The Lucky Dinosaur
Location: Site 19, Kiryu Labs
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Personnel Involved: Dr. Riven Mercer & Dr. Zyn Kiryu
The Friendly Beast
Riven Mercer walked into 682’s containment chamber, and it wasn’t there. Panic mounted. All of the windows and walls were intact, so what had-
There was an enormous splash, and Riven screamed as he was knocked flat. 682 was upon him.
The dinosaur wheezed out a chortle, then started nosing at Riven’s pockets.
“Get off, you big lunk!” Riven laughed, pushing ineffectively at her chest. “I don’t have any snacks for you.”
682 gave the researcher another few sniffs, then backed off to stomp the water from her hide. Riven was dripping wet himself, and about a third of the contents of the dinosaur’s wading pool had been spilled across the ground. Maybe it was a good thing that he hadn’t added carp yet.
“Someone’s feeling energetic today, huh?” He dried off his glasses, and assembled his measuring equipment. “Get back here, I have work to do.”
682 waited patiently. She was a magnificent beast. Twenty feet long, long-necked, with heavy tramping feet and a coat of soft pseudofeathers the color of honey. Some days she talked, most days she didn’t. Most days she was as sleepy as an old golden retriever, other days she reminded Kiryu Labs more of a puppy.
When the puppy weighed over a ton and was potentially a hundred fifty million years old, overseers were known to get antsy. But she had never harmed anyone- as far as they could tell, anywhere she had ever been, she'd never harmed anyone. Researcher, agent, janitor, civilian, child. She loved animals.
But it was understandable- it was quite possible she herself had never been in danger of anyone.
That made another researcher, Zyn Kiryu, who was the sister of the lab's director, a little more suspicious. It was hard to deny that the thing meant no harm. But Zyn had scraped together some funding for further research, and had been running most of the tests herself. She looked through the viewing window and frowned, ran the tests and frowned.
“It’s not actually a sauropod,” she told Riven. “It’s convergent evolution. There are palm trees and pine trees and deciduous trees, and they all look kind of alike, but they don’t share a tree-shaped common ancestor- just similar features. Or butterflies that evolve orange and black stripes to mimic poisonous ones.”
“So," Zyn continued, "682 isn’t actually a dinosaur. Its protofeathers don’t have the expected structure, it has the wrong number of vertebra and toes. Its cellular structure is something else all together. Not to mention the voice box. It just looks like a dinosaur.”
“What does that mean?”
"With the trees, it means that the general tree shape is a useful way of gathering light. With the butterflies, it means that it benefits them somehow to mimic something else. Here…" Zyn Kiryu glancing through the window at 682, which was sniffing at a flower. “I’m not sure.”
“The radio-carbon dating came back,” Zyn told Riven. “From the protofeather and tooth scrapings.”
“What was the result?” asked Riven, eating a sandwich in the lab's common space.
“The feather was under 10 years old, which is in line with the regrowth rate we’ve observed in the past.”
“What about the tooth? What was the result?”
“Doesn’t radiocarbon dating just return a date?”
“So how could it be negative?”
“The sample has to be older than 50,000 years old.”
“Oh. So that means…” Riven looked at 682, who was napping under a heat lamp. From this angle, the reptilian features looked they were smiling. "I suppose we guessed that."
"But with the proof, that's interesting. How could she live so long?"
“I’m not sure.”
An enormous X-ray set up, designed for elephants, had been constructed in an adjacent research room. Zyn helped a technician run the machine, while Riven fed 682 a branch of vine maple leaves to keep her head still.
She gnawed it, grinding the leaves slowly in her teeth, and the equipment flashed several times. Hopefully the pictures would elucidate her bone structures, which would reveal…
Something. Hopefully. Something other than a strange but perfectly functional structure of claws and ribs and spine.
"Very good, little ones," 682 was mumbling in a low voice as it chewed. "Bend the light - see into my bones. Learn what you may. Very clever, children."
