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The Colossal
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#11
The Mystery of the Brass Vault: Entry 2
Nelso555
Dec 9, 2015
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14 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!a73lzKa6cfuMEct6y0K9posted on PENANA

The research facility that the Rosanne was traveling to was named Gamma Base, and over the years it had been a fortress of secrecy and superstition for the local township that was situated nearby. They never came near in, in fact, they were unspeakably afraid of it. Some claimed that the scientists who worked there spent their time transferring the souls of demons into organic bodies. The base was built underground, in a cave that ran into the sea. The only entrance was a small man-made tunnel located a few hundred meters back from the cliffs, but that was destroyed shortly after the rest of the base was shut down, and no one had ever stepped inside since. And yet someone had sent that transmission directly to the Rosanne – from inside the base.copyright protection57PENANA2rWeEiAWke

On the day that the Rosanne arrived in the bay outside the township, the professor summoned half of the crew to breakfast, even Tilly Eveans – who worked in the engine room – and together they designed a method of overcoming this roadblock. Goodwin began by stating that Jack – if it was indeed Jack – could not have used the original entrance, meaning that he either entered through the sea, or found some other secret way in. The opening to the cave was below sea level and the Rosanne was too large to fit inside; furthermore, there was too much water for someone to swim the distance without drowning. Then, with a wicked smile, the professor set down his tea and said, “I was hoping it would come to this. Elsie, Herschel and Fiona, I’d like you to meet me downstairs in fifteen minutes.”copyright protection57PENANATvlWQVH12T

Fifteen minutes later, with Mr. Adams and Doctor O’Donnell by her side, Elsie entered a part of the Rosanne that she had not yet been to, but what she saw left a bad feeling in her gut. There, hanging upon the walls, were four diving suits. Some were slimmer than others, and some were taller. They were made from some flexible but very waterproof fabric, and beside each one was a great bulbous helmet fitted with air tubes and a looking glass. The air canisters, it seemed, fitted onto the backs. Elsie trembled, thinking that there was no force on earth that would get her into one of those suits.copyright protection57PENANAgwGVJa2iaN

It took a lot of encouraging to get Elsie to play along. Once she was actually in the suit and the four of them were stepping into the airlock, well, it became a little easier. There came a red blinking light, and slowly the airlock filled with water, and then they were confronted with that great turquoise blue, and Elsie found herself sinking wistfully to the ocean floor.copyright protection57PENANArceoqTH1P2

The beauty of the ocean was hypnotizing, and instantly Elsie found herself forgetting her worries and gaping in silence at the mysterious aquatic world around her. It was peaceful down there, and she smiled. When she lifted her head she saw the Rosanne drifting by, large and somewhat majestic. Then it passed and Elsie saw the surface of the water, way up above her, glistening with light. It was as though there were angels dancing about the gates of heaven. Streaks of sunlight shot down like spears and pierced the ocean floor. With every slow step the sand exploded around her feet, she became incredibly aware of her breathing, and for just a few moments she strolled freely around this blue underwater castle. The walls of the castle seemed to soar higher and higher as she walked, and coral of every colour imaginable was spread out before her like paint on a canvas. She glanced in awe as a giant sea turtle glided overhead with the gentle grace of a butterfly – it was the first time she had ever seen one in person. Suddenly there were fish all about her, and prickly urchins, and mean-looking eels, and sea sponges, and a small reef shark as well. Every step brought her something new, and she marvelled still while she had the chance, and the sun left strokes of bluish gold upon the sand.copyright protection57PENANAgJxBGnxnpA

Suddenly she was confronted by another, somewhat stouter suit, and she knew that it belonged to Professor Goodwin. He stood still like a statue, and slowly he raised his padded hand and waved at her. Then there came a crackly voice out of nowhere, as if it were in her head, but in fact it came from the radio in her helmet. “Elsie, can… hear me?” said the professor, but some of his words were covered with static. “How… you feeling?”copyright protection57PENANAhG6XBQ7D8h

