SCP: "Gunner Crabs"
Item #: SCP-XXX
Object Class: Euclid
Special Containment Procedures: All specimens of SCP-XXX are contained in a room, 7m x 7m x 5m, with 20cm layered walls (5cm titanium, 5cm rubber, 5cm shredded fiberglass, and 5cm of titanium, to muffle sound).
There is a titanium blast door in one wall, leading to a 2m x 2m x 2m room, with an identical blast door in the opposite wall. Only one of the two doors can be opened at any time. The floor, ceiling and walls of this small room are lined with incendiary [DATA EXPUNGED].
Feeding is to take place twice daily, to consist of 20 kilograms of any organic material. The feed will be placed in the antechamber, at which point the outer door will be sealed and the inner door opened (sensitive personnel may put on protective earmuffs). Once the banging and clicking noises cease, the inner door will be sealed and the incendiaries fired.
In the event of a containment breach, all escaped XXX-1 are to be dispatched from a distance with high-powered rifles.
Description: SCP-XXX are a species of large arthropods. At birth, they are only two or three centimeters, but full-grown specimens are over a meter in length, and possess an abnormally hard exoskeleton. Their legs are coated with adhesive fibers, allowing them to cling to most surfaces.
The two front claws of SCP-XXX resemble the large claw of the Alpheidae (the snapping shrimp, or "pistol shrimp.") Each of these claws can snap shut at the rate of over 40 m/s, and are shaped in such a way as to emit a concentrated burst of air when the claw is snapped.
Due to the large size of SCP-XXX (and the fact that XXX have two claws of this type rather than just one, and usually fire both simultaneously), the resulting shock wave has a pressure exceeding [REDACTED], which can severely damage most building materials and create a noise loud enough to burst the eardrums of humans.
SCP-XXX have displayed very aggressive and territorial behavior, and will immediately fire upon any foreign object introduced to the containment area. They will also attack one another with very little provocation, and eat their own dead. During feeding times, it is not unusual for at least one XXX to be killed in the struggle for food. This has kept their numbers in check and slightly reduced the amount of food necessary.
SCP-XXX are born in batches of several hundred eggs. As soon as they are born, they begin breaking down and consuming any organic or semiorganic matter around them (including other SCP-XXX young), often reaching full size in less than five days. However, full-grown XXX-1 prey on their own young as well, and when a batch of new XXX is born, it is common for not even one specimen to survive to adulthood.
The small size of XXX eggs and young is the primary concern for containment. They have displayed remarkable cunning, and have been known to conceal themselves as dust or debris in an attempt to smuggle themselves out.
Tale: "Where The Wild Things Are"
"Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you truly want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln
I look down over the city. There are some people on the street. It's night, but that's nothing new. A lot of them have umbrellas, but a lot of them don't seem to mind the rain.
I've given up trying to catch the shifts. Right now, there's something else I'm looking for too.
I turn around. There's a dark figure on the rooftop with me. Is this one of the robed guys? So close I can almost touch it? Wait, no, he's just wearing a dark coat. I step closer, so does he. Oh great, it's Agent █████.
"Feeling better?" I say, even though I know he's not.
"Fine," he says, cheerfully.
I have to be more careful. I shouldn't go alone here. No one to talk to, all you're left with is your thoughts. That's a bad way to be in.
I walk towards the stairs. Then I realize it's not raining anymore. I look up. I see a ceiling.
I'm back at the hotel.
I've been here three days, and I was briefed on it beforehand, but it's still weird. I couldn't handle it if they'd sent me in alone.
Initial Expedition into SCP-███
Alpha Team (deployed ██/█/████)
Dr. ████████ (expedition leader)
I arrive at the floor where my team is staying. I stop by Dr. Lee's room. She's made a forest in there. The trees look familiar, but I can't place them. Is this somewhere I've been, or is it somewhere from a movie?
She looks up and sees me shaking the rainwater out of my clothes. "Go anywhere interesting?"
"Just taking a look around," I say, semi-truthfully.
"See any more of the hooded guys?"
"Two of them. Chased them down an alley, couldn't catch them before they reached the corner. One of them wasn't even two meters ahead of me, but as soon as he was out of view for a nanosecond, it was like he was never there."
"You didn't use a weapon, did you?"
"Didn't see much point, after last night." Even thinking about last night makes me frustrated. I put six bullets into one of those guys and it was like he didn't even notice, he didn't slow down, he just kept running.
Not that I'd know what to do if I actually caught them. Seven feet tall and buried under those robes, we don't even know what species they are.
I shake my head. "How's the new team faring?"
