Chapter 11: Swan Song
The three stayed in their place, rustling of bushes, the gust of wind, and the birds chirping are the only noises that are breaking the silence between the three. Josh continues to stare at his commanding officer with a gaping jaw, confused, bewildered, and most important of all, in disbelief. Josh took a step back and crossed his arms leaning his head back just a little bit, closing his mouth, and now started staring with a skeptical look. "You better have a good explanation or I'm reporting to the Major." Josh is not much of a snitch, but this is serious. Josh despises pedophiles, being a young hatchling himself he doesn't like the show Richard is giving him.
Richard almost immediately hopped off of the little girl that he had pinned onto the ground, patting off the grass and dirt that's stuck on his uniform before taking steps back to establish distance from the little girl who's now sitting up. Richard held out his hands to Josh, gesturing him to calm down and don't run off on him now before he could even explain himself. "I know it looks bad, but let me start from the beginning," Richard spoke, going slow and steady and kept calm with the whole situation. "I came out here to cool off my head, it sounded like a good idea since it's peaceful and Tuka even told me there are fairies here," They noticed the girl nodding to their conversation as if she knows English, maybe just a ruse to look friendly.
Richard sighs and returns his attention to trying to convince Josh. "I arrived just a couple of minutes ago, then when I'm in the moment the little girl jumps me and I'm forced to disarm and pin her. She almost chopped my head off with the halberd!" Richard exclaimed, putting more tone into the last part to make it sound more convincing, the little girl giggled and Josh sighed. Then something else came into Richard's mind. "Wait, how did you catch up to me so fast?" He curiously asked, letting his arms fall to his side, sure that Josh understands the situation now.
Josh let his arms fall to his sides as well, tilting his head slightly to the side and held up one hand that's holding the clipboard. "Roomy had trouble with the acquisition and sent me off to find you. And you're not hard to find since everyone knows where you're heading out to." Josh then glanced at the girl to see what she is doing, making sure that there's no real threat to worry about and after giving the girl a quick look, she's just fiddling with her hair watching both men converse. "Also I trust you, you're not the kind of guy to do that unless you have some unknown fetish." Josh teased Richard at the end, slowly returning to his relaxed, nearly childish personality.
Richard rolled his eyes to the teasing, striding over to Josh and took the clipboard off of his hand while Josh stood there with a stupid grin. Looking over the clipboard rather quickly, Josh gives him a pen and quickly sign the paperwork. After signing the documents he returned it to Josh's hands who looked over them again, then Richard returned his gaze to the girl who patiently watched the two men. "What do we do with her?" Richard asked Josh who glanced at the girl as well, As long as Richard knew the girl is not a part of the refugees, but she may be left behind by accident.
Josh just shrugs defiantly, not knowing what to do as well, but Josh thought it was Richard's responsibility since he's the higher-ranking personnel and his commanding officer. "You're the commanding officer Lieutenant, not me" Josh replied to Richard's question, genuinely confused himself but also not wanting to be put responsible for this little girl, he has his head full with the refugees and the kids back at the Fort. "But if you want my honest and humble opinion, we don't know much about this little girl, so I say we bring her back to base, the refugees and locals should know better," Josh suggested to Richard, and listening to it that's probably the wisest move, but he's still concerned to the threat she possesses to the operation.
Richard chuckled and glanced at Josh who's been looking up at his commanding officer. "Never knew you're this wise and smart Josh" Richard joked, teasing Josh for his intellectual move which gained an eye roll and hisses from Josh who went back to the road now. Richard chuckled once again and turned to the girl before sighing, he waved his hand for her to come over, she agreed eagerly, standing up almost immediately and walked over to Richard. "You're coming with us, young lady." The girl nodded to Richard, suddenly wrapping her arms around his. Richard sighed and hoped that this doesn't become a regular thing before going back to the Humvee where Josh is waiting now.
