Professor Ferreiro allowed himself another sigh as he swiped his access card across the barcode scanner. Today had not been a good day. Not that this was a particularly unusual experience for Professor Ferreiro. Ever since he had accepted employment at the SCP Foundation's spacious Site 19 complex he had been subjected to mountains of paperwork, casual abuse by his colleagues and little to no acknowledgment by his superiors. Of course, he mostly brought it on himself. Too timid to speak up every time someone else took credit for his work, Ferreiro had been consistently passed over for promotion and after 13 years of loyal service his co-workers couldn't even remember his name! He was simply the guy that everyone dumped their menial chores on and forgot about.
It therefore came as no surprise when he entered his tiny, windowless office and saw yet another enormous stack of papers in his in-tray. As expected, his desk was plastered with the usual post-it notes basically telling him to "get on with it" and a couple of unmarked boxes had been dumped on top of his "World's Adequatest Dad" mug, chipping the handle. His heart having already sunk to its lowest depths untold years ago, he simply closed the door behind him, checked his chair for any thumb tacks his "hilarious" lab assistants might have placed, and sat down to do his job.
Not feeling up to the task of sorting through his in-tray at that moment, he decided to start with the boxes. The first one contained a new, unclassified SCP in the shape of a thermostat. Pinned to the SCP was a hand-written note by Dr. Gordon telling him to deliver it to research lab 5a for experimentation. Ferreiro rolled his eyes. Research lab 5a was on the other side of the compound, right next door to Dr. Gordon's office. Well, that one could wait. Knowing better than to actually touch an unknown SCP, he carefully resealed the box and put it on the floor next to his desk.
The second box was long and rectangular, and bore the stamp of a fully classified SCP with the words "SCP-572: FOR CONTAINMENT" printed on the side in large, intimidating letters. A small envelope was sellotaped to the lid and marked for the immediate attention of "Professor Donald Ferrari". A thin smile crept across Ferreiro's face as he plucked the envelope off and thumbed it open. They'd finally got his first name right!
SCP-572 has been reclassed as Euclid and therefore requires transferring to the special containment facility behind Research Laboratory 5a. As you are not currently assigned to any other projects and therefore have nothing else to do, I expect this to be done without delay.
It is absolutely vital that you read the full containment procedures for this SCP before handling it. They should have been delivered to your in-tray a few days ago.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE SCP-572 UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THESE PROCEDURES AND KNOW THEM INSIDE OUT AND BACK TO FRONT!
Your performance to date has been lacklustre at best. Let's see if you can get this one right!
SCP Laboratory Assistant,
Clearance Level Pending
Not for the first time that day, Ferreiro sighed.
"Don't let him get to you, Don - punk kid like that'll be assigned to Keter duty before he sees thirty!"
Ferreiro nodded absently. He was probably right. Arrogant, abrasive types like Fulham did wind up on Keter duty more often than…
Wait a minute…
Who was probably right?!?
Ferreiro looked around his office to see if anyone had entered without him noticing. He was all alone. Suspecting another practical joke of some sort, he began to check under his desk in case someone was hiding there.
A quick search of his desk drawers completely failed to yield evidence of any tape recorders or other such devices. Jesus, perhaps he'd been working too hard lately. He had been under a lot of stress, true, but he was used to stress by now, surely? Still… working in site 19 could get to anyone after a while. "Wonderful", he muttered, "Now I'm hearing things".
"You sure are, Don - you have AMAZING hearing! Just look at those ears of yours - the very pinnacle of creation's work and no mistake! Why, I bet you could hear a gnat piss into a hurricane from a hundred miles away with those beauties!"
Ferreiro fought down a wave of panic as his eyes sought out the source of this bizarre flattery. "Alright, wh..who are you and where are you hiding?" he demanded.
"Relax, Don, you'll find me. That impressive brain of yours isn't going to take long to work out where I am! Just follow the sound of my voice! YODEL-AY-YODEL-AY-YODEL-AY-HEE-HOO! YODEL-AY-YODEL-AY-YOD.."
"Enough!" cried Ferreiro, covering his hands with his ears to block out the piercing ululations. "You've had your fun, just tell me where you are and I promise not to file a complaint with Dr. Bright's office!"
