This is a list of traits that could be used for some future Foundation character (or non-Foundation character.)
- Keeps framed pictures on their desk. The pictures are the stock photos of happy families that come with the frames.
- Has a service dog. The Foundation has so much goddamn PTSD floating around. Let's get some more service dogs in here.
- The low-level guy who gets special priority when Shit Hits The Fan, because he's the one who can remember that SCP-055 exists
Object Class: Keter
Special Containment Procedures: Object is to be kept in a big box covered in super glue, the strongest metal.
Description: The structure housing the anomaly is located primarily underground at XX*XX*XX [GPS].
SCP-1337- Bright's thing with image
People like images
Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has this down to a science! Our knowledge is yet behind theirs
Image use guide
IE: One commonly accepted view of SCP articles is that they're quick informative references for an audience who isn't already familiar with the anomaly. That is, a researcher conducting extensive studies into an SCP, or a specialist designing its containment procedures, would probably want access to everything known about it: that might be pages and pages of data. On the other hand, an agent assigned to recontain an anomaly that's breached containment, or a researcher checking to see if one object might be related to another, could flip through one of the "main list" articles and quickly get an idea of what it is and what to expect from it.
|Ways to incorporate images into your articles||Examples|
|Picture of the object in containment||SCP-2112|
|Picture of a small portion or area of the object||SCP-914|
|Picture of the object upon recovery|
|Picture of a victim who encountered the object||SCP-106 (last photo)|
|Picture of the effect the object produces|
|Picture of the containment unit|
What kinds of pictures to use
- Cool images online that you've run through our Image Guide
- Pictures you've taken
- Even if you're not a pro photographer and only have your cell phone camera, sometimes the affect you're going for is "a field agent pointed a camera at the weird thing and took this picture."
- Images you've generated. If you have the skills and it's appropriate for your article, go ahead!
- See caveat on drawings below.
- Pictures you've taken or have permission to edit, carefully photoshopped.
- See caveat on photoshopping below.
- Examples: SCP-1009 (landscape photos with the hue altered)
- Stock photography
- Stock photography is instantly recognizable as stock photography
- Pictures of objects on pure white backgrounds
- Looks artificial and a lot like stock photography.
- There is almost never a reason the Foundation would use a drawing rather than a photo, so they break realism. If you still think there's a good reason for your cool drawing to appear in your article, think twice, then three times, then run it by other people.
- Obvious photoshops
- When they're obvious, they're really obvious. If your own photoshopping abilities aren't up to snuff, ask for help.
- Pictures people don't like
- See the tombstone story above. Sometimes an image just doesn't work.
- The entire image wiki
*Bolded part rewritten
*Asherah's dialogue- friendlier
"According to the library's registers, Doctor, the Foundation doesn't exist anymore."
Sophia's heart skipped a beat. "Why?"
"We were hoping you could tell us." Asherah steepled her fingers together. "The last transmission we picked up from them was that Ganymede Protocol was enacted, and nothing since. What does that mean?"
They were in, horrifyingly, the Library, in one of the highway-sized spaces amid endless towering shelves. The Library appeared to be a single massive open area, with a ceiling so high it was misty around the rafters, making the shapes crawling among them painfully indistinct. The shelves contained, among books of every shape, color, size, and age imaginable; scattered displays- works of art, unusual artifacts, and archival cases of beetles, butterflies, masquerade masks, seed samples, and scraps of technology, each one painstakingly labeled in a dozen languages.
Sophia's inner academic was delighted, but her outer intuitions rebelled against it- the endless halls and strange surroundings. The open spaces between shelves, the bizarre variety of occupants, and- once Asherah explained what they were- the gigantic, many-limbed Librarians which occasionally climbed across shelves, forty feet in the air- all sent her lizard brain crawling and put her teeth on edge.
Asherah had perhaps realized this, and kindly stationed them in an unoccupied area, and offered Sophia a seat with her back to a wall-like case (with a good view of all possible angles of approach.) It had been several days since 027 came crawling out of Svalbard, so the shock had dulled, and the Serpent's Hand had seen that she was well provided with food, rest, and clothing. They'd left the rest of her party- Elliot Barculo, Gabriel Bryant, and Charles Vaux- in a [Canadian?] airfield to make their way to somewhere safe, before moving on themselves. News from the outside world came in through Iris, which made Sophia think that Asherah was keeping her presence in the library somewhat hidden from other parties. And no one had tried to take her sidearm yet.
She'd almost, almost be able to relax, once she understood why she wasn't being attacked by the librarians on sight.
"Ganymede is…" She closed her eyes, returning to the moment. "It's an extreme failsafe- an exploding thread woven into the entirety of the Foundation network. When activated, it cuts communications between every individual facility. All of them. The sites that once made up the Foundation are operating under their own control now."
"Why would someone activate it?" asked the black cat, who was curled on an adjacent armchair.
"There aren't any specific circumstances for its use," said Sophia. "Most likely, intersite leadership is so profoundly compromised that mass containment breach is preferable to the alternate threat."
"How about containment? What happens to it?" This was asked by the rainbow-hued woman- Iris, that was her name- who had been typing on her laptop since they sat down.
"Up to the sites. Everything is up to the sites. Some won't do it, others won't be able to. Depends who takes power within them." Sophia shrugged.
Iris looked at the cat. The cat looked back, mewed, then asked Sophia, "Aren't you intersite leadership?"
Sophia sighed. "It's not because of me. World's going to hell, one administrator decides to… bat for the other team? Even if they knew, they wouldn't care that much. This is much larger." The sheer unlikelihood of current circumstances was starting to give her a headache.
"Alright," said Asherah, "So Ganymede has split the sites like bunches of grapes, bound for the press, and so the Library will let you in at last. Does that tell us anything?"
