Observer - A retrospective and analysis of the development of spectrology from 1944 to 2024

A retrospective and analysis of the development of spectrology from 1944 to 2024 – Observer Journal 04/24

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A retrospective and analysis of the development of spectrology from 1944 to 2024

Dr. Dariusz Addams
Site-PL-55 (director)
Department of Mythology and Folkloristics


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Prof. Jacenty Banaszek (1902-1990)

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the late Professor Jacenty Banaszek's research mission. In his book published in 1954, "A Contemporary Look at the Ghosts of the Past. Collected Spectrological Research," he wrote rather poetically that by the end of the war, especially during and just after the Warsaw Uprising, spectral activity had reportedly become "almost palpable; buzzing through the air like electric bees, rapidly crumbling the walls like time awakened." This rather grim branch of thaumatological research could, unfortunately, only flourish fuelled by the blood of millions of victims. The first date in Prof. Banaszek's diaries — fourth of April 1944 — is not coincidental; the four is not only the sign of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but also symbolizes death in cultures of the Far East|

Director Addams sighed deeply. The years ending in 4 had never been the most enjoyable. In 1994, he fell out with his brother and broke off contact with his family (he also remembered that he was very annoyed that he couldn't afford to go to the movies often; it was a good year for Hollywood, but not for him). In 2004, after two years at the Foundation, at his first major assignment, he nearly got demoted to Class D because he told a sad little girl about Santa Claus on Christmas Day, and in those days the Foundation's employee culture was much more cruel (not that it isn't now, though at his own facility he tried his best. He shuddered at the thought of what he had heard about some others). In 2014, he got transferred to Poland because of his descent and language proficiency (that probably speaks for itself, he thought, smiling bitterly). 2024, though only two months long, has been pretty okay so far, except for the covid that has been tormenting him lately (at least it wasn't as severe as the variety that raged three years ago). He coughed and began to write on.

symbolizes death in cultures of the Far East. While this is a fairly significant number, even in the context of the classification of spectral entities itself, where four main classes (and, in rare cases, an additional fifth) are distinguished, it is a purely statistical anomaly, caused by a regular human penchant for patterns and references.

In his most important work, Professor Banaszek described and standardized four basic types of spectral entities, creating a scale that has become a basis for modern spectrology. This scale classifies entities according to two main factors: their corporeality (degree of anchorage to baseline reality) and degree of consciousness, as opposed to the Hollow-Kessler scale, which classifies entities in terms of aggression, or the Barratt scale, which focuses on individual manifestations' skills and behavioral patterns. Accordingly, it is presented as follows:

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Orbs visible in a photograph.

  • Class I"Orb" — They are more traces of human consciousness than actual shreds of it. They show no signs of awareness and manifest as anything from bright spheres of light to pale flares invisible to the naked eye, which when photographed are almost indistinguishable from dust on a camera lens. Orbs manifest in places with which strong emotions or particularly important or clear memories of any person, not necessarily dead, are associated. For this reason, their only "ability," or rather, a side effect, is to affect the mood of people in the vicinity. They consist of pure, passive spectral energy, averaging between 1 and 20 BSD1. Cf. "St. Elmo's fires", "will-o-the-wisps", SCP-PL-006-02.|

Orbs… an anomaly so harmless that it didn't even need to be covered up. Scientists came up with enough perfectly normal justifications that trying to cover up anything was more suspicious than allowing tourists to see mysterious lights in the Texas desert. In truth, the entirety of spectrology was considered an anomalous science only because the ways to study it so far had been invented in the Foundation's scientific circles, and it was still not yet advanced enough to be meaningfully introduced into the official sciences…. well, and there were also the truly anomalous communities associated with it. Not to mention how many people in science categorically opposed the idea of a "soul" or "afterlife."


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A wraith in a cemetery.

