Degenerate Art
  • rating: +53+x

⚠️ content warning

… you will be glad to know, however, that Queen Maven is repulsed by salt, and unable to cross its barrier.

Do be warned, however: Queen Maven is still a child of the Unseelie Queen, and there is a reason we have waited until now to initiate capture. The Fourteen Hundred and Twenty-Third Child will not go quietly, nor will her degenerate followers bear their liberation with patience. Your window for error is minuscule; a single fallen domino will spell disaster for Germany.

May your heart remain pure, Acolyte Salz.


Acolyte Salz looked up from the memo, and out to the violet insectoid that squirmed in its chains, lying in an abandoned courtyard in Outer Lichtenberg. Salz would be the first to admit that no, it did not go quietly, but screaming with every chain locked into its carapace.

That rare smile, typically reserved for when he went by Bastian Schaus, slowly crept onto Salz's face as his men tightened the locks. "Fast work." Salz's clap was, as usual, enough to send some of his greener recruits a meter into the air. He really should have worked on making it softer. "One minute and thirteen seconds is on the faster end of a binding. And on a Queenling?" Of course, Salz's smile soon curled into a hungry grin.

Initiate Kruger finished tightening one of the bonds, before turning to Salz. The salute was a cute gesture, if annoyingly on the nose. "Couldn't have done it without you, boss!" Was Salz's grin too wide, or had the excursion winded the strapping young lad? After everything, he was still shaking.

"Spare me, initiate." That didn't calm Kruger down, not that Salz expected it to. He was trying rather hard not to be the two meter goliath that took center stage; difficult, he knew, but it meant nobody messed with him.

The Queenling continued screaming while Salz's men carried it into the transport vehicle; they always did, and always after the most vital minute had passed. The Ghosts that Talked could scream all they wanted, but the 4th Reich loved her soundproofing.

Salz looked back to the memo, comparing it with the time on his phone. The team had arrived five minutes earlier than expected, completed the summons, capture, and bondage two minutes earlier than expected, and if the Outer Lichtenberg traffic situation was any indication, they'd arrive back at the base with five more minutes to spare yet. That left his crew just enough time to stop for a celebratory coffee, and the rest of the day would pass-


Evidently, someone wasn't happy, though why anyone would bother to stay around an abandoned courtyard was anyone's guess. Sighing, Salz turned to-

Acolyte Salz stood face to face with some dirty… boy? He wasn't particularly sure. Well, they looked human, sure, but the age was a bit of a stickler, especially at one and a half meters and clad in a paint-stained shirt. Nice haircut, although that didn't quite make up for the rest of him.

The boy(?), rather than doing what most (intelligent) children did and taking their leave, took the opportunity to press on further. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?!" Normally the language would've settled the age question, but this was a Bavarian going by the accent. There wasn't much to expect in the way of proper speech.

"Boss?" Specialist Johannes was calling out from transport near the courtyard entrance; either this boy was a stealth expert, or a resident of the abandoned building, because Johannes never missed. "You alright back there? Looks like-"

Salz put a hand up, and Johannes shut up. Bending down to eye level, Salz could see a fierce determination, a will to power, shining behind the boy's fierce gaze. This was not a civilian, no… but then, who? The table had been shaken, and Salz needed to know how the dominoes would fare.

"Boy," Salz's hand moved to the collar of his overcoat, pulling it back just enough to display the symbol tattooed on the side of his neck. "Are you pure of heart?"

For a second, Salz swore he could spot a look of recognition in the boy(?)'s eyes…

… before shifting back to the same fury from before. "… fuck you, asshole, I'm 27 years old! And that's not the point, you stole my fucking muse!"

What a shame, the Fourth Reich could use this woman(?)'s drive. Acolyte Salz stood back to looming over the interloper, but if they were scared, they didn't show it. If only courage was a substitute for literally every advantage Salz had.

"Miss, I think you should-"

"That's Mr. Fats Burg, The Mason, to you pal!" Ironic: the skinny Fats was condescending his superior. "You and your gang are trafficking SWJC Lichtenberg's very own muse, and we do not take janitors in the ass, you hear me?!" Salz almost felt the finger jab to his chest. "You do not fuck with SWJC Lichtenberg, you hear?! We cannot be fucked, we'll fuck anyone that tries fucking-"

Fats winced as Salz grabbed his forearm and squeezed. "I think you should leave, before I do something rash." Salz's words were punctuated by 13 seconds of a stare that had broken larger and more relevant men than Fats.

