To: You 0400 UTC 07/14/2059 (3 minutes ago)
Subject: URGENT: Foundation-wide Meeting
Attention all Area-83 Personnel:
It is no secret that our names, our faces, and our lives have been, for as long as the Foundation has existed, a secret. O5 Command has typically ruled from the shadows, making decisions, but not taking an active lead in the direction of the Foundation.
Until now, we have felt the best course of action was to let individual sites and their staff interpret "Secure, Contain, Protect" as they felt necessary, our role being to step in during serious situations.
That has changed.
Since the use of SCP-787700, we've begun to reckon with our role as more than bureaucrats. Fate has entrusted us with the responsibility of altering the outcome of random events to rebuild our planet. We feel the time has come to acknowledge that transparency now matters.
As such, we are asking all staff, including non-research personnel, to report to the main hangar deck at 1900 UTC for a Q&A Session. We'll be addressing the details of how SCP-787700 works, explaining our decision to restore only pro-Foundation anomalous organizations, our future, and the future of the anomalous. Other topics are welcome for discussion as long as they are relevant to our current objectives.
Thank you for helping us keep the Foundation running. It's been a hard week. Let's get this done.
Isaac Kaufman kicked back in his office chair as he saw the email waiting for him, the only email. Nothing except administrative reminders and bot emails had come across since the loss of Earth. The last thing that he, or any of his colleagues, wanted was for O5 Command to reveal themselves as "just normal people."
Isaac wasn't sure what to do with his days anymore. Not sure what a “day” was anymore. He was a backup researcher on the thirteen-member team, not even assigned to an anomaly like some of his colleagues. And yet, his superiors had declared him one of their successors, based on little more than a glorified prophecy in some old books. Their sort of Bible in these new times. And truly, he didn't know what he was doing more than anybody else.
Since the apocalypse, there was more boredom on Area-83 than panic or fear. Researchers sat around in the halls playing cards, or in their quarters making posts on ScipNet, some of which would have merited disciplinary action ten days before. There wasn't a post-apocalyptic mood, it felt more like an inconvenience. No survivor’s guilt, just ennui. And so, everyone would pace around the ship for yet another “day”. Nothing the O5s could say would change daily life in the interim.
But business as usual was good enough for a lover of routine like Isaac.
Out in the halls after breakfast, everyone, from Senior Researchers in labcoats to the people on deck three hired to keep the ship running, was abuzz with rumors and speculation as to what the O5 Council were planning.
"Transparency matters?” Are you fucking kidding me? You know, corporate-speak isn't something I thought I'd ever see from O5 Command. He missed the old, shadowy letters. It at least made him feel at least like someone was in control. Now, it's just, 'we're all in the same boat'. It sure didn't make him feel better.
Some young researcher, also one of the backup team, was standing up at the front of the cafeteria riling people up about how Command had no idea what they were doing. "Great", Isaac thought. "Maybe we'll have a mutiny on top of everything."
Issac grabbed a glass of water from the back of the cafeteria. The hastily-formed mob listened to the young researcher, and were quickly enraged. One man burst out from the adjacent bathroom and shouted, "Down with the council, and up with the Star!", waving a Global Occult Coalition banner he had stolen from the bridge.
"I've seen enough of this!" Isaac screamed. He smashed his glass against the fountain counter. "We've all been drifting through space on the same bucket of bolts! I get it! But last week this kind of insubordination would get you amnesticized and tossed out on the street! Or worse! Get your shit together, people, or none of us will be getting out of here! Like it or not, order through hierarchy is what separates us from the animals.” Issac paused, recalling that there were none left to populate the analogy. “Hear them out tonight. Listen to how 787700 works, and we'll all do what we've gotta do to get back home. Then we can squabble!"
Coming from someone who was slated to assume the top of that hierarchy, the speech was ineffective.
The mob, mostly comprised of Research Assistants and Junior Researchers, chased Issac out of the cafe. He flung open the heavy iron door at the back of the room and didn't look back. He sprinted down the hall to the hangar deck where hundreds were gathered already for the council's first "public" appearance, scheduled for some 45 minutes from now.
The pursuit ended quickly as Isaac blended into the waiting crowd. This left the few particularly committed members of the rowdy mob to look quite like fools, bursting into the busy hangar bay, waving plates and knives from the cafeteria.
Isaac sat on the bottom of the two impromptu decks constructed for attendees of the council meeting. Overnight, the repair crew had thrown together some metal bleachers on the hangar deck, with capacity for about nine hundred. Another four hundred were standing upstairs, on the giant hallway bridges over the deck, as if a crowd for some performance art.
As the final few people packed into their viewing spaces, thirteen figures walked out in uniform Foundation jackets. Each walked as if their gait was rehearsed; as if polished by hours spent in front of full-body mirrors. Something unspoken was in their steps. There was – perhaps appropriately, perhaps graciously – no reaction from the audience.
As they took their seats in the center of the hangar deck at a long white table, officialized poorly with makeshift nameplates, each with their overseer number. Council members tapped their microphones and adjusted their books, crossed their legs, and looked everywhere around the room but towards the crew. Each member held one of SCP-787700's texts.
The last whispers of the crowd went silent, as if giving permission. O5-7 cleared her throat into the microphone.
"Welcome, everybody. Welcome, Foundation Staff, to our first Council Q&A!”
An awkward silence fell over the crowd as O5-7's pause for applause met a crowd that hadn't seen an overseer until thirty seconds ago.
She soothed the mood: “I am sorry it came to this to meet you all so directly. We all stumble along the path of least regret. We are your O5 Council. It is nice to meet you all."
