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The Towers' Syndrome – Chapter 6

Written by papayoya1 :: [Sunday, 11 February 2018 10:32] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 11 February 2018 11:27]

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Sienna Towers is a biologist working on a classified project around the fragments of a comet, who wakes after a three-month coma only to find herself "enhanced". After some time both discovering her new abilities and investigating their source, Sienna is now very close to unlocking the secrets of the comet. There will be some obstacles, though…


Chapter 6

Sienna ended up sleeping a few hours for the second day in a row. She realized that she still had no clue about how her new rest cycles worked. Had they anything to do with how much she exercised her new strength? Were they related to her brain having to process information? It would be important to learn more about this, but today she had even more important stuff to do.

Once she sat at the kitchen table, her cereal waiting right in front of her, Sienna realized that she did not know how to feel about the previous night. The experience at the warehouse in Wayward had been uplifting. Every instance of using her new power had been, but using it on people had a special flavor that made it almost addicting.

She knew last night marked a milestone. In her mind, it was not driven by the body count but by the fact that she had projected her new strength on purpose and without restraint.

The night had been far from perfect, though. Images of Edward’s unnaturally twisted body kept coming to her mind. They told her that her relationship with the world and its people had changed forever, and this applied to those she despised but also to the ones she liked. The latter list was remarkably short since Sienna had never been too much of a people person. She did not like others and she was not liked by others. And still… Edward had been genuinely interested in her, and she had crushed him.

She could not take the sequence of her hands breaking his neck off her head. She knew it had been a mercy. It had also been what she needed to do to protect herself. Rationally, she was completely certain that she had reacted in the only way possible. And still it bothered her enormously.

She tried to tell herself that she was thirty-six hours away from making history to try to push the gloom away from her head. It worked, even if only partially. If everything went as planned, Sienna would have the rock’s characterization by mid-afternoon and she would be able to plan the final test. The final data would then help her decide the course of action. Her lips curled in a smile for the first time in the morning when she realized she might soon have the opportunity to get some closure with her co-workers.

Making herself look as ugly as possible felt weirder than in previous days. She had actually never been unattractive. Her face was cute, her deep blue eyes had always been wild. Her character had never helped. Neither had her petite, skinny body. Sienna had always told herself that looks were secondary, which in turn made her invest less time than average in making the most out of hers. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she realized that her view on this had changed, as it had in many other aspects. There was nothing like looking gorgeous and having superhuman strength to reconsider some of her previous beliefs.

Thinking that, Sienna longed for the day when she would not need to do that, when she would be able to show her gorgeousness to the world, not having to hide her new self anymore. Today it was not that day, though. She needed to play the role just a couple days more… and then she would see.

After all that had happened, it was impossible to hide her new attitude completely, though. Her colleagues at the lab seemed to notice, no one able to hold her stare as she marched through the common area and made herself comfortable at her desk.

There was not too much she could do for her own research before the results of the radiation test came in, so Sienna did some work for Prometheus for a change. Confident as she was about her own investigations, she decided to start planting misleading seeds of data into Prometheus. Thus, if someone tried to use the official project research to understand what she had done in the back he would have a very hard time.

She was already very impatient by lunch time. Sienna was trained to know that good science required time. She had never had an issue with that before. Until today. Her colleagues’ gossip, whispered when they thought she could not hear, was more uninteresting than previous days. She was not in the mood to play any practical jokes on them. She even had trouble to swallow the small sandwich from the machine.

Her eyes moved from screen to watch and from watch to the wall clock. When the test was fifteen minutes away from starting, Sienna could not hold herself any longer and opened a window in her terminal to follow the progress in real time. For anyone else at Eclipse the stream of raw data would not have meant anything, but Sienna knew she was perfectly capable of processing it as it came, now.

She counted the seconds for the experiment to start almost like the Apollo XI’s countdown. And then, when the timer was forty-two seconds away, the screen blinked and a generic message informed her and anyone else who was tracking it that the test had been canceled.

Sienna did not notice that she had crushed the mouse in her hand until she tried to move the cursor once more in the screen and the arrow did not respond.

“Fuck” she muttered.

All Sienna wanted to do was to stand up and get some answers about the damned reason the most important test that had ever been conducted at Eclipse had been canceled in the last minute. She knew this was the last thing she could do.

She breathed hard, trying to prevent others from noticing. For the first time in almost three years, her body demanded a coffee, so she was soon by the machine, trying to make some sense out of the options and fighting hard with herself not to punch the damned coffee maker out of existence.

