Disclaimer: Adventure Time belongs to Pendleton Ward/Cartoon Network. Issabell belongs to Kat (just-another-adventurer on Tumblr, character blog is izzy-the-shape-shifter and contains adorable art) Thanks to Rinney for proof-reading.
A/N:Yeah, so this is what I've been doing instead of 'Phlogiston Theory' but I promise I will be updating that soon. This was written for Kat on Tumblr and is a backstory for her character Izzy. Contains giant spoilers for 'Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!' and also follows on from 'Explored the Dungeon and Now we Know' which I recommend reading first. SUGARLESS GUMDROP TIME!
Things finally seemed to be returning to normal in the ancient labs far below the Candy Kingdom. It had been six months since Princess Bubblegum had sent her friends on that ill-fated mission to investigate the Royal Dungeons, and now the old science facility had been completely sealed off from the rest of the sprawling subterranean complex to ensure there would be no further accidents. Bubblegum might have felt guilty about isolating her parents like that, but she already knew they didn't get lonely; they didn't even grasp the concept. They would be happy enough left to converse with themselves, the only reason they'd gone into the rest of the underground had been vague curiosity and boredom.
The elevator was the only way to access the lowest floors now, and since Marceline was the only other person who knew about it that meant the gum creature was safe from any further mistaken attacks. Princess Bubblegum had just stepped out of it into the corridor leading to the main lab, and saw that pink strands of gum now criss-crossed the walls, ceiling and floor like veins and arteries, just as they'd done previously. But there were no faces on any of them, indicating that her parents' attention was elsewhere.
Approaching the double doors at the end of the corridor, Bubblegum braced herself for the inevitable seizing and hard squeezing that was sure to follow... but this time nothing happened, as if her parents hadn't even noticed her presence. Her forehead creased with worry, had they maybe become dormant after all the stress and trauma of having their physical form disrupted and reformed? It wasn't unusual for them to sleep for a decade or two when they felt so inclined, but they had always woken up when she'd visited before.
Then the princess started slightly as she heard an unusual noise, a muffled high-pitched yip that sounded almost like a puppy. Had something got down here after all and harmed her parents in some way? Pushing the door open, Bubblegum entered the main lab with her fists clenched, ready to fight whatever was hurting her parents... and unfortunately no longer braced for the gummy tentacle which snatched her into the air as it coiled around her with crushing force.
"Bonnie!" As always, the gum creature sounded glad to see her, the tendril slamming her into its main mass at the far end of the chamber with what would have been brutal force for anyone less resilient. "It's good to see you sweetheart," her parents continued in their echoing voice as she fought for breath. "We've made something for you and... oh yes, ribs." The tendril deposited her gently in the midst of the soft mass of gum, patting her back as she gasped for breath. "Sorry honey, we never do remember that."
"I know," Bubblegum chuckled breathlessly, patting the silky-smooth surface beneath her with affection. "Don't worry, I'm fine." She struggled into a sitting position, the yielding gum making it hard to find her balance, but it shaped itself around her until she was seated comfortably, supported effortlessly by its bulk. "So, you made something for me?" The princess was curious, she wasn't entirely sure what her parents could have come up with down here, unless… "Is it the little brother I wanted when I was five? Because if it is, it's certainly taken long enough…"
Her parents laughed at the suggestion, the sound resonating softly like rainfall on a hollow tree. "No, not a sibling, Bonnie. We only ever managed to bud off once. But you're close though…"
Bubblegum was about to make another guess, her curiosity piqued now, and then she heard that strange yipping sound again. It was much clearer now, and it was definitely an animal. Had her parents managed to trap one of the creatures that had been roaming the lower levels of the dungeon? "What IS that?" the princess asked, sliding down the creature's side to the floor. The noise seemed to have come from one side, and Bubblegum headed towards it.
"You'll see," the gum creature smiled, watching her expectantly. "Don't scare her; she's only a few hours old."
