AnimeGalleries [dot] NetAnimeWallpapers [dot] ComAnimeLyrics [dot] ComAnimePedia [dot] ComAnimeGlobe [dot] Com

User Tag List

+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experiment

  1. #1
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power

    Default Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experiment

    Well, here we go, my first fiction post at this board, and my first attempt at real actual story telling. I don't care for using other people's characters, so I prefer to create my own. I've tried to keep this as anime like as possible, the main gist of this story came from reading the description of Madaline Rosca's Hallows Field on Amazon. I think this is different enough from Rosca's comic, although I'll admit that the Miss Piranha character is a bare faced rip off of HF's Miss Rickets (then again, Rosca owes a huge debt to J.K. Rowling).Like I said, I write long, this story clocking in at a whopping fifty pages! With this first chapter, I'm doing a lot introduction to the situationa and the characters, which I hope isn't too boring. The big chase at the end will hopefully liven things up. Keep in mind, this isn't going to be actually good, I'm not a real writer, so don't expect too much careful realistically drawn characters and drama. I put a lot of work into this, and rather then keep everything in my sorry excuse for a head, like I did in my hentai fics, I've kept note and synopsis in a note book. I hope people like this, I've got about eleven chapters of this plotted out so far. Content wise, I'd say this is PG-13 or TV-14. This future chapters might edge a bit to TV-MA, but only because I'm fond of hokey fan serice of the cheesecake variety (so we're talking shower scenes, nothing else). I don't censor myself, but I'm not fond of excessive unnesesary profanity either, it usually sounds unrealistic (Jim Cameron used to do that a lot, back when he actually made movies).The Qbert style zingers that I put in instead of the dreaded "ef" word just seemed funnier to

    At any rate, I hope you all fall in love with Zippy as much as I have. I want to continue this and focus on it all the way up to the end (I do know where all this is going, trust me). Please comment if you like this story, its very disheartening when nobody does so. I've included downloadabel ZIP files of the RTF documents for your convience.

    Download links:

    Passoword ::hardcover::

    Moderately mad
    The First Experiment

    By Hardcover

    Nobody would deny that young Zippy Zipperdale was extraordinarily smart. Zippy was short for Zippendelka, and her full name was Zippendelka Asimov Zipperdale, quite the mouthful. Needless to say, she preferred the shorter, less formal, moniker of Zippy. Zippy had long been a top student and recognized as a supremely gifted girl, her brilliant mind sometimes confounding the teachers who attempted to school her. She excelled at math, history, and especially science, so it had been with no small sense of pride that her parents would send her to an exclusive school for gifted students to further her education. And so, Zippy was now sitting in the back of a rather less then pristine but serviceable cab, on her way to be enrolled in the prestigious Coddswhollop Academy. Although it meant being away from her parents, family and friends, Zippy welcomed the chance to expand her natural mental prowess. After all, being a genius was worthless if you didn’t do anything with it.

    Zippy felt that she fit right in with her era; she lived in an age when progress had accelerated, and amazing advances in science were happening all the time. It was, she felt, a great time to be alive, in such an astounding vortex of remarkable innovation and invention. She had even taken a national prize in an applied science competition, which had been presented to her by Dr. Stephen Hawking himself. She had probably pushed things a little by kissing him, but she’d been so excited to meet him in person. Winning the prize had even gotten her an interview on television, and a small amount of fan mail.

    That is not to say that Zippy’s good points were limited to her mental abilities; Zippy was quite a pretty young lady, possessed of a mane of fiery red hair that ran strait down to her shoulders and curled a bit at the ends. She had large expressive blue eyes that sat behind a large round pair of wire frame glasses. Although Zippy did have contact lenses, she infrequently used them, not liking the ritual of putting them in her eyes. She was slightly short at five foot five, and had a fair complexion of the skin. She was in good physical condition, having excelled in many sports as a child as well as academics, including martial arts. She was slender without looking anorexic, with a sultry curve of the hips, but very small B cup breasts that were a bit of a sore spot to her, in spite of her belief that it really shouldn’t be. Try as she might, she couldn’t stop being sensitive about her breast size, in spite of her intellectual realization that she was just being completely silly.

    All in all, Zippy was an attractive package, possessed of a friendly and enthusiastic disposition that many found infectious. She made friends fairly easily and in general had a relaxed attitude about her that made her easy to deal with, along with a stubborn determination and “stick-to-itiveness” (as her mom called it, although Zippy knew there was no such word) that complimented her large IQ quite nicely. She was also your proverbial nerdy girl in a lot of ways, addicted hopelessly to late night horror and sci fi films. But she figured it could be worse: She could be an otaku like her good for nothing little brother.

    She was dressed casually, in a simple pair of blue jeans and a pink and grey T-shirt with the words “E=MC2” across the front in thick black lettering.

    She shuffled in the back seat of the cab. Her attempts to engage the cab driver in conversation had proven fruitless, as the strange creepy looking man had proved that he had no desire to say anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. The man was tall, maybe six one, and had a long, pallid face and deep sunken eyes that made him look more or less like Boris Karloff on valium. As such, Zippy had been basically all alone thus far in the trip. She’d occupied herself by reading, and trying to imagine what her new home for the next several years was going to be like. She’d seen the pamphlets, of course, but a pamphlet was not the same as being there.

    She stared out the cab window, watching the scenery go by. The road they were on was surround by thick forests on either side, and a heavy fog had rolled in, blanketing the scenery in a dreary coat of light grey. An overcast sky added to the gloomy feeling of the morning. There was almost a sense of foreboding in the oppressive feeling of the murkiness. Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft would have felt right at home on this slightly sinister and shadowy stretch of road.

    Zippy frowned, she was sure that Coddswhollop was NOT this far in the country. She wondered if the cab driver was trying to jack up the fare. She was about to say something when the cab made a sudden right turn up a small dirt road that sent Zippy flying to one side of the backseat. No sooner had she righted herself, and then the cab suddenly screeched to a violent halt sending Zippy forward, the seat belt biting into her hips painfully. That was going to leave an unattractive mark.

    At first she thought the cab had hit or almost hit something or someone, but then the creepy cab driver turned and looked back at him with those sunken insomniac’s eyes.

    “We’re here.” He said simply in that deep throaty voice and got out of the cab.

    “’Here’?” Zippy said, bewildered, “Where’s ‘here’? We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

    Zippy unhooked her belt and scrambled out of the car. The cab driver had already taken her suitcase out of the trunk and extended the handle. Confused zippy looked around her, at first seeing nothing but more trees and fog.

    But then she saw it: Right in front of the cab, a large metal bridge ran across a large body of water, a river of some kind, off into a huge building of some kind, silhouetted blurrily in the thick fog on the other side. A large sign topped with six billboard lights with fancy old English lettering next to the bridge gave the name of the place on the other side: “MADAME PETRI’S ACADEMY FOR THE GIFTED AND ECCENTRIC”.

    This was definitely NOT Coddswhollop.

    She turned around to tell the driver he’d made a mistake and found to her horror that he was already leaving, the red glow of his tail lights illuminating the fog with a light pink shade. Zippy shrieked and ran after the cab waving her arms, and trying to get his attention but he seemed to only drive faster.

    “Wait, please!” Zippy cried, “There’s been a mistake, this is the wrong school! Please stop!”

    But he kept on going as Zippy ran after him, hopelessly trying to catch up.

    No longer feeling the need to act like a polite young lady, Zippy screamed, “Hey, you @$#%&!! idiot! This is the wrong @$%&$#$!!! place. @%$#$%ing stop the @%#$%#!ing car!!!!!

    Zippy tore after him frantically, but soon the cab disappeared into the gloom of the fog, leaving an infuriated Zippy panting and gasping for breath, still screaming angrily into the gloom.

    “This is the wrong place, moron!” She yelled hopelessly, before burying her face in her hands.

    Accepting that the cab was gone and it wasn’t coming back, Zippy fished in her pocket and pulled out her cell phone, flipping open the front. Her heart sank when she saw the backlit screen reading zero bars. She tried the phone anyways, and got nothing.

    Despair surged in her, she’d been abandoned here. She didn’t cry, fighting down the encroaching tears. She could fix this, she could deal with it. Well, there was nothing else to do: She’d simply have to go over the bridge to that school and ask someone there to call her a cab, preferably one with a driver who knew how to read a map or a GPS. Zippy stuck her chin up, and walked back to her suitcase, pulling it with her, thankful that it came equipped with wheels. She headed for the long metal bridge.

    Stepping out on the bridge, she could see that the river curved in the direction of the school on either side. As she got further and further, it seemed as through the river was actually some kind of moat, though it would have to be the biggest and widest moat she had ever seen in her life. It took her a good twenty minutes to cross the bridge to the other side. From what she could see, the water looked deep, too. She frowned: Who in the world would build a moat around a school? And why build one so big? Were they expecting a siege?

    The bridge itself was a wide metal contraption, held together with bolts the size of a grown man’s fist. The structure looked old, but exceptionally well maintained; Zippy couldn’t see any rust on any of the m metal, a mean feat on a bridge this big so close to water.

    As she moved down, her nostrils flared: She could sense a distinct brine scent to the vaporous mist kicked up by the water underneath, a telltale sign of salinated water. The moat was a salt water moat. Strange, Zippy had never heard of one before, why make a moat with salt water, unless they were keeping something alive in there that needed it?

    When she finally got to the other side of the bridge, the large building finally came into view, and Zippy’s mouth dropped open: The structure was shaped like an old medieval castle, complete with spires and towers, but seemed to be made entirely out of riveted plate metal. A large metal wall, topped with gothic looking steel gargoyles, encircled the property, and a large black metal wrought iron gate sat in front of the bridge. Zippy could also see what appeared to be a huge windmill, metal like the rest of the structure, attached to the building, four huge red sails slowly turning in the wind. The place looked like some kind of weird cross between Castle Dracula and something Jules Verne might have written about.

    Aside from the windmill, the highest structure seemed to be a spire that was a good ten stories off the ground. She could see that some parts of the building jutted out over that wall and dangled over the moat, giving the whole thing a bizarre MC Escher type quality to it.

    She approached the gate, noticing a strange metal sculpture next to it: It seemed to be some kind of modern art, depicting a mechanical metal man, armored in the manner of ancient Japanese Samurai, but definitely robotic, like something out of a fifties sci fi film. The robot was definitely anthropomorphic, having a head, torso, two arms, and two legs, but instead of feet it had two large thick tires attached to axles at the base of each leg. Quit the interesting creation, actually.

    Zippy looked around and saw no call boxes or bells or anything to signal the inside. She peered through the gate, but saw no one in the courtyard beyond, just a large fountain depicting a jumble of mermaids and tritons, made of metal like the rest of the place, she assumed.

    She reached down and pulled on the bars, attempting to open the gate. And that was when the robot came to life.

    There was a loud metal grinding sound that startled Zippy, and made her yelp in surprise, followed by the groaning sounds of motors running. The huge metal man turned on her, its hands on its hip. And then, to Zippy’s utter astonishment, the robot spoke in a deep metallic voice with a slight reverberated echo.

    “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” The robot demanded.

    Startled, Zippy didn’t answer for a second, then she said, “I . . . I’m sorry. I was just looking for . . .”

    “You think you can jus waltz in here whenever you want? Do you? Do you? Huh? Huh?” The robot replied, “Well, not while Gortcha, that’s me, Madame Petri’s best guard is on the job.”

    Getting irritated, Zippy said, “By any chance are you the only guard?”

    Gortcha stuck his chest out indignantly, “Huh? What do you mean by that?!?”

    When Zippy didn’t reply, Gortcha snorted, “Oh, I see how it is? You think you’re better the Gortcha just because you can read at an adult level. Huh? Is that it? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

    “No! I just needed some help! You see . . .” Zippy protested.

    “You know what? I think you’re a thief. I think you’re trying to break in and steal stuff. And I, Gortcha, Madame Petri’s best guard, that’s me, caught you red handed.” Gortcha said.

    Oboy, was this guy for real? Zippy’s mind reeled as the irate man of metal stepped forward, “No, I really need some help.”

    “You think you can pull one on me? You think your tougher then me?” Gortcha put up his fists and began bouncing back and forth, shadow boxing in front of Zippy, “You want a piece of me? You want a piece of me? Huh? You talkin’ ta’ me? Huh? You talkin’ ta’ me? Well I’m the only one here!”

    “Gortcha!” A voice said behind him.

    Gortcha let out a high shrieking yelp, and jumped back in fright, covering up his head and crouching into down on the ground, letting out a small fearful moan. All his tough guy talk seeming to have evaporated the minute he actually got scared.

    The voice came from a second robot who approached the gates and pushed them open, unlocking them with some sort of magnetic device that it had in its hand. The robot came forward through the gate, and zippy could see that it was definitely made to look female. She was made of highly polished chrome parts, all done in a curvy female shape except for the bottom. Instead of two legs she had a simple metal cone that ran down to a metal platform that was flanked on either side by two tires, smaller then Gortcha’s but just as thick. Unlike Gortcha, this robot was wearing clothes; a leather security guard’s uniform to be exact, along with a hat that made her resemble, more or less, a British traffic cop.

