ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the October 4, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek and [personal profile] stardreamer. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] alatefeline, [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] janetmiles, and [livejournal.com profile] ng_moonmoth. This poem also fills the "slavefic" square in my 10-1-15 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

WARNING: This poem features content that is likely to disturb many readers, as it introduces the mad scientist who tortured Turq. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers and possibly triggers. Warning for Nazi background, because Nazis are always a warning, psychopathy, Turq's prior captor is one sick fuck, number instead of name, animal experimentation, human experimentation, abuse of genetic engineering, abuse of fertility science, complete lack of bioethics, or any other ethics, sexual slavery, human trafficking, all hurt/no comfort, also no happy ending, and other mayhem. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether this is something you want to read. It is plot-relevant, but you can probably get by without it since Turq has already talked about some of this stuff.


"Certain Anthropological Researches"


Carl Bernhardt surveyed his domain with
a calm, clinical gaze. The animal specimens
were doing well, representing a variety
of species from around the world.

For certain anthropological researches,
he required human specimens, of whom
the current batch were in adequate health.

Beyond that, of course, lay the core of
his inquiries into evolution and the means
by which it could be manipulated for
the betterment of humankind.

To his frustration, it had proven
too difficult to obtain a steady supply
of subjects with natural superpowers, so
he turned to fabrication of them, which
was another objective of his anyhow.

Carl thought fondly of his mentors,
most of them now deceased, and
their marvelous tales of Germany from
before they had to flee -- how easy it
had been to procure any number of
subjects for human experiments -- and
wished that he could have enjoyed
such opportunities himself.

As it was, his ancestors had been
obliged to move from Germany to
Argentina, and eventually to America,
whenever ignorant outsiders had
discovered their investigations
and hounded them as monsters.

Carl had studied Spanish in high school
and traveled to Argentina to study with those
who had remained there, only to run into
trouble himself from short-sighted fools.

He spent years jaunting around the world,
learning from whomever he met, before he could
establish his current compound in America.

Despite being a Super-Intellect, courtesy
of his family's more successful endeavors,
Carl didn't understand why people complained
so much about his methods. They worked.

Over the years, he had gotten his rate of
success up over 50% for induced superpowers.
They might not be perfect, but they were prolific
enough for him to make useful discoveries.

Surely no one knew more about these things
than he did, all thanks to his research.

At least once or twice a year, he even
managed to produce individuals suitable
for sale as exotic pets or other purposes,
which kept him in funding for his work.

There was always a market for those,
no matter how illegal it was in some places.

Carl reviewed his notes. He wanted
to learn everything there was to know
about superpowers -- why they existed,
how they manifested, and what methods
could be used to create a desired result.

A further aggravation was the fact
that his greatest successes and
his greatest failures always seemed
to overlap within the a series.

He had only managed to produce
shapeshifting in one set of experiments,
and over time, all of those subjects
had either expired or escaped.

He still missed the blue-haired boy
who had seemed so very promising.

The current projects were less ambitious
but more predictable, aimed at creating
a single stable shape which incorporated
human and animal components. Carl hoped
these would reveal how to enhance human senses
without the undesirable drawback of atavistic traits.

He turned his attention to CH-113, the last survivor
from a batch of 144 genetically engineered embryos,
now far enough into puberty to be marketable if she
could demonstrate enough stamina to survive.

She seemed hardier than the others in her series,
most of whom had succumbed to a high metabolism
that made them burn out too soon to be useful.

Opening the observation window, Carl noted
that the cheetah girl still lay on the small platform
above the pool, her tail flicking slowly. Many of
the others had failed the test within a few hours,
but she had survived almost the full twenty-four
and could soon be sold in an exclusive auction.

Although it was not an overt goal of his
to create sex slaves, Carl had to admit that
they made the most reliable sales, so he
kept an eye on that market for the sake of
subsidizing his less lucrative interests.

