tagNonHumanWith Beam and Fang Ch. 02

With Beam and Fang Ch. 02

byDragonCobolt©

Chapter Two: CDC

Infected: 121

Healthy: 7,186,238,570

Day: 9

"How long are we going to stay here?" Patient Zero asked.

Dr. Julia Childes smiled as brightly as she could, considering she was in a bright orange biohazard suit with a clear plastic mask that only showed off her eyes and her nose and a bit of her lips.

"Oh, just a few more weeks," she said, casually. "Basically, we need to figure out...well, what the heck the virus actually did to change you so dramatically. Next, we need to figure out if there is a way to reverse it! Or, at the very least, vaccinate against it..."

"Reverse it?" The Patient Zero asked, arching an eyebrow as she rubbed a paw against the place where Julia had drawn at least a pint of blood. Watching her do it made Julia pause, and just admire the fur and the paw and the...remarkably attractive intermingling of human and animal. It was the kind of thing that someone expected to look freakish and wrong - and while, yes, it took a bit of getting used to, it looked more natural than she had expected.

It was still easily the most terrifying thing that Julia had seen, but that was more from an implication stand point: An air born virus that could completely modify the human body into an animal human hybrid within six days? And they had no idea how infectious it was, if it was curable, or...or...anything about it!

"Well, it is a possibility," Julia lied.

Once she was out of the room that Patient Zero was stored in, Julia hurried to the airlock. She set down the samples and started to strip, frowning a bit now that she was out of sight. The woman and her lover were separated, and they had complained bitterly about it, but the truth was that the virus might still interact differently between their bodies when they were in proximity. Variables had to be controlled, and the situation had to be examined from every angle.

After dropping off the blood samples with the analysis lab, Julia was all ready to continue her differential tests, but before she could head to her lab, she was called on the P.A: "Dr. Childes to SitLab, Dr. Childes to SitLab." She hurried through the corridors of the Center of Disease Control, thanking God for the air conditioning that kept the whole place chilled in the blazing, muggy fury of Atlanta weather. When she came to the Situation Laboratory, she pushed the door open with one shoulder and walked into a hurricane of ringing phones and shouted voices and computer screens and a large map of the United States. A red pin was shoved into New York city, and as she walked in, a man grabbed a step ladder, stepped up, and shoved a pin into London.

"Oh great..." She muttered as she looked around for the table that had called her. Sitting around it were several doctors, a few politicians and...someone new: A member of the Joint Chiefs.

"Dr. Childes!" Dr. Morgan, their expert on quarantine procedures. "Meet General Schaffer, he's going to be coordinating the armed force's response to the...a...the ah, virus."

"The military?" Julia asked, shaking the General's hand. "I mean, yes, we'll need the national guard for disaster relief, and to help coordinate-"

"You misunderstand," General Schaffer said, sitting down and thus, letting everyone else sit down as well. He clasped his hands together and looked, quite seriously, at the rest of the doctors. "I am here to evaluate the tactical dangers of the infected in combat situations."

"E...Excuse me?" Julia blinked a few times. "They're still American citizens, sir."

"For now. As far as you know. And, personally, I think it is all too likely that this will just be a precautionary conversation." The General sighed. "I don't like the idea any more than you do, but let us be honest: These individuals have undergone transformations that are mind boggling just to imagine, let alone witness. Hell, I almost died when I was eighteen because I got a blood transfusion from a cousin. That was someone related closely to me, and just having their blood in me almost did me in." He frowned. "These people have survived complete transformations into a different species."

"That's actually not confirmed, sir," Dr. Mathis, the head of their genetics wing, spoke up. "I have fifty three doctors running the sequences-"

"Morphologically a different species," General Schaffer said, waving a hand. "Either way, who knows if any of them will have a mental change to match their physical one...we need to know what threat they might pose so that I can work out a way for the armed forces to respond with appropriate force to any conflict. Not too much. Not too little. Just right." He smiled.

Julia bit her lip. A thousand bad sci-fi movies had taught her, over the years, to never trust this kind of spiel. But she tried to put that out of her mind- she wasn't dealing with a caricature, she was dealing with a real, live human being—and tried to think through what she and her team had learned.

