Julien (or, How "Eternal Bliss Delight" Earned Xyr Esteemed Title)
rating: +9+x

A knock on the door of SCP-3740's outer containment cell rung throughout the halls outside. Anxiously staring at the silt in the door was Dr. Leyland Fisher, holding his breath for a response. In truth, he shouldn't have left 3740's abode, but there were absolutely critical components of Site-81's maintenance systems that needed prompt fixing, lest containment for everything in there get out of control. It wasn't that he was anxious to go back in; rather, it was the anxiety of having to leave in the first place.

The slit opened, and a pair of eyes peeked through.

"Does the black moon howl?" Dr. Fisher paused.

"No, but it does fuck."

The slit closed, and the door opened, revealing the first layer of the nested cells within.

"You better hurry, Ashur is getting impatient," Dr. Monica Leads quickly stated. She had already moved to enter the next few cells with him, passing by the various cosplaying guards stationed outside each. As they both had learned in dealing with a gullible god, time is of the essence.

"It can't be that bad."

"Eleanora! Delightful of you to fetch Niems. You two, hurry down to the table. It is of the utmost importance!" Ashur's voice boomed throughout the hall, and despite his usual jovial tone, the expression on his face was one of annoyance. An unhappy Ashur was not an Ashur you could reliably deal with.

Hurrying to their seats at the table, Niems could not help but notice that despite the sourness coming off of Ashur, the rest of his companions had already been well underway with enjoying themselves. Whether they had drunk to appease Ashur, drunk to avoid his rage, or drunk to get shitfaced, it was uncertain. What would be certain was the temperamental storm to follow.

"Heyyy, Niems!" Fott had elbowed him as he sat. Annoying to have to be right next to the worst drunk. "What's the big deal, buddy! We've been, hic, waiting for you this whole time! All fucking, fucking…"

"I apologize. I was only gone for a brief instant, it was —"

"Niems!" Ashur had stood from his seat, glaring down at him now. Not a great way for the night to continue. As was custom for Ashur's lectures, he took one of several mugs overflowing with Miller High Life and in one swift motion, chugged the entirety of it down into his endless stomach. Cue rapturous cheering from the inebriated, and polite clapping from Eleanora & himself. Where could all that alcohol go? That was a mystery they still had not been able to determine.

"Yet again, an immaculate display of drinking, Mightiest Ashur."

"Indeed! It is a pity that all of my wonderful companions here are not able to hold their weight nearly as well as I. But understandable, nonetheless, for I, The Worthy and Highly Capable Champion of the Skies, could never be beat in such a remarkable pastime!" He roared out in laughter. Niems nodded, knowing that this was not the case. All it needed to take was an additional half-a-mug. "Now then…"

Ashur slammed the mug down on the table.

"I am able to understand that there must have been remarkable circumstances for a hero such as yourself to need to excuse yourself from my company in such precious bonding hours. Indeed, I did not ask earlier, seeing the terrible look worn on your face. But now that we are all back in good company…" Niems looked over to Eleanora, who had already begun chugging. "I wish to know! What was it that caused you to exit with such great distress? What was that distressing high-pitched cry of terror originating from your self?" All eyes had turned to him. Of course, it was just not viable to tell this god the true nature of his leave. But what was the contingency? In the prior 80 minutes, he could not come up with a single excuse that would possibly satisfy the being questioning him. Sure, Ashur was dumb. But he certainly wasn't stupid.

Ulmar's eyes burned into Niems. Ninurta's head had already found solace on the empty dinner plate before them, threatening to drift off into sweet slumber. Aldous Manhattan seemed more concerned with the extravagance of the steak he was eating rather than the situation on hand. And Solomon and Carmet, drunk as they were, seemed to be the most lucid, and wore an expression closer to worry than anger. Worry was the correct emotion to have here. Site-81 wouldn't be able to keep itself together if Ashur caught onto the jig. He needed to come up with some real good bullshit within the next two seconds and bullshit real hard for the rest of the night.

"As you may remember, Mightiest Ashur, being the Champion of the Wastes, I am not merely an extension of my heroic deeds at the Siege of the 19 Blasphemies. I am honor-bound to maintain the very nature of removing filth and dangers itself from across the land, particularly any that would dare threaten the sanctity of the Angolian Château." Ashur sat down while nodding. So far, so good. "It is not a task I devote myself to while in your company, for merriment with you is indeed much more pleasurable than having to devote every moment of my being to my task."

"After all, even the best of warriors must have their rest."

