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A scientist makes a fatal mistake and grows as she becomes enraged.
Dr. Elizabeth Russell’s lab coat weighed heavily on her shoulders but not nearly as heavily as the foreboding silence within the chamber.
When she showed new interns around the part of the lab she was in now, they always, without fail, asked if the lab used to be a bank. The chamber was sealed with what looked like a vault door but she assured them that it had never been a bank. No, it was custom created and far beyond a financial institution’s specifications.
She stood in dim lighting in the inner ring, facing the chamber at the center of the lab. Two large mechanical arms hung from the ceiling over a small metal ring in the middle of the open room. Bulky black boxes, each one a high powered laser, surrounded the metal ring. Cameras lined the ceiling of the room. All were focused at the center.
A wide table lay before her, just inside the chamber. A light brown cylinder sat on the table and she watched it warily. She’d helped develop the material the cylinder was made out of as well as the lone crystal contained inside. The cylinder took two weeks to develop and the company was already shopping it around to the government. Mostly the military but she didn’t care about that.
The crystal was the important piece. It took twenty years, two months and 13 days to make. Over eighteen of those years were on the theoretical side, sixteen of them before she joined. She’d taken the existing research, spent two months on it and saw what they’d done wrong. The time and resources needed to actually create the crystal almost bankrupted the company but, if all the calculations were correct, they’d make it all back and so much more.
Her company had funded the Artemis-P13 spacecraft after finding a unique energy signal from an asteroid while sifting through petabytes of public data. They’d almost lost the spacecraft twice – once on landing and once during recovery and the CEO had had his first major heart attack during the mission. But it was worth it. Would be worth it.
She slid her arms into the control sleeves and the articulated arms awoke. Elizabeth ran through the checklist for the controls before bringing them over to the table. With expert control, she held the cylinder with one arm and activated the rotation with the other to unscrew the lid. She placed it carefully beside the container.
The warm white light within the chamber seemed to melt away to a pale green, as if the crystal within the cylinder was eating away at it.
“Easy now,” the scientist whispered. The monitor showed a view from the fingertips of the arm. She thumbed the dial to lower the sensitivity of the arms and then reached in slowly to retrieve it. She ignored the frantic echoes at the back of her mind, reminding her that she held nearly a hundred billion dollars worth of research in her remote hands.
Elizabeth squinted behind her glasses when the crystal came free. Even when the windows dimmed, the vivid green light shined like an emerald star.
She brought the crystal to the center of the chamber and lowered it. As she did, a padded clamp rose to meet it. Elizabeth sighed and stepped back, disengaging manual control as the computers finished placing and holding the crystal in place. She drank from a nearby bottle of water with shaking hands and breathed deeply until she felt calm. Or as calm as she could be considering the circumstances.
With a flip of a switch, the lasers began to power on and she thought she could almost feel the amount of energy they were pulling. The computer spun the clamp holding the crystal, raising and lowering it almost imperceptibly. Finally, a soft ping announced optimal alignment.
It all came down to this moment. This one single moment.
Dr. Russell took a key from the console in front of her. She inserted it into a lock and rotated. With a silent prayer, she pressed a large red button three feet away from the key.
To the visible eye, nothing happened. However, immense amounts of data was being logged on their servers as the lasers fired through the crystal. She eyed the gauges and began to smile. The readings were phenomenal, beyond even what they’d-
A low thrumming filled the chamber. She felt the floor vibrate under her feet.
Her eyes went to the monitor.
Her hand shot out towards the red button.
A fissure appeared within the crystal.
She pressed the button as the fractured crystal refracted all of the six of the surrounding lasers into a pure green beam that pierced her skull just above her left eye. The crystal shattered with a loud ‘thump’ as Dr. Russell crumpled to the ground.
Elizabeth woke seconds later to static at the back of her skull and the repetitive blare of the alarm. The red emergency lights were active and the entire chamber was filled with a sickly yellowish haze. She pressed her fingers to her forehead, sure she’d find a gaping hole where the beam struck her. Instead, she felt cold, clammy skin. She could hear a faint clicking sound and she wondered if it was the chamber’s fume hood trying and failing to work.
Dr. Russell pulled herself up and fell against the console. She focused on the screens until she found the intercom. Pressing the switch caused the speaker to make an electronic squeal that pierced her head.
