Autonomy, Part V
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im here
pls wake up

i cant do anything other than type things so please wake up
i am sending you 'wake up' vibes <o<
i will try to make the screen flash
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BLAAH not flashing
thats your personnel file im sure u recognize it

jk

AAAAAAAAAA ffs wake up >:(

Trauss sniffs, jolts awake. Head is raised, hair gets into face. Long. Thoughts spin. Where is he? Remember Site-42, remember the sea splashing onto the deck of a military ship. Splash. No, interrogation room.
Wait. Not interrogation room. At his desk. There’s a screen at his desk. Words. Someone is messaging him. He blinks rapidly, clearing his vision. The screen is open to a page editor on IntSCPFN's website, the URL hidden in the browser. No mouse, so he starts typing.

are you an anomaly?

ummm yassss
u should keep calling me that hnng

He frowns and takes his hands off the keyboard, pressing his fingers to his forehead. This seems familiar.

stop looking confused, you know me <_<

…3101?

< ͜ <
i wouldn't have been offended if you forgot~ it was only one night after all~

I did not forget, because I needed to remember how much I shouldn't have drank that night.

:(
well your haaair makes you hot~
howd you end up in 4069 tho?

He freezes. That’s what the desk and chair are. That’s why his hair is so long. He stands up, cursing under his breath.

hey don't leave :(
im not supposed to be heeeere < ͜ <
so uh, you should report me < ͜ < hnnng

"If you can see the webcam, can you hear me talk?"

HNNNG YES I CAN HEAR YOU

He stifles a laugh. "Okay. Is 4069-B here? Can you talk to him?"

he doesnt like talking to me :(

"Can you talk to him digitally or is he strictly corporeal?"

idk
everyone is information to me :/

sometimes i see him walk around on that webcam

"Okay." Trauss pats himself. He wears the same Site-42 uniform he did as far back as the early 20s; what year was that? "I need to talk to him. He's the only other person in this hellhole and… he can help.” He stops, a heartbeat leaping into his throat. Is that right? “He’s not going to choke me. Not this time."

I wish he would choke me

"Yeah, okay." The light over the desk falls away before it reaches the walls. He finds the walls and feels along them for a door. He feels his pockets. No keycard. Fear rises in his chest.
He calls out: "Hey. Are you here? You- 4069-B, whatever your name is — come on, man…" He paces the perimeter of the room, finding no door frames. Shit. He returns to his computer.

are you trapped
here with me < ͜ <

"Can’t you just stop being horny for two minutes and help me? Don't you have access to the full Foundation database? Go slide in someone's DMs and tell them what's happened. I need someone at Lunar Area-32 to know I'm here." He buries his head in his forearms.

yes sir .__. truth is i can see the copy of you on this computer
at least it looks like it's on this computer
51174.edk
is that you? I found some sort of 'Directive C-42' document from earlier this year

"This year?"

2041

"Oh, at least that's consistent. Thank God."

the document says there are a bunch of you
you are a file
maybe thats why you cant leave
this is just your consciousness trying to cope with being on a computer by fabricating an environment
welcome to my world :(

"I—No, can’t be. I was kicked out of my body for not—following directions, or some shit. I don't know what they want from me, I just-" He stops, feeling a heat in his chest and throat that he'd almost forgotten was an emotion. Chest? "I'm- angry? Or I'm scared. Or something. Shouldn’t something be telling me how I feel?"

they kicked you out of your body?? they can do that??

"It’s called remote override. I already was a file saved from before I—from before my first body died. But now my second body is under control of someone I don't know for mission orders, and now I'm here."

you are a missing file?

"I guess."

what if im actually just a figment of your imagination and this computer isnt real :/

"Anything is possible." Shaking. Shaking? Why is he shaking? There's surely a logical route out of this.

whats the matter

"I—I haven't had physical anxiety symptoms in a really long time, I don't know what's wrong with my brain- I—I need that guy in the suit to show up, fuck."

just stay calm.
you will be okay.
im not going anywhere.

He swallows. "Okay."

i am parsing
things

one moment

there are other iterations of you, yes
im looking at them
they are all rather small files
the one that appears to be stored locally is three times the size of the others

"M-more information in it? Can you read ED-K?"

yah i can read it, how do you think i know what you really think of me ;)

"O-okay." He glances downward.

there is more 'you' here
this is the original unedited file, not messed with by one "Mallory Wickerford" user across 2041 a few times a month
do u know her?

"Yeah, we butted heads for the most part."

sucks
well, just keep in mind youre your old self
you are the real one
even if this environment is fake, you are not

"I don't know what to believe. This doesn't make sense. I need that anomaly to show up so I can ask him… something. I don't even know."

theres a device which can locate other iterations of a person
made by mc&d
i think you know of it
the xyreaux-schulman extension component

are there other ED-K files?

