GOA Chronicles: Experiments

July 7th, 2049

After the five teams triumphantly returned to the base, their colleagues greeted them with cheers. They shared tales of their fierce battles against formidable creatures at various outposts and the main portal. During the debrief, Russ disclosed a newly discovered power source to the admiral that could potentially sustain the base.

Following the briefing, Donald joined Russ and Roland in Russell’s workshop for a crucial discussion.

“Russ, we need you to start examining these crystals immediately,” Donald instructed. “We need to understand their properties. What enables them to enhance Roland’s abilities? Why do certain creatures harbor them? And how do they power the portals?”

“Donny, you don’t need to tell me,” Russ responded enthusiastically. “I’m eager to dive in and learn more myself.”

Donald placed a large crystal on the workbench with a heavy thud. “This crystal seems lighter every time I handle it,” he remarked. “Either it’s getting lighter, or I’m growing stronger from the crystal Roland handed me this morning.”

“I’d wager it’s the latter, Donny,” Russ agreed.

With that, they decided to end their long and fruitful day. As they went their separate ways, Donald returned home to a warm welcome from his wife and children, who embraced him lovingly, happy that he had returned home to them.

July 8th, 2049

The following morning, Russ was primed to unlock the enigmatic powers of the dark crystals. Positioned at the lab’s center was the massive crystal they had discovered, now ready for scrutiny under a powerful microscope energized by one of its smaller counterparts. Just as Russ was about to commence his analysis, Roland burst in.

“Russ, I’ve brought the dog and cat you requested. And, believe it or not, I snagged a raccoon right outside the base,” Roland announced with a mix of concern and bewilderment in his voice.

“It’s all in the name of scientific advancement,” Russ explained, his eyes alight with possibility. “Imagine harnessing these creatures as powerful allies. That could truly alter the course of this war.”

Roland departed, leaving Russ to his groundbreaking experiment, silently hoping his friend’s theories would prove true.

Russ opened a drawer brimming with small dark crystals, remnants of fallen creatures, and began dictating notes into his phone. “These crystals appear exclusively in creatures akin to Earth’s wildlife, suggesting a mutation effect on our animals,” he hypothesized. Opting for a cautious approach, Russ positioned the crystals just outside the animals’ cages rather than inside, hoping for a slow, steady mutation instead of a quick one by putting the crystal inside the animal.

Leaning on his walking staff for support—a reminder of yesterday’s fierce battle—he noted into his phone, “Continuous exposure seems to amplify inherent abilities. It’s enhancing Donald’s strength, sharpening Roland’s dexterity and focus, and I hope, boosting my own intellectual capacity.”

Finally, Russ turned his attention to the melon-sized crystal under the microscope. As he adjusted the lens, a revelation struck him. “This crystal emits a unique radiation, unfamiliar yet potent. It seems to mutate and enhance organic life, and it’s projecting an electronic pulse that powers nearby devices, seemingly without limit.” Intrigued by its potential, Russ’s mind raced with the possibilities of how this power could change their world forever.

Late in the afternoon, Donald entered the lab to check on his friend. “How’s the experiment going, Russ?” he asked.

Russ looked up from his microscope, his eyes gleaming with excitement. “It’s fascinating. If it weren’t so risky and didn’t require such immense resources to extract these large crystals from the portals, we could potentially reboot our entire world’s technology within a year.”

Russ then requested Donald to bring the admiral to his workshop; he had groundbreaking news to broadcast on his makeshift radio. Acknowledging Russ’s limited mobility due to his injured ankle, Donald promptly agreed.

That evening, the admiral stepped into what had been affectionately dubbed ‘Russ’s crazy lab’. “I hear you’ve got some crucial information for the world,” the admiral said, anticipation in his voice.

Russ nodded. “Absolutely. Not only can these crystals power our electronics, but they can also eradicate the virus that the aliens introduced into our global electrical network. With enough of these crystals, we could not only restore our previous technological capabilities but surpass them, given their seemingly infinite energy potential. This small crystal alone could power our base for a century. The challenge now is configuring the setup.”

The admiral’s eyes widened with hope. “That’s the best news I’ve heard all day! You’ll have whatever resources you need. If you can get this base fully operational, especially communications and weaponry, that would be incredible. I’ll inform my contacts around the world immediately to take out any portal they can in order to acquire more of these dark crystals.”

As Russ leaned on his walking staff to see the admiral out, a sudden flame surged through his arm and through the staff, shooting toward the ceiling. Both men stared in disbelief.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Russ grinned, amused by their astonishment.

The admiral, still processing the scene, managed a smile. “I guess it’s time I started a radio broadcast with the world. Just try not to burn down our base, okay?”

For the rest of the night, Russ attempted to replicate the mysterious flame, but to no avail. Finally, he decided to rest and resume his experiments in the morning, hopeful yet puzzled by the day’s discoveries.