Never having owned a mug, Sienna was back at her desk with a large paper cup filled with steaming black coffee. The only reason she had not burnt herself, holding it as she was, was the fact that her skin was now well beyond being harmed by something as stupid as temperature.

Sienna took a sip and logged in again, working through the keyboard’s shortcuts to replace the crushed mouse. Once her personal dashboard showed up, she realized that for the first time in eight days she had nothing to do.

Of course, she could always do some legitimate work on Prometheus, but she realized that was the last thing she wanted to do at the moment. Quite naturally, Sienna’s fingers found their way through the menus and opened a new window into the scheduled test. The status had not changed since the last time she had checked.

Taking a new deep breath, Sienna looked at the sequence of events before the message, trying to find out more about the reasons for the cancellation. Was it really a cancellation? Or was it merely a delay?

The idea that she might have been caught up had not occurred to her before two security guards she had never seen and that looked quite more dangerous than the guy she usually met at the entrance checkpoint walked through the lab floor and stopped by her desk.

“Fuck” was all Sienna could think before the one that was obviously in charge addressed her with an unfriendly voice.

“Sienna Towers?” he asked.

“It’s me,” she said, suppressing the urge to ask them whether they had not checked who sat where before getting into the stance.

“Could you please come with us?” the man asked.

Everyone in the lab had stopped working and were looking in her direction. Sienna could not prevent noticing that the overall feeling about the situation seemed to be excitement. Her enhanced hearing caught Sarah’s words as she speculated whether Sienna might finally get fired.

“Fired?” she thought as she processed what Sarah had said. She was beginning to be afraid.

“What for?” she asked the security guard.

“I have not been informed. You’ll receive further information at the destination. Please, make sure to bring your ID and company badge” the guard said.

She breathed in hard once more, evaluating options in her mind. Trying to keep her cool, Sienna told herself that it was not the time to lose her mind. She was too close to success to waste it all. She needed to learn more about what was going on. Only then she would decide.

Still, it was hard to follow the lead security guard, with the second man following her in turn. Sienna could not prevent thinking about breaking his neck, tossing him around or kicking him across the room with every slow step the man took towards their destination, which remained a mystery.

The short elevator trip was probably the most critical moment of all, with Sienna knowing that a simple gesture with each arm could free her from the nuisance of having to follow the would-be cops.

The two security guards seemed to be making every possible effort to look dignified as if trying to set themselves apart from their colleagues working at shopping malls. It got Sienna out of her nerves, even if she realized that Eclipse probably employed higher skilled personnel than Macy’s, especially since the Government had made them increase their security after granting them Prometheus.

The lead guard finally stopped by a door and waited for her to arrive. The sign by it read H-room. Sienna had never been in the area, but the name did not look conventional.

Ray Danvers was waiting inside, flanked by a man she perfectly recognized: the HR lawyer that had informed her that Eclipse did not give a shit about her medical and financial problems. A third man was sitting a bit further into the room, wearing a dark suit with dark shirt and tie and sporting a clean-shaven head and a sharp but unfriendly face. His appearance would have qualified him to have his picture show in the Wikipedia article for Corporate Chief of Security.

Sienna had to take a new deep breath, quickly concluding that the presence of her manager and an HR representative were not good news. She was very close to losing it, but managed to keep her temper at bay and followed the indications of the guard, sitting at the table.

The Security guy took the lead without introducing himself. Ray could barely raise his sight from the table as the man spoke.

“Miss Towers, did you think we would not notice?” he asked.

Sienna was way too smart to give a straight reply to that question. The man was obviously fishing for information.

“Not notice what? My new shoes?” she asked. Using sarcasm helped her out of the vicious circle her mind had got into.

“We identified your modifications to the test parameters,” the Security guy said.

So, that was the reason they had stopped the test. It was not good news. Sienna immediately realized that she had been too overconfident. Her initial hacking to learn more about the project had been so successful and her opinion about her colleagues had been so low that she had clearly underestimated the security policies that a company like Eclipse and a Government-funded project like Prometheus would have. At some point she had just managed the system as if she owned the place, not taking care at all to cover her tracks. And now, she realized it had been a mistake. She tried not to look embarrassed to her audience, though. That was the last thing she needed. Shame aside, she understood that being superior did not mean that she had to underestimate everyone else’s capabilities.

“I see,” Sienna said in the least compromising response she could find while she pondered her next words.

“What else did you do?” the security chief asked directly, trying to get the same information he had hoped to obtain with his first, open question.

“What needed to be done” Sienna replied, still evaluating her options.

