SCP-3241
rating: +158+x
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The SS Sommerfeld (circa 1995).

Item #: SCP-3241

Object Class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: SARC1 is to continue developing a safe and effective containment strategy for SCP-3241. Until such a strategy exists, procedures to contain SCP-3241 will focus on mitigation, observation, and the prevention of outside contact.

Personnel are to cooperate with the JMSDF2 and other naval and aeronautic authorities to enforce a seventy-five kilometer exclusion zone around SCP-3241. Only Foundation-operated vessels are permitted to enter this zone. Surveillance drones are to be deployed on a weekly basis into SCP-3241 to monitor its rate of expansion; should this rate change, SCP-3241's current Containment Director is to be notified immediately.

The use of SRAs3 within SCP-3241's exclusion zone is strictly prohibited. Pending completion of the inquiry into the events on November 5, 2015, no personnel (Foundation or otherwise) are permitted to enter SCP-3241 without O5 approval.

Description: SCP-3241 is an irregularly shaped volume (approximately twelve kilometers in diameter) centered upon the SS Sommerfeld (formerly SS Chávez). It exhibits numerous spatial, temporal, molecular, and biological anomalies. Although the nature and severity of these anomalies fluctuate with no discernible pattern, they do not extend beyond SCP-3241. SCP-3241 is currently expanding at a rate of approximately four meters per day.

The SS Sommerfeld is a cargo ship constructed in 1963 by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company. It was purchased, refurbished, and rechristened in 1995 by DLS4 as part of a Foundation-sponsored contract to provide a transport for low-risk anomalies from the decommissioned Site-97 to Site-82.

The ship was believed to have been lost along with its crew and all anomalies on-board in 1998. An inquiry conducted by the Foundation in 1999 attributed this to a mid-transit containment breach followed by the failed deployment of its emergency safety system (consisting of six linked SRAs). In 2015, the SS Sommerfeld was discovered adrift two hundred kilometers west of Odo Island. This lead to the formation of SARC to assess the sudden emergence of SCP-3241 and develop a safe and effective containment procedure for it.

In 2018, new evidence came to light regarding possible malfeasance on the part of Daniel DeVorn and DLS. A second inquiry was conducted into the events of 1998 and 2015. As a consequence of this inquiry, all current and future contracts with DLS have been suspended. Daniel DeVorn remains at large, and has been designated as PoI-3241-347.

Addendum 3241.1: Loss of the SS Sommerfeld

On September 17th, 1998, the SS Sommerfeld departed Jacksonville, Florida (USA) for Itaguaí, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). At 17:21 UTC, the Coast Guard received a signal from the ship's EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) placing it near the center of the Atlantic Ocean (33.49°, -54.26°). At 18:06 UTC, the EPIRB broadcasted another signal placing it in the vicinity of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range (46.12°, 136.96°). At 18:55 UTC, COSPAS-SARSAT satellites received a final transmission from the beacon; its position could no longer be determined. All subsequent attempts to establish communication failed.

Early recovery efforts were hindered by Hurricane Georges, an inability to determine the SS Sommerfeld's location, and DLS representatives who incorrectly insisted to Foundation officials that the vessel was not lost but merely delayed on account of severe weather conditions. Daniel DeVorn defended this decision during the 1999 inquiry:

Her emergency beacon was sending a signal, but the coordinates were all over the place. They made no sense. We've had distress beacons misfire before — so we figured it was malfunctioning. We couldn't establish radio contact to confirm on account of Hurricane Georges. But after three hours of nothing, we realized something was wrong.

That's when I made the call. I called Jack5 myself. I told him something was wrong. I told him Sommerfeld had gone missing.

Once the SS Sommerfeld was declared lost, the Foundation immediately mounted a joint search-and-rescue operation with help from UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination), the GOC (Global Occult Coalition), United States Coast Guard, Air Force, Air National Guard, and Navy. Search efforts concentrated on the ship's planned route and the two coordinates provided in its emergency broadcast. After an intensive six month long investigation, no trace of the SS Sommerfeld was found.

Addendum 3241.2: Initial Inquiry

During the initial 1999 inquiry, Daniel DeVorn responded to questions regarding the possibility that the disappearance of the SS Sommerfeld was caused by a fault in its emergency SRA system.

Look, that's — look, I don't want to be rude, but that's nonsense. That's absolute nonsense. Our SRAs have a near-flawless track record. They've seen extensive use throughout the Foundation. They're directly responsible for averting disasters every day. They save lives, every single day. And we're developing better, more cost-effective SRAs, every single day.