"Two of them dropped out too. Just couldn't handle it, wanted to leave before they got hurt. Another one lost an ear. Said it was his ex-wife. And since I'm de facto expedition leader now, I'm the one getting chewed out by the brass. Apparently, everyone who gets sent here from now on needs a sign-off from Dr. Glass."
"Well… that's good, at least."
"Would you have made it past Glass?"
I don't answer. I honestly have no idea. Even less now than when I got here. And I'm also not sure I wouldn't be happier if I hadn't. "Did they last long enough to give us their data?"
"Yep. They saw them too." She comes out to watch the rain for a while. "It's confirmed. They're a constant."
I can't decide if that makes me feel better or worse. "How's █████?"
"He'll live. Barely."
Just checking to make sure. "And dare I ask…?"
"Well, you know how ██████ is."
I do know that. "And ████████?"
"She's through. Resignation, anger management classes. I told her it wasn't her fault, but… well."
I want to point out that there was a copy of Dr. Lee in that room too, and she didn't go berserk. But I suppose that's unfair to Dr. ████████.
Three from our team down, three of the new guys too. Half the expedition. That looks embarrassing, considering we're trained to deal with the paranormal, but this place is different. We've all gone to dangerous places and seen impossible things, but this place? This strikes from a new direction.
The tougher you are, the harder it hits you.
I try to cheer myself up. "How are the locals?"
"Same stories. Most are friendly, the ones who aren't are just garden-variety assholes. Most haven't seen the robed guys, or at least won't admit it, and the rest change the subject, and vanish when we press them."
"What time is it?"
"Our time? Three thirty in the afternoon."
Fuck this lack of a day cycle. I've barely slept since I got here. "Okay, well, I think I'll take another look around."
"This isn't a vacation, you know."
"If I thought it was a vacation, why would I leave the hotel room?"
"I know that. I was just testing you."
I manage a smile. We haven't confirmed it yet, but it seems that the smaller the area, the more control you have. Out in public, you're basically limited to low-grade comic book tricks, but in the rooms… I'm not even sure there are limits. Locals say it's that way in the apartments and offices, too.
I turn around, and I'm on the street. We've run a test with radios and clocks, and determined that we're not just forgetting the travel. It doesn't even happen. Theoretically, that should make it easier to keep track of time, but for some reason I actually find it harder.
I decide to see if I can walk normally for a while. I even cut into an alley, even though I know no one could see it anyway. I manage to walk a while. I see some graffiti on the walls. It says, "THEY CAN EVEN WATCH YOU THINK."
Thanks for the advice, whoever wrote that, but "they" aren't what I'm worried about. "They" aren't what chewed up half my expedition.
No matter how much we'd like to think otherwise.
Following Incident ███-A, a more thorough background check was made to Agent █████. It was revealed that the person called "████" was actually ███████, a cousin of Agent █████ who had died in a car accident several years before █████ came to the Foundation. █████ had been driving the car.
Addendum 01: After the events of Incident ███-A, all personnel sent into SCP-███ must be subjected to additional psychological screening and background checks, and tested for self-control and loyalty to the Foundation.
You can walk for hours here and never get lost. Partially that's because of what happens here, but it's also because it's really not that big. The city seems to go on forever, but it's a loop. Go off one end of a map and you come right back in the other. If the visibility weren't crap in this rain, you'd probably be able to see yourself, just a couple miles off. There's only one way in or out, the road we came in on. The road that no one in the outside world ever remembers building.
Of course, we've only checked the records in our world. Time to start from another direction.
I ask someone for directions to the city hall. He laughs.
"New in town, huh?"
"I've been here for…" I figure out what's funny. I look up, and I'm already there. I'm a little embarrassed. To save face, I act surprised and say, "It even works if you don't know where the place is?"
He grins and says, "Yep," and walks off.
"The mayor will see you now."
"Thank you," I say, getting up from the chair in the waiting room. I'm halfway into the office before I realize I never even asked to see the guy. Great. Is this even safe? I feel for my weapon. Still there.
I walk into the office. "Um," I say, not really sure how to act around the elected officials of a place like this, "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
He grins. "I spend about two hours a day doing actual work."
"How do you get away with that?"
"Post-scarcity society, ectoentropic resources, no new construction, conflicts settled between citizens. Laws are practically unnecessary, and financial worries are zero. "
"Sounds like paradise."
"It can be. So, what brings you by?"
I wanted to speak with a city official, sure, but I now realize that I have no idea what I was actually going to say. There's quite a bit I want to ask, but I hadn't prepared any questions to make it sound like I wasn't just desperately searching for any kind of clue about this place.
I can move so fast here I don't have any time to get ready.
Still, I can think on my feet. "I'm glad to hear things are so well. Um, I have, however, seen these tall guys in black robes around, is there something wrong?"
