If I Tried to Run, Would You Give Me a Shot?
rating: +19+x

She knew this day would come. Dr. Craggs was nothing if not a plotter of the utmost degree. She cajoled, coerced, blackmailed, and sometimes performed indecent favors for the Foundation in the interest of information and access. She was basically just a Foundation agent at this point, albeit one that was confined to a rather charming, if industrial, apartment somewhere inside Site… something or other. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement - Craggs got to study interesting things and not be shot for crimes against humanity, and the Foundation was therefore able to profit by her knowledge.

As much as Craggs liked studying interesting things, not being executed for crimes against humanity, real or perceived, was higher on her priority list.

Unsurprisingly, she was on the hitlist of a Chaos Insurgency assault squad. "Squad" and "hitlist" are perhaps misnomers, because it's more like a battalion and precision strikes aren't really their thing. The last time they tried this they sought poetic justice and subterfuge - this time, brute force appeared to be the theme of the day.

This wouldn't be a repeat of the previous incident, though.

This time she had a PA system and a plan.

Every day Travis Kazmarek had ever woken to a 'general quarters' alarm had been a bad one.

Waking up to a general quarters alarm and someone shouting at him through a PA system had been a first, though.

He tried ignoring it, but the shouting didn't stop.

"…Who is this? Why are you calling me? And how did you get into the PA system?"

Her tone changed at the drop of a hat. Travis' ears were thankful.

"PoI-7701, currently in Foundation custody. I'm calling because I don't want to be shot. Asking politely, believe it or not."

"Don't you have a security team or something?"

"I have reason to believe they are combat ineffective. In case you don't remember, I'm the CI defector. I'm pretty sure I'm the target of this little adventure."

"Two queries - one, why the hell should I help you? Two - why are you calling a disgraced MTF member currently undergoing psychiatric treatment?"

"Several reasons, actually. First being that 60% of Foundation staff is already dea-"

Muffled gunfire echoed through the PA.

"Sorry, 63%. Second being an almost certainly dead security team, third being certain attack patterns common to large-scale Insurgent attac-"

Travis groaned. She's not just a defector. She's a lunatic defector. "…just cut to the chase, lady."

"Neither of us wish to die. You're the only person left who has both the access to the functionality I need, the skills to do it, and the self-awareness to realize while the Foundation is great at containing things, their external security procedures are pretty much bunk. And, you also aren't already bleeding out on the floor. Yet."

"That barely answers the first question."

"In case you don't remember, SOP for a large scale-attack on a Foundation site is to seal the blast doors and pump the place full of nerve gas. I have reason to believe that this is not a fate you desire."

"Your powers of observation are astounding. Still doesn't answer the question."

"I spent a lot of time planning for events like this. It's a good way to pass the time. And sometimes comes in handy."

"You write contingency plans for fun?"

"Are you going to help me - us - escape or not?"

Travis did his best Tevye impression. On the one hand, this lady - Dr. Craggs, he had ascertained - was known to the state of California to be a certified nutcase. On the other hand, she's also clearly done her homework on this sort of incident. If anyone's getting out of here, it's her. On the other hand, she could as just as likely get him killed to get herself out… but on the other hand, that's still better odds than waiting here for the VX gas to kick in.

"Fuck it. What needs to happen to get us out in one piece?"

"How much do you value your job?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"A simple escape has a 40% chance of success, but abiding by Foundation escape procedures cuts that to twe-"

"I don't need the odds, thanks."

He had a debt of honor to pay. Didn't need to run that particular tab any higher.

"We'll have to do this the right way."

An audible sigh from over the PA.


Travis wiped the blood off his face mask. "Gas is delayed 45 minutes, nonessential servers set to self-fry, Foundation procedure 784-0.234 followed to the letter, looks like every thing is se-"

"I need you to open up SCP-3845's containment chamber."

"Are you nut- actually, wait, don't answer that question. But opening a containment chamber? How does that help us?"

"The bulk of CI forces are between you and me and the vehicle bay. 3845 is localized and probably rabidly vicious at this point. It'll be a pain to deal with later, but without exposing the population at large. By my estimate, at least 78% of the current staff is dead. My estimate of Foundation vs. Insurgent casualties as a direct result of releasing 3845 is about 1 to 7. I don't trust the algorithm that much, so it's probably closer to 1 to 9."

"What about the chances of it killing me?"

"Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to. But it does reduce your chance of being killed by CI bullets by a factor of six. Now get over here and pick me up before we both become statistics."

Buddy had a long memory.

Buddy remembered living in a pleasant land full of green and food and Friends that they could Play with. There was a nice breeze and water to Play in and a sun that shined just for them. There were sad times when they found other Buddies that couldn't Play anymore but that was okay because they had a Friend that he could Play with and be okay with.

But then the Bad People took them away and the Friend was never to be seen again. There was no more green and Friends, and there wasn't very much food either. they only saw gray and black and harsh light. Playing in the little space they had seemed empty.

Buddy didn't know how long he had been there. But it was a while.

A long, long while. All he could do is sit there and stew about what the Bad People were doing and what was happening to his poor Friend somewhere out there, probably far away.

They hoped that the Bad People hadn't gotten to her too. Buddy hated the Bad People. They didn't deserve to Play. They came by poked and prodded and looked at Buddy like they were some kind of caged animal.

That's all Buddy was now.

Travis always hated walking through Containment. Whole place seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

"You could have told me you lived behind the vault door. I always figured something nasty was locked behind it. Would have been much easier to find."

"Your impression was correct. In any case, I can only assume our uninvited guests are probably listening in to our radio communications. Thanks for telling them where we are."

