Art by, CosmicClaxon
Age: 420 years
Size: 5'4" ft tall
Job: Notail leader of the H-class
Likes: Surprises, Purpose, Rest, Company, Closeness, Literally any conversation with a real person, Perfume, Bossa nova
Dislikes: Boredom, Burnout, Loneliness, Counterfeits, Thinking too deeply about his future, Parasites
Notable contributions: H-420 is the current leader of the H-erbalist class notails.
H-420, for the leader of a, "fly by the seat of my pants," type of class, appears to be deeply withheld. His mask is long, flat, and distinctly lifeless compared to his domain, and his eyes are always stuck at half-lid, refusing to lift from the wide grin below. The way H-420 dresses puts emphasis on concealing as much skin as possible. He's grown his hair out long enough to cover his ears and wears large boots with his pants tucked into the rim. Above, he wears thick, clawed garden gloves and a turtleneck under his suit.
Is H-420 taking fashion tips from X-10? Maybe the Q-classes? The answer is a disappointing no. Unlike the former, the reason why he dresses this way is public knowledge. H-420 has a benign strain of flowering parasite which has taken over the surface area of his skin. When he removes any garment, what's left is a shapeless, mossy hodgepodge of the body part it used to be, dotted with pretty little flowers and thorns. H-420 only reveals his parasite on rare occasions, such as for experimentation or medication. He prefers not to show anybody the extent to which the parasite has take over, as he doesn't want to give anybody a reason to be afraid of him.
Despite working with soil on a daily basis, H-420's clothes are always clean, save for his kneecaps and the tips of his gloves by the end of the day. This is because his clothes are picked fresh each morning from his own genetically engineered suit tree. By the time he goes to bed, his clothes will naturally wilt away to make room for the next picking. These suits of his always carry a pleasant, fruity aroma, and are ornamented with a live flower on his chest pocket. The only other time H-420 smells any different is when he's been occupied with a blunt.
There used to be a fire inside H-420, something like a fungi that permeated his work and his attitude. He was a notail unaware of his own obsoletion, or rather, the fact he was among a dying class didn't bother him. He had accepted that when the universe doesn't care, there's no one who will stop you from doing whatever you want, and H-420, H-4997 at the time, took advantage of how little was asked of him. He was sociable, and he enjoyed the hijinks of the H-classes around him. However, while this freedom was something to celebrate, it was also something H-420 quietly scorned. Deep down, he wanted purpose and aspirations, anything that would silence his oncoming existential crisis. He wasn't angry with his position in the universe, quite the contrary in fact, but there was still something behind that burning plant-passion of his that was deeper than a need to have fun.
Nature was simply symbolic to him, and working with it could be sobering. What he loved so much about it was its spontaneity, the sheer untamedness and how much, yet how little, notail kind understood of it.
Nowadays, it's safe to say this zest has vanished.
H-420 seems to emit enervation upon meeting him. Some even mistakenly call him one of the laziest H-classes they've ever met on account of how little he moves or even breathes. The truth is that H-420 is highly regulated and takes the rare moments he's out in public to have a sit down to loosen his shoulders. These are vital outings for his sanity; H-420 will often spend them attending fairs so he can talk with the participants about their life goals and whether or not they feel truly satisfied inside. H-420 claims he used to be hip in his younger years, a gold-medalist, too, but his demeanor today would best be described as awkward. He asks too many questions or stands too close, as if he needs to hear one's heartbeat just to be sure they're real, and then offers a parting gift without saying goodbye. H-420 doesn't like goodbyes. They remind him of people long-since abandoned.
H-420's normal environment is someplace secluded, a lab-turned-treehouse covered from wall to wall in plant matter. H-420 has been waking up at the same time, in the same place, every morning for many, many years, always before the sun rises or the flowers have opened. Once he's strapped on a new suit and flipped to the bossa nova radio station, H-420 will monitor the temperature of the facility, turn on the sprinklers, read soil contents, rotate crops, feed the guard dogs, and self-inject to subdue his body's parasite. It's a strict, repetitive regime, one he must obey to ensure survival.
The way he goes about this routine is sloggish, bored, and passive, as if he isn't really moving with his muscles but instead tugged along by vines that wrap around his arms and his ankles. The only time he seems to be livelier is when the sun begins to set. This is when he's appointed himself his break.
H-420's breaks usually consist of trying a new substance he's thrown together and visiting the superorganism that lives in his basement. He used to check his messages before visiting, but no one returns his calls, so slowly this step vanished from the regime. The superorganism isn't much of a conversationalist, however, only making vague hissing noises and muttering something along the lines of "it's warm inside" or "join... us..." . H-420 may be lonely, but he's not stupid. He'll sip his tea and exclaim, "Haha, not today. Maybe next time. B)" before moving on to the tulips the room over.
It isn't long before the break ends.
H-420's current feelings regarding his lifestyle is difficult to pinpoint. It was very black and white at first, either he hated his routine or adored his importance, but has seemed to develop into something far more grey. If H-420 doesn't experience some sort of drive, he will tumble into a sea of ennui, fueled by a stilted need to prove his own worth to himself. His method of combating his inner dissatisfaction is by filling his day with even more chores, which, as a lone farmer and the leader of an entire class, albeit a small one, is seldom hard to do. During the lowest days, H-420 may even chase after activities that pump adrenaline into his veins or work on ambitious plant-based art projects that'll never be finished. H-420 doesn't want to create more routine, but at the same time, he needs to. It's a strange balance of resilience, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't even matter whether or not he wants to do anything, because H-420 is filling a position, and he's doing it well.
