Ayla and the Mad Scientist: (Chap 21)
Ayla and the Mad Scientist, the 9th Phase novel by Diane Castle, Chapter 21 – Les Miserables
Ayla and the Mad Scientist
CHAPTER 21 – Les Miserables
a Whateley novel
by Diane Castle
I did my best to appear calm as Jobe injected the solution into a vein on the back of my hand. I wasn’t calm. But I had years of training in appearing calm, and that was what I needed.
As soon as Jobe gave me the injection, she had me undress and step into her scanner again. Jadis hurriedly stepped out into the hallway, ostensibly to contact Mal about Belpho’s coordinates. I was fairly sure that she just didn’t want to look at my freakish body. That was pretty depressing, because Jadis was one of the few people on whom I was still counting to deal with my altered appearance. I didn’t have much hope that anyone in my family other than Gracie was going to adapt to my current look. I wasn’t even convinced that my friend Jonathan would adjust if he met me now, and he was blind so he wouldn’t be looking at me; he would only hear that the pitch of my voice was significantly higher.
I was so screwed. I couldn’t even pretend to pass as my old self, no matter what I did. My family had already instituted an exit plan so they could declare me dead whenever it suited their needs, and as long as I was a mutant there was no chance I would be allowed to use the backdoor options on that plan. All I could do was survive this and move forward.
And I was concerned about survival right at that moment, because the serum was doing something. A burning sensation followed the path of the liquid as it flowed through me. My arm was on fire, and the conflagration was moving into my chest. It was like a lesson on the circulatory system of the human body, as taught by Tisiphone. The fiery agony moved through my chest, burned its way across my ribcage, pounded mercilessly behind my sternum, and then exploded outward in a thousand different directions.
It was all I could do not to scream. I had to grab one of the vertical rails of the scanner to keep from falling over. I clenched my jaws as the scorching pain seared throughout my body, burning out to my limbs and then blazing back into my torso. Finally, the pain started fading. At least in my arms and legs and head, the pain faded away, until the agony was centered in my chest. It seemed to build and evolve, while a small eternity of pain dragged by. Then it seemed to concentrate and lunge forward, even though it wasn’t moving.
I looked down and my boobs were already a cup size smaller. Maybe two. I stood there, sweating with the pain, and looked up.
Jadis was standing there, looking worried and trying her best not to show it. Jobe was standing at the monitors for the scanner, calmly studying the results as if she were looking at a chemical reaction. Granted, Jobe had all the empathy of a razorspinner, so she probably was treating my agony as an interesting biomedicine problem.
I glanced at the clock, and saw to my surprise that almost twenty minutes had gone by while I was standing in the scanner and clenching my teeth. No wonder it had felt like it was taking forever.
But the pain wasn’t really relevant. I just kept telling myself that, because the relevant aspect was my slowly-shrinking hooters. And I say ‘slowly’ only in a relative sense, because ordinarily this would be considered a lightning-quick reduction in volume. Jobe might be a smug, self-centered, irritating bitch, but she was a brilliant smug, self-centered, irritating bitch.
It was just a shame that her brilliance and hyper-competence were probably going to guarantee that the smugness and egocentricity were never ameliorated. Not that Jobe was the only person at Whateley to whom that could be applied.
Then I wondered if people said the same thing about me. They probably did. After all, I was a Goodkind. I should probably talk to Toni and Hank about it, because they were the team members least likely to be polite and coy about the issue. Then I should ask Zoe, because she would be able to tell I wanted her to be honest, and she would have lots of relevant information at her fingertips.
Damn, that injection hurt. Maybe next time, I could just pour pure capsaicin into my veins and cut out the middleman.
I took a shaky step out of the scanner, and had to grab onto a rail and keep from falling.
“Ayla!” Jadis gasped worriedly.
“Yeah,” Jobe insisted. “Stay in the scanner while I’m acquiring useful data.”
Jadis glared at her. Then she turned to me again and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Just fine,” I said. “Other than the searing agony and the debilitating weakness in my legs.”
“Drama queen,” Jobe muttered. I had a feeling that she just didn’t care whether anyone else heard her, so she wasn’t trying to keep it quiet.
Jadis, on the other hand, looked like she didn’t know whether to act casual, rush over to check on me, or step in the other direction so she could smack Jobe in the back of the head with a suitable blunt instrument. She settled for acting casual. And growling at someone. “Jo-obe!”
Jobe gave her a disgruntled look. “Well, what did you expect? We’re performing a physical modulation by accelerating BIT amplification through an adaptation of the natural regenerative ability. It shouldn’t be comfortable. In fact, it would be quite suspicious if it was.”
As the pain slowly abated – and let me clarify that the abatement was very slow – I found myself stuck staring at the clock. I wasn’t supposed to step out of the scanner, and I wasn’t supposed to have anything in the scanner with me. So I couldn’t do anything useful while just standing there, like check my emails or read reviews from financial analysts. I certainly wasn’t going to read private material in a lab that might have cameras that could easily look over my shoulder, so reading the latest reports from Trin & Macintyre or from Marvel were right out. And I had substantive investments in other enterprises that were private enough that I didn’t even want the email address of the sender to be available to a scanner in here.
So I stood around and thought about my options for this afternoon. Then I pulled up from memory the next six sets of math homework, and began working through them, making mental notes when I wasn’t sure how to do certain problems in an efficient manner.
One of the problems with what was essentially an eidetic memory for the written word was that it crippled one’s use of certain types of techniques. Instead of working through the process to know how to compute, say, the cosine of one quarter of a general angle, you automatically jump to the memorized table of cosines and have the answer. But then, when that table is not going to be useful (for example, when the listed angle is an unknown theta instead of a given constant), you haven’t worked with the relevant formulae. Doing this properly when you know the answer anyway requires a certain determination from the student. Since I had time to kill, it was less of the determination and more of the boredom.
After an hour, my chest was small enough that the supertop I had worn this morning was not going to fit well, which was fine by me. The pain had abated to the point that I thought I could walk or run fairly well. My arms and legs weren’t hurting any longer, and the pain had concentrated in my chest. It looked like nothing was going to change except my cup size, which was more or less what Jobe had predicted. Granted, I had been hoping for a small miracle and some improvements elsewhere, like some male musculature or wider shoulders. No such luck.
The upside was still huge, including the fact that after two different treatments from Jobe I was still human, and I wouldn’t have to move to Twain or Hawthorne.
Jobe finally let me out of the scanner, so I got dressed as fast as I could. The supershorts still fit. I checked my chest with a tape measure before I clothed my upper half, just because I was unable to be patient. Okay, I was now around an F cup and – hopefully – still shrinking. I pulled the smaller supertop out of the utility belt, and tugged it on.
Once I had my sandals on as well, Jadis casually asked, “Jobe, if you don’t need more scans of Ayla, is it perhaps time to go deal with the next nuisance problem?”
