by Max Barry

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by The Colony of Noneuropean Union Lore. . 29 reads.

Tale - "Fifty-five"

"Hey, I think it's time you enter the room isn't it?" asked Alfred.
"Why, yes, it's been like 6 months since last time."

Site-67 was regarded as a very important site by the Foundation, even if they didn't contain any physical anomalies. They just had a server with very critical information about the wildest anomalies out there; anomalies that couldn't really be contained.
In reality, though, Site-67 was a rundown place in the middle of the Torham wilderness. This rather antiquated site was built as a safehouse for Foundation agents in the mid-1950s; and, as expected, everything about it was old.
And full of insects. So many insects.

The only physical anomaly Site-67 "contains" is DCA-3125, a room protected with top-of-the-line Foundation tech that could, in theory, withstand a nuclear strike. Exiting the small room where 3125 supposedly resides implies getting bombarded with a strong anti-memetic, amnestic gas that makes you forget everything in the past few days of your life; as apparently bringing knowledge of this anomaly to the outside world is very, very dangerous - even if you do not mention any information regarding it.

And head researcher Emily Spades was the director of Site-67, as she lead a staggering total of five researchers - including her - and one security guard.
A comically small research team.

"I guess I'll go enter the secure room."
"Why do we even have it? What does it contain?" rhetorically asked Alfred, knowing it was impossible to know.
"3125, the most dangerous antimemetic bit of knowledge in the entire universe. That's why we have the whole anmestic thingy," explained an unsure Emily, as she didn't know either.
"I'm going to enter 3125, let's see if I come up with some way of erradicating whatever this thing is."

― ― ― ―

After entering through the second doorway, she was hit with the smell of very, very old books.
The walls were entirely covered in papers, some of them concerningly old. 'How old is this room?', asked Emily.
One of the bits of paper struck her attention. It read:

3125 is the root of everything, it is the abyss that stares back at you. Ancient civilizations that were protected by the might of the god of humanity were entirely protected from 3125, which allowed them to have knowledge of this anomaly; but modern-day humans are alone in the cosmos, which makes us very weak to 3125. When we learn about it, it learns about us.

There was some other text in this piece of paper, but these lines made her fear whatever... 3125 is.
She noticed a laptop sitting on the floor, which was connected to the only electrical outlet in the room. She opened it, surprised there wasn't any password locking the device.

While scouring the desktop, which was filled to the brim with folders, she noticed a video file with the title 'MUST WATCH!!!.mp4'. She didn't hesitate on opening the video.

She was greeted by... herself. From a few months back, as she recognized the green shirt she was wearing in the video. This wasn't even a year old. She looked sick, stressed to the brink of collapse, and she looked like she had been crying for hours. Then, she spoke.

Hello, I don't know who's gonna watch this video - if it's me or someone else, but this is the most important thing we have to contain- Ok, let me... let me begin from, well, the beginning.
Her video form left out a chuckle.
We have known about this thing since '78, when Manninger and the gang discovered Audapaupadopolis. The city has, like, a temple or something dedicated to all the gods that lived in that city, under the rule of Adam El Asem. There were a few that they had no clue about, like a female figure that was wearing stars as her clothing, two enormous serpents that were first believed to be Jörmundgander from the Tenoran mythology and the Leviathan from the Nonditerranean cultures; and finally, a void with the shape of a starfish. What made this 'void' so interesting is that, by the way it was represented, it looked like it was the greatest evil that opposed Adam El Asem.
The Emily from the video took a small rest.
We now know this is completely true. This 'starfish', which we learnt was called 'the Escapee from Above' or similar names, was being held back by Adam El Asem for millennia. The guy was just that strong, I guess. But then he became aware of an even bigger threat, and he contained that threat by giving away his powers. The information we have is very, very vague at best; and infuriatingly incomplete at worst. If whoever is watching this video happens to be me, then you'd surely know about Aiōn Teleos and all that stuff - if not, then it doesn't matter, memetic kill agents don't work here and you won't remember anything once you exit the room.
Which nicely brings me to the next thing you have to know: DCA-3125 is completely uncontainable. Like, this room is not where it's contained, quite the opposite in fact. This room is the only place in the entire universe where 3125 is not present. Let's just say Stephen Dewitt Locke and I worked very hard on designing this room, and it works. That man is the single most intelligent doctor in the entire Foundation.

Her video form looked to various papers on the wall, an action that was mirrored by Emily.

We have this project, called Lethe, that was proposed by Locke a bunch of years ago. It all began when the Foundation tried to look into the origin of all the anomalies, a 'Grand Unified Theory' of sorts. It's very likely you haven't heard of this attempt, and that's for a good cause; as what we discovered was... She sighed. It was horryfing. We found there are things at a scale below the smallest quantum particles that horrified everyone - from us to the Byblos Council, or even the Administrator. What we found was very clear and understandable programming languages.

