"Hello. Thank you all for coming. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Dr. Tilda David Moose. I am the director of Site-19.
"I'm here to — pardon my colloquial tone — I'm here to talk to you about magic.
"I'm not a very good speaker. Just letting you know that up front. If it were up to me, someone else would be standing here. So let's start this with some questions. Just raise your hands like you're back in school. Easiest way, don't you think? I — Oh. That's… that's too many hands. Alright, you in front, go ahead.
"No, this isn't an orientation for Mobile Task Force Sigma-3. Sigma-3 is a task force that doesn't exist. It doesn't hold 'orientations.' I think they had one orientation, ever, and that was when they were created. If you're here from Sigma-3 and you think you need an orientation, your superiors haven't been doing their jobs. Next question?
"I thought I said don't ask me questions about — okay, fine. She just asked why everyone here is from Sigma-3. First answer, it's not everyone. More… two-thirds of you. I see at least a dozen are high-ranking members of Tau-9, the Bookworms. Some of you are clearance 4 researchers who've just been read into this program, at least three of you are new directors, and some of you are… 'spooks'. Not saying who, of course. Just have fun wondering about that. Anyway.
"Very, very few people in the Foundation are allowed to know anything about magic. This is… by far the largest number of people I've ever spoken to about this. I guess what with everything that's been happening recently, the Overseers want more people, ah… knowing what's going on.
"Yes, okay, ask your question. — His question was — what exactly is 'Sigma-3'?
"In that case, I have a question, too. How the hell does anyone in here not know what Sigma-3 is? You should've been sent material on… right, great, still in the process of declassification. I see. I take it back, I suppose.
"Okay. We'll start with what we call "the anomalous community." Give you the lay of the land. How the world works, out there in the shadows. I'll explain how our Groups of Interest fit into this. I'll tell you about the Wanderers' Library. And, yeah, I'll explain a little bit about Sigma-3. In between, we'll have breaks, so you don't hate me too much.
"I assume you all already know this, but… There may be about a hundred of you in here, tonight. Still, you are a fraction of the Foundation's population. We're going to keep it that way. Anything you hear from me, anything, is not to be discussed with anyone who's not read into this program. On pain of death. Probably.
"Finally, I'm going talk to you about magic.
"Don't panic. No, you're not hallucinating. There has been no containment breach, and, I promise, there are no drugs in your coffee.
"I am quite simply talking to you in the color blue.
"This is because I am what they call a "mage". Or, if you like, a "Type Blue"… or "a witch". This is stuff we can do. It's, well — magic. Trivial magic, but magic nonetheless.
"But I'm not going to talk about magic quite yet. Give me just a moment, and we'll get started."
"Right. I said I'd talk to you about Mobile Task Force Sigma-3, "The Bibliographers". The boring name is on purpose.
"Let me preface this. I'm not in Sigma-3. I only consult. I did induct a few of you myself a couple years ago, but I don't do that anymore. Yes, I see you, Agent Navarro, stop waving. As I was saying, since I'm not in Sigma-3, this will be the short version.
"Sigma-3 is a Foundation task force which deals directly with the anomalous community. On friendly terms, or at least as friendly as we can manage. If this sounds ridiculous to you, good. Means we haven't had any leaks.
"Originally, Sigma-3 was one of the Task Forces that took part in the failed invasion of the Wanderers' Library, three or four decades back. It was the only one left mostly… intact. Afterwards, it was reformed and repurposed by order of O5 Command.
"They are not a paramilitary task force. Nor are they a containment team. They are the product of our superiors being very, very concerned about the idea that the Foundation might miss out on some important things — world-ending things — simply because we are so isolated from the anomalous world.
"Even with the invasion of the Library… if we had sources within the anomalous community, and if the task forces, or at least their leaders and the people doing the planning for them, had been cleared to know what we did already know about the Library — then the operation could have gone significantly differently.
"As it was, the Library incursion involved no people who had even heard of the Library before the op began. It was too highly classified, and we didn't have any direct sources, people who'd been in there long enough to seriously know what it was like.
"We still don't even know what happened when we went into the Library. The memories of everyone who went in were different. Even our existing recordings — actual audiovisual footage — directly contradict each other. Some of the survivors don't remember even going in at all.
"What we know for certain is that even now there are still Foundation members left behind in the Library, imprisoned beyond our reach. Beyond any reach. And that this was completely preventable.
"But I'll get back to the Library.
"We have always had some sources in the anomalous community. We have a long history of cooperating with the Global Occult Coalition, which is far more part of the anomalous world than we are. We also created Mobile Task Force Tau-9 — the Bookworms — to deal with anomalies related to the Library, the Hand, and 'magic', in a more traditional manner.