Jobe grinned. I was frankly relieved that her smile was not intended for me, because it did not bode well for its target. She said, “I have something special I need to synthesize and integrate, so don’t hurry on my account.”
Jadis reminded her, “No drowing. Carson-”
“Yes, I know, Carson is looking for an excuse to dropkick me from here into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving me a long swim to get home while pursued by MCO dropships and Champion VI. Blah blah bleeh. I’ve heard it all, multiple times now. That woman needs to work on her threats. I’ve heard scarier from relatives. And I have no intention of bestowing a precious gift like becoming one of my drow on a putrid, coprophagic sample of fuligo septica like Bel-funky.”
Jadis patiently waited while I adjusted my utility belt about my waist and covered myself with the cloak. Then we strolled out. Jadis took a right, and I followed her down the hall. She waited until we were at the next intersection before she asked, “Fuligo septica?”
I shrugged, “You got me.” So I fished out my bPhone.
She smiled and pulled her dadPhone out. “Okay, first with the info on-screen… One, two, three, go!”
She was fast, but I already had been dealing with Jobe. So I had websites temporarily hot-keyed for detailed information on pharmaceuticals, chemical names, taxonomy, biochemistry, and genetics. And I knew ‘fuligo’ was probably from the Latin for ‘soot’, so I went straight to the taxonomy website and typed in my best guess on the correct spelling… and presto!
I held up my screen, beating her by a second or two. I smiled, “Jobe’s quite the master of description. It’s popularly known as the dog vomit slime mold.”
She looked at the image on my screen and said, “Good thing I already ate lunch.”
We moved on down the hall. Jadis chose the moment and asked, “Is there any particular reason you deliberately misquoted Admiral Farragut?”
I said, “I wanted Jobe to get on with it, and not argue with me about quotes and misquotes. So I said the commonly used form, instead.”
She frowned, “That wasn’t necessary. Trust me, Jobe wouldn’t have cared enough to argue about something that wasn’t biology or chemistry. And I would have backed you up on the quote.”
I gave her a grin. There are just not enough people around who know their history and literature.
Once I thought we were safely away from any eavesdropping devises Jobe might have on his hallway, I asked her, “Are you sure it’s Bel-fargone?”
She pursed her lips and finally said, “No. He’s the most likely suspect, because whoever it was managed to steal four different components out of labs, do the integration somewhere, and then sneak into Jobe’s lab to inject the resultant into your serum. And the integration has Belph’s fingerprints all over it. There are plenty of people who could steal all the components, but there are only a handful of devisers around here who could synthesize something radically different out of the stolen materials. Mal could do it, and Jay-Arm, and Jobe. Knick-Knack’s a possibility too, along with some of the other high-level DEVs. But most of the school? Not a chance. And I’m ruling Jobe and Pheebs and Mal out, not because they’re Bads, but because they were in Melville before curfew that night. And Belphoebe was having a chat with Misty and complaining about Jobe wanting her out of the room for a while, so I know they were both there. On the other hand, Belph got caught sneaking back in after midnight. His little robot suitcase isn’t as stealthy as his anti-grav chair was.”
I gave her a raised eyebrow. “And the house parents readily disseminate this kind of intel?”
“You know they don’t,” she glowered. “Whateley staff internal files only. Plus reports to Whateley Security and Admin.”
And she, or the Bad Seeds as a group, had access to that kind of intel. I was glad to get confirmation on what my contacts had guessed. I said, “So your number one suspect might just be some fat dork who’s getting framed by someone a lot smarter than him?”
She said, “Someone smarter than him. That cuts the suspect pool down to… about six hundred students.”
I snorted in amusement. I thought out loud, “So really, we have about eight possibilities, and you’ve logically eliminated Mal and Belphoebe and Princess.” She snickered. “You’ve also marked Nephandus and Knick-Knack as less likely. So we start with Belph as our primary suspect.”
She smiled wickedly. “We squeeze him until he accidentally incriminates himself or he accidentally clears himself.”
I asked, “And you’re sure we can do that?”
She nodded, “Sure. If we can’t play ‘bad cop, worse cop’ with him, then I just bring in the heavy weaponry.”
I was pretty sure who that would be, but I didn’t bother to mention Kate’s name. It wasn’t exactly a huge secret that Nacht had terrified Belphegor enough times that the guy was a basketcase if you simply pointed behind him and said, “Hey look, it’s Nacht.”
Jadis pulled out her phone from ‘Dr. Dad’ and called Mal. She did something so that I could hear Mal’s end of the conversation as well. “Where’s our bunny?”
Mal said, “He was in the main Workshop room for a while. Flywire and MD said he was trying to integrate a signal decoupler with something he got out of the ‘recycling bin’.”
I asked, “Isn’t it dangerous to go fishing in there?”
Mal said, “Generator’s kind of made it popular again, but there aren’t many devisers who can make someone else’s failed project work, and most of the ones who can, don’t need to. Some of the Workshop guys are still talking about what she did with that defective circulation pump.”
Ugh. I’d heard about that one. In enormous detail. I said, “I can imagine why it’s the guys who are talking about it. We got a simulation after the fact.”
Jadis looked at me with a raised eyebrow, so I cupped my hands in front of my boobs to represent a voluptuous chest, and then I made an expanding motion until my hands were over a foot away from my chest.
Jadis’ eyebrows soared up toward her hairline, but I just nodded firmly. She redirected the conversation, “And where is he now?”
Mal said, “He’s moving from the Workshop toward the caff. Looks like he’s taking the straight path, and not sneaking around checking out other people’s labs, like he’s done plenty of times before. But he’s sticking with his robot, so he’s moving at about half his normal speed.”
Jadis checked an app on her screen and said, “We can cut him off at the junction to Dunn.”
I said, “You set the speed. I’m flexible.”
She snorted. “So I heard. Can you really fly faster than Tennyo?”
I shrugged, “Sure, but I have zero maneuverability. Tennyo can completely ignore gravity, acceleration, inertia, you name it. She makes hummingbirds look clunky by comparison.”
She said, “I can pick up the speed by going completely Beastly, but I can’t move a lot faster. So let’s just aim for a casual walk. If Mal’s right, we’ll still have time to head off Bel-fatso.” She headed out, and I followed alongside her.
I asked, “Do you think he’s going to lose enough weight this term to get his chair back?”
She pursed her lips. “I don’t see how he can’t lose some weight.”
I checked, “And how many people are checking over his egg-chair while it’s out of his reach?”
She said, “Besides three Workshop teachers? You don’t want to know.”
