Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Chapter 10 (v.1) - 10

Submitted: May 20, 2018

Reads: 90

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Submitted: May 20, 2018



Thankfully, for the most part, Gentek left them alone, supplying material and workers when needed.  That included Zimzi the vet to study the changes in Daisy's biology, hopefully getting ahead of the mutations and see what would be needed to compensate for them.  There was also a few others, including Simon, who had a doctorate in theoretical evolution, and Ama, who worked in applied aeronautics.
It was a great set up, something that the rest of the team grudgingly admitted.


Unfortunately, the only thing that they hadn't planned for was for Daisy to be the hardest pusher for the final tests to come around.  She had always been difficult to work with, working ridiculously long hours, and refusing to have breaks or talk about anything else.  But now that she was the project, she took it upon herself to enter the tests on her own, pushing herself beyond what any of them thought was healthy.  She would constantly push herself beyond her limits, refusing to admit when her stubbornness hurt her.  One such time, Adrian thought that she had gone too far and actually killed herself.


Two and a half hours at the bottom of the pool, and Daisy was refusing to resurface.  She sat there cross-legged, her eyes closed as she concentrated on moving past the pain in her chest.


"Get out of the water, you idiot," Charlie told her through the underwater speakers.  No one knew how she could decipher the words when they were instantly transferred into indistinct bass.  She opened her eyes and flipped him off before settling into her focus apart from the pain.


"Somebody drag her out," Adrian said, resting his chin in his palm, watching her.  They were continuing the charade of not having a relationship for several reasons now, one of them was that if they were found out, he could be fired for unprofessional behaviour.  If that happened, with the way Weiler was, there was a very good chance that he'd never see her again.


"No," said Zimzi, holding up her hands.  "Have you seen?  She's growing claws.  Semi-retractable."  Charlie nodded in mundane approval.  "Do you think she will be moved willingly?"


"She's going to drown if she stays," Madeline put in, crossing her arms.  "She will begin to cramp and she won't be able to swim to the surface."


"She's been down there this long, maybe she knows what she's talking about," Charlie said almost defensively.  "She knows her limits, she just sometimes pushes them a little."


"A little!?"  Adrian said incredulously.  "She nearly tore her knee apart last week, running."  Though, he had to admit her speed was impressive, especially for someone who never really took to running.  She had run a mile in under three minutes, and she probably wouldn't have tore her knee if she hadn't tried to turn.  Apparently cornering wasn't a good idea when a person is running nearly twenty miles an hour.  Since the injury, the tests had been a little less physically demanding, but Daisy was healing faster than what had previously been believed possible.


Adrian gave her fifteen more minutes, then threatened to jump in after her.  She ignored him, and he left the booth and kicked off his shoes before jumping in.  Irritatingly, All Daisy did was smile at him and swim out of reach, as if pleased with the distraction.  Whenever he came close, she swam again, her speed impossible to match, but, annoyingly, she kept just out of reach, looking back and smiling at him.


He had to stop frequently for air, and every time, she would tug on his legs and pull on his toes, swimming away when he went down again.  Only once did she let him gain on her, and she wrinkled her nose at him, rolling onto her back so she was swimming under him.  When he reached out, she shot away, compensating for the soreness in her leg with moving her corresponding arm faster.


After a bit, he gave up, sitting on the edge of the pool, gesturing for her to come up whenever she looked at him.


It was after the fifth hour that the spasms became apparent.  Before, they presumed that Daisy kept moving because that helped distract her, but when she rolled on the bottom of the pool, her legs stretching out then pulling tight to her chest, it was obvious that something was wrong.  Madeline dove into the pool and pulled her out.


After aspirating, the limping breaths implied that something else was wrong, and she was checked over.  "There!"  Madeline shouted, pointing at Daisy's side, which seemed to be squirming on its own under the swimsuit.  Zimzi pulled out a pocket knife and slit the suit from side to side, and they ripped it apart, stalling as the discovery of the gills was made.  As Daisy groaned, her nails cutting deep into her palms, water drained from the gills, attempting to pull oxygen from the fast disappearing liquid.


They carried her to the medical room and a tube was forced down her nose to her lungs, as a new examination took place.  That was when the second set of lungs were found.


That was also when her heart stopped.  Quickly dried, the top of Daisy's swimsuit was all but ripped off of her as the patches were affixed to her chest, and she had several hundred volts race through her system.  It didn't work at first and they shocked her again.