Elsie tried a reply on her own radio. “I’m doing fine. Professor, I’m not sure if the radio is working properly.”copyright protection57PENANAqAuFYVyFWo

“That’s odd,” the professor exclaimed, but again his words were hard to understand. “I was… Miss Eveans had… look at them!”copyright protection57PENANAHc7eONCmb2

“Professor? Professor, I can’t understand you.”copyright protection57PENANAWtI3rjTzX2

A new voice came over her radio, belonging to Doctor O’Donnell. “Elsie, it appears our radios… cutting out. We’re heading… cave, okay? Just stay… to us… keep your light on. You do not want to get lost down…” After that there came only static.copyright protection57PENANARoCl4AgCgd

Elsie followed the doctor and the professor as they stalked towards the dark abyss that was the cave entrance to Gamma Base. She continued to talk into her radio, even though she knew they couldn’t hear her. “Professor, it is absolutely beautiful down here. I’ve never seen anything like it; never ever dreamed of anything like this. Do you and Doctor O’Donnell do this sort of stuff all the time? I suppose you do.” So Elsie followed the others, and Mr. Adams stayed close behind her, but then, all at once, the ocean became very dark and dismal. There was less life to be seen as they entered the chasm, and much less colour. As the light faded away behind them, Elsie saw Mr. Adams turn on his torch, and after fiddling around with her suit, she did the same, but all she could see with her single beam of light was colourless rocks and sand.copyright protection57PENANA1Xp8ceWOA7

Elsie was breathless and sweating by the time she emerged on the other side, in a dark chasm that appeared to be empty. With water dripping from the suits, their lights darted around as if they were alive, sliding and jumping over everything that wasn’t in sight. Through muffled sounds, Elsie heard someone remove their helmet, and then they helped to remove hers. She took a great breath of fresh air and glanced upon Mr. Adams, whose stern face was illuminated by her torchlight. When everyone was communicating again the professor said: “Oh Elsie, thank goodness you’re alright. I was only a little worried when the radios stopped working. I’ll have to talk to Miss Eveans about that.”copyright protection57PENANAQxBzA2TuBQ

“I’m sure it’s not her fault,” Doctor O’Donnell added in.copyright protection57PENANAwsf9NjJ4V0

“Quite so, still, the matter is behind us. Let’s see if I can’t find a power source. Herschel, with me if you will. Elsie, you stay with Fiona.”copyright protection57PENANAhWYH5aW1Zw

Elsie stayed with Doctor O’Donnell in silence, and deep down she began to feel uncomfortable, as if some strange presence was lurking within the dark cavern. O’Donnell noticed this, and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay, Elsie? You seem, I don’t know, a little on edge.”copyright protection57PENANA9Q4KpENi9o

“I can’t help thinking about this place, and the professor.” They both glanced up at the roof of the cavern, but saw only darkness. “I know there’s something he’s not telling me, and I don’t really care what it is, but I’m worried about Jack. Do you know if the professor has any connection to the research bases scattered around Pearl Isle?”copyright protection57PENANA9GRoPEHzJD

O’Donnell chuckled. “I should think so, he built them!”copyright protection57PENANAz0AxIGIEIH

Her words came as a surprise to Elsie. “He did? How? When? Wait, could you at least tell me, who was Professor Goodwin? Before all this, I mean.”copyright protection57PENANAbRyfCXUpg4

The doctor gestured for Elsie to sit down, and sitting upon a rock, she began to explain. “Alright, let me tell you something. Have you ever heard of an organisation called RimTech? Or perhaps AsGen? I wouldn’t expect you too. They were real secret-like, only a few people outside of the organisation knew about them. Some of their work was considered to be a little extreme, but that never stopped them. Suddenly one day it all shut down, and it caused a lot of fuss too, all over Pearl Isle. I must have been about ten-years-old at the time, and I only know about it because my daddy worked there. Anyway, the founder of the corporation of Rimtech and AsGen was Professor Robert Goodwin. Marvellous things he did; we owe our bio-tech to him, and probably most of our medicine. I can’t tell you why he stopped, though. He never let me ask.”copyright protection57PENANAOpKFOzkw94