The guy's smile flickers for a bit. He looks guilty about something. "I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that."
A child could tell he's lying, but I don't want to press too hard quite yet. I don't know if I can just warp right in a second time. Besides, there is another topic I want to try. "Okay then, if you say so."
"Um… anything else?"
"Yes. How long have you been mayor?"
"Oh. I don't recall the exact time. Among other concerns from Earth that don't cause as much trouble around here, time is a bit freer here. What year is it?"
"Ah… my term is almost up. I should get to work."
"Were you elected?"
"Oh yes. The figurehead of this place? Prestigious and cushy. There were dozens of candidates, but none of us really had any promises to make. Really, it was just a game. You should see the council meetings."
"How long have you lived here?"
"Oh, it's been a while. I remember, I got lost on a business trip. I came back, grabbed my wife and children and we moved here."
"Who was your predecessor?"
"Ah, I remember him. Conrad Vallon. He probably would have gotten reelected, but he resigned. Twice, actually."
"Yes. He resigned once, then came back, and then he resigned again."
"Who was mayor in the meantime?"
The guy looks nervous again, and stares out his big picture window for a moment. I follow his eyes, he's looking at the penthouse of one of the skyscrapers. He then clears his throat. "Mr. Lios."
"Yes. I… have never personally met Mr. Lios. And… well, I wouldn't know anyone who has… with the exception of Mr. Vallon. I'm afraid Mr. Lios did not leave his address…" He glances out the window again, and starts writing a note. "But you can find Mr. Vallon at this address."
I take the note, and glance at the skyscraper again. None of the buildings have names or addresses, and most of the architecture looks alike, but I think I can remember that building. "Would you mind if I glanced at the city records before I leave?"
"Um, go ahead. Go ahead."
██ hours into the mission (the primary anomalous properties of SCP-███ had not yet become apparent), Agent █████ encountered a person whom he identified as "████," an old friend whom he had not encountered in some years. As they were conversing in the hotel lobby, "████" suddenly attacked █████, ripping his [REDACTED]. █████ seemed unwilling to fight back, and began screaming out an apology. As we attempted to subdue the entity claiming to be "████," its teeth mutated into fangs, and it attempted to [REDACTED], leading to its termination. It took seven gunshot wounds to the head before falling, whereupon it disintegrated and vanished.
Dr. Lee attempted to administer first aid to Agent █████, but was frustrated by a lack of available equipment, and the severity of the injuries. Dr. Lee requested we locate a hospital, at which point we realized that we were standing in an emergency room. Dr. Lee spoke to the hospital staff, and (out of suspicion) requested to assist in the treatment of Agent █████'s wounds, which she was granted. █████ can no longer function as a Foundation agent, but due to the instantaneous transportation, his life was saved.
The archives look like no one has stacked the shelves in years. The clerk down here is just reading a magazine, he barely even notices me.
I can't find anything in the records. This town never existed, at least not on our maps, but according to this it goes back to 1918. It was an ordinary town, municipality, budget problems, everything. It's even registered in the state where we found the portal to it. They mention appearances from gubernatorial candidates.
And no mention of any anomalies, any paranormal activity whatsoever.
At least, no explicit mention. I look for any suspicious activity in the city budget. Like, for instance, when there stopped being one.
Ah ha. January 1992. That's when things went nuts. And no crisis was declared, no red flags, they went right on recording all the city events like nothing was wrong, like they weren't even aware they'd been taken out of the world. Like they didn't remember even being part of the world.
Could it be possible? Had this pocket dimension swallowed the whole town up, and even affected records on the outside? Were we just looking in the wrong place?
I check on the mayor's story. Yeah, he was elected six years ago. Before that, Conrad Vallon had been the mayor. According to this, he was actually re-elected after leaving office once before. No mention of when.
And before that, the mayor is listed as… "Lios." No first name, just "Mr. Lios" or "Mayor Lios."
I look for the first mention of the guy.
December of 1991, the mayor is Conrad Vallon. January of 1992, the mayor is Lios. Later on, Lios resigns and Vallon is re-elected to his old spot.
But there's no record of Lios ever getting elected. No mention of Vallon stepping down the first time, for any reason. One day the mayor is Vallon, the next day the mayor is Lios, and no one makes any mention of the change, in the entire city records. It's like he was always there. I can find nothing on Lios. No statements on record, no photographs. He was the goddamn mayor, but no one took a picture or even got a statement from him?
I hear a whispering. I look behind me, just in time to see a guy in a robe darting behind a shelf. I follow it. And, as always, it's gone.
I knock on the door. No one answers. I knock again. I look around. I'm in an apartment house, somewhere else. The number on the door is 14-E. I look at the note in my hand. It's the note the mayor gave me. I don't recognize the address, but it says Apartment 14-E.
