General Weirdness at S.T.A.R. Labs

August 19, 2015:

Gar, Vorpal, and Tigra experience oddities when they investigate something at a S.T.A.R. Labs Weapons Research Division site.

S.T.A.R. Labs Weapons Research facility, somewhere around Gotham City


NPCs: S.T.A.R. Labs people emitted by Gar



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

As the employees surely say every morning, "Star Labs Weapons Research Division: Nothing Evil Can Come From This."

(Because it's in the employee handbook, and it's the passcode for getting into the building. You say that sentence into the voiceprint analyzer and it decides if you're a spy.)

As it transpires, there is a fairly new 'biotech weapons' lab here in the Irving Grove Star Labs, code named Irving Grrrrove, and like the habitat in the Pauly Shore movie nobody can remember without horrible nightmarish flashbacks, the lab is hermetically sealed, though not by hermit seals. The lab only opens once a month, and that was three days ago, and nobody has responded to their 'check in now' signals. So, after careful scanning for toxins and breathable air and so forth, the good scientists at Star Labs have asked Gar Logan if he could investigate… and if he has friends who might want to help? Well, they were working on a feline DNA infusion. So anyone who might not be hurt by that would be good?

So Vorpal, of course, messaged Tigra to see if she wanted to join the Dynamic Duo. Mostly because he wanted to show her the kind of thing the Titans did when not being attacked. After all, she was coming to the one year anniversary bash, it would be good if she got t interact more with the team.

"So what exactly might we expect here?" the cheshire says, following Gar, hands in his pockets. "I suppose that if we ask what was researched here, the answer would be a Classified?"

A brief trip back to Chicago meant Tigra has missed some of the recent events in and around New York City, but as it happened she'd been back for a few days before she was contacted. The amount of information was slim, but you know how it is with cats and curiosity, so she made her way to the meetup place dressed in her usual. "What kind of party is this gonna be, guys?" she wonders, now that she's face to face with them. "Spying? B&E? Staring at each other all night?"

The person who talks with the group in the "briefing room" — a quickly thrown-together conference area in a shipping dock with an access to the supply dock for Irving Grrrrove — is a bit, well, mousy. Not as in actually having muscadian features, no, she's (it seems to be a she, but it might be an exceptionally effeminate guy) … ahem… SHE is short, has blond hair pulled back in a severe bun, that makes her ears stick out; her thick glasses make her eyes seem small and dark, and she's blessed with a nose that is … agile. But other than that, she's a perfectly normal human. Well, except for working here.

"Just, uhm, go inside with one of your, um, portal thingies, from inside that room. We'll sterilize the exit room with fire after you get through so nothing can escape."

"Now that fills me with confidence," Gar says. "What are we looking for?"

"Doctor Chenille, the head of research, she didn't come out at the last rest period. She's in the first room to the left."

"Right, Shall we go now before we get cold feet?" Gar says.

"I've always got cold feet, my dear green genes- I go barefoot!" Vorpal nudges Gar and goes ahead, joking to hide the unease he's feeling at all of this… this. He waits until everybody is in the exit room and the seals have been closed before opening the Rabbit Hole and stepping through, holding it for Gar and Tigra. "Thank you for using the Vorpal express. First floor: Ladies' lingerie, cheese and bizarre imports from Japan."

Tigra's mouth opens and shuts at Vorpal's joke, leaving her to shake her head. "And here I was going to say something different having to do with fur," she remarks, and as she passes by both Titans on the way into the area that's apparently going to be torched after they've gone through, her tail weaves and curls to brush against the pair. As the portal is opened up, she glances toward the one who created it. "Is it just me, or did you also have a brief urge to chew on our little contact back there?"

"Nah. She smells like fungus to me," Gar says. (There's a thrum and a rumble and the reason why the smoked glass viewport is smoked becomes obvious: the room that our intrepid team just departed from is filled with flames, hot ones if the sense of heat transmitting through the window is accurate.)

There's a humming noise, almost musical, from the room to the left, just a short distance down the hall. A speaker in the ceiling says, "She's in there, we can hear her humming, but she hasn't spoken to anyone since we sent in the supplies."

The humming is just humming; it carries no particular compulsion, nor is it uncannily lovely. It's not bad for humming. If you like that kind of thing.

