A Wing, A Tail, And Things You Don't Know
By: CS Fox
Lt. Commander Cortez practically pressed his face to the glass pane, looking with boyish wonder at the creature within. “There’s got to be a way to weaponize this… tell me we're working on a super soldier project. This is just too cool.”
Dr. Sahaluv glared at the officer. Thankfully the retard was too dumbstruck to see his expression.
“No sir... with all due respect, this is not a comic book. What you are looking at may not be outwardly human any more, but he is still very human on the inside. If you had taken the time to read my report, you’d understand he’s nothing more then an angst ridden teen with very scrambled DNA.”
“I don’t care if he’s a teen. Look at him! He’s got wings and glowing eyes! He looks like something that’d happen if my husky and an angel got it on.”
“And he’s also the size of a child. Does he look particularly vicious to you sir?”
“He… has… wings!” Lt. Commander Cortez exclaimed. None of the troops he’d ever commanded could fly. An army of those would save an ass ton on jet fuel. “We’re going to research him right? I’m talking like a million tests to find out exactly what happened, and why he’s like that… right?”
“Yes…” Dr. Sahaluv said, trying his best to keep his voice calm. Just what did the military moron think the project was for?
Smiling, the Lt. Commander waved through the window at the boy, oblivious to the fact that he couldn’t see through the one way glass.
Dr. Sahaluv shook his head in annoyance and waited for the fruit commander to leave. He was almost too happy when he saw nurse Beverly on her way through the secure lock down below. The observation center for viewing subject two-six bravo was raised about eight feet higher then the containment room below it. It looked like an operating theater, wrapping around three sides, and overlapping the detox room where the nurse was entering now.
“Sir, here comes one of my assistants,” Dr. Sahaluv said. The Lt. Commander glanced toward the direction Dr. Sahaluv was indicating. “This is Beverly Rivison, she’s a specially trained nurse who’s been read into clearance for the project.”
“Well she’s certainly a hot little number. Hey down there, I’m your new boss!” He said, waiting for a moment to hear her response, but the nurse just stood there.
“She can't hear you with the comm off.”
“Oh... well, she's definitely easy on the eyes... but I have to say she doesn’t look much like a nurse.”
Dr. Sahaluv gave Beverly a cursory glance to make sure she was at least professionally dressed. Beverly had a bit of a spirit too her, but it was within reason. Today she was wearing a simple v-neck with black skirt and a white lab coat over it. On her shoulder she had a cloth bag.
“I'm assuming you'd want her in a little red cross cap and white dress?”
The Lt. Commander grinned, but didn't understand the sour look the doctor was making.
“I don't believe she needs to dress like a nurse, to be one,” Dr. Sahaluv groaned. “Now, if you don’t mind, with her arrival I need to return to my work. I'm sure you can see yourself out.”
“What? ...Why? I haven’t even been properly introduced to your nurse or test subject yet.”
Dr. Sahaluv sighed and hit a comm button. “Hey Bev, sorry this is taking so long. The new fruit..er.. Loot Commander is up here with me.”
“Ah, was wondering about that. It’s alright Doctor. Take your time, I'm paid by the hour.”
“Hey down there, I’m Lt. Commander Erno Cortez… you’re new boss!” the officer said, bumping Dr. Sahaluv out the way. He tried to sound as suave as possible.
“Umm… hi… nice to meet you,” she said looking around, trying not to be rude since she was only speaking to a voice and couldn't see through the one way glass without the back lighting on.
“I have high hopes for our little team. We’ll DEFINITELY have to talk some time later. I’m sorry to say that the doc is giving me the boot out of the lab... but when you get the chance, swing by and we’ll have a proper greeting.”
“Sure thing, sir,” she said pleasantly.
Dr. Sahaluv flipped the comm button off and used all his restraint to remain as cordial as possible with the Lt. Commander.
“If you please, I’ll introduce you to Joel at a later time. He’s had too much stimulus as it is. The less he knows about the facility around him, the better for his re-developement.”
“Haha, that sounds soo sciencey… stimulus... re-development...”
Science…y...? In one quick motion Dr. Sahaluv had pulled his foot up and torn off his shoe. “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY LAB!”
As the Lt. Commander beat a hastey retreat, a brown loafer clanged against the wall near him. Dr. Sahaluv growled and walked over to reclaim his shoe.
“I’ll probably hear about that later… oh well,” he flipped the comm back on. “Sorry for the delay, it’s just me up here now Bev.”
“Not liking our new overseer, hmmm doctor?” Beverly smiled, already knowing his tone.
“Are you paid that ridiculous salary for your opinion?”
“Consider it a bonus service.”
Dr. Sahaluv rubbed at his temples and grumbled to himself as he input the key sequence that allowed the detox chamber to open into the containment room. The room's name was a bit misleading. After the first two weeks of study, they had conclusively determined that whatever caused the dynamic changes in subject two-six bravo, were not airborne or contagious. They hadn’t moved the boy to another room since it was more then adequate for their needs. It also helped that it was deep within a secured location to keep his existence from the world.
With a hiss of pressurized air, the door behind Beverly shut and sealed itself. Her brown hair fluttered around her shoulders as the sniffers for biological contaminants did their invisible work. When the door in front of her slid open, she put on her best smile… it was another part of her job.
“Hey Joel, how you feeling?”
Sitting in a corner of the room, hugging his knees, and wrapping his wings around himself like a blanket, sat Joel… or as the research and development branch of the US Military knew him; subject two-six bravo.
“A little better… I was able to nap a little earlier,” he shakily stood up. “I think it’s easier to sleep on my tummy then my back with… with,” he looked for a moment and held a paw out to show her the dove white feathers of his wings. “With these…”
Beverly smiled and walked over to Joel, taking a seat on the single bed near him. “See? I told you it’d be no time at all before you got used to them.”
“I still don’t like them. Everything's just... just wrong. I don’t like these wings, this fur… or being younger.”
Beverly shrugged. “Who’s to say you’re younger?”
“C’mon,” Joel said rolling his eyes and frowning. “Just look at me.”
It’s hard to describe exactly what Joel was. Previously he’d been a sandy haired boy of 18, if the photos were to be believed… but now… he was a humanoid shaped dog that couldn’t be much older then eight if he were to be compared by his human features to developmental cycles.
He had fur from head to toe, triangular ears, a canine snout, even a bushy tail that seemed to wag with his rare good moods. His fur was most like an Inuit husky with a white front and the rest being an off-blue teal color. On his back he had a pair of feathered wings, which while not tested, seemed large enough, and strong enough to support his weight should he try flying.
Besides his wings, the most noticeable thing about him were his eyes. They were purple… and they glowed brightly. They glowed so bright that even with the lights off, they illuminated the room a bit and left everything tinted their color like a night light. Needless to say, he had perfect night vision.
“Well… maybe you’re not that old… yet… but it’s not so bad, right?” Beverly said hopefully. “You've got the gift of youth!”
