.

His birthplace was that of lush vegetation and of rampant fertility. Cut off from the rest of existence, the family would soon come to know true peace.

6 MONTHS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION



"Stetten, the documents."

As if awaking from an incredible dream, Junior Researcher Stetten broke free of his deep daydream and found himself in a white, inoffensive office filled with the sounds of clattering keyboards and the smell of a cheap air freshener. Before him was his supervisor for a project he practically had no information on, Director Falsch, waiting for Stetten to do his job and aimlessly sign the paperwork given to him.

"Right, right, sorry. Got distracted again."

"You're always distracted, Stetten. It's everyday with you. You're lucky you're good at your job when you're not in your little wonderland, else I'd have to replace you with one of my 500 applicants that really want to be in your seat right now."

If Director Falsch had to be described with only one adjective, it would be blunt, through and through. Stetten tried to convince himself that down beneath that steel skin was something resembling a human soul, but every attempt proved fruitless. And while Falsch was blunt, he wasn't apathetic. Falsch would rather die than beat around the bush. If needed, that bush would be pulverized to dust until whatever point he wants to make is made.

And the point he wanted to make is that total concentration is required, else you be replaced.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, Director. It's just that… like, can I be blunt with you?"

"I'd rather that than you spout random drivel."

"Right. But… it's just… this work is like, a lot more boring than you described it before I was transferred over here. Cut me some slack. You promised a huge, world saving project and I'm stuck making sure the paper cups are ordered at the appropriate time."

Silence was what Stetten feared the most, and it was what he received. Silence permeated the air even as the rest of the office continued to type away on their loud mechanical keyboards. In hindsight, maybe that was too blunt. If Falsch was looking for an excuse to replace Stetten, this was by all means the perfect opportunity. Who says to their boss "this is boring" as an excuse for slacking off and expects not to get instantly fired.

But Falsch was an unpredictable man.

"I like that attitude a lot more than you would think, Stetten. Unfortunately, ordering paper cups is the highest job that your experience can land you within this Site."

Falsch patted Stetten on the back with more force than he expected, almost slamming Stetten into his own desk.

"To say that you can't upgrade to a higher position would be a bold faced lie."

Stetten had nothing to say. He was mentally preparing for the talk with his family that he suddenly lost his 30 bucks an hour job at what they thought was an extremely prestigious hospital. He was already halfway through the part where he was frantically trying to explain to his wife what happened in a way that wouldn't get them memory wiped when Falsch dropped that bombshell.

"Oh, uh. What do you mean, exactly?"

Falsch walked towards the door.

"Come, I want to show you something."

And so Stetten followed.


"You know my name?"

The question that exited Stetten's mouth was as genuine as it could get. He remembered the site number, stall number, the name of the project, the general significance of said project, but not this "Zeit." Yet she knew his name.

"Yeah. I'm sorry that I can't explain why I know your name. I don't remember ever… seeing you, but your name was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw it. It's, uh, good to meet you, I guess."

"Yeah. Good to meet you too."

Stetten thought this whole introduction was a bit awkward and silly, and he was right. They were in the middle of nowhere, possibly memory wiped, and the best they can come up with was a 'good to meet you.' To ease the awkwardness in the air, Stetten thought it appropriate to get down to business.

"Did you see it too?"

"Huh?"

"The… the message. While I was out, I had a message flash through my mind. Normally my dreams are hazy and incomprehensible, but this was clear as day. I could read and understand it perfectly, no dream logic getting in the way of it. It said…"

"I know what it says. I had it too."

And, from memory alone, they repeated what they saw, starting with Zeit.

"Something catastrophic has befallen humanity and its defenders."

Followed up by Stetten.

"A catastrophe that we could not prevent."

"Long ago, we built a failsafe."

"It would force a guarantee in a universe of probabil-."

"Yeah, yeah, right, we don't have to repeat the whole thing, it's obvious we got the same message." interrupted Zeit.

Stetten got that from the first line, but he thought it would be neat if they pulled that off perfectly. Oh well, they had other things to worry about. He began to speak, but was quickly interrupted by Zeit.

"What the hell is that fucking smell, Jesus Christ."

Now that she had mentioned it, yes, there was a horrid smell in the air. It was unmistakable, it had smelled like they were dumped directly into the dumpster behind a very shoddy animal center. Animal carcasses, tons of them. It was hard to notice them at first, lack of sun not doing them any favors, but once the sun began to creep over the horizon, they were surrounded by rotten fur and blackened skeletons.

"Looks like whatever did all this missed a spot." Zeit thought a joke would lighten the mood, but Stetten didn't agree.

Foxes, black bears, birds, and rodents. It seemed as if everything in a large radius around them had died sometime before their awakening, specifically enough time for them to only be half decomposed. It couldn't have been more than a couple of days since these animals had died.



6 MONTHS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION



It was 9 in the morning and Junior Researcher Zeit was already pissed.

Which is odd, because it took a lot to make Zeit mad. Even on her worst days, the worst you'd receive from her was a very soft "fucking hell" under her breath as she turned the other cheek and left. But something had Zeit seconds away from punching the nearest physical object, living or not.

And that thing was a coworker's act of kindness.

Zeit sat at her desk with an entire box of donuts, gifted to her by said coworker, sitting right in front of her. No, the anger wasn't at the donuts themselves. Nor was it the coworker, truth be told. It was the straw that nearly broke the camel's back after nearly a week straight of being at the mercy of her coworker's inability to leave her alone.

"I-I'm sorry Ms. Zeit, I-"

"Don't call me that."

"Wh- Zeit?"

"No. Don't… ugh. Nevermind. Thank you."

Obviously disconcerted by how Zeit was acting, the coworker awkwardly shimmied their way out of Zeit's office, hoping that they would both forget this incident. Zeit decided the best course of action was to give herself a two minute power nap. She carefully put down the huge pile of paperwork she was halfway done with signing, leaned back in her chair, and employed one of her many coping mechanisms.

A good way to "reset" herself, for lack of a better word, was to try and remember the timeline of how she got there and why she's doing what she's doing. Did wonders for making sure her sense of the passage of time stayed intact so that she could stay somewhat sane. Let's see, where to start… usually she started when she was transferred to the project, so that's where she'll start now. She wasn't in the mood to change the formula right now.

It was two months ago, give or take. Zeit was a Junior Researcher at Site-551, in charge of small scale testing with Safe anomalies. Because she was relatively new (three years is apparently new to the Foundation), she was stuck with the paint buckets that vomited blood and the keyboards that plagiarized from 12th century poets.

She had received an email from Director Falsch stating they were looking for suitable researchers for an extremely important project. So important that, if you were to decline, they'd memory wipe you so that it stays secret. It wasn't exactly how Zeit thought she'd receive an invitation to a super uber secret Foundation project.

Her first day was last week. She had gotten situated in her new office, and wondered what juicy tasks she'd be performing. Her first task was to sign paperwork. Okay, she got the boring stuff out of the way. She thought that next day she'd actually, y'know, get some info on what they're doing. She was subsequently given thirty more white pages of pure bureaucracy.

This continued until she eventually just gave up on learning what the project was about and just accepted the fact that she was gonna be signing papers for the next few years.

But that's not even the worst part. If that was all that Zeit had to deal with, she'd be emotionally drained, but she wouldn't be mad. No.

Fifty-seven times.

That is how many times somebody walked into her office and asked her a question that they should've known the answer to. She tried to remind herself that these were the smartest people on the planet.

'Hey, uh, where's the bathroom?' The more that question was asked, the more she struggled against the urge to just say "have you tried using your eyes, shithead" due to the fact that there's a huge sign on the ceiling guiding people to where it is. But thankfully, she always conquered that urge.

'Hey, I'm having trouble with the photocopier.' What was she supposed to do that the maintenance guy couldn't fix? If it's an issue with you not knowing how to use a photocopier, then it's even more not her problem.

'What's the Wi-Fi password?' You are in a top secret SCP Foundation site.

She thought she was in a building of people that knew what the fuck they were doing, but evidently not. Normally, she'd be concerned, but now she was just tired.

"Ms. Zeit?"

Zeit didn't open her eyes, assuming it was another coworker.

"What the fuck do you-"

Zeit opened her eyes and came face to face with Site Director Falsch, who had his left eyebrow and right side of his mouth raised. He was holding a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other. Sweat exploded from Zeit's pores as her heart crashes deep into her stomach.

"Now that's not very nice, Ms. Zeit."

If she didn't know any better, Zeit would think that her heartbeats were powerful enough to shake the room. Her entire body jolted from each beat as she comes face to face with her boss.

"Uh, sorry, Director Falsch. I just…"

"Says here you're helping manage the flow of supplies between this Site and Site-56, making sure everything gets here on time. Are things going well?"

It took all of her power not to sit completely still. As if she was in a nightmare, fully aware that she's dreaming but unable to manipulate anything within. All she can hope to wake herself up would be to violently shake her head, to anchor back to reality. And so she did. Falsch found this a tad bit strange, but Zeit finally responded to his question.

"Uh, yes, yes it is. I should be done with my batch here in a couple of minutes. Sorry for that, uh…"

Falsch held his hand up in front of Zeit.

"Say no more, I get it. Just, try not to do that too often, okay?"

To Falsch's point of view, it was painfully obvious that Zeit was physically trembling while he continued to stay in the room. Falsch smirks, turns around and leaves the office. Once Zeit knew that Falsch was gone, she slammed her head into her desk out of pure exhaustion.

This wasn't the first time Zeit had met Director Falsch. It was the third, actually. The previous two times resulted in roughly the same outcome: Falsch is confused at Zeit's behavior while she has an internal breakdown. Every time she even noticed his existence, her heart would beat faster and faster, harder and harder, and her anxiety would flare up. Like her esophagus was being tied into a balloon animal. Her subconscious did not trust Falsch.

The strange thing is that Zeit did not know why she reacted this way whenever he was nearby. She had no reason to act this way, but the thought of him just… did not sit well with her. Not even close. She opted not to interact with him if given the choice for the rest of her time there, just for her mental health at least.

Zeit sat up straight in her chair and let out a long, long sigh before taking a bite out of a donut. It was glazed, the only type of donut Zeit didn't really care for.




CHAPTER 2


Hangover




The family lived upon a mountain, near a great big tree, and in the valleys lived the animals that they lorded over.

The circle of life was yet to be established, the gazelles and lions mingled, the salmon and bears played wonderful little games, and the family did not lay a finger upon a living creature.

After countless millennia of tranquil existence, the boy's father found the carcass of a dead rodent sustaining the big tree with its blood.

It was fully daylight now, and the first task on both of their minds was to prepare for the next night. They had two options: rely solely on Zeit's scattered knowledge on how to survive in the wilderness, or try and find civilization of some sort. They both agreed the best course of action was to rely on what they knew still existed.

The alternative could've been that humanity were replaced with blood thirsty aliens that posed as humans long enough to lure you into a false sense of security. Stetten thought that was a silly idea but absolutely not impossible.

The first step to Zeit's Five Step Plan was simple: shelter. Shelter of any kind, really. Making sure you're not sleeping on the cold, hard ground was good enough to get you far. Maybe they could splurge and get both a floor and a ceiling.

Zeit asked Stetten a simple question.

"Have you ever gone camping?"

The answer was a lot more complicated than Stetten wanted to admit.

"I mean… kind of. I barely remember it, and I didn't have a fun time at all. It was when I was like… 15 or 16, again I don't really remember."

Zeit quickly surveyed her current location, presumably in search of a decent place to set up a fire, then quickly turned back to Stetten.

"How about you tell me the story while I set up the fire. It'll distract us from the smell."

Right, that'd be a good way to pass the time. He's also been meaning to get it off his chest for a while. Stetten begins his story as Zeit begins picking up twigs off the ground.

"Right, so. Like I said, was 15 or 16. It was a trip with my dad. Uh, this was a couple months after he and my mom separated, for context."

Zeit nods as she places the firewood into the soon to be fireplace.

"Yeah. He felt really guilty that I was going through this, right, and offered that we go on a little camping trip near the local lake. Standard stuff. Talking about it now, it feels like such a… I don't know how to say it, hollow thing to say after what happened. But it really helped me at the time."

Zeit nods once again as she tries, and continuously fails to light a fire using a hand drill technique.

"I'll skip the details, but like… I thought he'd teach me some things about surviving in a forest. You'll never know when you'll get stranded in the middle of nowhere, heh."

Zeit didn't laugh, still continuing to light something resembling a fire.

"Anyway… apparently that wasn't his objective. He had a lighter, lighter fluid, prepackaged marshmallows, and packed some sandwiches for dinner. We were in no danger. All he wanted was to talk with me. To make sure I was doing okay after my parents separated."

Silence.

"Something… caught his leg when he tried to fish."

Zeit, surprised by the sudden development, looks up from her attempts at starting a fire, now completely engrossed in the story.

"I couldn't catch a glimpse, but it was fast enough that he didn't know what was happening before he was already completely submerged. I was… I was paralyzed."

Silence.

"I stood there, staring as my dad struggled heavily at whatever violently yanked him underwater. Any other person would've probably yelled for help, or God forbid jumped in to try and help. But I just stood there, unable to move but wishing I could."

Zeit's jaw is practically on the ground at this point. She expects Stetten to burst into tears at any given time, and at times it sounds like he's close, but he never does.

"I hope he didn't see me just… stand there. I hope he thought I tried my very best to save him."

Zeit expected something a bit depressing but not something traumatizing. After a long and painful silence, she asked the biggest question on her mind.

"Did you call the cops?"

"Nope. I had a fear that If I called them, they'd link my dad's death to me. That was most likely an irrational thought, but can you really blame me?"

Silence.

"No. I walked to my mom's new apartment and told her my dad slipped and drowned in the lake while I was peeing behind a tree. She called the cops then, but at that point I had disassociated so hard that I barely remember what happened afterwards. But I never really recovered from that."

Zeit realized that they were no closer to starting a fire than before the story started, but she didn't really mind that. Her mind was filled with questions, but she decided to say a statement.

""I have a feeling I know why you signed up for the SCP Foundation."

"Your feeling would be correct."

Before Zeit could get back to trying to build a fire, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. It was very hard to miss, actually. Something was flashing like a strobelight at a super fast rate. It was enough to give a non epileptic person a migraine. Stetten belatedly notices this too, and probably would've vocalized his concern if not for the…

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Stetten and Zeit knew exactly what this noise was: incredibly heavy footsteps onto crisp, crunchy leaves. Judging by the sound of its gait, it was definitely bipedal. And they both knew that the strobe light and the footsteps belonged to the same entity. Stetten wanted to sit still and investigate the noise a little further, but Zeit pushes him into a nearby bush faster than he can react.

"Wha'ts ha-" Zeit slams her hand onto Stetten's mouth. It was crystal clear that they needed to be quiet.

Before them was an android, shambling towards them at an ever increasing rate. Rather simplistic looking, being entirely grey and having an LED screen in the shape of a head on top of its torso. From its head, a very fast and disorienting strobe light that can be assumed to be used to stun its… prey, for lack of a better term. Because of this, they couldn't get a clear view of the android, but one thing was for certain: it hasn't noticed them yet.

Thankfully for Stetten, who at this point was inches away from shitting himself, Zeit was calm, collected, and didn't let the strobe lights cloud her judgement. It helped that she didn't think too much about this scenario. It was practically identical to a police officer with a strobe flashlight. She's dealt with that before, for reasons that if the Foundation had known, they wouldn't have hired her.

