Chapter 12:

Lab

A Snowed Abode


They were teleported, back to... somewhere. For the 'twos' it was a case of 'back to', though...Bookmark here

"Where...?" Pax said in utter surprise as somehow they ended up here, in some unknown place with glittering devices and a rather jaunty tune if I may say so myself, the kind that reminds one of pixels and clashing samurai, possibly? Never mind that, just one of those random flashes again; let us see what the first response of the 'two' that earlier seemed most comprehensive is...Bookmark here

"Welcome to our humble abode! Finally, we are free!" They said in a rather celebratory mood, just after approaching Pax and Clemens somewhat hastily... then again, if one was in some underground place after being randomly taken from your "comfortable" home by some airship invaders... one would be as happy, I suppose. Of course, here we are talking about 'two', not one.Bookmark here

"Abode? This is your home?" Clemens asked with a penchant for an inquiry. "Where you were taken from? Wait... why did the crystals even transfer us here? Also... what is this place?" Whoa, hold your horses, my dear mollusc, this seems to be a non-threatening environment anyway, from the looks of it, so why ask so much and so often? You did not even bother to question yourself when you were busy indulging in random foods left out in the open... what if someone came while you were vulnerable? Or possibly worse, bacteria! You know germ theory, right?Bookmark here

"I know you might have quite a few questions, but relax! We are back here now, and I assume there is no risk of being taken again, for what was wanted is gone, now... as for your questions, yes, this is our laboratory. Well, mine mostly (we are the two who mainly conduct experiments)... and... the crystals... I think were reprogrammed by someone, not sure when, though..." Well, that seems to answer a lot now, does it not? Except for the fact of how in the world crystals can even be programmed in the first place, yes, and the little thing about what was wanted? Or... perhaps that is just another attempt at starting three more words with the same letter, because these people seem to like doing that quite a bit, even if they mean little behind the words... and this is coming from this one too... two, I mean. They have been the most sensible and clear, so far... the others were as cryptic as the speaking flames... well, maybe not as much, but at least as obscure as the random pamphlets scattered around the castle, surely you would agree?Bookmark here

"This all makes little sense... as usual, but never shall we mind, I suppose. More crucially, what more can you tell us about why you might have been abducted? Did you... mention a prototype?" Clemens! You finally ask the pertinent question! You might not have done it due to my suggestion, as clearly you do not... or can not read any of this... but at least your random lottery of questions resulted in the most relevant one.Bookmark here

"Why, yes, indeed... you see, we were developing this innovative technology that might tap into... some primeval force, although we are still not sure about that... our home here is so isolated from the rest of the world... that we detected some sort of energy, that is usually apparently suppressed elsewhere. We speculated that is because of the preponderance of life in most other places, but we are not certain about that, either..." Suddenly, so much information... so theoretical, though. Seems interesting, nevertheless... could it be...? How did these people even end up building all this, anyway? Do they conduct experiments while walking in sync, too? I suppose it can sort of help, having four arms... practically choreographed science... without the need for practice. How convenient, is it not? Not that any of these are crucial questions...Bookmark here

"Curious and curiouser... lack of life enables this energy? What kind of technology could possibly tap into it too? Hey, are we possibly talking about the 'archetypes' here, that we have heard and read so much about? That the monarch likely wanted for some strange reason?" That would get my seal of approval as a crucial question, now... although, by all means, now that they are back at their homes I do not suppose we need to be so urgent with the amount that needs to be investigated... the monarch still needs to be stopped, but for now we should recuperate and think about our next steps... well, Pax and Clemens should, anyway; the narrator does not exactly need to do much within this world, except perhaps become exasperated at the impossibility of direct communication between the different dimensions....Bookmark here

"We are not quite sure about that... we were just testing for its qualities before we were interrupted, you see... until then we had only developed this novel technology that just only began to use this weird energy as a source for fuel, in way... but we still need to confirm what that energy was in the first place. Say, until I conduct some verification analysis why do you not speak with the others here?" A technology for novels, you say? I could use one of those... but seriously, weird energy sounds... bizarre. Kind of reminds me of antimatter as a spaceship fuel? Well, its theoretical usage, at any rate... currently it's produced at such low amounts that I think it would take more energy to produce than it would be used for. More relevantly in this context, though, could it have been archetypes as fuel? The very source of all personalities and psychologies... as a source of fuel? How would that even make any logical sense? I guess we will have to wait and see as to what this analysis brings up...Bookmark here

