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Simone was a very tall, slender woman with a cute face. Somewhere, just below the surface, was the idea that she could be strikingly beautiful, if she could just see the notion. Today she was in her usual Birkenstocks, jeans, and generic Target T-shirt, with her hair pulled back in a braid that fell to just below her shoulder blades. She followed the assistant into the lawyer's office feeling a sense of awe. The idle thought crossed her mind wondering how many mahogany and oak trees had been felled to provide the walls and furnishings of the place.
It was an amazing contrast to her rat and roach infested studio apartment just six blocks away. She felt a wry smile as she realized you could probably fit two of her apartment within the office, and probably another two of them on top, with enough room left over to run laps between the book-lined walls and the make-shift construction. The assistant ushered her to a seat in front of a desk that could easily double as a tournament-size pool table, informed her that Mr. Cambridge would be with her presently, then excused herself and was gone. Simone marveled at how quietly the assistant walked across the hardwood floor.
The next few moments, while she waited for Mr. Cambridge, she examined the contents of the room and decided that if she could sell the pair of leather wing-backed chairs in the corner, she would probably be able to top her $10,000 goal. It was a little habit she had developed over the past five years, ever since she found out that's all it would cost to go to Bangkok and have the operation to complete her gender reassignment. Suddenly there was a faint mechanical whine as a section of bookshelf broke free from the wall and pivoted providing Simone with a momentary glimpse of what looked like a safety deposit vault that would make a Swiss bank proud. As the lights dropped in the vault, her focus was drawn to the man standing in the hidden doorway.
At first glance, Mr. Cambridge looked like a failed genetics experiment to combine Danny De Vito with Dustin Hoffman. He might be five feet tall, if he weren't slouching over a large envelope, examining it's contents. His head was wreathed with white, downy hair that served to exaggerate the baldness of his crown. Suddenly he seemed satisfied with the envelope, gave a little nod, and hurried to the other side of the desk. The absurdity of this little man behind the enormous desk called to mind the thought of him using any of the other over-sized furniture, and Simone had to stifle a giggle. At this Mr. Cambridge waived a hand and said, "Yes, yes," his voice and the inherent mirth in it perfectly completed the image of a gnome, "I ought to fire my decorator, but I inherited this office, and the effect was worse with furniture I could actually use. You may as well come over here, no use in us shouting across this silly expanse." Simone dutifully rose and walked around the desk to see what the envelope held, and find out why she had been called to this office. As she neared, Mr. Cambridge looked up for the first time and got a puzzled look on his face. "You're Simon Stewart? Simon Edward Stewart?"
"Not anymore," came Simone's reply. "I changed my name to Simone some two, three years ago now. No middle name. What's all this about anyway?"
"But you were Simon Edward Stewart, son of Rebecca and Milton Stewart?" he asked. Simone nodded, and he went on, "Would you be able to prove your former and current identity? This is a matter of some importance."
Digging through her purse, Simone pulled out her driver's license and passport. "These prove I'm me, the passport has my gender down as female, but the driver's license has me as a male. If you call over to the Family Courthouse, they should have a record of the name change, it was filed in January of 2003 or 4 and the Judgement came through in April of the same year. Now, please-"
A gesture from his hand cut her short as pushed a button on the phone, "Ms. Smitts, please verify a judgment for change of name filed under Simon Edward Stewart in January of 2003 or 4 with the Family Courthouse." His finger came off the button and he turned to Simone "You see, I have here your Uncle Robert's will. He's named you as the sole beneficiary of his estate, the total assets of which, after his affairs were settled, amount to approximately $463 million." The color drained from Simone's face and he quickly had her sit in his chair.
"Four hundred?" the little man nodded, "Sixty three. M-million?" She could only blink as the sum of money dwarfed the monstrous desk in her imagination. Suddenly she realized, "Wait. I'm afraid I don't know any Uncle Robert."
"Indeed, but he knew of you. He was your mother's half-brother. When your grandfather re-married after his first wife's death, he was never accepted by his new mother. He left home at the age of sixteen, and joined the Army as a requisitions clerk. Two years later he was in Korea, where he saved up a few thousand dollars and made some very fortunate contacts. Once the war was over, he ran a very profitable import business bringing goods in to the States through China and India. Unfortunately, he was never able to integrate himself back into his family, but he did keep tabs on all his step-siblings. Since you seem to have become the black sheep in your own right, and since he never married, he's left all of his wealth to you. Providing, of course, that at one time you were Simon Edward Stewart. I must say, I would have trouble believing you're a man."
"I'm not, thanks. I'll admit to having a penis, but I feel that being a man or a woman is more than a question of genetics and genitals." He noticed that she dropped into what was probably her standard argument quite naturally. "Philosophers have asked some form of the question 'what makes a man' throughout time immemorial, and never come up with a satisfactory answer. I am a woman. A Transgendered woman, but still a woman. That said, how many genetic women do you know that stand several inches over six feet?"
