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The Towers' Syndrome – Chapter 9

Written by papayoya1 :: [Sunday, 25 March 2018 12:31] Last updated by :: [Monday, 26 March 2018 08:40]

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Sienna is back.


CHAPTER 9

“Have they found her?” Fiona Black asked the three people standing around her bed in hospital after the first quick small talk about her health. She did not know how long she had been out, but the light coming in through the windows suggested that it was late afternoon.

“Fiona, forget about it. Harper is on it, and he’s the best. You should focus on recovering” Agent Smith said.

“I am fine!” Black protested.

“That’s not what the doctors say. You are way better than you have the right to be, considering how foolish you were to charge at that woman on your own, but you have a concussion. You were lucky your head hit the car’s tire and not the fender when you were thrown back. It could have been much worse. They need to monitor you for a couple of days before you are released, in any case. And you need to rest!” the boss said.

“I can help!” Black said.

“Oh, I’m sure you can. Right now, though, what we need is information” the boss said.

Agent Black looked down. She was obviously not happy, but she understood the futility of arguing with her boss.

“I failed” she finally muttered. “I could have killed her.”

There were a couple of seconds of silence, then Dr. Angela Larkin, who had been silent so far, walked around the bed to get closer.

“So, it hurt her?” she asked.

“Oh, you can be sure it did. Whatever you did, it was magic. It was like shooting anyone with a normal gun.           She was HURT. I could have killed her. I was aiming for the heart, but I was not expecting the recoil. It was way different than I’m used to. I hit her lower, probably in the liver. I never got a second shot” Fiona Black said.

“You did much more than anyone could have expected,” Larkin said in a comforting tone.

“No, YOU did it, Angela. And I wasted it” Black replied, the regret evident in her voice.

“Now we know she can be harmed. We will not fail next time” Larkin said.

“We will never get a second chance,” Black said. In the back, Smith and the boss did not move, but the look of them suggested that they shared the assessment. “We need to catch her before she recovers. Otherwise, she will never let us get close again. We caught her by surprise this time. She was overconfident. But she won’t make the same mistake twice.”

“She’s smart,” the boss said.

“Very” Agent Black. “It was obvious that she was infatuated with herself during the confrontation with the operational team. This led her to lower her guard. But Sienna Towers is a very intelligent woman. And now that she knows she can be hurt, she is way more dangerous.”

“We’ve seen the scene…and we have talked to the survivors. But now that you are back, we would appreciate your input as a direct witness” the boss said.

“How… many?” Agent Black asked.

Smith cleared his throat and said:

“We are still working on it. The number right now is seventy-two.”

“Oh God!” Fiona Black let out.

Once more, there was silence.

“I’ve been on this for a long time” Fiona then said. “I’ve seen a lot” she added. “I had never seen anything even remotely close to what Sienna Towers has become.”

*=*=*=*=*

Sienna did not know how much longer she would be able to keep conscious unless she managed to get some treatment. Which presented the first issue: how did someone like what she had become get treatment? She did not figure there would be too many hospitals in the city with fluorescent blue blood ready in case it was needed for a transfusion.

Her scientific curiosity had tried to understand more than once how in the hell her blood had changed so much, but every single one she had managed to keep her mind away from it. Her priority now was to survive. If she managed to do it, there would be time for research later.

She doubted anyone would miss the homeless guy she had stolen the coat from, but there was no point in staying around in case his body was found. As much as she had enjoyed dealing with the police earlier in the morning, the last thing she needed now was to be found by authorities. Especially now that she knew they had weapons that could hurt her.

The shot had been a blow in every possible sense. First and most important, it had hurt her way more than she would have imagined possible. Knowing that she could be harmed had been almost as hard a psychological blow. Her systematic wiping of the police force had represented the peak of her ego and self-confidence. During many minutes, Sienna had been utterly convinced that there was nothing that could stop her from taking over the world. Her megalomania had been slapped in the face by that damned woman and her yet incomprehensible weapon.

Sienna had been shot hundreds of times with everything the cops had had at her disposal, and it had barely tickled. What had that woman attacked her with that had been able to cause so much damage?