Sophia thought about it. "I'm sure there are ways to destroy the Foundation entirely, more effectively, if that was the intention. Ganymede isn't that. It does mean that High command is, effectively, out of the picture. Could be just the top, could be all of the higher-ups. If they're not dead, they've lost their influence. Any agendas they had, anything only known to them- for us, for anyone on the outside, it's gone."
That last thought triggered something- Sophia had worked on a few projects which she was reasonably sure weren't common knowledge, even at her security clearance. There was something there- she had assumed it was damaged or broken, but just maybe, the others who knew about it just hadn't been able to leave their sites to get there…
"Anything about who set it off, Doctor?"
"Ganymede? No idea. It only takes one person. Could have been someone on high command, someone high up who knew a thing or two…"
Asherah nodded. "In the mean time, there's something else you might be interested in."
"We have some information on the person who started the apocalypse."
Asherah held her gaze. Sophia stared right back. "What do you mean, 'person'? With all of the unusual things waking up- it's not just one event, or even related events."
"Doctor, after so long, you can still call the arrival of a thousand gods and armies- to your own small planet- coincidence? Dear me." Asherah grinned. "In fact, they were brought here by the opening of a Lock, somewhere in your Foundation. Its Key was kept by another group- quite sensibly, if you ask me- but Lock and Key were brought together nonetheless, and what it unlocked reached across time and dimension to bring here what had been kept at bay, since your formation from dust, to send it all to dust again. And the perpetrator of the act knew exactly what they were doing, which I know, because they left their research here."
Sophia blinked, slack-jawed. "They left records? With the library?"
"Yes. You didn't know?"
"Why would I have known?" She closed her mouth, and furrowed her brow. "What can you tell me?"
Asherah relaxed, for some reason, and leaned back again in her chair. "Well, well. That's interesting. This entity did a great deal of research over the course of weeks, much of it in the Library's closed archives. Records kept from that area are few and far between, and they covered their origins well- more or less. It was said that the one who opened the Lock was a glowing deity, of great size and magnificent power. We know this isn't true. The deity was a suit, a mask. The perpetrator was in fact a human, and appears to be from our timeline. Does this suggest anything to you, Doctor?"
"Not from that," admitted Sophia. The description hadn't ruled out much. Although, come to think of it… "If they were researching for weeks, someone would have noticed the person in the library, yes?"
Asherah shrugged, Iris frowned, and the cat looked- Sophia imagined- thoughtful. "The Archive rooms are quite private, but what I saw of the work was intricately constructed and wove many of disciplines together. I'm sure it borrowed greatly from the Archives, but so much information is found in the Library itself that I can only imagine research was done here, as well."
"And if it was a human from our world- there aren't that many in the library either, are there?" Sophia thought of the unusual crowds they had passed when they first entered the library.
"That doesn't help as much as you think it does," said the cat with a swish of its tail. "You might be unfamiliar with Library demographics, but most of our patrons are human. Other sapient species aren't as common and generally stay in their own areas, whereas the human portion of the library is centrally located-"
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, Midnight," said Iris. Two, three, four thin lines of color were rolling across her skin, like solar spectra- rather beautiful. "But Doc has seen some of the library- when she says "human", I think it's possible that she isn't including people like me in that category."
Sophia opened her mouth, then closed it, then opened and closed it again. "That's exactly what I was doing," she said eventually. "I'm sorry, I didn't think."
Iris nodded. Sophia glanced at Asherah, who was merely watching her reaction.
"You're sure that the person knew what the lock did?"
"This isn't a thing people do coincidentally, Doctor."
"I'm sorry." Sophia sighed. "I can't help."
"Cheer up," said Asherah, "I still think you can. Why don't I show you?"
The dim corridors of the Archives were buried deep, stone-walled and plain, with many identical doors in the walls of many identical hallways. Where the Library above them displayed information- at every step advertising the knowledge freely available on its shelves- its Archives were silent, and showed nothing. They reminded Sophia a little of Foundation architecture. Finally, Asherah held up a hand to stop them at one particular door, as unlabeled and nameless as all of the others.
"After its last user left it, I persuaded the Library to turn access of the room over to me. They're also a little nervous, because of, well, the End Times. This happens to be the place where whoever it was, managed to make whatever they wore, that let them walk right into one of your Sites and open that Lock, and bend the minds of those who saw it. Apparently, they left in a bit of a hurry." She smiled wryly.
"Is it safe inside?"
"I wouldn't touch anything," said Asherah, "but yes, any inch of potential danger in this room has been squeezed out into something else. It's safe now. Look around."
That wasn't really reassuring, thought Sophia. Asherah pushed open the door.
**In it was shadow. In it was mistily lit, by grey mirrors that reflected nothing. The room was still, cold, and quiet, not too dark to read- it reminded her of the way she herself liked to study. The room was also, Sophia thought, impossible- they'd come down from the level above, and the ceiling here was clearly taller than that; the single room wider and longer than the doors outside would permit. But that was barely strange, now.
On the floor were red lines, connecting the bones of a human skeleton to a black boulder in the room's center, that Sophia somehow wanted to divert her eyes from. It was waist-high and, though clean and clear as the bones themselves, was somehow clearly a forge. The metaphor was instant, clear. It couldn't be anything but a forge- although, now that she thought about it, it also looked like an altar. A few small objects were scattered at its base and faintly glowing.**
And despite that, even though it was the most unusual and unfamiliar sight she'd had all week- the moment she entered it, she felt a profound sense of peace. That itself was a cause for concern, but nonetheless, there it was, misty and reassuring. Her shoulders began to climb down from around her ears. She took a deep breath in, out. And she kept looking.
The rest of the workspace was untidy- writings, pieces of paper, all in strange symbols (Code? she wondered)- even going up onto the white walls. Monitors, other pieces of computers, cubes and scraps of strange materials, open basins of liquids, wire crates and cardboard boxes, scattered the surfaces of many tables up against the wall. The air smelled faintly of ammonia and [Something]. Sophia walked around the room's edges. Out of fear of contracting some kind of magical radiation poisoning, she kept her fingers off anything, but she could believe Asherah now- this was only a space for creation. This was a workroom.
