Mobile Task Furries
rating: +145+x

It's twelve A.M., and we're the guys they called to take down an anomalous furry.

I've seen people and I've seen monsters. Sometimes, the monsters are more human than the people. This guy, the one we're tracking down, he needs an entire specialized operations team, just for him. One kid, maybe eighteen or nineteen, and what he does isn't even that special. He makes people a part of the fandom. Against their will. Couple of months down the line, they've lost their shit, and they're living in a pen of their own filth and barking at everything that moves. The Foundation doesn't want that to happen to any one of their guys, so they put us on the job. Thing is, I'm sure at least a couple of the higher ups are living in a filth pen, barking their orders down at us.

I look to Sgt. Blaine as he shimmies into an orange bodysuit lined with tubes of ammonium nitrate. He fumbles for the zipper and tugs it up to his waist. Next, he slips into a ballistic vest and toys with the straps as he adjusts himself.

Sgt. Merryweather steps up to him, dressed from head to toe in purple and white. Under his arm, he carries his new helmet, cushioned with foam and geared with night-vision equipment, an air filtration system with a fan, and earbuds. It's the works; we've all got one of our own. Funny thing, seeing bulletproof gear inside of a fursuit.

"Need me to get your tail?"

"That'd be great, thanks."

Blaine arches his back, and Merryweather tugs on the end of a kidney belt through a hole in the back of his bodysuit. He swipes up Blaine's puffy, rustic-colored fox tail from the bench and slides the belt through the tail's loops. One pat of the kidney belt back through the hole, and Blaine is set and ready.

You work at the Foundation for long enough, and you get used to seeing weird things. The ghostly, plum-faces of the guys on my team, you'd think they were dead. It's the task force teams that see the worst of it.

They send you into the buildings where someone's got a monster caged up, and usually, you've got some poor sucker watching you. You have to grab that person and jab them with a syringe of 200ml of anaesthesia mixed with amnestics, and your friend grabs them and hauls them out, dragging them by their legs as you watch their head bump against the bottom of the door frame and their hair mop up their own blood from earlier, when they tried to lock the monster up. It's really not the monster that scares you.

After you come back, the scientists in their crisp white coats will pull you aside and ask you some routine questions. They start their pseudo-survey with a patronizing thank-you, as if what you're doing is anything like saving the world, like how they phrased it in the interviews, like what you thought you were getting when they came to you and promised 100% monetary compensation and 0% physical safety. You come in doe-eyed and wet-nosed, like a puppy in the K-9 unit car, and then they give you your first assignment and it's gone. It's nothing special. Every job in this place, whether you're on the front lines or behind the comfort of a full inch of bulletproof glass, it sucks the life out of you. You just keep doing it because, hell, it's better than a desk job.

They keep going, and they ask you about the recovery. How many deceased? The one from last time, he pushed his wire-frame glasses up further on the bridge of his hooked bird nose, and he asked me the same question again. How many deceased?

Twelve, I say back. He looks down at his clipboard, and back up at me again. I can't tell if he can see how sunken my eyes are into my skull, like I'm less than a person; this mission has made me nothing. How many civilians?

Seven, I mutter. He scrawls down notes in that chicken scratch handwriting you can only read when you've got a PhD, like he's prescribing medicine. For all intents and purposes, he is.

Do you require amnestics?

No, I'm fine.

It's not the answer I want to give, but it's the answer they want to hear. Their supply of amnestics is for civilians and memetically-cooked scientists. You're supposed to be able to handle the missions they send you on. They offer it each and every time, though. When you take them, they're supposed to bleach your memories from the past twelve, twenty four, thirty six or so hours. I've heard that sometimes they backfire, or they give you ones that are stronger than you expected if they don't like you. You wake up a blank slate. A nothing in the worst way. The sound of it scares me worse than the nightmares.