What happened to the SS Sommerfeld was tragic, but had nothing to do with our emergency safety system. What happened was — I don't want to blame your people. I'm sure their performance was exemplary. I've worked with you long enough to know you only hire the best of the best. But I do want to point out that you consistently refuse to staff DLS technicians on-site to provide immediate technical support. You wouldn't let us put any of our employees on that boat. You also have a history of — your procedures have a history of deviating from the SRA manual. The manual exists for a reason. We wrote it for a reason. If you follow it, they work fine.

The real tragedy is that this could have been averted. Had the Foundation been willing to let one of our DLS technicians on-board the Sommerfeld, I'm certain they could have correctly deployed the SRAs. Had the Foundation paid for — had you been willing to take the time and let our technicians just train your employees, or even read our manual, I'm certain we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Professor Zora Tschetter (a paraphysicist who left the Foundation to work for DLS as a consultant) corroborated Daniel DeVorn's claims:

I'll never understand the resistance to SRAs. Never. We have — we have this wonderful little device, this wonderful miracle that can reduce even the fiercest of anomalies to a purring kitten. Previously, the only bottleneck was their prohibitive production cost and maintenance requirements. But now? They're cheap, self-correcting, and a hundred times more potent.

I've worked with them for decades. They've saved my life more times than I can count. If I asked for a show of hands right now, right here in this room — of how many of you have been saved by an SRA — I'd be shocked if I saw a single hand down. I really would.

What happened to the SS Sommerfeld was terrible. My heart goes out to the victims. It really does. But our SRAs have been tested time and time again. We can account for everything — everything except human error.

One voice of dissent came from Professor Sherman Sivori, a Foundation paraphysicist with a reputation for expressing skepticism toward SRAs:

Alright, for starters, they don't have a "flawless" track record. That's a load of bupkis. They have a pretty spotty one, actually — at best. Half the time, we can't even tell if they failed. Because when they do, reality gets rewritten.

SRAs treat all anomalies as morphogenic fields. They presume that these fields can be "corrected" — that the anomalous can be reverted to a 'non-anomalous' state. In short, SRAs presume anomalies fit into a larger system. A system we understand and can control.

But what makes something anomalous? By its very definition, it's something that doesn't fit. Something you can't control. We think we've found a way to suppress the anomalous, but all we've really found is an anomaly that's strong enough to overcome other anomalies.

The SRA is a tiger that we use to tame monsters. We think we've domesticated it. We think it's our pet. But a pet tiger is still a tiger. You can cage it, train it, teach it cute tricks — but it's still a tiger. It still has claws. It still has fangs. And we've surrounded ourselves with them.

God help us all if they ever go feral.

Addendum 3241.3: Loss and Recovery of the IRV Silent Spring

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IRV Silent Spring (circa 2004).

On August 12, 2015, contact was lost with the IRV Silent Spring. The vessel had been performing an oceanographic survey on behalf of Odo Island's fishing industry to determine the cause behind a recent and dramatic change in the behavior of Seriola quinqueradiata (Japanese amberjack, or yellowtail). Initial attempts to locate the ship failed; its transponder was non-responsive or otherwise outside of effective transmission range.

Three days later, Kansai International Airport intercepted a distress signal from the IRV Silent Spring's EPIRB. After several failed attempts to establish communication, Japanese authorities deployed the ERRV Koyo Maru to investigate. This effort was abandoned when an on-board radiometric sensor (installed in the wake of the 2012 Fukushima Daiichi disaster) detected small but significant levels of ionizing radiation from the vessel. Japanese authorities then contacted the Foundation, who mobilized MTF Theta-5 ("The Bigger Boat") alongside Beta-7 ("Maz Hatters") to take the IRV Silent Spring into custody.

Miguel Quiñones (the acting CO of MTF Beta-7 at the time) described his experience with the vessel during the 2018 inquest:

So, when the JMSDF called us, we figured it was just Old Man Jenkins6 up to no good. Happens a lot. Some freshly promoted bureaucrat panics, or tries to pass their disaster off on us. We've even had a few cases where someone tries to make a perfectly ordinary problem look anomalous. This one time, I heard a guy even

— right, sorry. Anyway, we were pretty sure we'd be finding a dead whale tangled up in a buoy or something. We still followed procedure, though. Complacency is what gets people killed. You learn that lesson on day one. Came at it upwind to minimize exposure. It's a good thing, too. The stink alone could have dropped us all.

