In Life As In Language
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Director Alistair Vemhoff sighed and rubbed his eyes. It was getting late, and he had read just about as much ancient Latin as he could stand for one day. "Béni soit celui qui a inventé la ponctuation moderne." Folding his glasses neatly, he turned his tablet off and stood up from his desk. At 145 years old, he was finally beginning to feel his age.

Even with the latest Foundation treatments, human life can only be prolonged for so many years. Not that he would ever complain. He hadn't needed reading glasses until well into his 80s. He ran his last half marathon on his 101st birthday. His hair had only begun to thin in the previous 20 years as the youth treatment became less effective. But it wasn't just the physical process of aging he felt; the passage of time was measurable all around him.

He had watched as the once provisional site grew into one of the staple facilities in the Northern Hemisphere. The generations of personnel that had come and gone as Site-120 came into its own. There was a time when Alistair personally knew everyone onsite. Now, he felt lucky if he recognized even half the faces that passed him in the hall. Although to be fair, there were hundreds currently working on more projects than he had time to keep up with himself. "Beris droojno, ne boodett groozno."

Though the site's project list had expanded, his own workload had slowed down considerably. Gone were the days of working until the sun came up, pouring over book after book in hopes of understanding the secrets hidden within the pages of the impossibly ancient library. Of the three million books it housed, only thirty thousand-some were in known languages. When they had started the work, Alistair was fluent in 40, or just 0.98% of written languages. Even before considering the damage caused by the Fae militia attack, headway was slow. But all of that was one hundred years ago, and just like language, one must grow and expand or be lost to history.

*PING* Alistair's phone went off in his pocket. One of the many aspects of this prolonged youth treatment he was grateful for was the gift of an elastic mind. Staying up on technology had become somewhat of a hobby of his. Stopping in the hall to check his phone, Director Vemhoff probably looked to the passing personnel as if he was about to open an essential message from the O5 council. However, if any of them had dared to look at his screen, they would have seen the Discord app loading.

"Hey! Você está disponível para a sessão de hoje à noite?"

"Sinto muito, eu estava trabalhando até tarde, estou cansado."

"Não te preocupes velho :P"

"Are you free tomorrow? poderíamos estudar durante a pausa do almoço."

"De acordo, vovô, conversaremos mais tarde"

Gonçalo was a good kid and patient enough to work with Alistair's busy schedule. Overlooking the casual tone and patronizing "old man" nickname, Alistair was grateful to have someone to converse with who was also learning the language. Up until now, Portuguese had been the only one of the Romance languages he hadn't gotten to. Of course, there was always more work to do, more languages to learn, but he would do that tomorrow. It had taken him half a lifetime, but Alistair had finally learned to call it a day.

When they had started in 1916, he had been driven by the desire to translate the vast library of SCP-5292. Some were easy enough, requiring only the tedious task of transferring text. Others, though, contained lost languages or veered off from known history. Despite the challenges, his teams had made good progress as the decades went on. However, it wasn't until they had reached 46% translated in 1971 that they made a breakthrough: An entire section of books had been written in languages previously held to have been spoken only. Deciphering that had been a fantastic discovery but one that set them back 18 years. "C'est la vie."

The work was slow but rewarding—word by word, page by page, book by book, shelf by shelf. The library changed from something unknowable to something familiar, known, almost like home. And as each volume was painstakingly recorded and cataloged, Director Alistair Vemhoff became more aware of the passage of time. Personnel he had trained began to retire around him. Technological advances he had only read in science fiction were now in the palm of his hand. And yet the great "Library of Babel" remained the same. Beyond the books, the only two constants in those halls were Alistair himself and SCP-5292-2, the entity known as "The Keeper."

The hooded, ethereal entity tied to the library's non-Euclidean space was "David, brother to Noe," or just David, as the years went on. David had kept Alistair company during many late nights, the one familiar face in an endless ocean of change. Though the entity could not assist with the translation work, a begrudging companionship had evolved into something resembling a friendship over the last century.

The two of them weren't much for talking about their personal lives, but they could talk about the days gone by like old friends. David had been there when Director Alistair Vemhoff had only been a Research Head. He'd been there when Foundation had discovered the library buried underneath the mines. And, if "The Keeper" was to be believed, he was there when the library's first stone was laid. And would be there long after humanity was a distant memory.

It still sat sourly with Alistair how Rivera was thrown under the bus after the Fae Triumviraté attack. The Director Council had painted her as a hot-headed leader in the narrative handed down in the aftermath. Alistar had gone with it, but as personnel transferred to the site, the number who had known the real Riveria diminished. Eventually, the crafted lore of the site was all they knew. Not her determination, not her drive towards the unknown, not the very human leader that had a vision for this buried anomaly. Just a character in a story designed to be a lesson to inspire unity and raise morale in personnel.

As Director Alistair Vemhoff settled in for the night, he thought of Rivera, of "The Keeper," and Gonçalo; Past, present, and future. Those who had made Site-120 what it was today, those who shaped what it would be tomorrow, and those who would decide what it would mean to history. Turning off the lights of his home, he wondered how he would be remembered, though such thoughts did not lend themselves to peaceful nights, so he did not dwell on them long. He had lived an extraordinary life, much longer than most. It was one of many faces, many stories, and many years, and he could not be more thankful for that. "Tovim Ha'Shnaim Min Ha'Ehad"

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