  • Class II"Wraith" — the manifestation most often referred to as a "ghost," commonly found in abandoned buildings and near cemeteries in the form of a white haze shaped like a human silhouette or in some other equally "vague" form. The wraiths are, to put it bluntly and colloquially, "more on the other side," making the reality around them slightly diluted, thus causing commonly reported temperature drops in the immediate area and other similar irregularities. They are rarely aware of their situation, although it is possible to communicate with them in simple terms. They usually repeat movements associated with activities frequently performed during their lifetime and are only able to move along familiar routes, often resulting in passing through closed doors or even solid walls. For the most part, they are unable to manipulate objects from the baseline reality, nor are they threatening to humans. Wraiths, in line with popular folklore, arise when a person in agony does not feel "fulfilled" (for example: failed to reconcile with someone important to them, failed to fulfill their life purpose, died a tragic death2 et cetera). 20-50 BSD, in extreme cases up to 55 BSD. Cf. SCP-5729, "white ladies", "ghosts caught on camera".

1. Banaszek Spectral Density. Anecdote has it that the professor, a modest man by nature, did not want to name the unit after himself alone, as, for example, Hume or Daumal, considering it to sound "not proud enough." After a long discussion with an assistant, he agreed upon the acronym currently in use.|

2. For this reason, the so-called Spectrological Revolution took place between 1942 and 1950.

What a load of nonsense, he thought, adding a footnote with the anecdote. The professor was known for his abrasiveness, lack of tact and respect for the families of the dead, as well as mistreatment of assistants. Addams knew this because his supervisor while writing his doctorate was Banaszek's successor, Dr. Agnieszka Rossi. She had happened to malign "that sleaze" more than once and more than twice, after which she breathed a sigh of relief that he had so carefully safeguarded himself from leaving any remnants of himself in the spectral field that, after he kicked the bucket, a Spengler pump had to be used to pour in some orbs to keep reality from destabilizing. If any conversation about nomenclature took place at all, it was rather to convince the professor to use a simple abbreviation, because "a ghost with a density of thirty banaszeks" sounds absolutely idiotic.

The anecdote was superimposed by the people who instructed him to write this article for the Observer, because, after all, he had to do something, he can't be doing nothing on sick leave, this isn't a corporation. Thinking about it, he came to the conclusion that there must have been at least one cryptocommunist and a PRL enthusiast on the National Council, but he had a hard time guessing which member it might have been. They had all held the post since at least 1945, if they hadn't previously served on other countries' councils. He coughed again. You have to focus, he reprimanded himself. The covid brain fog fortunately was not as strong as to keep him from being able to write about something he knew like the back of his hand.


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Salvador Dali during a poltergeist attack. The incident was covered up as a set-up, surreal work by the artist.

  • Class III"Poltergeist" — the name used in both scientific and popular literature for a malicious (and sometimes even hostile) type of entity capable of manipulating material objects and touching, pushing or injuring humans. Poltergeists behave unpredictably and dangerously, and because of their relative ubiquity, it has become customary to neutralize them rather than secure or merely cover up encounters with them. They are more aware of what they are doing than Class II entities, however they can be described as "feral" or " mad." Class III entities with higher BSD (≥67) are also able to manifest themselves in any visual form, often choosing an animal likeness or, conversely,| becoming invisible. Their state of consciousness is characterized by a lack of sense of self and the world around them; with rare successful attempts at communication, it is clear that they do not recognize where they are or what their name is. They are also characterized by a complete lack of emotions other than anger and react with instinctive aggression toward anything that comes into contact with them, often without any justification, possibly mistaking the person in question for their nemesis. Poltergeists are considered the most dangerous type of spectral entities, as they are usually impossible to negotiate with. They commonly arise from the human ego consumed by deep feelings of resentment, anger or hatred, which is why they are most often found in locations associated with traumatic experiences, such as battlefields, sites of great massacres, places of violent crimes and the like. Contrary to popular belief, Class III entities cannot possess humans; they are only able to possess objects. The average density of a poltergeist is between 50-75 BSD. Cf. "RSPK", "thorybism", SCP-4973 (class IV on the Hollow-Kessler scale), "Ghosts of the American Civil War".

Poltergeists have always been the worst motherfuckers.

They appeared relatively frequently, and were almost always detected by civilians before anyone at the Foundation could react to a new phantasmatic signature. Amnesic agents were not cheap or easy to use, but fortunately, belief in ghosts was something both common and treated with condescension by nonbelievers, so the decision was usually made to do without them. Few would believe old Agnes from under five that her dear Harvey came back from beyond the grave and threw plates at the cat, and then the ghostbusters came and spirited him away (sometimes, in cases of less threatening apparitions, the agent claimed to be an exorcist). The worst were the "professional ghost hunters," who risked both their health and the haunting victims' hospitality by recording spectral activity in order to create a sensation. At that point, unfortunately, amnestics had to come into play.