"We're not going to spend a lot of time talking about what's already happened, most of us know everything we need to know about Earth. What most of you don't know is the how, what, when and, most integrally, why we are using SCP-787700 the way we are. So, without further ado, let's get into questions. Raise your hands and we will pass you a microphone."
Almost everyone shot up with a question.
"Yes, you, gray hair in the back, Site-77 hat, glasses."
Site-77's technical manager, David Korostyshevsky, who had been fixing Area-83's connection issues at the time of the apocalypse, spoke up.
"I’m David. I want you to know, I wasn't here by choice or by routine assignment, I was here by necessity. I had a family. Kids.”
There was a pause as the Council struggled to handle the comment.
“We are sorry for your loss. As we are for everyone’s.”
“What is your question?”
“Can you explain why you're naming thirteen new overseers, and establishing a new Foundation when we get back? What's to stop this from all happening again?"
O5-13 gestured to his colleagues and spoke.
"Great question, Dave." The first name landed with an immensely condescending tone. "I'm proud to remind you all, truly proud, that the Foundation will be the only group related to the anomalous left. Well, the GOC, but we'll make 'em hold their trigger fingers. Once we get back to Earth, the way we've restored it, everything will be the same, except all the chaos will be gone, no provocateurs or insurgents, none of 'em. And I especially am glad to say that none of those damn, idiotic –"
The increasing displeasure with which O5-13 listed his enemies drew the attention of O5-12 beside him, who gave him a quick kick on the shin beneath the table.
"— excuse me, we won't be seeing any more of the fanatics. So back to the main point, which is that the Foundation and UN will be on the same page now. And if anyone defies us, they can suck it up and show some gratitude for us, y'know, literally reassembling them atom by atom! And on top of that, it says right in these books that we need successors! Listen to us, okay? We know!"
The unprofessional outburst shocked both his colleagues and the audience. The click of his mic shutting off served the effect of a mic drop. The second awkward silence in five minutes. The reverb of the mortification was cut short when O5-7 tried laughing off the bad first impression O5-13 had just given every living human.
"We're all human, at least I believe, this is the Foundation. With that said, I'm sorry we're off to such a… rocky start. Next question, uh… up front here, you, the technician in the green shirt."
"Yeah, Overseer, I'd like to know why you casually dropped the fact that we don’t know the details of what you are doing, even with here us on the ship, in a public document. You also wrote 'We're slipping from reality'. Some of us are thinking you have God complexes and are losing your touch with reality. This was a really strange decision from our point of view, so a lot of us would like to know why it was announced this way."
"What would you rather we have done? Keep it a secret from you? This is a new leaf. A new time. We need to be open. We are not Gods. This process will end us. And we need to rally behind those thirteen, even if it seems like they were randomly picked."
O5-8 tapped O5-7 on the shoulder and whispered.
"Don't cast doubt on them."
"And, uh, let's make sure to back our staff. This is no time to be throwing anyone under the bus. Alright, next question…"
"Yes, Ms. Ellen Siegel!"
Isaac Kaufman's girlfriend, a low-level researcher assistant, stood up. Isaac's stomach inverted; she had told him what she'd hope to ask.
"Overseer, any of you actually, are we now allowed to boo you?"
This comment caused a riot. The crowd shot up in cheers and joyous yelling, some booing.
"Well – again, for the sake of transparency and cohesion – we've decided that we're all on the same team here, so yes, you are free to say anything you like about us."
The crowd didn't wait.
"Can we get another question –" O5-12 started but gave up.
This had become an embarrassment. Deep down, the scene was sad. Not only were the council not immortal or anomalous, or in any way unlike the rest of them – and in the exact moment they needed to be – they were just as weak and ineffectual too.
The council fled. They weren't going to stick around for the outrage to transmute to violence. They piled into Seven's quarters to lick their wounds.
To: You 0600 UTC 07/15/2059 (16 minutes ago)
Subject: URGENT: Major Announcement
We've got a few major announcements to make, but let's start with the big one.
We fucked up. We know, hardly news. We fucked up, and we admit it.
I think we can say that. It's the end of the world, temporarily anyway. We're the most powerful people in the world, right?
A new cosmology is already spinning. Our reigns upon randomness has so far managed to let us slip dust and dirt together, make it drift into other pieces, so on and so forth until we have a planet. Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, all of it we can spin into humans. We won't bore you with the details; it’s probably more than you care to know. The point is, under the leadership of our new council, the Foundation will truly be in charge.
For years, we erred by not keeping you, our rank and file, in the loop. In retrospect, the temptation of being an enigma among you was too satisfying. No matter how well we were doing at containing anomalies, none of it mattered if you couldn't trust us. And we could feel that when we came down and talked to all of you, awkward though it was, there was something that changed. Transparency is not something you can perform.
So as of today, we understand the real call, the real value of transparency. But there's another lesson we learned.
We're honored to have you. You're not supposed to be honored to work for us. Your honor comes from elsewhere. You're some of the greatest scientists among humanity, and it's time we acknowledge that.
As such, all research staff will, following Earth's reconstruction, be permitted to choose their site assignment. Dangerous and undesirable jobs will be filled only by lottery and will be regularly rotated to avoid giving the impression of some staff being assigned "Keter Duty".
And above all, let's do our best!
– Your O5 Council
Isaac again slammed shut the computer. The email was too saccharine. They hadn’t learned a thing.
But others didn't see it that way. The screaming calmed in the halls, nobody took time to throw a punch at breakfast the next morning, and for a day it seemed as if peace was again among humanity.
It could only go downhill from there. Very, very far downhill.