Research Station 1D [IC]
Rob looked out at the rolling scenery. Even though the land was relatively flat here, the height of the trees still varied to some hidden metric, growing shorter, sparser, and browner here, bursting out in green splendor there. One of the best ways to measure long term anol levels was to look at how the ecosystem was effected. One of the mysteries of how it functioned was the way it seemed to have levels, as the anthropic effect warred with random mutations that caused cancer or cell death.
On the miles long ride to the research center, Rob took full advantage of his first opportunity to really see the effect up close. He frequently referred to the heavily notated materials in his lap, and the anolmeter and biologic badge. He watched the average readings slowly tick up, swaying with the terrain outside.
In the jeep were two people returning to base, himself, and another new recruit. Halfway through the drive, one of them had turned around and had to given each of them their new biologic badges. They were probably the most direct application of genetic engineering they had produced so far. A square, black badge with nine wells with reflective backing, they wells were filled with a species of genetically engineered bacteria, with a fluorescent protein introduced into their genome at the wrong place. Under normal circumstances, the individual wells would be dark. However, as the anol level rises, the error would be corrected, and the wells would start to glow. It was in no way foolproof, but in conjunction with several other methods, it could give a very good idea of the relative activity.
Rob turned to the guy next to him, the new recruit. “Genetic engineering, right? What are you going to work on all the way out at the station? I’m going to be charting the anol, finding the specimens you guys like to pick apart.”
Kyle Sanders tried not to let his excitement show too much. He couldn't wait to get started, to actually work with Anol and conduct the studies that may revolutionize the existence of human beings. It was no joke, not at all. He gazed out the window, lost in thought, as the seemingly chaotic landscape flew by. Some trees and grass were green as the most lush rainforest, and yet others were brown, sick and dying. If this was how the mysterious force here effected plants, he could only imagine what he would see under a microscope. He looked forward to experimenting with the genetics of various animals, looking into the effects of Anol on the human genome, even to possibly militarizing the substance.
The man next to him...what was his name? Rob he thought. He wasn't quite sure what Rob did, come to think of it. He wondered if they might end up working together on some projects, and found he'd like a lab partner who actually knew a few things about genetic engineering. So lost in thought was Kyle, that he almost didn't hear Rob when he said Genetic engineering, right? What are you going to work on all the way out at the station? I’m going to be charting the anol, finding the specimens you guys like to pick apart.
"Me? I'll be looking into the effects of Anol on a variety of biological species. I'll also be looking into using the stuff as a biological agent, perhaps to aid in genetic engineering and also possibly militarizing it...It's possible through genetic modification we may be able to have some control over the mutations it causes--the military would just love that. It's all hypothetical right now though, but just imagine the impact succesfully harnessing this force could have for the human race. I'm Kyle, by the way. Dr. Kyle Sanders." He extended his hand, offering a kind smile, the excitement he felt not quite escaping the look in his eyes.
"Robert Chaus." He smiled, and shook the offered hand. Turning to the two in front, he asked when they would arrive.
"We'll be there in about two minutes. You'll drop your stuff off in your assigned rooms before suiting up and heading out into the deep anol with us. We've found that sudden, harsh exposure to anoll helps with adjustment. It's like when you start excercising for the first time in a while. Your muscles are healed up, fueled, and all unscarred. Then, the next day you're fighting through that days workout and yesterdays. But unlike with excercise,, anol has a mental as well as physical aspect." She looked back at us and smirked. "Sweet dreams tonight."
The car turned off onto a driveway, and the station complex was revealed from behind the forest. The gray slab of the research complex was set back from the road by several dozen yards, and was blocked off by an imposing concrete wall. Unsettlingly, several deep scratches, som almost reaching the top of the wall, marked the concrete by the gated entrance. Set back farther along the road was the lab, protected by a similar fortification. They drove through the gate and into the garage. All of the necesary tools to build or repair vehicles was lined up on one wall, while several jeeps, motorbikes, atvs, and other vehicles lined the garage floor. Solid steel blast doors allowed entrance to the restof the complex.
They parked and everyone got out. "Meet us here in 20 minutes suited up and ready to go."
Rob stretched, and opened the trunk to get his two suitcases that had all the stuff he would need during his stay here. "What room are you in? I'm in room 14. First basement, fourth room."