The Sun was starting to set, and businesses were starting to shut their doors on both sides of the street where Sienna was limping along. She had been able to slow the hemorrhage down with some cloth, but the return of the dizziness told her that she could not delay a more serious approach to her injury too much.

She almost ignored the sign at first, but a voice in the back of her mind told her to look back. The green letters promoted a vet clinic.

“This might do it,” she thought.

Breaking the lock on the back door was not too hard. She was still strong enough for that. Ten minutes later she was sitting on a metal stretcher that would have normally been used by dogs, having prepared an accessory table with alcohol, gauzes, tweezers, and mirrors.

Removing the cloth that had been slowing the blood loss down was painful. Seeing how a rather big area around the wound had turned much darker than she had expected was quite more unsettling.

The blood had thickened and darkened, its original fluorescence a bit lost. The wound was still open. Sienna was a biologist, so she was familiar enough with some of the basic principles of medicine. She was no surgeon, though.

Still, she understood that there was something inside her body that was killing her and that her next steps should be to take it out first and to disinfect the wound later. If she were lucky, her body would take over from then onwards. If she was not… well, she had not planned that far ahead.

Sienna felt the damaged area with her fingertips and had to close her eyes and clench her teeth not to let a scream out. Feeling pain once she had thought she was above it was depressing. She should not think about that now, though. She had to survive. She could heal her ego later.

She reached for the tweezers while holding a mirror in front of the wound. She had to hope that this would do it. Sienna stopped after a first attempt. The pain was unbearable.

Keeping her material aside for a second, she stood up from the stretcher and looked around. After a while, she decided that the leg of the desk should do it. Even with her greatly diminished strength, Sienna was still able to rip the steel off the structure and was soon holding the cylindrical metallic leg.

Moving back to the improvised surgery table, Sienna placed the ripped leg between her teeth and reached back with the tweezers. The first bite crushed most of the hollow steel, but it achieved her intended objective of preventing her from letting out a primeval scream. Instead, she just groaned like a wounded beast.

The tweezers did not find anything on their first attempt, which made Sienna curse and reach again. This time her teeth cut the table leg in two as she groaned again. The tweezers closed on something, though. Sienna felt the dizziness reach new levels and knew that she had to hurry.

Pulling the tweezers out while she tried to keep whatever it was they had found caught in them proved to be her most difficult challenge yet. A second later she was staring at a small ball, maybe a third of an inch in diameter. It felt like metal, but zooming in with her enhanced eyesight told her it looked much more like raw mineral than the results of a refining and polishing process.

Sienna knew that the most important part of the intervention was done. Still, she needed to do things right, so setting the tweezers aside, she took the bottle of alcohol and poured generous quantities of it into the wound. It hurt like hell. Taking a gauze and covering the wound with it, Sienna pushed to cut the renewed hemorrhage. She never realized that she had dropped off the table, the pain finally having made her black out.

*=*=*=*=*

“We lost the trail,” Harper’s voice said on the other end of the line. These were not the words Smith wanted to hear. “Her blood is unique. The dogs can’t track it, but the fact it shines under a UV light and that it corrodes the asphalt made them unnecessary. Unfortunately, when the trail of blood stopped there was nothing else we had to follow her. So, we know she is somewhere on the East Side, but so are also 2 million people. We need to take the slow approach from now on” Harper added.

“Ok. Thanks. Let me know if there are any developments” Smith said before hanging up. Then, the turned to the other two people in the room, shaking his head.

“Dr. Larkin?” the boss asked.

She took a deep breath.

“Fiona’s results seem to validate the theory we used to build the weapon,” she said.

“So, can you build more?” the boss asked.

“Sure. We already have a few new samples of the original prototype. I know you all agree that it’s not going to be valid anymore, though” Dr. Larkin said.

“Not unless we catch her while she is still weak, and even in that case, it will be tough. She knows they’re dangerous now, so she won’t let us shoot her again” Smith said. “I will have some of the men from the OPS team pick them up, just in case we get lucky. But we need you to evolve them, just in case we are not.”