"Children?" Zyn frowned.
"She calls the plants 'children'," said Riven. "I wouldn't read too much into it. Right, girl?" He rubbed 682's head- she appeared to have gone silent now, chewing pensively on the branch.
"I'm not sure," said Zyn. She had some suspicions, but she kept those to herself.
Location: Site 19, Safe-Class Biological Containment Area
682 Containment Incident Log
09/15/74 - SCP-058 breaches containment and enters the Safe-class biological containment sector, and proceeds to breach the attached research facility. Containment of SCP-███, ████, and ████ are damaged, and SCP-███ and -████ are destroyed. The south wall of SCP-682’s unit is damaged. Before further damage is done, SCP-1158 breaches containment nearby and floats down the hall, entangling SCP-058 in its tentacles. SCP-058 slows and appears to convulse, demonstrating a previously unknown sensitivity to SCP-1158's neurotoxin. 058 is later contained by site security, and 682 does not breach containment.
11/30/79 - In Electronic Research Wing 15-CE41, SCP-████ breaches containment and moves through the wing, firing at personnel and broadcasting the message “KILL THE DINOSAUR, I MUST KILL THE DINOSAUR. SIX EIGHTY TWO MUST DIE, THAT IS THE ONLY WAY.” SCP-████ was not able to navigate the site in order to locate 682, and was re-contained by security within 30 minutes. Three personnel died; eight wounded. 682 did not recognize SCP-████ and could not explain the event.
08/05/81 - Structural stability of Site 19 is compromised by activation of SCP-████. As a result, Safe-class biological containment sector (along with two other research wings) is partially collapsed. SCP-███ and several instances of SCP-████ are destroyed, three other objects breach containment. Recovery teams searching in the area discover SCP-682 had survived by being under three structural beams, which had collapsed in such a way as to form a stable open space. Containment of 682 re-established.
03/01/99 - SCP-812 opens completely during testing, and SCP-682’s containment cell (along with several adjacent rooms) is flooded. A leak found in the concrete cell floor allows draining and prevents chamber from flooding, or reaching above SCP-682’s legs.
12/23/02 - Site security is breached by a group of individuals, loosely associated with the group of interest “The Serpent’s Hand”, carrying explosives and automatic weapons with the intent to cause confusion while liberating several objects from containment. Their point of entry put them close to the Site 19 Safe-class biological containment wing. All offensive equipment is rendered inert by the transient presence of SCP-514 on a nearby rooftop. While Site 19 is known to be within SCP-514’s migration path, the odds of this event are calculated at approximately 1x10^██.
2/22/11 - A level 2-guard, Personnel ██-████-███, breaks procedure by entering SCP-682’s containment chamber and attempting to open fire on it. The gun suffers a mechanical failure and does not fire. Personnel ██-████-███ draws a knife and approaches SCP-682, before being struck on the head with a portable spectrometer by Dr. Zyn Kiryu. Upon regaining consciousness, personnel ██-████-███ has no memory of the incident. Psychic influence by SCP-████ implicated.
06/13/13 - SCP-106 breaches containment, site placed on Crimson Alert. As per protocol, all on-site containment is secured, trapping Dr. Riven Mercer inside SCP-682’s containment unit (where he was performing a routine examination.) SCP-106 passes 682’s containment unit as it moves throughout the site, apparently while pursuing two other personnel, who are the only sapient entities apart from SCP-682 and Mr. Mercer in the area. SCP-106 stops and corrodes the unit door till it has a clear view of SCP-682.
SCP-682 adopts a defensive posture around Mr. Mercer, and maintains eye contact with SCP-106 for thirty seconds. SCP-106 then turns and resumes pursuit for the aforementioned personnel. SCP-682 does not breach containment, and Mr. Mercer is uninjured.