"I'm glad you're able to agree." One hurdle down. One more to go. "But of course, there are times where even in good company, my duty simply cannot be ignored, for fear of imminent threat to us all, including yourself. After all, no matter how powerful you may be, being caught off-guard can spell the end." Ashur took a bite into his steak, continuing to stare at Niems intently. This would be his moment.

He reached down into his pocket, and like a magician with one more trick in his arsenal for the audience, pulled out his pager. Everyone else went wide-eyed. Ashur seemed beyond amused.

"Ah! Now then, what is this my dear Niems? It appears rather similar to the cellular devices we had encountered before returning here, but such devices don't exist in this time!" You could cut through the tension with Ashur's jokes. There was one more lie to pitch, but it could only work if you dressed it up in half-truths.

"This is a 'pager', Mightiest Ashur. It is true that they do not exist in our time. But don't forget, even Suen was able to find his way back from the future, was he not? And with the possibility of even great heroes and gods returning, so too does the technology of the future. This pager alerts me to specific wastes and obstacles I must attend to in order to maintain the integrity of the Château in a timely manner. It just had been that, through sheer unfortunate coincidence, it occurred during the start of our feast."

For a short moment, no one had spoken. Everyone had been astounded by his explanation, but it was no good of an explanation if Ashur wasn't immediately convinced. All eyes turned to him. His expression shifted from one of interest to one of understanding to one of delight.

"Hah! Delightful! Everyone, take note of our proud Champion's duties! See the lengths through which he will commit to security! The ability to use bizarre mechanisms from centuries in the future in our times… delightful!" Ashur used the power of the wind to bring everyone another glass of beer, raising his own refilled mug in triumph. His face was beaming with delight. "To Niems, the Champion of the Wastes!" Everyone felt a weight fall from their shoulders. They lifted their glasses. Niems loosened up. The last hurdle had passed.

"To Niems!"

Then his pager went off.

Then several more.

Then the alarm bells blared out. Ashur stopped mid-chug, looking up at where the sound would come from, despite no lights being present in the chamber. Silence filled the room again, dread taking over rather than curiosity. Even the Chaldeans situated throughout seemed concerned. Ulmar was the first to speak, and he had mumbled under his breath in a slurred manner.

"Ohhh fuck."

Julien Rattner was buried under the mass of paperwork delegated to xem. There was a clear hierarchy at play here. There was Director Jean Aktus, who of course can't attend to every document coming across his desk. So perhaps some gets sent to the Assistant Director Hollister Cox to take care of. A few of those documents might need help with being resolved as well, not to mention the other work Hollister can't handle. So that gets split up among other personnel to help out with, such as the Assistant Director of Containment Emmitt Ivers. Emmitt has his own work to handle too, so his assistants get some delegation. Those assistants delegate too. And at the inevitable bottom of this chain is Julien, the poor researcher who would rather work on copy-editing than dealing with bureaucracy's self-inflicted mess.

"Kill me."

Requests for Object Class reclassification. Personnel transfer requests. Updates to physical documentation. Interview transcripts. Templates upon templates. Why wasn't someone in a more superior position handling any of this? Less than two months of working at the Foundation, and this was the grunt work expected of xem. Anything but this. Was it because they kept to xemself, rather than talk to others? Xe had learned as a teenager that it was better to keep your mouth shut unless needed, but this could have disastrous effects at various points of life. Such as when you're staring down the barrel of reams of paper.

"I need to get coffee."

Anything to help jog xyr mind and resist the urge of slumber amidst a pile of papers. The work would still be there when xe gets back, there was no rush after all. Better to be introspective while out and about than while doing nothing.

Slipping out from the room, xe began to make xyr way from the main offices down the various wings. The coffee machine by xyr room was… acceptable. But the caffeine lacked the punch xe needed, and quite frankly, no one seemed bothered to clean out the machine as frequently as it should have. Though some distance away, Wing C had perhaps the best brewed coffee xe ever tasted in xyr life. It made sleep feel like a distant memory.

"Maybe I should steal it… I could be a barista in a shady dive bar instead. Put all those mixing lessons to good use."

Of course, the halls were still somewhat unfamiliar to xem. Sure, xe had gone down this path a few times before. But it could never stick, the twisting natures of a Foundation site making itself evident the deeper you go. For all the good it did in preventing containment breaches (not one had occurred since starting employment there), it was surely effective in confusing the hell out of anyone trying to navigate deeper into the Site. But it would be worth it for some damn coffee.