“Please, tell your men not to waste ammunition. It’s the real scarce element, here” Dr. Larkin said. “Unless you give me access to the rest of the rock, of course” she added.

“You know that will not be possible,” Smith said. His pause extended a bit more than usual, indicating a change in topics: “When will you be able to have refinements to your design?” he asked again.

“At least seventy-two hours to integrate the design into a standard looking weapon. The energy-based concept is just theoretical at this point” Dr. Larkin said.

“Is there anything that could help you accelerate it?” Smith asked.

“I have everything I need,” Larkin said. “Some things just take their time. Especially considering that the development needs to be done with zero waste of ammunition,” she added.

“I understand doctor. That will be all for now” Smith said.

He waited for her to leave the room and turned to the boss. He had not said anything but was looking at him with an easy enough to read expression.

“We need to activate Nemesis,” Smith said.

“I gave the order thirty minutes ago,” the boss said.

Smith did not reply to that. He should have been expecting it.

“Once we knew the failsafe worked but only partially it was logical enough to move forward” the boss said.

“Of course,” Smith agreed.

*=*=*=*=*

Wendy Sanders took a sip from her hot coffee cup as she made a left in the alley. It was too early in the morning, and she was still half asleep. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon, and the street was both empty and gloomy. Like every morning over the last six months, she wondered if she liked her new job or not. She had never been one to wake up early, so the working hours were killing her. But then again, she did not have to work any night, as in the previous clinic.

She was standing in front of the back door when she reached for the keys. She dropped them and cursed. The time of the day made her especially clumsy. Crouching to pick them up, she reached for the lock again and this time managed to align key and keyhole as needed.

Right now, all she wanted to do was to get inside and sit on her chair. Being there at 7 in the morning did not mean that work would start right after. She only had to open the clinic and wait at the reception. The days when someone would get there before eight were rare. And most of the times real work did not start until 9 when Doctor Marshall came in.

Wendy lazily dropped her bag on the shelf by the door and took another sip of her coffee. The morning had started a bit chilly, but she did not doubt that the day would be hot. Summers always were in Silverport. She was about to head to the front, to get the doors open, when a loud noise coming from the storage room made her hair stand on end.

She suddenly woke up, the adrenaline rush bringing her alertness to its sharpest level. Marshall had never kept animals in the clinic at night. He was not that kind of veterinary. He had agreements with larger clinics for that. So, Wendy knew that whatever had made that noise was not something or someone who should have been there.

She found herself setting the coffee down and reaching for the iron lever she should have used to open the main doors. She had heard stories of junkies breaking into vet clinics to try to get a hold of some of the drugs in there, but she would have never expected this to happen at Marshall’s. It was just too small and unimportant. Her left hand reached for her cell phone as the right kept the lever firmly held.

She was about to call 911 but decided against it at the last minute. The last thing Wendy needed was to have the cops in the clinic by the time Marshall came in, discussing a false alarm.

So, placing her cellphone back in her pocket, she took hold of the lever with both hands and walked slowly towards the door.

“I’m a big woman” she whispered to inspire herself confidence as she moved towards the source of the noise.

She had not known what to expect when she opened the storage room. She was certainly not expecting what she saw. The woman was curled at the corner of the room and was obviously startled when Wendy suddenly opened the door.

Their eyes locked for a couple of seconds and Wendy understood that she was no junkie. She had no clue about what she was doing in there. Stark naked, she could have passed for a top model or a centerfold girl in a man’s magazine. There was something in her expression that did not match what the rest of her body suggested, though. Something wild but intelligent at the same time.

“Who are you?” Wendy asked.

The woman sat, her back rested against the corner of the room where she had been. Her eyes remained glued on Wendy, moving alternatively between her face and the iron lever she has holding. Wendy could notice that she was far from scared, though.

Still, without saying anything, the mysterious woman moved her hand down her body and patted an area above her tummy, a bit below a very prominent left breast. As she did, Wendy realized that the area was somewhat purple and there were traces of a wound. A quick look around the room revealed the tweezers, the alcohol, and a mirror.