"Not many, and I meant no disrespect, but I still say it's hard to believe." At this he pressed the button on his phone that had begun flashing. "Yes?"
Ms. Smitts' voice came from the intercom, "The Family Courts have a record of a Simon Edward Stewart changing his name to Simone Stewart filed in January of 2003 and a judgment entered in April of 2003 granting the name change. Shall I have a courier bring over a copy?"
"No, that's fine," he turned again to Simone, "Would you like anything to drink Ms. Stewart?"
"Water would be nice."
"Thank you Ms. Smitts, that will be all." The bottom drawer on his desk turned out to be a refrigerator, from which he pulled two bottles of water and handed one to Simone. "Now that that is out of the way, we just have a little paper work to complete, then I'll familiarize you with your assets, and take you out to your ranch." Noticing her expression he added, "oh, your uncle loved horses."
The strangest thing, Simone found, about suddenly gaining such a windfall is not knowing what to spend all that money on. All this time Simone had spent saving every dime, she had cut out entertainment expenses, reduced her food budget where possible, she even did without heat and air conditioning as much as she could. As her savings slowly grew, she would imagine what she could buy with it if she weren't saving for a goal. New bedding, new clothes, then she had enough for a new computer, then that 23" monitor, she was nearing the amount that would allow her to buy a Digital Projector when she suddenly became a millionaire. Of course, she had scheduled the appointment for the operation the day after everything was transferred to her name, but the first appointment was still nine weeks away.
Where she had spent her days before working as a wage slave or waiting on doctors, she now had nothing but free time, which she mostly spent turning down requests for grants and investments. It seemed that everyone everywhere wanted some of her money, which she could sympathize with, but out of all the requests and pitches, there was nothing resembling a good cause. Everything from dot com start-ups to big budget movies that had been turned down by Hollywood for good reason, to inventors that were on the edge of a break through in finding a cure for boredom, halitosis, or mothers-in-law. Eventually she gave up, managed to put a faucet on the deluge, and got it turned down to a trickle. Now she spent the time waiting for her operation with her horses.
She had never been much of an animal lover, though she did like birds, but as she spent time with them and learned how to take care of them, the horses grew on her. As it turned out, one of her horses had placed in a stakes race some time ago. Her stable hands were quite happy to report the lineage of each horse, and tell her all about the strengths of them, but she was more interested in the animals themselves. She was surprised to find that each had their own personality, and they were much more intelligent than she would have believed. She still had six weeks to go until the operation, but she decided, on the advice of her stable hands, that once she was back she was going to look into getting a dog.
One morning, after her riding lesson, Simone was on her way into the house, when a black envelope caught her attention. It was sitting on the welcome mat, and the only mark on it was the word EDGE embossed in silver lettering. Opening it, she found a white envelope and a piece of black stationary with silver lettering reading:
"EDGE Research Corp. is seeking investors. For a tour our facilities, please respond to this message using the enclosed envelope and indicate when you will be available to spend at least two weeks in Las Vegas. We will make all arrangements for your flight and lodgings at that time. Upon your arrival, we will grant one wish."
The only mark on the white envelope was the words EDGE Research Corp. embossed in gold. Her interest was instantly piqued. She had never been outside of Colorado, and this seemed to be offering a free trip to Las Vegas. At the very least it was something to do for two weeks. By the time she made it to her study, she had already decided to go. She hastily wrote that she could leave immediately, sealed the reply in the envelope, and left it on the top of the outgoing mail. The next morning a black SUV arrived at seven am.
Tim, the driver, was very understanding. She had thought she would be notified when to expect to leave, at the very least she thought it would take a couple days. Tim just patiently waited by the car while her bags were being packed and she had a quick breakfast. Through the kitchen window, Simone watched as he wiped down the SUV. There was a quality of purpose to his every movement that stood out, almost masking his striking features. He had a very clean look to him, and could probably be a GQ model, if that's what he wanted to do. His chestnut hair was worn back in a short pony tail, which cleared the way for the piercing gaze of his hazel eyes. His tailored suit gave the impression of a lean, muscled torso. For the first time in her life, Simone found herself wondering what a man might look like without so many clothes. Making sure everything would be taken care of in her absence, she rushed out the door. The trip to the airport was fast, and Tim was able to make up some time on the freeway, so they arrived on schedule.
As they approached the plane sitting on the tarmac, Simone started to wonder how many other people were invited to Vegas for this tour. Except for the EDGE logo on the side, the jet looked like a normal commercial passenger plane. Having never been on an airplane, Simone really didn't mind, but the trip started to lose some of it's mystique as she realized she might be flying coach. She was broken out of her momentary disappointment by Tim opening her door and helping her out of the car. Certainly everything else about these EDGE people was top notch, she'd probably be in first class. Tim saw her to the ramp-way, then stowed her bags in the belly of the plane as she ascended the stairs.