Joel folded his wings behind his back and crossed his arms with a big pout. She knew that this was a touchy subject for him, since his youth carried with it his least favorite abnormality. Even so, she couldn't beat around the bush, she was here for a reason.
“Do you need your diaper changed?” She asked.
Beverly smiled and got off the bed, walking up to Joel. He backed away from her until his wings were against the wall, but he didn’t struggle as she put a gentle hand on his shoulder and pulled down his shorts a little to check his diaper. With the Doctor’s wish to help him feel as normal as possible… a few special items were made for Joel. Today he was wearing a pair of shorts with room for a tail and a basketball type jersey that zipped up the back around his wings... and disposable white diapers.
“Looks like you had another accident,” she said the way a doubting mother would to her potty training child. “Up on the bed with you.”
Joel blushed a little, and hopped up on the bed. He’d given up fighting the day before. Embarrassment and pride had given way to practicality. There was a bedpan on the floor, but he'd never made it.
Laying down, Joel carefully fanned his wings out. It wasn’t comfortable to lay on them like this, but it wasn’t unbearable either. At the base of the bed, Beverly opened the bag she'd brought and got out powder, wipes and a fresh diaper. Every couple of hours she’d visit Joel to check on him like this and she always had changing supplies in her bag. Whatever had happened to Joel, it’d left him completely incontinent... even if he wanted to pretend otherwise.
“I know you don’t like them… but isn’t this nicer then wet clothes?”
“I want out of the hospital. I want to see my family.”
Right... the hospital. Beverly tried to make her smile seem more genuine. “You can't. You're contagious... would you want any one else to catch your virus?”
Joel sighed and looked away. “You've never caught it.”
“I've been given special vaccinations every day to prevent it.”
Joel didn't say anything and Beverly took his silence for acknowledgment and went about changing the little guy. Anatomically, he was human, just... furry. It made diaper changes a little difficult at times, but Beverly didn’t much care, she was paid enough to change Godzilla should it come to that, and today wasn't so bad, he was just a bit wet.
“Can I at least change rooms?” he asked looking back at her. “I'd like a room with some sunlight...”
Beverly shook her head. That'd never happen for a multitude of reasons.
Joel pouted some more. “I know I’m… different… and probably scary to look at, but I don’t like all the mirrors around the ceiling. I feel like there’s always a lot of people watching me. Can't I just stay somewhere else?”
“You’re not scary sweetie.” Beverly smiled. “But, I won’t lie. Sometimes our special doctors check on you through those mirrors. It’s not to rob you of privacy, it’s just because we’re trying to help you get better.”
“Can I at least have something to do? An xbox-360? A laptop? Anything? Laying around all day tugging at my tail and feathers gets really boring.”
“I can’t make any promises, but maybe that can be arranged,” Beverly said sprinkling some powder. He didn’t catch it, but she made a quick glance at the mirror where she figured Dr. Sahaluv was watching. She knew he'd probably agree. He was concerned for the boy's mental well being and it'd been him who theorized that while his body had become something new, his actions dictated that his tendencies and responses remained very human. A key to restoring some of his psyche would be to treat him as if he were normal inside a controlled environment. Being a boy, well, a teen to be precise, also led Dr. Sahaluv to believe that he would respond better to an attractive female instead of a unkempt researcher.
“There we go, all clean,” Beverly said with a smile as she helped Joel up and pulled his shorts back on.
“Thanks,” he mumbled quietly walking back to his corner.
“Wait... before I go, we need to draw blood again.”
“AGAIN?! You're going to bleed me dry you vampire!”
Beverly forced a smile and took a small needle and rubber strap from her bag. “Just a little for more tests.”
Joel stomped over to the bed, sat on the ledge and held his arm out impatiently. “The sooner you get it, the sooner I can go back to staring at the ceiling.”
It only took a minute to tie off above his elbow and draw a vial of blood. He whimpered like a little pup as the needle went in, but managed to remain still through the ordeal. Brave little trooper.
Packing up the rest of her things, Beverly headed toward the pressure lock. “I’ll… see what I can do about some games,” she said. Honestly, she did feel bad for him. It’d been 17 days now and although he didn't know it, he'd spent the first 13 heavily drugged while they tested how volatile he was. Since having full consciousness, the only things he had to do were answer questions from the doctor when he ventured in, and talk with her when she brought him his meals and changed him. Poor guy was probably bored out of his mind.
“I'll be back at dinner time,” she said pleasantly, stepping into detox.
“I'll be here,” he said layering on the sarcasm.
With a pressurized hiss, the door slid shut and sealed Beverly out of containment.
Dr. Sahaluv already hated the fruit commander. He was pure weapons grade idiot. Surely some brass in Washington had sent him to see about 'military applications' of subject two-six bravo.
“Morning doc, I trust my summons isn't keeping you from any important research.”
“Joel is asleep at the moment,” Dr. Sahaluv said, which was true. “Two of my research assistants are monitoring him. I wasn't doing anything important.” Which was not true.
Lt. Commander Cortez kicked his feet up on his desk. “Good, good, I just wanted to make sure there wasn't any bad blood with us. I know I'm not really the scientist type.”
NOOOO, REALLY? “None at all sir, my apologies for being short with you the other day. The demands of our project have been pressing upon me lately.”
“It's all good doc, you're not the first to throw a shoe at me, and probably won't be the last.”
Dr. Sahaluv briefly thought about wearing golf cleats if he could get by with throwing shoes at his boss.
“I just wanted to remind you that I'm the project director now,” the Lt. Commander continued. “and as such, you'll be reporting to me.”
“Stop with this sir stuff, you're a civilian, and I'm one of few military here. I'd be more comfortable if you just called me Erno in informal situations. That's what I told nurse hottie.”
Dr. Sahaluv would rather call him fruit, but he couldn't be that openly disrespectful to his new boss. “Well Erno, I'm Peter, but I do prefer everyone refer to me as Doctor Sahaluv especially in front of Joel.”
“Fine by me Doc... but what do you mean about Joel?”
“A cooperative test subject is much better then a resistant one. At the moment, he believes he is in a hospital and that we are treating a very serious illness. He has not been outside that room for nearly three weeks and he wasn't conscious when he was put in.”
“Wow! You know what doc? You keep telling me this isn't a comic book, but the more in depth I get into it, the more I think it is.”
Dr. Sahaluv frowned. The fruit commander probably hadn't bothered to read ANY of his reports. He wasn't surprised that no one had told him about the project, since it was classified above top secret, but any good boss would at least read the carefully prepared reports given to him upon arrival... page one detailed the hospital cover story.
“Yes... Erno. I stand by the ruse. It's been effective so far and we've been able to run a multitude of tests on him. I'm afraid I don't see the similarity to comic books.”
“Ahhh come on, he's super natural... if not a soldier, what do you think we could stand to learn from our little angel doggie?”