July 9th, 2049

Throughout the night, Russ’s mind wandered restlessly, haunted by the untapped secrets of the dark crystals. Their potential seemed limitless, whispering to him in the dead of night. In the morning, he got up and, with a grimace, leaned heavily on his staff, his ankle throbbing painfully. Suddenly, a surge of raw energy bolted up his arm, channeling through the staff with a fierce intensity. In a frantic effort to control it, he directed the staff toward the ground, leaving a scorched mark etched into the wood. “Interesting,” Russ murmured to himself, “this might just turn the tide in a future skirmish—or at least start a campfire.”

Eager to delve deeper into his experiments, Russ hastened through his morning routine and limped toward his workshop. There, he greeted his latest subjects: a dog with a newly spiked tail, a cat sporting dangerously elongated claws, and a raccoon whose eyes gleamed darkly under a crown of emerging scales. Each creature radiated a growing menace. Recording his observations, Russ noted, “All subjects exhibit violent mutations; they’re becoming increasingly more aggressive.”

He paused his dictation for a moment as if lost in thought, “unfortunately, I believe I know where this is going. These animals will have to be let loose far away outside of the base before they become a threat and harm someone.”

Later that day, Donald burst into the workshop, hardly able to contain his excitement. He hoisted the massive crystal found from the portal, once so heavy it required both hands to move. Now, he lifted it effortlessly with one hand. “Check this out, Russ!”

“I assumed as much when Roland gave you that crystal,” Russ replied, his voice tinged with resignation. Donald, curious, inquired about the animals. Russ shook his head, the weight of his decisions etching lines into his face. “They’re turning hostile, just like the others we’ve encountered in the field. We need something inherently gentle, something that could truly aid us rather than turn against us.”

Donald nodded, understanding the gravity of the situation. “If we can pinpoint the right creature, it might just be the ally we need in combat,” Russ explained.

Russ gave a tired smile. “Donald, could you and Roland take these three somewhere they can’t cause harm. It’s for the best.” Donald nodded, “We’ll do it first thing in the morning.”

July 10th, 2049.

Dawn broke over a desolate future as Donald and Roland navigated their way to Russ’s makeshift workshop, intent on retrieving the trio of mutated animals. Russ, absorbed in a complex blueprint, barely noticed their presence, his focus locked on harnessing the larger crystal to power the base. Sensing the gravity of his concentration, they decided not to disturb him and proceeded with their task.

Donald climbed into the jeep while mulling over a safe drop-off point for the animals. “We need somewhere they won’t pose a threat to anyone—or become threats to themselves,” he mused. Roland, thoughtful, suggested the zoo. “Some of the enclosures are still intact. It’s mostly abandoned, but there are still a few souls braving the desolation to care for what remains.”

Arriving at the zoo, they found it eerily quiet, a ghost of its former self. “Seems like the other animals were taken… probably mutated into weapons,” Donald remarked grimly. They distributed the animals: the cat in an empty cougar enclosure, the dog in a wolf’s den, and the raccoon in a former lion habitat.

As they prepared to leave, the duo stumbled upon the penguins’ habitat, unexpectedly well-kept and vibrant amid the ruin. “Looks like someone’s been looking after these little guys,” Donald observed, noting their healthy appearance. Roland chipped in, “It’s odd, they’re the only animals left… maybe the Chthonians overlooked them or didn’t bother with them.”

Grinning, Donald suggested a wild idea, “What if we took some back to Russ? They’re harmless and might just be the docile subjects we need.” Energized by the plan, they carefully selected three penguins, securing them for the journey back.

Upon their return, the excitement was palpable as they presented the unsuspecting penguins to Russ. His face cycled through a myriad of expressions, reflecting the unexpected turn of events. Donald quickly recounted their expedition and the discovery of the untouched penguins.

Russ, always the visionary, seized the opportunity. “If they’ve been spared by the Chthonians and the chaos outside, they might just be our key to a breakthrough.” He gazed intently at the first penguin. “I shall call you Penguin Zero,” he declared with a mixture of resolve and wonder. “Give me some space now. These transformations need careful monitoring. Plus, I need to focus on integrating this new power source into our grid.”

As Donald and Roland exited, their minds swirled with possibilities. They promised to return at dawn, eager to witness the evolution of Russ’s new, hopeful project.

July 11th, 2049

As the first rays of dawn split the horizon, Donald and Roland raced back to the workshop, their anticipation barely contained. They were eager to see if the penguins had exhibited any changes overnight. Russ, still bleary-eyed from a night of vigilant observation, greeted them with a measured response. “It’s only been,” he began, checking his watch, “eight hours. Remember, it took about a day before we started to see effects from the dark crystals on ourselves.”

Unperturbed, Donald crouched down to meet Penguin Zero’s gaze. The workshop was silent except for the sounds of the base outside. Suddenly, Donald staggered back, shock painting his face. A voice, clear and unmistakable, echoed inside his head. “What are you looking at, you big elephant?”