Genetic engineering and reproductive tech
made it possible to produce large batches
of offspring, which he could then test in order
to winnow them down to the best individuals.

Carl felt grateful that he had taken the time
to study at a fertility clinic, where he had also
fulfilled his duty to pass on his superior genes
by the simple expedient of substituting his own for
whatever pathetic samples the husband had provided.

It wasn't like he had any interest in raising children,
although he did enjoy watching his creations
grow and develop if they met his goals.

On the platform, CH-113 yawned and stretched
just as the clock ticked over and turned green.

The stamina test had been a success.

Carl pushed a button on the console,
which drained the pool and allowed CH-113
to jump down onto the damp floor. Then he
opened the door to her cell, and she moved
obediently through it back to her bed.

CH-113 wasn't very smart, but she
was biddable, which was a definite asset
considering her intended purpose. She
would bring him a handsome price.

Carl contemplated how to spend the proceeds
from her pending sale on his projects.

He was running low on human subjects again,
who were easy but not always cheap to acquire
from street children or other social discards.

Then again, perhaps he should make efforts
to re-acquire some of his escaped subjects,
whose analysis could be far more rewarding.

If CH-113 sold well, he might even afford
to pursue a little bit of both ends.

Carl wondered again what had become of
the escapees, whether they were even still alive,
that blue-haired boy and the yellow-haired girl,
and the others from this series or that.

Argentina's grand experiment with
a prison for superpowered subjects was
brilliant, but soon revealed the risks as well
as the benefits of such confinement.

The problem with superpowered people
was that the very same abilities which
made them desirable also made them
dangerous and difficult to control.

Not even Carl could get around that issue.

Paging to the next item on his tablet computer,
he left the observation room and headed
to another part of his laboratory.

There was so much to be done, and
even his mentors had not truly grasped
the depth of human potential while exploring
certain anthropological researches of their own.

Why focus on petty details of eye color
and skin tone, quibbling over racial issues,
when such wonderful enhancements lay in wait?

If he could just figure out how to extract the cheese
without triggering the genetic mousetrap,
they could all become Übermensch.

* * *

Notes:

Carl Bernhardt -- He has fair skin, beady black eyes, and short black hair that is going gray and receding at the hairline. His ancestors moved from Germany to Argentina during World War II, carrying on less-than-ethical scientific research. When people objected to that, his parents moved from Argentina to America to escape the heat. In high school, Carl studied Spanish and went to Argentina with his classmates, wanting to visit some of his relatives there. Upon discovering that some of them were still in the family business of shadowy experiments, he decided to stay and get involved himself. His personal interest developed into studying superpowers, connecting with the family background through his desire to replicate superpowers as a way of furthering evolution. Eventually his research led to him fleeing from Argentina and bouncing around several other countries. Wanted by various authorities, he is currently back in America.
As a psychopath, Carl excels at manipulating people for his own ends, and feels no empathy or remorse. He disregards laws, morals, and the rights of others. He views the whole world as a lab and everything in it as materials for his experiments. However, Carl also fakes being normal well enough to fool almost everyone except for his hapless captives. He is calm, logical, and organized in his plans. Most people take him for a respectable scientist and tend to do whatever he wants. But anyone who has dealt with psychopaths or narcissists gets a bonus for recognizing him -- you can see it in his creepy, soulless eyes if you know what to look for. The problem is that nobody else will believe you when you try to warn them about how dangerous he is.
His experiments have produced a number of substances, gizmos, super-gizmos, and even a few people that Carl has sold for exorbitant prices. Turq is one of the few to survive and escape. That's an example of the skill level: a lot of theoretical knowledge, some equipment, but in live subjects the results are often fatal and even when they're not fatal there are significant flaws. This irritates Carl to no end, and sometimes makes his buyers unhappy too. But that's okay: he can always kill them if they complain.
Origin: Eugenics. The family has spent decades dabbling in everything from breeding programs to genetic engineering in hopes of improving the human race, and occasionally they take personal advantage of techniques that seem promising.
Uniform: Usually a business suit or lab wear.
Qualities: Master (+6) Psychopath, Expert (+4) I Can Kill You in So Many Ways, Expert (+4) Master's Degree in Biology, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Knowledge of Superpowers, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Wanted by the Authorities
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Intellect, Good (+2) Super-Gizmology
Motivation: To learn everything about superpowers.

