The berries were certainly odd well..if you could call them berries. They were a mahogany color, round and slightly firm. They would give resistance if you tried to squish them between your fingers. But once squished, you find some juice on your finger tips. From what he saw, they always grew on a bush type of plant that was often a seafoam green of all colors! Yet the berries would start out as that same color, ripening to the point they somehow went from a soft seafoam green, to a dark mahogany. The berries themselves were the size of blueberries but he did see one that was half the size of a coin. Rather fascinating but, that wasn't the most fascinating thing.
The door of his lab opening is what snapped Hyde out of his thoughts. The tall and thin scientist jerked slightly, as if ripped from his thoughts and various...notes; that were literally torn about and strung all over the place. The newcomer would find themselves looking at the doctor as he stood and faced them. Seeing his short dusty grey hair; that seemed to have a tint of brown to make it look the way it did. Their eyes were a bluish green and they gave a nice enough smile. Their round glasses slid forward slightly as he tried to fix his disheveled labcoat; that seemed to be recently patched up from all the stitching and tears still in it along with sporting a cream color rather than the traditional white fabric.
"Sorry, I wasn't expecting company.." Hyde apologize. "Dr. Hyde Oakspine, and you?"
"I have all of my references and my resume for your review, I can send it you digitally or I can hand you a paper copy."
Of course, if she had that copy with her and offered it, Hyde would take it from her. Already he would start looking it over. Ink was so much better than a glowing blue screen with white words on it. No matter how many times he fiddled with the settings, it always hurt his eyes. Even with his glasses. Oh well.
"Tell Miss Blake, what have you heard about my research? I apologize for the lack of information I put into my wanted ad of sorts. But i'm sure a few others have told you something of my work?" he asked.
Her eyes shifted back to the Doctor again from the pieces of paper on the floor. "You were hoping for assistance in organizing your notes for presentation?"
Though he soon broke out laughing at the mention of the juniper berry and the psychedelics.
"Oh goodness, if it was that simple there would be no sponsorship for sure." Hyde commented as he soon exhaled. "I would like to show my findings next year but I'm not sure if much progress will be made toward it. Well doing it on my own that is."
Looking around at the mess, he gave a weak smile. Yeah..his lab was a mess. A very big...note filled, mess.
"That is but a small part of it. Yes, my note organizational skills are poor and help with that would be great." Hyde replied. "What I need is for someone to help me with the experiments as well as a additional set of eyes to observe things that I might miss."
Stopping in reading the resume, he set it down on the table and gestured to the seafoam green planet that had several mahogany berries dangling from it.
"If these were psychedelics then they are far more potent than anything currently made in that department." Hyde said. "These do more than affect the senses and the mind, it can affect the entire body and it's structure. Or it could just allow you to tap into a force greater than what you could imagine. You know those shows where a character can just creature a blast of power on par with a nuclear bomb? There's a potential possibility one of these berries could do that to you and that power could last five minutes, a hour, or just a few seconds."
She pulled her hand away. "I am experienced with organizing researcher notes and writing proposals. So depending on how you want to present, and the format you want your notes to be in, will help organize it better."
He gave a small nod, though he picked up her resume and held it out to her.
"I think you'll be just fine here as my assistant." Hyde replied kindly. "I would like to be further along however...before offering anything to the higher ups or at the conference next hear. So far there isn't a way to control the berries or to induce an outcome that one wishes. Until I get somewhere near that, I'm not sure if I will be taking my findings to the conference next year. As...that is something they would want to know right away."
"It's interesting to think that the plant might be capable of that sort of intelligence. So, where would you like me to begin? Sorting your notes? Or are we starting trials?" She smiled brightly at him as she waited. "I am ready to begin whenever is most convenient for you, Dr. Oakspine." She deposited her resume back into her satchel and smoothed the flap down. Her fingers brushed the edge of a bracelet beneath the cuff of her jacket. "If you want to digitize your auditory discussions, we can begin whenever you are ready. I have a recorder handy."
She raised her right hand so that the sleeve slide down to reveal the smooth obsidian surface of her bracelet. It had the look of an old military issue wrist communicator with a full volumeric touch panel but it was miniaturized. "I modified a R-Com that I found at an old surplus store. It should be helpful for this. I can write the notes down later for a regular log and digitize the notes as well."
In truth, he had eaten a berry or two when he first discovered it. It was the strangest experience of his life to date. He didn't want the young assistant to go through something she might not want to.
"Though note sorting might...take a great while longer..." Hyde added as he looked at the mess. "Tell ya what, would you rather be sorting notes your first day or running a trial?"
She set her satchel on a mostly empty section of counter before standing in front of Hyde. "Where do you want me? I can remove my jacket if you would prefer to take my vitals manually?"
"I think it may be best for your first day to be one where you keep your mind in case the berries decided to mess with it." Hyde commented. "But I like your enthusiasm on the matter."
At least she was willing to take the risk. Though, he still wasn't sure about this.
"Tell you what, depending on how this experiment goes today, we might do a second one." Hyde said. "In which you can be the test subject for the second one. I've done this before but never had anyone else to jot down the things that go on that I might miss. And judging by how you are, I'm sure you'll pick up on the things I'll miss. But, shall we still do a physical and blood before getting starter?"