By the time Salz let go of Fats' arm, it'd already begun the process of desiccation. If Fats knew well enough, he'd take it as a sign that-

Salz blocked a sucker punch from Fats, countering with an uppercut to the sternum. Adjusting for force, mass, and Fats' puny muscles, that left him several meters back, sprawled prone and 100 milliliters short of a full glass of water. Math was fun.

Fats weakly attempted to stand back up as Salz trudged towards the degenerate artist, but that ended when Salz stomped back down on his shoulder blades, leaving him crumpled without so much as a whimper. A sharp kick to the ribs was enough to turn Fats over, splayed like a beached starfish on sand. Indeed, if Fats hadn't just coughed up a cloud of dried blood, Salz might have taken him for dead.

It was funny: kneeling down to face Fats, Salz could still see the fire in his eyes. This man truly believed he could face an acolyte of the Fourth Reich. A shame that the will to power lacked the force behind it.

If Fats said something, it was drowned out by three successive punches to the face, followed by another kick to the ribs and, finally, a stomp to the head.

Dusting himself off, Acolyte Salz stared at the desiccated corpse (or soon to be desiccated corpse. The outcome was the same.), before walking back to the transport. More important business was afoot.

Scratching at the rash on his neck, Bastian Schaus looked at the antique clock on the office walls. 11:51, 9 minutes until his meeting.


There was always something quiet about Tuesday mornings at the museum. The patrons were elderly or freeloaders, neither of whom were looking to bother the curator while he was taking a break. Few might have drunken enough to cause a disturbance. All in all, that let Bastian focus on the work that actually mattered.

Bastian put on the water heater, and idly scratched at the rash on his neck. He'd have a minute to brew, leaving enough time for the tea to cool… perhaps too much. Well, he wasn't in any hurry; perhaps he'd ask them what they wanted. For now, he had his peppermint.

They arrived 12:00, right on time.

One of them was immediately recognizable. Niklas Hopp, the short (relative to people besides Bastian) painter whose still life hung in the main gallery. The other… the other was new. Tall, nervous, a fair bit more tan than his compatriot; if Bastian had to guess, this was a foreigner.

Bastian put on his friendliest smile, and resisted the urge scratch his rash. "Good to see you again."

"Good day." The foreigner's accent was harsh and stilted. "Thank you for bringing me here. Apologies, my German is not good." British, most likely.

Niklas chuckled. "Apologies. My friend is a transplant, you know how these things can go, yes?"

"Right." Right. "So, what's all this about?" Why did his rash have to be acting up now? He was a curator, damn it, not some low-brow laborer. "I trust you've brought your friend here for a reason, no?" Just needed to get through this one meeting, and he could scratch all he wanted.

"Well, my friend here, let's call him The Poet," artists loved their pseudonyms, Bastian supposed. "He's got a new piece. We were wondering if your establishment might be interested in hosting it."

"… hrm. Well, our establishment does not collect poetry," the rash on Bastian's neck was slowly becoming more irritating than the irritated skin it sat upon. "However, I suppose I could find a publication that may be willing to take…" the foreigner's poorly translated garbage, most likely. "… this."

"Oh, no, this isn't quite a poem." Niklas loved squandering his attention on degenerate art, didn't he? "Well, it's a poem, right, but it's on a mural. And well, the words are arranged like a nature path, a branching path that splits and merges as it goes. The text is variable in form, and garnished, is that the right word? It'd be garnished or decorated with scenes of nature. Basically a living nature poem."

Bastian nodded, and errantly scratched at his god DAMN IT.

Much to his dismay, Niklas and the foreigner's eyes went wide. Was it that bad?

"Apologies, gentlemen." Bastian's chuckle didn't sound at all convincing, most especially not to himself. "It's been bothering me for-"

Bastian was interrupted by the foreigner's cough. "We have to go now…1 sorry, one moment." As if in unison, the two stood up and walked out of the office. Bastian smiled, counted to ten, and took a sip of the dried herbs that were once mixed into his tea.

