📋 SCP-3980 — Blind Lead The Blind
rating: +2+x

SCP-3980 - Blind Lead the Blind

Object Class: Keter (Provisional)

Date Written: 17 Feb 2018

Author: ShaggydredlocksShaggydredlocks

Hi, I'm FloppyPhoenix, a (marginally successful) SCP writer and first-time Declassifier. What I’m here to declassify today is another well-written Shaggydredlocks skip. This one is a logic puzzle-type skip, and is the first of three skips Shaggy wrote for the recent “72 Hour Jam Contest”. The JamCon gave authors 3 days to write 3 articles on 3 different themes, with an allotted 24 hours per article.

The first day of the contest was defined by the theme “Murder Mystery”, and 3980 is a great example of a classic murder mystery in a skipified (not a real word) format. Let’s see what it’s about.

Part 1: The crime, the suspects, and the evidence.

Now, I strongly suggest you read this skip in full before I get into it. It's an incredible murder mystery, and if you've read Agatha Christie or any other contemporary crime novelists, I’m sure you'll like this skip too. Here's the link:

SCP-3980 - Blind Lead the Blind

Right, into it we go. Before we take a look at the Special Containment Procedures, how about we first take a sneak peek at the Description for context into what we're solving?

Description: SCP-3980 is an unidentified anomaly responsible for the loss of FOB Locke and the deaths of 107 Foundation personnel on 2/14/2000; this event has been designated Incident LOCKE/3980. Due to its recent acquisition prior to this date, the destructive nature of the event in question, and the loss of physical documentation as well as all hands on-site; its exact nature and properties have yet to be definitively ascertained.

Once upon a time, Forward Operating Base Locke was operating as it should be. We don’t know the specifications of this facility, nor of its substantial subterranean area. We don't know who or what governmental entity previously owned it. And we don’t know what ultimate research niche this facility filled.

What do we know about this facility?

Well, sometime before February 14th, 2000, the Foundation came into control of the facility and stationed a sizeable population of personnel there. Later in the description, we learn that this base included personnel stationed at your typical Site (a Director, Doctors, Researchers, and D-class personnel) as well as military personnel. Presumably, something is being conducted here that requires extensive security, and military exercises are commonplace, as it is a fortified military support base. We also know that this anomaly already existed within FOB Locke before the Foundation acquired it, and the fact that they did acquire it means they had foreknowledge of the anomaly's existence.

Eventually, the unknown anomaly's dangerous properties manifested, and in classic murder mystery style, we've just been presented with our crime. Someone, a group of someones, or something, killed all personnel stationed there, which by extension destroyed all insight into the research conducted there.

At least, that's what we're led to believe. What really happened? It's our job to investigate! Back to the Special Containment Procedures.

Object Class: Keter (provisional)

Nothing out of the ordinary here. We don't have much knowledge of this anomaly, which has already manifested. Until we find out all the information, it's Keter.

Special Containment Procedures: The former Forward Operating Base Locke has become the de facto containment site for SCP-3980. The above-ground portions of the base have been razed; the subterranean areas have been entombed beneath several thousand tons of concrete, and paved over. Physical containment beyond these measures has been deemed unnecessary.

All transmissions from FOB Locke are to be disregarded. There were no survivors.

Whether or not FOB Locke was formally declared to contain 3980, a consequence of its current properties has led to its permanent containment of the anomaly. We're made to believe that the anomaly led to the destruction of the entire site and left no survivors, but I don't buy it.

If it was the case that the entire site was destroyed during the crime and we cannot glean further information from it nor investigate it, then why were all above-ground areas destroyed after the fact? Why turn the area into a parking lot?

Transmissions continue to emit from FOB Locke but we're told there are no survivors. If all on-site research was destroyed then surely that means any means to transmit were also destroyed. Unless all on-site data within any computer systems was not destroyed.

Several former personnel from FOB Locke have been detained within Site-087 until the perpetrator behind Incident LOCKE/3980 has been identified. Innocent parties may be released if and when this occurs. The guilty party is to be executed, the method of termination has yet to be decided.

At one point before the anomaly manifested, some personnel were reassigned to other projects. Post-Incident, the Foundation has rounded up these extraneous personnel and contained them in Site-87. Site-87 is a more accommodating Site designed in such a way as to ensure that personnel stationed there retain morale while they're Securing, Containing, and Protecting. This is not the place you would detain guilty parties at, so I'm presuming that those not stationed at FOB Locke during the Incident are ruled out as perpetrators of the crime in question.

