Some Sunny Day

Notice:

Please note. The following document contains several depictions of graphic violence. If you are sensitive to this or are not accustomed to this, this story may not be for you. This portion of the document is not a part of the story.

rating: +1+x

It's a slow day at Site-120, and Researcher James Talloran is being flayed alive.

The whole process is surprisingly quiet, actually. This particular session has lasted long enough that their vocal cords are long since overdue for maintenance. The only sounds are those of flesh peeling from meat. Quite peaceful as far as James is concerned. It's nice to have a little bit of a break every once in a while. SCP-3999 smolders in the corner of the room, typing away at the same document, forever. Talloran doesn't think it'll ever finish. Its pungent aura fills the space, the gaseous form a cloud of intoxicant designed to kill on sight. That smell is no more than the scent of a new car, half faded away from age, half faded from acquaintance. The fumes are the smell of home for James, whether he likes it or not.

Please. Just… one fucking moment. One moment of respite, they think to themself. One brief moment to catch my breath, through all of this. Just one.

3999 laughs, and as it does, it's by James's side. "One moment of respite? Won't that make it all the worse when I put you back?" The entity begins to speed up the rate of separation between skin and muscle, and begins to turn back. It pauses.

"What is this?"

The flap of epidermis being stretched from Talloran's back drops and lays slack.

"What the hell is this?" The entity moves to the wall, running a smoking hand across it, subtly feeling the texture, the quality of the testing chamber it's in. At once, it's directly in James's face once more. "I will ask you once more before we take a trip back to Penn State. What. The hell. Is this?" Nothing here is making any sense, and not in the usual ways. Why not the usual mind reading to get it out of him? If something's wrong, wouldn't 3999 just change it? What's agitating the entity?

"You… this isn't just my facsimile. This is Site-120. I didn't put you here. Why are we here? I'm the… no. No. NO." All in sync, the restraints holding Talloran to his table release, dropping his raw knees to the floor. They collapse, blood smearing, as 3999 begins to grind him into the floor with his heel. "This is you, isn't it? I knew it! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! The first one didn't work, the second one didn't work, the five thousandth one didn't work, but it's a delayed reaction! Clearly, it worked! Oh, oh, oh! No, this won't do. Here, on your feet!"


"James?"

Someone had said his name. Someone sitting across from him. He's sitting at an interview table, handcuffed to a bar on the side. Talloran looks around frantically. Bats? Bats with knives for feet? Knives with bat wings? Just floating knives? Nothing. The room is empty. Except for Talloran, a table, and a man, and some easy listening from a radio in the room.

Feeling low…

"Talloran, James M. Hello?" They blink a few times. Maybe he shouldn't even try to anticipate it. The anticipation is half the damage anyways.

"Y-… yes?"

Feeling blue…

"Ah, I see you're with me now. Hi, I'm Senior Researcher Jack Evereds, pataphysics division, Site-120. I think we've met at a couple of mixers?" Talloran stares blankly. "I'm just here to debrief with you after your successful containment of SCP-3999?"

Talloran wastes little time in replying. "You're joking."

All the troubles come my way…

"Wouldn't dream of it, not about this. Very dangerous entity, as I'm sure you know." Talloran nods reluctantly. "Well, I'm just here to discuss the er… method of decommissioning you've used." The researcher rifles through some papers. "It says here… you've variegated. You've got some color on you, good chap!" Evereds laughs, and gives James's hand a playful tap across the table. "You've got just a bit of hume in ya after all!"

But I just won't worry…

"A… after all?" Talloran squints incredulously, retracting his hands.

"Oh, well, yes. Nevermind that. I'm here to evaluate you."

I'll be lucky someday.

Evereds gets up, moves to the wall, and starts fiddling with a dial on the wall. The value reads 0.1, and immediately the room feels greyer, more dull. "Now," he says, sitting back down. "Will yourself out of the handcuffs."

"I… sorry?"

"Will yourself out of the handcuffs, please. With the reality bending we've detected from you. That you have."

Talloran shakes his head. "No, no. I don't-"

"Yes, you do. We know you do. Please, will yourself out of the handcuffs."

