This is the sandbox page for "Conspiracy", a Foundation tale about exactly that.
There is nothing to see here. Move along, citizen.
- Ordinary World
- Raiding of the Warehouse in London
- Call to Adventure
- Pan Am 103 goes down
- Refusing the Call
- Harper is called in.
- Meeting the Mentor
- Harper meets with O5-7
- Crossing the Threshold
- Harper granted Level 5 clearance for investigative purposes
- Tests, Allies, Enemies
- Harper talks to Dr. Andrei Pushkin about Cuba. Pushkin points to MC&D.
- Harper arranges for GOC Agent Granger to get info on MC&D; Info points to "M".
- Harper gives update to O5-7, who points to Prof. Sir James Holmes.
- Holmes points Harper at 1440 and 557-1; knows more but wants 75 liters of liquid from SCP-006.
- O5-7 initially refuses Holmes request.
- Harper travels to Research Site-29 in Oman to follow up on 557-1 lead; it goes nowhere.
- Harper travels to Mount Kazbek to track down 1440. 1440 says he met with a mysterious young woman who offered him a cure for his condition, if he went with her. He did not believe her and declined, not wishing to bring destruction down.
- O5-11 dies of a heart attack. The timing is too convenient, in O5-7's opinion. With Harper having run out of leads, O5-7, O5-6, and O5-12 approve the transfer of 75 liters of liquid from 006 to Holmes.
- Holmes provides Harper with the following information and advice:
- The GOC suspects the treasure chest and other Cuban items are located in a facility in Finland.
- Though Holmes does not know all the details thereof, there is a plot to seize control of "the world behind the veil". Holmes believes it would not be in his own best interest for this plot to succeed, but he himself does not have the resources to foil the conspiracy.
- Someone very powerful within the Foundation is a key conspirator, and Holmes suspects that individual will kill Harper if he/she believes Harper to be close to identifying them.
- Investigate the Roosevelt family.
- Ordeal, Death and Rebirth
- Seizing the Sword
- The Road Back
- Return with the Elixir
- Harper promoted to O5-7
- O5-7 (Cornelia Dark, née Roosevelt)
- Timothy Harper
- Troy Muir
- Monica Daniel
- Agent Harry Granger (GOC)
- Dr. Andrei Pushkin (Foundation & KGB)
- CI Director Robert McDonnell
- Professor Sir James M. Holmes
SCPs & Related Notes
- http://www.scp-wiki.net/eric-h-s-author-page eric_h
- SCP-052 Time-Traveling Train
- SCP-157 Imitative Predator
- SCP-259 The Weisenglass Spiral
- SCP-456 Soporific Bedbugs
- SCP-506 Instant-Growing Plants
- SCP-557 Ancient Containment Site (rewrite of Leicontis/Gabriel Jade idea)
- SCP-699 Mystery Box
- SCP-795 Reality-Bending Cat (written for Bright's "Double Cliche" challenge)
- SCP-911 Egyptian Book of the Dead
- SCP-944 The Mirror Maze
- SCP-1696 Dr. Wondertainment's Little Big-BangerTM
- SCP-1961 Transformation Device
- http://www.scp-wiki.net/lycan-therapy-s-personnel-file Lycan Therapy
- http://www.scp-wiki.net/dr-rogets-file Roget
- SCP-1507 The Pink Flamingos
- SCP-1723 Radio Intercepting Woman
- SCP-5200-J Just say No!!!
- SCP-1799 Mister Laugh
- SCP-1341 Jungle in a Jar
- SCP-1833 Class of '76
- SCP-1317 Factory Makeup
- SCP-1938 Dr.Wondertainment's Amaze-O Dive Tank
- SCP-643 Delicious Chocolates
- SCP-744 Assembly Required
- SCP-629 Mister Brass
- SCP-1277 Thirsty Cactus
- SCP-1684 Viral Realtor
- SCP-1725 Servant Enhancements
- SCP-1724 Soul Meter
- SCP-1872 Vehicular Laser Pointer
- SCP-100 The Worst Thing In The World
- SCP-518 Oriental Hand
- SCP-213 AntiMatter Parasite
- SCP-649 A Matchbox Full of Winter
- http://www.scp-wiki.net/dr-dmatix-s-personnel-file Dmatix
- SCP-1599 Broken Spybot solomen
- SCP-1981 "RONALD REAGAN CUT UP WHILE TALKING" Digiwizzard
- SCP-1146 Psycho Printer metalmouth7
- (Unwritten) Treasure Chest Exploding Coins (see below)
Description: A chest of Spanish gold 2 escudo coins (doubloons), minted in 1521. A world atlas, dated to 1521, with period-style maps with modern levels of accuracy. Each coin’s location appears in the atlas on all relevant maps. When a drop of human blood is placed on a given coin’s location, the blood is absorbed into the atlas and that coin detonates. Each coin, when detonated, releases approximately 5 MJ of energy, and then returns to the chest.
