The Outsider

"And with that, our meeting has concluded. Thank you for your time, Overseers."

Four began to walk towards the wall, but no one paid him any attention; he was gone by the time anyone looked at him. Three's computer screen shut down. One and Two remainded at their seats, going through their notes. The rest of the Overseers left the room, either alone, or flanked by their Factotums.

Except Nine.

One noticed this. "Something bothering you, Nine?" he asked nonchalantly.

"I want to speak to you. Alone," she added, looking at Two. Two began to speak, but was stopped by One's hand. "Of course." He looked at his watch. "I know an excellent place for dinner," he said, smiling.

Soft jazz music resonated in the private dining room as One and Nine were served their meals. Once the winter left the room, One bagan to tuck into his filet mignon, while Nine absent-mindedly twirled her pasta.

"Why do you keep denying my resignation letters, One?"

One cut up a piece of filet mignon, placed it into his mouth and began chewing. "Ah, perfection."

"Why? Why even involve me in all this? What were you hoping to gain?" Nine twirled her spaghetti around the fork and took a bite.

"Gain? Quite a lot, I believe." One took another bite of his steak, savouring it."A brilliant researcher, who discovered the world of the anomalous on her own. You even tried to create a theory to prove it."

"Until you discredited everything I had worked for," muttered Nine.

"In the eyes of the public. We recognised your potential and offered you a seat on the council. Which, might I add, you eagerly accepted."

Nine clenched her fork tightly, "Of course I would. Imagine a researcher being told that there was a whole other world to explore, new boundaries to test. Of course I took your offer." Nine pushed her plate away, and leaned forward. "We're a joke, you know. The most powerful organisation in the world, yet we hide in the shadows. Jailers in the dark, sealing away whatever we don't understand out of a primal fear."

One took the final bite of his steak. "What do you want us to do then, Nine?"

"We have a few hundred SCPs that are lethal to human life; we could destroy at least three quarters of them. It's a win-win for both sides. We save funding, space, energy, not too mention human lives. For fuck's sake, 173 is an inanimate statue that shits and snaps necks. Why the hell are we still containing it? How many D-class have we lost to it?"

"And speaking of D-class. When's the last time you ever thought of them as human beings, and not just a number?" Nine was silent for a while. "It's… It's wrong. When where we given the power to abuse human life for our own benefit? Who said we ever could?"

One remained silent, wiping his mouth with his napkin.

"The Foundation has more than enough money to help solve global poverty. We have military assets to stop wars. We have skips that can churn out enough food and water for an entire continent. Why are we not helping our fellow man then?" Nine's voice was slowly rising, as she clenched her fist tightly

One pressed the button at their solitary table, and spoke into it, "Two glasses of your best red wine please."

"And as much as I hate admit it, Anderson has become the greatest technological marvel of the millennium. The man's a fucking genius, I mean look at him. Sure, he's a greedy businessman that I personally despise, but his Saker units could solve hundreds of world issues. Not too mention, he has the most advanced prosthetics on the market, even if they're expensive."

A waiter came in the room, and placed a glass of red wine in front of each of them, then quickly took his leave.

"This, is what I hoped to gain."

Nine was confused. "You hoped to gain… wine?"

One let out a short chuckle, "No, though" he paused, taking a sip of the wine, "it is pretty good wine. But I digress. Look at us. The O5s. We've each risen through the ranks of the Foundation, adopting its identity and idealogy as our own."

"But you? You're the Outsider. You're able to give us a different perspective on what we're actually doing, something we desperately need. We're all peering out from beneath the Veil, but you're the only one looking from the outside in."

One paused for a moment, reflecting on his thoughts.

"As for your questions, the answer is no. The Foundation will never be like that, because doing so contradicts what the Foundation is at its core. I'm sure you know about the proverb 'If you play with fire, you get burned.'"

Nine looked puzzled as she replied, "Yeah."

"The anomalous is fire. Sure, man may have been able to tame and use that fire to their advantage, but what happens when that fire can't be put out? When it begins to harm the people it was meant to help? When it becomes too big?"

Nine began to see One's point, "You contain it. Feed it less oxygen, less fuel. But let it still burn."

"Exactly. The anomalous is not always inherently good or evil. Sometimes, the danger isn't the fire, but the people who wield it." He paused, "by the way, you should try the wine. It's divine."

Nine picked up her glass, sniffing the wine. She detected the subtle grape notes along with an unidentified aroma. She took a sip, tasting the liquid gold coursing down her throat.

"It's… delicious."

One smiled. "Imagine if you were a caveman. You would think that it was magic right? Yet, there's a method to it, that once revealed, makes it seem simple."

Nine looked at the wine, "You're saying, everything has an explanation?"

"Not exactly. We're afraid of what we don't understand. Such is human nature. But once we understand what it is, and what it can be, we become more than willing to use it to our advantage."

One took another sip of his wine, smacking his lips.

"Why not destroy those harmful SCPs? Say that we do destroy it. What happens then? Maybe another one appears too, different than the previous one? Or we incur the wrath of something that is beyond our control. We're not the GOC. Look at them now, because of their actions, the Library is forever lost to them.

"Then what about helping others?", Nine asked, taking another sip of the wine.

"Manna does have a noble cause, but it's pointless. Are you expecting the Foundation to keep on helping them till the end of the world? Besides, we would have to update too many systems and protocols, to the point that it would simply be a waste."

"I see your point, which makes more sense. But we are optimised for R&D. Why not push the limits of humanity?"

"Anderson is able to operate at such a high level because he's a businessman at heart. He seeks profit above all, and that is what drives him. If the Foundation were to try and overtake, we would eventually become him."

One took another sip of his wine, before rubbing his eyes slightly.

"I agree with you about the D-Class. It's a horrible thing that we do here, but it is a neccesity. In order to run a organisation like this, you have to be cold. Because as much as our morality may cry out, the fact is, the D-Class provide us with the work needed to keep our Foundation going. No one gave us the power. We decided to create it ourselves."

One locked eyes with Nine, and through that, Nine could see the toll the being the leader of the Foundation for ages had taken on him.

"You're a normal civilian, Nine, with the exception that you accepted that the anomalous exists. That's why I involved you. You're the world that we seek to protect, but never truly understand. You are a reminder to this Council, of what the Foundation stands for, and what it must do."

One pressed the buzzer. "The Foundation acts as the safeguard between the anomalous and humanity. We are the jailer, dying in the dark, so that humanity may live in the light, never fearing what lurks in the shadows."

Just as he finished, a waiter came in with the bill. One looked at the bill with an uneasy smile, and asked, "So… do you want to go halves?"

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