Must one gumball machine put out every fire?

rating: +10+x

SCP-6850 cheerfully rolled down the hallways of Site-322, willing its illusive appearance of Just Another Researcher to wave his imaginary hands at unsuspecting passersby.

"Hello, safety-keeper woman!" the little perception-altering, anomalous ball of flame greeted one such passing field agent. "Greeting! Very weather we are having, yes?" It greeted a Jr. Researcher, who readily agreed with no apparent notice of SCP-6850's odd word choice or questionable grammar.

The mischievous little orb's thoughts flitted around as rapidly and haphazardly as they always did, but SCP-6850 did eventually realize something was wrong. As a being of Most Perfect Shape, it naturally regarded itself as inherently blessed with a keen sense of spatial awareness. It had just used it to escape its containment cell in the first place, after all. Even so, it finally realized it was hopelessly lost; perhaps it was time to swallow pride and just ask for directions to the Anomalous Item Storage Lockers that it had heard about, and now suspected was where its trusty BedHat, which its dastardly thieves inexplicably called by the nonsense-codeword the "SCP-6850-A" (similarly to its rightful owner), might be kept.

SCP-6850 rolled over to the first door within the hall it had just entered, and glanced up at the sign. "Mmmm," it pondered aloud, "Accounting Department… Wonder what they count in there?” Oh well, it probably wasn't directly or immediately important to SCP-6850's aims or interests, so SCP-6850 gave it no further thought. It just rolled over a little closer to the door to wait for someone to enter or exit. As hot as SCP-6850 knew it’s true form was, the wooden barrier might risk catching on fire if the sentient fireball got to close; and then, any nearby staff might be too distracted by it to focus on more important matters, like giving even the esteemed Senior Researcher Blaze Orbison the proper directions he needed!

Entire tens of seconds passed uneventfully as SCP-6850 impatiently rolled back and forth. Humans were so pompously ungrateful, what with their 'Hands' and 'Non-Hazardous Base Temperatures', the mercurial little ball thought to itself. Much annoying! This agonizing multitude of seconds dragged on, and to make it worse, soon the containment breach alarm began sounding arlund it. SCP-6850 felt itself seriously beginning to feel that rarest but most dreadful of emotions, regret, until the door to the Accounting Department finally opened.

"No need of worry!" SCP-6850 said to the panic-stricken functionary that appeared in the doorway. "As experienced Researchman, methinks there no reason to alarm. In fact, maybe just go wait at desk until hubbub over!" It continued, using those handy cognitohazardous abilities that even it didn't fully understand to successfully reassure the poor young employee, who never even noticed the singes on his pants as SCP-6850 cheerily rolled past through the narrow doorway.

SCP-6850 glanced around the accounting department's front office and its concerned-looking staff, trying to decide on the most thoughtful, tactical way to subversively gain the knowledge it sought.

That quickly got boring though, so instead it just shouted, "Me excuse! Important Researchman need direction to Animaly…Nomlomsuh… Animus Object storing place! Is for very urgent science purposes!"

SCP-6850 looked around as the resident staff tried to parse his stated intention with varying success. A satisfied feeling set in as it recognized that human expression of realization on the face of one secretary, who opened their mouth to surely provide the precious info SCP-6850 needed, when they were prematurely interrupted by an irritated and highly modulated voice suddenly coming from around the corner.

"I'm sorry, but just who in the grammarian's-final circle-of-Hell is that screeching incoherently in my— What the fuck are you?" SCP-5595 said as SCP-6850 turned slightly to set its immediately enamored gaze upon the Site-322 Integration Program's flagship member. "Dammit, don't tell me this little shit is what that godforsaken alarm outside is about."

The nearby staff's still-present confusion only increased, but SCP-6850 didn't even notice the insult as it stared in awe at the majestic, bright red glass-and-steel entity before it.

"Wow, amaze! Fellow talking orb, but with mini orbs inside! Is like Meta-Orb, much cool!” SCP-6850 loudly proclaimed. "Have you been captured too? Why would they trap such a majestic, impressive, very coo–"

"I'm going to stop you right there," the self-styled Former Site Director Geoffrey Quincy Harrison III finally interrupted. "I neither know nor care about whatever well-deserved praise you were about to continue bestowing upon me, because I have important work to do, and whatever the hell you are up to seems to be directly impeding it. Money minions, please seize the intruder! Carefully of course; third-degree burns aren’t good for typing."

Nearby personnel continue to look at the two anomalies and murmur to each other in clear confusion, as if somehow unsure of what exactly SCP-5595 was referring to. "Are you all extremely stupid, or just very stupid?” the irritable gumball machine quickly asked. “A containment breach alarm sounds, just as a literal talking fireball rolls into our office, and you all just stand around like a bunch of anesthetized sloths?"

