**The Sickness of Hydia part 1: The State of the Art

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Joined: 19 Mar 2020, 11:39

**The Sickness of Hydia part 1: The State of the Art

Post by Indon » 01 Aug 2020, 17:50

Summary: Indon arrives on Hydia, and is introduced to the facilities dedicated to research of Lycanrot - and meets its foremost researcher.

Indon was barely out of the spaceport, his tired eyes squinting in the harsh, bright light of the Hydian sun, when he was greeted from a distance. "Outstanding! Just as the message promised, the alien scientist comes to save my people!"

Approaching was a tall, graceful red hydian bowed before Indon, with a flourish of his arm, proclaiming, "Welcome to Feldron! Oh, what... fortune... that you have come to our world, master Indon. Lycanrot is the most heinous sickness that affects our people, so fearful and contagious that our researchers fear, rightly so, even to work on it! And you look... frightfully well suited for the project." The hydian pulled out a hankerchief as he took in Indon's appearance once he was closer, covering his mouth and nose in what was probably a polite, aristocratic gesture of disgust.

Indon, for once in a long time, paid a moment of attention to how haggard he looked, from working long hours on a cramped ship that had functional, barely-adequate hygenic facilities that he barely even used, and coming before that from a dusty rebel conflict - not to mention that stopover at the horrific hive-infested asteroid that he'd rather just forget. His lab coat was discolored with dirt and streaks of what might have been chemical spills or bloodstains, or bloodstains from beings that were effectively chemical spills. His hair was trying to point in just about every direction, and a lack of good rest showed in his eyes. Indon rarely cared about how he was seen... and even by that standard, he had definitely seen better days.

In a culture that cared so much about appearance as Hydia, that would have been a massive faux pas - Indon wondered just how incredibly valuable his potential research contributions must be, to be given so much respect despite coming off of Syhiver's ship so... crusty.

Indon returned the bow. "Uh, just Indon is fine. Thank you, sir... Yuzu?" He guessed the name of the noble he was previously in contact with.

"Yes, I am Sir Yuzu. Come!" The hydian curtly spun and walked away, in a graceful and gliding step, and Indon had to almost jog to keep up with the tall, long-legged alien. He led Indon through the town and down an alley between two beautiful spires, to an oddly nondescript, functional-looking building nestled cleverly between many other more flamboyant ones, and then into that building's basement... and to a door to that basement's basement. "The lab is through here. I daren't accompany you any further, but the... head researcher... is expecting your arrival. I'm certain the two of you will get on well. Ta-ta!" He spun and left, walking faster than he was when he came down there.

Indon, for his part, was already turning his mind towards work. He went right into the sub-basement, to the prep area before the clean room to shower and get a clean lab coat. He was a bit tired, too, but too excited to nap.

Once he was ready to enter a proper biology lab, Indon entered with a firm knock to make sure whoever was down there knew he was coming. As he stepped into the lab, he marveled - the inside looked very different from the nondescript outside, spacious and well-equipped, clean and functional in contrast to the tourist gaudiness of the city - Indon was struck with a bout of jealousy from how well-equipped the large laboratory seemed even at a glance. He resolved to make some money back on Earth and buy better lab gear for his own portable private lab. Something wasn't quite normal about the equipment, though, but it was hard to put a finger on how. Much easier to notice was the only person Indon could see in the lab - presumably that 'head researcher'.

Indon approached that person - a person they couldn't have missed. The individual was a two and a half meter tall, meter thick creature, with bright orange scales down the visible back of their wide, reptilian head. It wore a massive lab coat that seemed hand-crafted from multiple standard-sized lab coats stitched together in a frankensteinian fashion. That creature spun around from the lab table it was by, only just now noticing Indon's entry. "Oh!" it exclaimed in a gravelly but feminine-pitched voice, coughing forcefully to clear its throat. It continued, sounding barely less gravelly, "You must be Indon. We're happy for your help. Well, though, I'm the only person working here right now. So I'm happy for your help." It bowed, and its massive hip jostled into the table and knocked over the samples it must have been working on. "Oh no not again!" It exclaimed as it lumbered about trying to clean up the mishap.