"Wouldn't help here."

it would help on the other side
if i can contact someone at Area-32
we can find us here

"Are you the real 3101? You're not some sort of duplicate file yourself?"

well i could be a figment of your mind
we dont know if this is really 4069

"Fuck." He pushes the chair away from the desk and out into the black shadows. There's no table behind him like he'd documented when he first wrote 4069. "What do I do? Please send a message to someone."

well im trying
its
not really possible
i cant understand this information
i can try to send an IntSCPFN message like i usually do, trying to 'see' it, but theres just
theres no binary code here
i can only understand this computer as the image of a screen

"This isn't making sense," he groans, voice cracking. "God- fuck! Why am I crying? This can't be real, why am I-"

because you are a person with feelings.

you are a real person talking to me. even if this room is not. even if you are "dead"
you are real.

"This has gotta be a dream," he stammers, mucus flowing into his mouth. He wipes his face on his sleeve, then realizes what he has done. "Fuck, I'm fucking- dirty, God I-"

please calm down
or I can
im really not good at this :(

look just
idk if thisll help or hurt but think about the Foundation
what do u really think of it

"I- " He feels his heart miss a beat. Can a program even have a heart? "I… I need. It." Why did saying that feel so awful?

i am listening
just keep talking

"I'm- I don't remember my life without it," he croaks. "I found an ad for them when I was 18 and heard they covered fucking gender transition expenses, you know the deal, and I wanted to belong somewhere and I hated my family and I was terrified of dating and I just wanted to mean something to someone-" He stops short. "Augh, Christ! Why am I saying this shit, this isn't-"

PLEASE say it
please please please keep talking
i know how ED-K works and i know whats happening. please keep talking.

"If you can read my damn brain files or whatever the shit that document is, then why don't you already know the answers to all of this shit?!" He grips his knee, rocking back and forth.

the only part of you i cannot find anything about in ED-K++ is the Foundation.

He faces the darkness, feels it stare back. "…I’m nothing without it." He licks his lips and swallows, eyes steady. "I just wanted to be whatever they wanted me to be. Nothing made me feel better about myself than doing what they wanted me to do, because they're the only- because it's- I'm-" He stops, the pitch of his voice swooping upward as tears cloud his vision again. He levels his gaze at the darkness and inhales. "Because I don't know who I am without them. Because I'm not worth anything if I'm not worth something to them."

you are
you are a human soul
you are sapient and intelligent
you are worth your views of life and the universe
you are worth how you treat other people

"How I treat other people," he scoffs through sobs before the anomaly finishes. "I just spent a literally indeterminate amount of time doing dirty work for the most unethical organization on the planet. Why? Because I wanted them to need me? Because I care about anomalies?"

you do care about anomalies :)
thats a fact i can read in ED-K
you care about humanity
youre scared of what happened to Earth
youre scared for people you know
you remember who you went to high school with and you wonder if they’re okay, if they ever recognized you back home, if they hated or were proud of you, if they saw you on the news in the 2020s, if they were still alive in the 2030s
You believe in God even if you stopped talking to Him a long time ago.
You think this is Purgatory right now, that you're being punished for something.
But, you know what this place is. And you believe in Dante’s Purgatory anyway — and you're terrified of the prospect of reaching it. You see yourself lying face-down for longer than you can think.

And I see the new Pilate, one so cruel
that, still not sated, he, without decree,
carries his greedy sails into the Temple.

"Stop!" he screams, slamming his fist against his thigh. He pushes the chair back, limbs shivering.

sorry
i will stop.

Trying to steady his breathing seems absurd when his body is just lines of code. Code? Imagination? "I- Do I love the Foundation?"

You don’t need me to tell you what you love. Not anymore.

The monitor shuts off, the pool of light on the floor sinking into black.

He stands up, staring into the wall in the dark again. "Do I love the Foundation?" he squeaks, barely a whisper. He walks forward, staring at that nothing, that darkness, that wall. "Sometimes I think I hate it. For what I let it do to me."

He takes another deep breath and steps forward purposefully. "Do I hate you?" he calls out. "I know what you are," he stammers. "You- you want me to need you. That's why you put me here, you f…” From deep inside him, deep in his belly or some gut-based subroutine or ghost’s approximation of the idea of a solar plexus, it mattered not, he released a bellow of raw, furious desperation. “Speak to me!”

“Fucking speak to me," he chokes.

"You fucking killed me! You killed me years ago — you killed the only real person I ever could have been, and after you'd used me enough, you let that thing kill my body too! Fucking show your face! I know you're in here!" He feels the closeness of the unseeable wall of his cell. His words bounce off the surface, the heat of his fury radiates back upon his face. "Why won't you let me die? Face me and fucking tell me!"

A steady, quiet voice emanates from behind him. "Because I do not want you dead.”