"She did look a little… Minnie-" Vorpal quips to Tigra, but then his ears flatten at the humming. "… okay, my Horror Movie senses are tingling. Humming and not responding…" the cat begins to take some tentative steps to the left, towards the humming.

Tigra points more at Vorpal than Gar. "See?" It's proof to her, then as she looks behind at the sensation of heat, she asks, "Was that really necessary, though?" The humming draws more of her attention after this, plus a hint of a frown. "You don't think she'd buy if it we went up saying 'Avon calling' do you?" She's drumming fingers against an arm, trying to suss out what makes the most sense to do. "Or we could just go in and come what may."

Humming? Hummingbird. Gar zips around the corner to get a quick glance, moving very fast, and then stops being a hummingbird, standing at the door and saying, "Oh wow. Guys? You should see this."

Assuming that they'll join him, the room contains a very large mushroom growing in a complex looking mix of wood chips, dirt, and horse byproducts. There is a faint mycorhizomal scent, but no odor of decay. There is, however, a faint sparkling drift of smoke around the person sitting on TOP of the mushroom. It's difficult to get a gender from slender, elegant hands, segmented with chitin-like shells, and the body is clearly a discreet, tidy black, green, and red spotted caterpillar, but the face is human — mostly human — with cat-ears sticking out the side. A Cat-erpillar. So to speak. He, or She, uses one of the lower arms to reach down and snip off a bit of mushroom, which is placed in the bowl of one of four long-handled, small-bowled pipes held in left hands; the right hands successively move an alcohol-lamp flame down to the next bowl while the face of the human, humming in a sort of ecstasy, inhales the burning mushroom, and then exhales sparklingness.

"Doctor, uhm, Chenille?" Gar asks. "Are you still in there?"

"Hmmmm? Oh yes. I suppose you want the others?" More mushroom is packed into bowls. The mushroom itself seems to be getting no smaller - it fills itself in.

"Where are they?"

"Oh. Them. Through there. Have some mushroom if you like. It won't make you larger or smaller but it's delightful."

"Bioweapon," Gar mutters to himself. To the others, "Don't touch it, avoid the smoke as much as you can."

There is a door, visible behind the mushroom's bulk.

"… I'm getting Wonderland flashbacks, Gar, and Wonderland doesn't exist!" Vorpal mutters, staring at the Cat-erpillar. It's hard to avoid the smoke for Vorpal- the sight surprised him so much that he gasped…. and a little inhalation happened. "Is… the room getting bigger?" he asks. Just in case.

"First Mad Hatter, now this," Tigra remarks, on the wide-eyed side at first, left to just stare at what's laid out before them. "No kidding," comes a mutter after Vorpal covers the whole Wonderland image thing quite well. "You sure we didn't already inhale?" All the same, she's covering her mouth with a hand just in case, after telling the 'cat-erpillar' firmly, "Thanks, but no thanks." She'll just move on by, giving as wide a berth as possible to all that.

Gar hummingbirds across and around, avoiding the smoke (as much as possible, the air does glitter slightly in here.) The door is jammed partly open by a coin-filled mason-jar, which has kept the sprawling mushroom's non-flowering fungal body from pushing it entirely closed. Once close enough to see the opening, there is a faint glow behind it. It's just wide enough open to allow a determined person to squeeze past. Or, to fly on through as a hummingbird because tiny. But the bird is not a good long-term idea. They're always hungry.

Back on the mushroom, the cat-erpillar is purring and humming more. Its hind-feet have started gripping onto the mushroom, and the smoke is congealing into a sort of silk around them.

Vorpal hehs, looking at the door. "…it's a jar." This elicits peals of laughter from the cat…yeah. He definitely inhaled some. Wiping away a tear, he calls to Gar "Hey, can you get through that door? Things are getting funny in here… he… hehehe…" He smirks, looking up at the caterpillar.

Tigra gives Vorpal a nudge toward said door. "Mff it," she says, voice muffled from the hand still in place. Oh, she's trying to keep her thoughts clear through all this, and with her free hand she gives the door a pull to see about opening up a little more space than there is so far. She glances back toward the..thing..atop the mushroom and her eyes narrow at the way the smoke seems to be trying to weave into something more as it gets closer.

