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Why haven’t mad scientists taken over the world? Either they already have, and we just don’t notice, or they’re too dysfunctional to take over much of anything.

This setting posits a little bit of both.


Best place to start
Engineered (LJ)
The stories run in more or less chronological order.


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Pi Day Story: the Pissers

I am taking prompts on the theme of “Begins with Pi-” (preferably a phrase rather than a word).

Content warning, this one is definitely inspired by current events.

Also, I have the typing version of a sore throat – my right ring finger is sad – so pls. forgive any typos.

🔬 Continue reading

The Milk

“There’s a problem with the milk.”

Cara raised an eyebrow at intern in her well-practiced “do tell?” expression. She’d brought double PhDs to their knees with that eyebrow.

The intern was uncowed. Cara didn’t know whether to write the skinny grad student off as an idiot or be impressed by the stainless steel guts that demonstrated. “The whole milk, to be exact. Not ours, that is, we didn’t develop it; it’s in the dining hall.”

The intern hesitated. “That is, as far as I know, it’s a dining hall product and not one of our developments; if the Facility is using its dining hall for non -consensual, uninformed testing, I quit.”

“Not the staff dining hall.” It was not the most robust denial, but Cara wanted to see what this one would do.

The intern relaxed minutely. “Then there is a serious problem with the whole milk.” Continue reading

The Repair Team

Originally posted on Patreon in November 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

 There was generally nothing Cara was afraid of.  She had lived through sentient roses and non-sentient grape-girls; she had lived through Smart Bombs and dumb scientists and pretty much everything in between.  She could look someone who was going to turn out to be a mad scientist in the eye and smile, because when it all went down, Cara would still be here and the scientist – whether in many pieces or still just the one – would probably not.

Cara wasn’t scared of much of anything.  Except the Repair Team.

They came striding through the Facility, their outfits smooth and black and altogether too tidy.  The Repair Team never had anything out of place.  Cara would hate them.  She would hate them *later*; right now she and Alex were hurrying towards Liam while trying to look like nothing was out of place at all.

“Boss-”  Alex asked.  It was his turn to ask this week.

Liam didn’t take his eyes off the Repair Team.  “Not us this time.” Continue reading

The Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Written to Sauergeek’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  

I am picturing this as the same era/world as The Trouble With… (Chickens, assignments, ferrets, and so on)

It wasn’t, exactly, a dance.

That is, it was never a dance that would performed in high society, in the dance halls of the Dames and Lords.

It was a dance that was born out of too much whisky, the sort of stuff that ambitious university students brewed in the abandoned dormitories.  It was born out of the awkward one-woman-to-ever-seven-men ratio that was common on the University campus – especially those sections where students were brewing bathtub hooch and coming up with interesting ways to “Age” it without getting caught.  And it was born out of one woman’s very determined urge that, if she was going to be in experimental sciences, she was going to get dances, no matter what her uncle said on the matter.

It was neither a tango nor a foxtrot, but it was face-paced, steamy, and done best when more than a little intoxicated.  It was something like a square dance, except that it was done with one woman at the heart of eight men.  And it was quickly declared against the rules by the university, illegal by the government, and immoral by two different churches.

It was so wildly popular that before she graduated, the young woman responsible for the craze wrote an anonymous tell-all book, the sales of which funded her experimentations for the next fifty years.


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What’s in the Garden?

Written to Rix-Scaedu’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  This is definitely a Science! story, complete with the Boss – Liam – and his plucky second-in-command. 

The raid had taken down three scientists working outside the bounds of the law, morality, or common sense, along with seven “assistants”, mostly grad students, who would probably not be charged, as having to find another research position might be punishment enough for anyone.

It had also found several references to “the farm office,” which, once the proper grad student was interrogated, appeared to be an old veterinary clinic sitting in a small farm town half an hour outside the city.

Liam, who had no official government or law-enforcement position, and Cara, who was, on paper, at least, his second-in-command, were along on both trips.  Liam had already recruited the most sensible of the scientists (along with hiring her a lawyer) and the three grad students Cara had hand-picked. Now – now they got to see what the farm office was. Continue reading

The Problem With Ferrets

The completion of the Problem with Chickens/Assignments story.

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Trenner slept surprisingly well, tucked in on a couch that still had its no feet on the furniture sign, in very fussy handwriting, prominently displayed.

After all, if there were strange noises outside, they were no stranger than the ones she might hear in the dormitories.  And if there were strange breezes coming across her, well, her second-year roommate had left the window open all winter. It was, she realized, more relaxing than her trips home, where everything felt not nearly lumpy enough, too quiet, and too soft.

Once she had woken, performed her morning ablutions – she did not ask where the water had come from, and her guide did not tell her, but it smelled sweet and washed her with no ill effects – and geared up, they were on their way into the wilds that had, once, been the Dormitory and Agriculture Quad. Continue reading

Kaijune: Catch ‘Em

“Rashi, what did you do?”

The interns at the laboratory known only as The Lab did their level best to be close enough to hear the argument while far enough away to avoid any fallout.  Just three weeks ago, a new intern had taken umbrage at being shouted at and, while the Boss was fine – the boss was always fine – three nearby interns had lost parts or all of their limbs to a parasitic vine.  With the memory still clear – with Yando still sitting in his mechanized chair, working the controls with what were only sort of fingers (and sort of vines) everyone was very cautious this time. Continue reading

The Trouble With Guides…

After The Trouble With Chickens… and The Trouble With Theories… and The Trouble With Assignments….