- Recovered from shipwreck in Straits of Florida in 1872.
- Owned by private collector in Havana until 1895.
- Acquired by Foundation in 1895.
- Used by Foundation to ignite powder charges on the USS Maine on 15 February 1898, instigating Spanish-American War.
- After American invasion, transferred to newly established Foundation Site in Trinidad, Cuba.
- Foundation site in Trinidad nationalized by Fidel Castro’s government, March 1959. Foundation staff resists Cuban forces; survivors of site take-over are executed. One researcher managed to escape. Last time any object at the Trinidad site observed by Foundation personnel until 1988.
- Castro begins negotiations with MC&D for objects from Trinidad. Foundation uses US military and intelligence ties to force Bay of Pigs invasion attempt. MC&D goes to ground with objects without paying Castro, leaving Castro pissed.
- Sold to M in 1970.
- Used to bring down Pan Am Flight 103, 21 Dec 1988, igniting investigation.
- Warehouse raid
- Pan Am 103 explodes
- Harper called in by Seven to investigate
All three Mass Effect games have followed this pattern:
1. Ordinary World
Mass Effect 1: Aboard the Normandy, briefing with Anderson
Mass Effect 2: Aboard the Normandy
Mass Effect 3: Earth
2. Call to Adventure
Mass Effect 1: Eden Prime mission, finding the Prothean Beacon
Mass Effect 2: Shepard’s Death/Rebirth, Cerberus station attack
Mass Effect 3: Reaper Attack on Earth
3. Refusing the Call
Mass Effect 1: The ending of the first Citadel Council meeting
Mass Effect 2: Shepard’s reluctance to work with Cerberus
Mass Effect 3: Shepard’s reluctance to leave Earth behind
4. Meeting the Mentor
Mass Effect 1: Meeting Anderson, and his giving you the leads to find evidence against Saren
Mass Effect 2: Meeting the Illusive Man, given mission to Freedom’s Progress
Mass Effect 3: Meeting Hackett, ordering you to Mars and to find allies
5. Crossing the Threshold
Mass Effect 1: Shepard becoming a Spectre, given command of the Normandy
Mass Effect 2: Mission to Freedom’s Progress
Mass Effect 3: Mars Mission
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Mass Effect 1: Missions to Noveria, Feros and find Liara T’Soni
Mass Effect 2: Dossier Missions
Mass Effect 3: Missions to Palaven, Tuchanka, Sur’Kesh
Mass Effect 1: Landing on Virmire
Mass Effect 2: Collector Ship
Mass Effect 3: Landing on Thessia
8. Ordeal, Death and Rebirth
Mass Effect 1: Attacking Saren’s Base, Sacrificing Kaidan/Ashley, Meeting Sovereign
Mass Effect 2: Attacking the Collectors, finding out Prothean’s fate
Mass Effect 3: Reaching Temple on Thessia, watching Thessia’s destruction
9. Seizing the Sword
Mass Effect 1: Illos mission, meeting the Prothean VI
Mass Effect 2: Reaper IFF mission
Mass Effect 3: Cerberus Base
10. The Road Back
Mass Effect 1: The race to the Conduit
Mass Effect 2: Through the Omega 4 Relay
Mass Effect 3: Return to Earth, Sword Fleet Engagement
Mass Effect 1: Returning to the Citadel, Final battle with Saren/Sovereign
Mass Effect 2: Suicide Mission, Human Reaper fight
Mass Effect 3: Battle of London – Charge for the Beam, final Illusive Man confrontation
12. Return with the Elixir
Mass Effect 1: Foreknowledge of the Reaper Invasion
Mass Effect 2: Experienced Team and resources to fight Reapers, Collector Base if kept
Mass Effect 3: ????
You are not cleared to read this yet. Good day.