SCP-5595's cynical call to action did little to alleviate the resident personnel’s confusion. SCP-6850 paid little heed to them anyway, and instead began trying to sate its ever-growing curiosity with a barrage of stream-of-consciousness questions directed towards the awe-inspiring entity before it. “Are inner orblets also smart and talky too? Are they your babies? Will they grow into more–"

"OH MY GOD, SHUT UP!" SCP-5955 boomed mechanically. For once, SCP-6850 immediately listened to and heeded the demand it was given. "While your well-founded admiration of me is appreciated, your interruption of this already lackluster site's productivity most certainly is not. What are you even doing here?”

“Like said earlier, am needing directions to the special object storing place, so I can get my bedhat before finishing daring escape! ” SCP-6850 replied.

"I see your honesty is matched only by your incompetence. Escapes are rarely aided by openly informing those around you that you are trying to escape. Why would you even tell me your plan?”

"Wanted to see if you'd like to come…"

“Uh-huh. I think I'll pass, but let me get this straight. After openly breaching containment, all you want before finishing your masterfully crafted escape is this 'Bedhat', which you suspect is kept in the AO storage lockers?"

"Mmm… yeah!" SCP-6850 replied.

SCP-5595 thought silently for a moment, as if trying to remember something. "Hold on a few moments please. Intern Jake come with me; I'll need some fingers.”

Junior researcher Jacob Braddock obediently followed SCP-5595 to a nearby office.
A confused SCP-6850 listened as a mix of brusque and outright demeaning instructions were directed at J.R. Braddock by SCP-5595. SCP-6850 was able to make out occasional bits and pieces such as "I knew it. Scroll down further", "Oh that's definitely usable,” and finally “Ok, I have an idea. A great one even for me."

SCP-5955 soon returned from the side office, a still-confused J.R. Braddock close behind.

"SCP-6850; that is your designation, correct?"

"Mmmm, don't know that word but probably? Is name that the lab meanies call me, yes."

"I see. Well, I apologize for the mix-up, as well as my slightly uncouth language before. Realquick though, let me try something before we go any further. Dr. Cocks, you have those project budget notes that I've been stalling seeing you about, yes?"

"You… I knew it! I've been squatting in the corner over there for 75 minutes!" Dr. Coix huffed.

"Yes I know, I told Jake the intern–" SCP-5595 began, before being meekly interrupted by Jr. Researcher Braddock.

"Again, I'm a J.R., I've been at this site alone for 4 ye–"

"…AS I TOLD JAKE THE OBSTINATE INTERN," SCP-5595 began once again, much more loudly, "I knew you would be coming and so I had him remove all extraneous chairs from the main lobby in preparation for your imminent arrival.”

“Wha— Director Lague will hear about this!” Dr. Coix replied angrily, only to immediately receive a well-aimed gumball to the nose in response.

“Oh, my sincerest apologies, truly. I must have accidentally loosed a gumball in a random direction as a result of all the trembling in fear from your ever so intimidating threats.”

“Wow! Much cool power, what else can do?” SCP-6850 asked excitedly.

SCP-5595 turned its attention back to the anomalous, childlike ball of flame continuing to blacken the office floor as they spoke. “Oh right, matter at hand and all that. Dr. Cocks, could you please hand your meticulously gathered, handwritten project notes to the good visiting senior researcher there?”

“Why…” Dr. Coix asked warily, still massaging his bruised nose.

“Because I have mountains of more important tasks to accomplish, so I’ve asked Dr. Orby or whatever here to go through and annotate the important parts. I may a savant in matters likean accounting, leadership, and life skills, that much is true; but even I can’t be well-versed in all subjects at once. Should I continue to waste time mid-site-lockdown to continue meticulously overexplaining my administrative strategy?”

“Oh, shut up! Fine, here.” Dr. Coix attempted to hand the packet of notes to who he still perceived as a fellow member senior research staff, failing to even notice as they dropped onto SCP-6850’s actual physical body and quickly began burning to a crisp.

“Thank you, just as I suspected. Now Jake, would you please grab the spare Anti-CogHaz goggles from the office store room?” SCP-5595 requested the confused Jr. researcher.

“Um, sure I guess?” he responded before running to the appropriate room to comply. Jacob had learned not to question every odd command from the ever-caustic and sarcastic gumball machine that served as a senior consultant for their department, and who now waited with uncharacteristic patience until Jacob returned with the requested device.

“Fantastic, I’ll make sure to toss a cookie your way later, or maybe a raise; probably just the cookie. Now, could you please hand the goggles to Dr. Cocks for him to put on?”

