The Permian Unreality
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We were all lost once upon a time.

Then we decided that where we ended up was where we wanted to be.


Countless sunsets had passed since the last time it had seen trees; trees like the ones it remembered, at least. However, in times of desolation, even the strange is preferred when faced with dearth, and after months of an interminable march across barren, frosty lands with the giant, withered ossuaries of beings whose forms it could never imagine, that weary beast felt the typical stroke of enthusiasm of a living soul when it found itself lucky. That palpable luck was heralded by the sight of that strange oasis in the light of that very morning. Its stomach roared with hunger, not having tasted a morsel for too long a time for its own good, and its eyes glistened with what could only be thought of as tears of hope, in the moments when it found that strange waterfall in the midst of that clearing of strange modular trees.

It dipped its snout into the refreshing waters, its toes clutching against the muddy ground in an indescribable ecstasy, as its throat forced a steady stream of water into its weary body. For a moment, its mind had a brief lapse of all the corners where it had once been, so far from home, so far from everything it had ever known. Everything it had lost.

For the first time in who knows how long, life looked promising.

"At last. After so long, life looks promising" Carwraith thought to himself the moment his feet stepped into his shoes, as a small hiatus to his morning mental lane.

He immediately stood up and walked to the table, sitting comfortably as he took the ladle from the plate in front of him and took mouthfuls of cereal. Alternating steps between getting dressed and preparing breakfast was an old habit from his college days where he had to squeeze every last drop of time available between his incessant studies and the daily race to get to the bus on time. Despite all the years that had passed between then and now, that habit had persisted.

He was truly a "multitasker," he might say of himself. Or, more appropriately, multitasking was as basic a necessity for him as eating or breathing.

Invariably, true to form, he went over and over in his mind what he was going to say in today's lecture as his jaws used all their energy to crunch mercilessly on the soggy flakes of sugary cereal. Today was a particularly special day, and that was saying something after the last few months he and his faithful henchmen had lived through.

It was the day he was to receive his first group of recruits for Project Oules. All of the listeners at that meeting had been chosen from an assortment of mobile task forces, research teams, containment specialists, and so many other disciplines and positions within the Foundation that for the moment were far off in his memory. Perhaps he could recall them if he decided to occupy his mind with it, but instead he decided to continue to expend his energy and eat breakfast at the pace of his current train of thought.

That conference was special for one more reason than the others, and if Carwraith wanted the effect he had in mind to manifest in the hearts of his new team he had to choose his words too well. The right words to inspire comfort in one of the universe's most terrifying realities, out of the whole host of terrifying truths to which I'm sure most, if not all of them, had ever been exposed.

For a moment, Carwraith compared the malleability of the cereal he was consuming to the malleability of the universe…


For a brief moment, the tired beast thought about how everything flowed as water flows in its throat. It had been a strange time since it found the clearing; something, it didn't quite understand what, gave it space to think and remember. Things that felt all too real despite being imagery and desires of his, memories that felt fuzzy in his memory.

Suddenly, its head lifted in the direction of the strange squawk that distracted its hydration. He turned his head from side to side, sensing that something wasn't right but unable to perceive what it was. It could feel the firm ground beneath its paws and the sound of the waterfall behind the river. But nothing else. Suddenly, he understood. There was no prey. It was practically an island of greenery in the middle of utter desolation and there was not a single animal in sight. It could be just an animal, but even its brief set of intellectual skills screamed at it that this was not to be, that the solitude and silence could only herald danger.


The beast heard the squawk again. This time, it swore the squawk sounded like two animals. Echoes of water, perhaps.

"GRgHraaaoogh!" it heard again.

"Some predator's territory yet to be seen?" it thought in disjointed grunts, having reluctantly grown accustomed to such questionings. After all the time in the wastelands, it was clear to it that it was no longer the apex predator of any situation and being part of the menu of unrecognizable monstruosities had become a disconsolate and irritating reality. It turned its body fully around, this time roaring in defiance of whatever was going to cross glances with it, but where there should have been perhaps one pair of menacing eyes, there were two.

