Wanderlust: Part 1

"This little hipster girl is becoming a real pain in my ass, doctor."

Dr. Von Schnitt recoiled slightly under the gaze of O5-2; even over the plasma screen, his visage was intimidating. On screens flanking Overseer 2 on his left and right, O5-7 and O5-8 watched the proceedings in terse silence. Behind Von Schnitt, Doctors Snorlison and Gears were equally nonvocal, the former looking rather relieved that it wasn't his head on the chopping block, and the latter gazing on the proceedings with an impassive stare. Off to one side of the two observational doctors, the enigmatic being known as the Fishmonger stood nearby, arms crossed as he took in all the others with an aloof indifference.

"The situation with the late Dr. Bishop is most unfortunate, Overseer," stammered Von Schnitt, "but as I think you'll see in my official report, SCP-808's reaction was not unjustified. In both cases where the SCP forced an override of a combination technological-organic system, it was in response to a direct threat to itself."

"I have read the report," shot back O5-2. "My question to you, doctor, is how do you determine what is a justifiable threat to SCP-808? We're not talking about an automated weapons platform with precisely doled artificially intelligent missile defense systems; we're talking about a frightened and unpredictable 19-year-old girl with the ability to hack anything electronic — and anything connected to anything electronic — with her thoughts."

"I will admit to failure in regards to the selection of Dr. Bishop," said Von Schnitt. "He was young, inexperienced, and cocksure. I misjudged his abilities in respect to his self-control. However, I do not believe I was incorrect in my assessment of the situation. If SCP-808 is to become the invaluable resource that Oversight believes she can be, then it is imperative that her motivations change to a pro-active stance, rather than a reactive one. To that end, we need a liaison to her."

O5-2 huffed. "And whom or what would you propose that honor fall to next? Completely electronic entities are out of the question. Completely organic entities have proven ineffective. Composite entities almost certainly ensure disaster. What options would we have left, then?"

Von Schnitt was silent for several seconds.

"Begging sirs pardons," spoke up the Fishmonger, "if I might make a suggestion?"

"Speak," nodded O5-2.

Fish spoke. "I believe that Dr. Von Schnitt is correct in his assessment that a liaison is required to properly adjust SCP-808's attitude. I also believe that you are correct in your assessment that the standard compliment for such work is ineffectual."

"Then you must also agree that the situation create a vicious circle," said O5-2

"On the contrary," Fish said, "I would like to propose an elegant, if unorthodox solution."

O5-2 hummed. "Continue."

"What SCP-808 requires is an entity with whom she can relate. The logical course of action would therefore be to assign another SCP to her that we can implicitly trust. If, in turn, this SCP has certain abilities of its own that interest SCP-808, we would have a unique opportunity to guide her development. Naturally this would mean that an SCP with cybernetic implants would be preferable. However, in light of the exposure to SCP-137, the SCP would also need a natural countermeasure to SCP-808's abilities."

"And where," asked O5-2 with marked sarcasm, "do you propose we find this magical SCP?"

"Actually," answered Fish, "he lives right down the hall from her."

Dr. Franks knocked on the door of Cain's room. "You busy?"

"No, doctor," replied the Arabic-looking man, his voice even-toned and unimposing. He was sitting at a desk, taking files out of a folder and scanning his eyes over them in sequence. He did not look up at the doctor as he spoke again: "I assume you've come to deliver the Kriebel documents for memorization and cataloging."

"Right as usual," said Franks, entering and placing the folders he'd brought with him in Cain's inbox. "Never ceases to amaze me how you do that."

"As I've explained previously," said Cain, "a scientist such as yourself should be closely familiar with integral functions. Once a pattern emerges, one can easily deduce the next event in the sequence, given enough time and data." He stopped reading for a moment, looking up at Franks. "Have they authorized her to meet me yet?"

"Who?" asked Franks, looking sincerely puzzled.

"The girl," replied Cain simply. "She's become quite an issue to Oversight as of late. I calculate an 87% probability that she will be assigned to me today."

Franks looked slightly incredulous. "You mean 808? Are you sure you've got your data straight on this one, Cain? This is a little lady who can direct cybernetic implants to reconfigure a host body on a cellular level. Not exactly a good fit for you, I'd surmise."

"Under normal circumstances, I would deem you correct, doctor," replied Cain. "These, however, are highly unusual circumstances, which warrant a larger focus on the least absolute deviation. I believe my prediction will hold true."

Just then, Von Schnitt entered the room. "Franks," he said curtly, "take a powder. I need to talk to Cain."

Franks screwed up his eyebrows, looking to Cain and then back to Von Schnitt, but said nothing, leaving without fanfare.

"Dr. Von Schnitt," said Cain, nodding to the new arrival, "I've been expecting you."

"That's cheeky, because I sure haven't been expecting me," snapped back Von Schnitt, visibly displeased. "I'm here to inform you that I've been removed from continuing evaluation of SCP-808, effective immediately. Oversight has decided to place you in charge of her further development. Mobile Task Force Tau-3 is at your disposal."

"I see," said Cain. "Thank you, doctor. I will endeavor to do my best to motivate her towards the SCP cause."

"See that you do," said Von Schnitt, leaving in a huff.

Cain considered the doctor for a moment, then turned back to the collection of folders in his inbox, picking up where he'd left off, reading the files one by one.

"They took away my DVD player," pouted Alice, eyes gazing down into her meal, which she played with idly without taking any bites.

"I'm sure it wasn't personal," replied Agent Trevino, sipping her tea out of a featureless coffee mug. "You know they always need to study everything thirty times over whenever an event happens. You'll probably get it back when they're done looking it over."

"I hadn't finished watching Baraka," Alice added, remaining sullen.

