Rhythmic Periscope
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rating: +12+x

by Rigen

Periscope0.png

Reminisce

"It was raining back then too." Galuh muttered, taking shelter in front of a closed store. The deafening roar of the torrential downpour drowned her words, lost and ignored by the fellow refugees of heavens' tears.

Of course, whether it would rain on any particular day was almost a 50:50 chance where she lived. The fact that multiple life-changing events she experienced had all been drenched by the raining Malang sky was statistically irrelevant.

Under the very same rain, she had struck a deal with a demon. Access to an entire database filled with proof that she was not insane, that it was the World that was broken instead of her mind. The demon promised a revelation of a world she had only seen bits and glimpses of, the world beyond the Veil she had only ever dreamt of—in the depth of her darkest nightmares. In exchange, her soul, bound eternally to the shadow under the demon's feet.

Galuh didn't even hesitate at the offer.


Periscope1.png

Bargain

"Welcome to the SCP Foundation." the demon had said, holding an umbrella over both their heads. "You can call me Factotum Alnilam."

Looking back at the day, the demon's words and tactic had been indistinguishable from that of some common cults. The young Galuh at that time must have been particularly susceptible to such tactics, so in a way it was fortunate that the Foundation had found her. She could've as easily fallen instead to the many sham cults preying on pitiful souls, or worse: an actual anomalous cult.

The demon arrived, and subsequently carried her away, in a helicopter. For some reason, even though the helicopter was parked in a very normal college's very normal football field, nobody seemed to mind or even notice its presence. A logo consisted of an indented circle and three arrows pointing inwards emblazoned on the side of the helicopter.

It was rather small, but clearly a military design. Acoustic foam plated its interior, resulting in remarkably silent flight—as silent as a helicopter could be, anyway.

"How did you find me?"

"You're pretty famous in our community, you know? A college girl with unknown affiliation was hunting wild Yōkai thousands of kilometers away from Japan. Your story is fascinating, to say the least."

Periscope2.png

Flight

"It's not like I was hunting those monsters. I just wanted to be left alone."

The demon grinned, baring sharp fangs. "And yet you kept wandering to the place they had themselves chosen to hide in. Your ability to find them was almost a talent."

The demon rummaged through a bag beside the packed helicopter's seat, before bringing out a black device with one of its surfaces dominated by LCD screen—not dissimilar to a smartphone. The abominable creature offered the device to Galuh.

Galuh activated the device. A document appeared on its screen, a summary of a defunct organization called IJAMEA and its activity. Scrolling down revealed a catalogue of misshapen creatures that haunted Galuh's life.

"We knew that the IJAMEA brought several Yōkai here with them during the Second World War, and that some of them were left here during the chaos. Stranded far away from their homeland, weakened as the dominion of the Empire left this territory, the Yōkai hid all across this land in the few safe haven overlooked by the Republic's reckless urbanization."

Galuh simply scrolled through the list. "That explains how you knew about me, but nothing about how you found me."

"Well, like I said, there are limited places that Yōkai could hide in across this city. If we keep an eye on all of them, we're bound to meet you sooner or later." The demon leaned forward. "Tell me, huntress, how did you kill them?"

Galuh glared at the detestable monstrosity. "Don't call me that."

"If you won't tell us, we would have to test you. That means locked alone in a room with a proper deadly Yōkai. Perhaps a Kappa or a Tsuchigumo."

Periscope3.png

Devour

"…I ate them."

"Pardon?" Even if Galuh had whispered, the cabin was silent enough that the incorrigible abomination should have heard it, the spinning rotor merely a distant rumble. That the unrepentant wretch asked her to clarify her clearly spoken words meant that even the demon found it hard to believe her.

"I ate them. The Yōkai. Tore them apart, devoured their flesh." All lies, of course; Galuh had been too scared to touch them, much less put them anywhere near her mouth. The needle of rage that the demon pricked on Galuh's head started to clear her confused and vulnerable mind, stabilizing it before panic could seize what little was left of her logical circuit.

I shouldn't have come along. What on Earth am I doing?

"Fascinating. Legends say that those who consume the flesh of supernatural entities would either get poisoned and die horrible death, or gain their abilities. Did either happen to you?"

"Nothing. You said they're weakened?"

"Because the Imperial dominion retreated, right. Or you might just be born with higher immunity against such phenomena."

Or I lied, but if the repulsive profligate considered that possibility, the demon didn't let it show.

"Then again, how you killed them is barely relevant now that you're under our protective custody. The Foundation would spare no resources to ensure your safety."

Galuh narrowed her eyes. "So that thing about testing me against Kappa or Tsuchigumo was a lie?"

"It might stay a lie, or it might become a truth. I am willing to exchange a lie for a truth, but you must decide which lie you want to turn into truth." The demon's fangs flashed once more. "Now, why don't we start again? How did you kill those Yōkai?"

Galuh gritted her teeth. "Fine, I'll tell you."


The special ingredient, like all good supernatural stories, was death.

Galuh was born with the power of Sight, what the Foundation would later classify as 3i Memetic Fortitude. But merely being able to see the colors beyond blue doesn't mean she was resistant from or was capable of harming those that emit them—on the contrary, seeing the invisible had only resulted in vulnerabilities, susceptibility to the blades of unseen clawed fingers. They readily pierced the shroud of your mind, what else could they break?

