Nobody's Looking for Trouble


The speaker squealed as it shattered under a burst from the MP-5 in the redhead’s hands. She crouched behind the makeshift barrier her compatriots had raised from the steel bulkheads of the corridor. Even now they were shaping the metal to form a wall to block the corridor while the man who was no-one tried to jury rig the containment cell’s door.

The man took a second to look over his shoulder at her with an arched eyebrow.

“What? It was fucking annoying,” she said.

He turned back to his work on the electronic lock, while she took stock of her surroundings. Two Serpent’s Hand mages and two nobodies, all armed with MP-5s and semi-automatic pistols. All four were dressed in combat armor, but the mages had sigils painted on theirs with fetishes hanging from their various belts. The woman also had a short sword, which was patently ridiculous. The two stopped chanting and the metal lost its reddish tinge as it cooled into the shape they had chosen – a series of spikes and bulwarks and slots to fire from behind cover.

“It won’t stop heavy explosives, but it will buy us some time,” Kimori, the male mage said.

“Speaking of time, how’s that bloody door?” she asked. The nobody at the door turned his head to her and glared.

“Let him work,” said Ana, the female mage.

She turned toward the mage ready to snap a retort when an explosion erupted from the door leading to the containment wing. Jackboots slapped against the cement floor of the corridor, and she could hear the click of metal on metal as weapons were readied.

Drop your weapons and surrender! This will be your only warning,” a distorted voice called out through the smoke and dust in the air.

She could see the laser scopes tracing lines through the smoke as she crouched closer to the barricade. The MP-5 in her hands, she looked back to the other nobody at the door.

“Almost done, just keep them busy!”

She looked at the mages with the eyes narrowed.

“‘Keep them busy’ – doesn’t he know who that is? That’s the Red Right Hand themselves. We’re fucking dead,” Kimori said.

She looked through one of the gaps in the barricade they had erected and saw at least a dozen stormtrooper types in black armor and helmets pouring into the corridor. She sighed.

record scratch

Yup, that’s me. You're probably wondering how I got into this situation

A month ago, I’m meeting a nobody like me but he’s way more with it. Clued into the world in ways I’ve never been. He tells me a bunch of shit, like how each of us should have a mentor (nope, didn’t get that) and that we are nobodies for a reason (fucking news to me).

Jesus, what do you call one of us? Doesn’t have a name or so he says. “He” isn’t good enough, just gonna get confusing. So, Barry. I’m calling him Barry. Barry if you’re reading this, you’re welcome.

Right, so… the meeting in Paris:

She made sure the gun he had given her was secured in her shoulder bag, and signaled the café’s sole waiter.

“Un café s'il vous plait?” she asked.

The waiter nodded and Barry asked for the same. He smiled at someone behind her and she turned to look over her shoulder as two women approached their table. One had sandy blonde hair to the shoulders and was wearing a worn denim jacket and a sun dress. The other had jet black hair styled in a pixie cut and wore a button down, long-sleeve shirt tucked into leather pants.

Leather pants, I shit you not. Surreal.

“This is Allison and Amy,” Barry said.

“What, no last names?” Nobody asked.

Pixie cut was the first to answer as she slid herself into a chair at the bistro table. “I’d rather no names whatsoever, but here we are. You are both incredibly hard to focus on.”

“Part of the deal, the conversation should mitigate but we’ll both try to hold it back a bit,” Barry said, nodding to Nobody.

“Yeah, sure. I can play diplomatic.”

The blonde, Amy, looked like she was paying attention to something else and then leaned into pixie cut’s ear. “They’re legit, it’s not a spell. They’re Nobodies.”

“I apologize if we seem suspicious, I did not know there was more than one of you,” pixie cut said.

“Neither did we,” Barry said. “I’m adjusting.”

Nobody looked at Amy and pointed her finger. “What’s up with this one? She hearing voices?”

“Just the one, actually. My backup.”

“Seriously, what the fuck?”

“Amy has brought along a witness just in case you weren’t who you said you were,” pixie cut said to Barry, ignoring Nobody’s outburst.

