Wanderlust: Part 3

"Concentrate," directed Cain. "Allow your ability to flow naturally from you into the devices available."

Alice, in absolutely no mood to take suggestions at the moment, yelped, "Get the bugs off me! Get them off!" She was covered in a swarm of bumblebees, having been coated in a synthetic queen bee pheromone gel to attract the insects, and she was positively frantic from the ordeal.

"Do not panic," said Cain. "Drone bees do not possess stingers. You are quite safe."

"I hate bugs, Cain! Hate them!" She was flailing about like a ragdoll in a hurricane, trying to get away from the fog of Bombini.

"Concentrate," repeated Cain. "By using the devices you have been given, you will be able to drive the swarm away yourself."

Alice yelled back, "How the Hell am I supposed to disperse a swarm of bees with an alarm clock and an eggbeater!?"

"Consider the options available," said Cain, still not rising above his normal speaking tone.

"I don't think she's going to pass," commented Stanley, his outer angles rotating along opposing axes as he stood nearby watching. "Would you like me to disperse the bees?"

"Not yet," said Cain. "Allow her time to make an attempt."

Alice could barely concentrate enough to even find the devices in the room, but she eventually stumbled around to where the electric gadgets were laying. Picking up the battery-powered devices, she held them out before her like weapons. The alarm clock began to bleat loudly, while the mixer whirled up to speed. Before long, the two devices had created a sympathetic resonant ultrasonic frequency.

The bees didn't let up. Stanley sighed. "This is hopeless."

Cain nodded. "Send them away, please."

A dozen hundred tiny bubbles in the air enveloped each of the insects, sending them out of the room. Alice panted and wheezed, out of breath, but visibly relieved to be rid of the bugs.

"What did I do wrong?" she finally asked.

"Bumblebees don't have ears, sweetie," said Stanley, chuckling.

Cain was more forgiving. "The technique you selected would have been effective on mosquitoes. However, it was not the correct stratagem for aroused drone bees. We will try another scenario."

"No," said Alice, "no more bees. I'm tired of this. I'm not in training for the X-Men here!"

Cain sighed softly. "Very well. We will break for the time being. Stanley, would you mind fetching us some refreshments?"

Stanley nodded. "The usual for you, Alice?"

"Yes please," she said, wiping the pheromonal spray off of her arms and face with a damp rag. Stanley disappeared in a whiff of parabolic functions.

"I still don't understand what the purpose of this is," complained Alice, trying futilely to get some clumps of the jelly out of her follicles.

"We are examining different ways of using your abilities," answered Cain. "In the same way that a master of combat must train his body, a master of strategy must train her mind."

"I don't want to be a master of strategy," said Alice. "I want to not have bee crap in my hair, and I want to not be going through these stupid tests."

"The tests are designed to allow you to explore your abilities in a variety of situations," explained Cain. "You must be as prepared to access them in a crisis as you have been doing under the various laboratory conditions here at the Site."

"Why?" asked Alice, peering at Cain. "Why do I have to? What if I don't want to?"

"Alice," said Cain, "understand that I am not doing this to punish you, or to convince you to act in a certain manner, or think in a certain manner. I have the ability to deduce a number of possible futures. I have seen what is coming, and I have seen your place within it. If you opt to ignore my council, that is your decision, and I will not force you to do anything you are not willing to do. However, the probability that the human race will survive the coming weeks is quite slim if you do not."

"Thanks," huffed Alice, "that sure doesn't put any pressure on me."

"I apologize for my unfavorable propositions, but I feel that directness is the most prudent demeanor for these topics."

Alice sat, quiet for a moment. "What's this Chariot of whatever you mentioned?"

Cain sat down with her. "Between this world and others exist walls which keep the various realities from leaking into each other. However, at times, passageways appear, or are built, that allow access from one world to another. I have reason to believe that you are such a passageway."

Alice blinked. "Me? A passageway?"

Cain nodded. "I have theorized that your abilities over electronics are derived from an extradimensional power source, one which is attuned to the logic circuits of powered devices. Flow from that world enters this one through you, allowing you to interface with devices that answer its calling."

Alice blinked again. "That's so wild."

Stanley reappeared, a caramel latte in one hand and a croissant in the other. "Bon appetit, ma cherie."

"I knew it," said Von Schnitt. "I knew this would end badly. Fish was out of his gourd to propose this."

"It would seem that he did not account for all the relevant variables," nodded Gears.

"808, 073 and 299," said Von Schnitt, shaking his head. "Good Lord, can you even imagine the potential for damage here? Cain can't be hurt, Alice can hack computers with her mind, and Stanley can step sideways through space. Who authorized this?"

"I've been checking into that," said Gears, handing Von Schnitt a number of requisition forms. "It seems that our zealous and clever Mister Cain has been exploiting a number of legal loopholes in the rules. This one gives him access to one Euclid-level SCP in matters of experiential data, whereas this one allows exposure of two SCPs for purposes of fostering cultural understanding between alien species…"

Von Schnitt overviewed the files one by one. "That sneaky little Sumerian," he said. "He's been playing the rules off of one another to keep us in an infinite feedback loop of bureaucracy! No wonder no one noticed this."