“Are you hurt?” Wendy asked, suddenly feeling very unsettled about the situation.

The woman did not reply. Instead, she just stood up. Wendy could see that she was even better looking than she had imagined. And tall too. Wendy was 6’2,” and she doubted the woman standing across the room would be shorter than she. She was slimmer, though. Wendy was by no means fat, but her build was robust.

The woman patted her tummy once more and scowled, but then repeated the operation a third time and smirked a second after the initial reaction of pain. When she raised her head to lock her eyes with Wendy’s once more time, her smirk turned into an evil smile.

“I think you are my size,” she said.

*=*=*=*=*

Sienna and the veterinarian had shared size but had not shared taste when it came to clothes. With no other immediate options available, she had had no choice but to don the washed-out jeans and T-shirt the young woman had been wearing. The good news was that they were baggy enough to make Sienna’s new physique as unnoticeable as possible.

Sienna had not wanted to risk anyone else walking in, so rather than wasting her time in disposing of the body, she had got out of the clinic as soon as she was dressed. After all, she did not know who else was supposed to get in there after the woman that had woken her up. She knew she would have been able to handle another civilian with ease, but the last thing she needed was another confrontation with the cops. Not until she was fully recovered. And not until she had figured out how in the hell they had been able to hurt her in the first place.

Her fingers reached for the small metallic ball in her pocket as she walked down the street. The pain as it pierced her was still very fresh in her memory. Her other hand instinctively reached for the wound, right under her left breast, as it had kept doing ever since waking up.

It still hurt. Less than twenty-four hours ago Sienna had thought herself to be beyond pain, which made the throbbing wound in her torso especially frustrating. And still, the improvement was evident.

Sienna’s body had been dying when she lost her consciousness. She was not dying anymore. The wound was there when she woke up, but it was not festered anymore. Not being a doctor, Sienna had not known what her chances had been. Her only option had been to remove what was killing her from her body and hope for the best. It seemed that the best was coming. It had barely been a few hours, but the pain was way less intense, and the dark area around the wound had visibly shrunk.

She had not yet regained her full strength, but the recovery was evident, and her body seemed to be fixing itself. It was encouraging. But Sienna could not prevent feeling the frustration taking over once more, as the image of the dark-haired woman shooting at her and unleashing the agony crossed her mind for the umpteenth time since the event.

Sienna’s stomach growled. She did not remember having felt so hungry ever since having been exposed to the comet. She had never felt so tired either. Her body’s message was clear enough to understand: it was recovering, but it needed some help.

So, this was her immediate problem. The fact that she had to keep a low profile added some complexity.

Sienna found it hard to think like a regular woman anymore. When she finally did, she reached for the bag she had taken from the veterinary. She ignored her documentation and searched for the money. She counted seventy-six dollars. It was not much, but it should be enough to take care of her immediate needs.

Five minutes later, Sienna got into the first fast burger place she found. The need for any kind of nutrients far outweighed the need for healthy food. She found herself practicing a very unusual shy smile when the boy behind the counter was surprised by her order of fifteen double cheeseburgers and a half a dozen bottles of water.

“Partying seems to have made the guys hungry,” she said sheepishly.

She did not remember ever having eaten with such craving. It took Sienna less than half an hour to devour her purchase, sitting on a bench in a nearby park while she enjoyed a warm summer breeze.

Her body had certainly welcomed the calories. Sienna’s scientific mind prevailed for an instant and wondered, not for the first time, how her new biology worked. There had been so many things changing in her in so little time that she had not been able to stop and consider the wider implications of what had happened to her. She had been way too focused on the power aspects of her transformation.

She needed to eat. And she needed to rest. Her needs were way different than those of a regular person, but they were still there and anchored her to conventional biology. She was certain that her metabolism would have nothing to do with that of any other creature on the planet, but it was still there, chaining her to some basic needs. And making her vulnerable, as the infamous events of the previous morning had proven. It was good to remind herself of that. This would prevent Sienna from making the same mistake twice.

