An SCP Masquerading as a Tale

rating: +21+x

Terminal 91-Alpha

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Welcome, Director Varga
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Open saved draft of SCP-XXXX?


Y

Access granted.





LymphaticModifications

Regions affected by SCP-XXXX of the normal lymphatic system in a non-anomalous human.

Special Containment Procedures:

TBD1






Description:

SCP-XXXX is process of thaumaturgical surgery that modifies a human subject’s lymphatic system. The process only takes a short amount of time, according to those who have been affected by it (hereby designated SCP-XXXX-A).

While the process may be poorly understood, the results have been studied exhaustively. An instance of SCP-XXXX-A has foreign biological material bonded to specific lymph nodes throughout the body. These affected nodes bond seamlessly with the subject’s lymphatic system despite the nonhuman genetic makeup.2 No instance of SCP-XXXX-A has undergone rejection of the bonded tissues.

The affected lymph nodes serve as conduits for thaumaturgical energy most closely resembling those produced by complex rituals performed by practicing thaumatologists. The nodes also emit faint amounts of Akiva radiation, while Kant readers produce baseline normal concerning Humes – suggesting there are no ontokinetic properties to the modifications performed as part of SCP-XXXX.

As of this writing, any long-term effects on an instance of SCP-XXXX-A are unknown.


A Primer on Thaumaturgy

- By Jocasta Rossi, PhD -

The practice of thaumaturgy has been equated with so-called reality bending on many occasions within the anomalous academic world. This is, of course, incorrect as shown by the complete lack of effect on thaumaturgical workings in the presence of a Scranton Reality Anchor.

No, thaumaturgy – or magic, if you prefer – is, in fact, a natural part of our reality. While this brings up some intriguing questions regarding “normalcy,” I will leave that subject to authors of a more appropriate discipline.

Thaumaturgy works through an exchange of energy, almost exclusively through rituals. A ritual is any set of practices, from any number of sources (mythical, religious, or philosophical) that produces a desired thaumaturgical result. Thus, even in the case of our warrior thaumaturges, rituals are required in advance to power workings in the field.

This is to say, one cannot merely wave one’s hand in a specific way and say a “magic” word and get the desired results. In fact, these tropes, both in fiction and in the academics of thaumaturgy, are almost certainly the result of witnessing a thaumaturge performing a working in the field and seemingly producing an effect immediately. Without fail, these workings are powered through rituals prepared in advance.

The reason grimoires of magic populate the library of Site-91, and of course, the Wanderer’s Library, is that societies throughout history have catalogued those rituals that work and will have reproducible results.

Even those objects which we understand to be thaumaturgical conduits – the mystical relics that are the subject of many an SCP file – were produced through some sort of ritual, albeit usually a startlingly powerful one.

The reason all of this is important to establish is that instances of SCP-XXXX-A are freed from this universal constraint. A subject that has undergone the process of SCP-XXXX no longer has to perform, or in fact know of, a ritual to produce the desired thaumaturgical result.

They themselves are conduits for thaumaturgy and are animate and sapient thaumaturgical relics that are unbelievably powerful. The study of these individuals is a source of much upheaval in the academic study of thaumaturgy. But we must strive to understand their capabilities, their limits, and ultimately the role they will play in the world beyond the Veil.


Addendum XXXX.1SCP-XXXX-A instances.

Interview Log 1

Interviewer: Iona Varga, Director of Site-91
Subject: Rudolph Carmichael3
Date: 10 July, 1993

Foreword: Interview with Rudolph Carmichael (previously designated SCP-5512-D) and first apparent survivor of the SCP-XXXX process.

Subject participated in an undercover sting operation on the wishes of an UIU agent. At the close of that operation, subject was found unconscious and having already undergone the process designated as SCP-XXXX. See SCP-5512.

Interview took place in subject’s containment chamber in the secure wing of Site-91’s medical center, where he had been under a medically induced coma since his recovery.


Varga: Good morning, Mr. Carmichael.

Carmichael: Look, I don’t mean no disrespect, but who the fuck are you? And where am I?

Varga: My name is Doctor Iona Varga, I’m a genetic specialist, and you’re my patient. You’re currently in a hospital in Yorkshire.

Carmichael: England? Last I remember I was in Boston.