“Why would you need that data? It was meant to provide more input for the geologists; it had nothing to do with the biology track” Ray asked, sounding genuinely curious. He had been silent, almost looking ashamed. Now, as the conversation started to orbit around the scientific heart of the matter itself, he seemed to be back into it.

Sienna sighed and decided to continue in the same line.

“Look, Ray, I would tell you. But you lost control of the project so long ago that you would probably not understand it.”

Ray was about to reply, but the security guard took over.

“Miss Towers, I don’t think you realize the seriousness of what you’ve done. You are working on a highly classified project. You signed specific contract addendums agreeing to a special status to be able to do so. What you did is not only a reason for termination. It’s also a federal crime.”

It took Sienna by surprise.

“You are not only firing me” she stated in a flat tone.

The HR guy took over:

“We cannot fire you… yet. We have more than enough reason to suspend you while Mr. Van Zandt’s team investigates further into the extent of your hacking, though.”

“In the meantime, you will also need to explain yourself to the FBI” the security chief, who she now knew had the very fitting name of Van Zandt, said.

“I’m being arrested,” she said, still with no emotion in her voice.

“That is for the FBI to decide after they question you,” Van Zandt said. “For now, we need to ask you to deliver your ID badge to us and to wait here until the federal agents arrive.”

Sienna remained speechless, her gaze fixed in a random point in the far wall of the room. It was obvious by the overall uneasiness in the room that this was not the reaction they had been expecting. She did not know if they had planned for her to beg, to cry or to throw a temper tantrum, but not having done any of the three seemed to have confused them. At either side, the two security guards were obviously tense, still waiting for another reaction.

Sienna cursed herself for the mistakes that had brought her here but soon realized about the futility of wasting too much time on that. Instead, her mind started to evaluate her options, judging and discarding potential moves much like a chess master.

It helped that her final objective was clear: she needed to learn how the rock worked and what it could do for her.

It was easy enough for Sienna to realize that she could not leave Eclipse empty-handed. Her best-case scenario had been to get her objectives accomplished without anyone noticing. This would not be possible anymore. Now, once she had to accept that her actions would no longer remain hidden, she had to choose the lesser of two evils.

Sienna chuckled.

It was the last sound anyone in the room was expecting of her. The security guards got very jumpy when she stood up, so she slowed her next movements down to keep them from having a nervous breakdown. Sienna removed her glasses first, then reached out for her bun and undid it with a dexterous movement of her left hand’s fingers, letting her long golden mane cascade freely over her shoulders.

She smiled, taking everyone off-guard. She enjoyed those brief moments where everyone was puzzled about her actions and proceeded to slowly unbutton her loose blouse, letting her much tighter fitting top show, her breasts, much fuller than anyone was expecting, bulging under it. It was obvious from Ray’s look that he was discovering her new self for the first time. Sienna despised him, understanding that despite being his best asset Ray had come to ignore her so much that he had not even been able to notice the very evident changes that her transformation had brought.

“Miss Towers,” the security chief said. “What do you think you are doing?”

Sienna ignored him and looked at Ray Danvers instead.

“Ray, you asked me what business I had with the rock. Let me show you”

Everyone was puzzled but Sienna, who turned towards the security chief, sitting across her in the long conference table.

“Mr. Van Zandt, for a security chief you certainly missed quite a lot,” she said, a smirk forming on her lips.

No one understood her remark until she placed a hand on the massive conference table’s edge and pushed. She smirked when everyone was shocked as the table skidded along the wooden floor at incredible speed, producing an unnerving screech as it did. No one could believe that her slender arm had been able to exercise enough force to break the table’s attachment to the floor and push its massive weight with such violence. No one except for Sienna, of course, who was very prepared for what happened but still very excited at yet another display of her superior new version. Van Zandt was unavoidably caught by the advancing piece of office furniture, which pushed him under its enormous momentum, trapping him between two thousand pounds of wood and the concrete wall.

The security chief opened his mouth as if he was going to say something. All that came out of it was blood, which splattered around as he coughed. Two seconds later, the man dropped dead on the table.

She had to acknowledge that the two security guards were sharp. It did not take them long to assess the situation. By the time they did, their hands were already reaching for their guns. Unfortunately for them, Sienna was sharper.

She shoved the guard to her left, the silent one, knocking him cold as he hit the wall with a loud thud. Focusing on the man to her right, it was piece of cake to slap the gun out of his hand first and lift him by his throat a second later. She knew that it was probably one of the less remarkable feats of strength at her disposal, but still, holding a full-grown man like an empty bag of air felt incredibly empowering.

