The war against the humans was devastating to monster-kind. There weren't many left after they had been sealed into the mountain. Those that were huddled into the darkness of the caverns and either tending to the wounded or were the wounded. The first few months were hard for everyone. Those that survived walked miles and miles deep into the mountain until they finally reached the end. That was where they chose to settle; the King calling it 'HOME' in an attempt to make it sound so much more welcoming than it really was... or perhaps he was just horrible with names. Maybe it was both.
Unknown how long they would be trapped, the first means of business was making sure they could survive. Food and housing was of top priority and, shortly after that, light and power.
W.D. Gaster had been the King's royal scientist since the war. Above ground things had been easy; the objective had always been 'keep our monsters alive and kill the humans'. Developing death machines wasn't difficult, but Dr. Gaster had always found it quite boring. What was the fun of creating something so simple? Everything more complicated he had thought up was quickly scraped as being just that. The battlefield was a much too simplistic, barbaric place for a mind to really flex.
Being trapped underground however, no matter how dismal the situation might be, finally allowed Gaster to stretch his mind to things that were more complex than just 'kill this group of humans the quickest way possible'.
The CORE was his first major undertaking.
Once you got deep enough into the mountain, the earth's molten center made itself known. Upon first seeing it Gaster knew what he wanted to do with it and, after many years of hard work, developed the core that powers every home in the underground and then some. Upon seeing such a massive, complicated machine you really began to appreciate the mind behind all of the horrible devices that had been used against humans for what it really was.
After making the core W.D. Gaster's name was known all throughout the underground. Who could ever forget the monster who provided an entire race with power? The spotlight left him only after the first human fell into Mt. Ebott, the monsters finding a new kind of HOPE with the appearance of this new child.
Unfortunately it was not to last. Once both the prince and the adopted human child died, the Queen vanished. The King, furious, declared war on the humans and vowed to collect the souls of those who fell into the underground. He would make himself a God and destroy their oppressors once and for all. It wasn't much long after that the first human fell into their home. King Asgore, still filled with rage, murdered the human. Once again Dr. Gaster's help was required.
Special containers were developed, each able to house a single soul. It was an easy enough task but, at the same time, he knew that in the end it would mean his brilliance being catered to war for a second time. Even so, a King's orders were not meant to be questioned.
As time went on the murder of humans, sometimes just small children, really began to weigh on King Asgore's heart. He kept a smile on for the people of his small kingdom, but when you worked so closely with him you could really see just how much it affected his spirit.
W.D. Gaster met with the King on a regular basis. Even if there was little in development he was still required to report in with the occasional status on the core and approve any other experiments he was working on.
“The King will see you now.” The burly guard rumbled through his helmet, stepping aside and letting Gaster through. Standing beside him he looked absolutely scrawny, Gaster had always been a pretty lanky monster. Being of the skeleton variety certainly didn't help things either. After making a vague 'thanks' gesture to the guard, Gaster stepped through the large doors and into the throne room. Despite what little sun managed to shine through the windows and the plethora of golden flowers that had grown, it seemed so empty and quiet now that the Queen was gone.
“King Asgore, I have the reports ready for you.” The doctor said, his voice oddly disjointed and always accompanied by strange hand gestures.
He stopped short of the throne, staring with the white dots of his eyes as the King slouched in his chair. Asgore didn't seem to even notice his presence.
Gaster stood there awkwardly, his arm slowly dropping and the papers falling back to his side. He looked around the room, as though this was some weird prank or trying to think of an exit if Asgore didn't notice him. Maybe if he set the papers on the desk and just... tried to sneak back out-
“Oh... Dr. Gaster... I didn't even hear you come in.”
His eyes zoomed away from the desk he was staring at to meet those of the King.
“Yes, I've... been standing here...” He made a few annoyed hand gestures and slightly narrowed his eyes.
“I have the reports.” Gaster finally spat out. He closed the distance between them much quicker than he actually intended, lab coat flapping behind him as he walked. The King took the reports from him and gave them a cursory glance.
