Tangled Web

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Site-θ Operations Control

Avery burst into the operations room. “Alright, you’ve had your hour. Let’s wrap this up, people!”

Sophia Light stared at the monitors showing zero contacts for her team’s biometrics. Fuck. I just wish- she thought, but was interrupted by frantic beeping from one of the consoles.

She turned to the security officer. “What is it?”

Avery stepped up next to her. “It’s time to go, Sophia. They’re- “

“Back! They’re back!” yelled the security officer.

Light bent down to look at his screen. “Who is it?”

“Agents Miller and Deneb!” He brought the display of their locators onto the big screen. “Looks like Popescu as well!”

Light turned to Avery. “This time, I’ll say it. I told you so.”

Avery laughed. “Can you get them on the communicator?”

SCP-4494 is already broadcasting, Director.”

“Well answer damn it!” Avery said.

The security officer clicked a link on his screen and the Specter’s voice came through the speakers.

“Director Light, I have Lucretia, Carlotta and Rainer here. We believe the situation is under control. The Specter told you we had it in hand! Justice has prevailed!”

It was Sophia’s turn to laugh. “Thank you 4494, could I speak with Agent Deneb please?”

“Hello!” Carlotta yelled through the speakers.

“Sitrep, Agent Deneb?”

“Agents Miller, Popescu and I are unharmed for the most part. But we lost Phenex and 1360.”

“And the anomaly? What happened? We lost contact with all of you for the last few hours.”

“Long fucking story,” Lucretia said. “We pulled into another ah…. dimension? Some crazy shit happen.”

“Understood. Anyone need medical attention?”

“I don’t think so,” Carlotta said.

“Alright, I am going to get some containment crew down to your location and then we’ll have to get you into quarantine for a bit. Make sure you didn’t bring anything home with you. But good job, all of you. I’ll come debrief you in a while. Stay where you are until the containment personnel arrive.”

Sophia turned from the console and looked at Avery. He was smiling and shaking his head. “I honestly can’t believe it.”

Light looked at the security officer. “Send a crew down to where they are. What are the readings on the anomaly?”

“Negative, Director. There was a surge of energy, and then the Kant counters reset to normal readings.”

“And the anomalies that were missing?” Avery cut in.

“I’ll have to get containment to check on them, sir. None of the original breaches were traditional, so I would want eyes on each of the hundred or so we lost.”

“Good, do that.” Avery turned back to Light. “Well, this might have worked out. I had my doubts.”

“We all did, Director Avery,” said a voice from the door.

Light turned, saw O5-10 walking into the room, and almost gasped. “You should not be here, Overseer. There are rampant anomalies loose in the Site, and we don’t even know if we’ve re-contained the ones we lost.”

“Yes well, if this situation wasn’t resolved, then it wouldn’t have mattered if I was here or not. From what I understood from Director Avery, things were going terminal. And it wouldn’t have stopped at this Site, as you know.”

Avery looked at Light and shrugged. “What? I was calling a full evacuation, I had to inform the Council.”

Sophia nodded, and remembered that she hadn’t heard from Gat in a while. She turned and scanned the room, only to find him asleep on a desk in the back of the room. She shook her head and turned back to O5-10. “So, why are you here?”

“Get your team sanitized and cleared, then bring everyone to your office. I’ll have some information for you all then.” And with that she turned and walked out, her factotum, Salt, following on her heels.

Director Light’s Office

24 hours and two rounds of decontamination later

Sophia sat behind her desk while the surviving members of her new Alpha-9 squad sat in various visitor’s chairs. O5-10 sat on her office couch, Salt was nowhere to be seen. Avery stood against the back wall. Vaux was asked to leave by O5-10, which Sophia thought was rude as he was cleared for all Project Resurrection files so far as she knew.

In the intervening twenty-four hours, HMCL personnel had inspected all the containment chambers and reported that ninety of the anomalies were back in containment as if they had never left. Ten remained unaccounted for.

“What I am about to tell you, some of the other Overseers don’t even know.”

Lucretia sat next to Carlotta. Noticeably close. They weren’t touching, but Sophia made a mental note to discuss declaration of workplace relationships at the next group briefing. Lucretia had several bruises on her face and arms. Given the fight with Truth and the overall events of the expedition, Sophia was glad to see the injuries weren’t too severe. The official debriefing had occurred while the team was still in decontamination.

SCP-4494 sat slightly away from the rest of the team, but with a view of the door and of Avery. Interesting, Sophia thought.

“Let me be clear, the following briefing is not to leave this room. In fact, I’ve already activated a memetic agent on all of you to stop you from repeating it.” Sophia opened her mouth to speak, but O5-10 was already speaking again. “Yes, Sophia that even means Vaux.”

O5-10 paused for a moment and scanned the small group, as if gauging their attention. Then she continued.

“A little over ten years ago, an event occurred here at Site-θ that caused a XK Class Reality Restructuring. The Thorn, as you’ve seen, did not exist prior to this occurrence.”