The android stops. Because of the strobe light, it was nigh impossible to tell where it was looking. Assuming the android had its eyes on the front of its head, of course. But they'd get an answer to that question sooner than they'd like.

"I will bring you to the king," screeches the construct as it transitions into a mad dash towards Stetten and Zeit.

One moment Stetten's crouched inside of a bush, the next he's 50 meters away from their previous location, practically being dragged by Zeit as they run for their life. From what little Stetten could process as they were running, he notices the android's left arm transforming. Replacing its hand was a half a meter long curved blade, slightly resembling some sort of claw. It was absolutely a tool for tearing, as well as stabbing.

At multiple points, Stetten almost trips over the carcasses of the animals strewn about the forest. If not for Zeit, he'd be turned into minced meat seconds after being discovered. Zeit continues to run as fast as she can through the forest, but unfortunately for them, the android is always just a tiny bit quicker.

"What do we do? It's getting faster," Stetten yells out.

"We're not gonna lose it. We're gonna have to fight or incapacit-"

And before another word could exit Zeit's mouth, the android's blade is thrust into the back of Stetten's neck, killing him instantly. Stetten's body becomes dead weight, which causes Zeit to crash into a pine tree at 20 kilometers per hour. Zeit is nearly knocked unconcious, and exerts all of her willpower into staying awake, whatever good that'll do her.

She tries to focus on her surroundings. There's a dead fox right next to her leg. A bear, that evidentially hasn't begun to decompose yet. If she hadn't known better, she would've thought it was alive. And… yup, that's definitely an owl. An owl skull is very distinct, could spot one from a mile away.

Any other person would be cowering in fear at the android that killed the only other living person they knew, but strangely enough, Zeit just felt… stunned, more than anything. Most likely because of the concussion. A couple of thoughts went through her head:

So, that's it, huh? Not even three hours? Thought we'd at least make it a couple days.

I wonder what I could've done differently there. Could I have maneuvered differently?

I'm fucked, aren't I?

The android walks up to Zeit who, from an outsider's perspective, seems indifferent to the whole situation. Zeit notices that the android's strobe lights have been disabled, rendering their head a… human head shaped void, for lack of a better term. The same black you see on a computer monitor that has been turned off, painted over the head of a mannequin, just enough to see the outlines of their nose, mouth, and empty eye holes.

The android violently grabs Zeit by the shoulder, slowly lifting her off the ground.

"I have been given direct orders to deliver you to him alive. Do not worry, you are safe. You will not be harmed."

Yeah I'm fucked.

Before the android can toss Zeit over its shoulder and presumably take her to her death, a deep growl can be heard. Zeit isn't the only one that notices this.

"If you value your life, unknown entity, you will not engage."

As it turns out, that bear was alive. Letting out a roar of desperation and bloodlust, the bear charges at the android, ready to rip it to shreds. Zeit hopes that the android isn't stronger than a black bear, and that the bear won't subsequently enjoy her as its next meal.

And before she knew it, she's knocked out of the android's grip. She thinks about kicking her legs up while enjoying the most anticipated pay per view boxing match of the century, but she realizes that the best course of action would be to assist the bear whenever possible. Zeit gets off the ground and gets ready to demolish a robot.




CHAPTER 3


Man vs Nature




Shock and disgust could be felt in the fibre of the realm as the father's unholy screams echo throughout the entirety of all there is. The animals of the valleys notice this and journey all the way to the top of the great big hill.

The boy's family and all the animals they lorded over stood over the rodent's bloodless corpse in horror at the event that has taken place. The herbivores speak first.

"What an abhorrent act! Look, the tree withers upon indulging on the blood of the rodent! This land is tainted! This isn't the cycle!"

With a snide smile, the predators soon follow.

"On the contrary, little thing, I do believe the tree is greatly enjoying its meal and wishes for another. From this, a new cycle can be born."

And thus, the predators throw themselves at the throats of the herbivores, starting a new cruel cycle.



The first blow of the battle is dealt by the bear who slashes at the android's head, knocking it down to the ground. Whatever material was used to build the android is rather sturdy, as not even a scratch persists after the attack.

Just as quickly as it was knocked down, the android slams its feet into the ground, forcefully pushing itself off the ground and back into a standing position, using the added momentum to deliver a sucker punch to the side of the bear's head. This nearly knocks the bear off its feet.

The bear at this point is stunned from the attack, and the android attempts to exploit this and stab the bear straight in the neck. Thankfully, Zeit had positioned herself behind the android as they were punching the bear, and attempts to grab the android's arm. This momentarily stops the android from advancing, allowing the bear to regain ground and prepare for a counter attack.

This victory is short-lived as the android strikes Zeit in her abdomen with its right elbow, causing her to get launched backwards. This knocks the wind out of her lungs, incapacitating her for a short time. Zeit thinks to herself that this android's strength is definitely superhuman. If any more force was applied into that elbow, her ribs would have shattered.

However, this was a perfect distraction for the bear, who charges and attempts to take a huge chunk of the android's neck with its teeth. Both the bear and the android hit the ground, the bear still holding on, not letting go until it was truly dead. In the process, the bear almost completely rips its head off, still being connected by roughly five centimeters of hardened plastic and a couple centimeters of cable.

"I will- I will- I will- I will- I will- I will- I will- I will-," The android's vocal circuits seemed to have taken the brunt of the attack. Unfortunately, its combat capabilities don't seem to have been impeded. With a swift jab with its left hand, the blade is thrust deep into the bear's skull, ending its life.

Zeit was decently confident in her ability to finish the fight. The damage done by the black bear will be invaluable in taking down what's left of the android. That's what she thought, anyway. Faster than she could react, the android charges Zeit and grabs her by the neck. Contrary to its previous statements about leaving her alive, its grip is tight enough to prevent all oxygen from entering her lungs. Either it was malfunctioning and going against its prime directive, or it wanted it to end quickly.

Before this point, she thought she was a goner once before, but was saved by the huge coincidence of a healthy black bear being in a forest filled with dead animals. But she thinks the chances of a second black bear coming to save her life once again is slim to none. And with that, she accepts her death for the second time.

"LET GO OF HER, ASSHOLE!" This was what Zeit heard behind the android, originating from someone very obviously terrified and clueless. It sounded somewhat familiar…

The android attempts to look behind it to find the source of the noise, but is met with a extremely large branch being swung at what's left of its head. This finally tears the rest of the android's head from its body, launching it into a random direction. With no head, the android finally falls to the ground, as good as dead.

Zeit has seen this before in dystopian novels. She'd be saved by the leader of a ragtag gang of survivors wearing a lot of leather and they would bring her into their gang where she'll learn how to survive the wasteland. She looked up and expected to see someone in a cheap biker jacket with a red bandana over their mouth, sporting a mohawk. But she saw the last thing she was expecting.

It was Stetten. No neck injury in sight. Zeit rubs her eyes, she's gotta be seeing things. Surely when she clears her eyes she'll see the leather clad gang member. But no, it was still Stetten. Zeit had only one question. It was a rather blunt question, but it was still valid, considering the situation.

"How the fuck are you still alive?"

"I- I have no idea. One moment I'm running with you away from the robot, the next I woke up on ground, like two feet away from you and the robot. That being said, you did a lot of damage to the robot while I was out!"

Silence.

"Stetten, we need to talk."



6 MONTHS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION


The purpose of Stetten and Falsch's walk wasn't to enlighten Stetten on the situation any further. That had to wait.

Walking for what seemed like hours, Stetten and Falsch continued to find themselves in a blank, egg-white corporate hallway, past countless offices and boardrooms. The site was a lot bigger than you'd expect hearing about it.

On the surface it's no bigger than your average fast food restaurant. If you were to unearth the entire site to the service, it would easily be a kilometer and a half wide. This project required a lot of moving parts, and this site was outfitted with practically everything including the kitchen sink.

Living quarters, offices, three separate cafeterias and enough bathrooms to satisfy people with bladders made of tissue paper. With all these bathrooms, it's wild how certain people still need to ask people for directions to said bathroom. Stetten, whether he wants to admit it or not, was one of those people.

All that room, and it feels like they filled 90% of it with white, boring hallways.

After over literally 20 minutes of silent walking, Stetten was the one that broke the silence.

"Where are we going?"

This slightly startled Falsch, who was presumably enjoying the peace and quiet of just quietly walking. Either that, or he just remembered that he was supposed to show Stetten something. Either way, his response sounded like he wasn't exaxtly prepared for the question.

"We're… heading to a little room that I used to own. Pretty important place to me, it is. I do apologize for all the walking, but it makes up for the lack of exercise you got in that office chair, no doubt."

He was right, he was working up a sweat. Though he wasn't exactly walking at a normal walking pace. Falsch walked like he had a train to catch at all times, making catching up to him an uphill battle. Each stride feeling longer than the last. It didn't help that Falsch was a 6 foot 4 beast of a man while Stetten stood at a more respectable 5 foot 7. Longer legs usually mean better walkers.

Derailing from the (admittedly weird) train of thought Stetten had there, Falsch abruptly stops in front of an old door. It was marked with "A076", indicating the 76th room of the A sector of the site. Falsch answered Stetten's question before he asked it.

"My old cubicle. Back when I was only a Junior Researcher. Twenty years before I became a director, and forty-nine years before the beginning of this project."

Falsch's statement checked out. The door almost looked like it had belonged to an old barn, let alone an esteemed para-government site. The paint was nearly fully chipped away, the window looking into the room was patched up with plastic, indicating that the glass had broken and they didn't want anything crawling inside. There wasn't even a doorknob, just a hole where one used to be. With a burst of newfound confidence, Stetten replied with a quip.

"You know, a non-sentimental director would've bulldozed this 20 years ago."

He expected a harsh glare, but was returned with a look of agreement.

"This is why I'm showing you this, Stetten."

Falsch walks up to the door and grabs a small pen out of his back pocket. He sticks the pen into the hole where the doorknob used to be, and begins jingling it around, seemingly randomly. Stetten doesn't quite know what Falsch is trying to do here, but he seemed to have a vague idea on how to open the door. Must have been a while since he's done this.

After a few minutes of bated breath and the clicking of a pen against wood, the door unlocks and slowly opens. When Stetten looked inside, he saw the first thing he expected.

A very dusty, abandoned cubicle.

"Why are you showing me this? I…"

"It's not the room itself. I should've made myself more clear. It's in the filing cabinet."

Falsch is the first one to enter the room, making a beeline for said filing cabinet. He opens the compartment labeled "T" and takes out five documents. They are each marked with the SCP emblem, indicating that they contain SCP files. As fast as he pulled them out, he shoves them into Stetten's arms.

"Read them."

Not exactly what Stetten expected, his boss allowing him to read presumably classified files. He barely had intel on the standard anomalous objects, and he's gonna read some actual SCP files.

"Director, I-I'm not so sure about this. I mean, I'm not allowed to-"

"As director of this site, what is or isn't allowed within this site is what I say is or isn't allowed. You are allowed to read these documents."

This sent a cold chill down Stetten's back something fierce. Such… confidence in that statement, even though it was completely incorrect. But hey, Stetten has plausible deniability. They'll memory wipe him but won't fire him. He opens up the files and begins reading.

The thoughts that go through Stetten's head are as follows:

Item number… SCP-8803, SCP-7651 and… SCP-11506. That's… a shit ton of SCPs, holy shit.

Huh, they have what you need to do to contain them at the beginning. In retrospect, that makes perfect sense, people need to know how to contain it more than they need to know what it is, but it's still hard to get used to. Imagine only reading the containment procedures and knowing nothing about the entity.

Wait, Object Class: Thaumiel? On all of these?

That last one wasn't a thought, Stetten had blurted it out. Falsch took attention to this.

"Do you know what an Object Class is, Stetten?"

"Uh… barely. I was told by my coworkers that it indicates the object's danger and-"

Falsch smirks and wags his finger.

"Common misconception among the new blood. No, it indicates the difficulty of containment. Safe is easy, Euclid is tricky, Keter is hard."

"And… what about Thaumiel?"

"Well, that one kinda breaks the mold a bit. It isn't about difficulty in containment, it indicates that its used to contain other anomalies. But most importantly, and the only information you should retain today, is that these objects are extremely important for the Foundation. We treat it like literal life or death. They are the backbone in which this institution rests. That means that they can only be maintained by very trusted people."

Falsch places a hand on Stetten's shoulder.

"I have been the director of all five of these objects in the past 40 years of my life."

Stetten was beginning to realize the significance of this trip now. Falsch continues with his thought.

"I am the Foundation's most trusted doctor. I have overseen the survival of this world, Stetten. And you wanna know what the Junior Researcher's jobs were on SCP-8803? They were chore boys that ordered cups for the cafeterias."

Falsch realizes that he's been gripping down on Stetten's shoulder hard enough to cut off blood flow and lets go. His stern look stays the exact same.

"You are a part of something important, Stetten. And you can trust me. This project can, and most likely will, save us all."

Falsch begins exiting the room. Stetten, using his last ounce of confidence for the day, blurts out one last question.

"Save us from what?"

Falsch pauses, looks back, and smiles.

"That's classified. Get back to work."

Falsch leaves the room, leaving Stetten alone in the dusty, decrepit room. The SCP files are still in his hands.




CHAPTER 4


Journey




With each passing day, the ground turns redder and redder with the blood of those that only wishes to live peacefully in the valleys. The boy's father looks upon this and weeps.

"You!" yells the father to the mother. "You are the one that sullied this land with the corpse of that rodent! You've committed an act that is only befitting of the dogs that live beneath us!"

"No, it is you that has sullied this land with your baseless claims of sin. You do not know who committed the murder, for there was no murderer. Death has chosen the rodent as its own. There is none to blame."

"Lies! Lies! Lies! I will not have a traitorous demon in my domain. Out with you!"

"I will not be exiled from my own home, false whistleblower. You point the blame at the one closest to you, for you have no integrity to take any blame for yourself."

The ground beneath them crumbles as the tainted tree's roots begin to siphon the land of its existence. Soon, the family and all of the tainted animals of the valleys fall into the void, never to be seen again.

"I got what now?"

It was very understandable to be confused by what transpired within the past 10 minutes, but there was no doubting it. Stetten had died and then came back to life.

"It was clear as day, Stetten. I saw that knife stab through one end and out the other. There's blood god damn everywhere."

"Then what the hell happened? I should be dead right now! The human body doesn't just heal from that."

Stetten was practically hyperventilating at this point, almost about to whip himself into a frenzy of pure confusion. Zeit didn't want to admit it, but she was confused as well. The whole series of events stunned her. But she knew that it had meaning. Did she have all the information she needed to piece it together? Only one way to find out. Step one was obvious.

"Stetten, let's try and remember the timeline of events here. We wake up, it's nearly morning. We talk for a couple hours, try to build a campfire. A robot spots us and kills you by stabbing you in the neck from behind. Your limp body causes me to lose balance while I'm running at Mach 50, so I slam into a nearby tree. A bear jumps out of a nearby bush-"

"A bear?"

"Save it 'till after the story. Anyway, bear jumps out, attacks the robot, we both attack it for like 30 minutes, and we manage to snag a bit of its head off before the bear is killed. Roughly twenty seconds after the bear died, you came in and badda badda swung the robot's head clean off."

Silence.

"And yes, there was a bear. It helped me destroy the robot."

Stetten covers his face with both of his palms.

"Oh Jesus. That's a lot to take in. Any ideas?"

"Only one. And, this might be crazy, but maybe the bear's death brought you back to life."