"I have still not finished yet... so much to do, such a minute amount of time..." Is all they would reply with if Pax or Clemens tried engaging again... one did notice the apparent pun 'minute' can be along with 'time', due to its multiple definitions... so, I guess, let us indeed speak with the... stranger, others...Bookmark here

But before those, why not take a look at this place? Instead of chairs, it seems to have a...
"Pod? It is quite strange..." They were rotund and circular, so they were indeed somewhat odd-looking, as if these 'twos' were indeed aliens, and just returned to their planets every once in a while... in between breaks. Because, one has got to admit, who would not do that if they could? Then again, why would they ever return to such a dreary world, if there was elsewhere? Could it be even worse? Perhaps they are time machines, and the twos time travellers come to warn us of an impending invasion by androids from another dimension?! Alright, I certainly do need to temper my enthusiasm for fantasy... a bit much just because I saw these little, tiny pods, I admit.Bookmark here

There was also, at the back of a couple of rooms, taking up quite a bit of space...
"Quite solid-looking pieces of hardware. Must have cost a few Zs." One should say. Although, I suppose, size does not always correlate with expense or how advanced technology could be... well, maybe the former, as bigger usually costs more, but who knows in this context... with these 'two' living here, all isolated and cold, and... maybe lonely? Possibly not, considering that they are in sync with one another, and there are... eight in total, although four separate individuals. It can get a bit confusing sometimes, I concede. Also, where did the currency letter come from? A bit unusual, is it not? Writing it as 'Zs' makes it seem like... the expression for sleep? As in comics? Why sleep, though? Anyone ever verify that? Ah, no one could possibly be reading this...Bookmark here

Beyond the central room in this laboratory, there two others on each side... it was, really, quite homely and small, but one suppose that only applies if one considers lots of scientific instruments as home, because it might otherwise be a sterile environment... these 'twos' could be somewhat fun to interact with, though, one might argue.... they are, as mentioned, miniature in stature, and so it could be hard to determine who is who specifically, but there are generally four (two) persons here, the green-haired one (two...) who seems to be the most scientific, a black-haired one (two...), who seems interested in drinking stuff, and two brown-haired couples, who might be distinguished only by their clothing from afar, but if one goes close by one guarantees individuality... or is that just 'duality'? Either way, they have long and shorter hair, pink and red clothing, respectively. So all of these four (eight?) people, I think, could be argued to be sufficiently 'individual'. So, we shall now see what the red-clothed two want to say...Bookmark here

"We live here again! No disease, we were worried! Distinctly we shall keep going on!" Is that opposed to not living here before? Or, I assume, only in reflection of not doing so while in the castle... but, really, why do they keep using these specific keywords around which conversation is structured? One would think that... as scientists, if that is what I assume they all are in one capacity or another (one presumes living in a laboratory would imply that... most career scientists do not even have that much dedication) - that just specific words would not be such an obsession? I suppose one could form a hypothesis, and have fundamental concepts that encircle it, but these contextually are not at all exactly scientific...Bookmark here

"Ah, that distinction again...? What does that mean, exactly? Also, I assume 'disease' here is kind of metaphorical?" Pax replied, indeed trying to clarify this specific conundrum.Bookmark here

"We would not be able to exist, just... for us, we would want to persist forthrightly, with scientific research in our home, here. Otherwise, we wither..." There that penchant for 'w' is revealed once again, although knowing Pax and Clemens, they likely have not noticed it, and as such are unlikely to ask them about it... not that it is so crucial to do so, mind... but seriously, persist forthrightly? What is this, a wolf howling to signify its very existence? A bit of a strange adjective to follow such a verb, one must admit... and how could one wither without researching, at any rate? Does one waste away if art is indulged in? Would one wilt if the flower of life never blooms in the first place?Bookmark here

"So, that was what you meant... what do you do specifically here, though?" Pax asked... a quite relevant question, although one could possibly guess the answer? Vaguely, anyway...Bookmark here

"We amplify what might wane. That is, we check to see if chemicals might replicate like cells do, and if so what use they might have..." Or... not. Would not, could not have guessed that. How could anyone have? How could someone seemingly obsessed with a single letter go on to... replicate cells? Oh, no, it is 'like' that... after all, unless one wants to make a clone it does not seem necessary to do exactly what nature does by itself, usually... but I do not suppose it is what they do, for no clones are visible, nor would a monarch need such technology one presumes (unless, perhaps, they want to copy themselves to reign for eternity in visage, if not literally? Nefarious thought...) - but no, from a cursory look at the environment it seems what might happen here is to potentiate nature, in case there might be a use for that...Bookmark here