Varga: Yes, we recovered you in Boston after you had a traumatic experience. We thought it best for your condition to keep you in a medically induced coma while we studied what happened to you.

[Carmichael sits up in the hospital bed.]

Carmichael: A coma? How long have I been out?

Varga: A little over a year.

Carmichael: What? Who gave you the right to do that? I don’t remember being asked!

Varga: Consent is usually required for medical procedures out in the world, but you’ll find our organization has a wider remit than most research and medical facilities. Until recently, we had never seen someone with your condition and did not know what sorts of effects the process would have had on your body.

Carmichael: What did that bastard Marquez4 do to me?

Varga: To be honest, we’re not entirely sure. I want you to try to stay calm, but we believe the process involved the bonding of foreign biological material to your lymphatic system.

Carmichael: What does that mean in English?

Varga: Nonhuman cells were inserted into some of your lymph nodes and bonded successfully. For nearly twelve months after we discovered you, your brain waves read nominally on an EEG… meaning we didn’t think you would regain consciousness even without the medically induced coma.

[Carmichael’s eyes begin to tear up.]

Carmichael: So, he put animal cells into me?

Varga: Not animal, per se.

Carmichael: What the fuck does that mean?

Varga: It means, we don’t really have a word for the material bonded with your system.

Carmichael: Like… alien shit?

Varga: For lack of a better word.

Carmichael: Jesus Christ.

Varga: Look, we’re going to do some tests and try to figure out where we go from here.

Carmichael: Cut them out of me!

Varga: We can’t, the tissues are sufficiently bonded with your lymphatic system such that we couldn’t be sure you’d survive excising the material.

[Carmichael puts his head in his hands.]

Varga: Can you tell me anything about the process Marquez put you through?

Carmichael: No. Last thing I remember is him bringing me up on that stage and then waking up here.

Varga: This is a lot to take in, I know. We’ll do our best to make sure you’re comfortable while we try to ascertain the extent of the changes.

End Log



Additional Instances of SCP-XXXX-A
On 3 July, 1993, three new instances were recovered and contained at Site-91.5 Cynthia Jacobs, George Kim, and Alexander Gremanski6 surrendered to Foundation custody and willingly entered containment.

All three were scanned through physical (MRI and C-Scan) and anomalous (thaumaturgical) means, revealing lymphatic systems modified similarly to Carmichael’s. An interview with SCP-XXXX-A2 is included below.

Interview Log 2


Interviewer: Iona Varga, Director of Site-91
Subject: SCP-XXXX-A2
Date: 11 July, 1993

Foreword: Interview took place in the secure wing of Site-91 medical center.


Cynthia Jacobs: So, how long are we going to be held prisoner in this hospital?

Varga: You surrendered to us willingly, Ms. Jacobs. What did you think was going to happen?

Jacobs: Treatment? Asylum? Not tests, and locked rooms.

Varga: Unfortunately, we do have a charter and our organization is not in the habit of releasing anomalous individuals into the mundane world except with the most stringent of caveats.

Jacobs: Where are you keeping us? We’re American citizens; you can’t hold us without some legal basis and you certainly can’t hold us indefinitely.

Varga: You are not within the United States, and while you do retain your citizenship, I’m afraid it has no bearing on your status. But we won’t be torturing you. We mostly want to understand your abilities and what was done to you.

Jacobs: Well, I’d like that too. Diego didn’t really explain before he did it, and ever since it’s been one disaster after another. And one by one, we’ve died. Either at the hands of your soldiers or when literal monsters attacked our refuge.

Varga: No one has issued orders for your termination, your people shot first. My team has only ever protected itself. We’ve lost people too. This conflict has been confusing and we only want to understand why these things are happening.

Jacobs: Fine. What do you want to know?

Varga: First of all, what did Marquez do to you?

Jacobs: He changed us… I don’t understand the technicalities! Not like he held a seminar!

Varga: Alright, calm yourself. Can you describe the process?

Jacobs: After Boston he lead us into this decrepit old industrial space, but I swear we were there for a day or more and the sun never came up…

Varga: Where were you?

