Chapter 48 - Apoc's Secrets
I was honestly a little frightened, I wondered what secrets of Apoc’s body had been laid bare. Was he like me only just further evolved? I wondered how much testing Shen had done to him. How many years had he been tortured by that madman before I distracted him? He had yet to try to communicate when given the chance to... if he knew English or any written language he didn’t reveal it, and his body seemed every part wolf as far as I was able to tell. Maybe he had given up on the humans? Or maybe he was just too changed to even consider himself human any more.
Which raised the question for me, was I really human anymore? Could I be? Was I just clinging to an old idea? Did I even want to be anymore? Would I be willing to go back under the knife again and again as I had for the past months, with the possibility of returning to my human form? Would I endure the genetic therapy to reverse my new body? Was it worth the pain to have my face and body back? I wasn’t even sure that was even possible anymore. Who could possibly be doing research like Shen? His empty little face and obsidian eyes delighting with every distortion and mutilation of my body, I knew he would never willingly return me to my previous form. And my being radiated a fear that I couldn’t name, at the thought of trying to undo what he’d done. Every cell in my body practically screamed at me the truth that I could never return to what I had been. The old me that I remembered, was gone.
I wasn’t dead. I know I don’t want to be dead. I’m going to live this life, such as it is... but still I wondered. What is this life? I asked myself out loud in my mind, is this really living? I know I can’t go home. That girl that I once was is gone now. She died at the hands of a crazy zealous priest, sacrificed to the gods of technological advancement on the altar of science. And now there was something new here, somehow shaped by a madman, but I still felt like my choices were my own. I would continue to choose how my life was lived for as long as I could. That was my power that Shen couldn’t rip from me, the power to choose what I would do next.
We rounded the corner and popped back into the lab where Apoc had been treated. A slender no-nonsense woman with a shock of white straight hair stood holding up X-Rays to the light and making notes on a tablet. Alan parked my cage close enough. I could see Apoc was laying on his side and was still hooked up to IV’s, I hoped that was a good sign. I couldn’t see very well through the holes in the cage. And nobody made a move to let me out either. Which was kinda pissing me off.
Stella narrowed her eyes at Professor Tryon and her glance took in Alan and the cage I was in. “What’s going on Ricky?”
“Whatever do you mean Stella?”
“I mean where the hell did you get this animal? And what the hell kind of program are you running around here?” Stella jabbed her finger accusingly.
“What did you find?” Professor Tryon’s curiosity could not be denied.
“Well to start with your... subject has had multiple surgeries, far beyond ‘medical testing’, like on the scale of extreme animal cruelty. I patched him up, he’s been in some sort of accident and was bleeding internally. He’s still in a coma, and I think you should seriously consider euthanasia and put him out of his misery. Or perhaps I should call somebody and get you arrested for torturing your test animals?”
I whined in fear and circled nervously in the cage.
Alan was standing next to my cage, “Don’t worry girl. I won’t let either one of them do that.”
Stella didn’t miss a beat. She eyed Alan and my cage again thoughtfully. “I am going to tell you my findings and you Professor are going to tell me exactly what is going on.”
“Fine, fine. What did you find?”
“He looks like a Canis Lupis, regular Timber Wolf to the naked eye. But inside his blood is teaming with blood that shouldn’t be in a wolf. And I’m not even sure what the hell it should be in, so don’t ask. The DNA has been modified in very significant ways. I did a cursory exam of his blood sample and it doesn’t look right for wolf DNA. I know a few things and one of them is that is no ordinary wolf. You should also be glad you don’t have an MRI, because you would have killed him. Surgically implanted into his skull are a number of what appear to be nano-tech hardware devices that must be powered through his nervous system somehow. There are all sorts of cross over materials that I’ve never seen before, and there is wire, literal metal, woven through out his skeletal structure. I don’t even have an idea of how you would create something like that, let alone knit it along bones underneath the muscles. I don’t know how that electric system is connected and interfacing with his organic nervous system, but it is and it’s links run all throughout his brain. They are attached all over his brain to areas that control memory, sight, cognitive processing, and endocrine systems. He has a larger frontal lobe than I’ve ever seen on a wolf. And I’ll admit all of the wolves I have examined have been postmortem. But something about this feels very wrong. Like Frankenstein or the Island of Dr. Moreau type of wrong - like unsanctioned experiments without any oversight. The kind of thing that will make you lose your tenure as a professor and probably face ethics charges.”
“Just fascinating,” the professor was only half paying attention as he looked at the spidery metal tracers on the X-Rays.
“What? I was listening.”
“Well it’s not really my story to tell. Alan? Alan’s a past student that is now a forest ranger, and he found the uh... wolf in the woods up by his station.”
“And the other cage?”