— No, it's not one cable, it's two
They heard the onlookers arriving in the meeting room one at a time. One of them turned in the direction of the source of the groaning, finding a pair of researchers in white coats debating over a projector.

For a moment he wondered how or why, despite all the audio-visual aids available to the Foundation, there were a couple of schoolboys trying to hook up an old-school projector to a heavy gray laptop. But he immediately dismissed it as just an irrelevant detail for something that surely had to be much more important.

As a member of Phi-2, the man had served on missions for a great many sites, and was, perhaps, too aware of how eccentric researchers could become for their own good. The idea was confirmed when, out of nowhere, the researcher stole a kiss from the investigator, who responded by nudging him in a friendly manner, only to turn on the laptop on the rusty makeshift table.

If that obvious lack of professionalism was, in fact, some way to camouflage the importance of the meeting, they were taking their role too well. Suddenly the researcher stole a kiss from the researcher before scurrying off across the bleachers with no apparent purpose. The man then lowered his eyebrows, choked with utter discomfort.

"What lunatic hole have I gotten myself into?" he thought to himself with a hint of concern.

It wasn't even a minute after that when the lights dimmed inside the meeting room, the chairs not quite filled. It didn't seem to matter too much, as people kept arriving, visibly in a bit more of a hurry, but not looking too rushed.

If he recalled the invitation correctly, the audience was asked to behave with complete naturalness when arriving, for the sake of confidentiality; and apparently, everyone was taking it very seriously.

The man leaned back in his seat, and decided to turn off some of the alarm bells at what appeared to be a college professorial orchestration. He was sure that even more pressing matters would soon demand his attention.


The pressing appearance of the creature in front of it immediately grabbed all its attention. The beast had learned the hard way not to trust animals whose numbers of legs and heads differed from what it understood any living thing should have. So, despite not looking threatening at all, the beast was quick to infer that it was a menace.

At just under half its size, the strange creature resembled a green reptile with two long necks branching from its rounded body supported by three long-toed legs, each neck supporting an ovoid head with curious eyes. The strange creature squawked again with one of its jaws, and then with both, as if trying to make the beast in front of it react.

The beast roared at it.


— Raaaaauwwhr! - Coltz yawned as he stretched his arms, making himself more comfortable on his seat as the lights in the meeting room suddenly went out.

— Can you at least keep a little decorum? - Ashton retorted in disgust, one of Coltz's arms having deliberately bumped her shoulder.

— Caaaalm doooooown, mate! We were told to act casual," Coltz replied with audible nonchalance.

— Acting casual doesn't mean appearing like you' re just waking up. Whatever it is, please show some respect," Ashton shot back, waving Coltz's arm out of her seat.

— All right, all right! But what a temper you have - Coltz countered, settling further back in his seat in a posture that indicated he was going to pay attention.

— Thank you - Asthon replied with disdain.

Finally, after two minutes of unintelligible murmuring in the room, the podium lit up and a third researcher in a lab coat entered the room through the back door, a long pointer in his hand. The man stood in the middle of the stage with a jovial smile that contrasted hilariously with the deteriorated appearance of his pink skin carpeted with burn scars. After clearing his throat a bit to signal for silence, he introduced himself the moment the voices quieted down to listen to him.

— Well, I see we're all here. That's a relief - the gray-haired man on one side and deep black on the other announced as he took the pole microphone in front of him.

There were a couple of clangs of metal and uniforms, and the audience turned behind them for a moment to find that, without any warning, the researchers who had set up the projector had closed the doors to the meeting room and locked them. The couple gave the man a thumbs up and he nodded with satisfaction.

— If I'm wrong, I'm very sorry for anyone who didn't make it in time," the man said with a light chuckle as he closed, followed by a brief simultaneous chuckle from his audience. - Well, it's time to begin. Good afternoon, I introduce myself; I am Dr. Erick Carwraith from the Department of Parazoology, and I thank you for your attendance today.

