Project Persephone
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Kain Pathos rested his eyes for a moment. The minty green goo gummed between his eyelids, but the strange sensation didn't bother him too much. Stretching, the tip of his paw barely touched the smooth interior of his thick glass canister.

Life since the implementation of Project Lazarus had been an adjustment for sure, but Kain's will drove him forward. He mused that he was now little more than unyielding determination possessing a machine. Soon, he hoped, he would not even be that.

Ooze, canister, and dog came to an abrupt halt as the service elevator reached its destination. He supposed he couldn't complain, it still astounded him how quickly Jack had managed to get the excavation done. Jack hadn't filled him in on the specifics of how how he'd ensured the engineers doing it would keep their secret, and it was long past the point where the answer to such a question would be purely academic.

The elevator doors slid open, fluorescent light flooding in, tinging Cain's pleasant darkness with a faint green glow. He lingered, resting his eyes and giving himself a moment's peace from the enormity of his task.

"What's the holdup?" Jack's voice cut through his reverie.

"Nothing. Running some maintenance routines." He opened his eyes, mentally directing his walker to move into the excavated chamber. As the machine moved, Crow took a brief moment to appreciate the beauty of his newest construction. The focusing arc's arms, great semicircular metal pylons rising nearly fifteen feet high, just barely able fit within the confines of the chamber.

"I'm out. Go ahead and send her down." Kain still felt weird hearing his machine synthesize his thoughts into his own voice from its speakers. The service elevator shuddered as it began lifting up behind him.

"Ah, you've returned. Professor Crow, wasn't it?" The hunched figure seated in the shadows of the cave mouth called out. Looking out from behind its white mask, Crow could still see the despondence in the black-robed doctor's eyes.

"Of course, I didn't plan on leaving you down here alone oh fo…" Crow suddenly felt odd calling another doctor, mad as it might be, by a number. He'd never once referred to Jack as a number. Hell, what are the odds Clef didn't already have a nice shiny number set aside for Crow himself?
"I didn't plan on leaving you here alone for long, doctor. I have a patient on their way on whom I feel you are uniquely qualified to operate."

"Another cancerous growth? More traumatic battle injuries? Feh. I have missed the window during which the one true malaise could have been eradicated. I am qualified only to fail." The plague doctor waved a dejected hand at the surgery table which Crow had set up for him. "Nothing I can do anymore will lead to any true, lasting good."

"Probably." Crow admitted. "But, is it worth it to try to reopen that window?" Crow saw the black hood perk up, and was relieved his time studying the psychological documentation of the doctor had paid off.

"If such a thing were possible…"

"It might be. I don't have a blackboard to drag down here to show you my math, but, I think this has a reasonable chance to work." The arm of Crow's walker pointed towards the hasty operating room constructed within the loop of the focusing arc's arms. "I brought everything you should need, though I'm sure you have whatever you're gonna use is in that bag of yours anyways."

"And what manner of surgery is it you would have me perform?" The cloaked doctor slowly stood, walking to investigate the surgical table.

"Your usual fare. The cure you've gone on and on abou…"

"I can't, damn your eyes!" His black-gloved fist slammed down onto the table. "How many times must I tell you, the patient's death is a necessary step, integral to the procedure!"

"Just go through the mechanical steps of the operation, regardless of what happens. Look, I'm not promising you this will work." Crow paused for just a moment to contemplate his surroundings. A slapdash operating room carved into a cave beyond which there was no life. A dark room with two tortured immortals.
"Hell, no matter what happens I can practically guarantee you that this will not wind up pretty. But so help me, if there's a one percent chance that this experiment can reintroduce death to this damned universe, then it would be unconscionable of us not to at least try."

A pair of cold eyes studied Crow from behind their mask. They held onto him, as though to wring his secrets from him. "And if it doesn't?" Came the simple question.

"Then we'll be captured by the Foundation in short enough order, and put into containment cells until the universe falls to dust." Crow practically barked in his annoyance. "Same as what will happen if you stand here and do nothing."