    Zippy looked back and forth between the two of them, fascinated by what she was seeing. Although they looked primitive on the outside, their movements and articulation were far in advance of any robotics she’d ever seen before, and their A.I. had to extraordinary to create such life like personalities for each of them. Zippy had a strong urge to take both of them apart piece by piece and see how they were made, reverse engineer the robots and discover what made them tick. This was incredible work.

    Gortcha rose, wiping his brow; a ridiculous gesture since a robot does not sweat, “Criminey, Vixen, don’t do that to me. You scared the beejeezus out of me.”

    Vixen spoke with a high pitched soft voice, sounding a bit like a stereotypical teenie bopper on a sit com.

    “Well what’s all the commotion about . . .” Vixen asked, and the straitened up when she saw Zippy, “Jeepers! We have a visitor! Hello there, Miss. What’s your name?”

    “Hi, I’m Zippy. And I’m . . .” Zippy began.

    Vixen suddenly clapped her hands together at the sound of Zippy’s name, making a loud clanging noise, “Zippy?!? Zippy Zipperdale!?! Jeepers! Welcome! We’ve been expecting you. Jeepers!”

    What the heck? Thought Zippy, and she said, “Huh? No, I’ve been dropped off at the wrong place. I’m supposed to be going to Coddswhollop, but my driver took me to the wrong school and then took off. I just need a phone so I can call another cab. My cell phone doesn’t seem to work out here.”

    Vixen waved her hand, “Oh no, you belong here. Jeepers! Zippy Zipperdale: Zippendelka Asimov Zipperdale. Strait A student, daughter of Jasper and Melody Zipperdale of Sunnyvale, Washington, and older sister to Zachery Zipperdale, solid C minus student. We’ve been expecting your arrival today for months. Jeepers! Please follow me, and we’ll get you settled.”

    The two robots began to move towards the building, leaving Zippy to hesitate for a second before grabbing her suitcase and running after them. She reached into a side pocket and pulled out her letter of acceptance to Coddswhollop Academy, running up behind Vixen and holding it out.

    “No, listen, I’m not a student here, see?” She handed the letter to the robot who took it in her metal fingers, reading it over.

    She then handed it back, “Yes, so what does that have to do with it?”

    Zippy looked at the letter and let out a gasp of surprise: When she had received the letter, it had clearly been a letter of acceptance to Coddswhollop. But now, it quiet unmistakably read: “Miss Zippendelka “Zippy” Asimov Zipperdale, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Madame Petri’s Academy For The Gifted And Eccentric. Please present this letter for admittance; we look forward to your attendance at our school.”

    Zippy stared; it had NOT said that yesterday. What in the world was going on here? Had it been replace somehow, and if so, when had it been done? She hurried after the robots, running around the fountain which she could now tell was not actually made of metal, but highly polished marble. The fountain seemed to be very old, much older then the school itself, and depicted six mermaids and six tritons (or mermen, if you prefer) rising out of the sea with their hands thrown out in a fashion that suggested the worship of something. From between the figures, the jets of water sprayed out in elaborate and spectacular patterns. Zippy tore her attention away from the fountain and followed after the robots, trying to come up with some logical explanation for what was happening.

    “You don’t understand,” Zippy explained, “I’m at the wrong school.”

    “Not anymore.” Vixen assured her.

    The robots opened to front door of the building and ushered Zippy into a huge room, made in much the same style as the outside of the school. Couches and chairs sat here and there, and large metal stairs went up to balcony up above on either side of the room. There were doors on all three remaining walls, slightly oval on the corners, like submarine doors. There was a large fireplace on one wall, in which a fire burned warmly.

    “Look, its not like you robots aren’t cool and all,” Zippy said, “And it’s not like you haven’t been nice, at least one half of you has . . .”

    “Robots! Huh, shows what you know.” Gortcha said indignantly, “The nerve of this one, calling us robots. Harumff! Stupid punk.”

    “What? Am I supposed to call you ‘mechanical Americans’?” Zippy raised an eyebrow at them.

    “No! We’re Werx, girl!” Gortcha snarled, “We’re called Werx!”

    “’Works’? What’s the difference?” Zippy asked.

    Vixen replied, “Jeepers. We’re BETTER robots.”

    Oh, of course. That made a world of difference.

    “Listen,” Zippy said, growing impatient, “Can you guys just show me to a phone so I can get out of here?”

    “Get out of here? Jeepers!” Vixen exclaimed, “You can’t leave, you signed a contract that guarantees that you will remain a student here until you graduate or until you expire, whichever comes first.”

    Zippy was incredulous over that statement, she recalled signing no such contract. She tried to keep her mind focused, there was obviously some reason why all this was happening, she just had to find it. She was about to ask some more questions of the Werks, but was distracted as another figure entering the room, this one most definitely human, a girl about the same age as Zippy.

    Clasping her hands together, Vixen addressed the new girl, “Ah . . . Madoka. Just the person we need. Madoka, this is our new student, Zippy Zipperdale. Zippy, this is Madoka Matsura, one of our current residents.”

    “Hi.” Zippy said.

    “Hey, nice to metcha.” Madoka said loudly.

    Madoka was Japanese, about the same height as Zippy, with long black hair that she kept down over her shoulders. She pretty, possessing a round cheerful face, and a nicely curved figure that she seemed to take extra care to show off. She was dressed in what was apparently the school uniform: A navy blue long sleeved top with a white cuff running over the shoulders and across the top and duplicate cuffs on the end of each wide sleeve. A navy blue skirt, which Madoka had rolled at the waist to show off her legs more, matched the top, with a white trim at the bottom. She wore long black stockings on each feet that went up to her thighs. On each foot she wore simple navy blue leather shoes. Under the top, she seemed to wear a black tank top. A blue sash, white at each end, encircled her waist and was tied in a bow up front. A small shield shaped patch with what Zippy took to be the school logo adorned the upper left part of the top. Madoka had deliberately neglected the top two buttons on her blouse. Her breasts were fairly large, and Zippy felt an unwelcome twinge of jealousy.

    Zippy chided herself: For Pete’s sake, grow up, Zippy!

    “Madoka, would you be a dear and show our new friend to her room, she’ll be staying in 137G, with Lizzy.” Vixen told her.

    Madoka smiled and nodded, “Sure thing, Vix. Common, Zipper. I’ll give ya’ the fifty cent tour.”

    “It’s Zippy.” Zippy told her.

    “Zippy the Zippmeister, so be it.” Madoka chortled, “Okay, follow me.”

    Madoka opened the nearby door and led Zippy down a hallway, duplicate of most of the other parts of the school. Framed portraits of people lined the walls, seeming to increase in age the further down the hall they went, probably past students or past teachers. Zippy followed, playing along until she could find someone to help her. It wasn’t a great plan, but it was the only one she had at the moment.

    “So how’s your first day at Petri’s going so far, Zippa.” Madoka asked over her shoulder.

    “Zippy.” Zippy corrected her, “And its been great, I got dropped off by cab driver who can’t read a map, almost crushed by a wimpy artificial life form with no artificial intelligence whatsoever, and now I don’t ever want to hear the word ‘Jeepers’ again as long as live. You know, the usual mish mash.”

    Madoka chuckled, “Hey, I like you, you’re funny. And you’re pretty, too, you’re probably gonna land a lot of guys.”


    “Don’t mention it. And don’t worry; there are plenty of cute guys here who aren’t gay. Girl like you should snag a half dozen easy.”

    Was this a school or a dating service? Madoka made it sound like they were about to go to singles mixer.

    “Listen, Madoka,” Zippy interjected, “It’s cool that you want to make be feel welcome and all, but I’m not staying. I’m not even supposed to be here.”

    “What do you mean?” Madoka looked back at her.

    “There’s been some kind of mix up; I’m supposed to be enrolled at Coddswhollop Academy. As soon as I can get this all straitened up and call another cab, or even flag down a pick up truck, I’ll be on my way.”

    “Coddswhollop? Why would you want to go there?”

    “Are you kidding? It’s one of the most prestigious private academies in the world. It’s a great honor to be accepted there.”

    “Awe, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Petri’s is better; it’s the elite of the elite. You learn things here they couldn’t even dream of teaching you at Coddwhollop. You not only learn, but you DO. You create, and revolutionize, right here at the school. If you graduate here, you can pick out your dream job as soon as you’ve got your diploma. Hell, you can get rich before you even get your sheepskin. Coddwhollop would have to get on a ladder just to kiss this school’s butt.”

    Zippy didn’t reply; if half of what Madoka was saying was true, Madame Petri’s did sound like an incredible educational opportunity. Maybe she shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this mix up. Madoka did make the school sound exciting.

    Opening two large double doors at the end of the hall, Madoka said, “Welcome to Petri’s.”

    The doors opened . . . onto what looked like complete chaos.

    They walked out into some kind of central shaft, catwalks for each floor running around all four corners of the square shaft and crisscrossing to connect with each other. The shaft went up so high that Zippy could barely make out the ceiling up above, which seemed to be decorated with a huge crystal chandelier. Looking down, Zippy got dizzy as she saw that shaft went down so far she couldn’t see the bottom at all. She stepped away from the banister, trying to get a hold of her sense of vertigo.

    She glanced at Madoka, “Holy ****, how big is this place.”

    “Big.” Madoka said, simply, “What you see on the outside is just the tip of the proverbial ice berg: The school goes far down underground and it spreads out, going under about half of Spirtwood Forrest out there. I’ve never seen all of it. I bet some of the teachers haven’t either.”

    “Wow.” Zippy muttered, looking over the towering shaft in amazement.

    “Hey, Billy!” Madoka waved to a passing male student.

    “Hey . . . Madoka.” Billy replied, arriving at her name after a brief pause as if he wasn’t sure who she was.

    The male student uniform was similar to the female one: A black v neck golf shirt was worn under a navy blue jacket with white shoulders and cuffs, and navy blue pants with folded up white cuffs. A white belt was threaded around the waste, and an identical patch adorned the upper left side of the jacket.

    Students seemed to be running everywhere, some carrying a number of strange contraptions. Zippy had trouble trying to take it all in at once: She saw devices she didn’t recognize, and more then a few animals she didn’t recognize either. A couple of boys came past her carrying a huge tank full of electric eels on either side. One girl ran past her with what appeared to be a chicken with three heads. What kind of school was this?

    A small black haired boy walked past them. He had pale skin and a slight pinkish ring around his large wide bug like eyes. His face seemed stark and emotionless. Zippy found him a little creepy; the boy looked like a teenage Peter Lorre.

    “Hi, Lorne.” Madoka waved.

    “Hello . . . Madoka.” Lorne replied.

    Lorne scurried off quickly without another word.

    Madoka gestured for Zippy to follow her, and she quickly fell in next to her. Madoka gave a general tour of the place, which Zippy half listened to, distracted by the bizarre sights around her. Did that girl have a monkey head in that jar? And why did it seem to be still alive? Her attention was suddenly distracted by a boy shooting up from one of the lower levels, flying through the air by means of a jet pack strapped to his back. There was the low roar of the engine as he shot past them and up to one of the upper floors. In the wake of the twin jets, the updraft caused many of skirts worn by the female students fly up, resulting in panty shots a plenty. Girls giggled and blushed as they quickly held their skirts down, laughing. Madoka smoothed her skirt out as she greeted another guy, who once again had to look her over before he knew who she was.

    As Madoka kept moving, Zippy followed her. Madoka pointed out various items of interest, although it seemed to Zippy that every other item she pointed out was a guy that she thought was cute. It looked like Madoka was interested in anyone who happened to come equipped with a Y chromosome. In short, Madoka was boy crazy. Though, at first glace, it looked like everyone here was one kind of crazy or another.

    Another robot walked by, turning into a door and disappearing, this one seemed of a simpler design, fully anthropomorphic, with legs and feet, and it reminded Zippy a little of the metal Cylons from the new Battlestar Galactica. As soon as it was gone, another one came out of a different door and passed them going the other way. Zippy pursed her lips; this was robotic engineering she’d never seen before outside of a science fiction movie. Looking around, she spotted more of them. Most of them resembled the cylon ones, but a few were of different design.

    “What’s with all the metal heads?” She asked Madoka.

    Madoka smiled, “Those are the Werx: W-E-R-X. There’s tons of them, they take care of all the general work, grounds keeping, house keeping, that sort of thing. They were built right here in the school, by Madame Petri’s mother, although they’ve been improved a lot over the years. The general ones only have a limited AI, but, you’ve met Gortcha and Vixen, a lot of the more advanced Werx have full artificial personalities that you can interact with. Even though you probably don’t want to in Gortcha’s case.”

    “They’re amazing. I’ve never seen engineering like that.” Zippy gushed.

    “You’ll see plenty more amazing things here.” Madoka smiled.

    Zippy was led to a wide platform with guardrails on all four sides, the platform accessed through a small gate in the front. Madoka got on and Zippy followed, pulling her suitcase along with her.

    Once she was on, Madoka said, “Hang on.”

    “Why?” Zippy asked, and suddenly became aware that her feet seemed to be held to the platform by some invisible force, “Hey, I can’t move my feet.”

    “They have to be held there so you don’t fly off.” Madoka explained.

    “What . . . ?” Zippy started to ask.