At the top of the stairs was a goddess made flesh. Her voluptuous beauty and perfect complexion called to mind ancient artistic treasures, and was only accentuated by the cut of her hostess uniform. Her amber hair was swept up and back away from her heart shaped face, and probably in a little bun under the cap she wore. "Welcome to the EDGE cooperate jet. I'm Rhiannon, and I'll be assisting you with anything and everything." Her eyes were a bright, cheerful blue, but her smile seemed a little strange. It wasn't the fake plastic smile of someone just doing their job, it seemed to be hiding something. "If there's something you want, just let me know." With this she turned abruptly on her heel to lead the way inside. "If you'll please follow me, I'll show you the amenities while we wait for Tim."
"Tim's coming with us?"
With another flash of that strange smile, Rhiannon replied, "Oh, Tim's the pilot!" Like a marionette on a swivel, she turned back to her designated route. "This is an Airbus A319CJ, capable of..." As she went on about the capabilities of the plane, the galley, the restroom, the lounge, Simone tuned her out and tried to figure out what else was hiding behind that smile. It was something that Rhiannon seemed to need from her, there was a pleading quality to her voice that echoed this need, but beyond money, Simone couldn't come up with anything she had that someone might want. Rhiannon continued her programmed litany of the interesting facets, when suddenly Tim showed up and announced they would be departing shortly. Right on que, "If you'll follow me to the lounge, we'll get you buckled in for take off." Rhiannon didn't miss a beat.
The flight there was uneventful, Tim stayed in the cockpit, and Rhiannon attended to Simone's every need with mechanical precision. Usually the whole royal treatment made Simone uncomfortable, but with Rhiannon at least it gave her some occasional peace. With some distance between them, she could just spend time enjoying the flight. Upon landing, Simone decided that her favorite part of flying is the take off. The sudden acceleration pressing you into your seat, then down as the plane begins it's ascent, as far as she was concerned, there could be nothing better, though she did wish they could have encountered some turbulence to complete the experience.
They were met at the Signature Air Terminal by two black SUVs. Tim drove Simone in the first, and the second was apparently for Rhiannon. Though she only caught a moment's glimpse, Simone could have sworn the interior of Rhiannon's vehicle was ablaze with little lights. Laughingly she wondered to herself when the trip had become about the mystery of the hostess instead the mystery of EDGE Corp. After driving for about a half hour, Tim pulled into the parking lot of what seemed to be a forgotten rest stop. Rhiannon's car passed the stop by, and Simone wasn't surprised a bit. It didn't appear that the place had been maintained within the last 15 years, but Tim got out and opened her door anyway. "Welcome to EDGE Research Corporation's main research facility."
"Think of it more like a secret lab. The projects we're working on in here are prime candidates for corporate espionage." What else could she do? She got out of the car and allowed herself to be led to the men's restroom. Inside the restroom they went to a little door marked JAN, Tim put the inside of his wrist against the door jamb, and a moment later it opened. This door led to a large open glass box suspended from rails in a room that was otherwise dark. Embedded within the glass seemed to be circuit pathways that led up to a narrow panel along the far edge of the box. Tim manipulated these to make the box move, but the only way to tell they were moving was by inertia, since beyond the glass of the box there was nothing more than an impenetrable blackness.
She could feel that they were descending little by little. Every so often they would move left or right, forward or back, but always down. Simone was getting more and more nervous, as they seemed to be taking a very round about path and she could hear something moving in the thickening dark surrounding them. Just as she was reaching her limit, a red rectangle appeared on the wall behind her and they stopped moving.
"What is it, why did we stop?"
Hearing the nervousness in her voice, Tim dropped his cool demeanor in favor of reassurance. "It's OK, we've just arrived at the residence level. I'm sorry I let you get so scared, but it takes a lot of concentration to navigate the path down here. I'm afraid I just didn't notice. That's the main ventilation shaft, but it can be very dangerous if you don't know the way down. It's one of our more elaborate security measures. Of course, there are faster ways to get down here, but you need to have a chip to use them. This really is the best way to get a visitor in." Here he motioned toward the red rectangle, "In any case, Rhiannon should be here with your luggage by now. I'm sure you're anxious to see your room?"
Relieved from her fear, Simone was suddenly upset at this new set of information "This is where I'm staying? I think I'd prefer something on the Strip. I don't much care for the ride down, and getting a chip under my skin is even less appealing."
Tim chuckled at her emotional turn about, "Your chip will actually be in a wrist bangle, I assure you they're really quite attractive. Let's go see your room, and if you still feel the same way afterwards, I'm sure something can be arranged." She acquiesced and moved through the rectangle. As dark as the last room was, this atrium was light. After taking a moment to adjust to the brightness, she found herself being guided along a stone terrace overlooking a park. There was a slight, fragrant breeze blowing from somewhere. It was hard to believe she wasn't outside, near an apple orchard. "Here we are," another scan of his wrist revealed a green rectangle, that seemed to be hanging in the air, "after you." The room appeared to be Vintage Vegas, like something from a Rat Pack film.
