Trial and Error
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Site-623
12-27-2018


SCP-507 blinked at the bright light as he was escorted into a large hangar. Director Pennington was waiting for him.

"Tom! It's good to see you," they said, shaking his hand vigorously. "How was the trip?"

He rubbed his eyes wearily. "I wouldn't know."

They gave him a sad smile. "Classified location, I'm afraid. They used to just blindfold people, but security gets tighter every day around here. I suppose the powers that be wanted you fully sedated."

"Lucky me." He looked around, his eyes finally adjusting. He was standing in a massive, cylindrical chamber, with all sorts of workers buzzing about, sorting boxes and directing traffic and writing on legal pads. "So this is Site-623?"

They nodded. "Come! I'll show you around. We can head for the canteen– you look like you could use a cup of coffee."

They led him to what seemed to be the main entrance, flanked by security guards. One of them nodded at the Director, then eyed Tom suspiciously. Tom instinctively recoiled as the man reached for something on his belt.

"Who is this?"

The Director scowled. "He should already be on the agenda. He's a personal guest."

"Director, is he personnel or anomaly?"

They sighed. "Anomaly. SCP-507. But you are to refer to him as Tom. He's not just an asset, he's a VIP."

The guard turned away from the Director, and Tom saw him roll his eyes before producing a small rectangular device from his pocket. He relaxed in relief when the device simply printed out a small plastic ID card.

"Keep this on you at all times," the guard said. Tom glanced at his name tag, which read Lieutenant Daniel Collins. He saluted awkwardly. "Aye, Lieutenant."

Collins looked annoyed, while the Director chuckled. "Come on, Tom. At ease, Daniel."

The pair proceeded through a set of double doors into the main site, and Tom stopped in his tracks, gaping in awe at its sheer size and complexity. Site-81 was large, but it was set up like a school or an office building, and one never really felt its magnitude from within a hallway or office. But this place… it was more like a beehive. Hallways, elevators, escalators, and stairs crowded together, while scaffolding stretched into the heavens above them. Several higher stories were visible, only measuring half the space of the ground floor, like upper shops at a mall. And in the center of it all was a large tram, with people getting on and off, dispersing at random into the controlled chaos.

"Sorry for the mess," Director Pennington said, breaking his trance. "We've been renovating for a few months now. Security and hardware upgrades, the whole shebang."

He nodded. "It's… big," he said, immediately embarrassed by his inarticulacy. Director Pennington laughed reassuringly.

"I know it seems daunting, but you'll get used to it. And you'll be spending most of your time in the research blocks." Before he could respond, they stopped suddenly. "Ah! Here we are!"

Five minutes later, they were riding in an elevator and Tom was drinking a hot cup of the best coffee he'd ever tasted. The Director glanced over at him and smiled as he drained the mug.

"I assume you like it."

He nodded, already feeling more alert. "What kind of coffee was that?"

"Our most popular onsite beverage. Freshly imported from the gardens of East Pralwright."

He cocked his head unconsciously. "I've never heard of… Pralight?"

"You wouldn't have. It doesn't exist in our universe," they said casually.

Tom blinked, surprised. "Wait, it's… it's from another dimension?"

They nodded. "Universe, dimension, reality, whatever you'd like to call it. We have trade agreements with several of them. Largely thanks to you, so I'm very glad you like the coffee."

"To me? What did I do?"

They turned to him. "What did you do? Tom, your dimension-hopping provided us with the first solid evidence that other Foundations existed out there. Before we found you, all the alternate universes we'd documented were either hostile or dead. You gave us hope! You're the main reason my department even exists!"

Tom opened and closed his mouth several times before he finally spoke.

"I… I had no idea."

"Exactly. That's why I fought so hard to bring you here. You aren't just a valuable asset, you're responsible for great change within the Foundation. You deserved to know and, if you so wished, you deserved to play a part in it."

He half-leaned, half-fell against the wall of the elevator. "I… this is a lot to take in. But thank you. For your honesty, it… it feels like a luxury anymore."

They nodded sympathetically, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Hey. This is a fresh start." They smiled. "I mean, to some of the staff here, you're practically a celebrity. They're excited to meet you!"

Noticing his mounting anxiety, they quickly changed their tone. "Of course, I don't want to overwhelm you. I can take you to your quarters and save the introductions for tomorrow."

"Thank you," he said, relieved. The Director took out a plastic card and swiped it across the control panel. The elevator stopped, then began to move back down when they pressed a button marked Guest Quarters.

A moment later, they stepped into a long, warmly-lit hallway. The Director paused, looking back and forth. Tom glanced down at the plastic card he still held in his hand, which read #257. He cleared his throat.

"Is.. this my room number?"

The Director blinked. "Oh! Yes! Sorry, got a bit distracted." They turned and led him down the left hall, eventually reaching the right door. There was a thin metal slot on the handle; they swiped their card, and nodded at Tom, who inserted his. A light blinked green and the lock clicked open.