I look down into the big, moony eyes of my fursuit head. They're glossy with sealed paint, and if I run my fingers just beneath them on the cheeks, I can feel the endless webs of wires pulsing with electricity. I'm already wearing the rest of him; a bodysuit spotted blue with white, heavy combat-boot hooves, and a pair of resin hoof paws fitted with padding and weights for hand-to-hand combat.

His name is Cloudtail. They wanted us to have characters we were already attached to. If you told me last year that the most freedom I'd have at the Foundation was what character I could have them make into a military-grade fursuit, I'd call you nuts. I'd say, Is it crack? Is that what you smoke? You smoke crack? And it's dumb to think it, but there's an odd relief you get when you can make a choice in a place like this, and not just what coffee to drink or what permanently-scarred guards to sit by during lunch.

The excuse they gave us was that it was proof of our "dedication", so to speak. That we were, you know, really furries. If we weren't, we'd shrivel up into a shrieking, spitting mess from whatever Walcott put on his website. It was borderline ridiculous, how serious they were about this, how much time and money went into this. The interview process was absurd.

And what did you say your fursona was again? the interviewer asked me, fondling my papers like I've applied for an entry-level job flipping burgers. He'd sifted through my résume, eyeing all those reference sheets I'd blown so much of my Foundation-made money on. He'd held them up.

A unicorn, sir, I managed to squeak. I half expected him to stand up and laugh in my face, like this was all a big joke. Hah! he'd cackle, and every researcher and doctor would poke their prying faces into the doorway. Hahahah! They'd caw at me like birds, throwing their heads back and showing their shiny, white teeth, sharp and ready for the kill. I'd cower in my chair like a stuck rabbit, compacting my body into a tight little ball, as small as I could make myself.

But, that never happened. Thirty minutes came and went, and I was in and out of the office. I'd started down the hallway, and glanced back at the guys behind me. Some were sitting with their legs pressed together anxiously, others were as calm and collected as frozen pudding. There had to have been at least thirty two.

Yesterday, they'd finally tracked down Walcott. He was holed up in some cozy little house in Maine, blissfully ignorant to the Foundation peering in through his window like sick, spying ghouls. They caught him through his laptop, they'd said. Apparently, Mr. Walcott wasn't smart enough to burn his laptop in a bonfire when Mr. Perry started having seizures and called PETA, begging to be sent home to the North, where all of his polar bear friends and family lived. He whined about his precious snow, and how the polar ice caps were melting, and only stopped briefly to take a hefty bite out of his housecat. Of course, PETA called the cops, and the cops started turning into furries, and look now, Mr. Perry's in a containment chamber, almost due for his third psych eval to determine whether or not he remembers jack shit. Apparently, Ollie caused all of this. It was all the fox's fault.

They'd showed us a video of Ollie in his house after everything that happened. Through the leafy underbrush obscuring half of the camera lens, me and five other guys watched as he slid across his kitchen in mismatching socks. Twelve prying eyes stared as he twisted and turned, doing a silly three-step dance on the linoleum floor. He cracked open a box of Star Wars-shaped macaroni and cheese and twisted the dial up on a radio on the counter, blasting Electric Feel to seven sets of ears. It's strange, the way people act when they think no one's watching. When he turns to the window to see a chirping bluejay, he's got this grand smile on his face, like he lives in Wonderland. We watch as he scuttles across his kitchen to a high-up wooden cupboard and throws it open. Inside is a little jar styled after a honey pot from Winnie the Pooh, the word "HUNEY" proudly misspelled across its ceramic belly. Ollie bounces up on the tips of his toes to reach it — the kid must be 5'9", at best — and drags it to the edge of the cupboard with his finger tips. He wraps his palms around it ever so gently and sets it on the countertop, then digs his fingers in and scoops out a handful of birdseed. With a skip in his step, he canters up to the window and unhooks the latch above to push it open. The bluejay peeps and hops back, but Ollie stretches out an open palm, and the bird scoots closer. It hesitates, then dips its head down to examine the seeds. Ollie's looking at that bird with the most adoring eyes, and for a second, he almost seems normal. That nagging thought in the back of my mind gets crammed deep down, and I think, hey, maybe this kid's not so bad.