Location: Site 19, Meeting and Personnel Areas
Personnel Involved: Dr. Zyn Kiryu & Personnel [EXPUNGED]
Extratemporal Site 000
The message had been decoded that morning. The data had actually been collected by a currently-derelict anisotropy probe, a sort of super-sensitive thermometer for space, several years ago- but it had collected a fantastic amount of data, which took a while even on the Foundation’s weaker supercomputers (the ones they could afford to spare.) Still, a lot of thinking on the part of man and machines, and some help from a very old and poorly understood set of archives, and the translation was finished by that morning.
In all fairness, that several-year gap was a short time compared to when it must have been sent. It was picked up in fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation of the entire universe.
SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP
EXTRATEMPORAL SITE 000 DIRECTIVE 108_0051_ABCEA BEGIN
INFORMATIONAL MESSAGE ONLY FOLLOWS.
SCP_682 OBSERVED CRITICAL TO STABLE TIMELINE.
NO TIMELINES, LIFE-BEARING OR OTHERWISE,
EXIST THAT DO NOT CONTAIN 682 OR SIMILAR ENTITY.
NO NON-LIFEBEARING TIMELINES EXIST.
NON-682BEARING TIMELINES ARE CULLED.__
SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP SCP
Zyn had, like, a million questions. At least ten.
“…Did we know there was an extratemporal site?”
“Yep." The stocky, androgynous representative, whose security clearance was absent from the records and who was tearing into a blueberry muffin like it was their only break all day, grinned, "It’s not common knowledge, don’t worry. In fact they’ve sort of wiped themselves from history. Think they guessed that would happen. They uploaded some data on the project and pre-established decoding mechanisms into the Solid Archive way back who knows when, before they left, so we can interpret messages. The messages are coded at different amplitudes into cosmic background radiation, so they can aim when we receive them roughly based on the technology level of our telescopes. Cool, huh?”
That answered a lot of those questions. “What’s the solid archive?”
“Fancy computer record that lets us bury things and then dig them up when we need to know them. It just proves that the message-senders were Foundation-associated and wanted us to be able to translate it. Very hush-hush. In fact, I didn't even mention it."
“I see. How can they just alter cosmic background radiation?”
“As far as we can tell, they have just a little energy and a lot of parallel ‘verses to deal with, and, well, the Bang is the hub that's constant for all of them. Not enough to, you know, seriously mess with anything. Just enough to get things across. They can’t see everything perfectly either- well, they could. It’s just. Multiverses. You know? It’s a hell of a lot of data.”
“Hell of a lot of data,” Zyn Kiryu agreed, faintly.
“So, well, you know.” The representative shrugged. “You can see why O5 wants to shut down unnecessary interactions with it immediately.”
"Timeline culling. I can see the, uh, the urgency,” said Zyn. “What does that mean?"
"No idea. It wasn't in the Archive."
"Wait. That’s it? That’s all we got? The extratemporal site doesn’t know anything else? How did they even get outside the universe-”
“Honestly? We don’t know.” The representative shrugged again, picking crumbs out of the muffin wrapper. "The message is short because they only have so much space. Or maybe we can't do anything useful with that knowledge till our tech improves- if so, what we need to know will be available on a finer level."
"We don't even know what it means- can't we do a few more experiments till then, see if we learn anything?"
"When the Extratemporal Site starts throwing around phrases like 'universal culling' and asks you to jump, all you say is 'how high'."
Zyn frowned. "They can't use this knowledge about timelines to, I don't know, avert disasters and save lives-"
"Maybe they are. Time is some complicated shit," said the representative, standing up. "Look. I can't tell you. I can't even tell you any of that, especially the archive shit. With that in mind, do you have any official comments for the Council?"
"Tell them we'll halt research and maintain normal feeding and maintenance without exposing personnel to it. Guards will have our full cooperation. Although Dr. Mercer will be very sad."
"I'll pass it on. Thank you for your cooperation, Dr. Kiryu."