CH-113 -- She has pinkish-fair skin, amber eyes, and long dark blonde hair. She has some facial features of a cheetah, her legs are largely feline, and her tail is a mix of cheetah and lion. She is a prisoner of the mad scientist Carl Bernhardt.
Origin: She was produced via genetic engineering.
Uniform: None. She is kept nude.
Qualities: Good (+2) Flexibility, Good (+2) Hardiness, Good (+2) Obedience, Good (+2) Sensuality
Poor (-2) Developmental Disabilities
Powers: Average (0) Cheetah Traits
Limitations: She has a feline nose and demi-muzzle, with a good sense of smell able to detect pheromones, but the shape makes it difficult for her to speak. She has small parabolic ears set high on her head, with acute hearing, but the difference in brain interface has impaired her ability to understand human words. She has cheetah eyes and excellent long-distance vision in daylight, but not as good as other cats at night. Her claws are semi-retractable on her feet and nonretractable on her hands, but she can barely walk on her digitigrade feet. Her fur is reduced to a downy fuzz, making clothes necessary for warmth. She has Super-Speed but can only use it for one minute at a time, after which exhaustion requires her to rest. Although her tail is spotted, it is tufted like a lion's, still somewhat useful for balance but not as good as a normal cheetah's tail.
Motivation: Survival.

Cheetah tails are used for balance and canceling torque on the run. The tip may be white or black.

* * *

Almost all of the links for this poem are horrible stuff.

"As you know, the Reichsführer-SS has directed that SS-Hauptsturmführer Prof. Dr. Hirt be supplied with everything needed for his research work. For certain anthropological researches - I already reported to the Reichsführer-SS on them - 150 skeletons of prisoners, or rather Jews, are required, which are to be supplied by the KL Auschwitz."
-- Nazi Medical Experiments

Mad scientists appear as an entertainment trope, but also in real life. They continue to frighten people because of the links between madness and genius, separated largely by ethics. In observing this trope, pay attention to whether or not they make any efforts at scientific method; many mad scientists are just mad engineers. Carl may be evil as fuck and mad as a hatter, but he does use some scientific trappings in his atrocities.

Human experimentation has appeared in Nazi research and medical torture. It has a long and ugly history. While the motivation is often framed in scientific terms, most such projects have committed enough errors of method to render their findings questionable or completely invalid.

Water torture is used in various scientific tests which balance the subject on a platform above water, force them to swim for extended periods, or determine how long it takes them to drown.

Anthropomorphic characters exist on a continuum from catgirl to petting zoo people to beastfolk.

Übermensch and untermensch appear in Nazi and related paradigms. Carl has carried these ideas into soup and nary context.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-09 03:17 pm (UTC)
chanter_greenie: Commander Seth Goddard of Space Cases fame (SC: Goddard - do the best they can)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
*growls in her very best mimicry of Sisko's most furious/threatening intonation, as much as someone with a mellow alto female voice can* Go home, Charlie. Get yourself a one-man Nuremberg trial, then go home.

Somebody please rescue that poor cheetah-girl. I'm now hoping she finds a safe, kind foster home used to kids with developmental disabilities... and gets or chooses a name! And who's this yellow-haired girl? Do you know her yet, or was that an offhand reference? I'll bet it wasn't...

Poor Turq... :( :(

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-09 08:21 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Go home Charlie. Or let's organize a trial ... I have now doubt that the Arbiter could arrange for him to experience years of literal hell in the minutes between sentencing and death.