Every cloud has a silver lining, Addams thought, then immediately corrected himself mentally; "silver lining" was a bit of a stretch. However, there was no denying that his introduction to the anomalous world was due to (or perhaps the fault of?) three poltergeist children who died in a limestone cave in his hometown. "The Cave Grave" from Newton, New Jersey, was relatively well-known, even having a mention on Wikipedia. As a kid, back in the 1980s, Dariusz bet his friends that they wouldn't dare go to the cemetery with him and try to summon ghosts. As teenagers do, of course, they didn't let on that they were all a little scared, because, after all, they had to impress their friends. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the summoning was successful; his friend ended up with a broken leg, and he knocked his arm out of joint. They only got rid of the ghosts after jumping over the cemetery wall, when they inadvertently set off the alarm of one of the cars standing nearby. Addams smiled. They must have been very weak apparitions, if a car alarm was enough to prevent them from continuing their pursuit. Usually, you need ultrasound.


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A spirit lying on a bed.

  • Class IVSpirit — the most "tangible", intelligent and present in the baseline reality. Spirits are characterized by a higher level of awareness, which allows them to retain a sense of their own personality and memories of their lives. They are also capable of normal conversation and display a variety of emotions, although many of the older ones show a lack of compassion or sympathy for the living. They also retain a human appearance and are mostly able to possess a human body, as well as manipulate objects and other people around them. In addition, they have a deep attachment to the place where they have died and rarely leave it unless forced to do so, sometimes giving the impression that they are physically unable to move from such a location (although this has been proven to be only a false belief on their part, or in rare cases a problem caused by external factors). They are among the rarest spectral entities, and their behavior is usually more controlled and much less erratic than that of poltergeists. They are most often the result of a very violent death, but only if the ego is not damaged through trauma, as happens with Class II entities. There are also cases in which it is possible for the human ego to become a spirit before death, for example, as a result of a coma. Spirits can sometimes (in about 5% of cases) be created through suicide,| and there are also a few cases in which a person who died under peaceful circumstances became a spirit3. Spirits usually manifest in a form identical to the human form they had at the time of death, though it is not uncommon for them to try to modify it slightly4, and some prefer other types of manifestation (though the explicitly human one is a kind of status display). Spirits can range from ~35 to as high as 150 BSD, making them the most diverse class in terms of density, distinguished more by level of awareness. Cf. ancestor worship, Warsaw Alliance of Anomalous Communities §16, SCP-6501, Shakespearean ghosts, ghost of Queen Esther.

3. This is now believed to be the result of either a high score on the CRV and Sawicki scales of the individuals in question, or the effect of practicing thaumaturgy on their ego.

4. The basic form of a spirit is never marked with signs of its death, but a tendency has been noted in their communities to manifest exaggerated wounds and other features present in dead bodies.

Having finished another page, Director Addams decided to take a short break. He barely recalled any examples outside his hometown anyway; he needed to refresh his mind. He got up from his desk wrapped tightly in a blanket, careful not to let the warm air escape, and turned on the kettle for some tea with lemon and honey. It was already dark outside, and a thin layer of snow was forming in the fields surrounding Site-PL-55. As he waited for the kettle to announce that it had finished with a typical loud pop, he chewed on some kind of sore throat lozenge. He was reminded of the "duorotatory" vitamin C that one of Zimorodek's henchmen tried to sell him a year ago during an undercover mission, and regretted that he didn't keep it, because after testing it turned out that it actually worked better and didn't even make you grow fangs. He poured the boiling water into a mug and looked in the refrigerator. There wasn't a lot to choose from. He pulled out a can of paprika herrings and began to eat them absentmindedly. The only good thing about the illness was that he couldn't smell them.

of cases) be created through suicide,

\]=-p| and there are also a few cases in which a person who died under peaceful circumstances became a spirit3. Spirits usually manifest in a form identical to the human form they had at the time of death, though it is not uncommon for them to try to modify it slightly4, and some prefer other types of manifestation (though the explicitly human one is a kind of status display). Spirits can range from ~35 to as high as 150 BSD, making them the most diverse class in terms of density, distinguished more by level of awareness. Cf. ancestor worship, Warsaw Alliance of Anomalous Communities §16, SCP-6501, Shakespearean ghosts, ghost of Queen Esther.


