SCP-6000 - Unprecedented Times
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Item#: 6000
Level1
Containment Class:
euclid
Secondary Class:
none
Disruption Class:
vlam
Risk Class:
notice

araucaria_trees

Depiction of SCP-6000 by the 15th-century Chinese artist Shen Zhou (沈周). Note the characteristic dual-voyager motif and the Araucaria-like silhouettes of the trees in the right of the painting.

Special Containment Procedures: Due to the stochastic nature of its effects, SCP-6000 is currently considered uncontainable. Foundation historians are to acquire copies of any media depicting SCP-6000, and are to continue to promulgate the hypothesis that these depictions refer to a non-anomalous habitat type.

Description: SCP-6000 refers to a temperate coniferous forest of indeterminate location and indeterminate existence. All data substantiating SCP-6000's existence are in the form of historical documents (many of a mythological nature) either describing it as a location or detailing a journey to, into, and out of SCP-6000. Documents describing SCP-6000 have been found ranging throughout recorded history.

SCP-6000 is consistently described as possessing the following attributes:

  • Location within a valley in a mountainous region.
  • Canopy dominated by conifers, usually named as either cedar or pine. As multiple plants bear both these names, the exact species are often not determinable.
  • High species richness. The majority of species are represented in the understory or as fauna, while the overstory is much more homogeneous. No animals are described that are not native to the region in which the writer locates SCP-6000; however, descriptions of plants are much more fanciful and may include distinctly anomalous or impossible phenotypes (for example, trees greater than 130 m in height; achlorotic instances isolated from any nearby photosynthesizers and therefore lacking in a carbohydrate source; or trees with sufficient canopy density and crown width that their weight would exceed the maximum possible compressive strength of wood).
  • Location significantly distant from the writer’s place of habitation, requiring a multi-day journey (regardless of method of transport) to access and to traverse. Often, SCP-6000 is described only a portion of an account of a longer journey, indicating that the source writer did not at the time identify the traverse of SCP-6000 as being exceptionally out of the ordinary.
  • Any party undertaking travel to or through the forest is composed of exactly two individuals. These two voyagers may otherwise be of any age, gender, and vocation.

It is currently undetermined if entry to SCP-6000 is dependent upon personal actions or is entirely stochastic.

Examples of sources or translations of sources describing SCP-6000 are provided below. For a full catalogue of SCP-6000 attestations, please contact the Historical Department.


Addendum 6000-1: On 18/06/2018, Foundation Agent Yuan Bai was reported missing by her partner Foundation Agent Ren Ling during a routine investigation of a property in Khorgas, Xinjiang Province, China. A search of the area performed a day later did not find any trace of her or suggest any reason for her disappearance. However, 25 days later, Agent Yuan contacted the Foundation from Bole, Xinjiang Province, China, requesting retrieval. She declined to discuss the events of the period in person, but provided the Foundation with her body camera. A transcript of the footage from this camera, covering this time period, follows.

Video Analysis: SCP-6000
Date: 18/06/2018 to est. 13/07/2018
Note: This transcript has been abridged, with extraneous speech and repetitive sections removed. A full transcript is available upon request.


Day 01
Agent Yuan switches on her body camera. She and Agent Ren are standing along the edge of a gravel road, with the vehicle parked beside her. Ahead, the road is gated to prevent vehicle entry.

Agent Yuan: Huh, these fellows really are rural, aren’t they.

Agent Ren nods, and both proceed along the road. The surrounding environment is semi-arid, dominated by dirt and grasses. However, as they continue walking, the ground begins to descend, and the vegetation changes to include some xerotolerant shrubs. As they walk, they carry on a conversation, presumably begun during transit, about the potential future influences of AI development on political thought.

To the left of the road, a dirt path branches off. The agents stop at this point.

Agent Yuan: Now, I suspect this just joins up on the other side of that curve. I’ll go down it a little ways - you want to dart around to make sure that it actually does connect?

Agent Ren looks around, but apparently does not notice anything of concern.

Agent Ren: Okay, I’ll check. If it’s not in 100 meters, I’m coming back.

Agent Yuan: Sounds good.

Agent Yuan proceeds down the dirt path and into the shrubs. The path does not reconnect with the road within 100 meters; however, Agent Yuan does not turn back, but rather continues to follow the path. The slope of the ground increases, and it is clear that the depression into which Agent Yuan is descending is large. Possibly due to the slope of the land, there appears to be greater availability of water here than near the road, as the vegetation grows more lush and herbs begin to fill the spaces between the shrubs.

Agent Yuan’s radio crackles, and the voice of Agent Ren is heard.

Agent Ren: Bai? Bai, it’s been an hour since you were supposed to come find me. If you don’t respond to this, I’m assuming you can’t and I’m calling you in as missing.

Agent Yuan ignores the transmission, and her radio picks up no further signals. After approximately 2.5 hours of walking, the vegetation begins to include small trees and undergrowth indicative of an ecotone between shrubland and forest. She has not spoken since separating from Agent Ren.