"Well, at least you've the decency not to coat it in sugar." The plague doctor studied this curious dog, suspended in his vat of green goo, atop its strange automaton body. He found his arguments hard to dismiss.

"Well, then Professor Crow, who will be my patient?"

Alto Clef beat his fist against his vehicle's dashboard, cursing, from the bottom of his heart, anyone that could manage to get an Initial D album stuck in a CD player. In truth, he just needed to punch something, and Jack's face wasn't yet close enough.

As the cave's mouth came into view over the horizon, the snarl that was Clef's expression grew twisted. He throttled the gas of the ATV he had commissioned, smashing the headstones of the long-abandoned Joppa cemetery.

"Found you."

"She's on her way down." Bright spoke into his microphone as the doors of the cargo elevator slid shut. He rubbed his forehead in irritation at the interminable waiting; he would vastly prefer to watch the operation firsthand, but that would have to be left to Crow, who could deactivate direct control of his body once SCP-053 came out of the crate.

The shudder of the heavy elevator lowering its payload helped drown out the wailing howl of uncertainty and anxiousness currently consuming his mind. His lighter flicked open in his hand, and he found himself lighting a cigarette.

Bright paced restlessly as the clock slowly marked the interminable passing of moments. He grit his teeth in anticipation. The sound of his high heels clacking across the stone floor punctuated by the tiny ticks and tocks of the wall clock. At any time, he expected the tinny sound of Kain's voice from the speaker.

Instead, he heard a faint, mocking whistle. A moment later, it stopped, leaving only echoes of itself in its wake. The devil cast his shadow across the doorway.

"I must commend you. To pull this off is impressive, but you know how the Foundation feels about rogue employees." The familiar voice of Alto Clef sent shivers down Bright's spine. "Especially when they try to mess with normalcy." Clef continued, taking a step further as he readied his shotgun.

"Alto, I was wondering when you would decide to show up." Jack said, keeping as much control over his voice as the intense, throbbing ball of stress and uncertainty in his chest would allow. Resting his hand on his hip helped not only to accentuate his feminine form, but also to hide his fingers surreptitiously activating his radio's microphone. "And what's up with just stalking in through the front door? Shouldn't you have at least crashed a Camero through the wall or something?"

"Everything's always one big joke with you, Jack. I used to like that about you. Gotta keep your sanity together somehow, dontcha?" Clef spat on the ground as he took a few more steps into the room. "But just like everything, you took it too far. All you and Crow have accomplished over these past few months is to convince both me and the O5s that allowing uncontained anomalies to serve as employees is a bad idea it's time to put an end to."

"Anomaly, would we, Alto?" Jack's balled fist slammed into a steel shipping container resting behind him, sending a metallic clang thundering through the room. Loud enough, he hoped, to cover the noise of the elevator beginning its journey upwards. "Then I can only assume you've come here so I can watch you blow your own brains out?"

Alto's face reddened ever so slightly, a mask of rage falling into place. His counterargument began brewing in his mind, but before he could truly refine it, he watched himself close the distance to this strange woman who was Jack Bright, and swing his arm wide. He felt the peculiar, intense vibrations up his wrist and arm as the barrel of his shotgun struck Jack's face. He saw the vivid bright red blood leaking from Jack's newly broken nose, splattering across Alto's own gun.

"Still haven't come to terms with it, have 'ya, buddy? You still think you're one of the 'good' ones? If you just lick the right boots with enough vigor, that they'll forget you're as anomalous as a-" Jack was cut off as the tip of the shotgun thrust forward, catching him in his solar plexus, squeezing the remaining air from his lungs with the sound of a rapidly deflating balloon.

Reeling backwards, wheezing, Jack crashed into the steel shipping container, a loud metallic crash accompanying his retching, blood gushing from his mouth and nose to splatter on the cold, smooth stone ground at his feet. Even this, however, wasn't enough to mask the loud CLANG of the elevator car arriving, the doors beginning to slide open.