By and large, H-420 wishes to motivate the H-class to take advantage of their freedom rather than being frivolous with it. He admires their happiness, too, but it's hard not be envious of those who take meaninglessness so well.
H-420, then H-4997, had the standard start for a notail, going from a village to the woods. He managed survival by living in a wheat field with over 20 other H-classes. The wheat field itself became a place where time felt like it slowed down and very little happened outside the fire pit.
As soon as H-4997 left, he applied for a position at the botanical lab the last H-class leader had worked at. He never heard back, but found an opening to join an expedition of E and X-classes to collect specimens for them. H-4997 decided, ultimately, it was better he took whatever job he could get and shipped out to uncharted planets.
The expedition ended up being a far longer trip than he anticipated, but it was such a perfect escape from monotony that he never complained. One of his favorite discoveries was a pool of algae he found embedded in a meteorite that crashed mere feet from where he was camping. The meteorite could be cracked open like an egg to reveal the prize inside. He scooped the meteorite dry and kept the algae in a small baggy under his pillow until he finally came back home.
While the expeditioners emptied their cargo, H-4997 snuck off into the facility and met personally with H-420. He pulled out his baggy and said firmly that he refused to give up the sample unless he was allowed to work at the laboratory alongside the other botanists. The H-420 shrugged and gave him the card keys to the lab and their equipment, just like that. Complete freedom.
H-4997 was quick to study his algae, discover that it possessed a fast-growing replication gene, and formulate a project that he could deem a useful contribution to society: "You Pods™! Plant a pod, make a new you! Quick, organic cloning for important figures in the field!"
His pitch was a total success, and the cloning experiments H-4997 held were, too! Before long, all the volunteers and fellow botanists of the facility had twins wandering the same hallways as they were. Of course, these twins were quickly terminated after they were shown to be functional, to avoid confusion and all. H-4997 managed to climb the ranks of the lab, a trend amongst notails destined to become leaders, and he couldn't have been any more satisfied with himself. He thought he found purpose at last.
H-4997 spent the next few weeks in a tizzy to prepare for launch. He didn't speak with the other botanists and hardly left his room.
One night, while H-4997 was monitoring the pods, he asked the botanist behind him for the records. The botanist didn't reply. H-4997 tapped them on the shoulder, but the botanist was slow and felt ropey. It was a clone. In fact, H-4997 noticed that there were several clones wandering the rooms that he could have sworn he ordered to be terminated. H-4997 left the pods to complain to the Q-class department about ignoring their duties, but he found that the Q-classes were missing. He decided to move to the next department, but this one was empty as well. H-4997 then returned to the pod room to phone in another botanist, someone who could help him take care of the clones if no one else would. No one picked up.
Now H-4997 was getting worried. He wasn't beyond caring about his colleagues, so he put down his project to search the facility for someone, anyone, who was real. He opened the doors to the main conference area, and there before him were stacks upon stacks of vines, roots, and flowers. The enclosures of the lab's experiments had been broken open. They were spilling everywhere. Snap-apples, poison clover, flowering parasites. H-4997 shot a cloth to his face to filter out the pollen, but it had already entered his lungs. He ran back to his room to find a neutralizing inhaler, but the flowering parasite was not like it had been before. It was yet another fast-growing clone.
H-4997 issued out a distress signal, then began mixing himself an antidote, or a bioweapon, or anything that would slow it down. While he was mixing, he had the thought to check the surveillance system to see how far the plants had really spread. What he saw was something like a giant venus flytrap surrounded by webs of vine and cocoons, the clones seemingly throwing each cocoon directly into the flytrap's mouth.
Now he knew where he needed to aim. H-4997 grabbed himself a weed wacker, ten pounds of black powder, and a match. He maneuvered through the hallways, carving down the vines in his way, then came upon the cocoons and cut them open. The notails inside were gasping for breath but still alive. Among the group was H-420, looking helpless and small. The Q-classes H-4997 sent for were still minutes away from arriving, so he got to work on dumping the black powder into the flytrap pit while his colleagues helped keep the clones at bay, however poorly. Then he lit his match.
H-420 was standing right there at the edge of the flytrap's pit. It was tradition to hand the position over to whomever outperformed the leader, after all. It would only take a little push...
Cleanup afterwards was long and strenuous. Most of the H-classes moved to other labs or farms while H-4997 remained to study the remains and assist the Q-classes in subduing it. By the end, the cloning plants had been contained into one, moderately sized superorganism behind a fortified glass case. H-4997's flowering parasite was already covering half of his body by this point, but the medics kept him alive. When the paperwork of the event went back to the upper-ups, H-4997 was reprimanded for his errors and put in charge of clipping and maintaining all the plants of the facility, but the fact that he was a survivor and savior— it showed merit. With the last H-420 dead at the hands of another, H-4997 became the new H-420.
As a class leader, H-420 is constantly cloned and replaced upon death, but only as long as he continues to outperform anyone else vying for his position.
Flowering: H-420 is infected with a safe strain of the notail flowering parasite. A secondary virus that originated from the overgrowth has heightened the flowering parasite's effect, but it wasn't enough to kill H-420.
• If one asks H-420 how he's doing, 85% of the time he'll answer with, "I'm tired. B)". This phrase has no real meaning anymore. The sound of the words, however, may act like a mantra that lowers H-420's heart rate.
• H-420 often gifts people houseplants, as he makes it a habit to show those who speak with him as much gratitude as he can. These plants are very pretty, but it's advised not to keep them.
• H-420 hosts his own bi-annual plant-fair. There's not much more to it. H-420 just wanted Cosmosdex staff to mention this so more people might come say hi.
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