“I’ve been the Site Director here for more than ten years and I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Avery said.

“But you wouldn’t, would you? That’s how a Restructuring Event works.”

Avery started to say something, but O5-10 interrupted him quickly. “No, listen… you’ll just have to trust me on this. A lot of things changed. This Site used to hold a singular machine for a specific purpose and now, we have a black site containing anomalies undisclosed to the Foundation at large.”

“Speaking of, this ‘Thorn’ isn’t listed in any of this Site’s databases,” Sophia interjected.

“I’m getting to that. So, after the Restructuring event we were left with a residual anomaly, the Thorn.”

“Residual from what?” Rainer asked.

“You don’t need to know. All that matters is that the Thorn is real and active. Only my office is even aware of its importance.”

“So, what, you hid deep down and hoped no one find?” Lucretia asked.

“No, there were so many antimemetic countermeasures on that door you shouldn’t have been able to even notice it was there. But maybe it wanted you to see it.”

“So, the Thorn is alive?” Carlotta asked. “That would explain a lot of the things.”

“I don’t know. Honestly, there’s no indication that it’s a sentient or living entity. We don’t know nearly enough about it.”

“So why are you telling us all this?” Sophia asked. “In this sort of situation, I’d normally amnesticize everyone involved.”

“Usually that would be the best option. But there’s a wrinkle here: you stopped a potential follow-up Restructuring event by hitting it with a stone.”

“Seemed like good idea at time.” Lucretia shrugged dramatically.

“Yes, well, it worked so I can’t really argue with that. The problem is that we haven’t had any chance to research the Thorn or the effect of SCP-4867 on reality altering phenomena. Additionally, the stone is officially ‘Uncontained’, so you’re all sworn to secrecy that it is currently contained at this Site.”

Sophia suddenly understood why O5-10 insisted she oversee the containment of the stone personally after collecting it from the sub-basement.

“Why am I telling you this? Because from here on out, the people in this room will have a secondary objective to their normal duties, namely the hunting down and cataloguing of any and all anomalies that concern the Thorn. That means research overseen by Director Avery and prioritizing mobilizations under Director Light to handle any emerging anomalous reactions from the Thorn.”

Lucretia laughed unpleasantly. Sophia and Carlotta both looked sharply at her.

“What? You know is bullshit. She know Thorn is here and active, but we happen be all here when all goes bugfuck? Дурь несусветная.” Lucretia made a spitting noise.

“Я говорю на русском,” O5-10 said.

Lucretia laughed. “Good! So you know what I say. Am wrong?”

“No, I intended whatever team Director Light had put together to deal with the Thorn, or at least to reconnoiter the situation. I had several countermeasures in place if the situation got out of hand.”

“The SRA disposition throughout the base. I wondered why they were here when no reality-warping anomalies were contained here,” Sophia said.

“That would’ve been my first move as well, too bad it didn’t have the desired effect.”

“What would’ve been your next move?” Rainer asked.

“My next move would’ve been none of your business. Just because I’ve decided to clue you into some classified material does not mean I’m an open book, Mr. Miller.”

Rainer lowered his gaze to the floor. “It’s just… we could have died. We almost did. And we lost two people down there.”

“5601 and 1360 were hardly people. If we only had to lose the two of them, I would think it was acceptable.”

“Robot saved us! Which mean saved you too,” Lucretia said.

“Yes, and as I understand it, 1360 also almost cost us the mission several times. I’m glad the automaton decided to help in the end, but honestly… Sophia, I don’t know what you were thinking.”

“Anderson hadn’t contacted it for nine years! From what Agent Popescu has said in her report, 1360 was operating under pre-existing programming. Which means Anderson would’ve had to know this would happen… Jesus.” Sophia sat back in her chair.

“Yes, that is extremely concerning. We’ll need to bear Anderson in mind from here on out,” O5-10 noted.

“So, we have an active reality-bending anomaly, another anomaly that seems to reset to the baseline reality in a localized fashion, ten separate anomalies that did not reappear in containment, and Vincent Anderson mixed up with all of it… what else am I forgetting?” Sophia asked.

“Samuel Myers’ actions add the Fifthists to the mix.” O5-10 looked at Avery, who cleared his throat and crossed his arms but said nothing. She continued. “And let’s not forget the absolute disaster occurring throughout the Foundation and centralized at Site-19.”

“Right, I should get back to that. I’m sure Dan has it all in hand, but I’d still better see if I can help.” Sophia started busily collecting papers and other items into her shoulder bag.

“Wait fucking minute!” Lucretia said.

Carlotta put her hand on Lucretia’s shoulder. “Lucy, Jesus…”

“No, you all listen. The way this whole катастрофа happen makes me think Foundation not so different from Lodge.”

“Well, we aren’t sacrificing people to a dead eldritch high priest, like the Lodge. I’d say we’re fairly different,” O5-10 said.

“No? Well, Overseer seemed comfortable sacrificing us.”