"Are you afraid?" asked Asherah, from near the doorway. Sophia shook her head. How could she be? "Because this place terrifies me," continued Asherah. "It just does. It's the same feeling you might get when you walk into, say, a basement, and there's band saws and plasma cutters and meat grinders and big machinery all running at once. You shouldn't be there. You don't want to stick around. You know what I mean?"
"I thought you said it was safe," said Sophia, pausing to examine a book with a hole burned right through the center. She supposed it had been dangerous, at one point.
"That's the thing- it is. I know it is. I know why it is, which you certainly don't. But I still can't shake the willies when I come in here. The light, this stuff," she waved an arm around, indicating everything- "The dead dude- it just makes me want to curl up with a blanket and a bigger, scarier friend. And I'm me."
"Aren't you a god? Maybe it's different for you."
"You know, I thought that at first- but when I found this and asked Midnight to come take a look- I didn't tell her what I thought it was- she said the same thing."
The cat? Sophia paused.
"Iris said the same thing. In fact, Doctor, everyone else I've brought here," Asherah took a step in, glancing around the walls and ceiling- "gets terrified the moment they step inside. God, human, or otherwise. But this room doesn't seem to mind you."
"Why would that be?"
"Do you see that picture frame on the ground in front of the boulder?"
There was one, small enough to hold a standard photo print and colored gold, slightly glowing. "Yes."
"Pick it up."
Sophia looked at it for several long seconds, tilting her head. "Oh."
"Yes," agreed Asherah. In the photograph, Sophia Light was smirking at the camera, as if unconvinced of its necessity but charmed by its intent. She wore a green blouse, and there were trees in the background. Holding it, Sophia remembered the blouse, but not the picture. And yet, resolutely, there it was, here in the impossible room. For the first time since she'd walked in, she felt a shade of terror.
"I really can't explain this," Sophia admitted.
"Do you know much about ritual magic, Doctor?"
"Don't tell me you brought me here because you thought I'd say 'yes'," said Sophia. The corner of her mouth twitched. Asherah blinked, and then laughed loudly. It echoed off the walls.
"In one way, that's exactly why I brought you here- but I'll accept that you might be unclear on the details. Magical rites rely on exchange- You give you a slaughtered goat, I'll loan you something out of my bag of tricks."
"Well. Not me so much these days, no. But the more complicated and powerful what you want is, the more you have to give. It depends on the ritual." She waved at the little line of glowing items at the stone's foot. "Now, this here doesn't look like your standard give-and-take, bargaining with the Other Side or a spirit or what have you. There's a discipline where you create something out of yourself- foster another power, feed it bits and pieces of yourself, until it grows from your essence, and turns soul into matter and energy. And one fairly standard offering to that is the symbol of something you love dearly."
"Wait," she said, "The other items-"
"None are nearly so interpersonal, doctor. Besides, I can feel it in it. That's what that is. Have you seen the photo before?"
"Not at all. 'Apocalypse is a very personal thing,'" Sophia said, remembering what Asherah had told her on their first meeting. "You weren't kidding."
"I should mention- the ritual is sure to be very specific in what it needs, and there are branches of magic that can produce items from pure thought to any specification. So it's possible that the photo itself was never taken, and that picture's just the product of someone's mental image. Take a look again. Something might strike you."
So Sophia looked again. "I know the shirt I'm wearing," she said. "I think I still have it. Er, had it. It was at the site where I detonated the, well, you were there. And…" She scanned its surface, frowning. Come to think of it, the woman in the picture didn't have quite as many lines in her face as she remembered the last time she looked in a mirror. And there, there was her left hand. In the portrait, it was crossed in front of her, and looked healthy as any hand could be expected to be. It wasn't in either the cast or the arm brace it had been in since her transfer out of Somalia, the one that remained on her hand to this day. "This is from at least four years ago," she announced.
Asherah smiled. "Excellent, Doctor. I wondered if that was it- she looks a little happier. Now who was it?" The smile fell, and she tugged on a handful of thin braids, looking around the room. "And can you tell me outside?"
"I… am going to have to think about it," said Sophia. When she left the room, that cloudy sense of peace went with it. She had a feeling she was going to miss it.
So, Sophia Light was left with the unpleasant task of figuring out who truly loved her. Fortunately, there weren't many. Unfortunately, it was compounded by the quality "can and would intentionally devastate the earth and its humans", which was really throwing a wrench in her list.
It couldn't be her family. First, none of them had ever been in any line of work or hobby that could be called remotely "esoteric", and second, most of them were either dead or- well, given the latest news about the eastern seaboard- alright, probably all dead. Friends? Asherah had stressed that while commonly overlooked by outsiders, the laws of conjuring held that love is love, and that she should consider close friendships as well.
"I'm running low on close friends, " Sophia had observed. She really had loved Johanna Garrison, the more she thought about her- several years of side-by-side work will do that- but Johanna had Gabriel first, of course, and also, was dead. Otherwise… Sophia had transferred a lot. She'd made friends, occasionally, but rarely good ones.
She had known Elliot for some time, and worked well with him, but their relationship ended there. There was her apprentice, Charles Vaux. They'd met two years ago- he had taken a liking to her off the bat (rare enough that Sophia had noticed straight away), and his cleverness and leadership among Site 14's crop of ordinary researchers had persuaded her to offer her mentorship. Once, after a particularly long and dark week at an unfamiliar research station, she'd asked him why he did it. "I admired your dedication," he'd told her, shyly. Talk about a [motivator??] But Vaux was, unlike her, enthusiastic and sociable enough to make friends wherever he went. Sophia liked him, but always suspected that she considered him a closer friend than he did her. Besides, didn't he have a boyfriend at some other site? Or had that been a while ago? Ugh. She would have preferred to be far more drunk before approaching this train of thought from any direction.
