You Can Leave Your Friends Behind
rating: +116+x

« SCP-3688 | Your Friends Don't Dance »

Kayleigh MacMallan felt the bullet tear through the side of her head as her vision cut out and she collapsed to the ground. Two of her duplicates stumbled and tripped too, before she managed to regain control and get them back on their feet. That was the second one to die today - she had felt it both times. At least the bullet was quicker.

She'd managed to generate five dupes before the gunfire started. Now she was down to three. When she'd started learning the Flash Mob, she thought that controlling half a dozen versions of her body at the same time would have been difficult. It only took a few minutes to get used to it, though, and now it was almost natural to her.


"You alright, MacMallan?" Stuarts asked. Him and Deacci continued the Barrier Waltz, generating a faint shimmering bubble around them that kept them safe. She'd gotten over how ridiculous they looked doing it a while ago. Osuigwe was on the other side; he'd generated four dupes before the shield went up, but as far as she knew all of his were still alive.

"Yep, just lost one. I'm fine."

The bubble flashed in time with a dull thudding sound. A bullet bounced off and fell harmlessly to the ground. The Serpent's Hand had attacked Foundation sites before, but this was brazen even for them. What hell were they doing here?

He'd heard the whispers. The Foundation had developed something new. Some weapon or kind of soldier. It was unlike them, to use one of their shiny new toys instead of locking it in a box and pretending it didn't exist, and that had made certain people curious.

They were secretive, certainly, but they weren't so hard to find if you knew what you were looking for. A couple of months of digging and he had managed to track down the facility this new group of theirs was operating from, and then it was just a matter of waiting. And he was nothing if not patient, a trait which had been regularly rewarded in his line of work. He'd gather enough info to sell sooner or later.

Two four-by-fours rolled out of the facility that had, quite poorly he thought, been disguised as a run-down old chemical factory. He followed at a distance as they headed north. He wasn't too worried about being seen, but being reckless didn't pay the bills. It got harder as they left the city and headed out into the open desert, but he had ways of keeping hidden. Soon enough the vehicles stopped. Eight Foundation agents emerged.

Four of them started dancing. He started recording.

"Where the hell is Michaels? And where the fuck is our backup!" Deacci roared.

Three of the Serpent's Hand soldiers - were they soldiers? She had no idea how they were structured as an organisation, she realised - had reached the bubble and were alternating between hammering on it with metal batons and trying to blow it up. They'd never get in of course, not as long as Deacci and Stuarts kept dancing, but it sure was distracting. Osuigwe's dupes held the entrance to the site while hers laid down suppressing fire, trying to hold the road. The backup Deacci was yelling about would need a clear path in.

It wasn't a heavily equipped site. They didn't actually contain anything here so security was pretty light - just Sigma-2, who were currently deployed there, and a basic security detail who were keeping things locked down inside. Why the Serpent's Hand would even be attacking this site in the first place was a mystery, and from what she knew this kind of full-scale assault wasn't normally how they operated.

Osuigwe pointed at one of the soldiers outside the bubble, who held a metal rod with some kind of silver fork on the end. "What the hell is that?"
Looked kind of like a tuning fork, MacMallan thought to herself just before they approached and tapped it against the shimmering sphere.

The noise was sudden and agonising.

She and Osuigwe clapped their hands against their ears, but Deacci and Stuarts didn't even have that small respite; they just kept dancing, and it was only a few seconds before she saw a small trickle of blood coming from Stuarts' ear. Sound shouldn't have been able to penetrate the shield any more than their explosives had. She was about to tell them to stop dancing when the sound cut out.

She looked back around just in time to see Michaels snap the neck of the last of the three in one of their giant hands, colossal chest heaving with exertion.

"For the last time, Jackie, please stop calling it the Fusion Dance. I'm sure the process reminds you of all your cartoons but I can't stress enough how serious this is."

"I know, Doc, I know."

"Are you sure? You and Anders will literally be merging into a single body. It's a miracle we even got approval to try this and I don't want you blowing it by treating it as a game."

"Come on, Valdez, lighten up a little. We know the drill," she clapped the doctor on the shoulder. "We've practised. We're ready."

Doctor Valdez, Head of Development for Project Marqod, nodded. He ushered Agent Molera into the testing area; Anders was already there waiting.

The movements required for the kinetoglyph they had designated PMK-06 were fast and intricate, but surprisingly short. It was over almost before he had even realised it had started; a flurry of twists and leg positions and ending with the right forearms touching. There was a flash of light, but no sound, and then Anders and Molera were both gone.