Sitting in his car a block from the target, Director McDonnell lit his pipe. He hated waiting, but securing buildings was the job for younger fellows. He'd only accepted the promotion to head of the Foundation's Counterintelligence Division the year before so he could have more time to spend with his granddaughters. In forty years working for the Foundation, he'd missed too many of his own children's birthdays; with Christmas just days away he was looking forward to seeing the entire family in his large house in Edinburgh. Of course, that would require his not being called away on work. Here he was on the week before Christmas in a cold, abandoned street following up on an untraceable and anomalous tip made to his direct line about "some documents which might interest Foundation Counterintelligence."
The radio on the dash crackled. "Right, this is Xi-One-Three-Lead to all units. Stand by to breach target in Three. Two. One. Go! Go! Go!" A muffled thump rang through the darkness as the mobile task force blew their way into the target: an old warehouse in the run-down outskirts of London's industrial district. For a long two minutes, the night was still and quiet. Then the radio crackled again, "Target is clear. Director, you're going to want to see this."
"On my way," replied McDonnell. He left his car and strode up the street to the warehouse.
A young chap dressed head to toe in the black tactical clothing adopted by police and special forces worldwide greeted him. "This way, Director," he said, gesturing inside.
"American?" the Director asked, noting the young man's accent.
"Yes, sir. Agent Lombardi," the American said, walking McDonnell through the long and mostly empty warehouse. A few crates were stacked along the walls, but they didn't so much take up space as make it seem all the much more cavernous.
"New to the Foundation, I take it?" McDonnell inquired, making smalltalk.
The young agent blinked, "Yes, sir."
"Well, Agent Price will take good care of you," the Director of Foundation Counterintelligence said as they reached the warehouse's office. "Speak of the devil! Burt!"
"Director," Agent Burt Price saluted, looking up from a table piled high with documents. Several black-clad figures were pouring over the pages.
"What's all this?" asked McDonnell, gesturing at the table.
"We have a security breach," Price replied, handing over several sheets of paper from the table. McDonnell thumbed through them. The first was a testing log for some zucchini that grew nearly instantly, printed on Foundation letterhead. The second, also on Foundation letterhead, was documentation on a slightly worn high school yearbook from 1976. The third was in Russian, with a KGB seal in the corner. "The first one there is SCP-506, and the second one is SCP-1833. My Russian's a bit rusty, but the third one is something about an old lady able to 'hear' nearby radio transmissions. I've never heard of that one," Price said.
Taking a puff on his pipe, McDonnell shook his head, "Neither have I, old chap. Neither have I." He furrowed his brow and picked up another paper. It was part of a budget for the Global Occult Coalition's previous fiscal year. "Is there any sort of method to this madness?"
Price laughed, "Not that I can tell. And this will keep the chaps at Site 11 busy for a week or two. What I do know is that someone has top level access to the Foundation, GOC, Marshal, Carter, and Dark—"
"Prometheus Labs and the Factory, according to this, sirs," one agent said.
"Found something here on Wondertainment's distribution network," another added.
"List of IRG operations in Latin America," a third noted, holding up a sheet.
McDonnell nodded, "I get the idea. Persons unknown managed to obtain a sizable quantity of classified information from some of the most secretive organizations on the planet. Definitely bad news, but hardly a crisis, I should say."
"Uh, I wouldn't place a wager on that, sirs," one of the other agents interrupted, "you should read this."
"What is it, Harding?" asked Price, taking the pro-offered page. His draw dropped as he read the page. "Shit." He handed the paper to McDonnell.
Reading the paper, McDonnell swore loudly in his native Gaelic. It was a detailed schedule of the whereabouts and security precautions of all thirteen of the Foundation's Overseers during the last week in December 1988. In other words, the week which would start in a mere five days. A scribbled note at the bottom stated 'Ideal timing for action on the twenty-sixth at 0300 Zulu.' A second page with fair quality photos of the Overseers was stapled to the first; O5-5, O5-6, O5-7, and O5-8 were all circled in red ink.
McDonnell was intelligent enough to realize that he didn't know exactly what was planned, but he certainly had some guesses. He turned to Price, "Alright, Price. Bag it all and bring it in. As of this moment, everything related to this is Level 5, need to know access only. I want copies of these documents stored at our site in Manchester; have the originals delivered to my office." The wheels in McDonnell's head were already turning. He'd use his contacts in Whitehall to arrange for a diplomatic courier bag to carry the documents on a transatlantic flight. The papers would go to the analysts at Site 11 so they could stir the tea leaves, while he could give his report personally to the O5 Council at Overwatch HQ. And, with any luck, he'd be back home for Christmas.