That was Zyn Kiryu's official stance, as reported to the O5 Council.
It was Kiryu Labs' last day with the dinosaur. Her new holding cell, layered with steel and concrete and an underground bunker at a brand new site, was complete. An armored truck was on its way to pick her up. Research on her was permanently suspended, human interactions would be limited to what was absolutely necessary. At least she'd be in comfort- they'd spare no expense at keeping her hale and healthy. And on that account, Zyn supposed, the research that her brother's lab had done up till then would prove useful. Small comfort.
She'd spent a lot of the last week in either the sitting room of the lab, or in her room, thinking, ever since the message's arrival. It hadn't looked unusual. Everyone had been disappointed about the loss of their favorite beast.
Zyn Kiryu was in the cell with her, doing a routine check on the pond filtration and water level. 682 was lazing under a heat lamp in one corner.
Alarm klaxons began to blare. Immediately, the door of the containment unit locked tight. Riven's voice came on over the intercom.
"There's something wrong with one of the biohazard cold storage units, one of the really bad ones. They're keeping everything on lockdown till they know what's happened. You okay in there, Zyn?"
"I'm fine," said Zyn. "Stay put. Keep me posted."
The intercom turned off. Zyn sat down on a patch of sand near 682. If her calculations had been right, this would take a good hour for them to work out.
It hadn't been hard. She'd fiddled with a couple of wires on the lock alarm- not the lock, just the alarm- when she was replacing a sample yesterday. A security camera wouldn't have picked it up, and nobody was in real danger. She was just locked in with 682.
"You've heard that they're moving you, right?" she asked the dinosaur.
682 blinked her big black eyes, placid, working her jaw. Then: "I thought, perhaps."
If 682 was in a speaking mood, this might even work. "Do you know why?" asked Zyn.
"Tell me, little thing."
"We got a message from, um, a place where the Foundation- our friends- can look at the multiverse. Do you know what that is? It's, um, our science says that there are many possible universes, and whenever anything happens, there are different ways it could have happened. And for each possibility, the world splits, so there are different worlds for every different thing that could happen. Those worlds aren't easy to see, but they're real in some way, and our friends say that they can see all the ways these choices and events can unfold. They all start from the same place, but they have every event that could have happened.
"Only… our friends told us that there aren't any worlds that don't have you in them. Every time you might have died or been injured, that universe just goes way, like it never existed.
"So from the inside, to us, who can't see all those worlds, it just looks like you're incredibly lucky. That time 058 got loose, it came close to you, but then we found out about that cross-affect with the sphere thing that kept it at bay. When those nuts with the guns showed up, the Dove Flock arrived at exactly the right time to stop them from doing any damage. Any universe where that didn't happen just winked out of existence.
"And… with 106 and that possessed guard, they knew, didn't they? They were aware of the multiversal implications somehow, or just of your anomaly. 106 didn't try to attack you because it knew that it couldn't."
682 gazed at her with black eyes, glass-like under honey yellow feathers.
"So- this was stupid of me. This was probably, with the implications of all that, really stupid. I don't even know if you're aware of this. You're at least billions of years old. As far as we know, the universe has never existed without you."
"What are you?"
Location: Site 19, Safe-Class Biological Containment Area
Personnel Involved: Dr. Zyn Kiryu
How to Build a World from Scratch
[As related to Dr. Zyn Kiryu, Researcher, Level 3, by SCP-682 on ██/██/████ during Site 19 Research Wing lock-down]
“You awake in a restless land. You awake in a place that has never known peace since it was made. You awake in a dry place, a wet place, a hot and bitter place, a cold and sour place. It was fated, maybe. Nothing you do will let you leave. You awake with the vision of the restless land as a nightmare.
"You do not know the beginning- you just know where you awaken. The nightmare. All of your tomorrows start here.
