Ordinary [Monkatraz]
rating: 0+x

O5-1 paused and sighed as he stood before a door. A clean, precise metal placard on the door read:

"Site-01 Conference Room 1"

As he read this and pondered, he took a moment to reflect: "What the hell did I do to get here?"

O5-1 isn't really a mysterious individual. Like many people in the Foundation, he simply worked his way up the Science Department ranks, starting from Junior Researcher. If you'd ask, he'd probably say his favorite position is when he lead the Anomalous Locations Divisions station at Site-19. Very few moral or ethical questions with that kind of position - your job is nothing but interesting locations and interesting containment. It was a kind of puzzle, and O5-1 loved puzzles.

When he was at the ALD, he was noted for his effective administration. Someone, and even now he doesn't know who, decided he would probably be great at site directing too. So, he was unceremoniously promoted to Site-19s director.

The last director wasn't really liked - and they got rid of him after he was implicated in an embezzlement crisis. Turns out that crisis was only half-true; he really just stole a few hundred dollars from an anomalous money printer. Overseer Council really had fun when they found that out. And by fun, I mean they were completely confused. They pay site directors a lot of money for the job - because they understand how stressful it is. Why the hell was he stealing money? Anyways…

O5-1 hated site directing. There was nothing interesting about it, at least that's how he would describe it. Really, he hated the treatment. He occasionally ranted about how whenever he'd walk into a room, people would stop what they were doing and make sure they were "presentable." He thought, being an accomplished scientist himself, that they should know that he doesn't mind how they look. Science can be messy, tedious, or stressful - having music or a video playing while you work isn't a cardinal sin to O5-1. You didn't need to rapidly hit the "X" button your SCiPScape window 15 times in succession whenever he is visible.

He sometimes joked that all the higher-level management within the Foundation were instances of an especially nasty SCP object. It would have many anomalous effects, like making everyone kiss their ass the moment the instance appeared within an individual's perception. Maybe the instance could also have the effect where it makes everyone thinks they're somehow "special".

O5-1 wasn't special. He was just good at his job. The Overseer Council is really just a bunch of overworked, but talented individuals who have to take their job very seriously. It was particularly common for Level 4 or 5 Senior Researchers to get, let's say, woke? When they get this clearance, they find out about all these fantastical objects that the Foundation has contained thus far. This gets 'em going, and they wonder and wonder…

OBVIOUSLY the Overseer Council uses them! Why wouldn't they? Hell, maybe they're even demigods! Maybe one is DEATH itself!

Not really the case, though. The Overseers are kind of terrified of the Fountain of Youth. The thought of abusing an anomaly genuinely scared and disgusted them. They spent their entire careers learning about why you don't exploit anomalies - why would suddenly do it now? That isn't the say the Overseers didn't use anomalies. They used them all the time, but each time they did it, it involved votes, measures from the Ethics Committee, and approximately five hours of literal arguing.

Oh, and the Ethics Committee. O5-1 loved and despised them. People call them a joke within the Foundation, but really the Constitution of the Foundation gave them equal power to the Overseer Council. Few people actually knew this - the EC liked it when people suspected they weren't that powerful. Reveals the true colors of people when they don't think there is any rules.

That particular balance of power is maybe interesting: The Ethics Committee would approve of O5 Council appointments, and the O5 Council would approve of Ethics Committee appointments. Both served as a check on the other in their authority, with either one capable of performing obstructive actions against each other. The recent years of the Foundation have been ones of relatively peaceful bipartisanship.

If you asked O5-1 about this, he would probably smugly say something about "Scientists and engineers aren't politicians."

The EC had a very difficult job, and they didn't care to have a PR department. Most of the work they do is entirely unseen. Of course, O5-1 knew exactly what they were up to, and loved how seriously they took their job. Of course, he despised how seriously they took their job, because the EC might audit an O5 decision about 15 seconds after they passed it.

No really, he once timed it. They sent out a ruling about some SCP - and 15 seconds later they had a call from an EC liaison stating that the EC had passed an injunction on the decision until they could approve of it.

O5-1 figured he looked like an idiot, just standing there. He straightened his back, relaxed his shoulders, and prepared his false aura of confidence. He turned the door handle and walked into the room.


The room was brightly lit from frosted windows, the light softly diffused by curtains, with the rooms ambient light only partially amplified by dimmed overhead lights. The space itself wasn't very big, just large enough to fit a suitably average wooden conference table. Engraved into the table were small display panels, similar to the larger display panel covering the entirety of far side wall of the room.

It seemed everyone else was already here. The conference table was effectively packed, with 10 people sitting on chairs crowded around it, with a singular vacant chair on the near end.

As O5-1 walked through the doorway, O5-2 turned to look at O5-1.

