Tales from Site-015 #1

4

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Canon: Baseline
Series: none
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Canon: Baseline Series: none
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Dr. Magnu’s day started off about as early as three in the morning dealing with the site’s unresponsive satellite dish in the canyon. No one could send or receive any messages to and from Site-019. It was a thirteen-mile drive to the canyon, with an additional three hours working on the dish. He wanted nothing more than just crawl back in his bed and sleep. But when he found the issue with the dish, his Frustration had boiled over into anger; the hours spent fixing the issue could have been resolved in minutes.

Somebody hadn’t bothered to check the relays that had shorted out, leaving only the researcher to replace them. It was more of a technical failure than a computer science failure. You didn’t need to be in such a field to figure that problem out.

He stayed up till three in the morning, only to be called in for another emergency after only two hours of sleep. Site-015 never had too many problems, but today felt like a bad omen or something. Magnu felt as though these talented, intelligent personnel were incapable of applying Occam’s Razor to situations like these.

Then again, he was looking around for a problem that wasn’t even there himself. Though he chalked it up to having the other scientists pulling him in those directions.

Even the most complex operations require the simplistic of functions. For the dish, it was nothing short of relay issues. For today, it was his favorite scientific field of the matter; physics. (And not just standard physics itself. All physics for that matter.)

Yet, the issue wasn’t even a physics-based one. When he recognized the problem, he relented the fact that there was such a thing as ‘thinking too hard.’ The scientists killed the joy he had for the assignment. The project was a bomb that research and development were working on for quite some time. The project was to create a more stable and temporary dampener effect similar to RPC-301’s. This version wouldn’t last for very long though. Somewhere along the lines of development, the scientists working on the bomb failed to properly secure the containment field meant to prevent the residue from seeping out. The entire lab was without sound for thirty-five minutes.

Imagine having to go to bed late, and waking up early, without grabbing a bite to eat, and having to fix what was the result of human error. True it was not uncommon in the research department. Trial and error was more common than the Occult Department in testing theoretical rituals for benign spectral and godly like entities. He just expected more out the Research & Development department’s field. All the grant money he earned competing with the other researchers would eventually go to waste if he had to sacrifice his own mental well-being to fix their non-issues.

When it appeared as though he had done his chores for the day, Dr. Magnu made a break for the break room. Nothing said good quick eating than a microwave breakfast casserole, the only meal he enjoys eating than that slop they served in the mess hall.

The microwave they had in the break room was rather old, but reliable nonetheless. The appliance was found within the abandoned nuclear research facility during the time the Authority refurbished everything here. Including the microwave itself. Best use what you can get given the cost-effectiveness of running this facility.

However, the day went from bad to worse. Nothing short of a devil could be so cruel to cause him misery by stacking these series of unfortunate events. While he certainly blamed Dr. Silar, he had himself to blame most of all for asking him to help with his casserole.

The archaeological research scientist entered the room. His eye sagging as though he hadn’t had a good night’s rest himself. With a cup of coffee in one hand and a clipboard in the other, the researcher yawned as he made his way towards the seating.

“Oh uh, doctor Silar? Would you be so kind as to get me my casserole in the microwave? It should be almost done,” Magnu said.

Silar nodded out for a bit, failing to register what he said at that moment. After a few measly seconds, the room started to get… well, hotter. Dr. Mangu immediately remembered why that was, and it involved that creature that always followed Dr. Silar around.

“It shouldn’t be that hard to get yourself, right?” Dr. Silar asked. Though Then he shrugged, placed his mug and clipboard on the table and walked towards the microwave.

“Huh… I’ve not seen one of these models in a while. How do they work again?”

Dr. Silar pressed a button that did not sound like it was the eject button. A low-pitched beep was heard. Then another at a slightly higher pitch. It didn’t sound like he pushed one of those ‘minute’ buttons either.

“Uh, Silar? I think it would be better if I could…”

Silar was quick to cut him off. “No, no need. I believe I got this now.” After a rapid series of beeping, the contents within the microwave erupted into a colorful display of chicken, broccoli, and cheese that painted the window of the microwave. Followed shortly by the microwave short-circuiting.

Dr. Mangu let out a startled cry as he looked upon his breakfast with dejection and horror.

“My god! Doctor Silar what the fuck are you doing?!”