The door opens. A short, chubby, friendly-looking guy answers. "Hello."
"Uh… Mr. Vallon?"
I flash my fake badge.
He chuckles. "Oh, you don't have to fool me. Come on in."
Well, this is off to a good start.
I head in. I'm expecting to see a mansion or a tropical island or something, but it's just an apartment. A nice apartment, well-furnished, but it's nothing compared to the stuff I've seen people do to rooms here. I wonder if he doesn't have the same powers everyone else has.
"Make yourself comfortable. I was just making a snack, I'll be right with you."
He's making his own food. I follow him into the kitchen. "Why don't you have powers?"
He looks surprised. "Hmm? I do. This place has been a medieval palace, a nightclub, and even a mock-up of a space station. Right now I'm just taking it easy."
Well, I'm not one to judge, but I don't quite believe him. "To the point of making your own food? You can conjure some food same as anyone."
He smiles. "Oh, I like to cook."
"Oh yes. The omnipotence is fun, but after a while you get bored with having everything done for you. Why do you think we still have shops and businesses open, even though no one needs to buy anything or needs money to buy it?"
I'd thought the people were just making up the workers.
He sees my look and laughs. "Actually, I hear the old Earth has become quite a tourist destination. I always worry people will get culture shock, going to a place where they can't just think about something and have it appear, but most of them come back happy, they say it was an exhilarating adventure."
I say, like a moron, "Uh, want some help cooking?"
"Certainly. There's some sandwich bread in that drawer there. Feel free to conjure it if you like, I don't mind someone else cheating."
Well, I don't just wish some bread into existence while I'm a guest in someone's home. So I make a sandwich the honest way. It's an awful sandwich, but I actually like it better than that masterpiece they made at room service. I have a feeling that's exactly what he's after. We make some small talk and sit at his coffee table.
Once the true anomalous properties of SCP-███ true anomalous properties became clear, the team received new instructions: to run simple tests on the reality-bending nature of the place, in order to determine the extents and the limits of its power.
Due to the greatly increased malleability of the space inside individual rooms, some larger-scale tests were being run on the hotel rooms. Playing games and enacting wish-fulfillment scenarios were discouraged, but it was suspected that some members of the team were doing so.
While Agent ██████ was out performing a field test, an investigation was made into his hotel room. It was discovered that he had "built" a mansion, and created a harem. Two of the women in this harem were strongly similar in appearance to Dr. ████████ and Dr. Lee, answered to their names, and even displayed exaggerated versions of certain mannerisms and personality traits.
When Agent ██████ returned, he was taken to task. Dr. Lee was angry, but remained calm. Dr. ████████, however, displayed an extreme emotional reaction, and [REDACTED] appeared and attacked Agent ██████. Dr. ████████ realized what she had caused and attempted to make the [REDACTED] cease their assault, but it was too late, and Agent ██████ was [DATA EXPUNGED].
Dr. ████████ became distressed, claiming that she had not actually intended for that to happen, and aided in the attempt to resuscitate Agent ██████ (though the attempt was ultimately unsuccessful). Following this incident, Dr. ████████ requested transfer to another assignment pending disciplinary review, and then resigned before the hearing.
"So," I say, "can you tell me about Lios?"
He sighs and shakes his head. "Sadly, I am forbidden to reveal secrets. If I try, you'll leave."
"They… have overriding power?"
"Yes. They don't use it, except to safeguard their secrets. And they're very subtle about it. You'd probably think you just jumped the gun."
"If we go out into Earth, could you talk more freely then?"
He sighs again. "I have no doubt I would. Sadly, that's also not an option for me." He looks out the window. "I can see the exit road from right here, but if I try to take it, I just wind up further away than when I started."
"The price I paid for learning the truth. This town is the most gilded cage imaginable, but it's also the most secure."
I am bewildered. "How do they automate it?"
I blink. "It doesn't happen automatically?"
He shakes his head.
But if he's forbidden from revealing anything… oh fuck. "Are they listening now?"
He acts surprised I don't know. He's infuriatingly casual about this whole thing. "Oh, they're always listening. And watching."
THEY CAN EVEN WATCH YOU THINK
"Why… why did they even show themselves?"
"Oh, sometimes you notice them. There are perception fields… the same thing that keeps the entrance hidden from Earth… but everyone catches a glimpse at some point."
"I see." That means that there are more of them that we haven't even seen. For all I know there could be some in the room with us now. "How about hints, or codes, or riddles?"
He chuckles. "Sadly, no. It's not just the information they're guarding, it's the knowledge. Take any route that will lead you to them, and they'll just shift you away."
"How do I know what to avoid?"