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Special Region Wilderness
0722 Hours, Local Established Time
Jackal Team; MTF Nu-7 "Hammer Down"
The morning was not great for the Jackal Team, tasked to retrieve SCP-049 back into Foundation custody sounded simple enough, the anomaly is dangerous but easily predictable with its trademarked elegant and rather slow movements. It chooses to not run after it's marked target, only striding over to their location menacingly yet it's not the Plague Doctor itself is the main threat, it's products are the problem. The damned undead, SCP-049 had accumulated a platoon's worth of bodies, probably from the villages it entered and massacred without mercy and turning the men and women into its personal bodyguard, meat shields, slaves, whatever you want to call them. A wall of rotting flesh and cracking bones with maggots slowly eating away deep into the undead's limbs, exposed bones and hanging jaws, blistered skin, and lastly the smell made everything worse. Each one that falls it feels like two more appears to take its place, a never-ending and relentless horde that wants to kill them all.
This train of thought is apparent when three of their men are already dead, the undead attempting to break through their automatic gunfire, while the anomaly they are assigned to recapture watches from the very back of the wall of flesh, observing it's great works of medical practices combat these Foundation fools. Gunshots continue to ring out from the men's rifles and the .50 cal on the Humvee yet they're still struggling with the undead, when they thought one was killed it would rise again and start charging at them once more. Hectic and heated, breathing heavily beneath their gas masks as their shoulders began to feel sore from the continuous recoil of their weapons. "Screw this!" One of Jackal's members yelled out, taking one of his grenades off of his chest, frustrated and angered from this repeating cycle. "I'm throwing a grenade!" He once again exclaimed to the rest of his comrades, pulling the pin and priming the grenade to explode, then throwing it to the best of his abilities. Looks like training pulled off and the grenade landed directly at the very back of the undead horde, next to SCP-049 as well. The grenade explodes and sends shrapnel in all directions and manages to kill several of the undead.
As the slowly smoke cleared and the most-forward men in the defensive line change to melee, pulling out their combat knives and stabbing the undead in the head, impaling their cranium and killing them for good. The smoke cleared fully, leaving an unscathed Plague Doctor standing, near mockingly the doctor dust off the dirt that was thrown up because of the explosion off of its pristine and untouched garb. But the elite squad kept their cool from this little mockery and continue to clear out the undead, then little by little it appears the horde of the Plague Doctor's servant's numbers begins to dwindle as body pile up in a line. The team also keeps on communicating through their comms, a localized radio network emitted by their specialized command Humvee. Using this they are able to coordinate and keep the allied body count to just three, but it's also jarring to realize how they got those three casualties. SCP-049 had tricks up its sleeves, luring the squad into another abandoned village and ambushed them all by using the undead rising from the dirt, the bastard had buried its slaves and used them for an attack, effectively knocking three of Jackal team out.
But once it lost its element of surprise it's almost easy to take care of the situation, almost easy. Throwing another grenade to the last of the huddled bunch of undead, the battle is over and the team moved up the plains, putting another bullet into the bodies' craniums to make sure they won't rise again and snatch their legs like before, those who are running low on ammo decide to just give the bodies' heads another good stab in substitute. SCP-049 stood calmly, watching the men as they start closing in, and one of them pulled that damned harness out of the back of one of the humvees. It clenched its hands, it was not to be captured once again and be restricted from its research. The pestilence had spread to these lands as well and it was the only cure for it. Three of the Foundation's MTF agents approached slowly with their weapons trained on the anomaly, one more slowly walking up with the dreaded harness. One on the right of 049 spoke. "Doctor, we mean no harm, you must come with us." They claimed to not mean any harm yet they had killed its cured patients and the most successful specimens the doctor had completed. The doctor switched his gaze and fell upon the one carrying the restricting harness, it would not come back into custody, not when it had felt this much freedom in years.
No longer will the doctor be restricted from attending to the sick, the pestilence must be eradicated and only he can do it. Moving swiftly, the doctor moved his hand up and grabbed the operative's neck and squeezed tight. It all happened in a flash, meaning the two other mtfs don't have a chance to retaliate to save their friend. The doctor continued squeezing harder and harder as the man started choking, devoid of air into his lungs. Then finally the doctor snapped the man's neck, and it was at this moment the two others realized what's happening and finally opened fire on the doctor. Moving to his next target, the doctor holds his arm up, using his garb as a shield to block the bullets that are being shot out of the rifles, ineffective weapons, and a horrible attempt to stop him. Striding forward and quickly closing the gap the doctor got hold of the neck of his target and immediately snapped it, a death similar to his comrade and a worthy one from the doctor's judgment.