The projector was turned on at that moment, projecting on the wall the emblem of your division, uncomfortably cut off by the shadow of Dr. Carwraith.

— As you may well recall from your training, our division is responsible for cataloging, tracking and studying Reality Restructuring events or "CK Events", as well as anomalies causing or resulting from them. This, of course, implies unrestricted access to all Foundation files, regardless of your previous level of access. So if the tests for applying to this project seemed rigorous to you, I assure you that you will find it all perfectly understandable at the end of this presentation.

Dr. Carwraith walked to stage left, as a series of slides illustrated certain anomalies and sites, familiar to some, unfamiliar to others.

— Those with 4/2000 clearance and the like are surely having tachycardias right now. Yes, all of their top secret anomalies will remain accessible to members of this division. No, not all of them are relevant to our mission, but we have proven before that any of them could easily be restructuring evidence that we are committed to investigate or else be a false lead that we should discard. So think of this new freedom you have to know everything as a necessity and not a privilege of any kind; believe me, there are things in there that I would seriously like to forget. So relax, no one is going to come and shoot you in the head for speaking freely about what you know about your anomalies.

There was a particular tension in the air. A couple of spectators in the background were already breathing heavily, while a female researcher on the left was covering her mouth, on the verge of holding back sobs she didn't want to let out, and a certain agent in the background was clinging with all his might to the arms of his chair. Carwraith was silent for a few moments, waiting for the higher-ranking ones to calm down, while the lower-ranking ones looked at each other and their higher-ranking counterparts with looks of sympathetic confusion.

Finally, when he saw several of them finally applying the breathing exercises they had learned in training, he decided to continue.

— Well… Whew! That was quite a moment, wasn't it?

Carwraith asked his audience with a certain humorous air along with a high-five with his burnt hands, to which many responded with relieved laughter. A space for trust was something no one would expect within the Foundation. Some smiled, others just breathed a sigh of relief, the heavy atmosphere finally lifting, for many present, for the first time in years.

— Well, moving on. To many of you with the level of clearance to read certain archives of past restructurings it will seem that the primary mission here is to prevent them from happening. It will seem to you that we are the heroes within the commune of heroes who are charged with keeping reality as it is. Guardians of sanity and normalcy," said Carwraith, as he saw a couple of task force members nodding somewhat stoically.

Carwraith almost regretted having to bring them down from their cloud so abruptly.

— Well, I regret to inform you that those are romanticized lies. Yes, one of our missions is to help avoid them, but we cannot avoid them all, and we certainly should not. Our primary mission is to study and understand them, for as impossible as it may sound, changes in reality are, like the anomalous, a substantial part of the natural world.


There was no possible way that being could be part of the natural world, and yet there it was, bobbing its heads to the rhythm of the wind while not taking one of its pairs of eyes off the beast.

The beast was restless, it was afraid, and above all, it was hungry. It would hunt this animal that did not reach its shoulders, as it had already done countless times since it had arrived at the oasis, several years ago.

It followed its first instinct, the primordial desire for meat, and pounced on the little animal.

"Grroiorgh!!!" the little animal shrieked in terror as it gave an impossible diagonal leap, trying to evade its pursuer's attack. But it was too late, already one of its sharp fangs had already ripped through the leathery greenish hide. The beast licked the blood from its teeth. It liked the blood, it liked the taste of that meat.

The little animal arched its necks and tried to look menacing, feeling its soft flesh rubbing painfully against the open air. Once again it would have to run away from the old strangers, as it had done with its own many years ago…

— Many years ago, and I might add, many iterations of our Reality, the Foundation took on the mission to contain all things they could find, including of course living things. Wingless pegasus, divine elephants collecting the souls of the dead, tiny pterodactyls, diseases that turn the dead into arachnid beasts , and immense sea serpents hidden in the farthest reaches of the planet. The usual assumption was that these beings were inexplicable whims of the universe, evidence of unknown interveners, or more simplistically the creations of some bender or mad scientist. After all, it's not like some of them can rub elbows with us in the family tree, can't he? - Carwraith uttered and then paused appreciatively, hearing the faint chuckles of the trio of researchers with 3/1000 credentials.

