Incident Zero - Part 5
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… and Cain stepped aside, head bowed respectfully.

Able passed under the gates of pearl and fire and entered the chamber of the Bloom. His dead eyes beheld the text inscribed upon The Bloom in runes deeper than a man's arm, burning like gold upon the glassy petals that spanned universes. The activation code for the Bloom. The actions that Able and Cain would need to take to reset time.

A cruel smile touched Able's thin lips. He pushed past the words, leaving them unread. He laughed as he raised his hand above his head. The sword that burst forth stretched from his fingertips all the way to the stars, and beyond. It swallowed up all light that fell upon it, sang of death and the silent tomb, smelled of the void between worlds, devoured light and heat and life and hope…

"Never again," Able said.

He slashed down, and the blade sliced through the gleaming petals and embedded itself deep into the heart of The Bloom.

Reality twisted as The Bloom died.

… and somewhere, a man sitting before a computer screen depicting a black-and-white map of the world blinked, and a green icon marked "SCP-2000 Facility" appeared in Yellowstone National Park. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a man watched as a flickering video feed recorded the panicked last words of a woman running screaming down a flight of infinite stairs. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, three men in orange jumpsuits carefully stepped out of a chamber that stank of blood and shit, eyes locked upon the thing that stood in the corner, not daring to blink until two men in white uniforms and body armor slammed the door shut. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a new set of stone statues were carefully catalogued and put away in their safe by a blind man, working entirely by touch. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a white-coated researcher watched dispassionately as an emaciated woman in orange wept bitter tears as hunger and exhaustion finally took her life, mourning the child she had not known. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a plate with a perfectly cooked chateaubriand roast was placed into an MRI scanner, its internal structure carefully catalogued, along with the mumbling of the man whom it had been taken from. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, the torn-up body parts of an unfortunate Japanese woman were placed into the crematorium, as a Buddhist priest chanted solemnly before a small altar upon which her photograph and several offerings for her unfortunate soul were placed. And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a tired worker closed up the crate on a set of tactical equipment, including a UV light projector. Scanning the serial number, he entered it into the system as "Combat Gear, Surplus." And it had always been so.

… and somewhere, a man sitting at a computer keyboard carefully studied the words on the screen. Deleted some. Typed in others. Hit the "Save" button once he was done.

And it had always been so.

For none existed in the world who remembered otherwise…

… except one.

O5-10 opened her eyes. She picked up the phone on her desk and pressed a single button.

"We need to talk," she said.

One found Ten standing silently before the great, black cone, embedded point down into the magma chambers under Yellowstone National Park's famous geysers. As always, the Thorn was silent, inscrutable, black as the void, devouring all light that fell upon it. "Is there a reason you asked me to meet you here?" he asked.

"Yes," Ten said. "I'm going to ask you a simple question, and I want a simple answer." She turned to face the other member of the Overseer Council. "How long ago did the Daeva Civilization fall?"

One opened his mouth. Then frowned. He swallowed hard, brow furrowed, jaw working.

"I'm going to ask another question," Ten said. "Is SCP-343 God or not?"

"Well, of course…" One's voice trailed off again. A look of panicked realization.

"Final Question," Ten whispered. "What is SCP-001?"

One remained silent.

Ten nodded. This was the moment she had been prepared for but had never expected to come. "TK-Class Scenario," she said. "Broken Timeline."

The four members of the Overseer Council who met in Ten's office a month later were the only ones who knew about The Thorn… or what Ten insisted should be called "The Bloom."

"According to my investigations, there is a 95% chance that the TK event took place here, when nearly half of the Omega-Seven operatives were killed," she said, pointing to a hashmark drawn on her timeline of events. "The official version of events recorded is that SCP-076-2 was responsible for their deaths, but the sequence of events as provided by the survivors have never lined up properly. Neither has SCP-076-2 ever given any explanation as to his actions.

"In addition," Ten continued, "there is the issue of an agent listed in official records only as A.A., with all official records of his full name lost or otherwise corrupted. Despite being later responsible both for his death and the death of his former lover, the sequence of events that led to his… transformation… are hazy at best, with multiple conflicting accounts present.

"All of this evidence leads to one conclusion: at some point in the recent past, a massive CK-Class restructuring took place that resulted in the breaking and repair of the timeline. But like a broken vase, the repaired timeline is… flawed. Look closely enough, and the cracks are evident. Events that don't line up. Things that happened without a cause. Mysteries left unsolved, not because the answer isn't known, but because we don't even know to ask the question."

One nodded. "And you say that this was the result of… this thing that you call The Bloom… activating?"

"No," Ten said. "The Bloom, as far as we know it, does not repair timelines. It resets them. To continue the broken vase analogy, activating The Bloom would be like throwing away the broken vase and making a new one: mostly identical, but with some subtle differences. This… this should be impossible."

"By us, yes," Two said. "But what about Able?"

"What does Able have to do with this?" Ten wondered.

"Well… it was an observation that crossed my desk the other day. Ever since the death of Omega-Seven, SCP-076-2 has not manifested its blades since. Not once," Two explained. "And then there was the thought I had that it was an interesting coincidence that its blades were so similar to the substance that makes up The Thorn. My working hypothesis had been that Able's blades were somehow drawn from the same source as The Thorn, or maybe The Thorn itself. But if what you say is true, and this "Bloom" was somehow altered into the Thorn about the same time that most of Mobile Task Force Omega-7 was killed in an incident that took place nearby…"

"You think that Able was responsible for transforming The Bloom into The Thorn?" Ten wondered.

"Not just Able," Two pointed out. "SCP-073 was also found at the site of the Omega-Seven massacre. Which has always been inexplicable since he was last reported six hundred miles away, at Site-17." Two shrugged. "Maybe we should be asking them."

One contemplated this in silence. "No," he said at last.


One interrupted Ten's objection with a raised hand. "The middle of a high-wire act is the last time to begin juggling swords," he said. "With SCP-2000 rolling out in the next month or so, and RAISA opening Series Four, the Foundation has enough to deal with trying to fix this universe, much less worrying about what might have happened in prior ones. We put our house in order first, before worrying about our neighbors'."

Ten glanced around the room. Two was nodding his head in agreement. Thirteen… was being Thirteen. "If you say so," she said at last.

"Not just me. I'm going to ask you to take a binding and compulsory oath on this," One said. "You will not now, nor ever, take any action to investigate the link between SCP-073, SCP-076, and the Thorn… or, as you call it, The Bloom. Agreed?"

Ten nodded reluctantly. "Agreed."

"In that case," One said, "this meeting is adjourned. All transcripts from today's meeting are to be considered cognitohazardous artifacts and subject to Special Containment Procedures, Class Sub-Rosa. You will submit all of your materials, including visual aids and notes, to RAISA for containment by the end of the day. This meeting is adjourned."

… and elsewhere, a man sat on a hilltop, looking out towards the sunset. He contemplated what had been. What had come before. What would be in the future.

The road to this place and this time had been a long and winding one. Like many roads, there had been points where the path had been rough and difficult. And perhaps it was true that the destination was not nearly as pleasant as he had been led to believe. But the journey… that had been memorable.

He supposed that made it worth it.

He picked up his walking stick and took a drink of water from his canteen. It was a long walk back home, and he was looking forward to a hot shower and a good meal once he made it back.

Incident Zero
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