“Budget review’s in two weeks,” a young man who looked to be a fresh-faced intern said.
“And?” someone asked, while two others looked hunted. Ha, he’d bet they hadn’t caught up on record-keeping. Suckers. That’s what underlings were for.
“We’re under our budgeted D-Class personnel allotment.” That’s right, keep it casual, keep it cool.
“. . . What do we do with the extra?” one of the agents finally asked.
“Give them to Dr. Bright,” the apparent intern said. “He’ll find a use for them.”
“After what happened last time?”
“Fair point.” He knew that’d be too easy. A pause. “Well, we could always feed them to 682.”
The room collectively turned to stare at him. Probably should’ve let someone else talk before his next suggestion. Sophia said, “Dr. Bright, you are supposed to wear 963 where we can see it at all times.”
Sulkily, Jack trashed the list he’d made up once he’d realized how many extra D-Class they had still kicking around. “No one ever lets me do anything.”
His body was female right now after that little incident with the invisible not-shark and the employee bathtubs, but hey, there was no reason there couldn’t be a female Doctor. He hefted the cardboard box, a good foot taller than him, and made his way toward his destination. When the guards went to stop him, he flashed 963, good as any identification badge, and said, “Official experiment, cleared with the higher-ups.”
One of them groaned and said, “We did not need this today. We only just cleaned up the last one.”
Jack made a hand motion and said, “You’re free to move along.”
“Yeah, sure,” same guard groused.
“You’re still not a Jedi,” Agent Grenwich, who’d apparently chosen to accompany him, said. Well, that, or she’d been assigned to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t do too much damage. Pfft, like that had ever stopped him.
“That’s just what my Jedi powers want you to think,” Jack informed her.
“So why’s the box blue?” Grenwich asked as he set it up next to 184.
“Because its chameleon circuit is broken.”
“This isn’t an authorized experiment, is it, Dr. Bright?”
Jack did not like that look on her face. “No, no, of course it is.”
She got out her radio as he disconnected 184 from its electromagnetic and tossed it inside. “Allons-y!” he called, following it in.
He had roughly ten minutes to enjoy his new Tardis before Grenwich found him in the warren of cardboard and confiscated 184.
“Next time,” Jack said, “you’re not invited.”
“Next time,” Grenwich said, “I’m checking your authorization first.”
It was three days before budget review. With a look of defeat, Sophia, the current department head until she could find some poor, unsuspecting sap to replace her, ceded, “Fine. You can have fifteen of them.”
“Yes!” Jack cried.
“I regret it already.”
“C’mon,” Jack told the group he’d rounded up. “You’re going to love this. It’s even better than Disneyland.”
Sophia looked a little green. “You know you have to get O5 permission first.”
“That’s fine. I’ve more than enough blackmail material to manage this.”
Jack whistled a jaunty tune as he crossed the red line. He’d left a couple D-Class back with the guards and Grenwich - who steadfastly refused to traverse the Tunnel of Love with him - so they could retrieve 963 if everything went as planned. And if not - well, eventually someone would go looking for it. If it took them a few decades, hey, free time travel!
“I’ve heard stories about this place,” one D-Class said mournfully.
“Now, now,” Jack said, “no spoiling it for the rest of the class.”
“Wait, this is - I think I’ve heard the stories, too,” another said. Her face was a sudden rictus of terror. Good, she was getting the idea.
“I think we should go on the rollercoaster first,” Jack said in a musing tone. “Then, if we make it that far, maybe the carousel!”
One of the more clueless D-Class said, “Uh, boss, you sure it’s safe? Most of these rides look kind of . . . old.”
“Odds are excellent they’ll operate within intended parameters,” Jack reassured him. He made sure to choose a seat all the way in the back to get the best effect.
“And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of,” that first D-Class said.
“Strap in!” Jack called. “Wouldn’t want to fall out halfway through!”
The Thriller Chiller was everything he’d dreamed and more. On the third curve, a random D-Class even exploded. Jack laughed his head right off.
“ - And if you keep going through assistants at this rate, we’re going to put you in a monkey again.” The lecture finally seemed to be winding down.
“It was an ape,” Jack corrected. Bless Crow and his murderous ways.
“I don’t care what it was! We’ll find something worse. Just - go do some real experiments and try not to get in anymore trouble.”
“I can certainly try,” Jack said. He very carefully did not actually promise anything.
Jack finished piecing back together his 894 top hat. “Try to catch me now,” he said in satisfaction.
Grenwich, armed with a shielded helmet and an echo-locator borrowed from 689 duty, tackled him before he could even make it to 297.
“Curses,” he signed after she divested him of his cap. “How did you know where I was going? And why you, anyway?”
“They put me in charge of you after 184,” Grenwich said, dragging him upright and tucking him under her arm. “And I knew the second I saw you pull out that silly-ass scarf.”
“Lay off the scarf! It took me days of dedicated knitting.” At Grenwich’s look of skepticism, he relented, “It took my extra D-Class days of dedicated knitting.”
“Higher-ups let you keep them?”
“I know, right? It’s like they never learn.”
“And it has nothing to do with you being put in charge of personnel.”
“Absolutely nothing,” Jack happily agreed.