"If you don't like the decor, the room can be reconfigured. Perhaps something more contemporary? If you'll give me your preferences, I'll be happy to make the arrangements." Rhiannon somehow seemed like she had never left. "Also, I've taken the liberty of preparing lunch, if you're hungry." she added, motioning to the set table in the dining area.
"Actually, Tim, I think this will do fine."
"Great, after lunch we'll get your bangle, and I'll show you the project we're hoping you'll invest in. You've probably noticed we're years ahead of the curve on most any technology out there. The truth is we've garnered a little more information from various government contracts than we were intended to, which is how we came to be Incorporated in Nevada. Recently, however, we've been working on our own research and development outside of and built upon those contracts. Have you ever heard of a nanobot?"
The nanobots did cinch her investment. If they were successful, they could have applications from anti-aging to cancer and HIV treatment. Still, they wanted to give her a demonstration, so they took a drop of her blood, and under a microscope, she watched as three nanobots attacked a virus she didn't even know she carried. After another two days of tours and demonstrations, she wrote a check for $25 million, and that night they celebrated.
The next morning she woke up stark naked in a sterile white room. She tried to remember what had happened, and then in an instant the fog cleared. After a toast, she had felt faint, then two people in haz-mat suits picked her up, and now she was here. Trying to look around, she found she couldn't move her limbs at all. The things she could get to move were her eyes and their lids. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Rhiannon sitting, also nude, starring at her. Suddenly she recognized the room as a nanobot treatment room like the one she had seen after lunch the previous day. It had a number of antennas arranged around the room to triangulate the location of the bots and give them their instructions. "You should be fully awake by now." It was Tim's voice. "You're probably wondering why you can't move or talk. Right now, the bots in your spinal cord are blocking all voluntary nerve functions. Your autonomic functions are continuing unimpeded, so your heart beats and you breathe, et cetera, but they're not as strong as they normally would be. We thank you for this valuable data, and now it's time to grant that wish. Give her her voice and begin recording."
There was a momentary flash of pain, then her head rolled to the right. Rhiannon had a grin of pure delight, and a hungry look in her eye. "What about a wish? And what did you do to her?"
"That was it? Cut her voice." Another flash of pain and Simone was silent again "We're about to grant my wish," she couldn't see him, but the sound of Tim's voice made her feel sick, "and you are both integral parts in that. Your wish is also being granted, after a fashion, as for Rhiannon, well, she has no wish. Rhiannon is a genetically engineered clone. She is what you might have been had you been born genetically female, and had you been removed from all the various environmental factors that shape a person. However, she wasn't you enough to take your place. There is apparently something to be said for having a soul. This Rhiannon is actually the sixth iteration of you, and was designed with a single purpose in mind, specifically, coupling with you. Rhiannon, if you please?"
On his command the clone straddled Simone's chest, and started sucking her dick. Simone began to cry silently. "You know, I was actually a little sad that you didn't have implants. I mean, those breast forms are great, and you're pretty enough with them, but you have to keep your clothes on to keep your illusion of a feminine body. That flat chest just really does nothing for me. I was relieved you still had your balls though, since your genetic material is needed for the next phase, and frankly, we've run out of what we had on file making all those clones. Of course, this would still work without them, but it would take a lot longer to obtain then prepare the sample, and then there was the possibility of having to make more clones. The investment in time and money was starting to become too great." Simone started to sob loudly, in spite of her vocal chords being arrested, and Rhiannon slumped down on Simone's chest.
"Looks like you've reached the finish line! But we better be careful where we leave her." With that Tim finally appeared, also nude, and with two more people in haz-mat suits. The two orderlies hefted Rhiannon's lifeless bulk off of Simone, and Simone's eyes went wide. This drew gleeful laughter from Tim, who had been anticipating this moment for almost a decade. "Yes! It's worked! But you see, this is just the beginning of my gift to you. Giver her her own arms at thirty percent." A shock of pain down both arms and she could move them with some difficulty, but she had do see what had happened. Rhiannon's lips had some how fused around Simone's penis. Her balls were starting to meld with Rhiannon's face, and suddenly Simone realized she could feel the orderlies' hands holding up Rhiannon's body as if it were her own.
"Ninety-one percent of tolerance, sir" came a call over a speaker.
"Oop! Looks like it's my turn." Simone was still wondering at the feelings of merging with Rhiannon when Tim lay down on his back with his head between her legs. "I really wanted to get into the Uncle Robert thing too, but we should be able to talk more in about a week." He signaled the orderlies who lifted Simone's posterior, then set it back down on Tim's face. Then they spread Simone's legs as far as they would go and set what had been Rhiannon's body down on top of Tim. Tim thrust his dick into the ass of Rhiannon's body, at which point the nanobots took over, rendering him unconscious.