"anol has a mental as well as physical aspect. Sweet dreams tonight." The comment slightly unnerved Kyle. He couldn't help but wonder just how the Anol would effect him. He watched as they pulled up to a sprawling complex, littered with vehicles such as ATVs, jeeps, motorcycles (his guilty pleasure), and so many tools a mechanic would probably have an orgasm just walking into the room. The second Kyle stepped out of the vehicle, he stretched his arms behind him, cracked his neck, and peered around, his heart beating with excitement. His first foray into the unknown. He thought his heart might burst on the spot.
"What room are you in? I'm in room 14. First basement, fourth room." Kyle heard Rob as they stood side by side. Snapped back to the situation at hand, he turned to Rob, arching an eyebrow. "You're kidding me?" he said with a chuckle. "I have room 15; looks like we'll be neighbors." He peered into the trunk of the jeep, looking at the one lone suitcase that belonged to him. He hadn't packed much at all. Then again, he didn't think he'd really need much anyway.
"Well, looks like we better get moving. I'd hate to be late and get people pissed off at us our first day, wouldn't you?"
"Yeah, the importance of being punctual has been beaten in my head since I was a kid." Walking towards the imposing blast doors, Rob opened them outward and let Kyle through. The door opened onto a concrete landing lit by yellow flourescent bulbs. Rob thought he could hear the sound of people from the next floor. He started down the stairs. "So where you from? I'm from ohio. Honestly, I don't think that the forests around here look too different from the parks I've been in at haome, disregarding their tendency to die off at regular intervals. My allergies have felt a lot better ever since I got here. My dad used to say that if you could live in southern ohio, you could live anywhere."
Pushing through the door at the bottom of the steps, he was greeted by brightly lit and clean hallways. From the stairwell, a short hallway stretched to their left and right, bending ending at bends that held the other six rooms on the floor. In front of them was the bathroom doors, leading into the bathrooms for both sexes.Surprisingly, the space was relatively luxurious, as there was floral trim along a stripe, edged with wood, at around waist level on the walls. The floor was carpeted in the "dark abstract stain pattern" that was the default for people who didn't want to think too hard on their carpet choice. Moving down the hallway to their rooms, they saw that they got faux wood doors with a wooden plaque with their room number
next to it. "Pretty snazzy acomodations. I wonder why they went all out on a military installation?"
Opening his door, he saw that the room had a light, a fan, two desks, two dressers, and two beds. Putting his packs down, he saw that the room was unocupied.
"Indeed, I'm surprised; much more than I was expecting. You know, this looks more like a resort of some kind than a military base." Kyle paused, looking around as they headed towards their quarters. He followed Rob into his room, surprised to see two beds. He arched an eyebrow, but said nothing. He wondered if they were going to be assigned a roommate or something. He shrugged the thought off before answering Rob's question.
"Ohio huh? I've never had the pleasure of visiting myself, though I knew a guy who was from there when I was a kid. I'm from Alaska myself, but I ended up having to move away to get my degree in genetics. You'd think, with all the military bases up there, Alaska would have a genetics program but I guess they don't. Or didn't when I was living there anyway." He watched as Rob dropped his suitcases down, and decided he ought to do the same in his own room.
"Hey listen Rob, how about I meet you in a minute; I better drop off my own bag and get...."suited up" too."
"Oh, sure. I'll be heading upstairs soon. I want to see everybody before we leave." Rob started unpacking his suitcases, leaving his shoes by the door. The clothes he dumped in his dresser, and he put all of his other stuff on the his desk. Grabbing the pack of things he took into the anol as a matter of course, he started upstairs.
Passing through the stairwell, h peeked into the first door. It looked like a general common room, and several people were situated around the room. Done up in warm colors, the open floor plan could be changed by moving rolling partitions, or the entire room could be bisected with a collapsible wall. A variety of comforatble looking chairs littered the floor, and there was a bar and kitchen area of to one side. Four TVs were situated arounfd the space, and along one wall seemed to be a cabinet for games. A row of benches procided access to computers.
A mix of people were sitting around the room, chatting it up, watching a game, or playing an old videogame. Stepping in, he was greeted by the group closest to him, who seemed to be playing a game of poker.
The first one who spoke wasthe woman, who looked like she was winning. "Hey! One of the new guys here?"
