After several weeks, Danria took Ariella, Kieran, Felicity, and Grace to her new research station in the Northern Slurry.
"I've been working to establish a proper laboratory, but with my limited resources, it has been somewhat difficult," Danria told them as the sleigh slid up to the door of a gray metal dome.
They entered quickly, finding that the research dome was not nearly as crowded as Jefferson's was, though much of the same equipment was set up inside.
The small fog experiment had been transported from Jefferson's dome to here, and Ariella noticed that the plants had grown a lot bigger. Of course they had. It had been almost a month since they experiment had begun.
Besides the growth, Ariella noticed a distinct difference between the plants which had been exposed to fog and those which had not. The fogless plants were tall and healthy, the foggy ones were stunted and sickly.
Felicity peered into the glass containers. "Aha! The plants clearly don't like the fog."
"That doesn't prove anything," Grace said, though she didn't sound quite sure.
"On the contrary, Miss Newgadget," Danria replied. "It proves that some plants may grow better without fog. I will observe these for a while longer, and I will try growing others under the same conditions, but for now we can assume that fog is not good for plants."
Grace's face grew slightly pale. "But...fog power brings prosperity to the land."
"It may bring prosperity, but not healthy plants," replied Danria, pulling on her goggles as she reached for a dangerous-looking vial of who-knows-what.
"Well, who needs plants, anyway? Fog is good for automatons...and people," Grace said, crossing her arms.
"That's the next experiment we have to do," Ariella spoke up. "Perhaps we could see what happens if people aren't exposed to the fog day and night, as they are at the Academy Automicus."
"Fog is required in every area of the Empire," grumbled Grace. "Jefferson could be arrested for not using fog. You, too, Danria."
"For many of my experiments, I require a fog-free testing zone," Danria replied without looking up. "I don't see the harm in it."
No one said anything for a while, but Ariella felt the tension growing. "Anyone want to go look for snow frogs?" she joked nervously.
"Uh...no thanks," said Felicity.
Kieran and Grace didn't want to, either.
Ariella just shrugged and glanced curiously around the lab. "Ok, fine. How are my sea flowers coming, Danria?"
"I believe they are nearly ready to pick. They are growing better without the fog, as well. Over by the triacetone triperoxide," Danria replied, waving her hand past a table full of vials and jars of suspicious-looking powder.
Ariella gulped and carefully edged past the table, then looked around for her aquarium. When she found it, sure enough, the sea flowers were growing very nicely. She picked two of them and planted two others in their places. "I've been missing seaflower green dye!"
The vials Danria was experimenting with suddenly began to fizz up, and she quickly deposited them on a metal tray. "On the subject of dyes, I found some crocodile tears around the Snowmoors recently, and they may be useful for dye-making. I have some extra if you would like them."
Ariella grinned. "Thanks, Danria! Where are they?"
"To the left of the triacetone triperoxide, and the rocks."
"Why do you even need that stuff?" Ariella asked, picking up two vials of light blue liquid.
"The TATP is needed for some...unique experiments," she replied with a devious smile. "The rocks are the ones I found all around the laboratory in the Academy Automicus." The latter part was said with a suspicious glance at Ariella.
Ariella tried to sound nonchalant. "Oh...really?"
Ariella squirmed under Danria's intense gaze.
"What's this over here?" Kieran spoke up, pointing to a book sitting on a nearby table.
Danria turned away from Ariella. "My crafting book. Every good mechanic, scientist, or engineer should have one."
That gave Ariella an idea. Arona had found an old book in the Junior Academy's library with designs and crafting recipes in it--maybe Ariella should have one, too! She could rip a few pages out of her school notebook and start collecting recipes.
"I believe that's all for today," Danria said cheerfully. "I will organize several similar experiments and, hopefully, in one month's time we can all return to see how they are progressing."
As they went out to the sleigh, Danria whispered to Ariella, "The Academy uniforms have gloves for a reason."
Ariella stopped short and looked down at her hands. She wore the gloves. Then she suddenly remembered that when she had placed the rocks around the Academy Automicus, she hadn't been wearing her gloves. Ariella facepalmed, then looked back at Danria, who wore an amused expression.
Ariella tried to keep a straight face, but she couldn't hold it and burst out laughing. Danria must have identified her as the one who had set out the rocks...by her fingerprints. That was why she'd asked Ariella to find a rock for her, to compare her fingerprints to the ones on the rocks found throughout the lab.
As she laughed, Danria began grinning, and the three others looked back at them in surprise. No explanations were given, and Ariella was relieved. She wasn't sure how she would have explained it anyway. Ariella and Danria boarded the sleigh, and they hurried away.
When everyone arrived back at the Academy Automicus, Ariella went off to her room to begin her crafting book. So far all she knew how to craft were dyes, reticulated splines, and the odd accelerating apparatus or gyrostabilizer. She quickly wrote down the recipes and bundled all the papers up in a pile, then tied it with a fraying ribbon. It wasn't a book, but it would have to do.