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Industrial Espionage I by Mertail Industrial Espionage I by Mertail
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Woman: Sitara Leota
Snake: Malleni Stock

"Sandra," Jerry Halidan began. "We've a problem."
"The meeting this morning?" replied Sandra with a puzzled look.
"Yes. Big boss is worried. We've lost half our market share to that new upstart."
"R and D have anything?"
"Lots of stuff that will take months to develop. Nothing that will be ready now when we need it."
"Why the sudden drop in share?"
"Calanden Biogenics new line of antivenin is clobbering us. Almost no side-effects, little or no chance of allergy induced problems. And they're cheaper than our product, too. Only our most loyal customers are still with us."
"Sounds like they've got some kind of major breakthrough then."
"No one knows really. Just that their product is the best and we're suffering because of it."
"Has anyone tried to crack their data security."
"Bloody two level ellipsoidal. If someone has, they're not talking about it."
"Well surely one of the industrial espionage agencies has managed to at least break in."
"Again, if they have they're not talking about it."
"That's strange. Surely there's employees that can be turned for cash."
"Odd thing that. Calanden is fully automated in the production facilities. Only employees are accountants and office managers. They know nothing about the process or production facilities. We've had bribed just about everyone on the payroll and that's all we've managed according to the Big Boss."
"Hmm. I can see why you're so worried."

The more Sandra thought about it, the more she became concerned. Now Sandra was no cat burglar (she was an accountant by training), but she decided there had to be some way to get into Caladen's main production plant. Just because others had failed, didn't mean she would. Besides, what was the worst that could happen? A first time offence would likely result in practically no sentence at all unless she actually took something. Likely, she rationalized, the guards would catch her so quickly that she'd just be tossed out the gate, told never to come back and left there.

It took nearly two weeks to plan her attack and get the resources and conditions she needed. She'd heard moonless nights were best (some Hollywood movie used the tactic) so she waited until the conditions were exactly right for the moon. She wore a flat black, tightly fitting catsuit she'd made for a ninja costume years before. She hiked from her car which had been prudently parked on the other side of a small forest that bordered the Calanden property. Making her way through the forest, she stumbled several times over logs and stones. The dark, instead of being her ally was proving more trouble than it was worth. Those actors must have the eyes of a cat to keep from getting killed in a forest. She finally made her way through the forest though and ended up against the triple barbed wire fence. She could see the cameras scanning the interior but thought she could detect a pattern to their scanning. There was a few minutes every 15 or so minutes that there was a place she could get through to the main building. Assuming she could get through the fences...

The fences proved easier than she thought. Someone or something had already dug their way in (or maybe out) of the compound. She waited in the channel until the cameras all scanned away from the building and took off running. She made it up against the fence just as the cameras panned back around. Now all she had to do was hug the walls until she found a window or something. She soon found out, though, that the production facility had no windows, just a door guarded by a large dog and a human one, too. It was clear that this wasn't going to as easy as Hollywood made it out. Fortunately, she had a chunk of meat for the dog and lured the beast away from its rounds. It was soon snoring from the drugs in the hamburger. If only the human guard would be as easy.

She waited three hours before the guard got a call and abandoned the post for a few minutes. She made her way to the door which strangely was unlit. She was no expert and figured that even the practice she did with the burglar tools wouldn't be enough but the door was open. Where was the super security that this place was supposed to have? Regardless, everyone and every company has off days. She pushed open the door and slunk along the wall. The last thing she remembered was the slamming of the door behind her and the lights coming on in the narrow corridor.

She awoke some time later on her back. Her arms and legs were bound and she could hardly move. She turned her head and caught sight of several pieces of odd electronic equipment on one side. The other side held various chemical or maybe biological apparatus. Sandra had no way of knowing what any of it was for.

"Ah," a raspy voice hissed. "Finally awake."
"Uh," was all Sandra managed through her gag.
"So you thought to get in and find out how I am making a product that is stealing your company's market from you?"
"Uh huh," she tried again.
"You don't seem much of a professional to me," he mused as he removed the gag.
"I'm not," Sandra admitted. "Just worried for my job."
"Ah. So you thought to break in here to steal that which four professional teams have failed to steal?"
"I guess I didn't think too closely on it."
"Indeed. Well, you won't be leaving any time soon."
Sandra heard a hiss on the floor.
"What's that?" she demanded afraid.
"Just my little pet," the man announced bending down to the creature on the floor.
When he straightened a huge snake had coiled itself around his arm.
"Eeww!!" Sandra wondered how he could stand the slimy thing.
"I see you have the same stupid preconceptions as most. Tallah, here, is quite dry and warm. She prefers it that way."
Sandra turned her head to see the man stroking the snake's body.
"She's quite sensual, you know. I prefer her touch to most women I've met. Far nicer creature."

Sandra looked at the man. There was something decidedly strange about him. His eyes were oddly shaped and he hissed slightly as he breathed. She could almost believe the man was half reptile himself but that was clearly impossible.