"Yeah, my names Rob. Playing poker?"
Another guy spoke up, directly to the left of the woman. "Awsome. Time to play a hand? My names James."
Navigating his way to their table a couple of yards away, he checked his watch. "No, i've only got ten minutes before I have to leave, and I don't know how to play."
"Ah, that's okay. First time heading into the deep end, yeah? My first time was a treat. Laid out for a week, moaning like a bitch the entire time."
"J, stop scaring the newbie." The woman looked back at robert. "Don't worry about it. Most people are justed knocked down for a day or two, like they have a really bad case of the flu. Most people don't even vomit. Just to be safe, don't eat anything till tomorow. My names Laurel, by the way."
"Sounds fantastic. Not that I'm complaining, but why do they have the station done up so nice? It seems pretty... awsome for a military installation."
"I know right? It's connected to the whole mental part of the anol. Their theory is that they can stave off depression and aggression by getting a lot of people together and keeping the place nice." she said.
"Yeah, and don't forgt they're trying to keep everyone from going insane and axecrazy. How do you think the third base got offed? All their precautions and they couldn't stop someone witha gun. And it's not like they couldn't see the signs. The first two bases, with only three or four people, in solid concrete bunkers, dim lights, danger hounding in on all sides, it's a wonder somebody didn't crack beforehand." James leaned in closer. "Brass has a habit of ignoring things until it's too late. All the abandonments were preventable. You know what I think? This bases doom will be the dreams. I've been snooping around, started connecting pieces. Mark my words, when the fall comes, they'll figure out some clever way to fix it." James leaned back.
Lairel twisted her face, punching rob in the shoulder."Stop it J. It's not funny." She turned to Rob. "Honestly, you've got nothing to worry about. Did you know that Anol levels are actually lower inside the base than outside it? And it's not a local thing. You can actually see the A-meter tick upwards when you sticknit out a window."
"Really?" Rob said.
"Yeah, i can show you right now in fact." She said.
"Hey, don't you need to get going?" James said.
"Oh, yeah, thanks. Maybe some other time?" Rob said.
"Oh yeah, definitely." She said.
Rob exited the room feeling uneasy. It didn't escape his notice that when he looked back as he went through the door that Laurel was berating an irate looking James.
Kyle went into his room, gazing around at an exact replica of Rob's. It was like a friggin' apartment building, more than a damn military base. He unpacked what little he brought with him, tossing clothes into a dresser and placing out a few items from home--a picture of himself with a young woman who looked remarkably like him, bright smile radiating softly even in the still image--among them. This, he placed on the nightstand. He then stepped into the hallway, and headed upstairs.
As he walked through the halls, he heard Rob chatting with someone. Kyle decided to see what was going on, so he followed the voices until he came to a room that looked very much like a lobby, with games and a large TV, people playing poker, or just talking. He walked up just in time to see Rob getting ready to leave. "Oh hey Rob; making new friends?" Kyle asked, noticing the woman who was glowering a the guy at her table. "Hey guys" he said, offering a wave.
"Oh yeah, this is Laurel and this is James. This guy is Kyle" Rob made the introductions. "I don't know what they do, but Kyles a geneticist and a newbie as well."
"Hi Kyle." They chorused.
[Insert conversation between Kyle and co.]
"Anyways, now we'd really better go. It was a treat meeting both of you, I can't wait to see everybody else in the base." Rob said, checking his watch. Fairly dragging Kyle into the stairwell, Rob waited for the door to close before talking. "They're afraid the base could get destroyed because of the dreams."
Kyle frowned at Rob's words. Dreams? He hadn't been told about any dreams. Then again, it's not like he was told much before being shipped off to this place. Top Secret and all that, need to know basis. So, when Rob said "They're afraid the base could get destroyed because of the dreams" a puzzled look crossed his face, seemingly darkening his eyes.
"What dreams do you mean, Rob?" he asked as he followed alongside him. "I wasn't told anything about dreams...does Anol exposure cause sleepwalking or something? If it does, that will make my research even more interesting indeed...although what sort of dreams could cause the destruction of an entire military facility? I mean, there's armed soldiers out here for heaven's sake, it seems to me it would be quite hard for dreams or even a semi-psychotic sleepwalker to do any real harm."