EDIT(27th July, 2020) - Rejoice. Soon, the story continues.
Addendum: If there are some formatting issues with this chapter, it's because I failed at the simple task of uploading an edit to this chapter and fucked it up. I left the AN at the chapter's end as is so you can see how the whole chapter looked :D
EDIT (22nd Novber, 2018) - There is fanart for the story now! I'm putting it on as the cover image for the story.
A big thank you to Magainita for deciding to put time and effort into making this happen - I love it!
The picture can be found on deviantart magainita/art/Loop-Zero-773477464
Check it out, like it, fall in love with it and all the good stuff.
AN: Oh boy. This week. This week's been a nightmare.
So, I got in this accident. I won't go into too much details - partly because I'm embarrassed - but, through pure idiocy that was 100% avoidable, I got my head split open. By split open, I mean, a 6cm long and 4mm wide gash on my head that wouldn't stop bleeding for around 2 hours.
Before you start worrying, though, everything is fine. I'm well on the way to recovery - besides writing this story, which probably goes against the "Stay still, don't strain yourself and stay completely relaxed" thing they told me.
Not everything was perfect, though. Far from it. So, I'm laying there, and this doctor tells me they'll put anesthetics on me, wait around 15 minutes for th to start working so I feel no pain, then stitch my head together. Cool.
10 minutes later, another doctor comes. He applies the anesthetics by piercing my head with a needle. Ouch.
Then, almost immediately afterwards, he says "I am going to start stitching your head up. Don't move." He starts stitching, and I feel everything. Later, I concluded the guy just didn't wait for the anesthetic to start working. Then, just for good measure, he messes the stitches up and has to tear th off, and he literally slapped my head in the wound for seingly no discernible reason - that was besides him roughly pounding my head with disinfection. Ugh.
"With this being the last chapter, though, I can't do much but grit my teeth and try and push it out. Hopefully, I'll cover everything and it'll be readable.
"It seems some congratulations are in order, Walker. With your insight into Site-19's case and the subsequently available information inside we cross-referenced, your report has been verified. Thanks to you, we have captured the traitor, Skinner, before he could get away, not to mention the resources you've spared us." O5-01 smiled. "I believe I speak in the name of all of us when I say; Thank you."
"I nodded. "All in a day's work." Literally. "Now, I'd like to discuss the details of my further ployment with you, if that is okay... ?"
"Oh? Are you perhaps unsatisfied with your current position? I understand starting off as a Level 3 researcher doesn't provide the flexibility you are used to, but I assure you-"
"I laughed, interrupting the man before he continued. "No, no, it's nothing about that/. I'm quite content with that. In fact, I'm looking forward to working with another expert in my field. Dr, Xyank sounds like an interesting person at the very least."
"What is it then that you desire?"
"Well, here it goes. "Agent Ulgrin and Sunshine Barrows. I'd like to have them working with me, as my bodyguard and assistant respectively-"
O5-01 waved a hand. "Done. Anything else?"
I stared. That was easy. I was a bit concerned that they didn't even think about asking the two if they wanted this, but that was okay in this case.
I talked it over with them beforehand, after all.
As for Steve, well...
/* Flashback/ *
"And what about you, Steve? Wanna join up with us?"
He was shaking his head before I finished. "I think I'm done with this place once and for all. Had one too many bad experiences here, and I'd rather be lazy and in peace with my family than to risk never seeing 'em again. Well... it was nice getting to know y'all, even if it were for a few days."
/* Flashback end /*
...he wasn't coming.
"No, sir. That's about it from me."
"Then you may leave."
And so I did.
"So?" I addressed my colleagues when the door closed, all similarly indescribable through the silhouettes broadcasted through the screens. They could not and were not willing to meet up in person. "What do you think of him?"
"He possesses a casual disrespect towards authority. This has not changed from the last time he was in front of us. We should proceed with caution in our dealings with him." O5-05 said. Soon others joined in, discussing chaotically.
"Yet the expertise cannot be denied. Walker's success rate for that experiment was less than one percent... or so we thought."
"We absolutely need to have his memories back. The Spiral Gestalt could be an invaluable tool in our hands!"
We can't trust him!"
"Perhaps not now, but..."
"I've had enough. "Silence! We are not achieving anything by shouting over another. Now, about what we discussed earlier... and one at a time, please."
"Surely... it is madness, is it not?"
Yet the circumstances are in his benefit. It won't hurt us to give him a chance."