The scientist turned to look at Magnu with a weak smile, with a face that tried desperately to convey how sorry he was. He turned his head to the side and said in a hushed tone; “Maybe we should go now.”

Dr. Magnu would never, ever forgive him for this.


Agent Alenko hated having to deal with the homunculi. Those creepy, cannibalistic sadistic bastards never know when to stop their depravities. The last time he was here, it was having to return four of the bastards that had escaped containment. Then he saw how many were in containment since the last time he saw them.

They were moved to this new chamber from the storage compartment for the scientists to see just how they will behave in their new environment. No one had expected them to reproduce in such a short amount of time. Considering how often these creatures devoured one another, the twelve homunculi became forty. And then forty became sixty.

Alenko entered the observation room where Dr. Apth sat. To the side, several blank research books were laid out across the desk, each marked with a specific subject: Behavioral analysis, environmental adaptation, sociological development and more.

The agent was curious enough to take up one of the books to read through them. He was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of data that Apth had recorded in his books. He turned to the doctor and saw how deep he was into recording everything that was going on in the chamber.

“Busy day sir?” Alenko asked as he took a good look around the room. There were only two ASF personnel in the room with them, carefully watching the creatures from beyond the one-way window.

“About as busy as I make it. I wanted to see how things have changed in there after this… rapid growth,” Apth replied as he gestured his hand towards the window. “Alenko, look in there and tell me what you see. Even if it disturbs you, I want you to tell me whatever that catches your attention.”

The agent turned his head to the window and peers through to see this little society that the freaks had built for themselves. Tiny walls made out of wood that was placed in the chamber probably by some of the scientists. Along with those walls were little huts that were big enough to fit at least five or seven of the homunculi. He counted around twelve of these huts.

“The 102 instances have shown complex behavior to the point where they utilized the materials we gave them to create what is essentially a tribal civilization?” Alenko said.

“Good observation there, but no. I mean other behaviors and habits they’ve displayed,” Apth replied.

Alenko didn’t really want to look at them for any longer than he had to. When he did, he noticed from the center of this little community deformed monstrosities were stripping the flesh off of three corpses. Not surprising anyone, they were members of their own community.

Very likely they were devoured, and their remains were in the process of being cleaned out. Their bones picked off, skin tanned, all being fashioned for assorted tools and decorations. The remains of their flesh preserved for future provisions. Of course, some of the homunculi let their disgusting impulses get the better of them as they start to copulate with the remains.

“Not at all different from what they have always been doing. Ummm… they ate their own, fucked their dead, made masks and clothing and tools from their skin and bones. All in all, an average everyday life of the homunculi.”

It wasn’t exactly what Apth was looking for given his silence. As he noted down more of his observations, he stopped just short at the end of the page. Then he closed the book and set it aside.

“Alenko, what is the primary motivator behind evolution? I mean the most simple, basic main factor that shapes a species into what they are?” Apth asked.

Evolution wasn’t exactly his forte but Alenko knew enough of the basics.

“Reproduction. Overtime the offspring will develop different genetic traits as a result of mutation, adaptation, and producing offspring of their own that will carry these different traits and ensure their variation succeeds the others.”

“That indeed, is correct Alenko. And such a process would take hundreds of years… at the very least, for such changes to be applied. Tens of thousands of years at most. There is a natural drive to pass on genes down from one line to another. Though those genes are designed to ensure whether or not their offspring will find food and how to best avoid becoming as such themselves.”

Apth picked himself up from the seat and paced down the room as he continued; “Paracelsus alchemical works did not actually take into account the abnormal development of his homomculi’s psychological and evolutionary defects. They’re sadists with an intense hunger for flesh and that drive of theirs cannot differentiate between food and sex. Their primitive instincts are melded with their hyper aggressive tendencies that they will devour members of their own community to sustain themselves… or for pleasure. And that is disregarding the fact that they can survive without eating for months, probably even years until they decide to eat themselves.

“These creatures should have killed themselves off weeks ago Alenko. Yet, since we’ve moved them into this chamber, there’s been a drastic change in their behavior. They’re still aggressive and violent, but they haven’t exactly driven themselves to extinction. While they’ve been moderating their own numbers, they have adapting to their environment, nonetheless. Whatever he did to make them, the process had completely warped their monoamine neurotransmitters to release serotonin at an unchecked rate when you introduce these beings to violence, sex, and food… specifically, cannibalism. It’s their preferred eating habits where they’ll very likely eat themselves.

