Project Damnerung
rating: +59+x

O5-4 never gets messages during the daily O5 meeting. Except for today. After he felt the buzz, Four took his phone out to set it to "Do Not Disturb". He glanced down at it out of instinct, and caught the message on the screen:

Kirkland - Dammerung Update: someone is in Site-2718. More info on your personal line.

Oh fuck.

Four had to stop himself from saying anything out loud. His eyes lingered on the screen, reading it again to make sure he parsed it right.

The overseer sitting next to Four turned to him, "Everything ok?"

"Umm, sorry," Four said as he shoved his phone back in his pocket, "This is urgent. I have to take this in my office." He packed up some papers and stood to leave the conference room.

"For when the vote comes, put me down in favor of classifying the AR suits as normal."

And then he briskly walked out of the room. The other overseers didn't think much of Four's exit. Besides, there's so much going in the Foundation, if every overseer required complete knowledge of what every other overseer directed, nothing would ever get done. They trusted each other enough not to ask too many questions.

Meanwhile, Four had broken into a sprint back to his office. It's times like this that he wished he had picked a room closer to the main conference room, instead of in the opposite wing, on a different floor. So six hallways and two flights of stairs later (he never takes the elevator when going only one floor up), Four burst into his office, locked the door behind him, and took a moment to breathe at his desk.

"Fuck," he muttered to himself. Then he took a deep breath, and picked up the phone.


Some time in 2014, O5-4 became afraid of death. His brother, niece, and mentor all passed away within weeks of each other. The first died in a drunk driving accident. The second was shot during her third period math class. The third died of a heart-attack at the age of 86. It was a lot. O5-4 didn't deal with it all too well. He went by Daniel back then, so he would hear a lot of

"Oh, Daniel, I'm so sorry."

"Daniel, if there's anything you need to talk about, just give me a call."

"You can take a break if you want, Daniel. Take a few days to mourn."

And Daniel did. But it didn't help much. Death was something that happened to D-class and MTF agents. Not to friends and family. He had trouble processing it. Didn't help that the three funerals were scheduled each one day apart. In the end, Daniel never really got over it.

But really, it's not too surprising. Foundation personnel rarely dealt with death well to begin with.


"Hello."

"Is this O5-4?"

"Yes. Who is this?"

"Erica Dunders? You asked me to look over the Project Dammerung funding."

"Right right. You said someone is in Site-2718?"

"Yes. I just got back the power bill for the site. It's higher than it usually is. Like someone has been running the lights and power outlets all day."

"Intruders?"

"Maybe? They didn't set off any alarms so maybe its someone from the original team?"

O5-4 placed the receiver face up on his desk, and then pulled up a list of the researchers on the project. He went through one by one, checking their current assignment and status within the Foundation.

"Umm… hello? Sir? Are you still there?"

There it was. O5-4 clicked on the link to Dr. Emily Young's assignment status.

Last Position: Lead Researcher of SCP-4514.

Current Position: Unassigned


In 2018, Daniel was recruited to join the O5 council. The reasons were never made clear to him, but then again dealing with the upper echelons of the Foundation is murky business. He replaced the previous O5-4 who simply "could not continue to fulfill their obligations as part of the council."

Three days after receiving his new title, Daniel began cultivating a small team. It was an open secret that every O5 member had pet projects that only they knew about. This was Daniel's. And the first person who he cleared to be on the team was none other than a zealous Emily Young.

He'd met her while spending time at Site-44. He was supposed to be talking to the research leads there about possible changes to D-Class testing regulations, when he noticed Emily literally running through the halls with a stack of papers in her hand. She nearly crashed into Daniel, sending loose-leave flying.

"Oh! Sorry!" Emily said as she crouched down and started picking up papers.

"It's fine, just slow down a little," Daniel replied, "what's so important anyway?"

"Test results."

"Test results for what?"

Emily stopped to look up at Daniel, "For the damn inside thing. I think we figured it out!"

"Oh. Well… good work then."

Daniel didn't know what Emily was talking about, but something about her enthusiasm made him interested. She cleaned up her papers and scampered off shouting "eureka" as she rounded the corner.

When Daniel got back to his office at Site-01, he did a brief search for Foundation research reports with the word "inside" in the title. Most recent one that popped up was authored by one Emily Young.

Two months later, he called her to offer her position on his little project.


O5-4 picked up the receiver again.

"When did you say the energy bill got hiked?"

"About a month or so ago? Hard to tell exactly. We don't pay for utilities once a day."

O5-4 dug through the Project Dammerung folder on his computer. He hadn't had to open it ever since the start of ΩK, until about a month ago when he added a new, special version of the SCP-4514 document. It was largely the same as the one on the public database, except for a modified discovery section:

Discovery: On 5/14/2130, SCP-4514 was recovered following a violent altercation between two inebriated individuals Foundation Agent Alexander Durango and a civilian named Benjamin Wolt. The quarrel resulted in SCP-4514 being used to kill one of the involved persons Wolt. Foundation personnel were alerted after the local paper published a story covering the event, who administered amnestics to all witnessing parties. A disinformation campaign was run thereafter to discredit the news agency.

