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Related by The Shad, member of the Serpent’s Upraised Middle Finger:

Siddown, kid, and lemme tell you a fundamental truth about the Foundation.

It’s run by vultures. SCP stands for Special Carrion Procedures.

Yes, vultures! Don’t sit there with yer mouth open like a lunatic! I know, it sounds crazy, but I got it all figured out.

Oh, come on now, they wear people suits, obviously! Why, I reckon that if you took off their clothes, you could see the zipper—not that you’d want to get a skipper naked, ‘cause a skipper’s most dangerous when naked. Skippers strike when you least expect it, son.

Anyway. I reckon they’re Vulch sapiens—the wise vulture. Nasty pieces of work, them, and they’ll swear up and down that they’re really people. But they aren’t. They’re vultures.

Don’t know quite what they look like, but I reckon that they look long an’ thin, with scrawny wings—hafta be scrawny, to fit in the suit’s arms—an’ they probably have a pink wrinkly head like a buzzard. I reckon they’re cousins twice removed, them and the buzzards.

Proof? Oh, I got proof. I got proof… I got proof that’ll make you weep.

The D-Class program was where I began to figure it all out. See, I’ve got inside knowledge, and lemme tell you, the D-Class program ain’t just cruel, it’s downright stupid—well, unless you’re a vulture, I guess. There are dozens of things they use the D-Class for that they could just use those robots for. Why do they have D-Class clean out places instead of use robots for the cleaning? Why do they use D-Class to explore new places instead of robots?

Took me a while to figure it out, but finally I hit upon the truth of the matter: They’re eating the dead bodies. Oh, they type it up nice and dandy, making it sound like those D-Class just vanish, but they eat ‘em. Every last one they can. They take the ones people won’t miss, and then they put them in situations where they’ll die, and then they eat ‘em. What did you think happen to the bodies? Incineration? Burial? That’s why they gas them, too. Leaves ‘em intact for eating.

In my mind, I can see it. Dozens of vultures, their suit heads flopping against their backs, tugging at dead D-Classes with their beaks. Thousands of carcasses, all lined up as far as the eye can see. The damn skippers probably make them into damn dishes. Like D-Class fricassee. Vultures wearing chef hats.

Vultures are behind everything, sonny. And I don’t just mean Vulch sapiens. Wars, famine, disease… vultures be the ones who benefit, and they’re always there. They try to pass it off as just their nature. Don’t fool me, though. Sneaky bastards. They farm us like cattle, and we don’t even notice. We just think it’s part of life. So we’re blind to their evil.

Wherever we are, those damn birds follow. Even in the cities they swarm buildings. And lemme tell you, there are a bunch wherever the Foundation goes, spying for them. They get some carcasses too, I reckon. Probably try and negotiate for more carcasses all the time in exchange for them being spies.

Third clue: Very nature of the vultures themselves. Vultures follow me. They’re tracking me, and they’re doing it more and more since I figured it out, ‘cause I’m on to them. I mean, to some extent they follow everybody, yeah, just like I said, but they follow me more. Not just when I’m walking around in the desert, either. They follow me to the farmer’s market and hop around eating my groceries, they roost on my car and eat the wiper rubber, they sit on my lawn and eat the flowers. Damn things are trying to make me crash by eating my wipers. ‘Cause it rains down here, and it rains hard.

When they started, I knew they was on to me. So I went into my basement, and I set up my very own interrogation room. Then I went and purchased this here Taser, which I’ve used to stun every goddamn vulture I come across. Then I tie them to a chair in my interrogation room and interrogate them. So far, the damn things are loyal to the Foundation, and I haven’t managed to pry any of their vulture secrets from their beaks. I’ve tried the standard interrogation techniques, even waterboarding.

But I’ll come up with something to make them talk, at least eventually.

‘Cause vultures ain’t no match for The Shad, son.

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