Apth stopped and turned back to face the window.

“I can scarcely imagine what we can learn from their behaviors in the long term. What will they become with these kinds of deficiencies? Will they survive? Will they adapt and evolve? Will they even mutate? Or will they just sit in their stagnancy, content with their savagery? For such small creatures… they are fascinatingly frightening. I’ve never felt more excitement or fear since my uncle inducted me into his cult so, so long ago. If only I had the time.”

Alenko looked at Apth and wondered what was going through his head. He could barely even understand some of the researchers here; let alone the monsters and entities they keep here. He cannot deny that there was this strange sense of fascination he had for these creatures. Not just the homunculi themselves but just about every anomaly that the authority as a whole has encountered. He was nothing more than an agent of the Protection Division meant to track these kinds of things down and even he cannot deny that morbid curiosity.

“Do you think these creatures are even capable of communicating with us Dr. Apth?” Alenko asked. “Since they’ve formed larger, broader social connections that we’re now seeing… will it be possible that we'll pass the language barrier? We could get an understanding of them. They are technically human after all.”

“That remains to be seen…” Apth turned his attention away from the glass and to the desk. He packed his documents and research materials while Alenko was left to watch the instances of 102 live out their daily lives.

“Meaning… what exactly?” Alenko said after a few seconds of staring.

Apth gestured for Alenko and the other security personnel to exit the room with him. “Meaning if they are not willing to communicate, or even unable to learn, we won’t know for sure about why they behave the way they do. All we can do is measure their behaviors and record them for future observational testing. What they can’t tell us about them, we’ll have them show us. If we thought we understood what they are today… imagine what we might learn about them tomorrow.”

Before Alenko left the room, he caught a glimpse of one of the homunculi. It was masculine looking, overly grotesque and morbidly obese. Yet the way it moved was so unnatural given its physique.

Maybe it was a play on his mind, but he could have sworn that he was looking at him through the window. Which was… impossible, as the window was a one-way viewing. Unless he could smell the agent?

The way it was hunched over, eyes fat and deeply colored red and how they bulged from his sockets sent a chill up his spine. The last thing he saw before he left the room was the monster, taking a half-eaten homunculus infant, gorging on what remained of its face.
-

Daniel Hines was in his office, filing the latest update to send for the Regional Director. There was so much paperwork to do and so little. His mind still lingered on that fateful day when the Authority lost site-014. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. No one could stop thinking about it.

So many friends were lost that day. So many bright minds and brilliant people. Josef Drahoslava, the site director, being one of them. He was as kindred and friendly among his peers and ensured the best for his personnel. A man that encompassed the greatest qualities the RPC Authority represents. And boy, did Josef showed them.

No one could expect the destruction of death of this magnitude to happen under the Authority’s watch. Most certainly never in Hines’ service here. To think it was done by a rogue AEP operative.

Hines didn’t believe it one bit. He never did trust that organization and he was not inclined to believe a single word they said. All he could hear was an excuse to cover their own asses. To have the Authority eat up their official report was nothing more than a shitshow. But the Authority was not in a position to go to war with them. The same was said for AEP given how hard they were pushing the letter for peace.

Who knows what the modus operandi was and who had the means to carry out this operation. But what point was made in doing so? What was the point in even thinking about it when everyone had just dropped it?

All he had left of his friend were the memories. Four months before his death, Hines placed his assistant director Nichole Pearson in charge of the facility while he and Josef shared a rare opportunity of taking temporary relief of duty.

He will never forget that day. What an experience it was. It was not every day they had the opportunity to fish. It was a hobby they both shared and enjoyed. It was also the one time they shared a rare moment where for once they peered into the unknown not with fear, but with wonder.

——

It was a quiet Friday evening. The skies were clear, the moon was bright, and the air was cool as the two fished off the pacific coast. The scent of salt tickled his nose as he breathed in, immersing himself into the moment.

“Never expected night fishing in the ocean would be this relaxing,” said Hines as he sat on the edge of the boat. “Every time I look into the water, I always wait for the moment when something will come out and drag me into the depths.”

Josef was on the other side of the bode, adjusting his rod to pull back and release when he cast his bait afar.