"I spent a little bit of time helping out in the medical bay of the station. They had me practicing on oranges for a few months before they let me try my hand with needles," she coyly explained. "We were short handed for a long time and my mother insisted that we all dabbled in the different fields on Shizi before we settled on one area to be our specialty. I don't have it in me to be a soldier like her." She did a quick scan of the laboratory and located the sink beneath a pile of lab notes, like a pile of leaves at a river's edge. "I'll.. just stack these neatly over here so they don't get wet." The young woman gathered up the papers and tapped them straight before placing them in even stacks on the silver counter, away from the splash radius of the sink. "How long have you been running these tests on the Joke berries on your own, Doctor?"
"IT is quite alright, not everyone is cut out for some things. And no need to explain a skill such as this since it wasn't mentioned, eventually you would've gained knowledge on how to do this anyway." Hyde said kindly, he gave a nervous laugh at her finding his notes hiding the sink. "Yes...my apologizes. I'm a rather terrible organizer."
He did have the habit of spreading his research all around a room as he worked. In a way, it was a organized chaos as he knew where things were in the heat of the moment. It never looked pretty or neat.
"Several months now." Hyde answered. "I found them while out on a expedition as a favor to a old friend. I was curious in the planet as it didn't have signs of a advance civilization or any for that matter. I found many strange things there but the Joke berries revealed themselves when I got seperated from the group I was with. My supplies weren't sufficient by the fourth day and well, I resorted to trying one of the berries. I can't fully recall what happened but my friend claimed a pack of beasts were with me when I got back to camp and they only left cause I told em to. Only time it worked."
A small chuckle left him as he recalled some young soldier trying to command a beast to go away. The creature merely glared at him before headbutting them in the knee as well, the creature took him as a threat.
"I have avoided doing a great deal of tests since coming back. I have mainly been studying them, seeing how the plant grows and if a new environment changes things. The plant itself is rather adaptable." Hyde added.
"Oh, where are your hypodermics and vials? I see the gloves here on the counter. I might need you to pull them out since I started washing my hands already," she tsked at her lack of foresight
Opening the cabinet, he pulled down the hypodermics and a box that had some unused vials from there. Holding the two things in his hands, he worked to clear a spot on the counter for them to sit on. This caused him having to wrinkle a few notes but eh, he could read it still. Creating a new stack of random notes, he set those out of the way before looking to Aster.
"Anything else we're both forgetting?" Hyde asked, in a sort of playful teasing.
As he spoke, he rolled up the sleeve of his lab coat and presented it to Aster. Allowing the young lady to draw blood from the chosen arm. He had gotten used to needles and the like due to his profession, the familiar prick was uncomfortable but not to the point of discomfort to where he'd cause a fuss. He wasn't afraid of them. Once done, he waited for the all clear in before standing up and pulling his sleeve down.
"Anything else? Or shall we begin?" Hyde asked.
"You are feeling good today then? No pain or strange sensations? Nothing worthy of note before you have a berry?"
Sometimes one got too caught up in the growing excitement. Steps being skipped or missed, it was hard to say why the procedures meant to keep things safe and sanitized could get forgotten. It was strange and odd, a little quirk that anyone could acquire at a moment's notice. Still, he was glad to see that she hadn't fallen for that quirk.
"I am feeling well. No aliments to my understanding or knowledge, I have taken no medicine of any kind as well." Hyde said as he moved from his spot.
Lifting the small gauze, the bleeding had stopped and thus he dropped the gauze into the biowaste bin.
"And you? Feeling well as well?" Hyde asked.
"I doubt the guards like me at all, so don't worry." Hyde told her. "These things have yet to put me into that critcal of condition. Granted they have had me horrible sore and a few burns but nothing major."
Need for a hospital was never needed, though he did see the dangers. This berry did alter the body, for a short time or not, it still did that. Just because he hadn't gone through something that caused him a great deal of pain or dealt him a injury, well. There was a first for everything. Hopefully that wasn't today as he plucked a berry from the bush. The surface of the berry was still oddly smooth.
"Ready to begin?" Hyde asked as he looked over his shoulder at her.
There was a total of five ripe berries on this bush at the current time, their dark mahogany color stood out against the sea foam green stems and leaves. Although there were a few non rip berries, blending into the rest of the plant in color. Taking one of the rip ones, it easily came off the branch and he allowed for it to roll in his hand. It was one of the normal size ones, around the size of a average blueberry. Despite how used to doing this he was, he felt...some hesitation. Some unease with doing this. Perhaps it was some of his common sense kicking in still from when he first found this plant?
This was unwise...dangerous the old thoughts chimed in his head as he stood there, taking a moment before going through with this experiment.
A slight cough left him as the bitter taste hit his tongue, shuddering slightly.
"Well that one was a bit more bitter than I thought." Hyde replied. "Now...we wait."
Setting his hands on the table for a moment, he picked the planet up, and set it on a higher shelf out of the way.