Holding the man without any apparent effort, Sienna took the time to turn look at the startled HR guy first and then at Ray. The way they had brought her into the room had put the door at her back, so she knew she did not have to be concerned by them trying to escape. They would need to get past her, and they wouldn’t. This gave her a bit more time to deal with the security guard, who was quite ineffectively trying to pry her fingers open. He was trying to pull her index finger with both his hands, visibly using as much strength as he had left. He did not manage to move her digit even a fraction of an inch.

Sienna felt a dark pleasure at seeing how the slender muscles of her single finger were more than enough to beat the desperate efforts of a full-grown man. The superiority was even arousing, making her nipples harden under her clothes. She chuckled first and then rewarded the man’s efforts by tightening her hold a bit more, making him cough.

“Stop fighting. You’ll hurt yourself” Sienna said with another chuckle.

“Sienna, stop!”

It had been Ray. She sneered as she turned and fixed her gaze on him, clearly intimidating the bookish man.

“Shut the fuck up, Ray!” she said in an unfriendly voice. “I’ll be with you soon enough.”

The project manager and Nobel Prize winner did not know how to reply, so he just sat back in his chair and kept observing the situation, cowering in fear.

Sienna focused back on the security guard in her hold and asked:

“How long do I have before the feds get here?”

The guard hesitated, which made Sienna grab his hand and start squeezing. He groaned in anguish as bones started breaking.

“I think I asked you a question” she stated.

“For… forty minutes” the guard finally said.

“Call them and tell them it was a misunderstanding” she commanded.

The man shook his head with difficulty.

“Once a call is open, their protocol dictates that they need to make an onsite report.”

“That’s too bad” Sienna replied, tightening her fingers all the way. The man’s neck broke in a sickening crunching sound, his head suddenly tipping to the side in a very unnatural position that left no doubts about the man’s state. Sienna twisted her lip as she opened her hand and let the lifeless body of the security guard drop to the floor. She was far from concerned about him. At that moment, all she cared about was the knowledge that the Labs would be swarmed by federal agents in less than an hour.

The HR guy thought she was distracted and made his attempt right then, trying to dash past her and to the door. It was the easiest thing in the world to shoot an arm out and stop him in his tracks, feeling his body bounce of her unyielding limb and drop in the ground.

The man crawled back as Sienna took a step towards him. She hated him, and now that she had let go, she did not see a reason to hold back with him. She let the guy move, enjoying the little cat and mouse game for a few seconds. When his back hit a wall, the man looked both sides and started to stand up, visibly trying to find a way out. Sienna waited until he was back on his feet and stopped his attempt with a hand on the wall right next to him. It forced him to turn and look at her in the eye. Sienna frowned when a noise made her look down to find that his gray pants were quite visibly wet.

“Oh my God!” she said, mocking disgust. “That’s pathetic” she added.

“Please…” the man begged.

“Look at the bright side of this,” she said. “You won’t need medical attention.”

Sienna let go and did what she had wanted to do ever since she had met the guy at his office. Her arm described a natural arc with grace, her open palm slapping the man with a seemingly moderate effort. It was enough to hurl the man across the room. He never noticed when his body hit the wall with a nasty thud, though, since his neck had been broken the instant her palm had made contact.

“That felt good” Sienna said, turning to look at a terrified Ray Danvers.

He was sobbing, not even trying to flee. She just sauntered towards him, looking way less threatening than the reality had just proven.

Sienna sat on her haunches to meet Ray’s eyes. She grabbed him by the shoulders and said:

“I told you that you were not looking at the rock in the right way. I told you since the beginning.”

“This… this is not possible” Ray babbled.

“Tell him,” Sienna said, pointing at the lifeless body of the security chief, impaled between the table and the wall.

“You… you are a freak!” Ray said.

Sienna did not reply. She just grabbed his pinkie and pushed, turning his bones to powder and making him let a primal scream out.

“You should start showing me the due respect to someone of my station, Ray”

He needed a few seconds to recover enough.

“Please… don’t kill me” he said, between sobs, with tears in his eyes.

“Not yet”

“What… How…” Ray babbled.

Sienna did not reply. She just pulled the man from the chair and to his feet, his body following the motion of her arms as if he had no will.

“Walk with me.”

Sienna crushed the doorknob as they left the conference room, hoping that this would hide the corpses for long enough. She needed to get into the lab with Ray and decided against just rampaging her way there, even if that had felt like a potentially satisfying course of action.

“Don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be fine” Sienna whispered as they both walked along the aisle, her hand on his shoulder to guide him towards their destination.