"But that could only take us so far. Command decided we needed ears on the ground.
"Originally, Sigma-3 did not make use of any direct anomalous means. In recent years, this has… changed. There are people who are actual, practicing magicians in this very room, members of Sigma-3. People who are anartists. People who do double duty for organizations like Marshall, Carter, and Dark, the Serpent's Hand, and other anomalous organizations.
"And they've had results. Sigma-3 has contained a high number of actively dangerous anomalies that could not have been secured without cooperation with more benign anomalous entities. There are at least three dozen SCP objects which Sigma-3 contained directly that I'm aware of. And more that Sigma-3 acquired at least some information for.
"I'm not allowed to name most of them tonight, because not all of you are on Sigma-3 and cleared to know that. But just from SCPs I've worked on as project lead… Sigma-3 helped locate SCP-003, the first SCP object I was assigned to, through a remote viewing operation coordinated with outside sources of information from the Wanderers' Library. Sigma-3 also discovered and acquired SCP-472 through contacts in the anomalous community.
"On a larger scale, Sigma-3 helped prevent a direct, coordinated assault against the Foundation about a decade ago, after Incident Zero — an assault that would've crushed us, and that's almost impossible given the Foundation's size and defenses. I can't tell you the exact number of times that Sigma-3 has literally saved the world, but I can tell you it's in the plural.
"In exchange, Sigma-3 is set apart from other Foundation task forces. They do not aid in the containment of any anomalous entities, not even indirectly, unless it's done with the cooperation or members of the anomalous community.
"This is where many people stop, and raise hell. This is worse, to them, than even task forces like Omega-7 or Alpha-9. Those task forces use or used anomalous entities — but this task force actively shields certain anomalous entities from containment! Worse — sometimes Sigma-3 even makes deals which allow anomalous entities to go free.
"This goes against the fundamental ethos of the Foundation, they say. And maybe they're not wrong. But as things stand now, the Foundation is not capable of simply containing every anomaly out there in the wild. Until that time, Sigma-3 has proven its worth. What good is our ethos if we don't have a world to protect?
"Let me get colloquial again. Sigma-3 are the people whose job it is to know if some cultists are summoning Cthulhu. Generally, their friends and neighbors don't want the world to end. But maybe they can't really do much to stop it. But we can. They have the knowledge. We have the resources.
"They may not know we're Jailors… er, members of the Foundation, but when Cthulhu's involved, they don't mind telling someone who knows someone who knows someone else who can call in one of our bigger Mobile Task Forces and bust some heads. And save the world.
"Not that I'm saying Cthulhu really exists… if It does, then you're not cleared to know about it. Just an example.
"I think we're due another break. Come back in twenty and we'll talk about the, ah, so-called 'anomalous community.'
"Alright. The 'anomalous community'. What's that mean?
"The anomalous community makes up all the people in the world whose lives involve the anomalous. People of all types imaginable. A patchwork of individual communities, totalling a few hundred thousand people worldwide.
"That's probably more than you'd guess, but so it goes — and another reason why Sigma-3 is necessary. These are all people who are aware of, and often are exposed to, the anomalous world. For some of them, it's part of their daily life.
"Many of them have access to the Wanderers' Library, and most of them have heard of it. Many are involved in the so-called anart community. Many are involved with the Global Occult Coalition and the Serpent's Hand.
"Even the Foundation itself has roots in the anomalous community, from a very long time ago, if you listen to some of the stories — no, that's not an official statement, I'm only repeating rumors. Take them as you will.
"How many actually have anomalous capability? Well, that's an open question. A distinct minority are low-level Type Blues, who can do little tricks or learn a few spells out of books. Mages, witches, magicians, soothsayers, etcetera. People like… well, me, before I defected to the Foundation.
"When we catch these people, we don't usually classify them as SCPs. The ones we've kept are mostly classified as anomalous items. Sigma-3 handles a good number of them.
"In terms of GOIs in the anomalous community… well, technically, they all are part of the anomalous community, in some way. But the bigger ones are… let me get this slide working.
Are We Cool Yet
The Chaos Insurgency.
The Church of the Broken God
The Fifth Church
The Global Occult Coalition
The Horizon Initiative
Manna Charitable Foundation
Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd.
Office For The Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts
The Serpent's Hand
Unusual Incidents Unit (UIU)
"As you can see, that's… most of 'em. A-W-C-Y, the Insurgency, the Fifthists, and the Sarkicists are more… fringe. Technically, so is the Church of the Broken God, but the so-called 'Devout' are far more accepted in the anomalous community than you might think, except by Horizon allies.