Emily paused the video and put her head between her hands.
"What the ever loving hell!?" she shouted into the sound-proof walls. "You're telling me it's all a simulation!?"
She frantically pressed the spacebar looking for answers.

Now, it's... It's not quite a simulation? By 'understandable' I mean that it took us a whole decade to understand this language, as it was beyond the scope of the human brain. If you - hopefully - don't remember anything it's because you-I... we- I was forced to take a large dose of amnestics that made me forget the whole project. We... also found that 3125 is like a... 'virus' in the 'code' of reality. There are no actual way of expressing it with our tiny, godless monkey brains.

She was bewildered. This is earth-shattering knowledge.

If 3125 is present in the world-the universe, it's because of an incident that happened in 1947. This is why I say this whole thing is related to absolutely everything - which you have hopefully read somewhere in this massive collection of papers around you. What happened in 1947 was a catastrophic accident that happened at the hands of the GOC.
There's this facilty in the northern seas that's possibly millennia old, even if I think it was built to counteract another mind-shattering eldritch abomination like 3125 - ever heard of the Black Moon? Anyway, this facility is completely impercetible to any sensor, be organic or otherwise; and the Foundation and the GOC used it to fight agains the Sirens. You know, those beings that have been screwing us for the past centuries? Well, they tried to erase them completely from reality while also trying to maintain the structure of the universe in the process, and it went... well, it didn't work.

Emily had heard about something important happening in 1947, but she wasn't too sure.

To put it... 'simply', I guess: the entire structure of the multiverse temporarily collapsed in of itself because of this experiment. It was an unimaginably catastrophic, apocalyptic, biblically omnious doomsday situation. Again, like with many of these subjects, there are no human words to describe what was called 001-Khorovod.

"Oh, right, the whole timeline reset thing from a while back," said Emily while pausing the video. "I think there was a cognitohazard that affected related to it, that affected some kansen..."
She struggled to remember the details, as she has to take a staggering amount of medication each day just to remember she works at the Foundation - due to her position, so remembering the tiny details isn't her forte.
"Yeah, I remember..." mused Emily outloud. "I remember when the folk of project Observer asked for help to Lethe and I had to go to a weird... underground... base...?" her eyes lit up. "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me, I've been to Arcana Sanctum!?"
"Oh, damn, I worked with Aoste back then. They had, a weird lance made out of the very fabric of the universe... Why are the Sirens related to all of this now?"
Wanting to get an answer, she unpaused the video.

Now, the events of Khorovod and the whole Siren crisis is technically unrelated to 3125, but this catastrophe caused 3125 to either 'become aware' of our reality or 'wake up'. The thing is, because of how these eldritch horrors work, when 3125 started acting in the universe; it rectroactively changed everything in the timeline. For example, did you know that before this event happened, the Dämmerung Foundation did not exist? we were called the Department of Abnormalities; and because of how sloppy the whole debacle was, there is a whole Department of Abnormalities site in the surface of Mars. Like, seriously, if you still have the clearance level look up entry 4132.

She pressed the space bar again.
"So, you're... telling me there are remains of the previous, uh, 'timeline' inside our own? and it's all 3125's fault?"
The realization was solwly dawning on her, but she was scared of the implications.
She was terrified of the video, but there wasn't much more left to watch.

With this basic rundown completed, I invite you to read stuff from the walls of this room. I know Locke has been in this room, accompanied by Scranton and Alberich from time to time. I don't know if you know who they are, but Alberich came up with project SURTR and Scranton built our reality anchors that allow us to quite literally control reality. So, very smart guys.
I tell you this because they came up with some plan, as well as a way of exiting this room with said plan still in their minds - as the gas makes you forget everything. I know there's weird activity happening at Site-13, one of our biggest sites in the entire world. There is a large underground cavity where workers have been building something for a while. The thing is, the workers do not know what they're building, and neither is the site director aware of this. I'm sure Sophia Light - the... site director - didn't even approve of this project.

'Wait, why...?' mentally asked Emily, while her video counterpart took a deep breath.

I believe that underground building will be a room very much like this one, but greatly expanded. Something like three-hundred meters squared, so basically a small mansion. It'd be great if I knew more, but you can come up with a plan and leave it here.

Her digital representation let out a small laugh.

We are so screwed. Oh, I forgot to tell you what 3125 even is. I think. Anyway, 3125 is a level zero pataphysically active issokinetic cognitomemetic hypercluster deific construct. You know what those words mean, I hope. 3125 is partially intersecting our reality, and is the root of everything anomalous we contain. Every study into the memetic scientific field eventually leads to 3125, and you know what happens then? Every person who discovers 3125 - while not being in a place like this - disappears, as well as everyone who shares a similar headspace; or in other words, close friends and family. And everyone forgets about them.
I don't know how many scientists are working with you right now, but at the time of me filming this video, I lead a team of seventeen scientists.