"They found the warehouse. McDonnell is taking the evidence to Overwatch HQ tonight."
"There will be copies."
"Those are stored in the Manchester annex. They will be taken care of."
"Good. Everything is going according to plan."
At just before seven o'clock the following evening, Director McDonnell was sitting in Clipper Class on the Pan Am flight with a diplomatic pouch in the next seat, handcuffed to his wrist. The cabin had a number of Foundation personnel: O5-5 was sitting the next seat forward next to his bodyguard, while McDonnell's deputy was seated behind him. He also recognized a couple of American intelligence officials and two fellows who looked to be their bodyguards. McDonnell cracked the first of his stack of novels. It would be a long flight to JFK, and the pouch meant he couldn't sleep through it.
At exactly 19:02:46.9, an explosion punched a large hole in the left side of the fuselage. McDonnell and his diplomatic pouch were instantly incinerated. Shock waves from the blast ricocheted through the aircraft, meeting pulses still coming from the explosion itself. Due to a quirk of fluid dynamics, these shock waves, technically called "Mach stem shock waves", traveled twenty-five percent faster than the waves from the explosion itself, and with twice the power thereof. As these shock waves pulsed through plane, a section of the 747's roof a few feet above the explosion's source was peeled away as if by a giant hand. The force of the explosion smashed through the bulkhead wall separating the forward cargo hold and the cockpit, shaking the flight-control cables. This shaking caused the front section of the fuselage to roll, pitch, and yaw. The entire front section of the aircraft, with the flight deck and first class cabin, separated from the rest of the plane and flew upwards and to starboard. There, it collided and sheered away the number three engine. No longer under any control, the aircraft (or what was left of it) went into a steep dive. The plane continued to disintegrate as it plummeted 9,400 meters through the night, crashing into the Scottish town of Lockerbie two minutes later.
Unnoticed and flying without a transponder, an unmarked Cessna flew past the wreckage. Though maintaining radio silence, the Cessna's pilot would report his observations as soon as he landed.
Over two hundred kilometers away in Manchester, the four story office building of Solicitors, Carnegie and Potter was empty, save three night shift security staff and two caretakers. Though Carnegie and Potter were indeed two well-respected solicitors, they mostly handled litigation related to the Foundation's activities in the United Kingdom. Their office was also one of the Foundation's secure document repositories. In the building's safe sat what were now the only remaining copies of the documents recovered from the warehouse by Xi-13.
A nondescript package a meter on each side sat in the building's receiving room. Because of its late arrival, and the fact that was not labeled with the codewords for Euclid or Keter objects, it hadn't been processed; the security guard who had signed for the parcel knew the staff would handle it in the morning. All the employees were properly briefed on handling unusual parcel deliveries at odd hours, as well as the appropriate code phrases for various hazards. This package was labeled as reams of blank legal paper (hence the weight) for the offices with the proper supply authentication phrases. In all, it was a thoroughly mundane delivery for a building which often received items which were anything but.
The contents were not reams of blank legal paper (though had the guard opened the package for inspection, two layers deep of paper reams sat atop the true contents). Most of the package's cubic meter of volume was taken up by Semtex, supplied by two very helpful members of the Irish Republican Army now feeding the fish in the Irish Sea. Like squirrels with their nuts, Irishmen were always hording arms and explosives for the day when they would rise up to drive the English from their island. Or that was the plan of some of the more radical countrymen, at least. The revolutionary struggle that had continued for over seventy years showed little sign of concluding in a manner agreeable to the IRA. Over time, many of the caches of weapons and bombs were forgotten about as their owners retired from their struggle or were arrested or killed by the British military and police forces. So, for someone with the right contacts and sufficient ruthlessness, it was not difficult to acquire large quantities of high explosives with no clear connection to the user, assuming that someone did not mind incurring the wrath of a fairly nasty terrorist organization with a good memory. IRA reprisals did not concern the men who had appropriated that organization's Semtex.