Looking at the potential new SCP, Jack told the agents accompanying him, “I vote I stick my dick in it and see what it does.”
“You don’t have a dick,” one of the agents, a young man who looked to be in his early twenties, said.
Jack perked up, fully prepared to take advantage of this opportunity -
“And no,” Grenwich said, “297 doesn’t count, even if they did let you bring it for ‘defense.’” Mostly to herself, she muttered, “I can’t believe they’re encouraging this sonic screwdriver thing.”
“Fine,” Jack said. To the first agent, “Why don’t you stick your dick in it and we’ll see what happens?”
“This is why no one likes to work with you.”
“People love to work with me! I have one of the highest survival rates in underlings.”
“Only if you don’t count the ones you bill as experimental subjects,” Grenwich said.
“Hm, there’s an idea. Let’s have a D-Class do it.”
“Budget review’s over. They’re a limited resource again.”
“What if I were the D-Class?”
“I have a taser and orders to use it if need be.”
“No fun at all,” Jack mourned.
“We’ll bring it back,” one of the researchers promised, hands carefully gloved, holding up the bag.
“Let me see those orders again,” Jack demanded. He carefully examined them, determined to find any discrepancies. Well, fuck. Looks like he’d have to hand it over. “This had better not be another attempt to make more of me.”
Grenwich shuddered beside him.
“Then again - will I have nice tits?”
“We’ve already been informed that we’re not allowed to assist you in creating your own orgies,” the researcher primly informed him.
“Well, so long as you’re not feeding it to 682 again.” Jack pulled the cord holding 963 off his neck and tossed it in the bag. “Go nuts. Just try not to touch it yourself. I don’t want to be that short.”
It wasn’t until 705 trooped up to him and reported they’d taken command of most of the site and were awaiting further orders that Jack found out what the researchers had done with it.
“How’d you manage that?” he asked curiously. “I thought all the extra playdough was kept in other colors.”
“We brought 963 with us to ensure cross-color cooperation,” a little general in a lab coat told him proudly.
“Oh,” Jack said. “Good idea. Carry on.”
Grenwich did not look impressed. “You’re not going to stop them?”
“They’re playdough. How much trouble can they get into?”
It was only later when, despite it not being his experiment in the first place, he was being chewed out over the whole affair, that he realized they were little militaristic copies of himself. It was only a surprise they didn’t do more damage.
Still, Jack was proud of their ingenuity and initiative. They’d even somehow managed to bring down a D-Class.
“Bright! What did I say about having 963 displayed at all times?” Sophia demanded.
“Never got it back after the 705 incident.”
Sophia looked at Grenwich, who put her hands up. “Hey, I’m only this iteration’s keeper.”
“So you’re saying there are more of me!”
Sophia put her head in her hands. “I really, really hope not. Let me go check.”
Another year passed, another budget review upcoming.
“What do we need to spend this year?” Sophia asked as she punched in her order at the Mr. Coffee machine.
“We still have some extra D-Class,” a researcher glanced in a file, “and five extra Brights.”
“Oh?” someone in a labcoat asked as they opened the Little Caesar’s box, liberated from Cantina 17.
The researcher froze. “That’s level four and up.”
“I have the clearance,” the man in the labcoat said, face a mix of delighted and wrathful, “so why didn’t I know there were more of me?”
Sophia sighed. “We really need to get them little tags with code names when they’re not in possession of 963.”
“I mean, that’s enough for a proper orgy!” Jack paused. “Wait, they’re not all monkeys, are they?”
“Or maybe collars,” she mused, making a gesture at one of her staff.
“I mean, one or two, that’s okay, but three is a dealbreake - ” Jack cut off as the dart hit his neck.
“Note down that we only have four extra Brights,” Sophia said.
Jack - the official Dr. Bright, or at least the one currently wearing 963 - walked into the breakroom. “Hey, that’s where 458 went!” He stepped over the body with the half-eaten slice in its hand, absently noting, “Good taste in pizza.”
Jack grabbed out a few slices for himself and proceeded to shove the entirety of one in his mouth. Finally, he noted the stares. “What? Have I got sauce somewhere?”
Grenwich stepped in, startled at the appearance of 963, then grabbed a simian in a labcoat before it could make it all the way in the door, stating, “We can get pizza another day,” as she ushered it out.
“Aw,” Jack said. “Even once she was reassigned, she missed me enough to get herself a pet sidekick.”
“It’s really very sweet,” Sophia said as she grabbed the file from her assistant’s hands. A distraction presented itself. “Budget review’s coming up. What would you do with eighty extra D-Class personnel?”
“Really?” Jack asked.
“Really,” Sophia said as someone came in to take away the body.
“Last year I had a list. Let’s see if I can remember - ”
In the end, Dr. Bright was forbidden from having access to more than eight D-Class at a time.
“Worth it,” Jack told Grenwich, who’d turned up again. “Totally worth it.”
“At this rate,” Grenwich tiredly informed him, “I’ll be stuck with you until I retire.”
“Don’t be such a pessimist! You could die first.”
“Or I could kill you.”
“If you ever find a way, let me know,” Jack said, “but with 68 D-Class, I certainly tried.”
“And the last twelve?”
“I had a list,” Jack said. “I’ll try to make it longer next year.”