"Returning back in time after death... it is a powerful ability, one that could be specifically suited for our needs. And it isn't plastered on a fool, but on what we learned to be an immensely gifted individual. Such a person among our ranks would be a major boon."
"I am not pleased with this... I assume we will account for every contingency, though, as we always have, in the case he rebels against us. Now, he is certainly not ready nor do we know him as well as we should..."
"Of course. Let us go over the formalities at the very least. Should we continue with this course of action or not? Please, cast your votes."
Three were against, all others for.
"It is decided, then. We shall observe Walker in his rehabilitation and monitor his progress. If he fails to meet our standards, we shall abandon the idea. If he performs, however... we might find ourselves with a new addition to the O5 Command."
"And where do you wish to be stationed, Dr. Marshall?"
"Anywhere but near Walker. The guy's a trouble magnet, I can feel it!"
"That can be arranged."
"A little ball of energy slammed into me. "Woah there, lil' Jay, I just returned! What's all the fuss?"
"GRAMPS IS BACK!" The little girl shrieked across the house, most likely waking up her brother and startling the parents.
"Where were you, gramps? I didn't see you in such a long time!" Jay asked.
"Grandpa had work to do, lil' Jay. But grandpa is back for good."
"Is that so?" Samantha said, coming from the kitchen to the entrance with her husband, Jason. "Good to see you, pops."
"Good to see you too, lil' squirt. How's the family going?"
"It's been rough lately, but we've been managing." Jason said. "How about you? I must admit, this is a welcome surprise, but didn't you want to work while you still could or something?"
"Yeah, but I've had some time to think. I'd rather spend my years being with my family rather than as a janitor."
"Yay, gramps is back!" / "Oh, what's the occasion?"
"Had a change of mind, you see."
Samantha's eyebrows furrowed in worry. "Did something happen?"
"Hah!" I laughed. "Not at all, unless I suddenly got senile. Everything is just the way it was before... Got awfully homesick, though. That's why ol' grandpa is back in town, eh!"
"YAAAY!" / "Moooom, make her shut uuup!"
"Well, we're glad you're here sooner than later." Jason, ever the happy one, grinned. We were just about to have breakfast. Come on, let's go for it while it's still hot."
I smiled fondly. It sure was good being back with the family.
"I think I'd like that."
"Class D, stop! This is an order!"
I ran down the stairs, ignoring the cries of the soldiers behind me. I went down the stairs, sprinting for my dear life.
I just went in the right passage before the spot I was in a second before got blasted with bullets. I cursed, opening the only door available.
A tunnel. It'd have to do.
I closed the door on my way in, hoping to buy myself more time. My chest ached and my legs burned, but I still ran as fast as I could, before-
The world shifted.
In one moment, I was running through a damp, dimly lit hallway before I was dazed.
Through my blurry eyes and headache, I saw three soldiers whose details I couldn't ascertain - I turned, but there was one behind me too.
"You know too much to let th get you..." A deep, cool voice said. "You're coming with us."
"You tell an interesting story, Mr. Walker."
"Please. Call me Oliver."
"Ah, right. There is the original one, the one from this dimension. And what of him? He is currently in the possession of the Foundation. Do you think he could be... persuaded towards our goals?"
"I shook my head. "No way. He's very much for the Foundation. I'm afraid there's no hope for recruiting him."
"And what of your relationship with him?"
"He shot me in the head the last time he saw me." A lie, but they wouldn't know. "Do I need to go on?"
"No need. That seems quite sufficient. I will be back shortly." The beefy bald man said, before he left the dull gray interrogation room, leaving me to my thoughts.
Namely, Walker. Or Benjamin as I liked to refer to him, since he is the original one that belongs to this dimension.
Whereas before I thought of him with contempt and hate, not in the least for shooting me - this was slowly, but steadily broken down by ever growing incredulity and, eventually, admiration.
Because I remembered them, and I've been at it for far longer than Benjamin has. I've lived through many, many loops where I tried to save Sunshine, Steve, sometimes even Marshall...
Never Ulgrin, though. Never/the Foundation.
I hate them. I hate the Foundation. It is because of them that I was stuck there, that, no matter how far I got, I couldn't escape. After the SCPs, the biggest and insurmountable obstacle was the Foundation with their soldiers, video cameras and nuclear warheads. The looping hallway was an idea born out of manic desperation, and it took many, many of the hallways for me to reach this place.