Do not be alone. Stay away from shadowed ways. Surround yourself with people, and close your third eyes. Knowing what lurks in the silenced darkness, Galuh took solace in the colors that others could see, in the bright lights of neon street lamps: and behind the shield that was Rima's unwavering sense of purpose.

Periscope4.png

Condemn

While callous rebellion was Galuh's mask, faux bravery in the face of horrors behind obscured corners, Rima's stalwart resolve was natural, her cold analysis and passionate empathy synergized into an unyielding bulwark of logical benevolence. Outside observers would have seen Rima as a poor girl that got dragged into Galuh's delinquent ventures, but in truth it was Rima who protected her from the depth of her own fears.

That is, until Galuh killed her.

Objectively speaking, nobody would've accused her of murder. Sure, Rima's parents had warned them to not go, but it's not like they're prescient of the truck slamming into their car. If anything, it was the trucker's fault. But Galuh knew that the actual objective fact doesn't matter: this world operated on faith and belief almost as much as physics theorems.

The blood spilled from both their veins, staining a piece of broken windshield. The shard of amorphous solid glowed in twisted crimson of corrupt Akiva radiation—another term she would learn later in her career, piercing through the immortal shell of those borne of humanity's collective nightmares.


"I called it deadglass." Galuh showed a little piece of glowing glass to the fanged aberrant, attached to a short wooden shaft reminiscent of an arrow. "Glass stained by the blood of a murderer and their victim. You can sometimes find a few shards from deadly collisions."

Periscope5.png

Pierce

Of course, Galuh hadn't initially carried the memento of her sin as a weapon. The vermilion light from that tempered prism had been a reminder, a periscope to the hell that awaited her for both her crimes against Rima. That the jagged arrowhead had been able to harm the lurkers between inky nights was a discovery borne of coincidental circumstances.

"But neither of you was a perpetrator. Both of you were victims." I knew your history, the demon's eyes mocked. Galuh could only glare at the insidious filth.

"You're not my therapist, and you weren't there, so shut up."

"Fair enough. So, it doesn't matter if the blood comes from the actual murderer or not? Someone just has to believe that they are." The demon pondered. "I would want to do a full spectrum Kant and COLLICULUS scan on those glass shards."

Kant? Must be some measure of…deviancy? Anomalous-ness? Abnormality, that's the word. I should probably get used to thinking in English.

"You can't have this one. Go find your own lethal crashes."

"Ideally we want to know if you specifically have to be involved in the creation of the glass, but the Committee would never approve that kind of test. I guess we would have to make do with monitoring traffic accidents for now."

Silence reigned. The helicopter steadily crept northward—the demon had led her down winding alleyways, and the helicopter itself zig-zagged slightly through the cloudy sky, but there's only so much you could do to obfuscate the location of large landmarks like a university campus. And Galuh knew how to count up to 100 just fine, which was enough to deduce the helicopter's rough bearings from the time they spent in the zig-zag motion.

Not north. North-north-east.

"Are we going to the sea?"

The demon grinned. "You'll see."


Periscope6.png

Peripherals

The helicopter lowered slowly onto a long flat deck, hallmark of an aircraft carrier. Four identical helicopters lined a short distance away portside, secured by chains and clamps. As far as carriers go, the deck was rather short, although Galuh didn't have anything to compare it with back then. And besides, she was far too busy being slack-jawed at the sight.

"This is the SCPS Peripherals. This ship was—is assigned as the mobile headquarter for O5-9 and their Factotum assembly."

"Jancuk—how did you hide this ship?! The Indonesian Navy doesn't have a carrier!"

The helicopter was easy to find an excuse for. There are several armed force bases in the vicinity that could reasonably own the helicopter, and while Galuh didn't recognize it at the time, the Mi-17 was a model that the Indonesian Army owned. But an entire capital ship, larger than anything owned by the Indonesian Navy, roaming around the busy Madura Strait?

"All in due time. For the time being, let me introduce you to your new home, Overseer Nine."


She later learned that the ship was held hidden by bribery and antimemetics alike, allowing the command carrier to move relatively unbidden in the seas constricted by as much ships as bureaucratic nightmares. Galuh felt like learning the naval laws across the nations that SCPS Peripherals passed had shaved a hundred years from her lifetime.

The days and years that followed blurred into a broken mosaic of memories, although few bright stars, bearing good and terrible omens alike, pierced through the cloudy mud river. The time she booted up the first iteration of Rhyme.aic. The time she watched her own funeral, from afar. The time she discovered what happened to the previous Nine. The time that blasphemous deviant Alnilam died. The time she signed contracts with other demons, literal or otherwise. The time Rhyme.aic reawakened. The time she escaped from the command carriers, and returned to the city she had abandoned years ago.

Memories she didn't know she had reflected in every drop of rainwater, falling from the plastic canopy.

She still kept her deadglass, now embedded in a decorated dagger along with several other deadglass shards—reminders of the lives she had to personally take. But there won't be enough glass in the world to build a monument of the crimes she had devised, helped realize, or complicit in, under the grandiose lie of "protecting mankind."

Suddenly, a plastic umbrella interrupted the rhythm of cloud-borne orchestra in front of her eyes.

"Have you waited for long?" A soft feminine voice pierced the shroud of heaven's rambunctious choir. A weak smile formed on Galuh's face, carrying more emotions than she could name.

"Yes, yes I have."

Periscope7.png

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