In the Shadow of a High Wall
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On June 16, 1963, a team of Foundation agents attempted and failed to re-contain the escaped SCP-2030 in West Berlin. The following excerpt is drawn from the debrief of team leader Louis Franklin. The interview was conducted on June 18, 1963, by Berlin station chief Marcel Gunther.

[Note: Certain designations may no longer be accurate.]

[Excerpt Begins]

Interviewer: Alright, Franklin, we've gone over SCP-2030's escape from the Oslo containment facility and the subsequent pursuit conducted by your field investigation team in some detail. Now, if you could give more context for the West Berlin encounter?

Franklin: We had just arrived in the city on the morning of the sixteenth when Intelligence notified us about a scheduled meeting between one Agent Antonov, KGB, and a Foundation employee preparing to defect. Only problem was, this supposed defector had been listed as KIA quite recently — and if you've read twenty-thirty's file, you'll see why that set off alarms.

Our team was half American and half German — a local bunch. We set out on the evening of the Sixteenth to break up the encounter and bag the thing. Antonov had arranged the meeting at a bar out in Charlottenberg — small, quiet place. Harrison parked across the street in the sedan with Michaels and Manteuffel. Tegelmann, Conley, and Roberts were staking out the back way with the automatic rifle. Ludwig and I were tailing Antonov on foot. It wasn't till he got up to the door of the bar that we got a good look at him and realized just how inexperienced he had to be.

Interviewer: What gave you that impression?

F: He dressed like he didn't know any better. No gloves or protective glasses, no briefcase for a gasmask or forensic kit — basics anybody who'd worked with parasci before wouldn't have gone into the field without. But he walked right into that bar as if he owned the place — it demonstrated to us, at least, that he had no inkling of what he was walking into.

Interviewer: How did you proceed once he had entered the building?

F: Ludwig and I checked in with the other two teams after Antonov entered — no sign of our skip, so we took station down the street and waited for about half an hour. Nobody else arrived or left during that time.

All of a sudden Harrison tears out of there, tires squealing- he'd seen a couple of Polizei autos coming down the street, sirens screaming, and scrambled. I thought maybe the Americans had put the Germans onto our operation, so we got out of there too. Unfortunately that meant nobody was keeping an eye on the front door. Several minutes passed before it became clear that the cops weren't after us. We suspected that twenty-thirty might have been waiting for an opening to move in to the bar, so Ludwig and I decided to investigate the premise on foot while Harrison was still pulling back around.

Interviewer: You engaged the entity with your backup out of position?

F: We weren't sure it was in there at all, at first, but I didn't want to give our skip a chance to dig in — which it would, if we lost track of it.

Interviewer: I understand. What did you find when you made your reconnaissance?

F: Everything was pretty unremarkable; two women at the filthy bar, four drunken workers hooting over some card game in the corner. In the center, hunched over a rickety table underneath the shuttered front window was our KGB man, deep in conversation with Agent Hockaday.

Interviewer: Hockaday was reported deceased after the Oslo breach, correct?

F: Killed in the initial breach — and then twenty-thirty dragged his corpse helter-skelter across half of Europe.

Interview: But why Hockaday? And why was the creature traveling east in the first place?

F: Hell, Gunther, it's your station, you know we could never follow it over the wall. East Germany could give it shelter. The thing must have called up Hockaday's contacts in the Stasi and arranged a defection — maybe even told them what it was.

If we'd been any slower, twenty-thirty would have been on time and out of our reach — but now it sat before us, hands stretched out over the table just short of the Russki's bare palms. The infection process smells strongly of oranges — gave the game away even before I saw Hockaday's face. Before I could alert our backup though, Ludwig misjudged the situation.

Interviewer: Misjudged?

F: Ludwig knew a lot of folks at the Oslo site, maybe he was more shook up than he let on. We'd been on the road continuously since the breach — maybe sixty hours of pursuit had clouded his judgement. I don't know and I never got the chance to ask him. For whatever reason, as soon as he ID'd the thing he drew his automatic and started blasting.

Hockaday's body was knocked about and his clothes were shredded but lead rounds don't do much to twenty-thirty's semiskin. The creature pulled itself into a mass and flung itself across the room at Ludwig looking like a blanket made of oatmeal, same color too. Hit Ludwig full on and he went down like a sack of bricks. Meanwhile, I had my hands full keeping our Soviet friend from making a run for the door.

Conley and Roberts burst in through the back door just as I got Antonov under control and Tegelmann followed them with the BAR. Headquarters had issued us particular rounds for this skip — super-dense armor piercing; very experimental. His first two bursts punched right through twenty-thirty's mantle and into Ludwig; ugly, but no helping it. Punctured, the skip bled out in seconds. The whole fight couldn't have lasted two minutes.

Interviewer: Let me stop you there. Your report says that you transported the KGB agent away from the engagement site and released him; without consulting me, I might add. Why did you leave him alive?

F: We interrogated him while Michaels and Stettin were whitewashing — sterilizing the place and distributing amnestics. Antonov wasn't in any condition to be concealing things. He was well out of it, breathing heavily, eyelids dark blue — all the symptoms of early twenty-thirty infestation, and the skip's drugs were still thick in his system. “I've got to get to Carre,” he says first thing, even before we ask him his name. Carre, he says, Carre. Very important. Absolutely critical. Sure enough, there's a photo of the bastard sewn into the seam of his jacket.

Interviewer: Carre?

F: John Carre. CIA spook playing a double game between the Americans and the Russkis. Helped pillage Site 20 back in '59. Looks like the Kremlin wised up to all that, though. Hence, Antonov getting fed to our skip.

Interviewer: You believe the meeting was intended to…

F: …Expose Carre to twenty-thirty, yes — to get him out of the way without the Americans knowing their cover had been blown. Some KGB bastard must have figured they could have their cake and eat it, too — close a leak, and get their hands on a shapeshifting puddle grateful for sanctuary in the bargain. All they needed was somebody expendable like Antonov to get the creature over the wall and into contact with Carre; then they could replace him with the skip and leave the Americans none the wiser.

Interviewer: You were part of the team which brought the entity into containment in the first place, Franklin, so I know you know what it's capable of. How did knowledge of Antonov's mission justify releasing SCP-2030 into the wild with no clear timeframe for recovery?

F: Carre's a particular case. A nose for our operations and very few scruples about selling our secrets…the foreign teams had been trying to knock him out for a while now. If getting him meant letting the thing loose, writing off Antonov and who knows how many other good little Communists…well, then call it a matter of operational necessity.

Interviewer: I expect you to be onhand, should the creature attempt to return. In the meantime, Tegelmann will take over pursuit of the remaining Oslo anomalies.

F: Twenty-thirty won't be gone long. It'll come back over the wall when it's worn out its welcome — and I doubt our Russian friends will think much of its 'gratitude'…

[Excerpt ends.]

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