Man in the Monocle

Ironically enough, he wore a monocle. Tyler had wondered what he looked like, still did, and yet noticed the golden rimmed eyeglass wedged in front of his eye. He supposed it was intentional; after all, if he didn't want it to be noticed; it wouldn't be. But Tyler had never seen anyone wear a monocle in his life before, as they seemed impractical for their worth and certainly weren't fashionable.

To be fair, he'd never met an O5 member either.

The councilman sat across from him in the interrogation room, a pale space illuminated by droning fluorescent lighting and giving off a faint smell of industrial bleach, which made Tyler feel vaguely light headed, though he kept his posture straight and his gaze focused on the man, attempting to discern any detail in his face. He knew it was impossible; the antimemetic distortion field infuriated Tyler because of the intangibility of his appearance. Tyler could see him; he wasn't invisible. Despite that, nothing about him, not age, skin or hair color, would remain in his mind as soon as he looked away, and when he was staring it was like describing a scent or an object he had never experienced before in his life, never quite encapsulating the sensation. Except that damn monocle.

"Would you mind taking it off?" Tyler asked. He sensed a shift in the councilman's expression, though whether it was surprise or disapproval evaded him. He reached for the glass and plucked it off his face, tucking it away into an invisible corner. "Thank you," Tyler added, then shifted in his seat hesitantly.

"Tyler Yamaguchi. Current head of ATF-Chi-43, designation "Four Eyes." We are here to discuss a potential relocation of your current designation." That took Tyler by surprise. He had known he'd been meeting with an O5 for nearly months now, and had taken more than enough time to prepare. But he hadn't expected this to be the topic of discussion.

"…Sir?" Tyler ventured. "I'm being relocated?"

"That is correct," the councilman affirmed.

Tyler hesitated for a moment, carefully considering his words. "Have I made some sort of mistake, sir?" He questioned, curious as to whether this was a demotion or not. This sort of treatment wasn't call for a downgrade in rank, and Tyler was fairly certain he hadn't done anything wrong; he had practically been married to his position since he obtained it, sometimes even enjoying it. But Tyler was already of the highest reasonable designation possible, and couldn't imagine what sort of promotion this could possibly be.

"There is no mistake, not from you," the O5 member explained. "I am here to transfer you." He made another undefinable shift in movement. "No recording devices," he murmured. His face moved some more before finally settling again. "This conversation is not to have taken place," he addressed Tyler, who nodded slowly. He looked around the room and had a realization; there weren't any cameras, or recording devices like the O5 had said. That wasn't a request, it was a statement. It was an odd feeling, considering how prevalent surveillance normally was at the site, and Tyler couldn't help but feel unnerved. He looked back to the councilman, who continued talking.

"You possess a reasonable resume, as you're aware. Former work with the CIA in surveillance, onboarded nine years ago as a Task Force operator at twenty nine. Fairly young for this line of work. Promoted multiple times until eventually assigned to current position." He mused thoughtfully. "You will work well for this, I believe."

Tyler hesitated to inquire, preferring to play on the safe side until he figured out the O5 member's manner of conversation. He spoke flatly and confidently, almost as if he was silently assured in every word he spoke, every fact or even opinion he uttered. It was a deliberate confidence that intimidated him and creating an involuntary sense of respect for the man sitting across from him. He paused for another moment, waiting to see if the member would speak further. Tyler opened his mouth to speak, but the O5 interrupted him right before he began.

"Your current Task Force is compiled of around thirty people, all dedicated to the sole purpose of containing and preventing spread of SCP-7797. Correct?"

Tyler grimaced at the mention of 7797. That number had rang throughout his mind for the past three months, whispering in his ears, burning itself in his eyelids as he slept. He could never go a day without hearing the number mentioned by a coworker or written on a document. He had never imagined something as simple as a number, a non-anomalous number no less, could cause him this much stress and anxiety, yet after Incident 7797-B, he had been working overtime just to play catch up with the anomaly he had been assigned to.

"Correct." Tyler muttered in a hushed whisper.

"And how successfully has your team handled this?"

Tyler paused again for nearly a minute, recollecting his thoughts and memories from the past few months, the data he had seen, the operations he had been on. There was no point in sugarcoating it to this man. He cleared his throat and readjusted his posture again.