Nobody crossed her arms and sat back in the bistro chair.

“No need to pout, friend. These are people who can help,” Barry said.

“Help with what exactly?” pixie cut asked.

Barry got to explaining. In the meantime, coffee was delivered for all four, which Nobody thought was interesting as only she and her newfound compatriot had ordered.

“You want to infiltrate the primary Foundation facility? The one we’ve only heard rumors of, and perform a jailbreak? I have to ask, are you both insane?” pixie cut exclaimed after Barry was done.

“Not in the least, this needs doing. Magic died, or was in the process of dying. If anyone should be aware, you in the Hand should be. Anomalies were fading away or just plain imploding, and the Foundation is responsible. We have proof.” Barry gestured to Nobody’s bag. She took out a file folder stuffed with stolen documents.

Pixie cut started reading through the various documents, sliding over a few pieces to Amy.

“It did seem a little convenient that the Foundation were suddenly trying to preserve anomalies. We’d heard they were even recruiting fringe Hand members in Japan to solve the problem… but it makes sense if they were the ones responsible,” pixie cut said.

“Covering up their mess, as per usual,” Amy said. “If they’re to blame for the damage to the library, that’s basically an act of war.”

“From what my friend has been able to put together, it wasn’t intentional, if that makes a difference,” Barry said. “But yes, this is something that needs to be answered.”

“So, breaking into Site-01 is what… counting coup?” Amy asked.

“No, the fuckers have locked away someone that tried to warn them about the problem decades ago. This person is only referred to by a codename, and the details are pretty sketch but they’re keeping them in that Site,” Nobody said. “If we’re going to find out what they did to cause all this – what they’re covering up – we need to talk to this person.”

“Who is it?” pixie cut asked.

“All we have is the codename, like I said. But the Foundies call them O5-0, which is fucking weird right?”

Pixie cut was silent for a few moments, staring off into the distance.

“Okay, we’ve confirmed who you’re talking about with our sisters. They are indeed someone we should talk to.”

She serious talked like this, in the royal “we” and shit.

“We need to get them out, and that’s where you’d come in, Your Majesty,” Barry said.

“You want help, from the Hand… that’s doable, for members. But for strangers, who are impossible to trace and can disappear into the background, it’s a harder sell,” Amy said.

“Well then, why don’t we join your club?” Nobody asked. Barry looked like he was about to speak up, but pixie cut spoke first.

“You both could certainly be of use, and with whatever this Zero knows, it will only be the beginning I suspect. You’re willing to risk your lives for this… would you be willing to do the same in the future, for the cause?”

“What cause?” Barry asked.

“Taking down the Foundation, freeing the information, letting the world know exactly what they live amongst.”

“Oh, in that case, you could say it’s our calling. Right?” Barry asked, looking at Nobody.

“I guess so.”

"I guess so." Who talks like that? Me, that’s who. This idiot.

Right so, fast forward an hour or so and pixie cut shows us to a Way leading to a different part of the library than any I’d been to before. This felt more like a base of operations than a study hall, maps and charts on the wall like a war movie.

Pixie cut suggests we meet a few of her crew later, people that specialize in breaching Foundation Sites – apparently this is a regular pasttime for the Hand – but first we’d need to narrow down possible locations for this Site. Apparently, pixie cut’s people had a bunch of Sites under observation but not the semi-mythical Site-01.

“Then how do we find it?” Barry asked.

“We’ve been hearing rumblings from the Foundation. There’ve been leaks and significant questions of loyalty towards some high-level research staff by the leadership,” pixie cut said.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“It’s an opportunity, there’s complete upheaval in the rank and file. Something has shaken the faith of the research staff.”

“Can’t be a fucking coincidence, right? The Foundation drops everything to fix something they caused and locked up a founding member… and then all the sudden, they’re having purges and it’s a leaky ship? No way those things are unrelated,” Nobody said.

“How do we take advantage of this dissension?” Barry asked. “I assume there isn’t a tip line for traitorous Foundation researchers.”

Pixie cut laughed and took tea from a follower who had brought refreshments. She sipped as Nobody and Barry took their cups. “Not exactly, no.”