"SEVENTEEN!?" shouted Emily, mentally recounting the four researches she has 'always lead'.

Good luck in your research, Emily; and don't let your mind be overtaken by the realization of how dangerous 3125 is. Oh, and if you need it, there is a bottle of whiskey in that wooden cabinet over there. It's brand new at the time of recording, and I haven't opened it. You might want to.

The video stopped playing, which left Emily staring at her reflection on the dark laptop screen.
She was processing everything.

"Oh, for god's sake;" angrily said Emily as she stood up from the ground. She closed the laptop, and proceeded to stare at the walls looking for the papers that attracted her the most.
Her search lead her to a document written by doctor Lorentz L. Manninger, head of Operation PANGLOSS. It looked old, as the date on the paper read '1st of August 1997'. Almost thirty years old.

The objective of the Project LETHE - Operation PANGLOSS collaboration, according to fellow project lead Stephen Dewitt Locke, would be the understanding of the cognitohazardous nature of the ancient, antediluvian past. He personally proposed going to Avignon to study DCA-6000-S, as he believes the properties of -S are key in the understanding of entities such as 3125 and 4999.
On the other hand, Artemy Alberich proposed the utilization of the fruits of Project SURTR in order to neutralize the DCA-1000 entities living in STFOES. I am not a fan of that proposal, as SURTR deals with objects outside of our control; and we can simply let Hector do His job in containing DCA-1000s living in STFOES.

"This seems like a diary entry in Manninger's professional diary? It refers to... DCA-1000, bigfoot. What? Why are bigfoot a problem, aren't they just random apes?" asked Emily. "I distinctly remember bigfoot having the unfortunate quality of dying of cardiac arrest the very moment they see us, humans. Therefore they should not be a danger to anyone... unless..."
She remembered how the DCA-3125 file is structured, and it all made sense.
"Oh, there's info that has been left out of that file for sure. Huh."

Then, on a third hand, there's this newbie site director named David Aoste. He is apparently liked by the BC-1 of the Byblos Council, surprisingly enough; as that man does not like anyone - not even himself. I wouldn't blame him tho. Aoste proposed a collaborative studying of a lance he has acquired, which apparently comes from an antediluvian origin. We know of a lance that follows the properties described in Aoste's letter, as it was used to assassinate both Harriam I and Jorei von Apollyon, past emperors of the Sarthalean crown who have direct relations to Asem, the Demon Knights, Titania, the Children of the Night, the Daeva... I fail to understand how such an important object entered the possession of such a small and inept team, who might I add deal with Sirens.

"It seems it's not a professional diary, but a personal one, huh..." realized Emily.

On a second thought, the mere existence of the Sirens runs contrary to every other anomaly we have studied. They are entirely unconnected to every other law of the paranormal; and have been stalking humanity since the times of Asem. Maybe their intentions aren't as ruinous as we think they are. And I do remember Aoste refering to them as 'Laplace's Demon', a very philosophical - albeit accurate - name. And I honestly lack the knowledge that the OBSERVER team has, but they are definitely the group that deals more directly with anomalies; so... it might be best if I accept Aoste's proposal.

I am also very interested in collaborating with Artemy, as SURTR deals with the erradication of entities such as the Archons and other gods; and that might come in handy if we ever run into... things. Seth told my team not so long ago that Lancelot was still alive, and that Ogier had reawakened, even if he couldn't tell us where they are exactly.
Gods, today has been a soul-crushing day. So much paperwork, I hate paperwork.

I just want all these ancient gods and their curses to vanish forever. They're all dead anyway, why still bother us?

"It seems even the most senior and well respected researchers have their weak moments..." thought Emily, unwilling to accept her senior status.
She looked through some other papers, trying to hold her ideas back. She didn't want to admit that she was screwed, but the words spoken by her own video were still as clear as water in her mind.
She just wanted to look for more texts to distract her, to make her not have to face her duties.

And to think every few months she goes through the same torture... just to leave the room and forget about everything.
Suddenly her eyes gazed a paper with drawings on it. It was a map of the most dangerous cognitohazardous anomalies known to the Foundation, and one big central one. The connection between them all formed a starfish, which shocked Emily.
She made this map herself. She remembers it, as she was explaining the very basics of the antimemetic division to... someone... she can't remember. Must have been one of the now-forgotten twelve researchers that she had half a year ago. The thought of it, the simple idea that she knew 12 people that no longer exist, paralyzed her with fear. She can't even remember their faces, let alone their names. It seemed fiction, but also... not really.

