Chapter 9:Differences Noticed & Chapter 10:Feeling Under the Weather
9. Differences Noticed
"Interesting! There is an obvious struggle for supremacy. The larger and more violent one should have drawn the female and won the conflict. And yet, the weaker male did not back down in the face of certain danger and potential loss of wealth. Thus he wins the conflict."
"This is all very interesting, but we have documented this numerous times and thoroughly tested it under multiple scenarios. What does this teach us that we did not already know?"
"Yes, but the larger one has already begun the transformation. His cranium has started thickening and his brain has begun changing in chemistry as well as structure. His language centers are becoming depressed and the aggressive attributes have been amplified by the stimulation and growth of certain regions of the frontal lobe. His opponent, on the other hand, is showing a slight increase in cranial space and synaptic response. His emotional centers do not seem to be changing much at all. In short he is not becoming an aggressive and he is not becoming a passive. He is unaltered emotionally, and yet, he faced down an aggressive without any sign of retreat."
"What are you saying? Is this 'STRAY' of yours somehow turning into a new category of aggressive? We already know that they are stratified based on the remaining intellect after their transformation. This would just be a more advanced form."
"You are missing a key detail Sir. I know I am only a lowly acolyte, but it seems to me that the emotional centers should be changing by now. You can see from the cameras that he has been eating for fifteen minutes and has consumed enough of the crystal component to make his tissues begin full transformation even if he were not already saturated with the viral component. The saturation of his tissue with the viral component should have an accelerating effect. I suspect that there is an unforeseen mutation in the viral code that was delivered via whatever caused his initial exposure."
"I see. Acolyte Cervince, what do you suggest we do then? Should we abort this very expensive experiment and tell the Primary Investigator that he must halt his schedule based on the musings of a mere acolyte? Maybe you would also like to see me put myself willingly into a tissue recycling unit so I can be converted into a large dog for your amusement. You realize that the PI will have worse than that done to me if I ask him to modify the plan based on your less than impressive conjecture?
"No, we will observe. If this subject does not turn out as we expect, we can always wipe his mind and leave him to die at the hands of the aggressives."
"Yes Researcher. I will do as you say."
10. Feeling Under the Weather
Stephen was feeling odd. His head had begun to ache and his joints seemed to be stiff. "Lorelei, I don't feel well. Can you help me back to the office?"
"After dealing with Dick so well, it's the least I could do." she said as she quickly moved around to the side of his chair and helped him up. He began to feel as if he could barely stay awake. Looking around, Lorelei came to the sudden realization that most of the people in the room were sagging in their seats. As she helped Stephen from the room, she passed Dick snoring heartily on the floor near a napping secretary. His face had a red hand print on the cheek not pressed to the industrial carpeting. They only got a few yards down the hall before Stephen's legs collapsed and he could not get back up even with the help of Lorelei. She ended up dragging him into an office that had nobody currently in it, and rolling him onto cushions she had pulled from the couch she found in the office and rolling his abused suit coat up as a pillow under his head. Exhausted, she quickly found a small wet bar. A cloth from the bar and some water from the ice bucket made a good cold compress for his head. Some time during this procedure, he passed out. Even passed out, he would moan from time to time. Cold and hot sweats came and went. After four hours of this, pale and gaunt, Stephen passed into a calm and peaceful sleep. Over the next hour, his color slowly returned to normal.
Lorelei had dozed off for a while and woke with a start when Stephen began to stir. "What happened?"
Groggily, she responded, "My boss, slash, lunch date passed out and I had to drag his heavy ass into a room so he wouldn't embarrass himself by being asleep in the hall." Rubbing her eyes, she tried to push back the pending migraine that seemed to be throbbing through her entire skull.
"You should probably tell him off, maybe quit." he said with a weak smile. "Have you called 911? I think we may have gotten food poisoning." He croaked through a parched throat. "Can I have something to drink?"