"Manna, Horizon, and ORIA are 'initiatives' within the anomalous community, I guess you'd call them. MC&D is just what you think it is — the rich people in the anomalous community are mostly all part of it or associated with it. And Oneiroi… gods only know what the Oneiroi are, so… I won't speculate.
"Then we have the two biggest ones — the Coalition and the Hand.
"We have a reputation, too. People who don't sign on with the GOC, and even some of those, call us Jailors. But the Coalition gets called 'Bookburners'. So… it could be worse.
"About the Insurgency — people outside the Foundation don't view it the same as we do. We see them as… well, insurgents, half-crazy defectors from the Foundation who want to destroy everything for who knows what reason.
"The anomalous community sees the Insurgency as a movement, more akin to the Sarkic Cults than anything else. A movement to remake the world, with strong religious overtones, despite the Insurgency's professed atheism. People who want to become gods. Destructive beyond reason, and crazier even than the people who want to summon dark gods.
"Actually, even the people who want to summon dark gods tend to think of the Insurgency as going too far. They're popularly referred to as "the Sowers of Discord" and "the Madmen". Keep in mind these are literal death cults calling them that. The Insurgency won't be winning any popularity contests anytime soon, which is probably why they haven't… no, I digress. That's classified.
"Let's talk the Hand and the Coalition.
"The Global Occult Coalition is the Big Brother of the anomalous community. They're the cops, and the executioners. They have 108 member organizations, all of them anomalous in some way, all of them shielded from us by the Coalition.
"The Coalition cares a lot about maintaining the so-called Masquerade — they wish to preserve normalcy just as much as we do. But we aren't part of the anomalous community — and they are. Generally, all the respectable members of the anomalous community, or those in high society, are on board with the Coalition.
"They're called 'Bookburners' because, after their formation after the Seventh Occult War — around World War II — they essentially enacted a hostile takeover of the anomalous community. Either you signed on with the Coalition — with Big Brother — or you got crushed.
"Some elements of the Coalition got on the wrong side of the Library… and they were mystically barred from it, ever after. Just like us. Ironically, even though they crossed the Library first, they were acting on information they got from us… but that's a story for another time.
"Suffice to say, many Coalition members are still spitting mad about losing their Library access; I suspect it caused the Coalition to tamp down many of their activities. Them being barred made it a lot easier for people who hated the Coalition to go underground. All they needed to do was get into the Library.
"The Serpent's Hand is sort of the yin to the Coalition's yang. The Hand are a movement springing from opposition to the Coalition's whole… Big Brother thing. And to the idea of containing or suppressing the anomalous community.
"They're the radical activists of the anomalous community… but also the ordinary people who don't take to their equivalent of Big Government. The Hand takes all types, anyone who wants to join. So there's a lot of decent folk and a lot of death cultists, too. There's heavy overlap between the Hand and the fringe communities, obviously, plus movements, like religious cults — or the occasional full-blown religion, like the Church of the Broken God — and anartist groups.
"Hand types tend to dislike us, too, but they like us better than the Coalition, because we try not to kill people. This is also why Sigma-3 can exist.
"Full disclosure: I used to be a member of the Serpent's Hand. I got into it through a college organization. Spent a few years in it before defecting to the Foundation. It's how I became a Type Blue — a magician.
"Not answering questions about my incredibly interesting history, sorry. But I'll talk about the magician part in a bit. Right now, I think it's time for another break."
"What is the Wanderers' Library? Most of you have probably heard of it, and know it's, um, a library, and that the Serpent's Hand uses it and we… don't.
"…And that's about it.
"The Wanderers' Library is a library containing almost every book every written, and many that haven't been written yet, and many that will never be written.
"We've got some footage for this. Give me a second to cue it up.
"Alright, more than a second. Gonna … keep talking.
"We won't be showing you the outside of the Library because as far as we know, no one has ever seen it. The Library is a place outside space. "Extradimensional" is the technical term, though not very descriptive. The Library isn't on our world, though it's connected to it.
"You reach it through Ways. Ways are a network of… basically magic portals that take you from one place to another. They're scattered around the world. The Foundation contains a number of them, mostly classified as anomalous items — a few networks are classified as SCPs.
"The Library is a nexus of Ways. The largest one on Earth. A Way that connects to the Library is called a Door, because they attach to doors within the Library. Pretty simple.
"Using the Ways isn't so simple. Okay, some of them are. Each has a trick to it, to make it work. Some of them you just need to be invited in. Others require some ritual — sneeze on a shadow, recite a code-word, befriend a fairy, follow your pet cat, kill a sheep, play the harmonica as you walk through a doorway. Sometimes these are called Knocks.