"You don't. But don't worry, they don't mind you trying. There's no consequence apart from frustration. You won't get trapped here, because you won't get too close. You'll get as close as they want you to get, no closer."
"Then why am I even here?" It's probably my own fault, but I'm still upset.
"Probably to save you a fair bit of that frustration."
I want to think he's prevaricating, but after what I've seen, I know deep down that he's right. That's what's really making me angry. "So, are they just referees of this place, or is there some master plan?" I say that half-jokingly, hoping I can glean something from his response.
But I don't get a response. I look up at him, trying to read his expression, and it takes me a moment to realize I don't see it. Because he's not there.
I'm back on the street.
I can't decide if I want to scream or cry.
Extensive investigations have been made into the local populace, but our agents were unable to locate any resident of SCP-███ who did not originate from our world (except for some small children who were born there, but their parents all came from Earth). All efforts to track down any "native" life have failed (with the possible exception of the enigmatic figures in robes).
There were certain anomalies noted in the behavior of most citizens (such as a lack of concern over the harm caused by those who let their psyches overpower them and create apparitions they cannot control, which does happen quite frequently and not always to newcomers); however, these behaviors were not universal. And given that no environment like this exists on Earth, these could easily be dismissed as simple sociological reactions to the impossible nature of SCP-███.
I look up at the penthouse, where the mayor kept glancing. Is Lios in there? I decide to find out. I step towards it. Sure enough, when I look around, I've shifted. I feel good, until I realize that I'm actually back at the hotel. I try again, and wind up back on the street, even further away than when I started.
Am I doing this to myself?
I decide to go in manually.
This time I don't try to shift directly in, I just shift myself to the street in front of the building. I wind up exactly where I'm aiming. I grin and walk in. I'm a little unsteady at first, it's been a while since I've walked this far on my feet. I probably look silly, stumbling around like that, but nobody sees me. The lobby is posh. I wonder what building this is.
I hope I don't have to go all the way up the stairwell. I press an elevator button. I doubt anyone here uses elevators anymore, I wonder if it still works.
It does. Grinning, I open it and step inside. I press the button marked PH. It doesn't work. I look again. It's got a keyhole beside it. Special authorization required. Well, I'm a Foundation agent, aren't I? I take out my equipment, and before long, that lock is open. I press the button for the penthouse, and it starts up.
I watch the numbers go by, willing myself to stay in one place. It's working, I'm staying in the elevator.
No I'm not. I'm back out on the street. Outside the hotel. I grunt, and shift back in front of the building. Now I know this is it. I've had more practice walking now. I get back in the elevator.
This time, I try something different. I warp the space. I attach rocket engines to the elevator and propel myself towards the top. I use the power that Lios bestowed upon this place, and turn it against his traps. I have no idea if this will work, but I don't care anymore.
Maybe that's the secret.
I watch the numbers tick by, until I'm only one floor away from the penthouse. Excited, I turn down to stare at the doors.
I see a black robe.
There's one of them right in front of me. He's not running away this time. And I don't think that has much to do with there being no room to run in the elevator.
I haven't seen one in decent light before. The robe doesn't have a hood, it has a shroud. It covers the head. The sleeves are so long the hands are gone. The hem of the robe covers any sign of feet. For all I know, there's nothing underneath it at all.
I'm scared, but I'm also crazy right now. I just glare at him.
At them. At both of them.
At all three of them.
They're all around me. I didn't even see the others.
The elevator is full of them now.
I reach out and try to shove one away. The robe feels like fabric, but I can't even bend it. The robe is as unstoppable as whatever's beneath it.
The bell dings, and the door opens. I have to move my head to see around the ones right in front of me, but then I see we're at the top floor.
I try to widen the elevator, to give me some room to get around them.
Instead, the walls disappear. And I stumble back. I look around. There's a black void on all sides, aside from the elevator floor right in front of me, covered in those damn robes. No, it's not a black void. It's a hallway. An office hallway, or a lot of them, almost a maze of them. I turn around and run down one. There's another crowd of them. I turn left. More of them, walking towards me. There's a hallway to the right. I run down it. Every time I get headed off, I turn and there's another hallway beside me.
I have a feeling I'd be trapped here forever.
I use the power again. I melt the walls, and head back into the black void, to see the layout.
I see the grid they're walking on. And there's a light at the end, off in the distance. I build a bridge to it, and run. I look back, they're following me. They're faster, but I have a head start. I turn the floor into a conveyor belt and give myself a boost, and break it down behind me. I'm almost having fun.
Until I hit the wall. A brick wall. Like the side of one of the buildings. I see other things from the outside coming back into focus.
No, I won't shift back out now. I leap up back to the void, sailing over the wall.