"I see..." Ironically, Pax said this while his eyes were closed... and one doubts he saw anything, physically or through conceptual understanding, but it might be unnecessary, anyway...Bookmark here

"We were what we would!" This is all these two would say after this, and one starts to wonder if they are also trying to replicate that letter, possibly...Bookmark here

Pax next went to the room on the right of the lab, which seemed, from all intents and purposes, to have a kitchen, as opposed to a room with solely scientific equipment... or computers. There was still, though, a cabinet with...
"All sorts of vials and other scientific instruments are stored here. They seem much more neat than I could ever be..." Pax is not neat at all, no, his roommate from earlier could attest to that... the cat, in fact, is neater than him, but he does not let that get him down and just passes on balls of fluff... what he did certainly not have, though, is vials and such...Bookmark here

Besides that there was, nevertheless, an oven and refrigerator that seemed, in all likelihood, to be perfectly normal... just like Pax had, in fact... but not very much used. At any rate...
"They seem to be cooking something here, it smells of bread, and... cherries? Why that combination, I wonder..." A cherry loaf? Is there such a thing? I could not possibly know, but I am quite certain some connoisseur will soon promptly to confirm there are even strawberry doughs!Bookmark here

"It could not possibly be polite to look into someone else's fridge... I can always go back to mine. I do not think it is too far from here, but we would need a few... crystal 'hops'... I guess?" Pax said, just prior to being a bit too nosy inside someone else's icy compartment, but I suppose 'hops' is a good food-related pun? Well, 'food', and... 'good'? I suppose he just imagines the crystals being all over the world now, that he could just use to hop all over... but they are, as far as we know, still under the monarch's 'spell'? We still do not know how those were 'reprogrammed', and if they were not it seemed like we could have been trapped there ourselves... but, somehow, a deus ex machina arose from within the depths, as if the existentialist philosopher himself suddenly developed an interest in crystallography and travelled through time just to sort us out... alright, that is a bit much considering this was just nearly a look inside a fridge...Bookmark here

There was also a sofa that belonged to these 'twos', for why would they not want to synchronously sit down and relax too? For all we know they coordinate their breathing too!
"I do not reckon there will be a ball of fluff here, no... for there do not seem to be any cats, nor anywhere else on the island..." Why are you surprised at all? If there were cats here... and we are talking the usual size of a house feline now, not lions or tigers, which could intimidate anyone... we are talking about felis catus... even they would probably dwarf the 'twos'. Their version of a cat is probably just a mouse, and even then we are talking about the smallest ones. Anyways...Bookmark here

The who previously complained about about being the middle of a drink, now asked...
"Would you like a drink? We can finally have a beverage once again!" Is that just not some nice hospitality? If only the maniac clown offered us something... but, what offer... if there was one it would have likely been something gory, based on what he was saying, at any rate...Bookmark here

"Ah, maybe? We were meant to just ask questions, but why not, I suppose?" Clemens replied, more happily than could have ever been seen before... in fact, Pax thought his face had been semi-frozen in some sort of surprised or a frowning state, before now... who knew he was capable of other emotions too? Or, perhaps, happiness or smiles are not exactly relevant in some gloomy, spooky castle with weird jesters and strange beetles...Bookmark here

The liquid could be heard being poured out, before these 'two' exclaimed "Enjoy!"Bookmark here

"Thanks, that was as tasty as honey..." Clemens confirmed, not entirely sure how he knows what that tastes like, as Nix is not exactly full of bees, you see... the cold is not very hospitable to them, especially with the ravaging winds, blowing them away like a hurricane in full bloom... there could be imports, but that results in an increased expense...Bookmark here

"It was actually honeyed liquid. We were able to squeeze every last molecule away, weaken their bonds, to create a more liquid form!" So, that is their trick... these strange, individual 'couples', they seem to merely enchant others using the by-product of an insect to... wait, I wonder if that just did not work with their abductors? Perhaps they did not like honey... but also, why would anyone need a more liquid form? Is the ooze not delectable enough? Just melting there, a stream of a sugared idyll... liquid makes it seem like any other drink, but in any case...Bookmark here

"Ah, so it is not just technology you experiment with..." Clemens replied, suddenly realizing that, perhaps, these people were not just about the most advanced hardware, but also possibly invest in the advancement of the senses...Bookmark here

"We are going to try to create food out of snow, next... our great ambition!" Well, that sounds just a bit weird? Granted, if possible then a whole lot of food will suddenly be available, all natural, all... ah, no, I see a weak point, a certain... no, just no...Bookmark here