"What do you mean, they took them back?!"

"Look, Mr. Schaus." Alona Fleischer may have been a Jew, but she was a shrewd Jew. How the hell could she let this happen? "Our policy dictates-"

Bastian nearly crushed subway car's plastic grip with his free hand. "Forget the policy, how in the hell have we let these de-these layabouts push our establishment around like this? We own these pieces, they sold them to us, they're ours and not theirs!"

Every eye on Bastian from his fellow passengers was a cruel spotlight, a condemnation for daring to give a damn about his work. What did they know about the art world?

"Mr. Schaus, there's no need to raise your voice, but keep in mind a fair few of our collection was on permanent loan. Don't worry about it, you've been as diligent as you needed to be, if anyone's going to have anyone else's head it's probably gonna be the shareholders on the directors."

"Are you missing the part where half our attractions are gone, all at once, Mrs. Fleischer?" A few grains of salt pattered down onto the floor as Bastian's grip tightened. "Have you spent too long in the books? Our revenue is in tourism, because we are supposed to be interesting. If at any point we're not interesting, we lose the tourists. Do you know what happens when we stop getting tourists, Mrs. Fleischer? We stop. Getting. Money!"

Mrs. Fleischer remained silent.

"Look. Do whatever you can to change their minds. Whatever made half the artists in Lichtenberg pull out must be something we can fix. Is that clear?"

"… right." And Fleischer hung up.

Damn it. Just a day after he offended Niklas and the foreigner, too? What a miserable line of work, dealing with the capricious whims of art. Bastian reached for the thermos in his bag, only to find it empty of anything except decaffeinated coffee ground. Typical.

At least the trains ran on time, thought Bastian as departed. Sure, they were full of dullards that judged him like he wasn't improving the neighborhood, but he'd change that soon enough. Mr. Rass had Queen Maven, and with it the promise of oncoming change. If ever there was something to smile about, it was that.

Against all odds, Bastian found himself smiling again, right up until he came to the doors of the museum and, inexplicably, couldn't open them. Strange, they should've been open, no?

Looking back up, Bastian spotted a sign next to the door.

fuck you you talentless hack give me back my fucking muse

by SWJC Lichtenberg ♡

Bastian smiled, tried counting to ten, and punched a hole through the door on seven.


Acolyte Fels was, as usual, sitting motionless in meditation room, surrounded by a foul-smelling miasma of incense and burnt herbs that fogged the wall-to-wall mirrors of the room. His Snitch and Witness, those wretched surveillance unterdaemons he dragged everywhere, were perched in the far corner as lookout, although neither dared to interrupt Fels for anything short of an emergency. Salz couldn't help but resent them for that.

"Fels, this is urgent."

Still, Acolyte Fels remained motionless. Was this his idea of self-perfection? Sitting in a cloud of burnt plants and dust? All he perfected was burning out his sense of smell. Salz clapped, and again, Fels remained still. Whatever. Maybe his Snitch would have something to say. Trudging over to the corner of the room, Salz-

"Is now really the time, Salz?"

That got him talking. "Really? Am I interrupting something urgent? Something like, say, half the artists in Berlin turning against me in a moment?" Fels hadn't moved from his spot by the time Salz turned around to face him. "We might as well conduct our business outside Outer Lichtenberg if we care this little about information security, no? I'm sure the degenerates at the SCP Foundation would love that."

Fels opened his eyes, still pink from the smoke. "No need to be angry, Salz. You're drying the vapors."

"Am I? You…" Sighing, Salz counted to ten fifteen twenty. "… someone snitched."

Salz hadn't felt the stillness of the room until the awkward silence between the two men, broken only by the faint rustle of leaves that came with a tilt of Fels's head. The two had to have been staring at one another for at least a minute before Fels spoke. "You'd do well to join me. It takes away from the stress of city living."

"I don't like looking at myself in mirrors. And that's not the point."

"Indeed. You want my Snitch, I figure."

"Yes, I do in fact need your Snitch." Why did it always take so long to get to the point?

"Yet," another faint rustle of leaves as Fels stood up. "you recognize that someone snitched. Do you know the snitch?" Acolyte Fels wasn't particularly tall at 165 cm; still, every acolyte had something to make up for height, and Fels was no exception with his… leaves. "If you already know who the snitch is, you don't need a Snitch. How do you know that someone snitched, then?"