A brief radio signal reached a radio-receiver attached to the plastic explosive's detonator. In an instant, the cube of high explosive detonated at a velocity of over eight thousand meters per second. The explosion tore through the building, reducing the military-spec architecture to as much gravel. All five people died with merciful haste as the shock wave overtook them. The fireball, burning at temperatures sufficient to melt the structure's steel skeleton, turned the building's safe into a crematorium for the secured materials within. Hundreds of thousands of pages of classified Foundation documents, including the copies of the documents from the warehouse, were reduced to cinders by the inferno. Within less than ten seconds, the parts of the office building not strewn across the area by the explosion itself crumpled inward into a mound of twisted, charred rubble.
The local police and fire department arrived on the scene within ten minutes, just missing a nondescript sedan with an unremarkable driver leaving the area. With his radio detonator hidden away under the vehicle's dash, he stopped at a telephone booth a few blocks from the scene to report that his end of the operation had occurred without incident.
The early morning sun illuminated the large lobby as Timothy Harper strode into the the Foundation's Command-02 Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Though it could not compare to Overwatch HQ, its proximity to one of the world's most powerful capital ensured it was one of the Foundation's main decision-making nexuses. It was a relatively unremarkable seven-story limestone office building like so many others in the city. Faceless, nameless drones in the vast bureaucracy flitted in and out of the building, not unlike the other buildings in the Federal Triangle.
After passing speedily through the obligatory security checkpoint, Harper browsed the headlines of his paper as he made his way to his tiny office on the third floor. A plane bombing in the UK was the leading story. Nasty business, international terrorism, Harper thought. Not his area of concern, though. Probably. He was one of the Foundation's top counterintelligence investigators. Pushing fifty, his black hair was streaked with gray from many late nights spent on the job. It would have almost cost him his family, had a car crash not taken his wife and children first.
"Morning, Troy," Harper grunted. He and Troy Muir, a former intelligence case officer invalided out of field operations when he lost his right leg, shared the cramped office. "Where's Monica?" he asked, referring to Monica Daniel, the grad student from GWU who was interning in the CI Directorate. Always on the lookout for talent, the Foundation was more than happy to pay for someone's education, assuming they passed a thorough background check, signed a four hundred page non-disclosure agreement, and agreed to work three years for every year of schooling the Foundation funded.
"Errand to the Ethics Committee Clerk's Office, I think." His one-legged office-mate looked up. "Tim, they want you on the seventh floor ASAP," Muir reported with a frown.
"Any idea which way the wind was blowing?" Harper asked. A summons to the seventh floor, domain of the directors and overseers, was rarely a happy prospect.
"They didn't say," Muir replied. Harper nodded, and left.
Harper was met on the seventh floor by a security officer. Only those with Level 5 security clearance were permitted on the floor without an escort. The guard led him to a darkened conference room and ushered him in. A severe dark-haired woman in her mid-thirties stood alone, looking out the heavily-tinted window at the Capital Building. Harper recognized her as O5-7, one of the Overseers. Though none of the Overseers had an assigned specialization, it was Harper's understanding that Seven tended to take particular interest in the Foundation's intelligence matters. He'd seen her speaking with Director McDonnell before, but had never actually met her himself.
"Mr. Harper," Seven said quietly in greeting, not turning around. "Leave us." The security guard excused himself.
"Ma'am," Harper said.
"The Foundation is under attack, Mr. Harper," the Overseer stated, her back still to him. "Two nights ago, acting on an anonymous tip, under Counterintelligence Director McDonnell's personal supervision, MTF Xi-13 raided a warehouse outside London. They recovered a large number of classified documents relating to the Foundation and several groups-of-interest. Some of these documents apparently suggested the existence of a plot to assassinate several members of the O5 Council, including myself."
"I assume plans are in place to handle the situation, ma'am?" Harper asked, hiding his alarm.
"There are plans in place, yes, Mr. Harper. The Foundation has plans for everything," Seven replied. "More concerning than the apparent plot is the implication of these documents. According to Director McDonnell's initial report, the Foundation documents found indicated the breach was caused by someone with at least Level 4 clearance, if not Level 5. The penetrations of the GOC, Serpent's Hand, Chaos Insurgency, IRG, Factory, Prometheus Labs, Wondertainment, Church of the Broken Guard, and MC&D appear to all comparably high level."
At this revelation, Harper's eyes widened. Somebody had top level penetrations of nearly every major player behind the Veil, including the Foundation, and this was the first they were finding out about it? Nobody was that good.