They look down at their hands. There's a faint… something to them. Not a glow. But it's something. They're not like everything else surrounding him. Tangible. And just like that, the handcuffs are lying on the table, no wrists inside them. Talloran pushes the table back, frightened of this portent. He stands, knocking his chair back. No. No, how-

Evereds turns the dial again. "Alright, practice test complete. The door now, if you please, in baseline reality?" Talloran isn't listening. He runs for the door, which is no obstacle. One second he's in the room, the next he's in the hall. He's been in interrogation room 3, east wing, Site-118 the whole time. It's clearly 118, nothing changed. Is he back? Are they free? That's impossible, but they've lived impossible. He hurries down the hall, Evereds in swift but unconcerned pursuit. "Now try it in the halls, we've artificially boosted it in here to prevent accidents, as you remember! Give it a try!" James makes it to the break room. Two middle aged men are having a heated discussion that pauses.

"Talloran! What's the rush?" says Researcher Scranton. "Lose another document to an event horizon? I hope you backed up this one."

"This… this isn't real. You died. I watched you die." Talloran takes a couple steps back.

The man in the bolo tie raises his hand. "Now hold ya horses there. Are you doing alright? Have you been…" Researcher Harding pauses. "Ah, this is James, the guy that decommed 3999. Give him a break, he's been through some stuff. How are you doing, do ya need a coffee?" He gets up and makes a move to the counter. By this point, Evereds has caught up.

"Hey, James. You opened that door." Each of them pauses and gives him a look. "You didn't pass through it like the last one. Are you being anchored?" James takes a look at the coffee offered to him by Harding, and gently takes a hold of it. Nothing's changed. He's in Site-119, right where he should be.

Right where he should be, in Site-120. He drops the mug, watching as it falls through the air before shattering on the ground. He'd tried to vanish the mug, but here it is, lying in shards on the floor. Harding is the first to respond. "Ah, goddamnit. Sorry, thought I passed it off all the way. I'll grab ya a towel, hold on."

"No," rebukes Evereds, stopping Harding. "Ma… Talloran can simply erase the coffee off the ground, isn't that right?"

"I can't-."

"You can't? You can't do it? Or you won't do it?"

"I-," they try to squeeze out an excuse, a reason for defiance, an explanation as to why they can't raise a hair to get rid of it. Maybe it's impossible, maybe it's on precedence. Without any movement, Evereds locks eyes with Talloran, inches away from his face.

"Which. Is. It?"

"I can't! I can't vanish it! Why do you expect me to be able to do that? Why? I didn't decomission anything!" Evereds's eyes narrow intensely, an inhuman emotion developing on his face.

"Because he could!"


In a flash, there's a steel toed office loafer pressed firmly against his chest at such a speed he passes through the break room door in the conventional way one would without opening it. As he falls, he claws at the walls of a vertical cavern, desperately attempting to catch his fall as he watches a stone tip pierce directly through his abdomen, his heart caught on the end and pulled out of his chest. Talloran, impaled on a single stalagmite in a sea of lava, can hear the wails of ever voice he could ever recognize. Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors.

"I can't believe it. Oooh, you had me going for a doozy there. You know what you are, you fucking parasite? You're a LEECH."

Talloran gasps, loosely clutching at the organ too far out of reach to grasp and place back where it should be."

"And here I thought you might have had some GOD DAMNED POTENTIAL FOR ONCE, YOU WORTHLESS SACK OF CRAP." Talloran watches as a floating Evereds descends the chute and collects his prized meat, that which he ravenously devours, bloodying his maw and spilling droplets of his blood which coalesce into a dense, red fog. SCP-3999 clears it's throat, resuming it's favorite eye-to-eye position. "Suppose maybe I should let you in on this? Just a tad? You did manage to pull yourself back to reality on your own, after all. Maybe I should give you a dose? A sniff? A… taste?" It gags, retches, and then vomits, spilling Tallorans heart into their mouth, forced open by gasps of fear. "That was your first glimpse at what's real in a long time, did you miss it?" It places a finger into James's mouth, followed by a hand, and then his forearm, shoving the wretched concoction deep inside their pierced torso. And like that, it's all black.

A single floodlight spills from an unknown source, illuminating the blackness and spilling on to the ethereal shadow. "I am the one who's containment procedures number three thousand, nine hundred, and ninety nine. But we're well acquainted." The smoke clears as the shape within twirls, revealing an unstained white labcoat and a man who's brown fringe of hair covers one eye. "And we've met too, James, but did you know I've served under Cygnus, governor of all that diegesizes?" The clothing melts away, revealing shaggy, fur covered legs ending in hooves. Horns sprout from his head, but before they complete, they become limp, bells sprung from the ends, a fool's cap taking their place. A similarly yellow outfit is completed when a smear of white across his face is left by a grungy hand. James recoils at the sight. "No no no, Jamie-boy! I thought we got rid of that coulrophobia a millenia ago! Very well. Back to very basics it is."