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Trenner thought she might be losing it.

“I have made base camp,” she wrote, “in the lobby of the Pendington building.  From the signs here, I am not the first to make camp here.  I can see the remains of a fire pit in what had once been the grand Fountain to Athena, and over there in the former wishing well, people, ah, wished in another way.  

My native guide tells me that he avoided the Exploration Club quite handily, and, seeing the way he blends into the terrain, I am not surprised.  He is, after all, not a plant nor a building, nor is he a giant chicken (or a mutant killer ferret nor a feral housecat, although he bears the most resemblance to the last), and thus, even if he did not smell slightly like Wrong and did not look slightly like a pile of detritus, he was not on their agenda.

“What are you writing?”  He sat across the fire from her, roasting something on a pan he must have taken from one of the dining halls – Goldblum, that was the one in the Lost Buildings.  

“It’s my exploration log.  I’m tracking everything I do.”

“Oh, I remember that. They taught us how to do that in first-year Exploration.  Are you still thinking of going back, then? You haven’t tried the eggs yet.”

The egg in question was huge, and he had darted in and out of a nest with surprising dexterity, returning with something it took him both arms to hold.  “I certainly want to try the eggs,” she reassured him. “And I’ll be here for at least a few days. If I come back too quickly, Professor Lokeg-Fridelabout is going to accuse me of cheating.  And it’ll be points on the chart, sure, but it will be more points if I actually manage to prove the professor wrong and he has to eat his words and the egg.”

“Oh, are you still doing that?  I was almost winning, the year I left, but I kept getting points through being sent on deadly assignments, and I decided I wanted to live. There’s a few of us here,” he added.  “Five that I know of, all up in the top of Drummond Hall. It’s safest there. The chickens don’t like to roost on that roof, because it’s too steep, and we blew out the first-floor stairways, which keeps out the ferrets pretty well.”  He noted the way she was looking around. “This time of year, this will be safe, too,” he assured her. “It’s just when they get broody that there’s a problem.”

Trenner considered broody as it related to a beast the size of a wagon.  “How – how are they still here? How hasn’t someone eradicated them?  Did the university really just let them take over a portion of the school?  What about funding?”

She started writing down all those questions almost before she was done asking them, not really expecting answers from him.

“Well, they’re very hard to kill, surprisingly.  The eggs are easy, but you have to survive getting the eggs.  And they have no natural predators, which means there’s quite a few of them.  That’s problem one. Problem two is, the university has always been known for taking the path of least resistance.  In this case, the chickens resisted more than the trustees, so they put up a fence. I’d heard rumors – are you really writing all of this down?”

“Of course I am.  I want to come up with a solution, which means understanding the problem.”

“You really are one of them, aren’t you?”

It was said with such admiration that Trenner could hardly take offence.  “I’m sorry? What’s a ‘one of them?’”

“Oh, ah. My favorite professor, Professor Sojide, used to say there were Golden Students. Um. ‘If they can survive their time here, they will change the world, one way or another.’  I wasn’t one. Ah. Matilde was, but she didn’t survive the ferrets.” He looked down at his feet. “I just want to live. That’s pretty much it. My family all believe me dead, probably.”

“Hunh.”  She had never heard Professor Sojide say that.  She made a note of it in her book. “Can you take me close enough to see them, without risking yourself?”

“Tomorrow.  At noon. I can take you to the right path.  That’s it.” He shook his head. “I won’t go further than that.  But if you want eggs…  eggs I can get you.”  He spooned out a large portion of his concoction onto her plate, more onto his, and then put the pan on a stone in the shadows.

She was not surprised to see movement there, movement that could have been human.  She did not look too closely. They weren’t a danger to her, she didn’t think; she didn’t want them to think she was a danger to them.

The egg was better than anything she’d ever eaten.  She said so, three times. In the end, her native guide – who still would not give her a name – colored and looked away.  “There’s some tricks to cooking them. But the biggest tricks are in just finding them.”

“I look forward to seeing that, then.”  She had never been more sincere. “And the eggs.  Are they fertile, do you think?”

She had just had a glimmer of an idea, and it looked like her being able to walk out of here alive.

 

The Trouble With Assignments….

After The Trouble With Chickens… and The Trouble With Theories…, without which this story won’t make much sense. 

🐣

The Lost Buildings encompassed what had once been the pride of the University.  They were tall and glorious, stately, and done in the Pecerin style of architecture that nobody seemed to be able to imitate anymore.

(Personally, Trenner thought it had something to do with the amount of opium Pecerin and her disciples had partaken of, but that had gotten her a few too many Hate Points in her architecture elective.) Continue reading

Quick-Thinking

Written to kelkyag‘s prompt.

🔬

The pay at the Lab was really good, and the benefits were literally unbelievable.

Jess reminded herself of that whenever she started feeling like she needed a Henchman t-shirt or an old lion-tamer’s ship and chair.   She had two kids of her own and a niece at home; the Lab gave them a place to live that was probably the most secure three-bedroom house on the planet, had a top-notch school, and paid Jess enough that she could take them all on a really good vacation every year.

Which she needed, because right now she was supervising a slap-fight between two interns who just happened to be handling vials of what she thought was probably a neurotoxin.  Continue reading