rating: +17+x

I'll bet all of us end up facing a review panel. And for what? Whatever this goddamned thing is that's made us come out here. The more Bert thought about it, the more he hated it all.

To: Site-38 General Alert <8 contacts>
CC: Capt. Reilly <mtfc.rho.36>
From: Site-38 Security Dept. <monitoring.station.s38>
Subject: Containment Breach

At 23:48 this evening Site-38's containment facilities were found to have been compromised. MTF Rho-36 ("Breacher's Pets") is being dispatched to ensure recontainment of SCP-████, which remains unaccounted for. On-site security forces have tracked direction of travel from site, and determined viable habitat in that area. See attached files for further details.

Bert Nash checked his watch, looked at the clock in the dashboard of the truck, then back to his watch. It felt like he'd been waiting forever but it was only 02:10, barely an hour since the MTF had arrived on scene. He usually didn't mind the waiting game. But tonight, for some reason, he just wanted things to get going. And last he'd seen the rest of the guys, they seemed even more restless.

Someone on Site-38's security staff had made an error: adding the responding MTF to the recipients of the Site-wide general alert, rather than sending a seperate message with the uncensored files attached. The initial briefing was more blackbox than text; what little information that wasn't redacted was essentially useless. But protocol dictated their immediate response. Right now Captain Reilly, the MTF's commanding officer, would be tearing a strip off the Site staff and getting the declassified information needed to tackle the mission without fumbling blindly in the dark. In the meantime swift action was called for, and Bert's squad had been deployed first.

A perimeter was established, and they were awaiting the arrival of Squads -2 and -3 before moving inward. Nash sat alone in the vehicle, parked near the beginning of the unpaved road that wound its way uphill into the forest. Sergeant Braun, the Squad Leader, had stayed with the fireteams at the staging area, while Nash drove back to "cover" the only viable access route. This is dumb, Nash thought to himself. The nearest civilian presence is just a small town miles down the highway, and the backup isn't going to need directions to find the guys at the first junction in. But there he was, alone on radio control duty.

While Bert was beginning to feel a bit restless, Sgt. Braun was already well beyond that point. The radio in the truck crackled to life as the squad leader hailed him. Nash took the mic from the dash and answered.

"Is the rest of the force on-scene?" the sergeant barked impatiently.

"Negative, sir. No sign of them yet," Bert replied. And asking me every two minutes isn't going to hurry them up any.

"We're forming up to move in. If they aren't here in ten, we're going without them."

That doesn't sound good. "I'm sure they're en route, sir. I don't think we should act before they arrive…" Braun didn't respond to that, but Nash figured he couldn't have steered him off the idea anyway.

For the next ten minutes Nash sat in hope of the remaining force's arrival, to no avail. At 02:21, each of the fireteams sounded off for final comms checks before embarking. Despite his aversion to this course of action, Bert dutifully confirmed that everyone was reading loud and clear. This was how things would go down, and he wasn't in a position to stop it.

Feeling antsy had grown to feeling anxious for Nash. Instead of looking forward to headlights bouncing up the dirt road, he was nervous about their arrival. Like a kid with their hand in the cookie jar, and their parents surely about to enter the kitchen. It wasn't my call to move in without backup. I didn't have a say in the matter. Damnit! This isn't my fault!

Bert was suddenly aware of his tighty clenched fist atop the steering wheel in front of him. He relaxed it and flexed away the tension. There were a dozen other guys up there. Didn't any of them have objections to this plan? I'll bet all of us end up facing a review panel. And for what? Whatever this goddamned thing is that's made us come out here. The more he thought about it, the more he hated it all.

He got out of the truck to stretch his legs. He paced back and forth, taking deep breaths to try and calm his nerves. This had to happen this way. We couldn't afford to keep sitting and waiting, Nash reasoned to himself. Maybe it was working, because he began to relate with the sense of urgency that Braun must have felt when he made the decision. Every passing minute this thing is out of containment, the more trouble it could cause. It's our job to put these monsters back in their cages ASAP. What is it Reilly's always saying? "We don't make excuses, we produce results!" Bert was certain of it: they had to get that target right now.