The corridor was quiet. A few steps later Sienna was bothered by Ray’s sobbing. When she saw that he was holding his damaged hand into the other, she realized that it was out of pain.

“Look, I’m sorry about the broken finger, but it seems that I’ve become quite more impulsive,” she said, not feeling sorry at all.

“What have you become?” Ray asked, sounding as afraid as he looked.

Sienna kept the conversational tone as they moved since no one else was around to listen.

“I don’t know yet. I’m better, obviously. And I know this is not the end state” she said.

“It cannot be the rock,” Ray said.

Sienna chuckled.

“Some days you make it hard to believe that you got a Nobel Prize. It is the rock. And what you’ve seen me do is just a glimpse” she replied as they reached the elevator.

When the elevator’s door opened in the destination floor Sarah was distracted, waiting in front of them. Sienna loved her look of puzzle when she looked at her next to Ray. She did not recognize her first. Then, her mind seemed to make the association and her puzzle increased.

“Sienna!” she said.

It was a wonderful coincidence, Sienna thought. Smiling as she locked her deep blue eyes on Sarah’s, she used an arrogant tone to reply to her.

“You seem surprised to see me,” she said. “Don’t you know I work here?”

“What… what happened to you?” Sarah asked, her eyes moving between the terrified face of Ray Danvers and the confident expression of her detestable lab colleague.

“Oh, let me show you” Sienna replied, reaching out and placing the fingers of her right hand under the redhead’s armpit

“What are you…” Sarah started saying.

Just then, Sienna pulled up, easily lifting the petite body of the researcher until she was more than two feet over the floor, holding her as if she were weightless.

Sarah screamed, looking at Sienna’s wicked expression with renewed fear.

“What … what are you doing?”

“Oh, you don’t know for how long I’ve wanted to do this” Sienna replied. Without further warning, she tossed her former colleague making her soar over desks and lab equipment, landing in the middle of the working area with a loud thud. She was bruised, but not seriously harmed. Sienna had seen to that. After all, she was not done with Sarah yet.

Of course, what had happened had managed to get the attention of all her co-workers. Their reactions ranged from incredulity to fear.

“Walk” Sienna commanded Ray as she stepped out of the elevator and scanned the room. They were all there: Miles, Aaron, Sarah and many of the people that had worked hard to make her life a living hell for more than two years. Researchers with fat resumes and thin talents that had not been able to digest her intellectual superiority.

Those closer to her stood up in a hurry and got out of her way as Sienna ambled through the stance, her eyes slowly moving between researchers, smirking at them as she did. Thirty feet ahead, someone crouched to check on the lying Sarah. Sienna ignored him as she kept moving with a silent Ray close by.

“You worthless pieces of shit,” she said without stopping. “Take a good look at me and see what you missed these last two years,” she said.

With those words she reached Sarah. There was a sneer of disdain in Sienna’s face as she drew her leg and kicked the man that was trying to help the redhead. The collective shriek of terror as the man’s body was shot through the lab with unfathomable force sounded like music to Sienna’s years. The sickening squishing sound he made when he hit the wall was all she needed to know to diagnose his demise.

People were now in utter panic around her, most them rushing either to the elevator or the emergency exit. There was nothing Sienna wanted more than exact her revenge on her former teammates, to show them live every inch of what she had become. She knew she had more pressing matters to attend to, though.

“I don’t have time for you now,” she said in a cold tone. “But don’t worry, I will.”

Crouching, Sienna grabbed a fistful of Sarah’s coat and kept advancing, effortlessly dragging the battered biologist with her.

“Open the door Ray!” she commanded after reaching the entrance to the geology lab. As the project manager, Danvers had access to every corner of the facility.

For an instant, it felt as if he would challenge her, but all it took for Sienna to make the little man comply was her intense gaze.

The geologists were surprised to see their project manager walking into an area he seldom set foot on. They were even more surprised when they saw a gorgeous but dangerous-looking woman walk in behind him, dragging a second woman as she advanced.

“To the chamber” Sienna commanded.

A senior geologist stepped in the way. It was obvious he was about to demand what was going on. He never had the chance, since Sienna’s push sent him flying across the room. Panic ensued, which was what Sienna had been looking for to start with. With everyone’s main concern suddenly being to get as far away from her as possible, Sienna’s walk to the chamber where the fragments of the comet were held was piece of cake. She only had to make sure that Ray did not try anything stupid.

“Open” she barked.

“Sienna, what are you going to do?” Ray asked.