"A Way can be anything you can picture as a door. Or anything like a door. A cave, an archway, the back of a truck. Technically, every shadow or mirror could be a Way, just not a useful Way. Some of them are just art pieces — I once used a picture of a door to enter the Library, back when I still could. Some of them are corridors between the stars.
"They're more common than you'd think, too. At least a few in every major city. We know the locations of a few, but we know that many more exist.
"If someone from the Foundation or the Global Occult Coalition tries to use Ways, they either don't work, or the Library redirects them into … dangerous places. Other planets. Barren, hostile lands. Outer space. Someone reported that one literally opened into Hell — you can take that for whatever you think it's worth. More commonly, though, they just funnel us into the Library Archives and make us into Librarians.
"I'll explain that in a moment — we've got the footage working.
<The footage shows two women and one man, walking through a forest. One woman wears a skimpy Godzilla costume. The other woman wears full plate armor. The man is dressed in a red costume covered with plastic flames.>
"So this is a fairly typical — Question? — Why the costumes? Oh — this particular Way requires you to dress up as something you're not. So… cosplaying. These are our agents, by the way. In plainclothes. Er… I guess not… plainclothes.
"Godzilla is Agent Jones. The knight is Agent Liu. The last one's here today — Agent Navarro. The one in the, um, flaming outfit. Say hi to everyone, Agent Navarro. You know you want to.
<The footage shows the three agents walking between two trees which have grown closely together. As they pass between the trees, they vanish into thin air. The footage cuts out.>
"Anyway. These are three of our members of Sigma-3 who can access the Library. Out of the entire Foundation, generally only members of Sigma-3 can get into the Library — and only some of them can, at that.
"We think the Library has some way of knowing who's going to use the Library to target its patrons — and not just in the present, but in the future. Yeah, the Library seems to have some limited ability to see the future. How? Your guess is as good as mine.
"This is, by the way, why Sigma-3 doesn't help the rest of the Foundation contain people in the Library. If they did that, they'd simply be kicked out. And then we'd lose our 'in' to one of the most important anomalous locations in the world.
<The footage resumes. It shows Agents Jones, Liu, and Navarro, now in ordinary clothing, standing in a huge hall, surrounded by massive shelves of books, going up, skyscraper-high, too high to see the top. In the hallway are many tables, and many people — well over a hundred, at least. As the footage plays on, it becomes obvious that not all of the people in the lobby are human. One person passes in front of the camera — their face is blue and covered in spikes. A thirty-foot-tall walking carpet sits down at a nearby table, with a book in each of its three tails.>
"This is the main hall of the Library. It's… even bigger than it looks. This is actually a pretty empty day — usually there's at least a few hundred people around at any given time. And it can hold thousands just as comfortably.
"Spaces are deceiving, in the Library. For example, in the main hall, it takes half a day to reach the back walls… yet the space you've crossed is at least the size of a continent.
"Oh, and that's just the main hall. The Library has many wings. Some of them are small — only the size of a city. It just goes up from there. Some of them are actually built into forests and some of them of them have their own skies…
<As the footage continues, Agent Navarro appears to try to converse with a robed humanoid figure. The figure has no mouth. Where its left hand should be, there's a chain connected to a glowing brass lantern.>
"…Ah yes. That is a Librarian. Yeah, that one has no mouth.
"This is because being a Librarian is a punishment. Usually. There are a few voluntary Librarians, and they look particularly strange. But we won't be seeing those on this recording.
"The ones with no mouths are Docents. They guide people through the Library and… enforce the rules of the Library. They are scary as hell — just one can take out one of our paramilitary squads all on its own, with ease. When they've been involved in containment breaches, which has been incredibly, incredibly rare, the damage has been massive. And they're not even the Library's biggest defenses.
"The other two common Librarians are Archivists and Pages. You can see some of the Archivists in the background of this shot here — they're at the large desks to the left. They are attached to their chairs — they have no legs. And you can't see it from this angle, but they have no eyes. Don't need them to read, apparently. And —
<Something like a human spider scuttles across one of the shelves above Agent Liu's head. She doesn't seem startled.>
"—that's a Page. They take care of the books directly. I've never seen one touch the ground.
"All of these used to be people. Most of them were human. Now, they're not.
"See, the Library has rules. Don't damage books, don't steal books, return books on time. Don't damage the Library. And don't harm those within the Library.
"If you break rules too egregiously, you are forcibly made into a Librarian. And… yes. A number of Foundation agents are trapped in the Library right now, serving out sentences as Librarians. Given the nature of their offenses… if we're lucky, they'll get out in a few hundred years.
"Question in the back. No. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do for them. We don't even know which Librarians they are. Ah — more questions — alright, let's pause the footage.