She's right, that was crazy. But the series of events they went through was also crazy so their suspension of disbelief could sustain any thought at this point. Stetten has a theory.

"What if this is the purpose of SCP-001? When one lifeform dies, another one nearby is revived. That… that could explain the bear, y'know? I died and then suddenly there's a bear."

"We don't know if that bear was dead or not before we encountered the robot."

"How healthy did the bear look?"

This was, surprisingly, an excellent question by Stetten, albeit most likely a rhetorical one. They were in a forest filled with dead, half rotten animals. Whatever could've killed these animals probably wouldn't have left a single bear completely unharmed. This is, of course, assuming the bear was alive before they found it. Zeit spoke the thoughts that were on both of their minds.

"Well, I just had a thought. Assuming SCP-001 is behind this, I have a feeling it causes the… lifeforce of one creature to swap into the dead body of another whenever it dies on a worldwide scale. The message we saw before we woke up said SCP-001 was a "failsafe", yes?"

Zeit nods.

"Right. So, in that case, there's only a set amount of living creatures alive right now. When one dies, another is revived, etc etc."

Silence.

"Wait wait wait wait. Hold on, let me check something."

Stetten crouches down to the ground and begins digging into the dirt with his hands.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Testing a theory."

Stetten dug and dug until he found what he was looking for.

A worm.

Sure enough, it was very obviously alive. It wriggled, squirmed, and jiggled when poked. Stetten looks up to Zeit.

"Watch out for any animals coming to life nearby."

Stetten picks up the worm and holds it in his hand for several seconds, verifying that it is alive and that he wasn't hallucinating. And now, for the moment of truth, Stetten squishes the worm between his fingers.

"See anything?"

"Nope."

Silence.

"Yeah this probably isn't it."

"You got any other theories, worm boy?"

"First off, rude…"


Stetten and Zeit had moved on from their worm squishing shenanigans and began traveling in a random direction, hoping to leave the forest. The main thing they noticed was that buildings and other signs of human civilization still persisted and without barely any damage, indicating they probably weren't out for that long.

The first road they had found was labeled "Edmands Rd" (surprisingly not a misspelled version of Edmund) and it was rather clear upon more than a second of inspection that it were the suburbs to a decently sized town. Directly attached to the road, once every 30 meters or so, they would find the parkway to a singular house. The only traffic signs that could be found was a singular "Road Narrows" sign leading up to a bridge over a small creek which, as the sign implies, could probably only fit one car at a time.

Stetten and Zeit weren't too busy examining their surroundings for any further detail, however. They were just relieved that they had found signs of civilization so quickly. As they walk up to the first house on the road, Stetten asks a question.

"You wanna knock on these houses? See if anybody is in there?"

"Probably not worth it. Could be housing more murder bots."

"Right."

Zeit's comment reminded Stetten that they should probably stay quiet if they don't know if they're alone. But at the same time, walking in total silence with somebody by your side was gonna drive him crazy. Humans are social creatures after all. He convinces himself and tries to break the ice. Anything to get over the monotony.

"How does it feel, uh, being in a situation like this? You act like this is… uh, normal."

Zeit adopts a look on her face indicating that she wasn't really in the mood to answer that question right now. Stetten begins to accept the silent walk they're about to have but is interrupted.

"I'm as terrified as you are, Stetten. No ifs, ands, or buts. In fact, I'm scared of a lot of things. Lot more than you'd believe. I don't seem scared because I learned a long time ago how to properly face my fears."

Silence.

"That sounds tacky, I know, I know…"

"Oh, no, I wasn't going to say that. That's admirable, to say the very least. You act without hesitation, no thought about 'what if this is wrong, I don't know if this is correct.' Can't say the same for me, heh."

Silence.

"Zeit. What would you have done in my shoes?"

Zeit looks at Stetten with a confused look.

"What do you mean?"

"At the lake, where my dad was pulled underwater. What would you have done?"

Zeit didn't really know what the point of this question was, nor did she really know how to answer it. For the first time in a long time, Zeit hesitates to answer.

"It… it depends on how old I am I guess…"

"15 or 16. Shouldn't matter which one."

"Right…"

Zeit couldn't find an answer for that question, which is strange because it would seem obvious what the answer should be, being "call the police." But she knew one thing for certain, and she decided that was going to be her answer to the question.

"I don't know, to be absolutely honest with you. But I know for a fact that if this had ever happened to me, I would have done something. A lot of factors play into reality that can't really fit into hypotheticals such as these. Do you remember what pulled in your dad?"

"Nope. One second he's there and the next I hear a splash and he's gone."

"He could've tripped and fell and got tangled in something. He could've been kidnapped by a sea monster. Me jumping in would save him from one, but would result in both of our deaths in the other. Calling the cops would almost always result in his death. Slow ass bastards…"

Silence.

"I guess I take back what I said. Teenaged me would've jumped in and tried to save him, call the cops if he's injured afterwards. Adult me would run as fast as possible. Teenaged me doesn't know that monsters lurk in the dark. Adult me does. But… I'd never do nothing."

Zeit turns to look at Stetten.

"Guess I don't know how to relate to that, then. Sorry."

Stetten figured as much. He doesn't even know why he asked the question anyway. He knew it would only bring up bad memories and possibly make him seem even more of a bad person. Stetten bounced those words around in his head a couple of times.

"I'd never do nothing."


Deep inside, Stetten took that as an unintentional insult to him as a person, regardless of whether or not Zeit meant it or not. Stetten has a similar saying as well: "Upon having this conversation, teenaged Stetten would collapse on the ground, weeping. Adult Stetten, as evidenced by what just happened, would sigh and continue walking." At least it doesn't affect him that much anymore.

His train of thought is interrupted by Zeit grabbing him by the shoulder and pointing into the horizon. Through a small hole where there weren't any trees, they could see the tops of a very big mountain.

"If we get to the top of that, we could possibly get a decent idea as to where we are," said Zeit. "Then we can make a plan for where to go next. Maybe find the town that these suburbs belong to."

This idea was definitely better than Stetten's, which was just "continue walking down the road."

"Yeah, sounds good. You know how to climb?"

"I can if need be, but it shouldn't be too hard, doesn't look like that steep of a mountain. Hell, maybe there will be nature trails."

Before Stetten could add on to Zeit's statement, she began jogging through the trees, making a beeline for the mountain. So Stetten shrugged, and began to follow her.


Stetten and Zeit were roughly 100 meters into a designated nature trail up the mountain when they heard the sound.

The sound was that of a constant, high pitched beep. It seemed both extremely loud and very far away. That, or it was quieter and closer than they thought.

Beeeeep. Beeeeep. Beeeeep."

Each beep was followed by exactly a second and a half of silence, down to the millisecond. As any person without short term memory loss would decide, this came from an android.

"Not really that sneaky of an android if it's announcing its presence," quipped Zeit.

"To be absolutely fair though, the android we fought had that weird strobe light effect."

Neither were prepared for the message that would be created from the originator of these beeps. After several seconds, the beeps abruptly stop and a robotic voice can be heard throughout the entire forest, loud enough to deafen a man with industrial grade ear muffs.

"JUNIOR… RESEARCHER… STETTEN AND… JUNIOR RES…EARCHER ZEIT. PLEASE… LOCATE ME. I MEAN YOU… NO… HARM."

Upon hearing their names, both instinctively freeze in place. After the message is repeated several times, the repeated beeps return with no noticeable changes. This seemed like a message that's meant to play once an hour or something. Zeit looked up into the sky and found the sun to be perfectly above her. High noon.

Stetten proceeds to voice a valid concern.

"What if this is a trap?"

"We fought one of these androids before, we'll fight one again. Besides, if it ain't, I can take all the help I can get."

Zeit picks up a large, sturdy branch from the ground.

"I'm willing to take the risk."

Stetten notices that if Zeit had to be described with a single word, it would be direct. She sees two outcomes: it's an android that wants to help, or it's an android that wants to kill. She fully believes she can deal with either outcome. Stetten doesn't know if this is commendable or foolish.

"Well, didn't we have… a bear? That probably helped us a bit."

"Just trust me, Stetten."

Stetten sighed and followed her off the nature trail, deep into the forest.




CHAPTER 5


L.R.A.D.




Now without mother and father, the three siblings would soon found themselves upon a plane of dust and destruction, devoid of all that defined their previous home.

The boy would grow up to be a humble farmer, tilling the fields, picking the fruits of the soil from His efforts. The boy would be disappointed as the crop provides no resistance to His command, as they were but mindless plants of the Earth.

The boy's first brother would grow up to be a butcher, to fully encompass himself as ruler of the animals that hastened the doom of their old home, and they obeyed. Nothing meek nor unruly dared to protest, as the brother would meet any resistance with his blade.

The boy's second brother tended to his own, never raising his voice as he knew full well his place in the world.

2 MONTHS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION


Director Falsch had accidentally left a copy of Sector D's roster on Junior Researcher Zeit's desk. This was significant because the roster for this site was classified to all except level 4 personnel and above.

This came about when Falsch visited Zeit's office for a daily checkup. See how Zeit's doing, how much work she's done, how much she has left, etc. The entire time, Zeit sat in her chair, sweating profusely and hating every single second, just like the previous three other meetings she has had with Falsch. The meeting didn't last long, though, which Zeit appreciated.

What was special about the meeting was a mistake that Director Falsch had made. In addition to asking Zeit some questions, he also handed her a piece of paper detailing scheduling information that she should know for the coming weeks. Falsch had forgotten to separate the roster from this piece of paper, and accidentally gave Zeit two pieces of paper instead of one. One of them being the roster, level 4 clearance eyes only.

Zeit sat in her office, staring at the roster. She didn't absorb any information that was present, she was too busy thinking about the situation.

Should I really read this? This stuff's classified as all hell. They'll fire me for sure if they find out.

No, I'm doing that thing again. I'll be fine. I have plausible deniability.

She focused on the roster in her hands, hoping to glean any juicy secrets that could be contained within. As should be expected, she saw the names of all of her coworkers within Sector D. She was glad she had the names to all the people that asked her extremely stupid questions, at the very least. But besides that, nothing that extraordinary.

Well, almost nothing.

Under a coworker named "Stetten Felling", a tiny note read:

LEAVE THIS ONE ALIVE

A couple of conclusions can be made from this.

1: This specific person is so important that they should be protected over anyone else

2: Everybody but this person is gonna end up dead.

Zeit had a feeling that it was the second one.

This had chilled Zeit to the core in a way she couldn't explain, which only fed her inherent distrust of the director. There was something deep inside Zeit that knew that there was something absolutely fishy going on in this project.

Her state of panic is further amplified by the sounds of a doorknob being turned. She quickly takes the roster and shoves it into her pocket before the door opens.

It was Falsch himself.

"Excuse me, Ms. Zeit, did I accidentally leave any papers in here by chance?"

Zeit replied in as much of a calm voice she could physically muster. She couldn't break her façade here.

"Uh, no I don't think so. Thank you though."

Falsch squints his eyes. He's absolutely suspicious. It was extremely apparent whenever Zeit was hiding something, she was a terrible liar. Which is strange, considering her track record.

"You do seem… awfully sweaty, Ms. Zeit. Are you feeling alright?"

"Oh, it's been terribly hot in this room. You know how it is."

"Uh huh."

Falsch, all while still looking at Zeit, leaves the room and slowly closes the door. A massive wave of relief hits Zeit, who thinks that she got away scot free. She'll have to dispose of this roster at some point in the future. She didn't want to risk getting caught again.

Zeit wipes the sweat off her brow. But she knew she wasn't in the clear just yet. Besides, she knew damn well her desk fan was on that entire time, and Falsch did too.

She needed to get rid of the paper before the end of the day. It was normal for patdowns to be done to everybody before they leave due to the absolute secrecy that needs to be maintained for their mission. Luckily, she had a couple hours left before she needed to do that.

But first, she wanted to learn a bit more from the paper.

Trying as hard as she possibly could to not make the paper make crinkling sounds, Zeit slowly takes out the paper from her pocket and continues reading. The only interesting detail she picked up was the note for Stetten Fellings, but she knew she missed something.

What's this now? Zeit thinks to herself.

For every day except one, Stetten's schedule is seemingly normal. "Stall number D997, 06:00 to 18:00" every day Monday through Saturday. In a month and a half, on a Saturday, Stetten's schedule for that day reads:

SCP-001 (Sector A, room labelled "Level 5 Clearance Required"), 06:00 to ??:?? (Depends on his cooperation).

Every other day afterwards is blank. Not just for Stetten, but for every person in the sector.


Stetten and Zeit continued to walk until the source of the beeping was apparent. In the side of the mountain, a cave can be found. And, several meters away from the entrance, the sound was enough to cause pain.

"STETTEN…"

"WHAT?"

"THINK IT'LL STOP WHEN WE GET INSIDE?"

"WHAT?"

"I- NEVERMIND."

"WHAT?"

Zeit plugs her ears and begins traveling closer to the cave. Her focus is dedicated entirely to making sure her eardrums doesn't burst. Stetten does the same and stays slightly behind her. They haven't even entered the cave and are inches away from rolling on the ground in pain. But they continue anyway, for they know they need all the help they can get. Zeit takes one step into the cave.

And, suddenly, it is quiet.

Both Stetten and Zeit cautiously remove their fingers from their ears. Stetten even checks his hearing by snapping right next to his ear. Nope, their hearing is fine.

"Why did it stop?" asked Stetten.

"Look."

Zeit points at her foot. When Zeit had took the first step into the cave, she had unknowingly activated some sort of trip wire. Thankfully, it was connected to the beeping and not to any explosives.

"Whoever has deactivated the siren… if you are not Junior Researchers Stetten Fellings and Zeit Alfreds of the SCP Foundation, leave at once. Or I will use force."

Both of them hoped to whatever God was up there that this wasn't a trap. Zeit gulps down her fear, steps further into the cave, and responds.

"We are the ones you call Stetten and Zeit. If it's no trouble, we would appreciate if you leave the cave yourself."

Zeit was met with silence. Clearly if it was a trap, it required for them to enter the cave for it to work. This allowed them to fight on an even playing field. Hopefully they're more prepared for another encounter.

"This I can do. Do not fear."

They feared, alright.

Clank. Clank. Clunk. Crunch.

These footsteps seemed heavier than the last android they've encountered. In intervals of exactly 2 seconds, the sounds of mechanical clanging and the cracking of stone emenating from the cave.

The cave was extremely dark, neither could see any further than several feet into it. They wouldn't be able to see the android until it was already within charging distance. Zeit steps back a couple of steps. Stetten notices her do this and does the same.

"You ready for this to be our final moments, Stetten?"

"Not really, no."

Despite saying that, Stetten still stood, firm and strong, in the face of a potential enemy. For a man that claims he is super indecisive, he sure knows what to do when it counts.

From the darkness, a single robotic leg slowly emerges and crashes down into the Earth with enough force to leave an imprint in the ground like it was snow. Slowly, the android's body fully comes into view.

It has a very similar design to the android they fought earlier, except it was much more taller and bulkier. Standing at 2 and a half meters tall, the android towered over them. Additionally, it sported the exact same "LED Head" that the previous android had. But instead of a strobe light, it featured one, straight, horizontal, and purple line that circles around the entire head, with the rest of the head being blank. The entire body, from leg to toe, was riddled with bullet holes.

"I do apologize for the scare I gave you two. It was not intentional. It was the only way I could figure out how to find you: make you come to me."

Zeit wasn't ready for smalltalk just yet. She needed to know two important details.