I did want to know, but I was assuming she didn’t want to say. My sources indicated that Stormwolf had been pushing to get the Workshop teachers to let Thunderfox look over Belph’s systems for stolen technology or dangerous weaponry, and hadn’t gotten permission yet. That meant that Stormwolf would stand down. My sources also indicated that the Intelligence Cadet Corps had been trying to get the teachers to let Kew take a look at Belph’s systems, and hadn’t gotten permission either. That presumably meant that Ace was now trying to talk the rest of the team into a little proactive espionage. And another of my sources had told me that Stopwatch was trying to talk the Masterminds into a heist of some of the anti-grav and forcefield technologies in Belph’s chair, and hadn’t gotten any farther than Haywire giving him a tentative ‘yes’ and Heartbreaker giving him a definite ‘no’. Even Dash thought it was too obvious, and too likely to be a trap. And yet another of my sources had told me the campus bookies were giving 3-1 odds on at least one group trying to break into the Campus Security storage areas to make a try for Belph’s chair.
Since Jadis wasn’t in ‘sharing’ mode, I wasn’t going to share any of those details. She probably had a lot of them anyway, given that Hazard was one of her buddies, or at least wanted to be.
We cut through a back passageway Jadis knew, and we came out about a hundred feet behind Belph and his trundling suitcase o’ fun. He was only about two hundred feet from the Dunn intersection, which would also take him to Doyle if he took the other branch, or would go to the cafeteria if he went forward.
I gave Jadis a tilt of the head, and I took a deep breath. Then I leapt through the wall. I just dove into the wall at roughly a thirty degree angle. In a few moments, I flew through a storage room that looked like it was full of unused Dunn Hall equipment, and then I was in the corridor that would go straight to Dunn Hall. I went heavy and dropped my velocity to near zero. Then I turned around and stepped into the hallway, right in Bel-funky’s path.
He looked up and said in that fake ‘Received Pronunciation’ accent, “Oh. You. Come to gloat about me losing my protective armor?”
Well, that wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Then he heard Jadis walking up behind him, and he hastily looked behind him. As soon as he saw it was Jadis, he panicked. In a much more plebeian English accent, he screeched, “AAGH! I should’ve known!”
He threw himself at his suitcase robot and wrapped his arms around it, pulling his legs in until he had them wrapped around the feet of the invention. A shimmering, translucent spheroid erupted around him and his ‘suitcase’.
At the same time, two rockets erupted out of the top of the suitcase, escaped through the shell of his forcefield, and abruptly changed direction before they would have crashed into the ceiling. One of them flew right at me.
It was a good thing I was already heavy, because the first thing the rocket did was to fire off some sort of energy weapon from its tip. A tight gold beam struck me right between the boobs and knocked me backward a step.
Jeez, what the heck was that?
The beam flickered out, and by then the rocket was already crashing into me. I just barely managed to get a hand up about half a foot in front of my new protuberances, and the rocket hit my palm.
It exploded in a burst of ice-cold foam that froze into a solid foam prison. I didn’t know what the foam would have done to me if I was normal. I went light, and then I quickly moved backward and down into the floor in case Belph already had another attack winging my way.
I managed a quick breath before I dove through the floor and down about forty feet to the next tunnel level. Then I ran along that tunnel until I thought I was past Jadis and I leapt upward.
Crap. There was a solid blob of foam on the floor right where Jadis would be if she had fallen down, or been knocked down. And there was no sign of Jadis anywhere else. Belph was still cowering inside his semi-opaque forcefield.
I made a mental note that a forcefield like the one he was using was probably a good defensive strategy. He might or might not be able to see out of it, but I couldn’t look in to see what he was doing. The opacity probably meant it was better than most of the forcefields around here at stopping light-based weapons and maybe even electromagnetic-based weapons. I couldn’t hear him, so maybe it protected against sonics too. Was it gas-permeable? No idea, but I wasn’t using a gas egg in an enclosed space when I didn’t know if Jadis was even conscious.
I did a fast light-heavy-light flicker with my arm and slashed through the outer layer of the foam. Then I stayed heavy and started ripping handfuls off. I didn’t want to hit Jadis by accident. I also didn’t want to hit one of her magical defenses when I was light, and I didn’t want to hit some deviser forcefield Mal had given her while I was light.
The thing dropped on top of me. I didn’t realize Belph had launched some other weapons while I was moving under the tunnel, and now he had me.
It was some sort of high-tensile strength metal cable, connected together in a hexagonal net. But the net was hitting me with massive electrical charges I could feel even though I was heavy. And whatever it was, it had a thick cable going up to the ceiling, where it had apparently tapped into the tunnel electrical systems, because the lights around us were flickering a couple times a second as it repeatedly hit me with electrical surges.
That meant I couldn’t go normal or light. And the stupid net was strong enough to keep me from ripping it apart. Crap.
I attacked it at what I hoped was the weakpoint. Its connection to the ceiling and the electrical systems. I simply fell over.
A ton of dead weight yanked on the cable… and it held. Whatever it had secured itself to, it was holding onto something in the ceiling. I wasn’t going to be able to pull it loose. And if Belph had planned for the typical campus PK brick, then the connecting cable might be able to take several tons. Crap.
I was fully heavy, so I tried pinching the cables that made up the netting. That just upped the wattage on the jolts the damned net was giving me. They were pulling enough juice that the hallway lights were dimming. Things were rapidly getting into the ‘enough wattage to hurt a density changer’ category, which was not good. I didn’t know if I could take enough juice to knock out the circuit breakers for a Whateley Workshop hallway.
I slid my hand into the correct utility belt pocket, and I came out with one of my throwing knives. I made sure it was heavy too, and I sliced into the netting. The net reacted by upping the wattage even more.
Damn! That was really starting to hurt!
I hurled myself against the foam that was burying Jadis. The electricity sizzled against the foam. I was hoping that it would start a small fire, which would trigger the fire extinguisher systems in the hallway. Believe me, all the Workshop labs and hallways had tons of systems for handling fires. It wasn’t like a conflagration in a Whateley lab was a rare event. Even if the system that got triggered was only a breathable Halon, it would get Security down here right away.
I was really hoping for a spray of water that would short out the netting, or a spray of foam that would do something similar. I got neither.
I didn’t even get a fire.
The electricity jolting from the netting just turned the foam into constituent gases. No fire. No smoke. I should have considered that even someone like Belphegor might think to make sure his assorted stolen and heavily-modified toys might work together, instead of against each other.
Have I ever mentioned that I really hate competent supervillains?
I leaned against the foam blob and let the electricity slowly disintegrate an Ayla-sized patch of the frozen froth. That worked until I hit a magical barrier that was a couple inches away from Jadis’ unmoving form.
Okay, I could work with that. I rolled across the top of the barrier, letting the magical defenses handle my weight while the electrical discharges disintegrated the foam prison holding Jadis to the floor.
On the plus side, the magical defenses were slowly shredding the netting too. I had Jadis’s magical field uncovered from her waist to her head before the netting finally gave way.
One large hole in the side of the netting meant that the complex system started to fail. The electrical surges stopped working on that side of the netting. So I was able to do a light-heavy-light slash with my arm on that side, and sever a dozen strands before I hit something that was still electrically live and gave myself a really agonizing shock on the arm.