<The footage pauses, as Agent Jones appears to be flirting with a floating, regal-looking mermaid, surrounded by a stack of green books floating in orbs of water.>
"Alright. More questions. You in the, um, shirt, go ahead.
"Can we use Sigma-3 to retrieve books from the Library? Um, no, not as such. First, the Library already has its eye — metaphorically, I assume — on us. If we start making plans like that, even seriously start entertaining them, we might lose access to the Library. We have to rely on whatever information can be filtered through our Sigma-3 agents. Whatever they can film, copy down, etcetera. Believe me, that's better than nothing.
"Second, I haven't yet talked about Library Cards.
"To check out books, to take them out of the Library, you need to have a Library Card. The Library gets a copy and you get a copy. On that Card is a magical signature that counts as your True Name.
"For the majority of you who don't get the significance of that — we don't have time to get into the True-Naming business, but what that means is, anyone with that Card can cast spells on you as if you're willing. They can do nearly anything to you if they're good enough, and the Library certainly is.
"Library Cards also confer the protection of the Library, to a certain extent. Killing Card-holders is part of why the Global Occult Coalition got kicked out of the Library — they were smart enough not to kill anyone in the Library directly, though they did end up killing — sorry, I digress.
"Point is, the Coalition used the Library to monitor 'dissidents' and execute them once they left. And you can't cheat the Library.
"I bring that up as another reminder: this is why Sigma-3 cannot, ever, help the rest of the Foundation contain anomalies using the Library. We can get death cults and suchlike because they're also targeting other Library members and because other Library members are helping us do so, but even then, we have to be cautious.
"Let's keep going.
<The footage resumes. Navarro, Jones, and Liu head past more massive, endless shelves, and walk into an atrium. There's a coffee-house set up incongruously on the edge of a field of wildflowers. People perch laptops atop stacks of books. Liu gestures animatedly at an empty blue "couch" that looks like it was designed for something much larger than a human, and probably with a different limb arrangement.>
"Another question — Does the Library have free Wifi? Okay, I know you're joking, but the answer is actually yes. The Library has almost anything you can think of. People can live their entire lives in the Library — they typically don't, but it's possible.
<A massive, towering behemoth lumbers into view. Like a cross between a sauropod dinosaur and a kraken. Its many eyes fix on each small humanoid in turn as it passes, blotting out whatever strange light source emanates from the top of the Library atrium. Its eyes seem to fix for an especially long time on Jones, Navarro, and Liu, but then it passes onwards, vanishing through an archway that's much too small for it to fit under.>
"…And that… is one of the Library's bigger defenses. This one didn't appear when we invaded. Worse things did. It might be some kind of Librarian, it might be something else. Who knows?
"They call it the Elephant God, even though it's not much like an elephant. The size, I guess.
<The footage ends, as the three Foundation agents gawk at the monster's disappearing tails.>
"And that's all we have for today. Keep in mind, all this is only a fraction of the Library. The parts that can easily be accessed from Earth. The Library has what they call Archives, which include the inner workings of the Library, as well as the wings of the Library where humanoids like us don't visit.
"None of the Sigma-3 agents who can get into the Library have access to the Archives. Library doesn't like us enough. But we have people working with us who can go there. A very few, mind you. The Archives are not entered lightly. They have a manticore in there.
"And… the Archives are where things really went sideways when the Foundation forced their way into the Library. The strange-ways, the Boiler Rooms, the guards on the Roots, the… I'm sorry. It's hard to talk about some… aspects of this place without… sounding like you're speaking fairy-tale. Anyway, like I said, no one really knows what happened when the Foundation tried to take the Library.
"Alright. I really, really, need a break. So let's all have dinner, and then come back for our final discussion — about magic."
"Welcome back. I hope you had a great dinner. Or… whatever you did. I'm not here to judge.
"Anyone who can perform magic on a consistent, sustained basis is a Type Blue. Colloquially, a mage, a witch, a magician, whatever.
"The term, Type Blue, the Foundation lifted from the Global Occult Coalition. The Coalition classifies humanoids with anomalous capability using colors. We at the Foundation mostly use their terms for Green and Blue. Green is reality bender. Blue is magician.
"Before coming here, some of you read transcripts of a lecture given to new Global Occult Coalition operatives about 'applied thaumotology.' Magic, in other words. The rest of you will have access to some of those transcripts after this session.
"Your higher-ups want you to read these because new GOC trainees still start off reading those, even though they're decades old and some of the information is… I would quibble with its presentation. The important thing is that you know half the baseline our competition has started from.
"I'm here to give you the viewpoint of the other half. You already know that I used to be a member of the Serpent's Hand.
"You in the back, who raised her hand when I mentioned the Coalition transcripts?