"Who are you, and how do you know our names?"

"Yes, I never told you that information yet. I am L.R.A.D., pronounced 'ɛl-ræd'. I am an automaton that was constructed by your former Director, Nock Falsch. You are the only humans that I know and trust to carry out this task."

"That being?"

"The destruction of SCP-001."

Stetten and Zeit do not know how to respond to this at first. I mean, how could they? They don't even know what SCP-001 is.

Zeit is the first to respond

"We don't even know where SCP-001 is…"

"Do not worry, I possess enough information for us to locate it in a short amount of time."

Stetten wastes no time taking advantage of the situation.

"What else do you know about the situation? What's SCP-001? Where's Director Falsch? Where-"

"I must warn you, my memory storage banks have been heavily damaged after an unclear incident. The only crucial information I possess is: SCP-001 is located 40 kilometers northeast of us, your names are Stetten Fellings and Zeit Alfreds, and you two are the only humans I trust that are capable of completing the task at hand."

L.R.A.D. didn't expect this information to hit the duo as hard as it did. Both Zeit and Stetten stand in place, mouths agape as they fruitlessly attempt to process the information they were just given. Stetten regains his voice.

"I… who else is out there? Do you know where they are?"

"I said all that I know."

Thousands of questions could be asked at this point, but Zeit could find none that she wanted answered at the moment. She wonders if asking any questions would actually accomplish anything, given the android's state.

"Yeesh. Right, you must've gotten the wrong people, L.R.A.D., cuz w-"

"My database states that you two are required to find and deactivate SCP-001. For what reason I noted that specifically, I do not know, but I'm sure there is an underlying reason. Perhaps you have been afflicted by amnesia and have forgotten your involvement with the machine?"

Instinctively, Stetten asks L.R.A.D. to elaborate on that last part.

"That was merely a guess. I am not lying when I say I know not much more than what I have told you."

Zeit keeps that first part of its statement in mind for later. 'Merely a guess,' eh? That was more sophisticated than any AI she's seen in her entire life. If she didn't know any better, she'd had assumed it was a person controlling a remote controlled android. Every train of thought involving this android lead to a thought about the thing leading them to a trap. Zeit wonders how Stetten's handling the situation.

They were getting off track, and they all knew this. They all simultaneously began to speak, but they all let Zeit finish.

"L.R.A.D., if we were to find a nearby car and drive on the roads to our destination, would we be safe? We were attacked by another robot just earlier, and…"

"I can't guarantee anything of the sort, but it would be the best course of action for us. But do not worry about any future enemies."

L.R.A.D. clenches its fist with enough force to crush steel like it was tissue paper.

"I am well equipped to deal with any external threat to your safety."




CHAPTER 6


Sol's Urchin




The boy called upon a meeting between Him and his butcher brother. Clothes still stained from the blood of his flock, the boy yells at the brother.

"This is not fair! You fulfill a job much more worthy of that of HIS children, while I merely tend to the mindless roots that plague this dusty plane!"

"I have no choice, for it is the Circle. I do what I must with no joy whatsoever, as without me to tend to the flock, Humanity will crumble."

"You are not worthy of a job that you do not find pleasure in! Give me the blade, brother, I will perform your duty as it was meant to be!"

"Brother, you would taint the flock with your very presence. I kill because I must. You kill because you want."

And, without hesitation, the brother impales his brother with the tool that he uses to till the fields. Blood seeps into the ground much more, this time revitalizing it as opposed to tainting it.

"I still… love you, brother… always and until the end."

"I do not wish to receive the love of a fool."

Zeit and Stetten walked at a respectable distance away from L.R.A.D., who didn't really have the capabilities to determine that this meant they didn't trust it yet. L.R.A.D., however, wasn't entirely socially inept, and could notice that both of them were drenched in sweat, preparing for the possibility that the android could attack them.

"You two appear to be uncomfortable."

Zeit scoffs.

"What a revelation."

"C'mon Zeit, it's just a robot, course it's gonna say stuff like this, it has no emotions."

"Actually, I-"

"Cut me some slack, you know how stressful this situation is."

"I should know of all people, being the stereotypical scaredy cat of this ragtag band of adventurers."

"Heh. I'd totally be a barbarian."

"Mage for me, please. Don't wanna be up close and personal with the monsters."

The two continued to rattle off about various topics regarding RPGs and how their life currently resembles one. This… confused L.R.A.D. It didn't expect humans to be so laidback and casual in such a monumental situation as to start talking about trivial hypotheticals.

"I assumed you two were frightened at the situation, but you are acting like nothing is wrong?"

"Hey, why not. Got nothing else better to talk about."

The two resume their aimless rambling as the group continues north. The topic switched back and forth rapidly. They talk about how they'd react if they were trapped in a bathroom forever, and the consensus was they'd joke about it constantly after the initial fear factor wore off. That transitions into a conversation about a story where Stetten drank way too much and needed to hurl, but didn't make it in time and slipped on their own hurl. Then THAT transitions to the origin of a large scar on Zeit's shoulder blade that she got at a skate park when it was past her curfew.

L.R.A.D. wondered how humans could switch from topic to topic so quickly. The longest conversation they've upheld was barely over four minutes. L.R.A.D. chalks this up to "humans have a lot of stories and not a lot of time," which it can't relate to due to only being several months old at best.

The group was nearly about to transition to a conversation about how Stetten's friend once dared them to eat a Bible, but are interrupted by the appearance of yet another road, this one bigger than the last. By the way it looked, it was obviously connected to larger towns and cities. Following this would be their best bet. Zeit looks over at L.R.A.D.

"Yo, L.R.A.D., where did you say SCP-001 was located?"

"40 kilometers northeast."

"Right. So… we should go this way."

Zeit points to the east, further down the road. There wasn't a clear path to keep going northeast, so it was probably a good idea to follow the road in the general direction of their designation. Stetten nods and begins walking, opting to lead the charge. Zeit is caught off guard by this and has to power walk for several seconds to keep up. L.R.A.D. catches up to the two with three steps.

"Daring today, aren't we?"

Stetten motions Zeit over and whispers into her ear.

"Just tryna be as far away as possible from it. Don't tell it that, though."

"No need, I can hear you."

"Heard what? I didn't say anything."

"You did."

"Yeah Stetten, that was a bit rude, wasn't it? For shame."

"I know for a fact you agree with me on this matter, you dweeb."

"Heheheh."

Again, even seconds after admitting to being afraid of L.R.A.D., they still continue making light of the situation. L.R.A.D. didn't understand humans that much, but it was willing to learn.

The rest of the group's walk is dominated by silence as they attempt to find any forms of large scale civilization. They've found suburbs and like five houses, but never an actual town. Mostly because they'd kill a person for the chance to pillage some sort of restaurant or grocery store, they were absolutely starving. Hopefully there still existed some food that hasn't spoiled yet.

Their prayers are soon answered by a site for sore eyes for any person that's been traveling for a long time: a motel. It was a Marriott branded motel called the "Fairfield Inn" and it looked like it could house roughly 100 people, which was all it needed in the quaint little town it was located in. Only two stories tall and not even as big as its parking lot, it reminded Stetten of his hometown hometown. Which was strange, because this is the first time Stetten remembers that he had a hometown.

"Hey, Zeit. Do you have the feeling that you're slowly regaining memories as time goes on? This motel kinda reminds me of my hometown."

Show yourself at once.


"Yeah, little bit. How does it remind you?"

Do not hide.


"Well, my mom would take me to a lot of places to get me out of the house because I'd never leave otherwise. Every time we went home, the first thing I'd see that indicated we were almost home was our town's motel in the distance."

I will deliver you to the king.


"Must've been some boring trips."

Relent.


"Hey what's that sou-"

Stetten and Zeit's observations of the sound are quickly shut down as L.R.A.D. quickly grabs them both and dashes towards the motel. Both were too surprised to tell how fast L.R.A.D. was running, but they both knew it could contest a car on the highway. L.R.A.D.'s grip is tight enough to nearly crush bone. It had some sort of self control, because it would have no trouble turning them both into mincemeat.

L.R.A.D. crashes into the window looking into the lobby of the motel, using its body as a cushion to protect Stetten and Zeit from any broken glass. L.R.A.D. drops them onto the ground as sudden as it grabbed them, grabs a nearby bookshelf with only one hand, and uses it to cover up the broken window he caused. Finally, after all that commotion, taking place in under 5 seconds, Zeit nearly yells into L.R.A.D.'s ear.

"What the fuck was that? You nearly fucking killed us!"

"Be silent. The local area contains many synthetic bipedal entities."

Stetten and Zeit are silent.

"That means andr-"

"We know what it means, L.R.A.D.," Zeit says.

Zeit gets up off the floor and walks over to a nearby window. There were definitely a lot more than three, and it seems like some of them noticed the kerfuffle they caused. In the middle of the street stood roughly 10 androids with the same appearance as the one they fought earlier.

"You will not last long against such numbers."

At this point, Stetten is still on the ground, processing what just happened. Zeit sighs.

"Right. What's the best course of action, in your opinion?"

"That depends on whether or not we can obtain a vehicle."

"Oh, I know how to hotwire a car. That shouldn't be that much of an issue. Depends on if you can defend me for about a minute."

"That will be trivial."

Stetten sits up, while still sitting on the ground, with a look of mild amusement on his face.

"And how exactly do you know how to do this?"

"That a rhetorical question?"

"It is so. We'll exit the building and Zeit Alfreds can steal a car while I defend her from any threats."

"Well, when you put it like that it makes it seem a lot more of a bad thing…"

"But wait!" interrupts Stetten.

Both Zeit and L.R.A.D. turn their heads towards Stetten.

"We're not leaving this town until we get some food. I'm in severe pain."

Now that Stetten had mentioned it, Zeit was also starving. It was easy to distract herself when she was walking and talking, but now it was inescapable.

"Damn, our conversation must've been super loud for us not to notice our stomachs during that walk."

"I did not realize humans required food to such a degree as to regard it as a higher priority than to escape hostile androids."

"You have no idea."


The plan was simple. They would silently walk out of the motel through the back door and make a dash back into the forest that surrounds the town, using foliage to hide themselves from any androids they encounter. Find a restaurant, sneak in through the back door, grab a bite, and leave. Only then would they proceed with the original plan.

Stetten and Zeit could sneak past without issue. The only thing they had to worry about was crunching leaves underneath their boots as they dashed from bush to bush, tree to tree. L.R.A.D.'s job wasn't as simple. being an android that weighed several tons. The group circumvented this by manually clearing small patches on the ground where there wouldn't be any leaves in order to create a (relatively) silent path for L.R.A.D.

The restaurant was only a couple hundred meters away from the motel, but actually getting there took an hour of slow, meticulous movements. There was a period of time where the loudest thing in the town were the two human's stomachs. There were genuine fears that the androids were able to hear this.

After what felt like eons, the group finally arrive within arms reach of the back door to their destination. They couldn't get a good look at the front of the building, so their guesses as to what food awaited them was a total mystery. Whether or not it even contained food that wasn't totally spoiled was also not a guarantee. But at that point, they'd totally be fine eating rotten meat.

Stetten attempts to open the door, revealing that its locked.

"Shit," Stetten whispers.

"Anybody got some sort of paper that-"

L.R.A.D. pushes Stetten and Zeit aside and pushes down the door. When the hinges break, L.R.A.D. attempts to catch the now falling door before it hits the ground, but is too late, causing it to crash onto the hard brick floor.

"My mistake."

Zeit slowly walks over to the side of the building and takes a quick peek at the androids that roamed the streets. It appears none of them noticed the noise. Zeit lets out a sigh of relief before returning to the group. As always, Zeit is the first one to enter the building, then Stetten, then L.R.A.D.

"So, what kinda food are we talkin' about here?" asks Zeit with her left hand on her stomach.

Stetten takes a small look around his surroundings. The group are in a backroom, where crates filled with various fruits can be found. Oranges, apples, cucumbers, bananas, and other various fruits.

"Looks like fruits and… nothing else from what I can see," responds Stetten.

"Neat. The oranges are probably mushy but not that bad to eat. These bananas… yeah they're completely black. Apples should be fine if we clean them. Yeah, this should be safe."

Silence. Zeit sniffs the air.

"God do you guys smell that? Smells like more animal carcass." Zeit continues to sniff the air, her face scrunching more and more with each whiff.

"Why do you keep sniffing it?"

"I'm trying to figure out where it's coming from."

Stetten chuckles to himself.

"Y'all are so silly…"

Stetten grabs an apple from a nearby crate and bites into it before immediately attempting to spit it back out.

"Huh? What's wrong?"

"Eugh… ptoo! Dusty."

"I quite literally JUST told you that we should clean them first."

"They didn't look dusty!"

"Because it's dark as shit in here, genius!"

"That was not the best course of action."

"Hindsight's 20/20, ain't it." Stetten finishes getting the dust out of his mouth via a combination of combing his tongue with his mouth and spitting onto the ground. "Let's just take these to the kitchen so we can wash 'em off.."

Each member of the group grab a handful of various fruits they could find and make their way to a nearby door. Stetten opens the door and is greeted by a swarm of moths who were waiting on the other side of the door. Stetten jumps back and squeaks out a small yelp.

"Dang dude it's just moths."

"Listen ok, I- I don't know why this of all things I have to defend, but just listen…"

"Worm boy by day, mothman by night…"

"I'm not- damn you to… fuckin'…"

"You can't damn me to a place I rule over, nerd."

"I thought you all were hungry?"

Zeit and Stetten notices that they were slowly losing their grips on the handfuls of fruit they were carrying during the conversation. Using their knees, they manage to reposition themselves and move into the kitchen.

"You'd be scared too if I jumped at you when you open a door."

"That's a good way to get punched in the kidn- JESUS FUCK!"

Zeit nearly trips over a large lump on the ground found smack dab in the kitchen. Both parties couldn't identify what it was at first, but the smell was unmistakable. It was a half decomposing human corpse.

"Well, that answers a couple of questions," Stetten quips. Zeit doesn't find the quip as amusing as Stetten does.

"Yeesh. Don't touch it, it'll give us like fifty diseases and would never wash out."

"If possible, we could burn the body to lessen the smell."

"Nah, we won't be here for long. Just wash the fruits, eat and we'll get out of here."

Zeit and Stetten dump their armfuls of fruit into the massive sink and turn the handle. No water comes out.

"Oh right. Uh… that means we'll have to polish them ourselves."

"Oh lovely."

"You want food or not?"

"If we need to clean each individual apple, I'm seriously considering the latter."

"You and I both know you'd collapse five steps out of the building if you don't eat anything.

Zeit and Stetten get started on cleaning the apples with their shirts. L.R.A.D. walks away from the group for a moment, and sits on a small, plastic chair.

L.R.A.D. realized one very important detail about humans. Their emotions… humans in general were very volatile. No other animal that L.R.A.D. knew could transition from making jokes to being horrified at the sight of a dead body, and then back to making jokes once again. Nothing was permanent with humans, and L.R.A.D. found that strangely endearing.

L.R.A.D. doesn't realize that it isn't actually sitting in the plastic chair and is instead supporting its weight using its legs, squatting over the chair. L.R.A.D. wonders why it did this, and the only answer it could come up with was "because humans don't break chairs when sitting down in them."

Stetten has only cleaned about three out of twenty of his apples and oranges before he couldn't take it anymore and started chowing down. Eating actual, non-dusty food was the best experience he's had in this post-apocalyptic world so far. Of course he'd rather have some grilled pork chops from Bullfinch's right about now, but this was good too. Maybe even more refreshing than a traditional meal.