"There you go! Now you can get in and out with your card." They pushed the door open and held out their hand. Tom hesitated and then shook it, struggling to think of what he wanted to say.

The Director cut him off. "I'm sorry, Tom. I know this is a new environment and I'm sure you're nervous— I'd love to show you the whole place but I just don't have the time." They glanced at their watch, then back up at him. "There's a computer with your login information," they said, nodding into the room. "I had one of my assistants prepare an overview of everything you'll need to know for your stay here. I hope that helps. Tomorrow morning you'll meet the research staff who will be working with you. All right?"

Tom nodded. The Director smiled at him as he stepped into his new home and shut the door. Then they pulled out their phone and sent a short message.

From: Director Rei Pennington
To: RESTRICTED NUMBER

He's here. I think this is going to work.




Unable to sleep, Tom stayed up all night reading the files that the Director had provided him with. Many of them were heavily redacted— with attached notes reading Sorry! :( -DRP— but he was able to grasp what he needed to.

Site-623 was the hub for all extradimensional operations the Foundation was conducting— far more than he had ever even suspected. The extensive debriefs after every shift made him think they had to be using the information for something, but… his heart couldn't decide if he was terrified or excited.

The people he was assigned to work with seemed nice enough. All Level 3 and 4, all dedicated permanent staff. Some had even left messages for him. Welcome to Site-623! Looking forward to meeting you! He really did feel like a celebrity, but he wasn't sure he liked it.

Finally closing the laptop when he noticed it was 3 in the morning— wherever he was, the time zone difference had him thrown way off, and the soporifics hadn't helped— he settled into the bed. It was about the same as his old containment cell, yet he felt infinitely more comfortable. There was a small window made of thick Lexan glass, out of which he could vaguely see trees and other, more uncertain shapes, swirling in the fog.

Watching the sun rise, SCP-507 finally fell asleep.




The tram slowed to a halt, nearly knocking him down even as he gripped the handrail. A mechanical voice warbled We have arrived at Transit Station 3. If your destination is Ancillary Research, Development, And Testing Facility 623-Omega, please disembark now. He glanced down at his printed directions, which read ARDAT Facility 623-Ω. He stepped off the train, waving hesitantly at the personnel who remained seated. Then the train sped away, and he was alone on the platform.

Two heavily-armed security guards watched him intently until he swiped his key card at a panel on the far wall, causing a huge blast door to hiss open. They nodded, and he stepped into the adjacent hallway.

It was large, not as enormous as the main site but still appreciably vast. Reinforced concrete walls echoed his footsteps as he followed a series of metal signs to the main research lab. They had to be in the mountains somewhere, he thought, to have this much underground space. He assumed it was mostly underground, since he hadn't seen a real window since the hangar— he'd discovered earlier this morning that his bedroom window was one of several fakes, actually a high-quality digital screen. It was disappointing, but not surprising. He knew he was permanently on a need-to-know basis as far as the Foundation was concerned.

Lost in thought, he very nearly walked into a door. Pausing and staring, he realized he had reached his destination: Laboratory A1-13.

He swiped his key card and pushed the door open.

The room was surprisingly empty; he had expecting a throng of researchers bustling about, pushing carts of supplies, taking measurements, doing… science-y things. Instead there was a small cubicle and a security guard, who nodded at him.

"SCP-507?"

"Yes, that's me."

"In here, please."

She waved him into the cubicle, which was actually a small, enclosed examination room. He took a seat on the padded patient table and waited nervously.

A doctor came in a few minutes later: a tall man, with soft, dark features and thick glasses. He smiled.

"Hello, SCP-507. I am Dr. Vincent Szarabajka. You have nothing to fear— I'm only to take your vitals."

Tom nodded silently and sat obediently as the doctor took his blood pressure, his height, his weight, his heartbeat. He paused at Tom's left hand.

"Did you have… surgery?"

He looked away. "I guess you could call it that." He wondered why that particular incident wasn't in the medical file he assumed they had on him.

The doctor pursed his lips. "Who did this? The craftsmanship is amateur."

Tom ran his fingers through his hair. "I guess you'd say it's secondhand, huh?"

Dr. Szarabajka blinked, then laughed heartily. He typed something on a tablet and nodded at nothing in particular.

"One more question, Tom. When was your last shift?"

That was easy enough. "Thirteen days ago," he said. "It was, uh, low-key. A pretty normal forest, didn't see anyone. I was only there a couple of hours."

The doctor smiled. "Sounds good." He swiped a key card and pushed a side door open. "Let's go meet the rest of the team."




"Tom!" The Director smiled.

"Well, you see, our interdimensional travel tech is limited by the Law of Conservation of Worlds— that is to say, we can only move through realities with a medium-to-high degree of similarity to our own. But you aren't hindered by that. You have a nearly infinite number of universes at your fingertips.




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