Despite the fact that these personnel would otherwise be considered innocent, their future state is in limbo as they've been "detained" at Site-87 for at least 14 years and 6 months to date! And they have not been deemed innocent: there remains a potential for one, if not all, of these personnel to be considered guilty and face an untimely TBD demise, which is absolutely not how the Foundation operates.

These procedures say so much with so little. Not a single line in this document is trustworthy, and something isn't quite right. Let's go over the "evidence" behind this "crime" we have so far:

  • Foundation personnel stationed at this military base are not dead, but someone wants us to think a crime was committed and they are.
  • Personnel formerly stationed at this military base are not guilty, but someone wants us to assume that some or all of them are suspects.
  • Data and research findings, especially the computer systems they are kept on, are intact, but someone wants all data and thus evidence to be lost.
  • The properties of this anomaly have already manifested and continue to manifest, but someone wants us to think that it cannot be identified and is contained. It’s not.
With this evidence in mind, let's continue to proceed as though this document is trustworthy, and that we're not being spared a relevant detail.

Part 2: Red herrings galore!

We still have the rest of the Description to get through, so let's see what other information there is to glean.

Currently, all information on SCP-3980 has been gleaned through the first-hand accounts of the personnel who were stationed at FOB Locke, and had been off-site at the time of the event. These former personnel suffer mild to severe impairment of their mental faculties and memory, possibly due to previous interaction with SCP-3980. Despite this, all personnel are in agreement that Incident LOCKE/3980 is the result of sabotage on the part of one of their number. Each suspect claims to know who this saboteur is, but are incapable of providing this information when prompted; the suspects are otherwise wholly compliant with their imprisonment.

Our only information on whatever this anomaly actually is lies with the personnel not actually within FOB Locke when the "crime" was committed. However, their proximity to the anomaly has hindered them mentally, and as a result, they're unable to actually provide relevant information regarding the anomaly. So even with the information they are going to provide, we still know nothing about this anomaly! But that doesn't mean we can't guess.

In-universe, either the affected personnel have been prevented from gaining all information related to the anomaly, or their minds have been affected to prevent them from stating this information even if they do have it. Ultimately, this passage suggests that there are mind-affecting or antimemetic effects at play here.

I'd like to think that both of these things are the case. The detained personnel have little knowledge of the anomaly itself and have subconsciously put together a vague narrative in their heads of what the anomaly is. In addition, they think they know who committed the crime, but for some reason can't say. However, the Foundation is still adamant in their belief that these are the perpetrators (because why else are these personnel being detained?). It's not that the Foundation is somehow incompetent in their actions. Not at all. Rather, in addition to the personnel, the Foundation is being affected by the anomaly too.

Next up, specific personnel are requested to provide information on what they think the anomaly is. I personally believe almost every single piece of information provided is a red herring. What is a red herring?

red herring:

something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.

The following information neither allows us to solve the crime nor understand how it was committed. Despite this, there is some good information being provided here. So why don't we go over these points of information as though every single one of them is correct and see where that leads us?

  • SCP-3980 is either self-replicating (Researcher Bond), self-sustaining (Security Chief Matteus), or possibly ectoentropic (Doctor Walters)

SCP-3980 requires no outside matter to persist, and in fact, it does persist, seemingly continuing to transmit its anomalous properties while buried under several thousand tons of concrete.
  • There may be as few as five (Doctor Peterson), or as many as ten thousand instances (Private Awde) of SCP-3980

SCP-3980 is not one thing. It's a group. Or rather, the anomaly affects a group of people to allow its properties to persist even further than they might on its own. Whether or not the guilty party is the 107 "dead" personnel under the debris or the "alive" personnel being detained is irrelevant; both parties are being affected.
  • SCP-3980 is infectious, being transmissible between human subjects (Research Bond)

This furthers that idea, and
  • SCP-3980 is a space-time aberration (Researcher Queste)

I think this is probably the only information provided that is explicitly false. Researcher Queste may have researched the anomaly first hand and has more information on it than any other non-researcher. But their interpretation of findings may be fallible, and to reinforce that, this piece of information does not align with any other information provided.
  • SCP-3980 requires either a willful human operator/host (D-774), or conspirator (D-209) to enter an active state

What does this mean? These D-class were directly affected by the anomaly during testing, and are potentially the initial transmitters of its properties. Even if their direct interaction does not make them the sole transmitters of its properties, why were they moved off-site? Perhaps these D-class are not necessarily death row prisoners drafted for testing and are instead volunteers. That, I can believe.
  • SCP-3980 exists in a purely metaphysical sense, and is a potent informational hazard - full cognizance of SCP-3980 is sufficient to kill subjects (Director Kim)

What's this, now? The Director was off-site when the Incident happened? Now, the Director probably has the most information on this anomaly, more than anyone else on-site, and perhaps as much as all the other information combined. This absolutely makes Kim a transmitter of its properties.