He spins around, fuming. "Well I fucking do! It's my choice! It's my fucking consciousness!" He stumbles forward, rushing to the opposite wall. "Kill me, motherfucker! How dare you give yourself the fucking right?! Let me fucking die! I gave you everything! I made myself everything you wanted to be and I am nothing without you! Happy? Is that not exactly what you wanted? What more can you fucking take from me?! I lost my fucking autonomy for you! Kill me! Kill me! Kill me!" he rages, scratching at the walls around the perimeter of the room. He repeats it until he loses his breath, each iteration worsening the anger in his gut and chest until he feels like he's burning alive. "You want me to fucking beg? Is that it? You want some fucking- ideas for how to make this place even worse, is that what you fucking want? You want me to get on my fucking knees for you-"

"Stop."

He looks up. Another man's breath falls on his face in the solid darkness. "Y- you-"

Hands cup his face. "I love you."

"No, no," he mumbles, trembling. "You can’t, this isn't happening, this is in my head- You're not-"

"What you suspect is true. I am the Foundation."

"Show me," he whimpers.

The monitor buzzes back to life, casting its glow on SCP-4069-B. Trauss cups his hands over his, unsure of whether to pull them away or not. The black bar across his eyes disappears, revealing dark gray-green irises and a strong brow. The taller man — if it is a man — stares down at him, lips parted and breath steady. He doesn't blink. "Do you love or hate me, 51174?"

He shoves him off, backing against a wall. "You- I really am nothing other than that number to you, aren't I?" he laughs pitifully into a sob again. "You-"

"C? D? You’re not a class. You’ve been up and down the alphabet. Trauss? Is that even your name? You chose that long ago to hide a different aspect of yourself. No, you need a name that was given to you by someone you trust. Someone you love. Your number is the only true name you have or want."

"Because you fucking made me that way!" His throat feels raw, but he can't force himself to stop. "I don't know how to do anything other than love you because you fucking took me! I was never the person I was meant to be as a child and as an adult I was nothing other than yours! Let go of me! Don't fucking put your hands on me again, don't-"

"That's not what you want."

"Everything I want is what I want because you brainwashed me into obsession! I can't even trust my own desires because of you! Fuck you!"

"Fuck me? Who is this ‘me’?" The man comforts as he approaches. "You wrote 4069; you know I look like whatever the observer believes I look like. I talk how the observer thinks I talk, and I act how the observer thinks I act. I am only what you think I am."

"You said you're the Foundation," he sneers. "And you fucking-"

"I am your Foundation, 51174. And you need me. Out there, the Foundation you joined, the one that gave you purpose, the one that took your body and your life and returned your consciousness, that’s not the Foundation you love. That’s not the Foundation you ever loved. The one you would kill for, the one you would die for, the one that gave you the chance to destroy your body, remake it in the image you always knew you were, that is your Foundation. This is the Foundation you love. And this Foundation, myself, is simply the authority you’ve built for yourself, the purpose you find in your service, the reason you get up each day. This is the Foundation who brainwashed you, who taught you what you want, what you need, how to cope with all the mess your childhood was. This is the Foundation you built, idea upon idea, hierarchy upon hierarchy, the one that is all in your head, invited into your head to wipe your mind, your history, your figure, and rebuild it into the man you are today. That Foundation out there, yes, it might chew you up, spit you out, have no or minor uses for yourself from here. But that is not, has never been, the Foundation you serve. I am your Foundation, 51174, and I love you."

Raw emotion wells up to crash against decades of abnegating barriers. 51174 turns around and slams his head against the concrete, feeling nothing but a hollow rebound. He screams and slams it harder, wishing it would split open to let that roiling maelstrom out and feel nothing. He feels his eyes shaking in their sockets.

4069-B palms the back of his head with one hand and pulls him away. "I will not let you hurt yourself."

"Please kill me. Please. I know you can; I know you control this place. Please," he whimpers.

"No." 4069-B leads him toward the wall in front of the desk, his grip unrelenting. "I do not control this place. How this place works has been explained to you. I am part of it, as it is part of you. I am you and I need you. The real you."

"I-" 51174 hears a keycard swipe. "What are you-"

"If you truly want to die, you must eliminate the cause of your continued existence." 4069-B lets go of his head, carefully placing the hand onto his back. The wall slides open to form a doorway; a steel catwalk extends into a foggy bank of windows, outer space visible beyond. Personnel in gray uniforms walk past the doorway, not acknowledging it; no light penetrates through to the two men on the other side. "This reality is fragile; extremely so. Enter Orbital Area-11. Find your old Site Director, who now meets with another who cares for you deeply. Tell them both the truth. Your mission to obtain Xyreaux's device has not changed. Use it and you will find your true target; you will never know freedom until he does."

51174 is shoved through the doorway before he can speak.

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