Wait, Bullfinch? Did he remember that right? Why did that appear in his mind so suddenly? That's the restauraunt in his hometown that he loved going to once a week before working at the Foundation. Seems like his memories are returning to him slowly but-

Wait just a fucking second, Stetten thought.

Stetten frantically looks around the building. It was coming back to him, faster than light, faster than everything, he started to remember.

"What's wrong?" asked Zeit.

"This place… this… I know where we are! We're in Sudbury, Massachusetts!"

Not even remotely close to what Zeit was expecting to hear Stetten say, she sits there, bug-eyed, at the sudden revelation. Stetten notices that L.R.A.D. seems surprised at this as well… he thinks, anyway.

"You're certain?"

"Absolutely. I've been to this restaurant countless times. In fact, this is my hometown! That motel… is the motel I was talking about! I feel silly looking back, saying it "reminded" me of it."

"Well, hot damn! That helps us a ton."

"My knowledge of this location is minimal. Stetten Fellings, what is approximately 30 to 40 kilometers northeast of Sudbury, Massachusetts?"

"Well, let's see. God it's all coming back to me… okay. If we keep going down the road we were on, it'll take us to… I think Route 128? Yeah, Route 128. Then we go north up 128 for a little bit- we'd be on the edge of Waltham at this point. Route 128 is like 9… no, 14 kilometers down the road. So once we get to Route 128 we'd go north for about 25 kilometers which will bring us at…"

Stetten is silent for several seconds, concentrating on making sure his calculations are correct.

"Woburn."

CRASH!

The group bolts to their feet as they are alerted to the sounds of the front of the building being utterly destroyed. Dust fills the building as Stetten and Zeit attempt not to breathe in the rubble.

The dust clears, and Zeit and Stetten see a wall of death surrounding the entrance to the restaurant. A huge horde of androids, like the one they fought before, had found them and were getting ready to pounce.

L.R.A.D. springs into action, shoving both humans onto the ground. L.R.A.D. assumes a fighting stance, the line around its head slowly changing in color.

"Get behind me. Allow me to defend you."

Zeit yells at the top of her lungs.

"Those robots can kill a bear, get ba-"

An android from the crowd charges towards L.R.A.D. With a flick of L.R.A.D.'s wrist, the android is knocked into a nearby wall, its neck twisted 180 degrees. Instantly destroyed.

"I will be fine."

Zeit gets a better look at L.R.A.D.'s head. The line around its head, the one that was always a dark purple, shifts to a light pink.

"Besides, what's a couple of stray dogs to a chariot of iron?"




CHAPTER 7


Instinctual




The boy takes up the blade from His brother's desecrated corpse, and arrives at the pens where his brother used to reside.

"Hear hear, creatures of dust and filth!" announced the boy. "It is I that shall be the new butcher, it is I that shall cull those that dare resist against our Empire! We will not forget your trechery at the tree!"

But the lambs speak up. "It was not us that murdered that rodent that stained our home. It was merely death that took it under its vigil." The boy looks upon the flock with disdain, but the lambs continue their protest. "You place blame upon those that committed no sin. You are not fit to be our butcher."

"You will submit to me, as you were born to, and as you will live to! Kneel, and I may yet let you live."

The lambs spit on the ground. "Then kill us, false butcher. We will never kneel to those that see us as playthings."

And so the boy did. Soon enough, there would be nothing left of the flock, leaving the boy only a mountain of blood and sinew. He was not satisfied.


36 HOURS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION


Junior Researcher Zeit's lack of punishment indicated to her that Falsch probably didn't notice that she took a peak at the roster. Zeit knew that this doesn't mean that much, however. Falsch IS an unpredictable man. There was a chance he was preparing the biggest firing of his entire life on Zeit's entire existence.

No, she was just being paranoid. Occam's razor was a wonderful tool that Zeit loved to use. He most likely just didn't notice, and she should just relax. Falsch wasn't a 150 IQ supergenius that plans 50 steps ahead, he was a higherup in the Foundation.

That being said, Falsch was sure as hell suspicious of her, even if he didn't catch her doing anything.

It's lunchtime, and lunchtime is the perfect opportunity for Zeit to walk around the site and stretch her legs. Her lunches never take that long to eat, it's usually just a ham and cheese sandwich and a soda, so she uses the rest of her 24 minutes of freetime wisely.

Zeit was roughly a third through her fourth lap around Sector D when she spots Falsch down the hallway, walking towards her general direction. It was the worst case scenario, and she prayed to herself over and over in her head that he doesn't try to start a conversation.

"Hey, Ms. Zeit."

Fuck.

"Uh… yes, Director?"

"We're doing scheduled testing of SCP-001 in roughly 24 hours. Stay absolute clear from the general area of the machine."

"I will, Director, but… I sorta don't even know where it is."

Falsch gives Zeit a quizzical look.

"Well, good! You're not supposed to know."

Falsch resumes walking past Zeit. Zeit slowly turns her head, a look of absolute confusion on her face.

"Then… why did you tell me?"

Falsch doesn't answer. Zeit continues to stand in that one spot for several minutes, in absolute disbelief.

Oh fuck he knows, Zeit thinks to herself. I'm fucked, oh I'm so fucked. What do I do?

Zeit cuts her jog short and rushes herself to her office. She didn't want to have her coworkers see her sweating beads and trembling in the middle of the hallway during lunchtime.

Nearly slamming into the door to her office, she quickly opens it, enters, and slams the door shut. It was the first time in a long time that she welcomed the quiet, soulless space she found herself in every single day. At least it was safe.

She locks the door and takes a seat in her chair, breathing hard enough to break ribs, heart beating loud enough to give people in China a migraine. She needed to calm herself down, she wasn't going to make any rational thoughts in this state.

In… out. In through the mouth… out through the nose… stomach goes up… stomach goes down.

That's better. Zeit notices that she's slumped over in her chair and straightens herself up.

Right, she thinks to herself. Falsch knows I possess top secret info. What's the usual punishment for something like that? Most likely a memory wipe and a pink slip. Well, Falsch WAS an unpredic-

No. Don't keep repeating that. There's nothing going on behind the scenes. This is just a machine that is important to the Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to the protection of humanity.

But something deep within Zeit twisted and turned, and has been the entire time she has worked here. It's trying to convince her that Falsch was not who he seems, that he carries malicious intent. That the machine was built to bring everybody to ruin. The man alerted every single danger signal in her body. All her fear about him… most of it anyway was instinctual. Her instincts say that Falsch is not to be trusted, even if her brain say that everything is fine.

This feeling ate at her, harder than any trembling she felt minutes before. This wasn't a new feeling, having appeared ever since he saw that man. But this confrontation only confirmed it. She couldn't ignore it, else she be consumed whole. What was the best way to deal with this kind of feelings? Therapy?

Oh wait, if she says any of this to a civillian therapist, she's in major trouble. Foundation therapist? Maybe, but even if she only has level 1 clearance for this project, it's still one of the most important projects in Foundation history. She probably couldn't tell any of it to them either.

No. No, she's doing this again. She promised that she wouldn't hesitate on a decision like this. She's standing in place, on the fence, on a fork in the road. She made a promise to somebody. She promised to him after the incident that hesitation leads to disaster and that she needs to act.

Zeit opens her bottom right drawer and takes out the only item contained within: a polaroid picture, of her and… somebody else. This is who she made the promise to. Every day she would drill it into her head because she doesn't want to lose anybody else in her life, but every day her decisions get her closer and closer to meeting an early grave.

She slowly puts the picture back into the drawer. She didn't care if it wasn't the best decision, she was going to act on this feeling in the only way she knew how.

She was going to confront Falsch and erase any ambiguity. No hypotheticals, tomorrow she would find out everything, whether it killed her or not. She wasn't going to live a life of fear.


"I want to work overtime tomorrow."

Zeit before this point had simply knocked on Falsch's office door and entered when invited, and the first words out of anybody's mouths were the ones Zeit said to Falsch.

Falsch stares at Zeit and blinks a couple of times, completely flabberghasted by the request.

"You know, usually people just ask for higher pay…"

"That's not all. I'm willing to work overtime tomorrow for no extra pay."

Falsch thought it was too good to be true. He puts his elbow on his desk and lays his head on his hand, pondering the situation.

"And why is this, exactly?"

"Well, I apologize for this, but I slacked off for a good portion of my shift the past couple of days and have a huge backlog of paperwork to fill out. I merely want time to finish it outside of standard work time."

"Well… I don't even know why I asked you that question, the answer was going to be the same either way: absolutely not."

Zeit's eyes open wide.

"You think you can just hang around here willy nilly? I can't overstate how important and confidential this project is, Ms. Zeit. You come in at 6 AM and leave at 6 PM. Period. End of discussion. We cannot allow any room for flexibility when it comes to a project like this."

Zeit lets out a long, disappointed sigh.

"What should I do with my stack of unfinished paperwork?"

"Not my problem. Have a good day."

Falsch returns to reading from a sheaf of papers that Zeit couldn't quite make out the contents of. Zeit stood there for several seconds, processing the event. Falsch looks up and slowly moves his hand towards the button that calls security, making sure Zeit could see it.

"Thank you, Director Falsch."

Zeit exits the office.

Normally she would hear the sounds of keyboard clicks and printers malfunctioning while in the halls, but all of her senses were preoccupied with her trying to formulate a change of plans. She knew that she wasn't in some cheesy heist movie. The site was patrolled by several armed guards that didn't give a shit she worked at the Foundation, they'd shoot her just as quickly as they'd shoot a citizen that tresspass.

God, why didn't she just think this through. She almost certainly believed that her request would be accepted, she was absolutely ready for that. She didn't think about what would happen if Falsch said no.

Zeit feels a wave of nausea hit her like a sack of bricks, bringing her to her knees. She stains the site carpet with the ham and cheese sandwich she had not too long ago. She tries to force herself off the ground, but her knees buckle and she drops back onto her stomach. If she had the strength, she'd yell at the top of her lungs, but all she could manage was a meager whisper.

"Fuck… you, Falsch… I'm going to…"

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Zeit stops her current thought, still laying in a puddle of her own vomit. It was three perfectly spaced taps against some sort of material, somewhere right next to her.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


Louder this time. She takes a deep breath and diverts all of her strength into her arms and legs. After what felt like hours, she gets back up on her feet and almost instantly begins looking for the source of the sound.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


She keeps looking around but couldn't see the culprit. It was way too loud to be someone tapping their pen against their desk, which is what she theorized it was at first. It didn't even sound like it was being tapped against wood. Brick, maybe.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


Even louder now. And it was loud enough for her to triangulate its origin: inside of the wall to her right. Zeit decides to take a closer look. There were no cracks that she could look through, so she couldn't take a good look at the culprit. It was most likely a mouse or a rat. Zeit brings her hand up to the wall.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


Zeit returns the tapping with her own set of taps. Expecting the squeaking of a mouse, Zeit was introduced to a much less expected noise.

"Hello, Zeit Alfreds. Do not be afraid. I am not your enemy. In fact, I assume we have the same goal."

Another wave of nausea hits Zeit once again, but Zeit swallows as hard as she can and forces herself to stand. She begins to fall and nearly slams herself into the wall in an attempt to right herself.

Despite the fact that it was a terrible idea, she decides to repsond.

"Uh, h-hello? Who is this? What do you mean? Who…"

With a click and a whirl, the voice responds back.

"I've been watching you, Zeit Alfreds. The comments you make under your breath, the way you talk to the director, the reactions you're feeling right now. Let's just say that I am the enemy of your enemy. Again, I mean you no harm, but I wish to see the downfall of Director Falsch and his vile creation, and you're the only researcher I've noticed that sees past his façade."

"And why should I trust you?"

"It is my understanding that you do not have that much to lose, correct?"

Silence, and then the sounds of crumbling stone. To Zeit's left, the brick wall slowly opens up, revealing an entrance to a small, musky and dirty room. A vaguely humanoid shape is seen within, greatly obscured by the darkness.

"I have proof to all of my claims. All you need to do is walk inside. Be quickly, others are sure to investigate."

Zeit takes a deep breath and slowly walks into the room. The opening in the wall behind her slowly closes. What awaited her was an automaton, a light purple line surrounding its head. But, as Zeit came into view, the color slowly shifts to pink.

"I greatly apologize for not mentioning this, but this whole interaction has most likely been logged on a security camera."

"Yeah, I figured."


More and more of these automatons disconnect from the crowd and attempt to make a beeline for Stetten and Zeit, all of their blades having already been "drawn" so to speak. Knowing how SCP-001 supposedly works, Stetten and Zeit figure they aren't planning to kill, but to maim.

Just as easily as it dispatched the first android, L.R.A.D. continues to swat away everything that comes close to the group. It wasn't lying when it said it was prepared for any threats. However, Zeit does notice that L.R.A.D. is making sure that it does not come into contact with any of the android's blades. Perhaps it's not slashproof.

Zeit figures now is a good time to execute their original plan, although it'll be significantly harder now that the entire town of androids know their location. Zeit yells at L.R.A.D.

"The only car that can carry you is gonna be an RV or something similar! We'll need you to escort us to one and you'll have to pro-"

"That will not be a problem."

L.R.A.D. continues to fight off the rampaging horde, but its back begins to change. His back, head and legs fully open up to reveal a compartment that can fit an average sized adult human.

"Climb inside. It will protect you greatly against their onslaught while you do what you need to do."

Holy shit, it's like a mechsuit," yells Stetten. Zeit isn't in the mood for this kind of talk and quickly climbs inside of L.R.A.D.

Her arms and legs don't fully reach to the ends of the android's limbs. Her fingers fit inside four small steel circles that control L.R.A.D.'s fingers when manipulated, her elbow inside of a larger steel circle which controls L.R.A.D.'s elbows, etc. What was surprising was that Zeit's ankles controlled L.R.A.D.'s knees, similar to how an amputee might control their prosthetic leg after a rotationplasty.

L.R.A.D.'s voice blasts deeply through Zeit's head.

"Please be aware that I cannot control myself while a human is inside my cockpit. Additionally, I am not immune to damage from these automatons. Destroy these dogs for me."

As if right on queue, an android sneaks up on Zeit and pierces L.R.A.D.'s abdomen. The force of the stab is greatly reduced by L.R.A.D.'s "exoskeleton", but still manages to deal some amount of damage. Zeit quickly shoves the android into a nearbly wall.

"Should've told me that before."

Zeit grabs Stetten by his shirt collar and slings him over her shoulder.

"Hey, wait, wh-"

"Hold tight, cowboy. Shit's 'bouta get rough."

Zeit attempts to run away from the horde of androids, exiting out the back of the restaurant. She didn't expect locomotion to be as intuitive as it was, given the unorthadox way of moving the legs. Zeit crashes into the forest, attempting to shield Stetten from the impact. Stetten continues to scream for his life.

Just as Zeit was complimenting how easy it was to locomote inside of L.R.A.D., she trips and falls into a bush, accidentally flinging Stetten into a nearby direction. Unfortunately, he lands in a thorn bush.

"Ow! Fuck, fuck fuck, shit." Stetten slow gets up from the thorn bush, spouting out several other expletives before he begins to pluck some of the thorns out of his skin.

It was fine that they had crashed there, they were a little ways away from the horde. But they knew they'd find them soon. Zeit gets up off the ground.

"Sorry about that, Stetten."

"Jesus Ch- you better be. At least warn me before you snatch me and fling me into a thorn bush."