It definitely wasn't a whale. But it didn't look like a boat, either. It looked like… like a giant blob of rotting meat. A spongy, floating meat-slab.

Snoopy7 picked up some static, but not a lot. We still took every precaution. We took a few extra ones, just to be sure. We didn't have any clue what we were looking at. We didn't even know there were, uh — people? — we didn't know there was, uh, anybody in there. We just hooked it up and hauled it away. Figured the lab-coats would sort it all out.

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Deck of the IRV Silent Spring shortly after recovery.

The IRV Silent Spring was transported to a temporary provincial site for containment and evaluation. Researchers soon discovered it previously hosted a colony of over three hundred unidentified species of micro-organisms. Despite this microbiome's incredible complexity and interdependent functionality, a mass-extinction event had occurred prior to recovery.

The vessel's exterior was sheathed in an expired colony of microscopic arthropods. Hollow calcium carbonate nodules extruded from the ship's surface at multiple points; endoscopic and sonographic surveys determined that they extended through the hull as part of a rudimentary respiratory system. Large internal cavities of elastic tissue could expand and contract to regulate air flow.

Upon dissection, researchers discovered that the vessel's interior topography was connected by a complex vascular system of thin, flexible tubing responsible for the circulation of nutrients and expulsion of effluent. These tubes extended into the IRV Silent Spring's crew. Each crew member's central nervous system had been partially extricated and fused into a singular neural mass incorporated into the vascular system, which supplied the brain tissue with glucose and oxygen. The purpose or function of this congealed neural mass could not be determined.

The module containing the IRV Silent Spring's EPIRB and VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) was found intact; the microbiome had failed to penetrate its exterior shell. However, repeated exposure to ionizing radiation had corrupted the device's internal memory, rendering it irrecoverable.

While retracing the IRV Silent Spring's initial route, a Foundation-operated submarine (the SCPF Stravinsky) encountered a cargo vessel adrift two hundred kilometers west of Odo Island, Japan. The ship had no AIS (Automatic Identification System), did not respond to hails, and emitted significant levels of ionizing radiation. The SCPF Stravinsky launched a Panopticon-Class surveillance drone toward the vessel. Prior to an unexplained mechanical failure, digital imagery from the drone confirmed the ship's markings as a match for the SS Sommerfeld.

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SCP-3241 (circa 2015). Image taken from surveillance drone prior to mechanical failure.

Addendum 3241.4: Initial Response

On October 26, SARC was assembled to assess the extent of the SS Sommerfeld's threat and develop an effective containment strategy for its numerous anomalies. Bryan Browning, a veteran Foundation field agent and Site-97's former Site-Director, was assigned as the Containment Director.

Close observation of the SS Sommerfeld was all but impossible on account of its unpredictable properties; surveillance drones sent into its area of effect experienced numerous mechanical failures. In order to acquire more data, Director Browning requisitioned several SRAs from DLS and ordered them mounted inside the SCPF Stravinsky. The submarine was to approach SCP-3241 under the cover of a morphogenic field and attempt to retrieve its VDR.

Several members of the SCPF Stravinsky's crew refused Director Browning's orders. This group included the vessel's Executive Officer, Leslie Horton. She explained her decision in 2018:

Browning painted us as a bunch of traitors attempting a coup, but anyone with one fucking iota of military experience will tell you there's a world of difference between "Open fire" and "Walk up to the enemy and tweak his nose while this magic box protects you". Besides, this wasn't a military operation. There was no immediate threat. We had every right to stop work over safety concerns. And that's precisely what we did.

Professor Bakshi is the reason why, though. Bakshi had experience with SRAs — real experience — and he didn't trust them. He told Browning that his plan would put us at risk. When Browning told him to piss off, Bakshi came to us directly. He explained these things — the SRAs — he told us they were unreliable. Described it like trying to put out a fire with a flamethrower. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you just burn the whole goddamn neighborhood down. Convinced me, at least.

Browning was furious. Kept ranting about how Bakshi didn't know the first thing about field work or paratech. He said that if Bakshi didn't have the stomach for this sort of thing, then he ought to, uh — I think his exact words were 'go apply for a job managing a 7-11'. Then he said some, uh, some other things that I won't, uh, repeat here.

But in the end, Bakshi wouldn't back down. And neither would we.

A compromise was reached on November 5. One SRA would be mounted to a USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) capable of sustaining its weight and supplying it with power. A representative from DLS arrived as an SRA consultant and to provide technical support.