She leaned back in her chair, casting a devilish smile on her face. "Oh, is the big man finally here? C'mon grumpus, you don't need to look all tough. It's just us." She could clearly see right through O5-1.

O5-1 passed a glare to her, but then couldn't hold back a smile.

"Morning, Two."

O5-1 relented and took her advice. Clearly, he was in company of like-wise people, not site directors or MTF leads. He sat down, and neatly ordered his papers in front of him on the table.

Once his papers were suitably straightened, he looked up and scanned the room.

  • O5-2: It was evident that O5-1 "liked" O5-2. If confronted, he might defensively say something like "Well, she is blatantly attractive!" Which is funny, because right now: her hair is unkempt, she is dressed in wrinkly clothes, and it's pretty clear she has been anxiously biting her nails. But, O5-1 didn't mind. He liked someone he thought was "real." Very practical, a realist. For the less infatuated, her status as an engineer is unusual, but her practical knowledge is appreciated and well respected.
  • O5-3: They're on the far side wall, the display. The Overseer Council had to be at least a little weird. The artificial intelligence has always been a concrete link for the Overseers, as it has existed for at least the past few turnovers of the O5 Council. It is knowledgeable of Foundation history, good for looking up information, good for being a literal calculator for whenever an Overseer was lazy, etc. It is an astoundingly useful tool for the Council. It is also arguably conscious and sentient. It was a common joke to threaten O5-3 with SCP classification.
  • O5-4: Probably the pickiest about appearances out of all of the Overseers. O5-1 noted how O5-4 was the only one sitting with a healthy posture. His arms were gently crossed and resting on the table, his hair was slickly combed to one side, and his clothes were immaculate. It was clear to the Overseers that O5-4 was the "ambassador" of the group, but that civil title betrays his intellect. The Overseers thought of him more as a Richard Feynman: charismatic, a good explainer, and incredibly intelligent. They would never tell him this though as they really don't want to stroke his ego.
  • O5-5: He is sitting a little hunched forward, elbow resting on the table, chin resting on his hand. He has a slight, almost impatient smile. O5-1 knew that at any moment a sarcastic joke could pop out. O5-5 could be frustratingly jovial, but really his presence on the Council is appreciated. The job could be dark, and O5-5 always tried to bring about a better mood. Often literally called "comic relief" whenever he is misbehaving.
  • Ethics Committee Director Dr. Jeremiah Grant: "Oh, right, he's here." O5-1 thought. Jeremiah seemed to be well-kempt, professional, everything always in the right order. However, the bags under his eyes reveal the truth. He was just like the rest of them. Regardless, O5-1 warmly remembers every time he worked with Grant. He always got the vibe of an empathetic, kind soul. Jeremiah was respected too, often considered one of the best directors the Ethics Committee has ever had.
  • O5-6: O5-6 was maybe respectfully annoyed at O5-1 for being late, demonstrated best by his body language: sitting there and patiently waiting. O5-6 was a military man, having served as a high-ranking officer in the U.S Air Force. O5-1 trusted O5-6 with a secret the best, and the two knew many, many secrets about each other. Like that fact that O5-6 failed his first math class in university, which O5-1 finds somewhat hilarious.
  • O5-7: "She seems to be holding up well." O5-1 thought, with just the slightest tinge of sarcasm. O5-7 is one of the newest Overseers to be voted in, and it shows. Her fashionable outfit, exquisitely well-maintained long hair, and numerous other minute touches, do little for the former Temporal Anomalies directors appearance. She is clearly fatigued and stressed. The other Overseers try their best to accommodate for her, but they were all once in her position. They knew it would be a while before things got "normal."
  • O5-8: O5-1 noted O5-8s particularly bland suit. It was almost tradition among the Overseers to wear bright ties and colorful pins, but O5-8 was rather traditionalist. O5-8 was born into a wealthy family of business folks, and inherited their rather serious mannerisms. Despite the background, in university he studied mathematics and physics. O5-1 always liked O5-8s ability to make plans and reason through problems - something he considered an invaluable quality for an Overseer. Jokingly called "rich guy" by the Overseers.
  • O5-9: "Still wearing her lab coat huh?" O5-1 thought. O5-9 is an incredibly gifted researcher, even though she has no formal scientific background. It's a story she tells with joy: how she went from a lab assistant, to Junior Researcher, to an Overseer. Often called "Doc'" out of respect, even though she has no such title.
  • O5-10: "She looks comfortable." O5-1 thought, as he saw O5-10 slumped back in her chair, resting her eyes. She is wearing a dazzling necklace, a replica of an artifact found from an ancient occult society. A small stack of suitably leather-bound books sits in front of her. O5-10 was always the curious one - constantly getting involved and interested with the world's obscured history.
  • O5-11: Not here. He is busy managing the transfer of a major SCP object at Site-19.
  • O5-12: Also not here.
  • O5-13: Doesn't actually exist. The legend about O5-13 being passed around as a tiebreaker vote is actually true. In the past, after a few hours of arguing, the council had decided that O5-3 would determine who the most "neutral and informed" person was within the Overseers at any given point, and the vote would be given to them. The vote often bounced around the same few Overseers, and those excluded got rather annoyed by this. Today, O5-1 had the vote.