Professor Goodwin must have found the power, because in an instant the entire cavern lit up, bright as day. Gamma Base was a great deal larger than what Elsie had thought. Part rock, part metal, on the far side of the cave (as far as Elsie knew) there was located a series of doors all around one particularly big door, and above them was a catwalk; a sort of platform, or perhaps a second level. When Elsie glanced up she saw great metal beams bearing bright lights amongst a shadowy rocky surface. Great pillars of rock dove down from the roof and plunged into the ground.copyright protection57PENANAaJ5LgNrZr9

The professor and Mr. Adams awaited them on the far side of the cave. Looking upon the place, a certain grimness came over Goodwin, as though he had just stepped into a shadow. “Well,” he said, “we all have a job to do, let’s get to it.”copyright protection57PENANAHD1fTEdN4t

Elsie stopped him before he could walk off. “Professor, what are we looking for exactly?”copyright protection57PENANARTTCyHcTel

“Anything interesting. Anything that might lead us to your brother, or better yet, your brother himself!” He glanced over the numerous doors about them. “Perhaps it’ll be quicker if we split up. Everyone, pick a door, and oh, good hunting.”copyright protection57PENANAXo429lQBki

Elsie picked the door closest to her left. Quiet and alone, she treaded down a long hallway that gradually became less of a cave and more of a laboratory. When she emerged on the other side she was standing in a very large room. For a secret underground facility this room had a lot of windows, but they glowed with a dark turquoise colour, and Elsie knew that she was gazing again into the sea. The room was richly furnished; there were dusty sofas, lamps, and desks upon which were piles of paper. To the left was a large pin-board covered in notes, and on the far wall was a tall bookshelf reaching right up to the ceiling, and a ladder beside it. Beside the bookshelves were filing cabinets filled to the brim with more notes. At Elsie’s feet was a dusty old, drink-stained rug.copyright protection57PENANAK1VMhOquCv

Elsie took a moment to rummage through the desk to see what all the paper was about. Most of it was just research notes; test results of some kind or scientific studies. She determined, after seeing the words ‘genetic engineering’ in various forms throughout the notes that that is what they were studying. She picked one particular book, a massive tome-like thing, titled The Complete Study of the Nature of Life. The very first sentence read: “Organic life is a canvass upon which we shall make our art.”copyright protection57PENANAXtoR5WyhQN

The next room Elsie entered made her despairingly uncomfortable. The first thing she noticed was the surgical table in the centre, and a collection of tools smeared with dry blood. All around her were cages and cages of animal bones, as if someone had just left them down here to die. But Elsie knew that the professor would never allow such a thing. She wondered how much Jack knew about all this.copyright protection57PENANADNbIQl3GWo

What stood out in the gruesome scenery around her was a single journal; a small forgotten book covered with dust and, frighteningly, a little blood. Elsie picked it up, and saw the name Charles Fredrick Vandenberg inscribed upon it. The man must have worked for Goodwin, and perhaps his journal would have answers as to what happened to all these animals. The pages were filled with writing, and Elsie had to flick through it, trying to find the most important parts. She read:copyright protection57PENANAYHqUtHIUbk

Today I joined AsGen and became part of Mr. Goodwin’s special team of researchers. I am simply astonished by this place! The amount of resources that must have gone into building it; and the secrecy! Why, I’m not even allowed to tell my colleges about this back in Warren City. As far as they know I’m still holidaying in the countryside…copyright protection57PENANAp9OO0ULzcB

Elsie skipped a few pages. She wanted to find out what Professor Goodwin was doing with all this research.copyright protection57PENANAmPpyxfTBWP