He got back in the truck and tried to focus on the radio chatter. It hadn't taken long for the squad to zone in on their target. Fireteam-3 sounded excited. They were closing in on the objective, flushing it towards Fireteam-2. Maybe we're going to complete recontainment on our own, Nash was hopeful now. Maybe the other squads will show up, and we'll tell them it's been taken care of. Maybe we'll look-

The crack of gunshots in the distance interrupted that train of thought. "What the hell?!" Each fireteam is equipped with non-lethals. We're geared for recontainment, not combat! The guns aren't meant to be a first resort… The radio was buzzing with all three fireteams co-ordinating their attack. Nash was trying to discern why they'd immediately gone to live fire. Are they getting killed out there? He tried to get a word in, but was either getting talked over, or just ignored. He punched the dashboard of the truck in frustration. "For fuck's sake guys..!" What was happening?

That was when the rest of the MTF arrived on scene. Nash wasn't sure what he felt most: anxious, relieved, agitated… When the lead vehicle in the convoy stopped alongside his and the passenger in the front seat stepped out and crossed toward him, a new feeling pushed into the picture: confusion.

He recognized Captain Reilly, even behind the SCBA unit covering his face. "Situation, Nash," the commander demanded. Bert sat in stunned silence, trying to piece together what he was seeing. The other operatives in the lead vehicle were kitted up with breathing masks as well. "Nash," Reilly pressed him, "where is the rest of your squad?"

Bert opened and closed his mouth wordlessly, only managing a vague nod in the direction of the road behind him. He saw Reilly's eyes narrow, assessing the situation at hand. Not one to waste time, the captain hustled back to his own truck and climbed in, turning to address one of the team members in the back seat. The rear door behind the driver opened and the passenger got out, closing the door behind him. The captain gestured for his driver to continue up the road, and the convoy of reinforcements drove on.

The man now approaching Bert Nash's window was Reilly's second-in-command, Staff Sgt. Barnes. He leaned in to address Nash. "Some idiot Security trainee CC'd us on the Site G.A." Barnes said ruefully. "Hell of a thing to let them screw up. If they'd sent us the full details right away we could have all come out at once, properly equipped." He shook his head at the situation: one minor error compounded into a major mishap. Nash still didn't understand what was happening.

Barnes finally recognized Nash's concern. "Don't worry," Barnes reassured him while gesturing towards the facemask. "These aren't for anything toxic out here." In Barnes' hand, Nash noticed for the first time the dossier he was carrying. "In hindsight a wider perimeter should have been given. Minimal threat to your safety, mind you. I just hope they haven't been-"

Bert had dialed down the volume on the radio when he'd seen the other trucks approaching, but someone out there was screaming into their handheld. The words came through loud and clear, interrupting the staff sergeant.

"Yyyeaah!! Nailed the sonofabitch!"

Dan Potter pulled off the dirt road into the clearing and nosed his SUV in behind the other with matching park ranger markings. He parked it and stepped out into the hot mid-day sun. Wilson Boyle met him next to the vehicle.

These men were members of an MTF as well, but one specializing in a different sort of containment: suppressing knowledge and information.

Potter glanced around at the brightly coloured tents set up next to two civilian vehicles in the makeshift campsite. Boyle's partner was addressing three young men and taking notes in his notepad. Boyle greeted his colleague.

"Wil," Potter responded with a nod. They conversed in hushed tones at the front of the truck. "So, what's the situation here?"

"These kids say they got out here Thursday night. Been camping, 'partying'…" Potter understood the implication. Boyle continued. "There was four of them come out for the weekend. Seems they thought their buddy retired to his tent early last night, but this morning there's no sign of him. Possible he wandered off in the night, got lost or something."

"Mm-hmm," Potter nodded. "Let's have the specifics," he said, gesturing to the notepad Boyle held. Boyle opened the pad to the relevant page and placed it on the hood, his Team Leader copied names, basic descriptions, and a few coded abbreviations.

As Dan Potter jotted down the information he mentally mapped the location of last night's incident, and the campsite they stood in now. He contemplated just how far a lost kid could wander through the woods at night. "This it for details? How about clothing?"

"Eh… A blue sweater. Probably. No 'photographic memory'-types in this bunch."

This grim puzzle was coming together in Dan's mind. There were still pieces missing, but the bigger picture was clear enough. "Alright. You two hang about here for now; keep up this 'lost hiker' bit. Likely we'll hand this off to real SAR and they can waste their time in the bush. But have some amnestics handy, just in case."

Boyle tipped his ranger hat to Potter. "Sir."

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