That thought soon subsided as xe made xyr way deeper into the site. Hey, wasn't the C Wing supposed to be here? At some point, xe must have taken the wrong set of stairs, because the navigation started to get more labyrinthine, the doors becoming oddly-spaced apart… The unfortunate nature of what happened came when xe had realized, deep inside the Site, xe was in front of a plaque that plainly stated 'I Wing'.

"Goddammit. How am I going to get back now…"

This was, of course, further in than xe had expected. It wasn't like no one could enter the Keter-Class containment wing without permission. Plenty of employees had to come and go through it, regardless of whether they worked in there. But it would be a matter of time before someone asked what xyr deal was, so xe had to find xyr way back. Perhaps speaking to a supervisor would help. Nothing wrong with that.

Doubling back, Julien attempted to retrace xyr steps. It took no more than two minutes, however, before xe found xyrself standing in front of a young boy holding a baseball bat. It was striking; this boy could have passed as the spitting image of xem as a kid. The confused but scared look on his face. The intensity with which he clutched the bat. A big empty space to inhabit, all by himself.

The two looked at each other. Pause. Pause. Pause.

"Can I, um… can I help you with something?"

"My friends! I demand an explanation! What manner of an accursed noise is this? These howls do not match any beast I know of! What has happened to the Château?"

Niems immediately got up from his seat, rapidly approaching the door before a gust of wind knocked him to the floor. His lungs needed time to catch up with the expulsion of air. In the moment, he had forgotten just how much force 3740's ability could generate.

"Mightiest Ashur —"

"Eleanora! Yes, please tell me what is happening. Niems seems to be in a great hurry, but I staunchly refuse this feast to end unless I'm made aware of what the problem seems to be. What sort of foolishness is occurring?" It was Elanora's time to bullshit now.

"The Angolian Château seems to be under attack. By what force or forces, we do not know. It is best that you let your fellow gods and heroes —"

"That will not do!" Everyone looked up at him, minus Niems who was still recovering. "I appreciate the confidence you all display in yourselves to handle the situation alone and keep me out of harm's way. But that simply will not do. Of course, you are more than aware of what I am capable of. I wish to handle the threat myself."

"B-but Most Vic… lenged Lord Dee-fic Ashur…" Fott got up, holding himself on the table. Despite how drunk he was, he still was able to keep his head together. "T-There would a great… great damage to the place if we do not assist —"

"You say this as you struggle to talk! Fott, I understand that you live up to your title of The Vicious. But please, you barely can hold your composure right now! Let me —"

"But…" Ulmar spoke up. He had seemed to sober up rather quickly for the situation, or at least was able to not give off the appearance of being wasted. "Would you… say then that, well, we are undeserving of accompanying and assisting you? Do not forget, Mightiest Ashur, we are your companions in more than just merriment, but in arms as well." Ashur paused to consider as Niems picked himself up the floor, able to breathe and speak properly again.

"If I may, Mightiest Ashur…" All attention to him again. "What you are about to see outside the Château will be quite shocking to you. When you entered the passageway back in time, it did not just take you, but much of the architecture of the time you had been located in." Panic started to seep into everyone as Niems continued on. Despite the occasional shortness of breath, he did not even do so much as flinch. The lie had to go on. 'Champion of the Wastes', indeed.

"As I said earlier, my pager allows me to deal with dangers and trash outside of here… but I could not do it without several colleagues I have encountered as well. You may remember Maltheus, the Horror of Hadrian’s Hell. Bliss Delight. Nisaba, Whose Locks Remain Exorbitantly Colored. They are all part of the same pantheon. But more than that, this pantheon is larger than you have previously remembered." Ashur pondered this.

"How large, Niems?"

"Such an assortment of heroes comes from all ages. Not just our own, but those of the future, those of the past. They have been working in tandem to keep the Château safe all specifically for you. And within this mingling of brave warriors, all work together to bound beings whose powers descend from various gods in confinement, such that your security is assured. So…" Niems gestured to the door. "Let us join you in confronting this danger. Together." Ashur grinned.

"Of course! You have convinced me! Come, let us go. But I would advise all to keep behind me, for your safety is of the utmost importance to me as well!" With this, Ashur used the power of the wind to carry the drunkest with him, as the rest lagged behind. Niems and Eleanora had fell behind considerably, the latter giving off a worried look.

"I didn't realize you had it in you, Fisher. This is really serious."

"I know. It'll be fine, Leads. My maintenance from earlier should hopefully help to some degree. Tell Dr. McElroy that we'll have a purposeful containment breach on our hands."