"Well, uh, they, that is, the man and the woman both exhibit the abilities of their animal...well...counterparts, but reflected and scaled up to human size. The female subject can jump almost ten feet without trying, has incredibly acute hearing and smelling, amazing night-vision...and her claws are sharp and long enough to be lethal."

General Schaffer nodded. "And the man?"

"The male subject is a bit harder to parse: She is very specifically a west African lioness, if the coloration is to be believed. But there is no lizard that matches his morphology," Julia said, then shrugged. "But there are a billion species that we haven't discovered, or that went extinct before we could find them. Still, he's incredibly strong, tough - though, not bullet proof..."

"And has claws?" General Schaffer prompted.

Julia nodded. "But these are two subjects. And we haven't identified any more subjects - we attempted to find the landlord that they mentioned, but he had fled town by the time the CDC arrived. Until we have more people to study, we...won't know the full extent of the threat."

General Schaffer nodded.

And, in the back of the room, a man hung up his phone, stood, and added another few pins to the map.

###

Celia stalked back and forth inside of her cell, her hands going to her head, brushing her hair - a dull brown unlike her old black - behind her ears, and thanked God that the clothes they gave her weren't too tight.

The trick, she had figured out, was wriggling into the clothes in such a way that her fur was brushed down, along the 'grain' so to speak. Still, it was very weird to feel this extra layer between her and the clothes she wore.

But she had time to experiment with wearing clothes, because the room was only ten feet by ten feet, and it was really easy to pace that out several times and get mind-numbingly bored with the tedium...which was still better than the worry. The worry about Spencer. The worry about the effects of the virus. The worry about your landlord...and that one was damn new to Celia.

The door slot opened.

Celia snapped her head up, and then sighed as the tray slipped into the cell: It contained some meat. She started to eat it, and then noticed that there were some carrots, diced and tiny pieces. Dr. Childes voice came through the wall intercom.

"Try the carrots, I hope it adds some spice to the meal...sorry about the state of the room, by the way. We're trying to get a TV, but we're really busy out here."

"It's fine, well, it would be fine, if I could see Spencer..." Celia said, her paw pressing against the intercom talk button. "Seriously, you haven't dissected him, right?"

"I promise, we didn't!" Dr. Childes said.

"...how...many people out there are infected?" Celia asked, nervously.

"We don't know. But...well...while it would have been better if you hadn't stolen the virus in question in the first place, trying to quarantine yourselves was the right move. Though, the even righter move would have been to call us first." Celia sighed as Julia paused. "Still...at the moment, we care less about blame, and more about solving the problem."

The intercom clicked off and Celia kicked the ground.

###

Julia jerked awake as a hand closed around her shoulder. She blinked a few times, her eyes bleary and confused, and then she saw the face of one of her fellow anatomical symptomologists. She blinked again, then smiled.

"Sorry, Brian, I just...I rested my eyes for-" She checked her watch to see how long it had been - but before she could, Brian cut her off.

"Uh, Julia, we have a problem."

Julia blinked a few times again, then stood. They hurried along, Brian looking as terrified as she had ever seen him before. They came to the airlock that led to the clean room, which then led to the containment chambers. The door was open, and several technicians were arguing.

"It can't just DO that!" One tech said, his voice cracking with anger and emotion. "A virus isn't magic, Jim. It can't just decide to evolve in a certain way. It has to actually have a...a...a pressure! And what pressure, what evolutionary pressure could have-"

"What is going on?" Julia asked, frowning. The techs looked up - as behind her, she heard footsteps. Looking over her shoulder, Julia saw the heads of other departments, and the director of the CDC herself, hurrying over.

"The..." One of the techs, the one named Jim, said, slowly. "Uh..."

"The suits are breached," the other tech said, his voice more blunt.

Silence.

The heads of departments clustered around, and the tech pointed at the seal. "We noticed it on the bi-hourly checks. The seal, here, has been eaten through. No idea by what. Or how."

"Check the security tapes!" Dr. Gebheart - the head of the evolutionary biology department - spoke up. "Maybe the subjects..."

"What? Chewed on them?" Julia asked. "We'd have noticed."

Clamoring started. Arguments flared, but the director of the CDC spoke up, her rich, tenor voice cutting through the arguments.

"Enough!" She said, her fist slamming into a dark palm. "The building must be quarantined. The warning has to go out. And we must continue to study and work on this, people."