I tried to ignore that as I made sure I was fully heavy and I pulled at the opening I had fashioned. I still couldn’t rip it to shreds, but I could stretch it to make a hole large enough for me to clamber through.
I checked Belph, but he was still cowering inside his forcefield. Jadis was still out cold, and inside her magical field. I could see where the missile that had gone her way had blasted her. There was a five inch circle right through her Whateley blazer and blouse and tie, not to mention her bra, that exposed a circle of pink skin and an odd rod-shaped pendant inside her blouse. It looked strangely like a vajra. I figured it was the magical amulet that had protected her from Belph’s ray attack and was sustaining the magical field around her.
I heard a clicking, scuttling noise, and I looked for the sound. I dropped in a couple cursewords as three arachnid robots spidered their way past Belph’s forcefield and headed at me.
I was already heavy, and I remembered stomping his spiderbots at our combat final. But he wasn’t really stupid enough to be using bots that everyone on campus had seen how to disable.
All three of them were bigger than the things I had crushed in our combat final. All three of them had much thicker legs, presumably to handle the much heavier bodies.
I tore off a large piece of the foam and flung it at them. The damned things were more mobile than the old spiderbots too. Of course.
They all leapt out of the way, since they probably weren’t designed to be smart enough to tell if the thing coming at them was heavy enough to crush them. On the other hand, they were smart enough to jump out of the way of something coming at them, so they were smarter than I liked.
One spiderbot sprayed webbing at the piece, gluing it to the floor. One spit some sort of toxin at it. And one fired some sort of energy beam at it from what should have been a pair of fangs.
Charming. Just what I wanted. A trio of robots designed to attack with a variety of assaults, to handle a wider variety of powers. Even a PK brick like Hank probably had a forcefield that let fluids through. Granted, Pristine’s forcefield didn’t unless she wanted it to, and Diz Aster’s forcefield didn’t ever, unless Toni did her mojo and did it for her. But I didn’t think most PK forcefields blocked light-based attacks unless they were already fairly opaque, like Pearlescent and Mirror’s fields. Hank’s forcefield had ‘learned’ the energy absorption and re-transmission trick, which would probably handle these little pains in the derriere.
But if I had to deal with webbing, I didn’t want to be heavy or normal. If I had to deal with possibly technomantic poisons and energy attacks, I didn’t want to be light or normal. So I was going to have to balance things out.
I went heavy and threw a tangleweb shot at the spiderbots. Then I leapt backward and went light, which rocketed me down the tunnel away from the threats.
The tangleweb shot exploded in a mess of sticky strands. Even though the spiderbots jumped away from the egg, the tangleweb ensnarled everything within six or eight feet. That got the poison spiderbot and the web spiderbot. The blaster-bot got far enough away that it only had two legs snagged by the webbing.
Okay, I could work with that. I stayed heavy and ran up the hallway, while the blaster-bot used its weaponry to cut the tangles off its legs. It scuttled away from the tangles before I got to it.
I went to a sprint and ran right at it. It leapt to the side and hit me with an energy beam, which felt like Billie whacked me with a mace. While it was on fire.
As I went past it, I threw both my ‘cannonballs’ at it. It dodged to the side. One cannonballs missed, denting the floor and rebounding off the wall. The other cannonball caught it on one side, breaking two legs and making it stagger.
It struggled to turn around to blast me again, and I gave it a fully-heavy throwing knife right in the thorax… which turned out to be the battery chamber. It shorted out fairly dramatically and collapsed. I still stomped on it, just to be sure.
Nuking it from orbit wasn’t an option. Don’t quote that at me. I get enough of that from Jade.
I recovered my throwing knife and my cannonballs on my way back to check on Jadis. She was starting to stir, so I made an effort to get the rest of the foam off her magical barrier.
She groaned and opened her eyes. The magical spell probably sensed that she could defend herself, and it dissipated. She sat up, looking at the solid foam around her and the cable still dangling from the ceiling. She groaned as she rubbed the back of her head, and then she reached to her chest to rub the sore spot there.
She felt the hole in her clothes. She looked down at the burned circle, and she spit out cursewords in French, German, and – unless I missed my guess – Arabic. Then she caught me staring at her lack of cleavage.
I pointed at my own chest and asked, “Wanna trade?”
She grimaced, “Not funny.”
I said, “Did I laugh? No. I’m not amused. You’re lucky your vajra or your protective spells kicked in, because Belph’s toys were more of a problem than usual.”
She brushed off her clothes as she stood up. “And he didn’t care that you showed up. But he massively over-reacted when he saw me.”
I concluded, “Because he went after a serum in Jobe’s lab. He probably figured it was for Jobe, not me.”
She said, “So he would be expecting Jobe or one of the other Bads might come after him, but he wasn’t expecting to have any problems from you. I think we need to determine what intel he was working from, and where he got it.”
I said, “First we have to crack his forcefield and yank him out of there.”
She rubbed her skin inside the burned circle and asked, “Can we yank him out by his toenails?”
I rubbed my upper arm where I had gotten the massive shock while I was doing my flicker maneuver. “I was thinking of a much smaller body part for which he only thinks he has a use.”
We walked over to the forcefield. I went fully heavy and punched it a couple times. It flexed, but it didn’t collapse.
Jadis smiled, “Got anything less Neanderthal in mind?”
I pulled out my maser and said, “Could be.”
She stared at it and said, “You know, carrying that around may make people think the Goodkinds didn’t really kick you out. That could have downsides in the long run.”
I pointed it at the center of the spheroid, where I thought the forcefield generation equipment would have to be. Then I fired off the entire charge. The forcefield looked like it was prepared to handle a visible-light laser, but the maser fired off an energy blast in the microwave range. It punched through the field without a lot of trouble.
The field wavered and fractured, with the elements of the spheroid de-rezzing audibly.
Jadis ‘went Beastly’. I didn’t comment on the fact that her black PK ‘skin’ had a lot more curves than she did. She pounded on an area that had de-rezzed and failed to reform properly. BAM! BAM! “Avon calling!”
As her PK skin ripped a fist-sized hole in the forcefield, I crushed a smoke egg and lobbed it in. Other than a thick trail of smoke over to the edge of the forcefield, the contents of the egg seemed to vanish. We stepped back, while the field kept the billowing smoke inside.
I asked rhetorically, “You think it’s gas-permeable?”
She dropped the ‘beast’ skin and smiled at me. “It’s often effective to have a field that’s impermeable to gases and liquids and colloidal suspensions. Enough devisers and PK bricks don’t that plenty of opponents will go with that as an attack.”
Belphegor burst out of the field, coughing and choking.
“However, there are clear downsides to that tactic,” she finished smugly.