— Well, that was the notion until just a couple of years ago. That's where we come in. Carwraith extended his pointer to the next slide, which illustrated a smooth-looking white feather.

— We started collecting data at the oldest sites we know of, gathered everything we could from their biological anomalies in containment, and did genetic mappings of all living things with readable DNA and so many others that proved quite entertaining challenges - he continued, watching as Dr. Vander and two of her assistants, from the Genetics Department, let out small chuckles as they got the joke.

— We also took readings of the organisms' Hume levels and the results were, to put it professionally, shocking.

A sort of graph appeared next to the image of the plume, which at first appeared to be just a colorful mess of blobs from which protrusions and spikes extended.

— For those unfamiliar, Humes are the measure we use to evaluate reality in a system. What do I mean by this? Well, let's move on to more quantum aspects, so to speak.

The graph expanded above the pen, with three small images appearing above each of the three main peaks.

— At the bottom of known Reality, there is this energy carpet that we know in a very quaint way as Quantum Foam. The manifestation of the entire physical world and the rules that govern it is determined by the height of the foam in the system it represents. If the foam is too low, we get energy; if the foam is high enough, we get matter. And if by chance, the foam rises somewhere in the middle, we get virtual particles, small transient elements that manifest and decay until they disappear when they have produced their effects - Carwraith continued with the explanation, pointing to the image of a beam of light, a puppy and a neon lamp, respectively.

— Now, the uniformity of this foam, which allows matter and energy to distinguish each other and interact normally, can be altered by high energy events that add to or subtract from the height of the base of this foam. It is the height of the base foam that we know as the Humes level, and it is the basis on which all interactions in the physical world maintain their coherence.

Two images, one on each side, appeared to completely overshadow the graph. One was a fossil of a worm-like critter with a pincer-ended trunk and pedunculated eyes, and the other was a stock photograph of a reality bender loose on a metropolitan street, floating on red and green lights.

— Now, that high energy can mean different things depending on the context. It can be a direct intervention of quantum foam base level excitation - he said as he pointed to the shadowy shot of the disruptor - or, as we have seen in the field, with slightly more… persistent interference.

The image of the fossil enlarged to obscure that of the disruptor.

— As has already been seen in many other studies of ontokinetic anomalies and in specific quantum phenomena, the consciousness of living beings plays an undeniable role in the manipulation of reality. The mere perspective of an individual can collapse the light he sees, turn the arbitrary values of a particle collision into certain ones. Reality alterers are the pinnacle of this ability and, in fact, are a fairly consistent conclusion to the malleability of reality itself. If there is a resource, there will be living things that exploit it.

The image of the feather suddenly became visible once again, shrunk and settled on one of the branches of a family tree, next to which were other images that some researchers recognized instantly.

— Under this assumption, the mapping of biological anomalies was based on a simple idea. If life adapted to function as a reality anchor on an extensive scale, it did not only do so at the individual level, or even at the species level. This phenomenon of imposing a state of reality must have occurred at the ecosystem level, a whole set of species and their interactions functioning under the rules that allowed them to function. An imposition of life on Reality itself. So, if reality had been altered before, those surviving species had to preserve not only the genetic history of their alternate evolutionary lines, but also the Humes levels at which their metabolisms were supposed to function, if they were still alive. Soon, perhaps too quickly, we confirmed that assumption.

The archive images at the tip of the branches of the family tree changed to become full-body images of the entities, or at least what they should look like in an optimal state. In one was what appeared to be a winged pig, and very close to it, a winged equine. In the third, farther away in the tree, there was an eerie-looking anthropoid, with myriads of wings sprouting from all over its back..