Apart from this, Kim has told us that the anomaly exists as an infohazard, and thus simply knowing about it can kill you. Or at least make others believe you're dead, which is exactly what I think of the 107 "dead" personnel buried under FOB Locke. These personnel are alive, but the Foundation at large has been affected by the anomaly and believe they're dead, even in direct opposition to undeniable evidence that they're living (based on the transmissions emitted from under FOB Locke).

  • SCP-3980 is physically uncontainable due to its size of ~100 picometers (Commander Narup), or 1.6 billion kilometers (Doctor Lafayette)

Sizes galore! I think the fact that these are such ridiculous sizes adds to the idea that this is a conceptual anomaly. 100 picometres is in the realm of the size between atoms, and 1.6 billion kilometres is otherwise in the range of astronomical units and is a distance further than Saturn is from the Sun. Concepts are insubstantial, intangible. They have no true size, but perhaps the area over which they can be transmitted can be quantified.

All of the information here, I believe, has led us to discover who our Prime Suspect is. Other than D-class or Researchers, who will have more information on this anomaly than most, I believe our Prime Suspect is Director Kim. There is something quite fishy about Kim being off-site during the Incident, and the sheer importance of the information they provided is suspect. As well, their presumed clearance level and influence would give the anomaly the best chance at spreading itself further. The short window of time between the acquisition of FOB Locke and the Incident, even though we don't know exact figures, is ample time for a metaphysical anomaly to spread.

Part 3: And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?

There are still quite a few things here that are peculiar and unexplained. Why has our collective guilty party been detained for 14 years and 6 months? Why did our guilty party leave the facility in the first place, and at the same time? How was the crime perpetrated if they were away from the facility when it occurred? If personnel within FOB Locke are alive then why trap them within the base?

We have a bit more to go over: the Interview log. I'm not going to include this interview verbatim but I will be referring to it in its entirety.

The following interview was conducted on 8/1/2014, at the request of FOB Locke Director Kim, who claimed to have new information on Incident LOCKE/3980

Before the interview, we learn that Kim has new information on what happened during Incident LOCKE/3980. New information is only just resurfacing, after 14 years and 6 months? That's ridiculous. Reading the interview, Kim neglects to provide any new information that the Foundation wouldn't know after presumably investigating for over 14 years, but near the end, they do provide something.

Right, onto the contents of the interview:

  • This interview is presumably being held within Site-87. Kim is led into the room by armed guards, who then leave.
  • Kim speaks, but their speech is not transcribed.
  • Halfway through the interview, the Interviewer begins to swat flies, and during this, it is more than evident that Kim doesn't have their mental faculties or fine motor skills in check.
  • Kim goes over their recollection of the day before the Incident, and we learn that Kim was stationed at FOB Locke during this day, but left soon after.
  • At the end of the interview, Kim directs the Interviewer's attention away from the flies, and says three words, presumably spreading SCP-3980 to the Interviewer with these special words. Upon hearing this, the Interviewer immediately dies, and it takes 4 guards to lead them to the morgue, after which the interview ends.

I think we now have exactly what we need to solve this mystery! Let's go back to the pieces of evidence I put together earlier on in the skip:
  • Foundation personnel stationed at this military base are not dead, but someone wants us to think a crime was committed and they are.
  • Personnel formerly stationed at this military base are not guilty, but someone wants us to assume that some or all of them are suspects.
  • Data and research findings, especially the computer systems they are kept on, are intact, but someone wants all data and thus evidence to be lost.
  • The properties of this anomaly have already manifested and continue to manifest, but someone wants us to think that it cannot be identified and is contained. It’s not.
  • Director Kim is the Prime Suspect.

We can assume now that the "someone" I mentioned earlier must be someone affected by 3980, and I believe this someone to be Director Kim.