The field failed, and the smoke triggered the fire control systems. While Belph lay on the floor like a beached whale, coughing wretchedly, his robot suitcase trundled over and stopped beside him. A ventilation system sucked up the smoke, and heat-seeking foam systems dropped down. Since none of us were warm enough to count as a fire, the systems didn’t do more than squirt a blast on the still-sparking third spiderbot.
Jadis said, “Let’s go before Security gets here and we have to explain why we want to drag Belphegor into Jobe’s evil laboratory lair.”
“Works for me.” I grabbed Bel-fatso by his collar, and followed Jadis to the elevator around the corner. The suitcase trundled along quickly enough that we didn’t lose it. We were gone before anyone showed up to investigate.
Belph spent the entire trip to Jobe’s lab coughing and wheezing and being as dramatic as possible about his dire respiratory problems. I didn’t believe him for a second, because he made sure to voice every complaint in the plummy tones that weren’t his natural accent.
Jadis made a couple quiet calls into her Doctor-Dad-phone, and when we got to Jobe’s hallway, the Whateley Security officer was nowhere to be seen. Jobe’s robot stepped aside without question.
Belph hummed ‘Mister Roboto’ as we walked past. Did everyone in the Workshop know that song? It was probably one of the lab memes, like that ‘going Westworld’ phrase.
I made a mental note to acquire a list of all the Workshop memes, past and present, so I would be able to chat more effectively with my inventors.
We walked, trundled, or – in one case – were dragged by the collar into Jobe’s lab. When Jobe stepped over and confronted Belphegor, we finally got to the whining and sniveling part of the process.
Bel-futzer whimpered, “You can’t do anything! You can’t prove I did anything!”
Jobe muttered, “Ah, the ever-popular cry of the guilty party.”
Jadis insisted, “And that would be why you attacked me as soon as you saw me.”
Jobe looked at the circle burned through her clothes and said, “It’s not as if you were in danger of revealing any cleavage, Jads.”
“Shut up, Jobe,” she snapped.
“Look Bel-fucker, we know it was you. You left traces!” I lied.
Jobe smirked evilly, “And you didn’t disable my own personal hidden security systems.”
I pressed, “And when everyone finds out that you targeted the kid who kicked your ass in Combat Finals, you’ll be utterly doomed!”
Belph blanched. Not particularly a good look on him. He was already pasty-faced and unattractive. He stared at me and choked, “B-b-but I didn’t do anything to you, I did it to Jobe!”
I avoided glancing over at Jadis, because this was precisely what we had speculated.
Jobe fumed, “You fat, incompetent…”
I grabbed a steel alloy ringstand from Jobe’s chem table, and I bent it into a rough pretzel, while I glared furiously at him. “The serum was for me!” Belph’s eyes bulged in terror.
Belph gulped and then frantically sprinted through his story, “Look Jobe, I heard some people talking in Workshop and they were saying you had a cure for your Drow problem and you were going to be back to normal, and I just had to stop that, so I put together something and snuck in here and injected it into your serum vials! How was I supposed to know it was for Phase? It’s not my fault!”
Jobe stared down at Belph and hissed, “It is your fault that you tried to attack me. That part is not acceptable.”
Belph’s eyes bulged, and his face went pale, and for a few moments I thought he might faint. Or wet himself. I doubted he was wearing deviser underwear that would compensate for that.
I growled, “You stupid blob of fuligo septica, you ruined my only real chance to get my life back on track! I doubt I can get you arrested on attempted murder charges, but I do know I can push for aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated mayhem, and half a dozen other felony charges. So, after the student body gives you the ‘Folder payback’…” He cringed miserably. “…Carson will expel you, and turn you over to the E.U. MCO. Which seems to prefer to operate under the Napoleonic Code.”
“NO! Not that!” he yelped. “Anything but that!”
I grinned maliciously, “Then here’s my alternative. If you don’t want that, you can give yourself an injection of the serum. You know it’s not going to kill you.”
“But… but…” He whimpered as he stared at my boobs.
“AND,” I emphasized, “We won’t rat you out to the people you stole that stuff from, if you cooperate. Fully.”
“Do I still have to give myself the shot?” he whined.
Jobe leered evilly, “Unless you want me to give you that shot in your behind…”
Belph cringed. I certainly would have.
Jobe put a needle into a vein on Belph’s wrist, and then hooked up the syringe and a flexible tube to that. He put the syringe in Belph’s other hand and said, “Push the plunger.”
We were still waiting after almost five minutes, and he still hadn’t managed to get up the nerve to push down on that syringe. Apparently, I had called it right on his basic craven nature.
Apparently, Jadis had him pegged as well. She pulled out her phone and pressed a speed dial button. “Hi Kate, I’m down in Jobe’s lab, and I have your favorite toy here. He’d love for you to come down and-”
“NO!” Belph screeched. “I’M PUSHING! I’M PUSHING!” He was practically in tears as he begged, “Please, no Nacht. Please, I’m begging you!”
Jadis paused, “Hang on a second Kate, we’re awaiting further developments…”
“Literally, in some cases,” I added.
Belph pushed the plunger all the way in, and whimpered miserably as he looked up at Jadis.
Jadis sighed and said, “Sorry Kate, it looks like you won’t get to toy with your best bud today.” She didn’t sound sorry at all, and Belph winced heavily.
Jobe said, “This should be most interesting. Without any sort of regeneration or reversion syndrome or BIT, he should transform significantly faster than I did, and stay that way.”
“I hate you,” Belph muttered under his breath. But it already sounded like his larynx was changing, because his voice sounded several notes higher. He heard the change as well, and he whimpered some more.
Belph shakily removed the needle from his vein and tossed the hypodermic into Jobe’s hazardous waste system. Then he sat down and mournfully asked, “I’m not going to be turned into a drow, right?”
Jobe looked horrified. “Would I ever have YOU befouling MY beautiful Drow? There is no way I would permit such a… a travesty!”
Jadis didn’t say anything about Jobe’s performance, but I was pretty sure she was thinking ‘drama queen’. Instead, Jadis said, “I have no interest in watching any of this.” She strode out, slamming the laboratory door behind her.
“Hmph, some people have no interest in fundamental scientific research,” Jobe complained.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure why I was sticking around. I had places to go and things to do. So, while Belphegor stood naked in Jobe’s scanner and whimpered miserably, I walked to the other side of the room and made a couple phone calls to the holographic sims guys. I knew there was no way on Earth I was ever going to fit into a sim suit made for a five-foot-nothing intersexed mostly-girl with A-cup boobs. However, there was a way around that.
Actually, there were three ways around it, but I was going with the most reasonable short-term option. That was why I called Larry first, and then Goldie.
By the time I was done with phone calls, I turned around and got a surprise. Belph was already changing. Since he had a lot of fat cells to start with, it looked like he was mainly moving it around, instead of growing new stuff. Jobe insisted on calling it ‘lipid migration’ and several other extra-nerdy names for putting fat where girls had it.
