In the Big League
rating: +137+x

"Your ID, sir?"

You nervously present your ID badge to the heavily-armed guard, who scans the barcode with a handheld reader, checks the display, and hands it back to you with a nod. Whatever this meeting is, it must be more important than you had thought. You're under no illusions that the Foundation considers your research to be of any particular significance, so it was hardly a surprise that you received such a sudden summons, but this level of security says that you may be getting in over your head.

Inside, it's a standard teleconference-enabled meeting room - a long table with chairs along one side, facing a wall-sized display screen. You spot your name in front of the chair at the near end of the table, and quickly take a seat, docking your laptop and engaging the normal e-meeting software. While that loads, you take the opportunity to glance down the table at your fellow attendees, and have to fight an urge to run for the door. Many of the men and women (and the dog, especially in the Egg Walker) at this table are instantly recognizable to anyone in the Foundation, names that junior researchers speak only in hushed tones, for fear of summoning their owners like some sort of old-world demon. That feeling of being in over your head increases by several orders of magnitude - what do some of the top researchers in the Foundation need with a lowly geophysicist?

In the table's center seat, Dr. Gears looks down the table at you, then back to the laptop in front of him. "If everyone is here, I believe it is time we begin." With this, he enters a brief command, and the wall display flashes to life, showing a similar room elsewhere, with twelve seated figures, all of whose faces are being digitally obscured, and whose seats are labeled not with names but with numbers. You begin to wonder if someone spiked your coffee with some new SCP-grade hallucinogen, when O5-03 speaks up.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure you're all wondering why you've been pulled off your respective projects for an emergency meeting. Since some of my colleagues here haven't yet finished reading up on the situation, I think a brief summary is in order. Doctor Gears, if you would?"

Gears nods. "Thank you, sir. Approximately one month ago, several civilian observatories noted what appeared to be an asteroid whose orbit placed it on a trajectory that could lead to an impact with Earth in the near future. We picked up on this discovery through the usual channels, and have since confirmed that the object is a rocky asteroid that will impact Earth in nine days' time." With this, several folders appear on your desktop, including photos, reports, pages of calculations, and various other data. "I took the liberty of borrowing Doctor Philbert's geophysical modeling setup," so that's why you couldn't log on yesterday, "and if my interpretation of the results is correct, we are facing an IK-class natural disaster, with casualties estimated at approximately three billion over the next ten years. Doctor Philbert, do you concur?"

Well, now you know why they wanted you here. You quickly scan through the log you've been provided of Dr. Gears's run on GeoMod, and everything seems to check out. "I, er… Yes sir, I concur, pending a more thorough review of the data," you stammer. You quickly log onto GeoMod and begin crunching numbers like there's no tomorrow.

"If this is a natural object," interjects O5-10, "why are we talking about it? It may be tragic, but we are busy dealing with objects and creatures far more dangerous than some rock."

"Given the rather unique resources at our disposal, we are particularly well-positioned to avert this disaster. In addition, the entire purpose behind the Foundation's acquisition and study of anomalous objects and entities is the protection of humanity. Failing to use our resources to at least mitigate an event of this scale would be contrary to that core purpose." It's impossible to read what Dr. Gears is thinking, but you could swear he just lectured an Overseer. Apparently the top brass really do play by different rules. It's at about this time that GeoMod returns the results of your new inquiries.

"Um… Sirs?" you nervously butt in, and every head in the room swivels in unison to face you. "I've been going over Doctor Gears's projections, and just checked the data against Foundation records. According to the model, if we don't do something, the geological effects of the impact have at least a 40% chance of breaching containment at Area 4." THAT got their attention. You don't have nearly high enough clearance to know what they actually keep in Area 4, but you know that in all likelihood any single SCP there could kill millions if released. If all of them got out…

There's a few seconds of hushed conversation at both ends of the conference, then O5-07 speaks up. "If Doctor Philbert's calculations are correct, then we have no choice but to act against this asteroid. All that remains is to determine how. Suggestions?"

What follows could be politely described as a "spirited debate", and impolitely described as a "verbal clusterfuck". The various researchers propose ideas, only to have them rejected by others. Ask 343 to get rid of it? Already tried, he said no. Shoot it with 044? No way to boost its range or get it into orbit fast enough.

The only idea everyone agrees would work is the use of the armament of the Mare Imbrium facility. Unfortunately, using a warhead powerful enough to deflect the asteroid onto a safe trajectory would also produce a flash bright enough to be seen even in daylight, with half the planet as witnesses. Given how close the object is already, and the time needed to prep the missile, there's really only time for one shot. The argument shifts to whether it's worth effectively announcing the Foundation's existence to civilians worldwide, and neither side appears much inclined to change their opinion. As the shouting match continues, an idea occurs to you, and you promptly get to work running the numbers to see if it's practical. Orbital mechanics aren't your specialty, but compared to modeling shockwaves traveling through variable-composition rock strata, some basic calculations on a ballistic trajectory are a walk in the park. Finally, you have your answer.

It could work.

"We could drop it in the ocean," you blurt out. The senior staff relax their grip on the various weapons they were fingering, and turn to you, with expressions ranging from mild surprise to "what did I just step in and why is it talking?". "A low-yield strike could deflect the asteroid enough that it'll fall in the ocean instead of hitting land, without producing a flash that could be seen from Earth without a telescope. It's not a perfect solution, given the size of the tsunami it would generate, but at least we'd maintain containment. We wouldn't even need to modify the astronomers' memories - an ocean impact is well within their margin of uncertainty, since they don't have access to our data, so they wouldn't even know anything was amiss."

The looks of surprise fade into contemplation. "Might work," says one researcher. "Can't use the Atlantic, don't want to risk waking up 169," says another, leaving you to wonder what SCP-169 is and how an asteroid strike would only wake it up.

"I believe," says Dr. Gears, "that taking SCP-169 into consideration, either the Indian Ocean or the northern Pacific Ocean would be the safest areas to bring down the asteroid. Doctor Johns should be able to model the tsunami well enough to give us a more precise target location. In the meantime, we should have Mare Imbrium begin preparing a missile, and send word to the Demeter and the Guardian to prepare for emergency relocation, and direct them to the safest locations they can reach by time of impact. Is this plan acceptable?"

After most of the researchers present nod their assent, O5-03 speaks up. "We will need some time to review your recommendation, but it would be best if you began preparations as soon as possible. The relevant personnel will receive the final order to proceed or abort as soon as we have made our decision." With that, the display goes dark, marking the official end of the meeting. As you close the meeting software and disconnect your laptop, you realize that you may have just personally sent a tsunami towards some of the most densely-populated coastal areas in the world. Is this what dealing with Keter-level threats is like? The senior staff must handle this kind of thing constantly - you can't even imagine the kind of emotional baggage - you are cut off mid-thought by a simian voice behind you.

"So, who wants lunch?"

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