A question was eating away her sanity.
"How the hell does an entity that appears in 1947 produce all the known anomalies throughout history!? What consists as an anomaly? Is Audapaupadopolis one? is thaumaturgy an anomaly, instead of a baseline aspect of reality?" she frantically asked while looking through papers.
A document stood to her. The title read "On the Archons, the Sirens, and the Unification Theory", written by Artemy Alberich. There was a black sharpie text on it that read "CHECK DRAWER FOR FULL DOCUMENT," which seemed to be her own handwriting.

The page stuck on the wall read:

After much elucidation, I present to the dear reader my thesis on the ramifications of the Grand Unified Theory.

The Grand Unified Theory was a project lead by researchers Sophia Light, Robert Scranton, Lorentz Leitner Manninger, Artemy Alberich, and Stephen Dewitt Locke. It also saw great help from the Administrator Franz Fitzwilliams, and BC-1, BC-10 and BC-13 of the Byblos Council - Aaron Siegel, Diane Walters and Felix Carter.
Based on the findings of the project, which can be found between pages 140 and 291 of this document, it is safe to assume every anomaly secured, contained and protected by the Dämmerung Foundation originates in some way, shape or form due to the meddlings of the entity now classified as DCA-3125. This includes from the very mundane, to the extremely complex. For in-depth theory-crafting and speculative deductions, refer to pages 310 to 376.

I would like to open up this document by speaking of the relationship between DCA-3125 and the biggest projects currectly underway. These include:

  • Project OBSERVER, currently lead by director of Site-03 Robert G. Smith. OBSERVER centers around the complete eradication of the Siren menace, by whatever means necessary - while avoiding incidents such as 001-Khorovod. This effectively involves a complete monopoly by the Foundation in dealing with this threat.

  • Operation PANGLOSS, directed by doctor Lorentz Leitner Manninger. PANGLOSS investigates the very deep past of the world, as ancient history was filled with thaumatology and eldritch abominations. This includes the understanding of how the events that lead to the end of this era still permiate the current day.

  • Project SURTR, designed and coordinated by doctor Artemy Alberich. SURTR is aiming at the effective neutralization of deities that constitute a danger to the fabric of the universe, such as the 12 Archons and the Elemental Gods. This project utilizes hard-to-describe weaponry, developed with extra-dimensional technologies and the reverse-engineering of the thaumurgical principles by which said deities operate.
    And finally,

  • Project LETHE, lead by antimemetics expert Stephen Dewitt Locke. LETHE is a project that seeks to understand how the human noosphere works, which in turn has discovered some very dangerous perception-altering anomalies. The main effort of LETHE resides in Site-67, a site that holds 54 researchers and is operated under the directives of head researcher Emilia Spades.

Of all these projects, OBSERVER is undoubtedly the more challenging due to the nature of the Siren threat. While LETHE is better equipped to contain the findings of the Grand Unified Theory project, OBSERVER also deals with time-manipulating, reality-bending, extra-dimensional and atemporal beings. Unlike the pattern screamers or even DCA-3125, the Sirens have shown to be immune to most pataphysical alterations in a very interesting way - as they seem to be complete outsiders. They choose female humanoid figures to 'blend' in with us, and chose the name of an ancient Vinneh emperor, Antiochus, to refer to themselves.
The study of the Siren phenomena is still ongoing and a continous mistery to us-

Emily grew bored of this document. How can she become bored, considering her predicament? It seems hypocritical, but... this document is boring and doesn't get to the point.
Although the realization that she lead a total of 54 researchers once doesn't hit her as hard as when she found out - by herself - that she had 17 researchers just six months ago.

"Screw this, I don't know what to do. I'm defeated. Oh, holy hell I hate this job," exclaimed a clearly beaten up Emily.
She had an idea - apparently Locke hadn't come into this room in ages, but Emily had discovered stuff the previous times she had come in. What if... she wrote on a paper "HAVE LOCKE ENTER THE ROOM NEXT TIME" and stuck it to the see-through external glass door before the amnestics truly hit her? that way she could remember that Locke has to urgently come to see the 3125 developments.
She would have to time that perfectly. That, or she could simply leave with the paper in her hand.
So she did the latter, and exited the room.

― ― ― ―

"So, how did it go? Last time you were inside for a whole day," asked Alfred.
"Oh, what? Where..." started asking a very confused Emily, as the amnestics were taking effect on her. "Where am I?"
"The 3125 room."
"Oh... Oh I see. Ok, what did I do?" she asked, before noticing she had something in her hand.
A paper, reading "HAVE LOCKE ENTER THE ROOM NEXT TIME." She was grabbing it with some force, which left the paper crumbled up.
"Have Locke... enter the room?" asked Emily outloud, which made Alfred curious.
"What did you find out? About 3125?"
"I... I don't know dude. I'm sure it's a harmless anomaly;" replied a clueless Emily.

A harmless anomaly.