That's all fine and dandy, but what exactly does this anomaly do? It's simple, really. Anyone killed by this anomaly's infohazardous properties is perceived to remain alive, and any living person that this anomaly transmits to is perceived to be dead. Every other anomalous property stems from this one premise. We can now go over exactly what transpired leading up to the events of Incident LOCKE/3980, and what happened after.

The day before the Incident, Kim and a few other personnel including Researchers, Doctors, D-class, and Military Agents are somehow killed. Why are they killed? Because they directly experience 3980 when studying it. I'm assuming that the D-class were in direct contact with it during testing and were killed first. Any Doctors and Researchers assigned to research the testing initiative were killed next. Any military personnel assigned to investigate these deaths were killed next. Finally, the information spreading up the ranks reaches Kim, who is killed last.

However, the anomaly requires these key figures to continue to spread, and so they’re are perceived to remain alive. The anomaly ensures that they're shipped elsewhere, and uses them as a mouthpiece to spread itself beyond the walls of FOB Locke, with Kim being the primary method of future transmission.

After this, Kim spreads the anomaly to the rest of FOB Locke: those that were previously unaffected. From this point forward, though these personnel are alive, they are perceived to have been killed. Kim's post-mortem anomalous "actions" and the "death" of 107 personnel lead the Foundation to direct attention toward FOB Locke and declare Incident LOCKE/3980. The Foundation at this point is affected by the anomaly. They believe these personnel are dead, and FOB Locke is destroyed to ensure the anomaly doesn't spread, thereby destroying all information on its properties and any chance the Foundation has at containing it.

The personnel that are "detained" are merely kept as cadavers within Site-87 for 14 years. This is why they’re able to remain detained for so long, as detainment despite no proof of criminal activity would definitely raise red flags for the Ethics Committee.

Hold on, if Kim and the rest of the "survivors" are killed, then how do they provide information about the anomaly? The answer: the anomaly doesn't actually physically use these affected personnel as a mouthpiece, as it lacks sentience. It can be gleaned, then, that an added property of this anomaly is a hallucination effect. Anyone directly interacting with personnel killed by the anomaly will continue to conceive of them as active and fully capable of speech. Anything spoken is also a hallucination.

The hallucinations are based on how much knowledge a person killed by the anomaly actually has of the anomaly, or how much knowledge they thought they had of it before death. The anomaly does not allow a person to hallucinate about information that doesn't exist. Kim becomes the Prime Suspect by default because they have the most knowledge of 3980, being FOB Locke's Director.

This only adds to the illusion that those killed are alive and well. Most personnel "detained" at Site-87 only provide limited information because they each have limited information. I’m sure everything else falls into place once you have this knowledge, but I’ll bash it into your head a bit more: no actual words are transcribed by Kim because they never actually spoke. Their slouching body and the presence of flies points to the fact that they are very much dead, and have been for years. The Interviewer hallucinated spoken words and received the anomaly, becoming perceived as "dead". The four guards struggled while taking away the Interviewer because they were very much alive and well.

Finally, there's one last piece I haven't touched on. Every murder mystery needs a motive. And I think SCP-3980 has one too. The Foundation knew of the anomaly present, which is why they assumed control of FOB Locke in the first place. I'd like to imagine that the anomaly ensured that the Foundation was going to find it, and they did. Thus, I believe it's apparent that the anomaly's motive and raison d'être is to continue to spread, but only once the Foundation interferes.

As far as I can tell, those are the main clues Shaggy spread throughout the skip. And what incredible clues those were! I really enjoyed SCP-3980, and I hope by understanding what it's about, others come to enjoy it as well. There are definitely alternative interpretations of this skip that work just fine because of its simple framework. When I first read it, I honestly thought it had something to do with zombies. Crazy, right? And of course, Shaggy has yet to release an official interpretation, so the world skip is your oyster.

TL;DR If you ever come across an unused parking lot, it’s quite possible it only exists because the Foundation did the paving job in an effort to trap 107 of its best and brightest deep in the ground.

Alternative TL;DRs:

Omae wa mou Shindeiru

— /u/Dinodietonight

So ur with ur researchers and yur sciencing wen the infohazard rigns. U anser it n the vioce is "wut r u doing wit my employees" U tell ur researchers n they say "my director is ded" THEN WHO WAS SCP-3980

— /u/Polenball

Link: SCP-3980 - Blind Lead The Blind

Written By: Lt FlopsLt Flops, u/FloppyPhoenix

Date Published: March 16, 2018

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