Gears nodded. "It appears that your gut feeling in regards to SCP-299 was not unfounded."

Von Schnitt picked up his phone receiver. "Get me O5-2 on the line," he said to the operator. Then he peered up at Gears. "Fishmonger be damned, I'm going to handle this nonsense."

"Huh," said Saint, "that's weird."

"What is?" asked Field Commander Williams. He was standing over Dr. Snorlison, who was in turn sitting next to Kain Pathos Crow. This was Crow's interview, but since the Egg Walker was overdue for repairs and he had long since lost his opposable thumbs, Snorlison agreed to handle the pencilwork for him. Williams was present for security purposes.

"058," replied Saint, leaning back in his chair as he mused to himself. "He's changed."

"058?" asked Crow, growling lowly. "You're supposed to be concentrating on Iris, Saint." He cast a glance over to the one-way mirror to the next room, where the blonde girl sat under guard of two members of Omega-7.

"I know that," replied Saint, "and I was doing quite well with that, but then out of the blue, 058 burst into my range."

"058 isn't even in this building," said Williams.

"I'm aware of that as well, Fritz," said Saint. "It's quite peculiar."

"Stop dictation, Snorlison," directed Crow. Snorlison nodded, putting down his pen. Crow looked back to Saint and asked, "What is 058 saying?"

"The same thing, over and over," replied Saint. "'Theli emerges.'"

"On your feet, Carol," yelled Underwood, "it's showtime!"

Trevino leapt up, grabbing her gear reflexively. "What's the situation?"

"Direct orders from O5-2," said Underwood, strapping extra munitions to his uniform. "Multiple security breaches involving Cain, Alice and Stanley. We're going in to break up the party."

Trevino blinked, then steeled herself, collecting the standard complement of weapons. "What's the stratagem?" she asked.

"We can't hit Cain, obviously," said Underwood, "and we can't hit Stanley without using the Lotto Stepper, which is still being tested at Think Clink. That leaves Alice, who is open to all conventional firearms and combat techniques, so long as we don't bring anything electric. Radios and targeting systems are to be left behind. Our objective is to separate Alice from the other two, and place her in lockdown."

"What if Stanley or Cain decides to interfere?" asked Trevino.

"Then we'll have to get real clever, real fast," quipped Underwood. "You ready?"

Trevino nodded. The two Agents hightailed it for the drop point, knowing the rest of the squad would already be there.

They met up with Tau-3 two minutes later. "Status," said Underwood.

"They're in the gymnasium," reported Agent Ward. "Teams One and Three are waiting for your go-ahead."

"Good work, Stan," answered Underwood. He pulled something resembling a dog whistle from his flak jacket, and blew it twice. "Let's move!"

Tau-3 Team Two burst into the gym from the main doors, while Teams One and Three came swarming from the two emergency exits. Cain, Alice and Stanley were all inside. Cain and Stanley were standing off to one side of an immense wrestling mat, with Alice on the opposite side. In the center, two entities were engaged in fierce melee: SCP-219, and SCP-108. The former was moving of its own accord, apparently being animated by Alice, while the latter had been armed with only a boxcutter. The combatants appeared to be fairly evenly matched.

Alice, distracted by the outburst, turned her head towards Team Two, meeting Trevino's eyes. The Atlantean robot mimicked her head movement. In the confusion, 108 leaped back away from 219, scanning the room's invaders. "Finally," he said, "some adversaries who bleed."

"Oh, Hell no," said Underwood, cocking his rifle.

"This is about to get real ugly," said Stanley.

Cain remained stoic. "Execute Provision 7," he directed simply.

"What, now?" protested Stanley.

"Do it!" commanded Cain.

Stanley side-stepped out of space just as the bullets began to fly. He was beside Alice in an instant. "I'd recommend closing your eyes," he said.

Alice blinked a few times in disbelief, frozen for a moment in the heat of the situation, and then shut her eyes tightly.

Stanley enveloped her with his body, and the two disappeared from existence.

Cain stood impassively watching the proceedings, bullets occasionally finding their way to him, followed soon after by the howls of members of Tau-3. Meanwhile, 108 was having the absolute time of his life.

"Can I open my eyes now?" asked Alice, shaking.

"You may," answered Stanley, panting for breath. "Sorry about the rough ride, but I haven't done a marathon run like that for a while. It's a bit taxing." He wheezed a few times, before adding, "Actually, I'm rather impressed you're not vomiting right now. Most three-forms don't handle their first jump very—"

At which point, Alice began to throw up.

"Oh," said Stanley, "nevermind that, then."

It took Alice a few minutes to recover from the gastrointestinal trauma. She took a few deep breaths after, gaging her surroundings. "I recognize these walls," she finally said. "Where are we?"

"Reliquary Research and Containment Site-76," answered Stanley. "We're here to reunite you with an old friend."


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