It's exactly what I expected this poem to be - utterly chilling.

Also, the cheetah girl needs a NAME. What does she call herself? The name "Chelsea" sprang to mind from the "ch" - but I bet her name for *herself* is something descriptive because that evil Nazi wouldn't have given her te chance to learn about names.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-10 01:25 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
She may not have a name for herself: "the difference in brain interface has impaired her ability to understand human words".

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-10 01:47 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Sad. She still might, though...even if she can't communicate it. Which doesn't mean she might not be gifted another if and when she's rescued.

Wonder if there could be a sting operation to get this guy? It says right there on his character sheet he's wanted by the law...

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-11 04:13 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a cream-colored yellow Labrador lying at the top of a staircase, one paw draped over the top step (mellow yellow)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
I am reminded of a real-life special needs rescue dog who's a minor youtube celebrity, along with her person and her furry housemates past and present (the user is jzathey, for the curious, and oh my goodness is that channel full of quirky cuteness). Said rescue dog was found as a puppy, along with her brother. At first, her would-eventually-be person wasn't going to keep either puppy and didn't want to get attached, so called the pair 'the little boy' and 'the little girl'. Little Girl became Girlie, which eventually morphed into Gerdie. Her brother found a home of his own, but Gerdie stole her rescuer's heart, and so she stayed. She's been Gerdie the well-loved special needs goofball dog ever since.

This convoluted, long-winded story is why I'm starting to call the poor cheetah-girl Gerdie in my head. Take or leave. My brain works in odd ways. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-11 04:20 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I like it!

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-10-12 01:32 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
*bookmarks for prompting purposes*

I have to say, this guy is the SCARIEST monster (to me anyway) I've seen you write (and post) recently. You have amazing range.

ewww

Date: 2016-10-10 12:22 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I now feel like I am covered in tar and must delve into the puppy and kitty filled corner of the interwebs... and I didn't even read the whole thing!

Brilliant writing if you can bring out the level of this dudes suckiness from just the bits my brain cherry picked and what Turq recounted... I agree GO HOME CHARLIE!!! TO THE FRIG HOME! NOW!! *goes away to growl over Charlie's suckiness and ick*

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-10 01:07 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Yes, this guy is a monster. But you know who are worse monsters? The ones who BUY his experimental sex slaves, knowing where they come from and how they're made. They're worse because they want the outcome without willing to get their own hands dirty, just as the person who hires an assassin is worse than the assassin.

I do like the background you've created for him. It explains a lot.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-10 02:31 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
*ripping snarl*

Add me to the list cheering for Charlie to go home.

The poor cheetah-girl. Poor Turq. Poor yellow-hair, wherever she is.

You did a fantastic job bringing out the full-body creep reaction in several places here. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-09 05:10 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (snoopy)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
The one question for me in deciding Herr Doktor's fate is, can he be warehoused safely? If he can, he deserves the same fate as the rest of Neuremberg's clientele, to spend the rest of his days in some dark hole not unlike the Lubyanka... if he can't, then he should find his fate ... no, that's not right. Some way Turq and Ansel should confront him with a SPOON team at their backs and he should decide that .... staying isn't so comfortable an option.

I'll leave the details in your capable hands, Frau Barde.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-09 05:10 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
In case you hadn't noticed, Carl *really* pissed me off... a testament to your writing skills.

Thank you!

Date: 2016-10-09 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
\o/ I'm glad you found the poem so compelling. When I got to the "monsters" theme, I was really hoping that someone would feed me a prompt for him, even though we're a ways out from being able to nail him down.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-10-09 06:59 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
*nods* not all monsters visibly monst in the usual fashion. Some wear business suits and talk to cameras. Some... wear lab coats.

And some folks who look like monsters are really the good guys. Sulley, Mike, Roz... and your version of the boogeyman. Just to see the look on that kid's sperm donor's face... and then look away when it starts to be a splatter zone; I don't have the stomach for that...