“I see... thank you...”
“Yes. As you can see, nothing new to report. Same thing as always.” Gaster said, watching as the King stared straight through the reports in his hands. He stood there in silence, waiting to be dismissed. The dots of his eyes shooting in all directions.
“...Okay, well, science never sleeps!” He shoved his boney hands into the pockets of his lab coat and spun on his heel to quickly head out of the throne room. His footsteps reached as far as the doorway before they stopped.
The King always interrupted him by that point when he tried to show himself out. There was no invite for tea or the awkward grasp at conversation just to keep him around. There was only... silence.
Gaster slowly turned his head to look back at Asgore still slumped in his throne. He didn't look like even half the massive monster charging the battlefield he once was. The royal scientist rubbed the back of his skull, the sound of bone on bone seeming so much louder than it actually was.
He might not have been close friends with the King, but they had certainly been good acquaintances for many years. It was strange to see him so downtrodden and depressed compared to how jolly he once was. The death of his children and the departure of the Queen really had left him in quite a bad way.
… Killing children who fell into the mountain certainly hadn't helped things either.
Dr. Gaster had started to toy with other ideas after his last visit but hadn't wanted to divulge them just yet. Especially when they were just that; ideas. Seeing the state the king was in now, however, he couldn't help but think that Asgore might do something stupid if something didn't change.
Inhaling sharply he spun on his heel. “King Asgore! What if we're going about this the wrong way?”
That finally got him to look up. “Hmm?”
“What if we can harness the power of a human soul? What if we can use their own power against them?” Gaster began, taking a few more steps towards the throne.
“I've been thinking of this for some time now, why don't we capture that potential and use it for our own gain?” His voice began to get louder, the motions of his hands more wild as he grew excited at the mere idea spilling forth. “Think about it! Can you imagine the power a monster could hold if they were given the same raw capacity as a human? It would be insane!”
“Dr. Gaster...” The King began, but there was no stopping the royal scientist now.
“A monster with the power to maintain form as long as a human, to fight with the same ferocity!”
“DOCTOR!” Asgore bellowed, authority suddenly surging through his veins. Gaster quickly shut up, suddenly realizing that his hands were in the air and he had begun pacing. He quickly brought them to his sides and stopped. The King sighed and rubbed at his forehead.
“What would you need?”
“I'm... uh... not entirely certain yet.” Dr. Gaster mumbled and shoved his hands into his pockets, suddenly aware of just how excited he had become. “I would need a soul to analyze. The power inside them would need to be-”
Asgore suddenly cut him off. “Take them. Do what you will.” He didn't look up from the hand over his eyes. Gaster fought down a surge of excitement at the prospect of new experiments. Instead he mimed with his hands in front of him, now eager to get back to his lab.
“Perhaps you will figure out a better way to free us than this old fool.”
The excitement ebbed. Gaster fumbled with his hands and stood there for a moment, pondering what to say. He couldn't leave on that note, no matter how much he wanted to grab the soul and run like a madman back to his lab.
“I... I'll do my best.”
After obtaining the soul to test from the King, Gaster spent the next few years trying to figure out what exactly made humans so powerful. It was quite a lot of work, but nothing that the good doctor couldn't enjoy to the fullest. Despite the end result no doubt being used for military purposes he couldn't help but be absolutely intrigued with the idea of figuring out what made humans tick.
DETERMINATION was the cause. With DT the humans could exist after death and hold onto their form with much more ease than any monster could ever hope. If that could be harnessed and somehow put inside of a monster it would be unstoppable, surely! Perhaps it would even be able to break the barrier and set them free!
It took more years of hard work to get the DT extraction machine up and running and once that was finished... well... how was he supposed to test it? Not many monsters had fallen down since they reached 'Home', if anything the population was on an incline. A lot of the citizens were becoming comfortable with their new situation and starting to settle down to start families.