“H-hello?” she said, massaging her temples. She tried to remember the emergency protocols but the alarms and the static were making it difficult to think straight. “Can anyone hear me?”
The air was humid and her throat burned every time she inhaled. Elizabeth leaned over the console, pressing the intercom again. Her glasses slid from her sweaty face, clattering on the computer desk.
“Hello?!” she yelled and, for a brief moment, she thought she heard a voice through the squealing. The young woman slammed her hands down on the desk, shattering her glasses beneath her palm. “Dammit!”
“Alright, Elizabeth, calm down. You’ve got this. You’re okay,” she reassured herself, stepping back. Looking around the room, she oriented herself and made her way to the exit. She grabbed the lanyard on her coat, extending it on the retractable cable to press it against the door’s sensor. The panel’s light was out; it didn’t even flash a red light to show a mis-read. She tried once more and then again and then she snarled, letting the lanyard snap back to her chest. “Fucking work! Goddammit!”
Elizabeth found herself hyperventilating from stress. The alarm drilled into her head and she felt the panic rising deep within, mixing with the anger caused by the noise and failure of the system around her. A large handle lay within a recess in the wall, covered by a plastic cover. She lifted the cover and slid it back into the wall.
Sweat dripped from her body, soaking her clothes. The strange yellow mist enveloped her, reminding her of another failure of their systems. She shrugged out of her lab coat and stared at the handle.
Over a decade of lab safety training echoed in her mind. She’d had monthly meetings on what to do in various circumstances and then weekly meetings as the day approached. With the gas filling the room, the exotic crystal exploded into a million fragments and god knew what else happening in the room, she knew she should just stay where she was and wait for the retrieval team.
And yet, the alarms continued to scream in her ears. The ocean-like static at the back of her mind was turning to a dull roar and the mugginess was nearly drowning her. Every breath burned. She felt like she couldn’t take a lungful of air and the GODDAMN lights were blinking as if keeping time with the pounding headache building inside of her. She grabbed the handle with both hands and pulled, screaming when it barely moved.
“Fuck you!” the woman screeched. She yanked at the handle again and again, trying to force it down but it sat there as if mocking her. “Fucking work, damn you! Just! Fucking. Mo-“
The thick metal handle snapped in her hands and she fell backwards on her ass, feeling the jolt along her spine. She stared dumbly at the end of the handle in her hands and then up to the fragment jutting from the wall. A thick vein stood out over her left temple, running down to her neck. It throbbed with her heartbeat.
“Fuuuuuck!” Elizabeth screamed, hurling the handle. It whistled through the air, embedding itself in the inner ring’s wall. Her long sleeved button-down shirt clung wetly to her, the white material nearly transparent with her sweat. The folds in the loose shirt smoothed as her forearm expanded.
The woman’s eyes were wild. She pressed her hands on the ground and pushed, launching herself into a standing position. Her straining sleeves split to show hardened muscles on her thin frame. Dark veins stood out on her body and the skin around seemed to leech the color from them, giving her a faint green tinge. She stalked to the door and pounded on it.
“Open the goddamn door!” Elizabeth yelled. She reached back with both hands and the back of her shirt tore, exposing her cream colored bra and wide, powerful back. Her spine was a valley, lined by hard muscle. The woman grunted and slammed. The vault door shook from her blow and when she took her fists away, there was a faint imprint left behind on the metal. “Open door! Open!”
Another blow rattled the door. The tear in her sleeves widened as her biceps bulged, pushing through the fabric. She reached back, unable to bend her arm completely due to the size of muscles now straining her slick, green skin. Emerald flecks appeared in her bloodshot blue eyes. She slammed again and her tightly coiled hair came undone to show the viridescent roots.
“Door!” she snarled, slamming it over and over. The floor cracked beneath her feet in a spiderweb pattern and her shoes exploded with a loud bang as she braced herself for the barrage.
Dr. Russell’s modest, bee-stung breasts pressed against her taut bra. Her nipples widened to the size of nickels and then further until they covered the tips of her small breasts. Flakes of metal and the sealant they used on the door fell around her when she slammed against the door again. Her bra snapped, freeing her breasts. Veins lifted from the smooth skin and they began to bulge on her chest, jiggling as she assaulted the door. She felt her nipples drag against the front of her ruined shirt but they were a distraction so she tore the shirt, tossing it behind her.
