Shut It Down

Site-θ Operations Control

“I don’t care that you have operational control, Sophia. We need to get our people out of this Site and evacuated. Right now!” Site-θ Director James Avery’s voice could hardly be distinguished from the blaring containment breach alarm overhead.

Sophia Light did not respond at first. She stood next to a security officer hunched over their station, where none of Alpha-9 members’ monitoring sensors was showing anything. Not that they were dead or out of range; the computers seemed not to recognize which sensors were being queried. Sophia straightened and turned to Avery.

“My team is trying to resolve the situation, James. You need to give them the opportunity to do so.”

Sophia looked up at the ceiling and the flashing crimson lights. “Can someone turn off the fucking alarms? We’re all aware an emergency is occurring.”

The lights reduced in intensity and the klaxons faded to silence.

Avery lowered his voice but continued to speak. “We lost their signals, one by one, more than an hour ago. They’re gone, Sophia.”

“No. There was no loss of life or trauma on the sensors, we just suddenly didn’t register them anymore. That doesn’t mean they’re dead.”

“Right, but it doesn’t mean they’re not! And you have to admit, it doesn’t look good.”

“Look, James… I was right about the mole, wasn’t I? It’s time to start trusting my judgment. And the anomaly has stopped expanding. So I disagree, things do look better than they did. They’re having an effect doing… whatever.”

Avery put his hand on her shoulder.

“This isn’t about challenging you… it’s about getting my people out alive before everything gets worse.”

“We already evacuated all non-essential personnel.”

He shook his head. “I’m talking everyone. Security, the researchers studying the anomaly, containment staff. Everyone. It’s time to go. And we activate the Epsilon Protocol as we leave.”

“What the hell is that?”

“We flood the sub-basements and lock down the whole base behind reinforced bunker bulkheads. It’s all we have unfortunately, I don’t know if it will do much. But it’s something.”

“But that means even if they got out…”

“We don’t have any more options, Sophia. Look… I’m giving you another hour and then I’m taking these people out of here. You can stay if you want.”


Avery walked out of the operations center with a heavy gait. He’s given up, she thought. Maybe he has a point.

Somewhere Else


Lucretia ran. She ran through universes. She ran along clouds and through glass hallways and across deserts. The scenery changed at such a pace that the violent disorientation couldn’t even keep up. She just closed her eyes and clutched the stone and felt which direction was the right way.

Carlotta yelled from just behind her. “How do you know it’s the right direction?”

Lucretia turned her head and called back, “Because stone tells me! Trust!”

She turned to check on Rainer. He was breathing hard but keeping pace with the other two. “You ok?” she called to him.

He gave her a thumbs-up, and moved in a little closer as he ran. “Where are we going? And why’d we leave 1360?”

“We going this way!” She grinned at him. “Robot can’t come. Orders from Anderson, or something.”

“How’s he getting orders from his maker in all this? We can’t even call Light!”

Lucretia shrugged. She felt the rock pull to her left and she changed directions accordingly.


They were running down a deserted city street, bright afternoon sun illuminating skeletal corpses in cars or on the cement. Then they were running through a forest in the Pacific Northwest, and they could see a large lizard dragging itself through the trees with dozens of horrible wounds on its body. Then they were running through a futuristic cityscape with two men running across the street, one in in a white suit pursuing the other. Then they were running on a beach, next to a huge reptilian corpse burning on the sand.


But suddenly, they were in a misty dark space without limits. She couldn’t clearly see what she was running on, the ground was no longer ground. Panicking, she stopped suddenly, and Carlotta crashed into her from behind. Carlotta bounced off Lucretia’s back and landed on her tailbone painfully.

Lucretia turned around and offered her a hand up. “You good?”

Carlotta stood with Lucretia’s help, and dusted off her backside. “Yeah, just a little warning next time.”

Lucretia looked closer at what they were standing on and found that it was slightly lighter darkness than the surrounding emptiness. She couldn’t tell a thing about the surface, just that it was a lighter shade of blackness.

The stone glowed in her hands, shining blue-tinted light in a pool around them. The effect was strange: they could see each other, but anything beyond them was inky, misty air.

Rainer bent over and braced his palms against his knees. “Haven’t had a run like that in a while. How far you think we came?”

“Who knows?” Carlotta said. “Distances don’t make a lot of sense with all this.” She indicated the void around them.

Rainer stood straight and rubbed at his eyes. He pointed at the glowing stone. “So, what does it say now?”