As if sensing his thoughts despite having her back turned to him, Seven continued, "I hardly believe it myself, Mr. Harper, but as you no doubt realize, we cannot dismiss the possibility of such a turn of events out of hand simply because it is unlikely or unpleasant. After all, this organization deals with the impossible and the unthinkable every day. The Council decided to hold an emergency meeting where Director McDonnell could present the documents personally. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible. Last night, Overseer Five and his bodyguard, Counterintelligence Director McDonnell, and two American intelligence officers who have assisted our Middle Eastern operations were killed when an on-board explosion brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland. McDonnell had the original copies of the seized documents in a diplomatic pouch. Moments later, a Foundation document repository in Manchester was bombed. That document repository held the only existing copies of the seized documents. Our recovery teams report no evidence that either version of the documents survived."
"Which both lends credence to the reality of this penetration's threat, and suggests the plotters were responsible for the attacks," Harper observed. He felt like someone had punched him in the gut - McDonnell had been an old friend, someone he could trust in a business where trust was the scarcest of commodities, but there would be time for grieving later.
"The surviving members of the Council drew the same conclusion, Mr. Harper," Seven nodded, finally turning to face him. Her narrowed eyes flashed dangerously over high cheekbones. To call the Overseer angry would have been no small understatement. "We have already taken measures to ensure our personal protection. The other Overseers believe this will be sufficient; I disagree. I have convinced them we need to investigate this apparent conspiracy, fully but also quietly. If the conspirators believe they are about to be discovered, it is not at all unreasonable for them to either go to ground and disappear, or decide to cut their losses and attempt even more direct action. Right now, the Council has no idea what the ultimate goal of the conspirators is. This makes them even more dangerous in the Council's eyes. And while you and I both have enough experience in the intelligence hall of mirrors to take that in stride, most of my fellow Overseers are scared. They are mainly former scientists and uncomfortable when dealing with the uncertainties of political intrigue." Seven moved to the conference table separating them. She slid a folder across the table to him. "This is everything we know about the security breach, the two direct attacks, and the conspiracy as a whole," she observed. This was less than encouraging: it amounted to perhaps a half dozen sheets of paper. "You will be conducting the investigation. The Council has voted to temporarily grant you Level 5 clearance," she declared, handing him a new black identification card, "and you will report to me personally. Keep the cards close the vest on this one - potentially anyone could be involved."
"Moscow Rule number three, ma'am," Harper observed with a wry smile. Everyone is potentially under opposition control. "If I may, why are you trusting me with this? I know I'm not a conspirator, but you don't."
"You're one of the best see-eye guys we have, Mr. Harper, and you have been cleared for the highest security clearance known to mankind. The possibility that you are involved is remote, and in any case I expect regular and detailed reports of all your findings. If I find out you're withholding things from me, I will bring the full force of the resources at my disposal upon you. You will spend the remainder of your days in the deepest, darkest, least pleasant hole I can find," the Foundation Overseer stated calmly. Then she flashed a smile that was clearly meant to be disarming but instead made the hair on Harper's neck stand on end. "But I don't expect that to be a problem, Mr. Harper."
"No, ma'am," Harper said.
"Excellent! If there is anything you need, let me know," Seven beamed. "You may brief in Mr. Muir and Ms. Daniel if you believe their assistance would be helpful, but do keep the cards close to the vest."
"Of course," Harper replied.
"Thank you. That will be all," she said. Harper wasted no time leaving the room.
"That's all we have," Harper finished the run-down, putting the folder down on his desk and looking across at Muir and Monica.
"Hm," Muir grunted. "For a moment there, Tim, I thought we were going to have trouble with this one." He pulled out his reading glasses and started thumbing through the folder.
Monica failed at hiding her alarm. "Do we always have so little to go on?" she asked. "How do we even know where to start?"
Harper started thinking aloud. "Let's start with something simple. What organizations did McDonnell's preliminary report suggest were penetrated?"
Monica read off the relevant sheet of paper, "Looks like the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution; Baasch Engineering Corporation; the Chaos Insurgency; the Church of the Broken God; the Factory; the Foundation; the Global Occult Coalition; Hunting Arms, Inc.; Marshal, Carter, and Dark; Prometheus Labs; the Serpent's Hand; Saito Mining Industries; Wallace Security Enterprises; Dr. Wondertainment; and various branches of the American, British, Chinese, French, German, and Soviet governments. That's all based on documents recovered in the warehouse raid." She looked up, "How the hell did someone manage to penetrate essentially all the major commercial, political, and paranormal groups without somebody noticing? How is this the first we've heard of it?"