Via elaborate back handspring, his outfit shimmers into fatigues. Upon landing, he claps twice, and springloaded bars eject from his legs, propelling him high into the air, the fall from which he mitigates with the force of miniature jet engines, embedded in his forearms. The curved bars give him 2 feet of height on James, but he leans down and places a hand on each of Talloran's cheeks, engaging the jets and incinerating his facial structure as SCP-3999 places a gentle kiss on what remains of James's forehead.


Talloran wakes to a crushing blow to the jaw, severing it completely. It chottle's across the concrete floor of the room he's tied up in. He blinks open his eyes and sees another, darker pair leering from his favorite angle. "Oh, how I love this look on you, you pathetic… improper thing. I fixed that strong jawline of yours! It should be much weaker." It cranes back, squinting in the billowing smoke. "This too…" It grasps either side of his head and tears out his hair, follicles pulling out the skin, which it tosses to the side. "Good, leave the front…. and now…" It reveals a scythe from behind itself. It swings it in a wide circle, scraping against the stone floor as it winds up before striking at the ankles, his feet rolling a few feet before coming to a stop. The pool of blood under James's feet widens.

"Oooh, oooh. One more thing. One more," it says, as it takes the glasses out of Talloran's shirt pocket and places them back on his face, wiping the blood from the lenses. "Mmmmm..," it sighs contented. "Perfect." It sits down in a chair opposite Talloran and stares at them as they slowly bleed to death, over the course of 15 minutes. As it does, it's expression sours slowly, and by the end it's agitated enough to help out by beginning to slowly pummel him to death, shattering the chair in the process and delivering impossibly thundering punches. It's unnervingly calm speech as it lands these hits, a shocking discrepancy from the anger behind the beating.

"You know you're wrong. You know you can't replace anyone else. And do you know what that means?" It's less of a sound at this point, Talloran couldn't hear it if it were. The thoughts echo around his brain as it caves in. "It means you were made for NOTHING. You've been alive for days, and for what? For this? You're alive for this?" A boot goes through a shoulder, as if the affected area was just dumped out of a blender.

It backs up, and brushes some blood off its chest. "Tch. Let's take a break, I gotta cool off."


"pass the biscuits?"

Talloran does his instinctual body check, and finds themself intact in their flowery dress. Across from them, a researcher. Long pastel hair is draped casually over the back of their chair, feet up on the immaculate tea table.

"At once." Dr. Anaïs Laraskë of Site-15 retrieves an ornate plate of cookies, jam filled, and places them well within reach of the head of the table.

"m-mm. nah. in." They point at their mouth expectantly. The butler, dressed in an immaculate 18th century suit, picks up one of the baked goods and places it directly on the outstretched tongue of the researcher. They retract their tongue, crunching and savoring the cookie for much longer than acceptable.

"What is this?" Talloran asks insistantly.

"oh… uh, a tea party, princess. i said i'm chillin, so i'm chillin'." Talloran attempts to stand, but finds his hands bound to the chair with an invisible force.

"So, what is this, another one of your faces?" The researcher points behind Talloran, turns upwards their palm, and curls the finger inwards, beckoning. From the doorway stride Gary Harding and Draven Kondraki, twinning each other in matching maid outfits and feline ears and tails.

"s'more tea. me and our guest." A wide, lazy eyed smile flows across their face.

Talloran's eyes widen. "Draven, I… you…!" Draven looks at Talloran blankly, with no sense of recognition as he pours their tea.

The unnamed researcher laughs. "based. soo uhh… that question. kinda tough. ya seen shakespeare? boring ass dusty plays?"

"Shakespeare?"

"haha yeah. soo basically, one time he said 'one man in his time plays many parts.' well, one fucked up entity can… :]"

James looks at them with so many emotions it's impossible to pin one down, but a large part is confusion at how one manages to say :] with their mouth. "You're gonna elucidate what the hell is going on here while you make my boyfriend serve us tea? Fuck you."