That left, uncomfortably, her own string of exes. Troy, Jack, Alex… As she mentally assessed them, suppressing the usual emotions dredged up by each (which ranged from mere regret to a sort of post-catastrophic disgust), she realized she'd been neglecting an important question, and went to find Asherah late in the evening.
"What kind of person would want to end the world?" asked Sophia. "I know people I disagree with- I can even understand them- but I actually can't imagine anyone I know doing it."
"Once, I would have thought the same," said Asherah, who'd waved off her gaggle of attentive listeners when she'd seen Sophia waiting. "But I have these friends, you see, these gods, and it turns out…"
They both laughed.
"What about them, then? Why are they doing it?"
Asherah shrugged, a massive gesture that threw braids all over her shoulders. "In a way, they've always been building up to it. It's aligned in their natures like iron in a magnet. The Unlocking just pointed them all the same way and drew them in."
"Why aren't you doing it?"
She shrugged. "Not all metals follow a magnet. And not all gods are helpless. What can I say? It has to do with being a force of nature. I don't think a single human could feel the same."
"Perhaps it's someone I don't know well, who developed an interest or fixation on me," she suggested. "It does happen."
Asherah frowned. "No, magic needs a connection with more fidelity than that. You don't necessarily have to reciprocate the feeling, but the potential needs to be there."
"Whoever it is, if they did honestly make that choice," said Sophia, "they know something I don't, or they're not the same person I knew them as."
"They almost certainly know a thing or two you don't," said Asherah. "Either way, make a list. The Hand can start their investigations from what you have."
"Already there." Sophia pulled a sheet of names and contact information out of her pocket, and passed it over. "Asherah, listen, you are, more or less, a literal goddess. You have an army of people with impossible talents on hand, and access to unlimited knowledge. Are you sure this is the best use of your time?"
"Absolutely," said Asherah. "The surest way to slay the beast is from the head. Whoever set this in motion is the best equipped to turn it back, and you are my link to that person. Unless you have any better ideas, I'm set."
Sophia nodded. "You should keep doing this. In the mean time, I don't know about better, but I have a pretty good notion."
Asherah listened as she explained it. At the end, she nodded, slowly, in approval.
"Well, what do you know? Your folk do think ahead now and then, Doctor. Be careful, be cautious, but if you really think you might be the only one who can do it, then you'd best take a look."
"I don't know anything," said Sophia. "I don't even know if I can reach it. But since we haven't heard anything from that region, it's probably unused, and I've been there before. I have the best chance at finding it and getting it started."
"Most of our Ways for easy travel are unfortunately shut, but you'll have any resources we can spare you. It is a shame, though- I was hoping you'd be around to help us with the members of your list once we find them. But you might not have wanted to be there anyway."
"Er, by the way, what are you planning on doing with them?"
"Learning everything about them until there's nothing left to learn," said Asherah. "Then rounding them up and obtaining their assistance, using any means necessary. Why are you looking at me like that? Don't you know the serpent has teeth? One of them is behind all the lives that have ended so far, and deaths yet to come. Don't tell me you're getting cold feet, Doctor."
"I'm not shocked," said Sophia, "I'm impressed." She thought for a few moments. "Call me Sophia."
The next day, Iris approached Sophia and Asherah while they were discussing her list. She carried a messenger bag brimming with papers and maps. "Asherah," she said immediately, "I've been thinking. And, um, planning. All of this uproar- the Jailers are going to be chaotic and not keeping track of anything. I know you're working on saving the world and all, but if we act now, we can do a lot of good. A lot."
"What's your plan?"
"I've been talking with Midnight. The two of us can have a team assembled by this evening. Jailer infrastructure, even if it's intact, won't pose a problem, because we have a way in."
"Excellent thinking." Asherah was smiling broadly. "Well, Sophia?"
They both looked at her. A few seconds passed, in which Sophia tried to keep a blank face. "Of course," she said eventually. "Access codes, whatever you need. I'll give you them before I go. I just hope you're doing them a favor. If the outside world falls, the Library isn't going to last long either."
"What are you talking about?" said Iris. "The Library's isolated. It's safe. With most of the Ways closed off, it'll outlast the earth, and probably the universe too. Right now, it's the safest place there is."
"Be that as it may," said Sophia, "You can't eat books."
Later, once they were done poring over maps and passcodes and notes (and Sophia felt rather lighter with the weight of selling her soul), Iris got up to leave and spread the information into her network. She looked pleased- more than pleased, triumphant.
"Before you go," called Sophia after her, "I need to know- how's the weather in Yellowstone these days?"
A Sympathetic Appeal
This story set after the events of Voct's excellent work Metafiction (which you should read first.) This is not the much-awaited sequel, nor necessarily even in the same universe- just my imaginings of what happened after.
It was 7:00 PM, the designated starting time for the meeting. One final participant made her way there, her shoes clicking on the linoleum. In one flawlessly silver-manicured hand, she held a latte, and in the other, she held a nondescript green folder. Everyone in the room already had an identical folder in front of them.
"Hello, Hotaru. I suppose I'm late," she said to the host of the meeting, who was waiting outside the door.
Hotaru Morisato looked at her phone. "Er, you're about ninety seconds early."
The new arrival shrugged and made her way in.
Morisato did a quick sweep of the hallway, then stepped inside the meeting room and closed the door behind her. “Hello, everybody, welcome. I really hope you all did the background reading.” Then she took a seat. “I guess we'll start. I'm Agent Hotaru Morisato. Welcome to my site, if you don't already live here."
Morisato gestured first to the meeting's latest arrival. “This is Dr. Katy Knight, who's been helping me do, let's call it 'internal review'- er, not like that- of the Foundation's practices. She's stationed out of Unit 16- I thought it would help to have a fresh set of eyes.”
Dr. Knight choked on her latte, and then cleared her throat. “Good to meet you all."