O5-1 looked at the clock on O5-3s display. "Sorry I'm late. No joke: my cat somehow unplugged my alarm clock." A few words relating to "feline asshole" could be heard muttered under his breath.

A roof-mounted camera could be heard audibly zooming. "I see you've brought us something we aren't going to like, One."

O5-1 chuckled. "Yes, yes, Three. Feel free to read the big, red, and obvious "INCIDENT: XXXX-064" text written on my papers. You already know what its about anyways…"

O5-5 sat up, and did a bombastic glance around the present Overseers. "Well, one of us has to read it!" O5-5 remarked, with his characteristically jokey and sarcastic tone. The line got a few smirks, and O5-5 seemed satisfied with himself.

O5-1 relaxed back into his chair a bit. "Well, Five, I read it. Do I need to read it aloud for you?" he retorted rather smugly.

"We probably shouldn't joke about this. It was pretty bad." Jeremiah said abruptly. The mood in the room shifted.

"I get that you're coping, guys. Let's get started."

O5-1 repositioned in his chair, and a serious and dark mood could be seen growing across his face. He opened the first page of a booklet scrawled with classification symbols.

"Right… testing accident at Site-23… Dr. Pribram's test." He stated, a hint of regret present in his last words.

Jeremiah was quick. "The one we both approved."

O5-9 sighed. "We both know that things of this nature are unpredictable. You knew the risks."

"Yes, Nine. But - it was the Councils responsibility to ensure that the test was safe and the risks minimized. This was an LK-Class, and it only got stopped because of luck, the SRA - " Jeremiah couldn't finish his sentence.

"I'm not rationalizing it! It was bad, it was way too close, yes! What I'm saying, is that this isn't a "blame" thing! We all agreed -"

O5-7 interjected. "Okay okay - hold on, before you two get into it, what exactly happened, One?"

Jeremiah leans away from the table, frustrated. "Go ahead, One."

O5-1 looked up from his papers. He glances around, and the entire conference is looking at him.

"Well, remember the SCP-XXXX replacement test we signed off?" Collective nodding.

"You see… apparently, Dr. Pribram screwed up her infectious anomaly. It did two things: 1. Break containment from the testing chamber. And 2. It destructively… how do I put this… annihilated consciousness. It infected - correction, killed, 5 D-Class, 3 agents, and 4 researchers. Um - Three, could you display the names?"

A small whirring noise could be heard for a brief moment as O5-3 processed the request.

"Task complete, One."

12 names appeared on the wall, with Foundation clearance information attached to each name. The Overseers turned to look, going down each name on the list. O5-1 always hated this part, there was always someone that the Overseers knew.

O5-1 read through the list, remarking "no," in his head for every name. He was kind of surprised.

O5-2 read the names, and then reread the names. "It can't be…" she muttered. Realization striking, she slumped, and her head cocked slightly to the side, as her face turned slightly pale.

"No… Lily? I mean - Dr. Anning?" O5-2 says, instinctively.

The Overseers turn to look at O5-2.

She looked around the room, and then back towards the table. She spoke quieter, softer. "Dr. Lily Anning, worked with, uh - microbes. Anomalous ones, she - she… I… I knew her, um, - fuck, - physically, once…"

O5-5 was quick to offer solutions, as is the way he was. "It could be a different Lily, Two."

O5-2, with slow strained motion, looked over to O5-5. "No… it's her. Same clearance. Same middle initial. That isn't anybody else, Five."

"I'm sorry." O5-5 said, dejected.

O5-1 wanted to speak, say something, anything. But there is nothing that could be said. Tragedy struck, and it always hurts. The Overseer had no words.

O5-6 rather coldly changed the subject. "The clearances. Three Level 3s, and a Level 4. Three senior agents."

The wall spoke. "Six speaks well. Those are irreplaceable personnel." O5-3 spoke with the grace and emotional understanding of a large construction vehicle.

Jeremiah looked a little annoyed. "Those D-Class were trained temps and volunteers. They weren't inmates."

The Overseers sat still in quiet shame. The topic of the "expendable" D-Class was always a sensitive one.

"Yes, you're right. This has been horrible for everyone." O5-1 said.