The orderlies left the room and released Simone's bots from her spinal cord. The sensations that had been so intense before doubled and redoubled again as her own fleet of nanobots joined in the effort to join three bodies into one. She thought she would pass out from the sensory overload, but her bots countered with endorphins and adrenaline. Sorting out which hand was which became a priority, she wanted to touch the seams where the bodies were merging. She slowly became aware of all twelve limbs, including thirty fingers and thirty toes. With concentration she was able to move them each independently, but she found it was easier to separate them into three groups.
Splitting her body between her original self and her new self that had been Rhiannon and Tim, it was easiest to think of herself in terms of an upper body and a lower body. Even in groups, she managed to retain mastery over her upper body's limbs on their own. She moved her hand over her smooth crotch, trying to determine where she had ended and her clone had begun, and found an opening. The lower part had probably been Rhiannon's lower lip, the upper was just skin that followed the contour of her pubic bone. She could feel a soft breath as her lower body’s respiration continued. The nostril’s location reminded her she had gained a vulva, it just was not where she had ever anticipated it being. Her life-long dream had been realized, in possibly the strangest way it could. Closing her eyes, she forced her consciousness to her new posterior.
She could feel what had been Tim's scrotum as it was joining with her new labia. Having found that, she tried to find his penis, but it had already been dissolved. A sudden movement in her bones directed her attention inward. Her eyes still closed, she discovered Tim's pelvis had already partially fused with her lower body's pelvis, and her lower body's spinal column was raising. following that, her lower bodies' rib cages had fused in front of her lowest spine and were in the process of opening up. Rhiannon's skull had vanished, but there was still a large part of Tim's skull left.
Now her lower thighs were joining, as were her lower arms. Losing four of her limbs was a relief to her over-taxed mind. Her lower shoulders began to merge with her original hips, changing their orientation. She found that her original legs were folding back up into her lower body, and being absorbed at the same time. Six limbs seemed much more manageable than eight, and were downright easy compared to twelve. She found that she could stand, as it were, on her lower hands and knees, but the orientation of her lower body to her upper body made her doubt she would be able to stand upright again. Now that she was making use of her mobility, she found that the wall with the door had one-way mirroring from floor to ceiling. Her lower arms and legs were still pretty human in form, but her lower chest looked much too big. The same with her rear end. The effect something like a big cat's body with scrawny little human arms and legs. It reminded her of Mr. Cambridge and his desk, and she began to laugh. The orderly took the laugh as a sign of mounting stress and decided to bring her to a place where they could stop.
Tim’s skull began to move within her, being pulled down and back, towards her lowest body’s stomach. The feeling of it moving through her body was making her ill, and she tried to move her awareness away from it, but couldn’t find anything that might distract her. It displaced other organs as it migrated. Some returned to where they had been, and some continued to move to new locations. Trying to concentrate on her heart beat gave her a momentary respite from the chaos of her commingling organs. She found that her original heart had synchronized exactly with her lower body’s heart, while Tim’s heart had stopped. There was something primal about sitting there, listening to her hearts beat, and her innards seemed to be coming to rest.
Her meditation was broken by Tim’s esophagus rudely attaching itself to the bottom of her bronchial tubes. The other end was attached to her lower body’s bronchia, and she found it hard to breathe. Opening her eyes, she saw her pubic nostril was sealing itself. Her chests were burning, and she was starting to get light headed when she finally took her first deep breath, supplying all four of her lungs. The rhythm that worked best, she found, was filling her lower lungs first, then the upper pair and exhaling in the opposite order. She stood there getting the hang of breathing when the door opened again, and in walked Mr. Cambridge, wearing a lab coat over a tan suit.
“I would be willing to bet that you have some questions. We’ve finished our session for this morning, but we’ll need to get started again after lunch.” An orderly walked in behind him with an IV stand and two bags of fluid. “Now, we wern-”
“What is all this?” Free of the distractions of her changing form, she felt a rage building. She blinked at how different her voice was with the extra pair of lungs supporting it. “What are you doing to me?” as quickly as it came on, her anger subsided, probably the nanobots again, she thought.
“Very valid questions, but first you’ll need some nutrients, and since we were unable to get your digestive tract into it’s final state, Mr. Johnson here will need your arm.” She cowered away from the man with the needle. “I assure you, those bags don’t contain anything other than a standard intravenous meal," he seemed to think to himself a moment before continuing, "if we wanted to drug you, we could have used gas.” She relented and cautiously allowed the man access to her arm. He inserted the catheter, started the drip, and left the room. The fluid was cold and it made her shoulder ache as it entered her blood stream.