"Hah! Like a rough-and-ready, no-nonsense hombre like yourself needs to go running to some other doctor for help! Oh Don, your incredible wit knows no bounds. But seriously though, I don't want to make you angry - I'm in the box! Come and check me out!"
Ferreiro felt the hairs begin to rise on the back of his neck. Sure enough, the voice did seem to be coming from the long, rectangular box on his desk. His hands shaking like a Class D on nerve toxins, he gingerly broke the seal and raised the lid. Lying there in front of him, snugly contained in its packaging, was an ornate sword. He was no expert in weaponry, but it looked very much like the replica katana he had purchased for his son's 16th birthday, back when his family still lived with him. Although the only source of light in his office was the sterile neon bulb mounted on the ceiling, the blade glinted as if struck by a brief flicker of sunlight.
"Found me! I knew you would, though. There's no hiding from the Donimator! Right, Don?"
The hapless scientist recoiled in alarm at the sword's cheerful, steely voice.
"Holy Mary mother of Thor!" he exclaimed incorrectly, "You… you can talk?"
"Sure I can, Don! But only to people worth talking to, like yourself. You see, you're special, Don. Really, really special. There's no one else in the entire universe like you - you think anyone else would be able to hear a sword talk?"
Ferreiro had to concede it had a point.
"You have a great destiny ahead of you Don. You ever hear the legend of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur?"
"You.. you mean you're…"
"Correct! I'm a sword just like Excalibur was! And I'm all yours, Don. Go on, pick me up - try me out! You'll soon see we were made for each other!"
His mind reeling with the shock of this discovery, Professor Ferreiro reached into the box and wrapped his fingers around the handle. Some part of his subconscious began to scream at him, telling him there was something he was supposed to remember - something important - but it was immediately drowned out by the feeling of raw power coursing through his arm. Although he could barely tell the difference between a bastard sword and a butter knife, he marvelled at the exquisite balance and weight of the katana. He felt strong and capable - confident, even! For the first time in years, he felt there was nothing he could not do. The world was his oyster, and he could crack it open and steal the pearls any time he wanted!
"Whoa, easy on the grip there, Mighty One! I'm the sturdiest blade you ever will see, but that super strength of yours could grind me into dust!"
Ferreiro loosened his grip slightly - of course, how could he not have known that? He was a TITAN!
"Phew, thanks! Okay, boss, try me out - give me a little whirl!"
Ferreiro swung the katana around in a clumsy semi circle, knocking over his stack of paperwork and smashing his mug into little ceramic pieces. Part of him knew he'd only done so by accident, but it felt right - like that had been his intention all along. He smiled, and this time it wasn't a thin, mournful little smile but a full fledged, ear-to-ear grin of triumph!
"OH HELL YEAH, DON! Look at us go! Did you see what we did to that mug? There is NOTHING we can't do! Nothing YOU can't do! All those years of working for other people when they're not even fit to lick the ground you walk on! Well, NOW they'll know who the real master is!"
"Yeah!" Ferreiro cheered, "NOW they'll know"!
"It's Gears, right?"
"Hahaha, oh Don, you're the funniest, most talented man in the universe! No, of course it's not Gears - it's YOU, Don! You should be running this place by now! All those punk kids and worthless labcoats ordering you around, treating you like dirt - it's not on! And did you see how disorganised this place has become without you at the helm? You know the kind of dangerous, extinction-level events this place is supposed to contain, and yet it's run by the kind of people who won't even promote the most intelligent man who ever lived! No, Don, this place is too important not to be yours. I think it's time you promoted yourself, don't you?"
Donald Ferreiro, PhD, Clearance Level 1, Smartest Man Who Ever Lived, did think it was time he promoted himself. He'd never thought he'd really deserved it before, but then he'd never noticed how awesome… how badass he was before! It all made sense now.
His mind was made up.
He was going to take site 19 by force.
Hoisting the blade into what he knew was an extremely effective combat-ready position, he leapt to his feet and strode purposefully towards the door as bits of fluorescent light rained down around him. "YES! THE TIME OF VENGEANCE IS AT HAND!" screamed the blade, "GO ON, DON, KICK THE DOOR DOWN! SHOW THEM YOU MEAN BUSINESS!". His face set in an expression of grim determination, Don raised his leg and slammed the heel of his foot into the lock. There was a satisfying crack as the door completely failed to burst open in an explosion of reinforced metal. A crippling pain shot up his leg and a feeling of nausea overwhelmed him as the source of the cracking sound became apparent.