There was a nearby computer, just before an arrow somehow felt the need to mark the way to go, a computer with some sort of stand underneath it... seemed mobile.
"We have seen the shadows through which the energy rises. What could it be, quintessentially? Could we possibly understand how it operates? Or where it originates from? How does it seem so mysterious yet?" Good questions, one supposes, but then again they seem to have more of a philosophical bent, than scientific... still, questions that lead to answers need to start somewhere... could it be something quintessentially that is not essentially, though?Bookmark here

"Hm, these shadows... could they be the 'archetypes'? I wonder if they are indeed the energy's shadows, because it seems a slight bit counterintuitive as to how energy can have shadows... if it is not the archetypes, also, the 'twos' would have been taken away for nothing, and whatever it was was stolen too... oh, there is more..." Pax said, presumably deducing that they might be indeed what the monarch was after, although of course, it can never be certain unless it is verified through experimentation, as I am sure the 'twos' carried out, and which we could soon find out the answer to... energy would, though, be a bit bizarre to have shadows itself, as it is kind of a shadow to begin with, a kind of ghost emitted by physicality...Bookmark here

"We shall now conduct research to verify the very essence of this matter, if indeed it is matter, and whether or not it truly exists in this universe or is merely, possibly, quantum mechanically appearing spontaneously... which might hint as to why it was never before detected..." It seems like they were quite determined to find out what this was, and rigorous in their search for it... which is why someone might want to steal it, I assume. If they are certain that what they found, and their resultant experiments, were successful and produced something practical, then getting one's hands on it would seem only logical for someone who is ready to risk even the unknown margins of existence to get to the bottom of all possibilities...Bookmark here

"Might this be a... payphone? No... why would they need one usually used not in homes? Or perhaps some kind of satellite technology?" Pax speculated while checking out the nearby contraption... it would indeed be absurd to assume that a less advanced device would be used by people who generally seem to have the latest in research, but then again people might have peculiar attachments... whether these 'twos' do, though, one is not sure...Bookmark here

"Might it be plasma, or gas perhaps? What form is this? It is as if we need to restructure our building blocks to even begin to understand the very fundaments of its existence and functionality. We shall, thus, conduct extensive testing until we find out something..." This was from a computer right next to the other one, and near that earlier strange thing attached to the wall... and the fact that it seemed to have flummoxed them is kind of interesting, for if it did, to them, then what hope do any other sort of casual scientist have? I suppose testing the very foundations of one's beliefs are indeed where one would start if there was no other direction from which to tackle an imperceptible understanding...Bookmark here

Some papers in the far corner of this middle room also happened to have written on them...
"We would, if by chance, be interested in finding our own origination, for this is why we venture on our quests in the first place. To find the atom, along with understanding the vast cosmology of existence." These were, by any vantage points, laudable aims, but what if indeed clarify of mind escapes reality? What if two can never become one?Bookmark here

"We shall now try to see what we can do to elongate the essence of this substance, in other words, to possibly replicate it, for our later, hypothetical usage." Is what yet another computer claimed (I know, lots of them, have no idea where they even get the funds for them, or maybe they build from scratch? Atom by atom, perchance?) - now, what exactly they mean by 'elongate' is not entirely sure... one supposes, if that could be done that they would have tried it on themselves already... but anyway! Replication is, I assume, the more scientific synonym for it, but they surely do a lot for potential hypotheticals, at any rate...Bookmark here

"Oh, this seems to get right down to the action... I wonder what happens next..." Clemens commented, somewhat excitedly... which is not quite his usual state, but there are always exception... and ones to the contrary...Bookmark here

"We seem to have failed on our first try. It did not at all react to our reagent, and as such we shall temporarily suspend our research. We hypothesize that it might be some kind of alien element that simply does not recognize any in the familiar universe, but we are not certain of that either, as so far all we have seem to be hypotheses." There we go... always the contrary antithesis, you see? Now, one has to ask, do they have more hypotheses or antitheses? Valid question, considering the evidence, I say...Bookmark here

"Well, that is disappointing. Still, after the analysis we might learn something new..." Clemens said, now dejectedly. At least, though, he adjusts to the situation... has to be admitted.Bookmark here

There were also, remarkably, a few plants in this lab... not quite so expected for such an environment, but then these 'twos' were not at all expected to begin with...
"Might plants be compatible with...
...laboratories, wide and sterile, with chants of curiosity...
...or could nature, in all its random wildness, build but stories out of sand?"
This is what, in turn, these specific plants seem to whisper, for some reason... one has to admit they are, mostly, all contextual and relevant, but then one is not quite comfortable with 'chants' of any kind, really, but one supposes that curiosity would be more worth than anything... it does also seem to be contrasting the sterility of labs, with the chaos of nature, which can be two points of views... kind of like the 'twos' in sync? Stories... out of sand, though? Sounds like narratives that could give way at any time...Bookmark here