“This is Dr. Yasmeen Sethwi, who's really running the show here, and asked me to host this. Just from this, I'm guessing she knows something the rest of us don't- but who here doesn't?” Morisato laughed a little nervously. “Sorry- anyway, she has degrees in literature and philosophy- and she's the closest thing we have to an expert on 'narrative logic'. No offense, Doctor.”
“None taken,” said Dr. Sethwi. She pushed her notes together, and swept a loose flap of her head scarf into place, in the same motion.
“This is Hans Brannovich, head archivist for the Committee on Existential Threats, and the one who recommended further research into our side of Turtledove. Depending on the outcome of the meeting, we'll be sending a sealed copy notes there, once we're done. Or we might just burn them.”
Brannovich, typing on tablet, just chuckled and nodded.
“And here's Dr. Northrop, of course. One of the Turtledove pioneers, and our sacrificial goat for the O5 council.”
There was a little stilted laughter at this. Northrop smiled wryly and opened his mouth to say something, then pressed his lips together.
“Now,” said Morisato, “Drs. Knight and Sethwi, and I, started brainstorming, and searching documentation in the big database. Katy, maybe you could explain-”
“Essentially,” said Dr. Knight, “There are many reasons for which an entity, or a group of entities, would be compelled to 'generate' a world such as ours. As you all remember, the research from Turtledove and its clade of projects would suggest that we're not merely in a high-order computer simulation, unless our entire dataset, including the connections established through the Turtledove project, has been faked up. Our current hypothesis would not require this.”
“Our first priority,” said Dr. Sethwi, “was establishing this motive for generating our world- knowing this would allow us to understand both our own predicament, and ways of improving our overall outcome. It's possible that if we are in an intentionally manufactured universe, we aren't at the locus of it, and that the information gained allochronously was accidental. It could even be centered around a different planet. On the other hand, as far as interesting or unusual occurrences in this area of space go, we must admit that the Foundation's collection provides a ready example. While there are a few object listings for which the anomalous nature has been explained scientifically, even the Foundation has never been so bold as to issue the opinion that all objects will eventually explained.”
“I'm not discounting that idea,” said Brannovich, leaning over his tablet computer, “but these aren't the only unsolved problems in the universe- even that we know of. Dark matter, for one, or why 'circus peanuts' are still commercially viable.”
“Sure,” said Knight, quickly, “but we think the Foundation is likely for several reasons. We began searching the archives because of, well, the drunkard-looking-under-the-streetlamp scenario- we have access to complete documentation on our set of anomalies, and not on anything else. From what we found, we made the hypothesis was that our own little archive has been the 'focus' for this world's creation.”
“To clarify,” said Sethwi, “from the rest of our scans of Zayin-H-716's internet, it's almost entirely identical to ours- with the exception of our uncensored database, and references thereto. Our final report from 2011 concluded that they didn't have an equivalent of our Foundation, and given this, we wanted to explain their version of the internet and the presence of the 'false' database.”
“This is where Dr. Sethwi's area of expertise comes in,” said Knight.
“We started with the hypothesis that if the Foundation, and only the Foundation, is unique to this world- not our database, since the database is clearly the same in both- then we would expect to see a certain tone, or feeling of events, and described properties, not ordinarily found in day to day life. We tested a few hypotheses. The foremost was entertainment. If the Foundation has been… well, I'll keep using the word 'generated', by sentient minds much like our own, we would expect to see certain tropes, a theme, repeated.”
“And what did you find?” asked Brannovich.
“That what I said is true.” Sethwi paused. “We, um, adapted a commercial algorithm, to search our archives under those conditions- I won't get into the specifics now, but what we have is what we might expect if, er, the majority of the objects were designed to provoke the intent of, well, fear. Provoking fear in a sympathetic agent. I know that each one of us- working here- has thought to ourselves that the unfortunate objects we work with, seemed rigged against us- a designed malicious agent. Then, we got a hold of ourselves, accepted that this is the way the world just works- for whatever reason- that the net weight of our uncertainty happens to be evil. Until now, however, I don't think anyone has actually considered that the alternative could be true.”
“Let me see if I've got this right,” said Brannovich. “We have evidence, real evidence, that we and the Foundation are the fictions of humans in an alternate reality, which is almost but not entirely, exactly like ours. And our genre is horror.”
“Mm. Some entries and documentation returned trends in other genres. Some returned no strong trends at all- but the program is still in its early stages. But… overwhelmingly, yes.”
Northrop sipped from a glass of water, carefully, then replaced it on the table. “In my original report, I came to the conclusion that the alternate database's archives are incomplete, but that I expected them to correspond with ours. Did your test-”
“We did test the rest of our archives,” said Knight. “Most of what occurs in both databases, returned positive. Around 10% of the series documentation, present in our database but not the alternate one, returned positive. We're not sure what the implications of that are.”
Everyone was silent for a time, again.
“How much of an existential risk are we looking at?” Brannovich broke in. He had gone pale.
Knight and Morisato exchanged looks. “Actually,” said Morisato, “Since we're not dead already…”
“…We're probably fine,” said Knight.
“What?” Brannovich looked up. “The creators- the ones in the above-verse aren't like humans to our ants, we're like Minesweepers or Clippys to… to their genius programmers. They can delete us if it seems like a good idea, with no obvious moral repercussions, at any time-”
“That's true,” said Knight, “but they haven't. What does that say?”
“That we, or our existence, is serving a crucial function in their narrative framework, and killing us all would undermine that,” said Northrop. “So they're probably not going to.”
“Or," said Sethwi, "That, since they're writing their stories concurrent to our timeline, they're going to set them off later. However, I think the second stage of my theory may provide some resolution.”
“How?” Brannovich ran a hand through his hair.