There's no floor on the other side. I try to make one, but it vanishes as soon as I touch it. I try to make a parachute, but it rips apart.
Have they overridden it? Were they just toying with me? Or am I just doing this to myself, is my subconscious fear fueling my destruction?
I fall. And fall, and fall, and fall. Through nothingness. No reference point, only the sinking feeling to let me know I'm accelerating. Then I see something below me.
It's them. They're all standing on an invisible floor that I'm racing towards. Their arms are opening.
I close my eyes.
Then my body hurts like nothing I've ever felt before. But it's not an impact, it's like a shift tossing me upwards. Did they catch me?
I open my eyes. I see buildings, and rain. It's all swimming, but it's there. I'm falling, though… but I think I'm just collapsing this time. I fall onto my back. I feel like I've been put in a blender. Once I figure out how to raise my head, I look around for injuries, but I'm fine. That shift, from falling to standing normally outside, it didn't affect me physically, but my inner ear got thrown for such a loop that just this once I actually felt the shift.
I throw up. But I'm on my back, so I nearly aspirate it. The adrenaline jolts back in, and I roll onto my side in time to spit it out. The rain washes it into the gutter. That's good, since I have to throw up twice.
Due to the events of Incident ███-C, it has been determined that created copies of objects resemble the original only to the extent that the person who created them knows of the actual makeup of the original object. In other words, if a person creates a flower, yet does not have knowledge of the cellular makeup of the real plant, the created flower will have an abnormal cellular structure, though it will outwardly resemble and behave like its creator's memory of the real plant.
This was not immediately apparent, because the researchers testing the microscopic structures of the created objects, who do know the makeup of the real objects, had been subconsciously adjusting the structure of the created objects as the test was progressing, in order to find what they were looking for.
I just lay on my back for a while, staring up at the rain, letting it wash over me, hoping it will dissolve me too. After a few minutes, I climb to my feet, and stagger out of the alley. For a minute I hope it was all a dream. Then I hope this whole place was a dream, that I was just dreaming that I was ever assigned here, that I'm dreaming that this place ever existed, that I'm just in some other city on a rainy night, passed out for some other reason, and basing my dreams on this place.
I almost hope I'm dreaming the Foundation. That I'm just some kid with an overactive imagination who got drunk and passed out in an alley and dreamed that I was part of this organization that secures dangerous stuff and protects the normality and status quo.
But as I come back into the street, I see some people. There are two teenage boys in the street, standing apart like combatants. One guy raises his hands and shoots out fire, another guy does the same with lighting. They strike each other and scatter, causing some oohs and ahhs from the little crowd gathered to watch.
I try to put on a presentable face, or at least pass off my raggedness as just from the rain, and I go over and whisper to a spectator, "What's going on?"
She whispers back, "Oh, they're play-fighting. They've been reading Harry Potter, and… well, they live here, so they decided to do it with magic spells."
"What are they fighting over?"
She laughs. "Oh, nothing real. I mean, there's always drama, but anyone who solves their problems with violence will get ripped apart by their own demons first."
Glancing at me, she smiles. "New in town, huh? Still got insomnia?"
If she only knew. "Maybe."
"Trust me, I remember. You can't control dreams, even with practice. But listen, what you want to do is to get a veteran, someone who's been here a while and has good self-control, to watch over you while you're sleeping, and dismiss your dream manifestations as they show up."
I don't want to admit that not only do I not know anyone here, I don't even think any of my team would be willing to do that. So I change the subject."If they're both gods, how will one of them win?"
"It's a duel of the imaginations. Whoever is more creative."
As if to prove her point, the two guys start conjuring monsters. One kid conjures some Pokémon, the other conjures a few Digimon. As much as I always wanted to see whether Pokémon or Digimon would win in a fight, I decide to skip the rest and head back to the hotel. If they only knew what I had just tried to "duel" with…
I arrive back. Since three of my team are gone, I decide to drop in on their rooms and see what they had dreamed up before they left.
██████'s room is the smoldering ruins of what it was when we found it.
Dr. ████████ had built a crystal cavern, with all the furniture on the ceiling. I wonder why it was on the ceiling, and find out by banging my head on it when I walk in. She reversed the gravity. It hurts, but it still feels good compared to what I just went through. I stand up and search for the walls. She extended them as far out as she could, almost a hundred meters. On impulse, I grab a scraper and chip at the wall. A piece flakes off, revealing plaster behind it. I look down and walk forward. I feel myself walking forward. I look up, the plaster stays in one place. I reach out and touch the wall, and keep walking. The ground shifts beneath me.