"Not well enough to effectively halt the replication. While my team has managed to greatly reduce civilian exposure to the anomaly, the nature of its creation means that during the time we take to locate it, civilians are still vulnerable to potential exposure, no matter how quickly we reach it. I've read the data and we're seeing trends of a potentially exponential increase in appearances. By next year, it would be virtually impossible to contain 7797 with our current size and budget, which," Tyler noted, "is abnormally high, compared to the other forces I've worked on."

"We're good at our job, and up until recently we've kept civilian exposures to a minimum, approximately 12.8 a month on average. But the fact is, the amount of instances are increasing, so much to a point we just can't blame it on coincidence. This could end up being a serious problem for the Foundation, and it could mean a Broken Masquerade scenario."

Tyler hesitated for a moment, then continued in a lower tone. "The instances are more aggressive now, more public. That's helped us locate them more quickly, sure, but it's also meant drastically more exposures. It's like they're trying to maximize public manifestation. If I didn't know better, I'd say this anomaly was intelligent." Tyler stared up at the O5 councilman. "But I don't know better, do I? The instances have only started increasing in prevalence after the Incident in October, and I think that only happened because of Incident 7797-1, which I don't even have the damn clearance to know!"

Tyler quickly realized he was raising his voice, and deflated back into his chair, forcing himself to take deep breaths. "I'm sorry, sir," he began to formulate an excuse, but the councilman cut him off.

"I am aware of all of this. I've been keeping up to date on all the data myself." Tyler looked up slowly in confusion. He knew the data was accessible to the O5s, but he didn't expect any of them to actually read it, considering the amount of work they were swamped with.

"You… have?" Tyler asked cautiously, considering the implications of the statement.

"Which is precisely the reason why I'm here. Your theory is correct. While the anomaly itself isn't intelligent, per say, it's being spearheaded by an entity which is. In fact, we suspect this entity may possess knowledge beyond human comprehension, outside of the Noosphere." The O5 member paused. "You are aware of the Noosphere, yes?"

Tyler nodded, deeply concerned. Tyler had only heard the phrase tossed around by various paraphysical scientists, but it essentially meant the collective of human consciousness, the equivalent of all human knowledge. Something that existed outside of that was… lovecraftian, something closer to a monster than a human. Tyler had been trying to stop something like that? No wonder containment seemed so difficult.

"We're inclined to agree with your position," the councilman continued. "That this could pose a serious threat to the Veil. That's why we're initiating a new approach, to contain the entity, rather than its…" he paused. "Creation. And you're going to be head of this new division."

Tyler opened his mouth to speak, though he was unsure whether it was to protest or not. However, the councilman cut him off. "We're creating a ghost Task Force consisting of researchers dedicated to containing, and possibly neutralizing this entity. It would be underground, non-existent in the records. We want this initiative to be as underground as possible in order to prevent a potential security breach amongst the Foundation. You'd have an unexplained gap in your resume, nothing more."

Tyler sat patiently as the councilman continued to speak. "You'd be heading the research and containment of this Force. You'll be provided with the resources you need, and you'll have a temporary replacement for ATF-Chi-43. The initiative will happen immediately, with a bit of time to orient yourself and your new crew, and will last approximately six months, which should be more than enough time to achieve your goal. Is that clear?"

Tyler's eyes widened for a moment, though he quickly regained his posture and nodded. The councilman stood up. "Good. You'll be sent the appropriate details shortly, as well as receive security clearance to access the near entirety of SCP-7797, albeit some redactions. Security purposes, as you know," he informed Tyler. "Access to Incident 7797-A will be crucial to your objective, so I figured it was necessary for you to be able to read it." The councilman reached for his files and laptop, tucking them away into a shoulder bag.

"Wait," Tyler interjected as the man was ready to leave. "What would the team be called?"

The O5 member turned and paused before answering, almost taken aback. "Naming is still a work in progress as with the rest of the force. It's a low priority compared to the other technical aspects." O5 shifted his head until Tyler felt his gaze directly on him. "How about this; I'll let you pick."

Tyler tried to suppress a smile, mildly pleased by the small amount of privilege provided to him. He was prepared to let the councilman leave, but a disturbed thought crossed his mind, causing his already apprehensive mood to further sour. "One more thing," he said towards the councilman, who turned back slowly, radiating annoyance. "What… what happens if we fail?"

Although he couldn't be sure, Tyler could almost detect a grimace on the O5's face. "I cannot provide details, however I will tell you this." He inhaled. "I want you to treat this operation as a manner of life and death." With that, the councilman silently reapplied his monocle and left, leaving Tyler standing alone within the chamber, the words echoing in his mind.

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