    All at once, the platform lurched upwards at a rapid velocity like a jet taking off. Zippy screamed in shock and terror as her guts seemed to pool up in stomach. The platform rocketed up the side of the wall at well over eighty miles per hour, and then came to a screeching halt several floors above, jolting Zippy and causing her teeth to clack together painfully.

    Zippy cried, “What . . . Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Zippy screamed again as the platform lurched and then rocketed sideways to the right, moving at incredible velocity around the walls of the shaft. Zippy’s hair flew out to her left, whipping in the wind caused by their sudden sideways movement. She felt like she was gonna puke any moment as the platform raced around the walls like some ungodly cross between an elevator and a roller coaster. At any second, Zippy expected to feel herself flying off the platform, but her feet stuck firm.

    “Yeeee Haaaaa!!!!” Madoka cried, holding her hands over her head excitedly.

    The platform lurched to a halt with another violent shake next a large set of doors, causing Zippy’s head to snap painfully. It was a wonder she didn’t have whiplash. There was a hum as the platform powered down and stopped entirely.

    “We’re here.” Madoka said.

    “Eeber eeber yabble.” Was all Zippy could say as her whole body trembled uncontrollably.

    “Come one, Zipp-a-di doo dah, it’s this way.” Madoka tugged on her arm.

    “Gahhh! What the hell was that?” Zippy cried, finding her voice again.

    “Much faster and more fun then the stairs.” Madoka replied.

    Pulling the frazzled Zippy along, Madoka led her along the catwalk, stopping every so often to say hello to someone. Every time there was that peculiar pause as they tried to remember who they were talking too, a fact that didn’t seem to bother Madoka at all, but had Zippy more then a little curious. As Madoka walked she pointed out this or that to Zippy, although Zippy noticed that ever other item of interest was still a guy Madoka thought was hot. Definitely a little boy crazy, Zippy thought to herself with a smile.

    As if on cue, Madoka grabbed Zippy’s arm and excitedly gestured in one particular direction, “Ooo! Ooo! Look there, look there. See that guy? That Gerald Driver, everyone calls him ‘Flash’. He’s the star Gravity Ball player here.”

    Zippy glanced at the tall, lean and muscular student Madoka had pointed out. He was chatting with some other students, almost strutting along as he did. He had brown hair, brushed back in some kind of wave that didn’t seem to leave a strand out of place, and lean chiseled features that looked like he’d never had a pimple. He was carrying quantum physics and advanced calculus books. He seemed brainy and intelligent, yet still like a typical jock off at the same time.

    “He’s so cool!” Madoka gushed in a high squeal.

    Part of Zippy wanted to role her eyes, but then again, she could see why Madoka was so taken with the guy. Cool, confident and athletic, not really Zippy’s type, but she could easy imagine why he’d be someone else’s.

    And then, Zippy suddenly stopped dead.

    Zippy was not given to sudden impulsive behavior all that much, but now she had suddenly frozen in place, because out of one of the doors had come the most gorgeous guy she had ever seen. It wasn’t that he was really handsome, or really athletic or well dressed or cool. It was more something indefinable about the overall package.

    The guy had thick wavy light brown hair that he kept short and parted on one side. He had large deep blue eyes and slight peach color to his skin. There was a little bit of freckling over his nose and under the eyes, but very unobtrusive. His face was handsome, cute without looking like he was cut out of a magazine. He wore large round glasses similar to Zippy’s, and had no piercings that Zippy could see. He was not tall, although taller a bit then Zippy, and seemed to have lean build under his uniform. No bulging fat, but no bulging muscle either. He seemed, for all intents of purposes, to be the consummate bookworm. The kind of boy Zippy was always attracted to.

    He walked out of the door, and stopped and glanced at Zippy. When he saw her staring at him, he smiled a line of strait white teeth.

    Zippy’s heart fluttered in her chest, her blood surged through her veins, causing her to feel a little light headed. All manner of hormones and pheromones kicked in as a delightful giddiness flowed over Zippy at the sight of that smile. In no short order, Zippy was completely spellbound by the unknown boy.

    And just like that, he was gone, disappearing into another doorway, leaving Zippy not even sure she had seen him at all. She stared for a second, before Madoka’s beckoning wave called her away, her face still flushed and her heart still pounding. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the door the Unknown Boy had entered. Zippy didn’t really believe in ‘love at first sight’, but she really couldn’t deny the way she’d felt when she’d seen him.

    Get a grip, Zippy.

    She tore her eyes away and moved towards where Madoka was leading her. She was taken to a pair of large doors with a sign over it that read “Girl’s Dorm G”. Madoka pushed them open and Zippy followed after her. They entered a wide hallway that went off into the distance before splitting into two wings. Despite the fact that it was the girl’s dorm, Zippy noticed a lot of male students wandering around. When she asked about it, Madoka told her that there was plenty of privacy in the rooms, so no one cared about guys in the halls. The dorm area had wood paneling and carpeted floors, framed paintings decorating the walls and cushioned benches on both sides to rest on. The whole effect was less metallic and more inviting then the rest of the school.

    Five students ran past them carrying a giant boa constrictor that seemed to have a head on each end.

    As Zippy followed her guide she passed a despondent looking girl sitting on one of the benches, another girl patting her on the shoulders trying to console her. The girl was black, with wavy brown hair spilling down over her shoulders and wide brown eyes. She was very pretty, with round features and a wide but unobtrusive nose on her face.

    “I can’t believe he’d do this to me. I mean, of all the things, what am I supposed to do now?” She moaned.

    “I know, Sharon, I know. But you’re just going to have to deal with it. Pick yourself up and get back on the horse.” Her friend suggested.

    The fried was a short, chubby girl with stark black hair worn back behind her head. She patted Sharon’s shoulders emphatically.

    “Easy for you to say.” Sharon exclaimed angrily, “You don’t have to learn how to walk on these.”

    The girl stuck her legs out and Zippy noticed with shock that at the end of her legs, instead of feet, Sharon had large hands, complete with fingers dangling there. Zippy suppressed a gasp as she saw them.

    Sharon hissed angrily, “No good lousy bastard!”

    The sight was so bizarre, so completely unnatural, that Zippy couldn’t help herself. She liked to think of herself as above this sort of thing, but when it came down to it, she was no different then anyone at the scene of a horrific road accident. She just stared and gawked as she walked by, unable to tear her eyes away from the poor girl’s extra hands. So transfixed by the sight was she, that she didn’t see the boy in front of her until she had run right into him.

    She clumsily plowed right into the male student, slamming into him so hard that he released a gasp of surprise. He staggered back wards, looking his balance. Zippy cried out and tried to jump forward and grab him, but he stumbled back and fell completely over, landing painfully on his rear end with a disquieting slap.

    The boy was about Zippy’s age, and had a mane of wavy black hair on his head. He had a long round face, with wide, stunning blue eyes. He was short, actually a little shorter then Zippy, but broad shouldered. His uniform seemed excessively neat and pressed.

    “Ow! What the hell?!?” The boy cried angrily.

    A girl behind, a blonde with a particularly curvy figure, gasped and ran to him in alarm, “Cristobel! Are you okay?”

    “Oh my god. I’m so sorry!” Zippy apologized reaching down to help Cristobel up.

    Instead of taking her hand, Cristobel angrily smacked it away, his lip curling in a sneer.

    “Get your filthy hands off me, *****.” He hissed at her.

    Zippy was taken aback by the attitude. It had been, after all, only an accident. Cristobel was clinging to a large metal box he had in his hands, which he cradled with care. It must have been something important, a project or assignment. No wonder he was mad. He was flanked by two other girls, and one boy. The boy had dark skin, thick black hair that he parted to one side and thick eyebrows over a hawkish hooked nose.

    “Woah, take it easy, Cristobel.” The other boy said, “It was just an accident, you’re not hurt are you?”

    “Really, I’m very sorry.” Zippy apologized again.

    Cristobel stood up, “Stupid is what you are. Stupid and clumsy and now your sorry too.”

    “Hey, I already apologized.” Zippy felt her face growing hot.

    “You’ve probably had your whole life to apologize for, so what’s a little extra now going to matter?” Cristobel sneered, his lip mouth curling at the end.

    “Cris, don’t do this, take it easy . . .” The other boy started, but was interrupted.

    “Who the hell are you, anyways?” Cristobel started, “Oh, wait: You’re that new girl. Zipperdale, isn’t it? Another little girl coming here to try to play in a man’s world.”

    Zippy bristled, “Excuse me?”

    Cristobel spat at her contemptuously, “You women, always trying to pretend your equal to men, but in the end all you’re good for is to be at the feet of a strong man: Cooking his meals and pumping out his heirs.”

    Zippy raised an eyebrow, “Did I just go through a time warp and end up in the forties? Who the hell fed you that load of garbage?”

    “Science is a man’s game, little girl.” Cristobel said, “You just go home a play with your dollies and leave the real science to your betters, okay?”

    And with that, Cristobel turned and walked off with a sardonic laugh. The three girls all fell in behind him, following him as he walked, each one trying to outdo the other with the amount of their concern for his possible injuries. The other boy mouthed a quick ‘I’m sorry’ in Zippy’s direction, and then followed after the rest with a sigh. Zippy stood where she was, furious. She gritted her teeth in annoyance, getting her nerves under control.

    “Who the hell was that?” She asked Madoka.

    “Cristobel Bell.” Madoka explained, “He’s a strait A student, a scientific genius, and a world class pain in ***. He’s the heir to the Bell family fortune; they’re an old school male matriarch family: The men rule everything and the women obey, and you saw that Cristobel’s no different. You see those three Barbies attached to him like barnacles? Amber, Tiffany, and Charity: They’re the top three of a whole troupe of groupies that follow him everywhere and do whatever he tells them.”

    Zippy snorted, “Why would they like him, he’s a sexist schmuck?”

    “They don’t like him,” Madoka chuckled, “They like his money. The Bell family fortune is huge, and Cristobel stands to inherit enough money to buy this whole school three times over. Each one of them hopes to be the one who marries into the Bell fortune, so they put up with him in hopes of getting it.”

    Zippy rolled her eyes: That was just pathetic.

    Madoka went on, “See that other guy that was with them? That’s Kevin Crowsfeet; he’s been Cristobel’s best friend since grade school. He’s actually a really nice guy, I don’t know why he stays friends with Bell, but he seems to thing there’s some redeeming qualities buried in there somewhere.”

    Madoka led her down the hall, making a left and finally stopping at a door marked 137. It was a standard dark brown wood door, with the number in brass metal numbers on the front.

    “Well, here you are.” Madoka told her, “Someone’ll come up with your uniform, books and class schedule. And then later a teacher’ll come by to take to you get registered with the Vice Principle.”

    Madoka knocked on the door, and then opened it without waiting for a response. She went in and Zippy followed her. Zippy gasped at the spacious room, opulently designed in old world décor, featuring four beds, desks, and wardrobes, a plush rich carpet, and what looked like a big HD TV on the far wall. Another girl sat a one of the desks, working at a computer. There were top of the line computers on each of the desks.

    “Hey, Lizzy.” Madoka said cheerfully, “I brought you your new roommate. I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.”

    Madoka quickly left as Lizzy turned around. Zippy suppressed another gasp as she saw her: Lizzy had long black wavy hair that she’d tied part of up high on either side of her head. The rest of it spilled down over her shoulders like a waterfall, partially curly from top to bottom. She had a long shield shaped face and a small nose. Her skin was excessively pale, as if she hadn’t ever been out in the sun. She reminded Zippy of those blind albino fish that lived deep in caves and never saw the light of day. She had deep set serious looking hazel eyes, and wore black finger nail polish. Zippy noticed that Lizzy had tied her hair with ties decorated with little bats, and silver skull earrings hung from both her ears. She was a little taller the Zippy, and her face seemed to be fixed in a neutral expression, her thin lips decorated with black lipstick. She reminded Zippy of some lost member of the Adams family, like some kind of odd cross between Morticia and Wednesday.

    Shoving her suitcase aside, having no intention of unpacking it here, she smiled politely and reached a hand out to Lizzy.

    She introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Zippy. Zippindelka Asimov Zipperdale, but please call me Zippy, it’s less of a mouth full.”

    Lizzy took Zippy’s hand and shook it, her skin feeling a little cold.

    Lizzy spoke in a low emotionless monotone, “Lizzy Malaria. Elizabeth Bathory Borden Malaria, actually, but everyone calls me Lizzy, as my name, also, is quite the mouthful. A pleasure to meet you, Zippy.”

    If Lizzy was actually pleased, it was very hard to tell because of the stoic, droning way she talked.

    Zippy shook her hand, “Pleased to meet you, Lizzy. Malaria, huh? That’s an . . . unusual family name?”

    “The family changed it in the eighteenth century.” Lizzy replied.

    “Oh, okay . . . just a second: They changed it TO Malaria?” Zippy asked incredulously.

    “It used to be Herpes.” Lizzy said.

    Yikes, Zippy thought. If Lizzy was kidding, she gave no indication of it. She must play one hell of a game of poker. What sort of weird loony bin had Zippy found herself in? Zippy moved over an empty chair and sat down, taking a load off. She eyed her companion curiously, but shivered when she found Lizzy unabashedly looking her over; studying her like one would specimen under a microscope. It almost seemed like she wasn’t blinking, her wide hazel eyes boring into Zippy with interest and curiosity.

