This was stupid. It was a stupid idea, thought up by stupid people, in stupid, safe offices. Agent Two looked around slowly, letting his flashlight play over the walls, one of the only items the Agents were allowed to carry inside SCP-015. Agents Six and Lon were standing just behind him, doing the same. The idle chatter and joking had died off about thirty seconds ago, each Agent slowly realizing that this was no simple little milk-run. Go in, find the observation unit, pull the data and recover the unit. Cake. They'd laughed, Lon asking if she should find a Mario hat to wear, them being plumbers now and all. Now, however…seeing the dim, cramped tunnel yawning before them, the only joke was them being there at all.
Two stepped forward, slowly, fixing his flashlight on the ground. It was a hard mat of pipes, more or less level with the floor. A few small tubes stuck up here and there, snaking around like tree roots, or suddenly turning up in the middle of the floor like a pillar. The walls, the ceiling, every inch of the original structure was coated in pipes. Some researcher who led them up to the main door said that there wasn't anything left of the old warehouse really, except for the outer shell. He pushed away that whole line of thought, pointedly following the pre-mapped course they'd had to memorize, stepping around a pillar of tightly woven hair, the glossy surface steaming gently.
Six plodded along, taking the rear and keeping a close eye on Two and Lon. Skittish kids. Lon was jumping at every sound, and Two looked like he was ready to drop and run if he saw so much as a mouse. Kids. He sniffed in the dark, playing his light forward, smelling heat, sewage, and god knows what else. They needed a good military hand to lead them, but damned if Six was going to mollycoddle grown adults who were going to jump at shadows. They were going to get this goddamn job done, and get the hell back out. Fuck that bullshit SCP slip, they were just security blankets for eggheads and flakes. “Semi-sentient” my ass, they just didn't want people denting their pet horrors. He wanted out of this dripping nightmare. He was going to get this mission done with or without them.
Lon tiptoed over a thick, thorny mass of pipe, the surface like braided thistles, trying not to whimper. She kept close to Two, keeping the light at her feet so she wouldn't step on anything nasty. She hadn't wanted to seem like the little, weak girl…but she had a terrible fear of tight spaces…and this place was like walking around in someone's slowly closing arteries. Lon shook her head, hard, breaking off that whole train of thought. She was the tech, Six and Two were the safety. All she had to do was stick by them, pull the data cards out of the MRV, and then leave. She tried hard not to look back at the sealed doors in the distance behind them. Only a couple turns to the MRV, a little work, and then out. In and out, simple as pie. She ignored a softly throbbing pipe of leathery flesh near her arm with a focus that was almost physical.
They found the MRV after what felt like an hour of walking. It was hard to keep your bearings. The rampant growth of the pipes had cramped some areas down to crawlways, and snarled others in to random, claustrophobic mazes. Six had nearly gotten stuck twice, and had looked like he was about to murder Lon when she made a comment relating to Winnie the Pooh. Lon was talking again, at least…but it was brittle, whistle in front of the graveyard chatter. Two kept trying to follow the directions…but even with them being less then a week old, they were little more then a guideline. When they'd finally found the MRV, it'd been a momentary relief. At least they were at the half way point. Then they'd looked at it in the light.
It had been speared, for lack of a better term. Pinned against a pipe of some kind of dense fabric, a smooth, black pipe had docked itself to the camera lens of the observation vehicle. It wasn't smashed or damaged, it just…connected, as if it was made for it. It had lifted the little treaded robot nearly a foot off the ground, and it looked like other, smaller pipes had started to connect to other open spaces on the vehicle. It just sat there, the wheels slowly turning as the battery died, like a bug on a nest of pins. Some clear, foul-smelling fluid was dripping softly from the camera housing.
Two's voice echoed in the dark, a monument to pointless speech. They all stood, for a few moments, then Lon started to, carefully, look over the MRV. Six was looking around with an increasing restlessness, starting to mutter quietly. Lon was reaching for the data cards, before stopping, looking over at Two.
“Um…Two…since it's grown in to the MRV, do you think it…counts?”