Once again he found himself standing outside the large double-doors to the throne room. The muscular guard let him through just he always did and Gaster approached the King with papers in hand. This was always such a chore. He could be doing other things with his time, but no, for whatever reason King Asgore always insisted that it be him that discuss his reports rather than one of his underlings.
At least the King seemed in better spirits lately.
“Hello Dr. Gaster.” He smiled, turning from watering the flowers around his throne and facing the skeleton.
“King Asgore.” Gaster nodded, always curt with his words when he was able to be. He just wanted to get back to his work. “Here are the reports. Preliminary testing has completed. I can begin the second stage of trials immediately.”
The pages were held out at arms length, Asgore reaching out to take them with his clawed hand. This time he actually started to read them, setting his watering can aside to flip through each page slowly as he read. That was another thing that annoyed Gaster, the King was such a slow reader.
His boney hands were shoved into the pockets of his coat while he stood there, painfully watching Asgore read at a snails pace. After less than 30 seconds of waiting Gaster inhaled through his teeth and started to gesture with his hands as he summarized the notes for both of their sakes.
“I have successfully extracted what I believe is the source of a humans power and have finished my initial testing, but I need monster test subjects in order to know if it works. Injecting monsters with 'DT' as I'm calling it is the next step, all-”
“Test subjects?” Asgore cut him off, looking up from the reports. “You want to test this on our citizens? The few we have left?” His brow furrowed, suddenly looking rather against the idea.
Gaster's arms stopped where they were at an odd sort of angle in front of him, halfway between two signals. The white dots of his eyes bounced from the King, to the floor, to the wall, then back again. “How else will we know it works? What else are we do do with it? This was the original plan.” His arms fell, one motioning to the papers in the King's claws.
“No. We will not be using our people as guinea pigs.” Asgore turned and sat down on his throne, the pages still in his hand but going unread now that he knew what its contents were about. “Our numbers are too small as it is. We haven't recovered from the war fully yet.”
Dr. Gaster narrowed his eyes. The King's tone had changed rather drastically over the course of the past few years. When he had first mentioned the DT extraction machine he had seemed elated at the idea, but now... it was as though Asgore no longer even cared about getting the barrier down at all.
“Not even volunteers? Surely there are monsters willing to put forth-”
“No.” Asgore said sternly, apparently dead-set on putting a stop to Gaster's work.
Gaster's mouth opened and closed, the royal scientist having to stop his own thoughts before they spilled forward and got him in trouble. His hands locked with one another before rubbing their palms. Even his feet became animated, rocking back and forth as he fought with his initial opinions about the King and trying to word them in some other way that wouldn't get him a slap on the head.
“I... I'm not sure what you want me to do. Without being able to move the testing to the next step the project might as well be discarded completely!” His voice, distorted as it was, became louder with his anger. His brow furrowed, unable to hide the obvious disappointment and animosity he felt for the King.
“Figure out another way.”
Gaster could feel his teeth start to grind. “Another way? But the whole point was to create monsters capable of fighting against humans, to match their power! Maybe they would even be strong enough to break the barrier! Surely only with a few souls-”
“DOCTOR.” Asgore cut him off again, the mention of souls striking quite the nerve. His voice, when used to it's fullest, was enough to make the entire room shake.
Gaster stopped and clenched his jaw tightly. He shook with indignation, trying to keep all the words he wanted to say in his throat. It had taken years to get this far. He hadn't been so excited to see an experiment through to the end since he had developed the core. Having a large project such as this one snuffed out before it could even get off the ground was beyond infuriating. The skeleton's emotions bubbled to the surface. He wasn't very good at keeping his manners in check, but if there was one place he did it would be in the King's presence.
“MmmmmMMMMmOKAY!” The scientist suddenly burst out, his arms flailing upwards. He spun around and began to walk out, this time getting past the doorway without the King calling him back.
His hands twitched and his fingers flicked this way and that as he mumbled under his breath. Scuffed shoes clacked against the tiled floor of the long walkways of the castle until they made it to the elevator. Gaster punched the buttons and stepped inside, waiting until the doors were fully closed before finally letting himself express the anger he had contained to that point.