Dr. G. McElroy sighed into his hands, allowing himself one last moment of peace for the day. He brushed the video game figurine on the desk to the side, picking up the phone.

"Director Aktus? Yeah, McElroy. You heard? Alright then, I'll get right to it. You'll want 3740's team to handle this one alone."

Julien frantically ran. Xe ran, and ran, and ran, and ran until xyr heart threatened to explode, before running some more. Xe had no idea where xe was running, but anywhere had to have been better than with the kid.

The first indication something was wrong was when the boy screamed, taking out a rubber ball with a pipe cleaner around it. The second indication was the massive hole in the wall behind xem as a result of the boy throwing the ball at it. Instinct kicked in, along with every lesson absorbed through countless orientations. There was nothing more sensible to do but run.

"The fuck man, the fuck! The fuck is this… holy shit. Is the kid anomalous? His toys? Shit…"

At some point, xe found xyrself collapsed on the floor, out of breath. Every second spent on the floor was a second not getting to safety. Or a second not finding colleagues to warn about.

"F… fuck…"

No thoughts could enter xyr mind, an empty head while watching the floor spin under them. What a depressing sight to make your acquaintance with. Before xe realized it, someone had picked xem up, dragging xem through the halls. Whether xe had spent seconds or minutes was unclear. It was only then xe realized alarms were blaring.


"I don't think I've seen you in this Wing before. Just started working here?" Xe nodded. No energy to look up. "Leonard Collins. I'm a researcher here, I help out on a number of Keter projects. It's honestly scary at times dealing with shit like —"

Julien grabbed his shoulder tight, still leaning on him for support. He nodded, stopping one line of conversation and continuing to walk down the hall with the next.

"It's nice, though. Surprisingly, even the scariest shit here rarely seems to breach containment. Probably one of the best Sites to work at, if that's an issue for you. Today's an unusual day in that sense." Leonard carried Julien into some room xe didn't recognize and laid xem down on a bed. Perhaps an unused containment cell, or a makeshift office. Who could say.

There wasn't much time to rest. True, xe was real shaken by xyr first direct encounter with the anomalous. True, xyr lungs were acclimating to taking in air normally now. But didn't something have to be done? Leonard must not have known what it was yet; otherwise he'd have told xem. Julien saw the anomaly for xyrself. Even if the anomalous is what the Foundation had to contain, a child is still a child. If xe didn't hear hordes of boots down the hall, didn't that mean there was time to intervene before things went from bad to worse? Obviously, the kid wanted to escape, but he didn't target Julien; didn't that mean there was room for negotiations? He looked frightened. Couldn't the two of them just…

The ugly blaring didn't help the thinking process. A nasty headache threatened to take hold. Julien pushed through it. There was an option.


It wasn't a safe one.


"I'm gonna… fuck, this headache." Julien looked up at Leonard. "I'm gonna need documentation right now on the anomaly I just encountered."

"Wait, you saw —"

"It was a little boy. He had some toy bomb and a baseball bat." Leonard's eyes grew, and he nodded his head.

"Right… no, you're surely not authorized."

"The fuck you mean I'm not authorized? I need to know what we're dealing with! Gah." Julien clutched xyr head, the pain throbbing from the alarms. "Can't they turn the volume on these down?"

"No, they can't. I get what you're saying, but I could get in trouble for just giving you clearance on it. You could get in trouble."

Julien got up to walk over to the terminal in the room, turning it on after some mild effort and sitting in front of it. Xe looked back at Leonard, staring intently.

"I swear I'm never gonna get used to this place… Look, he's —"


"He's just a kid. A dangerous one. But children are still children. There's a way to get children to listen to you and understand… you just can't be horrible about it." Julien tapped on the terminal. "So please, my friend, I kindly request you input your credentials here so I can fucking read about this kid. I have an idea."

Leonard sighed, quickly moving to the terminal to unlock it for xem.

"Do you know what you're doing?"

"No." Leonard paused. "But it has to be better than whatever other plan this place has to recontain him."

It was either convenient or clairvoyant on the part of 3740's containment team that his cell was located near the entrance to Wing I. It had made access to and from the cell convenient in need of immediate access for his feasts. Once the team stepped outside of the matryoshka cells, the other benefit soon became immediately clear to all but 3740: in the event of a containment breach in the Keter wing, he would be able to rapidly see what went wrong.

The damage, surprisingly, was fairly minimal. Seemingly no loss of life. Fairly minimal damage, if any, to other containment cells or entrances leading to cells. With how wide the halls they had exited into were, grouping up together wasn't an inherently bad idea. Finally, despite how empty the wing was, there seemed to be no real threat.

