"State your name for the record, please." The voice echoed through the vast space, amplified by the microphone.
"Um, Dr., um, Dr. Robert Feldon, sir," he said into the microphone timidly. It was the first time he could ever recall being timid. Usually, he was the one with the booming voice, echoing out from on high in a dark room.
Of course, this room was hardly dark, in fact it was illuminated as well as or better than some of the rooms in the facility Feldon had worked at before the Masquerade failed. And the man, or rather men and women, accusing him were only slightly higher than him.
He observed the group before him carefully, looking, as he had in the past, for weaknesses, for fears, for anything he could use to his advantage.
They stared back with the same expression.
Feldon began to sweat.
"And your former position with your past employer, Dr. Feldon?" the man in the middle spoke again.
Balding, slightly corpulent, dark clothing, glasses. A dead stare. The same expression many had thought Feldon once wore at similar times. Except that Feldon was slightly younger and more fit. Completely bald, but in his former line of work, that could only be expected.
Feldon cleared his throat and spoke into the microphone again. "Former head of the Foundation's Ethics Committee, sir. Before it was phased out to this body, sir."
"And how long have you held this position?"
"For the past seven years, sir."
Despite himself, Feldon heard a bit of pride creep into his voice and inwardly cringed. A quick glance confirmed his suspicions. They had heard it as well and were less than pleased.
The group murmured a moment before a glance from the man in the middle quieted them. He seemed to be the man in charge, and would presumably lead the entire hearing.
"…I see. And for how many of these…SCP objects…were you involved in devising the 'Containment Procedures,' Dr. Feldon?"
"Well, that depends on what you mean by 'involved' actually. Do you mean objects in whose containment and research I was personally involved before my appointment to the Ethics Committee, or do you mean objects in whose containment procedures I was involved in the approval or revision of following my appointment to the Ethics Committee?"
"Answer the question, please."
"Right," said Feldon, looking somewhat nervously at the other, silent members of the panel, "Um, at a guess, something close to, um, 435. Maybe 437."
"Any particularly…notable…procedures, Doctor?"
"To be honest, sir, they all start blending together after awhile. And when you consider all the information I've been privy to that is above even your paygrade, it's little wonder I remember no specific procedures. Sir."
Shit, why am I back-talking this group, the people who determine my future? thought Feldon.
"Yes, well, that is subject to change. Very shortly, we should have access to all the information. As the UN New Committee on the Ethical Containment of Anomalous Objects, Events, and Creatures, we will require knowledge of all that the Foundation contained and is currently containing. Procedures deemed unethical will be revised. If no revision is possible, containment on the object will cease. If the object itself is deemed inherently inimicable to human life, it shall be destroyed without exception."
Feldon privately wondered how many of them would be left on the board after they discovered some of the Foundation's blacker secrets. Things only the former O5 Command and the Ethics Committee were cleared to know.
"Doctor, please, the question."
"I'm sorry, sir. Could you repeat the question please?"
"Were you involved in the containment of objects numbered, 453, 231, 158, 239, or any objects classified as 'humanoid' by your former employer?"
Feldon looked away, wishing he could lie and deny any involvement.
"Yes. Inevitably, all the members of the Ethics Committee were at some point involved with a humanoid object. We did our best to reduce the object's discomfort while keeping it contained. He or she, I mean."
"You are aware, Doctor, that most of your humanoid containment procedures violate many laws in many countries, I trust?"
"We didn't have a choice! If we hadn't, the world could have ended!"
"Doctor, the general populace still has little knowledge of what your organization terms 'reality benders'. As such, it is thought by many to be highly unlikely that a pregnant woman or a young child could possibly destroy the world. Have you any evidence to the contrary?"
"Plenty," said Feldon, beginning to move from the stand at which he had been placed, before realizing the two rather large men who had accompanied him in wouldn't let him walk around. "Prior to my time as head of the Ethics Committee, I observed testing involving SCP-239. During testing, I saw 239 shift entire rooms in a secure Foundation facility to suit her liking. In this case, a giant doll house. This wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't also shifted the personnel in the rooms into life-size, animate ragdolls, complete with their memories and personalities. When told she had to turn everything back, she told the head researcher to, and I quote, 'go away, butthead'. I trust I don't have to explain what happened to the poor man's head, but suffice it to say, he went away. Walked out the door and disappeared. Eventually, she got tired of playing with her 'dolls' and they simply vanished as well. This was one incident out of many and this was by far one of the least serious."
"And the woman you designated SCP-231?" asked the man in the center, already disapproving of an answer that hadn't yet been voiced.
