A Frame Of Mind
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Training Document ζ0-9A1-3

On 19 May 2023, MTF-Delta-5 "Line of Sight" encountered a civilian under the influence of a Class-II Psychoparasitic Infiltrator, designated SCP-6434. Nine members of the task force were KIA in the struggle, leaving MTF-δ5-3 as the sole survivor. Eighteen nearby civilians were subsequently killed by SCP-6434 before its host succumbed to injuries sustained in its engagement with MTF-δ5.

During debrief, MTF-δ5-3 requested to be transfered to MTF-Zeta-0, "Monsters." The following document was produced by MTF-δ5-3 (now designated MTF-ζ0-1) three days into the ζ0 psychological reconditioning process. Accordingly, it has been entered into the ζ0 training archive.

This document is mandatory reading material for all MTF-ζ0 trainees. You are now instructed to read the text in its entirety. In the course of your reconditioning, you will be asked to produce similar documents, all of which shall be shared among your teammates. You have all suffered, and this suffering cannot be simply put aside. You will learn from each other, and together you will be transformed.

There are no secrets in MTF-ζ0.

In the Second World War, only fifteen percent of Allied soldiers fired their weapons.

The theory goes: nobody wants to kill, nobody wants to look down the barrel and see another human being die because of what you did, because of your finger on the trigger, because you made a decision and somebody died. Somebody died and you saw him fall, and the report from your gun was still shattering your ears when he hit the mud. You smelled the cordite and piss that marked the end of a life, and then you moved forward. The soldier on your left did not move with you, because the man you killed had a friend who had a gun who had a bullet. That bullet was moving down range fast, then, on a comet's trail of blood and brain tissue and bone fragments, and then you moved forward and the soldier on your left did not.

Nobody wants this.

So they changed up the training. They made all sorts of clever tweaks. Human-shaped targets instead of bull's eyes, emphasis on the moral culpability of commanding officers, camaraderie, propaganda, team building, a rigid, formal structure designed to break down human and rebuild soldier. They realized that it was all about your frame of mind, and there are ways to change a mind.

It worked. In the Vietnam war, up to ninety percent of American soldiers fired their weapons.

None of that is true.

The data from World War Two was falsified. The fighting was brutal, and bloody, and fierce. Everybody fired a gun, because anybody who didn't shoot first would get shot, and then Anybody was Nobody, and all that was left was Everybody. The tweaks they made to basic training between the wars were minor, at best, and while they might have done a good job at turning teenagers into halfway-decent marksmen, the psychological burden was much the same. Nobody wants to kill, sure, but it's always been very, very easy to persuade them to do it anyway.

But human-shaped targets were a clever idea.

Large swaths of the Foundation were born out of the United States military. These days, a lot of task force leaders cut their teeth on Afghanistan before they get their entrails eaten by something with too many vertices to fit comfortably in baseline reality. At least two O5's used to be generals or admirals, back in World War Redacted. Entire research teams were scooped out of the Manhattan Project, and Paperclip, and other, weirder groups with black money and no supervision. A surprising amount of the Foundation's occult science started out in ARPA. Pharmacology too. You can thank the Air Force for some of the earliest amnestics.

In the end, psychology was the biggest and best thing to make its way from the US military into the Foundation.

Paper targets shaped like paper people become full-VR simulation, complete with neural taps and a dizzying cocktail of amphetamine and irreality drugs injected right into the vein. Team building exercises get their lethal edge, mock executions — usually mock. The Foundation shapes you to hyper-specialize in one thing. Psionic warfare, chemical weapons, reality anchoring, dreamscape navigation, microgravity, sensory deprivation, afterlife exfiltration. They take your mind and mold you into a blade, scalpel or sword or both. They'll modify your body, too, of course. Brain implants, skeletal reinforcement, muscle growth, new organs or missing organs or all of the above. But beyond anything else, the mind shaping that goes on here is exquisitely exact. Military precision.

But sometimes the training isn't right. Sometimes that specialization is not conducive to an optimal outcome for the mission. You lost your entire task force, and the anomaly escaped into the general population. Eighteen civilians dead, another hundred amnesticized across the sleepy suburb, tens of millions of dollars lost. Its silver teeth tore a bloody swath through your squad. It chewed its way through their flesh, then it got to work on the neighbors. You were schooled in close-quarters combat in 4+ dimensional topologies, your eyeballs modified to see shades of light that have never existed, but your MTF was cut down by—

You weren't trained for that.

Sometimes, what you need to train is as simple as your attitude. Sometimes, you just need to learn to enter the right frame of mind. That's what zeta-zero is for, isn't it? A shift in perspective, a new attitude, a wrong attitude that will become correct.

Listen:

Only fifteen percent of soldiers in World War Two fired their weapons. Intensive, extensive overhauls to basic training raised that number to ninety percent in Vietnam. The data gathered from years of meticulous psychological research allowed the United States military to train ordinary young men and women into killers. It was hard. Nobody wants to kill, and it's very, very difficult to persuade them to do it.

Listen:

In World War Two, the fighting was hot and bloody. People killed, with bullets and bayonets and bombs. They fought with a desperation born out of fear or patriotism or both, and they did not hesitate. Put a teenager in a righteous life-or-death situation and he'll choose quickly.

Listen:

The lives of the innocent are precious above all others.

Listen:

The lives of your squadmates are precious above all others.

Listen:

Secure. Contain. Protect.

Listen:

It's all about your frame of mind. If your new reality doesn't fit within that frame, ask them to break it down and build you a new one. Don't do it for the greater good. The greater good is for people who don't have to pull the trigger. You're here for yourself. You're here for your own pain.

Listen:

Lead your squad into that quiet suburban house, kick down the door, sweep the corners, clear the living room, kitchen, two bodies on the staircase, check for vital signs — looks like the homeowners, both exsanguinated — go upstairs, third door on the left — thaumic levels are off the charts, the entity's got to be in there — on the count of three, Morgan ignores the magic marker warning to "KEEP OUT" and he goes in. You follow.

You see the entity. It looks just like the doe-eyed little girl in the family photograph on the fridge, twelve years old and finishing the seventh grade in two weeks. It's screaming, clutching a teddy bear, blood still dripping from its chin — What's happening? Where's Mom? Mom? I'm so hungry — and it cries and lunges and its teeth aren't sharp at all, just a child's mouth with bloody spittle trailing off silver braces. It's going for Morgan's jugular, and here's the only question that matters:

How do you train a man to kill children?

Do you make him numb to it? Drugs, simulations, subliminal messages, Clockwork Orange his eyelids and beam loyalty directly into his brain? Just kill child after child in his dreams and daydreams until it becomes no different than killing a man, which, after all, is no different than shooting a paper target?

Nobody wants this. Or at least, anybody who does should on no account be allowed to do it. You can't hire a child killer to kill children. You have to make one. Then you make ten more of them, and put them in uniforms, and call them a task force. Monsters. We call ourselves that to remind us this is not good, greater or lesser. Anybody who wants to die in the dark to preserve the light should be immediately taken out back and shot, because the only thing worse than a monster is the greater good. You're here for you and you alone, and don't you dare believe otherwise.

It's May nineteenth, twenty twenty-three, and you kick down the door and climb the stairs to Secure, Contain, and Protect. The bites on the parents' necks match the bloody teeth and panicked eyes of a little girl burning with a parasitic hunger she can't ever sate and doesn't have time to understand. There's always a choice.

Nobody wants this. That’s the most important part.

It's all about your frame of mind.

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