"For anyone who didn't catch that question, she just asked about 'that Hogwarts shit.' She wasn't joking, no. 'Hogwarts' is the, ahem, International Center for the Study of Unified Thaumatology.
"It's not exactly Hogwarts, more a university focused exclusively on research, but… yes, it is on some level a school for wizards. Depending on your definition of 'wizard'.
"Why haven't we contained and shut them down? Well, remember what I told you about Sigma-3. But, sure, we don't need to use Sigma-3 for that. The real answer is that the Center is protected by the Global Occult Coalition, among other things, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that attacking it could trigger World War Three.
"Something I need to keep reminding people. We're here to secure, contain, protect, not to blow everything into the daylight just to make sure we possess every paranatural artifact on Earth.
"Either way, it's not up to us; we're to leave the Center alone by order of the O5 Council. But yes, it exists, as part of the anomalous community. No, I don't think Foundation members can attend.
"The Hand and the GOC have a number of Type Blues in their ranks. With the Foundation… officially, we have no Type Blues. There are no Foundation magicians. Of course, you know that's not true. Still, we have only a few, and almost every Type Blue Foundation member is associated with Sigma-3.
"But all that aside.
"You want to know how I could talk to you in blue.
"Well, it's not especially easy. I did a few rituals before coming here so I could do this a few times on cue. All with the permission of our higher-ups in the Foundation — yes, there are people higher than me, of course there are. I'm only a Director.
"Point is, any and all magic that any of you will be performing will be done under strictest supervision, unless you're out in the field and need to blend in. All of it will be done in the service of the Foundation.
"One of you asked me a question when you were supposed to be having dinner. Ze wanted to know: why can we talk about Type Greens — reality benders — when we can't talk about Type Blues?
"Some of you have already guessed the answer. The truth — the truth that none of you are to repeat in mixed company, certainly not to anyone else in the Foundation — is that anyone can become a Type Blue.
"Anyone can become a magician. Anyone can learn to perform magic. Many of you are going to at least attempt to learn. Most will not succeed, but it is possible for any of you to succeed.
"That gets a little wearing after a while. And a couple of you look ill. Sorry about that.
"Anyway. Anyone can become a Type Blue, but there are some caveats. The first is sometimes called Potential. At least, it was called that when I was a member of the Hand.
"A few people get Potential through their genetics, but 99.9% of the population is born with a Potential of nothing. After that, like getting cancer, there are about a million factors. Some of it's how you think. Some of it's how you do or don't fit into society. Some of it's your kind of intelligence. And sometimes there is no identifiable cause.
"Generally, if you want to become a magician — a Type Blue — you first figure out what your Potential is. What life's given you. If you're lucky, you'll find an established magic tradition that suits you. If you're very lucky — by which I mostly mean, you're a Type Blue already and didn't know it — you can just go ahead and start practicing. Otherwise, you have to take a good, long hard look at yourself.
"Because becoming a magician is hard. It takes a lot out of you, something different from every person. It usually requires some kind of sacrifice.
"Question? Go ahead.
"No, I don't mean a blood sacrifice, necessarily. Even in the anomalous community, that is very much not socially acceptable. When I say sacrifice, I mean… physically, emotionally, spiritually. It's different for everyone.
"Why a sacrifice? Because it's about perspective. Not just your perspective. But the perspective of others, on you. The perspective of reality. It's about changing how the World sees you. How you see and interact with the universe.
"You're confused. That's understandable. Let me try to rephrase. Becoming a magician is all about discovering and altering your metaphysical place in the world.
"This can be temporary, or permanent. Temporary is easiest. Most people can create a really minor Working, or a spell. Serpent's Hand members often start with making blue lily flower chains.
"Then they follow a really complicated set of instructions that, with the right materials and mindset, as well as membership of the Serpent's Hand, produce temporary Potential inside them, which they then use to Work the flower chains, to add magic to them. Anomalous effects.
"Those effects are different for everyone. It's impossible to try to make every Type Blue make a luck charm, because almost everyone who doesn't believe in luck will reliably fail it, except, oddly, actual statisticians, who know what it would take to create actual luck. Point is, it's not directly predictable what any one person can and can't do.
"Let's have some more demonstrations. At this point, you've all heard me talk in blue. Let's see what someone else can do. Agent Navarro?
"What do you mean, no one told you in advance you'd need to put on a show? I'm telling you now. You up for it, or not?
"I thought so. Alright, everyone who doesn't know, this is Agent Daniel Navarro. Agent Navarro is a former anartist, and like me, he is a Type Blue.
<Director Moose hands Agent Navarro a slip of paper, and a knife.>
"Whenever you're ready, Agent Navarro.