Dr. Sahaluv frowned again. Angel doggie? The boy was a new evolution in DNA.
“He's a pandora's box,” the doctor said patiently. “We've classified his change as a result of a mutant strain of the H2N5 virus. Initially the pathogen infected his body by means of a bite; either mosquito, rodent, it could've been any number of carriers. The virus is fatal, but by some miracle, with Joel the virus formed a symbiotic relationship with his white blood cells, which then went to work rearranging his DNA and causing a host of side affects.”
Dr. Sahaluv might as well have been speaking Mandarin Chinese. Lt. Commander Cortez looked at him with a completely blank stare. “I'm sorry, I'm not really following.”
“In simpler terms, Joel was human, caught a third generation swine flu, and became a mutant because of it. Now he can fly, has super hearing, and can see in the dark.”
“Holy christ man, that's cool.”
Dr. Sahaluv slapped his forehead. “No... He is as you see him, and a virus made him that way... read my reports to find out the rest.”
Lt. Commander Cortez smiled good naturedly and nodded. “I shall, I shall,” he said with no actual intention of doing so.
“Great... now if you'll excuse me. It's just about time for Joel to wake up.”
“Very good Doc. Thanks for stopping by.”
Dr. Sahaluv couldn't leave fast enough.
Safely back in his lab, the doctor stomped with clenched fists to his desk. At least he wouldn't have to worry about his boss getting overly ambitious. If he just fed him a few tidbits about convoluted ways that his research could be applied to the military, he'd be happy.
The two aids who'd been left to monitor Joel looked up at the fuming doctor. Dr. Sahaluv was easy to read. He was forty five, well learned, and heading a project which he was sure would define his career. His moods were always written clearly on his face. He hadn't even slept more then 3 hours a night in almost the entire time he'd had Joel. Forget about shaving. Science didn't need to shave, and its not like he was trying to impress anyone with his looks. He was a wirey bespeckled fragile intellectual. Brain over brawn any day.
The doctor started hammering on his keyboard and waved off his two assistants who by now knew his moods. They hurried to look busy. Below them, the lights were off in the containment room, and Joel was sleeping quietly.
The computer at his desk had all of their combined research. Joel's transformation was as miraculous as it was marvelous, and just the implications could herald a new age for man. The white blood cells were the key, Dr. Sahaluv was sure of it. They had responded to a virus and instead of fighting it, had worked with it, effectively repurposing themselves to build a new Joel. They had rearranged his DNA, grown him wings, made him younger, given him nightvision, better senses... it was a god damned miracle. What if they could find a way to custom synthesize these blood cells? Selectively make you younger? Stronger? Wings to fly? Fur to survive the cold?
They had plenty of blood, and had run plenty of tests... but they hadn't found a way to cause the blood cells to induce change in anything else. Introducing them into sample human blood or even animal blood saw them destroyed... there had been other tests on lab animals, but Joel's blood didn't take and many died of H2N5.
“He's waking up Doctor,” said one of the lab assistants.
Dr. Sahaluv looked over from his computer to the containment room. He could see the purple glow that indicated the boy was looking around. His eyes were a little unsettling at first glance. They were more animal then human, and with the glow, more alien then animal.
“Go ahead and inform Bev. Let her know she can bring him that handheld thingy.”
The assistant nodded and picked up the phone to make a call. It only took a few minutes before Beverly walked into the detox room. With the hiss of the pressurized doors opening into the containment room, she put on her smile for Joel as the two people eyes cast their glow upon her. She flicked the lights on, they could do it upstairs, but it was important for Joel to see her do it. They wanted to keep his paranoia about being watched down.
“Hey buddy, how'd you sleep?”
Joel pushed himself up and fluttered his wings a little bit, yawning. “Sokay I guess. It's weird not sleeping on my back any more.”
“Well... I'm glad you're getting more sleep,” she said taking a seat next to him. She gave him a gentle pat on his head. She wasn't sure why, but she liked to pat him between his ears, he was almost like a big puppy in some ways. “I have a surprise for you today,” she said playfully.
“If its another needle, I don't want it.”
“Hahah no,” she said pulling her bag around. She made a show of reaching inside and digging around before pulling out a psp and a handful of games. Joel's eyes practically glowed a few watts brighter. With a sudden wag of his tail, he threw his arms around Beverly and hugged her.
“Thank you thank you thank you!”
Beverly giggled and hugged back. “No problem. See what happens when you're good? The doctor said its fine, and if you're good through a few more test series tomorrow, he'll see if he can get you a TV.”
Joel smiled. “Really?”
“Mmmhmm...” she smiled.
She gave Joel a few moments to sort through the games. He wasted no time seating one in the device and testing it out.
“Well... since I brought you a surprise...” Beverly put a finger at the waistband of his shorts and gave a quick tug. “Any surprises for me?”
Joel grabbed the games and backed away from her. “Why do you even ask any more? Yes, I wet the bed. I do every day.”
Beverly's smile faded a little. At least he'd stopped pretending. “Sorry, I didn't mean to imply anything. Can you lie down for me?”
Joel grumbled, but his game turned on and he blocked her out while he started playing.
Typically, Beverly changed Joel around four to fives a day. At first he'd resisted every time, but after his acceptance of his need for diapers, he'd begrudgingly become docile about it. While changing Joel, Beverly noticed that a few feathers had come off his wings during his nap. She quietly snuck them into her bag for the Doctor.
“There we go, all better right?”
Joel only grunted once by way of acknowledgment. When she had his shorts up, he went over to his usual corner. His glowing eyes were focused on the game and he folded his wings around himself to settle in.
“I'll be back in a few hours,” Beverly said as she packed up her bag.
“You always are,” he said to her back. She had to admit he was getting pretty good at the sarcastic remarks.
Dr, Sahaluv had been using a steady stream of entertainment to buy Joel's cooperation. Occasionally he'd fall into childish fits about wanting to see his family, but the standby lies about his contagiousness and the restrictions on the special ward of the hospital he lived in usually worked.
Truth be told, Joel was an orphan now. He'd gone comatose when he'd contracted the virus, and although he'd survived... his mother and younger sister hadn't. As far as the Doctor was concerned, it was for the better. Everyone assumed he had died, nobody was looking for him.
“I'm losing some of my ability to lie o him Doctor.”
Dr. Sahaluv looked up from his desk at Beverly. She pulled a roller chair up to sit across from him. Although not usually bothered by the opposite sex, he had to admit his twenty something nurse was amazingly attractive for someone so smart.
“I know he's a good kid Bev,” Dr. Sahaluv said. “But whatever sentiments you've developed for him need to be put aside. You're paid to care for him, not about him.”
Beverly ignored the heartless remark and kept on. “I think at the very least we should try and let him know his family didn't pull through the virus. Of what he remembers, he knows he had a virus and suspects it was the catalyst for all this.”