“What do you mean counts?” Two kept the light on her and the machine, a hiss of steam behind him making him flinch.
“I mean as damaging 015. If I take out the data cards, do you think it will…react?”
Two looked around slowly, shining his light along the floor, a pipe as wide as a car and seemingly made of compacted lint.
“…this suddenly seems like a bad-”
“Oh shut the fuck up.”
Both Agents turned to stare at Six. He'd stepped up to the MRV, flexing his hands and reaching in to his coat with one hand. The other pushed Lon away none too softly.
“Move it. Reaction, for fuck's sake…they just say that shit to fuck with people and keep their toys safe. It's a bunch of weird pipes. Beginning and end, there. Maybe it grows or whatever, but the damn thing sure as shit isn't going to take offense to people. I'm grabbing this goddamn thing, and we're getting out of here.”
As he spoke, he stepped forward, flipping open the dataport cover. More of the clear, scummy liquid had pooled inside. The other two Agents froze, staring in shock a moment…and the building seemed to do so as well, the whispered sounds of venting steam, sliding materials, and soft pinging had all stopped. The heartbeat in Lon's ears sounded like gunshots. Two started forward, reaching for Six.
“Jesus, Six, what the fuck are-”
Six ignored him, slipping out the thin data cards. It felt like old, nasty water over them…bad, but they were built to resist it. He slipped them out, then put the bundle in his pocket. He prodded around the edge of the camera lense, shifting the MRV a bit, trying to see if it would work free as Two and Lon backed away, slowly, the silence around them seeming to crush inward. Six gave up, turning away from the helplessly trapped MRV and shining his light on the two white-faced Agents.
“Fucking kids. I don't know how you guys survive.”
The pipe under him opened with the soft sound of tearing felt.
Two and Lon didn't even have time to react, before he slid in to the widening gap up to his armpits, and started screaming horribly. Six's flashlight went tumbling away as the two Agents, galvanized by the big man's wretched screaming, ran to help him. A blast of heat and light was pouring up from under the man, as the two Agents grabbed his arms and looked down. He was submerged in a mass of thickly flowing molten glass. His clothes had already started to smolder and burn, the stench of seared flesh almost more overpowering then the reverberating screams. They pulled, and dragged up half of a man, with a ruined, seared mass of flesh and cloth where his lower body should have been.
They panted, trying to drag him, Lon starting to scream along with Six, Two's eyes wide and fixed on some point far away from there. There was a horrible swell of sound rising all around them, pinging, hissing, clicking, cracking, a pipe to their side bulging alarmingly and causing them to nearly fall. They regained their footing just as a wooden pipe above them burst open in a spray of splinters and clear, stinging dust.
Two and Lon spun away, gagging and choking, Two spitting out a sudden mass of blood. Glass. It was powdered glass. It poured over Six, muffling his screams, shifting as he struggled a few moments, then stopped, the glass quickly covering the body and spreading. Lon blinked, eyes red and puffy, looking over at Two. He nodded, and they bolted down the hall, trying to ignore the rising cacophony of sound, sounding like an approaching subway train. A mass of oily, reeking chemicals boiled up behind them, a jetting surge of rose thorns nearly cutting off their forward progress, forcing them to crawl along a bone pipe that was shuddering like an old man in the cold.
They ran, keeping just ahead of…whatever it was, hearing splintering explosions and shivering cracks all around them. They finally came to a snarled crawlway, barely a few feet wide, that was the only way forward. Two dived in, doing a low crawl, trying to will himself forward like a snake, knowing the passage was only about fifteen feet long, easy, wouldn't take any time. Lon hesitated, that tiny, black gap looking like a mouth, before a sudden burst of steam behind her sent her shrieking forward, sobbing as she started to crawl, calling after Two.