    “I approve of you.” Lizzy finally said at last, “I believe you will fit in well. I’m glad you’re here.”

    Zippy smiled, “Thanks, but don’t get too glad; I’m not staying. There’s been some kind of mistake and I’m at the wrong school. As soon as I can get this sorted out and get a cab, I’m out of here.”

    When Lizzy slightly, almost imperceptivity slumped, Zippy was a little surprised. It seemed like the strange girl was disappointed.

    “That’s a shame.” Lizzy said with no perceptible change in her tone of voice, “I like you. I was hoping we could be friends. Friends are very important here, you know.”

    “Awe, you just met me, Lizzy.” Zippy chided her with warm smile, “How could you like me already.”

    “I’m a good judge of people.” Lizzy insisted, “Plus I googled you as soon as I found out the name of my new room mate. You’re brilliant and innovative, maybe the smartest person we’ve had in the school.”

    “I doubt that.” Zippy giggled, blushing a little at the boost to her intellectual vanity, “I’ve seen things here that made my head spin already.”

    “I still think you can be the best.” Lizzy said firmly, “As a bonus, it will be nice to have a top student who’s not a chauvinistic throwback to the dark ages.”

    “Cristobel? I already met him.” Zippy said.

    There was a pause, and they both burst out laughing. Lizzy had a wide Cheshire cat smile that displayed unusually long canine teeth. For one terrible, comic moment, Zippy thought they were fangs. She kicked herself for the thought: Lizzy might be a Goth chick, but she was no vampire. They began to chat a little about science, and what Lizzy had been working on before Zippy entered. Zippy found herself fascinated by Lizzy’s ideas and quickly saw that Lizzy was perfectly open to her own.

    Upon spying some DVDs that Lizzy had lying around, Zippy made another connection with the strange girl: A shared love of horror film old and new. Conversation quickly went on to analyzing the works of Terrance Fisher, Roger Corman, and Mario Bava, and the acting prowess of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.

    God help me, Zippy thought, I like this girl.

    Their conversation was interrupted when suddenly there came a tapping, as if someone was gently rapping at their chamber door.

    “It’s open.” Lizzy called.

    The door opened and Madoka re-entered the room, carrying clothes and a stack of books in her arms. Zippy frowned: It was definitely Madoka, but she looked totally different; her hair was now pulled back in a ponytail, not loose and free like it had been before, and her skirt was now let down to its normal length, the top buttons of her blouse now firmly connected. The whole uniform seemed smoothed down and neater then it had been a few minutes ago. She came in and set her burden down on one of the beds.

    “Hi, Lizzy.” She said in a tiny, quiet voice.

    “Greetings.” Lizzy replied.

    She then turned to Zippy and gave a polite Japanese bow, “And you must be Zippy?”

    “Uh, yeah, I must.” Zippy said, perplexed at the behavior.

    “I’m Rina Matsura. It’s very nice to meet you.” She said bowing again.

    Zippy was puzzled for a second, and then smiled to herself: This must be Madoka’s twin sister. Twins; that would explain a lot, especially the way everyone seemed to have trouble at first knowing who Madoka was. Zippy could relate, she could never tell the Olsen Twins apart.

    Gesturing towards the items she’d brought with her hand, Rina said, “I’ve brought all the text books you’re going to need for the semester, and that sheet in the top one contains your schedule of classes. I’ve also brought you your uniform, please change into it and a teacher will come by to take to the vice principle’s office.”

    Zippy waved her off, “You can take them back, I’m not staying. There’s been some kind of mix up. Soon as I can talk to this vice principle I’ll get this all cleared up.”

    “Oh.” Rina said, “Well, I was just told to bring them to you. You’ll have to put on the uniform anyways if you want to talk to the vice principle. He won’t see you dressed like that.”

    Zippy grimaced, she didn’t really want to get dressed up, she just wanted to get out of here and get where she was supposed to be.

    “So, you must be Madoka’s sister, huh?” She asked Rina.

    Rina’s reaction was strange: She gasped in alarm and blushed, turning a bright shade of pink.

    “Y-you . . . you’ve m-met Madoka?” She stuttered nervously.

    Confused again, Zippy said, “Yeah, she showed me to this room.”

    Rina’s pink face turned red and she fumbled with the bottom of her blouse nervously, turning her head and not meeting Zippy’s eyes.

    “Oh no. She uh . . . she didn’t do anything . . . crazy or . . . perverted; did she?” Rina asked nervously, whispering the word ‘perverted’.

    “Naw, she just pointed out ever guy in the building she though was hot.” Zippy chuckled, “Good taste actually.”

    “Oh good.” Rina breathed a sigh of relief, “I’m so sorry. You see, Madoka isn’t my sister . . . she’s me.”

    “Come again?” Zippy asked, hoping some kind of better explanation was forthcoming.

    Rina looked down at the floor, her hands touching her fingers together in embarrassment, one of her feet absently moving on the ground, “My parents are involved in computer science. And my father was creating a VR dating simulation, with fully realized self aware artificial intelligence. Real thinking feeling computerized people living in cyberspace. He tested it out on me, just had me enter the game and interact with various characters, and something went wrong. There was some kind of power surge, and the game went haywire, and somehow, the AI I was talking to at the time was loaded completely into my brain. And that was Madoka, and we’ve been stuck sharing the same body ever since.”

    She paused and added, “It’s been very hard: Madoka’s so . . . uninhibited. But we’ve worked things out; we communicate by leaving messages for each other on my cell phone or on my laptop.”

    Zippy could barely believe what she was hearing, “That sounds a little . . . crowded.”

    Rina nodded, “We switch randomly, with no control over it, so I can’t tell you the number of embarrassing situations I’ve found myself in. Once, I came to singing karaoke in front of the whole dorm . . . in my underwear.”

    Unable to help herself, Zippy giggled while Rina blushed, “I’m sure it was a treat for the guys. You must have been pretty popular after that.”

    Rina flushed a little more, grinning and then turned and scurried out of the room, looking at the floor.

    Lizzy went back to her work, “You’d better change, the teacher should be here any second.”

    Zippy sighed and pulled her shoes off by stepping on them with her feet and raising her leg. She pulled off her shirt and then sat on the bed, yanking off her jeans. She rose and folded both articles of clothing neatly on the bed; sure she was going to be putting them back on shortly. She walked over to the uniform, reaching for it, and then noticed the list of classes sitting on top of the books. She narrowed her eyes looking at the class names: What the hell?

    “Robotic Weaponry—Miss Gojira
    Genetic Manipulation—Mr. DeSade
    Experimental Surgery and Body Part Transplantation—Miss Piranha
    Aquatic Mutations—Mr. Carcharias
    Death Ray Construction—Mr. Ecoli
    Doomsday Theory—Mr. Gorgonzola
    Artificial Life Form Creation—Mrs. Variola
    Physical Augmentation—Miss Anvil
    Zombie Creation, Breeding, and Defense—Mrs. Fulci

    The list went on and on.

    Glancing over at the text books she saw titles like “The Joy Of Unnecessary Surgery”, “Building And Maintaining Your Killer Robot: A Sensible Guide”, “Bringing About Armageddon In Twelve Easy Steps: Practical Applications” and “The Big Book Of The Dead: Everything You Need To Know About Raising Your Zombies”. Zippy practically staggered back, staring at what was on the bed. What kind of school teaches you to build a killer robot? What sort of text books where these? Hell, what kind of classes was she being expected to take?

    “What . . . What with all this?” Zippy cried, “This . . . this is like . . . some kind of school for mad scientists!”

    Lizzy nodded, “Yeah, that’s about the size of it.”

    Zippy lost her footing and fell to the floor with a resounding, if painful, thud.

    “What? How is that possible?” Zippy cried, scrambling back to her feet.

    Lizzy shrugged, “It’s been this way for a long time. Nothing worthwhile gets invented unless someone is willing to risk it all on their ideas. This school teaches people to do just that: Advance science without worrying about anything else.”

    “That’s insane!” Zippy said, “Isn’t that dangerous?”

    “Yeah, this place can be dangerous.” Lizzy agreed, “But you can do things here that you can’t do anywhere else. Graduating from here means that you are almost guaranteed to be extraordinary.”

    “What if you don’t graduate?” Zippy asked suspiciously.

    “Usually that means you died, somehow.” Lizzy explained, “Once you’re signed to the school, you don’t leave until you graduate. Most people don’t slack off though, if your grades suffer too much, you end up ‘volunteering’ for one of Madame Petri’s private experiments; and the results of those can be . . . inconvenient. My last roommate lost all four of her limbs, she’s in a special needs class now elsewhere in the school.”

    “You’re kidding! You’ve got to be kidding! Please tell me that you’re kidding!” Zippy babbled, the blood draining from her face.

    “I’m not.” Lizzy replied, “When students get desperate for good marks, it’s not uncommon for them to kidnap one another for their projects.”

    “Wait!” Zippy interjected, “Be kind; rewind: They don’t get in trouble for that?”

    Zippy was sure that was the sort of thing that should get a student expelled. But maybe not at this mental institution disguised as a school.

    “You’ve got to understand, Zippy,” Lizzy explained, “In Madame Petri’s, its all about the results. Nobody cares how you achieved something, as long as you achieve it. When it comes to the experiments, there are very few rules. Killing your subject gets you an F, so most people take care to keep you alive. That’s why it’s so important to make friends and alliances; you need someone to watch your back here.”

    Zippy stared at Lizzy’s pale features, “You sure seem to take it calm.”

    Again, Lizzy shrugged, “That’s life at Madam Petri’s: Lots of risk, but also lots of reward.”

    “This Madam Petri must be something else.” Zippy commented dryly.

    “So I’m told.” Lizzy agreed, not acknowledging the sarcasm, “I hear she’s very beautiful.”

    “Huh? You’ve never seen her?”

    “Nope, most of the students haven’t. I hear she used to be very involved in the school, but now she leaves everything to Mr. Innsmouth. He’s . . . not beautiful.”

    There was a long silence while Zippy digested this, and then she grabbed the uniform off the bed and rapidly began dressing as fast as she could. She was going to go to that Vice Principle’s office, get this all sorted out, and get the living hell out of this nightmare before somebody decided to splice her with an iguana. She had barely finished dressing when the door was knocked upon again.

    This time a tall woman came into the room. She was deathly pale, like Lizzy, although obviously much older, late twenties at least. She had wide brown eyes, and frizzy wild black hair that was tied up high on either side of her head. She was dressed in a long black skin tight leather dress that clung to her voluptuous figure, the neckline low cut and exposing copious amounts of her ample cleavage. She wore long elbow length leather gloves on each arm. The dress was slit up both legs all the way to the thigh, and she wore long knee length high heeled leather boots, with heels so high they might have well have been stilts. She came into the room, smiling excitedly, her heels clacking on the floor through the carpeting.

    Lizzy looked up at her, “Hello, Miss Piranha.”

    Miss Piranha ran over to Lizzy, hugging her warmly, giggling with bubbling enthusiasm, “Why, hello, Lizzy! How’s my little Frankenstein doing?”

    “I’m good.” Lizzy said.

    Letting her go, Miss Piranha turned to Zippy, a wide grin splitting her face, her hand shaking in front of her in exhilaration, “And you must be Zippendelka! Oh, it’s so nice to meet you. Everyone’s been so excited about your arrival. Oh, and your so cute I just want to eat you up.”

    She reached over and squished Zippy’s cheeks cheerfully with her latex covered hands. Zippy pried her hands off, feeling her cheeks burn a little where Miss Piranha had pinched her.

    Miss Piranha gushed and giggled, “Oh, such a young fresh mind! So full of wonder and potential.

    She grabbed Zippy and hugged her tight, smothering Zippy’s face in her massive breasts. Zippy’s cries were muffled in Miss Piranha’s amble bosom as the older woman hugged her with gusto. Zippy wasn’t usually prone to embarrassment, but she turned a bright shade of pink finding her face squished with thick cleavage on either side of her face. To make matters worse, she couldn’t breathe. For a horrible moment, she thought was going to smothered to death by Miss Piranha’s enthusiasm: An image of a tombstone labeled “Here lies Zippy, who suffocated in her teacher’s womanhood” flashed comically through her head, along with a newspaper headline: “Brilliant student killed by cleavage”. Finally, the woman let go of her. Zippy drew in a large gulp of much needed oxygen.

    Miss Piranha said, “I’m Miss Piranha, and I teach Experimental Surgery And Body Part Transplantation. I’ll be taking you to get signed in with Mr. Innsmouth, the Vice Principle. Please follow me, my cute little Frankenstein.”

    Then she cocked her head, “Oh my, do you have a nose bleed, Miss Zipperdale?”

    Turning red, Zippy grabbed a Kleenex off the desk and wiped away the trickle of blood.

    Zippy stared up at Miss Piranha: Could this really be a teacher? What sort of educator dressed like that for class? She looked more like a fetish model then an instructor.

    She quickly followed the strange teacher as she waved her forward. They entered the dorm tunnels and then went all the way around through some twisting corridors. As Miss Piranha led her, she talked to Zippy, giving her a general overview of the school.