Clef, keeping the tip of his shotgun to Jack's chest, turned his head towards the commotion. There was no mistaking the green glint of Crow's preservative flud, the hulking metallic body beneath it, and, if his eyes didn't deceive him, the sizable length of rebar steel in the machine's hands.

"Oh, Clef. One more thing?"

"Wha-" Clef's sentence was interrupted by Bright's fist impacting against his mouth.

"Son of a bitch!" Clef staggered backward, recoiling from the pain of the punch. He didn't have time to collect himself though, Bright rushed him with surprising ferocity. Even though it had been decades since the last time he had found himself in a live combat scenario, years of training and field-experience kicked into high gear.

Crow burst from the elevator, bowing the metal doors outwards with the force of his passing. Like the bastard son of a locomotive and a viking rager, the professor charged towards Clef with his makeshift weapon held high.

A quick elbow to Jack's broken nose bought Clef the precious seconds he needed to avoid being splattered across the room like an overripe fruit. He rolled quickly to the left, narrowly avoiding the reckless charge, and scrambled back. After putting enough distance between them, Clef smirked and reached into his pockets, producing the detonator. As Crow turned around to begin a new charge, Clef flicked open the device's trigger cover and, in the same motion, flicked the small device's switch.

An explosion rocked the limestone cave, sending scraps of metal and plastic everywhere. Then, there was silence.

Clef stepped forward, his weapon at the ready. Though the smoke was still heavy, and his ears rang painfully, he was able to make out what remained of Professor Crow. The dog lay on the ground, missing a leg and full of glass shards digging into his body. Despite all his wounds, he had not yet passed out. His eyes stared up at him, full of anger and hate.

"I just wanted to rest…"

"Don't we all."

"My body… my mind… everything…"

"Spare me the waterworks, Professor. Where is your buddy?"

"Right behind you."

Bright took another swing at Clef, but his desire to taunt the former GOC agent had given him the advantage. He missed but managed to grab hold of Clef's hideous Hawaiian shirt. Clef responded in kind with a shotgun blast to Bright's core, who fell over on top of Clef, desperately clinging to his increasingly bloody shirt.

Clef remained still, knowing he had won.

"Did you think you could kill me, Clef? You piece of shit?"

"No, Jack. No one dies. I'll make sure you both answer for what you have done."


Bright leaned forward, his forehead making contact with Clef's. The two men spent a moment staring each other down as Bright let go of Clef's shirt, bringing his hands to his own neck.


"Well. Eat shit, lardass."

In a single swift motion, Bright cupped his amulet into the palm of his hand, and drove it as hard as he could into Clef's face, slipping it onto his neck.

Bright went limp.

Clef shot up with unprecedented force, screaming in agony. The third eye on his forehead opened, bloodshot, weeping in pain as he desperately tried to rip off the amulet from his neck to no avail. All three of Clef's eyes rolled back into his head as he fell to his knees, lifeless.

And all Kain could do was watch.
"I'm sorry, old friend."

"What… what happened? Where am I?"
In a dark cave, a forlorn doctor, holding onto the final embers of his hope, took his tools to work on the struggling woman he had strapped to his operating table. It weighed heavily on his heart to hear her agonized screams as his scalpel laid bare her inner workings. At least, he felt like it did. In truth, if he still had a heart, it would have burst the moment he laid his hands on her.
|"Hi, Alto."
He paid little mind to the sparking and loud crackling noises coming from the peculiar device the strange dog-machine had claimed to build. Indeed, he paid little attention to the fact that the dog-machine had left quite some time ago, and had not yet returned.
"Jack you son of a bitch… what did you do to me? What did you do to us?"
He cut, sutured, pumped fluids, and drained others. Time, the cramped confines, even the crazed, mewling noises coming from his patient, stopped having any meaning to him. He didn't truly believe he could succeed, and yet he could not allow himself to stop trying.
"I did the only thing I could do."
Never. He must never stop trying.
"… Now what?"

"We wait."

"Until when?"

"Until time ends."

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