In the corridors there were also, plastered high on the walls (how did they get up there?)
"Are these the switches for electricity? I better not touch them, who knows how much essential technology is connected..." But of course, Pax, one should surely never touch switches, even if it is one labelled 'popcorn dispensary', for you know it might always turn out to be a trap door just waiting to reveal itself... well, maybe so the popcorn itself could go down below...
"Quite a large chip, I wonder what it is powering..." Pax also said, upon seeing this on the wall too... why walls would have chips one could not possibly tell in a million years, unless indeed in such a timescale walls are, in fact, powered by chips, for it does not seem at all unlikely that chips could ever stop fuelling every last bit of existence...Bookmark here

Then there was the room on the other, left side of the lab, and this contained technological equipment, but not quite as much as the one in the middle...
"What might this be, Clemens? Just a screen, alight? What would be the point of this if, with all this snow, it will likely just reflect it for eternity...?" One supposes a screen might reflect light, but... that is why there is a lab, to get away from the outside with such garish lights, how Pax forgets this crucial detail one cannot quite suppose, though... near there was also..."
"Water inside some tub? What might they be brewing here...?" Ah, Pax, I think this is when you should really begin to exercise caution, for these 'twos' might include small and cuddly, but in reality might be even more psychopathic than that clown and, who knows, you might end up inside this... thing, whatever it may be. Or it is just an aquarium. All possibilities...Bookmark here

A computer was just at the entrance of this room too, although it did not quite have the whole enchilada of peripherals, a monitor mainly, with...
"The required data for the approximation of the necessary integers is off by magnitudes! If we were, though, to calibrate the instrument by a slight bit..." Now that made sense, not, But then again, I suppose, in the fervency of the moment, when data is only off by... well, a lot, it seems... rectified, though, by a bit of an adjustment... one would excuse being so excited as to not be so clear with language, surely, not to mention - different words exist for a reason. The real question is, regardless, how can they possibly forget the poor decimal numbers...?Bookmark here

There was also some kind of tube that presumably facilitates the maintenance of the lab...
"They can even manage plumbing themselves? I mean, it almost looks like the pipe is as big..." Maybe it is the only thing they had in the store? Commercial ventures are notoriously without many options... brands, sure, tons... all with practically the same item in them... admittedly, though, I do not think many people know of these 'twos', and as such cannot cater to them...Bookmark here

The last of them was meandering around in this same room, the 'two' with the slightly longer hair than usual (but then again, one can hardly notice), the one who talked about spontaneity...
"We are so here, we are!" Yes, you are. That is quite circle. One has to but wonder if living in a lab results in such logic... or perhaps it is their confinement?Bookmark here

"So you are... but, what do you do here, again?" Pax asked, clearly a relevant question, but I wonder if they forgot to ask them about who they might be, fundamentally? What one does is still the next best pertinent question, however...Bookmark here

"Oh, much not, simply this and that, maintain what needs it..." That is quite generic for someone in such an environment. Surely, they do not simply wake up one day and decide to do this and that? Surely experiments involve a bit more planning?Bookmark here

"Sort of like lab assistant, then? Or did you ever come up with any technology?" That could lead to an interesting answer, Pax, yes... well, the latter would, the former is just...Bookmark here

"I do bits. But I once made a converter of snow! It rumbles to generate energy! Oh, snow was so warm, suddenly!" I'm sorry, what? How could snow ever be warm? What even is the point?! These people cannot possibly have much more to do if all they do, practically, is play with snow! But, what have I just missed from that... energy? Like a biofuel? Oh, it suddenly seems useful...Bookmark here

"That sounds like... something our home town could use..." I thought Nix could! I mean, it is... how far away from here again? I think we might need to exit the lab for a bit to get our bearing, but based on the snow around it does seem to be somewhat close...Bookmark here

"What, oh what could I be fixing now?" This 'two' then said, but surely if you are wondering what you could fix you must enviably not have many broken things around...Bookmark here

Pax and Clemens, then, felt somewhat like they needed a bit of fresh air, and since the central scientist still needed time anyway, thought of wandering outside, into the cool, cold, but somewhat frigid air (why they would have a cold storage, in fact, one certainly knows not)... out onto a lonely island.Bookmark here

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