Snitch wasn't a word anymore, Salz decided. "Look, I don't know how else half the artists in Berlin suddenly have it out for me. The courtyard was empty, and your Witness was with me to verify or disprove that, but the conclusion is clear: either I missed someone, or one of our own is a snitch. Need I remind you of Blitz?"

"Hey, folks, let's settle down." Why Rass hadn't throttled the Snitches until their voices didn't sound like squeaking rubber was a mystery known only to Rass. "We're all on the same team, right? Race war now, gas the k-"

Fels's Witness gurgled a rough approximation of a cough.

"Right, dogwhistles. Uh… nobody wants to be a mi-"

"For one second, can you stop acting like a two-bit comic relief?" Salz could feel the humidity of the room lowering with every second he listened to this big-mouth'd gremlin.

"Shit! Right, sorry Mr. Salz. Uh…" for some godforsaken reason, Fels's Snitch had to slap the Witness out of… it was hard to judge Witness behavior when their mouths were uniformly sewn shut, but the likelihood that it was any more important than, you know, a snitch was hard to believe. "… three weeks back?"

"Yes, thank you!"

All at once, the Snitch shut its mouth, and the Witness stood straight, eyes flashing with the distant memory of a mission that, by any manner of speaking, should have been successful. But, such was the necessity of a Witness.

Finally, the Snitch snapped out of its trance. "… Fats is the snitch."

"No, wrong answer."

One, two, three…

"Listen, okay, the Witness saw the dude, his name's Fats Burg, and he had the snitch aura, alright?"

Salz's fingernails were cutting into the skin of his palm, creating wounds which quickly salted over. "Fats Burg is not an actual name. It is a poorly constructed pun on the concept of 'fatbergs', an English problem caused by nearsightedness and other such degeneracy, and not a fucking name!"

"Mr. Salz, I can't change true names! The dude was clearly called-"

A sharp cough from Fels silenced the Snitch. "Acolyte Salz, if you will."

…six, seven, eight… "Right." …nine, ten… "I'll take my leave." Salz left the meditation room, closed his eyes, and didn't move until he'd counted to twenty-six.

For the next few weeks, the distinct sound of pebbles striking Bastian Schaus's office windows resulted in six spilled drinks, seventeen desiccated cups of tea, nine desiccated coffees, two cracked mugs, a bent thermos, a mug-shaped dent in the far wall, and a citation for disturbing the peace, delivered to Bastian by an officer with such a perfect neck for wringing. All in all, Bastian had counted to ten seventy-six times, with a floor of two and a ceiling of eighty-six.

Bastian Schaus was eating a dry turkey sandwich at the cafe across the street when he was approached by a bald man with a camera around his neck.

"Hey." Odd way for a stranger to- "you pure of heart?" Ohhhh.

"Pure as the colors of our flag."

"Oh thank fuck." The bald man immediately plopped down on the seat across the table. "You know how long I've been looking? I know what like, three people look like here, and most people look at me like I'm Diogenes."

"Idiotic provocateur?"

The bald man actually smiled at that. "You're the first person I've met that hates the wretched hobo."

Bastian smiled back.


For the first time in a month and a half, things really were going Bastian's way.

He'd met a new face in an environment that could stand to be a little more considerate to his feelings, one in the know of all things! Someone to vent his frustrations with, to discuss the philosophy of his work, to just… to just talk. Even if it wasn't significant in the scheme of things (and in Bastian's experience, it rarely was), it was a sign that the universe was blowing in his direction. Or something. He didn't quite care about the metaphors.

Franz, that was his name, was certainly a colorful fellow, although a fair few of the colors were green; but he'd ripen in time. Was it too early to judge the man? Bastian swore their conversation had left a clear enough impression.

Bastian switched on the water heater, and pulled the canister of apple cider2 tea out of his pack; a gift from Franz, and one he'd been waiting to try since he came back from lunch.

Opening the canister, Bastian took in the sweet aroma for a few seconds, before gingerly placing a bag into the mug of hot water. Looks like he'd have about-

Oh. A note.

In the can.

The sealed can.