    “Madam Petri’s was founded a long time ago by the current Madam Petri’s great grandmother.” Miss Piranha lectured, “Since then, the school had expanded greatly and we turn out more unrestricted scientists then any other school, making us the most sought after educational facility in the world. And you’ve been accepted to it, doesn’t that make you proud?”

    Zippy opened her mouth the repeat again that this was some kind of mistake and that she wasn’t staying, but gave up and just nodded. A girl with cat ears and a tail ran past them distracting Zippy for a minute.

    “In any event,” Miss Piranha said, with bubbling enthusiasm, “The school is constantly expanding. It’s a tradition of each headmistress; ever since work started on it so many years ago, construction has never stopped. There’s always something new getting built somewhere. That’s why nobody really knows every part of the school, and why there are a few odd touches like stairs going nowhere, and doors opening up to two story drops and stuff like that.”

    Zippy blinked, “It’s like the Winchester Mansion?”

    “Oh yes,” Miss Piranha agreed, “Most definitely like the Winchester Mansion.”

    Great, Zippy thought to herself, Sarah Winchester probably had something in common with the woman who ran this place: They were both nuts.

    Miss Piranha continued, “I’ve been so excited ever since I found out that you were coming, Miss Zipperdale. I checked out your file, and you’re test scores are off the charts. You’re just an extra brainy bundle of cuteness. I think we can expect good things from you, Zippendelka. Oh, may I call you Zippendelka?”

    “I prefer Zippy, actually.” Zippy told her.

    “’Zippy’!” Miss Piranha clapped her hands together, “Ohhhhh! That’s so cute! Anyways, our school is fully stocked, and state of the art. There are plenty of recreational facilities, and there’s even a town nearby that has a club that the students like to frequent in their off time called The Manhattan Project. I’m sure you’re gonna work hard and have a good time her, Zippy. And if you need anything, just ask.”

    For a split second, Zippy jumped back, afraid Miss Piranha was going to smother her in her cleavage again, but nothing happened. As they walked, Miss Piranha continued to talk and explain things like a hummingbird on crack. In spite of all this, Zippy found her friendly and approachable, despite the fact that as far as Zippy could tell, Miss Piranha was completely ethically bankrupt. In spite of herself, Zippy found that she liked this strange hyperactive woman.

    Another student ran past them; she was about Zippy’s height, maybe a little smaller. What struck Zippy the most was the pale, almost chalk white color of her skin, not to mention her hair, which was long, strait and beyond platinum blonde. Lizzy and Miss Piranha had nothing on this girl, she was white as a corpse In fact, Zippy was sure that her hair was completely white like an old woman’s.. The girl was, however, as young as she was. Her eyes were light, and almost a slight grey color, slightly bloodshot.

    “Why, hello, Eve!” Miss Piranha waved.

    “Hi, Miss Piranha.” The girls said as she rushed by in a high, but quiet voice that sounded almost like a hiss, with a distinct English accent.

    As the girl ran off, Zippy looked after her, “I she an albino?”

    “No.” Miss Piranha answered matter of factly, “She’s a vampire.”

    Zippy lost her balance again and fell to the floor on that one. What the hell? And why had Miss Piranha stated in such a calm no big deal way?

    “You’re kidding!” Zippy exclaimed, rubbing the bump where she’d hit her head when she fell over.

    “It happened in an experiment using gene therapy derived from Desmodus rotundu, Diphylla ecaudata and Diaemus youngi, among other animals.”

    “The three species of vampire bat.”

    “Exactly. The goal was to alter a person to be as close to the mythological vampire as possible. Eve was the result. A+ work there: She has fangs, drinks blood in the dining hall, shuns the light, sleeps in a coffin in the bell tower; the whole nine yards.

    “You don’t say.” Zippy muttered, wondering if Eve had actually volunteered for this procedure.

    “Oh, you’ll meet her.” Miss Piranha told her, “She’s good friends with Lizzy.”

    “That . . . makes sense.” Zippy said, not sharing Miss Piranha’s enthusiasm for palling around with a live blood drinking vampire.

    The sooner she got out of here; Zippy thought, the better. This was nuts, why would anyone want to create a real life vampire? To what end, and of what possible use could she be?

    They finally arrived at a large pair of old style wooden doors, covered with intricate carvings depicting mermaids and various sea life. A large brass plaque on the front read, “Vice Principle Innsmouth”. Miss Piranha knocked on the door, and after a few minutes, there was a low voice from within.

    “Enter.” The voice said deep and foreboding, with a proper English accent.

    With one hand, Miss Piranha opened the door and entered, with Zippy following right behind. The room was dark and under lit, and Zippy shivered at the colt temperature of the chamber. The place was practically freezing. The room was oval in shape, very large and was filled on all sides by book shelves filled with old books. At the far end was a huge window, looking out over the school courtyard. A huge wooden desk was right in front of it, and two chairs sat directly in front of that. There was a large bear rung in front of the desk. As they got closer to the desk, Zippy noticed a strange sculpture sitting on top of it, depicting a strange half man, half fish creature covered in scales, fins and tentacles. The figure it represented was incredibly ugly and appallingly grotesque, sending a shiver of revulsion through Zippy’s body.

    A tall figure stood at the window, with his back to the door. He was huge, easily over six feet tall.

    “Mr. Innsmouth?” Miss Piranha said, “I’ve brought Miss Zipperdale for her registration.”

    The man turned and Zippy could now see him fully. He cut an imposing figure and not just because of his height: He had long white hair the hung down to his neck, and a long intense face. His eyes were deep sunk in his skull, surrounded by dark circles as if he never slept. His nose was long and hooked in a manner that suggested a bird of prey. His lips were drawn tight in a thin line. A thick goatee decorated his chin, the hairs a mix of white and dark grey. He was dressed in a long black double breasted coat and black pants. He stared at Zippy with those intense eyes that seemed to bore into her.

    “Ah yes, our new student.” Mr. Innsmouth said, his voice was deep and sinister, “Come on in, Miss Zipperdale. Let us get you properly signed in and registered.”

    He reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a large thick file which he placed on the desk and opened up.

    Miss Piranha whispered in Zippy’s ear, “Don’t be afraid if he seems stern; it’s just his way. He’s even like that with me.”

    She then turned and walked out, her stiletto heels clacking on the floor noisily, closing the door behind herself, which only partially dulled the noise of her boots.

    Zippy stepped forward, “Um, if you please, sir? I think there’s been some kind of mistake. I’m not supposed to be enrolled at this school. I’ve never applied here, and actually I’ve never heard of this place before. I’m supposed to be going to Coddswhollop Academy, but the driver took me here by mistake. I really like to just get to a phone so I can clear this up and be on my way.”

    The cold, angry expression that Mr. Innsmouth shot at her made Zippy cringe. He leveled his eyes at her in an irritated, offended manner.

    “I believe that it is you, Miss Zipperdale, who are mistaken.” He said slowly, “We have had you enrolled on file as a forthcoming student for months now. We have been expecting your arrival.”

    “But I’ve never even heard of this school . . .” Zippy began, and was cut off by Mr. Innsmouth handing her a paper.

    “I believe, Miss Zipperdale, that this is you signature?” He said coldly.

    Zippy looked at the document and gasped. It was her signature all right. In fact, the bottom of this contract was the one she’s signed to be enrolled at Coddswhollop. But the contract itself was entirely new: Enrolling her at the school until graduation, with no provisions for changing schools or leaving. There was even a clause that absolved the school for any liability should she die or become injured. She read over the contract, and gnawing feeling of dread clawing at the inside of her stomach.

    “But . . . but this is insane! I didn’t sign this!” Zippy protested.

    “Miss Zipperdale!” Mr. Innsmouth snapped, “It is not wise to make me unhappy.”

    Zippy cringed, backing up a bit.

    Mr. Innsmouth continued, “You are free to call an attorney, of course, but I can assure you, that contract will hold up in any court. You are ours, until you graduate, Miss Zipperdale, so you are well advised to get used to the idea. You will find it is not in your best interests to . . . disappoint or upset me.”

    Zippy said nothing, staring at Mr. Innsmouth with wide terrified eyes, her heart pounding in her chest with fear and confusion.

    Mr. Innsmouth seemed to soften a bit, “You can do great things here, Miss Zipperdale. And make no mistake; you are an exceptional young woman. It’s no mistake that you’ve been accepted. Here, you will do and see things that very few people in the world ever will. It is an honor, privilege, and an advantage to be accepted at Madame Petri’s.

    “Haven’t you ever wondered about the spectacular scientific advances of recent years in the world? It’s because people like us have crated place for ourselves to work undisturbed and uninhibited for the advancement of science. In places we have set aside for ourselves, we can work for the progression of knowledge without fear of harassment from the ignorant herd of people that make up most of the world. School’s such as this one, train the next generations of unrestrained scientists.

    “As an extra advantage, I will point out to you that here at Petri’s; any and all inventions developed by the students are automatically patented in their names. If you really are as exceptional as you are supposed to be, and not the impertinent little trouble maker you seem like now, then you stand to be quite wealthy by the time you graduate, assuming you don’t perish before that time.”

    Mr. Innsmouth stood up and turned his back on her, looking at the window. Zippy’s mind was struggling to catch up. She could barely believe what she being told.

    “You may, of course, contact your parents, but I can assure you young lady, you are a student here until you graduate.” Mr. Innsmouth said, “You would be well advised to strive to do your best. But if you don’t . . . well, Madam Petri can always use another subject.

    “You may go now, feel free to explore the school. We expect you at dinner in the dining hall at six o’clock. Good day, Miss. Zipperdale. I hope you don’t disappoint us.”

    It was a few seconds before Zippy realized that she was being dismissed. Numb she turned around without a word and left the office.

    Instead of heading back to the dorm room, she wandered the halls, keeping a mental map of where she was. It was very rare that Zippy ever got lost, her photographic memory serving her well in this regard. She thought about what had just happened. Unlike most girls her age, Zippy knew her way around a legal contract. She had once considered going to law school. Mr. Innsmouth had been telling the truth, that contract was binding. In all likelihood, she was stuck in this loony bin. But how? How had this come to be. She was certain she hadn’t ever seen that contract before, let alone sign it, so how had her signature gotten on the bottom? And why, for what purpose?

    She sighed heavily, turning down an aisle as a girl with bunny ears and a cotton tale ran past her. She walked on, running it all over in her mind: If she was stuck here, then she would simply have to make the most of it and get good at this stuff. If she could keep her grades up, she could stay out of Madam Petri’s clutches. But it looked like there was a whole lot more to worry about in this school. She didn’t just need to do good, she needed to survive.

    The idea of running away, came to her, and she dismissed it just as easily. Where would she go? Would she really spend her whole life on the run, breaking that contract would be bad news not only for her, but for her family as well. Her mother, her father, she couldn’t put them through that. Her brother . . . well, she probably could, but that didn’t make it right.

    She smiled a little. She was worrying about what was ‘right’ in a place where there seemed to be no ethical concept of what was ‘right’ in the first place. She walked past a large pair of double doors, a sign on them reading “Death Ray Construction”. Just in front of her past the doors, a small flight of steps lined with a raining down the middle led down a little. On the ceiling above it, was a duplicate set of steps; one of those peculiar construction jobs that Miss Piranha had mentioned.

    As Zippy approached the steps, she head a male voice from beyond the doors cry, “No! Not that one! Oh hell, everyone: Duck!”

    There was suddenly a loud deafening explosion from the other side of the doors. The doors violently flew off their hinges and the smoke and debris exploded outward. Zippy felt a rush of incredibly hot air just before the kinetic force of the blast struck her. Small burning pieces of shrapnel stung her face as the explosion lifted her off her feet and over the railing. In a whirlwind of hot air, Zippy was thrown across the hall and slammed painfully into the side of the wall. She felt a hot sharp pain as something sliced her left arm.

    Somewhere, a high cutesy voice cried, “Oh! Is she alright?”

    Disoriented, Zippy slipped down to the floor and the noise subsided. Her ears rang and she could feel some uncomfortable bruises on her body, but nothing seemed to be broken or seriously injured. As she tried to regain her senses, she became aware that someone was holding her left arm. The room was unfocused and she tried to get a grip on her senses, hoping she didn’t have a concussion. Something we was touching her arm where the injury was. The room came into focus, as Zippy began to regain her facilities.

    The doors were on two separate parts of the hall, debris from the blast all over the place. The teacher in the classroom was yelling at someone furiously. Looking over, to her arm, Zippy got one more shock: There was a cute busty blonde girl crouched down next to her. She held Zippy’s arm in both her hands and was licking her wound rapidly like a dog would. In spite of herself, Zippy blushed at the bizarre act being performed on her.

    “H-hey!” Zippy started.

    The girl looked up at her with large green eyes, “Oh! Are you alright? That was a nasty fall you took?”

    She said it like what she had just been doing was the most normal thing in the world. Behind her another girl came running up; she looked like a complete duplicate of the first girl, blonde hair, big boobs, green eyes and all. Now these had to be twins; unless the school had been doing a lot of human cloning. They both had long wavy blonde hair, tied in two small buns on either side of their head, but flowing down over their shoulders, and wide green eyes. Zippy noticed they had rather large ears, long at the top, and slightly exaggerated canine teeth.

    “Nadjia!” The second twin said, “That’s not the person way to do that!”

