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Becoming Too Involved by Mertail Becoming Too Involved by Mertail
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Woman: Skydancer</span>
Cougar: Hot N Stock

Change of Life Virus
Becoming Too Involved

Rene paused and sat back on her haunches and yawned. Tommy, for the first time, got a really close look at her. Her fur was short and spotted and she definitely had the pointed ears of a cat. But it was the sharp, pointed teeth and fangs that got to Tommy. Ever since her own transformation, instincts she'd not had before caused unwanted thoughts to surface.  Something deep within her said "Predator! Danger!" It was enough to get her heart racing and her breath quickening. She fought the urge to run though. Rene couldn't be dangerous. After everything they'd gone through, Tommy was sure she was a friend.

"So the virus got you too in the end?"
"In any class four site like this one, seals eventually break. Usually we get some indication and our repair robots are directed in and the seal replaced before there's any problem. We're short handed now with the virus. Half our staff were women."
"You were the last one then?"
"Oh yes. I was researching cancer cures using virtually the same virus. So when the change hit, it was an easy switch for me. I was the one who determined the virus to be artificial. Fat lot of good it did me. The fool who built it was no good at sequence stabilization. Damn virus is very nearly open-ended. It infects animals and humans alike. It just works differently in people than in animals. The genetic load that the bastard who built it originally intended was pretty specific. Mostly Arabs, Jews, and a few of the neighbouring people. But his damned target was on the X chromosome. In an unstable virus, it's all too easy to lose the tiny marker and end up with a less specific target. In our case, it's the X chromosome."
"But don't men have them, too?"
"Sure but there's enough differences that the virus can't properly infect a male," Rene paused. "Yet, anyway."
"What do you mean 'Yet'?"
"It's only a matter of time. That's what was driving the guys nuts. They know they've all been exposed. But, so far, they're safe. But it's scary to have colleagues end up as subjects over the space of a few months. Especially when you realize that the virus is continually changing. Crossover could happen any time. For all we know, it may already have happened."
"So they'll all end up changing?"
"I suspect so. Probably within a year or so, a second plague will hit the males. The virus will end up pandemic unless the new bodies it forces the person into are too different from the original to be infected a second time."

Tommy could think of nothing to say. A second plague would totally destroy everything unless people who still had hands could keep things going somehow. She decided to change the subject as the thought was just too frightening.

"So you caught the virus from a seal break?"
"Stupid thing that. The seal had just been replaced. Not by the regular tech, of course. She'd become a snake woman months before. She's somewhere out in all this prairie right now. I guess it was loose or something. I was checking the transmission to some of our rarer species. Trying to find out just how far the virus could spread. When the seal went, the doors closed behind me, of course. As head of the facility, I had the override codes, of course. I told the team that it was a false positive and they believed me. That's when I opened your door and the doors of the other three volunteers."
"The men were getting more and more desperate. I knew they were starting to think of you and the others more as lab animals than people. Without me as a clean model for comparison, there was nothing that would prevent them from more invasive experiments."
"At the very least. Then I arranged my own escape and issued a lab-wide lock down. I knew that, by the time they get the lock down lifted by the Research Council, I would be long gone. I'd always been a bit of a live-off-the-land camping buff. I grabbed my gear from home and fled into the forests about 40 kilometres from here."
"And they didn't follow you?"
"Not that I know of."
"I wonder why?"
"I suspect that, without a clean model as a baseline, they were closed down. Many have medical training in addition to being researchers. I doubt that there's enough doctors anywhere."
"They've likely been recruited to the front lines"
"I knew I was infected. Even did the blood test to make sure before I left. Then I ran for the hills. It wasn't an easy life, particularly as the changes started. Within three weeks, I discarded my clothing. I had this beautiful spotted pelt over my whole body. Even a short tail."
"It really is beautiful," Tommy offered.
"Beautiful and warm. I was soon as warm without all my gear as with it. Initially that made it easier. After all, I wasn't carting around as much so bow hunting was that much easier. I must have looked like some kind of comic book creature. You know, a cheetah woman hunting the forests with her bow. Of course the fur wasn't the only change. Soon my hands and feet began to change. My nails thickened and became claws. It became harder and harder to hold the bow. Before things got too difficult, I made literally hundreds of snares. Although they kept me fed, they were difficult to set. Paws and claws just haven't the dexterity of hands. But starvation gives some things a kind of urgency."
"I can well imagine. It took me a while, too, to figure out what to eat. There's plants out there that give even a gazelle a massive stomachache."
"But you figured it out and survived. I doubt most people would be able to. Anyway, one morning, I woke up with something hard in my mouth. When I spat it out, I discovered one of my teeth! Over the next two days, I lost more and more teeth. Soon I'd lost nearly all of them. Gumming one's meat is really a pain but my new teeth grew in far faster than I expected. Within ten days, I had a new set of cat teeth."
"I noticed them. They work?" Once again a wave of fear raced up Tommy's spine. "They kinda give me the creeps, you know?"
"I imagine. Virus carries the animal's instincts in some cases. I'll bet you're having to fight the urge to run from the predator."
"Uh, yeah. That's true enough."
"I won't hunt you, believe me."
"I trust you."
"Good. Anyway, my hips slowly began to change. As my tail became longer, the hips began to rotate until I found standing nearly impossible. There were a few days when it was as hard to walk on all fours as it was on twos. That soon settled down and I had to learn to move all over again. Cats don't run they bound. After a while though, I discovered that I no longer needed the snares. Rabbits and other small game are fairly easy to catch."
"So you don't eat...?"
"Larger things like you? No. Rabbits and such are all I want. That and critters from some of the abandoned farms around here. It was hard at first getting used to eating things raw. I tried to set a fire with my paws and ended up singed.
"So what are you going to do now?"
"Not much I can do. You and I both are in survival mode. We'll do what we have to. You'll live as you have just as I will. Eventually, the virus will cross over and we'll end up with mates. Then life will start up again. But it will be a totally different life than anything that came before."
"No doubts about that."
jkool4ever Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2017
Very cool story!
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