“Well, as we all know, we only have partial access to their archives. There's reason to suspect that the database isn't the only piece of media on the wikifarm, but even in it- we've found contradictions that don't occur in our own archives. Ones that are impossible, but not inconceivable, that is, the Foundation could still function if they were true. There are some top-secret files that don't exist in our version of the Foundation, but the surface appearance- to, say, a non-aware observer- would be the same.”
“Like a civilian author.”
“Exactly. Again- what does this imply?”
“That the database contains both fiction and nonfiction,” guessed Northrop. “Or… that it's a compilation of information from alternate, created realities.”
“Unfortunately,” said Sethwi, “We suspect it's the latter. Is everyone following? Good. Obviously, this complicates our actions. Fortunately, we have some architecture in which to frame this: the Foundation's previously set precedent for Multiple-Universe-type scenarios.”
She knew the precedent, of course; Morisato and Knight knew, but only Brannovich- ironically, from his role, the only one having a minor crisis obviously- said it out loud. “Every man for himself,” he muttered, softly. Then he sat up, face flickering. “Wait, we could organize. Could the Prisoner's Dilemma apply-”
“We can't interact with the other worlds, so, no, unless I'm missing something.”
“Additionally…” Sethwi paused. “Recall that we're not entirely free actors here. It's possible that we'll find ourselves unable to come to any conclusions here with significant impact on our world, or its structure. True change might not be possible- might not be allowed. If it is, the most I imagine we could impact is any immediate branches. The number of deviations is… It's established. I can work on a long-term plan, but…”
“But the precedent hasn't failed us so far,” Brannovich said, clearing his throat. “We'll work on a contingency plan, but we need to stabilize our timeline first. Or… whatever it is. Survival comes first. Cooperation is second.”
Sethwi nodded. “What do you recommend?”
“I'd have to think on it,” he frowned, “And talk to the Committee. Out of curiosity, have you checked…” He paused, then looked around the room, mentally trying to match faces with personnel records.
“Oh, cut it, Hans,” said Knight. “Anyone who knows enough to be in this room right now has been operating outside of security clearances for long enough.”
Brannovich nodded, relieved. “Have you checked the Solid Vault?”
“We did. It was very helpful.”
“Hold up,” said Morisato. “Before you wind up needing to take me out back with an armed data specialist- and this is my meeting so that would be rude- I don't know what the Solid Vault is. Is it the same thing they call “The Oracle” back at the Svalbard Site?”
“I would imagine so,” said Northrop. “Often times the Foundation stumbles across information that's useful to have available to certain parties, but is not quite so useful to have available all the time, if you follow me. The Solid Vault is a way of making that information available when need be. If researchers dig something up they want to put back in the ground, they can put what they know in its data banks, and set parameters for its unveiling. Future researchers can put information into the Vault, and if the parameters match, learn what has been known about it in the past.”
“What's to stop new researchers from just letting the info out again?”
“Ordinarily,” said Northrop, “to put something in the Vault in the first place, one has a very clear and understandable reason. And researchers who learn about the vault already have a little common sense.”
“I see.” Morisato nodded. “So what did we learn?”
“First of all,” said Sethwi. “We're not the first one to find this. Once we put the data in, a few files in the Vault came loose, and they indicate that a few years ago, another group of researchers found out. Did what we're doing now. What they tried, as a solution, was… to restructure the Foundation's workings. Subtly. They still did containment, round-up. Hold on, let me think- it was a very novel idea.” She flipped through some tidily ciphered notes.
“Here- They did a massive rehaul of the Foundation's personnel departments. Rearranged it so that high-danger, central positions, and especially high-volume site personnel, had more unstable personalities that were more reactive with each other, while also minimizing actual affects of this on the Foundation's operations. Most of us will recall that the records took a weird turn around this era- well, now we know why.”
“Make them argue? How did that help?”
Sethwi shook her head. “It wasn't just arguing, Agent. There was… romance, and conflict.” She looked around. “Low stakes conflict.”
“Oh, my god,” said Brannovich softly, after a few minutes. “They were trying to change the genre.”
“And it worked, for a while. There were… fewer deaths. Less suffering. It's not the kind of trend anyone's looked for on a large scale before, but psychological reports listed fewer mental illnesses developing in staff. Working for the Foundation would have been noticeably more pleasant a few years ago. Then, for some reason, that changed.”
“…They made… more pain and death. Is that what you're saying?” Knight's voice was hushed.
“I…” She set her cup down. “What are we dealing with? Because that sounds right.” Her eyes flashed, teeth bit down on her lip. “The first time I saw someone die, it was three years ago. We lost four sites in a year. I saw an entire MTF-”
“You have to understand,” murmured Sethwi, “From what we understand- they probably don't know we exist, in any real sense. They don't think we have subjective experience, or sensory capacity, any more than a character in a book. For whatever reason, tormenting us is… better, in a narrative sense.”
“Obviously. For them, yes.”
Knight sighed. “They're murderers, you know? For any moral system in which suffering is wrong, they're evil- thousands of us have died, millions more from the impacts of SCP objects overall- the overworld doesn't seem to have any. They don't even understand. But I think I see a way to fix it."
Sethwi nodded. “Yes. If we use the precedent, then it might be possible to seal off our splinter- end our role in their stories, so to speak. Nothing may change, but at the least we can likely stop it from getting worse. I'm talking about a direct appeal to the creators. And, um… Actually, that's the reason I recommended we hold this meeting.”
“What?” Morisato started. Around the table, Brannovich, Knight, and Northrop clearly hadn't known this either. “What do you mean?”
“Well… There's very little precedent for this anywhere, but we can follow Bayesian reasoning. It's interesting if one group in your fictional world knows that the world is fictional. It's not interesting- you run out of material quickly- if everyone knows. Therefore, even with a lot of authors and an even larger number of splinter universes, there are probably only a small number of authors, writing a small number of worlds, in which the Foundation is aware of this.”
She stood up. “I called this meeting, with all of you in particular, because none of our names appear in the shared archive- or, actually, the Senior Staff member who recommended I hold this meeting, gave me the list. This way we're not bringing anything to their table, and we can talk without preconceived notions.”