She gazed him again, but this time he held her eyes, taking the challenge. Not in the mood to waste any time, Sienna reached for his chest and broke one of his ribs with a casual gesture, sending a wave of pain along the man’s body.

“Do as you are told” she said to Ray, who was bending in pain.

He moaned, clearly suffering, as he reached out with his badge first and wrote his password later. The door still did not open. Sienna was about to punish him again when Ray reached out with a different access card and swiped it in the lock.

A hydraulic system hummed as the heavy door started to move at a snail’s pace. Sienna was tempted to just kick it out of the way, but she needed the containment it offered.

“Get in” she commanded.

Sienna instructed Ray to wait at the main console as she went through a second door, dragging the now awake and complaining Sarah with her. The two women were now in a containment area, waiting for the second door to close for the third one to open. There were a few seconds of delay between both actions and for a moment Sienna feared that Ray had been stupid enough to try to lock her in. She was certain she would be able to smash her way out of the trap and punish Ray appropriately, but the last thing she wanted was to damage the area.

Finally, another hum came in and the third and final door slid to the side to give her access to a room that would have been unremarkable if it had not been for the metallic table with a small rock sitting in the middle of it.

With the third door now closed, Sienna could toss Sarah a few feet and head for the rock, brushing her finger along it and smiling as she thought she could feel its power flowing into her. Of course, Sienna was bright enough to know that this was merely a product of her imagination, but knowing that the apparently inanimate piece of stone right in front of her was responsible for the amazing transformation she had gone through made her respect the moment.

“Run the test, Ray,” Sienna said, knowing that she could be perfectly heard in the room where Ray was.

His voice came to her through the room’s loudspeakers, its natural tone having turned a bit metallic.

“Which test?”

“The one you guys stopped earlier today. It’s in the system log. Recover it and run it” Sienna commanded.

“Sienna, this is madness”

She had expected this. Which was the reason Sarah was here. Reaching for her, Sienna was soon holding the despicable woman by the throat and looking at one of the cameras in the room.

“Do as you are told or I will crush her first and come for you later”

“Sienna, please…” Ray started.

Fed up, Sienna grabbed Sarah’s limp arm in her free hand and pushed, enjoying as muscle, cartilage, and bone were smashed under the strength of her fingers. Sarah’s scream of agony filled the room.

“Run the fucking test or I’ll crush her little by little!” Sienna barked.

The answer came in the form of a panel retracting in a wall. She recognized the wavelength emitter as soon as he eyes were set on it.

There was no indication that something was going on other than a low humming. No changes in lighting, no sparks, no flashes… nothing. Sienna looked at the rock to see it looking as dull and useless as it always had. And still, she knew there was so much happening.

Excited by the different radiation wavelengths, the rock must be fully active right now, reading her and generating the adequate response curve to both the emitted radiation and her genetic material. A quick look to the side told Sienna that hers were not the only genes present in the room.

Coughing, Sarah was starting to recover and looked up in terror to see the much taller Sienna gazing at her.

“What have you done?” Sarah asked, still moaning in pain from the different parts of her body that had been seriously harmed.

“Can you feel it?” Sienna answered with another question.

“Feel what?” Sarah asked, looking at her as if she had lost it.

“The improvement, of course. I would say I can, but I know it’s just a product of my mind” Sienna said.

Sarah did not know how to reply, so Sienna went on.

“Ideally I would have had more time to figure it all out,” she said, sounding just a tiny bit frustrated. “Could not be done, though, so I had to rush it. I needed the rock and I needed the equipment. So, I guess I’ll figure the results out after the fact” Sienna said.

“What… what results?” Sarah said.

Sienna walked towards her and bent slightly, grabbing the pained woman by the skull and forcing her to stand up. Sarah groaned in complaint, but Sienna just ignored it. Pushing her gently towards the wall, Sienna listened to the humming and then looked at Sarah in the eye.

“Right now, that rock is changing both of us, rewriting our genetic code and making something else out of it. I’ve tasted a bit of it already, and look what it’s made out of me” she said, standing so close to the redhead that there was no way she would be able to move without Sienna’s acquiescence.

“Changing us…” Sarah said.

The humming stopped.

“Changed us. It’s done” Sienna said.

“But I… I don’t want to change” Sarah babbled.

Sienna narrowed her eyes and said reassuringly as she brushed a strand of hair off Sarah’s face:

“I don’t want you to change either”

There was no further warning before Sienna smiled cruelly and brought her hands together in a quick slap. Sarah’s head had been between them as she did, crushing beyond recognition under their incomprehensible force. It had been her goriest death yet, but Sienna had not wanted to give the rock and the process it had triggered the slightest chance to revive the damned redhead. Her hatred for Sarah made accepting what she had done much easier.

