MTF Colonel Emil Richter tossed away the spent butt of what must have been his fiftieth cigarette for the day. It was supposed to have been a simple intel raid on a Church of the Broken God compound. But things went horribly wrong. Instead of the roughly dozen or so cultists they were expecting, they instead encountered a force of over a hundred.
It was an unmitigated disaster. Out of a team of thirty MTF soldiers, seventeen were dead and the rest were wounded to varying degrees.
Richter scowled. This shouldn’t have happened! If only he got better intel. If only his troops didn’t panic. If only they did what they told him to. If only…
He sighed and pulled out yet another cigarette. It took him several tries to light it, as both his hands were trembling uncontrollably. The O5s would want an explanation for this fiasco. He had already sent an official report to them, explaining his actions, but Richter knew that as the commanding officer, he was going to be the scapegoat.
There was a knock on his door. Richter nearly leapt out of his chair in fright, but at least managed to stir up the courage to resist the urge. Sweating, he slowly drew his sidearm, careful to conceal the weapon under his desk.
“Come in.” He said shakily.
“Sir.” Richter’s grip relaxed when he realized it was only his subordinate, Captain Leeds. “I have the final casualty report.”
“Ah, you do?” Richter said, wiping the sweat from his brow.
“You’ll have to modify the death count to eighteen, sir. Jules didn’t make it.” Leeds said sadly. “With your permission, I’d like to give his family the full seven figure insurance payout. After what he did, it’s the least we can do.”
“That won’t be necessary, Captain.” The new voice was so hard edged and cold, that Richter and Leeds felt as if they had both been stabbed in the back with an ice cold dagger. “Colonel Richter will no longer be making any command decisions from this point on.”
Leeds whipped around to see a pair of fiery purple eyes staring directly into his. He then heard a gun cock and realized that his commanding officer had just pulled out his sidearm.
“Sir?” He asked, clearly nervous now.
“Put the gun down, Colonel.” The purple eyed stranger sighed. “There’s no point making this more complicated than it has to be.”
“Shut up! You think I’m stupid?” Richter yelled. “I’ve heard the rumors, the stories! The purple eyed executioner! The O5s’ personal little attack dog! That’s you, isn’t it?”
“I’d prefer,” The stranger sighed in an exasperated tone, not even concerned at the weapon pointed at her, “that you refer to me as Agent Richards. And please, put the weapon down.”
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Richter cried, firing his weapon.
In the space of an eyeblink, Richards had shoved Leeds out of the line of fire and closed the distance between her and Richter. Before he could fire another shot, she grabbed his wrist and gave it a painful twist, causing the Colonel to squeal and drop his weapon.
“Mr. Richter,” Richards said calmly, not even fazed at the fact the man had just tried to kill her, “after O5 review, it has been unanimously decided that you are no longer fit to serve your post as an MTF Colonel.”
She then dropped an innocuous piece of paper on Richter’s desk. It was a termination order, with the seal of approval from all twelve O5s.
“No, they can’t do that!” Richter sputtered. “On what grounds?!”
“Colonel.” Richards shook her head sadly, not out of pity, but out of contempt. “The O5s have little patience or tolerance for crimes like gross insubordination, cowardice, and just plain incompetence.”
“But I didn’t anything wrong!” Richter exclaimed, his fear not being replaced by anger. “We completed the mission! We neutralized the threats, gained hard intel, and even managed to grab a few live prisoners! The reason so many of them died was because they wouldn’t listen to me!”
For the first time since she had arrived, Richards’ cold, stoic expression began to crack. Not in any obvious way, but it was the subtleties that gave it away. A slight twitch in her right eye, her jaw clenching, and her muscles tightening. Leeds realized that there was pent up rage hiding behind that mask of hers, and Richter’s behavior was threatening to pull it out.
Richards’ next words were a mere whisper, but they carried power and authority as if they were being yelled from a mountaintop. “I’ve read the radio transcripts, Colonel. You panicked. Your men were screaming to you for orders, and you shut down the radio links when you didn’t like what you were hearing. You balked, and men died because of it”
Leeds looked to his commanding officer in horror. He had been told that the communication blackout was caused by interference. If this was true…
“I had no choice!” Richter screamed, clearly snapping under the pressure. “They wouldn’t shut up! They kept asking me what to do, where to go, like stupid little kids! I had no choice!”
“Well, you’ll have one now.” Richards’ glare was enough to subdue the Colonel. “You have three choices: A summary execution, a firing squad, or…” She took Richter’s sidearm, ejected the magazine, and chambered a single round in the weapon. “…you can use this.”
Richter merely stared at her, aghast and lost for words.
“Oh, don’t give me that look, Colonel. If it were up to me, you’d be dead already. However, Administration feels that in return for your long years of service to the Foundation, you at least deserve this small courtesy.”
Richter looked at Richards, and then the gun. After a brief second of contemplation, he got out of his seat and bolted for the door.
“Have it your way.” Richards sighed. She casually picked up Richter’s pistol, sighted in, and fired. The 9mm round hit him square in the back of the head, right where the base of his skull met his spinal cord. Blood, brain, and bone fragments sprayed out from his forehead and the dead corpse formally known as Colonel Emil Richter toppled into an undignified heap in the hallway outside his office. There were screams and cries for help from the personnel outside. A pair armed of security guards poked their heads inside to see what was going on. They took one look at Richards and immediately returned to their business in the hallway.
Leeds could only look on in horror as his commanding officer was murdered right in front of his eyes. His heart then skipped a beat when Richards’ cold gaze turned towards him.
“Don’t worry, you’re not retiring just yet.” Richards remarked nonchalantly. “Actually, in light of Colonel Richter’s rather recent and sudden retirement, you’ll be taking over his command until Administration can find a suitable replacement. However, if your incident report is any indication, you won’t have to wait long.”
With that, Richards snapped off a quick salute and exited the office, stepping over Richter’s corpse as if it were roadkill. In his time in the Foundation, Leeds had seen and fought many things: terrorists, psychopaths, foreign militaries, and rampaging SCPs among them. However, after today’s experience, he now knew what he was scared of the most.
The Foundation itself.