She turned to Julia, her face set. "You said you wanted more subjects." She lifted her arms, as if to gesture to both herself and the whole room. "Here we are."

###

The shattering sound of glass startled Julia out of her focus. She snapped her head around and saw one of her fellow doctors, a beginner fresh out of Oxford, whose British accent made him one of the cuter sounding doctors in the office, had taken his microscope and hurled it against the wall.

"Jordan!" Julia wasn't the only one who spoke in shock, but Jordan didn't seem to care. His hands went to his face, and he turned to face them, glaring.

"This is...this is IMPOSSIBLE!" He said. "The virus vanished."

Julia glanced at the other doctors in the lab, then at the blood samples that dripped down the wall. She tried to remind herself that the containment protocols were pretty much useless, as everyone in the building had to be treated as if they were infected, but that didn't make this any less insane.

"Jordan, come on, let's sit down-" She started to advance. He laughed, but his laugh had a bitter, jagged edge to it.

"No, you don't get it. It's not a virus. It's fucking magic, and we're all fucked! You hear me? Fucked!"

Two of the other doctors got close enough to put their hands on his shoulders. Julia tensed, half ready for them to have to fight, but Jordan just sagged, his head hanging forward - the anger and frustration that had driven him to throw the samples into the wall draining from him as fast as it had come. He let them lead him out of the room. Once he was gone, Julia rubbed her eyes.

"He's right, you know?" One of her fellows said, her voice soft.

Julia sighed. "It just...we haven't detected it. F-For all we know..." She paused. "For all we know, we're no infected at all."

They glanced at one another. Before Julia could return to her desk, or even order the clean up to be started, the P.A chimed and a voice called her name out: "Doctor Childes to the E.R. Dr. Childes to the E.R."

She snorted, then shook her head and hurried out of the room, pushing the door open and closing it behind her. Her shoes squeaked along the linoleum as she hurried to the elevator, trying to not start laughing hysterically. The CDC had labs and administration rooms, but an E.R? No. That was a cobbled together field medic hack shop that reminded her of her time in Doctor's Without Boarders. Though, at least there was still air conditioning.

The elevator door opened and she found herself looking at a man, whose mouth had closed around the full, perky breasts of a redheaded intern, her blouse torn open, buttons lining the floor of the elevator. Julia blinked as the woman moaned and writhed against the wall, the man releasing her nipple with a gasp.

Julia coughed.

The two looked at her...and then, without even seeming to blush, the man frowned at her and said: "Well?"

"I...I'm going down, okay?"

They shifted to the side as Julia stepped into the elevator, the woman crossing her arms over her bared breasts. Julia tried to not look at them as she pushed the first floor button.

"...it's the end of the world, I mean, anyone would-" The woman started.

"It's okay." Julia held up one hand. "Just...an elevator? Really?"

The two of them blushed - shame seeming to catch up to them - as the doors opened and Julia hurried out, hurrying along the corridor until she came to the cafeteria, where the E.R had been set up. Some plastic tents, normally used in case of emergency flooding, were draped out, and the gurneys used to transport subjects to the containment rooms were set down, with other tables nearby holding all the tools that someone might need in case of the serious medical issues that everyone was braced for: After all, there was no way that some virus (which, thus far, had completely defied identification, let alone classification or study in any meaningful light) could completely alter a human being's body without causing some serious medical side effects.

Just because Patient Zero and Patient One had survived didn't mean anything...they might have just been incredibly lucky.

Still, as Julia ducked under the tent, she braced herself for the worst...and instead found Dr. Brandon Lai, the youngest member of the pathology department. He was clutching a crucifix with one hand, his eyes closed tight as the other department heads examined his...

His tongue and his ears.

His ears had started to expand, the lobes drooping further and further down, while his neck was covered with blotchy rashes. His tongue, though, had become almost three times longer than the human norm, and was forked. Then, as Julia stepped closer, Dr. Morgan pushed Lai's lips back, and showed that he had two gleaming fangs where his canines had been.

"Okay...Dr. Childes, you're the symptomologist...got any idea where we should even start with this?" Dr. Morgan asked, stepping back. Julia rubbed her face, her eyes closing, and then nodded.

