Wanderlust: Epilogue

"Have you finished with those status reports, Cain?"

"I'm just memorizing the last one now, Doctor Gears." The Sumerian skimmed over the last section of the page, then placed it into the outbox with the artificial hand that had been holding it. He turned to face Gears, who was standing over him. "SCP-343 appears to have returned to his room as expected, and exit interviews do not indicate any change in his disposition. That officially accounts for all of the missing SCPs."

Gears nodded. "Your next task is to report to Doctors Rights and Bright in Weapons Holding. They should be finishing up their preliminary summary of SCP-228 soon."

"As you wish, doctor." Cain stood up to leave, walking out of his office after Gears excused himself.

He navigated through the hallways of the Site, nodding politely to various Agents and Doctors as he passed them. As he was about to take a right turn, he caught sight of Able coming through a cross-hall. Able stopped, peering at his brother, who in turn stopped as well. The two Sumerians stared at each other for a long time across the divide, silent and terse.

"You did well," said Able, finally.

Cain nodded once. Able continued on his way. Cain did as well.

"No, no, no, no!" Rights was yelling and hitting a piece of equipment with a spatula as Cain entered; the device was on fire. Bright was laughing like a hyena, but to be fair, that may have been because he actually was a hyena.

Cain blinked. "Am I interrupting something?" he asked.

"Just a minute, Cain," said Rights, stamping out the last of the flames. "Shit, shit shitty shit shit. Well, technically the egg is fried."

"Oh no," said Bright. "You have to eat it too, or I win the bet."

"I am not… I hate you, Bright." Rights turned to Cain. "Okay, mini-emergency abated for now. What's up?"

"Doctor Gears has sent me to retrieve and memorize your report on SCP-228," answered Cain.

"Ah, yes, that," said Rights. "Well, it's just about done, if you'll just sit tight while I dot the i's and cross the t's." She moved over to a laptop, beginning to type into a text box.

"Far as we can tell," said Bright, "228 burned out its siphon power. Must have been some kind of massive wide-spectrum E/M burst, enough to overload all of its power systems. Erased all of its core programming, as well. We haven't been able to get it to so much as blink."

"That's just the preliminary report, though," added Rights, still typing. "Her actual subsystems appear to be intact. With time and effort, we think we can get her working again, and with new programming, she'll be a valuable addition to the Drone Division." Rights hit return, and the old dot-matrix printer began to whine as it committed her words to special plantless paper.

Cain picked up the printout once it had finished. "Very good," he said, nodding. "I'll take my leave of you now, Doctors." He walked out of the Holding area, implants glistening in the fluorescent lights of the building.

"Weird guy," said Bright.

"You're one to talk," said Rights.

The hyena sat up on his hindquarters. "Shouldn't you be eating that egg about now? Remember, no salt or pepper."

"You sacrificed your own daughter to save the world," said Snorlison.

"Rather Messianic, isn't it?" The Fishmonger chuckled lightly as the two men walked down the hallway together. "It was what was needed. Alice was the offspring of parents from two divergent timelines. That was the catalyst required to bring the power to this world that would heal the wound between the planes of the Kinets and the Ies."

"We'll never see her again, then," noted Snorlison.

"No," said Fish. "She's officially decommissioned now. Might as well free up that 808 space for something else that may come down the pike."

"I think it would be appropriate to leave her in the database," said Snorlison.

Fish hummed. "You're not losing your detachment, are you doctor?"

"Not at all. But we do need to cover our bases, don't we? After all, that's the real reason you're here, and why you've tried to confound me and everyone else with your ridiculous lies."

Fish blinked. "Doctor Snorlison?"

"Cain didn't rip a hole in the worlds. Alice's sole role in this universe was not to push back the Theli invasion. And you, sir, didn't create the SCP Foundation."

"My good doctor," said Fish, "whatever incites you to express such insane notions?"

"I see the patterns, too," said Snorlison. "And I see you for what you truly are. Answer me this question, Fishmonger, since you're so fond of asking it of others: how do you know Schroedinger's cat is still alive?"

"You don't," replied Fish, "until you look in the box."

"Precisely," said Snorlison. "Therefore, to ensure the cat remains alive, the obvious solution is to have no observer. And that's you: Observer Zero."

"But that also ensures that the cat remains dead, as well," countered Fish.

"Which is just as valid an outcome," said Snorlison. "As Observer Zero, you ensure that all possible outcomes are available."

Fish smiled. "Very good, Snorlison. You're going to make quite an adequate replacement for me."

Snorlison blinked. "Replacement? Are you leaving us?"

"Not as such," said Fish, "but it's clear to me that I should perhaps take a less direct role in the affairs of the SCP Foundation. I've done quite a bit of good work here, but I've also changed things dramatically, and not necessarily for the better." He stopped, putting his hand on Snorlison's shoulder, and smiled. "I'm quite pleased to pass the Observer Zero title to you. You've proven you can remain objective even in the face of purest subjectivity."

Snorlison considered Fish's words for a moment in silence. "What will you do now?"

"Oh, I'll be around," said Fish, nodding as he continued walking, leaving Snorlison standing by himself. "After all, you never know when you might need someone to help keep the timeline in check."

"Excuse me, sir?" came a voice from behind Snorlison. The doctor turned around; it was Iceberg, one of the new recruits.

"What is it?" asked Snorlison.

"I was just about to file this report on the Theli situation," said the low-level researcher, "and I wanted to get verification that it was signed off by the Fishmonger."

"Oh," said Snorlison, "well, you're in luck, he's right—" Snorlison turned back to where Fish had been, but there was only an empty hallway. He furrowed his brow slightly.

"Sir?" asked Iceberg.

"Nevermind," said Snorlison. "What's the problem? Did he sign it 'Kilroy Esteve Aqui' again? That's a little joke he likes to play on the lower staff. It's Portuguese for 'Kilroy was here.'"

"No, sir," said Iceberg, "it looks like he signed it properly with his codename and level, but he only initialed it."

Snorlison took the report from Iceberg. Indeed, instead of "Fishmonger, Observer Zero," the document was signed "FO0."

knight's pawn takes knight

"Well, that answers almost everything," said 488-1, musing over the chessboard. "Things are about to get very interesting, if what you have said is true."

Agent Farris came into the room. "That's your session for today," she said, addressing the Mediterranean teenager.

"About time," said 488. "This is boring me to tears."

"Hush, you," said 488-1. "Agent Farris, if I could have just thirty more seconds?"

Farris nodded. "Make it quick."

"There is one last thing that I don't understand," said 488-1 to 177. "If Snorlison is correct — if the Fishmonger did not create the SCP Foundation — and I assume that he is, then who was feeding Von Schnitt that false information?"

The pieces on 177's board began to fall over, one by one, moving from the outside edge inward, until one remained.

Only the black queen was left standing.


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