Just 3740, his containment team, and a small child with a baseball bat.

"Oh shit," Researcher Hans Oppenheimer exclaimed under his breath, "3293."

"T-That might be 2398 with it too…" Despite Researcher Analee Marshall getting to grips with being half-awake & half-drunk, the others there could recognize the bat as well. The scope of the situation was obvious now. An emotional, confused, lost young inventor with the deadliest baseball bat in the world was squared off against the most gullible god in existence and his useless companions.

"Why, Ninurta, do you recognize our foe?" Unfortunately for Marshall, Ashur had managed to overhear them.

"U-Uh, yes, M-Mightiest Ashur!" Ninurta exclaimed, trying not to immediately puke their guts up from the sudden need to be present and able to use their mind. "It's… a mighty foe several of us have encountered time & time again, one that even skilled… skilled heroes have trouble with. The Valiant Cooper Wells, as some have called him." Niems shot them a side-eye, which Ashur did not pick up on.

"H-Hey Mr. Guys…"

"Ah, splendid job Ninurta! I see what we are up against now. Don't you all believe this would make a fine display of my abilities? It has been a number of cycles since —" Carmet tapped Ashur's shoulder, who looked at her quizzically.

"L-Listen, Mightiest Ashur, should we not try to negotiate with, er, The Valiant Cooper Wells first? Perhaps an amicable end can be arranged."

"Mr. Guys…?"

"Hmm. That is a fair assessment. Very well then! Solomon, if you may?"

"Me? Well…" Solomon looked towards Cooper, who had seemed both rightfully confused and frightened. "Of course, Ashur, God of the Windswept Plains and Soaring Skies. Though, if I may, I must use an alias with The Valiant Cooper Wells and speak with him as differently as I do with you."

"Of course. Now then!" With that, Ashur pushed Solomon forward with a gust of wind, and Cooper stepped back nervously in surprise. A delicate balance had to be struck here, especially with such a dangerous weapon and an unknown number of inventions at his disposal. Solomon eased up, trying to naturally look friendly and not as intimidating as Cooper's perception told him.

"Hey there, little guy. Is everything okay?" Cooper froze like a deer in headlights. "My name is Zheng Li. I also work here. My friends have told me about your awesome things you've been making. They're really sweet." Zheng carefully stepped forward, trying not to agitate 3293 any more than he already was. Everyone had been watching nervously; even 3740 could tell that this was not the usual demeanor he had come to expect from his fellow compatriots.


"Yeah, buddy?"

"I… I wanna see mommy and daddy again…" Zheng gave a small smile. He had to try not to break the boy's heart as well. "Can you let me see them?"

"We can do our best." Zheng continued to move towards 3293, still anxious, now gradually inching back from the others. "What kind of toys do you have there? Is it okay to see them, buddy?" 3293 shook his head. "That's fine, of course. We're still trying to work something out."

Zheng relaxed further, moving slightly quicker towards 3293. His feet were firmly planted on the ground now. As Zheng was only able to focus on trying to put 3293 at ease in that moment, he had failed to notice the stance.

"Please let me go home, mister…"

"We will soon. For now, we need to get you back to your room and —"

"Zheng!" Sterling Zimmerman cried out, voice still hoarse from drinking, but Zheng was not able to react in time to the bat being swung down to him.

Ashur used a gust of wind to knock Zheng into the wall next to him, barely avoiding the swing of the bat.

"Hhh -" Zheng writhed in pain on the floor. With such form that could have knocked a home run, Cooper panted, clutching onto the bat even tighter than before. He looked real frightened now. It was painfully clear that the situation had gone from bad to worse. Of course, such calamity prompted Ashur to grin.

"A worthy foe! Catching your opponent out by surprise… a marvelous display of combat. Now then, Valiant Cooper Wells…" Ashur lifted himself up in the air, the wind forming in the hall around everyone. Cooper started backing up.

"Mightiest Ashur…"

"Let us see what you are capable of!" With this, Ashur propelled himself down the hall at Cooper, clearly panicking. There seemed to be one inevitable end to the situation, and everyone had now steeled themselves for the imminent trainwreck on display.

Ashur launched himself into the air halfway through closing the distance, using the wind to propel him the rest of the way. The god of air was clearly reveling in using his powers, as if he hadn't stretched his legs in eons. With this, he would prompt Cooper into acting, before using a feint retreat to then knock the boy out.