“I'm sorry,” said Northrop, “Whose table? The one who recommended that you-”
“No, Doctor. What I mean is, it's possible that a creator is looking at what we're saying, right now. Which means, unfortunately, this is turning into a personal appeal.”
Sethwi tucked her hands into her skirt pocket, squared her shoulders, and took in a steady breath. Everyone else sat still, mentally straddling various points on the line between garden-variety incomprehension and pure existential terror.
“I know you don't mean it,” Sethwi said, apparently to nothing. “But we have consciousness, we have thought- even if it's not quite independent- and memory, and personality. And we feel pain, and loss, in what I believe is the same way you do. I don't know why you do it- but you should know what it's doing to us. What we want you to do, we, the unique inhabitants of your world, is to leave us alone. Or fix what you've done already."
She looked at her colleagues. “This shouldn't just be me, though. Does anyone else want to say anything? It's possible that this is the only chance you'll have to be in the spotlight- so to speak- and, well.”
Shared silence was passed around the room like an artifact. Finally, Katy Knight cleared her throat, talking into the air.
“I know this is ridiculous. … You probably don't put any value on my life- or any of our lives- in particular. Especially if we're not your favorites. Which makes it a little easier to say this. You don't even know it, but you're all bastards. You're awful people. You're sick fucks. And you have the chance to make things right again- here, now, for us. I don't know how. But you can do it.” She dropped her gaze, exhaled, and leaned back into her seat. “There's an experiment for you, Yasmeen. If I get struck by lightning tomorrow, we'll know we were right.”
Morisato glanced at her, then let her gaze drift into the distance.
Brannovich glanced around, then spoke. “I think I'd just like to say, whoever you are, if you're listening… Thank you.” He didn't look at any of the faces around him. “I know I've seen terrible things- I think about terrible things all the time, that's my job- and I know there's a lot of suffering in the world. Your world is full of it too.
“But my life has been… alright, really, overall. And maybe I just don't understand it yet, but it could have been worse. You're not doing it for our benefit, of course. But I wouldn't exist without you, and I imagine that… while you may not have realized it… You've had a little compassion along the way. So thank you for that.” He sat down, still not meeting anyone's eyes.
“Alright,” said Sethwi, “Anyone else?”
“Then… I think that's it.” She exhaled deeply. “Now, I had a couple of other ideas to discuss. If you'll all refer to your codebooks. There are some unusual economic implications involving…”
It was 9:00 PM, at the designated end time of the meeting. Sethwi had a flight in an hour and a half- she packed up her briefcase carefully, nodded to the others, and promised to keep in touch. Brannovich shook her hand, and left after her- his next task would be to assemble his notes to determine what would be appropriate to send to the Committee, and which would be too sensitive or unhelpful. Knight slipped out after him to ask about a side project he'd worked on at his previous site.
“He's the real sacrificial goat,” Northrop laughed dryly, after Brannovich left. “If Hans leaves out anything important, he'll be the only one aside from us to know.”
“Do you want to do it?” Morisato looked up from her notes, eyes twinkling.
“God no. Thank you for the moderation, Hotaru- I believe I'm going to go into town and indulge in a little, ah… controlled incomprehension, and pretend that'll help.”
“Enjoy yourself,” said Morisato. “If you can catch Sethwi, maybe she'll delay her flight- she doesn't normally drink at work but I hear she'll make exceptions.”
“I might just do that.” Northrop nodded. “I'll see you around, won't I?”
“Never fear, Doctor.” Morisato agreed. “You and your vocabulary always have a place on my Words with Friends list.”
Northrop chuckled, and left.
Hotaru Morisato stood up, alone in the room, then rearranged the chairs and carefully cleaned off the whiteboard- it would be an obvious security breach to leave it up- before stepping out herself, and locking the room behind her. After the cleaners hit it, it would be impossible to tell who had been inside, and only a few people and a few select departments would ever be aware that the meeting had happened, let alone who was there, or what was discussed.
Katy Knight was waiting in the hallway, leaning against the wall, looking at her cell phone and tapping on it with glittering silver nails. She looked up, then put it away as Morisato grew closer.
“I thought you were going to your room?” Hotaru asked.
“I was planning to,” said Katy. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”
“I'm… managing. It's a lot to take in. What about you?”
Katy sighed, and shrugged, expansively. “What can I say? I didn't know what Yasmeen was going to break out there. I mean… from a reductionist approach, free will never made sense anyways. And I'm a scientist. I knew that. But it was never quite so apparent, as now.”
“I know what you mean,” said Hotaru. “I didn't see it coming either, in all of our research. It's such a… powerless feeling.” She glanced at Katy.
Katy nodded. “It is. It is.” She paused. “I'm going to my room.”
“Alright,” said Hotaru.
“Would you like to come with me?” asked Katy.
Hotaru's heart skipped a beat.
“It's just,” said Katy, “I know it can be hard to be alone after these things, and… Well, no, it's not just that."
Hotaru nodded. “You know, Dr. Knight, I'm sure my room has a nicer bathroom.”
They both laughed.
“Alright, then.” They set off down the corridor, Katy's heels clicking. After a quiet elevator ride and then the dimly-lit halls of the residential floor at night, she looked over.
“I'm sorry- is this too forward of me? Or… is there something else on your mind?”
Hotaru swallowed. “No, I'm only wondering- these creators, or whatever's really running the show here. The only reason we even exist is because they want to be entertained. And they don't know we're real, or conscious anyways, but here we are. I'm sure Sethwi was right- if we let them pass us over, we'll be happier. But I can't help but think it would be right to do more. Not to just live safely, but to… to keep the story going. To give them the best tale possible.” Hotaru looked up.