Over the next several hours, the environment grows more humid and more vegetated. Tree height and diversity increases, although the understory reaches a maximum coverage and then begins to decrease, likely due to limited light. Tree genera identifiable include Larix (larch), Pinus (pine), Cedrus (cedar), Cupressus (cypress), and Ficus (fig). The canopy height and composition at this point resembles that found in East Asian and Pacific temperate rainforests. The forest floor and understory is dominated by large ferns and grasses.

When night falls, Agent Yuan halts in her travel and begins to construct a nest out of leaf litter and organic debris at the base of one of the conifers. She settles into it and appears to sleep.


Day 02

Agent Yuan rises slightly after dawn and continues along what appears to be her heading from the previous day. The trail she has been following peters out after approximately an hour of walking; however, the undergrowth is thin enough that it does not inhibit her movement.

In the early afternoon, there is a flash of light from ground level to Agent Yuan’s left.

Agent Yuan: Hello? Is someone there?

She draws her sidearm and investigates the source of the light. It is revealed to have come from a cleft between the buttress roots of a large Ficus. Within this hollow has been deposited a loosely-woven undyed cloth, a rectangular frame of deer or elk antlers, and a shallow copper alloy bowl. Agent Yuan lifts and examines all the objects, but there is no indication of who placed them there nor their intended purpose.

Agent Yuan appears to consider something for several minutes, then uses the antler frame and the cloth to construct a rough frame pack, into which she places the bowl. She rises and continues on her previous heading until nightfall, whereupon she makes a nest similar to that she created the previous night and sleeps within it.


Day 03

Agent Yuan spends approximately 4 hours retrieving, examining, and discarding Araucaria cones that have fallen to the forest floor. Initially, she examines each cone individually; however, after approximately 30 minutes, she adopts a technique involving gathering a large number of cones into a pile, after which she sits down and skims through the cones en masse. She eventually selects one cone on unidentifiable criteria, which she places into the pack.


Day 04

The forest floor community has shifted from being grass-dominated to being dominated by clubmosses and ferns. The understory comprises seed ferns and cycads in addition to small conifers and broadleaved shrubs. Based upon the relative position of the sun throughout the day, Agent Yuan has been travelling in an eastward direction. Her pace has slowed compared to the previous three days, and she spends most of her time examining various flora, organic debris, water bodies, and rock outcrops along her route.

squamellaria

An epiphyte observed by Agent Yuan upon the bark of an unidentified tree. The broad leaves with pinnate venation indicate a taxonomic placement in the Dicotelydoneae. The purpose of the epidermal spines is unknown, as no herbivore presence has been observed so far in SCP-6000.

Day 12

The forest begins to open out into a wide valley, through which the canopy layer of the forest can be discerned. The silhouettes of the emergent trees indicate that the majority of them are in the Araucariaceae family, despite its members being largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere.

The terrain can now be seen more clearly and has a clear karst topology, with large calcareous outcrops and scowles scattered among the trees. Agent Yuan looks to her left, where a karst spring giving rise to a small stream can be seen.

Agent Yuan: Well? Shall we?

She begins to energetically follow the stream downhill.


Day 14

Agent Yuan briefly emerges from the canopy and observes an apparently dolomitic cliff face with the river she has been following running by its base. There are many caves and horizontal clefts pitting the rockface, two of which have small springs forming waterfalls within them. Agent Yuan descends to the riverbank and crosses. She navigates up the talus slope to the base of the cliff and begins to pick her way along it. The terrain is slippery, forcing her to slow her pace.

Eventually, she manages to scramble up to a shallow ledge running horizontally along the cliff face. A large crack divides the ledge and cuts into the cliff; Agent Yuan examines the entrance, then enters it, finding a small cave with a pebbled floor. The cave contains evidence of previous habitation: there is a fire scar near the entrance and several finger flutings along the walls, as well as a small clay pot sitting near the fire scar.

Agent Yuan removes from the clay pot a scroll, and unfurls it to reveal approximately a page of writing in the Old Novgorod dialect5 The substrate appears to be made from the bark of a young conifer, which has been peeled, smoothed, and flattened. The writing has been incised into it.

The text of the manuscript reads as follows:

Lord, guide my thoughts, for I fear for my children. That is what I continue to think of, today: that I have now been nine days in the wild, when I should by now have returned to them, to bake them bread and stew them meat, and comfort them in their distress.

And they should have cause to be distressed. For the rumour of war has surely drawn closer still since I have become lost here among the trees. Not since the days of my grandmother has there been such mistrust between our princes. Not since the days of my grandmother have we all, slave to boyar, had such reason to expect a sudden call to lend arms, and a sudden rise in taxes such that our granaries will lie empty.

And now that I think of her, I wonder if she felt the same. If her own children, my mother and uncles, were always in her thoughts, and her prayers filled with the desire not even that they should grow up strong but that they should grow up at all. Not that their lives should be upright and holy, but that they should have them at all.