“Now. To answer your first question, this is Edge Research’s underground secret laboratory. It’s something like a privately owned Area 51. Some of the technology here has been pieced together based on information gleaned from various government contracts. Some of it was invented here, and the rest was recovered from extra terrestrial crafts.” He waited for her reaction, but she just nodded as Tim had explained most of that the previous day. “As for what we are doing to you, I do apologize, but Mr. Veldts, Tim, left very specific instructions on what could be said.”
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m fairly certain that Tim is dead. I can’t feel his heart beat, and while I don’t know about his brain, his skull wandered off on it’s own. Whatever was Tim is becoming whatever I am.” She was still trying to regain commend of her voice as it played between her natural tenor and the contralto she had trained it to.
“Indeed? Well, that is unfortunate.” His tone proved that he was hiding something, or he just didn’t believe her.
“Ok. What are you doing here?”
“I am Mr. Veldts’ private lawyer. I take care of all his personal affairs. He’s asked me to look after you while he’s indisposed.”
“I see, and what about the last time I met you? Uncle Bob’s will and all that.”
“Ahh, yes. That was an act, put on for your benefit. The office was rented for the day, and Robert never did exist, nor did his estate. The contents of the estate belonged to Mr. Veldts, but are now legally yours. Everything beyond that was a fictitious invention.”
She stood there blinking at this tidbit. “He just gave me seventy-five million dollars, half a dozen small companies, and a large Colorado ranch? Why?” Her voice was beginning to behave again.
“We needed you to make arrangements to be free for two weeks. It was a most expedient method to get you to do so, and he did feel some reparations were in order.” She gave him an incredulous look. "Mr. Veldts is a very kind man. His means are questionable, but never his motives."
“Ok, why me?” that sounded almost the same as usual.
“I had hoped you would open that door. A little over a year and a half ago, you had blood work done in preparation for starting hormones. The facility that did the testing was a subsidiary of ours. The Edge Group obtained a sample of the blood and found you to be one of seventeen candidates that were a good biological match for Mr. Veldts. All of you were transgendered for the sake of the merging process. Of the candidates, your psychological profile, living status, and social life were the closest to the ideal for this project. We obtained more of your genetic material through our subsidiaries, and began cloning you." Again her reaction was quieter than he had anticipated, so he continued.
"Because we weren’t making a direct clone, but were redesigning your personal genome, we hit a few snags. The first three were unable to live without life support. Number four was severally retarded, and needed daily dialysis. The fifth was a little smarter, but still had the kidney problems, and the sixth, you met. Even she took constant attention from a nanobot detail just to keep her functional.” He looked genuinely upset by what the clones had gone through.
The orderly reentered the room, “It looks like your bag is getting empty. Please let Mr. Johnson remove the catheter, and we’ll see if we can get you out of here before supper.” While Mr. Johnson disengaged the plastic tube from her arm, Mr. Cambridge exited the room. She stood there holding her arm where the catheter had been as the orderly left.
Taking stock of herself and the two bodies that had been fused with her, her attention kept being drawn to the untreated hole left in her arm from the IV. She still had a spare spinal column floating in her lower body, but none of the rest of her bones were duplicated. Her hearts were beating, though the lower one was still a little weak. Her original legs had crushed the breasts on her lower body, and she could find no sign of either legs or breasts. She was down to the four lungs, and supposed the sets in her lower body had fused. In fact, as near as she could tell, most of the organs in her lower body seemed to have been joined together. She could feel one stomach, one bladder, one colon, one heart. Curiously, Tim’s scull was missing. She concluded that she must have missed it finally being absorbed. The spare spine began to lurch, and the puncture from the IV in her arm began to seal itself under the influence of the microscopic machines, so it looked like it was time for the end of the ride.
As the spare spine drew closer to the one that still held her lower body's ribs, it started shrinking, while the main lower spine grew in length and thickness. She knew it was just the nanobots using the materials from one to expand the other, but the sensation was making her upper stomach turn. Suddenly her tail dragged on the floor and and she wondered when it had developed. While she wondered, it grew another several feet. It seemed much too long for a horse, which is what she had supposed her lower body would eventually resemble. Now the tube of flesh and bone was even longer than would be proportional for a large cat, which was another possibility that had crossed her mind. As she stood wondering at the new limb, her upper stomach broke free and started to descend into her lower body, trailing a growing esophagus in it’s wake. After some time it settled into position in front of her other stomach, while the extra innards that had been housed in her torso sorted themselves out and joined their counterparts in her lower body.
She figured the nanobots were suppressing the pain and nausea this should have caused, but they didn't do much for the uneasy feeling in her mind. Instead it was bemusement that calmed her as she realized her emotions were being telegraphed by her restless tail. Finally it seemed that the internal changes might be done, except that her upper lungs grew a touch, and her bronchial bridge expanded as well. The rest of the space that had been recently vacated was filled in with muscle and fat, leaving her a very strong but trim waist. A tingling in her nipples let her know her abdomen wasn’t the end of the sudden fat production, as her breasts grew from their AA size to a full C cup in a matter of moments. How many times had she seen that happen in her dreams? She reached up to feel their heft and prove to herself they were real.