Jacobs: I don’t know, I never went outside… but I could see outside, there were holes in the structure – it was like a concrete bunker sorta – and it was just dark outside. The place looked like it had been abandoned for years, but there was a bed in the room Diego left me in. Uh, I don’t know what he did to me, but there was something there with him when he did it.

Varga: Something else?

Jacobs: [Pauses for several moments] Look, I was really out of it, I’m sure I was feverish… Diego said the next day the swelling was improving, so there had to be some sorta inflammation… I just assumed I hallucinated.

[Jacobs is silent for almost a minute. Finally she closes her eyes and rubs her scalp.]

Jacobs: … then a bunch of us saw the same thing. I know group psychosis is like technically a thing but…

Varga: What was it you saw?

Jacobs: Listen, I’m not crazy okay? I’ve never hallucinated before, outside of some experimentation in college with drugs…

Varga: I’ve seen many things in this work that people would consider unreal, so you can trust me when I say, I doubt I’ll think you’re crazy.

Jacobs: It was this huge thing, floating above me while I was laying down. I couldn’t see it all, and I was pretty out of it. But I swear it was like a garden slug. Then there was a light, and this radiating warmth, not unpleasant… and then hands all over me. Like ten people touching me, and not in a creepy way. I mean… it was creepy, but this wasn’t like someone getting handsy.

[Jacobs stares into the distance before shaking herself and meeting Varga’s eyes.]

Jacobs: Are you religious, Doctor?

Varga: Not in the least.

Jacobs: I grew up in a Southern Baptist community. Hellfire and damnation, speaking in tongues, the whole deal. This was like the laying on of hands. Like I was the subject of prayer and worship. Like God himself was testifying to me.

[Jacobs sips from the plastic tumbler of water in front of her.]

Jacobs: I’m not religious really, but that stuff I grew up with, it’s like part of me. Basically, I’m saying, this was as close to a religious experience as I’ve had. So, when I woke up the next day, feeling sore all over but also more energized than if I’d had a line of coke, I’d have followed Diego anywhere.

Varga: What happened next?

Jacobs: Diego waited until he thought we could travel and then he brought us to a library. But not like any library I’d ever seen. Weird-ass people came and talked with Diego, and he spent some time healing there. But eventually he sent some of us to Iraq – and you know how that turned out – and took the rest of us to that weird alternate universe Greek temple. And that’s when things got really weird. Technology that looks like barnacles, sea urchins, and coral. Angels that look like they’re made outta salvage bug parts and sea sponges… fucking nightmare fuel.

Varga: Can I ask–

Jacobs: Why didn’t I leave?

[Varga nods.]

Jacobs: Where would I go? He gave us powers, but how do I use them? If I wanted to leave, I needed him to let me out but also needed him to teach me – which eventually he did – but it was a short leash. Then, we were all mixed up in a war… and it seemed like Diego didn’t know what the fuck he was doing.

Varga: The “powers,” can you tell me about them?

Jacobs: I can do things. But it’s not intuitive; if you just throw your hands out and go with your instincts, things can go bad.

Varga: And is it thaumaturgy?

Jacobs: What?

Varga: Magic.

Jacobs: Yeah, I guess so. Diego said it was. Like Gandalf shit.

Varga: How does it work?

Jacobs: I can repeat things I’ve seen or felt nearby. Some are harder than others.

Varga: And rituals? Rites? Studying?

Jacobs: Do I need magic books and a wizard’s robe? No. It’s just intentional and this feeling. But simple rituals or spells, I can repeat without much prep. More complex things are harder, and I haven’t experimented mostly. It’s “here’s my intent, now let me bring it about.”

Varga: We’re going to do some tests, nothing too invasive. But the goal is to understand how these modifications work.

Jacobs: And if I want them gone? To go back to a normal life? Away from mud people trying to kill me and magic spells?

Varga: I wouldn’t have the first idea how to achieve that result.

Jacobs: Well, fuck.

End Log

Progress report concerning SCP-XXXX-A:
All observations of SCP-XXXX-A instances have confirmed their ability to control/manipulate thaumaturgical energies without rituals, and if the rite is Class-B or below, with little to no preparation. This completely unravels our understanding of thaumaturgical practices and from a biological mechanism bonded to the human lymphatic system. Marquez, or Euboea, has augmented a human biology to control that which people spend years studying to master… and even then not all can learn the–



“Fuck.”

