(Content warning, body modification/light horror/self harm) It happened on the trip back, after dealing with the Tatzelwurm. Something clicked on in Doc’s mind, a rush of information, things falling together.
He’d been doing things all wrong, things weren’t quite meshing as well as they should be. He started scribbling furiously in his notes, new patterns, new formulas. Changes that he’d seen, things he could imitate. His racing mind recalled the ghouls, the entothrope, the research with Glaz, the fearsome power of Woosh, and more.
It was almost painful, the way the knowledge began falling together, one after the other after the other. He’d need to check his notes. There was a kitsune who could double check his math, make sure the science was sound. Of course, he’d have to keep the most important parts away, but… that was the risk, and the reward. He understood a bit more why his old boss didn’t just impart these changes to all who worked for him. People were too unique, too volatile. At some point, generic solutions weren’t enough. It had to become tailored.
It was a lucky find, the stone mask. Others might have seen how invigorated he was by the lightning strike of imagination and discovery. Doc had to politely bow out, as quickly as possible, returning to the hospital. The spark, as his boss once called it, needed to be spent, or it would be wasted.
Plans, long and short term, spilled out. Alternate forms. Body modification. Resilience, transformation, new extracts to inhale, drink, or apply. Doc Sharpe didn’t sleep. The Spark had him, just like it had sometimes with his old mentor. The stolen notes make more sense now, a leap from what he was, to what he could be. Still a ways to go, but… closer. Closer to understanding.
The confused kitsune alchemist was helpful, made corrections where the Spark sought speed and not careful progress. If he’d been slower, less manic, perhaps clearer of mind, Doc wouldn’t have made these kinds of errors. Sharpe adapted the corrections, adding it, and the numbers spun within his mind. He remembered this state when his Boss was like this. Always have someone else double check. Always keep it piece meal. Your discoveries are your own.
He almost couldn’t fault his old mentor for what he’d done. Almost.
The ghoulish treatment was the first step of the process, but he’d needed to see the effects first hand. Pain relief, without dulling the mind. Dwayne had expressed skepticism, but the scorpion creature had acquiesced in the end. After all, Dwayne was a part of Doc, and they had similar goals, even if they were two different minds. Growing Dwayne had been something he’d planned meticulously for a year, now it felt like years of work were just falling into place
Seven hours of self surgery, with Dwayne helping. The multiple scalpels within reach, taking hastily assembled anesthetic every twenty minutes. Too soon, he’d die from organ failure. Too late, and he’d be blinded by the pain of what he was doing to himself, unable to finish. Reducing bleeding, applying the prepared ghoulish poultices, reinforcing his own organs with the strange alchemical concoctions. The pain was searing, then what felt like a cold stone as he continued to add to the treatments to his organs. He’d not passed out once during the surgery, but after wrapping the bandages around his torso, Sharpe slept for two hours after, then being awoken to meet the new Venture Captain.
The spark still hadn’t faded, but he’d remembered his manners, even as he couldn’t stop scribbling. More calculations and submissions, chemical compounds at the hapless kitsune alchemist, who had kind, quiet corrections and possibly warnings for what Doc was doing. He’d not noticed or cared, it was hard for him to remember. Something about alternate personalities. It was somewhere in the notes, but Doc needed to see if he could do it. Push further, push the boundaries he’d thought he’d already reached.
Six hours for three days each tinkering with the formula, drinking, failing, vomiting, rinse, repeat, until it was right. The changes to the mutagen, to make it longer lasting, a more powerful form. Make himself fiercer, faster, more monstrous. Well, it wouldn’t be that big of a change, he was already a monster.
Talons like a dragon’s, inspired by Glaz’s research and teeth well… like his own, but now stronger, larger, sharper. His whole body had subtly grown as well. The stone mask adapted instead to this new form, bristling with the triple rows of serrated fangs.
Yes, this would do.
It was lucky he reverted back just minutes before a new patient arrived, who was patched up and sent on their way with nary a word. Wouldn’t do to terrify Heibarr’s populace, but there was WORK to be done. Dwayne hadn’t participated in this, instead watching Miri’s plays, and reporting back to Doc. The mischievous kitsune had apparently treated the large scorpion like an emperor, which amused Dwayne (and Doc) to no end. The scorpion had retold the plays that Miri had put on, embellishing even more than he thought possible with clacks of the pincers. He began his third work, assembling a design inspired by the monstrous werewasp, but…
The mania, the spark, was fading. His body needed time to recover, there was only so much one could do, even with the possibly insane drive that had possessed him. Mallory had been curious, perhaps too curious, what he’d been doing to himself. It was perhaps luck that she was satisfied with “Alchemy things.” The third thing was not going to be finished, not this time. And then he became aware of what his body was telling him, near screaming at him for the past two weeks, drowned in the fury and light of the Spark..
He was exhausted. Doc had not slept well for the last two weeks. A week recovery he estimated, then can begin mapping out the next changes.The mutagenic transformations were safe enough, inundated with magic as they were, but it was his base body that needed to adapt to the changes he’d begun.
Not everything could be done within these few weeks, as his aching back could attest. Working on Miri’s request had divided his attention from another attempted project, but it may have been a good thing. His body has been pushed to its limits.
The Spark would come back. He could feel it, silent for now, but still present in the back of his mind. He’d never felt it before these few weeks, but… he’d feel it again sometime.
In the meantime, it would probably be best to act normal. The Right Place was apparently coming, he’d heard from one of the patients that he’d patched up in a rush. Act normal. Be normal. He was good at that. Right?