The hairs on the back of Bastian's neck stood alert as his trembling fingers fished the crumpled paper out of the canister, spreading it flat against the counter.

fuck you asshole give us back our muse

Franz ♡

Bastian blinked.

"You know," the dumbest grin wormed its way onto Franz's face for a few seconds. "I still can't find the HQ."

"Is that so?"

"Hey, at least regular Lichtenberg's got a consistent floorplan."

"True. I just remember that the Way's a block to the right coming out of work, and two blocks back is my other work."

The water heater beeped an irritating alert at the sudden disappearance of water.

"I have to admit, it is kitschy. The charming sort of kitschy." Mrs. Fleischer put a hand to her chin, flicking a lighter that wasn't there. "But kitschy."

Bastian Schaus looked back to the trashy mural staining the front of his work, silently playing an impromptu game of Where's Walter for the inevitable comment about a "muse" (partially out of the vain hope that someone at least left a signature) and finding naught but obscenities intricately woven with caricatures of Bastian in unflattering situations. Still, making sense of the work was the least he could do for what was now inevitably the star attraction of the museum for the next three months.

Someone tossed a pebble at his head. He'd scream if pebbles were still relevant.

"You know, I'm actually somewhat impressed. This took, what, a single day?"


Acolyte Salz stayed silent.

"Gotta admit," Acolyte Dunst puffed a cloud of lemon-scented vapor between her words. "Surprised they found us. Warded this place to shit. Wouldn't know unless you know. Think we got a snitch?"

Salz was too busy following the the curvature of the mural that festered on the HQ front. How much paint did it take? How much would it have cost, if the degenerate layabouts that vomited it onto the building edifice had actually paid for their materials? Did they genuinely believe they were being clever?

"Rass won't like this. Might even visit. Think this means war?" Another puff of vapor, this one coalescing in the shape of an ax. "Don't think this is the end. Look out for antifa goons."


"… why?"

"Probably some prankster you threw out your office." Mrs. Fleischer punctuated her comment with a sigh. "We already hit local news. You think now's a good time to-"


"-nip this in the bud?"

"… whatever. Have some initiates clean this up."


The Acolyte known as Bastian Schaus didn't know what to expect next.

All he knew was that they were getting bolder.

Bastian Schaus jiggled the door to his office, deftly avoiding the bucket of warm piss, the resulting mess of which was quickly dehydrated and swept into the trash (which Bastian checked for wild animals, as typical3). Next, he swept aside the blue thumbtacks that littered the floor (odd, these days they were typically green).

Checking his water heater, Bastian concluded that that too was filled with warm piss, a conclusion to which he nodded, gingerly picked up the heater, and threw it hard enough to break the photo-realistic pane of wood some degenerate vandal had installed to hide the fact that his window had been broken for a month. Bastian hoped it landed on a degenerate.

An examination of the office clocks revealed that they'd been shifted seven hours and 13 minutes into the past; the joke was on the prankster, however, because whoever did this had reset the clocks to actually run forwards in time again. They were also stupid enough to leave the joy buzzer on the dials exposed, so Bastian supposed he'd be using his phone for now.

With that over with, Bastian looked to his freshly painted desk and glue-soaked office chair. Idiots, the lot of them; with some concentrations, the paint and glue dried quickly enough. Sitting down-

The whoopee cushion on his seat whined a sad and lonely pbfft as Bastian unknowingly allowed himself to be Owned.

And so Bastian Schaus sat in his throne of shame, in his ruined kingdom, waiting for an appointment that would almost certainly turn into a test of his patience.

Might as well have been that the man that came in was a Black with a Jewish star around his neck.

"We're stooping to this, are we?"

"Hey, I ain't workin' with nazis."

"You realize I'm going to kill you the moment we're done talking, do you not?"

"Assuming makes an ass out of you and me." The artist grinned, and how lovely a grin it would be once Bastian knocked his teeth in.

"Yet you assume I am a National Socialist."

"Your words, not mine." In lieu of sitting like a normal person, the artist reclined in the guest chair, resting his feet on the desk. "So, the muse. You release that, plus apologize to Fats, and we're Cool. How's that sound?"

"Did you forget the part where I'm going to kill you the moment we're done talking?"

"No you're not."

