Lost
rating: +9+x

They wiped the sweat dripping from their brow, the sun relentlessly beating down on the miles of golden sand as they trudged forward. The structure they had noticed earlier in the distance was definitely growing; they just had to hope it wasn't a mirage.

Strangely, they didn't feel thirsty, despite not having drunk for at least two days. There was a reason for this, but they couldn't quite remember it. Much of their past was locked behind a wall of fog in their mind. Headaches flared up every so often, like something in their brain was trying to break free.

They were unsure what would happen once they got to the structure up ahead. If they were correct in their assessment of it being a city, maybe someone could fix them?

But, did they want to remember? Was it easier to start anew? Questions swirled around in their cluttered mind before a sudden spike of searing pains shot through their head. With a cry, they dropped to the ground, their vision slowly blurring.


"You ready Tom?"

I slowly turned to look at James, my apprentice and partner for the last two years. His concerned gaze warmed me. Despite many tests, backups, and all manner of paperwork, he still fretted over my safety. But, we had finally done it. I could speak directly to Them. The Oneiroi West.

"No time like the present," I said to him with a wink. He sighed, pushing turning the ignition key. A slow hum vibrated through the air, gaining in pitch as I lay back into the leather seat. This fancy machine was essentially just a computer capable of generating pre-planned lucid dreams to allow entry to the Oneiroi. Although describing it in that manner feels like it diminishes our accomplishment somewhat.

~~~

With a quiet sound akin to the rustling of the wind, I slowly sat up. Lush green gardens stretched into the distance, lovingly modelled by James. The imprint of my body in the sea of green rapidly fading. With a groan, I lever myself to my feet and step onto the stone path beside me.

Ahead stands a solitary door. At odds with the rest of the scene, its plastic blue surface faintly shines. Here it is.

I grab the handle, slowly opening it as light leaked through. I step through, the door slowly swinging shut behind me. After a few seconds, some text appears. "Welcome to Oneiori West. Please wait whilst we find a suitable dreamscape."


They woke with a splutter, the coarse desert dunes like sandpaper on their bare skin. They blearily rubbed their eyes, gazing at the crystal clear blue sky, before slowly climbing to their feet.

The structure from yesterday was much closer. Large walls ringed the edge, the surface pockmarked from years of sandstorm weathering. Many of the visible buildings appeared damaged, with sections missing and overgrown. However, some looked lived in, they could faintly make out figures, the size of ants, moving around in ruined buildings. Unbidden, the name "Canberra" came to mind, images of tall shining buildings flashing briefly into memory.

Slowly, parts of the fog in their head started fading, but a piercing headache made any details unclear, the phrases "SCP", "Australia", "Dr Ark" and "Failsafe" imprinting themselves into their memory.

With a sudden shudder, they cried out. "I am"

"I…"

But before they could complete their sentence they fell to the ground, tears soaking into the sand. They gazed at the sky, their eyes lifeless and dead.


"Sorry, we are currently experiencing some issues with your connection. Please hold"

The soft voice broke through my reverie. Worryingly, I can hear faint anxiety-filled chatter emanating from outside the dreamscape. I feel fine, but the machine may have misfunctioned, possibly denying my access request to Oneiroi West.

I tried the EORT1, but there is nothing but static. Whilst both the machine and James' device failing is a possibility. It seems like extraordinarily bad luck. Probably just best to eject for now and figure out what went wrong.

Huh?

I can't eject.

This shouldn't happen unless my body is unsuitable to return to. Even if the machine misfunctions this should work.

God, I just feel like my body becomes static, then I reappear. I have no way of contacting them outside to ask for help. Although, given the number of issues. I fear the worst.


Their eyes slowly opened, a solid concrete ceiling looming above. They appeared to be in a bed of sorts. Groaning, they slowly rolled over, beds like their stretching out the length of the room.

"They are awake Sophie"

"I had heard, please could you grab our guest some food, they look like they could use it."

They heard footsteps slowly coming towards them. Turning back over they saw the origin of the voice. A tall, grey-haired woman wearing what appeared to be a doctor's uniform strode towards him, smiling faintly.

"You are lucky to be alive. One of the scouts saw you laying in the sand outside the city about a day ago. We thought you were dead at first when they came to us, but you appear to have some sort of augmentations that have saved you."

"Where… where am I?"

"The hospital of Saint Ander, in Berra. Founded after the atrocities Second Religious War. We had originally assumed you came here on purpose."

"No, no. I needed to find someone to help uncover my history. My mind is… foggy? If that makes sense. I know nothing about this world or myself."

"Amnesia huh? Not quite sure we have anything here to help with that, you could check with Rhesad in Archives, he might have something.

"Er, Miss?" A soft call echoed through the corridor, presumably the girl from earlier.

"Yes, Sophie?"

"There is some men in robes askin—"

Before she could finish, a bell toll rang out through the city, the nurse's face draining of colour. Its echoes slowly fading, she slowly turned back to them.

"Get up, get up now, you have to leave."

"What?"

Her mannerisms had rapidly changed, her once soft face transforming into one of pure fear. "I understand this must seem abrupt to you, but in all likelihood, an army has arrived. And they probably mean to take this city over. We were hoping it wouldn't come to this."

"An army? Of what?"

"They are called the "Book Keepers", a religious group worshipping a prophetic Wonder. Recently they have been predicting the End of Days, it is said a Wise Man is going to reset us back to before the world ended."

"But why would they attack this city specifically? If the world is ending a last-ditch crime spree wouldn't make sense for a religious organisation."

"They have ransacked multiple cities looking for Wonders and hope to survive the reset, but enough talking. Follow Sophie, she knows the best way out." She went to turn away but stopped herself. "Oh, and take this." She said, slowly handing them a small serrated knife, "be careful out there."