I happened upon a strange man today as I was loading the professor’s specimens into the labs. I had never seen him in the facility before, but he held his head high, so I assumed he was important. What startled me at first was that he knew my name, and as I shook his hand I hadn’t the foggiest idea at the time that this man was in fact Mr. Robert Goodwin himself! Oh how embarrassed I was…copyright protection57PENANAZVwqP07yUj

Still no answers, although one of the following passages seemed intriguing.copyright protection57PENANASktH8tBT2N

Goodwin has cleared most of the workers from the labs. I never see them go, but as the days shoot by they just seem to disappear, and the facility becomes just a little quieter. I received a letter from him this morning informing me that I am to be promoted to chief researcher. It is funny how it can all happen so fast. The letter also made mention of a new special assignment that I am to commence. At last I understand why one of my labs if full of animals…copyright protection57PENANAvpDUXbaQM7

Elsie now understood that Goodwin had this man Vandenberg perform experiments on the animals. But still, she knew that he wouldn’t just let them die.copyright protection57PENANAGM2ccSdkq8

I’ve done it! At last I’ve done it! Mr. Goodwin will be most pleased indeed. I applied his methods to my work – as instructed – and with my expert knowledge of genetic engineering I have exceeded the limits of the natural world! Why, just the other week I bred a lab rat that – in a matter of days – grew to be the size of a small dog! And everything remained in proportion! I have the specimen now in my office, and I intend to examine it in great detail…copyright protection57PENANAEis70BBBvE

Of the entire sample of lab rats provided to me, those that displayed any signs of rapid of growth have died. Post mortem examinations reveal that their cells became cancerous, roughly one week after treatment was inflicted. They died rapidly; the cancer acted in a way that I have never seen before. I believe that studying this occurrence in a number of different species may assist me in solving this dilemma…copyright protection57PENANAp032U0e5R0

It has taken a very long time, but I believe I may have found a breakthrough in my research. I was able to delay the cancer symptoms in my advanced lab rats and I may have discovered something astonishing. Approximately six days after treatment, the new specimens displayed incredible signs of heightened intelligence. Just imagine what AsGen could do with this sort of technology! But not yet, as there was one other complication that seemed to occur. Further observation is indeed required, but I swear the rats became abnormally aggressive in the moments prior to their deaths. It looks like I now have two problems to solve…copyright protection57PENANAcxNfK07Xlx

Elsie stuffed the journal into her suit upon hearing footsteps echoing like ghosts through the labs. Doctor O’Donnell appeared, and her smile faded when she noticed the state of the room they were in. She urged Elsie to leave. “Elsie, my dear, did you find anything?” Elsie shook her head, and the doctor took her hand. “Come with me, I do believe Robert has something for us.”copyright protection57PENANA5ZQy6Q9IsE

Returning to the main body of the cavern they found Mr. Adams and the professor awaiting them patiently, and the professor presented them with a very large sales log. “We are in luck, Miss Heartwing, for I now believe I know where your brother is located. This here is a sales log, and according to the records inside, the facility had been making purchases from Mr. John Backhaus for at least two years after it had been shut down.”copyright protection57PENANAmREpUzq8Eh

Elsie wondered if it was Vandenberg who had been making the purchases, trying to continue his research. She didn’t feel like asking Goodwin. Instead she inquired as to who this Mr. John Backhaus was, and what he had to do with Jack.copyright protection57PENANA9RPX6zXdxi

“Mr. Backhaus is the owner and founder of Backhaus Industries located in Edith Post. Now, look here Elsie, there’s a page missing from the log and I think that Jack took it; you see, for the past year he’s been tracking the items used in this sort of research.”copyright protection57PENANAKCiBaprk7U

Fiona O’Donnell investigated the sales log as well. “Look at this,” she added. “Some of these entries are less than a year old. This facility might not be so abandoned after all.”copyright protection57PENANAZtLDSGdjOS

And so they left Gamma Base in the same manner as they entered, and Elsie smiled, knowing that her brother was at Edith Post, and her next move was to have a talk to this man, Mr. John Backhaus.copyright protection57PENANAAYJqVPZS2w

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