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Catalyst Project

Damani is dead... they're all dead. I watched my love... mutilated by that thing. Hollis. Prasad. Maria. They threw themselves at it... a-and i just ran... I'm in the comms room now and I don't think it can get to me... Someone triggered a security shutdown so I'm trapped for now... I don't know if anyone else made it out. I called for help as soon as I could b-but... no response yet... oh god I can hear it in the walls.  

- last recorded message on the sensor array computer, Chimera Labs

  The Catalyst Project was a diversified project with multiple small enclaves of scientists working independently at distantly separated locations. The goal of this project was the development of a method to quickly adapt the martian colonists to the environment of their new home, to secure their prolonged survival.  

Two Approaches

Active Gene Therapy:

The goal of AGT was to re-engineer the human genome through RNA therapy, where a reprogrammed virus is used to re-engineer the hosts genome. The intention was to create a virus that would spread throughout every cell of its host and trigger direct view-able changes. Both of these programs over-excelled at their goal, to such an extent that the scientists working on the projects were overwhelmed by their own creations. These failed programs contributed a lot to the overall goal of the Catalyst program, but in the end failed miserably. The clandestine nature of the projects meant the personnel of these facilities were lost to time. Scientists involved in the active gene therapy program were isolated to work in distantly separated secret bio-labs. These labs were self sustaining in their food and energy production, although some stations were exceptionally lacking in their manpower.  

Passive Gene Therapy:

This method was centered around gene therapy involving the general population over time, inoculating the reproductive cells of men and women with the catalyst serum. They attempted and succeeded to "speed up" the evolutionary process. Although the protomartians were incapable of bringing any children to term prior to the administration of the catalyst program, after the Catalyst Serum, they were now mostly bringing to term severely deformed stillbirths. Nearly 7% of the total children produced within the last generations of the protomartians survived to adulthood. They were not homogeneous from birth, each of the individuals in this 7% had similar but unique characteristics, these differences did not prevent the successful reproduction of the colonists. With the help of the catalyst serum the colonists genetic material was altered to create a new species, the Martians.  

Two Labs

Both bio-labs were tasked with finding a functional method of applying active gene therapy (a genome re-engineering virus) to cause rapid adaptation. Both attempts were utter failures, creating murderous monstrosities in the process.  

Chimera Labs

Chimera Labs
Hidden in a crater near the Nile River Delta, Chimera Labs was the location of the first attempt at active gene therapy.  

Medusa Labs

hilltop station.jpg
Located high in the mountains near the southern pole, Medusa Labs was the second attempt at active gene therapy. This project was started shortly after the launch of Chimera Labs.
Discovery
Although both AGT labs ended in disaster, the personnel at Medusa Labs were capable of transmitting some of the data they had collected form experiments, effectively showing the Martian colonists how to use a special fungus and mineral to bestow upon themselves psionic abilities.
Related Materials
Chimera

The Chimera

Created in Chimera Labs as a product of a botched experiment, the Chimera devours any life-form it comes in contact with, assimilating them into its biological mass. In the case of this experiment gone wrong, almost the entire staff of the labs were assimilated into this monstrosity.

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Comments

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6 Jul, 2018 05:41

Not the article to read before bed. Spooky, and an interesting read, great use of the original prompt!

6 Jul, 2018 05:57

Creepy! Were they able to eliminate the chimera?

6 Jul, 2018 17:18

*spoilers* no... o_o The Chimera is there to this dau waiting for unknowing explorers. Im definitely gunna incorporate this lab and the monster into a DnD campaign once the story is a bit more fleshed out!

6 Jul, 2018 19:31

Ah Jesus that'd be horrifying!   Bonus points if it absorbs a teammate or familiar they've grown fond of....

6 Jul, 2018 06:25

Oooh. This was a fun one to read. I'm really interested in the outcome of Medusa Labs as you mention that it "was" the second attempt at active gene therapy.

6 Jul, 2018 06:27

Well. I guess that seemed like a good idea at the time.   Seriously though, based on the 'Martians' article, they... didn't quite get what they were looking for, did they? Though I suppose psychic powers are kinda nice.   What exactly do you mean by the 'Nile River Delta'? That's normally on Earth, right?

6 Jul, 2018 13:54

Ah yes, i should have differentiated a bit.   The martian colonists tended to name,certain geographical features after similar features from Earth. So where the Martian city of Nilis now stands was once called the Nile River Delta! I'll definitely go back in and elaborate.

15 Jul, 2018 19:29

Congrats on your feature in World Anvil's Summer Camp Roundup for Week 2!

15 Jul, 2018 22:23

Thanks so much! I had no idea until you said something.