Her soft, drooping breasts grew firm and huge and green, squeezing together when she brought her hands down and then bulging to her sides when she reached back again.
Elizabeth roared, bringing her hands down once more. The door groaned, bending in half. She shoved it and metal screeched as it slammed open, shooting sparks when it scraped against the ground.
The control room beyond the chamber was empty. Elizabeth strode inside. Her already tight pants tore along her ass, unable to contain her widening hips. Her conservative white panties were pulled into a tiny thong on her massive frame, leaving her sex exposed. Curly green pubic hairs covered her mound and labia, nearly hidden beneath the swell of her firm, powerful ass.
“Where everyone?” Elizabeth said, her nostrils flaring as she panted in the cool room. She took another step and the legs of her pants split to reveal massive calves. Bones and joints popped in her feet and she grunted, barely paying attention to the pain within. Her tiny toes became splayed on the cold floor as her feet grew broad to match the rest of her body. “Where?”
Looking around, she ran her thick fingers through her moss colored hair and then grunted when the elevator opened with a ding.
A squad of armored soldiers burst from the elevator, shouting at her to kneel with her hands above her head. They fanned out in an arc with their weapons trained on her. All of them were yelling, their voices mixing with the alarms behind her and the thunderstorm in her brain.
“No! Me!” she yelled at them, frustrated at her inability to find the right words. To tell them what happened. She was thinking through a dense fog of anger and confusion and they just couldn’t understand what had happened. She just needed them to understand and to put their scary guns down.
Fingers tightened on triggers when she stepped forward.
“Last warning!” the lead soldier yelled. “Stand down or we will open fire!”
Shoot? Me?? No! I- I work. Here. I not danger, she thought. She had to show them.
Dr. Russell took another step and the automatic gunfire filled the room with a deafening roar. Elizabeth crossed her arms in front of her chest with her hands over her face. She felt the impact of every bullet as if she were being hit by a baseball bat over and over but the longer she stood, the less it hurt until it merely stung. She hunched until the room was silent.
And then she stood, uncrossing her arms to leave them open at her sides. She was covered with bruises that were already fading from purple to green. A few stray bullet holes lined her torn pants. Flattened spent rounds covered the floor in front of her.
“NO!” Elizabeth snarled as the soldiers frantically reloaded. She leapt, thrusting her arms wide to swipe the men aside. They screamed as they were flung against the walls with a sickening wet crunch. Bullets stung her back. She turned, swiping at a nearby soldier and the impact turned his bones to jelly.
The other soldiers scattered, reaching for radios to call for help. The young woman stepped into the elevator, ducking to fit her bulk inside. It groaned under her weight. Bullets sprayed the elevator, hitting her breasts, face and stomach. She yelled and her fist smashed the row of buttons, breaking through the wall.
“Stupid!” she yelled at herself and the elevator. She slammed her fists through the roof of the elevator and pulled her hands apart, splitting it in half.
“She’s trying to escape!” the lead soldier screamed into his radio.
The woman crouched and then leapt nearly a hundred feet. She grabbed the elevator cable and climbed, her biceps and forearms bulging.
She just had to clear her head. Just had to get air. Just had to get OUT! The light above grew dark. Dr. Russell looked up to see something being pushed into the elevator shaft. Small hands pushed it and it fell but she pushed herself against the wall so it passed her.
“Hah,” she laughed with a wide, toothy grin. “Miss-“
The explosion ripped the air from her lungs, flinging her sideways through crumbling stone and concrete and metal. She lost consciousness as the world turned red and loud and hot.
Elizabeth woke to heat and scorched earth. She shaded her eyes and reached for glasses that weren’t there. Groaning, she sat up, feeling her loose blonde hair against her bare back and shoulders.
Smoke rose in a lazy column to the east of where she lay and she swore she heard sirens.
Something moved in the distance and she squinted her sharp, emerald green eyes to see a helicopter circling in ever widening patterns.
Her head hurt and she couldn’t remember much beyond when the crystal exploded but she felt panic rising inside of her at the sight of the helicopter.
She stood and stumbled and sucked in heated air as the sand burned her delicate feet. She knew there was a small town west of the facility and something told her to go there rather than back towards her work.
Dr. Russell began walking, hiding her naked body the best she could. Faint, sibilant static filled the back of her mind. She found herself growing annoyed with the buzzing of the helicopter in the distance but she pushed on, rubbing at the temples and the headache building there.