3. This is now believed to be the result of either a high score on the CRV and Sawicki scales of the individuals in question, or the effect of practicing thaumaturgy on their ego.

4. The basic form of a spirit is never marked with signs of its death, but a tendency has been noted in their communities to manifest exaggerated wounds and other features present in dead bodies.

Shit. He accidentally hit the keyboard when putting down the mug. He quickly tapped Ctrl+Z and, thankfully, everything went back into place. Addams carefully moved the mug to a safe distance from the electronics and sat back down to work despite the late hour, as was his habit.


The previously mentioned Class V is rather problematic; for lack of a better comparison, it is a kind of protist kingdom of spectrology, for it includes all entities that are undoubtedly spectral — arising from the human ego after death or during near-death experiences — but do not fit into the other categories. They are, in short, anomalies among anomalies. A prime example of a Class Five entity is PoI-PL-010 (also known as "Julian S." and — prior to 2021 — as SCP-PL-010-1). He is closest to Class IV, but is much "denser" than the "densest" recorded "fours" — his BSD score is over 350 (by comparison, a healthy, living, nonanomalous person has an average of 500 BSD). He also possesses the ability to create or summon other spectral and otherwise anomalous entities, which is very rare among even the most anchored "fours," yet he is undeniably a spectral entity because, as experiments have shown, he was created from the ego and not from an animated body, such as common vampires, to which he bears a deceptive resemblance5. Several years of experimental release from containment under close observation have proven that he is able to adapt to being part of a diverse anomalous community much better than spirits, who often form isolated cliques and, despite maintaining alliances, are usually unfriendly to other anomalies. According to reports from PoI-PL-771 (Niemir Ruta, AWCY?), who is in charge of the entity's rehabilitation, PoI-PL-010 manifests an interest in contemporary rock music and fantasy literature, having, by amusing coincidence, a particular fondness for the band "Ghost" and Terry Pratchett's books about Death from the "Discworld" series.

julian.jpg

Julian S.


Julian was now staying in the Białowieża forest, rarely moving from there. They were going to take him off supervision in two years, if he didn't suddenly decide to do something extremely hilarious in the meantime, like trying to run away to attack civilians in a big city. But that didn't appear to be the case. Julian was, in fact, the most polite ghoul Addams had ever dealt with. Besides, he was the one who pressured Dr. Pyc (who technically wasn't the director, since 010 was subordinate to Site-PL-55 in its last years of existence, but everyone there listened to her and she made the most important decisions) to try to neutralize the anomaly in this way. After appropriate assessments and a brief conversation with the prisoner, it became clear to him that he should be introduced into some sort of anomalous community, as he posed practically no threat, especially if not let loose. Hm… "with the prisoner." Julian was very … human. This was probably due to his high BSD. He was a full-fledged person, with feelings, dreams, opinions and hobbies; he just wasn't human, at least not anymore.

Some anomalies needed to be secured, that was obvious. You couldn't leave something be that would, upon looking at it, cause the end of the world. Same with objects that strongly threatened to break secrecy (…why, actually?). But some… it seemed wrong to him to keep an essentially pacified person with control over their skills locked up. Supposedly, records from the 19th century indicated cruelty and killing for entertainment, but…. that was so long ago. It was clear that he had changed. "Gravediggers" even enjoyed his annual games. For as long as he could remember, he was almost certain that no member of this task force had ever left the graveyard with any injuries.

Death from the "Discworld" series.
On the other hand, there are also Class V entities that are much weaker than spirits and even poltergeists, but despite their low BSD are, for example, completely conscious. These entities are often mistaken for glimpses of manifestations from other universes, which occur relatively much more frequently than this type of Class V. There are also isolated instances when an entity resembling Class I turns out to be able to communicate with living people, while definitely not being an alternative form of II, III or IV. These are so rare, however, that they were described by Professor Banaszek with only two succinct sentences, which he based on local legends instead of actual observations and research. Since 1954, however, their existence has been definitively proven (Addams et al., 2017). Class V also includes spectral energy left over from animals, fungi, plants and objects, which is highly individualized and varies between individual cases. Cf. animism.