“Don’t like the oceans, Mr. Hines?” he replied.

“More like I don’t like what lurks in there.”

Josef shrugged and smiled; “It's not the monster that gets you, Hines. It's how you get it in your head.”

Hines tried to figure out what he had meant by that. With a cock of his brow, he turned his head to the side to look at him. It wasn’t obvious but he could tell the man was smirking.
“You’ve lived among monsters almost your entire service in Site-015. Good, bad, somewhere in between. It's not about how you deal with the monsters. It's more about how you deal with your perception of the world.”

There was a tug on Hines’ line. Before he could take a moment to respond, he reeled in his catch. “My perception of the world is fairly simple Josef. There are some things in this world we are not ready for. Things that are impossible to coexist with. Not just because they may be dangerous, but also because of how others can exploit those with incredible power, that means no harm, and use them to harm others in their stead. They threaten the sanctity, safety, and normality of the public’s everyday life.”

Hines pulled up a perch from his line, careful not to let it break as he unhooks the fish.

“You mean like the RCPA?” Josef said as he started to reel in his catch.

“Well, yes and no. I mean the PCAAO, Nihil, Malthus. Though RCPA definitely fits that description just as well.”

Josef hauled his catch to get a good look at it. The perch was a good solid four meters. Not bad, he thought to himself before tossing it back into the water.

“Sounds like you are trying to find your center. Why else would you find yourself in the company of those that are capable of such destructive habits? Especially given the humanitarian nature of your facility.”

Hines pulled his rod back and cast the line back into the ocean. “Perhaps I’m an idealist. I don’t know. I just don’t want to live the rest of my life in fear of the unknown. I want our species to look for a tomorrow without the fear that some fucking sadistic god snaps his fingers and turns us all into dust. Or worse, we kill ourselves.”

“But how can you strive for others to live for a tomorrow if you fear tomorrow? Every day we run a risk of dropping the ball. And I don’t mean the Authority… I mean humanity as a whole. Know that we’ve always been knocked down and we’ve been knocked down hard enough that we’ve had a few close calls with death. Yet, we always get right back up again. That’s what we do. We shouldn’t have to fear tomorrow Hines. We should expect it, and welcome it, and prepare for it.”

There was a beep on Hines’ wrist. He pulls his rod to the side to look at his watch, reading that it was now 12 AM.

“Well, tomorrow’s today. Happy new day of not dying then,” Hines said with a cocky smile. “Shall we call it a night?”

“Yeah probably. I think I’ve gotten quite a nice catch. What about you Hines?”

“Nothing that can beat your four-meter-long fish. That was a pretty large fucking perch. I don’t think I have ever seen one that big before. How’d you even reel that fucker in?”

“It wasn’t easy, that's for sure. The trick is you gotta watch how they maneuver and keep track on where it is pulling. It's always imperative to have the fish swim to you. Then you pull and reel hard and you reel it in fast.”

Hines just shook his head and smiled. “A big fish like that would have been a decent lunch or dinner for tomorrow.”

As the two friends were packing their rods away, the color of the moonlight shifted from a pristine silver color to something that was warm, exuberant and vibrant. But the moon didn’t change its color, however. It remained pristine and pale.

“Josef… are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Hines asked as he gestured to the water.

“I sure do. What the hell is that?”

“Beats the fuck out of me, but I’m about ready to call it in.”

Josef reached for his hand up to stay Hines as he watched the water.

“No… wait for a moment,” he said in a quiet voice.

At first, there was nothing. The warm color orange of the light reflecting off of the water remained where it was under the pale moon. Then the color started to expand, encompassing the water around the boat. It stretched as far as the two were able to see.

It was another abnormal phenomenon from the looks of it. A potential RPC for certain. Yet the more they watched, the more the color expanded.

Then came a beautiful display of assorted colors that dotted the sky, and they were all coming from the ocean waters. Whatever they were, they appeared small. They were something like fish almost. Their scales glistening off of the light reflected by the moon Teal, magenta, gold, and other assorted colors reflected off of them as they danced in the sky.

Soon, larger fish like creatures started to follow. Each as alien as the last. The waters remained undisturbed, however, as these strange spectral marvels illuminated the night sky. The creatures were utterly, completely indescribable. Yet there was something so beautiful about them.