He screamed into the tiny box as it slid downward, his head falling into his hands as he groaned loudly into his palms. Why had Asgore suddenly changed his mind about the whole thing? Had he given up on getting out of the mountain completely? It wouldn't surprise him, it had been years since the last human fell into the underground. Without the Queen to punt his rear into gear the King was most likely unwilling to make any major decisions on his own, especially since the last one caused her to run off.
… No. To hell with the King. He had started this project and he was damn well going to see it to the end. Too much time had been invested into it, too much effort. He was much too invested into it now to watch it go up in smoke just because the King was a wimp. If he couldn't get volunteers he would make his own.
Without the King's approval Gaster knew he wouldn't be able to fully trust any of his subordinates, especially if any deemed his experiments unethical. Was it unethical if it was his own clones he was experimenting on? It was almost like doing it on himself, right? It would be fine. Everything would be fine. He just had to keep it a little secret is all.
Dr. Gaster sealed himself away in his lab, making sure all of his assistants knew that what he was working on was top secret and he was not to be disturbed. Most of them were too intimidated by him to ever sneak in and see what he was working on, so for the most part he was in the clear. Now all he had to do was figure out how to duplicate himself.
Holing himself away in his lab wasn't exactly an uncommon thing for him. When an idea struck him, however ridiculous, he would sometimes spend weeks without being seen. This was no different. It took months to figure out how he wanted to clone himself, deciding to use a part of his body, a part of his soul, and a little bit of DT to glue it all together.
He crunched the numbers again and again, needing to be absolutely certain that it would work... or as certain as he could manage to be when it came to something so unknown. Gaster knew it would be painful but the end result would be worth it.
The palm of his hand was chosen for the sacrifice of genetic material. Thankfully skeleton monsters weren't as receptive to pain as most others, what without nerves and all. Still, it wasn't exactly a tickle. Any subordinates that happened to be in the same wing as his room undoubtedly heard the yelling and swearing coming from his workshop.
… Not that that was particularly abnormal.
Extracting a piece of his soul was a bit trickier. Gaster had never been a very physically strong monster and was unsure if he would be able to stay conscious for the process. He had heard of humans operating on themselves during the war in cases of emergency, so this would be roughly the same in theory. Hopefully he lived through it.
After mentally preparing himself and drinking enough alcohol to numb his senses at least a little, Gaster went to work late at night when all of his assistants had gone home. Any screaming went unheard and in the end it was a success. After getting a small piece of his own soul out and in with the DT and bone before it dispersed he had promptly passed out on the floor.
Waking up the next morning and seeing that his operation had been a success cued much rejoicing, although he found himself feeling incredibly weak and fatigued. That was understandable.
After giving himself a few days of rest Dr. Gaster found himself mostly back to normal. Save for a bandaged hand and occasional dizziness he was back to work. It would take time for the clone to develop and his routine began anew, mostly checking on the core and making sure it was stable between monitoring his new experiment. When asked about his hand it was easy to lie and say he had accidentally hurt himself in a test, it had happened enough before to not seem the least bit suspicious.
Growth was slow, as to be expected. Months went past before Gaster began the real testing. Tubes and syringes were hooked into the small skeleton's skull and soul as it hovered in the slime inside its incubation tank. Progress was going well; the new soul was stable and the body seemed to be developing on schedule. A few more months and it would need to be moved into a new holding chamber to allow for more growth. Perhaps he didn't need monsters to test on after all, if this clone worked out to be a capable fighter then it was all they needed!
… Of course the process could only be done once, possibly twice, but that was something to worry about in the far future.
Soon the day came to upgrade holding tanks. Gaster began to gingerly pull each plug from the tiny skeleton floating in its cell and set it aside, a much larger tank already filled with fluid sat on the floor beside him. He rolled the sleeves of his lab coat up to his elbows and just as he was about to dip his hands in to the vat the room flashed red, a siren loudly shrieking through the facility. He stopped what he was doing and looked up at the spinning alarm above him.