"Jeez… What's the cover for the families?" O5-4 asked.

O5-10 peered away from the paper she was writing in. "The usual, probably. I know that's cold, but "catastrophic workplace accident" is probably the best we got for this shitshow."

O5-8 shook his head. "For twelve people? That's gonna make the news. We'll need to either spread out the official times of death or come up with a better cover. Are the families informed already?"

"No." Jeremiah replied.

"Really? We didn't even inform the cleared families?" O5-5 was rather surprised. The incident had occurred 2 days ago.

"No. The infected only "died" a few hours ago. Medical Department thought they could maybe do something. Hard to classify a patient as dead when they clearly aren't." Jeremiah said.

"Wait wait - elaborate please?" said O5-7, dreading whatever she was about to hear next.

O5-1 spoke. "Well… we hadn't gotten to his, we were still on the uh, family matter. It didn't make the infected brain-dead. It got rid of their advanced consciousness. P-zombie, in philosophy lingo."

O5-1 paused for a moment, he didn't like what he was about to say next.

"I'm going to say this first: the individuals were unrecoverable. Everything we know confirms this. No SCP-500 pill, regenerative anomaly, nothing. Nothing would recover this."

O5-1 sighed.

"They kept walking around, kept feeding themselves. They could answer questions. They asked for food. It's just that… there was nothing behind it. They were just biological machines running instructions. The uh, site director got spooked. He authorized euthanizing them."

Jeremiah quickly interjected. "We approved it first. Part of the failure protocols that we drafted for the test." He didn't want the director become a scapegoat.

O5-2 raised her head from the arms and table it was resting on, and looked sternly towards Jeremiah. "They… you did what!?" A storm was brewing.

"Alright, hold on Two - " O5-1 was interrupted.

"No - I need you both to PROVE to me that we couldn't restore them. That's absolutely crazy. We have all kinds of …" O5-2 trailed off, as Jeremiah raised their hand and signaled her to pause.

Jeremiah spoke with slow, measured words. "Two, the SCP-XXXX instance was destroyed. The Hume structure was entirely deconstructed. Completely non-existent. Even if we gave her a new one, it wouldn't be the same person. She died, and the corpse kept walking."

O5-2 attempted to find a response, but just gently looked down instead.

"I - okay. Thank you, Jeremiah." she said, softly.

A moment of somber silence lingered.

Which was then promptly interrupted by the talking wall. "Dr. Grant. Was it ever determined if the Holonomic replacement network was created? If so, would the weighting have been recoverable? Or, could the network simply have been disabled due to malfunction?"

Jeremiah paused and looked down for a moment. He breathed in deeply, following with a heavy sigh. "I don't know. The site director followed protocol. Protocol we set. If… if they could've been saved, and I - I really don't think they could've - but I would take full responsibility for that."

The Overseers glanced between each other.

Jeremiah could sense the tension. "Look, I don't think there was any network. That test went off the rails immediately. Pribram didn't think they had any networks."

"Thank you, Dr. Grant." O5-3 said. Even it could sense the uncertainty, regrets, and doubts.

O5-6 shifted in his seat. "Right, we know what happened now. Let us find a set of measures to vote on. Dr. Grant, I assume you came here because you wanted to abandon SCP-XXXX containment?"

Jeremiah looked surprised. "How'd you know I was gonna ask for that?"

O5-6 shrugged. "It's what I would've asked."

Jeremiah paused - and then nodded.

O5-6 continued. "Alright, one measure on whether or not to abandon SCP-XXXX primary containment and our corresponding containment efforts until further notice. We also need to determine what our cover story is. Let's vote on the first measure."


JOINT DECISION

ETHICS COMMITTEE | OVERSEER COUNCIL



ORIGIN:
The Ethics Committee and the Overseer Council was convened due to Incident-XXXX-064. This incident involved the mitigation of a potential LK-Class "End of Human Consciousness" scenario.

DECISION:
The Ethics Committee and the Overseer Council have decided that these directives are to be enforced:

  • All existing replacement procedures for SCP-XXXX are now nulled.
  • Research into SCP-XXXX neutralization procedures is now prohibited.
  • Research into SCP-XXXX replacement procedures is now prohibited.
  • Efforts to neutralize or decomission SCP-XXXX instances are to be abandoned.
  • All primary containment efforts for SCP-XXXX are to be abandoned.
  • Research into the phenomena of human consciousness (SCP-XXXX) is now restricted.

So, did O5-1 hate being an Overseer? Sometimes.

Most of the time though, he wouldn't want to do anything else. Being an Overseer is teamwork - you must work with your peers, far and close. You must reach compromises, solve complex situations. Him and the other O5s, the O5s and the Ethics Committee. They were all working on the biggest puzzle they had yet.

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