The doctor smirked. “And how do you know that?”
“Of anyone, I've spent the most time with him. You've got my file, you know I specialized in child psychology. He's had too much time to himself, what else does he have to think about if not, 'what happened to me?'”
She had a good point, the doctor had to admit that. “Do you think he could handle it emotionally? I mean, knowing you're alone... and believing your sick... I don't want him to shut down.”
“It'll be hard... and I think he could regress a little more then he already has... but he'll pull through. To be honest, I think he'll become even more cooperative if he believes he could help prevent future outbreaks.”
Doctor Sahaluv frowned. The active word in her argument was 'regress'. Joel had shown a few signs of regression. Aside from being physically younger and diaper dependent... he'd started to swap certain vernacular, 'tummy' instead of stomach, 'sleepy' instead of tired... although the Doctor also reasoned he could just be over thinking the issue and compounding it with his own lack of sleep. The boy's file did list him as being immature BEFORE his change.
“Why tell him now?” he asked.
“I think it'll be better if he finds out sooner then later. He's already asked if he could use a phone or just hand write some letters, just to make sure his parents know he's all right.”
Doctor Sahaluv nodded. “I want a plan... draft up an outline on how you plan to break it too him.”
Beverly nodded. She wasn't really looking forward to bearing bad news to someone who'd already been through some rough times; but she knew it'd be about the only kindness she could personally give him.
It didn't take long to have her plan written. She passed it to the doctor, who reviewed it and then gave it to the Lt. Commander... who probably had a Peter Parker nostalgia moment, before the whole thing came back to Beverly approved for action.
It was two days later that she went into containment to wake Joel up for the day. He'd come to expect her waking him up. Sometimes it was the only way he knew it was morning. She didn't wake him prematurely from naps, but she always woke him in the morning.
She brought the lights up to gentle dim and stepped over to the bed. The room was always exactly 68 degrees Fahrenheit and with his fur, Joel never needed more then a light blanket. In a funny way, he kind of looked like a downed bird on the bed.
“Morning sleepy head,” she said gently patting at his head. It was her usual greeting.
Joel stirred in his sleep and there was a blinking glow for a moment as he opened his eyes to see Beverly crouching down near him.
“Still tired,” he mumbled.
Beverly could already smell he needed a change. She did her best to try and maintain her motherly smile as she urged him to sit up enough so she could roll him over and change him. She changed him every morning, but today she was a bit nervous.
“I've got some bad news Joel.”
Joel grumbled, but closed his eyes. “I don't feel like having any tests today. The doctor shaved off part of my tail last week and its only now growing back.”
They had been surprised to discover that under his fur, Joel's skin was dull blue, althuogh it made sense, it matched his nose.
“No, its not more tests.”
“Is this about the oatmeal smiley face on the mirror the other day? I swear I was just bored.”
“No, its not about your eating habits either.” Although he really didn't eat enough... but that's normal for someone who was slowly realizing they were in captivity.
“There's not going to be any new psp movies?” Joel asked looking up at Beverly. He was curious now what could be bad and not related to the normal junk.
She heaved a sigh as she finished changing him and taped him up.
“It's about your mom and sister.”
Joel was awake now. He quickly sat up, not bothering with his shorts and gave Beverly his complete attention.
“What happened? Are they okay?”
“Joel, I know we haven't really talked about this before... but you know what H2N5 is right?”
Joel nodded slowly. “The virus... that we...” his eyes suddenly went wide and began to tear up a little.
“There have been 736 documented cases of the virus...”
“Are they okay?!?! I don't care how many cases. My mother... my sister... where are they?” Joel grabbed at Beverly's arm and shook it nervously. He knew that both of them had been sick before he'd blacked out. He had been told when he first woke up that they were recovering... and that he had the worst of it.
Beverly knew this wasn't going to go as good as she hoped. She tried to stick to what they'd practiced. “The survival rate after contraction is less then 0.14%.”
“But... but... less then one?” He suddenly hated math... 736 divided by 100 would be 7.36 people, which would be one percent and then 0.14 would be less then a sixth of that, which meant that... Joel started crying. Beverly swept him up into a hug.
“You're the only one that's survived the virus Joel.”
Up in the observation room, Dr. Sahaluv and his team took careful notes of everything happening. Beverly was acting as the resident psychologist, he had an assistant monitoring Joel's heart rate and another on biological signs. All were precautions in case the sudden emotional shock triggered any changes or wild reactions... when you deal with super natural, you don't rule out any possibilities.
Bev had just delivered the worst of it. Joel was the sole survivor of H2N5... Which technically was a lie. A Montana breed of pigs had survived the virus and an inoculation had been made from them. Thanks to careful quarantine, no new cases had developed in the six week's Joel had been there. He was the only survivor that was human. Well, formerly human.
“Did I miss it?” asked Lt. Commander Cortez as he let himself into the lab.
Dr. Sahaluv glared, but the officer didn't see it as he took a spot in the window alongside the other researchers. He looked on eagerly. Inside, the hot nurse was sitting on the bed, hugging the angel doggie to her chest.
“Is he crying doc?”
“Yes, he's crying Erno.”
Lt. Commander Cortez frowned. “What the hell for? Super soldier's don't cry.”
Dr. Sahaluv sighed. Another report gone unread. “He's just found out that he is an orphan. He's allowed to cry.”
“What?! I thought you told me that we were going to have him try flying with his wings today?”
Dr. Sahaluv fought back the urge to go for his shoe. “Nooo... I told you that we had flight testing on schedule for the near future and that today we were going to implement Nurse Beverly's careful modification of Joel's fictitious environment.”
“... No flying today?”
Back inside containment, Joel cried his poor little eyes out. Even though he didn't want to believe it, deep down he knew that there was a good chance it was true. People had been dying all around when he was sick.
“You... you told.. me...” he could barely form words. “You told me... they were... recovering...” It felt like such a long time ago that he'd come here. She'd told him they were sick but getting better.
“For a little while they were Joel. There were some new vaccines developed... one of them from you... and it looked promising and everyone thought they might pull through...”
Joel just pressed himself into Beverly. His head was on her chest, he hadn't even thought about it at first... he was alone... REALLY alone... and he desperately needed to feel like he wasn't.
Beverly pet between his ears, holding him and rocking gently. She began to cry a little herself, and for once, she wasn't forcing it.
There was a sudden brief static noise in the usually quiet room. Joel's ears perked up at the foreign sound.
“Joel, this is Lt. Commander Erno Cortez, and I am the project director here. I want you to quit your crying and toughen up. You got sick, but now you're built like a super hero!”
Joel took his head off of Beverly's chest and looked around in surprise. He felt Beverly move nervously next to him. Something was wrong.
“You idiot! Get away from the micropho...” and the static died away.
“Who... who...?” Joel's teary purple eyes met Beverly's. He knew he was probably always being watched... but someone... a Lieutenant Commander...?