5. The leading theory claims that this is a kind of mimicry and not, as previously thought, convergent evolution.

Overview and history

Although spectral entities can, in principle, be successfully studied anywhere in the world where human habitats are present, a significant breakthrough has been made, as mentioned earlier, in places most affected by wars. This includes not only Poland, but also Japan, and later Korea and Vietnam due to American warfare, as well as virtually all colonial countries. However, research is not conducted in countries currently at war. Former battlefields or concentration camps are a reliable source of genuine spectral manifestations, but most research is still conducted in places such as hospitals or retirement homes, where hidden measuring devices constantly record BSD fluctuations and provide important data to determine what set of traits in a given individual causes a small amount of spectral energy to be left behind, and what causes the ego to transform into a poltergeist or spirit.

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MTF Kappa-3 "Gravediggers" member equipped with a field Spengler trap prior to a neutralization mission after receiving a report of Class III entity activity.

Dr. Edmund Spengler, who worked at the Foundation from 1964 to 1984, is responsible for much of the technology currently used by spectrologists. Based on the somewhat more ethnological observations of Professor Banaszek, Spengler designed the first prototype of his pump back in 1970. Initially, the device was only able to take a sample of spectral energy and measure its parameters at a given location, but this was already a breakthrough in the field. Before that, to record any spectral measurements, one had to use either thaumaturgical means, which involved a high risk of irritation or even destabilization of the entity, or write down the smallest details of changes in temperature and humidity, Hume levels, radio waves and electromagnetic fields for a very long time. Spengler's pump dramatically sped up the process, allowing to focus on other details, such as spectral density, usage of spectral energy in anomalous technology (for example, project Maelstrom)


He facepalmed and quickly typed in the password. The flashing warning message stopped warningly flashing, and the director immediately deleted the entire bracket. How could he have been so stupid! After all, all information about this project was top secret. The doctor wasn't lying when he warned about the brain fog. If he hadn't been sick, he wouldn't have even casually thought of mentioning the name.

such as spectral density, usage of spectral energy in anomalous technology, and, with the development of pataphysics, the influence of spectral entities on Daumal intensity. Today, the Spengler pump mechanism has been upgraded and optimized, making it take up much less space and suitable for use in larger, more specialized devices.

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Dr. Edmund Spengler at the welcome party at Site-43, 1974.


In the late 1970s, Spengler also developed the blueprint for the stasis chamber, now more commonly known as the "Spengler trap," based on a minor theoretical discovery by a former Foundation employee. The stasis chamber was originally designed to temporarily stabilize spectral entities, allowing research to proceed without having to worry about destabilization, escape or damage. This was one of the most important discoveries in spectrology, allowing for a significant increase in research efficiency and the ability to study spectral entities with other Foundation departments, especially when it came to less material entities that needed to be secured.
The stasis chamber itself is a small, almost cubic box, measuring no more than 1m in length, width and height. The cell is equipped with four pumps, two each on two opposite sides of the cube, and a stasis stabilization mechanism. The stabilization mechanism consists of a series of sensors that allow the cell to determine changes in spectral density and even alter it, and a pair of speakers that emit appropriate infra- and ultrasonic waves that can pacify or neutralize an object. The speakers are turned on only when the stabilization mechanism detects a large disturbance in the stasis, and the frequency of their pulses is tuned to the specific parameters of the subject.
A reader with a sharp eye could notice that only the last two photos were in color. Leaving aside Prof. Banaszek's portrait, left in shades of gray for aesthetic reasons, and the photo illustrating a poltergeist attack, taken before the popularization of color photos, the reason is simple. The image of spectral entities in color photos is usually much fuzzier than those taken in monochrome or sepia. In the case of orbs and wraiths, this is partially a problem caused by contrast and white point, which often has to be adjusted before the photograph is included in the documentation. The reason for this phenomenon, which occurs in all spectral entities, is as of yet unknown; a hypothesis claims that it has to do with monochrome cameras absorbing up to three times more light than average color cameras, as well as having a much higher frame rate.
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Photo taken during one of the decisive tests of the stasis chamber prototype. The pump tube is fed into an ordinary suitcase with an appropriate spectrometric signature to provide the visible Class II entity with a gradual, nondisruptive exit from the stasis to the outside world.