— We were able to ascertain that several of these biological anomalies in fact belonged to related species and that the deviations of their Humes levels coincided with each other. Thus, we were able to map phylogenetic trees of groups of anomalous organisms that were previously thought to be only loose portions of unsolvable mysteries.

The three images of the winged vertebrates became X-rays of the vertebrates and took center stage on the screen.

— The problem with all this was, basically, that even assuming these beings were remnants of ecosystems wiped out of existence, it didn't explain how they could have survived in our reality without fading into quantum nothingness. Not with all of them at least.

— While it is true that after a CK Event, there will always remain unreversed regions, that there are living organisms in them is a remote and incoherent probability to assume as a rule, given the huge number of anomalous species we have in containment. As a paleontologist figuring out how different types of fossils are preserved in special circumstances, we had to propose a coherent picture that would explain how so many creatures were empowered with the ability to survive in environments that substantially lack the physical laws that made their bodies function in their native iterations of reality

The X-rays disappeared from the screen and video clip began to play.

— That's when our colleague Res. Martinez here," said Carwraith as he waved to one of the researchers at the meeting room doors and the latter returned the gesture with a thumbs-up, "had a great idea to work with. If biological life was so quantum resilient, resilient enough to remain physically present in rewritten timelines and develop anomalous qualities with the help of DNA strands held in virtual particles, that means that biological life had a time of exposure to these phenomena long enough that they could develop ontometabolic mechanisms that would allow them to resist the rewrites in existence. In short, a time in the past when reality was more unstable.

The video clip began to reproduce itself. In what appeared to be a terrarium, a whole planter of plants was set up on a dark brown floor; evidently this was a freshly prepared setup for some kind of test.

— To test the theory, we needed a non-contemporary organism whose nature suggested that it was a representative of some restructured ecosystem, and which had not been exposed to the most recent changes in reality, to assess its resilience to local ontological changes. So we made use of one of our [[[scp-4445-ex|resurrection anomalies to recreate this fossilized organism]]. Those of you in the Paleontology Department will surely have already recognized that this is a Tullimonstrum, a small critter from the Carboniferous waters of Florida, some 300 million years ago. Well, we took one of these, and brought it back to life. We had a theory that if we exposed its biology to our reality, the difference in Humes levels should show up and gradually settle to levels that would allow it to survive at this time. Or else it would disintegrate horribly and we would have the Ethics Committee breathing down our necks," Carwraith added humorously, causing mild laughter from those present and a violent guffaw from the Ethics Committee researcher at the front of the seats, "The results were actually a bit more interesting than that.

In the video clip, a woman in a mobile task force outfit wearing the Omega-12 emblem carried a white box in her hands. She placed it on the floor, opened it delicately, and walked a couple of steps away. That same agent was in the middle of the audience, watching the video and those present with enthusiastic anticipation.

In the recording; what appeared to be floating gel came out of the box; and inside it, a live Tullimonstrum swam excitedly. As the critter swam, the area of the gel in the air increased, at which point the lady in the suit raised her hands and placed her palms on the gel, causing it to diminish.

— What you are seeing right now is not any direct anomalous quality, neither produced by the Tullimonstrum or its resurrection process. The small animal's Hume levels were significantly higher than the reference, but it was not consciously warping reality. We know this because it did not manifest the Humes spikes that altering entities exhibit when rewriting reality.

In the recording, it appeared that the agent received a command and quickly withdrew, allowing the small vermiform animal to swim freely throughout the enclosure.

— The gel in the air is the water of the atmosphere, altered by the local reality of the Tullimonstrum to behave as it should have in its original environment. Facultative imposition of objective reality, produced by an organism without ontokinetic qualities. Expose an organism to its natural environment, and it will be no less mundane than any other. But take it out of its usual area of physical laws, and it will involuntarily modify the rules of the environment in which it finds itself. Yes, you can imagine that we came to that conclusion because of what happened next.


