SCP-3171
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Stalks of SCP-3171.

Item #: SCP-3171

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: The savanna where all known instances of SCP-3171 reside is to remain under Foundation ownership. Cameras are to be hidden within the perimeter and monitored 24/7 by security guards. Thirty remotely-controlled omnidirectional speakers should be placed throughout the property.

Researchers should visit instances of SCP-3171 weekly to collect any sacs of fluid that have accumulated within the fruit-like growths at the base. Care must be taken to maintain as little physical contact as possible during this procedure, as excessive contact often leads to rudeness and irritability on the part of SCP-3171.

Description: SCP-3171 is an achlorophylous plant from the genus Hydnora. A typical instance of SCP-3171 will have stalks measuring 4-5 meters with four fruitlike growths surrounding the stalk. Lifespan ranges between 2.5-3.5 years. Each instance of SCP-3171 is sapient with intelligence roughly comparable to the average human. SCP-3171 have evolved the ability to rapidly perform mathematical calculations; researchers have observed instances multiplying 90-digit numbers in 1-2 seconds.

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A closeup of the fruitlike growths at the base of each SCP-3171.

SCP-3171 communicate by opening and snapping shut the appendages out of which the fruitlike growths at the base of each plant are made. This produces a clicking sound; information is embedded into time differences between successive clicks.

SCP-3171 reproduce by releasing spores in the air. To date, the only place where these spores have taken root is the ~9,000m2 savanna on the northeast side of the Zambezi Nature Preserve. Efforts by the Foundation to grow SCP-3171 elsewhere have met with failure.

There are currently 457 known instances of SCP-3171. Different instances of SCP-3171 are referred to by attaching a number ranging between 1-457 to the SCP designation.

Discovery: SCP-3171 was discovered when Prof. Lachlan White from the University of Auckland placed an .mp3 file containing twenty hours of ambient sounds from a recent trip to the Zambezi preserve on his webpage. A statistical analysis by a student in one of Prof. White's classes detected a pseudorandom component to the pattern of audible clicks within the file. This observation was posted to a public listserv where it came to the attention of Foundation personnel. Amnestics were administered to all involved after it was determined that the pseudorandomness in question was part of an organically produced Diffie-Helman key exchange1.

A team of researchers was assembled by the Foundation and flown to Zambezi to study SCP-3171 in its natural habitat. Over the next 9 months, an automatic translation program for SCP-3171 communications was developed2, as well as software for converting English text into a series of clicks comprehensible to instances of SCP-3171. Speakers were installed within the savanna where SCP-3171 resides in preparation for first contact.

Interaction Log: First contact occurred on the evening of 09/08/1997 when Dr. Auden Green, a Foundation employee who had recently completed a thesis on Icelandic verse, ignored instructions from his superiors and communicated directly with SCP-3171.

It had been previously discovered that instances of SCP-3171 spent the vast majority of their time composing something akin to poetry; this discovery led to the addition of several team members with literary backgrounds, Dr. Green among them. The poetry composed by instances of SCP-3171 typically consists of persistent repetition of a small number of words in apparently nonsensical order. When a bout of food poisoning left Dr. Green alone at the observation post, he used the opportunity to interject himself into a conversation between instances of SCP-3171 and broadcast a poem of his own creation3.

After learning of Dr. Green’s unauthorized communication, Dr. Wang (head of the linguistics team stationed at Zambezi) made a more formal attempt at an interspecies greeting.

For a period of roughly two years after the conversation with Dr. Wang, attempts by the Foundation to communicate with SCP-3171 were met with silence.

Foundation interest in SCP-3171 increased dramatically after discovery that fluid sacs occasionally secreted within the fruitlike growths of SCP-3171 can be used in the production of amnestics. The anatomical purpose of these secretions is unknown. Numerous messages proposing mutually beneficent trade terms were broadcast to SCP-3171 without response.

Since the Foundation's botanical experts were uncertain as to whether they could compel SCP-3171 to produce the desired fluid sacs by force, coercive approaches were temporarily ruled out. Instead, a team of internationally acclaimed poets was employed to produce works inspired by translations of SCP-3171 utterances. It was believed that SCP-3171 did not consider communication with humanity worthwhile and that the production of a poem considered meaningful by SCP-3171 would change that. However, poetry produced by this team failed to elicit any response from SCP-3171. Parallel attempts to produce poems using machine learning protocols did not fare any better.

Foundation efforts met with their first success at 3:30 AM 11/12/1999, when Mr. Cullen Williams, a junior researcher assigned to the botanical team, attempted to communicate with SCP-3171 in a state of inebriation5.

Upon learning of this exchange the following morning, site leaders (Dr. Wang and Mr. Jackson, head of the botany division) were surprised to see approximately one-hundred attempts at private communication from instances of SCP-3171 logged during the previous night. Mr. Jackson conducted the ensuing investigation which revealed that:

  1. Although instances of SCP-3171 share liquids via networks of interlacing root structures, in the unlikely event that one of its own spores takes root close by, an instance of SCP-3171 will refuse to share liquids with it.
  2. Exceptions to the previous item occur exceedingly rarely, and only by instances located at the far edges of the savanna disconnected from the main component of the root structure.

It is conjectured that the act of sharing sustenance with family members has the nature of a sexual taboo among SCP-3171. While all instances of SCP-3171 express disgust at the notion publicly (as when Mr. Williams mentioned sharing a bowl of ice cream with his mother), in private many of them will request to hear detailed accounts of such “incestuous” encounters by Foundation personnel.

Building on these insights, Mr. Jackson developed a protocol for one-on-one interaction with instances of SCP-3171.

As of 1/1/2015, the Foundation employs 87 personnel to interact with SCP-3171 according to Mr. Jackson's protocol, generating approximately 400 kg of SCP-3171 secretions per annum.

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