Blurrily, Daisy reached out, trying to slap away the probing hands.  She was given a shot for the pain, Daisy became more aware of her surroundings, and Adrian bawled her out until she got up and left for her room, stumbling.


After giving her a moment's peace, he went after her, to find Daisy sitting on her bed, hair still dripping.  She eyed him warily as he sat beside her, sighing as he rested his palm on her back.


"Are you alright?"  He asked.


"How is the search?"  She countered, changing the subject.  Adrian looked at her and saw that her shoulders were shaking, testifying that she was still in an inordinate amount of pain.


Gently, Adrian pulled her to him, leaning her against his chest.  He rested his chin on the top of her head.  "We've narrowed it down to three men," he sighed.


"Men," Daisy repeated.


"Mm-hm, to see if biology effects it at all," he said.  "It didn't in the rats, so we just have to hope that it's the same way for us." He told her their names, their stats, even though what he wanted to say was that the news was still focused on them, that the news called her Eve, so undoubtedly they would call this guy Adam.  He wanted to talk about anything else but the stupid project, but he couldn't think of anything that was gentle or nice, or might alleviate her suffering, so he just went on about the next humans to become different, while she rested heavily against him, her breathing coarse.


She fell asleep like that, and he would have been happy to stay, except he was paged and he gently moved out from under her, muttering that he had to go.  She caught his wrist as he got up.  "Stay," she told him, but he reclaimed his hand and kissed her goodbye.


Going upstairs, he went into a room that had four men in it, one of them Weiler, the rest were the ones he had just been talking about with Daisy.  Weiler told him that they had been given the run-down on what would be happening, and there was only one thing left, and that was for Adrian to explain the fine details.  By fine details, Weiler actually meant the science of it, and Adrian did, ignoring the increasingly uncomfortable looks on their faces.  He had even mentioned the side-effects, something that Weiler had put a gag-order on.


Eventually, only one man was still looking intrigued, and that was Mikal Ammer, who hadn't been Adrian's first pick, but he seemed nice enough.  Weiler brought the new man through the tour, all but dragging Adrian along with them.


A few things were first and foremost, and that was a physical and mental evaluation.  Mikal had supposedly gone through high stress tests in his early days in the army, so he had an idea what he was going to be put through.  Adrian wanted to tell him, that no he didn't, he would have no way to frame a reference to what he was about to submit to.


After the tests, were run, Mikal was given a change of clothing and a room not far from Daisy's.


With all of the results to go through, Adrian marked on the beginning of Mikal's file that it was day one.


Day two started with Adrian feeling a stab of jealousy.  He found Mikal by the pool, crouched down so he could talk to a bikini clad Daisy.  She got out of the water so that it wouldn't be so awkward, and Adrian stopped in his tracks.  Mikal made no move to pretend he wasn't checking her out, and as usual, Daisy ignored it.


Tipping his head, Mikal reached out and touched her side with his index, and she looked at the spot he touched and nodded, saying something about the pale lines on her skin.


"Am I going to get those too?"  Adrian heard Mikal ask as he came near.Daisy smiled at Adrian, but he didn't return it.


"Are you ready?"  He asked Mikal, who gestured for him to lead the way.  "You didn't eat breakfast?"  He turned to look at the other man, who shook his head.


They went down to the isolation chamber, and Adrian's hard feelings immediately disappeared, remembering the horror he saw last time the serum was deployed.  As he ran through the procedure again, he silently hoped that it wouldn't be so hard this time.  He told Mikal how long it would take, and that if he (if!) vomited a small amount of blood or experienced abdominal pains, he didn't have anything to worry about.  In about twelve hours, someone would check in on him and run a nasal tube to his lung to increase oxygen intake.


"It that really necessary?"  Mikal asked as he gestured to the tube connected to his face, sitting on the bed and glancing at the TV screen to his right.


"The previous person who went through it thought so," Adrian said, taking up the hypodermic and the vial.


"The girl in the pool?"  Mikal asked as Adrian pushed the sharp through the metal.


"Yes," Adrian said, easing the right amount into the syringe.


"Is she single?"  Mikal asked, crossing his ankles, looking casually at the doctor.