The static came back. “Put your shoe down Doctor. I did nothing wrong, super soldier's don't cry! Listen Joel, you're parents died weeks ago, it doesn't matter now, what matters is you and a costume and...”
“YAHHHHHHHH!!!!!” and the static was off.
Beverly felt Joel tense up and sniffle back a few tears. This was bad... his paranoia was well founded, and despite looking like a child, she knew his mind didn't work like one.
“They died... weeks ago?” Joel said looking at her. She could almost hear his heart break. She frooze, unable to form an answer. She was still crying, and caught like this, she couldn't lie. She just nodded her head a little to confirm the awful look in Joel's eyes. Beverly slowly stopped petting Joel's head... and as she took her hand away, she couldn't react quick enough as he sank his teeth into her left arm. Dr. Sahaluv was in the process of hammering his boss with his size 9's, when he heard Bev scream.
Lt. Commander Cortez wasn't really hurt, he was short on brains, but he was built the way cars in the 60's used to be. He grumbled and followed the Doctor, smirking a little as he saw the first Super Soldier indication since his heading of the project.
“Ow ow ow ow ow ow. Stop... STOP! Joel!” Beverly had resorted to hitting her open palm on Joel's nose, treating him like a dog to get him off. She heard the door hiss open and two assistants rushed in.
There wasn't time to reason, Beverly could hear Joel begin to growl as he saw the others, but one of the assistants quickly jabbed an injector to his neck and Beverly felt his bite loosen on her arm. He faded off a moment later and fell limp on the bed behind him.
Beverly sat clutching her arm. It wasn't a vicious bite, his teeth weren't actually as large or anywhere near as sharp as an actual husky's, but, you could clearly see a teeth imprint in a half moon on her arm. He'd also left her bleeding in a few spots.
Dr. Sahaluv was quickly into containment as soon as the door hissed through another sniffer cycle.
“Bev, are you okay?”
“I'll be all right... he just scared me...”
“That fucking director!” the doctor swore. He looked up and around at the one way glass, cursing out loud. “You hear me SIR?! This is going to be a major setback. Whatever trust we'd established with Joel is gone!”
“That didn't go according to plan,” Beverly sobbed and walked by the angry doctor, still clutching at her arm. One of the assistants came over to inspect it. Joel would never trust her again. She was as good as fired.
It took a few hours for everything to settle down. The Doctor and the Lt. Commander had words... Beverly went to medical... and everything was documented. Joel was awake again, but he refused to open his eyes. He knew if they saw the purple glow they'd know he was up... he just laid there crying. He didn't know how long he'd been knocked out... but he remembered everything.
He was an orphan now... and apparently he had been for weeks. Beverly knew all along. She'd been lying to him... probably just to get him to cooperate with their tests. Joel wondered if 'they' were watching him now. He whimpered a little more as he realized he needed a change too.
“What do you suppose he'll do if someone tries to go in there now?” Beverly asked standing next to the Doctor in the observation room above. Her arm had been bandaged shortly after the incident this morning. Aside from the two slightly enlarged canines that broke her skin, Joel had an 8-year-old's mouth and the damage wasn't serious. It honestly didn't hurt any more.
“I don't know... but he probably needs a change by now... and after having such a strong tranqualizer, he'll probably need something to eat to prevent him from throwing up...”
Beverly nodded, “I suppose we could just leave it in the detox chamber for him... but he's never had to change himself before.”
Dr. Sahaluv nodded. That was a thought... but how would they run tests and get blood drawn in the future? Someone would have to go in there... would they have to do it by force? ... or go back to a long term sedatives?
Beverly blinked a few times. “I think I've got eyeliner in my eye,” she said as she began to rub at her eyes.
Dr. Sahaluv wasn't really paying attention to Beverly. He was lost in his own thoughts about how best to go about fixing the damage his boss had caused. He turned and went to his desk to get his cup of coffee. When research went bad, he downed caffeine.
“I wonder if we should just be completely honest with him?” he asked himself, sipping from his mug. “We could let him know he's part of a research project and either he can be helpful and things are easy... or...” Dr. Sahaluv frowned. That had sort of an evil overtone to it.
As he sipped and thought some more, he began to realize that Beverly was still rubbing at her eyes and he was about to say something... when he noticed a wet spot forming on her skirt.
Was he seeing things? Had he gone that long without enough sleep? Beverly was... wetting her pants? Right in front of him? She didn't even seem to realize it. There was a pool forming around her heels as it ran down her panty hosed leg. She kept talking about getting some liner in her eye and even that was starting to sound like mumbled jibberish.
“Bev, get a hold of yourself. What on earth are you...”
Dr. Sahaluv dropped his coffee mug. Time slowed down as it fell slowly through the air before shattering on the floor and staining the tails of his lab coat with brown spots. The doctor took two unsteady steps forward, watching with a frantic fit of controlled hysteria as Nurse Beverly's speech tappered off into weak mumbles while she continued to rub her right eye... her... glowing... yellow... right... eye.
In the few short seconds that it took the doctor to realize just what he was watching. Beverly's legs gave way underneath her and she crumpled to the floor.
Joel heard the hiss of the door about to depressurize and looked up sullenly from his bed. He was in a miserable mood. He was still sobbing, he was in dire need of a change, and he'd gotten sick earlier in the bed pan. He'd never actually used the bed pan for its intended purpose, but it held throw up just fine. He was a bit worried since usually if he coughed more then twice, Beverly was in to check on him... but it'd been hours and no one had been in yet. He was beginning to wonder if he'd been forgotten about. The lights weren't even on.
The lock opened and Joel watched as the door moved. He noted that the lights came on without anyone pressing the switch, but as his eyes adjusted, he quickly sat up, taken by surprise. There was a man in a heavily padded suit. He looked like a dark green stay-puft marshmellow man, and in his arms he had the limp form of a creature... just like him.
The padded man gently put the creature on the floor, followed by a small bag which he'd had hanging from a clip on his belt. It was awkward because of the thickly gloved hands for him to reach it... but once it was on the floor, he took a few stomping steps back into the lock and the door hissed shut.
Forgetting his discomfort, Joel jumped up from the bed and practically ran on all fours to the lifeless furry lump. The first thing he noticed was that it didn't have wings. It seemed to be the same general species as him, some type of dog-child, but this one had white and orange-ish fur instead of his teal. It also had a different tail. His was very much like a husky's; while this other tail was more like a fox's and almost five feet long... it was easily twice as long as Joel's tail.
“Are you okay?” Joel asked pawing at its cheeks. He noticed that it also seemed to have hair... well, hair the way humans do. It had brown hair on top of its head that was a bit wet as if having been dunked under water recently... but the fur near wasn't.
Joel began to worry when there was no immediate response from the creature. It had a bandage on its left arm and he could see a slight red discoloration like it'd been bleeding recently. He gave it a few more pats on the cheek, but it didn't come around so he quickly put his head to its' chest.