Lucretia pointed up in the darkness. Rainer peered into the distance. Slowly his vision adjusted, and a shape became apparent in the space above them.

Hundreds of meters in the air was the Thorn, but instead of a few meters it was kilometers in length. Its slick black surface exuded shadowy mist which filled the horizon.

“Well, now what do we do?” Carlotta said.


Site-θ Operations Control

Sophia stared at the monitor in front of the security officer. Come on, give me something.

“How much longer do our intrepid agents have until doomsday?” A voice just off her right shoulder startled her. She spun to face Dr. Irving Gat.

“Just around twenty minutes.”

“There’s not much you can do staring at the screen,” Gat said.

“I thought reality was ‘shaped by our perceptions’?”

“That isn’t what I meant. Reality isn’t a constant quantifiable measurement, you see. You can count Humes until the hypothetical cow comes home but you won’t really know how much reality is present at any given moment. All Kant counters do is indicate a rapid cycling of conceptual reality. But, the expansion halting even temporarily is a sign that a fulcrum could be used to wedge reality back into normally scheduled programming.”

“We already tried to ‘push’ it back into place. It didn’t go very well. We lost a hundred anomalies from containment and then the team.”

“I’m not suggesting we do anything except have a nice cup of tea and wait for Agent Deneb’s team to do more leveraging.”

“You think this is the right time to urge relaxation? I probably just sent these people to their deaths. If they don’t do something in the next…” she looked down at the time on the security officer’s monitor, “…eighteen minutes, then they’ll drown if they even manage to get back.”

“And yet they have already managed some positive impact. Despite the impending deadline and knowing their odds are abysmal, I am optimistic that they shall endure.”

“How do you know any of this? The fulcrum, the anomaly, any of it… you basically just got here, Irving.”

“I gawp at the unknowable on the regular, Director Light. One gets a taste for irrational processes. It’s a matter of perspective. Look between the lines, and patterns emerge.”

Somewhere Else

The three remaining agents of MTF-Alpha-9 stared up at the Thorn hovering in the inky space above them. A hum was growing in intensity throughout the air, seemingly from the direction of the monstrous anomaly hanging above them.

“So, any bright ideas about getting up there?” Rainer asked.

“Do we want to get up there?” Carlotta asked.

“It’s how we came in. Makes sense to get out the same way,” Rainer responded.

“It’s not how I came in… then again, I don’t really understand what happened. I blinked, and I was getting throttled.”

Lucretia crouched on the inky ‘floor’ and sat in a squat. Her chest was tight and she felt lightheaded. She cradled the blue diamond against her chest.

Carlotta squatted next to her and put a hand on her arm. “Are you okay?”

“So fucking tired. And it’s too big. How do we go from here to up there? Just a fighter.” Her voice cracked.

“Listen to me” Carlotta sat right in front of her and put both her hands on Lucretia’s shoulders. She pressed her forehead against Lucretia’s. “You protected Rainer. You survived against that entity. Just breathe.”

“How you so fucking calm?”

“Because I’ve got you here. And you’ve got that.” Carlotta pointed to the stone Lucretia clutched to her chest. “It led you right back to this thing, right?”

Lucretia nodded and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and took another. She could feel her chest slowly loosening up.


Lucretia stood and looked around. There was nothing for kilometers that she could see. No structures, no landscape. Just mist and shades of black.

She turned to Rainer. “What about you? Any tricks?”

Rainer shook his head. “I don’t think I could materialize anything that would help us here. And I’d be worried about trying. I don’t know where I open portals to, but what if being in this place messes with it?”

Lucretia nodded. She turned to Carlotta. “Any ideas, leader lady?”

Carlotta stood next to her, staring at the rock. “You said it’s telling you where to go. How?”

“It pulls. I follow.”

“And now it’s ‘pulling’ up there?”

Lucretia nodded. “But can’t go up there!”

“How do we know?”

“What you mean?”

“We don’t know the rules of this place, or if it’s a place at all, right? Who says we can’t go up there?”

“Is pulling away right now. Barely hold onto stupid rock.”

“Maybe if we let it go?”

“Big bad gamble. Don’t like it.”

She held the stone away from her body and gripped it tight. It was vibrating now and trying to pull out of her hands. She was focusing so hard to keep it still, but then she had a thought. That’s crazy. But maybe Carlotta has a point. Who knows how this all works?

She kept her grip tight but relaxed her focus on the object a little, and she popped up half a meter in the dark air.