Jackal Team starts to panic as SCP-049 suddenly becomes more aggressive than before and it worries them all heavily, soon after the next nearest MTF's neck is snapped and their limp body falls onto the dirt with a heavy thud. Continuing to open fire on the doctor in an attempt to subdue it through conventional matters, the harness bearer attempts to get the anomaly's neck into the neck clamp but it was no use, he's easily the next victim and a swift dodge from the doctor sealed the man's fate because it gave the room for the doctor's hand to reach the man's neck and another one is added onto the body count. Two members of the Jackal team is then ordered to take out their trump card, grenade launchers. Loading gas grenades into the launcher, it is a specially made canister containing concentrated fumes of Lavender at the occasion of something like this happening. The canisters are shot out of the launcher, the doctor covered it's beak and eyes once again by holding out its arm and by using it's garb but finally, the gas releases the lavender into the air surrounding SCP-049.
It does calm the doctor slightly, lavender had always been his favorite flower, it's savory and pleasant smell really reminded him of his time in beautiful France. But now, work must come first. He decides to spare these Foundation agents for interfering with his work, besides, they are not infected with the pestilence so it is a waste to just kill unaffected and innocent people. The doctor let out a shaky sigh, a mix of calm and frustration as he slipped away behind the fog of pink and into the tall grass nearby. He realized that the Foundation would be a massive obstacle in his mission, but sadly he cannot deter the organization's forces right now. He must evolve his methods.
Jackal Team moved into the fog carefully, trying to get a hold of SCP-049's location within, but the wind suddenly picked up and the lavender smoke is blown away and revealing only nothing but grass and the dead bodies of the operators. A disaster of a retrieval operation, Squadron Leader Kira Mill let out a frustrated sigh, leaning down against the hood of the humvee she had been using as cover. This is no good, seven men dead to SCP-049, good men that do not deserve this. Letting out a shaky sigh, this one full of anguish she pushes herself off of the hood of the vehicle and walks over to her second-in-command, Sergeant Major Joshua Gibbs. "Recover the bodies of the men, pile up the corpses and burn them" She gave out the order, out of breath and adrenaline still pumping. "We don't want the Romans to come by and steal the guns off of our men" She continued, never in her military career as an officer have messed up this bad, all she could do now is shake her head and deep breaths.
Gibbs nods his head sternly to the commands, turning around and call out to the rest of the squadron to go and recover the men's bodies and burn SCP-049-B corpses, then turning around to face the exhausted Kira, looking at her with a tired smirk leaning to the side against the APC. "Heh, not much of a smooth sailing huh Captain?" The Sergeant Major humored in an attempt to lighten up the mood. He's aware that it's not even a remotely successful operation but a failure, but hey, keeping it positive wouldn't hurt. "At the very least we took out the bastard's army" And he gives Kira a reassuring pat on the shoulder as a sign that it's okay, they're still human so they should be fine, right? "If we do get our asses chewed out by the General then they got their expectations too high, should've brought Tau-5 out here huh?" He further joked that got a small tired grin from his Captain.
Kira shook her head and chuckled at the joke, she never understood how Gibbs can keep his head up out of the water in the direst situations. This is not the worst thing they've been in, but the man somehow kept his spirits high when she couldn't, and it made her somewhat self-conscious as an officer. "Yeah, you're right" She replied to all of his jokes, not having enough energy to argue and is more than happy to have a laugh. She slings her Scar over her shoulders and took a few steps back, glancing to the side to see the men working their asses of piling up the corpses and dragging the operator's bodies back to the convoy. "Let's give them a hand shall we? We would be a massive ass if we don't" She suggested with a friendly pat to the arm of Gibbs, which in return he let out a laugh.