“No... no... they wouldn't dump a dead body in here... would they?” he began to panic... but to his great relief, there was a heartbeat. It was still alive... and as he listened a little closer with his enhanced hearing... he realized it was breathing steady too... it was asleep.
Joel frowned and looked up at the mirrors. Of course... tranqualized. What should he expect? He had no memory of entering this 'hospital' and was fairly certain he knew why.
Feeling a little better about the state of his new guest he checked the bag that the man had dropped. Inside he was somewhat happy to see his regular changing supplies and a few tupperware bins with various food and water bottles.
“Guess that was my new nurse,” he sighed. Maybe biting that lying bitch wasn't the best idea.
He struggled to pick up the other pup and laid it on his bed. They'd only dressed it in a hospital gown and he went to check his plastic drawers for some other clothing. A few days ago, Beverly had come in with a small stackable drawer system filled with various shirts and shorts. She had even managed to get someone to make him a set of overalls that he felt looked entirely too childish for him to wear... although, they looked like the best option given they had an adjustable tail hole, which this new patient would need with that wider tail.
Putting the clothes next to the bag, he noticed the diapers within and thought to his own need for a change. He'd never had to change himself, but he knew it couldn't be that hard.
Fifteen minutes later and he was missing the toilet more then ever. Cleanup had taken FOREVER and he'd used probably about half a box of wipes. He put it all in a plastic bag as he'd seen Beverly do in the past and left it by the door. The diaper didn't feel as snug as usual, but he didn't care.
Going back to his bed, he was a bit worried to see a big wet spot on both his bed and the hospital gown.
“Guess I'm really not the only one... huh?” he asked.
He ran to the bag and got another diaper before going back to the other creature and lifted up the gown too find........................... girl.
Joel stopped. The creature was definitely not a boy. It was a young girl... and he stared probably longer then he should of before dropping the gown and backing away.
He wasn't too worried about the bed. There had been a plastic sheet on it since his first accident... and chances are someone was watching them right now and there'd be new sheets next time the door opened, but... but... He looked around at the mirror, not sure what was going on.
With a gulp he helped the sleeping girl into a diaper. He couldn't really leave her in the wet hospital gown either, so he did his best to get her in a t-shirt and the overalls. It was hard work, she was like a heavy rag doll and it took seven or eight pulls to get her tail threaded through the back. He put his pillow on the floor and left her laying on it while he balled up the sheets and threw them next to the used diaper.
He felt weird. He wanted to be angry, and just sit in his corner crying... but he couldn't. They'd just dumped her off like a sack of flour on the floor and not said so much as a word about why.
Was this how he first came here?
Joel folded his wings around himself, and sat next to the bed watching her. He helped himself to a little of the food in bag, his stomach still hurt from earlier.
She remained sedated for another hour. Above containment, Dr. Sahaluv paced nervously. Either they were about to end up at square one, or make a major breakthrough. He had a million new questions now, and only time would tell the answer.
The bite. That had to be it. Was it the saliva and her blood? Noo... maybe it was her prolonged exposure to him. Damn it, no, that couldn't be it, they'd disproved it. It had to be the bite.
They'd managed to get her strapped to an examination table and put a camera feed and monitors to her vitals. Joel had arrived as he was, and all they had were a field nurse's account. Now they had documented footage. Her complete composition had warped and reshaped in under two hours. They had to unstrap her when it became apparent she'd be as small as Joel.
She was almost as big a mystery now. Joel had been 18, she was 26... and now they were both under 10... so whatever this was, it regressed their physical age to a point... but that was the only similarity. She didn't have wings, she was a vixen and he was a dog. How the hell did that work? Was her DNA altered in a different manner? Why were both of them of the canus family but yet not the same? He'd have to order some dogs for the lab. Maybe there was a connection there.
Dr. Sahaluv watched Joel with interest. He wasn't much of a psychologist, but having no other lab rooms available, he'd ordered Beverly put in containment. He was amazed to see the immediate response... like subject two-six bravo suddenly had a kindred spirit. For some reason he wasn't surprised about the accident... seemed to be a quark of the virus.
He was a little worried though. When Joel realized just who she was, he might react violently like before. As a precaution he'd stationed a security team just outside detox. The base above his lab had dog handling armor and it'd work fine to protect them from DNA altering bites.
Joel's ears perked as the girl began to stir. He didn't get up, he knew she was in for a shock... he'd torn up a triage center tent somewhere back home when he thought he was in a nightmare.
The vixen slowly began rubbing a paw to her forehead. Joel was surprised to see she had bright yellow eyes, glowing as his wore. She tried to sit up but quickly fell back to the pillow with a groan. She curled up, hugging her sides in the fetal position.
“It's going to hurt for a while,” Joel said quietly, remembering his own experience.
The girl tried to look at him, seeming a little scared, but more focused on her discomfort. Thinking about earlier, he went and got one of the tupperware containers and some water. He uncapped the bottle and held it to her muzzle.
“It'll help I think.”
The girl just winced and tried to gulp down a few mouthfuls before spluttering and coughing a little on the floor. Joel left the tupperware open in front of her and went to sit back in front of his bed. He wasn't sure what to do. He wasn't a doctor. The stupid doctors were probably all around watching and doing nothing.
“Is anyone going to help her?” he asked aloud looking up at the mirrors.
Dr. Sahaluv looked on in curious wonder unseen by Joel. His former assistant was now a hundred times more valuable... but at the same time, his original subject was in a resistant state and would likely not cooperate with research any time soon... unless...
“Joel, this is Dr. Sahaluv... why don't you help her? You know more then we do about your changes.”
Joel was stunned, he honestly didn't think anyone would answer. He got up and looked around uncertain. Nothing here had been for his benefit... could he trust the voice?
“Why... why me? Why can't you have Beverly take care of her?”
“That is Beverly.”
Joel gasped and jumped away from the girl as she struggled to get up again. His eyes focused on the bandage around her arm.
“Yes Joel... you're contagious as we told you. When you bit her, you aggravated the vaccine she was receiving daily.”
Joel fell over backwards, trying to get away from his former nurse.
“Li..es...” she managed to cough before passing out again.
Joel looked from her and then to the windows. Dr. Sahaluv didn't say anything else, just watching and waiting to see what happened.
Doctor Sahaluv was a bit nervous at first. Although their project had taken a huge leap forward… he had attacked his boss with a shoe… again. He tip toed around that fact as he delivered his report.
“Sir… Erno… it’s regrettable, but I think the situation is working out in our favor. I don’t have a spare lab to keep Beverly in, and I’m not about to put a former employee in a cage.”
“No problem doc. We’ll have a super hero farm as soon as we figure this out, right?”
Dr. Sahaluv took back all his worry, remembering quite clearly now that his boss was an idiot.
“Full speed ahead Sir.”
