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Iron Quill - The Price of Progress - Discoveries


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By: Moxypoo

Ingredients: The Price of Progress, Industrial Zone

1743 words





Part 1: Results


                An older, silver haired man in a pristine white laboratory coat snapped his fingers, and a small, spider-like construct immediately leapt off a storage rack and raced across the floor to the man’s desk.  The laboratory encompassed the whole of three rooms in the basement of an old, rundown Industrial Zone warehouse.  The walls and floor were old granite, worn smooth by many years of scuffling boots and heavy machinery.  A few Soulstone-powered lamps kept the worst of the darkness at bay, though the lighting in the laboratory was dim.  Occasional fluctuations in power from the Soulstones caused the lamps to flicker and shadows to dance on the walls.  In the main room, a solid wooden staircase led to a securely barred trapdoor in the ceiling, and a long L-shaped desk contained all manner of scientific paraphernalia.  The scientist sat at this table while writing in his notebook.    


                Sensing the construct approaching, the scientist said, “Good.  We’ll pick up where we left off.  Begin recording now.”

After nimbly scaling the desk, the construct opened its optical iris and began scanning the notebook.



October 28th 113PF


 Research into the soul’s powering of Soulstones con’t. 


It is well known that Soulstones obtain power from captured human souls.  This is generally achieved as the soul leaves the body after death.  In a simplistic sense, one can think of these gemstones as a rechargeable energy storage device.


Is the soul the energy source, or is it a catalyst to produce energy from the stone?


Continue with plan to analyze soul before its passing to the aether.




March 15th 114PF


Experiment to detect the soul’s passage.


Success!  The transanima device was able to detect Subject 3’s soul as it left the body.  Soul had a lifespan of approximately 500 milliseconds in this realm.


Possible to capture soul outside soulstone?  Need to determine soul’s energy content. 




June 6th 114PF


Measurement of the soul’s energy content


After repeated failure to capture a soul outside a Soulstone, an apparatus was created to detect any energy spike emanating from a Soulstone upon capture of a soul (Sacrificed Subjects 4 through 8 to make these measurements).


Results:  E = mc2


E = 300,000,0002 = 9x1016 Joules


(Soul has no detectable mass – breaks known laws of physics by being able to spontaneously create energy with no mass – or are the laws just inadequate?).


How is the Soulstone not destroyed by this incredible influx of energy?  Could the Soulstone prevent the soul from passing to the aether and slowly siphon off its energy?


***If the latter is true, it should be possible to slowly siphon the soul from a living human!!




August 14th 114PF


Soul Absorption Serum


High lode Soulstones can be powdered, suspended in a dimethylformamide medium, and injected into a test subject’s bloodstream with a fatality rate of only 20 percent.


***Limited success of soul absorption serum – seemed to have no effect in surviving subjects.


Need to find a catalyst that triggers the start of soul absorption.




September 21st 114PF


Soul Absorption Serum, con’t.


A unique influx of energy last evening caused a fascinating result.  The Red Star fell from the sky, and the energy wave released appeared to be the necessary catalyst.


The entire stock of Serum began to glow with a bright, white light.  Subsequent injection seemed to cause extreme pain, with a similar proportion of subject death. 


Upon certain stimuli (notably injury), serum can be triggered in the bloodstream.  Appears to cause varying effects, such as hallucinations, paranoia, and increased physical capabilities.


Preparing to inject Subject 15.  He is more refined than the others – should produce more satisfactory results.





Part 2: Awakening


       I suddenly became aware.  It wasn’t that I awoke from sleep or unconsciousness; it was like coming into being from a state of nothingness.  I had no memories before that moment.  My eyes opened reluctantly, and even though the light was dim, it stung mercilessly.  I squeezed my eyes shut quickly, and tears slid down my cheeks.  I could feel my body for the first time.  My limbs and head were strapped to some sort of upright table, preventing me from moving much.  I was cold. 


      Reluctantly, I cracked my eyelids and forced my eyes to adjust to the light.  I was in a large room with walls and floors of stone.  Directly across from me was a doorway leading into another room; I could see sterile light and a human shaped shadow against the wall.  There was some strange, almost antiseptic smell suffusing my surroundings, and I could see dark brown stains leading to a drain in the center of the floor.  I tried to swallow and my parched throat hurt, causing me to moan loudly.  As if that were a signal, a small mass detached itself from a shadowy corner and skittered into the adjacent room.