Gar's on the other side of the door, and a suddenly huge green arm pushes it open slightly more as he emulates Grodd … there's not room for an elephant here, but the big ape shape is good enough to push. "Come on! There's something weird in here," Gar says.

The room on the other side is… clean. There's a positive air pressure barrier, keeping what's on the far side of a painted line on the floor from being contaminated by strange caterpillar-and-mushroom aromas threading their way in. On the other side, there are four sleeping cats, about the size of humans, but distinctly siamese cats. They seem quite insistently asleep.

Vorpal pushes Tigra towards the door- she doesn't need pushing, but he's feeling very helpful all of a sudden. Also, he skips towards the door. Uncharacteristically, he trips and ends up sprawled on the floor in the clean room, chuckling to himself, an arm covering his eyes as he rests on his back.

"… we had to be quick. We didn't want to be caught.. by the radishes of time… heeeeh…" he uncovers his eyes and glances at Tigra, taking her fully in. "… oh my god, are you The Cheetah?" he frowns, looking somewhat alarmed while also not entirely there. "I'll… I've got this!" he says, standing up and suddenly he is decked out in a golden tiara, silver bracelets, and his spandex has beome red, gold, and blue star-spangled. "You need to surrender to loving submission!" Wait. Has Wonder Woman ever said that? It was hard to think. But he does grab his trusty lasso of… something. Who cares, right? It's not golden- it seems to be made out of licorice. But it's a lariat. That's what's important.

"I think we've already gone past the 'weird' stage," Tigra deadpans after being briefly taken aback by the big arm that creates more space to slip past, which she does even more quickly than intended when Vorpal begins "Watch it," the tigress states, a mildly warning tone before he's in and past her, all but prancing about. "This seems about normal out of him," comes a hint of a joke made to Gar, rolling her eyes at the Cheetah question before a brow goes straight up at the sight of the large siamese all snoozing heavily. "What's all this—?" She cuts off at the Wonder Woman act, complete with an appearance to match, and she just rubs her temples slowly.

"Oh frux," Gar says, "Wonder Wombat, wait, this isn't the Cheetah, it's our friend Tawky Tawny's sister Tawnya."

Stop. Gar came up with that rather fast. There might BE such a person. Tiger. Whatever. OK, continue.

"Humor him," Gar hisstss to Tigra. "He's hallucinating."

Well, yeah, that's pretty obvious. Gar's shaking himself down into humanish form after being too much of a gorilla. It requires shaking because he's apparently trying not to laugh too hard.

The Siamese Lab Assistants are still asleep. They may be part dormouse.

There is a snoring sound, in fact, coming from the next room.

"What's happening in there?" the mousy woman's voice squeaks from the ceiling speaker.

"Chenille is about to pupate, and there are four unconscious siamese in lab coats here. Something sleeping next room. Vorpal was hit by one of your bioweapons, but he should recover."

"Oh dear." That's it. She doesn't say anything else, especially not anything useful about antidotes.

"Tawnya?" Wonder Vorpal stares at Tigra for a few seconds, eyes narrowed, but he decides that Gar must be a trustworthy source… whomever he thinks Gar is in his hallucination (perhaps Etta Caddy)

"It is good to see you, Tawnya…" he says, trying to sound regal and Amazonian an… not succeeding on any of those counts because he can't quite make the Eagle look regal enough. It's the wrong shape. "But halt! These poor creatures have been imperiled-" he says, turning to look at the siamese. "Suffering Sappho, sleeping siamese… es. You two, continue to search whilst I lift these over my head and carry them outside just so-"

And he does not, in fact, lift them over his head. Because these are human-sized siamese, and trying to lift all of them at once fails due to the fact that he doesn't have super-strength… and that he's higher than a flag on the Fourth of July. He tilts and falls on his side, getting up quickly with an 'I'm alright!' look, "Something is affecting my powers here- hark! My super-hearing detects the sound of snoring… onwards!" He twirls the licorice lasso, "The answer to all of our riddles must lay therein!"

And he strides, rather unsteadily, towards the sound of snoring.

Tigra eyes Gar at some of what he says, along with his suggestion. "Who?" she asks him, squinting openly before she's encouraged to just play along. "Yeah, yeah," she waves a hand at Vorpal a few times, both looking and sounding impatient with the whole thing. "You," she tells Vorpal, "Should have a seat before you hurt yourself. I'll see what's causing the snoring." In fact, that's where she's headed, but not before looking toward the ceiling. "Soooo, how do you counter this..stuff..and get him back to normal?" Tigra asks the owner of the voice that comes through the speaker. "Relatively speaking, of course."