Lt. Commander Cortez pounded a fist on his desk. “That’s what I like to hear!”
“Of course… glad we’re on the same page.”
Lt. Commander Cortez gave an assured nod of his head, and Dr. Sahaluv excused himself before he lost any more IQ points.
If the doctor had been working frantic before, he was skirting the brink of madness now. He hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours, and if he didn’t have time for sleep, he certainly didn’t have time for his boss
As far as he was concerned, it was like they’d split an atom. Where there was one sacred research cow, there were now two. It didn’t matter that it cost him a worker… she knew the risks when she signed on with that salary.
Now that the two of them were together, he had been hopeful that they would redefine their relationship… but things were awkward.
Joel sat in one corner of the room playing his psp. He was hurt, and hiding it poorly. He hadn’t gotten over the fact that he’d been orphaned. If the girl on the other side of the room was indeed Beverly, she was as good as dead to him.
Beverly did a lot of crying. She had some conflicting emotions that her new body didn’t know how to deal with. She felt bad for hurting Joel, and on a deeper level she felt like karma had kicked her in the face. She knew a lot of things that Joel didn’t… her new self wasn’t something that could be undone.
She wasn’t sure what time it was, but her ears perked as the lock hissed open. A padded man stepped in carrying the usual bag. Fearing the virus’ transfer, they had outfitted guard staff in dog handling armor. He dropped off the new bag and picked up the one they'd left by the door earlier, before leaving quietly..
Beverly had gained a new respect for the diapers she’d been changing Joel out of for all those weeks before… symptoms of the canine H2N5 virus seemed to include total incontinence. She was already wet, and she knew sometime after lunch she’d mess herself. Her ears lowered at the thought.
She dried her eyes with her tail. At the moment, her tail was the best comfort she had. It was so long she could hug it from over her shoulder… even practically wear it like a scarf. She was in full control of it, like a long third arm.
Getting up, she quietly went to the bag and got half the food and some water. She'd change herself in a little bit, there was no rush. She had all the time in the world actually. She'd been in containment a full day, and since the initial run in, Joel hadn't spoken to her once.
“You hungry?” she asked looking to him. He didn't look up from his PSP, he didn't even acknowledge her being in the room. She sighed as she sat to eat. The food wasn't bad... but the situation sucked.
“Are you watching us right now Doctor?” she asked after a few minutes. She knew he probably was. She saw Joel look up slightly from his game as she spoke to the mirrors.
There was a sudden burst of static before she heard his voice. “I'm here Bev.”
She might as well be direct. “What's going to happen to me?”
“You'll stay right where you are while we document everything that's happened.”
Beverly was about to say something else but she suddenly felt that mess she'd been worrying about earlier. She instinctively hugged at her tail and whimpered as her body let go without so much as hinting or asking her permission.
Now she wanted a change... “Is there... is there any chance we can do something about the guards... and get someone to change us?” she asked slowly crawling back to the bag, trying not to feel what she'd done.
“I guess that depends on a few things Bev. While I find it endlessly interesting, I can't risk having you bite every person we hire and spreading the virus...”
“I... I didn't mean too,” Joel said quietly from his corner. Beverly tried to meet his eyes, but he looked away the moment she turned to him.
“We'll see what we can do,” the loudspeaker said.
The static cut out and Beverly was left feeling like the situation was somewhat hopeless.
“I'm sorry,” she said to Joel once more. It'd been like a steady mantra for her. She took the changing supplies and set up on the floor near the bed, so Joel didn't have to look at her while she changed herself. She didn't like being on the receiving end of what she'd spent weeks doing.
Later in the afternoon, after they'd both had a nap, the lock cycled open and a guard in the usual armor came in with a yellow lab on a leash. Joel and Beverly looked at each other a little unsure of what was going on.
Once again Dr. Sahaluv's voice broadcast in the room. “Bev, I’d like you to meet Duchess.”
Beverly got up from her corner and slowly walked over to the dog and guard. The guard took a cautious step back and she noticed he had a baton on his hip. She stopped moving and just stood staring at the yellow Labrador. It seemed just like a regular dog, female by the looks of it, and it whined a little as it seemed unsure just what she was.
“What's going on?” she asked looking up at the mirror.
“I've been really busy today. Since your affliction, we’ve acquired three dogs from the base shelter to aid in our research. I have a hypothesis I need your help in testing.”
“…I don’t work here any more…” Beverly said quietly.
“Oh come now. I haven’t stopped your salary yet, and no one has declared you dead… so just consider this a chance to let your savings mothball while you get your hands dirty.”
“Am I getting paid?” Joel asked in his usual sarcastic voice.
“Sorry to say you’re not young man. To be honest, all this research started with you. We go through about a quarter of a million dollars every week... equipment, power, supplies, researcher salary, armed watches… consider your payment being allowed to be our patient.”
“I’m an inmate, not a patient. No need to playcate things, sir.”
“No sirs here, I'm a doctor.”
Joel rolled his eyes.
“Anyways Bev, I'm interested in how the virus has manifested in you. If you'd be so kind, can you bite our canine subject?”
Beverly looked up completely stunned. “What? NO!”
“Don't make me force you Bev. You know I can... I need field data on this and I want to see if you are able to transfer the virus in the same way Joel can. Not only that, but I want to see the effects of an active strain on a canine vice a human. If my theory is correct, Duchess should be immune.”
“I'm not hurting a dog.”
“Bev, you won’t hurt her. This is for science.”
Beverly could feel Joel’s eyes on her and shivered a little. “No…” she muttered, almost to herself.
There was silence above. Beverly looked around unsure if she’d been heard, but the door opened a moment later and two guards stepped in, both carrying an injector a little awkwardly in their padded hands.
Joel woke up with a pounding headache. He was laying face down on his bed and he groaned at the unpleasant feeling. Blinking his eyes he saw that there was now another bed pulled up next to his and Beverly was sitting on it crying into her tail.
“Drugged…” he said to himself, trying to explain away his pain. Even though he was making a point not to look at her, Beverly nodded, trying to dry the tears in her eyes.
In a way, it felt like she’d been raped… not so much in the physical sense, but she had been forced to do something against her will. Two guards had held her down and another had forced her jaws open and… She hoped the dog was okay. Maybe the doctor was right and canines would be immune to the virus.
“They’re awake,” an assistant called to Dr. Sahaluv as he paced back and forth. He didn’t respond, he was too deep in thought. He wasn’t sure what had happened but some type of change was indeed taking place in their Labrador test subject. Duchess had fallen into a coma shortly after her bite and he had half a dozen cameras on her. It seemed much slower then the rapid changes that happened to his former nurse, but the dog was indeed infected by the bite and only time would tell what came of it. This proved his theory that all the viral properties had transferred to Beverly. Although it still didn’t explain her difference in appearance. It made him nervous, the whole thing was damn near unexplainable… and that’s why he paced. He was standing before a wall he couldn’t hurdle. He needed more coffee.