Ashur landed directly in front of Cooper, very slightly miscalculating the distance needed to approach.

Cooper swung the bat with full force into Ashur's chest, making contact in an instant.

Everyone had paused. Despite the clear sound of contact being made, no explosion seemed to have happened. The bat had not broken. From behind Ashur, the group couldn't figure out what was happening with the two of them. They were frozen, seemingly looking at each other. But nothing had come of it yet.

After a few beats, Ashur turned around, a massive grin on his face. The front of his shirt had torn open, revealing a huge gash that had started to bleed. As if he was merely tickled by the blow, he stretched out his arms to the group.

"A… are you not entert… ained…!?" he choked out confidently before collapsing onto the floor. Cooper's eyes went as wide as they could, starting to hyperventilate.

With the body count increasing to two, the situation went from worse to dire.

In orientation, you're told to expect the unexpected. To never be caught off-guard no matter how fantastical the situation is. Even at the worst of times, one must keep a level head and navigate a tight situation with caution. Letting your defenses down because you're surprised can be the difference between success and death. Sure, the presenters tell you all this, but then, how often do they find themselves in what could only appear to be Looney Tunes nonsense?

A crater in the wall. One Foundation employee clutching his body in pain. One handsome fellow breathing heavily as he massively bleeds out on the floor, acting as if his wound wasn't fatal. Several other Foundation employees staring down the hall.

At the other end of it was the boy.

Leonard was panicking, but Julien paid him no mind. Xe knew there wasn't going to be much time left to act. Everything in xyr body told them to run. It would still be fine. Foundation superiors could handle this; xe didn't have the paygrade to try and deal with incredible situations like these. Bureaucracy was still an option.

Julien remembered being a kid. There's only so much shit you can handle from the world before you lash out. It's all too easy to see lashing out as hostile. The easiest way to deal with the problem isn't to acknowledge it; it's to simply ignore it. Refuse to engage with it. So the natural response to being ignored, abandoned, is to lash out more. At some point, something will give. Them, or you. And if you're the child in that situation? It sure won't be the adults that will give.

There wasn't another choice. Xe was under no illusions that xyr answer would fix anything. There was no guarantee that the situation wouldn't become worse because of xem. But as far as xe is able to see, the alternatives are worse. At best, this pattern would just play out again and again until something ended up giving. At worst…

"H-Hey, kid! Remember me? From earlier?" Leonard stopped mumbling to himself. The group had turned to look at xem. The two bodies on the floor, as best as they could, turned their attention to xem. Cooper turned to xem, panicked breathing continuing. Julien had to move towards the child now. Leonard reached out an arm to try and grab xem, perhaps he said something, but xe brushed him off. Xe had been set on it. No one can double back across the Rubicon, after all.

"I-I-I-It's you, t-the mister from earlier, d-don't —" Cooper stammered.

"Hey, who are you? Unauthorized personnel —" Leyland had spoken up, but Julien mentally drowned him out. No use concerning xyrself with white noise. Undivided attention had to be given to the scared child. No one else was allowed to exist in this moment.

Julien slowed xyr pace, softening up, but still calmly approaching him. Xe didn't need to be careful, though. Kids were sensitive to an adult's concealed emotions. There was going to be no bullshitting going on now. Julien slowed down further, before completely stopping to crouch down in front of him.

"Hey, it's fine Cooper. It's fine. You can do whatever you want to do, but can you hear me out?" Cooper backed up a step, his expression taking on a slightly more confused one now. The breathing was gradually shifting to be less panicked now.


"Julien Rattner. You can call me Julien, okay? I know I look like a scary man in my clothes, and I know the situation is scary, but it's alright. Let's stay here and talk to each other for a bit, okay? We can talk this out, right?" Xe smiled. "I know it's frightening, but you can tell me what's going on. I'll help you out, okay?" Cooper's grip on the bat slightly loosened.

"H-How can I trust you, Mr. Julien… This place… I…" Xe nodded, listening intently. "It's scary… mommy and daddy… I just…" Tears had started to well up in his eyes.

"You want to go home, right?" Cooper sniffled. "I understand. This is a frightening place. I don't blame you for wanting to leave." Xe paused, trying to see if Cooper had hidden any more items on him. It didn't look like it. All that had been left was the bat. "I know you want to hold it to make you feel safe, but is it okay if you put the bat down? I want to feel safe too."

Cooper hesitated, but his hands were slowly loosening up. The tension continued to hang, and all Julien could hope for was that he didn't decide to turn xem into human confetti. Bit by bit, however, the bat slid down his hands. The grip had loosened nearly entirely, before the bat fell out of his hands altogether.