It had been a mistake, of course. A stupid mistake, driven by stupid overconfidence. The power she had felt flowing through every cell of her body had been so great, she had felt so much above everyone else, that she had lowered her guard too much. And it had almost cost her everything.

It would not happen again. She now knew she could be hurt. She would now be alert. And once she regained her strength and recovered her power she would never let the guard down again.

The list of priorities in Sienna’s head was clear: recover first, find out what had happened later. Once she managed to disable the threat on her, she could unleash her power once more.

*=*=*=*=*

The SPD officers had been careful enough with the crime scene, Agent Harper acknowledged. One of them was questioning the owner of the clinic, a middle-aged man that had found the corpse when getting to work. Like the officers, he could not make sense of the situation. Why would anyone break his assistant’s neck and leave her naked body on the floor of his practice? It looked like the sort of stuff the mafia would do.

Of course, Agent Harper had a theory but was not about to share it with the local police. Getting carefully around the chalk marks on the floor, he switched on a small UV light and was immediately rewarded by some shining blue drops of something he knew was the weirdest blood he had ever seen.

It was all he needed. Getting to the officer in charge, he waved a badge in front of him and said:

“We will be taking care of this from here onwards. Please, ask your men to step outside and to avoid any contamination of the crime scene.”

“Is this organized crime?” the local cop asked.

“Yes, of course,” Harper said with a smile.

A minute later he was out in the alley, talking through his cellphone.

“I found her trail. Miss Towers spent the night in a veterinary clinic. It’s only speculation at this point, but it’s likely that she tried to cure herself. She had to leave early this morning when the assistant came in for work. She killed her, and we believe that she took her clothes. Probably her ID as well. It looks like she left in a hurry, so she may not be completely cured yet. If that is the case, she will try to keep a low profile. I’ll run the assistant’s ID and credit cards, in case we get lucky. Right now, I’m heading to the headquarters to check satellite data and get coordinated with the SPD for imagery from street cameras” Harper said.

He remained silent for a few seconds, listening to the other end of the line. When his counterpart finished, he just nodded and said:

“I’m not optimistic.”

*=*=*=*=*

Sienna’s body needed more calories. And it needed to rest. The burgers had helped. As weird as it sounded, Sienna could have sworn that she had felt her body fixing itself after eating them. But they had not been enough.

She was down to twelve dollars, which meant that her most pressing need was cash. This did not mean that it was the only one.

She figured the cops would have found the body of the big veterinarian, by now. They would soon start looking for her, and she was not that far away from the clinic. A taxi line on the opposite side of the street looked like a good enough possibility to kill two birds with one stone.

The taxi driver was happy enough when she indicated an address downtown. The car’s snail pace was annoying now that she knew just how fast she could move, but there was nothing she could do, so she just sat back and tried to relax while she observed her surroundings.

“Look at all these people, going about their lives. They are nothing to me now. They don’t know yet, but I own them. I was always better, but now they cannot fight it with their indifference or their mediocrity. They will soon learn the new truth” she thought.

Sienna did not hate them. She just despised them. She had always been their better, but there had been nothing she had been able to do with that. She had never fit, and social convention had ended up marginalizing her. No one would be able to marginalize her anymore. She just needed to recover her strength, eliminate the threats to it and the world would be hers.

She caught the taxi driver looking at her through the rearview mirror as she was smirking at the thought. Sienna got back to a plain face. There was no point in attracting attention, yet. Not until she had the situation better figured out.

This was the most important part. Figuring everything out. She had thought she knew everything that had to be known about her new condition, and it had almost cost her life. She needed to understand what she had become but, more importantly, she needed to understand who was after her. Judging by how easily she had dealt with the cops and how close they dark-haired woman had been to kill her, it was clear that they knew more than what they should. They knew what had happened to her and understood it well enough to be able to hurt her. This was an unacceptable threat, and she would not be truly free until she addressed it.

Sienna let her mind wander around this while the taxi driver cursed at the piled-up traffic. It was clear they were not ordinary cops. Both the woman’s looks and attitude and their research resources confirmed that. What they were exactly remained a mystery, though.