"Whoa-ho-ho! Look at that, chief! You've managed to shatter the bones of the universe's most powerful man! Only YOU could have done that, Don! Well done! You're so dangerous! I'm glad we're on the same side here! Now come on, let's go share the pain with those ungrateful bastards who employ you!"
Four more door kicks, half an hour's fighting-back-the-pain, and a reluctant barcode scan later, The Right Honourable Professor Donald Ferreiro, PhD, Clearance Level whatever-he-damn-well-chose, Smartest Man Who Ever Lived and God Amongst Men hobbled into the clean, empty hallway outside his office. "SITE NINETEEN", he bellowed weakly, "I AM YOUR NEW MASTER - AND YOU'RE ALL FIRED!"
"That's telling 'em, Don! Now find us some meat!"
Ignoring the pain of his broken foot and howling obscenities at an uncaring world, he rounded the nearest corner and came face to face with his nemesis.
"Ah, Fernando!" Doctor Gordon said, "I was just coming to check on you and see if you'd managed to deliver that… oh my, is that 572 you're holding? You know you're not supposed to - "
"FOOLISH WRETCH!", Ferreiro screamed, eyes wide, veins bulging, "YOU… HAVE… NO… POWER… OVER ME!!"
Gordon ducked as 572's dull blade swung over his scalp, missing him by a good half meter and causing a small dent in the overhead piping. Thrown completely off balance by this failed decapitation, Ferreiro spun awkwardly on his injured heel and collapsed to the floor as once more the pain overwhelmed his senses. Recognising a long-suffering scientist with a flipped switch when he saw one, Doctor Gordon scrambled to a nearby alarm panel and hit the button marked "Containment Breach".
"He's calling for backup, Don, don't let him get away with it! They'll be here any minute - FINISH HIM! Come on! On your feet! Get up! You can do it!"
572's voice continued to shout its encouragement as Ferreiro mustered all his will and pulled himself up onto his feet again.
"Don't be an idiot, man!" shouted Gordon as he backed away down the hall, "This place will be swarming with agents any second now! You can't win!"
"I am winning", snarled Ferreiro as the facility-wide alarm klaxons echoed through the corridor. "I'm the guy with the unstoppable blade!"
True to his predictions, the security team arrived in record time as Gordon fled past them. Six Kevlar-armoured SCP agents, their features hidden by the black visors of their helmets, came to a halt at the end of the corridor and raised their standard issue firearms. Ferreiro knew less about guns than he did about swords, but even he knew that the type of ammo and the range of the weapon meant nothing at such a short distance. For the first time since he'd decided to elevate his position, he began to feel a bit uncertain.
"Don't worry Don - they might have the firearms, but you have me! With my strength and your skill, we can stop every bullet they fire! Now let's show them what you're made of!"
His fears allayed, he swung the blade in a crude figure-of-eight, barely noticing the wet smacking noise his severed thumb made as it hit the tiled flooring. He damn well would show these bastards what he was made of! Unleashing 13 years worth of impotent rage in a single scream, he limped as fast as he could towards the security team, swirling 572 in whichever direction felt best at the time.
The security team, being well trained, released a volley of hot metal. But Ferreiro was ready. Flicking his blade from side to side, as if the bullets were little more than flies to be swatted, he continued his advance. Out of the 18 bullets fired, only two made it to the far wall behind him.
"That was AMAZING, Don!" 572 exclaimed triumphantly, "16 bullets stopped cold! And you didn't even need me at all! You truly are The One, Don! You're the greatest!"
Ferreiro looked down at his bullet-riddled torso, noting with detachment the shattered bone and distended muscle poking through his wounds. Moments later, when it realised what had happened, his body went into shock and he collapsed on the cold hard floor, bleeding profusely in every shade of red. 572 clattered onto the floor beside him, cackling playfully and singing his praises.
As the alarms went silent and the world began to fade from him, Donald Ferreiro, PhD, Security Clearance Terminated, was aware of a friendly voice singing "Wow, look at that blood! The blood of a king, that is! You really did show them what you're made of! You're the greatest, Don! The greatest!"
He was the greatest.