Their minds tried desperately to piece together what could possibly resemble such creatures. There was one that appeared as though it was a shark, but there were appendages that gave the appearance of an octopus yet, bearing mollusk-like skin structures. Another was mistaken for a crocodilian creature, but it was nothing more than a wave. But one sporting crustacean looking limbs, and eyes dotted along portions of its body where it shouldn’t be.

It was all so marvelous. They were distracted by the all-encompassing beauty that they had not noticed one of the creatures phasing right through the boat, leaving it and the friends intact. The experience was as breathtaking though, as they could feel their very presence coursing through them. There was that sense of smallness felt by the directors. It made everything about the event that much impact enough to truly appreciate their world.

For hours they spent staring at the display of colors as the ghastly alien fish swam in the moonlight. Rainbows of color stretched across the sky, expressing their majesty unwittingly to their audience. Glistening sparks of light and color-splashed into the air as the waves crashed into one another. They all rushed to join the fish, twinkling in what can best be described as a visual marvel akin to that of music. It sounded like music to them too. Every color gave off a distinct tone in their heads as the lights sparkled, as though they were instruments playing a symphony.

And with the break of dawn, the symphony ended in a quiet, beautiful, and somber note. The spectral creatures of the sea started to disappear, dispersing into the atmosphere. Wonder had given way to the drowsiness that Josef and Hines had experienced. Their deprivation of sleep had finally caught up with them.

"Alright, let's call it in," Josef said as he started to pack his gear away. "There'll definitely be a lot of data we can get from this. The research division is going to love this."

Hines took a moment to reflect off of the events himself. He opened his mouth for a moment. It took him a moment to collect his thoughts and properly put them into words. "I realized something," he said.

"And what's that Hines?"

"You were right. We should expect, prepare, and embrace tomorrow. For too long I've been worried about how small and insignificant I've been… how we've been. And then I take a moment to truly appreciate how small I am in the universe. None of that nihilistic bullshit that self-pitying slackers preached about. There's meaning to existence and life even if it can be an absolute nightmare. But there is meaning to this life that we continue to enjoy. We've got along fine in the past several hundred thousand years. If humanity survived this long without the RPC, imagine what more we could do, how far we can grow. "

Josef smiled and reached up to clap him on the back. "Now that's exactly what I like to hear."


Hines snapped from his trance as the intercom crackled to life. The voice of his assistant director came from the machine; “Director Hines? Pearson here. There is a woman here by the name of Metis here to see you. She says she knows you.”

The director turned his head to the intercom and rumbled under her breath. “Metis?” he spoke, “Is there a researcher by that name here?”

“There is no one who goes by that name here.”

Normally in a situation like this, it meant that whoever this person was, was an intruder. However, curiosity got the better of him. Rather than have Pearson ‘Raise the Dawn’ in a breach like this, he took his time to contemplate on who this mysterious visitor bearing such an odd name was.

Eventually, he figured it out.

“Metis isn’t as much of an uncommon name. Haven’t heard from you in a long, long while. Clever, very clever indeed,” he said to himself.

“It's still night. Should raise the dawn any minute now.”

Security wasn’t necessary though given who he was dealing with. She only referred to herself by that name once during their first encounter. The director pressed his finger on the button and replied; “No, no it is fine Pearson. You can send her in.”

About a few seconds later, a young woman entered his office. She wore an official’s suit, and one could very easily have mistaken her from someone in the Administrative Division. Identity tag and everything. Pearson must have had a good eye to see through this clever disguise.

She still bore that face only a sculptor could love. Yet, the uncanny variation of shifting and changing into several variations of natural hair colors. The same could be said for her eyes. These features had eluded so many others, and only he was aware of them because of who she truly was.

“Taking up your mother’s name again, have we?” the director spoke finally.

“I figured you would recognize it eventually. But, you did take a little bit longer than what was necessary,” she replied.

“Forgive me for it has been a while, my friend. Now, exactly what brings you here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

The young woman smiled as she reaches her finger up to her lips. Then, the room went dark. Everything was blind and deaf, with the exception of the director and his friend.

“I have some information for you regarding Site-014. I’m sure Authority is still healing from the scars.

Director Hines clasped his hands together and leaned in as close as he could to reply; “Pray tell, what do you know?”

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