Dr. Severe rubbed his eyes as he paged in the next employee. This would be the nineteenth individual he had talked to about the incident.
Eleven casualties, twice as many injuries, and nine hundred million U.S. dollars in damage. And still no one could tell him why the hell SCP-6017 had managed to breach containment. He had spoken with agents, researchers, engineers, technicians, even the janitor, and not a single person could give an explanation as to why a ten-thousand year old lightning creature was able to get past the electric field built specifically to keep its unique abilities on lockdown.
What perplexed Dr. Severe was that, as far as he could tell, no systems had failed. The wiring in the electric field was unblemished, the power-plant that supplied it was in proper working order, all the cooling stations were functioning perfectly. Everything appeared to have been operating well within parameters when SCP-6017 got out. Normally he would assume the containment procedures themselves were at fault. This clearly wasn't the case, however, since 6017 had been successfully contained for years using the system in place, and had remained contained since its re-capture.
Dr. Severe sighed and rose as the next interviewee arrived and introduced himself as Jonathan Blake. Dr. Severe quickly scanned through his personnel profile: 24 year old Caucasian male, ex-army infantry, class-1 technician, with the Foundation for four months, first Keter assignment. Dr. Severe raised an eyebrow, noting that it had been Blake's first day assigned to 6017 when it breached containment.
"Please have a seat," Dr. Severe instructed Blake as he sat down himself.
"Yes sir, thank you sir," Blake replied nervously as he sat down stiffly into the chair opposite Dr. Severe's desk.
"Relax Blake, this isn't the military and you aren't in trouble. I'm just trying to figure out what in the hell happened to let 6017 out of its cage. Now, just run through what happened that day, starting from when you came into work."
"Yes, sir, will do, sir." Blake began. "I arrived at oh-eight-hundred hours to my post and checked the temperature gauges to make sure everything was working properly. Then I…"
"Was it?" Dr. Severe interrupted him.
"Was…what?" Blake replied with a stammer.
"Was everything working properly?" Dr. Severe replied tersely.
"Y…yes, sir. All readings were correct. Sir. All temperatures read below four-point-one kelvin. Sir."
"Good. Please continue." Dr. Severe had been expecting this answer, as it had already been confirmed by two other technicians.
"Well, I returned to the monitoring station and noticed power station C was running a bit hot, so I went to activate backup station L, standard procedure."
Dr. Severe nodded and motioned for him to continue. The power stations overheated regularly, so each one had a backup station to switch to, allowing the primary stations time to cool down.
"Once backup station L came on, I switched off station C and then waited at my post. About 15 minutes later, 6017 escaped."
"Breached containment," Dr. Severe corrected him absentmindedly. "Was there anything anomalous about backup station L? Any evident damage, strange readings, anything?"
"Not that I saw sir. Everything was working correctly, current running at three milliamps on the nose, voltage read at…"
"Wait, what?" Dr. Severe interjected. "Did you just say three milliamps?"
"Yes sir, I set it to three milliamps, just as the instructions on the power station said," replied Blake, confused.
With a dawning horror, Dr. Severe quickly pulled out a piece of paper and wrote "5 km" on it, then showed it to Blake.
"What does this say?" he demanded.
"Umm, that is five kilometers, sir," Blake replied, still confused.
He wrote down another number, this time "12 nm."
"And this one?"
"Twelve nanometers, sir."
Finally, he wrote "1 Mm," then held it out to Blake.
"That would be one millimeter, sir." Blake looked up at Dr. Severe with a questioning look, perplexed by the strange game.
Dr. Severe spent a few seconds trying to fight down the urge to take off his hard hat and beat Blake with it, until finally replying, "No. No Blake, that is not one millimeter. One millimeter is equal to zero-point-zero-zero-one meters. The number you just read is one megameter, equal to one million meters."
Realization dawned on Blake's face. "I…I don't….I'm sorry sir, I didn't think the capital letter mattered. Do….do you think the mistake could be connected to SCP-6017 esca….breaching containment?"
It was the wrong question to ask. "Do I think it could be connected, Blake? Do I think there might be some relation? You sent a current to the containment field nine orders of magnitude below the level required to keep SCP-6017 under control! Tell me, do you think there is a connection there?!"
Before he could answer, Dr. Severe cut him off. "No. Don't. Just…get out. I will figure out what to do with you later."
As Jonathan Blake left, his shoulders slumped, Dr. Severe let out a sigh. Nine hundred million dollars and eleven lives, all because someone got their units wrong. "NASA," Dr. Severe muttered under his breath, "you guys got off light."