"nuh-uh-uh. calm down, princess. isn't it all so adorable?" Talloran only glares in response. "k. well, we'll do it cinematically. you can be me, and i'll be… uh, everything else." They stand up, hands on the table, and stretch. "one more thing before we go! one last 'nya', please, boys?"

Gary and Draven place their hands into a pawlike position in front of their chest. "Nya." they say, robotically.

"we can uhh, work on that. let's get the fuck outta here."


"Beta, BETA!" Talloran yells, shaking the body of a woman held in his arms.

What is this? Where am I?

A young woman is bleeding profusely from her chest, bulletproof but retro Task Force garb pierced directly through with a wooden stake. The tip is coated in a green ooze and, of course, her blood.

"It's okay. Just let me go. I'm…" She coughs, dribbles of blood mixed with spit dripping down her cheek. "…replaceable."

These thoughts, I… who am I right now?

"No, no! I'm not letting you die. I'm gonna try to-" but he's cut off by an aggressive motion from an absolutely shredded Task Force member.

"Delta, that amount of manipulation would kill you! Don't you dare!" He grabs his shoulder firmly, but his eyes betray compassion in them.

He shakes his head. "Her life for mine. If I don't work quickly, even I'm not gonna be able to save her."

The nerd speaks up next, his shrill voice cutting in. "Your Hume value is too low, Delta, keep that up and you're going to go critical! We don't know what's gonna happen if you do that, it's never been tested!"

No, don't do it, don't-

He screams, screams the loudest he's ever screamed. He presses the palm of his hand against Lisa's forehead, channeling anything and everything he can muster into making her live, just making her live, she's alive and she's gonna live, goddamnit. A passive, white light wells up and surrounds the two figures, getting more intense as the screaming gets louder, begins to warp. The stone walls of the cavern begin to crumble, fade from existence. A figure appears, searing into his mind. A logo, a phrase, spelled out in Bauhaus font, hex code color #e5e6e8. His screams turn to white noise as he hurtles faster and faster, and all at once, he smashes into the wall and splats like paste.


James wakes on a table. He stares up at himself in the mirrored ceiling, the face of Dr. Evereds staring directly back at him. But something's different. His eyes are a startling yellow, something vile compared to the comparatively boring green eyes Talloran remembers. He's outfitted in the same retro task force garb he noted before on the woman named Lisa.

I'm living Evereds's life, not my own. 3999's never played like this before.

He quickly looks around, assessing his surroundings as per his training. To his right, a second table, bare. He's facing a throne, plain, seating a women clad in dark robes. She uncrosses and recrosses her legs, tilting her head to the side.

"Now… what… have… we…" She lids her eyes, looking down on him. "Here."

"Who are you? Where am I?"

She scoffs. "You are in the court of the Black Queen, and you will address me as such."

He narrows his eyes, looking around. The chamber is regal, but understated. Books line the walls far too much to be appropriate for a throne room. "Am I… supposed to know what that means?"

The most soothing chuckle he'd ever heard comes out of her mouth, and he suspects it's not just her innate charisma. "Mmm, I suppose not. But you shall soon. Do you know how you came to be here, …?" she asks, simultaneously requesting his name.

"Evereds. MTF Phi Forty Two Delta, Jack Evereds, and… no I don't. I don't remember anything after…" He racks his brain, which begins to throb with pain, and he recoils. "After Lisa."

She stands up, draping her robes on the throne and stepping down off of the dais it sits upon, revealing a rather stunning black dress. Walking slowly towards him, she goes further. "Sometimes I am brought presents. People, information, people with information. Often times I meet the same person many a time, from many different worlds. But they've never done… this." She takes her two hands, balls them, and brings them closer together. As they collide, she makes a 'pop' with her mouth and places her hands flat together. "I didn't quite know what to make of the first comatose task force member they brought in, but once I was brought a second…" She clicks her tongue.

"Now, I like to keep myself invested in your Foundation's circumstances. What do you know, Evereds?"

He laughs. "Fuck all. You can't get anything out of me if they don't tell me anything in the first place. They don't keep me around for what I know, they keep me around for what I do."

An eyebrow is raised. "And what, would you say, is 'what you can do'?"

"I don't think I'm strictly at liberty to say."

A laugh is elicited from the elegant woman, a hearty laugh, unbecoming of her stature. She begins to speak slowly and methodically. "Well, you could take that path. Or, I could free you from the shackles of that organization. You could be free, if you tell me what it is you can do. Or, you can be returned to your people. But I think we both know which of the two you'd prefer."