Standing in the centre of the test area was one of the most physically perfect human specimens Valdez had ever seen. Standing well over two meters tall and built with muscle, wearing the same bodysuit both Anders and Molera had been wearing, the giant flexed its arm. Biceps rippled under golden skin.

Valdez stood there, staring and stunned. It had worked. They had fused into a single, perfect, androgynous person. One that, it appeared, was content to stand there admiring its own body.

"How- how do you feel?" Valdez finally managed to ask, breathlessly. Everyone else in the room was silent.

"I- we- hm. We are…" the giant cocked their head to the side, as if considering. "Michaels. We are Michaels." And then the most perfect smile spread across their face. They laughed. "And we are great!" Their voice was like music.

Michaels started running and jumping and somersaulting around the room, whooping with delight and moving with a level of agility and speed that until about five seconds ago would have seemed impossible considering their size. This continued for a few minutes, before Michaels ran over to Valdez and effortlessly lifted him off the ground in an embrace.

"This is incredible, Doc!"

"And you're both okay? You're both… there?"

"We're both here, yeah. But I'm- I'm me. Does that make sense? I don't know how to explain it. When we think, it's with both of their voices. But we think the same thing at the same time."

A frown spread across their face as they dropped Valdez back to the ground.

"So er, Doc? How do we separate?"

Michaels made a series of hand gestures- Are you okay? -it was the only way to communicate through the bubble. Light passed through for some reason, but everything else was blocked.

She gestured back- We're fine. Stuarts' ear had already stopped bleeding. Michaels nodded, then turned and sprinted towards the front gate at an inhuman pace. They were something else. The higher-ups had prohibited using the Fusion Dance again; two for one wasn't a good deal in their eyes, especially when they still hadn't found a way to separate them. But at this point MacMallan wasn't sure Michaels would want to be separated. And they certainly pulled their weight, so she was happy that Michaels was around. It was a shame the Flash Mob didn't work for them.

She shook her head and focused. She'd managed to hold the road with her duplicates, but something seemed off. The Serpent's Hand had stopped pushing forwards.

"Osuigwe, what's your status?"

"There's no one here. At the main entrance, I mean. They pulled back about a minute ago. I think we've driven them off."

MacMallan frowned. That was a big display for them to just give up like that. She grabbed a walkie from one of her belts.

"All stations, check in."

A series of voices reported back, confirming that the attackers had all pulled away. She waited. Everyone had checked in. Everyone except Radek.

They had found his body stuffed in a utility closet. He'd been stabbed in the back. The only casualty of Sigma-2 and he hadn't even been on the front line. They'd found two security personnel and a researcher dead, too. The entire damn thing had been a diversion. They already had someone inside and needed a way for them to get out.

It had been over an hour; her duplicates had blinked out of existence a while ago. Being reduced back down to a single set of senses was always a little jarring after the rush of having multiple bodies all feeding in sights and sounds and sensations, but she was glad for the relative numbness right now. They'd been played. She slammed her first down onto the table wordlessly. Sanderson, the head of site, scowled briefly before turning her gaze back towards some research technician she didn't recognise.

"What did they get?"

"Files on three-six-eight-eight, Project Marqod development logs, video files of practice sessi-"

"What did they get, Ian?"

He paused before responding.

"Everything, ma'am. They got everything."

Max reviewed the footage of their raid on the Foundation site. A glorious, golden-skinned giant tore through five people as if they weren't there, dodging bullets as it went. No way that thing was natural. They'd lost more people than he would have liked, but they got what they wanted.

More footage; squads of identical people, glowing force-fields, someone who could move faster than any human should. And that giant. He'd heard of Foundation teams using anomalous things on missions before, and even heard rumours of a team of reality benders they used on rare occasions, but for them to regularly make use of a group that had this kind of power… that was an escalation.

He wouldn't let his small part of the Serpent's Hand be left behind.

He skimmed through the documents they'd recovered to get an idea of what they dealing with. All of this, created from a single base dance. No information on where that came from, unfortunately, but there was probably something in the Library.

Something caught his eye, a dance that had been forbidden by the Foundation's leaders.

He flicked through the video files they'd retrieved until he found what he was looking for. Some people talking, then two of them start to dance. A flash of light, and in their place, that giant. That was it. What had she called it? He replayed the video.

The Fusion Dance.

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