The vault clicked open. Behind it was… not what he expected.

"Sorry about the MOPP gear. 45 minutes was only enough delay time in fifty-fiv-"

Even more of a loon in person, apparently. "What did I say about statistics?"

Craggs shrugged as she removed the headgear, revealing a plain face with a short haircut. "Knowledge is power."

"Can you use a gun?"

"My accuracy decreases precipitously beyond five meters."

Travis' turn to shrug. "Just pry one out of the cold, dead hands of the next dead CI guy you see."

Screams and gunfire sounded from across the facility. "Buddy's really doing a number on them."


"3845. Some witness kept calling it that. Pretty tragic, if you ask me."

"What was tragic about it?"

"They barely ran any experiments! Not even a single dissection! The thing's pretty durable. Could probably use it as mine-clearer, or berserker. And they know there's more of them - seem pretty disposable to me. Huge missed opportunity."

The bitter disappointment on Craggs' face reminded Travis why he usually doesn't ask any more questions than he needs to.

"Anyway, enough ranting about the Foundation missing opportunities literally all of the time. Next stop, vehicle bay."

For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Buddy was free.

Kind of. This was not a familiar space. These were not familiar sights or smells. The only thing they were familiar with were the Bad People, whom they hated

This place was not like Home. Like the cage, it was cold and gray and filled with harsh light. Infested with Bad People.

Worst of all, it still felt like a cage.

More than anything, Buddy wanted to go back Home. But on the way there, they would surely meet other Bad People. Bad People did not deserve to Play. Buddy decided to break the Bad People, so they couldn't Play anymore. Then go back to where the sky was blue and the ground was green, and find the Friend again.

So Buddy did. They had funny sticks that made loud noises, but Buddy was quicker and stronger.

Buddy couldn't count very high, but they knew they broke a lot of Bad People.

"Again, illustrating the importance of lab safety, especially when dealing with live test subjects. Which, if we're being honest, is the only real way to get anything done."

Travis held up a fist.

"What the hell does that mean?"

"It's the international sign for 'shut the fuck up or 3845 is going to spot us'."

"Oh. Duly noted."

It didn't work. Buddy was already approaching them at great speed.

Craggs waved. "Buddy! Buddy! Calm down!"

"What the hell are you doing?"

"It's our only shot, so shhhhhh."

Buddy could hardly believe it. They had found their Friend, out here, of all places.

Buddy was sure it was her. She looked similar, but bigger. Buddy had been gone a long time, after all. Wore a funny black suit. Maybe they didn't look the same after all.

But she called them Buddy. No one else ever called them Buddy but Friends. That's how they knew.

There was Bad Person right there, but they couldn't bear to break anyone in front of their Friend. Maybe he was her Friend too.

"Buddy! You need to let go, Buddy!"

3845 released Craggs, letting her fall back to the ground, but didn't quite let go.

"I'm glad to see you too. You need to get out of here before the bad people catch you again!"

3845 lingered long enough for Cragg's discomfort to become more evident.

"Go on, Buddy! I'll see you on the outside!"

And with that, Buddy trotted in another direction, one they hoped was an exit.

Travis let out an breath he had been holding the entire incident. "I have no idea how that worked."

"God, I hate personal contact." Craggs shivered, then smiled. "3845's pretty simple cognitively. Probably idolized whatever girl was on the outside, like a dog to its master, but without being able to distinguish it very easily. He's going to pretty sad when we don't meet on the outside. Or ever again."

"How do you know it's a he?"

Craggs' smile widened. "If that's the statement you take issue with, we're going to be great friends."

"Anyway, vehicle bay's next door on the right. I think we're going to be shooting our way out, so you need to dr-"

"It's a standard technical, yes? I'll sit on top with the gun."

"I really think you should dri-"

"I'll sit on top with the gun."

Travis didn't press the point.

The CI assault had been swift - most of the vehicles were still in their parking spots, their crews either dead or dying.

"Can you even operate the gun on one of these?" Craggs' rifle fire had been marginal at best. While Travis had seen the logic in Craggs' prior plan, putting the veteran in the driver seat seemed counterintuitive from any direction.

"This was the whole point in bringing you along at all."

"Wait, what was the all the earlier escape stuff about?"

"Okay, yes, you were helpful there. But you need to drive. You scored third in your Foundation combat driving course. The two people ahead of you are dead and comatose, respectively."

"That was like, eight years ago. Wait, how did you get access to personnel records?"

"Blackmailing the mail administrator. Also, I don't know how to drive."

"You don't know… how to drive? You mean drive stick?" If Travis was dumbfounded before, he didn't have an adjective to describe his current state.

"No. I cannot operate a motor vehicle. Always had more important stuff to learn instead. Anyway, that's why you need to drive. Also, I have no idea where the next Foundation site is. There's an active Interpol Red Notice with my name on it, and at least three anomalous organizations have bounties on my head. The sooner we get out of daylight, the better." Craggs shrugged sheepishly.

Their vehicle rolled out of the bay, with little resistance.

"Let me get this straight. You planned an escape attempt with me specifically in mind, because of a driving course I did well in almost a decade ago."

"Not really, this was all made up on the fly. I did know the driving bit offhand."

"I thought you said you had contingency plans for stuff like this."

"Yes, but it's much better practice to come up with strategies on the fly than use pre-planned ones."

"This was practice?"

"Was it not for you?"

"No! We almost died."

"But we didn't! Which I think speaks volumes about my escape planning skills."

If I Tried to Run, Would You Give Me a Shot? | Tying the Gordian Knot

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