    Nadjia looked down at Zippy’s arm and then gasped, dropping it.

    “I’m so very sorry.” Nadjia said, “I saw your wound and I guess I acted instinctively.”

    “Heck of an instinct.” Zippy replied, an eyebrow raised.

    Nadjia helped Zippy to her feet, “I’m Nadjia Farrell, and this is my sister, Katjia.”

    “Hi, I’m Zippy.”

    Zippy was interrupted by the sound of mechanical whirring and loud clanking followed by a high pitched wail as a whole troupe of Werx rolled into the hall with red sirens flashing on top of their heads. They piled into the hall, disgorging foam out of tubes in their arms and chests over everything that was still burning. They put the minor fires out in a few seconds, with a rapid well coordinated assault. As soon as they were done, the sirens disappeared into their head with a loud clack were replaced by a metal nurse’s hat with a big red cross on the front. One of them, differently built then the others in a fashion similar to Vixen, headed over to Zippy. At first, Zippy thought it walked on two legs like the others, but then she noticed that it glided along on roller skate like wheels on the bottom of its feet. It was definitely built to resemble a female body, reminding Zippy a little of the TX cyborg from that awful Terminator 3 movie.

    “Hi, Posey.” Katjia said.

    “Blork.” Posey replied.

    The Werx picked up Zippy’s arm. A small metal tube slid out from one of its fingers and Posey sprayed Zippy’s cut with it. She felt a stinging sensation as her wound was sterilized. Switching to another finger, Posey sprayed some kind of rubbery adhesive on the cut, creating an instant bandage.

    “Blork.” Posey told Zippy, firmly.

    “Uh . . . thanks.” Zippy answered.

    “Blork.” Posey nodded at her and the rolled away, her nurse hat disappearing to be replaced by a maintenance worker’s. She joined the other Werx as they went about cleaning up and repairing the damage from the blast.

    Zippy exhaled heavily, her nerves still jittery from the shock. She looked over at the twins, who eyed her with a bit of a rambunctious curiosity. She smiled politely at them, and then let it fade when she realized that as they leaned forward, their nostrils flared and they inhaled lightly. They were sniffing her, Zippy realized, smelling her with a dog like curiosity. What the hell . . . ?

    “You’re the new girl, aren’t you?” Katjia said.

    “Sort of.” Zippy said levelly, remembering her conversation with Mr. Innsmouth.

    “Well, duh, Katjia.” Nadjia chuckled, “We’ve never seen her before.”

    Katjia straitened up, “Would you like to come explore with us?”

    Explore? How old were these two? “Explore what?”

    “The school, silly.” Nadjia explained, “Every day we try to explore a new part we haven’t seen. Would you like to come with us?”

    “Oh, why the hell not?” Zippy replied after a pause, figuring that she could probably get killed in this place just as easily sitting in the dorm room.

    “Great!” Katjia clapped her hands together, “I’m happy, you seem nice, and you smell real good.”

    Katjia leaned over and sniffed Zippy again for good measure, making Zippy’s skin crawl and a shiver run up her spine.

    “Uh, why in the hell do you keep sniffing me?” Zippy had to ask, “Were you two raised by wolves or something?”

    The Twins answered emphatically, “Yes!”

    Oh, of course they were.

    As Zippy followed the twins down into the lower levels, they gave her the run down of their life story. Zippy actually was finding it quite fascinating: The twins were orphaned as infants when their archeologist parents died in a place crash in some remote jungle which the twins themselves managed to survive. They were found by a female wolf that had probably lost her cubs, and she raised them as part of the pack until they were seven, at which point there were found by another exploration team. They were taken back to civilization and entrusted to their uncle, as well as a small army of psychiatrists. Because of their abnormally high IQs, they were able to rapidly assimilate to civilized society, learning speech, walking on two legs, learning manners and so forth, allowing them to re enter the human world in a few short years. Remarkable, really, although it was fairly obvious that a lot of their wolf habits still remained and persisted.

    As they went along, a snotty voice came up from behind them. Zippy turned and rolled her eyes when she spotted Amber, Tiffany and Charity, The Groupies, coming up behind them.

    “Oh, why if it isn’t little miss Zippy.” Amber said snidely, “Off to go take the dogs for a walk I see?”

    Zippy turned her back on Amber and continued walking. Incensed at being ignored, Amber ran up to her, fire in her eyes.

    “Hey, newbie, I’m talking to you!” Amber said, “Can’t you address your superiors when their talking to you?”

    “’Superiors’?” Zippy grumbled, “I know you weren’t talking about yourself.”

    “Oh, doesn’t she think she’s hot stuff?” Amber sneered, “Little miss know it all, trying to knock over and insult poor Cristobel. You think you’re so big?”

    “Look who’s talking?” Zippy said dropping her eyes to Amber’s exaggerated chest, “What are you? F? G? How much did those cost?”

    As soon as she said it, Zippy kicked herself. Stupid, why would she resort to such base insults? Something about Amber had gotten under her skin, and now she had let herself resort to childish name calling. This would only make things worse.

    Sure enough, Amber bristled, “Ha! Jealous just because god saw fit to grace me with so much more womanhood then you? Oh you’ll just have to live with it.”

    “By ‘god’ I assume you mean a plastic surgeon and your daddy’s trust fund?” Zippy answered, feeling that old unwelcome insecurity pop up again. Why was she letting this spoiled brat get to her?

    “Oh, tough talk from the girl who’s hanging out with the cast of Animal Farm. Tell me, Zipperdale; who let the dogs out? Woof! Woof! Woof-woof-woof!” Amber sang, jutting a finger at the twins.

    She jerked it back just as fast and Katjia snapped her teeth at her, missing the digit by a few inches. Both twins began to growl at Amber, low guttural sounds coming deep from their throats, their wide green eyes narrowed and intense. For a few seconds there, they seemed to almost become wolves, like the mythical werewolves of lore. The threat in the sounds was deep and primal, and recognizable fear flittered across Amber’s face.

    With a loud “Harumph” Amber turned and scurried away, trying to look like she was in a huff and not scared, with her two underlings following her obediently.

    Zippy let out a sigh and turned away, resuming her walk down the aisle. She pulled the twins along who were still growling a little in Amber’s direction, not quite sure if they would, but not wanting them to run off and actually try to bite her. They continued their strole and their conversation.

    Zippy’s scientific mind was fascinated by these two. As the conversation moved on to the school and what they did here, Zippy found that they both were, in fact, very intelligent. It was fascinating to her the way so much intellect could co-exist with all that feral instinct. What was more; Zippy discovered that in spite of everything, she liked the Farrell twins. They were friendly, smart and enthusiastic and very energetic. Much like she had with Lizzy and Miss Piranha, Zippy found that she was becoming friends with the two wolf girls.

    They talked and chatted, and being three relatively healthy young women, the subject eventually turned to guys. Zippy considered telling them her story of spotting her Unknown Boy, but then decided against it, keeping it to herself. They filled her in on some of the juicier hook ups and break ups that had been happening recently, making the school sound like one of those overly romance fostering schools from that Japanese animation her brother was always watching.

    “So then,” Zippy asked them, giving them her best naughty look for effect, “I take it you two have scored some cute guys of your own?”

    Nadjia almost choked and looked away rapidly. Katjia clicked her tongue and leaned over to Zippy.

    “I should have warned you, that’s a sore subject right now: Nadjia just got dumped.” Katjia informed Zippy.


    “Oh, jeeze, Nadjia.” Zippy said apologetically, “I didn’t know, I’m sorry I brought it up.”

    Tears had welled up in Nadjia’s eyes and her lower lip trembled. It looked like she had taken the break up pretty hard. Zippy could relate: She’s had more then her fair share of relationships that ended on a sour note.

    Nadjia sobbed, “I thought it was going so well. He seemed . . . so happy with me. And then . . . and then, he broke up with me . . . over the phone! He wouldn’t even talk to me!”

    “She chewed up his expensive new pair of running shoes.” Katjia explained in a whisper.

    “You don’t say.” Zippy muttered, feeling a bead of sweat run down her head.

    Nadjia chewed her lower lip a little as the tears flowed down her cheeks. Instantly, Katjia stuck her fingers in her ears, as if she knew something was coming. Immediately, Zippy found out why.

    “Aaaaaaawwwwwwwooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Nadia threw her head back and quite literally howled in misery.

    “She was up all last night doing that.” Katjia mumbled.

    It was a loud, ear splitting sound that reverberated all through the empty hallway with an eerie sadness mingling with the painfully grating sonic assault. Zippy quickly clapped her hands over her ears as Nadjia expressed her pain in the most primal, to say nothing of most offensive to the ear drums, manner imaginable. She howled long and loud, her head tilted back and her eyes closed, baying at the sky in an almost heart-wrenching expression of sorrow. Zippy’s scientific mind was intrigued by the behavior, if her poor ears were tormented by it.

    When Nadjia had finished her howl, they continued walking in silence until Nadjia sobs stopped. She looked over at Zippy sheepishly, managing a weak smile.

    “I’m sorry.” She apologized, “It’s still a little raw for me.”

    “It’s alright.” Zippy said, putting an arm around her, “I understand, really. I’ve lost more boyfriends then I really care to admit to. Actually, I once got dumped by a guy . . . via email.”

    “Yikes.” Katjia exclaimed.

    Nadjia smiled and threw her arms around Zippy, “Thank you, Zippy. I knew you’d be a good friend from the moment I saw you.”

    “It’s no problem.” Zippy said, hugging her back warmly.

    This was when Nadjia went and licked Zippy on the cheek. Zippy gasped and yelped in shock as she felt the wet, warm feeling of Nadjia’s tongue as it ran across her face, leaving a sticky trail of saliva. All of Zippy’s hair stood on end and her flesh crawled as the pretty blond girl licked her like a dog. Goose bumps rose on her arms.

    Nadjia let her go, “Come on, lets explore!”

    The two twins dashed off down the hallway, and Zippy followed, blushing a deep red color. She really hoped no one else had seen that. She didn’t want to sound too girly, but guh-ross!

    The twins led Zippy down some stairs and through a long hall that was flanked by operating rooms on both sides. Zippy got chills running up and down her spine as she wondered what kind of operations went on in those rooms. She was glad when they made it past them and went down another flight of stares into the part of the school the twins were eager to explore.

    As they went down, Zippy noticed that the twins began sniffing the air again as they moved into unfamiliar terrain. At least weren’t trying to mark their territory, Zippy thought, smiling with rueful mirth. Zippy herself was breath taken as she walked into the area.

    It was filled with long twisting walkways that went around massive large sea water tanks. Small, medium and very large sizes all around them, each one filled with strange and unusually sea life the likes of which Zippy had never seen. At first the tanks were small, but the further in they went, the larger they got, containing bigger and more unusual specimens.

    “This is where Mr. Carcharias keeps all his aquatic mutations experiments.” Nadjia explained, “All sorts of sea life, carefully mutated to ensure spectacular results.”

    “What for?” Zippy had to ask.

    Nadjia just shrugged.

    They rounded a corner and Zippy let out a gasp: In front of her was the biggest tank window she had ever seen. An immense pane of glass at least two stories high and just as wide, looking into a huge tank. As they got closer to it, Zippy could see that there were rows of speakers along the bottom of the window, and what appeared to be microphones. Looking into the tank itself, Zippy got butterflies in her stomach. This tank had to be gigantic; the hazy salt water seemed to go on forever. She could not see the other side of the tank, and looking down realized she couldn’t see the bottom either. Looking into the tank almost felt like being deep in the ocean. Even taking into account the murky water, this tank would have to be much larger then anything she had ever seen or heard of before.

    Which begged to mind the question: What were they keeping in there?

    Zippy looked into the gloom, but couldn’t see anything. She squinted her eyes, but could make out nothing.

    “What’s in here?” She asked.

    “Dunno.” Katjia shrugged.

    “Look, here’s a clipboard.” Nadjia said, picking the clipboard off a hook next to the window, “This might tell us something.”

    As Katjia moved off to go look at some of the small tanks, and Nadjia scanned over the clipboards contents, Zippy turned her attention back to the murky depths of the tank. This time, she saw movement: A dark shadow was moving somewhere just out of sight in the gloom, slowly getting larger. The shadow was enormous as it moved slowly, a blur of darkness in the sea of endless blue.

    “I see something.” Zippy said, “I think they’ve got a whale in here. Maybe a sperm whale or a humpback.”

    Looking at the clipboard, Nadjia said, “According to this, it’s Carcharodon Megalodon. Wow, I thought those were extinct . . . oh, they cloned them.”

    The words hit Zippy like a whole sack of bricks as her mind accessed the information: Carcharodon Megalodon; the extinct prehistoric ancestor of the Great White Shark, reaching lengths of fifty to seventy feet. Zippy felt her heart freeze as the immense head of the shark rose out of the murky gloom, slowly approaching the glass, its mouth filled with six inch triangular teeth, serrated like steak knives. It moved its head back and forth in the water, smelling the water as it filtered through its gills. Fear seemed to clutch every aspect of Zippy’s body. Her legs felt like rubber and her stomach lurched as the monstrous oversized prehistoric fish rose up to the glass, filling Zippy’s entire view. Her heart seemed to stop and then speed up all at the same time as the shark peered at her with its black doll like eyes.