What happened next was predictable, but no less terrible. The beast leapt again towards the little animal, this time trapping it in its jaws, shaking it violently and whipping its body against the ground while the agonized creature exhaled its last shrieks of agony, heard from all corners of the thick pine forest. It was not a new cacophony, but it definitely reached the ears of all forest dwellers with a certain irremediable dread.

The beast roared triumphantly, and proceeded to consume its prey as it had done countless times in that forest clearing. It was the place where it had been born after all, and even without knowing why, it let itself be comforted by the knowledge that it was in its midst, at home, among the very pines among which it had run all its life. A beast in its home, and that was all that mattered..

But then the ground shook, and the beast felt in its nostrils a stale, detestable scent.

It looked before it, and a column of molten scarlet rose high above, its glowing hot liquid frosting the nearby trees and causing them to burst into flame. the living creatures flew in terror, and the whole forest awoke amidst cries and shrieks of terror. The ground shuddered again, and the beast fell to its knees and elbows, watching helplessly as a huge crack opened up in the ground and swallowed everything beneath it.

After millions of years of peace, it had reached to the end of the forest.

— In the end, after a long deliberation we decided to allow the Tullimonstrum to remain and alter the terrarium environment, with the purpose of documenting all the changes it made.

The video clip sped up what seemed like days in a matter of seconds until it paused, now showing an unrecognizable environment. The entire terrarium space was filled with the same purple gel that the Tullimonstrum seemed to summon and the plants had deformed into bizarre, animalistic appearances. The little animal swam with glee everywhere inside its own piece of reality.

— Two weeks later, and the entire ecosystem we had planted had been modified in every aspect. The plants were deformed, both physically and genetically into unrecognizable species. We believe they mimicked the appearance of unknown invertebrate species that fed the Tullimonstrum. And the soil itself had changed in chemical composition. The mere prospect of this organism had rewritten the rules and forms of space and life around it.

Those present were silent, many of them already sensing what was next, as they merely watched the small prehistoric being swim in the strange airs.

— Naturally, such an invasive modification of the environment was not to be an impediment to other organisms. So we began introducing species from our local reality to test the reactions of space and biota resulting from two weeks of retroactive exposure.

In the video clip, the woman in a suit walked into the altered space with what appeared to be a plant in her hands. The woman gave a small scream and the plant fell to the ground. Its appearance had warped to take on the appearance of the surrounding flora by the time it hit the ground.

— We started with plant life, but any plant we entered quickly changed until it became like those present inside the terrarium.

The recording sped up a few hours in split seconds and the woman in the suit entered the terrarium again, this time carrying a glass in one hand. She stopped in the middle of the terrarium and touched her ear with the other, apparently talking to someone.

— Then we tried smaller animals; insects, worms, small invertebrates. They all disappeared after the first few seconds of exposure to the altered reality. Then Martinez made the observation that our Omega-12 guest had not vanished into thin air and had not reported to us the need to use her ontokinetic abilities to avoid it. So we tried another kind of animal.

In the video clip, out of the throbbing bushes, on the hardened ground, a small white rabbit made its appearance.

— We started with organisms similar in size to the Tullimonstrum, such as this rabbit. The rabbit behaved normally, with no difficulty breathing despite the disturbed atmosphere. However, it did not seem to show any interest in plant life, but we persevered in trying to observe whether the rabbit, like the Tullimonstrum, exerted any kind of retroactive change in the immediate environment. Unfortunately we observed no change and two days later we had to take him out to feed him.

— When we checked its Humes levels, we did not appreciate any change. At first, I suggested that the rabbit's apathy was due to the appearance of plant life, and that translated to it not trying to interpret the environment as a food source. We then tried a more generalist feeding organism, with the intention of discovering whether there would be trophic interactions between species in two different ecosystems.