So, her Royal Pixieness goes on to explain that because of certain actions taken by members of the Foundation – namely saving all the magic and quite literally taking up the sword in defense of the Library – certain researchers are being allowed to frequent the stacks again. Apparently, it’s been near a decade since they had been permitted because of their overall militant asshole nature.

But – and it’s a big ol’ caveat – the Archivist isn’t interested in just any Foundation researchers running around wild, so it’s case-by-case and those allowed in are kept a close eye on.

“Excuse my lack of etiquette and all, but who cares? How does that get us any closer to a dissenting Foundation type?” Nobody asked.

“As luck would have it, the Hand has received several discrete inquiries from a couple of high-ranking SCP researchers and one of those inquiries was from an archaeologist, Dr. Laura Cruz.”


“She has been reaching out for information, concerning the Foundation and the Impasse. As you can imagine, such contact is infrequent.”

“Her bosses would no doubt dislike her trying to backchannel like that,” Barry said.

“Yes, indeed. Which is why I think she could provide ample information in our search for Site-01,” pixie cut said.

“So, what, we call her up?” Nobody asked.

“We won’t need to.”

Blows my fucking mind they call this place a library. Sure, there’s loads of books here but that’s not all there is. It’s like a city fit between bookshelves. There are markets, meeting rooms, businesses, living quarters, and it goes on forever. Even found a ramen shop.


Dr. Laura Cruz sat at the bar, her back to a thoroughfare, sipping sake from a small bowl. To her left on the counter was a mostly empty bowl of ramen. Cruz’ dark hair was pulled behind into a ponytail flowing over the upturned collar of a leather jacket. She lifted the sake bottle, shook it a little, and sighed. She raised her hand at the man behind the bar and held up the empty bottle. His eyes shone a sickly green beneath the bandana tied over his hair. Her eyes widened, but she confirmed when he asked if she wanted more.

“Best not to stare at those you don’t understand while in these halls, dear,” Nobody said from the stool next to her. Cruz startled, almost fell backwards from her stool. Nobody reached down and placed a steadying hand on her shoulder.

“Where the hell did you come from?”

“London, originally… but that was a long time ago. You’re Laura?”

“Jesus. How did you–”

“Her queeniest sent me over to have a chat. You’ve been trying to get in touch lately, right?”

The man with the green eyes placed a small bottle of sake in front of Cruz and looked at Nobody with narrowed eyes.

“Right mate, Kirin if you got it.”

He looked at her intensely, then shook his head and said “Sure, coming right up.”

“How are you doing that?” Cruz asked.


“The blurry thing, trying to look directly at you is giving me a headache. Like when you try too hard to see a hidden image in one of those posters.”

Nobody snorted and took the proffered glass of draft beer from the man behind the counter. She turned back to Cruz. “Not up to me, unfortunately. I got what you call a condition. But that ain’t what you wanted to talk to the Hand about, I assume?”

Cruz crinkled her eyebrows, staring at Nobody.

“Just stare ahead, lady. Look at me out of your peripheral vision,” Nobody said. She sipped at her beer.

“Fine. So, you’re a representative of the Hand?”

“Today I am. What’s a foundie doing reaching out to the Hand? Basically treason, innit?”

“I’m sure you’re aware of the recent troubles with the anomalous?”

“Death of magic and all that? Sure, I’m aware.”

“Some colleagues of mine have been investigating the situation, and we’re coming up against roadblocks from the usual methods.”

“O5s playing it close to the vest then? Not surprising.” Nobody looked around at the other patrons, making sure no one was close enough to overhear then leaned in towards Cruz. “The thing is, they’re the ones responsible. But then, you probably know that.”

Cruz turned back towards Nobody with her mouth agape.

“Come on now, don’t play coy. You’re surprised at that?”

“I’m surprised you know that. Who the hell are you?”


“Hilarious. Well, we want to know more about the one who tried to warn the Council. We know the Council is aware this was our fault and would be again. But we know next to nothing about this Zero. If we’re going to prevent another Impasse, we need to know more about it. And no one knows more than Zero.”