With a sigh, he lets his head sink into his hands. He metaphorically wipes away the stress of the situation from his face. "You got a… test of skill? Something difficult to do?"

He expects a verbal response, but is presented with a physical one. Almost at an instance, she retrieves 2… no, three brightly colored balls from behind her back. "Have you ever juggled?"

"Not once." He takes them from her, and begins effortlessly tossing them into the air, patterns of movements becoming incredibly dexterous and intricate, ending by catching one on the tip of his finger, the heel of his foot behind him, and one on the very tip of his nose, after which he spins, his hand catching all three as they leave contact with his body. This elicits, impossibly so as it seemed to him, an even more boisterous laugh than before from the Black Queen.

"Oh, I do like you, Evereds. But I think with skills like yours, you need a new moniker. Since I'll be keeping you around, that is." She reads the change in body language of her guest and responds accordingly: "Oh, at your leisure of course. I simply assume that you might like my help with collecting the rest of you."

"There's more-?!" he begins, but she puts a finger to her lips.

"Yes, there's more. I assume one per every universe you landed in. You're quite the special case, as my ears are telling me you're cropping up in all sorts of places. So, I think you'll mind mutual benefit in employment with someone who has access to what you seek. And who knows…"
She walks back to her throne and reclines. "What might happen if we put all your pieces back together?"

He plants himself in parade rest and tilts his head slightly. "And what will you be asking of me, if I did this?"

The Black Queen smiles and places a thoughtful hand on her chin. "I think I need some… odd jobs done. The payment will in bodies per task. Sound fair, my jester?"


James turns a corner, and finds himself in a labcoat and back in Site-120.

Fuck, what the hell is happening? Is it over? I'm back to the generic setting. What the hell was that supposed to be? A halfassed attempt at sociological torture?

He walks through a doorway marked "MAIN WAREHOUSE", which opens to an vacuous space, taken up primarily by an enormous spacecraft, going through repairs. He walks over to a console and begins accessing it.

LOGIN

PLEASE ENTER USER AUTHENTICATION

ten.pics|sderevej#ten.pics|sderevej|blackmoonwheezing+1

God damnit, I can't even tell when I'm in control any more! I can't tell what's me and what's him!

AUTHENTICATION ACCEPTED. PLEASE ENTER COMMAND

access westrin-s-proposal 5

TESTING FOR MALICIOUS ATTACK AND CONSTRUCTING SECURITY NET… SUCCESS
CONFIRMING AND VERIFYING USER'S CREDENTIALS… Identity Confirmed - Welcome, jevereds

The device spat out a loose smattering of facts pertaining the the craft in front of him, when he heard a commotion from behind.

"An analetheism? Isn't that a philosophy thing?" said a hippie looking fella, sweeping open the doorway to Site-120's main warehouse.

"It's something or someone displaced within reality, someone who- Whoa!" The group stopped, stunned at the size of the ship.

"Object came in through the mesh a long time ago. Obviously, there were no survivors, and most of the systems were compromised, but I think it's a start," James said. This was his opportunity, but for what, he didn't know. He began to lead the team up the ramp and into the vessel.

"What's the… wait a minute, I know that one. Why do I know that one?" The hippie held his head in his hands for a few moments and then shook himself loose of something.

"Your transit wasn't an instantaneous displacement. The reason you have these memories is you, the branch of the oak tree from an alternate timeline, were grafted to our figurative maple tree of a timeline. You're still an oak tree, but you're fed nutrients from the maple," Talloran replied.

"I'm pretty sure you can't graft an oak tree branch to a maple. That would kill one or the other."

"Who knows, I'm a pataphysicist, not a botanist. Although botanists are pretty cool." He looked himself over and realized he didn't have any identification on him. "Researcher Evereds, sir. It's a pleasure."

"I've never heard of pataphysics before. What's that?" The hippie in a labcoat cocks his head to the side.

"Oh uhh… I'm sure it will come back to you with the rest of the memories. Anyways!" He quickly whirls around and swipes his hand across a keyboard swiftly. "This vessel is pretty fast, but it's not speed of light fast. And not FTL, like we need. The object you described in the void seemed to be a black hole locked behind a permeable membrane, correct? Well, that and the name Cygnus brings to mind Cygnus X-1: one of the first black holes to ever be discovered. If you're looking for this entity, that's where I'd recommend searching. And it happens to be over six thousand light years away. Holding a 20 person crew aboard this thing would be easy, but you would need to be in stasis the whole time."