“We can make them bigger, if you want,” said a voice over a hidden speaker. She instinctively crossed her arms over her new flesh to hide their nakedness.
“No, tha-” her voice was much higher, she didn’t have to work to reach a feminine pitch. “These are fine, thank you. I don’t suppose you have one of those paper gowns out there, do you?”
“Sorry, no,” came the reply. “We’re starting the second phase in a moment, which will also employ most of the bots that have been reinforcing your lower half so you didn't crush yourself while you were upright. You'll need to lie down on your side.”
“Second phase?” There was no answer. “Hello?” Giving up, she turned her back to the window, laid down on her right side, and closed her eyes. She waited for phase two to start, and after a while, got impatient. She tried to roll herself up to see what was happening, but found she couldn't move below her waist. Hooking her left hand under what would become her left foreleg, she pulled herself up and around enough to be able to see her legs over her shoulder. They were reforming into the hind legs of an animal. She had expected this turn of events, but with her tail only adding to the enigma, this would be her first real clue as to what sort of animal she would be from the waist down. Her thighs were almost done, and looked fairly powerful. Probably a large cat after all. Her ankles started to move up her legs as her shins shrunk and her feet stretched out behind them. The shin settled, but the feet kept going and becoming thinner. A tall cat? Some kind of horse? She wished she could remember what a zebra’s tail looked like.
The shape her feet were taking was folding her toes together, and though she couldn't feel anything below her contorted waist, she still winced at the sight of what was happening to them. In each foot the middle three toes were way out in front, and her big and little toes had moved behind them until they were almost right next to each other. Her feet stopped changing for a moment before her center toes on either foot started to diminish. Soon she was down to four toes on each leg with a small gap between each set of two. Her big toes shrank as well, and almost disappeared with the little ones. The remaining toes’ nails began to thicken and became quite opaque. Soon she had a fine pair of opalescent cloven hooves. A cow? The cloven hooves and a long tail definitely fit, but the rest of her would have to become a lot broader.
Her soon-to-be foreleg started vibrating as the nanobots entered it, so she released her grip and leaned forward enough to see what was happening. Again they started from the body and worked out. At first they shortened the upper portion, almost bringing the elbows into the body. The forearm section they seemed to leave alone, maybe lengthening them slightly as the hands started to stretch. This time her thumb and pinkies almost met and almost disappeared, the middle fingers on both the lower hands did disappear, and the ring and index fingers became the main hooves. She admired the efficiency of the process and then berated herself for having felt any kind of approval for what was happening to her. Feeling her legs under her control again, she waited for the disembodied voice to signal she wouldn't hurt herself. Once it remained silent for a while she decided to try out her reconfigured limbs and rolled onto her belly after three failed attempts. Standing proved to be more difficult than she had anticipated, but her lower limbs had had a much broader range of motion the last time she had been able to move them.
Finally gaining her feet, or her hooves as it were, she found that she was tall enough to keep her tail from dragging by just curling the end a bit. Turning back to the mirror, she decided her lower body mostly resembled a long-tailed deer, if such a creature exists. As she examined her reflection, her lower body seemed to be turning white, looking down she discovered she was growing a fine white fur. Leaving the task of maintaining her modesty to one hand she ran the other through the developing coat. It felt more like rabbit’s fur than a horse’s. Also the hair was much longer at the tip of her tail just above her hooves, covering the vestigial hoovelets. She stopped in mid turn as she realized what her lower body resembled. From the waist down, she was a unicorn. As if to confirm this realization, the nanobots picked that moment to erect a nine inch horn on her forehead, starting about an inch above the bridge of her nose and pointing out at about a forty-five degree angle. All she could do was stand staring at her reflection in the one-way mirror.
Coming back to her senses she couldn’t notice any more changes, but no one had come to let her out of the room either. She gave them another fifteen estimated minutes, and still nothing happened. At some point she examined her nails and discovered they had the same opalescent shine as her hooves and horn. She got familiar enough with her legs that she wasn’t slipping on the slick floor of the room any more. After what she estimated to be 45 minutes, something finally happened. Her left foreleg got painfully heavy, then it seemed to bleed quicksilver. The mercurial fluid formed itself into a little box about the size of a large briefcase complete with a handle on top. Finally, as the handle fell over on the top of the box, Mr. Cambridge opened the door.