Trevino watched Alice for a moment. "You really should eat something," she offered. "I know you're having a hard time these last few days, but you shouldn't punish yourself by starving. Go on, have some of the potatoes, they're really good."

"That's why they sent you to watch me," Alice said, "because I'm 'having a hard time.' Nice euphemism for 'rape victim' there."

"That's not fair," said Trevino. "I've been with Tau-3 before we got assigned to you. I've known you a long time, Alice. I thought maybe you and I could dialog a bit, is all."

"They just sent you because you're a girl," said Alice. "Like we've got some sacred sisterhood of the bleeding vagina."

Trevino sighed. "Look, I'm sorry. I really just thought you could use someone to talk to."

"That's part of your script," said Alice, becoming irate. "I know I'm young and really naive, but I'm not retarded. All this is is another tactic to get into my head and find out what makes me tick. Well, guess what? I don't know what makes me tick! So maybe you stupid government jerks are just wasting your time!" She threw her fork into the plate, splashing up bits of asparagus.

Trevino said nothing. The two women sat in silence for a long, awkward moment.

Agent Underwood appeared at the door. "Trevino, we're taking 808 down to 073's room. He'll be heading this up from now on."

Trevino blinked. "073?"

Underwood nodded. "He wants to see her immediately."

Trevino stood up. "You heard the man," she said to Alice.

"I'm not exactly in a mood to meet anyone today," replied Alice, crossing her arms.

"You know we can do this the hard way if we have to," Underwood said, firmly, "and we won't feel bad about it, either, because we warned you in advance."

Alice sighed, standing up form the table. "Fine," she spat, heading for her waredrobe.

"I'd suggest keeping to wool, leather and polyester," added Underwood.

"Come in," said Cain, simply, still engrossed in his work.

Trevino gave Alice a gentle press, to which Alice returned a rather spiteful look, before entering Cain's abode.

"You may go," added Cain to the Agents.

"Regulations state that at least one Agent must be present between any meeting of SCPs," stated Underwood matter-of-factly.

Cain looked up from his file at Underwood. "Article B-47-D, section J-89-A-2, subsection A-12, subsubsection H-9 of that regulation states that in cases of a minimum of three O5-level agreement, no more than two SCPs of Safe designation may be allowed unrestricted access to one another. I have been granted such an approval. If you would like to verify this order, you may contact Dr. Von Schnitt."

Underwood huffed visibly, knowing fully well that Cain wasn't known for bluffing. "No, sir," he responded, leaving the doorway. Trevino followed in tow.

"Please feel free to make yourself comfortable," said Cain, returning to his files. "I will be finished with this task momentarily."

Alice regarded Cain for a moment before moving, unsure as to how she should proceed. After a long silence, she asked, "What do your implants do?"

"I'm not entirely certain," replied Cain. "They seem to function in much the same way as normal limbs, but I don't recall when they were given to me, or why I needed them."

Alice blinked. "Do they hurt?"

"Not in the manner you mean," said Cain.

Alice inhaled sharply, looking around the office. All of the furniture was made of non-organic materials — glass, metals, etc. There were many books and files, but the paper they were printed on appeared to be some kind of flexible plastic, rather than normal wood based.

"There," said Cain, putting the last file into his outbox, "I've finished today's queue." He turned to face Alice in his desk chair. "Sit, please."

"All things considered," said Alice, "I think I'd prefer to stand."

"As you wish," said Cain. He regarded her face for a moment. "You may call me Cain. I've followed your files very closely, Alice Jasper Rook. You've been a part of my statistical calculations for some time. I believe that you and I can aid each other."

"I've heard that before," said Alice, "and it always means that someone wants something from me or else they'll do something bad to me."

Cain blinked. "I am incapable of causing you intentional harm, Alice. On the other hand, you are also incapable of causing me intentional harm."

"I've done pretty well with it in recent events," warned Alice.

Cain nodded. "Let's try an experiment, then, if you're willing. I want you to use your abilities to take control of me. Have me do something fairly innocuous — picking up this pen, for example." He pointed to a plastic ball-point on his desk.

Alice hesitated. "Why?"

"I want to prove to you that the only person that can hurt you here is yourself," said Cain.

Alice thought a moment. Then, she reached out with her mind to Cain's implants, trying to imbue them with her will, directing his arm to reach up and pinch himself on the nose. Shockingly, Alice found herself reaching up to her own nose, and grabbing it hard.

"Ow!" she yelped, letting go of the implants with her mind, and finding that her fingers let go of her nose as she did so.

Cain, amazingly, didn't laugh at her. "I apologize for this demonstration," he said, with genuine concern. "Are you alright?"

"No!" shouted Alice, rubbing her nose. "How the Hell did you do that?"

"Any violence imposed on my person returns to the inflicter," explained Cain. "Invasion of my thoughts is a violation by definition. Therefore whatever actions you attempt to have me do will be executed by your person instead. This is why I suggested a harmless action. Attempting to exercise severe changes though my implants, such as restructuring my neural pathways, would undoubtedly wreak grave consequences."

Alice considered Cain's words carefully. "Okay, so I can't hack into you like I can other cybernetics," she concluded. "But what's to stop you from hurting me?"

"That is not an option I am disposed to," said Cain, simply.

"You're going to have to do better than that, said Alice.

Cain blinked, then sighed. "I can offer no explanation at this point that you would not dismiss. I apologize for this inadequacy."

"Fine," said Alice, "say I take you at face value. Why is dealing with you going to be different than dealing with any other doctor or agent who's been looking to exploit me?"

"Because, Alice," said Cain, "you are not here to learn how to help the SCP. Tentatively, that is the goal I have been assigned, but it is not the reason you have been called to me."

"Then what is the reason?" asked Alice

"To become the Chariot of Splendors," replied Cain.


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