A few of the assistants had been growing progressively worried about Dr. Sahaluv. He seemed to operate on a 72 hour day and expected the same from those around him. There were also misgivings about the treatment of Beverly. A lot of the assistants were friends with her, and in 48 hours she’d gone from employee to test subject… and what had happened with the guards earlier was nothing short of abuse.
Dr. Sahaluv was all but oblivious to everything around him. His research was the core of his being and he was standing somewhere on a breaking point. He stepped over from the examination table to the windows so he could check on subjects two-six bravo and charlie.
“She’s not going to get over that for a while…” he noted with the air of detached science. He didn’t like what he had to do, but he couldn’t figure any way to get faster results. Both subjects were now resistant to any further tests, probably completely rebellious… he’d have to win them back or at least make their lives a little less miserable.
“We need to do something for them,” he said at last, confusing a few of his assistants. “Start interviewing for a new nurse. I think if Joel had his needs taken care of again, he might lose some of the anger that’s built after the cover story blew. Bev definitely isn’t a fan of changing herself either.”
All the assistants looked at each other again and one of them was even brave enough to question his decision. “Dr… do you really think that’s wise? The nurse would need to wear armor or attend to them while they were restrained. They’re not contagious, but I think we’ve proven they are infectious.”
Dr. Sahaluv rubbed at his head. “I suppose that’s true… there’s got to be a way I can buy them with kindness instead of having to force them into everything.” He wondered idly what the idiot who had both ruined and bolstered his research would do. Checking his watch, it was about time for a report any way. Without so much as a word he left the lab.
“Morning Doc. How’s our army of two?”
Lt. Commander Cortez was in perpetual optimism, but even he looked a little worried seeing Dr. Sahaluv. The man looked haggard.
“Could be better,” Dr. Sahaluv said. “Subject Bravo hates Subject Charlie and they both hate us… so progress is going to be slow.”
“Bravo and Charlie, now you're speaking my language. What will that dog be, Delta?”
For the first time in the doctor’s memory, the Lt. Commander had followed a logical train of thought. “Yes actually, assuming that any changes take place. I fear all we might have done is given the dog a terminal virus.”
Lt. Commander Cortez frowned but nodded. “Guess that’s how it goes sometimes.. huh?”
“We have Duchess under constant surveillance; anything that happens will be documented, terminal or otherwise. …but I have to say… I think we’re going to need to do something about our test subjects. They’re not going to cooperate with the research any more.”
Lt. Commander Cortez nodded appreciatively. He’d had to deal with a lot of rebellious soldiers before, so this really wasn’t new ground for him. He’d heard the word ‘incompetent’ more then he could remember from the lower ranks, but he always proved them wrong (in his own mind).
“I’m assuming threatening them with punishment won’t work? They are just kids.”
“No, they’re not kids, and that won’t work.” Dr. Sahaluv groaned and wondered if he had seriously thought he’d get a solution from his boss. “We need them to cooperate, and it’s not likely to happen through fear of punishment. Try thinking of something along the opposite line, some way we could get them to adjust to their surroundings instead of hating them.”
Lt. Commander Cortez frowned. The doc wanted to coddle his soldiers? “We can make them useful, it’s only a matter of how forceful we want to be. I saw the video of how things went with your dog experiment. You can be cruel when needed.”
Dr. Sahaluv winced at being reminded of his heavy handed approach. “Right Sir… I’m sorry I brought this up. We’ll figure something out.” He turned to leave.
“If my soldiers want to cry and complain all the time doc,” the Lt. Commander called as he left. “Turn the place into a nursery or something.”
The idea was a metaphorical seed. As the doctor walked back into the lab, he couldn’t shrug off the growing feeling that the retarded officer might have actually suggested something along the lines of what he needed. They had been showing signs of regression... perhaps if he.. encouraged them?
First and foremost, he’d need another nurse, or some type of caregiver. She’d need to be warned, or at least compensated with a hazardous duty pay… but… at the same time maybe he wouldn’t warn her in case of the eventual acquisition of another test subject... No… NO! Evil thought, he couldn’t continue down this path. He’d lose the loyalty of his current researchers if he just started sending lambs to slaughter in so many words.
“I think I need to rest,” Dr. Sahaluv said as he came back into his lab. A few of the assistants were almost too happy to hear it.
Joel had finished changing himself and was snacking while playing his PSP. It was the only the only thing he could use to pretend he was somewhere else. With his better senses he could hear the constant sobbing of Beverly on the other side of the room. She almost never stopped, but he had steeled himself against feeling sorry for her. Even in such proximity, he had done a good job avoiding her.
“… can I have a turn?” asked a small voice.
Joel pretended not to hear it.
“I gave that to you… only because you asked nicely and I felt sorry for you.”
“You can change my diapers again if you want,” Joel said without looking up.
Beverly pouted, but decided to remain quiet. It was unfair, she had felt Joel’s loneliness empathetically before, and now… she was feeling it directly.
On the subject of diaper changes though, she was pretty wet. Things were getting worse, she honestly didn’t know any more when she needed a change without checking. She looked about and saw the bag was between the beds. Sometime after she’d been drugged, they had brought in another bed... and that had been hours ago.
As she got up, she wondered about the dog. From what she guessed, it had almost been a day since the incident, and that was much longer then it had taken her to change from human to… whatever she was now… maybe a vixen with a stupid long tail?
The door to containment began to hiss with it’s tell tale pressure. Joel looked up from his PSP and Beverly stopped midway across the room to see what padded thug would be stopping by this time. Her ears fell as she saw the dark green soldier holding a child sized furry lump.
The guard carefully walked over to Beverly’s bed and placed the child there. Beverly gave him plenty of room, after what had happened, she had a healthy fear of the guards. He didn’t speak or explain what he was doing. He simply dropped off the fur and left.
Joel turned off his PSP and walked over to see the new arrival.
“They made you bite her, huh?” he asked with a glare. He didn’t remember what had happened, simply because he’d been knocked out and he wasn’t in much of a mood to ask her before.
Beverly was twisting her tail in her paws, looking on with worry at the little girl in the bed. The Doctor had been wrong. It looked like the dog had been turned into exactly what she was… but still a yellow lab. She didn’t have wings or a long tail though.
“She even has hair,” Dr. Sahaluv said over the loud speaker. Beverly spun around to where she knew he was probably standing. She wanted to curse at him for making her do this… but she knew it wouldn’t do any good.
“Is… is that the same dog as before?” she asked.
“Yes Bev, that’s Duchess. The virus gave her human qualities, just as it gave you animal qualities.”
“Monster…” Joel said looking away in disgust. “And you told me I was the sick one.. are you just playing god up there?”
Dr. Sahaluv thought for a moment. A part of him had considered the notion that if he mastered this virus, he would be close to god. “There’s a lot of research to be done if this virus is to be understood,” he said trying not to smile.