"Do you want a hug, kid?" Julien stretched out xyr arms, and almost without thinking, Cooper drifted into them and had rest his head against xyr body.

The two had stayed in silence for a minute as Julien rocked him back and forth. He didn't cry, but xe could tell there was emotion screaming inside him. What the kid really needed was to rest, but that didn't seem likely any time soon. So all xe could offer him was xyr arms, and a place to retreat into for just a fleeting moment.

"Um, I haven't worked here that long. So, I don't actually know much. What you can do. What you've been through. What's happened. But I understand how you feel when you're scared. When you're lost. When you're alone. Everybody feels that way sometimes, Cooper. But some of us feel it more than others."

A pause. Julien could have sworn xe felt the rumble of shoes towards them, so xe held up xyr index finger. Beat, beat, beat. Xe brought xyr arm back down to hold Cooper again.

"I don't think this place will let you go back home whenever you want." Julien could feel him stiffen a little. "But I don't think they'll let you feel alone again. You really let them know how much you want to see your parents again. They can't ignore you now. It's not good to lash out all the time. But I think you earned it this time." Cooper buried his head deeper into xyr body.


"I don't know what's going to happen. But everyone knows you didn't mean to hurt anyone. The man you hit is going to be fine. He won't hate you for it. You should be fine. I'll stick with you as much as I can from now on, okay? I'm not your family. I can't be. But I can help you feel less alone in this scary place. It's scary for me too."

Julien had to wonder how much of a sick joke this was. Why burden some kid with godly powers when he can't understand how to use them? In a world with an organization like this? It felt wrong. But surely it had to be fine now. Xe was sure xe would never hear the end of it. Only morons or bad actors could find themselves eight wings deep into a problem. But it would be fine. The kid needed the reassurance the most. Xe wasn't sure if anything xe said would actually come true. But xe would believe it did.



"Am I in trouble?"

"I'll be here to make sure you won't be." Cooper nodded. "Whenever you feel ready to go, just let me know, okay?"

For a couple minutes, the two sat on the floor together, in each other's comfort. Cooper's breathing started to normalize, and Julien felt the burden of fear and failure lift from xyr shoulders. Oh, how it felt to find solace in mutual understanding. No matter how worrisome the situation could get, there was always someone to take comfort in.

Cooper eventually looked up, tears starting to form for the first time that day, nodding. Relief flooded Julien's body, and xe extended xyr arm in the air, giving a thumbs up as xe nervously shook.

After-Incident Report 3293/2398/3740

[…]Researcher Zheng Li thereafter made a rapid recovery, with only moderate bruising from the force in which he was slammed against the wall Wing I, Hall 2.

SCP-2398 has been returned to containment, and revised procedures for greater security are currently pending.

Despite medical staff reaching the scene shortly after the incident had concluded, SCP-3740 steadfastly refused medical attention, stating, "Such minor wounds are of no consequence to myself". Over the course of the next 200 minutes, the gash in his chest seemed to rapidly heal, before closing out entirely, appearing as if he was never injured in the first place. Blood tests revealed nothing unusual either, and he thanked "the priestesses of Gula" for attending to him despite it not being necessary.

Under explicit approval from Director Jean Aktus, the Ethics Committee, and SCP-3293's containment team, 3293 spent the remainder of the night with Julien Rattner in Peter Klingerman's office. While Julien readily admitted to accessing Wing I without prior approval, xe had claimed it was a mistake, not intending to put off xyr work nor access projects above xyr clearance level. Of course, after speaking with everyone involved in the incident, I am readily inclined to believe xem. Even if it was in any way intentional, well, it happened to be a case of right place at the right time. Who knows how much worse the breach could have gotten? It's worrying that xe promised 3293 something that can't be guaranteed, but given the circumstances, I can't really blame xem. The Ethics Committee will need to look into seeing what can be done concerning his parents now that the promise was made.

Interestingly, SCP-3740 has repeatedly expressed interest in inviting both SCP-3293 and Julien Rattner to his various feasts. His containment team had told us that they had supplied the nickname of The Valiant Cooper Wells to 3740 in order to maintain the Mount Olympus Protocol, as well as various other fabrications of what 3740 had seen outside of his cells to persist in the illusion. 3740 subsequently believes that both 3293 and Julien are fellow heroes due to their various actions in the breach. It's honestly a miracle that he is as dumb as he is, and that containment continues to be little issue by his team. Modifications to both his cells as well as the area outside of it in order to mitigate situations of this nature in the future are underway, though you can't hide what's already known. We're not going to try amnesticizing a god.