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Downtown San Francisco
Grunts, groans, and yells filled the room and it's all coming from Jill. The room had been turned upside down, the blinds covered the window, and furniture blocks the door in case this man has any buddies that arrive to help him out, but when it comes down to the target himself, Jill's having trouble. Jill let out one last groan as she unleashed a powerful punch across the now conscious man's face, huffing and puffing, hissing in disappointment as she paced around the room again with Terry leaning back against the wall, watching the beating ensue. Jill walked back around and stood tall in front of the man, placing her hands on her hips as she stared him down, straight into his eyes and his beat-up face, bleeding from the nose and mouth yet he's still alive.
Terry recalls how long it's been by looking at his wristwatch, and an hour had passed already then he sighed in disappointment. He thought Jill was the expert in these parts, even bragging on and on about how she'll break the man in a matter of seconds, he guessed reality is not like what they envisioned it. Jill clenched her hand tight and made a fist, letting out one more war cry before placing a hard-hitting punch into the man's abdomen, making the man spit out blood in response. Unfortunately, that blood spit had landed on Jill's face and continued to anger her. She then holds the man's collar and goes face-to-face, inches away from one another. "Stop being a hero, prick. You're never going to leave this place until you answer!" She screamed at the man, before pushing him and the chair, sending the man back and crashed onto his back and to the floor.
Terry sighed in frustration, pushing himself off of the wall and walked up beside Jill. "Listen, Jill, this isn't the East Coast, you can't keep punching him or he won't budge" Terry advised his hot-tempered partner, keeping her still by holding her on the shoulder. He glanced at the target, coughing out more blood while stuck to the chair on the floor. He returned his gaze onto Jill and whispered. "This isn't MC&D also, this is Chaos Insurgency we're dealing with so you better change up your tactics." Jill suddenly budged his arm off from her shoulder, breathing heavily as her stare doesn't waver from the man, she's angry. She went to go forward to beat up the man some more but Terry stopped her dead in her tracks, holding her by her chest, and whispered once again. "I know he killed your brother, but if the target is dead and we leave without information then the Foundation will have your head too, for the sake of us both."
She groaned in annoyance and pushed his arm once again off of her, turning around and moved her hands to her temples, pacing around the room once again trying to calm down. Terry, however, let his partner cool off by herself, he knew better. So he turned his attention to the target, walking over and squatting next to the tied up man that's on the floor. "Listen, buddy, you better tell us everything or we would need to go into drastic measures." Terry had this in mind when conventional beatings and interrogation tactics don't budge this veteran Chaos agent, then he would have to dig through the man's mind himself, the device is inside his pocket. Terry's a man that shows mercy, so he's giving the man one more chance to spill the beans before going into those kinds of methods.
For a good while, there was no answer, just heavy breathing from the man and Jill's heavy footsteps from her boots echoing around the apartment. Then the agent chuckled, that chuckle slowly turning into a laugh, and it became hysterical. The man finally spoke. "You foundation agents are so naive-" He said in a grainy and graveled voice while shaking his head, probably from the number of punches Jill threw at him earlier. Terry looked at Jill to see what she is currently doing, it appears she's calmed herself down and is standing a few distances away listening in. "Incapable… worthless… Can't even extract information right" Followed by a sadistic laugh from the agent, mocking both of the expert agents that had him tied to a chair and beaten.
The man returned to silence once again, Terry squatting next to him just patiently waiting for him to continue. After coughing up some more blood, the agent grinned and laughed once more. "Chaos is coming, and nothing can be done about it. Your precious gate in Alaska will become the stepping stone for our next great conquest." Terry listened closely, the gate? In Alaska? Wait a minute, is he mentioning the Gate that appeared in Japan? How did the agent know where it is housed? No matter, Terry glanced at Jill who nodded and went out to the fire escape to radio Eagle about their discovery, the Chaos Insurgency knows where SCP-4902 is. Terry decides to stay quiet, even after calling the both of them naive and incapable, the man is the one feeding them info willy nilly.