But Belph was growing boobs and a butt and hips, while his middle shrank in. It wasn’t like his middle shrank in to ‘swimsuit model’ shape. It was more like a girl who was packing twenty or thirty pounds too much weight and was going to look like a pear in a few years. Granted, Belph had a lot of fat all over, so it wasn’t like he was starting from a physique like Stormwolf’s.
As Belph stood in the scanner, a host of icky changes occurred. The more he changed, the worse I felt about pushing him into this. He was going to end up like me. Stuck in a horribly intersexed body with breasts and buns, when he wanted to be a guy. What was wrong with me for even thinking of doing this? Wasn’t I supposed to be one of the good guys?
I took Jobe aside and quietly tried to ask if the process could be reversed before it was too late, but all I got was a glare and a threat. Okay, the threat was just being asked to leave if I couldn’t be quiet.
I had made a deal with the devil, and now I was going to have to live with the consequences. Or rather, Belphegor was going to have to live with them. I could at least help him.
It wasn’t as if I could do much else. The process was nearly completed by then. Even his hair had grown out. In well under an hour, his hair had grown about a foot. It wasn’t a boy’s haircut anymore. It wasn’t anything close. At least his new hair was a nicer color of red. And his acne cleared up more than I would have expected.
Other than something at his crotch he could easily cover up with one hand, he looked female. He certainly wasn’t an Exemplar babe, but he was definitely more attractive as a ‘girl’… not that that was saying much considering what he looked like a few hours earlier. His face looked a lot like it had before, just with some reshaping due to that ‘lipid migration’. And he was definitely going to need a bra. With all the fat cells the process had to work with, he was now somewhere between Compiler and Attributes on the ‘massive boobs’ scale.
Jobe smirked ruthlessly, “Don’t worry about a thing, Bel-fatso. There are plenty of guys who’ll screw anything with tits, so you can finally get a date.”
Belph snarled, “Shut up, you swine! I don’t want blokes after me!”
Jobe casually tossed out, “Well then, think of it this way. The house parents will almost certainly give you a single.”
A look of real excitement flooded his face. “Bloody hell. A single? You really think so?”
Wow. Way to assess those priorities, Belph.
What was I going to do to help someone who thought that his physical changes were easily outweighed by the prospect of his own single dorm room in Melville? All right, perhaps if he had that sort of outlook, maybe he didn’t want any help. I was going to have to work this out and not push him into anything. At least, not push him into anything else.
Jobe relentlessly pressed, “Oh, and don’t forget all the advantages I’ve found since I became stuck in this annoying form.”
Belph stared past Jobe into the distance while his brain worked through all the gossip that probably rushed through Melville like the Johnstown Flood. His jaw dropped open, and he finally murmured, “Bloody hell.” And he grinned. It wasn’t a nice grin. It was a sneaky smirk.
What was I going to do with these jerks?
Jobe let Belph try to get dressed in his old clothes, which was an exercise in futility. Belph’s butt and hips and breasts were large enough that nothing Belphegor had been wearing would fit, except his socks and shoes.
Then Jobe walked Belph over to the clothing I had been forced to cope with before. The string bikinis and labcoats. Ugh.
But Belph didn ‘t seem to care. He had a gleam in his eye that suggested he had his mind on something other than getting dressed. So he just wanted to get something on so he could get back to Melville.
Needless to say, I ended up helping Jobe get Belph into a bikini. Ugh. Actually, the word ‘ugh’ does not begin to describe it. The phrase ‘projectile vomiting’ doesn’t really cover it.
Belph covered up the bikini with a labcoat. Given that he was wearing that and nothing but shoes and socks, the picture that that point was fairly grotesque, He looked like a ‘queen-sized girl’ who was about to run around flashing everyone.
He said in his usual upper-class accent – only in a feminine pitch – “See you later, I really must be going…” He yanked open the lab door while smirking back at Jobe.
And he ran face-first into two Whateley Security officers who were just about to knock on the door. Officer Metler said, “It looks like this is a good stopping spot, ladies. Because the headmistress wants to speak to all of you. Pronto.”
I glanced out of the corner of my eye at Jobe’s wall clock, and I groaned inwardly. There was now very little chance that I could get to the holographic simulation center in time to get on a new sim suit and make the three o’clock sim battle against the Grunts.
Officer Johnson said, “She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. So let’s move it.”
It only took a couple minutes to walk through the tunnels, because Belphegor was in more of a hurry than usual, and was actually willing to use his – or her – leg muscles. I wondered if the serum had any connection to that. But Officers Metler and Johnson played ‘responsible security man’ the entire way. Metler didn’t even give me more than one helpful glance. Johnson didn’t once indicate even by his posture that he was having a problem dealing with a pack of freaky mutants.
Okay, was that good thing, or a bad thing? I was actively encouraging a deep cover agent for H1 to keep spying on Whateley. But I knew about him. Carson knew. Delarose knew, unless I was sorely mistaken. Everheart knew. Trout and Buxton and most of Payola Platoon knew. Having him pretend to be an upstanding security officer was nearly as good as having him be an upstanding security officer. And we got to find out what H1 was learning – or in some cases, not learning – about Whateley. So I supposed I had to evaluate it as ‘mostly good’ with some downsides. Like convincing Ceecee not to stake Alex.
When we arrived at Admin, I was unsurprised to see that the place was mostly deserted. On the other hand, I was surprised to see Jadis sitting there waiting for us to arrive.
Great, I had gotten Jadis in trouble too. Nice work, Goodkind.
Headmistress Elizabeth Amelia Carson opened her office door and said, “Please come in.” She glanced at the security officers and said, “Thank you for your efforts, and you can go back to your standard patrol routes now.”
As the security officers walked out of Admin, I marched into Carson’s office and took my usual seat directly in front of her desk.
Jobe sat down next to me and growled, “What makes you think you should be sitting in the center seat?”
Jadis sat on my other side and leaned forward enough to say, “Jobe? Shut up.”
“Really! Some people!” Jobe fussed regally.
Belphegor took a seat behind us, as if any of us were large enough to screen him from Carson’s wrath. Then he hunched forward in a useless effort to make himself less noticeable.
Carson sat in her chair and glared at us over the tops of her glasses. I doubted that was working on anyone sitting in the front row. She said in her iciest tones, “Do you know why you are here in my office on a Sunday afternoon?”
I just looked back at her as calmly as I could. I suspected Jobe and Jadis were doing exactly the same thing.
Belph, of course, folded like a tent made out of kleenex. “I didn’t know the serum was for Phase! It’s not my fault! There were workshoppers talking about Jobe fixing himself with his latest serum, and I couldn’t let that happen! I confess! I broke into three private labs and the chem common lab, and then I used Triaxial’s lab as a workroom to devise my serum, and then I trank-darted a security officer and broke into Jobe’s lab, and I thought it was Jobe’s serum I replaced! I didn’t know it was for Phase! Please don’t give me the Folder treatment!”