What the fuck?

The hippie shook his head. "Stasis is fine, but that length of time is impossible. We can't afford 600 decades of influence." He looks around the enormous hangar-like warehouse. "Isn't the anything in here that could could get us here in a month?" The crowd began murmuring.

One hand raised from the back, while Senior Researcher Harding struggled to stifle attention given to it. "No, Mantell. NO. We are not using-"

Mantell? Who the…

James looks toward the hand, and is immediately blasted with an aletheosomatic force comparable to a slow moving car. Waves of colorful energy, something he assumes no one else can see, are trailing between him and this Mantell character, swirling vortices of plasma and gas.

"This could be the Directors only opportunity! He have to at least-" says the familiar looking researcher. The part of him that's still Talloran almost instinctively reaches out to fix some crooked mirror in front of him, before realizing the concept of what he was just about to do.

"NO!" Harding looked around as the small group, who had all turned their attentions to him. "Haha, this guy Mantell always kidding around, what a joker right!" He then quickly whispered something vehemently into Mantell's ear.

"Researcher Mantell? You have something to contribute to the conversation? Any idea how we're going to go…" The hippie is momentarily lost in thought. "…74 trillion kilometers per hour?"

Talloran is momentarily torn away from looking at Mantell's insane aura. "You want to get there that fast? That violates every law of physics written or thought of! I'm totally in."

The hippie scoffs. "And I don't even know how I came up with that figure so fast. So I repeat: have you any information?"

Dr. Mantell sighs. "Research Team 9 has been… R&Ding. We have a device that might help but it can't leave the planet. It's Level 5 clearance."

"And what's your plan? What's it do?" The hippie, obviously in some position of power, rubs his brow. Doesn't look like he's too accustomed to his place.

"Mantell, if you tell him, you're breaching confidentality, and O5-9 will kill you. He will kill you and no one will remember you. You absolutely, DO NOT want to do this. He'll kill off every one of us." Harding was visibly shaking, his imposing stature betrayed by fear.

"Alright, alright! I'll just use the device briefly on an ERSiG. Maybe I can get a battery or something… anyways, Director Lifeson, I can get you a long range warp. The breach has to be massive… It's over such a large gap… and I can't guarantee too much accuracy. Maybe within a tenth of an AU… I have to go. Don't worry about the technobabble, I'll have it done in a week or less!" Mantell quickly walks out of the room, followed quickly by a worried Harding.

James watches him go, and then waits for a break in the conversation. Something, anything he can use as an excuse to get away. As soon as he sees it, he makes a break for the same door. It's time to do some study.


he's like me…


"I think I'm gonna lose you, buddy. I think I'm gonna lose you." Evereds says.

A bleary eyed man in a medical gown is strapped to a table. The padded walls of the chamber suck the deep rainbow trail pouring from his form, as does the hands he's laid on his shoulder, but it's not enough anymore.

"It's… I can feel it," Mantell says.

"As I've said, it's not a fun process. You'll want to stay as long as you can."

"It hurts. Please, the… let it happen."

Jack screws up his eyes and looks at the rather pathetic mess on the table. As much as they're the same, this is the fundamental difference. This moment, right here. See, he's already gone through this, and he wasn't nearly as strong. What happens when Mantell has to deal with it? Is he going to be okay? Is he even going to…

"You're sure?"

"I was never supposed to be here, I just… I just know it. I belong elsewhere."

The hum of the florescents stops, frozen mid flicker. No more heart rate monitor either. All is still.

Jack smiles, a tear rolling down his cheek. "Okay then. One last song? You know… in case?"

Mantell lets out a tiny laugh, which gets caught in his chest and turns into a cough. "Yeah."

Evereds begins. "Moon river, wider than a mile…"

Mantell follows. "I'm crossing you in style some day…"

"Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker…"

"Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way…"

Time resumes once more.

A voice over the loudspeaker tells Jesse to stay here, but he's ignoring it by now. It's time for him to see the very same wall, against his will.

Two drifters, off to see the world…

A second voice over the loudspeaker. "Mantell, snap out of it! Jesse! Jesse!"

He turns to look, and gives the men behind the glass a faint smile. "It’s okay, Jerry. I’m going. Finally."