"Just in case things do go chaotic, can't destroy our only specimen." Hyde explained as he turned to look at Aster as he did this.
However the man's body tensed as his hands hovered just inches form the plant when it was set up there. A pressure hit his chest and his face contorted to a pained expression.
Her thoughts were racing as she hung in the mystery, waiting for a signal to stop the experiment and to get another doctor.
"There's....a pressure in my chest." Hyde said, waiting a few more minutes to make sure it was still there. "That's never happened before. So far I do...."
However, he was cut off as he felt a stronger surge of pain. A pained grunt left him as he grabbed at his chest. Burning...it was like a burning pressure. Was it some sort of fire ability? That would explain the warmth he was feeling but...the pain..why? Was it just the heat of the fire? Tension filled his body as his free hand twitched before pain started to fill it. The thing that would make him look would be a sound and a sensation. A cracking sound and a strange sensation of something moving inside of his hand. Raising his free hand up as he looked, the bones within shifted as his hand seemed to be changing.
"This....this is a first.." Hyde admitted before a louder crack made his legs buckle somewhat as he made a pained cry.
Grabbing hold of a chair to prevent himself from falling as he felt one of his ribs shifting around. Pulling himself up, he took a seat in the chair.
"Feels like....there's a growing pressure...in my chest." Hyde said in labored breathe as his ribs seemed to go back to their normal place.
The hand that had started changing looked human still, only it was a bit bigger and his fingernails seemed to be a little longer. The skin seemed to be slightly irritated from the shifting bones, as his white skin looked slightly red.
"It feels...a lot hotter in here." Hyde added, his temperature actually increasing.
She instinctively reached behind her for a firearm that was not there as she edged slowly back towards the door, getting ready to run, just in case.
She struggled to continue, her voice cracked a bit as she tried to maintain her calm, "...you are transforming into something? This has never happened before?"
Gritting his teeth, they were sharper now. Still looking like normal human teeth, but having a strange sharpness to them. The muscle on his irritated arm started to expand as well now, taking on a bigger size slowly as he dug his nails into the arm of the chair. Trying to breathe calmly but the pain he was feeling was preventing that.
"N...Not to me...urgh but...this would explain...the bizzare monsters on that planet. Normal wild life must've...oooooh eaten some of the berries on their own and it affected them on a physical scale like...this is.." Dr. Hyde forced out, squirming in pain as he grabbed the shoulder that was connected to his larger arm.
A change of the genetic make up of a individual, turning their body into something else for better defense and offense? He recalled some of those animals having horns and other oddities. As much as he was trying to keep his wits about him, it was starting to hurt his head just trying to think. Maybe that was due to the heat and pain ebbing it's way through his whole body? The sound of cracking drew his attention back to his arm as he could see the bones bulging against the skin. His heart was pounding in his chest as he sat there. Twisting his own body in pain as he stayed there.
"We can get you through this, just tell me what you need me to do. What you want me to get you?" Cold sweat trickled down the back of her neck as she forced a reassuring smile. The monsters of her past were not the doctor. There were guards outside.. maybe, she could alert them in time? The RCOM was useful for that, isn't that why she had the DNI installed?
The pressure within his chest spread, making everything ache as he twisted slightly. Aster's voice sounded so muffled as he groaned in pain, shuddering as his fingers dug into the irritated flesh of their transforming arm. The skin was warm to the touch but also firm. Was the skin becoming harder or was it just due to how tense the muscles were due to their changing state? Too painful to think...too much work. Pain filled eyes looked to Aster and she would be able to tell that it was hard for him to focus, to really hear what she was saying. The man was starting to look drained physically, his body clearly needing a large amount of energy to go through ths. Although as she made her second attempt to speak to him, it came through a little bit.
Help? Was that it? Her help? A strong jerk left him as he closed his eyes and growled out, shaking as he tried to get some air back into his sore lungs. Weary eyes opened as sweat poured down his face, deep and long breathe in. How did you speak again? What did one do? The pain and throbbing of his head tripping him up. IT was such a mundane task, easy to do yet...oh so clearly easy to loose.
"Can't....tak....e...ti.." Hyde forced out, his voice straining due to pain. "Ple....a..se.. se..."
He was caught off as a new sensation accompanined the pain of the fire he felt under his skin, instead it felt like more inside of his stomach. His normal hand reached and grabbed at his neck as the man ended up choking on something for a moment. The burning sensation that went through him only worsened as he ended up throwing up on the floor, hunching over as he coughed and wheezed. His far larger hand slammed down onto the ground as claws dug into it. His body quaking with pain as he now sat on the floor. The substance was thick and looked like a sludge. A dark red in color, the first assumption was that it was blood but...it came out in such a thick consistancey? That couldn't mean anything good. The taste of stomach acid and bile drowned out any other taste on his tongue, so he couldn't tell if there was a metallic taste on his tongue or not.
"Se.....da..." Hyde rasped out, unable to move his head to look at her. "Seda....t... sedat...ti..."
The sound of breaking bones started again as his back arched, muffled sounds of pain leaving him as his spine attempted to alter itself. Pushing against his flesh as it snapped and moved around.