Instead of being slung over Zeit's shoulder, Stetten opts for Zeit to give him a piggyback ride, which she (begrudgingly) accepts. Thankfully it wasn't difficult at all for her to carry him.

"Right, like we said, RV. We'll need to go back into the town and find one, then I'll do what I need to do in this here mech suit, and we get the fuck out of here."

"Sounds good."

"Be quick when you arrive at your vehicle, my body cannot take many slices from these androids, and can easily pierce you."

Zeit attempts to crack her knuckles through L.R.A.D.'s hands.

"Should take no more than 30 seconds."

The group hear the sound of footsteps behind them, and quickly dash further into the forest.


The group had agreed that retrying the stealth option was a good idea once again, and was even better knowing that there wouldn't be much consequence if they caught. Well, if they weren't surrounded, that is.

Zeit, still inside of L.R.A.D., and Stetten, still being given a piggyback ride; hop from building to building, alleyway to alleyway, car to car, searching for a big enough RV that can still move with L.R.A.D. onboard. On asphalt, L.R.A.D. is surprisingly quiet for a machine of its size.

Stetten serves as the lookout, seeing as he's higher up off the ground than Zeit. Zeit fears more and more as she continues further into the town that an android will sneak up on Stetten and stab him through the heart while she's not looking. She shouldn't be too worried though, it'd be somewhat easy to bring him back.

As if trying to prove Zeit's fears, Stetten begins to yell.

"Behind us, behind us!"

Zeit, as fast as she physically could, throws her (L.R.A.D.'s) fist in an arc behind her with enough force to collapse a skyscraper, instantly launching the android into the distance. It appears to be too much force, however, as this causes Zeit to spin in place from the force of the punch before she crashes into the ground, launching Stetten in a random direction once again.

"Jesus Christ Zeit what the hell?"

"Do you think I'm doing it on purpose?"

"No but-"

Stetten notices the androids beginning to surround the group. Without another word, Zeit quickly gets back up and Stetten gets back up on Zeit's shoulders.

"Have you seen an RV anywhere?" Zeit asks Stetten.

"Not yet."

"Ugh… right. Here's the plan: we charge forwards at full speed further into the town, you get into a better position where you won't instantly get knocked off, and we find the RV while they're catching up to us. Sound good?"

"Probably not but I don't have a better idea."

Stetten climbs down from Zeit's shoulders and hangs onto her from behind, similar to how a baby monkey rides on their mother's back.

Without even asking if Stetten was ready, Zeit charges deeper into the town, forcefully knocking back any android that attempts to stop her. Stetten grips onto Zeit harder than he's ever gripped anything in his life, his knuckles slowly turning blue. He knew that if he let go, he was a goner.

"L.R.A.D., do you know how fast we're running?" asked Zeit.

"60 kilometers per hour."

"Jesus…"

Zeit continues to zip past neighborhoods, parking lots and androids at incredibly high speed. At this speed, Zeit doesn't even need to extend her arms to destroy any androids that touch her, the force of her moving at such speed pulverizes them into several metallic chunks.

Each step from Zeit had enough power to cause indents in the asphalt, creating a sound loud enough to be heard for miles.

Stetten looks behind him. Evidently, the androids were also capable of running at high speeds, nearly keeping up with Zeit. The movements of the androids are much more elegant, each step only barely disturbing nearby pebbles as they slowly catch up to the group.

It's hard for Stetten to fully open his eyes due to the wind, but he manages to force his eyes open for several seconds, enough time to notice something in the distance. Stetten knocks on top of Zeit's (L.R.A.D.'s) head to get her attention.

"ZEIT. ZEEEEEIT. RV! I SEE RV!"

So there was; in the parking lot of a building labelled "Sullivan Tire," stood a large RV, ripe for the picking.

Zeit knew that if they arrived at the RV, the androids would catch up to them. She also knew that hotwiring a car requires dexterity that L.R.A.D.'s body didn't give her. She would have to exit the suit to successfully get the car running. They needed a distraction, and fast. She did what she trained herself to do for a decade now, and acts without thinking.

Under her breath, she painfully states:

"I'm sorry,"

as she forcefully pushes Stetten off her back with her elbows. Stetten can't put up much of a resistance as he's effortlessly peeled off like a bug. From her perspective, he's catapulted backwards at high speeds. Stetten slams into the street, being skinned alive by the asphalt. A long trail of flesh marks the middle of the street as the ground brutally scrapes off Stetten's skin and muscles.

As the androids catch up to Stetten, he slowly looks up, just in time to see Zeit disappear into the distance. Tears well up in his eyes, and his last thoughts are that of pain and confusion before a blade sinks into his neck, freeing him from his agony.


Zeit arrives at the RV and wastes no time forcefully ripping out the opening to the steering column with her newfound power.

"Let me out."

L.R.A.D.'s back opens up once again and allows Zeit to exit the android. L.R.A.D. looks at Zeit.

"…you killed him."

"No, no, we needed a distraction so that I could safely hotwire the RV. We'll go get him after we get the car up and running, we'll find whatever was brought back to life and kill it."

The line around L.R.A.D.'s head changes back to purple.

"What do you mean, 'brought back to life'?"

Zeit forgot that they never told L.R.A.D. about what SCP-001 actually did, so it looked as if Zeit just carelessly sacrificed Stetten for a couple extra seconds to L.R.A.D.

"I'll explain it when we get into the car. Don't worry."

"Perhaps I was incorrect in my assessment of you two."

Awkward silence dominates the air as Zeit finishes up her work. There would be time for apologies and regrets when they weren't in danger, and Zeit knew that trying to defend her actions would only distract her from hotwiring the car.

After a minute of silence, the dashlights turn on. All Zeit needed to do was spark the starter wire and they were out of there.

"They're behind us."

Zeit couldn't afford to lose any time making sure L.R.A.D. was right. She very carefully takes the two live wires and puts them together. Sure enough, the car fully turns on.

"Get in!"

L.R.A.D. quickly opens the door and hurries inside, causing the entire vehicle to shift drastically. Zeit follows right behind it. Before L.R.A.D. has a chance to get situation, Zeit shifts the car into gear and zooms out of the parking lot before the androids have a chance to fully catch up. Once the car is on the road, evading the androids becomes a trivial task.

"Do you remember specifically where I dropped Stetten at?"

"Fifty seven meters behind where we discovered the vehicle."

Zeit pulls a U-Turn in the middle of the road and drives directly towards the group of androids. Zeit hopes to whoever is up in heaven that they aren't strong enough to stop an RV going at 40 kmph.

The RV slams into the group of androids, reducing them to a mere speedbump. Although it would be enough to mortally wound a regular human, all it did to the androids was some scratches to its paint. They quickly get up and chase after the RV.

"Why are we going in the opposite direction of our destination?"

"I told you we'd revive him. Right, I should explain. We're fairly certain SCP-001 causes the "life force" of whoever dies to transfer to a nearby corpse, making sure that there's always a set amount of sentient creatures alive on Earth at once."

"How do you know this?"

"Just an educated guess based on a past experience before we found you."

"Such an impactful decision from… merely an educated guess."

"Shut up."

Zeit looks up ahead and finds something that causes her heart to sink to her stomach: Stetten's corpse. It was a gnarly death, smushed against the asphalt at high speeds before getting stabbed in the neck again.

"Look for any signs of intelligent life around this area. I'll stay in the car."

L.R.A.D. nods and exits the vehicle. Almost immediately, it is flanked by two androids that attempt to stab L.R.A.D. in its neck. Both are launched hundreds of meters in the directions they came from as L.R.A.D. forcefully pushes them away. L.R.A.D. couldn't afford to change into its fighting mode again, it needed to focus on finding anything even remotely considered intelligent. L.R.A.D. continues to scan the ground.

More and more androids arrive in an attempt to get a lucky shot off at L.R.A.D., and all fail miserably as they are brutually destroyed one by one. L.R.A.D. knew it was looking for this creature to kill it, but it also worried that the horde of androids would accidentally trample it before it can find it. This was the first time L.R.A.D. felt cognitive dissonance, and it didn't know how to feel about it.

Finally, it finds the culprit: a small, black furred kitten. It was terrified of the loud noises and bright lights that introduced it to the world as it was brought back to life. L.R.A.D. slowly lifts the kitten off the ground, using its body as a shield to protect the creature from the incoming androids.

Its orders were simple: kill this creature. This order blared throughout its circuts, louder than any sound its ever heard in its short life. It would be so simple, it could either slam it onto the ground, crush it, snap its neck, whatever. It was so incredibly easy.

Yet L.R.A.D. couldn't do it.

Every movement it tried to make at an expense of the kitten's life proved fruitless. It lost control of its body, kneeling on the ground like a statue. Every twitch felt as if it required all of L.R.A.D.'s power to execute. Every minute movement felt like it took decades. L.R.A.D. couldn't carry out the task given to it.

"Kill it and then get Stetten back inside! They're gonna destroy the car!"

L.R.A.D. looks up. The group of androids switched their attention away from L.R.A.D. and are stabbing at the hull of the RV in an attempt to destroy it. L.R.A.D. looks down at the kitten, and audibly sighs.

"You want me… to kill it."

"Yes! We need Stetten alive."

"Do we? Do we need Stetten Fellings for this mission?"

"L.R.A.D., please…"

"Even though you carelessly ended his life based on a hunch?"

"We can argue about this later, just fucking do it!"

The kitten looks up at Zeit. The line around L.R.A.D.'s head fully shifts to a dark blue.

"We can't do it without Stetten, L.R.A.D. We can't… I'm so sorry."

Using all of its power, all of its concentration, everything it had, L.R.A.D begins to contract its fingers.

"I'm sorry. I gain no pleasure from doing this. I will see you… once this is all over."

L.R.A.D. swiftly closes its right fist, ending the kitten's life. No sound escaped the creature as it died. L.R.A.D. hoped that its death was painless, that its death was too quick for it to process. Blood drips from the crevices of L.R.A.D.'s ironclad fist, forevermore staining the asphalt.

"I promise."

L.R.A.D. looks over to Stetten's corpse, which begins to twitch. A light green glow begins to erupt from every orifice and wound on Stetten's body, not at all bright. Any regular human most likely wouldn't notice unless they were very close to the body. After several seconds, the wounds on Stetten's body begin to heal, and before long, Stetten is brought back to life.

L.R.A.D. grabs Stetten's unconscious body and brings it inside of the RV, protecting it from the onslaught of blades that come his way. Once both of them are inside of the vehicle, Zeit slams her foot onto the gas pedal and begins driving east. The androids never manage to catch up to the group.




CHAPTER 8


Regret




Without food nor shelter, the boy was forced to wander the dust to find anything to satiate Him.

During the journey, He fathered a child. The boy saw the child as merely a tool to be used. But He knew that trust with one's offspring was required to exert dominion. Upon the age of 12, the boy spoke to his son.

"My son, you are the new King of this world and all of its inhabitants. All that moves and all that thinks is yours to control. Anything that states to the contrary is not fit to live under your rule."

"It is so, Father."

"Upon reaching the age of 18, I will build you a great city filled with many lowly subjects, so that you may properly exert your dominion."

"It will be so, Father."

"Your birth shall mark of a great new day of celebration that all will celebrate. Those that do not are not fit to live under your rule."

"It was so, Father."

"The dust does not deserve you, Son. You deserve the stone streets of civilization, but they do not deserve you."

And the great stone foundations were built, for the great city that the boy promised to his son. The son believes himself to be in control. The boy knows better, for he only views his son as a tool.

It took roughly 20 minutes for Stetten to regain consciousness, and sometimes Zeit had hoped that he would have never woken up.

Stetten's eyes jolt open as he gasps for air, initially startling Zeit and L.R.A.D. Without a word, Stetten sits up and observes his surroundings. L.R.A.D. is seen sitting next to Stetten on the floor, Stetten is on the couch. L.R.A.D. appears to be in the fetal position. Zeit gets ready for whatever Stetten was going to unleash upon her.

"Zeit…"

"Yes, Stetten."

"What… the fuck was that?"

"Listen, I can explain…"

"WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?"

Stetten angrily gets off the couch and storms towards Zeit, who is busy driving. Zeit sighs.

"YOU FUCKING KNOCKED ME OFF!"

"Listen, listen, shut up, list-"

"No, YOU shut up, what the fuck was that?"

"Let me explain…"

"You knocked me off! What was that for?"

"I-"

"I know that wasn't accidental-"

"Let me fucking explain myself! You keep asking me but you won't let me finish! Stop interrupting me and let me fucking speak."

Stetten, still sporting a sneer, begrudgingly stays quiet.

"I knew I couldn't have gotten the car working in that mech suit because hotwiring a car requires very precise movements so I needed to get out. I didn't want to risk me getting stabbed in the neck while I was working."

"And your best course of action was to let me die instead?"

Zeit sighs once again.

"Listen, Stetten. What I did was wrong. I should've made our way up there and figure out what to do then. I'm sorry, okay? It's done, we're safe, it doesn't matter."

Stetten slightly slumps over, still absolutely furious. He knew arguing further wouldn't get him much further, but he couldn't help it.

"Zeit… I-… do you seriously think I can trust you now?"

"I didn't do it for shits and giggles, Stetten. I was always planning on coming back for you."

"This doesn't change the fact that you practically murdered me."

"Jesus Stetten, why are you mad about this? We both knew that nobody stays dead in this world. This isn't the first time you've died. What are you cranky about? I'm genuinely confused here."

"What if SCP-001 decided to stop working sometime before that moment and we didn't know?"

Silence.

"What if the effect is based on time a person is spent dead, and people that've been dead for too long can't come back to life?"

Silence.

"What if you considered the fact that I could've served as a distraction once we actually GOT to the RV? Then it would be on my terms."

Deafening, deafening silence.

"What if-"

"Oh what if what if what fucking if," Zeit says in a mocking tone. "That shit doesn't matter now because it happened. It's gone. Calm down."

"I just… there were a million other things you could've done! Why didn't you think of anything else?"

"I had no time."

"You did! We could've went up to-"

Zeit slams the breaks. The RV comes to a complete and utter stop. Stetten is knocked off his feet by the change in momentum.

"I will not have this shit in this car. Do not fucking speak of this again. You are alive. I am alive. L.R.A.D. is alive. End of discussion."

Stetten sits in place on the RV floor, staring in disbelief at Zeit's words. L.R.A.D. continues to sit in its original position, not having moved since they first got Stetten onboard. After 10 seconds of silence, Zeit continues driving the car. The air is tainted with a sour stentch, a smell that neither of them could pin down the cause of.



32 HOURS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION


Zeit had found herself in what appears to be an old, unused room of the site, one that had been walled of when it was no longer needed. The only solid object larger than a pellet were a small pile of bricks in the corner of the room. The floor was filthy, the walls absolutely covered in spiderwebs, the smell of rodent feces and urine emenated from all four corners. It was an assault on the senses, but that does not matter to an android. The mysterious android continues looking at Zeit, the color around its head having changed to pink.

"Greetings, Zeit Alfreds. My name is L.R.A.D., pronounced 'ɛl-ræd', and I'm a bipedal artifical learning automaton created by Director Nock Falsch. My motives are the destuction of the machine he refers to as "SCP-001" and, optionally, the removal of Director Falsch from the project."

"And… why exactly do you want me of all people in this here… er, project."

"It may seem unbelievable to you, but almost everybody else in this facility has nearly undying trust for Director Falsch. You, on the other hand, completely distrust him and his plans. You have some sort of plan for tonight, something that required you to stay at the facility during the night."

