Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 2, Part 2

Posted by harmony0stars on September 14, 2008

The test animals were pretty quiet tonight. No howls, no cries, no begging… he hated that the most… when the animals made a pretense at humanity. Sure they might wear human form sometimes, but he tried to convince himself that they were only freakish animals. He’d just lost his third lab assistant the previous week. After the savage mauling of his first assistant, it had gotten a lot easier to see his subjects for the animals they were. Not that he’d been all that fond of his assistants, though the second one had been the most efficient technician he’d ever been partnered with. Still, as the old saying went… good help was so hard to find. At this point, he’d settle for any help at all. The facility housed roughly two dozen thropes, most of them werewolves. It seemed to be the most common breed, or at least the most community oriented. And now that his last assistant was little more than dog food, he was forced to do all the leg work himself.

But at least it seemed they’d finally hit the right dosage of sedatives. Enough drugs in the food and even the biggest of the beasts was docile as a lamb. Reaching through the bars, he took the evening’s blood samples without any worry of a lost limb… though he did shake off a moment’s anxiety, thinking of what had happened to his most recent lab assistant. None of the creatures did more than grunt as he jabbed them with a needle. They’d doubled the dosage of sedatives after the incident, but that still left him without an assistant. Hopefully his employers would find him a new one soon so he could stop wasting his time with work that was beneath him.

“Hey! You!” he grunted at the huddled form in the corner of the cage. It didn’t move, might even be dead. He cursed under his breath, then shrugged indifferently. If it was dead, it was just as well. Then they wouldn’t have to kill one of the healthier specimens. Though some of the research he did involved trying to extract the enzymes that allowed the thropes to access animal traits stored in their junk DNA, for the most part these experiments had been unsuccessful. For one thing, it seemed not everyone could use the enzyme… they needed to have the DNA in the first place. Despite popular legend, shapeshifting was genetic, not the result of a contagious bite. Which meant anyone with the DNA was usually a thrope already, and if they weren’t, they usually had thrope relatives. Which also meant they weren’t exactly sympathetic test subjects when one could be found. Random blood testing had turned up very few individuals with the required genes. His newest line of research involved gene therapy before the application of the enzyme in his volunteers. It was a good thing they were mainly the homeless and destitute at the rate he went through them.

Because he had so far been unable to synthesize enough of the enzyme for use in testing, every so often, the doctor had one of the animals slaughtered to extract the special gland located near the brain stem. The enzymes secreted by this gland not only facilitated rapid transformations from human to animal and back again, it also gave the creatures an enhanced ability to heal from wounds that would have been fatal to a normal human being. Either application had military uses, though he was sure his benefactors were more interested in turning their soldiers into powerful animals than healing them of any wounds. Early on he’d tried shunts to harvest secretions from the gland, but the animals had just clawed at them till they became infected. Coupled with their prolonged captivity and poor diet, the infections had been enough to put an end to their usefulness as lab animals. Now he simply killed and dissected one subject from each group every month. They could always find more elsewhere. They’d gotten one ursine subject from as far afield as Russia.

Muttering under his breath at the break in his schedule, the doctor took a long wooden pole from his cart and savagely poked the boy in the corner of the cell. When there was no response, he carefully unlocked the cage door. Crouching down, he grabbed the creature’s leg and dragged it closer to the entrance where he could more easily check for a pulse. The smell made him gag. He’d have to talk to someone about hosing the animals down once a week. The smell was overwhelming… reminiscent of rotting food…? He released the leg and backed away with a gasp even as the half-starved form twisted in his grasp. One instant a snarling boy crouched on top of him, the next an equally starved wolf used his falling body as a springboard as it leapt from the cell. It collided into the cart of blood samples, sending it crashing to the floor before taking off down the hall.

Fully expecting to be torn limb from limb, the doctor had curled up in a fetal ball, but the wolf had more important things on its mind. By the time the doctor had the courage to look up, the werewolf had disappeared. He jumped to his feet and darted into the hall. A siren began its wail as he slammed his hand down on the button and two levels above, guards who had only moments before been grumbling in boredom reached for their guns and glanced around uneasily. Moments later, a guard at ground level who had slipped out for an illicit smoke was bowled over by the escaping wolf even as he attempted to duck back inside before anyone noticed he was away from his post. The man yelped and wet himself as the wolf snapped at him in passing, but it wasted no time in killing. It bolted across the empty yard to the fence, and leaping, it changed back into a boy even as it hit the fence and climbed.

At the top of the fence he leaped once more and hit the ground as a wolf. He crumpled upon impact, but a few seconds later he struggled to his feet and picked up speed as he ran. Shouting followed him into the trees, but though he was obviously exhausted and malnourished, he was well hidden in the darkness. It was nearly five minutes before any real pursuit could be mustered and he was already passing through the thin layer of woodlands around the industrial complex into the city proper. His instincts drove him away from the warehouse laboratory, even as they drove him away from the cars and people in the streets. Too exhausted to think straight but too frightened and traumatized to stop, he fled into the dark alleys of Sybar city looking for some place wild to hide. Though annoyed at his escape, the men would hunt him at their leisure. A tracking device would lead them to him eventually. Even if the werewolf had known where the tracer was located, it was too deeply embedded in his flesh for easy removal.

to Book 2, part 2, page 2

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5 Responses to “Tattoo Book 2, Part 2”

  1. Alderin said

    Poor misunderstood, mistreated puppy-boy. I hope he proves to be more humane in his decisions than his human captors.

    *HUGS*

  2. Miladysa said

    Great chapter!

    Just wondering why they would feed them a poor diet?

    • harmony0stars said

      Well, they don’t exactly need them to be in tiptop shape. They want to keep them as weak as possible so that they are more manageable. They are very dangerous “animals” and their human intelligence makes them even more dangerous. So keeping them weak with bad food and little of it keeps them in a starved stupor in addition to the drugs.

  3. Amy said

    OK i must say that the pop-out snap shot preview thingy is a little annoying, it keeps me from being able to clickon what I want in a timely manner, I have to try several times. Other than that I like the new twist.

    • harmony0stars said

      It’s a wordpress thing. Fortunately there is a way for you to turn it off within the popup window when it appears. I don’t really have any control over it that I’ve been able to find. I agree. It is annoying.

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