"Her?" Bubblegum's eyes widened as she realised that a darker part of what she'd taken to be part of her parents' main form wasn't actually in shadow. It was actually a different colour, a dusky purple instead of bubblegum pink, and as she got closer she saw that it wasn't part of her parents at all. It was a separate, oval blob that felt hard to the touch, its surface marred with cracks. She'd seen something like it before of course, nearly a thousand years ago when her current body had emerged from one. What in Glob's name had they done?
Taking a few steps closer, Bubblegum leaned over the purple cocoon cautiously. But the cracks deepened and widened into a yawning hole in its side from which deep violet goo was still dripping slowly. Whatever had been in there must have emerged, though she still didn't see it. More droplets of the dark purple ooze had formed a trail leading off to one side but it had been smeared and smudged so the princess couldn't tell what kind of creature had made the tracks.
Then, as she heard another excited yip, Bubblegum saw a flash of black amongst a lattice of pink tendrils that had formed between the wall and one of the old lab consoles. Something furry was moving amongst the strands of gum, and as Bubblegum stared a furry tail and hind legs emerged.
It was a wolf cub, barely larger than a cat, and it was growling squeakily as it worried at a length of gum it had clamped between its jaws. The tiny creature managed to tug the tendril all the way out into the open before it noticed Bubblegum, then released it with a startled yip as it looked up at her with dark pink eyes.
Sinking down to her knees, more in shock than anything else, the princess reached out towards the little animal, careful not to make any sudden moves. It eyed her suspiciously for a moment, then stretched forwards to sniff at her outstretched palm. Whatever it smelled it seemed to like, as it immediately thrust a cold nose into Bubblegum's hand and licked her fingers while its tail wagged frantically.
"You made me a puppy?" the princess giggled as she gently lifted the pup into her arms. It wriggled excitedly in her grasp, its black fur fluffy and soft as down, and burrowed into the crook of her arm then turned about in an awkward circle to poke its head out. "It's very cute, but how in the math did you make it?"
"Well, she's not really a puppy, she just seems to like that form." The face on the gum creature's central mass had swivelled around to look down at Bubblegum and the pup with warm parental affection. "Give her a moment and she'll probably turn back now that she's seen you."
"Turn back?" Bubblegum frowned in confusion. I don't under- WHAT THE BJORK?!" She was no longer holding a wolf pup. Now she was holding a baby. A baby girl with grey skin, surprisingly thick black hair, and tiny ivory needlepoints starting to emerge from toothless gums. At any other time the princess would have assumed this was one of Marceline's pranks - that the baby was in fact Marceline. But while the vampire could shapeshift, she couldn't change her age. "Mom, Dad…" Bubblegum began nervously, her voice strained. "Exactly where did she come from?"
"We made her for you," her parents explained helpfully, looking down at the little girl fondly. "But she's not a sibling. We used genetic material from you and Marceline to create her, so she's your daughter."
Bubblegum's mouth dropped open in shock, her mind going blank. The little girl in her lap, who looked about a year old even if her age was currently measured in hours, gurgled up at her happily. Although the rational side of her brain was currently struggling to process what she'd just heard, the analytical side was still functioning perfectly as the princess looked down at the infant. The girl's skin was grey, but not an exact match to Marceline's; instead of pale blue-grey there was definite lavender tint there. Her hair was similar, not the same raven black as the vampire's flowing mane, it shone purple where Marceline's shone blue. And her eyes. The deep magenta shade was extremely familiar now that Bubblegum looked at them closely. She saw an identical pair in the mirror every morning.
"…you… I… what…" the princess finally managed to stammer as the tiny girl appeared to grow bored and clambered off her lap and back to the floor where she immediately transformed back into a wolf pup and scampered off across the lab to attack another gum tendril. "I don't… HOW?!"
