The Premier Lab sat not in the middle of the city, Wallagawash like many Qwortarians believed. No, this lab was outside the city, perfectly white walls a stark contrast to the wild jungle green surrounding them. A perfect cube it had no windows and only one door. The one door opened to a thin hallway that acted as a decontamination chamber as the researchers walked through.
This was the lab which had created the personal translation device, and subsequently upgrading it to have a wireless connection with ships, and to aid in the manipulation of genetic material for shifting purposes.
But it wasn’t their only project.
Timosh and Ornabel were deep in their project, turning their knowledge of gene manipulation for shifting to other life forms, plants. While Qwortarians could shift and display plant features like leaves, bark, vines, they could not produce fruit without loosing mass, nor could they become fully plant.
That wasn’t the focus of their research, rather, changing plants to better fit their needs was the goal. Increased yield, sturdier, ability to survive storms or drawn out droughts and other things. While their instincts could change their own looks and abilities, Timosh, Ornabel, and many other Qwortarians, struggled to implement these changes in other forms.
Every change they made to the plant’s genetic material didn’t change what they wanted. Usually, their experimental plants just died. The decomposing material was kept for about a week in locked containers before being incinerated.
Ornabel came in early, the spray of the disinfectant stinging her eye, but they were so used to it there wasn’t any tears formed. Their lab was at the far end of the building, everything a brilliant white except the decaying plants.
They recorded these newest failures and then bagged up the remnants. The locked containers were in a closet. Ornabel waved their id and the door slid into the frame.
The smell hit Ornabel before the sight, the rotten material stacked in flimsy crates, oozing out of gaps between the wooden slats. Carefully scooping the goop into the crates with their limbs bare and shaped like giant spoons was Timosh.
“What are you doing?” Ornabel squeaked. “It’s not burn day!”
Timosh squinted so hard, their circular eye elongated into an oval. “There is useful data here.” The words were firm, yet quiet.
“We’ve already taken the data, what-” Tentacles quickly grew from Timosh, pulling Ornabel inside and pushing them against a wall.
“Lab data is nothing compared to wild data.”
“This isn’t something we can test outside the lab!” Ornabel’s body slowly began to puff up. “It isn’t-” The next words were only a gurgle, as several sharpened limbs pierced Ornabel’s body, hitting every major organ.
“I’m sorry it had to end this way. But they were about to announce our project being shut down.”
Ornabel’s body was buried in the waste. Timosh and the remains of his partner and their experiments disappeared.
Word count: 488