“That’s not the same thing, and you know it,” O5-10 said.

“Da, not the same. Yet not deep abiding reverence for life, no? You throw us to wolves, see we come through, answer couple questions and it’s on to next thing. Feels like Russia to me.”

“I understand why you’d be frustrated after the experience you went through. But this was highly classified information, Popescu, that’s why you weren’t informed.”

“Information classified could have saved bird’s life, no? Maybe not have to leave robot behind. We all could have met horrible fate. But information classified so no need to tell grunts, da?”

“It’s not our usual protocols to throw unprepared lives at an anomaly until we understand it. There is an Ethics Committee who oversees much of the projects under the Foundation’s purview and I’m led to understand they can overrule the Council sometimes,” Sophia said.

“Yes, the oft discussed Ethics Committee. Always telling their betters how wrong they are,” O5-10 said. “But this wasn’t an ethics situation, Light. I had no idea something this disastrous would happen. Besides, this is a special situation. Most of the Foundation doesn’t even know this anomaly exists. I had limited options, and I trusted you to lead your team as best you could. Besides, MTFs are often asked to go into anomalies with little information.”

“Blah blah. Sacrifice bird. Sacrifice robot. How long before you sacrifice Romanian Sarkic, huh?” Lucretia shook her head.

“Because of those sacrifices, people in the surrounding areas and maybe further get to go to school or work tomorrow. And without having to worry about reality cascading them through a brick wall!” O5-10 was yelling by the end of her statement. She took a deep breath and straightened her blazer.

“Then there’s all the Overseers backstabbing and manipulating others. You tell us things other Overseers do not know, right? And Light have attempt on life not long ago. This all seems very Russian to me. Like KGB in late 80s.”

“Everyone involved at the highest levels is concerned with the prime motivator of the Foundation, namely: preservation of the Veil for the sake of normalcy.” O5-10’s tone had softened, and she held her hands open, palm up as she spoke. “I know we seem cold. For Christ’s sake, we are cold. But at the end of the day, we’re all fighting to keep anomalies away from the public.”

“Pfft! World almost end and you’re onto next thing, you all do this. Next goal, next mission. This whole thing feels like bad game,” Lucretia said. She stood and walked out of the room.

Carlotta moved to follow, but stopped. She turned to look at both Sophia and O5-10. “She’s had a long couple of days.”

“We all have, it’s fine. I’ll talk to her later. But first I need to get back to Site-01 and see what’s happening. The rest of you, I suggest you take the day and try to relax.” Sophia got up and walked towards the door.

“We did, didn’t we?” Rainer said with a smile.

“Of course, we did, friend Rainer! I told you, with the Specter on the case justice would be served!” SCP-4494 said.

Sophia laughed and looked back to O5-10 to find she had left the room. She shook her head. She walked to Carlotta and put a hand on her arm. “Talk to her, will you?”

Carlotta nodded. Sophia shook Rainer’s and SCP-4494’s hands and said, “You both did wonderfully. And you have a place on this team, so don’t go anywhere.”

They nodded, and she turned to leave the room. If she hurried, she could get back to Site-01 in a few hours. Hopefully Dan hadn’t given himself a heart attack with all those energy drinks.

Carlotta found Lucretia outside the Site entrance, sitting under a tree. She was kicking at the snow in her black combat boots. She wore a winter coat over her short sleeve shirt and jeans, but still emitted fierce strength despite the faraway look on her face.

“Mind if I sit?” Carlotta asked.

“Been told this free country.”

Carlotta sat next to Lucretia and looked across the snowfield adjacent to the main entrance. She pulled her coat in a little tighter. The sun was going down and the frigid air was creeping into every free space it could find.

“If you too cold, you don’t need to sit here. I don’t need babysitter.”

“I’m not babysitting you. Jesus.” Carlotta shook her head. “And I think my ass can stand the cold for a few more minutes. I’ll just sit here for a while with you.”


They silently sat there looking over the frozen field. Carlotta heard an owl hooting in the distant woods a few hundred meters away. Otherwise, it was very quiet.

“So -“ Carlotta started, but was interrupted by Lucretia’s hand held up to stop her.

“Wanted to… apologize. Shouldn’t have kissed you like that, without… consent? Is that right word?”

Carlotta nodded. “Yeah, that’s the word. I know, and I agree. You shouldn’t have… not least because I’m your colleague. Sexual harassment is a thing here, you know.”

“We have that in Romania too, stupid.”

Carlotta laughed. She turned and looked at Lucretia until the other woman met her eyes.

“I accept your apology.”

“Da, good.”

Carlotta moved a little closer to Lucretia’s side, not quite touching.

“So, what now?” Lucretia asked.

“I don’t know about you, but I could use a drink.”

“Drink would be good.”

Lucretia leaned against Carlotta’s shoulder.

“You’re not gonna leave, right?” Carlotta asked.

“This is fucked-up business. But no, don’t think I will.”


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