This was not quite true. That is, it was, but it wasn't the whole truth. What was true was that spectral entities were much less visible on digital color cameras. What he couldn't write, however, in an article ultimately available to almost all Foundation employees, was that there were also secret, for the time being, ectographic cameras in use, designed specifically to document all sorts of ghosts and ghouls. Admittedly, they temporarily gave everything a greenish glow, but work was being done to get rid of it. Perhaps the news would soon be shared with employees with clearance levels lower than 3, but for the time being he couldn't even hint about them.


Neutralization
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Now rarely used models of portable ultrasonic emitters, used by the Foundation's field agents between 1990 and 2012. Affectionately called "sonic screwdrivers" in reference to the popular TV series Doctor Who.


The neutralization of spectral entities has been mentioned many times in previous paragraphs, but what it consists of has not yet been explained. If neutralization proves to be necessary, several factors should be taken into account. First, the most obvious — the BSD coefficient of the entity in question. The lower it is, the easier neutralization should be. For entities with a density of ≤30 BSD, simply run the pump, then turn on the ultrasonic neutralizer once the entity is in the stasis chamber. Usually, however, entities of this density do not require neutralization; problems arise, naturally, with more powerful entities. Still, the key instrument is the infra- and ultrasound emitter. The reason for this is that all spectral entities emit infrasound, which is usually attributed to the irrational fear induced by ghosts, even when they are not in sight. This fact has been used as the official explanation for ghost sightings by civilians — all unpleasant sensations, "unexplained" vibration of objects and "hallucinations" are supposed to be caused by infrasound coming from somewhere (Tandy, V.; Lawrence, T.; 1998). In fact, the source of infrasound is actual spectral entities. To immobilize them, it is necessary to emit waves opposite to those emitted by the entity, creating a destructive interference — this makes it easier to intercept and secure them. Then, once the entity is in stasis, ultrasound is turned on to destabilize and dilute the entity. Once the procedure is complete, the remaining spectral energy is released back into the environment, or — in the case of particularly powerful beings — all esoteric waste is disposed of at an appropriate facility.
With very dense entities, there is often a need to arrange a thaumaturgic ritual. Task forces are trained for such an emergency, although it occurs very rarely, because even in the event of a threatening Class IV or V spectral anomaly, they are usually individual enough cases that, according to Foundation doctrine, they should be secured, contained and protected for further study.

A quiet knock sounded at the apartment door. Addams hastily found a sanitary mask and, pulling it over his face, called out:

"Come in!"

Someone on the other side pressed the handle and hesitantly pushed the door open. Dr. Ośmiornicki's head, also clad in a mask, peeked inside.

"Sorry to disturb you at such a late hour, but… uh, unfortunately there is something we need you for, Director. In the eighteen."

Addams sighed heavily and, as if to confirm his irritation, a cough came up from his lungs.

"I am sick. I'm in quarantine. Is it really so important to risk exposing the entire containment team of our only Keter to covid?"

"Uh… well, I'm afraid so." Even under the mask covering half his face, Ośmiornicki appeared stressed and worried. His forehead was covered in sweat and he kept adjusting his glasses. "Dr. Krysiak told me to tell you: "Code Devon". I don't know what it means, but you supposedly do."

The director suddenly seemed to stiffen. He felt his veins fill with adrenaline. Suddenly he stood up from his desk, slamming his fist on the tabletop to the point where the teaspoon in the cup rattled, and Ośmiornicki jumped up slightly.

"Give me five minutes to get dressed. In the meantime, you are responsible for turning on all the shields in the hangar and cutting off the exit for anyone and anything. I'll meet you in comms. Go, now!" he waved him off with his hand, quickly finishing his tea and heading toward the bathroom. Dr. Ośmiornicki seemed to want to ask something, but seeing the rush the director was in, he shut his mouth and obediently ran out of the residential area.

Code Devon. Someone has died.

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