Iona Varga stared at her monitor. What even was this anomaly? The next step in the research evaded her. Was this anomaly enough to separate out from those it was derived from? Should this not be an addendum to 4612? The biological modification of a person into a walking universal remote for magic, it was important. She knew this. It was another piece in the puzzle she had been working on since finding the dead thing in the crypt, not fifty meters below her office.

But did that justify another entry in the database? Or just another addendum?

“Fuck!”

She cradled her head in her hands, elbows braced against the desktop. She wanted to break a glass, put foot through the wall, punch Euboea in the throat.

She sat up and brushed back her hair. Footsteps at just outside her door told of her assistant’s arrival even before the knock.

“Come in, Julie.”

“Director, are you alright? Do you need anything?”

“A career change?”

“New file giving you trouble then?”

Varga stiffened. She did not like others to know her emotional state. She did not break things. She did not punch people or anomalies in the throat. She smoothed down her blazer.

“Yes, I’m sorry for the outburst. Just a bit of frustration. Can you get me Okorie?”

“Which one?”

Varga smiled. “Both of them, if you please.”


ProjectHeca

Obi and Anjali Okorie sat opposite her in the sitting area of her office. The couches were stiff from lack of use – she didn’t see much point in them from day to day, but they looked good. The Okories, partners in research and marriage, both wore lab coats today. Varga smiled slightly at their slightly disheveled clothing under the coats.

“How is your daughter?” Varga asked.

“Oh she’s very good, showing some early aptitude for magic,” Anjali said, glancing sideways at her husband. Obi stiffened at the use of the word, as did Varga. She smiled again.

“Well that’s good, we could always use another hand around here.”

“Yes, Director,” Obi said. He absentmindedly straightened his tie, making it more askew than before he had adjusted it.

“Iona, please. Well I’m glad to hear young Udo is doing well, I’m sure a Foundation Site isn’t her idea of fun. You’re from the area?”

“Midlands, actually,” Anjali said.

Varga was only slightly familiar with the local geography. “That’s…”

“About one hundred seventy-five kilometers from here, not too far,” Anjali said.

“Ah well… you’ve both been here a few years now, I’ve seen both your names on a variety of projects… what are your specialties again?”

“Anjali and I are – for lack of a better term – medical occultists.”

“Good, and you’ve both been working on the new anomalies, yes?”

“That’s right.”

“What are your thoughts?”

“Wouldn’t they make more sense as an addition to the 4612 file?” Obi asked.

Varga’s eye twitched. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to speak with you. Is this a derivative of the cadaver in the basement?”

“Yes,” said Obi.

“Not necessarily,” said Anjali.

They looked at each other and laughed.

“I can see I’m not the only one torn by the designation,” Varga said.

Obi stroked the scruff on his chin. “The tissues bonded to Jacobs and Carmichael and the others are genetically identical to the cadaver, Iona.”

“But?”

“But, we have not, as of yet, fully mapped the genetic code of the entity. So, while it appears that the tissues are similar, nay identical, in the subjects, the actual sequencing has evaded us,” Anjali said.

“Is it a lack of resources?”

“No, not at all. It’s a lack of context. The cells of the cadaver, and those bonded tissues, are made up of carbon and silicon,” Obi said. “Moreover, the cells do not even resemble any animal or plant tissues we have on file. We’re able to isolate the alien tissues and run them through a sequencer but the genome pairs that come up are unrecognizable.

“And yet, they are bonded with human lymph nodes, are they not?”

“Yes, they certainly are. But not in any way that makes sense to us. Where one cell structure – the alien ones – end, the human cells begin. But it’s not an immediate drop off. You can actually find hybrid cells around the bordering areas. Which…”

“Shouldn’t be possible.”

“Right. So, not only have we not modeled the generic structure in a way we can understand, but the cellular structures also make no sense either.”

“And thaumaturgically?”

“The bonded tissues do not seem to need blood or energy from the host subject’s body. They seem to function on their own, drawing power from somewhere,” Obi said.

“But the cells’ activity flares in the presence of thaumaturgical rites – if performed by an able-bodied practitioner,” Anjali interjected. “Which leads us to believe that energy being drawn on is thaumaturgical in nature.”

