December 1st, 2081
Access: Record of extranormal events and object retrievals
Enter password: ************
Access: Record for Site-466 retrieval agents.
Enter password: *******
Access: Records dated November, 2081.
Location: [REDACTED] Shopping Centre car park
Response Priority Level: Green
Description: An unidentified man was seen wandering through a multi-storey car park at approximately 14:00, behaving erratically. Witnesses reported that he left scorch marks on all the surfaces he touched, and emanated large amounts of heat.
Follow-up Operations: Foundation agents secured the area and subdued the man, consequently designated E-75006.
Agent Chard ignored the muttering of the man, still audible as it was from within the insulated cell. When the researcher went over to the viewing window, Chard did not follow.
The man inside, he knew, was naked. He had been dressed in casual clothes but they had caught fire as the man’s temperature continued to increase, and they had been removed with heat-proof gloves once they had arrived back at the facility. Standard equipment like that was one of the few things that weren’t in short supply. It was clear that the heat was making him uncomfortable, but with his internal body temperature he should already be dead, so he hadn’t much scope to complain. Not that he could, at any rate. The unfortunate man was rambling as if half-asleep, in hesitant, indistinct nonsense. Clearly his condition was making it difficult for him to think or speak properly.
Based on the location and clothes he had been wearing, Chard suspected he was shopping when it had struck him, whatever it was. He could confirm that, with security tapes and background checks. He had people on it. But for now, he had to ensure the handover of the E-Class object to research personnel.
Something about this particular researcher, Dr. Kritschau, faintly annoyed him. All of his features were set high in his face in such a way that he always had the appearance of peering down at you like a specimen, even if, like Chard, you were a few inches taller than him. He hadn’t looked in Chard’s eyes at all as the Agent had explained what he had seen during the retrieval, instead keeping his gaze firmly fixed on the paper as he took notes, but now that he was looking at the object he was writing quickly and fluidly without even glancing at the page.
Chard let this continue for a short while, with Kritschau ignoring him and noting down the immediate observations of the new SCP, but then he felt compelled from awkwardness to move over to the viewing window. The man inside had pressed himself up against the cold concrete wall, trying to keep himself cool. He faced away from them and tried to cover himself up.
Chard’s eyes drifted to the floor of the containment chamber. The researcher said something under his breath. “So, needs a refrigerated, or at least insulated and well ventilated, humanoid containment chamber. Materials must be heatproof. Food and water… ”
Chard cleared his throat. The researcher didn’t seem to hear him, so he started talking. “Is he going to live?”
Kritschau’s eyes stayed fixed on the huddled shape of the man. “That’s up to the directors. You know how it is.” Chard looked uncomfortably at the windowsill, not willing to look up and compound the man’s shame. They both knew that Kritschau was mincing words.
The man clambered to his feet, arms held away from his body, and moved to the other side of the cell, surface for cold concrete. Kritschau noted the behaviour down. Then he sucked in a breath, put the lid back on his pen, and pulled down the blind. Chard was relieved. Something about the unfortunate man elicited his pity. He wouldn’t want his life in the hands of the Foundation, either.
“Apologies if that seemed a little callous, Agent. We’re as stretched by the current situation as anybody.”
“I understand, Doctor.”
Kritschau swallowed, looking away from the Agent. He hurried over to a desk and produced a form, neatly filled out. He proffered his pen.
“Thank you, Agent. Your boys are doing an exemplary job.” The researcher affected a small smile. “I sometimes wonder why they can’t just scrap the paperwork and cut costs that way.”
Chard took the pen and signed his small, rudimentary but serviceable signature.
“I couldn’t agree more, sir.”
Location: [REDACTED] Square
Response Priority Level: Orange
Description: The fountain in the centre of ██████████ Square ceased function at 19:53. The fountain quickly became covered in algae. A number of organisms, believed to be temnospondylids, emerged from the Fountain, along with several unidentified organisms displaying animal characteristics though apparently made of plant matter.
Follow-up Operations: Foundation Agents did not respond to the incident initially, as it was primarily handled by Global Occult Coalition agents. Event was reported to the Foundation following capture of several unknown organisms in the surrounding sewer system and discussion with GOC officials.
The GOC had rolled in military uniforms and jeeps, a show of organisation and professionalism that put the Foundation to shame. Everything was carefully calculated and organised effectively and precisely.
The setting-up of the cordon was done with clinical efficiency and deftness, and with minimal fuss. From the outside, it was an inspiring example of efficiency in public security.