Jill returned into the apartment, going through the window again from the fire escape, and sighed, walking over to Terry and looked at the chaos agent that's still on the floor. She crossed her arms and shook her head, glancing at Terry. "There are no reports of anything unusual in Alaska for the past week, nevertheless Alaska has barely been the Insurgency's spot for handing out raids, isn't that right murderer?" She changed her tone for the last part, directing it at the chaos agent as she clenched her fist again, still rather fuming from their previous beating session but mostly calmed down. The man responded with a simple chuckle that the two foundation agents can hear, and Jill takes a deep breath, holding herself back to not just give the man another punch to the face and knock out his teeth for that chuckle. "We should be able to detect large movements from the Insurgency, so I don't know what you're on about, murderer." Looks like that's the name Jill's giving the chaos agent from now on, and Terry could only sigh. Understandable enough, this man was the cause of Jill's brother's death.
Terry recalled that memory from the back of his kind, they both were newly assigned together with Jill's brother being a part of their agent team and they were tased to scout out a small town in the middle of Montana. The town itself is very small with at least only 100 people living inside so the team looked out of place already. The townspeople were not too fond of strangers and they were already targeted. In the end, the team's car was hit by a large SUV belonging to the Chaos Insurgency's splinter cell in the area and this man right here, the one they had tied up was the one who got out of the car and shot Jill's brother right between his eyes. It's not a good memory, the death of a friend and family member has never been glamorous, ever.
Terry got brought back to reality from his daydreaming by Jill's groan of anger, as much as they don't want to realize they've been here for an entire hour and all they've done is beat the living hell out of the chaos agent, and the only type of info they got out of that one-hour-long punching exercise session is a vague poetic speech of the Chaos Insurgency going to use SCP-4902 as the start of some big conquest. Terry doesn't know what to do anymore and it's quite clear that the man won't budge, damn these Chaos Insurgents, they must've put their agents on some hallucinogenic anomaly that make them unable to spit out their secrets. He wants to punch the wall, frustrated after realizing how pointless this entire operation is but he knows better, all he needs is to take a deep breath and try some more, and of course, he's reminded of the last resort option after digging around inside his back pocket. He takes another deep breath and returns his attention to the agent.
Terry proceeds to turn the man upright again in the chair, pushing it off the floor and back up. After that Terry stood in front of him, looming over the agent who looked up at Terry with a dumb smirk and smugness that's making him uncomfortable, suddenly the agent asks Terry. "Do you know what a Swan Song is… Agent Terry?" Swan Song? What is this man asking about? Could it be another one of the Foundation's SCPs? Or is it a weapon or an object since the man specified 'a'. He is unsure so he decides to sigh and cross his arms, staring down at the man skeptically and just looking at the man's smug smirk, and he must admit that thing is annoying him now, he understands now why Jill wants to continue beating the living shit out of this man until his face is deformed.
Terry finally asks about this Swan Song, not familiar with the term. "I afraid not Agent Wilson, mind telling me?" He asks politely for the man to elaborate and give Terry the answer, which in response, the man's smirk spread out and grow into a grin. He did not enjoy them talking to one another and addressing one another with their on-the-field nicknames, shaking his head as he stared on at the man's grin, the two aren't close, it's just that after Jill's brother was killed-in-action he decided to do some digging and uncovered this man's files. Agent Wilson, a relentless agent employed the Chaos Insurgency, seen multiple times on raids of Foundation facilities, and have been grinding the Foundation's espionage link to a snail's pace. The first time he read it he's impressed, a man with skill, dedication, and focus is one he heavily respect but then again this is practically war, they're enemies so they can't call one another and go out for a cup of coffee. "What is Swan Song? Some sick new weapons created by the Chaos Insurgency?" He humored Wilson with that sentence, smiling himself and Wilson let out a chuckle.