Seven hundred eighty five, to be exact. That, I personally counted later, when I separated from Benjamin and his - then with all memmbers alive - group.
Ah - Benjamin. What a first impression he left on me.
My exact likeness, staring me down like a fish - with two very dangerous teddy bears on his legs.
It took a lot of effort for me not to run away in the first place, but then it became obvious he also distrusted the bears. Together, we ran away from them.
I was delighted. A partner, one that might understand me and my plights? One whom I could trust, because he was me?
That turned out to be a mistake. There were many differences between us - ones that I couldn't understand at first.
Such as his desire to save his friends. How could he, I thought, if I hadn't managed it?
It was a fool's effort, and I left it to him. He would have understood once they died.
But then, Agent Ulgrin was with him. And Benjamin somehow knew how to shut SCP-106 down - it made no sense to me. How!?
How has he been able to figure out this which I never did?
But that wasn't the crux of the problemem. In my own dimension, I almost escaped much the same way I did here - when the soldiers were distracted by SCP-106. This, I didn't do in my own dimension.
Soon, after SCP-106 was defeated, I was shot dead. That was, coincidentally, the moment I snapped and went to the looped hallway.
But Benjamin wanted to contain SCP-106, and doom us all - or so I thought. I refused to stand for this, and my blood boiled with rage.
I wanted to get out, and this fool couldn't understand that what he was doing was useless!?
I decided to take matters into my own hands. I sicced SCP-035 on them - it didn't work. The NTF were even in the electrical center!
I didn't want to have to kill them, but there was no other choice. Not to mention that the NTF were not only not shooting Benjamin, but directly helping him.
I needed answers.
Hence our encounter in the cafeteria. Shooting Ulgrin wasn't a problem; he would die anyways, and I just wanted answers.
Perhaps I didn't handle that situation in the best way, though. The goal was to get answers, yet I let my emotions do all the work.
I did get answers in the end, though. Benjamin was working with the Foundation.
That explained some things, yet I only had more questions in the end. How did he manage to set up a deal between himself and the Foundation - what does he possibly have to offer?
This, I ventured to find out. I assumed they must be communicating through a radio of some kind, so I put one I found in SCP-914 and upgraded it.
The result was... interesting. The deal, as I learned it, was to have him tell th about the containment breach, and they are to pardon him.
I didn't know what to think of this. Surely, it wouldn't work?
Yet, as I was following them, taking extra care in not being seen, they were doing it.
Step by step, I had to acknowledge the reality that Benjamin could, and eventually had, saved them.
Which was really the basis of me separating from them, shooting Ulgrin, and a manner of other things on top of that, things which made my 'rebellious' phase seem childish and ignorant as a result.
Instead of dealing with the problem directly, by trying to power through it, Benjamin adapted, thinking outside of the box to turn his greatest problems into his greatest allies.
As a true scientist should, I thought.
I was no child, though, and I was prepared to accept that I have - maybe, perhaps, perchance - fucked up a little. And by little, I mean a great deal.
I doubted he'd have me explain myself in front of him, though. Not at that time, when they were so close - and I shot him around the same time last loop, too.
So I took Ulgrin's gun, more because of the possibility that they would shoot me.
And then I learned my name. Now that was shocking.
Which brings me to the present moment.
The door opened, bringing me out of my reminiscing of yesterday's - heh - events.
I waited patiently until the bald man sat down, looking at me with a neutral face.
"After some consideration, we have reached a consensus. We believe your talents could be put to great use for our cause." The expression morphed into a friendly one.
"Personally, I think you have quite the potential. You'll do great around here, I just have a feeling."
The man stood up, offering me his hand."Well, well! It seems congratulations are in order."
"I stood up, and we shook hands.
"Welcome to the Chaos Insurgency."
I ran out of the hallway, trusting the others - or at least Ulgrin - to pick up the cue for us to meet up in front of SCP-914. I ran to the right, hoping to lose the Plague Doctor at the intersection.
Which is exactly what happened, in the end. I spared a nervous look at the open door from the opened intersection, but since there appeared to be nothing there I turned to look at Teddy-
Something touched my back. Before I could react in shock, various thoughts assaulted my mind. Intense feelings of bitterness and rage at the world seeped in me, directed at everyone and everything around me. Life lost its purpose, but if only I could find those who trapped me in here, I would have a purpose once again, I would revel at the sound of the crunch-
I stepped back in fear, turning around to see-
"HOLY SHIT!" Billy. Why was Billy here? Why was he touching my back?