“... Oh. That can't be good.” Gaster commented dryly to himself just as there was a rapid knocking on his door.
“Doctor! The core is overheating! The guys downstairs can't get it stabilized!”
Gaster stood there, hands poised over the tank of his creation. His eyes shot back and forth between the door and his experiment, for a moment actually considering ignoring his subordinate slamming on the door.
No, that was stupid. But... no. No, everything was about to blow up. He should fix that.
Gritting his jaw in annoyance the skeleton sucked in a breath through his teeth and spun around, rushing out the door and slamming it behind him.
Gaster didn't return for some hours, sighing as he opened the door to his personal laboratory and swinging it shut behind him. Sweat covered his brow, his lab coat dangling from his shoulders. He took a moment to lean against the door and rub his head. That had been quite the situation, but nothing that couldn't be handled. His eye sockets slowly opened and stared at his feet. What had he been doing again?
As he slipped off his lab coat to toss haphazardly onto the nearest desk his eyes finally met the container that his specimen had been sitting in only hours before.
It was empty.
The doctor's jaw tightened, his back suddenly going stiff and the whites of his eyes fading. The jar was tipped over, the slime having spread out across the floor and a gooey trail lead under the desk.
Gaster pushed himself off the door and slowly walked over to the desk, grabbing the tank and lifting it back up. The whites of his eyes followed the trail under the desk, staring at where it ended for a few long seconds before finally going to his knees and peering under it.
A tiny skeleton stared back at him, both of them gawking at one another before the clone smiled broadly and giggled. Gaster looked uncomfortable, unsure if he should smile back or slam his head into the floor. He chose the latter.
His skull clunked against the tiles, a groan melting out of his throat. He tapped his head against the floor a few more times, punishing himself for being so dumb. If only he had reattached the cables before rushing off.
The clone's mumbling brought his attention back, eyes looking at the baby now reaching out to him with grabby little hands. Gaster sighed and reached under the desk, lifting the child under its arms and standing, holding it at arms length.
“... I have really cocked this up.” He moaned to himself, staring at the little skeleton.
Gaster sat down on his stool, setting baby down on his desk before they proceeded to stare at one another. What was he supposed to do now? Could he just... put it back?
He stood, lifting the clone up before walking it over to the bigger holding tank. He started to lower it into it, but as soon as its foot touched the gel it started to cry and scream, frightened of going back into the cold, slimy bed it had awoken from. Gaster nearly dropped it, eye sockets going wide and holding it at a distance while it cried.
What if someone heard?
“SSH-SHH-SH-SH-SHHH!” The doctor scrambled further away from the door, a boney hand going over the baby's mouth and trying to muffle its cries.
“Shut up! Quiet! I won't do it if you just stop!” He yelled in a hushed tone despite the baby not understanding a word he said.
Gaster stood there, hunched over and trying to muffle the baby's cries until it finally stopped. He looked down at it, a slimey little face staring right back.
“... I have really cocked this up.”
This was... problematic. Gaster was going to have to move his secret project to somewhere a little bit more covert. His own personal area of the lab would be the best, although he didn't often go there just because it was so far from the main area of the facility.
He sat with the baby in his hands, staring straight through it as he thought of a plan. Once an idea was formed he began to move.
The clone was placed on the ground gently before he turned and started to get things packed and ready to go. The tubes, the papers with all his test results, and anything at all that had the slightest relation to his current project all needed to go. If he wasn't going to be locked inside his lab then he didn't want any chance of his work being found.
With a briefcase packed and ready to go, the doctor turned his attention back to the baby. It had toppled over sometime during his rush and crawled a short distance to him. How was he going to get that across the entire building?
Gaster stared at it for a moment before grabbing a bag and promptly putting the baby inside it.
Briefcase in hand and bag over his shoulder, the doctor marched out of his office and into the halls. Most of his assistants didn't bother him either because they were too busy themselves or were too intimidated by the monster who had single-handedly invented the core. There were a few exceptions, though.