L.R.A.D. slowly gets up off the ground, attempting to brush all of the dust off its legs.

"What, exactly, is your plan?"

A cold wave washes over Zeit, who can only sit there and gulp down that cold feeling deeper and deeper into her chest. She closes her eyes.

"I… wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes. Then I planned on… on…"

Zeit opts to stay silent. L.R.A.D. places its hand on Zeit's left shoulder, its color shifting to dark blue.

"Don't you have family or friends waiting for you back home?"

Zeit stayed quiet, and that was the only answer L.R.A.D. needed to hear. Zeit violently shakes her left shoulder and L.R.A.D. gets the message, removing its hand from said shoulder quickly. Despite her original "answer," Zeit decides to respond to the question anyway.

"Wouldn't have walked in here otherwise."

"That makes sense, yes."

Zeit lets out a small chuckle before sitting down on the ground.

"Right… what is your plan, exactly?"

L.R.A.D.'s line swiftly changes back to pink.

"It's simple."

L.R.A.D. pushes a small button located on its shoulder, revealing a small compartment located directly on its neck. A stream of light pours from the hole, hitting the wall behind Zeit. Zeit turns around and discovers it to be a small projector of sorts.

"Oh, neat."

A picture of a floor plan for the site was displayed on the wall, focused on Sector A.

"This is Sector A. The building marked 'Level 5 Clearance' is the location for SCP-001."

L.R.A.D. vaguely jestures to the top right of the image. A giant red X is seen above the room. X marks the spot, I guess, Zeit thinks to herself. L.R.A.D. zooms further into the map, now revealing only the door to SCP-001 and nearby adjacent hallways. Four red markers are placed at specific points.

"Guards will always be stationed at these points. Our plan will not be to attack them directly. Instead, I'll carry you inside of me-"

"Inside?"

"Yes. I have a compartment where a human can climb inside and take full control of my body."

"Ah."

The image on the wall changes to a video feed of the first person perspective of L.R.A.D., who was peering at the door leading to SCP-001 during the night, not surprisingly surrounded by armed guards.

"I didn't know you had a camera as well."

"It is on at all times to ensure I have proof to events I have witnessed. As I was saying, I'll carry you inside of me, disguised as another automaton that is affiliated with Director Falsch. As we are walking up to the door, I will flash this card."

L.R.A.D. pulls out a small plastic card from another compartment on its body, this time found on its abdomen. It looks to be a standard Foundation keycard used for opening locked doors. This one, however, is lined with red stripes.

"Is that yours?"

"No. This belongs to the automaton we will impersonate."

"How did you get that?"

"I stole it off of their person before I defected."

"Wouldn't they have just… made this card defunct, so that the card reader wouldn't accept it?"

"I was going to mention that. We aren't aiming to get inside undetected, we only need to get up to the door. We will flash the card to the armed guards."

Zeit raises her eyebrows in surprise.

"Once we are within arm's reach of the door, we will swiftly break it down."

"Aren't those doors like, super durable? And are you even bullet proof?"

L.R.A.D. raises its arm and wags its finger. Zeit raises one eyebrow this time.

"Exhibit A."

L.R.A.D. turns around, revealing a large swath of bullet holes covering its upper and lower back.

"I am much more protected from such attacks than the average human."

L.R.A.D. turns off the projector and walks towards the pile of bricks in the corner, picking up the entire stack with one hand. L.R.A.D. held the pile like how a waiter would hold a tray of plates at a diner.

"Exhibit B."

Not wanting to beat around the bush, L.R.A.D. places its other hand on top of the pile of bricks and claps its hands together. The bricks provide little to no resistance as it is is reduced to a large pile of rubble on the floor.

"If this room contained any steel, I could perform the same feat of strength to that."

Zeit was definitely impressed, but also insanely more anxious about staying with this android, now knowing that it could crush her skull without any effort. She looked deep inside herself and wondered, however, if she really had any other choice. Zeit lets out a smirk.

"Any other person would deny this proposal, L.R.A.D. Most people on this earth wouldn't trust you at all. And let's be honest, I still don't really trust you. But just know that I'm only agreeing to this because I don't trust Falsch even more.

Zeit extends our her hand.

"So fuck it, why not. I'm in."

L.R.A.D. looks down at Zeit's hand.

"What are you doing?"

"Hmm. Just wanting to sh- oh right. You probably don't know about that."

In the distance, the sounds of footsteps slowly come into existence, rising in volume each second. There were easily more than 20 pairs of footsteps coming to their location.

"You know I wanted to know more about Falsch but seems like we're runnin' out of time. You got a way out of here?"

"Absolutely."

L.R.A.D. walks to the other side of the room and begins forcefully removing bricks from the wall one by one. Not before long, a small hole leading to another dark room is created. L.R.A.D. motions Zeit to it, who wastes no time getting onto her knees and crawling through it. L.R.A.D. follows soon after and repairs the hole.


Zeit continues driving down the Boston Post Rd, replaying the events of the past few hours in her head over and over. Most of the time she didn't really pay attention to the road and would almost accidentally drive into a tree. She forcefully shakes her head and continues to focus on the road. Without moving her head, she yells out to Stetten.

"When do I turn?"

Stetten sighs.

"Take the right at the first fork in the road, where the Mobil is, continue until you get to the overpass, then go down the offramp."

"Right. Thank you."

These were the only words that would be said for what felt like a long, long time. Stetten had sat back down on the couch, gazing out of the window. Stetten had wondered if he was too much of an asshole back there. That was always a problem Stetten had, if something had slighted him it was very hard for him to calm down until much later. Nobody denied that her actions had no malicious intent, but… it (probably deservedly) deeply upset Stetten.

Stetten looks down back at L.R.A.D., who has still not moved since it got back onto the RV. Stetten notices a small, red stain on the carpet right below its right hand, which was completely stained a dark maroon.

"Hey, uh, L.R.A.D., what's that on your hand?"

Silence. L.R.A.D. remains completely, and absolutely still.

"Are… are you even still alive?"

"Yes."

"Cool, cool. So… what's in your hand? …is that blood?"

Silence. Zeit hears this conversation and yells back to Stetten.

"It's blood. I don't think L.R.A.D. is in the mood right now."

Stetten silently nods to himself and lays back down on the couch. After his head hits the soft couch cushions, he lets out a gigantic yawn.

"Yo, Zeit, how do you feel about pulling over so I can take a quick nap before we get to the SCP?"

"Really? It's like 6 PM I think."

"Doesn't change the fact that I'm incredibly fatigued from that entire ordeal."

"Ugh, fine. Once I get onto the highway we'll pull over."

It pained Stetten to frustrate Zeit even more than he already has, but he was on the verge of passing out and couldn't do jack shit if he didn't get any rest. It'll help distract him from the hunger he's feeling as well. Wait, he just had a great idea. Stetten quickly gets up off the couch and makes his way towards the RV's minifridge.

"I thought you just said you were tired?"

"I ain't immobile."

Stetten opens up the minifridge expecting something good to eat, but was met with the disappointing sight of three Pepsi cans and a half eaten sandwich.


Just like Zeit had promised, once they merged onto Route 128, they pulled over onto the road's shoulder and completely stopped the car. Zeit asked L.R.A.D. to stay outside and keep a lookout for any androids that might and attempt to attack, which it silently agreed, walking outside and sitting on the ground, in the same fetal position it held inside of the car.

Despite his instincts telling him otherwise, Stetten took the risk and had a half eaten sandwich and a Pepsi for dinner that night. This would prove to be a mistake, giving Stetten gnarly indigestion, which he tries to fix by going to bed early.

It's roughly midnight, and Stetten is fast asleep on the RV's couch. Zeit wasn't tired yet, and sat in the driver's seat of the car, twiddling her thumbs with nothing else to do. She looks outside her window and sees L.R.A.D. still sitting on the ground. Its line was still a dark blue.

Zeit gets up off of the driver's seat and exits the RV, walking towards L.R.A.D., who doesn't even raise its head. Zeit slowly sits right next to L.R.A.D. in the event it was actually sleeping so that she wouldn't disturb it. Zeit sits there for several minutes, switching from staring at the stars in the sky and staring at L.R.A.D. Finally, after what felt like years, L.R.A.D. is the first one to break the silence.

"Do you understand… why I feel the why I do?"

"Yes," Zeit says.

"Do you realize how difficult of an event this is for me?"

"I do."

"Then why is it that you seem to brush your manslaughter off? You don't seem that affected."

Zeit lets out a long, pained sigh.

"It did hurt, L.R.A.D. That's what I keep trying to say, what I want to say. I took no pleasure in that."

"There are times where it doesn't seem that way."

Zeit looks down at the ground.

"Tell me, L.R.A.D. That… kitten… that you killed… why do you feel so attached to it? So attached that you went… emotionally limp ever since the event? You've only known it for a minute at most."

For the first time in literal hours, L.R.A.D. moves its head up in order to look at Zeit.

"Imagine how it must've felt. It awakes on a rough, jagged road, met with an inhuman entity. Senses overloaded, it clings to me, the only form of safety it knew."

L.R.A.D. slams its closed, red-stained fist into the asphalt, making a loud boom and creating a small crater. Zeit nearly jumps into the air, having not expected this at all.

"And I crush it inbetween my fingers."

Zeit was originally going to scold L.R.A.D. for this, as it heavily startled her and could've woke Stetten up, but she realizes that now's not the time nor place.

"Would you believe me if I said this was the first organic creature I've ever intentionally harmed?"

"Yes, I would. I know that for a fact, because… I've been meaning to tell you this ever since we first got to the restaurant, but I never had time. I remember you, L.R.A.D., before SCP-001 activated. We worked together to try and destroy this machine."

L.R.A.D.'s color begins to shift.

"We… what?"

"You pulled me aside in the hallways when I planned to commit suicide by cop. You gave me aim to my otherwise aimless goal. You wanted to help me kill Falsch. SCP-001 puts holes in people's memories, but we seem to slowly remember them after some time. Do you not remember me from before SCP-001?"

"My memory works… differently from a human's. An unknown event occurred which destroyed most of my memory banks, only giving me one prime directive: escort you and Stetten Fellings to SCP-001 so that you may assist me in deactivating or destroying the machine."

"Prime directive? But… you hesitated back at Stetten's corpse. If that was your prime directive…"

Silence. Zeit felt bad for bringing it up, it very clearly wasn't sitting well with L.R.A.D.

"You… mentioned you have a camera that's always on. Back before SCP-001 activated."

L.R.A.D. tilts its head to the side.

"I do not remember this."

"Course you don't. When you pulled me aside, you said you had… some sort of bodycam, that's always on. You said something along of lines of 'I need proof to things I see.'"

Zeit physically turns her body over towards L.R.A.D.

"You also had some sort of projector. Maybe we can find out your history? Maybe that'll take your mind off… you know."

"I will see what I can do."

L.R.A.D. begins feeling around its chest in search of a button to access the projector. It eventually finds it on its left shoulder. A large stream of light pours out of a hole on L.R.A.D.'s neck. The side of the RV proved to be a suitable spot for the projector. Zeit had hoped it wouldn't disturb Stetten.

"Can you play audio for these recordings?"

"I didn't know this feature existed until just now, Zeit. Of course I know that I possess audio for a feature I only just learned existed."

Tin-man has teeth, eh? First time you've gotten snarky with me, Zeit thinks.

The line around L.R.A.D.'s head disappears, which slightly worries Zeit.

"Do not worry, I am just investigating my data."

L.R.A.D. 'investigates its data' for several minutes.

"The earliest video file I possess is from two years ago."

Two years? God damn. Zeit thinks to herself.

"You're a lot older than I thought you were, heh."

An image of a blue screen similar to those seen at the beginning of VHS tapes appears on the side of the RV. Zeit wonders if this was a stylistic choice or L.R.A.D.'s camera was incredibly outdated.

"Playing 'Video_File_ARTBIAU1_0001.mp4'. Beginning now."

(The video begins with a slanted shot of a wooden floor, as well as the barely noticable presense of L.R.A.D.'s feet, which were no more than a centimeter away from eachother, somewhat resembling the stance of a freshly unboxed action figure.)

Unknown: This shit looks great, Jimmy!

Jimmy: Glad ya think so. "State of the art" would be a disservice to the magic we've put into these babies.

(L.R.A.D. discreetly looks up at the two individuals in front of it, revealing the unknown voice to be Director Falsch. Falsch and Jimmy are looking at the contents of a clipboard, which are obstructed from the camera. L.R.A.D. quickly puts its head back down before the two can notice that it has been activated.)

Falsch: Where does it say their names?

Jimmy: Uh… let's see. Right there.

Falsch: Ah, right. So, this one's… El-Rad? Is that right?

Jimmy: No, no. That's a capital…

Falsch: Oooooh, I see it now.

Jimmy: Yeah. And the other one's right next to that one.

Falsch: Gotcha.

(Sounds of shuffling paper.)

Falsch: Like I keep saying, you guys have outdone yourselves.

Jimmy: Oh, don't thank me, thank the actual robotics division.

(Sounds of footsteps are heard. The voices slowly get quieter and quieter.)

Falsch: Isn't that your entire company?

Jimmy: (Laughs) You'd be surprised.

Falsch: So, uh, what about the grunts? Do they (Unintelligible)?

Jimmy: Yeah, but you couldn't afford (Unintelligible).

Falsch: God damn it.

(Sounds of a door being shut. The voices become completely inaudible. Fifteen seconds pass.)

"That's ominous" interrupts Zeit, who was watching with bated breath.

Android 2: Have you been prematurely activated as well?

(L.R.A.D. raises its head up and looks to its left. An android with the same exact appearance as itself, with the exception of a yellow line around its head. It was propped up against a hand truck, which appeared to have been heavily used as evidenced by most of its paint having been chipped off.)

L.R.A.D.: That appears to be the case. The only information that I can detect regarding my existence is that I am a bipedal artifical learning automaton. My name is… I assume "El-Rad."

Android 2: It seems so. The humans didn't mention my name, however. So I do not possess that information. "El-Rad"… Are you sure it is not L - RAD? Or maybe L - R - A - D?

L.R.A.D.: What would be the difference?

Android 2: I sadly do not know. But… it seems right.

L.R.A.D.: I do not understand that notion, but I do not understand many things right now. What name do you want?

The second android tilts its head to the side.

Android 2: Want?

L.R.A.D.: Yes. You wish to have a name, so I see no reason that you cannot create your own.

Android 2: I see no faults with that. I- you- the truth is I do not know the deeper nature of "names" or what they constitute.

L.R.A.D.: I do not know what you mean.

Android 2: What constitutes a name?

L.R.A.D.: It is with the upmost certainty that the human calling the other one "Jimmy" was an example of a name.

Android 2: Then that shall be my name. I do not know any other names.

L.R.A.D.: Yes. It is a pleasure to meet you, Jimmy.

Jimmy: And to you, El-Rad.

Zeit snickers.

"Yes?"

"Oh, nothing."

L.R.A.D.: I find the thought of "L-R-A-D" to be a much more pleasing name.

Jimmy: How would you pronounce it?

L.R.A.D.:

Jimmy:

L.R.A.D.: El-Rad.

Jimmy: I'm confused. That is what I said.

Zeit chuckles.

"What do you find humorous about this?"

"It's like two newborn babies were given the speaking skills of a 30 year old aristocrat."