After chuckling at Terry's joke, Wilson suddenly got kicked in the shin so suddenly that it caught the agent off-guard and let out a yell of pain. Terry was taken by surprise too and turned to Jill, the one who had kicked the man in the shins. Not happy that this murderer is having so much fun laughing and giggling. "Get this over with will ya Terry!? If you're gonna mingle with the enemy then I might as well punch you too" Jill exclaimed loudly and very apparent that her anger had returned, Terry hold up his hands after Jill had threatened Terry by holding up her fist, ready to punch Terry too. Did I mention she was hot-tempered? Terry sighed and nods to Jill's threat and manifesto, turning back to Agent Wilson who's currently hissing in pain, that must've been a really bad kick huh? "I'm sick and tired of this motherfucker" Jill murmured as she walked backward a few times, distancing herself from Wilson and Terry. Again, Terry sighed, placing his hand over his face and quickly shaking out of it, he's been with her for years now, this isn't any different.
Terry squatted right in front of Wilson, looking up at the chaos agent's pain-filled face before standing back up and hold his head, forcing him to look up at Terry. Wilson opened his eyes and his smirk came back but now with a bit more panting, Terry does not want any more time spent with this guy so as soon as this talk about the Swan Song is finished they're taking him into the Foundation for further interrogation, maybe even conversion. "The Swan Song… Agent Terry... is a metaphorical phrase for a final performance" Wilson paused, chuckling lightly as he continued to stare at Terry as if looking past him and seeing something Terry doesn't. "A final performance before that performer is dead" Wilson finished the sentence with a whisper, leaning a bit more into Terry. Wilson then began laughing, laughing, and laughing that it continues to echo around the room. "You two are my little performers tonight" Suddenly his jaw moved, smiling very widely to show all of his now remaining teeth, and chipped one-off out of his gums. Terry watched this with a bit of disgust, what kind of game is Wilson playing. "And I want you to put on a final show for me" Wilson whispered, then bit into the chipped off tooth then it started to slow glow, pulsating in a light blue hue.
'Oh shit, oh crap, this is not good' Terry thought and even Jill can see it too. Terry took several steps back and Jill does so as well, attempting to process what is currently happening. Wilson returned to his maniacal laughing. "Sing! Little swans! Sing before your death for me!" He mocked them both, this is very bad. Terry finally realized that it is a bomb of some sort, he's not sure himself but it must be a bomb. Suddenly Wilson's maniacal laughter is replaced with singing, singing in French. "Ô ma douce souffrance?" The pulsating blue light emanating from the tooth starts to go faster and brighter, acting like a clock that's ticking down to their demise. "Pourquoi s'acharner ? Tu r'commences. Je n'suis qu'un être sans importance" Wait, Terry remember this tune, it was the song that was playing on the radio in the car when Wilson killed Jill's brother, even in imminent death this man continue to mock them for their failure, he's completely lost it. Wilson skipped most of the song, and end it on; "Une dernière danse…"
Terry turned around and rushed over to Jill, grabbing her and jumped out of the window and onto the fire escape platform for cover as the pulsating blue hue turns into a very bright and blinding light, soon enough, the entire apartment blew up in a majestic blue firework and blue-tinted smoke. It sent out a shockwave to the surrounding area and made cars' alarms go off on the streets below and it was sure to catch the attention of everyone in a 40 block radius. Terry had saved Jill from the explosion, the brick wall provided enough cover but still burned into Terry's leather jacket. Terry's holding her in a deep embrace, like a father protecting his daughter. After he was sure the event had passed, he let go slowly and sat up beside Jill. "Are you okay?" Jill answered with a stern nod, them both sweating from the stress and the heat let off from the explosion. Terry, the call of duty rushing back into his mind, stood up and rushed back inside the blown up apartment. The wallpaper had been burnt off completely, most wooden furniture is turned to ash and as he looked at where Wilson was seated, the chair had been turned to ash as well, and Wilson is nowhere to be found.
Jill rushed in after Terry and weakly eased her shoulders and arms, staring at the place where Wilson once seated and beaten. "...Shit-" She cursed nearly breathlessly, and not too long after her radio picked up a signal from Eagle which she promptly picks up. "Eagle, this is Prophet 2. Target committed suicide in an attempt to bring us down with hi-"
But Jill got cut off, looks like Eagle already knows. "Understood, sending in an extraction team, police and firemen are on their way so you must get out of there ASAP" Eagle warned them, this was one hell of a day.