<Agent Navarro glares at Director Moose. After a moment, Navarro picks up the knife, and, with a dramatic gesture, slices across his left palm. A burst of iridescent fire blazes up from the wound. Navarro holds up the fire in his hand. It whirls and twists in the dimmed room.>
"Agent Navarro was born a Type Blue. He discovered his talent when he tried smoking as a child and got an… unusual result. He discovered the blood magic aspect of his talent through resources in the Wanderers' Library.
<Navarro conjures more bubbling bursts of iridescent fire, and begins juggling. A few people cheer in the audience.>
"Alright, that's enough, Navarro, you're getting blood everywhere. Sit back down. Someone get him a bandage.
"Go ahead, you in the back.
"Ah yes. I mentioned magic traditions. I'm actually quoting a Dr. Everett Mann, here, who's done some interesting thaumotology studies for us: Magic is magic. The Coalition are generally taught the same basic framework for magic, stuff like hue and backlash and all that. The Hand tend to be less consistent, go more into really esoteric stuff.
"There are many, many traditions, and almost no universals. Unless you're talking rituals and such which are made to work for anyone, Potential is different for different kinds of magic. One Old European pagan tradition may work for you, and another originating from less than fifty miles away may not. And people like Agent Navarro don't even have a "tradition" in any real sense, just "some stuff that works".
"I mentioned Navarro was born a Type Blue. I was not born a Type Blue. I became a magician another way.
"I was talking about Potential, right? Well, to do anything serious, you can't get by on temporary Potential. It has to be permanent. And that means you become a Type Blue.
"Let's be clear, here — that means you become an anomalous humanoid, even if it's in a way that's nearly invisible. Agent Navarro and I? Anomalous humanoids. You might say, well, if we never performed magic again, we'd be indistinguishable from normal, too, right? Well, no. Beyond our… anomalous capability, there's a type of anomalous radiation associated with being a mage. The GOC have scanners that can visually read this — so do we, actually, though we don't usually use them in the field. The GOC color-code this type of radiation blue. Hence, Type Blue.
"So how do you become a Type Blue?
"You have to shift your perspective on the world.
"You know that Center we mentioned? The GOC-protected magic school? They have a standing 50 million prize for anyone who can identify a reliable, universal, standardized process for becoming a Type Blue. No one will ever win it because you can't just make people reliably, universally shift their perspective on the world.
"Almost everyone in the world is capable of doing it — but almost everyone in the world is capable of cutting off their left hand. How many people are actually going to do that? Especially if it might not even do anything for you, because little did you know you needed to lose an eye?
"Becoming a mage isn't always as awful as that… but for some people, it's worse.
"There are three major avenues to becoming a mage. Some of them are acceptable to members of Sigma-3. Most are not. I hope that which is which will be obvious.
"Let's start with the easy way.
"This is to just hang out around magic. Simple exposure. People with high Potential, or outright Type Blues. Wearing magical jewelry. Creating minor Workings. Becoming a member of a magically-inclined organization, or a cult of some eldritch deity.
"A big thing is spending time in a magic-saturated environment, like the Wanderers' Library — or Sigma-3's training facilities, with Sigma-3 members who are Type Blues. This is one principle of magic, beyond the scope of what we have time for today: like affects like, and like produces like, too.
"Do this long enough, and if you're lucky, you'll become a Type Blue. Many people aren't lucky.
"The second way, done alongside the first way, is to forcibly, drastically, change who you are as a person. Move countries. Change religions. Re-address your sexuality, see if you can find some suppressed aspects. Alter your mind directly with anything from spells to amnestics. Scarification and tattoos are common. Give birth to a child, raise the child. Yes, even becoming a parent changes your Potential and the nature of who you are.
"Either way, the idea is to give something up. Sacrifice, as I said. It's simplest to give up 'who you are'. Often this is the most appealing option, more appealing than it might sound. After all, you might end up a better person, when all is said and done, and a better person who can perform magic.
"For the desperate, this method includes making a bargain with a powerful anomalous entity. However, even in the anomalous community, this is rarer than you might think, because most of these entities are predatory. Many will take everything a person values and give little to nothing in return.
"But there is no real limit to what you can give up. These are dangerous waters. One may sacrifice body parts, loved ones, pieces of their life, their future… and in some cases, that's even worked out in the magician's favor. Well, not for sacrificing loved ones. I hope I don't need to tell you all that sacrificing loved ones for magical power is never worth it, not even in practical terms.
"The third and final way is to change the world, or wait for the world to change.
"Of all of these avenues of gaining supernatural power, this runs the most counter to the goals of the SCP Foundation. Yes, even more so than sacrificing loved ones. We want to preserve normalcy. The world can certainly change on its own terms, but the Foundation doesn't want the world to be forced to change by anomalous means.