~~~

Once again the dunes of the endless desert stretched out in front of them. Whilst they hadn't seen any fighting, the echoes of explosions rang out through the air and the skies had become clouded with dust.

But, the dunes weren't quite empty anymore. A couple of bags lay in the sand along with what looks like the wreckage of a caravan. Thinking quickly about their options, setting off randomly into the sunset, whilst cinematic, probably wasn't the best option.

Getting closer, they noticed two brown lumps. No, two horses, laying slumped on the ground. A man trapped below one recently deceased it appeared. As they went to inspect the horse's saddlebags they heard a faint breathing noise coming from the bags. A sound of someone struggling. With a quick slice, the bag slit down the middle, revealing a curled-up figure.

"Please, please don't hurt us."

"I don't plan too, unless it becomes necessary that is."

The woman sat up with a start, "Who are you, and where is Hekan?!"

"The first question is a tricky one, and the second I hope the answer isn't "under that horse""

She cast a panicked glance over to the horse, but let out a quick sigh of relief. "No no, that is one of the assholes that captured me." Gingerly getting to her feet, she motioned to the bag beside her.

"Can you open this one?"

"Sure thing,"

"The bag slowly flapped open, a small but well built older man."

"Not sure why, I expected someone younger. Raiders probably wouldn't get much for him."

"Information probably, he knew lots of stuff, I assume I was just a pretty face."

"Well, any idea where you plan to go ne—"

Before the sentence ended, they crumpled. Caeda instinctively grabbed them, gently lowering them to the sand beside Hakan. "A man of mystery, huh. We are kind of sitting ducks here, but can't do much else."


"Hey Tom, can you hear me?"

A voice finally crackles through the silence of the artificial dreamscape. There is no way to measure time in here, but it has felt like hours.

"We have a slight issue, Site-41 had a large breach. Whilst technically all the important areas were locked down… The research labs aren't classed as important."

"So the machine is destroyed? We can rebuild surely?"

"Good news and bad news. The machine isn't an issue. It did sustain slight damage… But we can fix that and allow you access into the Collective. The bad news was what happened to your body".

"Ah yeah, I had worried about that. How long will it take to recover?"

"I think you misunderstand, SCP-7431 broke out. You have no body to come back to, what was left had to be scraped off the walls."

My body is… gone? If so, what am I now, a digital soul? "Can you— are you going to be able to get me out, or am I stuck here?"

"We aren't sure, as soon as I can get the lab back in order we will start testing. But, the data drives are almost all broken beyond repair. It is possible that we may not yet have the tech to extract you.

~~~ 12th July 2017: 2 months after the breach ~~~

"Hello, Dr Ark. Are we okay to speak privately?"

A harsh male voice crisply came through the speakers of the EORT causing me to jump. Luckily, the dream streets of Venice weren't too crowded at this time in the morning. Despite the concept of "morning" having little relevance in the dreamscape.

I head towards the nearest Way, selecting "Home" as the option. A brief flash of light and I return to my house in the meadow, nearly two months after I first arrived here.

"Hey, may I ask who is speaking? I wasn't anticipating another meeting yet"

"We apologize, this is a more… private.. matter. Due to the increased number of breaches, and the heightened difficulty of keeping data secure, we wanted to contact you about other options—"

"I understand, but that still doesn't tell me who "we" is."

"Ah, you may call me the Archivist, others call me O5-10. Getting on to business, we wish to use the Oneiroi as a backup storage solution for our sensitive data. Your colleague recommended we speak to you about its feasibility. You would be responsible as the failsafe if all goes wrong, the one to restore the Foundation."

"I understand your logic, but why is an O5 telling me this. I accept the data is important but this feels like more than just about the data."

"Very perceptive Dr Ark. During a breach at Site-18, the previously designated SCP-1275 became accidentally contained by SCP-1590, or more precisely; inside Tamlin house. Tamlin house was the residence of the late Dir Joseph Tamlin, otherwise known as O5-13."

"I thought 13 was just a myth, a tiebreaker vote for O5-1."

"You are partially correct, he was a tiebreaker vote. But he was also a backup. Someone to restore order if the Council fell. Due to his temporal position, he was called on for the last resort to make the final decision."

"Right, skipping all the bullshit. It isn't just the data you want to be kept safe right? You need someone to be your failsafe, You need someone with all the knowledge to carry on your legacy. Am I correct?"

"Wonderful, I am glad to see we are on the same wavelength Dr Ark. We cannot stop you from refusing, due to your nature. But we believe this can be mutually beneficial. You have access to all the research from your fellow doctors, and you can study the Oneiroi up close. But, you also act as a sleeper agent, one last hurdle to the enemies of the Foundation."

"This sounds awfully simple, I am left feeling like I have missed something."

"Dr Ark we are just humans out of our depth, struggling to survive. We are not some mythical omniscient force."

"Forgive me if I don't quite believe that completely. But I do see no issue with this. I do have one condition though."

"Oh?"

"Researcher James Callan is to stay as my aide and assist me in my research, having someone in the physical realm would be a huge help. He will be not aware of my promotion."

"Sounds good to me, I shall bring the good news to the rest of the council. Thank you for your sacrifice Dr Ark. I am sure we will speak soon."


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