Everyone wants to know what the snoring is. It's … a very large object. Sort of blue, covered in fur. It's necessary to go partway around it to find the head. A closer look reveals it to be part … dog. The ears and face are those of a Labrador Retriever. Yes, it's a SnorLab, blocking the access to whatever is beyond it with its bulk.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the mousy voice says. "I don't know what you mean."

"This is stupid," Gar says. "Everything in here is asleep. Vorpal is thinking he's Wonder Wombat. Where is the antidote to the mushroom?"

//"Antidote?" the voice says. "We … haven't worked that out."

"FINE. One person in here. Are there others?"

"No, there were only the five and Doctor Chenille."

"I understand your concern, sister Tawnya, but worry not- my Amazonian training makes me far more resilient than you'd think!" Vorpal staggers a little and ends up tripping forward. He is so far up in his own world that he's let loose a little of his control over his energy … and a chaos wave expands out of him and outwards. "… I might need to sit down…" he says. And does. Suddenly he's a little woozy… "Merciful Minerva, this place is strange!"

"What, exactly, were you doing in here, and how do we get back out?" Tigra sounds agitated by now, and she's looking toward Vorpal as she finishes the question. Portal in, but what about the other way around? She's pacing at the sight of the big blue dog, her tail lashing back and forth a few times to convey her mood. "Is anyone around here actually competent?" Oh, she's definitely an angry feline, and whatever's going on with Vorpal now? She's moving away from it as muchas she can.

"He's drugged by the mushroom," Gar says, and realizes that he's getting … furry. Dammit. It's turning red too. Someone must've done a Chaos Wave.

"OK, how contagious is this stuff, Miss?" Gar growls, as the color overwhelms and replaces his previous green, as though he were Bruce Banner suddenly supplanted by Thunderbolt Ross's worst idea ever.

"The mushroom? Oh. Not. It's sterile," the voice finally answers.

"Great. Hey. Wonder Wombat. We need to move this guy, and he's just too big. Do you think you could summon your Invisible Crane and hoist him to the side?"

Yes, Wonder Wombat has an invisible crane. It's very constructive.

"I hope you don't mind, if we can't move this dude we're going to have to make a hole somewhere."

Getting to his feet, the wonder cat grins- "It's not a problem at all! Like so!" And there is an invisible crane. It's a construct, but Vorpal's subconscious works towards reinforcing his delusion and making it invisible through his illusions. Illusory delusion. It makes short work of the obstruction, "Simply wonderful, no?" he says, putting his hands on his hips. He grins at Tawnya, but seems a little put off by the talks of getting him back to normal.

"You..just turned red, and fuzzy," Tigra helpfully points out, gesturing toward Gar, looking much like she's not sure what to make of that on top of all the rest. "I thought green was your thing." Moments later, she's staring at both of them again at the 'Invisible Crane' thing, and even further when it actually seems to be working. It leaves her scratching the side of her face, having gone quiet suddenly.

"I learned years ago," Gar says in a philosophical tone, "that when the weirdness comes in waves, you just have to ride them and hope you don't get eaten by landsharks."

That makes the snor-lab snort and mumble in his sleep. Beyond his now-sideways bulk, there is a door leading into a hallway, and the hallway leads to a decontamination chamber. (There is a big sign, 'DECONTAM. NO SMOKING. THIS MEANS YOU, CHENILLE' in black sharpie block letters.)

Decontamination. "Does that mean we're contiamina…minanated?" Vorpal asks. The Wonder Buzz is wearing off just a little. "Wait… we gotta rescue. Should I go back to ge-NO, aways forward!" He says, his movements erratic until he gets some direction, and marches towards the hallway, "Surely the mastermind behind this is somewhere over there!"

Tigra does not look like she's in the kind of mood that's open to understanding or otherwise comprehending everything that's been revealed in this place, nor what's happened since they got in there. It might be some sort of uncharted territory for her, and on this particular day she isn't handling it the best. "Let's just get out of here, decontamination room or not. I still don't have any idea what we actually found or learned except they're doing a completely insane set of experiments."