What the hell just happened?
Most of all, though...
"...Why not kill me?" I asked, half expecting a sound to pop up in my head again.
I hesitantly placed my hand on Billy's chest.
Human knows pain. Human knows suffering. Human live, to suffer more when friends die.
"Oh, that's just perfect..." So Billy was letting me live because he wanted to make me suffer more.
"Human show compassion before. I saw world through human eyes, one who suffers and suffers, like me. You saw world through my eyes, too. We are similar. Human will live to die another time - not from me.
"The thoughts arising in my head were disjointed and ethereal, but I think I got the general message. Billy refuses to kill me out of a twisted sense of sympathy, or did it want me to live with the suffering?
I removed my hand before an answer could come through. In my anger, hatred and confusion, I ran away.
After I was finally free to return to the others, my emotions stabilized, and I was more or less back as I was, though no less nervous.
That could have - should have - ended badly. It didn't, though, and I learned something new.
I could communicate with someone if I was touching them. Or, that was the hypothesis at the very least, but I at least could assume where it came from.
It was the Spiral Gestalt. It had to be, there existed nothing else that affected me this way. Was this an unintended side effect? Just how did returning back in time after death correlate with a mind connection of sorts?
Now that I focused on it, there was a presence in my head. One that I could open and expand, or keep locked down, monitor and prod with my mind, but it did nothing out of itself.
This required further experimenting with.
And, as a certain teddy bear waddled up to stand in front of me, I couldn't just throw away this opportunity, could I?
Oh, he was offering me a ribbon of sorts? There was crude handwriting on it.
"Friends?" I read aloud, and it nodded.
I grinned. I think I had just the right thing in mind for this scenario.
/* Later... /*
"Ulgrin, if you don't mind looking at the statue in my stead..."
I took out the piece of fabric that Teddy has given me, recalling my experience talking with it. The more I expanded my mind, the easier it was to communicate, but it was also easier for the other to ascertain your true intentions. It was tricky, but I managed to convince Teddy either way.
That was neither here nor now, though. I opened my mind as wide as I possibly could.
My vision blurred and my head was pulsating, but I tied the ribbon on one of Billy's hands.
Out of sight from the others, I placed a hand on Billy and pushed.
Not physically, but rather with my mind. Everything good that I knew, that I was, that I loved, that I aspired for, that I lived through for the sake of others, I pushed into Billy.
"You let me live, so I leave you with all of this." Love, happiness, friendship, good mories, moments of suffering for good causes, joyful moments... I give them all to you.
So you may learn to love as well as hate.
"What are you doing!? This is no time for jokes!"
Suddenly, the large presence of my mind shrank into a tiny, almost nonexistent one, and I felt overwhelmed. It was as if I overused the muscle - like trying to run a marathon without a single day of practice.
"It was... important." I forced out in as casual a tone as I could muster. "Now, we run away. Chop chop! I'll make sure we aren't being followed. Ulgrin, go to the virus."
"The virus- ah, I get it. Sure. Everyone, follow me!"
The moment the door closed, I collapsed on the floor, blankly staring at the ceiling.
"That took a lot out of me..." And, oh boy, if the others would see him now, they would go crazy.
I laid there for a moment longer, closing my eyes for a minute or so, before opening them again.
Standing up, I saw Billy, simply standing there. I placed a hand on him.
"OW!" Searing pain laced through the front of my head, where I felt the presence to be, and I roved the hand instantly.
For a split second, though, I felt shock, surprise... gratefulness.
"You're welcome." I said hesitantly, not even sure if that was the right response, nor what was going on, exactly.
This was a truly alien creature if I compared it to human standards, so I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but I did know it was... good?
There weren't more precise words I could find. It was good, in a sense.
"I need to go now. But... just remember this... sometimes, the answer is in love rather than in hate. Goodbye..."
And so I walked away from the most unlikely companion I've made in this containment breach.
Billy - SCP-173 - watched me leave with my back turned.
Pondering about what just happened, I walked slowly towards SCP-008's containment chamber.
And, oh boy, was it an interesting sight that greeted me when I found myself in front of it.
- The Present... -
Stepping out of the conference room, I turned to the left, trying to remember the way to the elevator.
The polished, white hallways with pictures and plants and lots of helpful sign really were a contrast to Site 19, if only because I found my way relatively fast to the elevator.