I look behind me, keeping a hand on the wall and keep walking. The door doesn't look any further away, but everything else does. Jesus fucking Christ. There may be a size limit to how big you can make the room, but if you wanted to, you could put a barrier between you and the door, "paint" that too, and give yourself the illusion that you were walking for miles. You wouldn't even need to make the room itself that big.
I repair the wall with my mind and leave.
I walk by Dr. Lee's room. Still a forest. She sees the look on my face, but speaks to me anyway. "Having fun?"
I haven't changed my room from the way the previous occupant left it. The floor is made of pink fluffy clouds. At the edge, I can lean down and look at a green forest below. It goes on forever. Or at least it seems to. The last person didn't really make it that big. I sit down on the fluffy pink sofa. I've been scared to close my eyes ever since I came here, for fear that my dreams would manifest as well as my thoughts, but I don't care anymore.
"See what I mean?"
I leap up, my gun out, and point it at Vallon. Why the fuck is he in my room? And why am I holding my gun when I took it off yesterday? I drop it, and it disintegrates on the floor. God damn it. I turn to Vallon. "Is Lios even up there?"
"Of course not. There never really was a Lios, he was just the name on the books. It was them all along."
I grumble, "Yeah… unless, of course, you are Lios."
"Do you want me to be?"
Damn it, I'm so exhausted I actually thought he was here. "Thanks, but if I want patronizing attempts at comfort, I'll talk to the real Vallon."
"I was just kidding. I am the real Vallon, I just dropped by to say hello."
"Yeah, right." I wave my hand, and sure enough, he disappears.
I wonder if I imagined the other Vallon, too. I should talk to Dr. Lee about another double-blind study to check the archives. For now, though, I have to rest, and try not to dream about putting an invisible wall between me and the door, and conjuring another door that looks like it, which would lead me out into a mock-up of the city created from my memory, and creating a path within the room to lead me out into my best impression of the real world. Where I'd create a whole new version of the Foundation, a whole new version of my life, and I wouldn't even know because it would all be from my memories and I wouldn't have anything except my memories to check it against. And I'd just be MIA, so forget about the Foundation coming to look for me.
Tale: "Game Theory"
Report on Astronomical Phenomenon C/20██-█1
The [REDACTED] Space Observation Platform reports that the trans-Neptunian comet "C/20██-█1" has abruptly shifted its trajectory. C/20██-█1 had already been flagged as an object whose orbit "could not be completely explained by the gravitational effects of the known objects in the solar system," and its new trajectory is even more suspicious. It appears to be heading directly towards the Earth (it has already made a movement consistent with a "course correction" to stay on target as the Earth moves), with arrival anticipated in less than ██ years.
This itself, while bizarre, would not be necessarily a Foundation incident. However, the incident was first brought to the agency's attention when a radio signal was picked up from one of their probes, that appeared to be emanating from the comet. The object's course changed immediately after this signal was broadcast.
Broadcast received from C/20██-█1
Hello? I see a… is that a satellite? I think… is this a radio? I can't trust it… I can't trust anything in here. It messes with your head. I don't remember… I don't even remember what they look like. But is that a satellite? Are you from Earth? Am I in the solar system now?
If so… I don't know. I want to warn you, but I don't even know where to start. There's a portal, some kind of hole through space, it sucks you in and spits you out somewhere else. I don't remember where it was, exactly… my mind is like Swiss cheese now. But I fell in, I wound up here. Well, not here… exactly. They put me on this rock… and now I'm here.
So warn them there's a portal that sucks you up and spits you out, and warn them… that they're coming. They're here. I know they're here. I can't see… or think… them, I don't remember anything anymore, but I know… just… please… warn someone.
Excerpt from Meeting Re: C/20██-█1 (transcribed by Agent Sylo)
The first hour was the report from the teams investigating all our portal-to-who-knows-where SCP objects. They were thinking it was something we didn't have in custody. They'd narrowed down the suspect list, sure, but only a handful of our current stuff was even a possible candidate, and all of them were a stretch. Every single one of them had some preternatural element we'd never associate with a drop point out in space.
At ██:██ it was time for Dr. Sagha's report. The O5s had hoped approaching from some other perspectives might shed some light on this, and Sagha had been an astrophysicist before she came here.
She loaded up the projector and sat at the keyboard.
Sagha: "The spectrographic analysis of the comet's composition, as well as the extrapolation of its trajectory and speed prior to its sudden alteration of course, indicates that it originated, like most long-period comets, in the Oort cloud."
O5-█: "Why is that relevant?"
Sagha: "Because it ties in with the theorem posed by ██████ ████████, the exobiologist, stating that a spacefaring civilization, upon reaching the Solar system, might build a colony in the Oort cloud instead of going right into the system."
Sylo: "We'd kind of already guessed it was aliens on that thing."