“And they’re dormant when not in the presence of thaumaturgy?”

“Not at all! They are just more subdued, almost hibernating. That is, unless the subject draws on the power themselves.”

“Drawn from where?”

“If a rite is being performed in their vicinity, from the rite itself. But even in the absence of such a rite, the system allows the subject to draw on a seemingly endless supply.”

“Endless?”

“Well, better to say we have not yet seen their limits.”

“Dr. Rossi believes they are mimicking the power of a rite through biological means,” Obi said.

“You disagree?” Varga asked.

“I’m not convinced it’s mimicry. The subjects are capable of performing actions that have results like observed rites, but they can also interpret, improvise, and seek different results. Although so far, that’s been rather hit or miss.”

“That sounds like mimicry, with some adaptation?”

“I don’t think so, I think it’s using a paint-by-numbers looking at a finished product versus starting with a blank canvas… if you’ll forgive the metaphor.”

“And you have no idea where the energy they draw comes from?”

“No, although we can say for sure it is not from within. They are not batteries. They manipulate, they do not store the thaumaturgical force.”

Varga leaned forward and steepled her fingers.

“But you’re both divided on the designation?” She saw them both nod, and she sighed. “Any standalone SCP will garner more attention and resources than a supplemental report. And this feels too important to relegate to the back of a file.”

“If I may?” Anjali asked.

Varga waved her hand in a beckoning gesture.

“Well, although normally this might be a concern, any documents filed under the Hecatoncheires Project will be assessed together anyway. And the funding you’ve received – that has led to the expansion of resources here on-Site – is not on a case-by-case basis, correct?”

Varga nodded.

“Then, it doesn’t really matter what you designate the file, as long as it’s associated with the subject matter that it pertains to.”

Varga smiled at the smaller, dark-haired woman. “You’re not wrong, doctor.”


Terminal 91-Alpha

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Welcome, Director Varga
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Save draft of SCP-XXXX?


Y

Draft Saved.



Reclassify as supplemental report?



Reclassify as supplemental report?



Close file?


Y


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PRIORITY MESSAGE RECEIVED
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Open Secure Email?


Y

Access Granted.



ProjectHeca

Varga read the email twice. Rebekah had indeed mentioned this conversation she’d had with 4612-B, but Varga had not known how seriously to take it. For the moment, she had other things to do.

Varga set her desk monitor to sleep after locking her PC. She opened the door to her office and told Julie that she’d be away for a while, but if something urgent came up to page her over the Site intercoms.

She walked down the administrative hall, past offices and cubicles of analysts, then down the stairs until she was in the lobby. In the center of the lobby’s floor, she turned and looked at the large portrait of William Henry Eckhart hung over the stairs. She stared for a few moments at his aloof countenance. Then, narrowing her eyes, she turned and walked out the main entrance.

Late afternoon July was in full swing, and even here in Northern England there was a warmth to the air. She circumnavigated the manor that made up Site-91’s primary research and administrative building until reaching the medical center she’d had constructed a few years before. First stop was the new contained anomalies.

Carmichael, Jacobs, Gremanski and Kim were all in a rec room together. They were halfheartedly watching a movie, something science fiction she thought.

“If I can interrupt?” she said from the door.

Jacobs paused the VHS and they all turned towards her.

“I have a proposition for you all.”

“More tests?” Carmichael said, a sneer on his face.

“Most definitely, Mr. Carmichael. But not in the way you mean. Each of you has been modified in ways you don’t understand. Everyone here wants to understand your abilities, just as you do.”

“So what’s the difference between now and before?” Jacobs said, her knee vibrating as she tapped her foot impatiently.

“I’d like you all to begin training with the thaumatologists that make up our research and mobile task forces. You have gifts, even if they are burdensome for you. What better way to become comfortable in your new skins than learning to control these gifts, in the field?”

“Like fighting? Because I’m not interested in that… ‘s why I left Diego in the first place,” Jacobs said.

“Speak for yourself,” Carmichael cut in. “I’ve got a lot of unprocessed aggression these days.”

“No fighting at first, or maybe at all. There’s a lot of work you could help with in research and investigations.”

“What do we get out of it?” Jacobs asked.

That was when Director Varga knew she had them.

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