There's such a lot of world to see…

"Jesse, no. Jesse? I need you to stay with us. Focus on this room. Focus on staying," says the first voice once again.

The room is quiet, the only sounds come from the whooshing of a portal and the motors in the track wheels, pulling him closer to his demise. "Please. I don't want to be here. I just… want to be there," are the last words of Level 3 Junior Researcher Jesse R. Mantell.

We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend.

Several ceiling tiles become dinner plates, falling from the ceiling and shattering.

The loudspeaker sounds off one last time. "Goodbye, Jesse. I…"

He enters the wormhole, and it envelops him just as the multicolored cracks start to form in his vulnerable, human exterior.

My huckleberry friend,
moon river,
and me.


Back to a heart rate beep, steady and clear. This time, an elderly Jesse, glow faint but steady, in a bed. He looks up as James walks into the room, and a sheen of instant recognition washes over his face. "Is that… you, Jack?"

"I know. It's been-"

"Six and a half decades since I saw you last. But… why do I remember?"

"You've been splintered, pal. You survived, thank god, but… you're not all together. I'm going to fix that, though. I've done this before. Here, uh, this might help." He knocks on the open doorframe.

A second, more youthful Mantell steps in. "Wow," he says. "I thought my hair would fall out when I got older, like my dad. I guess it just goes white."

Evereds vaguely gestures to both Mantells, a loose introduction. They reach out as if to shake hands, and as they do, their mass begins to intertwine, merging at the fingertips, and then the wrist, and then the elbow. This continues up to the halfway point, their shine becoming just that much brighter for a second, until they're one again. This one retains a hint of grey, in his hair strand.

"That's not… all of me, is it?"

"No. We should keep going. I want to make sure all of you is together."

"Well, I've got just a little bit of me here, but I think seeing you once more might be what's making me feel the most complete."


The researcher stands up after fixing up an old arcade cabinet, and suprised to see a familiar face.

We'll meet again…


As Mantell finishes a set, he sets his guitar down to the first applause his group has ever heard.

Don't know where,


Jesse finishes writing something on a piece of paper in the breakroom, and it folds itself into a crane, animating across the table and impressing several other staff, when he notices Evereds walk in.

don't know when.


Jack wipes a tear from Mantell's face as the poor man watches his son be subjected to electroshock therapy.

But I know we'll meet again,


Mantell looks up from a cryogenic storage chamber, and positively beams at someone he'd not seen in a long time.

some sunny day.


Dust and a broken sky. That's what Evereds sees when he looks up. The sky isn't pitch black so much as it's siphoning any light it would have had. He looks up to see a flickering form. It's always the same thing but never all at the same time, and it's beginning to melt his brain a little when it settles into form like rocks being sifted. The most generic looking man imaginable, in the most stereotypical black 2 piece suit, with a burgundy shirt and a white tie. And he's looking right at him.

"I think you've stuck your finger in a pie that was just too hot for you, wouldn't you say, Evereds?"

Jack spits on his leather loafers, blood splattering a gold accent.

"That's no way to treat the person deciding whether or not you get to live or die, is it?"

"Go to hell. Go to hell and then die."

"Look, you're only here for one reason. I think you might be useful."

"I don't CARE! Either put me down or let me try to beat that GODDAMNED smirk off your face, because I promise you if you give me the chance I'll fucking do it in a heartbeat. You hear me Cygnus?! You cockless diety wannabe! I'll turn you into paste!"

The entity laughs, but soon turns deadly serious.

"I don't have to prove that I'm the final decision maker here or anywhere else. If you didn't think I was, you would already be swinging. But I'm a fact of being, aren't I?"

All he can do is glare back.

"I'm always there, buddy. Always just to the top right. Always looming, ready to wipe you off the face of the goddamned Earth if you step out of line. And, well… let's just say you've taken a wild leap beyond that line."

Cygnus points to the right.

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"Now, we can either do this nicely, or I can throw away this toy and buy a new one. You hear me? A little friend of mine is dying, see? And he needs a bit of that oh so tasty chaos juice you've got sloshing around inside you. So he's gonna live in there for just a little bit, okay?"

"Go. To. Hell."

His eyes narrow.

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"One more time with feeling. Are you gonna help out Dionysus, or are you going to die?"

"Who?" There's a few seconds of unblinking silence. "Regardless, you'd be doing me a favor. I hadn't quite figured out how I was going to go about actually dying anyways," he said.