"The Serpent's Hand does want to change the world. And to some extent, though you won't hear most of us in the Foundation admit this, they've succeeded. While we don't have exact numbers, we know for a fact that there are more Type Blues today than there were fifty years ago. More than there were ten years ago. At least some of this can be attributed to the recent swelling in the ranks of the Hand.
"The Chaos Insurgency also understands this. This is why they wish to change the world, to their liking — that's why they're called the Chaos Insurgency. It's not just a cartoon supervillain name. I mean, it is that, but it's also a statement of purpose.
"Sigma-3 only works with factions of the Hand who do not want the world to change, at least not to the extent that the Insurgency does. They may want more Type Blues in the world than we do — they may want to eventually break the Masquerade — and we don't want that, and we can't and won't help them with that, but they still want the world intact. Like we do.
"There are a lot of dangerous things out there, some of them people, some of them far beyond people, who have immense motivation to change our world for their own benefit.
"They're the worst of the things out there who want to drag us all back into the dark. In most cases they aren't even evil. They just want to rearrange the anthills to make themselves the new queen.
"Hopefully now you understand why a little better — this is the only thing we can understand about some of those… things, because they're unknowable in every other way.
"There's another side to all of this. The ultimate reason why all this Type Blue stuff has to be kept secret, and why we in the Foundation can't just become a cult of magicians.
"If the entire Foundation embraced magic — if every researcher or MTF agent took advantage of the power, the real, significant power that magic has to offer — if everyone outside of Sigma-3 all became Type Blues like me — then our perspective on the world would change. And if that happened, we might not be able to hold back dangers to reality any longer.
"Everyone at the Foundation, at a sufficiently high level, spends their time around anomalies. We contain them, and honestly very effectively even with the odds so strongly against us, with science and concrete. The vast majority of our containment procedures — with exceptions made only when strictly necessary — are non-anomalous in nature. You could say that we believe in science and concrete.
"Can you imagine what would happen if we stopped believing? If we changed the way we saw the world? If everyone at the Foundation became mystics?
"It could be the end of containment, forever. The end of the Foundation's preservation of normalcy. And then we'd all be at the mercy of all the horrible things out there, the old gods and demons that would ensure humanity does nothing but huddle in caves around campfires and scratch on the walls, forever.
"Your mileage may vary on whether this is true. But let me be clear: your mileage is only allowed to vary within the specific context of Sigma-3. I say Sigma-3 because everyone else here already knows this. No one else in the Foundation is to be exposed to this perspective, or they might not be able to contain threats to our reality.
"This is also why most members of the Foundation don't even know magic is real. Sounds small. But it starts small. Say, a researcher fantasizes about casting Wingardium Leviosa, or an agent with an unfortunate romantic streak. And it ends with being unable to believe that Cthulhu can be contained behind sheets of steel and walls of stone.
"But it's not my job or your job to keep Cthulhu's containment from failing. That's the job of the rest of the Foundation. Your job is to do things the rest of the Foundation can't. Your job is to find out what everyone else knows about Cthulhu that we don't.
"We share their perspective. Something no one else in the Foundation can risk.
"In this way, we preserve the world, and serve the primary mission of the SCP Foundation, in a way no one else can.
"Any final questions? Okay. That's a lot of hands. I'll take just one for now.
"Ah, yes. You're right. I didn't tell you how I became a Type Blue.
"Well, I'm not going to go into detail. Let's just say, I took the second way. I made… sacrifices. Major sacrifices. Among other things, I deliberately did things to my own mind that I absolutely do not recommend.
"Many of my friends did similar things — some did worse — and failed. Some did not survive the experience. And I… I will never get back some of the things I gave up.
"Such is magic. Such is the anomalous world.
"But, even now, I can still do… something like… this…
<Director Moose takes out a small object and places it on her lectern. A small, carved moose figurine. She leans over, and whispers to it.>
<There is a gust of wind, coming from nowhere in the indoor hall, and a massive black, cloudy figure towers over the audience — the shape of a demonic moose, with antlers stretching across the ceiling, and many eyes, shining like coals from within the roiling mass. Someone screams.>
<The moose resolves into a cartoon of a frowning face with antlers, ruining the intimidating effect, then shifts and dissipates into smoke.>
<Director Moose leans against her lectern, looking strained. The moose figurine is gone. After a moment, she smiles.>
"Now you know how I became director of Site-19.
"…A joke. Just a little… joke.
"…That's enough for today. I'll take questions after an hour's break, from anyone who sticks around. Thank you all for coming, and… see you on the other side."
[This section will remain empty for the duration of the contest. Questions will be answered here after the contest ends!]