“Mr. Veldts wanted you to have these too, he thought they would compliment your new form.” He crossed the little room and handed her a light blue peasant blouse and a bra. Mr. Johnson followed him and picked up the box. “If you’ll follow me, I do believe you could probably use a walk in the park.” She had seen the nanobots leave her body, so she knew it wasn’t their influence, but she wondered what had happened to the rage she felt earlier. Was she accepting this form? She should at least be upset about the way she’d been violated. If they had asked, and explained it to her, she might have gone along. In fact, given the nature of her new body and her love for the mythical beast she now resembled, she might have jumped at the chance. She had a lot to think about as she followed the little man down the labyrinth of corridors.
“This part is probably going to be difficult, so I'm just going to say it.” He stopped and glanced over his shoulder at her. “You are going to be a mother, of sorts.”
“In a week, you’re going to give birth to a colt housing Mr. Veldts’ brain.” Seeing the lack of reaction he had come to expect from Simone, he continued walking but stopped and turned when he didn’t hear her following. “Mr. Veldts has always wanted to be a centaur, you see. He says it’s the same as you always having been a girl. In his heart, it’s who he is. Nanobots can do some amazing things, but only cosmetically. They can’t build a whole new creature from nothing. They must have living cells to move around, not entirely unlike a child's building blocks. Just to get you to your current state, we had to build a clone and provide acceptable spare bio-matter. This was the only way.”
She just looked at him for a moment. “You're telling me that the only way to make him a centaur was to drastically change me first without even stopping to ask me if it was OK? I don't buy that. I'm sorry, but you'll have to do better." She had folded her arms almost naturally under her new bust.
"I didn't expect that would go over, your profiles were spot on. While I sympathize with your situation, unfortunately I am bound by my friend and client against shedding further light in that direction. However, he will be happy to discuss it with you in a little over a week's time." His tight-lipped smile brooked no argument.
Dropping her hands she relented, "I need to go to the park.”
"Indeed, it's not much further," the little man replied. He looked much smaller now, and she figured she had topped seven feet and was probably looking closer to being eight feet tall. As they walked, he began to educate her on her new form. Genetically her upper body was the same as it had always been. Likewise half of her lower body was genetically Tim Veldts. Rhiannon turned out to be more horse than human on that level. All of the unicorn attributes were purely cosmetic. The cloven hooves, the long sinuous tail, the spiral horn on her brow, all of it.
Simone did her best to listen to Mr. Cambridge, but plodding along at this slow pace was wearing on her nerves. She had never had such a strong desire to run in all of her life, and if she knew the way to her destination, she would have left the man behind. Some of what he said did give her pause though. As long as she could remember she had wanted the chance to be a mother, but this was all rather extreme. In order for it to work, she would have to undergo nanobot treatments three times a day until Mr. Veldts was born again. These would serve several purposes. First to further obscure the genetic line between the equine and human in her lower half, for her health, she was told. They would also taking care of any signs of rejection of the radical graft while helping along Mr. Veldts' development and ensuring he would have a compatible genetic diversity. Mr. Cambridge seemed to catch his tongue too late with the mention of compatible genetic diversity, and Simone found the term further unsettled her. They walked the rest of the way in silence.
At the door to the park her wrist bangle was returned to her, and Mr. Cambridge made his farewell. According to the chronometer integrated into the wrist device, her run lasted for more than an hour and a half. She had gotten used to her gait during the walk from the treatment room to the park, then spent the first half hour of her time alone discovering how to move herself through the paces she had learned from the stable hands, a trot, a canter, and a gallop. Full gallop was exhilarating, and the rhythm of her breath split between two pairs of lungs seemed to serve to reinforce her excitement, but she was unable to sustain it for very long. Instead she found a bounding motion easier to maintain and possibly as fast as the gallop. The thing that surprised her most was how much joy she derived simply from being in motion.
If it weren't for the inviting smell of the apple orchard, she might have kept running all afternoon. However she had been warned away from eating apples for the week. Something about the possibility of them fermenting in her new digestive tract. Now she wished she had been able to pay more attention to Mr. Cambridge in the hallway. As she began retracing her path, she was surprised to find how well her new form suited her. She was already comfortable with how she had been changed, even though she still had strong objections to the means of that change. Of course, she questioned the genuineness of her acceptance, the nanobots had proven themselves capable of manipulating her emotions already, but everything she had read and seen yesterday indicated that they wouldn't be able to do anything outside of the treatment room.
Soon her bangle let her know when she was near the entrance to the atrium, and raising her wrist rewarded her with a green rectangle forming out of the air. On the other side of the portal she found Mr. Johnson apparently waiting patiently for her. While he escorted her back to her room, she tried to recall more of the conversation with Mr. Cambridge, specifically the part that had shut him up. There was really only one reason she could imagine she and Mr. Veldts would need 'compatible genetic diversity' and while she had often daydreamed of how nice being a mother would be, she was less than happy with the available choice for a father. Then she remembered that physical spark she had felt the day he came to pick her up, and was surprised to find that that door wasn't completely closed. They would certainly have much to discuss by the end of next week.