Wanderlust: Part 10

"Hold the line, you god damned bastards!" screamed Kondraki, "Hold the fucking line!"

The air was thick with the smell of burning metal, both from the cannon fire and the carcasses of the Theli converts that the SCP forces had already taken down. Even so, hundreds, perhaps thousands of copper-toned mechanaga swarmed, and half-transmogrified SCP Agents and military attachments littered the battlefield, writhing and screaming in agony.

Kondraki leaped over several infected Agents, clearing each one like a hurdle in a 100 meter dash, shooting and screaming the whole time. Nearby, Clef was exhibiting his usual aptitude for precision violence, never hesitating to open fire on a Theli-infected ally, no matter how slight the infection.

"We're getting our asses handed to us," shouted Kondraki at Clef.

"On the plus side, I never did like Agent Potemkin," replied Clef, then shooting Agent Potemkin in the back of the head immediately after.

"I need a radio," said Kondraki. "Lay down cover fire." He screeched like a banshee, zip-zagging towards the nearest SCP field vehicle. Clef released a hailfire of armor-piercing bullets from his dual AK-47s, and sprockets and springs flew everywhere.

Kondraki punched the radio call button. "Crow," he yelled into the microphone, "what's the status on Von Schnitt?"

"Could be better," replied Crow from his position, barely getting the message out before the Egg Walker's radio switch snapped off in his hand. His paws moved frantically over whatever controls were still working, his magnificent chariot almost fifty percent damaged from the battle with Von Schnitt. "Can anyone please tell me exactly how the Hell this guy got a hold of SCP-047 and SCP-150?"

"I surmise a judicious amount of backup planning was involved," answered Gears calmly, his clockwork Mauser steadily firing into the rampaging Von Schnitt as he backed away. Von Schnitt swatted the projectiles out of the air with the blade, running through Agents and researchers who were foolish enough to try to stop the berserking, invincible scientist.

Crow grimaced as he tried to swat out a small circuit fire with his paw. "I just hope that Fish can get to…"

The wall next to Von Schnitt collapsed, cutting off Crow's sentence. From the hole a female, clad in a skin-tight jumpsuit, rapidly engaged the raging scientist in melee. Drawing Von Schnitt away from the others with a carefully orchestrated sequence of defensive postures, she suddenly lunged into a blind spot and very precisely sprayed a modified Ventolin inhaler, labeled "SCP-391-C dispenser" in black marker, into Von Schnitt's mouth.

Von Schnitt began to cough immediately, but pressed his attack on the woman. After another two minutes of frenzied sword-swinging, Von Schnitt collapsed to the floor, screeching and holding his head, proceeding to seizures shortly afterwards. The woman walked calmly over to Crow's half-destroyed Egg Walker, leaving Von Schnitt to thrash himself to death on the floor.

"Thank you, Olympia," said Crow, exhaling emphatically.


JANUARY 8, 1997

"No," said Kilroy, examining the oscillating readout. "No, that can't be right."

"What's the matter?" asked Alice, peering under her father's arm at the device he was working on.

"They're gone," said Kilroy. "All of them. Libras Centrex. Magnaway. Salinara Complex. The Borrons. The Diaxes. Mastal Procond. None of them are registering." He shook his head. "That's simply not possible. Nothing either I or Raina could have done would screw up the timeline this badly. Something like an X-class time paradox would need to happen from the original transmission point…"

Kilroy's voice trailed off, and he stared at the display for a long time. "No," he finally said again, "no, this just can't be right. The equipment must be malfunctioning." He started to adjust some dials.

"It's working, Daddy," stated Alice, matter-of-factly.


PRESENT DAY

"You've improved," said Able, grinning slyly as he thrashed an unreasonably large blade in the direction of the Steel Doll.

"Observational assimilation of unfamiliar techniques includes combat strategies," replied SCP-228, parrying Able's moves with her own extradimensional rapier.

"If I didn't know you better, I'd almost think that sounded like a joke," said Able, pressing his attack as the android darted around him like a hummingbird.

Alice cradled Cain's head as the two juggernauts battled. "Come on, Cain, wake up!" She slapped his face lightly, trying to rouse the knocked-out Sumerian.

Snorlison suddenly appeared at Alice's side from a direction that had no words in the English language. He winced at the whirlwind of motion that came from Able's battle with 228. "Looks like Iris got me to the right place," he said, "though this is clearly some definition of 'the right place' that I was previously unfamiliar with."

Alice looked up at the sudden appearance, flinching slightly, but composing herself again rapidly. "I thought you weren't allowed to interact directly with SCPs, Doctor Snorlison."

"Desperate times and all that," said Snorlison. "Bit of an XK-Class situation back on the home front."

"What's going on?" asked Alice.