When the video cut to static, I had jolted up and earned myself a good staring from the lead researcher on this case. Oliver Walcott is a nineteen-year-old freelance artist from Maine, she'd stated. He should be considered armed and dangerous, as he has demonstrated a number of anomalous abilities that have led to the deaths of several dozen individuals so far. He will infect you without a second thought. He has not shown remorse for his actions. You, Mobile Task Force Y-42, are responsible for locating Walcott and detaining him. You will be provided with modified equipment to protect you from SCP-3312, his work. Preparations for the operation will begin at 2300 hours tomorrow.

Here I am, telling myself that this is normal, as a full MTF squad arrives to a property raid decked out in neon rainbows and cooling gear. I look to Sgt. Pollock, who's in a bog-standard gray wolf suit. Older guy, maybe in his late forties. His kid made his fursona. He nods to me, and I unholster the tranquilizer gun at my side. The muzzle on my suit puffs out hot, stale air. One by one, we traverse in unison to the front door. I look down at Sgt. Moira's tail in front of me as it wags like a pendulum. They're necessities, and they'll protect you, the Site Director had reassured us. I'd wanted to say, Really, is that how being a furry works? I kept my mouth shut.

Two of the guys ahead of me have a battering ram. The big, metal column heaves back and forth as they aim it between the double doors, itching to bash that paint-coated oak to splinters. Ready? Push! It swings and crashes in, sending woodchips flying as the door bends on its frame. The battering ram falls to our feet, and we rush into the house.

This house is an art pop nightmare; popcorn walls lined with Scotch taped-posters of The Lion King and carefully-hung commissioned works. From some distance away, I can hear the frightened pitter-patter of feet. A piece of flesh inside my cheek gives way, and I taste the filthy penny-tang of blood. I didn't know I was chewing on it.

I glance over my shoulder to see a yellow dragon, Sgt. Paisley, gazing at something in the living room. I turn to look, and I can see a giant stuffed fox toy slumped over on the couch. Its gargantuan, bowl-sized eyes gleam white light from our flashlights. They're unnervingly large, and they shine like sinewy, tar-colored oil. We keep our distance and move on through the hallway.

You never get used to raids. My hands are sweating though the fur of my paws, and I can feel the gun in my hands growing moist. I haven't got the steel nerves of every war hero you've ever seen. I'm a marvelous actor. A fraud. I passed every basic test, but every other week, I tell myself I was more cut out for an assistant researcher role. I'd take watching a ghost disembowling someone over confronting one face to face.

With a gun in my hands and five squad members by my side, everything in the real world is muffled, like someone turning the volume down on their TV. I am the law of the land, and even as I sweat and tremble, I can feel every drop of adrenaline surging through my arteries and pumping, ounce by ounce, into my hands, my spine, my brain. Maybe that's the rush Ollie gets from seeing his friends warp and gnarl into caricatures of themselves. They scream and groan, but he keeps on grinning, and maybe it isn't power. There is a chance he's so goddamn deluded that this is all just a game to him, and he's seeing how many people he can finger through like paper in a file cabinet before the authorities catch him. Or maybe, he doesn't know what he's doing is wrong. He could be in such serious need of social interaction that he'll take anything he can get, and when that first chance came for him to make real friends, well, he went above and beyond and created friends. The best of friends that only last for a year at most, a week at least. Followers and worshippers. I think back to the video and those big, awe-struck eyes.

Pollock stops at the door at the end of the hallway and hesitates. We can hear music playing, something with a quick beat and electronic buzzing.

"What are you waiting for?" Paisley barks. Pollock sucks in a quick breath through his teeth and kicks down the door.