The following is an interview conducted with Durango following the recovery of SCP-4514:

Interviewer: Afternoon Alex.

Durango: Afternoon. This just going to be the standard after-incident interview?

Interviewer: Yeah. I'll just start with the usual question: where did you get the knife?

Durango: A close friend gave it to me a long, long time ago.

Interviewer: What friend?

Durango: He's not around anymore. He died a few days before Omega-K started.

Interviewer: That doesn't mean he doesn't have a name.

Durango: Fair, fair. His name was Anthony Michaels.

Interviewer: Did Michaels do anything… interesting to the knife?

Durango: Not that I can think of. Although I can't be sure. It was really important to him. Carried around everywhere. A gift from his dad when he joined the Foundation.

Interviewer: Huh. You know why he would give you something so personal?

Durango: Not sure. Just got it in the mail one day with a letter that said "take good care of it". Obviously I fucked that part up.

Interviewer: I see. Well, I think that's all from me. Good luck with your supervisor.

Durango: Thanks, I'll need it.

Fourteenth of May. O5-4 double-checked the calendar. Seventeenth of June.

"Fuck."

"Excuse me sir?"


Of all of the things Daniel never thought to plan for, it was over-completion of his objective. The goal of Project Dammerung was selective immortality: to allow certain individuals to live forever. This meant that Daniel prepared for the possibility of accidentally killing people, or accidentally hurting people, or simply giving elongated life instead of immortality. He thought the margin or error would be focused on the "immortality" part of the goal, not on the "selective" part.

This is why September 12th of 2020, Daniel had to work entirely off the cuff to hide Project Dammerung from the rest of the Foundation. He ordered the records be destroyed. That the site be deserted. He ordered the amnestization of the entire project team. He asked for a lot. Obviously some of that fell through the cracks. He had recruited excited researchers who could keep their lips shut, but he didn't look at loyalty too closely.

But he didn't think too much about the possibility that his team might simply desert on him. Less than a minute after he got off his last call with Emily, he was summoned to an emergency O5 Council meeting.

The meeting opened with the expected questions: what exactly is happening and how can it be contained? They laid out a priority list:

  1. Population Control
  2. Veil Control
  3. Terminal State Replacement

After the last priority was written on the board, Daniel could feel himself start to speak, almost on reflex.

"Why do we need to fix it?"

The entire council turned to him. He resisted the urge to fidget with his pen.

"This obviously falls outside of baseline," O5-9 replied, "We need to reestablish normalcy. It's the cornerstone of what we do here."

"Right, but what if this isn't reversible?"

"We haven't even started research into it."

"I know but it would be silly to put our resources into finding a solution that doesn't exist!"

Daniel tried hard to believe the words he was saying. But he didn't care about wasting resources. He just wanted to keep his immortality.

"Four, this conversation is not conducive to our current situation. We can revisit this issue after we've made some progress," O5-1 said.

Daniel conceded the point, and left the meeting crestfallen. The Foundation was full of smart people. They were bound to figure something out if they tried hard enough.

At least that's what Daniel told himself for the next year. And when no progress had been made he hedged the statement a little more. And then a little more the next year. And then ten years had gone by, and still no one had a damn clue how to deal with ΩK. It helped that Emily put herself in a coma five years in.

So, Daniel put together a proposal. He put it forth during the O5 Council meeting.

Proposal Date: 9/16/2030

Update Proposal: Reclassification of immortality among species in the kingdom Animalia as non-anomalous.

Dialog:

It's been just over 10 years since the start of the ΩK-Class "End of Death" Scenario. The world has been exposed to the phenomenon of immortality the entire time, and has begun to adjust to it, while we continue to throw valuable time and resources at attempting to reverse this phenomenon. Thus far, there is no progress in sight.

While I agree that immortality is certainly not within what we should consider a baseline reality, returning the world to baseline would most likely have more disastrous consequences than leaving things the way they are. People would have to relearn what it means to fear death, to fear danger. A large portion of the population would most likely kill themselves within a week of the restoration to baseline. And even then the entire human population would have been exposed to the existence of this anomaly.

Some have discussed the possibility of administrating amnestics world-wide to cause a hard reset; the act of inducing amnesia in the entire human race would most-likely be as catastrophic as restoring death without alerting anyone.

At this point in time, the most reasonable course of action would be to accept the world as it is now. Once we can accept the nature of the situation, we can focus our efforts on maintaining our new baseline.

Conclusion: Proposal passed by a vote of 7-5-1.


O5-4 hung up the phone, forgetting to thank Erica for the alert. He was not about to lose his most prized possession because some researchers regretted their actions from a hundred years ago. Emily was not going to take his immortality away. O5-4 sent a message to his secretary:

From: O5-4

To: Greg Kirklan

Subject: URGENT: Dammerung Emergency

Message:

Send Red Right Hand to Site-2718.

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