Inside, the story was somewhat different. The square was in chaos. The fountain was overflowing, with cold muddy water running over the cobbles, and the bodies that were lying on the ground. A woman’s corpse was being savaged by a primordial-looking thing coated in a thick layer of mud, and a group of smaller, green, frog-like creatures quarrelled over the remains of another. People were screaming, people were running to get away, and sluggish masses of foetid reeds and mosses spilled over the lip of the fountain and squelched, amoeba-like across the cobblestones.
GOC Strike Team ‘Thoth’ moved in quickly, boots splashing in the muddy water, stepping over rafts of stinking vegetation. The creatures ignored them, content to chew sloppily on the dead. Smaller creatures waddled in the shallows, and scattered in front of the soldiers. The team moved past them, towards the fountain, hoping to gain some understanding of the situation.
The first warning that Thoth Three got was the feel of something pressing against his thigh. The coldness and dampness of it didn’t elicit a reaction- after all, he was wading in cold water. But something was wrapping tight around his leg, and the faint pressure was what alerted him. He looked down, and saw that a large clump of plant matter was tangled round his leg. He reached down to brush it away, but then he saw the fronds flex and squeeze around his fingers, trapping his hands.
“Damnit, something’s on me.” he said, relatively calm. There was no point in panicking, and to be honest the situation wasn’t necessarily a bad one. His team members turned round, as the mass of waterweed and ferns inched further up his leg. A clump adhered itself to his other foot. He tried to take a step, and couldn’t.
“Okay, Three, give us a second and we’ll cut you out.” said Thoth Six, the team leader. He was reaching for his knife when the water beneath him frothed and something underwater clamped on to his leg. He swore, and tried to move, but he was stuck. “Looks like it’s got me too. Everybody else, get back.” Then he tried to jerk himself free.
Instead of pulling himself out of the grasp of the plant, he lost his footing and, with a crash, toppled headlong into the water. The plant-thing moved fast, coils of waterplant fronds wrapping around him in a vice grip. He fought hard to get back up, choking and spluttering as he was forced underwater, then he bobbed back up coughing. He’d managed to prop himself up on his elbows and get his head clear of the water, provided he twisted his head to the side.
Thoth Four took a step towards him, only to recoil as a mass of leaves and algal scum floated to the surface and writhed slowly in his direction. Thoth Six tried to shout something, but muddy water flowed into his mouth when he opened it and he had to cough to clear it.
As he watched his team leader struggle against the constricting plant to keep his head an inch or two above the water, Thoth Three wondered how long you could hold your breath for. Probably not long enough for help to come.
Location: [REDACTED] Airport
Response Priority Level: Red
Description: Luggage carried by a passenger began to exude a thick, dark blue gas after being placed inside an X-Ray machine as part of a routine security inspection. This was followed by the manifestation of an unknown and hostile entity which was responsible for the death of 57 individuals. Gas dissipated after three hours: the entity was not found.
Follow-up Operations: Foundation agents disseminated the story that the deaths were caused by a terrorist attack. Bodies were examined, then incinerated.
The man who walked up to the airport security gate to have his hand luggage scanned wasn’t to know that by the end of the day he’d have been labelled a terrorist. Luckily for him he wasn’t going to have to suffer a tarred reputation, but nonetheless he would end up as a name and face on a notice board with evidence and lines of enquiry written up around him in board marker, based solely around the premise that he was involved in a terrorist attack.
He wasn’t to know what was in the suitcase he handed to the border control man, even though he’d packed it. Even afterwards, picking through the debris, the investigators found themselves stumped as to what exactly he had in luggage.
As the tired looking, stern-faced man in uniform placed the suitcase in its little grey plastic tray and set it on the grey plastic rollers, the supposed terrorist checked his watch. The seconds ticked down as the suitcase rattled along into the X-ray machine.
The border control official barely had time to register the movement on his screen, before a dark blue, thick gas began to seep out of the X-Ray machine. Someone screamed and the blare of a klaxon started up. The man looked in bewilderment at the X-Ray machine as the gas billowed out and pooled sluggishly over the ground. Assuming some sort of chemical weapon, people started running. One border officer, the one manning the X-Ray machine, was slow to react. The gas spread over one of his feet, and the man suddenly collapsed sideways as if his legs had given way. A thin limb emerged from the gas, and clawed fingers gripped him by the arm and dragged him within.
