July 21, 2059- 14 Days Since Loss Of Earth
Barring one unfortunate incident involving Dr. Baldonado and Dr. Lao, things were looking up. Literally; Area-83 passed below earth's southern hemisphere, and anyone on the top deck that evening could see the molten chaos of the new Earth churning back into the same familiar continents as before. It couldn't be long now, before Area-83's staff would have solid ground under their feet, and a real sky above.
Rebuilding Earth was tiring work, though. Despite the long email lectures about transparency and trust, “Marshall, Carter and Dark, Ltd” was still in full operation within the Administration bridge's private observation deck. The public bar shut down the night before, was now a VIP space. The three would be O5s in a month anyway, so nobody felt any urge to shut down the only luxury known to mankind. Instead, the Councils, both the old and new, sat about in the elegant deck, imbibing endless bizarre potions conjured up from 294 – drinks that would fill them up and then empty their stomachs – and they fantasized what they would do with their new lives.
O5-7 sat down at one of the back tables, holding a glass of hot coffee. Isaac Kaufman, Ellen Siegel, Ramya Zebari and Deputy Director Lewis sat alongside.
"Ramya, why don't you order something? My coffee tastes perfect, I wasn't sure it would understand what I meant by one-seventy-three butter but clearly it's capable of some logic." Isaac babbled.
“My God, we’ve become Dr. Lao!”
The group erupted in laughter.
“It’s contained in my belly.”
"Oh, well, as long as the SCP is delicious, then no need to worry, right?" Ramya snapped back, clearly annoyed.
"Oh I don't disagree, 294 needs to go back in the ol' box as soon as we're back on solid footing. But you've got to admit it's easier to live on a spaceship in the end times if you have good drinks."
"I haven't had a drink out of that thing ever and I never will, unless you people force me to. We're turning into our old adversaries up here-"
The usually reserved and friendly Helena Lewis leapt across the table and slapped Ramya across the face. The soft chatter around the room stopped. All eyes were on them.
"I was shot three times in the fucking leg, you motherfucker! Don't you tell me shit about my adversaries! I ordered a glass of wine to make the hardest time of my life easier, that doesn't seem nearly on the level of flaying thousands of people alive, does it? Jesus, it’s a damn drink.”
Ramya got up and walked back to her quarters without a word. A minute later, everyone was back to chatting, making the same mistake they had so many times already.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about Ramya or Helena. It's a tough time, like she said, everyone is just stressed out." O5-3 said dismissively at the next table over, knocking back a shot of liquid denial.
24 Hours Later
The council was back after a long day of assembling continents, all of which were now clearly visible above the observation deck as grooves in a giant ball of dirt.
Seven, Helena, Isaac and Ellen sat at the same table again, but Ramya was nowhere to be seen.
"Anybody seen Ramya around today?" Ellen pointed out tactlessly.
"Nah. I think she really was mad about the whole 294 thing, and that we're changing direction so fast." O5-7 explained. "On the one hand, I get it. I was one of the biggest voices for making the Council show ourselves to the rank-and-file, and I feel good about it, walking through the halls every day as just another employee. On the other hand, I understand it makes people feel directionless when such a big crisis is going on. That we need to set ourselves apart in both responsibility and stature.”
"Yeah, but she really didn't take it well. I know she –”
A loud thunk garnered the attention of the whole room, and all conversation stopped as heads spun toward the commotion at the door.
"Where the fuck did you get that?" Cameron Williams asked someone just beyond the door.
"Oh it was in the cargo hold, Yantz told me it was a gift from Site-56 back when Area-83 opened up, nobody's wanted it since. Now help me drag this big bastard into the room, let's class this place up."
Ramya and Cameron walked into the room, each pushing one side of a wheeled, full-size, upright piano.
Whispers and laughs spread across the room as they walked to the front of the observation deck by the glass and set down the piano. Ramya and Cameron walked back out to the hall, and brought in another piece of furniture, a bench stolen from the cafeteria, a large, white plastic eyesore that looked especially out of place among the prestigious decor.
She thanked Cameron and sat down at the piano, then began to play. She began with some soft, relaxing tunes from memory, and the other twenty-five patrons gradually went back to their small talk.
"See, I don't know if Ramya is just bullshitting us or genuinely trying to keep us from losing our minds. I feel like she's coming from a good place but this is weird and out of character." Helena said quietly.
"Well, what's wrong with a little music? Plus, we'll only be up here, what, another ten days tops? We've all earned a little fun, especially those of us that spend all day telling cookies which way to crumble… or uncrumble." Ellen looked over to Seven with appreciation.
"Thanks for the gratitude," Seven began, "but I don't think this is really appropriate, I think she's trying to make a point about us not taking the job seriously enough. Ramya's always been one of those 'throw it in an incinerator' people, she doesn't do 'let the Safes walk around the site'. She got reassigned from 19 for that a while back."