Luckily, the horrendous architecture of Site 19 seed to be a one time thing.
Really, the organization of this building alone was a luxury and a half - just why would they replace it with that... that monstrosity!
The elevator doors opened, and I recalled what Ulgrin, Sunshine and I agreed to. Namely, to meet up at the Cafeteria.
I hesitated, looking at the vast amounts of people on the ground floor. Adrenaline surged through my body, but I forced myself to rain calm, to not freak out-
Something brushed against my shoulder.
My eyes widened.
Humanoid hand, no gas mask, breathing – SCP-966.
"I immediately turned, shoving it with all my might. SCP-966 was physically weak, and they never expect physical retaliation from human's that shouldn't know its presence-
"What the actual hell, man!?" The SC- No, human, with brown hair and brown eyes, around early-to-mid 20's, stared up at me from where I've pushed him. I looked around me, and everyone was staring at me, some obviously ready to intervene.
"Uh..." I stared at the man, then at the people, not knowing what to do.
"Hey, what is going on here- Jonathan? Hey, punk, just what do you think you're doing with my brother?"
An arm grabbed my shoulder, but this time I didn't react aggressively and let myself be turned around.
Short and spiky brown hair. Yellow-brownish eyes stilled upon looking at me, then at the person on the ground, then at me."Walker?"
I winced, looking away. "Hey there, Ulgrin... So this is your brother, huh? Small world..."
"Seeing that we all knew each other, the crowd started to look away and disperse, though some still watched, likely out of curiosity.
The brother - Jonathan - slowly stood up, looking at Ulgrin. "Wait, hold on a second... You know this guy?"
"Yeah, he's the guy I was telling you about. Cool dude, eh?"
"He pushed me on the floor!" Ulgrin looked at me, one eyebrow raised.
"He, uh... brushed against my shoulder!"
I winced, looking away again from Ulgrin's deadpan stare and crossed arms. Was this Ulgrin's secret weapon? For someone who wore a mask so much, he was really good at expressing complex otions with his face alone.
"I'm not sure what's going on here, but it's probably your fault and you should apologize for it, his expression seed to say.
"I turned to Jonathan. "Uh... Sorry for pushing you on the ground. I'm a bit paranoid, so I assumed the worst when you touched me. It was an instinct, nothing more."
Jonathan pointed a finger at me. "Just what kind of an idiot do you take me for? Shoving me with your whole body weight was instinct for you?"
...Okay, this kid was getting on my nerves. "You know," I said coolly, "I could have done far worse things to you than just shove you. I can be very creative when it comes to dealing with potential threats."
Jonathan looked like one of those jocks - the kind of people who had to assert their dominance, who didn't let things go easily.
Yet, as Ulgrin's face flinched and turned away from me, the action didn't go unnoticed by Jonathan. He turned to Ulgrin insecurely, and then to me.
"Uhh... Yeah, no problem, dude! Water under the bridge, hehehe..."
Was something wrong? The kid looked and sounded positively scared, a very big contrast to before-
"Walker?" Ulgrin coughed, looking at me. "You're doing the intimidating face thing."
Oh, that's why.
I softened my facial muscles, taking a deep breath.
'Breathe in the light, and breathe out the darkness.'
"ULGRIIIIN!" A feminine voice shouted behind us, drawing attention to both us and the female. "Did you find Walker yet? He was supposed to be here ten minutes ago!"
White dress with red flowers sprinkled on it. Sandals. A straw hat, blonde hair, and one very loud Sunshine.
Though, I had to admit privately, she looked good. She rocked that outfit, though it made me wonder - why wear that straw hat?
Well, I guess it was summer.
"Oh, there you are!" Sunshine stepped in front of us, pouting at me. "What were you doing, leaving a lady to wait like that?"
"Whatever, I found you now. Oh, hey there, Jon!"
"Hi..." Jonathan waved awkwardly, but Sunshine already turned to me.
"Well, can we go now?" Sunshine danded impatiently.
"S-Sure, you guys can go. Ah, now I remember, I had this, eh, thing I got to do. I'll catch up with you later, Ulgrin." Jonathan stammered out an excuse and turned around, walking as fast as he could without directly running away.
I turned to Ulgrin. "I think I made a good impression on him."
Ulgrin snorted, ignoring me. "We should go somewhere else. People are staring at us." And indeed, people were, mostly from the small cafeteria to the left. "Follow me, I know a good place."