“Whoa, what just happened?” Carlotta asked.

“No time! Grab onto me!”

Both Rainer and Carlotta reached up and took a firm grip on her muscular arms. “Hold on… think light thoughts!”

She let go with her mind, and they were soaring.


The dark misty air whipped at Lucretia’s face as they flew through abyss. There was no way to tell how fast they were going, but the Thorn took up all of her view of the sky within moments.

“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ONCE WE’RE UP THERE?” Carlotta yelled into Lucretia’s ear. The air streaming past them barely let her hear the Ex-UIU agent’s words.







“NO. TRUST ME. YOU WIN IN FIGHT BY USING WHAT WEAPONS YOU HAVE.” Lucretia nodded at the gleaming blue stone clutched in her hands.

Lucretia turned her head and looked into Carlotta’s eyes. “YOU LET GO WHEN I SAY. OKAY?”

Carlotta nodded. Lucretia turned to Rainer. He nodded too.

They raced through the final distance in silence. Lucretia’s eyes and nose and ears hurt from the cold air slicing as they rushed through the sky. The humming was deafening now, the Thorn certainly the source. It seemed to vibrate at such a rate that it was noticeable, despite the dim lighting. She focused on the inky expanse of the Thorn, and could just barely gauge the distance between them and its undulating void.


Both Carlotta and Rainer let go of her arms, and she focused just a little on holding the stone in place again. They whipped past her and struck the liquid ebony skein of the Thorn, passing through without a sound.

She hovered less than a meter from its surface, barely preventing the stone from yanking her through.

Lucretia’s muscles bulged with additional fleshy material, as ropes of new tissue and tendons doubled her arm's girth.


She rolled her shoulders, took a deep breath, and took a swing at the Thorn with SCP-4867.

Rainer came to on dusty, cold concrete. He could feel a pair of hands on him, pulling him to his feet.

“It is good to see you, my friend!” SCP-4494 boomed as he pulled Rainer into an embrace.

“Yeah, it’s good to see you too.” Rainer turned and saw Carlotta trying to rise from the concrete floor of the sub-basement. Behind her the Thorn was the same size as Rainer had first seen it.

Rainer bent down and offered Carlotta a hand. She rose and said, “Where is she?”

All three turned back to the Thorn. It’s surface rippling violently. They backed away slowly until several meters were between them and the anomaly.

“Come on, Lucy… where are yo-“

An explosion of light and color boomed from the jet-black anomaly. A crack fissured up the side of the Thorn, leaking a kaleidoscope of colors bathing the room.

Lucretia popped out of the crack with force. She slammed to the concrete slab and lost her grip on the stone, which skittered away.

A wave of pressure and light erupted from the Thorn, slamming them all back and cascading outwards from the room, passing through solid mass as easily as a knife through paper.

The lights in the room grew dim and the alarms went silent. Emergency lighting powered on and bathed the room in crimson.

Rainer stood and looked towards the Thorn. It was no longer undulating, and had shrunken until it was barely a meter tall. It slowly sank towards the concrete until its tip balanced on the floor, and then was still.

“Lucy!” Carlotta raced towards the prone Romanian fighter. Lucretia was sprawled out on the floor, face down.

She crouched down next to Lucretia and put a hand on her back. She placed a finger against her throat, trying to remember how to feel for a pulse.

“Agh! Stop poking!” Lucretia turned over and brushed Carlotta’s hand away. Carlotta was laughing and crying as she helped the other woman to her feet.

“Oh my god, I thought you were dead.”

“Everything hurts. So, not dead.”

Lucretia turned and looked at the Thorn. It hadn’t moved, its reduced form balanced serenely in the center of the room.

Lucretia started laughing. “We did it! Ahhhhhhh!”

She turned and lifted Carlotta in the air. “We fucking win!”

Lucretia set her back down and Carlotta lunged in for a fierce hug. Lucretia kissed Carlotta on the lips, long and hard.

Then she remembered they weren’t alone and broke contact, blushing. “Sorry… ah, I should ask next time, no?”

Carlotta looked surprised, but didn’t pull away. She rested her forehead against Lucretia’s and said, “Yeah, next time maybe ask.”

Lucretia smiled and turned to look at Rainer and SCP-4494. They were both staring at them.

“What? You never see teammates happy after win? Fucking off with that.”

Rainer ran over and grabbed them both in a fierce hug.

“Someone should probably call Light,” Carlotta said.

rating: +64+x

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