"Well, you did say that you wouldn't be able to merge your biomass with Marceline's to have babies like we did with you," her parents explained, with the same casual tone that suggested they didn't see anything questionable about the situation. "And there was plenty of her genetic material lying around down here after that fight so we just gathered some up and…"
"Then how is she mine as well?" Bubblegum demanded, closing her eyes as she massaged her temples. Maybe this whole thing was just some crazy hallucination caused by overwork. Or maybe Marceline had been right and going without sleep for ninety-four hours really did cause psychotic episodes. "Did you just – oh Glob this is so many levels of wrong – did you just mix Marceline's genes with your own?"
"Of course not!" The gum creature sounded horrified by the very suggestion. "That would be awful!" The massive pink form quivered, as if it was shuddering at the thought. "Well, we did make her in a similar manner to how we made you, but the genetic material was from you and Marceline."
Bubblegum wasn't sure if she wanted to know the answer to her next question but asked anyway. "And… exactly how did you get my genetic material? That's not the kind of thing I leave lying around…"
"Yes it is," the creature replied with a chuckle, lifting the remnants of the purple gum cocoon and hauling it over to where Bubblegum was still kneeling on the floor. "Remember when you came out of something just like this? Well, you left this stuff everywhere while you were trying to figure out how legs work…" A slender pink tentacle dipped into the dregs of violet ooze that were still left in the gummy shell. "We kept some for sentimental reasons. Of course, it was pink instead of purple. But it turned purple after we mixed it with the genetic serum we made from Marceline's DNA."
"And… and that just worked?" The purely scientific side of Bubblegum's brain was now taking an interest, even if the rational side was still screaming silently. It must have been similar to how her own recipe for creating life worked, only her parents had done it without access to any of the chemicals or equipment she had available. Maybe she had seriously underestimated the life-giving properties of the amniotic ooze she'd been suspended in while forming her humanoid body.
"It seemed to, yes. It formed a shell just like you did; spent a few months growing, then she broke out this morning." Bubblegum's parents smiled fondly at the wolf pup that was currently gnawing on part of them as ferociously as it could with only two emergent fangs. "We're not sure how she learned to turn into a wolf; we're guessing that's something to do with Marceline's genes."
The princess' expression twisted wryly at the thought, a combination of human, vampire and demon DNA mixed with her own was sure to have some interesting results. Bubblegum knew that Marceline had only been able to shapeshift after becoming a vampire, but vampirism wasn't genetic as far as she was aware. She opened her mouth to call the pup over, then realised a very important point. "Does she have a name?" she asked, settling for clapping her hands together instead. The wolf pup's head jerked up at the sound, tiny ears perking, and it released the tendril of gum it was chewing on and galloped over to her. Its paws skittered and slid on the smooth tiled floor; instead of jumping onto her lap as it had intended, the little wolf lost its balance, fell over and skidded into her knees instead. It didn't seem particularly perturbed by this though, and yipped at the princess as it lay on its back, all four paws waving up at her.
"No, she doesn't have a name yet." The gum creature seemed bewildered by the question. "Once she's old enough to decide on one she'll tell you what it is, that's what you did after all. Twice as we recall…"
Well, that answered that. Bubblegum couldn't really argue the point, since she had decided to name herself Princess Bubblegum to begin with. Bonnibel had been later. At her knees, the wolf pup made an odd sound that sounded half like a growl and half like a sneeze, and when the princess looked down it had become a baby girl once more. Bubblegum lifted her gently, noticing for the first time that her ears were pointed like Marceline's. Oh Grod, Marceline. The princess didn't even what to think about what the vampire's reaction would be when she returned with their biological offspring.
Leaving the little girl down here was out of the question of course. She was certainly unplanned – given that both of her genetic parents were female and one was undead it was hard for her to be otherwise – but that certainly didn't mean she was unwanted. Now that the shock was wearing off somewhat, Bubblegum found that she was warming to the idea as she watched the little girl snuggle against her with a tiny thumb in her mouth. She just hoped that Marceline would feel the same.