Nobody took the manilla folder full of stolen records about Zero from her bag and slid it towards the Foundation archaeologist. “It’s just, I think we’re looking for the same thing.”

Cruz took the file and began flipping through it. Ten minutes later, just as Nobody was receiving a new draft beer, Cruz looked up from the folder. “They have a founding member of the Council under lock and key in Site-01 like a criminal? Jesus. But what do you know about Zero? This is all pretty vague outside of their conviction by the Council and then incarceration.”

“We don’t know more than that, but we want to. What do you know?” Nobody asked.

“The Impasse is essentially due to the Foundation – or anyone – managing the anomalous, containing it, and erasing it from society or reality in some cases. To address it the Foundation gathered four artifacts that in various ways addressed the entropic erosion of ‘magic’ in the universe. But nothing is being done to prevent it from happening all over again, the actions that brought us to this are continuing. Unless something is done, we will be right where we were again in no time flat. And when the next Impasse happens, it will be much worse. Maybe irreversible. It’s only a matter of time.”

“So, what do you and your rebel friends want to do about it?”

“Not sure. You?”

“Stop them.”

“How do you plan to accomplish that?”

“Well, first things first – we need to get Zero outta that cell.”

Cruz didn’t know where Site-01 was but she did know a thing or two about the artifacts the Council had used to stem the tide of the Impasse. And there was no damn way they didn’t keep those magical doodads nearby. Cruz had been involved in retrieving some artifacts, and might be able to track down those used for the Impasse. “Give me time” she said, and she’d see what she could do.

She didn’t disappoint.

Couple days later.

Tea shop this time, in the Library again. Cruz thought this was the best place to meet. She had official reasons to be here in the extraspatial archive of mystery and it was the place least likely to involve surveillance. The Foundation held little sway here, and even her limited permissions represented huge changes for the researchers she worked with. Still, Cruz looked around for her contact and for anyone out of place.

Nobody sat in the other chair at the table. Cruz took a sip of her oolong and then choked back a squeal as she noticed that it was actually Nobody sitting across from her. Coughing, she set the teacup down.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Cruz asked, once she finally stopped choking.

Nobody shrugged. “I’ve been sitting here for five minutes. You’ve got a lot on your mind, Dr. Cruz. I can’t help it if you’re distracted.”

“Can’t you turn that off?”

“Can you turn off your hair color or the width of your eyes? No? Me either. This is the way it is. Did you find something or not? I have shit to do, Doctor.”

Cruz scooched around the bistro table and closer to Nobody. She spoke in hushed tones. “You need to understand that I’m a little uncomfortable with this. I don’t want anyone getting hurt, especially not me.”

“Nothing will get back to the Foundation, relax. We’re not interested in burning our bridges. No one will know but myself and her Royalness.”

“And if you’re captured during this jail break?”

“Thaumaturgical key memetics, I won’t remember who I got the info from unless I receive the code word from someone else.”

“Alright. Another thing, I have no idea how to get you into the Site. All I’ve managed to do is locate it. No clue what sort of assets are in place or security countermeasures you’ll be up against.”

“No idea?”

“I’m an archaeologist, I don’t have the slightest clue.”

“Did you call me here for a reason?” Nobody asked.

Cruz sighed and slid a small envelope onto the table.

“Okay, so I was able to track down some of the artifacts used in stemming the Impasse through backdoor security arrangements and GPS tags for certain anomalous objects. There are systems that track the location–”

“Good god, that’s boring. Is this the location or not?”

Cruz rolled her eyes, made a low growl, and opened the envelope revealing a slip of paper with GPS coordinates.

“You’re pretty rude, you know that?”

“Eh, it’s my natural charm rubbing you the wrong way because you’re American. How sure are you that this is Site-01?”

“Eighty-five percent. It’s a very strong likelihood, but impossible to say for sure without the right clearance.”

“It’ll have to do,” Nobody said, while slipping the paper into her jacket. “Why are you doing this? What do you want?”

“I thought it was obvious, we want access to Zero. Whoever they are.”