Sienna forced her mind to trace back her latest steps and realized that she had been anything but subtle. It all referred to her original mistake, of course: getting caught back at Eclipse. Had she had a bit more patience and a bit more esteem for her colleague’s capabilities, she would not have had to face any of the threats that now loomed over her.

In the end, she had had to act in a rush, and even if she had achieved her ultimate objective of unleashing the full potential of the comet on herself, it was at great cost. She had alerted the authorities on her newly gained powers and, worst of all; she had been forced to leave the comet behind. Sienna had no clue about how they were using it against her, but she had no doubt either that this is what they were doing.

Reaching into her pocket and taking the small ball on it out, she observed its tiny imperfections and thought once more just how much it looked like a tiny bit of the rock after being processed.

Her train of thought was interrupted when the taxi driver stopped. They had finally arrived at her intended destination.

“It will be seventy-two dollars, ma’am,” the large man said.

Sienna reached out through the dividing glass and brought her hand through the small hole that was normally intended to deliver the money. A second later, her fingers were closed around the man’s throat.

He tried to protest, but his windpipe was too compressed for that already. She could have killed him in an instant, had she wished to do that, but she just held, waiting for the man to frantically fight against her fingers, trying to pry them open with both hands and failing miserably at it. It was a small feat, but it made her feel good. It made her feel powerful. And after the events of the last twenty-four hours, she needed it.

She looked in the rearview mirror and enjoyed the man’s startled and terrified expression. She loved the power she held over him. She loved her ability to decide so easily over his life.

There was no point in attracting attention, in any case, so after a few more seconds, Sienna just tightened her grip and crushed the man’s throat with ease.

A quick look to her surroundings told her that no one had realized about it, so she did not need to hurry as she reached for the man’s wallet and brought it back to her end of the taxi. Two-hundred and twenty-seven dollars. Not bad. But far from what she would need.

Sienna was not concerned as she stepped out of the taxi, folding the notes and sliding them into her pocket. There would be plenty of chances for someone like he to find some more cash. And after what she had just done, she was already looking forward to them.

*=*=*=*=*

“Is there any way to identify that taxi from the rest?” Harper asked the specialists that were analyzing the satellite images of Silverport during the last three hours.

It had been incredibly easy to find Sienna Towers getting out of the veterinary clinic and to follow her as she walked down the street, got into a fast-food joint and ate her purchase in a nearby bench.

This told Harper that she was not yet aware that she was being followed from above. He had no hopes that this situation would last since Miss Towers had proven to be very smart, but he would use the advantage for as long as he could.

The object of his interest had proven her intelligence when buying her food rather than just stomping her way through the burger place and taking what she wanted. This, of course, made her much more dangerous. She had not wanted to attract attention to her and, had it not been for the satellites, she would have just disappeared.

He was less certain about his last observation, but he did not think that she was completely recovered yet. Her limping was way subtler than in the imagery they had got from the previous evening, but there was still something there.

He was starting to get optimistic while following Dr. Towers antics when she got into the taxi. It had not been a problem at first since the satellites could follow the distinctive burgundy vehicle as well as they had followed her. The issue came when the cab had turned and taken the tunnel that linked the East Side to Downtown underneath the river.

Harper cursed softly. It was pure bad luck since he was still convinced that Towers was not aware of the high-altitude eyes set on her. But it crushed his optimism without mercy.

At the other end of the tunnel, the exit spat plenty of the characteristic burgundy taxis in a continuous flow. And they all looked just the same!

He was facing the known limitation of satellites, of course. Had he had a different view of the streets, he would have been able to read the license plates or the taxi number on the sides. From above, he had nothing.

He heard some of the men devising plans to link the satellite images with whatever they could take from street cameras. It might work. It would never work in time. As little as he wanted to do it, Harper took his cell phone and sped dialed.

“Smith,” the voice on the other side of the line said.

“She headed for Downtown. We lost her” he admitted without any sweetening.

“How is she?” Smith asked his tone still neutral.

“She looks much better,” Harper said.

“Understood. Can you find her?” Smith asked.