Adrian's hand slipped a little on the plunger and he withdrew too much, he gingerly pushed some back in.  He nearly told Mikal to back off, then he remembered that he was keeping things under wraps.  He remembered Daisy standing a little too close to Mikal, though, and he still considered it.  "I don't know, you'll have to ask her," he said quietly, setting the things down on the tray before gesturing for him to give him his arm.  He pushed the IV lead into Mikal's arm, before hooking the bag to him, then injected the mix into the bag's port.


"You're being monitored," Adrian told him, pointing at the camera in the corner of the room, "but someone will come by every hour until transition to make sure you're alright.  If you feel discomfort, or anything, hit the buzzer and someone will check in on you."  The contract sealed, Adrian was able to talk about what Mikal would be going through, but typically, the man continued to act as if it wasn't so serious.


Tired of the bravado, Adrian decided to leave him to it, his jealousy rearing up as he went back upstairs, becoming more irritated as he watched Daisy swim leisurely in the pool.  "Didn't you nearly die yesterday?"  He asked pointedly.  Even from where he stood, he could see the slits in her sides sway open and closed as she floated by the wall.


"No, just suffocate," Daisy corrected absently.  She shrugged.  "I'm not going under right now, at least not for long periods of time, it's just to see how the gills function."


"Get out of the pool."


"I'm fine."


"Did I ask?"


Daisy narrowed her eyes at him, but he didn't yield.  Grumbling, she pulled herself out, and stood nose to nose with him.  "What is your problem?"  He grabbed her by the elbow and lead her away to an abandoned hallway.


He started by telling her that she wasn't to take so many unnecessary risks and that she needed to take time between damaging herself.  Daisy pulled away from him.


"Enough!"  She said, holding up her hands.  "Who are you to tell me what to do?"  She scowled at him.


He looked at her for a moment.  "You shouldn't have let him touch you," he said, and she rolled her eyes.


"This is what this is over?"  She gestured to him.  "He touched my side, so what?  I have been poked and prodded for over a month by strangers, why should one more bother you?  Because he doesn't have a degree?"  She took a step back and crossed her arms over her chest.  "I told you I don't like it when you do this, be so suspicious and jealous."


"I told you I don't like it when you let guys flirt with you," he countered, and she frowned at him.


"It means nothing, you know that," she reminded him.  "I don't show interest because I'm not."


"It might mean nothing to you, but what about to him?"  Adrian demanded, knowing he was acting childishly, but he couldn't help it.


Daisy ignored their rule of no touching and dropped her hands on his shoulders, trying to get him to stop.  "What does it matter?  He'll be turning his attention to the next woman who walks past him," she said, petting his cheek with her thumb.  "I chose you, remember.  I don't want someone else."


"He asked if you were single," Adrian added, feeling fed-up and ridiculous at the same time.


Daisy laughed slightly, as if he was just too silly for words.  She cupped his face.  "Bacia questa donna-pesce," she said, he nearly laughed at that, but she smothered the sound by pressing her lips to his.  Kiss this fish-woman, she said, and he wondered what he was going to do with her.


For awhile, he was momentarily soothed, until Mikal went into transition.  Daisy sat with Mikal, holding him as he was wracked with pain, his liquefied organs spilling past his lips. 


Unable to watch the carnage a second time, Adrian thought about Daisy's opinion on herself.  Kiss this fish-woman.  Well, how long would it be before the differences between them would be too much for the relationship to bare?  Granted, as far as seen, the developments had been purely physical, and even if they remained so, the physical takes toll on the mental.  Daisy would eventually stop seeing similarities between herself and him, and perhaps Mikal would be seen as the better option, someone closer to herself.


Hours later, he found her in the pool again, swimming lazily down at the bottom, her undulating movements reminding him of a shark.  It was the middle of the night, so he knew no one was monitoring her, so he stripped down to his underwear and slid in.  Sensing movement in the water, Daisy opened her eyes and smiled at him.  She looked worn, the minimal comfort she had been able to give to Mikal had taken it's toll on her.


They moved through the water together, stopping when he needed to take a breath, Daisy swimming around him, never breaching the surface, and he thought he knew why; switching between sets of lungs was difficult, at least when it was a momentary shift like this, at least it was enough of a pain that she didn't want to risk it.


Running his hands over her sides, he felt the water rushing in and out of the gills, warmer than it was before.  It was still hard to see her as anything other than the person he knew before.  She was the start of something new, something otherworldly.

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