Queenie confirmed the coordinates in rural New York. Sabattis is an abandoned hamlet within Hamilton County, New York, which has less than five thousand people as of the last census. Sabattis Christian Parish and the attached grounds have fallen out of use in the decades since Sabattis’ abandonment, but an old trust sees to the upkeep of the grounds - a two-hundred-year-old chapel and graveyard that hasn’t had any bodies in it since the 1890s.

The grounds of Sabattis Christian Parish’s graveyard matches up to the geolocation Cruz had provided us. So, there we were. Barry, myself, and one of the Queen’s pet sorcerers, in the wet New York fall weather. Just hoping for confirmation of some sort.


The stone chapel sat silently in the misty morning air, surrounded by mossy gravestones. No one had entered in the last five hours, and yet Nobody continued to watch the building from a dense copse of trees nearly half a kilometer away.

“Are we sure this is what we’re looking for?” Barry asked.

“Come on, just look at the place,” Nobody said.

Barry looked at her with a vacant look. Ana laughed. Nobody turned and looked at the Serpent’s Hand mage. She wore a black leather jacket over black jeans and had her hair tied up in a bun.

“The fuck you laughing at?”

“There’s something about the Site, like most, that messes with your perception. And even then, it slides off the mind easily. I’m surprised you get it,” Ana said. She looked through binoculars at the sleepy stone chapel.

“Okay, so there’s some whammy on the grounds so that lends credence to it being shady. But nothing has happened. If this was a major Foundation Site, wouldn’t there be activity? Also, where the hell is it? That’s a tiny building.” Barry crossed his arms and leaned against a tree.

“It’s underground, most Sites are at least partially subterranean. But if your information is correct, then this one is mostly underground.”

“Well, our source – whoever they are – is reliable. Besides your queen confirmed the intelligence,” Nobody said. “So, what’s the plan here? You’re the expert on breaking into secured facilities.”

“Without some info on the layout, we shouldn’t try to infiltrate without reconnaissance. So, we watch. But the problem is, we’re gonna be here for a while and the longer we’re around the more likely we get spotted.”

“We have that covered,” Barry said.

“You can control it that well? Choose who can perceive you?”

“No, or at least, I can’t. But we can effectively aim the effect outwards and leave the local area free. It’s not easy but we can, otherwise you wouldn’t be so unaffected. Even chatting like this, you’d lose us easily enough if you weren’t paying direct attention.”

Ana turned and looked at Nobody, who shrugged. “He’s way more experienced with this shit, but yeah I push it out so it’s projected away. It’s the best way to avoid detection over open spaces.”

“Terrific. So, we watch.”

Three fucking days of this. We wait around and move positions, and the most we see are some groundskeepers. We follow those home at the end of the second day and snag some uniforms so we can examine the grounds in closer detail. On the third day, having apparently seen what she needed, Ana opened a way and we found ourselves back in the Library.

Several planning meetings later, Ana was joined by Kimori and we gathered in an armory.

“You understand the plan?” Ana asked Kimori.

“We infiltrate directly, with the aid of the Nobodies’ natural attributes and the fallacia memoria. Confirm the location of the target and then exfiltrate via Way.”

“Hold on a second, you can just make a Way?” Nobody asked while she slipped the ballistic armor over her head.

“Not usually,” Pixie cut said from the doorway, “but by using a foci, specifically prepared for it, a thaumaturge can essentially piggyback onto an existing way. It’s temporary and doesn’t last long, but it can work.”

“As long as they haven’t warded the facility,” Kimori said.

“If they have, you can either fight your way out, or break the warding. If you can secure the subject, they should be able to help.”

“As long as they’re conscious.”


“Are you fucking serious? Fight our way out?” Nobody asked.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but we’ll be focused on every countermeasure to being discovered we can,” Ana said, pointing to Nobody’s torso. Nobody looked down and saw that she seemed to be wearing Foundation issued combat armor and coveralls, similar to the security she’d seen in a few Sites. The others were dressed similarly.

“Besides, haven’t you waltzed into a bunch of Sites?” Pixie cut said.

