Chapter 11:Damage Control Begins & Chapter 12:Scouting the Territory
11. Damage Control Begins
"This is not how it is supposed to happen! He did not fall asleep when the others did, and now he is one of the first to awaken. Not only that! The female seems to have avoided the crystal component exposure almost totally!" snarled the researcher.
"Researcher Fladulyn! I have the latest test results from tissue and scans of the "STRAY". His cranial capacity has increased by at least 15 percent. His bone structure is still changing, but it shows signs of reinforcements in the joints. Brain chemistry has changed and now includes a variety of minerals not found in normal human brains. Nerve conductivity is expected to be off of the chart. Our scan also indicates new brain tissue growing into the enlarged sections of the cranium." panted Acolyte Cervince.
"I want this subject observed as closely as possible for the remainder of the study. These variations from the normal responses are disturbing, but we should not panic over something that ultimately does not effect the overall outcome."
"But sir! Is it possible that we have finally managed progress in project phoenix?"
"Acolyte! Stop spouting foolish myths! That attempted mutation was doomed to fail. Not one subject was even remotely successful! All we ever got were the passives and the aggressives. I have had enough of these foolish ideas. I begin to think that it is time to recycle you!"
"Sorry Researcher! I will not bring it up again. I will set up the observers for the subject. All public areas will be covered by our normal monitoring, but if he gets into the private areas, coverage may be spotty."
"Do your best and keep me up to date on the situation, and make sure the cell phone jamming devices are at full strength. We can't have your 'stray' calling the police in. We will dissect this anomalous subject once the study is finished so we can take advantage of his differences."
12. Scouting the Territory
"I tried with the office phones and your cell, but I got a fast busy signal on the phones and your cell kept failing to connect even though it claimed to have signal. I even tried to get a chat window on one of the computers, but the network is acting funny. I keep getting a message that all user accounts are now locked out." While she related this to him, it took three bottles of water from the bar before Stephen began to feel human.
"Why don't you take a little nap while I check on the other staff members? It's been a rough day."
"Far be it from me to disobey a direct order from my new boss" she said.
Stephen chuckled to himself as he slipped out the door. He was careful to make as little noise as possible closing the door. As he crept down the hall, the sounds of people talking came to him from the conference room. At first, it sounded fairly normal, but as he got closer, he realized that the voices were closer to a series of growls, moans and screams. It sounded as if the multiple voices were all coming from people who had throat problems. Peering through the space between the big double doors, he saw that about half of the group were sitting almost unnaturally still in their chairs, while the rest circled them in loose groups. Each group seemed to take it's timing and movements from one person who seemed somehow to dominate the group. In the middle, looking down on the clusters of people from on top of the central table, was one man who looked like Dick as he would be in his fifties. He was built like a man who had been an obsessive body builder all of his life. His voice was the one Stephen had heard the most from down the hall. "I am in charge here! My managers and I have decided to take this opportunity to review our employee base. Some of you have need of a firmer hand. Some of you may need to be retrained. The rest of you will just have to be terminated!" The last was delivered with a tone of savage glee. "Dick! I need you to look into the staff who are not present. Check in on the ones who were not invited to this lunch first, then work on locating stragglers."
Stephen dashed down the hall and ducked back into the office where Lorelei was just before Dick came through the double doors. Leaving the door slightly open, he could just see Dick as he came down the hall. His face looked different, angry maybe. Dick seemed very focused on getting down the hall to find the staff the man had sent him for. Dick's stride had changed as well. Slightly hunched over and gliding on the balls of his feet. It was almost the stride of a hunting animal seeking its prey.