Harper lit a cigarette. "Well," he said thoughtfully, "just because they had documents - even top level documents - related to all those organizations doesn't mean they managed have moles in all of them. And even if they do have moles with access to such sensitive materials, that doesn't mean the moles are in a position to do much beyond steal documents. Monica, what's your security clearance?"
The graduate student blinked, "Foundation, or US government?"
"Both," replied Harper, taking a puff on his cigarette.
"Level 3 and TS," she replied, looking slightly confused. "But I'm just an intern."
"And yet you have access to some truly sensitive information," Muir observed, not taking his eyes off the document he was reading. "Such as this investigation."
"Precisely," Harper continued. "These are, for the most part, groups employing hundreds to tens of thousands of people. It only takes one traitor."
"So how do we know what the opposition wants?" asked Monica.
Harper smiled, "We don't - yet. But one does not simply invest the resources necessary to penetrate so many powerful organizations on a whim. We shall find out soon enough."
Monica frowned. "This still doesn't give us a starting point."
"Perhaps this does," Muir said. He began quoting the page he was reading: "'According to Foundation personnel embedded within the Scottish constabulary, the explosion is consistent with detonation of a small but powerful explosive device. Preliminary chemical testing of explosive residue suggests the use of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (RDX), two of the primary ingredients in Semtex-H. However, the size and location of the original explosion relative to the quantities of PETN and RDX found, coupled with the complete incineration of both the diplomatic pouch carried by Robert McDonnell and McDonnell himself, suggests Semtex was not, in fact, the explosive used. It is recommended Foundation investigative staff examine the possibility of SCP objects or other as-yet uncontained anomalies as the source of the explosion."
"Just what we needed, Troy," Harper said. "Monica, go down to Archives and have them pull all the files on anomalous objects and entities capable of causing explosions. Be sure to include the ones presently in containment; we can't rule out a theft."
"On it," she said, leaving.
Harper turned to Muir, "Any indications on the explosion in Manchester?"
Muir nodded, "Looks like that actually was Semtex. The police have linked it chemically to several attacks by the Irish Republican Army."
"The IRA? Could it really just be a coincidence?" Harper frowned, lighting a fresh cigarette.
Muir shook his head. "No way," he said. "The match was far too easy - it was an older batch with a composition more useful for demolition than killing. Great if you want to destroy papers in a safe, but not as useful for inflicting human casualties. It also doesn't match their usual MO, since Carnegie was prominently Catholic. I suspect we were just meant to believe they did it."
"Interesting," Harper said, taking a long blow on his cigarette. "Very interesting."
As it turned out, the Foundation contained rather a lot of different objects which could explode or ignite. Exploding cacti, exploding ink, an exploding eyeball - the stack of files Monica had carried up from Archives took the three of them most of the morning to read. The tiny room, always cramped and cluttered, quickly became nearly impossible to move about in as they sifted through the towering heaps of papers.
Just before lunch, Monica found something. "Hey, listen to this: a chest of coins, each capable of detonating with the force of five megajoules. They're linked to an atlas which can used to detonate the coins."
Muir and Harper got up and looked over her shoulder. "Does the report have a chemical analysis?" Harper asked.
"'For analysis of explosive residue signature, see Addendum 5'," Monica quoted. "Where did that - ah! Here we go." She snatched up the relevant page.
Muir laid it alongside the forensic report from the plane bombing. "Looks like a rough match to me," he said. "The file's analysis dates back to the fifties, so even if this is a perfect match it might not line up perfectly."
Harper nodded, "Definitely the best option so far. Good catch, Monica." The intern beamed. He continued, "So, where is this thing contained?"
"That's a problem, Tim," Muir said, reading the Special Containment Procedures.
"Oh, Troy?" Harper asked.
"Yeah. We don't have it," Muir said. "It was stored in the Trinidad site back in fifty-nine." Harper swore under his breath.
"What happened to the Trinidad site in fifty-nine?" Monica asked.