Shortly after entering SCP-3241's area of effect, the USV ceased to respond to remote commands. The vessel operated autonomously for two kilometers before experiencing a catastrophic mechanical failure and sinking along with the mounted SRA. As this was significantly farther than what previous drones had achieved, the DLS representative claimed that the SRA had worked; furthermore, he claimed that control over the drone had likely been lost on account of the SRA's morphogenic field not being wide enough to prevent anomalous disruptions of incoming radio transmissions. He concluded that a network of overlapping SRAs — combined with manual adjustments made by a licensed SRA operator — would be more than sufficient to overcome any of SCP-3241's anomalous effects.

Director Browning agreed with this assessment. He again ordered the crew of the SCPF Stravinsky to mount SRAs into their vessel and proceed into SCP-3241's area of effect — with Professor Bakshi (the only licensed SRA operator present at the time) on-hand to make adjustments as required. Again, several members of SCPF Stravinsky's crew refused.

Director Browning then ordered three of the five remaining SRAs to be mounted on the SCPF Beagle 3 (a small four-man patrol boat) and assembled a team to personally accompany him into SCP-3241's area of effect. When Professor Bakshi refused to accompany Director Browning, he asked the DLS representative to fill Professor Bakshi's role instead.

In 2018, Professor Gambheer Bakshi gave the following testimony regarding Director Browning's request for the DLS representative to operate the SRA:

Raymond Asakawa. The technician from DLS — that was his name. He was young. Very young. Very bright, too. I found out later that he was studying to be a computer scientist. He just worked this job to pay his tuition.

I don't think he… no. I know he didn't intend to mislead anyone. He just trusted his training. He trusted the SRA manual. All his answers to Director Browning's questions came straight out of that manual. He must have memorized it. Director Browning ate it up. Patted the young man on the back, asked him all about Hume levels, Kant counters — questions he knew Mr. Asakawa could answer. Building up his confidence. Making him feel like an expert, like — like part of the team.

Then, when Director Browning asked me to accompany him — he knew I would say no. He knew. He turned to Mr. Asakawa, and that's when I realized what was going on. Why he had been treating this young man so nicely. He was playing him. He turned to Asakawa, and he said — he asked if he could — he —

— he asked him — asked him to —

— to —

Shit.

Shit. Sorry. I'm sorry. I don't usually — I need a moment. Just, um, just give me a moment. It's been a long time since I've talked about — shit. I'm sorry.

Okay.

Alright. Okay. I'm alright, now. Sorry. Sorry for the cussing.

He looked so scared right then. Mr. Asakawa, I mean. I think he was starting to realize that there was a very real danger, here. But then, Browning said something — I don't even remember what. Something about how back in his day, they didn't have SRAs? How they could have saved so many lives back then. How important Asakawa's work was. Something like that. Then Asakawa smiled, and —

— he was looking at me, before. When he was scared. He was looking straight at me. Me. Like he was expecting me to save him. And — I could have. I could have saved him. I could have said no. I could have said absolutely not. I could have pulled that boy off the boat and told that fat racist fuck to go fuck himself.

But I didn't.

I was so angry at him. Browning put his pride before all of our lives. I wanted him to be punished. He deserved to be punished. And that's why Raymond Asakawa is dead. He asked me to save him, and I didn't. Because I was angry.

I'm not sorry that Browning is dead. Fuck him. He deserved worse. But I am sorry about Raymond Asakawa. A day doesn't go by that I'm not sorry about Raymond Asakawa. I let that happen. I let that young man die. It should have been me on that boat. I'm sorry.

Fuck. I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry.

Director Browning boarded the SCPF Beagle 3 with his team and approached SCP-3241. Out of the four team-members, only Jackson Voccola, a veteran containment specialist, survived:

We were about half a kilometer in when I realized something was wrong. It was this low keening noise behind me — like something was off with the engines. I started thinking about what I'd do if they went belly-up. Couldn't risk swimming for it. Then I remembered the tow-line — they could reel us back. That relaxed me a little.

But that sound just kept getting louder and louder. Something felt off about it. Too shrill. Not mechanical enough. I finally turned around, and, uh, yeah. Wasn't the engines. It was the kid. The one DLS sent us.

He'd been screaming for a while, now. Wasn't hard to see why. What surprised me was that he could scream. Big chunks of him had turned into glass. You could see straight inside him — like somebody installed a bunch of windows all over his body. There was this web of veins that wove through his guts — like pink silk ribbons.