“By myself! And I wasn’t ever trying to do anything but observe. Not to mention when I copied those files, I almost didn’t make it out.”

Barry slid a side arm into a holster on his thigh and looped his MP5’s tactical strap across his shoulders. “There’s two of us this time and we have the thaumic support of Ana and Kimori. What other choice do we have? Unless we get one of the O5s to directly interrogate, this is the best way to figure what the hell’s been going on.”

“I know.”

“Let’s get you comfortable with those weapons,” Ana says, indicating Nobody should follow her.

Go time

Site-01 Surveillance and Security Records

9:15 – Four individuals approach surface entrance Alpha [Sabattis Christian Parish chapel]. When they enter the building, security systems register the appropriate codes and biometric scans.

9:17 – Surface elevator lowers to primary entrance lobby. Security personnel note the elevator carries security staff returning from a perimeter check.

9:18 – The security personnel at the check point note that the system suddenly accessed the layout of the limited humanoid containment on-Site. Thaumic sensors note the presence of ritual activity momentarily but then drop away to minute levels, which is evaluated by personnel and on-Site AIC as a fragmentary glitch.

9:26 – Subterranean Elevator Alpha, connecting the main entrance from the lobby to the humanoid containment cells, show activity. The elevator registers the presence of four individuals, based on weight distribution, but no digital recording (audio or video) is recoverable. This is not perceived until review of records later on.

9:30 – Thaumic sensors again momentarily trigger followed by a rapid decline to normal levels, this time in the containment wing for special humanoid anomalies. Tharsis.AIC begins monitoring the section for any anomalies.

9:31 – Security Checkpoint Charlie, stationed in the alpha clearance area of the humanoid containment wing, registers the presence of four additional personnel than was scheduled for that time. Tharsis.AIC pings the ranking officer at the station for a status check; an “all clear” response is received.

9:35 – Cell Alpha-0, sealed under orders from the O5 Council, registers a proximity alert. No presence of an O5 clearance is noted by the system, so the alarm triggers when the personnel did not move on.

9:36 – Locking mechanism on Cell Alpha-0 registers an attempted sabotage. Lockdown is initiated in the area, announcements are made, and MTF Alpha-01 (“Red Right Hand”) mobilize to respond.

…and so, we’re right back to where we started.

Nobody involuntarily ducked her head as a barrage struck the impromptu metal barrier. Ana returned fire and yelled something to Kimori, whose hands had started to move in a rhythmic manner. The smoke from the grenade began swirling and collecting near the door to the corridor through which the MTF was firing.

Barry cursed loudly and shook his hand. Nobody turned towards him and yelled over the gunshots. “Was this part of the plan?”

“Not exactly, but we knew they’d be on us the moment we touched the doors!”

“We did? No one fucking told me!”

He waved her off as he pulled at a couple wires and began stripping them. She glanced through one of the slits in the metal and saw the profile of a gas mask and body armor just as it emerged from the swirling smoke. Nobody stuck her gun through the slit and fired off three (was it three?) bursts. Some of those shots must have hit, as the black armored figure went sprawling back through the doorway with a yelp.

A small cylindrical object rolled through the smoke towards the barrier and Nobody looked away. She started to scream as her vision went black but just like that the lights were back on and she was able to see. She looked towards Ana to see the thaumaturge holding her hands out and pushing a layer of blackness up away from their side of the barricade. She looked down at Nobody and said, “Flashbang.”

Another loud hail of bullets struck the barricade, and Nobody ducked away again. “A ricochet is possible, but for the most part small arms shouldn’t be able to get through this. We’ve done this a few times – siege tactics effectively,” Ana said.

Nobody turned away from the mage and looked towards Barry again. “Can I help in any way?”

Another smoke grenade triggered beyond the barricade but was again subject to Kimori’s thaumaturgy.