And even should our prince make peace, will it be a peace that I would recognize? How do I know that he shall not sell out our lands and forests to the Yem? How do I know we will not be made to pay their tribute, and they will not send their lords to cut our trees and buy our livestock, until we are in poverty?

And yet, my children will not need me the less should these things happen. My grandmother did not need her family the less, as she told me. So should I find my way back to them, I cannot change the mind of the prince, but yet I can pray. I can spin them thread regardless of the shadow of war, and they will need to be clothed. I can tend the goats even though I be afeared, and they will need milk and meat.

My grandmother showed me these things when my hands were small. Is this how she survived her youth? Surely it must have been.

I hear you, lord, and your meaning. I keep going. Though home perhaps be strange, I keep seeking it.

coralroot.jpg

A bioluminescent organism observed by Agent Yuan among the leaf litter. Its taxonomic placement remains uncertain.

Day 17

Agent Yuan runs along the upper surface of a thick (~2 m diameter) branch. Her bare feet are visible at the bottom of the frame. The lateral surfaces of the branches are thickly colonized by ferns, mosses, fungal thalli, and leafy epiphytes. Although the camera is pointed downwards, the ground is concealed from view by a thick layer of mist occasionally broken by the crowns of canopy trees. She can be heard laughing.

slime_mould

An organism observed by Agent Yuan upon the bark of a cypress tree. Its taxonomic placement remains uncertain.

Day 24

The terrain has become very waterlogged, necessitating a dramatic decrease in Agent Yuan’s rate of travel. She navigates between small “islands” consisting of proximal root masses and consolidated organic material or limestone outcrops. The understory vegetation appears limited to small bryophytes up to 20 cm in height. The canopy vegetation is a mixture of woody and scale trees with diameters estimated up to 15 m; occasionally, large achlorotic spire-shaped structures are also visible, although Agent Yuan never approaches close enough to one for further identification to be possible.

On all previous days, Agent Yuan ceased travel slightly prior to local sunset (it is noted that the daylength in SCP-6000 has been slowly decreasing since Agent Yuan’s entry, with the time between successive sunsets currently approximately 21.5 hours). However, this time she continues through twilight and into full night.


Day 25

The video feed gradually brightens over a period of approximately 20 minutes. Agent Yuan kneels facing a body of water that extends to the horizon. The shore is sandy, and many dark, mushroom-like protrusions extend into the shallows. She holds the bowl obtained on Day 02 in both hands. It is partially filled with a dark, opaque liquid.

Agent Yuan: We were resting as the night fell over us, curled up there in the crook of one of those great arms. [laughs] “We”, I say, when all along it was just myself, doubled. Myself and all the other parts, that I never thought of, that I still doubted and feared. My human self and animal self, separated out in my consciousness. But in that moment, the two turned each to the other, and I said - the foxfire was all kindling, down there in the mists and in clusters up the bark, and I said - “it looks like a city,” I said.

And it was. It was suddenly streetlights, and tall towers, and people crawling around down through the crowded streets - and it remained the forest nonetheless, the towers shadowing them were sequoias, and they bought food from stalls that were clusters of sprouting mushrooms. The forest is the city, and the city is a forest.

We never think of it like that, do we? It’s always “here is the wild, the natural, and here is the built”, never-the-two-shall-meet, and we forget that we are the creatures who build. It is as innate to us as flight to birds. Though we say our technologies will ruin us, and our societies will ruin us, they haven’t yet. Why should they? It is human nature, to want a world easier for our children. There is no line. Between the natural and the man-made there is no war. [laughs] There never was a war. It was always us, and it always will be us - each generation, ideally adapted to their parents’ world. We evolve only to evolve further.

Agent Yuan: And so here I am. I’ve found an ocean, here where there cannot be an ocean. But I brought it with me, carried it in this bowl, in the atria of my heart, since that first droplet in the primordial sea. The endpoint of an unbroken chain of beings and mistakes and near-misses. The world almost ended before, in the Permian, in the Ordovician, but it wasn’t enough. [laughs] And I fear - what, some indescribable dependence on technology? As though my ancestors never depended on their hoes, nor the crinoids on the reef. As though time before the current is holy, and time proceeding from it debased.

How arrogant, to draw the line there. How needless, to borrow shame simply for being as humans always have been.

Agent Yuan: So I’ll go back, and - Jianyu and I have been thinking about children. I will bear them with the body I have only because of a single ancestor and a single virus, and they will grow up, and learn things I never dreamed of knowing, and I will be afraid. They will be heading into a future filled with new and strange technologies, unknowable to me - and their children, and their children - and I will fear that it is too indulgent, too unnatural. Just as my grandmother feared for me, and her grandmother for her, back and back and back. And what could be more natural than that?

Agent Yuan lifts the bowl to her face and tilts it towards herself.

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