The man with the suitcase, previously frozen in confusion, snapped out of his stupor and made an attempt to run. He did not get far, as the flowing gas seemed to change direction and pursue him. A black mass rose out of the gas as if shedding its skin. A long, segmented, chitinous tendril, like a great legless millipede, lashed out of the fog. It was tipped by a collection of barbs. It slammed into the man’s back, the spines puncturing the skin, and using the purchase to lift the unfortunate man into the air, and draw him yelling backwards. The mist enveloped him and his shouts faded into quiet.
Others were equally unlucky. The gas quickly spread out to cover much of the airport floor. Those who touched it collapsed to the floor completely limp, and were immediately enveloped by the mist. Others managed to find higher ground, jumped on counters or dashed madly for the exit. Some of them escaped. Others were dragged backwards into the fog as barbed tendrils latched on to them and yanked them away.
After it was done with them, the cloud receded away from the bodies, leaving little patches of clear floor scattered across the airport. Soon, all of the screaming had stopped- those who were still alive had escaped, and those who fell into the miasma couldn’t scream. There was just the hiss of the gas escaping from the X-Ray machine and the gentle rustling of something from within the cloud until, after three hours, the flow of gas stopped and the mist gradually dispersed.
The bodies were not all there when the Foundation arrived. They hadn’t been butchered- there were no cut marks. Bits of them bodies simply weren’t there, as if they had been dissolved. The damage was bizarre and erratic- one person would be flensed of their skin, others would be missing limbs or large chunks of their bodies. Some had been given the keyhole treatment, with small patches of skin, tissue and bone missing, through which the organs had been removed.
The bodies of about half of the dead were identifiable. The supposed ‘terrorist’ was identified as an Adam Eppson, and he was found to be missing his left common carotid artery, five teeth (all molars), all tissue save for bone from the fingers on his right hand, and small patches of tissue from his neck.
As was increasingly becoming the case, it was eventually decided that the victims at the airport had been killed by a freak and unpreventable accident. The mechanisms of the universe had begun to develop stress fractures, and people were beginnning to fall through the cracks.
Location: [REDACTED] Hall
Response Priority Level: Red
Description: During a public address, local politician ████ █████ began acting erratically, veering off-subject. The majority of the audience and staff at the venue were rendered comatose during the duration of the event.
Follow-up Operations: A Global Occult Coalition agent assassinated Mr. ███████ during the course of the event, having pre-empted Foundation efforts to secure the anomaly. The agent was detained following his intervention and was highly co-operative. His testimony indicates that GOC forces have been severely weakened in the area, and that he was part of a small team acting independently due to this occurrence.
“And when the people renounce their faith- not their faith in God, not their faith in government, but faith in the most visceral, basic of things, their faith in their own existence- that’s when the terrorists win. That’s when we everything we stand for boils away and we’re left with the salt and ashes of our own self-deception and hypocrisy.”
Agent ‘Blowfly’, of the Global Occult Coalition, could hear the politician ranting, even with his noise-cancelling headphones clamped over his ears, and he knew he would have to work fast. He strode down the central aisle towards the stage. As he went, he glanced around the room- at least a hundred people, all apparently paying the man rapt attention. None of them were moving, though. None of them were fidgeting or leaning forwards in their seats. They were motionless, completely motionless. By contrast, the man on the podium was ranting and raging, moving frantically, his wild eyes staring out into the audience.
“And I refuse to allow that. I refuse to allow it now and I will continue to refuse until all the clocks have been broken down into atoms and men have forgotten the meaning of ‘normal’. That is my pledge, and I will stick to it. In ages past, the people of the world were made to follow a contract signed and sealed without understanding. Without consent. A deal made before we were born. And that is what the Freemasons delivered us from.”
‘Blowfly’ could feel a buzzing in his ears, and a brief flash of electric pain in his forehead. He drew a pistol from his shoulder holster. Nobody seemed to move, or really notice. Colour was beginning to fade from his vision, and his feet were lead weights. Blowfly pointed it up at the politician, but suddenly his arm went stiff and his fingers would not move. The politician leaned forward and went still as well, staring intently at ‘Blowfly’.
“And despite that, despite that service, there are those who would say that what was done was wrong. That free thinking, and free living, and free breathing, is a crime. They want to stop you from flying! They want to illegalise your new-found consciousness. They are insidious, and I tell you that they will not abandon their quest to keep you chained inside your own skins.”