“Noooo” Ray’s voice came through the loudspeakers. Of course, he had been following the entire process.

Sienna looked up at one of the cameras and smirked, knowing Ray had witnessed it all.

She saw the lights in the chamber door turn from green to read and realized that Ray had pushed the lock button.

“Really?” she asked, sneering at the camera.

Sienna brushed her hands against the white wall, leaving red streaks on it as she tried to get them as clean as possible. Sarah’s corpse was bent in an awkward position at her feet. Slowly, Sienna turned and headed to the table. The rock, about the size and shape of a football, felt as weightless as a paper clip as she grabbed it in one hand before sauntering to the door.

“Ray, don’t piss me off and make me come in there!” Sienna threatened, waiting in front of the door with a hand on her hip and the other holding the rock.

A few seconds later it was obvious that Ray would not be reasonable, so Sienna pushed her generous chest out and said:

“As you wish”

The steel frame of the door was thicker than it looked. Still, Sienna’s delicate fist made a noticeable impression on it when she threw a half-hearted punch at it.

“Oh,” she said, throwing a stronger punch and moaning in delight as her fist tore deep enough through the steel to deform it out of its frame. It was hardly the first time she tested her strength against that of the supposedly resistant metal, but as always, being able to deform it like clay made her feel very powerful.

With the seal broken, all Sienna needed to do was to use the same opening she had created to slide the heavy door to the side as if it had been made of plastic. An instant later, she was in the containment chamber, the space that separated the main chamber from the control room. She could see through the window that Ray was still there and realized with a chuckle that the outer door was probably locked as a result of the break in containment, trapping the project manager with her.

Sienna chuckled and raised her voice. She could see no cameras or loudspeakers in the containment chamber, but she was sure that Ray would be able to hear her anyway.

“I’ll be with you in a minute, Ray” she boomed.

Sienna tried a gentler approach this time. Rather than punching her way through the door, she reached out with the fingers of her left hand, her right still holding the rock. The steel felt cold and solid, but only for an instant. An increase in pressure was quickly rewarded by a denting of the supposedly rigid surface. Sienna kept going, cooing as she enjoyed the way she was overpowering the metal plate. Her fingers soon got to the lock and she started closing them, bending more metal out of shape. It was a slow process, the steel fighting back for every inch of advance. It was losing all its battles but still, it presented some resistance. Her fingertips finally met and Sienna just pulled, breaking the lock and pulling it out of the frame. All she had to do was slide the door to the side and step through it.

She saw Ray cowering in a corner of the control room as she stepped on it.

“How nice of you to wait for me here,” she said in a tone that contained mockery and threat in equal parts.

Sienna ambled in his direction, very consciously slow, knowing that this was bringing his panic to new limits. She set the rests of the rock on top of the console, wanting to have both hands to enjoy what was coming.

“You know Ray, I was always going to kill you. There is no point in leaving anyone with some idea about the rock and what happened in there alive. But now you really pissed me off, so I may invest a couple of minutes in you before you go” she said.

“Whatever happened in there turned you into even more of a loon than you already were!” Ray snapped.

It only made Sienna laugh.

“And to think that you have a Nobel!” she said. “Whatever happened in there won’t show up for months. Luckily, I only need a fraction of what I already am to make your last moments really painful” she said, taking the last step to where he was sitting.

Sienna did not say anything else. She just crouched and grabbed a fistful of Ray’s shirt, forcing him back to his feet. Once he was, she prevented him from dropping back to the ground by placing an open palm in his chest and pushing him gently to the wall.

Ray complained and moved, but it was to no avail, the strength of her arm several orders of magnitude larger than it needed to be to keep him in place. Sienna looked at her former boss in the eye and started to move her hand up at the same time, raising the project manager’s body from the floor as it kept applying pressure to keep him against the wall. She stopped moving him up when his feet were about a yard up. It was the time to slowly increase the pressure.

“Sienna…” Ray said, almost in a whisper, since his lungs were too compressed for anything else. “You are crushing me!” he said in anguish.

“That’s the idea Ray” Sienna replied with a sneer. “Don’t worry, it will be over soon… kinda…” she taunted as she slowly increased the pressure, enjoying the laughable sight of Ray struggling against her unstoppable strength.

She stopped at the sudden sound of the main door opening. When she saw the security guards in biohazard suits and holding automatic rifles she just dropped Ray and turned to face them.