While he sat there sobbing miserably, Jadis said, “According to Mal, there hasn’t been any talk about Jobe having successes in his efforts to switch from Princess Jobe back to Prince Jobe.”
Jobe scowled at her, “You’re probably the one who gave Freight Train the idea!” Jadis gave Jobe a ‘I have no idea what you mean’ face. Jobe went on, “It is certainly not a secret that I was working on a project for Phase. Not after Phase insisted on a five-person negotiation team for the contract.”
Jadis frowned, “And don’t ever ask me to do that again. What a nightmare!”
I said, “I heard that Belphegor was being attacked regularly by devises and gadgets when he went to use the main Workshop room.”
Belph moaned, “The bees were the worst. My God! BEES! I ran and ran and ran, and they wouldn’t stop chasing me, and they all wanted to sting me on the butt; there must have been some sort of chemical antagonist someone sprayed on my pants. I could hardly sit down for three days!”
I clenched my jaws, because I knew a bit too much about those ‘bees’, which were really plastic hornets.
He went on, “And the paintballs! And the tar and feathers devise! And the-”
Carson cut him off. “Yes, Security has filled me in on all of those, since you made sure to report every one of them.”
“-thing that skittered across the floor and the walls like one of those facehuggers from ‘Alien’! I nearly soiled myself!”
Okay, I hadn’t heard about that one. Or the devise that did tarring and feathering. I had a feeling that someone in Workshop had probably been watching too many Loony Toons.
I asked, “So how were you checking before you went near the Workshop room?”
Belph muttered, “I built a drone into my new robot, and a parabolic mike, and a broadband radio scanner, and several other security systems, all of which are purely defensive, mind you.”
I asked, “And how many Workshoppers know about your surveillance systems.”
“No one!” Belphegor announced triumphantly.
At the same time, Jobe drawled, “Everyone.”
And Jadis said, “Most of them.”
“What?” Belph sounded really surprised at that.
I said, “So you weren’t even near the doorway yet. And anyone could have hijacked your surveillance gear and fed you what they wanted you to hear.”
Jobe snickered, “The Mighty Belphegor. A mere pawn in someone’s ongoing battles against me.”
Jadis said, “Against Phase, more likely.”
I added, “Or possibly, both of us. It’s not as if we’re the best liked people on campus.”
Jobe asked, “And why would we want to be?” She really seemed to have no clue at all why anyone would want to be popular.
Carson glared at Belph, “So you committed a series of crimes in order to poison a classmate. And that led to your attacking Miss Goodkind and Miss Diabolik precisely… how?”
Belph whimpered, “I knew Jobe might try to destroy everyone clever enough to get into her lab. And I knew she might ask the other Bad Seeds to help. I just didn’t think She-Beast would enlist Phase in her attempt to destroy The Great Belphegor.”
I said, “She didn’t.” I looked at Carson and said, “Belphegor had no idea he had contaminated my serum. He thought my appearance meant that I was there to verbally abuse him over his losing his anti-gravity chair. However, the second he saw She-Beast coming up behind him, he panicked and over-reacted.”
Jadis complained, “That diphased energy beam he hit me with burned a five-inch hole right through my clothes. If I hadn’t been wearing an amulet on a pendant, I could have been seriously injured. And while I was unconscious, I was buried in a rigid foam. If I hadn’t had a protective spell in place, I could have suffocated before Phase rescued me.”
Carson looked at me and asked, “And so the damage in the hallway was your doing?”
“On the contrary,” I insisted. “I contributed one smoke egg, which the fire control systems suppressed, and one tangleweb shot. Everything else was Belphegor attacking us.”
She glared at me, “And yet somehow Mister – or perhaps Miss – Blackadar ends up your prisoner, and presumably Miss Wilkins’ victim, since I doubt this transformation was self-inflicted.”
I told her the complete truth, right down to my threat that led to Belph choosing to inject himself rather than the punishments that would be doled out if the school heard that he had attacked the person who beat him in the Combat Finals.
Carson glared at me, “You do not have the right to choose punishments for the other students at this school! You may be a Goodkind, but that doesn’t mean you run Whateley Academy.”
I said, “I agree. And I did not choose the punishment for Belphegor. I gave him options, and said that I would decline to press any charges or tell on him to the assorted theft victims or any of those consequences. And I intend to adhere to my side of that bargain.”
But that wasn’t enough. She proceeded to chew me out for taking incredibly stupid risks, like letting the Queen of Bio-deviser Disasters inject me with untested liquids. She pointed out that Counterpoint was still in the hospital, and might not be out of a hospital bed for another two months, since his innate regeneration was apparently gone, and he was no longer able to mimic the regeneration power set from anyone. She pointed out several more Jobe Wilkins fiascos, one of which I hadn’t even heard was Jobe.
Seriously, who knew that Jobe was also responsible for the Belize Breakout? I had thought that it had been attributed to Influenza. On the other hand, a low-fatality strike wasn’t really Influenza’s style. The more I thought about it, the more a disease that hit several thousand supposedly-attractive spring break vacationers and gave them all head-to-toe pustules for several weeks did sound like something Jobe would do.
I calmly insisted, “Jobe is already ranked as one of the top ten ten bio-devisers on the planet-”
“Top three,” Jobe insisted smugly.
“-and I still believe that his serum had a significant probability of working correctly if it hadn’t been sabotaged. It was still a risk, but at this point I am ready to risk a lot more to go back to being male.”
Carson frowned at my answer, and then began chewing out Jobe. “Miss Wilkins, we had an agreement about your experimenting on students.”
Jobe royally insisted, “We had an agreement that I would not undertake any new experimentation. I already had a contract in place with Phase, so that should not fall under ‘new’ experiments.”
“And are there other such contracts or plans that you intend to use as blatant loopholes in our agreement? Because I have had another little ‘chat’ with you father, and it doesn’t sound like he is all that interested in providing protection for you if I press the issue.”
Jobe merely said, “Is there anyone else at Whateley who would even consider a contract like this with me?”
Carson pursed her lips and said, “That is, unfortunately, a quite valid argument.”
I offered, “I would be willing to accept any punishments for all three of us, if you would let Jobe and Jadis off the hook. Jobe was only doing what I had contracted with her to do, and Jadis was trying to discourage both of us every step of the way.”
Carson looked at my chest and said, “You will not make any other attempts to ‘cure’ yourself as long as you are at Whateley, without conferring with me first. Understood?” I nodded. “I believe you have already received all the punishment that needs to be administered.”
Jobe glanced at me and said, “Well played. I assume you said that so that I would be willing to work on your little problem at some future date.”
I ignored him. But he was correct. I was deliberately making an effort to provide him with a little protection, primarily for some possible long-term gains.