“I was an electrical engineer before all this, so unless you think you know more about bypassing electrical systems than I do, shut up and keep the–”

Gunshots interrupted his thought and he bent over the wiring he had extracted from the door panel. Nobody fired through a slit in the barricade, catching an approaching shadow through the smoke. Ana was drawing her short sword, which made Nobody think of old gladiator movies. Along the blade shimmered ghostly yellow flames spelling out something in a language she didn’t recognize. Nobody caught Ana’s eye and pointed. Ana just pointed at the door and said, “Keep your eye on the ball, nowhere girl.”

She was going to respond but an explosive force knocked her out of her crouch and onto the cold cement floor. Her ears were ringing. She looked over and saw Kimori on the floor, blood trickling from his forehead. Ana was on her feet but bent over and holding onto the barricade.

Two soldiers jumped over the barricade and approached, with their guns raised at Ana. Nobody emptied her magazine into their backs. Another pair of boots landed near her head, and she looked up in time to see the toe approaching her face.

Blood. Room spinning. Someone heaving. Her, it was her heaving. She tried to focus her vision and saw a blurry Ana stab the MTF soldier through the chest, igniting his clothes as she slid the sword free.

Someone was yelling behind Nobody, but her head hurt too much to turn around. She could taste blood and thought her jaw might be dislocated. Ana bent down and took two objects off the soldier she had stabbed and threw them over the barrier. Two loud bangs and a flash of bright light illuminated the room. Two voices screamed from the doorway. She lifted Nobody and dragged her towards the cell Barry had just opened. Nobody could see that Kimori wasn’t moving and said so.

“He’s down, you’re not,” Ana said as she half carried her into the cell.

Concrete walls and harsh fluorescent lighting waited for them. And a hunched figure, restrained by an intricate straight jacket and chains. Barry was cutting through the straight jacket. Nobody could see what she assumed was a gag on the floor in front of the bound figure.

“Who are you people?” Zero asked.

They had four arms, Nobody noted.

“Your ticket out of here, if we’re lucky. Where’s Kimori?” Barry asked.

Ana indicated the hall, which had grown eerily quiet.

“You tried the foci yet?”

“This whole area is warded up the ass, no idea where to start.”

Free of the straight jacket, Zero reached up to the steel collar around their throat. There was the flashing of a light beneath their palms and the locking mechanism disengaged, the collar falling to the floor. Zero stood and stretched their four arms. Nobody, Ana, and Barry stared.

Zero reached out to the hall and in a moment Kimori’s prone form was sliding into the cell with them. “Now, give me the foci.”

Ana handed a small statue carved from wood to the four-armed mystery person. Nobody tried to stand on her own but fell back against Ana’s shoulder. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Zero held the foci to their forehead with one hand and began a series of gestures with the other three. Nobody could feel the temperature of the room spike downwards, as a small electric jolt flew through her body. The lighting took on a summery orange quality and the left wall caved in; where it had stood was now a shining window framed in yellow light. Through the window, she could see the floor of the Library and she breathed a sigh of relief.

Gunshots from the hall echoed into the cell and Barry yelped, falling backwards holding his left side. Zero picked him up with two of their arms and leapt through the portal. “No time to lose.”

Kimori’s limp form went next, held aloft by something and finally Ana carried Nobody over the threshold and into the golden light of the stacks. She turned at the end and spit through the Way, just in time to see two of the MTF soldiers running towards the aperture raising their rifles. Then, as suddenly as the Way was there, it was not. The danger passed, all four slump to the wooden floor.

Ana glanced at Zero. “How did you defeat those wards?”

“I invented most of the thaumaturgy the Foundation has used for decades. Arrogant fools thought they had me completely helpless, but I admit that without your aid and the preparation of the foci, I wouldn’t have been able to manifest a gate.”

Nobody leaned her head against a bookcase and gingerly touched her jaw, which seemed well connected if incredibly sore. “Great, what the fuck do we do now?”

“I assume you’re all working for the Queen, so we meet with her, and we decide our next steps,” Zero said.

“I’d like a doctor,” Barry said.

“But what are we doing next?” Nobody asked.

Zero sighed. “I tried reason before, to convince them of their foibles. But diplomacy won’t get us anywhere, I learned that firsthand. No, it’s time to shut down the O5s.”

rating: +40+x

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