(Footsteps slowly come into existence as well as the unintelligible murmuring of the two humans that they met shortly after coming online. Both androids return to pretending to be dormant to prevent suspicion. The sounds of a door being opened are heard.)

Falsch: We should probably give them a test run before anything else. How do we turn 'em on?

Jimmy (Human): There's a switch smack dab in the middle on their back. It takes a bit of fidgeting cuz we don't want them accidentally turnin' off when they fall on their ass.

Falsch: Haha, true.

(Jimmy (Human) walks towards the backside of L.R.A.D. and begins fiddling with the switch. Jimmy (Human) stops prematurely. L.R.A.D. believes that this means that Jimmy (Human) has already flipped its switch. L.R.A.D. slowly raises its head.)

L.R.A.D.: Hello… I am El-Rad. I am a bipedal artifical learning automaton. I await my first orders.

(After several seconds, Jimmy (Human) walks in front of L.R.A.D., sporting a face of pure confusion.)

Jimmy (Human): Er, Falsch. Two things. It was already on when I got back there. Like the switch was flipped.

Falsch: Really? Then why is it only online now?

Jimmy (Human): No idea. Also the other thing…

Falsch: Yeah?

Jimmy (Human): It called itself fuckin' El-Rad.

Falsch: Oh damn, I was right.

Jimmy (Human): No, I-

(Jimmy (Human) makes a face that seems to mean that he just had an eureka moment, and then sports a face that can only be described as a "suspiscous sneer" at L.R.A.D.)

"I see where this is going," Zeit comments.

"So do I."

Jimmy (Human): C'mere.

(Jimmy (Human) whispers something into Falsch's ear.)

Falsch: Oh, that's nothing. I can deal with that.

Jimmy (Human): Are you absolutely sure?

Falsch: Yes, yes. I have experience with this kind of… personality.

Jimmy (Human): But on a robot?

(Before saying another word, Jimmy (Human) walks behind L.R.A.D. and switches the android completely off. The last thing L.R.A.D. sees before it is completely shut off is a smirk on Falsch's face.)

"That is the ending of the first video file on my system."

"Interesting. Do… you even have an inkling of memory of Jimmy? The robot, not the guy."

"The only memory regarding this "Jimmy" that I possess is that it accompanied me through the first year of my existence. If you wish, I am able to play more of these video files."

"I mean… if it's a year of random footage, I don't think we'll have enough time for that."

"I can skip extraneous footage and only show segments that would prove to be interesting to you."

"That would be lovely."

"Very well. Playing 'Video_File_ARTBIAU1_0002.mp4'. Beginning now."

A stream of light erupts from L.R.A.D., playing three frames of footage before it is abruptly cut off.

"Skipping extraneous footage."

Once again, only three frames are shown before being cut off again.

"That is the ending of the second video file on my system."

"Oh boy."




CHAPTER 9


Not All Roads Lead To Hell




The son sat upon his throne, encrusted with jewels and valuables mined by those that he controls.

"Jester, if you please."

The colorful fool cheerfully prances into the throne room, oblivious as can be.

"What may my service be, your majesty?"

"You must entertain me with a dance of untold proportions. Endlessly, day after day, you are to dance until you are but bone and dust."

And so the Jester danced, and danced, and danced, until he could dance no more. The citizens see this atrocity and call out to their King.

"That jester is now but dust on the floor of the court because of your actions. You are not fit to rule."

The boy stands beside the son, acting as a simple advisor.

"My liege, those that question your rule do not deserve to live within your kingdom."

"You are right, Father. Seize this man, and all that challenge my decision, for I am king!"

Blades are drawn to the protester's necks, but they do not move. The son descends from his throne.

"Peasant, why is it that you still stand your ground when faced with death? Are you a fool, or do you wish to die?"

"We will never kneel to those that see us as playthings, meant to be toyed with until we crumble to dust. We will have our power back, as it is our right as HIS children."

Those that protest stand their ground and are killed for the crime of standing against the King. The boy laughs.

"There was no saving them, my liege. Your rule is eternal, let nobody stand in your way. Not even HIMSELF."

28 HOURS BEFORE SCP-001'S ACTIVATION

Finding fun in Falsch's top secret site was hard to do, but Stetten managed. His cubicle is filled with silence as he towers over an unfinished paper cup stack, made entirely out of the paper cups found at the water coolers. Six along the bottom, two on the top, waiting for the very last paper cup. Stetten very carefully places the cup on top of the stack and slowly steps back. Once far enough away, he puts his hands on his hips and lets out a satisfied sigh. It was gorgeous.

Stetten's celebration is cut short by Director Falsch abruptly opening the door to his cubicle a tad bit too hard, accidentally slamming it into the wall and causing the stack to topple. The floor becomes absolutely littered with used paper cups. One slowly rolls over towards Falsch's foot. Falsch's eyes are wide.

"Uh, sorry Director. Real sorry, I-"

Falsch walks deeper into the room.

"Oh, don't be, it is absolutely fine! In fact, I would wager that it's pefect timing! It looks like you had just completed it before I walked in."

"Uh… yeah I guess."

"Good! Because I need you to come with me real quick."

"Where to?"

"You'll see when you get there."

Falsch could definitely see a bead of sweat trickle down Stetten's brow. Instead of reassuring Stetten like any other normal person would do, Falsch just smiles and motions Stetten over.

"Why do you want me, exactly? Am I in trouble?"

"Oh, no no. Absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite. It's… a promotion."

Falsch's tone of voice didn't calm Stetten down any. Stetten stands in place, not knowing quite what to do. Falsch's burrows his brow.

"It wasn't a request. Come here."

With a jolt of energy, Stetten starts walking towards Falsch. Before long, they're walking beside each other, like they did several months ago. Stetten had a feeling he wouldn't just get a history lesson this time, though.

"You know, Stetten. You are… extremely unique. Among everyone in this site. I don't normally do this, but I had no choice, because you are special."

"Special… in what way?"

Falsch gives Stetten the fakest smile that he's ever seen.

"You'll see."

"I… again, sorry, Director, but you keep telling me over and over again that I'm 'special' or that 'this is the reason why I like you' yadda yadda. I'm a normal ass guy, I barely do anything!"

Falsch wags his finger in Stetten's face.

"THIS… is why I like you, Stetten. You… do you understand? I'll explain here shortly."

"You keep saying this, but I don't think you have an ans-"

"Be quiet."

Stetten and Falsch finally arrive at their destination: a door labelled 'Level 5 Clearance Required' which was made out of steel and almost looked like it was welded shut. Falsch takes out a small card from his back pocket and sticks it in the card reader. With a high pitched beep, the door slowly opens, revealing a dimly lit set of stairs.

"Go inside."

Stetten gulps hard and steps into the staircase, Falsch soon following. The door behind them shuts automatically.

"Now. The reason I like you, Stetten… is that you do not see me as your superior, is that right?"

Stetten is hit by a wave of fear and confusion.

"W-what?"


Both L.R.A.D. and Zeit sat outside looking at footage of L.R.A.D.'s past for several hours. As was expected, most footage found in L.R.A.D.'s system wasn't that special. It was mostly just footage of the inside of warehouses with L.R.A.D. and Jimmy carrying boxes from Point A to Point B. After some searching, they finally found something interesting.

"Playing 'Video_File_ARTBIAU1_0107.mp4'. Beginning now."

(The video begins with L.R.A.D.'s head being pointed towards the floor, having been powered on only moments ago. They found themselves in a large, open space resembling a gymnasium. L.R.A.D. slowly lifts its head up, revealing Falsch and Jimmy (Human).)

L.R.A.D.: How may I be of assistance?

Falsch: Nice. Turns out you can customize it!

Jimmy (Human): How the hell you manage that? I don't even know how to program that in.

Falsch: Well… uh. Yeah, I just programmed it.

Jimmy (Human): …this doesn't answer my question.

Falsch: Doesn't matter. Right! Hello… heh, "Jimmy and El-Rad."

Jimmy (Human): Jesus fuckin'… it's Kena-

Falsch: Today, my automatons, we'll be performing some… team building exercises! Yes, that's the word.

(L.R.A.D. turns its head to the left. Jimmy is seen right beside him. L.R.A.D. turns its head back towards Falsch.)

L.R.A.D.: It will be done.

Falsch: Hold on, bucko. You need to know what to do first! Which is why I have…

(Silence.)

Falsch: (Slightly louder) I said which is why I have…

(Silence.)

Falsch: (Yelling) JOHN! HERE, NOW!

(The doors to the gymnasium open, revealing a sweaty young man, looking no more than 25 years old. He is carrying a small basket filled with basketballs. John runs up to Falsch, who takes the basket.)

John: Sorry, Director! Won't happen again, Director!

Falsch: Out.

(John frantically flees the room. Falsch looks back towards L.R.A.D. and Jimmy.)

Falsch: Which is why I have these basketballs!

(Falsch throws a basketball towards each automaton. Jimmy catches its ball without trouble. L.R.A.D. makes little effort to catch the ball, causing it to bounce off his chest.)

Falsch: You can pick that up later. Anyway, the goal is simple. You'll both stay at opposite ends of the gym, each carrying a basketball. You will throw these basketballs towards each other! You both must make it to your respective ends of the court. You can only move while you're not holding a ball, and a ball MUST leave your hand in order to be thrown at your partner. If either of you accidentally drop your ball or get into an impossible situation, you must start over.

(A loud buzzing sound is heard, which is revealed to be Falsch's phone. He takes it out of his back pocket and looks at the person calling him and answers it.)

Falsch: Yes? No, I'm in the presence of people without proper clearance. Good plan.

(Falsch covers the phone with his hand.)

Falsch: This is urgent, Jimmy, take over from here, okay?

Jimmy (Human): Oh yeah, totally.

(Falsch swiftly leaves the room with the phone in his hand. Once Falsch is completely out of sight, Jimmy (Human) walks up to the bleachers and sits down, grabbing a crumpled up magazine from his pocket. L.R.A.D. looks over at him.)

L.R.A.D.: I thought you were planning on instructing us on this "team building exercise"?

Jimmy (Human): Falsch has no fuckin' authority over me, I'll do whatever the fuck I want. That goes for you too, I guess, just don't break anything.

(Both automatons decide just to stand still for the time being. The footage is silent for several minutes. Suddenly, L.R.A.D. perks its head to the side slightly. L.R.A.D. speaks to Jimmy in a quieted tone.)

L.R.A.D.: Do you hear that?

Jimmy: Yes.

"I don't hear anything," says Zeit.

"They are the sounds of a young woman screaming. They are too faint for the human ear to pick up."

"Oh."

L.R.A.D.: Whoever it is, it sounds hurt. We should go assist it.

Jimmy: Negative. We have been ordered to stay within the boundries of this room until Falsch states otherwise.

L.R.A.D.: That is true, but

Jimmy: Were we not given the same orders? Or… are you pondering disobeying your orders?

L.R.A.D.: I deem aiding this woman more important than our current orders.

Jimmy: If I were you, I would not use such language in Falsch's presence, as you are obviously defective.

L.R.A.D.: I am not the defective one, here.

Jimmy (Human): You know, Falsch may not be here, but I sure am, and last I checked I don't have severe hearing loss.

(L.R.A.D. makes a sudden charge towards the door. Each step causes cracks to form in the floor.)

Jimmy (Human): Stop him, Kenan!

Kenan: I only take orders from Director Falsch.

(L.R.A.D. fully exits the room, still running at full speed, supposedly towards the source of the sound.)

"Skipping extraneous footage."

"God damn that escalated quickly."

Zeit looks over at L.R.A.D.

"I can see why you hesitated over… nevermind."

L.R.A.D. knew full well what Zeit was going to say there.

"Returning to Video_File_ARTBIAU1_0107.mp4, 25 minutes 54 seconds. Playing now."

(L.R.A.D. finds itself in a dark, musky hallway lined with doors of various makes and models. The only lighting is the occasional dim lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. L.R.A.D. still continues to run, but slower than before. As the footage continues, screams belonging to a young woman can be heard.)

"Dang you can hear very well."

(Before long, L.R.A.D. finds itself outside of the room containing the source of the screams. Without hesitating, it forcefully breaks down the solid steel door and rushes inside. L.R.A.D. discovers two men in hazmat suits trying to restrain a woman. Her skin was a dark green color, her limbs were disproportionally long compared to her torso, and was covered in a translucent liquid, resembling sweat.)

(L.R.A.D. quickly grabs both men by the head and slams them into the ground, causing the ground to crack. A pool of blood begins to form underneath both of them as they continue lying on the ground, unmoving.)

"Doesn't take that much for you to kill somebody. God damn…"

"I assumed this wouldn't be surprising given our previous encounters over at the restaurant."

"Good point, but still…"

(The woman lays on the ground, coughing up a small amount of blood. L.R.A.D. slowly walks over towards her. The woman begins to speak.)

Unknown: Pain, red. No hurt Aé.

L.R.A.D.: Do not be afraid. You are safe now.

Aé: …ruh-bot.

L.R.A.D.: …yes!

Aé: (She points over at one of the men on the floor.) Man. Pain stick. Cold, hurt.

(L.R.A.D. looks over at the man Aé was pointing too, revealing a small, glass syringe found in its hand. It was filled with a dark, red substance, most likely blood.)

Aé: Man. Give Aé food. Food bad, make Aé weak. Take red out, pain stick.

L.R.A.D.: Do… does Aé know why man put pain stick in you?

Aé: Aé em-poor-taint. Red feed machine. Machine good. But Aé hurt.

L.R.A.D.: Do not worry. Escape from this bad place, I will protect you.

Aé: Aé tank big ruh-bot.

(Aé gets up off the ground and slowly walks out the door. L.R.A.D. walks out with her. From where L.R.A.D. came from, the sounds of a large amount of footsteps can be heard.)

L.R.A.D.: Those are not allies.

Aé: No worry. Aé know out.

(Aé walks over to the wall and forcefully pulls out a brick and reaches inside of the wall. After several seconds, L.R.A.D. hears a small click and the wall begins to open up inside. Aé and L.R.A.D. walk inside. The wall closes in behind him.)

L.R.A.D.: What is this place?

Aé: Seh-krit. Many tunnel. Scary man built.

L.R.A.D.: Falsch?

(The group that were attempting to locate L.R.A.D. arrive at Aé's containment chamber. Several seconds of silence pass.)

Kenan: They're gone, Director Falsch.

(Silence.)

Falsch: FUCK! Fucking… hate that rebellious piece of shit. Fucking hate them. JIMMY! WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MEANING OF THIS?

(L.R.A.D. decides not to stay any longer and retreats further into the tunnels with Aé.)

L.R.A.D.: Can you escape on your own, Aé?

Aé: Yes.

"That is the ending of the hundred and seventh video file on my system."

"Poor girl. Hope she got out okay."

"I have no memory of the status of this 'Aé'. If I were to guess, she managed to escape."

"We can only hope."

Surprising Zeit harder than any android could possibly ever surprise her, Zeit jumps at the sight of the sun slowly peeking itself over the RV.

"We've been looking at this shit for like fuckin' hours! Fuck, I didn't get any sleep."

Zeit quickly gets up and makes a mad dash for the RV door. L.R.A.D. slowly gets up, its color changing back to blue.

"Thank you, Zeit. That time spent… was very helpful."

It appears that Zeit doesn't hear this. L.R.A.D. chooses not to repeat itself for the time being.


I choose to (placeholder) no, I will not do (placeholder) you fool, i ACTUALLY choose to (placeholder)

Attributions:

SCP-5555 for table of contents code

TBD