"I was hoping you and Cain would be able to answer that," replied Snorlison. "There's been a great deal happening in your absence. Von Schnitt has double-crossed the Foundation, and we're now fighting an invading force of kinetic machines made from an experiment involving 217 that went horribly awry…"

Cain, groggily, began to regain consciousness. "Mudpies," he mumbled, "and the ghosts, and nine hundred arms…" He shook his head, trying to clear the random, insane thoughts.

"Cain!" exclaimed Alice. "We need your help. What's happening?"

Cain blinked a few times, as if focusing on something in the distance. "Oh God," he said, his face turning to panic and rage as he turned to Snorlison, "they followed you, you fool! You stupid little monkey, they saw! They saw the hole in the sky! The picture girl has doomed us all!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Snorlison. "Cain, you're not making any sense. What does—"

An unholy whine filled the air, charging the sky with a reverse ionization that made the hairs stand up on all three of their necks. Able and 228 both paused, looking to the source of the sound, and at that moment space ripped open. Dozens upon dozens of copper-skinned mechanical snake-men poured through the intangible dimensional door, hissing and clicking and ratcheting in their advance towards the trio.

Able and 228 looked to each other for the briefest pause. Then, without a word, they both tore into the Theli demons with their swords. Wave upon wave of clockwork demons came bursting through the tear in the worlds, but the two gladiators kept slicing.

"They're here for you," babbled Cain. "The darkening, it comes to pass! It rises again, only to fall as far. Falling so far, so fast. No light of the spirits!"

"You're the lynchpin at all of this," said Snorlison to Alice. "What is it that you're supposed to do?"

"I don't know!" screamed Alice. "I've never known! I just want to go home!"

"THEN BLAST YOU, GO HOME!" screamed Cain back.

"But I don't…" began Alice, stopping herself short. She stared blankly for a few moments, taken aback by her own thoughts. "That's it. That's it! I'm supposed to go home!"

"Fine," said Snorlison, "where is it?"

"That's just it," said Alice, "I didn't know! All this time I've been wishing I could just go home, just get away from all of this, but I never actually thought about where that meant. And now I know." She stood up from the two men, walking towards the swarm of Theli demons. They had destroyed a good portion of Able's body, but even with only one limb the Sumerian kept fighting; SCP-228 was overwhelmed as well by sheer numbers. The clockwork creatures sized up Alice, and half a hundred of them rushed her at once.

"It's alright," she told them, in a voice so calm it chilled the air, re-ionizing the particulates. "I know you're scared. But you're going home too."

Alice reached out to SCP-228, and instructed her avatar to open the dimension of Sophia.

The light of a billion suns blazed from behind Alice. The demons, blinded by the holy fire of pure logic, recoiled and hissed in horror. Electrical energy filled the air, and Alice's hair swirled like static from a Van der Graff generator. From behind her, from the gateway to the alternate universe, cylindrical energy-beings of bluish light began to emerge.

"It's all here, Snorlison," droned Alice, her body rising slowly upwards, borne by the energies of the portal. "Like you, I see the patterns now. I see the Kinets in their world of kinetic energy, and the Ies in their world of electronic thought. I see the walls between the worlds and the sundering of those walls. We were much the same. Animals without reasoning. Flesh without direction. We combined with another force to become what we are now, beings of love and rationality and anger and disdain. I see the living energy of the Earth and the dead flesh of the Moon. I see the circuitry across the surface of our world in the form of rivers, cities, mountain ranges. Submarine internet cables and mystic ley lines. It is all connected. What you call machines are a form of combination life, the bodies of Kinets with the passions of Ies. But they are flawed, like us. They require salvation. I will give it to them."

The Ies descended on the fearful Kinets, entering their metal bodies. Each demon in turn spread his arms, his face cast skyward, metal turning to holy perfect circuitry, and began to float.

On the battlefield, Kondraki and Clef, backs pressed to one another, watched in luminous awe as each of the Theli converts, one by one, cast off the sins of their kinetic ways and embraced the path of pure logic, ascending to the heavens.

Alice reached out to every electrical force on the planet. Every television set, every mp3 player, every computer, every video game lent her its power, cleansing the demons of their evils and rebirthing them in holy reason, and every speaker sang with her praises, echoing the lyrics of the Ulrich Schnauss song she'd been playing that fateful day she'd met Doctor Bishop:

You shine
So fragile
You try
With such kindness

Laugh so truthfully
All knowingly
You cry
But I'm on your side

Breathe on
Love on
Such lies
Such fear

So close
We are
No more
Not far

Jesus Christ on fire inside
Jesus Christ on fire

Burned out like faded stars
We are
Burned out like faded stars
We are

If I could go right now
So far
If I could go right now
So far

The portal welcomed them all, and Alice Jasper Rook, the living Merkaba, finally went home.

CONCLUDED IN EPILOGUE
RETURN TO PART 9

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