The former Great Hall of the Nine-Teenth Ruin was, for the first time that year, completely full, an observation that Cardinal Frakes made with no small amount of pride.
Dignitaries from every Monastery had made an appearance, from Deacon Collings (of the Temple of the Red-Pool) to Sister Bissett (from the Agnethain Sisterhood, founded at the time of the Great Breach by the Saints Rights, Erdrich and Break) to Arch-Cardinal Liriano, of the Council of Ethicists. They had all come, despite the dangers of traveling through Expunged territory, to witness the Ceremony of the Clockworks.
Stepping up to the podium, Frakes raised his arms for silence before beginning the chant from the Holy Procedures.
"Only personnel who submit a formal request and receive approval from site command may operate 914," he chanted.
"Only personnel who submit a formal request and receive approval from site command may operate 914," echoed the crowd.
"SCP-914 is to be kept in research cell 109-B with two guard personnel on duty at all times," he continued.
"SCP-914 is to be kept in research cell 109-B with two guard personnel on duty at all times," echoed the crowd.
Frakes continued like this, reciting the words from memory. Decades ago, at the beginning of his study, he had chosen to focus on the writings of Saint Gears, a path he had never regretted. Because of this, he was the natural choice to carry out the Ceremony of the Clockworks after the previous Cardinal in charge had died.
"The process takes between five and ten minutes, depending on the size of the object being refined," concluded the group.
When the last echoes died down, Frakes spoke. "D-Caste 100718468294, please approach the Intake booth with the Input."
The chosen D-Caste picked up the object in question-a small, hand-carved wooden statue depicting a whale-and walked to the Input box.
"Please insert the object into the input box," Frakes said.
The D-Caste proceeded to do so, causing the door to slowly grind shut and release a small ding.
"Now proceed to set the knob to 'Fine'," Frakes said.
The D-Caste did so.
"Now, wind the key underneath."
The D-Caste wound it, then stepped back from 914.
Deep within the machine, parts that had been neglected and used sparingly for years ground to life. For five minutes, the Great Hall was filled with the shrieks of tortured metal and awful grinds of rusted gears.
When the process was done, the machine ground to a halt.
"D-Caste, remove the object from SCP-914," Frakes said.
The D-Caste opened the "Output" booth and removed an object that superficially appeared to be the same statue that had gone in.
The room became completely silent.
"The resulting anomaly is classified as SCP-2986," chanted Frakes.
The resulting anomaly is classified as SCP-2986," echoed the crowd.
"SCP-2986 is to be contained inside a box constructed of pine," Frakes recited.
"SCP-2986 is to be contained inside a box constructed of pine," came the echo.
After the recitation of the Holy Procedures, another D-Caste brought out a pine box, handcrafted to the appropriate specifications, and the new SCP was contained. The Ceremony of the Clockworks was now concluded, and the box was passed around to be studied by the dignitaries.
After the examination was complete, and after all the dignitaries had begun their journey back home, Cardinal Frakes picked up the box and walked deeper into the ruins.
After an hour's worth of walking, he came to a room filled with stacks of pinewood boxes identical to the one in his hand, which extended as far as the eye could see.
Reverently, he set his box on top of the stack closest to him before bowing down and saying a short prayer to Saint Gears:
"Saint Gears, please guide me in my time of need as you guided the Holy Foundation during the Great Breach."
"Bequeath unto me the knowledge to discover that which is false."
"Grant unto me the ability to separate logic from falsity."
"Allow me to grasp but a portion of the knowledge you once had."
"Quid non scitum est potest causare magis nocere quam nulla intentoque malevolentia unquam speraverunt effectum."