Two ignored the growing vibration all around him, the creaking ping near his head, and slid free of the opening, he turned…and saw nothing. No Lon, no sudden bursting…just the empty hole. He looked around, hands twitching, thinking, then slid back inside, trying to find Lon and physically drag her out. He could hear her, muffled, probably behind the next turn…and his flashlight revealed a solid wall of three thick, flaking white pipes. This was it, he was sure of it, the tunnel was right here…and then he heard the pitiful scream behind them. Lon begging, pleading, screaming for him. Two stared, eyes wide, then slammed his flashlight against the pipe. It burst, sending a reeking, corrosive slime over his hand, making him reel back down the crawlway, screaming as it ate in to his flesh. He stood outside the opening, holding his steaming hand away from him, trying not to look at the exposed bone.
“Oh…oh jesus…Lon…Lon, I'm sorry, I'll get help, I'll get someone, just sit tight, I swear…”
He bolted down the hall, his flashing seeming to dim in time to the rising sound.
Lon panted, screaming for Two, hearing the hard bang on the other side of the pipe and his sudden, shrieking retreat. She sobbed, her whole body shaking, and slowly started to work her way backward, crawling on her belly, crying as she muttered some half-remembered prayer.
When her feet pushed against a sold wall of pipe, she couldn't even muster a fresh scream.
She was trapped, the space not much bigger then a coffin, helpless. She sobbed, face on the ground of warm, fuzzy pipes…and noticed the silence. Aside from her cries, there was nothing. No pinging, no cracks or explosions…nothing. She raised her head in the barely illuminated dark, looking around. She was alive. It was calming down. They'd come for her, Two would get help. She was getting out of here. She fought back her growing claustrophobia, looking along the walls. She noticed a small gap at the ceiling, and started shifting to get a better look, twisting back…and finding only the open end of a pipe. Lon sagged back, closing her eyes, tears leaking down her face.
The first sticky drips she simply assumed were the same tears. Then one fell on her mouth…and it was sweet. She opened her eyes, and saw a thick, quivering mass of amber goo splatter from the mouth of the pipe, coating her and the floor as it surged out. She coughed, shifting back…it was honey. Honey, or something like it. At least it wasn't molten lead or acid…then she saw the level rising. It wasn't draining. The pipes were packed too close. She looked around her tiny chamber with horror rising much faster then the honey oozing up her sides. Lon beat on the walls the floor, the ceiling, trying to block the pipe with her hands, heedless of provoking the thing more…as the honey rose and rose, as cloying sweet as a school age lover.
Her last, gasping breath was sweet and stale with honey and screams.
Two ran, totally lost now, his flashlight dimming by the moment, the sound of cracking and bursting pipes starting to trail off. Maybe it was done, finally. 015 was protective, but it didn't seem vengeful. People had gotten hurt before, and gotten out fine. It happened. They'd find a way to get Lon out too. She might even be out already, just found another way to get around the blockage. That was probably it, she was out of this stupid place. Six was a shame…but why had that lunatic opened the case? What the hell had possessed him?
He was still musing on this when he tripped over a unseen pipe in the dark around his feet.
He pitched forward, yelping a half-surprised, half-terrified bark as he went sprawling. Or he should have went sprawling. Instead, he fell past the floor, in to a yawning, open pit of a pipe, the slick, oozing sides plunging down at a sharp angle. He screamed, trying to grab something to stop or slow himself, but the walls were oozing and thick, his downward slide gaining speed. His dimming flashlight showing a seemingly endless tunnel stretching off below him. He slid, and slid, a scum of stinking, smooth ooze sticking to his clothes and skin.
The tube twisted, banging him against the wall as he followed it, his flashlight jittering and starting to flicker. Panic slammed down like a fist, Two grabbing the light and trying to keep it still, pleading with it, staring at the lamp bulb as it dimmed more and more. It surged a moment, then flickered out, the darkness pressing to his eyes like cloth, the Agent slipping down faster and faster, screaming until he was hoarse, screaming until his throat bled, screaming even as he passed well beyond the physical boundaries of that tangled web of pipes.
Days later, when his skin started to shred off, it was almost welcome.
SCP-015 Recovery Report
Agent Two: MIA
Agent Six: MIA
Agent Lon: MIA
MRV-889236 Status: Unrecovered
Data deemed non-vital in light of lost staff. SCP-015 classification level review suggested.