‘Blowfly’ could not move. Even his lungs weren’t working. It felt like he was about to die, just like he’d watched all the other agents die, immobile and choking to death. At least he would die with his feet on the ground.
The image of the politician in his immaculate suit, with a forcefully friendly expression on his face, was off-set by his eyes, which seemed bloodshot, wide and frightened. The poor bastard had no idea what he was saying, or what was going on.
The politician gave a spiteful smile, and with a faux-civil tone inquired “So, what does my honourable opponent have to say for himself?” He drew out the question, and the Agent’s lungs began to hurt. Finally, he allowed the last syllable to slip from his lips and hang in the air. Blowfly’s vision faded completely, and he felt himself slipping away.
Then, suddenly, the force holding him in place was lifted. The Agent’s retort was a single gunshot. The politician collapsed backwards, dead within seconds, and lay sprawled in blood on the stage.
Blowfly gulped air down, and sat down on the floor. Still, no-one was moving. He sat there for some time, until the Foundation came to pick him up. It was against protocol in every way, but what else could he do? He had no back up, no place to return to. All the other agents, at least all the ones he knew, were dead.
He let the agents take him back to one of their facilities, told them what had happened. How almost the other agents from his base had been killed by some glowing KTE that had made their death into a public spectacle. How he’d been one of the only ones still walking around when the call had come in to liquidate the politician.
When he found out that the Foundation thought they were overworked, he laughed very hard, and very bitterly.
Response Priority Level: Yellow
Description: An anomalous and unidentified form of organism, outwardly resembling a form of polyp, is discovered having grown within a disused tunnel. The organism was shown to recreate sounds of human speech and secrete a paralysing and digestive agent from vents on its surface when disturbed; this behaviour claimed the life of an urban explorer whose companion reported the incident to the police.
Follow-up Operations: Due to the isolated location and the stresses placed on attending agents, as well as the fact that most of the field agents available in the area involved in two concurrent higher priority events, investigation of the incident was delayed and the area remained unsecured until late morning on the 14/12/2081, by which time it was discovered that the organism had grown considerably, resulting in the deaths of two other individuals, both local homeless people who had attempted to shelter there overnight. Organism classified E-76821. Majority of the organism destroyed, with living samples secured for analysis.
Location: [REDACTED] Morgue
Response Priority Level: Orange
Description: Six corpses being held at the [REDACTED] Morgue reanimated at approximately the same time. All the entities were lucid and communicative, and possessed the memories and personalities that they had possessed prior to death. Despite several debilitating and lethal injuries being present on the bodies prior to the incident, the affected bodies were found to be fully intact, healthy, and displaying normal life signs.
Follow-up Operations: Due to actions undertaken by the staff of the Morgue, information regarding the incident had been partially revealed to the public, necessitating the dispersal of Class-B amnestics. Under the pretence of a quarantine procedure related to an unknown pathogen, the area was secured and the six affected corpses were transported to Site-16. Following testing, which determined the bodies to be otherwise non-anomalous, the entities were terminated.
Location: ███████████ Motorway
Response Priority Level: Red
Description: [DATA EXPUNGED]
Follow-ups Operations: Though the event did not immediately threaten human life, [DATA EXPUNGED] presented a major threat to the secrecy of the Foundation. Agents deployed to terminate or capture individuals involved. Amnestics proved ineffective in eradicating symptoms caused by exposure to the event. 30 witnesses are terminated and the event is explained as a major traffic accident.
Agent Chard allowed himself a moment to think, even though he didn’t particularly want to. After all, he wasn’t going to get the chance later.
He stared down into the amnestics in his hand, two little dirty-beige circles sitting in his palm. The doctor responsible for dispensing the amnestics had obliged his request for a moment to think, but he would have to take them soon. Even now, when it came to looking after their employees’ mental health, the Foundation couldn’t really afford to waste time.
No counselling sessions or therapy any more – there wasn’t time or money to be spared on such matters. They’d replaced human sympathy and help with pills a long time ago. Whatever you’ve seen, whatever you did, you make statements, note down all the details, then take a pill and forget everything.
Then you read over the files and suddenly you know what happened, but you don’t feel it. They saved the therapy for the real problem cases, or the stuff so bad that that gut emotional reaction managed to bleed through just through second-hand description. At least, that was the idea. Chard had done it before. It seemed to work.
As the chief organiser of the operation, he wanted to be able to forget, to shift the responsibility onto something, onto someone, else. It didn’t particularly matter that the person was himself. After all, it wasn’t as if his past self was going to fight back.