    “Holy mackerel!!!!!!” Zippy screamed, fully aware of the irony of the words.

    The thing was massive, easily at least sixty feet long, and a deep bluish grey color all along its body from nose to tail, no white belly like on a Great White, although it had roughly the same shape as one, the fish seemed to be colored more like a Greenland Shark. Zippy was surprised to note that its back was decorated with a line of stripes, similar to those found on a Tiger Shark. There was some kind of implant on the Meg’s head, an oval shaped piece of metal attached to the shark in the midway point between each of its eyes. It was colored a dull grey color that matched the hide of the shark.

    “Jurassic shark.” Zippy breathed in awe.

    Reading over the documents, Nadjia said with giddy excitement, “It’s been genetically mutated to be smarter. They’re calling it Carcharodon Neomegalodon for now. Wow, its smarter then an orca, maybe almost as smart as a dolphin. Cool.”

    Why would anyone want to make a smart megalodon? The very thought sounded like the worst possible idea in the annals of bad idea history.

    “W-what’s that on its head?” Zippy asked, looking at the implant.

    “It’s so I can talk.”

    Zippy jumped: The voice had come out of the speakers on the bottom of the window. It was a high pitched, girlish voice, sounding almost like a teenager in some old John Hughes movie. In a double take worthy of a Marx Brothers movie, Zippy looked all around her for whoever had been speaking, expecting to find someone with a microphone somewhere, before she slowly turned her head back to the tank in shock: It had been the meg speaking; the implant had flashed with a yellow light as the words came out of the speakers.

    The floor seemed to drop out from under her and she felt dizzy, as if she had just crossed over into some crazy parallel universe. She half expected at any moment for Rod Serling to step out of the shadows. Or at least Alan Funt.

    Nadjia looked back and forth from the shark to the clipboard in her hands, “Oh my god! It says here that it translates signal, brainwaves and other indicators into synthesized speech. It not only forms words, but vocal inflections and emotional pitches as well. That’s just . . . brilliant. I love Mr. Carcharias, he’s so cool.”

    Zippy had absolutely nothing to say, she just stared at the shark in stunned silence.

    Which the shark broke, “Hi, I’m Megan. Who are you?”

    Megan the megalodon? Oh they had to be kidding?

    “Uh . . .” Zippy began intelligently, not sure how to respond, “I’m Zippy, and this is my friend Nadjia. Uh, you can hear me?”

    “Yes, Zippy.” Megan said with a peculiarly friendly, almost childlike tone to the voice. The implant flashed yellow as she spoke.

    “And you can understand me?” Zippy noticed that as she spoke, the implant flashed red.

    “Yes, Zippy. That microphone in front of you sends the sounds direct to my implant. To me, you’re talking like a shark. But that’s not all, the implant works without the speakers and the mic, it has its own, so if you were in here swimming with me, we’d still be able to talk.”

    Zippy had absolutely no intention of ever getting into that tank and swimming with Megan. Almost idly she wondered if they were keeping a talking Tyrannosaurus Rex somewhere else in this school.

    Zippy ran her eyes around the massive tank, “This is one big tank they’ve got for you. You must be pretty comfortable.”

    Megan moved her enormous triangular snout up and down rapidly. It took Zippy a second to realize that she was nodding. The gesture seemed unwholesomely bizarre and almost unnatural in a shark.

    “All the aquariums are basically one big tank.” Megan explained, “They’re all connected to each other by a series of aqueducts and filtration systems that also connect to the moat outside.”

    No wonder the moat had smelled like salt water. Zippy couldn’t be sure how much of Megan’s explanation she understood herself, or if she was just repeating what she had been told.

    Nadjia looked around and under Megan through the glass, “Are you all by yourself in there?”

    Megan shook her head, a gesture that struck Zippy as even more bizarre then her speech.

    Megan replied, “No, my mate, Morgan is in here with me, but he’s sleeping right now.”

    Megan and Morgan? Oh, now she knew they had to be kidding.

    Megan spoke again, and this time her voice took on an excited, giddy and proud quality, “We’re expecting our first litter.”

    Megan rolled over and moved sideways so they could see the slight swell in her underbelly. She then swam around so she was facing the glass again. She seemed happy and eager, proudly displaying the bulge. The sixty foot killing machine was a glow with the joys of motherhood.

    “Congratulations.” Nadjia told the shark cheerfully.

    “Uh, yeah. Congratulations. Mazel-tov, I’m happy for you.” Zippy stammered.

    They were BREEDING these things? Zippy could hardly believe what she was hearing. Who the hell would think it was a good idea to breed a whole race of smart giant sharks that talked. The very suggestion seemed like the maddest of mad science.

    “I’m so excited!” Megan sang happily, “If I’m fast, maybe I’ll be able to eat one of them.”

    Both Zippy and Nadjia gasped at that remark, their eyes widening. Then, to their surprise, the sound of laughter came out of the speakers.

    “Just kidding!” Megan chided, “Oh, you should have seen the looks on your faces. It was priceless. No, don’t worry, I wouldn’t harm my babies. I’m so thrilled to watch them grown and swim and learn to feed. Oh, I just can’t wait.”

    Nadjia looked over at Zippy, “I think she’ll make a great mom, don’t you?”

    Getting closer to the glass, too close for Zippy’s comfort, actually, Megan turned her head to get a better look at her; with a massive eye that was bigger then Zippy’s head.

    Megan said, “I see two undersized milk sacks on your chest. Are you a female?”

    Zippy felt the blood rush to her face and a flash of anger surged through her, followed quickly by embarrassment, especially since she could hear Nadjia trying not to giggle. Calm down, Zippy, she told herself, it’s just a fish, and it doesn’t know any better. She doesn’t mean to be insulting and she doesn’t know you’re illogically and stupidly sensitive about your size.

    Zippy forced a smile, “Yeah, I’m female; double x chromosomes and everything.

    “Have you ever had a littler?” The shark asked.

    “No.” Zippy replied, “And I’m not really planning on having a, uh, litter anytime soon.”

    “Oh.” Megan said, a little disappointed, “Do you have a mate?”

    “No, I’m between, uh, mates right now.” Zippy told her, feeling the surreal irony of having girl talk with a megalodon.

    “What about you?” Megan turned to Nadjia.

    Nadjia stiffened and Zippy saw her eyes begin to get moist. Fortunately, before she could start howling again, they were interrupted by a sudden scream from Katjia just down the hall, and the sound of waster splashing on the floor in huge volumes. They ran over to her, to find Katjia standing over a puddle of water. The tank near her seemed to have been broken outward, and to their shock, they found what appeared to be a large three foot long Humboldt squid standing upright on the floor, its tentacles down on the ground, its cone pointing upwards, making the whole animal comically resemble an upside down ice cream cone that had just been dropped on the floor.

    Looking at the squid, Zippy could tell this was another mutation of some kind. The eyes, which would normally be at polar opposites with each other on either side of the head, seemed to be on top of the head, facing one direction. They also blinked, displaying eyelids, which squid didn’t normally possess. The squid should have been gasping for breath and dying, but to Zippy’s surprise, its funnel flared and contracted normally. It was breathing oxygen, Zippy realized; this squid had been engineered to live on land.

    After meeting Megan, Zippy found she was not all that surprised when the squid began to speak.

    “Ha ha! Freedom is mine!” It cried in a medium pitched male voice that reminded Zippy a little of Edward G. Robinson, “Run, run, as fast as you can, you’ll never catch me, I’m a cephalopod!”

    Zippy raised her eyebrows, looking over the animal. In its way, it was almost cute. Zippy had always been partial to cephalopods, fascinated in particular by the big ones: Architeuthis dux, the mysterious giant squid and much bigger but less mysterious Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, colossal squid. As a little girl she had dreamed of diving in a sub and being the first one to film a live giant squid.

    The squid raised its tentacles in the air, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, I’m free at last!”

    Turning to say something to the twins, Zippy noticed their expressions: Their eyes were sparkling with that same wolfish intensity they’d had before. They were staring at the squid, wide excited smiles on their faces. Zippy could tell something else weird was about to happen. The squid looked rapidly between the two of them, backing up with quick movements of his tentacles. Katjia licked her lips in anticipation, both girls beginning to crouch.

    Zippy looked back and froth between the squid and the twins, “H-hey what are you . . . ?”

    The squid took off running, somehow managing to propel himself down the hall with lightening fast speed on just the tentacles. Instantly, Katjia and Nadjia dropped down on all fours and took off after him, yelping and squealing with glee. They ran canine style, not surprisingly, pulling themselves forward with both hands and once while pushing themselves onward further with their legs. They tore off down the hall after the squid.

    “Wait!” Zippy called, “Katjia! Nadjia! Come back! What are you doing?!?”

    Not sure what to do or what kind of problems the twins might get into, Zippy ran after them. Really, weren’t dogs supposed to chase squirrels and cats, not squid? Alarmed, Zippy tore off after them.

    Honestly, you could take the girls out of the wolf pack . . .

    “Bye, Megan!” She called over her shoulder as she ran off after them, not sure why she thought it important to be polite to a shark.

    Oh yeah, she knew why: Six inch teeth, that’s why.

    “Goodbye, Zippy. Nice meeting you.” Megan called as Zippy hurriedly followed her new friends.

    The squid scurried down the hallway with the twins in fast pursuit. From behind them, Zippy could swear she saw Nadjia’s tongue hanging out. The squid veered off into an open door and ran in. Rounding the corner and changing course with the practiced dexterity of huntress’, the twins followed. Zippy ended up skirting around on one leg like a keystone cop and followed after them. The room they had entered was a laboratory of some kind, filled with tables full of glass beakers filled with various liquids and samples. All of them looked very breakable, Zippy noticed with alarm.

    The squid made a wide dash around the tables and headed for a door on the other end, “Escaped cephalopod flees for his life! Film at eleven!”

    The twins followed, heads low to the ground. They kicked over chairs that went flying across the room with loud clanging noises. Zippy held her breath as she ran after them, having no idea what was in those chemical jars.

    Miraculously, they made it out of the room without breaking anything.

    The squid next ran into another room where the floor was filled with sand and a large amount of giant Galápagos tortoises lumbered around slowly. The squid leapt on the shell of one and then began leaping from one to the other, making his way quickly to another door on the other side.

    The twins did the same, hopping on the shells of the tortoises, which were unhappy at the sudden extra weight and closed up in their shells, and skillfully jumped from one to the other.

    Zippy jumped onto the nearest tortoise and slid right off, landing painfully on her butt. She scrambled back to her feet and took off running between the reptiles, following as the twins disappeared into the other door. Zippy charged through the room, kicking up sand and scaring the tortoises as she ran. She darted after them and ran through the opening.

    She found herself on a long thin catwalk over a drop that seemed to go down forever. The twins were already at the midway point of the walk, running single file in their insane pursuit of the squid. Zippy ran after, her heart thumping in her chest; that was a long way down, and there were no railings on this bridge. She ran forward, telling herself not to look down, which only prompted her to look down anyways.

    Far at the bottom of this chamber, she could see a large metal cube, set in the floor. There were several rectangular openings in it, which had thick black bars over them. It looked to Zippy like some kind of jail cell. They couldn’t be keeping students in that, could they? The box was hard to see down there, but she thought she could make out the silhouette of something inside it. What in the world was that?

    She tore her eyes away from the box and ran forward as fast as she dared go on the precarious catwalk. She almost slipped near the end, but regained her footing, her heart almost exploding with fear. Pure adrenaline moved her on as she ducked through the door and followed the twins up a flight of stairs, with no idea as to where she was going.

    The squid hurtled himself down a curved hallway, racing towards a pair of students here carefully carrying a large rectangular mirror. With the bend in the hall, they couldn’t really see each other until they were almost on top of one another. The squid ran under the mirror, causing the two male students to look down in surprise.

    When they looked up again, they were shocked to see Katjia and Nadjia chasing around the corner like a pair of racing greyhounds, heading directly for the mirror! Hastily, the boys turned the mirror sideways and let the twins run past them on either side, moving the mirror into the position at the last possible second. The wolf girls ran past without incident, scampering off after their prize.

    Turning the mirror back to the way they’d had it, the guys looked off after the twins, wondering what that had been about. As such, they didn’t see Zippy as she rounded the corner after them.

    Zippy’s eyes widened as she saw the mirror, she knew she couldn’t stop her momentum in time avoid it. With no other options, Zippy threw herself to the floor and slid forward feet first like a baseball player. On the slick metal floor, she rocketed like a human toboggan under the mirror, her skirt flying up and flashing her panties at whoever happened to be in front of her. Her mind charged with adrenaline, she crazily thought that a least she was wearing cute ones. It wasn’t like she was all that shy.

    The guys lifted up the mirror in shock as Zippy zipped under it, coming to a stop with painful friction burns on her elbows and butt a few feet from the obstacle. She scrambled to her feet hurried after the feral Farrells.

    “Sorry!” She called over her shoulder to the perplexed students as she ran around the corner.

    The squid leapt up another flight of stairs with everyone else in hot pursuit. Zippy was amazed at the speed the cephalopod could manage on dry land with nothing but tentacles to propel him along. It moved with grace and sureness of a spider. The squid suddenly changed course and ran into the open door of a classroom. Undeterred, the twins followed after, picking up speed in a way that looked more like a pair of cheetahs then wolves.