Jobe pulled out a computer tablet and pulled up several graphs and images. Then she handed the tablet to Carson. “I think it’s clear from these scans what has really happened. They indicate that the contaminated serum plus the antidote moved Phase to about seventeen and a half, so her height and her… curves may have been unavoidable.”
She stood up and leaned forward, pointing at two particular images on the tablet’s screen. “Just look at these scans of the long bones in Phase’s body. Notice the changes in the epiphyseal plates? A clear sign of aging, not just growth.”
Great. So this was what I had been growing into? SHIT! If this was my body at seventeen or so, then I was stuck looking like this for a couple years, after which I might grow to look even more feminine. Stupid BIT.
Carson shook her head sadly and said, “Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on, le malheur est qu'il tue ses élèves.”
I translated, “Time is a great teacher, we say; the tragedy is that it kills all its students.”
Jadis contributed, “Louis-Hector Berlioz.”
Jobe sneered, “French. Yet another language in its death throes. The mere fact that they exert so much effort trying to keep the language from evolving into an English dialect proves it.”
I stopped before I automatically criticized him. That might actually be a valid point. I really needed to go talk to some evolutionary linguists and see if they thought Jobe was right or not.
Carson took a deep breath. “And now, Mister – or perhaps Miss – Blackadar. The list of crimes you have committed in the past several days is going to take Security a week to fully investigate. The Workshop students you have stolen from will create even more problems for you in your chosen field of study, as well as in your day-to-day life. You were already under detention and a variety of punishments. I would consider expelling you for what you have done, except that Phase has made it clear she is not going to press charges against you. That, and you have managed to inflict a punishment upon yourself. I doubt that you have fully considered the consequences of this choice, which sounds utterly typical for you.”
Then she completely reamed him a new one. I mean, I was considering taking notes on some of her phraseology. She finally wrapped up, “So I will give you additional detentions that will keep you out of the Workshop labs for the rest of the school year, except for monitored times in which you will only do schoolwork. Your detentions will be as a cafeteria worker.”
Jobe inserted, “Ahh, something nice and public and humiliating.”
Jadis smirked, “I’ll find you something pretty and flirty to wear, so more guys will hit on you while you serve up their chow.”
Carson cleared her throat menacingly, but neither Jobe nor Jadis was dissuaded.
On the other hand, as soon as Belph rushed off, Jobe stepped over and closed the office door. She stepped back to where she had been sitting and smirked, “The serum is not the one I gave Phase, and it’s not the one I gave myself. In fact…” She checked the clock on her computer tablet. “… this particular serum should only last another thirteen to fifteen minutes, after which there should be a full reversion, not including any lost fat due to the chemical energy expenditures involved in the process.”
Carson gave him a raised eyebrow and asked, “So I won’t need to instruct the house parents to deal with his room situation?”
Jobe smirked, “No, but you may need to deal with a different situation.”
I groaned as I realized what Jobe most likely meant.
Jadis smiled maliciously. “Jobe, we’ve known each other most of our lives, and yet – once in a long while – you actually surprise me.”
Carson frowned, “And might this involve the women’s bathrooms? If so, I want to make a call immediately.”
I muttered, “That would be my guess, given the person involved.”
Carson sighed and slowly shook her head. She pointed at Jadis and said, “Miss Diabolik, put your phone away. I do not want you to make any phone calls or send any text messages or create any transmissions whatsoever for the next fifteen minutes.”
I casually crossed my arms. <(Phase) Fey? Are you on?>
<(Fey) What are you up to now?>
<(Phase) Can you get a message to Poise and get her down to the freshman girls’ showers with a videocamera in the next few minutes?>
* * * * *
Pip rushed back to his room, cursing under his breath at the way his new gazongas were bouncing around. He was going to have to talk to one of the house mothers about a sports bra or something.
He was definitely going to have to be more considerate when someone like Attributes or Mindbird was hurrying across campus. These things were massive, and needed some extensive cantilevering to control the three-dimensional motion, which really didn’t match up with the booby-bouncing in those animes.
He ignored the wolf whistles from across the Quad, and hurried as much as he could without running out of breath. Maybe the headmistress was right, and he did need to get in better shape.
But this wouldn’t wait! That little fiend Jobe had given him an idea – several ideas, in fact – which he simply couldn’t wait to put into place.
He ducked into his room and made sure his roommate wasn’t around. Then he hastily stripped naked. Whose idea was a string bikini, anyway? They were far more uncomfortable than they looked, and the way Jobe had tied his had caused it to bite into the back of his neck, and dig into the sides of his hips, and do uncomfortable things in the crack of his arse.
Never mind. On to the important things in life! He hastily grabbed his largest towel. He made sure to wrap it about himself like a girl did, and to make sure he was showing plenty of cleavage so the girls wouldn’t think twice about him walking through their shower area. It was a tad trickier than he had expected to tuck the end of the towel around his new boobs to make the towel stay in place. Then he scampered down the hall to the girls’ showers.
His timing was excellent for a Sunday afternoon. He managed to catch a girl in the showers, although he couldn’t see her yet while she was behind the shower curtain. But there was one not-so-dreadful freshman girl drying off. Excellent! When he did this in the morning, he was going to have to time it so he could ogle the Exemplar girls as they stepped in and out of the showers.
“And what the hell do you think you’re looking at?”
He whirled around and found Poise and two of her Beauty Nazi friends standing there. Fully dressed, unfortunately. What were they doing down among the lowly froshes? Were they looking for a hot Exemplar, like maybe the girl still in the shower? Ooh, that would be excellent!
He batted his eyelashes and cooed, “Why, I’m just one more girl, just like y-”
His voice abruptly dropped about an octave. “-ou are.” he gulped, “Uh-oh.”
And his body began changing underneath his towel. His jutting boobs started shriveling, which caused his towel to fall. He grabbed at it and missed. It dropped to the floor.
He made a grab for the towel. The fat cells in his hips and butt were already streaming back to his waist, and he had a sudden moment of over-balancing as he bent forward. He fell forward, and had to put out his hands to catch himself before he crashed into the tile floor.
His boobs were shriveling so fast that he could see the changes. Everyone else could see the changes.
“Oof.” He felt his balls drop. That wasn’t comfortable.
Uh-oh, they were not just uncomfortable, they were visible to the girls staring at him, along with Little Pip. This wasn’t good. There were five girls now staring angrily at him, and only one of them was showing a decent amount of skin.
He tried giving them a grin. “There seems to have been a small error here, and… umm… perhaps we should all go back to our rooms and… think things through… yes, think things through… before we have any unfortunate… umm… consequences…”
The girls stepped forward as one.
“No! Wait! It’s a simple mistake! I… Not in the face! OW! OOCH! Whoa, not the soap! AAGGH!”
* * * * *
Carson finally finished haranguing the three of us. As soon as we stepped out of her office, I checked a clock.
Crap. It was three minutes to three. And I still didn’t have a sim suit to participate in the rematch with the Grunts.
to be continued