The still skeptical Dr. Coix accepted the goggles and warily followed the request, mainly just to see what exactly his least favorite co-worker was trying to pull. He glanced around inquisitively until his eyes settled on the now visually apparent talking ball of fire he had unwittingly taken as a fellow member of senior research staff just a few seconds prior. His mechanically-corrected gaze then shifted in horror to the pile of ashes in front of it that comprised all that remained of his carefully gathered project notes.

“Wha… I… You… aaah!” He exclaimed in shock, as distressing realization hit him far harder than any well-aimed gumball.

“Oh look at that, you seem to have misplaced your notes by throwing them in a literal fire instead of handing them to a colleague. What a tragedy; maybe next time you’ll type them, or at least digitally transcribe them, like the modern man of science you inskst on presenting yourself as." The sentient candy dispenser calmly shifted to address the other individuals gathered in the room, most now appearing more confused than ever. “For those of you still too dense to get what's going on here, I’m going to keep letting you wonder for a little longer while I escort the good doctor here to go reclaim SCP-6560-A, or his “bedhat” if you will.”

“Whoa, really? That even better than directions!” SCP-6850 replied happily to its recursively-spherical new friend. “Very cool!”

“Yes I know, my generosity truly knows no bounds. Now, if you will just follow along with me. By the way, anyone else who is curious can ask Dr. Cocks for an explanation, whenever he stops whimpering and angrily muttering to himself.” SCP-5955 began making his way towards the door, which Jr. researcher Braddock quickly and instinctively opened for them.

The next few minutes were largely uneventful, beyond the continued insipid blathering of the weirdly fascinated SCP-6850 as it followed along behind the mathematically gifted gumball machine that it had apparently taken as its new idol. Normally SCP-5595 would have told it to shut up again, directly or with some sarcastic quip, but instead chose to humor the thing this time to make its re-containment easier. Especially since most of the humans apparently couldn’t see the bizarre little runt for what it was, and this particular gumball machine didn’t need any extra dome-aches in getting this irritating little thing back in containment so that he could go back to work.

“Wow, me was way off, this almost all the way back to my dungeon!” SCP-6850 exclaimed after rounding a particularly familiar corner.

“I suppose you must have taken a wrong turn quite early on.”

“Am guess you right, must have. Oh well… Ooh hey, fun fact! Did you know whole world is giant orb?”

SCP-5595 went back to not even pretending to listen to the irksome little anomaly’s ramblings. They were almost back to the chamber anyway, and they’d certainly find competent security personnel either sufficiently trained or equipped to see past SCP-6850’s glamour soon. Sure enough, just moments after that thought whizzed through SCP-5595's dome, the odd couple rounded a corner where internal security agents with their own anti-cognitohazard eyewear quickly spotted them.

“Worry not, new friend! They may look scary, but is ok. Me got this!” SCP-6850 whispered, before then rolling head to greet the security team. “Hello, fellow Foundational personals! Excuse us, we just need to get by in order to do a research fo– Hey!” SCP-6850 was quickly interrupted by the specially-designed net that came down around it. The now quite agitated fireball first tried to push its way through the tight specialized heat-resistant tungsten-alloy mesh, before trying to wrap itself in it as much as possible in an attempt to burn or melt its way through. Neither tactic proved to be any use.

“ME EXCUSE, IS THIS HOW ALWAYS TREAT IMPORTANT SCIENCERS MID-RESEARCH-DOINGS?,” an angry SCP-6850 began shouting at the attendant agents, as they worked to move the unruly orb into a full heat-resistant mobile containment unit.

“Oh no. Darn. There must be some mistake. What is happening. Wait here, little buddy, I'll go get help.” SCP-5595 deadpanned as it turned and began rolling away back to the Accounting Department main office, where it could finally get back to actually-important matters.

“PLEASE HURRY! AM THINK TH– UGH, NOT DR. WIGGLE… GO AWAY LAB WARDEN! YOU BASTARD MAN! LEAVE ME LONE…” SCP-6850 continued to shout various idiosyncratic insults and obscenities, but SCP-5595 quickly stopped bothering to listen.

As the breach alarms finally ceased their incessant blaring, SCP-5595 couldn’t help but feel a familiar sense of smug pride on another job well done, even through all his familiar cynicism and irritation. The kind of job only he, Geoffrey Quincy Harrison the Third, could apparently pull off; there seemed to be more and more sich jobs each day. He made a mental note to really emphasize that aspect in the inevitable post-incident debriefing, especially to counter any whining Dr. Coix might engage in over the preventable fiery destruction of his precious little report.

This whole site would probably get set ablaze withim the week if they didn’t have old Geoffrey to clean up everyone’s messes, SCP-5955 thought as he made his way back to the office to make sure nothing actually important had gotten burned up. There was always more work to do.

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