When he moved, it made this horrible noise. Crackling and popping. Like somebody grinding their heel down into a sack of light-bulbs. The glass started splintering — jagged lines shot through him and bit into his innards. Blood trickled along the cracks, then dribbled out of him. Real slow.

Sanchez had turned inside out. Didn't seem to mind. I think he even winked at me. And Browning, uh — I'm not positive, but it looked like his bones were evaporating. His body was collapsing into a heap of loose, folded skin. Like a pile of dirty laundry. This foul-smelling yellow smoke kept pouring out of all his holes.

I think the engines croaked at some point? The last thing I remember was them hauling us back as fast as they could. That's when I passed out from the pain. When I woke up a few weeks later, they told me Sanchez and Browning were DOA. The kid took about twenty minutes to finally shatter and bleed out. As for me… got pretty lucky. Only lost three limbs and half my intestinal tract.

Look. Browning was a son of a bitch, I'll give you that. He and I joined the Foundation during the glory days. We did things differently, back then — and when the times started changing, he couldn't change with them. He was my friend, yeah. He was also a shitty human being. I know that. I've always known that.

But for all his faults, he's not the reason I now drink my meals through a tube and shit them into a bag. I don't blame the kid, either — he wouldn't have come along for the ride if he didn't swallow this SRA horse-shit just like the rest of us. And I sure as fuck don't blame Gambheer Bakshi. As far as I'm concerned, that man is a goddamn saint.

But Daniel DeVorn? I swear to God. If I ever lay eyes on that man, I will crawl out of this wheel-chair and rip his fucking throat out with my bare teeth.

It didn't do a goddamn thing. You hear me? Not a goddamn thing. If anything, it made things worse: None of the drones flipped inside out. None of them evaporated into smoke. None of them turned into fucking glass. No, they all just broke. It wasn't until we tried using his shitty products to contain his shitty boat that I ended up in this shitty chair.

Wherever you are, Mr. DeVorn, you ought to get down on your knees and thank God Almighty that the Foundation has changed. Because back in my day? This story wouldn't end with some sort of — some sort of fucking "inquiry". It would end with you in an orange jump-suit, thrown into the deepest, darkest hole we could find. It would end with us laughing while we sipped ice-cold beers and made bets on how long it'd be before all our monsters got tired of your screams.

Addendum 3241.5: Recovered Emails

On January 3rd, 2018, an anonymous source provided the Foundation with several terabytes of data taken from DLS's intranet. This data included numerous email exchanges between Daniel DeVorn and his staff in regards to the installation of the emergency SRA system in the SS Sommerfeld:

DATE: 16/04/1995
SUBJECT: Re: Emergency SRA system
FROM: <simon.tchlekoz@███████>
TO: <daniel.devorn@███████>


You can argue that correlation does not equal causation until you're blue in the face, Dan. But the correlation is 1:1 across the board — for over ten years. And even if it didn't correlate, it doesn't change the fact every anchor out there — including the ones that have been in service for decades — are experiencing failure events with increasing regularity.

Every new SRA we put into service increases the risk of another SRA failing. Right now, we're accounting for these increases in failure rates via an automated correction system: When one unit fails, two can adjust their morphogenic fields and suppress the faulty unit before it goes critical. We schedule monthly "preventative maintenance" to check for faulty units and quietly swap them out for ones that won't turn your skin into acid or whatever.

But that's just it: You need at least two "clean" units to stop a failed unit from going critical. Which is why an emergency system with only four SRAs just isn't going to cut it anymore. That setup would have worked twenty years ago, sure — back when a single unit failure was a rare occurrence. But now? Multiple units in a set fail all the time. And if two out of four fail? The other two won't be able to hold them back. They'll go critical.

Have you ever seen a Scranton Reality Anchor go critical? I have. Words like "Biblical" come to mind.

If you want this ship to be safe, you'll need eighteen — at least fifteen — units. That will keep them out of the danger-zone. That makes the chances of a criticality event all but impossible. Install just one unit less and you'll be putting everyone on board in harm's way.

Following a review of these emails, Foundation investigators concluded that the loss of the SS Sommerfeld — along with over twenty separate incidents of containment breaches — may have occurred as a consequence of SRA failures. This led to the 2018 inquiry into the loss of the SS Sommerfeld, and the Foundation's reliance on SRAs for containment and safety.

Two weeks prior to the start of the inquiry, Daniel DeVorn escaped Foundation custody. Efforts to locate him are underway.

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