It was a good place, all things considered. It was a nice, secluded spot behind the lone building in the area, looking down to a grassy landscape. There were no clouds in sight and the sun shined, making the place feel more alive.
We sat ourselves on the bench, Ulgrin in the middle with me to his left and Sunshine to his right.
"You know, you really scared my brother. He likes to play tough, but I've never seen him run away from someone like that."
I raised my eyebrow. "Huh. Didn't think I was so intimidating."
"You're not the one seeing your expression - oh, wait. John. Did he ever do that thing you do with the face?"
I winced, recalling the expression. "Yeah, I get what you mean..."
"This John... That's the guy who looks just like you, right?" Sunshine asked.
"Right... The me from another dimension. I still can't wrap my head around him... or why he didn't shoot us."
"That reminds me." Ulgrin said. "How did it go? Can we go with you?" Both of them perked up, looking at me attentively.
"I smiled, and that was already enough for Sunshine, because she broke into giggles.
"Yeah. It was strange, though. They didn't even care to ask you what you thought, they just accepted it."
Ulgrin snorted. "Assholes."
"I gotta ask though... Sunshine. Why decide to go with us?" I asked. From what I would think, she would take the first flight away from us and try to erase our existence from her mind.
"Well... you know, I came in the Foundation because I wanted excitent and something new. And, well, you know... to overcome my anxiety problems..."
There was a tense silence between us, one that made it all the more apparent as to what we were doing. We were going through the motions, but we weren't really over it, over from what happened. Each and every single one of us carried those burdens now and had to deal with th, but that was also why we met up and talked so much. If we were alone, we would sulk in gloom and doom, but together, at least we could pretend.
"But, you know, past the shock of everything that's happened and all... it's like, you're good company, and everyone else just can't... ugh, why is it so hard to explain!?"
"Maybe because no one went through what we did, and you wouldn't be able to really connect with th?" I supplied.
Sunshine wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, something like that. Plus, you guys are so interesting! Time travel and all-"
"Except you don't know about that." Ulgrin winked conspiratorially. "Neither do I, and I can't loop too."
"Yeah, that." Sunshine snorted. Her voice was timid when she spoke next. "I have nightmares. I sometimes think there are people following me, or that a monster is going to pop right out of the corner. But I guess you guys have it worse."
"Pain is still pain, no matter in what form it appears as. It shouldn't be belittled by anyone." I said.
"Well put. Though let's put the depressive shit behind us, we're supposed to be enjoying our mini-holiday." Ulgrin said, and pulled something out of his pocket.
Three bottles of sun cream.
"Sun cream is supposed to let us do that?" I asked, and Ulgrin grinned.
"Yeah, try it. I hear it's good this time of the year." Ulgrin opened one and drank from it.
Sunshine and I stared at Ulgrin, who sighed blissfully after drinking. "Aaah, that hits the spot!"
He gave us one bottle each. "Come on, try it."
Hesitantly, I popped the bottle open, and, seeing Ulgrin take a sip from his own, I did as well.
"Alcohol... seriously, Ulgrin? There's a no alcohol rule around here, didn't you know?"
"What? You're sticking up for the rules? You? Mr. Breaks-literally-every-rule-available?"
I took another sip. "Don't misunderstand. We might get caught is what I'm saying."
Ulgrin waved a hand. "Ah, whatever. I don't care."
"It's... weird." Sunshine said. "It tastes bad, but I can't stop drinking it."
"Congratulations." Ulgrin laughed. "You are starting to get addicted to alcohol. It's only a matter of time now."
Sunshine's eyes widened. "Oh, noooo! That's so sad. Guess I'll drink some more to feel better about it..."
We all laughed, before descending in a semi-comfortable silence. We just looked at the landscape, and at the sky, relaxing in our seats.
"It's... really over, huh." I finally said, and the others looked at me. "No more Site 19, no more craziness..."
"It was a long time for you there, right?" Ulgrin said softly.
"Yeah... I'm always so surprised when I wake up. I expect to be back in the Foundation, but I'm here instead."
"So... what now?" Sunshine asked.
"What now?" I thought about it. "Well... we go do whatever I've been assigned to do, you guys help me, and we see how it all goes from there... But for now, we're all in for resting duty. I don't know about you guys, but I didn't exactly ace my psychiatric evaluation... So that's going to be my - our - life in the short-term."