The music stopped suddenly and Ramya spun around, turning to look directly at Seven and the others at the table.
"One of my biggest fans here tonight, isn't that right, Seven?"
Seven nervously chuckled.
"See, my hearing is fantastic, that's why I am so amazing at playing piano! So I'm more than excited to hear what you have to say, I'm sure it wouldn't have anything to do with… SCP-999? Oh, I suppose I'll just have to tell the tale then! See, Seven loves to tell everybody about how I got kicked out of Site-19 for kicking SCP-999! It's facts, I'll give her that."
There was no response from anyone.
"Yeah, it's true. See, I didn't even know Seven was still alive until the day Earth blew up. Remember that little phone call ceremony? That's the first time I had seen Seven in thirteen years! Because last time, she was just another Senior Researcher. And I was her junior. Ah, but of course, she's an O5 now, and soon we will be too! That means nothing in the past ever happened, amirite Seven? Power covers a multitude of sins."
"That's enough." O5-13 stood up in back. Seven motioned for him to sit down.
"No, no, there's a story to be told, it's okay, let her talk."
"When I was on my first night of my first assignment as a Junior Researcher, I had wheeled my luggage into my room, and barely started unpacking my stuff before Dr. Hallgren – or Seven here – had introduced herself. She was kind. She was the only eagerly friendly face in the whole site. Everyone else had seen hundreds of new researchers like myself come in, and the lucky ones come through. I didn’t – couldn’t – know how time at the Foundation callouses people into not caring. Why get attached, when we are all gripping the edge of life every day working here?
And yet, in Dr. Hallgren, I found someone who thought like I did. Someone who didn’t want to grip the edge, but dance upon it. Someone whose reasons for caring were the same reasons others used to not care; we might not have much time left.
And so Dr. Hallgren showed me the Site. Told me the rules, told me about the anomalies, and wowed me with sights. Can you imagine the impressionable new researcher in a place like this?
I fell in love with Dr. Hallgren. She was never in love with me. She was in love with herself inside me.
After things went sour, she used her stature in the Site to have my desk relocated to a closet. I was miserable. Then it happened.
I hadn’t been briefed on SCP-999. Was too new to have seen it. That was Dr. Hallgren’s responsibility, and she failed. She was too interested in other things, and to get to them quickly. So when she pretended like she was being attacked by an amorphous anomaly broken out of containment, just outside my office, I ran to her. I thought she was in trouble.
So yes, I kicked SCP-999. I grabbed that yellow blob, booted it and knocked it into the next hall, where it walked away perfectly fucking fine and happy! But little did I know… Dr. Hallgren had taken a video of me kicking 999. Do you know what kind of effect that has on a person's reputation at Site-19? You know why they had me reassigned? I got bullied worse for it than I did in fuckin' primary school!
While I was inches away from taking my life, Dr. Hallgren spent all her time with SCP-999, this heartwarming friendship that the whole Site knew was birthed out of my evil assault. I knew she was doing it to hide her own grief. She didn’t have the honesty to deal with it naturally. She needed an anomalous amount of joy and warmth to keep the cold from her soul. I watched it all in a forced silence.”
Seven hid her tears as Ramya’s streamed openly down her cheeks and onto the piano bench.
"But I suppose we should all cast no doubt on Seven's character, or on any of these people's character! I'm sure, totally confident, they'll use the power of literal gods in a responsible and kind way, right? We all just trust everything you say, because that's the way it's done! And anything you don't like, just slap a goddamn blackbox on it and have anyone you don't like re-a-fucking-ssigned!"
Ramya turned around and sat down suddenly to sob. The crowd began to murmur. Most people began standing up and moving towards the door.
She hit the piano. When she was alone, she played to the empty deck.
In her quarters that night, Ramya began her covert opposition movement. She took a box of old military stationery from the cargo hold, and began writing. She snuck to the offices the next morning, made a large number of copies, and handed them to disgruntled personnel while nobody was watching.
It has long been known that the Foundation seems to test your moral limits. From the throwing of countless lives into the jaws of beasts in the name of science, to the erasing of entire cities in the name of preserving an anomaly that the world would be best without, the Foundation has kept you, me and all of us, the human race, from being free of anomalies.
But I ask you all, why wait for quiet days?
Let's soundproof our days. Our world would be safer if a naked man chopping children to bits every Christmas was a major priority to terminate. If the Foundation managed to catch that thing, it’d offer it a hot shower and three kids a year to debone. To be humane, of course. Kids must die so that it can remain a festering and un-dealt-with problem to any and all decency in us.
If you don't feel like getting killed by something labeled "Safe", then you're part of our movement in spirit.
Join us when we get to Earth. We're on this ship, you might not know who we are, but we all agree on one thing – everyone counts, and we count on every one.
– In the name of a new humanity,
D.C. Al Fine