"I'll take that as a yes." Bastian reached for a drawer near the bottom of his desk, only to find it glued shut. Such was life, he'd use his hands. "Even if I wanted to bow to your ridiculous demands, you must realize that I am no longer responsible for the foul beast you took for a muse. You must also realize that most of your pranks have grown tiresome. Annoying, yes, but tiresome."

"Yeah, well," taking their feet off the desk, the artist leaned in close enough for Bastian to see the pores he'd be sucking this degenerate's life out of. "Here's the thing: this's been a game to us. Child's play."

A shame the artist had moved his legs; they had been in the perfect position to break. "It does feel like a childish game."

"Yeah, but… well, truth be told, we're kind of tired. And, learning that you're a nazi-"

"Who says I'm a National Socialist?"

"The only people that call nazis that are other nazis." Such a smug, self-satisfied grin. His head would look perfect mounted in Bastian's den. "Still, we're gonna give you an ultimatum: one, an apology."


"Two, our muse back."

"Absolutely not."

"And three, since you've been very rude to me, a freshly baked chocolate baumkuchen."

"Fuck you."

The artist attempted to drop the grin, but the smug satisfaction that sat behind his dull eyes and inside his empty head left just a little bit of a grin. "Well, that leaves the other hand: we're gonna run your organization into the ground."

"You already have."

"The other one, Mister Schaus. If our demands aren't met within fourteen days, then the Berlin art scene will declare war on your little Bismark cosplayer club. Performance artists, sculptors, animators, every man, woman, or whatever, whether they want to be Cool Yet? or not, will be laser focused on fucking you from foundation to chimney. Do you want that, 'Mister Salt'?"

… that was it?

For the first time in quite a while, Bastian smiled. "Then this is a declaration of war."

The first punch, a right hook to the side of the head, was enough to splatter the effigy that once resembled an artist onto the floor, coating the carpet in a thin wax.

If SWJC Lichtenberg wanted to screw the hornet's nest, Bastian had no problems with that. But any organization that sent wax fakes to fight its battles lacked the will to power required for war. In a single swoop, SWJC would go from an annoying motif to a footnote in the history of the Fourth Reich.

What a silly, ill-thought threat. What better pretense for the Reich's authority was there than the cleansing of degenerates in self-defense? How easy it would be to prove themselves a trusted authority in the management of Outer Lichtenberg, the saviors of that decaying, crime-infested hellhole. To crush these degenerates like the insects they were. Oh, yes, Bastian couldn't wait to have the full force of the Fourth Reich falling on these fools.

One week later, Bastian Schaus was enjoying a bratwurst in a small restaurant in Lichtenberg proper during his lunch break.

A message to Rass, a few favors cashed in to Acolyte Zink, and a frank discussion with Acolyte Dunst on the state of their defenses had already been had, and now it was time to relax. His men would summon the appropriate reichdaemons in time, Dunst's dealers would have eyes to Outer Lichtenberg and Lichtenberg proper, and rest assured that when it came time for Acolyte Salz to defend himself, he would do so proudly and violently. Oh so violently.

The waitress to this place, the oddly familiar one he couldn't quite place a name to, came by right as he finished his drink. "You looking for more tea?"

Bastian smiled. "No thank you, just the check. And give my complements to the chef."

Giggling, the waitress took her leave, and left Bastian confident that no matter what those degenerate artists had done to his office, he'd get through the rest of the year just fine.

He might have to take tomorrow off, if he was to assist in preparations. It wasn't like he was needed at his rapidly sinking workplace. Bastian had saved those vacation days for something, so he might as well use them now.

The waitress came back soon enough, grinning from ear to ear. Something interesting in the kitchen?

"Good news!" The waitress's grin only seemed to wax as she slammed Bastian's receipt onto the table. "The chef's very pleased to hear that. In fact, he's coming out to give you seconds!"

Bastian smiled, and looked down at his tab.



Bastian Schaus looked up just in time to get punched in the face by a muscular man in chef's garb.

He wasn't sure if he blacked out because of the cold clock, the subsequent glassing by another accomplice he had mistaken for a fellow patron, the further beating he sustained from every goddamn degenerate in the "restaurant", or the sheer anger he felt when he finally recognized the frustratingly intact face of Fats Burg on his "waitress".

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