"Seems legit." Ulgrin said, and there was silence once again.
I thought about everything that happened. All my various deaths, mental breakdowns, the people I've met, my life as Viktor Friedhelm, all those things and more - all of which happened, technically, in a single day.
Yet I found, with some astonishment, that I didn't regret it all in the end. I ended up making two great friends - Steve, I would never see again nor does he remember us - and getting my freedom back, going from a Class D to a Level 3 researcher.
All in a day's work as I said earlier.
And now there was a future in front of me. Not a perfect or bright one, by any means. I still dreaded to think what would happen if the O5 found out they could replicate the Spiral Gestalt, or that Ulgrin can loop now, or that I said this all to Ulgrin and Sunshine.
Still, I was - in a sense - free. And that was all I could ask for, really.
"A toast!" Ulgrin exclaimed suddenly. "A toast to one Benjamin Oliver Walker, without whom we would never have been here, acquaintanced and alive, most likely. Let us drink in his honor!"
"You're just looking for an excuse to drink more." I said, though I couldn't help but grin at Ulgrin's antics.
Ulgrin waved his free hand. "Nonsense. Raise your glasses, ladies and germs." Ulgrin raised his bottle, and so did Sunshine.
I got up from the chair, knelt down so we formed a triangle, and we clinked our sun cream bottles, as if on a grandiose feast.
"For Walker!" Ulgrin and Sunshine exclaimed.
I grinned. "For Walker, that devilishly handsome individual."
"And so we drank, laughing like idiots and enjoying ourselves, despite everything.
Well, this is it.
"I wanted to exemplify the /normalcy /of the situation from Ulgrin, Sunshine, and Walker. There are no more monsters, no more dangerous life or death situations, and they're just kinda left there.
"Per standard of Walker and Ulgrin, they break the rules. We also get a small glimpse of the psychological problems and traumas left behind by the containment breach.
"Oliver ends up in the Chaos Insurgency, Steve goes back to his family - with amnestics applied to him + Marshall wanting to go anywhere but where Walker is.
"I really hope this ending is good enough/satisfactory.
"...But, oh boy, what a trip it has been until here.
"This all started because I was bored, saw the chapter I had written up, and decided to post it with a weekly upload schedule.
"Suddenly, I found this whole new thing to do - I had to do research, play the actual game, and try to keep the story interesting, on top of my other responsibilities.
"To be completely honest, I did expect the story to grow, if only because it had decent enough writing, an actual plot and weekly uploads.
"What I /didn't /expect, though, was to have people respond so enthusiastically to the story. Obviously, the story is not perfect, and I know this intimately - being the one who wrote it and all.
"Still, it's a bit surreal when I read the reviews - Seriously, Jarsdel, you'd even read a My Little Pony fanfiction from me!? That's a bit much, don't you think?
"About future fanfictions from me, though. At first, there was no plan for anything else at all. Make this story, exercise my writing, and get out. Simple.
"But then again, seeing so much support and liking of what I do here has made me change my mind. So, you /will /get something from me, though I'm not sure /what/, exactly.
"It won't be an SCP story, though. This is because it would go in a similar genre, and I would end up following similar tropes and situations.
"In contrast, I'd rather write something that focuses more on adventure/character development with friendships romance, since this is something that I've never written about, and it would be an interesting experiment.
"It could be anything, though I'll generally try and keep away from stories with too many good ones already - RWBY, for instance.
"The direction I'm thinking of that fits what I want is Steven Universe, for example, since that fits the setting I'm thinking of very well. There is also Persona 5, the Witcher series, Nuclear Throne, Coraline, etc... So when I say it could be anything, I /literally /mean anything.
"Regardless of what it is, there is also a very good chance that I might approach it from a purely AU perspective.
"Before all of that, though, I'll be on hiatus for around a month, just to take a small rest and decide everything. Hopefully, I'll have a general idea around New Years'.
"That is all in the future, though.
"For now, I thank you all. For reading my story, telling me what I did wrong in rare cases (Really, it helps both me and you when you tell me what I did wrong!), and for leaving such heartwarming reviews.
"I hope you enjoyed Loop: Zero.
"EDIT (11. November 2018):
"It seems I haven't been clear enough in my author notes. I said next /story won't be an SCP one, since I want to try something different.
"About the next /SCP story, though... Well well, I wonder what it could possibly be? :)
"On a completely random note, the AU's official name is the 'Zeroverse' from now on.