"Fortunately for me, you chose my facility to invade. The others are fully staffed now and I am one or two short."
"What do you mean by that?" Sandra was taken aback by the odd comment.
"You shall find out. Indeed you shall."

He walked over to a cabinet on the biology side of the room and withdrew an IV bag full of some oddly bluish fluid. Sandra heard him setting up some kind of metal equipment near her legs before he returned pulling an IV pole with the bag now on a hook at the start. He expertly inserted the needle and set the drip rate. Clearly he'd done this kind of thing in the past many times.

"What is that stuff?" demanded Sandra.
"That you will find out very soon."
"Poison?"
"Oh hardly. You are more useful to me alive."

He walked over to the other half of the room and flipped a few switches. A humming with a regular beep began.

"You will be so beautiful," he began stroking her side.
"Don't touch me!" Sandra protested.

Sandra began to feel a pulling in her insides. It felt, somehow, as if she were being stretched. Sandra tried to twist out of her bonds but they were expertly tied and she had no luck whatever. A regular pain began in her back. It soon synchronized with the beeping coming from the electronics.

"You begin to feel the change already," the man gloated as he continued to stroke her side. "I see the beginnings already."

Sandra twisted her head to see what he meant. She looked thinner and longer than she remembered.

"You stopf," she protested as one of her front teeth came loose and flew from her mouth. She touched the space where the tooth had been and discovered there was a sharp point growing from the gum line. "Whath are you doing?"
"You will soon be part of the production facility here," he smiled at her.

Sandra let her head drop back onto the hard pillow. Once again he stroked her side, clearly enjoying what was happening to her.

"Your arms and legs are starting to be adsorbed," he announced.

Sandra noticed a loosening of the tight bonds but thought it was her struggles that had done it. She twisted herself even more strenuously but with little effect. All she managed to do was twist herself partially off the table. She tried again to free an arm to help pull herself back onto the table for it was painful to be partially off the table. But she realized that even with her arms or legs free, her body was still tightly bound to the table. She finally managed to get an arm free and started to raise it to the clasp at her chest. The arm felt as if it weighed a tonne. When it came into view, she discovered why. The muscles were nearly gone and it was far shorter than it had been that morning.

"Shtopf," she protested as she felt more of her teeth loosen. "Pfeash?" she pleaded.
"Oh no," he beamed. "You are becoming ever so beautiful."

He walked down to the foot of the table she was bound to. He wheeled a second table to the table's end and latched the wheels. Sandra felt him lift her by the waist onto this new table. Her waist? How could he be touching her waist down there?

"Beautiful," he breathed.

Sandra dropped her head onto the pillow again. What was he doing to her? She looked up at the ceiling and discovered that it was a mirror. Looking at herself in the mirror she realized why her waist was on the second table. She no longer had a waist, hips or legs and was now easily 4 meters long. Her arms, though still present, were tiny, little more than they'd been when she was a girl. The rest of her looked like a long naked worm.

"Soon," he stroked her side again. "Very soon."

Sandra watched as the changes began again. Soon her arms and chest had been stretched out until she was but a woman's head on a long worm-like body. She opened her mouth and discovered she was entirely toothless. She began to cry. She'd spent so much time and agony getting her teeth straightened and now they were gone.

"Not to cry, my dear. You will soon be even more beautiful than before." He moved back to her head. "The final stage begins. You must watch as you become the most beautiful woman ever."

Sandra watched in the mirror. At first, she couldn't see anything happening, then she noticed tiny bumps appearing the length of her body with the exception of a strip in the middle. These expanded and hardened and meshed and took on a variety of colors. She was becoming scaled! Like a snake. A rattlesnake. Her agitation called forth a loud buzzing from the second table.

"Your rattle, my dear," he announced with pleasure.

Sandra shrieked in her mind. All that came from her mouth was a loud hiss and a long forked tongue. She twisted herself loose and fell from the table. She ended up in a loose collection of coils. She caught sight of her face in the shiny metal base of the table. Her pupils were long slits and her eyes yellow. Instead of teeth she had but two huge fangs. Her transformation now complete, she had belly scutes the length of her body.

"Ah my beauty," he smiled. "You must wait a bit more lest you hurt yourself."

Sandra responded by trying to raise her new body and strike at him. If she was to be a rattlesnake, she'd get him. She had no strength. The transformation had left her a limp noodle. He brought up a large wheeled carrier. Expertly, he lifted her body, coil by coil, into the carrier. He lifted her head last and laid it on the rest of her body.

"Beautiful. You are every so beautiful," he was clearly enraptured as he stroked her hair and body. "You will soon make wonderful venom that I shall turn into the product that brought you to me. Now let us get you to your new home. It has everything a snake could desire. A heat lamp, food and water. I've arranged a few surprises. Rattlesnakes are desert creatures and you will find your habitat ever so wonderful."

Industrial Espionage II (A Better Offer)
Industrial Espionage III (The Power of the Press)
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