Sagha: "Yes. However, I believe we have also discovered the circumstances that led to its approach."
O5-██: "We're listening."
Sagha: "We analyzed the transmission from the comet. It was a very different signal pattern than most radio transmissions, in fact, it might not have been generated by human technology. We broke it down, and found that in addition to the human voice, there was a faint noise in the background. Most of it was outside the conscious range of human hearing, but there was some to be heard…"
We heard an amplified hissing. It made a lot of people uncomfortable, and I could see they weren't sure why.
Sagha: "We were trying to figure out what this was, we searched all available data banks for something that could decode it. And it turned out to very closely match the sound patterns being tested by DARPA, who are developing transcranial ultrasonic devices for military purposes. It's supposed to be a longer-range answer to TMS."
████: "So the aliens have that weaponry."
Sagha: "Perhaps, but it is possible that an advanced extraterrestrial race might actually communicate with one another via a biological version."
████: "If it's their natural communications, then maybe it's not a hostile sign?"
Sagha: "No. It's worse."
████: "How so?"
Sagha: "We went back and looked over the audio files recorded from our reconnaissance missions into SCP-644. You remember, the ones that cause averse reactions in people with histories of [REDACTED]?"
O5-█: "You found the same signal."
Sagha: "Yes. Different actual information, but same patterns. We couldn't decode a thing. So, we went back and scanned the brains of the coma patients who returned from SCP-664, and we found that the brain damage that had been done was consistent with a saturation from a powerful signal of this type, but one that was carrying information not tuned to any human brain centers. It overloaded them with junk data."
Sylo: "Why would they set up SCP-664 in the first place?"
Sagha: "I'm not sure they did set up SCP-664. It might be an unrelated phenomenon, set up by a third party."
O5-█: "What's your basis for that?"
Sagha: "That's the troubling thing. You see, judging by the speed, trajectory, and position that it was when we had sighted it, the comet would have left the Oort cloud several years ago, sometime during ███ of 20██. Almost immediately after Incident 664b."
She sighed, sat down at the keyboard, and began typing on the projector.
SCP-XYZ is a region of space-time located approximately [REDACTED] from our nearest outpost. At seemingly random intervals, unfamiliar creatures appear at this point without warning. The creatures die immediately, presumably due to a biological conflict with our atmosphere or gravity.
Sagha: "Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. What would you do with this?"
████: "We'd try to capture one alive."
She resumed typing.
Update: After much experimentation, we have discovered the correct mix of chemicals and conditions necessary to sustain the life of these beings. We are capturing every one that comes through. Testing has begun.
Sagha: "What tests would you run?"
Sylo: "We'd try to communicate with it."
Result: SCP-XYZ-2 behaves very inconsistently, and reacts with no clear pattern to any number of tests.
Sagha: "Because these creatures rely on primitive voiceboxes while our civilized race uses advanced ultrasonic communication. Of course, we have no way of knowing that even talking to them is frying their brains. So, when this happens…"
//Update: Recently, the number of beings emerging from SCP-XYZ has dropped considerably. In addition, several of the recent appearances were attached to what appear to be cables, and were pulled back through SCP-XYZ before they could be captured.
Sagha: "…You have no way of knowing that their minds are gone just by being near you. So, as far as you know, they've gotten a good look at you and gone back home with a ton of data on you, while you still have no idea what their home is like, or what they want."
Sylo: "And then those guys try to blow up the building, and get sucked in by its self-defense mechanism."
Sylo: "So, from 'our' point of view, a bunch of these mysterious beings pop out at once, carrying stuff that goes boom."
Incident XYZ-A: On █/█/██, an unusually high number of creatures appeared from SCP-XYZ, carrying explosive items, and objects that strongly resemble weapons. Later, on █/█/██, an even larger numer appeared, carrying more powerful equipment.
Sagha: "And even though we neutralized them, the general consensus would be…"
████: "They're going to send even more next time."
Sagha: "So, what do we do?"
Sylo: "We return fire. We go prowling the inner solar system, and when one of the test subjects sees a satellite and tries to signal it… we know where they're coming from."
O5-█: "So, we have to prepare for an alien invasion."
████: "And if you're right, they can fry our brains just by speaking, and we can't explain the misunderstanding."
Sylo: "Don't get comfy. They wouldn't steer their entire homeworld right for the enemy base. Am I right?"
Sagha nodded, and typed again.
To save time searching, and to avoid risking the colony, our armed forces will convert several nearby comets into ships. A detachment will board each one, and quietly drift towards each landmark in the solar system. On board each ship will be several of the test subjects. It is hoped that upon sighting their homeworld, they will react and indicate where they originated from. At which point the ship will signal the others, and begin their approach.
There was a very loud silence.