He knew that he could make the argument anyway, even without the amnestics. It was because of the procedures. It was because of the pressure he was under. It was because of the day and age he lived in. Most of all, he could blame the priority system.
Although all of these excuses appeared in his mind, Agent Chard had to admit some level of guilt. He had mishandled the situation, and now multiple people, including other Agents, were dead. He’d been the one who rubber-stamped it, and prioritised killing the people in the morgue over saving lives. Kritschau and his team were probably dissecting them at that moment.
But at some level, he was responsible. He had to be; otherwise it meant that there was nothing he could have done. He refused to let himself become a victim of circumstance, however dire those circumstances had become. He was an Agent of the Foundation, after all- didn’t the Foundation exist to overcome the impossible?
God, he’d been listening to the propaganda again. Secure, Contain, Protect.
The first two were getting harder by the day, and after today, he wasn't sure what the third one was supposed to mean. Was he supposed to be protecting humanity, or the interests of the Foundation?
It didn’t matter what the answer was. After all, he wasn't going to remember it. He looked up at the doctor. For his part the doctor didn’t look particularly impatient. Chard looked at him, and then put the pills into his mouth. The man smiled slightly, watched as Chard took a swig of water from a plastic cup, and swallowed.
Later that day Chard sat at his desk and looked over the reports of what had happened. Four people dead, six anomalous entities terminated, one anomaly contained. The pictures from the tunnels were gruesome, but he had seen worse. He tried to summon up a twinge of remorse for what had happened, but couldn't.
He’d done a good job, he thought. Chard slipped the report back into its manila folder, and braced himself for the next alert. It couldn't be long.
Response Priority Level: Red
Description: The residents of the █████████ Apartment Building were affected by a possible reality warper, believed to have been capable of conditioning powerful mental compulsions into those he interacted with. Building’s residents were eventually implicated in multiple counts of murder, theft and assault against individuals known to the suspected reality warper, Mr. █████ █████████, whose was arrested for one of these charges.
Follow-up Operations: Following an attack by affected individuals on a local police station to free Mr. █████████, Foundation operatives were able to confirm Mr. █████’s nature, and lay siege to the █████████ Apartment Building with the intent of neutralising Mr. █████████. Foundation personnel encountered heavy resistance, but were successful in terminating Mr. ████████. Following this, a resident of the building is believed to have detonated an explosive device, killing approximately 12 Foundation agents and 37 building residents.
Agent Chard couldn't feel much. He could barely feel how the rain pattered down on his face, eliciting brief, tired confusion. But it didn’t scald him, and he couldn't feel tiny, wriggling things on his skin any more.
Water trickled down his face, carrying dust into his eyes. It stung, but he wasn't able to make much more than minute groans. He tried to wipe it away, but his arms didn't seem to want to obey him, and besides they hurt more than his eyes.
He thought back to what had happened, as his clothes started to dampen.
Everyone, it would seem, has a crack in their armour. Some were just more obvious than others, like a crippling weakness to being shot repeatedly.
There had been an announcement over the radio that the anomaly had been neutralized. Very short, very matter-of-fact, without a hint of triumph. Maybe because there wasn't much to celebrate. They were just going to face this again the next week, and then again the week after that.
How Agent Chard would have loved to be able to work for the Foundation, say, 100 years ago. Then, you could wait months, even years before an incident occurred in the area you would be assigned to. After a job, you’d be able to say you’d protected someone. Now they were just handing fate a rain check. Eventually, there was going to be something they couldn't handle.
He’d heard about some of them. Terrorist attacks were getting more frequent, apparently. Natural disasters, too. At least this time there actually was an explosion to back up the terrorist angle. Some poor bastard had been duped, tricked or forced into wearing a bomb, and he had set it off as soon as he realized his lord and master had snuffed it. At least, that was what Chard guessed. The heat, the roar and the sudden pain all matched that description. He wasn't sure how far he’d been thrown by the blast, or whether he had hit his head.
The bomb had also blown out the roof, and as he opened his eyes slightly, he could make out the gaping black hole in the ceiling. Blurry, indistinct shapes on the floor, the right shape for slumped human bodies. Raindrops fell into his eyes, and he had to clench them shut again.
He could hear noises, muted though they were, from somewhere nearby. Maybe they had sent someone to find him. He hoped they would come quickly. He didn't know how much more time he, or the Foundation, had left.
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