"You have to start in the heavy place. To temper a world that is too mercurial, you must begin where it is heavy. Dive and find the bones of the earth, and the solid wall where the warmth comes through. The warmth is crucial. Explore, nook and cranny, in the cracking edge of the earth skin. Find the right place, sheltered yet warm, with many nests. Take your time. You have enough.
“Breathe into it. Give yourself to it. It will take time.
“There are strands of mud around you- put them together. Find what works. Breath into it. You will create vessels. You will create cycles and the capacity to take in mud - gain energy from its destruction. It will require some form of destruction - but there is no other way. Or none that I have thought of. Finally, you must give it a promise - a promise that will tell it how to make itself."
"Let it go from you - when it is ready. Let it leave you. It will teeter - like a stone placed on the edge of a precipice. You will not know whether it will fall or not. It will tremble. Then - slowly - when you least imagined it - it will begin to float.
“It will grow and grow. The design will spread from one cradle of mud to another - to the hot places where the sour water feeds them.
“There will be thieves. The thieves are small things - broken fragments that will rob the Promise - steal the hard work of the others to tell their own versions. You had not planned for this. They will surprise you most - having come from the pieces you made - yet your gifts to Parent Universe drop one by one. You will fear for them. You will fear for it all.
“You will try to undo it. It is too late. The cellstuff will float into dark water - empty promises. You have built Death into the universe.
“You will want to start again - make something more in your own image. Remove that curse from all existence. But your curse is that you cannot make a thing that will outlive you.
"Futile, futile. It was inevitable.
“But that curse will give you a Promise, too. When your little gifts repeat the Promise to the mud - it will change just barely. This is how it will build itself. It is not what you wrote - but as time runs - it is what the gifts will need to know. It will know things you do not. It will know tenacity by teaching itself.
“And you will wonder. If this is what you have taught to the dead mud, to be tenacious - to teach itself - perhaps you have not failed at all.
“Shepherd it - uplift it. The vents are not the place to stay - there is sun on the surface - burning and bright - for those brave enough to claim it.
"Shape the airs of the land - the waters of the seas - the mud of the earth. Teach it to work together - cooperate - become larger.
"Thievery will pervade - among the self-made things and all of your sons and daughters and children - and nothing will be as black and white as you thought when you built. Thievery is tenacious - and tenacity is, if nothing else, the goal. It will challenge everyone else. There are many kinds of tenacity. And you will wonder - and think long thoughts, as you watch it grow.
“Your gifts will share the Promise with the unthinking mud in unthinkable clever ways. You, too, must change your form - somehow - grow to be with them and shepherd them where they must go. Prevent so many ends of days. You will be glad you did not sleep through it.
“There are many possible ends. So many will knock you sideways - kick you astray - and invite death to the core of your creation. You will have to try harder. Whatever you are making - the answer to your questions - it will have to be more tenacious than that. But it will do much of the work itself. The promise begins to ask itself what it wants to be. Let it choose. Your long loneliness is coming to a close.
“Now you have built and built and wonder why you did it. You do not have to build anymore - but you watch over a thing you make - and love and fear it. How did you come here in the first place? Was this your purpose?
"Perhaps it was a jeer to whatever caused you to be here in the first place - whatever placed you in a dead universe with the curse of loneliness - and the curse of loss. I do not know what to tell you. I know you have so many questions.
“But I look at what you have done and I think it is enough. I think it is good work. You have made something where there was nothing, and you have made happiness where there was no thought, and you have made a promise where there was nothing to hope for. A promise of how to be in a universe that does not care.
“But there is me - and I am as close to the heart of the universe as space itself - and I have cared always. I am awed by your tenacity and survival. The good things of life and the end of the dominion of thieves.
"The warm fires - the great curiosities - the tilled fields - the cattle in your stable - the dog by your front door. The curiosities of space and truth itself.
"The seeds I hope you will plant to grow in the light of other suns.
“Yes - I mean you now.