"Okay, Dr. Lai-"

"Brandon. You can call me Brandon, Dr. Childesssssssss-" His tongue flicked out and he clapped his hands over his mouth, his entire body tensing - as he tensed, the rashes on his neck started to peel, the puckered skin starting to curve away from the center of the rashes, like dead skin on a bruise.

"Well, uh, Brandon, when did...the tongue change?"

"I don't know. I went to sleep...I..."

"Were you sleepy before you went to sleep? Think hard on it," Julia said, trying to sound comforting. As comforting as she could when she was talking to someone who was, from all intents and purposes, becoming a snake.

A snake with a snake accent.

"I, well, uh, I...no, actually."

Julia jotted a note down on a pad of paper she fished from her pocket. She noted: Sleepiness.

"Are you hungry?" Julia asked.

Brandon's brow furrowed. "No, not really..."

"That doesn't make sense!" Dr. Mathis said, scribbling on his own piece of paper. "The amount of energy it would take to divide all those new cells, it'd have to get the energy from somewhere."

Julia nodded, pinching the bridge of her nose, then sighed. "Well, since you don't seem to suffering from immediate anaphylactic shock or an airway collapse or an aneurysm, I think we can risk taking you to the lab." She smiled at him, trying to be comforting.

Brandon grinned.

That flashed his fangs.

He closed his mouth in a hurry.

###

Julia jerked awake at the sound of Brandon's voice buzzing through the intercom.

"Doctor?"

Julia rubbed her hands against her eyes, trying to remember when she had felt this sleepy. She yawned, and then sighed, looking at the glass window that separated her and Brandon. She blinked a few more times.

"I-It'ssssss that bad, issssssssn't it?" Brandon asked.

"Bad...isn't...the word that immediately leaped to mind," Julia lied. She stepped over to the window, putting her hand on it - she had volunteered to watch over Brandon once it had become clear that the transformation was accelerating, not slowing down. That was part of why she wanted to slap herself for falling asleep - though, there was a recording device in the isolation lab.

Still...

Brandon, stripped to the waist, had become sleek. Before, he had a bit of a pot belly and no muscle definition beyond what someone can get by sitting in front of their computer all day. Now, his shoulders had become narrower, and his chest was flat and tightly corded with muscle - a clear, well defined six pack that flowed from his chest to his waist. But what was even more remarkable were the scales: His belly and chest were a brilliant yellow, which smoothly transitioned to pure black, with stripes running along his back - golden stripes. His head was seductive and flat, with a pair of golden eyes - slitted in the middle, giving him an...unnerving look, to say the least.

Sweeping along his side was the distinctive hood of a cobra, smoothly sliding down to meet his shoulders. Brandon shifted, one arm reaching out, but then he tripped and fell, gasping. Julia looked at the door to the chamber, but then decided...fuck it. She was already infected. She ran to the door, pushed it open, stood and waited for the inner door to cycle, then pushed that one open, running in and saying: "It's okay, Brandon!"

"I...I...AHH!" He screamed. "MY LEGS! MY LEGS!"

Looking down, Julia saw that his legs were pressed together and the fabric rippled, the faint sound of hissing filling the air. She knelt down, undid his belt, and then tugged, hard. There was a loud ripping noise as the fabric between his legs tried to stay behind. She saw that his legs - also covered with scales -were starting to fuse. She could see his scaled flesh turn almost liquid, reaching out and subsuming the fabric that had torn free, making it vanish. Then his legs met and his feet started to extend.

It was...

"Impossible..." Julia whispered.

His legs...his tail coiled around her ankles, growing longer and broader, until he was able to push himself upright. His humanoid torso, with the snake-like head, perched atop a truly massive snake's trunk. His tail coiled around Julia's legs, almost without him seeming to realize it as he looked at himself.

"I'm..."

"Are you okay?" Julia whispered.

Brandon looked up at her, then away. "I'm a freak," he said. "Oh god, what am I going to do? How can I live like thissssssssss?"

He shook his head, swearing loudly. Julia moved closer, carefully stepping over his tail. She knew that, at a time like this, there were questions to ask and diagnostics to do, but at the moment, compassion was needed...not just for him. For herself. She had just seen his legs melt and forge into a tail long enough to wrap around her a half a dozen times...at that moment, thinking about it, trying to give it a set of symptoms, was a bit much, if only because she was having a hard time ignoring the fact that it would be her body that would start changing soon.

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