“Doctor! Dr. Gaster!” A high-pitched voice came from behind him, the sound of footsteps closed in.
Gaster paused, his jaw hardening. He turned his head just in time to see the monster calling him stop by his side, grinning from ear to ear and clutching papers to her chest.
“It was amazing watching you work earlier today, Doctor. I had never really gotten to see you in your element. You're always cooped up in your lab working on... oh who knows what.” She giggled, as though her words were somehow funny. Gaster's expression didn't change.
“Yyyes.” He mumbled, the white dots of his eyes bouncing around the hallway looking for a way out.
“I've started a few experiments of my own. Sh-should you ever have any time to look over them I think they might be interesting! I've been testing to see if-”
Her words seemed to go on and on, everything coming out turning into a slur of rambling nonsense. Gaster's eyes were fixed on her, unblinking and unfeeling as he stared into her. Apparently it made her uncomfortable enough to stop, as she started to fumble with her words and say something that actually caught his attention.
“Ssssooo... what are you working on?” The monster glanced at the bag over his shoulder, which he hadn't noticed had started wriggling.
The doctor looked back at the bag, then at the monster who had been talking him into a coma for the past five minutes. “On a way to get out of this conversation.”
“Uhh...” The monster stammered, standing there dumbfounded. After a few seconds of uncomfortable, awkward silence had passed between them Gaster made a sudden movement of flinging his arms up in the air.
The assistant jumped at the sudden burst of energy. Gaster only smiled down at her in that weird, distressing way someone without any lips could manage.
“Welp, that's solved.” He smiled and turned, legs picking up pace once more as he left the subordinate standing in the middle of the hallway, embarrassed.
The walk to the abandoned part of the lab was a long one, one of the main reasons why he never used it despite it technically being his home. He punched in the code and stepped inside, flicking on the lights and squinting at the sudden change in brightness.
Inside still looked like your typical lab. The main entrance was strewn with blueprints, a beaten-up couch, and desks full of vials and books. It then shot off into a few smaller rooms, one he had turned into a sort of kitchen, a bedroom with a small cot he rarely used, a few storage rooms, and a spare room.
Gaster walked to the spare room, flicking on the light before setting down the bag. The baby had been surprisingly still during the last part of the journey and he soon found out why; it was curled up and sleeping soundly.
He watched the tiny clone for longer than he intended, his face devoid of expression. After shaking his head he stood up and went to work.
A large box was dumped of its contents and pulled into the room, then filled with a couple of blankets and pillows. That would do for a crib, right? He lifted the baby gently, doing his best not to wake it and set it inside the box before leaving the room and turning out the light.
While the specimen slept he set about getting the things for his experiment scattered across his desk, shoving anything obsolete out of the way even if it meant spilling it onto the floor. In a tube or in a crib, his experiment would continue either way. Too much had been invested into it. This was just a small bump in the road, surely. He would just need to... figure out how to take care of a baby.
Gaster moved over to his collection of books from the human world, scanning through the titles up on shelves or stacked along the floor. Eventually he found what he was looking for, a disheveled copy of some book about 'preparing for baby'. He sat himself down and started to thumb through the pages. Unfortunately the book started at the very beginning of parenthood.
“Oh... OH! Wow.” The doctor stared at the pages, smudged by the water it fell in. A brow raised and he tilted the book slightly to the side. A smile spread across his face. Humans were disgusting! He thumbed a bit further, making sickened noises at such things like 'potty-training' and 'diaper-changing'. How were humans so powerful when they did nothing but leak? Repugnant.
Eventually Gaster got to what he wanted, the development stages, but that still didn't tell him much other than what he already knew.
“Oh well, guess I'm just going to have to play it by ear.” He commented to himself, haphazardly flinging the book over his shoulder. It landed with a thud by others he had done much the same to, the noise causing a cry to start from the spare room. Gaster turned to eye the door, suddenly annoyed at himself.
“Great...” He sighed.