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-10-10 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> *nods* not all monsters visibly monst in the usual fashion. Some wear business suits and talk to cameras. Some... wear lab coats. <<

That was actually a running thread in this fishbowl: monsters that don't look like monsters, and people who look like monsters but aren't.

>> And some folks who look like monsters are really the good guys. Sulley, Mike, Roz... and your version of the boogeyman. Just to see the look on that kid's sperm donor's face... and then look away when it starts to be a splatter zone; I don't have the stomach for that... <<

I tend to describe a few concrete details and then leave the rest to the reader's imagination. It's scarier that way.

Thoughts

Date: 2016-10-09 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> The one question for me in deciding Herr Doktor's fate is, can he be warehoused safely? <<

Probably not long-term. As with many soups, the problem isn't catching him, but holding him. Carl isn't physically powerful and isn't building weapons or super-soldiers. The catch is, he's sneaky as fuck and has absolutely no brakes. Sooner or later he could either earwig or science his way out.

>> If he can, he deserves the same fate as the rest of Neuremberg's clientele, to spend the rest of his days in some dark hole not unlike the Lubyanka... if he can't, then he should find his fate ... no, that's not right. Some way Turq and Ansel should confront him with a SPOON team at their backs and he should decide that .... staying isn't so comfortable an option. <<

I do like the idea of giving Ansel a chance to confront him. Partly to show that T-American justice works, partly for the Nuremberg fanservice, and partly just for the fun of seeing Ansel smack him flatter than a grassmat. However, this is unlikely to provide a ... final solution to the problem.

>> I'll leave the details in your capable hands, Frau Barde.<<

So at present, I'm considering the logistics of how to have our cake and eat it too. Since the principled supervillains often respect the penal system as long as it's working -- abominable convicts are safe provided they stay in their cells -- all we really need to do is wait for Carl to run out of patience and escape.

"You must never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention."

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-10-09 06:54 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Who was it they just sentenced that they told "if you *do* escape, it's Go Home Charlie, no questions asked?

I dunno. *thinks* I think it's better *not* to tell mein Herr that. If he thinks he can just slip away, he will probably do so with a minimum of damage. If you tell him there's a price on his head, highly likely he won't go so quietly. People do desperate things when they think they're gonna die.

I just hope he doesn't use a teleporter. That will make things difficult. But just have him come strolling out, get about half a mile down the road, and "That's far enough."

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-10-09 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Who was it they just sentenced that they told "if you *do* escape, it's Go Home Charlie, no questions asked? <<

I don't remember, but it happens periodically. This is how the principled supervillains have decided to balance their system of justice with the conventional ones. In most cases, it's first-come-first-served, although sometimes one side will give way if the other has a much stronger claim.

>> I dunno. *thinks* I think it's better *not* to tell mein Herr that. <<

As far as I've seen, the warning is part of the sentence. I think the principled supervillains see it as a distinction between execution and murder. Not that all of them object to murder on principle, but rather, they want to make this a formal -- if not precisely official -- part of the legal system. Like the grease trap isn't the sink but is part of the kitchen waterworks.

>> If he thinks he can just slip away, he will probably do so with a minimum of damage. If you tell him there's a price on his head, highly likely he won't go so quietly. People do desperate things when they think they're gonna die. <<

People do desperate things when they feel cornered. Carl is so used to being smarter than everyone else -- because he is that much smarter than ordinary people -- he won't feel trapped, just greatly inconvenienced. He'll make his usual several layers of plan, and not account for the fact that that there are Master Super-Intellects out there who feel he's giving them a bad name.

>> I just hope he doesn't use a teleporter. That will make things difficult. But just have him come strolling out, get about half a mile down the road, and "That's far enough."<<

:D It's so much fun when a monsters realizes that he's not the biggest shadow in the valley.

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