      The human shaped shadow abruptly moved, and some piece of furniture scraped against the stone floor.  A small, grey haired man in a white coat marched through the door directly at me, and I panicked, thrashing at my bonds.


     “Now, now, we can’t have you thrashing about and damaging yourself,” the man said.  He whistled and a construct I hadn’t noticed leaped onto my chest and stabbed a syringe into my neck.  A sense of calm and relaxation rapidly spread from that spot; I found myself unable to move but fully aware.


     “Is that better?” the man asked me.  He seemed satisfied.  “I will return shortly, and hopefully you’ll hold up better than the rest of the test subjects.”  While I felt that should worry me, I was too deep into narcotic bliss to care.  Moments later, the white-coated man returned from the adjacent room carrying a large syringe full of some viscous liquid that glowed with white hot fire.  It glowed so brightly that the objects in the room cast stark shadows.  I squeezed my eyes tightly to ward off the light, but I could see the man preparing to inject that noxious concoction into my arm right through my eyelids.  Searing, burning pain lanced from the injection!  It felt as if the lunatic in the white coat had injected molten metal directly into my veins.  I screamed until I lost consciousness. 


      When I awoke this time, I had memories.  They weren’t pleasant, but at least the pain had died down to a dull ache.  Taking stock of my surroundings, I realized that I was laying on a floor in a heap rather than strapped to that abominable table, and my stomach ached terribly.  There were pungent lumps of cheese and bread resting on a board; I devoured the food and drank a small cup of musty water.  I tried to stand and immediately collapsed – my legs were numb.  Eventually, I managed to crawl through the rooms, up a short staircase, and through a heavy trap door in the ceiling.  I found myself in a large, dusty warehouse that had clearly been abandoned for a long time.  As I crawled to the door, feeling slowly came to my legs, and I was able to stand and shuffle slowly.  I made the street and wandered aimlessly for some time.


     “You there!  Hey you!”  Two men in long grey overcoats started yelling at me.  I tried to respond, but my throat was too clumsy to form the words.  As the men walked closer to me, a massive humanoid construct carrying a broadsword and kite shield stepped around the corner of a building.  I cowered in terror against a sooty brick wall as its gaze fixated on me.  The men stopped near me and began conversing.


“Wasted on ‘shine probably.  Don’t even know where he is.  Should we throw him in lockup?”


“Naw.  Pissant like this will just be back on the streets tomorrow.  Probably get ate by some Neverborn monster.  Kinder ter just put a bullet in ‘im and be done with it.”


“Yessir, Sarge.” 


     The larger man pulled a large pistol from his coat and shot me in the chest.  It hurt, obviously, but was nothing compared to the raging inferno of pain that consumed me as the serum returned.  My muscles convulsed and white light shown from my eyes and mouth as I writhed and screamed on the ground.  The blood flowing freely from my chest slowed to a trickle and then stopped completely as the gaping hole slowly knitted itself over.  New, incredible strength came to my limbs, and I stood as the pain subsided.


For the first time, I smiled and clenched my fists.





Part 3: Stimulus


“Ah, so you’re back already?  Did we observe anything interesting?”


     A small, many-legged construct deftly climbed up the scientist’s desk, small puffs of smoke venting from its miniature boiler as it climbed.  An iris on the front of the construct opened, and a fuzzy image of Subject 15 projected onto the stone wall of the laboratory.  The scientist watched with intense interest as 15 wandered drunkenly down Garnet Avenue.  His eyebrows raised when 15 was shot by the Guild patrol, and a small smirk twisted his lips as he watched the Serum in 15’s blood activate.  He watched as 15 stood, skin glowing faintly in the semi-dark of the Industrial Zone’s dusk.


     The Guild Guards backed away slowly, pistols trained on 15, while the Guardian stepped forward and interposed its shield between itself and the new threat.  The Guardian lunged toward 15.  He met it head on and smashed it to the ground.  The Guardian struggled feebly to right itself as 15 repeatedly smashed his fists into its head.  The steel crumpled, sparks flew, and the construct ceased its struggles as its cortex was crushed.  15 leaped twelve feet through the air, tackled the man who shot him just seconds ago, and pummeled him to death while screaming incoherently.  The sergeant bolted, and the projection ceased.


     The scientist leaned back in his chair, pursed his lips and paused for a moment, then patted the construct as if it were a dog. 


“It seems that the field test was successful.  Shame that we do not have more control over his actions, but I suppose that’s the price of progress.”




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