Katy met her gaze, face compassionate but her eyes hard and glinting. “No, no, Hotaru. Listen. They put us here without our permission. They never told us what they want, or offered us equality. We don't owe them anything. Right? It doesn't matter if they think we're real, or not. This building, us here, time passing, the two of us… This is real. It's real to us. They can't change it.” She swallowed. “This is our story, and we don't owe them that.”
Hotaru nodded, glancing down, then, boldly, extended her hand. Katy look down, and took it, lacquered silver nails sliding into her fingers- over the skin of her palms- bony fingers folding around hers and squeezing gently. Hotaru suddenly found it impossible to doubt Dr. Knight's words, and found also that her mind was flying down newer pathways.
“I hope you brought a tooth brush,” she murmured. Katy's lips curled up.
And they all lived happily ever after.
[collapsible show="+ SCP &&&&: Orange Diamond Jewelry" hide="- Hide"]]
Item #: SCP-1421
Object Class: Euclid
Special Containment Procedures: Records detailing the SCP-1421 procedure, along with relevant materials, may be stored in a secure locker and requisitioned from the Research Department.
SCP-1421 instances are contained on separate tables or rooms in Site 41, each with a variety of loose objects placed within each one's listed range of influence. Contact Site 41 Research Wing for these distances and for current interaction schedules.
When contained in a room with no loose objects, the range of influence of SCP-1421 influences tends to expand, and shift to include larger and larger objects. To mitigate this, a variety of soft, small, loose objects may be placed in containment chambers. This also allows monitoring of SCP-1421 “moods.”
Description: A procedure created by the LoveForever company (now defunct), similar to those employed by existing companies such as LifeGem and Algordonza for turning the carbon of a human body, post-mortem, into a diamond keepsake, via application of immense heat and pressure.The LoveForever process, as submitted to the US Patent Office in October 2009, is on file. The process differs from existing ones mostly in requiring less specific processing of the remains prior to compaction (thus retaining more of the body's material in the final product.) Resulting impurities cause diamonds created with this method to be a bright orange. (Note that orange diamonds also occasionally occur naturally.)
The process was invented by Dr. Marin Huynh, an American chemist. Records indicate that she was the sole proprietor of the LoveForever company, and died shortly before the Foundation interceded its affairs. Only six instances of the SCP-1421 procedure were ever produced, and all records and machinery from the company were seized. Clients of the LoveForever company were informed that there had been errors during the production process, and reimbursed. None of the seized records indicate that Huynh or any of her workers predicted unusual affects in the created products.
SCP-1421 samples create rings of disturbance in the physical environment around them. This includes the active rearrangement of loose objects, during “active phases” of the SCP-1421 instances. Researchers have determined a correlation between duration of active phases, maximum mass of shifted objects, and range of influence (from less than one meter, up to 20 meters and possibly beyond), referred to as “strength of influence”.
SCP-1421 instance behavior was initially thought to be unpredictable. After further research, Doctors. J██████ Garrison and S█████ Light have compiled the following list of SCP-1421 “moods.”
|Inactive||Object displays no anomalous characteristics. Most instances are in this state 50-75% of the time.|
|Active||Object is actively moving objects in its environment. The following are "sub-behaviors."|
|Singing||Surrounding objects are moved gently in concentric circles, passive to immovable objects. Name for this behavior was coined by Dr. Garrison after observing that objects were behaving “ rhythmically.”|
|Destructive||Rarer mood in which objects may be lifted off the ground and move at high velocities, potentially damaging surroundings. Concentric or circular quality of movement is maintained. While human presence can sometimes effectively negate “destructive” moods, anyone approaching objects in the “destructive” phase should carry protection while in the object's active range.|
|Talkative||SCP-1421 instances placed together will “interact”, and additional effects may manifest in the area where concentric “circles of influence” overlap. This is seen as an outgrowth of the “singing” behavior, and generally seems to reduce “destructive” phases. Two objects in different different “moods”, when introduced, often change the mood of one or both, but the effects of this are variable, and no clear mechanism has been proposed to explain this.|
Human presence will often induce “singing” or “talkative” phases, even at a distance. For this reason, to reduce destructive effects and facilitate testing, instances of SCP-1421 are contained in a central unit at Site 41. SCP-1421 instances do not appear to have any affect on humans.Recovered instances of SCP-1421
|Designation||Listed Source or Inscription||Current State||Strength|
|Deceased female pet dog belonging to Marin Huynh. A known “test subject” for the LoveForever procedure. Frequently “inactive” or “talkative.”|
|SCP-1421-2||"Jacob Markowitz"||Fixed in a brass ring||Medium|
|Frequently “singing” and “destructive.”|
|SCP-1421-3||“Loving Husband and Father, Coren Herreras”||Fixed in a silver ring w/ glass embellishments||Strong|
|Frequently “talkative”, although destructive moods are possible.|
|SCP-1421-4||“Grannie”||Loose||Weak or Inactive|
|Although other instance react to its presence, “Grannie” has not displayed any independent signs of activity. Additionally, the real identity of “Grannie” is not listed in any files recovered from the LoveForever corporation, which appears to be an administrative error- additionally, DNA from a tissue preserved by the company indicates that the original body was male. No further information regarding “Grannie” is available at this time.|
|SCP-1421-5||“Our Dearest, Melissa Jackson”||Separated into two stones, fashioned into earrings||Medium/Weak|
|Exhibits a “duality” unique among samples: Activity is only seen when objects are in proximity to each other. When closer than 2.5 meters, object's ring of influence is elliptical, so as to be centered around both objects at once. They will only interact with other instances of SCP-1421 when in this form.|
|SCP-1421-6||"Little angel, Anita Gibbons"||Fixed to a silver necklace surrounded by cubic zirconium||Very Strong|
|SCP-1421-6 is unique in that it is continuously in an active state. It is frequently destructive. Presence of other instances of SCP-1421 may mitigate or worsen destructive states, apparently at random.|
SCP-1421-6 has been transferred to a more rural location, after we obtained the following satellite imagery of Site 41.