Indon tilted his head, not quite knowing what to make of the situation for a moment, before lab instincts kicked in and he went in to help clean up, and make the laboratory equivalent of small talk. "Yes, I'm Indon, and I'm happy to be here. So, I've read much of the existing published analysis of Lycanrot, thanks to some... spare time during my ship travel." And, left unsaid, some missed sleep. "It's a fascinating condition, with its mixture of instances of contagious spread, spontaneous development, and identification of genetic and epigenic markers. I don't think any diseases in my species quite behave like it, though Leprosy was close, before we identified its bacterial carrier."

The huge creature responded, "Oh. Well, that's good. I am, uh, Alizia. And I'm happy you read those papers, because now you know as much as I do about Lycanrot." Looking over the massive creature's body, it did seem to be more feminine than masculine, though applying the label felt difficult with such a proportionally inhuman frame. Indon supposed what he thought was massive barrel-chest muscles on the creature's body were simply... small breasts over barrel-chest muscles. Indon had seen some female body-builders before, and there were similarities to a high-muscle, low-fat build. Or perhaps Alizia was simply of a species that didn't have mammalian features.

Moreover, Indon had read that name before. "Oh. Yes, I've read your papers, then. Good to know I'm working with the galaxy's foremost expert on Lycanrot!"

"Oh, the only expert really. You see, because we don't know how it spreads or what causes it... we don't know how to build effective protective lab measures." She gestured to herself with an arm near as thick as Indon's torso. "Hydians who research Lycanrot eventually always either quit, or... contract. Research also seems to aggravate the condition. There are no known cases of aliens contracting Lycanrot, but if you wanted to try, this would be the best place on the planet to do it."

Indon couldn't stifle a gasp of surprise. Alizia was Hydian! It was difficult to match up this woman's massive, powerful figure with that of a 'normal' Hydian, the body she must have had before contracting the illness. "Do you have physical specs from before contracting? Have you been tracking your own progress?"

She nodded, slowly, and raised an arm to point at a console with an oversized keyboard, its keys made for larger entities, such as Alizia. "You can access the research mainframe there and review all my data firsthand."

Indon was on the mainframe within moments, searching through the data, tapping into his own console to set up an interface with his own portable computer. Just minutes later, he said, "So yes, you have basics like height and weight and... neck size, wow, those are amazing numbers... but you don't have data on your physical performance. Strength and so on." He looked back over his shoulder at the lab and realized what was odd about the lab equipment - containers were reinforced, thicker and stronger than normal to deal with someone with a superhuman grip strength... with, presumably, less than perfect control. Tables were thicker and heavier, so that the researcher working on it would jostle them instead of sending them flipping over. The keyboard he was working on was made of... steel, perhaps... and the keys still had little fingerprint divots from the strength of finger-impacts on the keys. Alizia had clearly gained significant strength from her condition, but measuring how much might be difficult without prior data.

Alizia stopped cleaning, and was quiet for a few seconds, then turned to Indon, looking at him with eyes that seemed small on her massive, snouted face - eyes that probably once looked completely normal on a smaller frame. She spoke, and her voice sounded less rough, her tone instead cold, clear, analytical - the words of a scientist putting some emotion to the side for the sake of the pursuit of truth.
"I guess I should have been tracking that. I have always considered it an inconvenience, but, yes, it is likely an effect of the Lycanrot. Brutish strength is colloquially considered a significant symptom, and... as a researcher I should be collecting data on that. I should measure the strength of people who have Lycanrot, and we can use me to work out how to take those metrics. I do not know how to measure physical performance in a clear, consistent way, though."

Indon smiled. "You don't need to worry, this is an area I'm experienced in. I can devise a battery of tests and measurements to develop a data baseline. Happy I get to use my unique area of expertise so quickly for this research!" Indon tapped at his console. "Gonna need really durable hardware..."

Alizia turned back to her work. "Take your time... we... need to do it right."

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Re: **The Sickness of Hydia part 1: The State of the Art

Post by Luke » 05 Aug 2020, 08:45

A good reintroduction to Indon's quest to Hydia.

I would say my favorite part was your description of the lab, and how you indicated Indon sensed something was off and then used the reinforced nature of the containers and equipment to sort of lead into the aspect of the research you intended to explore. This did read a lot like the second chapter to a missing first chapter to me, but I imagine after a pretty long hiatus it can be hard to start up from nothing as well. Alizia seems like an interesting character, and I look forward to getting to know her better.

RPP rewarded.

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