“I can. Not in time” Harper admitted.

“Thanks. Let me know if anything changes.”

*=*=*=*=*

Sienna was down to fifty cents after having purchased one hundred and fifty-two energy bars. They were hardly a delicatessen, but she had felt satiated after having eaten every one of them. She did not need to be a nutritionist to know that fifteen burgers and over a hundred and fifty energy bars were way above the normal caloric needs of a regular human, but her new body had been asking for them and she had decided not to argue. She still lacked a lot of fundamental knowledge about her new self, but she knew that she needed her body to fix itself and she had decided to provide it with everything it needed.

Once she had taken care of the nourishment, the next step was clear. Sienna had first thought that she would need to get her hands on some more cash, but the new plan seemed more adequate.

The man with the trolley was frustratingly slow as he advanced down the corridor of the 17th floor of the Silverport Downtown Marriott, checking every room to see if it was his. Had he not yet understood that room numbers were consecutive? 

After a few minutes roaming in the lobby and eavesdropping on those checking in, Sienna had chosen Mr. Marcus Zweig, from Basel in Switzerland, as the perfect match for what she was looking for. He was in Silverport alone to visit a trade show, and he would be staying in the Marriott for four nights. Now she wished she would have chosen someone a bit smarter.

The man finally stopped in front of a room that seemed to be his and started fighting with the card reader to get it open. By the time he had clumsily managed to roll his trolley in and pushed the door closed, Sienna’s fingers were blocking its frame.

The heavy door of room 1728 would have easily crushed the digits of anyone else but Sienna. Hers acted as a stopper, preventing the door from closing and surprising the bookish Swiss. Mr. Zweig was even more surprised when Sienna pushed the door gently open, and he was confronted with her.

He did not know how to feel about the situation. It was evident that the woman in front of him was not part of the hotel’s staff. Her clothes had room for improvement, but beyond that, there was nothing ordinary about her. Taller than he was, the blonde woman was stunning.

Marcus knew he should protest. He was momentarily shocked by the woman’s looks, though. Once her hand reached for his throat, the chance to scream was gone forever.

Sienna was not yet fully recovered, but she had no issues at all to dominate the gray man. Lifting his kicking body from the floor with a single fluid gesture of her right hand felt more empowering than ever, as she took a step into the room and let the door close behind her.

The Swiss was taken by surprise. As soon as his efforts to free himself from her iron grip proved worthless, surprise gave way to fear, in an expression Sienna loved. As with the taxi driver, this was enough for her to make it last more than necessary. The man was going to die sooner rather than later, but seeing him so completely at her mercy felt so delicious that Sienna did not want the situation to end.

His fingers reached for hers, trying to pull them open, even if only to get enough room to breathe. As the driver, his attempts were unsuccessful. Unlike him, there was more Mr. Zweig could do.

Sienna saw more than felt as he kicked her in the stomach as hard as he could. His larynx was far too compressed for him to scream, but Sienna could feel his groans as the results of his attack were more painful for him than they had been for her. When the man’s other foot hit her thigh, making him groan again, Sienna could not prevent a laugh.

“Do you want to break yourself against me?” she asked, mocking.

The eyes of the man were still taken by fear. There was something else in them, though: perplexity.

“You could never understand what I’ve become,” Sienna said with a sneer. “I don’t have time to explain it to you, in any case.”

The man seemed to understand what his fate would be just then. When a tear formed in his eye and started running down his right cheek, Sienna could not help but enjoy it. It was far from the feeling of power she had felt when decimating the cops, but after the setback she had suffered, it felt good to feel back in control.

“Life is not fair, you know?” she said, as her fingers tightened enough to snap the man’s spine.

Sienna used just the minimum necessary time to set the man’s limp body in the bathtub, hang the “Do not disturb” sign on the door and take her clothes off. Once her naked figure was lying down on the King Size bed, her body reacted immediately and triggered the mechanism that sent her into the deepest of sleeps.

*=*=*=*=*

“No news?” Fiona Black asked.