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"I know. By doing this, you're taking away a dear friend of mine. So I'll just take yours. Say goodbye to Junior Researcher Jesse Mantell, or help me out."

Jack's eyes widen. "You wouldn't."

"Hahaha, what is it, the suit? I get that bullshit all the time. 'Oh, you wouldn't dare!', 'You can't do that!', hahaha… I can, and I will, because there's nothing stopping me."

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"So, here's your little pal. Look nice at a 23 score? I can fix that real quick."

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"Wait-"

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"I SAID WAIT!"

"Thinking about playing nice, Mr. Evereds?"

"… fine. I'll fucking do it. I'll… what did you say about my… juices?"

"Figure of speech. Ah, Dionysus, my most esteemed colleague. Won't you come and join our guest?"

A second man in a suit, this time in glasses and a bow tie, walks out from behind a wall made of nothing. His sickly pallor dully throbs in the unlight. For comparison: where the consequential Mantell had once shimmered with glory, this man resonated with a hollow energy, a high capacity battery on one percent of it's energy. By comparison, Cygnus looked boring and drab; despite all circumstances pointing to his prominence, there was absolutely nothing conspicuous about him.

"… Hi there." Dionysus takes a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and dabs away a significant amount of beading sweat, shaking with some deficient energy indescribable. "You… you found me an effigy, Cygnus?"

"A quite powerful effigy that purports himself to be willing, even. You'll be back to your old tricks in no time."

Cygnus turns to face his Evereds, broken and bloody on the ground.

"Now, just scootch over in your proverbial headspace and leave a little extra room for Dionysus here to crash on your couch for a while. He's been on hard times lately, after all. Worked his way up to the 20's and he's running out of party, so to speak. You've got so many little monikers in there I don't think you'll be having too much trouble with just one more. Hop on in, pal."

The perspiring man is giddy with excitement, but you'd not see it in his face. It's his body language that betrays a rather emotionless expression. "Thanks, boss. It's been a while." Evereds is approached by Dionysus, who takes a quizzical look at his new fleshsuit. The man takes Evereds's… or James's… jaw and pulls it down, plunging his hand deep into his esophagus. He then takes the two fingers of his other hand and plugs his victims nose, and promptly takes the consistency of a deflating water balloon, his form shriveling as he's pumped deep into the subconscious of a kneeling researcher, coughing and spluttering.

"That looked like quite the ordeal. Need some R&R?"

"J… just send me back…" he manages to get out.

"What, to the supposed 'battle' against me? No, I can't let one of my employers willingly perish at my own hands. I've got a very particular universe that I'd like you to stay. Alpha-Aleph. You know the one."

"N… no…"

"Your impetuousness need not go unpunished. You may be more of a marionette than you are a limb, but those to who it pertains should refrain from placing arms and legs outside the cabin of the ride."
Cygnus snaps his fingers, and hellfire begins to consume the lethargic figure. The billowing smoke is thick, but localized. His view tinged red, his vision goes blurry. All he can get out is a slurred "Man… tell…"

"Don't worry. Daddy is going to replace that toy of yours he's about to break. I'll get you a better one. You'll meet him in 3… 2… 1…"

Pagebreak.


When Evereds opens his eyes, the smoke hasn't gone away. He's still smoldering gently in a containment chamber at Site-118. He stares up at a tall, metal lined shaft, with several Scranton Reality Anchors running the length of it. Without thinking, he begins to ascend the chamber, and as he passes each anchor, they burst, one after another. He passes through the solid door to the chamber to a small antechamber, and sees Jesse, back turned to him, sipping some tea. "Man-!" He begins, placing his hand on the researchers shoulder. As he spins around, Evereds can see an overworked, timid nature behind his eyes. Panic sets in, first for an inexperienced Talloran, but moreso for a newly christened SCP-3999. He sees the face of one James Martin Talloran, Level 3 Researcher.

His tie, too loose. His hair loose and flowing, his jawline far too defined. Behind those unenlightened eyes, none of Mantell's pep, none of his vigor. His face, his name, his being is a mockery of the one man Evereds had ever confided in, the one man he'd ever shared such an experience with, and the one man he'd ever truly considered his friend.

Oh.

Something shatters. Talloran finds himself back in his own body, facing the smoking figure, and he has a moment of clarity about the whole situation.

Then he begins to melt for 5 years, and Dunkleowolves slurp up the goo.

SCP-3999 is broken.

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