In the recording, a crow flew into the terrarium, perching on one of the strange plants, which despite looking thin to the point of disturbing, held the bird's mass well. The crow cawed repeatedly, drawing the attention of the Tullimonstrum, who proceeded to swim away. The crow took flight in its direction, and in an unexpectedly aggressive manner, caught the Tullimonstrum in its talons, pecking it in mid-air.

The small vermiform being writhed and shrieked in pain, suddenly ceasing to move as its limp body and the raven fell to the ground. The mass of the corpse had suddenly been affected by gravity. The raven quickly rejoined and continued eating, while the purple gel vanished into nothingness and the throbbing plants returned to static green vegetation.

For a few seconds, the crow continued to eat until suddenly the camera began to shake and fell face first to the ground, leaving the screen in darkness. There was the sound of concrete cracking, the floor shaking, metal bars falling, and the crow cawing in terror.

— Now you're wondering what happened next, aren't you? Well, to put it simply, the crow became strangely aggressive and killed the Tullimonstrum. We have a few theories on this; without romanticizing too much, we assume that the crow perceived the Tullimonstrum as a foreign agent and calculated it as a threat. Hume measurements of the event indicate that the local reality returned to normal levels the moment it stopped moving. Five seconds later, and all of the facultative imposition had reversed… and that somehow caused a 2.5 on the Richter Scale earthquake throughout the area - Carwraith added with disappointment.

— The observation of our colleagues in the Extrarreality Department is that the retroactive accumulation of reversed and reimplanted kinetic events built up immense pressure on the terrain we tested. And if the reversal of a space the size of a small terrarium caused an earthquake, what would become of larger habitable areas? What would become of entire ecosystems having hostile interactions like these?

The video clip disappeared and a timeline appeared on the screen with a date marking a red area of the screen.

— Still checking the Humes markers of all the soil layers and period fossils at our disposal, but initial results point to the fact that sometime 250 million years ago, there was a global ontological collapse produced by these interactions between biospheres - The timeline amplified the section marked in red and a large number of fossil images appeared on the screen - 250 million years ago, a strange conjunction of catastrophic events resulted in one of the greatest ecological crises in the history of the Earth. The Permian extinction.

The images disappeared and the timeline returned to an appreciable size, now with multiple lines on the sides, each topped with the silhouette of some kind of animal. Most of them were cut off after the red line.

— We now hypothesize that the extinction rate of that event, currently estimated at 90% of all life on Earth, is but a small fraction of a much larger cataclysm. Multiple states of reality, multiple biospheres ontologically antagonistic to each other, wildly contending for a place in existence. And after that war between ecosystems, the victors, our biosphere, had to face the resulting planetary disaster. We call this hypothetical prehistoric battlefield The Permian Unreality, and it could be the watershed of much greater unknowns.

Murmurs, silent curses, and gasps of realization were heard.

— They must be imagining that either this cataclysm stabilized objective reality enough that it will not happen again, or that these restructuring events are cyclical and obey branching mechanisms of causality that we are just beginning to imagine.

There was a solemn pause that no one dared to interrupt even with a breath.

— It is these mechanisms that we are going to study here. All the anomalous, all the apparently supernatural, and their interactions on the world, could well be the remnants of these conflicts between states of existence clashing against each other and struggling to exist. Some prevail, others disappear. And some more persevere despite changes in dominance and become what we call Anomalies. Our job in Project Oules will be to study how these changes work. To understand them, to record them, and if existence itself allows us, to predict and avoid them.

The doors of the meeting room burst open, startling the most sensitive of the listeners.

— Now that you know this, that our entire reality may well be a transitory state, that the lines between the normal and the supernatural will no longer be so clear to you, you have a decision to make. You can walk out that door, take a dose of amnestics and continue as effective and courageous members of the Foundation. Or you can stay, and join us on this journey into the unknown.

No one rose from their seat.

Carwraith smiled proudly.

— Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Project Oules.

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