“No news” Smith replied, his expression even more serious than usual. “It has been three days since we lost her in the tunnel. The SPD found a dead taxi driver later that evening. Crushed throat. We are pretty sure it was her. We have not been able to find satellite imagery of her leaving the spot, though. Harper is pretty sure that she is not aware of the satellites, yet, so she probably got lucky. The result is the same, in any case. Sienna Towers is missing in the middle of Downtown, mixed with three million people.”

“Have there been any other indications that she is still around since the taxi driver?” Black asked.

Agent Smith shook his head.

“She is hiding” Agent Black said.

“That’s what we believe. She could be anywhere” Smith replied.

“I guess you have checked the hotels,” Black said, getting a nod in response.

“She is still hurt” she then added.

Smith nodded, but he was still looking serious.

“Larkin’s assessment is that she is recovering,” he said.

There were a few moments of silence.

“I missed the only chance we were going to have” Fiona Black repeated, not for the first time.

“You saved dozens of lives. And you gave us time. We are getting ready” Agent Black said.

“Do you believe Nemesis will work?” Agent Black said.

“It needs to work” Smith replied.

*=*=*=*=*

The sleep was deep and dreamless. Other than the fading intensity of the late afternoon Sun through the windows of the seventeenth floor, Sienna did not have more context on how long she had been lying in the feathered mattress of the hotel.

A rotting smell coming from the bathroom made her react. The aspect of the Swiss owner of the room when she looked at his corpse told Sienna that she had been out for days rather than hours. It was in times like this where she hoped that her sense of smell would not have got so sensitive as the rest of her sensorial abilities.

Sienna knew where to find the answer to the question, but her immediate attention was focused somewhere else. She stopped in front of the bathroom’s mirror and smiled at her reflection. She liked what she saw. And more importantly, she liked what she did not see. There was no mark at all in her stomach, not even a blemish. Sienna reached for the area of interest and pushed it with vigor. There was no pain to be felt.

She clenched her fists and felt an unmeasurable strength flowing through her muscles. The floor tiles broke as her body tensed, and an instant later a crack formed in the mirror, even if she was standing a few feet away from it. Low laughter, coming straight from her gut, filled the room as she realized that the danger was over, and her full power was back. A power vast enough to do as she pleased.

She tensed every muscle in her body and let the strength gather, making her feel increasingly good. Memories of her unquestionable supremacy over the cops flooded her mind as a warmth rose inside her, making Sienna forget about the recent setback and focus entirely on the unlimited potential of her new condition. She was soon inebriated, her usual sharpness giving way to more primal instinct, and instinct that was calling her to break through the room’s door and show the world that she was still around and that she had come to claim her right place. She wanted to let go, to show people how insignificant they were next to her new self.

For an instant, Sienna was about to give in to the ardor. Then, her reason kicked in.

She realized she was panting as she tried to calm down. She felt somewhat ashamed. Sienna had never felt her inner beast so close to being unleashed. Part of her subconscious was still challenging her decision not to let it out. It told her that she was unstoppable. It urged her to let her power loose. To indulge. She was about to yield to the craving once more. And once again she managed to rein it in.

“Stop,” she told at her reflection in the mirror. “Calm down” she repeated to the naked goddess on it.

Sienna knew that she had to contain the power rush, but she still did not know why. She forced herself to focus first. It helped her to finally start thinking rationally about the situation.

She realized how close she had been to repeat the mistake that had put her in harm’s way. It had been no other than having abandoned her scientific approach.

Sienna realized that what she had in power she lacked in information. She had woken up after three weeks in a new coma. She now knew that it had been nothing more than the time the rock had needed to make her body change for a second time, enhancing it beyond the limits of her imagination. But the combination of the euphoria and the immediate action from the cops had forced her to act before she had had the time to think. And, more importantly, it had forced her to act before she had had the time to learn more about her new self.

This had led her to think of herself as invulnerable, only to find out the hard truth in the most painful possible way. This could not happen to her again. So, as much as she wanted to use her power, she knew it was not wise to do so.

A memory of the olive-skinned woman flashed through her mind and made Sienna sneer.

“This time, I’ll be the one surprising you.”

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