"Sir, there are some things no one wants to know. I assure you that is one of them."
"So you consistently subject a human being to something so horrible you won't speak it aloud or commit it to paper, and you see nothing unethical in this?"
"Oh, I see plenty that is unethical about that…by conventional ethics, at least," he said with a grim smile, "You see, what most people don't realize about SCP-231 is that it isn't a single pregnant female. What everyone in the general public knows about SCP-231 is, in fact, incorrect. The general public, and frankly most of the enlightened public, yourselves included, are unaware that SCP-231 is actually designated SCP-231-7. She is the seventh and last of the women we contained with the SCP-231-X designation. The others all died. They died either due to a break in the containment procedures we designed, by their own hand, or by our attempts to remove the…fetus. On one occasion, SCP-231-1 actually did give birth. The resulting incident caused hundreds of casualties. Were you aware of this, sir?"
The panel remained silent, absorbing the information.
"And were you aware that each fetus has had the potential to cause or has caused more catastrophic damage than the last?"
The panel sat still, silent, fidgeting slightly. The bald doctor now had the upper hand.
"You can all fact check me when you have clearance, as trite as that sounds."
The panel looked uncomfortable for a moment more before the man at its center spoke again.
"Doctor, this body will determine that for itself. Even taking into account what we now know about what your organization termed 'reality benders,' we find it hard to believe that any being under the age of ten has enough to power to, as some of your peers have put it, 'vaporize my head' despite the information you have provided. Additionally, whatever the hell you're doing to the person that you have objectified as 231 will stop as soon as this body has the official power to do so."
But they were a little less sure, a little less full of themselves, Feldon could see it. He felt the power shift in the room. This was his stage now.
"Very well…sometimes seeing is believing. But if you find out you are wrong, what then do you intend to do?" he asked smugly.
"Dr. Feldon, this hearing is not about what we as a body intend to do. This hearing is about you and your peers and your decidedly unethical treatment of many human beings of many nationalities. As such, this avenue of discussion is closed. Is that understood?"
"Of course. Do you have any further questions?"
"Do you contain anything that doesn't destroy the world?"
"Well, we have a two-person llama costume wearing galoshes. Before we took it into custody, it was being used for psychic-dissociative recreation, but then its users overdosed and died."
"Never mind. Any further questions?"
"Yes. To the extent of your knowledge, do any of the containment procedures you've authored or revised contain intentional harm to human beings?"
The panel as a whole frowned at this.
"And do any of the containment procedures you've authored or revised place other human beings in danger?"
"Yes. But we—"
"And do any of the containment procedures you've authored or revised involve cruel or unusual treatments of human beings?"
"…define 'cruel and unusual'."
"Doctor, that statement in itself is enough to convince this panel that you are of questionable moral judgment. Your actions have been, by your own admission, unethical."
"So, in light of this, in light of the possible deaths of hundreds or thousands or more, that could be caused by one of the entities we contain, what is ethical? What is right and wrong? What is cruel and unusual? Are you prepared to ask these questions every day for the rest of your time?"
The panel was silent for a long moment again.
"As the Ethics Committee, were you not trusted to keep the Foundation ethical? In this, you failed."
"You think I failed? Wait until you know. You'll want me to come back, to take your jobs from you."
"Because of your statements Doctor, let it be known this committee is recommending that you be permanently dismissed from any work with the Foundation in its current iteration. Additionally, we are recommending a full psychological evaluation in an institution of our choice. Should any problems be found, treatment, regardless of length, is mandatory. Remove him."
Two large men, the ones who had brought Feldon into the room, escorted the former Ethics Committee head out of the room to a waiting vehicle that would take him to a mental institution, one of many that former Foundation employees were being sent to regularly following the new necessity of following international laws.
The man who had served as the head of the panel looked at the members gathered alongside him.
"Bring in the next one."
Two weeks later
HEADLINE: FORMER FOUNDATION
"ETHICS" COMMITTEE HEAD
RELEASED, RETURNED TO
May 10, 2014
Today, Dr. Robert Feldon, the former head of the Foundation "Ethics" Committee was released from the institution he was placed in following the UN Committee hearing two weeks ago and restored to his former position. The majority of the panel declined to comment on their decision to repeal their choice and return Dr. Feldon to his former position, replacing panel and Committee head Gregory Rexin as leader of the UN New Committee on the Ethical Containment of Anomalous Objects, Events, and Creatures.
When questioned, Rexin said only, "In this world, this world in which everything we know is turned upside down, what is ethical? What is right and wrong and how do we define cruel and unusual?"
Further comment was declined. Cont. pg. 2A ETHICS.