"In a word," Muir explained, "Castro. He nationalized the Foundation's research site in Trinidad. The staff resisted and were executed - save one researcher who managed to get away by sheer dumb luck. Ended up in "
"And we let Castro get away with this?!" Monica asked. She had no illusions about the Foundation's track record when it came to ruthlessness.
"Of course not," Harper said. "Ever heard of the Bay of Pigs invasion?"
"That failed," Monica countered, frowning.
Muir shook his head, "You're assuming what made it to the history books is what actually happened. We'd originally planned to attack Trinidad directly. American State Department didn't want to play ball, so the invasion landing site had to be moved. We still sent Foundation forces to Trinidad. Didn't manage to retrieve anything, but both Castro and Marshal, Carter, and Dark got the message."
Monica was confused, "MC&D was involved?"
"Castro tried to sell them the contents of the Trinidad site," Harper explained. "They absconded with the items without paying Castro after Foundation forces crashed the party."
"He was pissed," Muir observed. "We still get reports of Cuban troops in Soviet-backed states killing people associated with the club."
"Between the combined fury of the Foundation and Castro, it actually drove MC&D to ground for over a decade," Harper finished. "So the Foundation decided the whole mess was a 'successful failure.'"
"So, do we know where this chest of coins is now?" Monica asked.
"Not exactly," Muir said. "Marshall, Carter, and Dark isn't exactly on good terms with the Foundation, and we've not ever been able to get a good source on the inside. I've heard the GOC has had a little more success, but I don't know for certain. I could put out feelers with some of my contacts at the GOC, but they'll want something in return." The world of intelligence was a strange place: despite the generally frosty relationship between the GOC and the Foundation, both organization's intelligence branches occasionally shared information about mutual threats. Neither side trusted the other, of course, but the quid pro quo of intelligence-sharing had proven helpful to both sides on numerous occasions.
"You do that, Troy," Harper said. "In the mean time, Monica, keep digging through things here. I'm going to track down the surviving researcher from Trinidad."
The only physically remarkable thing about him was his limp and cane. These, of course, were unavoidable for a man whose right leg was artificial from his knee down. Beyond that, he was of intermediate height, had thinning brown hair, and brown eyes. He was the sort of man that you'd forget having seen five minutes later, if not for his limp and cane. He missed the fieldwork, but he was too easy to identify now.
Muir hobbled into the Smithsonian Natural History Museum's National Gem Collection. It was a good meeting spot, and he never got tired of looking at the gemstones. He was standing before a beautiful piece of amethyst several feet in height when he heard a low voice behind him, "Nice shade of purple, isn't it?"
Without turning, Muir replied, "Indeed. I was always jealous of those with February birthdays."
"I'm sure you know one of the six birthdays we have on file for you is in February. How's the wife, Troy?" Special Agent Granger, Global Occult Coalition asked.
"Gladys and I have separated," Muir responded evenly. "I'm sure you knew that, though, just like how you know all the birthdays in your file on me are wrong. How's your son, Harry?"
"Looking forward to Christmas," Granger replied. "Wants Lego. Again." Muir grunted. "So, Troy, what can I do for you?"
The two men started down the gallery. "You've sprung a leak," Muir said. "Foundation forces found information classified Level Q in a raid on a non-aligned building day before yesterday."
Granger's training quickly erased the alarm from his face, before responding, "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because whomever penetrated you also managed to get access to all the major players, including the Foundation," Muir replied. "We also believe they brought down the Pan Am flight in Lockerbie. Took out all the documents we recovered, and also hit the repository where we stored the backups. Otherwise, I'd be able to tell you what they had on the GOC."
Granger let out a low whistle. "Any leads?" he asked.
"We're working on that, and we need your help," Muir answered. "The Coalition has always had better sources at MC&D than the Foundation. We think they either have, or sold, the object responsible for taking down the plane." He handed Granger a sheet of paper with the Global Occult Coalition's KTE, or 'Known Threat Entity', designation for the object.
Pocketing the paper, the GOC Agent nodded. "I'll have to run this up the chain, Troy."
"Thanks, Harry," Muir said. "If this pans out, I'd consider us even."
"Thanks, but one file on one item handled by that damn club? That would hardly square us. This'll take care of the one I owe you for Uganda. I still owe you a favor for Fiji," Granger observed.
"Well, I'm not going to object to a GOC Agent telling me he still owes me a favor," Muir chuckled. "Have a good holiday."
"You too," Granger said. With that, the two men went their separate ways.