"Well, we might have caterpillar cooties, which means we should shower," Gar says. "Caterpillar cootie bites can become infected."

A sort of sickly red smile to Tigra … "It's a side effect of chaos magic. Vorp's little hiccup in there. We want to get out before something else fun happens."

This is a good idea. In the room with the Snorlab, there were playing cards. They might be… waking up.

"Hey, look, they have a fur-matic," Gar says, noting the design of the shower. It has multiple nozzles, able to soap everything well and rinse it, and then blow-dry the fur. "They should sell these, you know?"

Well, the market is not really that large, but perhaps if they succeed in their experiments…

The blow-dry treatment, as soon as Vorpal engages in it, has a wonderfully clearing effect, bringing him slowly out of his temporary madness. "Ungh… gah, what the hell was I on?" he mutters, looking somewhat embarrassed. And dripping. He's still wearing his clothes, mind you. So those are dripping wet, as well. "… that illustrated…illustrious…smart scientist," Vorpal says, the grandiloquence of the Golden Age leaving him slowly "… is she going to be alright? We should go back to get her!"

"Ended up catching me on a bad day, I guess," Tigra notes, for she hasn't handled this situation with much patience up to now. At the least, she does seem curious when Gar points out this 'fur-matic' thing, eyeing the shower. "That so?" Glancing down at her 'wardrobe,' it strikes her that she'll probably have to get out of that to take care of this part, not that it's a big deal for her. "So..did we actually learn anything useful from all this? What did we accomplish? Just knowing that they're not, uh, all dead in here?"

"Shrooms," Gar says, washing the red right out of his hair. Well, that's interesting. It washes off.

"You can't go back in there, the doors have locked," the mousy-woman's voice says. "The bombs would go off now if you went in. We just needed to know that they were alive and not all mutated into horrible dying miserable things." and a tiny voice might be heard to say "again" if you listen close.

"So why don't you put cameras in, or use drones?" Gar says, modesty being utterly destroyed by warm blasts of air.

The word that gets muttered might be "budget" but it's possible that it wasn't. Surely they wouldn't be scrimping on that basic safety equipment.

"What was happening with Chenille?" Gar demands.

"Oh. That's kind of an extreme personal project…"

Mousy Woman says from the open escape hatch. "Thank you for helping. I'm going to be in real trouble if they find out I brought you here though."

Dripping, Vorpal looks absoutely miserable. "Well… as long as they're alive and well…" he trails off and looks at Gar. And Tigra. "Not a word about the Wonder Woman thing, okay?" he hisses. He doesn't know why he asks this- Gar will totally use this. "…er… I don't know about you, but I am suddenly very, very hungry. Cheesecake? … my treat." He gives Tigra a meek smile. An olive branch after having slapped her with the palm tree of crazy.

Tigra can keep her back to the others anyway, but all those stripes and such are on full display for as long as it takes her to go through this whole process. Okay, sure, maybe the shower does feel better than she expected, but it doesn't completely clear away her bluntness and lingering agitation, most of it turned toward their contact. "You guys seriously need to do a better job of monitoring your experiments, and I don't even want to know why you have human-sized cats back there." Irony? Back to Gar and Vorpal, she adds, "Let's just get out of here. And no offense, but if this one tries to get us to come back here again, I'm staying home." A thumb is jerked toward said contact one more time as she goes about getting back into her outfit. Eyeing Vorpal, she sniffs once. "Nobody would believe it anyway. And don't think you can always get out of things by buying me food." This time? Well, at least there's a nod.

The woman squeaks and retreats. She shouldn't abandon her post, but, she is abandoning her post.

"Vorpal, could you please take us to someplace with REALLY good cheesecake and possibly coffee that doesn't taste like Juan Valdez' donkey drooled into the pot?"

He looks over to Tigra, apologetically. "I thought it would be just a boring thing. It is sometimes. Slightly more often than it isn't."

He doesn't mention that the human-sized siamese are probably more like 'siamese-shaped humans' based on what he saw on the various notes in clipboards, and the materials they had lying around. The sleep effect, he's not sure of at all. Maybe it was the dog? If they'd woken it would it have done something? So, it was a good thing the Invisible Crane didn't wake it. It's always better to let Sleepening Dogs Lie.

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