Given that SCP-3293 is a literal child, inviting him to a banquet full of drinking, adult jokes, and a containment situation well outside of his understanding is certainly problematic. But SCP-3740 continues to insist, and Julien had suggested that it might help alleviate 3293's anxiety. With consultation from all involved parties, I'm going to temporarily approve of these visits. Grape juice is to be provided explicitly for 3293 during these feasts, 3293's mood levels are to be monitored, and Julien is to be carefully monitored. Although, to be honest, perhaps we should get xem on 3740 and 3293's team by this point as well.

Dr. G. McElroy, Site-81 Containment Research Head

All eleven mugs clinked together in victory.

"Hear, hear!" the crowd, minus the nervous Cooper shouted.

"Now then, shall I begin?" Everyone had nodded. Ashur cleared his throat. "Tonight is a very special banquet. For you see, we now have two additional champions to welcome into the pantheon of heroes! This is a moment worthy to be etched onto the history of the Angolian Château! Our —"

Ashur paused to glare at a Chaldean who accidentally made eye contact with him, before quickly brushing it aside and grinning again. "Our two companions here, the Valiant Cooper Wells and a 'Julien Rattner', have proven themselves quite handily!"

Julien shifted, clearly put off by the attention that this handsome man (sorry, god) had been giving xem. Moreover, xe couldn't even get drunk for the occasion, as xe had to be mindful of Cooper sitting in xyr lap, so all xe could indulge in was grape juice. At least it had tasted good.

"In a manner of intense combat, the Valiant Cooper Wells showed resolve and determination to surprise his enemy and immediately counterstrike, thinking quite deftly for a young warrior!" Niems had to suppress a snort. It was Ashur's own fault that he had half his chest blown off, after all. "I have seen many a god bravely lead his troops into combat, but none who would even dream of taking such initiative as our young Valiant Cooper Wells. Now, do you have any comments you wish to give for us, the esteemed Valiant Cooper Wells?" Julien rolled xyr eyes.

"W-Well… I, um… I don't know what you're saying Mr. Man, but —"

"Ah, you may call me… wait, you didn't catch onto a single word? Er, hmm. Then simply 'Mr. Amazing Ashur' will be sufficient."

"Mister… Mr. Amazing Ashur. Um, sorry I hit you. I didn't mean to make you hurt like that. But if you wanna play more…"

"There you go, kid. Good job." Julien reassured him.

Ashur roared out with laughter, catching everyone off-guard. Even among the top scientists in the world, a god can still perplex.

"It was nothing so serious! For your bravery in the field of combat, I present to you the title of 'Pap-nigin-gara, the Most Valiant of Arms'! For though you are clearly too young to have been a direct incarnation of him, it is his spirit you carry in all manners!" Ashur slammed down his mug of Miller High Life, prompting a number of others to do the same.

"Pap… Papy…"

"You don't need to worry about it, kid."

"Excuse me, Mightiest Ashur," Niems spoke up, having only taken a sip. "I understand the level of respect you have for him, but can't even you see that he may be too young for these, um… festitivites?"

"Haha! Absurd, Niems! A champion is a champion, no matter the age, gender, or method! Perhaps you should learn to be more open-minded." Niems could feel his eye twitching. "Now then…"

Ashur's attention turned to Julien, who was trying to look practically anywhere else but into his eyes.

"It may not have been strictly necessary for you to intervene, but nonetheless, you put yourself at great risk to do so despite not knowing the true danger awaiting you. As far as I am able to tell, unlike the others stationed here, you yourself do not display any heroic feats or godly abilities like the rest of us." Thank fuck for that. "But…"


"Your bravery, spirit, and passion for the young Pap-nigin-gara exceeds even a deity's greatest resolve. Putting yourself above all else for those you did not know, including Pap-nigin-gara himself, shows a committment and brightness that few in any realm possess. Therefore…"

Ashur lifted Julien up in the air, Pap-nigin-gara dropping onto the seat off of xyr lap.

"H-Hey, what the hell is this?"

"I bestow upon you a title worthy of precious few except those of the greatest in our universe." Julien blinked. "Now, and forever, you shall be known as…"

Ashur pounded down a second mug in seconds flat, slamming it on the table with passion.

"Julitta, Eternal Bliss Delight! Let us feast, my companions!"

Raptrous cheering commenced, and the pantheon celebrated with boundless energy.

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