The window is jammed halfway open and Oliver's gotten himself through the opening. He's a mess of orange hair and plaid pajamas among the saturated images stuck up on the walls, not a square inch left uncovered. The music has been hooked up to speakers from Oliver's laptop and blasts at full volume. I can see fursuit heads hanging from racks on the walls, their concave eyes following my every move. Hairs on the back of my neck prickle up. Thousands of beady eyes from little orange foxes stare down at me, the faces they're sitting in smiling huge and deceptive. I squirm in my skin.

Pollock starts to retch, and I whip around just in time to see him doubled over, but the vomit's got nowhere to go, and when he tilts his head back to breathe, I can picture his face slathered with bile. He collapses to the ground and begins to writhe, coughing and hocking up spit. One hand shoots out from under him and wraps around Merryweather's leg. He stumbles and trips, coming down on top of Moira.

"Pollock, what's wrong?" I yelp. My cry is met with a guttural, throat-scraping yell from Pollock as he claws his helmet off, tossing it aside and filling the room with the vile stench of stomach acid. There's blood smeared across his lips, and when he opens his mouth to scream, I can see it pooling in the back of his throat. He lashes out and yanks a fistful of Merryweather's neck fur, pulling his head clean off, and opens his mouth to take a chunk of flesh straight from his neck. Merryweather howls in agony, fighting to beat Pollock off of him. He fumbles for his gun, discarding his paws. Moira clambors away from them as Pollock climbs on top of Merryweather, locking his legs around him. I can see slivers of muscle dangling between his teeth.

What the hell is happening? My mind races as I pivot and turn to see Oliver dashing away from his house, stumbling over his own two feet in the cold shadow of night. I hear two rounds being fired behind me, and another yell, but it's not from Pollock. There's nothing I can do but climb through the window and take off on a mad sprint behind Walcott.

A thousand questions flock my brain like vultures to a carcass. What did he do? What is he doing? The wet grass crunches under my feet, and I slip and suddenly there's mud caking the fur on my chest.

All in an instant, it hits me. Pollock didn't make his fursona. His kid made it. It wasn't his, and he wasn't doing this for himself. It was for his kid. He was doing this for his kid!

Fuck it! I clamber to stand, my shoes knocking against my calves as I pull myself together. I reach up and dig my nails into the cheeks of my fursuit head, and with one violent toss, launch the head across the field. It nails Oliver straight in the back, and he stumbles. His fall gives me just enough time to raise my tranquilizer gun and fire. One. Two. Three. Four. Five bullet-sized syringes whiz by his head. Four bite like mosquitos in his spine and throat. For a second, he shudders. His feet slosh through the mud and after a minute, he drops like a corpse to the ground.

I wheeze. Behind me, I can no longer hear the yelling, the tossing, or the fighting. Before me, Walcott is taking in labored breaths. His eyes are glazed over, but when I kneel next to his head, they shoot up at me with the ferocity of a cornered animal. His pupils have expanded to gaping abysses devoid of life. His fingers twitch and curl. Saliva is dripping from his bottom lip into the slimy dirt, and I think to myself, this is the kid we were scared of. I can't help but feel a little bad for him, and I begin to pluck the darts one by one from his skin. There's already enough juice in his system for the whole week.

This kid is a poor excuse for a villain, what with his rosy cheeks and spindly limbs bearing no strength. Hot tears are dripping down his chin, sliding past his teeth and mixing below him, creating a little soggy pillow for his head. His bushy mess of orange hair, knotted from sleep, is matted with blood. He's whining a little. He probably hit his head when he fell. I bite my lip, rob him of what little dignity he has, and wipe the tears from his cheeks.

You screwed up, I whisper to him, not with my mouth but with my eyes. I furrow my brows, and in turn, he coughs up a wad of mucus into the dirt. I think he knows.

I know Pollock is already scheduled to be terminated. Oliver will be locked away in a little hole somewhere deep within the Earth. Our team will be surveyed, and given another mission next week. And me?

I'll keep refusing those amnestics.

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