“Oh wow! And I thought I had seen everything” Sienna said, hands on her hips.

The only answer she got was a repetitive bang as the leading guard fired his gun, sending a stream of automatic fire in her direction.

Sienna had been hit before. She already knew it hurt. She had never been hit multiple times in a row. The pain was more intense than anything she had ever thought she would feel again, forcing her to drop on a knee as she groaned. It felt like being hit with a belt, only worse.

She felt the anger welling up in her as the pain started to slowly fade away, her only thought being how she could reward her attackers in kind. She regretted not being able to see their faces through the visors as she raised her own and saw the six guards take a step back, obviously stunned at the fact that the rifle’s burst had not brought her down.

She wanted to hurt them, rip their ridiculous suits off and stick their guns up their asses. She wanted to break each and every one of their bones. Rip their heads off. Punch their hearts out of their ribcages. Her only issue was to decide how to finish each of them.

She was getting ready for the kill when the world suddenly blurred. Sienna shook her head, trying to make things look right again, but all it got her was an increased feeling of dizziness. Before she knew, she was back on one knee.

Emboldened by her sudden display of weakness, the security guards took a step to the front. She could feel more than see their rifles trained on her again. She knew the pain would be back soon enough.

Sienna tried to react, to get out of the way, but she felt just too heavy.

“What the hell is going on?” Sienna wondered, her mind screaming in anguish as it felt stripped of all the power she had enjoyed.

The answer struck her like a lightning. It had to be the rock, of course. Somehow, she had wrongly assumed that there would be a period of 24 hours between the moment of exposure and her next blackout, which she now knew was only a defense mechanism of her body to place itself in a self-induced coma and let the changes happen. This is what had happened the first time, but she had never understood the reason why.

As part of her improvised and rushed plans, Sienna had counted on the coma that would drive her transformation. She just had thought that she would have more time to get ready for it. Much more time.

The sudden appearance of the symptoms scared her and, more importantly, weakened her as hell. Her ears, now not able to properly discern all the noises from the world around her, caught another burst from a rifle. An instant later she felt the agonizing pain in her shoulders and chest and lost her balance, falling into the ground, face down.

There was another burst and her back stung as if she had been bitten by an entire swarm of wasps. Her scream was primal, containing both the pain and fear of a predator that had been caught unawares.

Sienna’s mind was about to shut down. She knew that she could not let that happen. If she blacked out, chances were she would never wake up again.

A faint voice in the back of her head kept repeating “Science takes patience”. She had to fight to ignore it. There had to be a way out. There always was. She was far too numb to think on anything sophisticated. So, instead she reacted like a cornered animal.

Seeing her down but still moving, the security guards were getting ready for another burst of fire, their leader signaling the terrified man in the corner to stay put while they took care of the situation. Her sudden jump took everyone unawares.

One moment Sienna was agonizing on the ground. The next she had leaped straight to the guards. Her dash had been anything but aimed, but she did not need precision. Brute force was enough to send four of them off their feet, her dizzy body lying on top of one.

More out of instinct than anything else, Sienna punched him, her blow considerably less effective than some of the ones she had used so far. It was still enough, though, she realized when she saw the visor starting to fill with blood.

Gathering all her remaining strength, Sienna got back to her feet and shoved the two remaining guards to the sides. They were shot less spectacularly than some of her previous victims, but when the difference between her and them was as pronounced as it was, just a bit of her unfocused strength was enough.

She wavered her way to the lab, pushing a door open and facing a blurred assembly of scattered scientists who showed their shock and fear with unnerving screams. Sienna just ignored them and looked around, her dwindling consciousness trying to find a way out. She dashed to the window, pushing a desk aside and jumping through the glass as if it had been not there.

Her landing in the parking lot was anything but graceful. The sedan she fell upon was partially crushed, and Sienna groaned as she removed herself from its twisted form, hitting the asphalt and sprinting towards the fence, swinging as if she were drunk.

The twenty-foot jump should have been easy. She barely made it, rolling on the adjacent street as she landed on it to everyone’s surprise. A young man approached her to check if she was fine. He was thrown thirty feet as she pushed him in a panic and started sprinting once more, without a clear direction.

Sienna never knew how long she had been running. By the time she stopped, she could see the city’s skyline in the distance. The slow darkening of the world outside told Sienna that she had very few seconds of consciousness left. Her last flash of willpower made her jump through a two-story window rather than smash through the walled-in door in order to get into the abandoned warehouse. She barely managed to slide herself behind some empty crates before everything went black.

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