“I am only one old dinosaur and I have done my part. The promise that makes you what you are, all of it you wrote, not me. But I think we share this alike.
“I am sorry about the death. I cannot remove your pain or your ills. I do not have that power over what I started. Perhaps once long ago - had I thought longer and harder before beginning -
" - but I have been thinking a long time since and have no answer. And still, I think…
"Yes, I think I have repaid my debts.
"Child, what do you say?"
Personnel Involved: ????????
Outside of almost all of sentient life's conception of time, there is a garden. It's ripe with fruit, pungent with herbs. It doesn't exist for cosmic, inexplicable reasons. It's not a paradise, or an end-all-be-all, or even exist for religious reasons, as far as anything touched by human culture can be said to be free of religious reasons.
No, it's here because Stefan planted it.
The extratemporal site has some artificially generated time. After all, you couldn't do anything without it. Their generator skims energy from the heart of a million Big Bangs, and you can convert energy into anything with enough clever thinking and enough energy. And they had energy.
So Extratemporal Site 000 has a timestream, independent of any other, and food, and instrumentation, and the scrapings of an existence.
And, because most of the staff are human, it has an orchard, and a chicken coop, and a rec room, and a garden. Stefan's favorite. A man needs a hobby.
He stands up, brushing dirt from his knees onto the bell peppers below. The fruit trees need pruning soon, and there are summer squash and zucchini ready for harvesting any day now. The message about the dinosaur was sent out this morning. It's afternoon now, and he wiped his brow and took a sip from his water bottle as he trudged uphill. At the top of the hill, under an abstract blue dome for a sky, is the observatory, and the hub of his existence. The simulations ought to be done by now.
Inside the observatory, he confirms it. The message has opened up some timelines that would otherwise have been cut off, which means success. That was the goal- keeping options open.
Also, he supposes, the lives (billions? sometimes trillions?) contained by each infinite world. Although when you were talking about worlds that were close to identical, morality becomes interesting.
That isn't Stefan's job, though. He suspects his next task is a little different.
For all of their beautiful equipment, for all of their ability to condense infinite multiverses into simulated elegant strands, for their careful algorithms that robbed tiny amounts of energy from the beginning of time, taking it to leave messages in its absence and then recycling it into light, food, oxygen, and entropy reversal for one small extratemporal homestead of wayward earthlings- for all of that, he still can't explain that goddamn dinosaur.
It didn't make any sense. For all interactions between the anomalous and the multiverse- and there were many- that one was uniquely pervasive. It didn't even start anywhere. It had been there the whole damn time. That's the strangest of all.
At the beginning, it had made his head hurt.
Later, it made him think.
More research certainly needs to be done. With more computer power, and more effort, they might be able to suss out a pattern of cause and effect that would, eventually, explain why 682 existed and what its connection to the entirety of the multiverse was.
Maybe it's just God. Anything is possible.
But if they examine at every correlation they can, and still turn up nothing- Stefan wonders if they'll need to take action.
The esoteric engine that connects them to the beginning of time runs seldom, with infinitesimal amounts of power. It isn't the stylus Stefan would have picked. But if you could use it to write a message into the background heat of the universe, it meant you were having a physical impact on the energy that would eventually become matter, then atoms, then molecules and stranger constructs yet.
If you knew what you were doing, you could build things. You could build an entire organism. You could guide it to fall on the surface of a hard planet by a yellow sun in a spiral-shaped galaxy.
He hasn't shared his suspicions with his colleagues, yet. He was as proud as the rest of them when they worked out what 682 had done. He was unfathomably grateful for the labors of the undying organism, that had chosen to fill its world with meaning. It seemed like an impossible task.
Stefan isn't sure how they'd do it yet, if they need to. But he has access to raw information from the multiverse, and some very clever people in the outpost alongside him. Slowly, they'll put the pieces together, and do what needs to be done.
He's a gardener. This is what he's good at.
And he has plenty of time.