    “Not a good idea!” Zippy called hopelessly, “Not a good idea!”

    The squid lurched into the classroom, a large rectangular room, filled with long old fashioned school desks that were set up in rows with three students at each desk, all of them working on some kind of dissection project. The squid ran under the desks, flying forward under them, causing several of the students to jump to their feet.

    Which was nothing compared to what happed when the twins followed, racing under the desks and causing all the other students run for their lives. The desks bounced and rose as the twins careened under them, sending pens, notebooks, pencils and frog carcasses flying in the air. The students screamed and backed off as the desks where heaved this way and that until the twins exited the other side.

    A recently opened frog corpse sailed across the room, splatting directly on the face of one Amber Tiffendorf, the very same Amber who had seemed hell bent on making Zippy her personal enemy earlier. Amber spat out formaldehyde as the dead frog fell to the ground, her face contorted with distaste and humiliation.

    Zippy ran around the desks, hastily apologizing to anyone who could hear her. The squid and the twins had run out the other door, and Zippy followed after, not sure of how she could possibly end this madness.

    “Keep your pets on a leash!” Amber screamed at her indignantly as her perceived arch enemy ran off into the hall.

    Her feet striking the floor and propelling her forward, Zippy could feel she was beginning to loose her wind. She was in good shape, that was for sure, but she wasn’t sure how long she could keep this up. Her heart hammered in her chest and her lungs heaved with each breath as she strove to keep up with the twins and their insane quest to get the goddamn squid.

    “Bad Katjia! Bad Nadjia!” She cried after them, “Sit! Stay! Play DEAD!”

    The squid rounded another corner and headed for an open door he spied at the end. As he scurried closer, he suddenly realized what was on the other side and came screeching to a halt just at the frame of the door.

    The twins came rounding the corner and headed the same way. Realizing what door that was, they too leapt to their feet and ground to a halt sopping just behind the squid, bracing themselves at the door frame to keep from going through. They panted, looking at each other, saying ‘that was close’ with their eyes.

    And then Zippy came running after them. She saw them all stopped in front of the door and hurriedly tried to stop herself as well. Once again, her momentum betrayed her: She slowed but not enough; there was no way to stop herself as she went heading for a collision course into the others.

    “No! Zippy!” One of the twins called.

    But it was too late, Zippy crashed into the other three like a linebacker tackling a quarter back. The sheer force of the impact sent all four of them tumbling through the door and out the other side.

    This was when Zippy found out that the door opened to a three story drop into the moat.

    All four flew out the door and into the crisp afternoon air, flying above the moat in tumbling movements.

    “What the @%#$%#ing hell!” Zippy cried, once again going the un-ladylike route.

    The door had opened over one of the outcropped sections of the school that Zippy had seen when she first arrived. There was no steps, no porch, and no reason for this door to be there. For a while, they almost seemed to soar through the air, the large expanse of water rushing far beneath them. For a moment, it was almost pleasant; until Sir Isaac Newton decided to rear his bespectacled head and yank the three girls and their squid back down to earth. Gravity did its unflappable and unrelenting work and the simplest rule of physics asserted itself: What goes up, must, eventually, come down. And if it goes up high enough, the likely hood is that it will come down fairly hard.

    “This is EXACTLY like the Winchester Mansion!” Zippy screamed as she plummeted towards the moat.

    She threw her legs out strait underneath her as she dropped, making her body into a javelin to cut through the water. Her hair whipped past her ears, flying up around her head and she dropped. Her skirt was doing the same thing, making Zippy think that skirts as part of the uniform in this place was probably a bad idea. Her glasses remained on, fortunately, as she dropped downward, feeling the air rush across her legs and arms.

    The water rushed up towards her, she saw a small splash as the squid dropped. Nadjia quickly followed, ludicrously cannonballing into the water like she had jumped off on purpose. The big splash was followed by a painful slap as Katjia agonizingly belly flopped into the water.

    The water sprayed in all directions, including on Gortcha who happened to be patrolling along the side of the moat. When the water hit him, her thought he was under attack and ran away screaming like a little girl, hiding being some shrubbery.

    With a slight splash, Zippy held her breath and hit the water feet first, suddenly finding herself immersed in liquid. She cut through the water like a knife, shooting down into the cool waters of the moat until she stopped. She instantly started kicking up pushing herself towards the surface. She felt something on her face and then realized that it was the squid’s tentacles; it had grabbed on to her and was hitching a ride on her head back to the surface.

    She broke the surface and inhaled a large lungful of air, treading the water to keep herself afloat.

    “Abandon ship!” The strange cephalopod cried, “Every squid for himself!”

    . She quickly began swimming for the shore near the school. She could see the twins near her moving the same direction. It came as no surprise that they were doing the dog paddle. She quickly reached the shallows and began to haul herself out of the water, moving towards land. She could see a lot of students gathering around the edge of the moat, staring at her. Great, just what she needed.

    Two of them she recognized, Lizzy and Madoka (the hiked up dress being a dead give away as to who she was at the moment), walking past the moat and turning to look at her.

    “Zippy?” Lizzy asked, surprised.

    Walking against the heavy water, Zippy waded further up in the shallows, now soaked from head to toe, her uniform clinging to her heavily. Her hair hung down against her head in soggy red strings.

    Zippy bit her lip angrily, “Oh, why is this happening to me?”

    “Woah!” Madoka laughed, “That’s gotta be embarrassing.”

    Suddenly, and with no warning, Madoka’s face when slack. Her eyes unfocused and she stared strait ahead as if in a trance for a few seconds, not even blinking. And then, just like that, she was Rina, coming back to reality with a whole different persona.

    Rina looked at Zippy and gasped, “Goodness! How embarrassing!”

    Zippy really wished that both of them would shut up.

    A teacher that Zippy hadn’t seen before pushed through the students and came over. She was slightly older, and had curly blonde hair tied a bit behind her head. She wore small oval glasses and was dressed in a long black dress that had gone out of fashion at least a hundred years ago, looking almost like something from the old west, complete with frills. She had a long face and narrow eyes. Zippy would later find out she was Mrs. Variola, the Artificial Life Form Creation teacher.

    “Well, I declare, Miss Zipperdale!” Mrs. Variola said sternly in a pronounced Scottish accent, “That’s no way to behave on you first day of school. Come on out of there and go get cleaned up. I hope you plan to be less destructive on your second day. The consequences would be most unfavorable to you. And I’m very disappointed in you two, Katjia and Nadjia. You know better then this.”

    She sternly folded her arms over her chest, looking down at Zippy. It seemed everyone in this school knew who Zippy was. Whatever was going on, whatever grand conspiracy had resulted in her enrollment here; it had been going on for a while now.

    As if this wasn’t bad enough, Zippy then heard an obnoxiously familiar voice.

    Cristobel walked up to the edge, “Well, look at this. Way to know how to make a first impression, Zipperdale.”

    Zippy felt the blood rush to her face at the sound of Cristobel’s arrogant, snotty voice. She glared at him angrily, feeling a vein pulse on her forehead. Of all the people she had to run into, it had to be him. She’d almost rather deal with Amber again.

    “Oh, put a sock in it, Bell.” Zippy growled at him.

    He just laughed his haughty, overconfident laugh. “Nice hat, Zipperdale. It suits you: Slimy, ugly and really stupid.”

    At first, Zippy didn’t know what he meant, until she realized with a jolt of embarrassment that the squid was still on top of her head.

    “What’s that? Come over here and say . . . waoh!” The squid started to say when Zippy tore it from her head.

    She tossed the squid aside into the water. Katjia and Nadjia instantly began to fight over it with each other. Zippy pushed forward through the water, seeing red, and wanting nothing more then to shove her fist down Cristobel’s throat and yank out his lungs. She struggled to keep her rage under control. Damnit, this guy really got under her skin in ways that most people almost never did.

    “I don’t suppose your gonna save us all the time and give up now are you?” Bell asked in mock concern, “No? Well, you better watch you back, little girl. Don’t think I’ll go easy on you just because you’re the weaker sex. I’m gonna bury you’re cute little ***. But don’t worry, if you’re good, I’ll let you bow at my feet and lick my boots. Just what you need, Zipperdale, to be taught your place.”

    “I’d rather suck on a brillo pad.” Zippy told him, angrily.

    Cristobel turned and stalked off as the rest of the class either laughed or gasped at his audacity. Zippy trembled with anger and mortification, her hands clenched into fists, and she felt her teeth grit uncomfortably together. She felt the tentacles of the squid on her leg, and then up her body as it scrambled to her shoulder to get away from the frisky twins. She shot them a glaring look and the both stopped trying to get the squid, shocked at the venom in Zippy’s eyes. She stalked forward through the shallows.

    Mrs. Variola began shooing the other students away with her hands, “Go on, go back to class, nothing more to gawk at here.”

    The students left, chattering amongst themselves at what they had just seen, casting various glances over their shoulders at the unfortunate new girl in the moat. As Zippy moved up, she suddenly stopped and gasped: There, at the back of the crowd, was her Unknown Boy. She only saw him for a second as he looked at her, laughing, and said something to one of his friends. And then, he disappeared into the crowd, leaving Zippy red faced and mortified. She felt like crawling in a hole. Crawling under some rock somewhere and never ever coming back out in the light.

    Lizzy and Rina ran over and helped Zippy get out of the water. Zippy hung her head low, her face pointing towards the Earth. He shoulders shook in small quivers.

    As the twins pulled themselves out of the water, Katjia turned to her sister, “Omigosh, she’s crying.”

    Nadjia replied, “Oh, man. This is all our fault.”

    They both approached Zippy, hands clasped in front of them. They bowed their heads politely to her, looking for all the world like if they’d had tails, they would have been between their legs.

    “We’re sorry, Zippy.” They both said in unison.

    The feral Farrells, however, were mistaken. Zippy was not crying, she was laughing; giggling manically as adrenaline began to course through. In the midst of all this, she’d made a decision. Make that a resolve. Throwing off the hands of Lizzy and Rina, she slammed a foot down on the ground and tilted her head up declaring to whoever would listen.

    “All right!” She bellowed, “If that’s the way you want it, so be it! If I’m stuck in this screwy place then fine: Just you wait! I’m going to be THE MADDEST MAD SCIENTIST OF THEM ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Making her rounds outside, Vixen heard the sound of Zippy’s rebel yell all the way across the moat. She stopped and rotated her metal head around on its axis in the direction of the cry.

    “Jeepers. Was that a battle cry?” She wondered.

    Hey everyone: Zippy here. In our next chapter, things don’t get off to such a good start for me, and nothing really goes as planned. And then to make matters worse, Lizzy and I fall into a dangerous trap. It’s all there in the next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist: “The Second Experiment”.
    Eureka! I’ve got it!
    Attached Files

  2. #2
    Junior Member fedrikwhite is on a distinguished road fedrikwhite's Avatar
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    08-03-2009 06:23 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Rep Power


    Hi dear friends, You are sharing most useful information. If you have other then please share it. Thank you.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    Okay, here we go, the second chapter of Zippy Zipperdale. I know the first one was pretty unpopular, but i'm kinda hoping my idotic writing might make some people smile. This one clocks in at a respectable (for me) 27 pages. Zippy ties to fit in at her new school and finds getting good grades to be a life of death deal. She meets her unknown boy again and her rivalry with Cristobel reached dangerous new levels. Please comment if you like this story, this series is a lot of work.

    I'm going to do something different with this post, rather then copy and past the whole thing directly into the post, I'm uploading it to MediaMiner, and posting a directly link to the chapter, for those who want to read it online rather then download it. Downloadable file links included as always.

    Direct link to story

    Download links:

    Password ::hardcover::
    Attached Files

  4. #4
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    Third chapter of this increasingly disastrous project. I know I want to do at least up to chapter seven, but at this point its unlikely I'll continue it beyond that, everyone hates it too much. Anyways, this one clocks in at about 18 pages, Zippy begins to excel in her classes enticing irate jealosy from Cristobel who plots his revenge.

    Link to story:

    download links:


    @@[email protected]@
    Attached Files

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian has a reputation beyond repute Ophidian's Avatar
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    01-19-2011 07:57 PM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    3rd Planet
    Rep Power



    It's really long...I'll try to get around to reading it but my time is really short...

    I scanned through it, and it seemed well written grammar-wise so I'll let you know what I think! But I'll be gone for the next 12 days so...keep working!

    EDIT: Okay...I wasn't going to read it now, but I read up to where she got to her dorm room...and it does seem interesting so don't give up just because no one is commenting! I'll read the rest when I come back. Zippy's a likable character.
    Last edited by Ophidian; 09-22-2009 at 03:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77 has a reputation beyond repute fatalReflex77's Avatar
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-29-2009 02:53 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Rep Power

    Default's almost longer than my history book

    but still ......thank u for ur pretty PRETTY hard work^^

  7. #7
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    Here's the fourth chapter. This time Zippy and Lizzy begin to plot some real revenge and get themselves some good grades in Miss Piranha's class while their at it. This chapter contains some rather frank clinical terms for male and female body parts, so if you're one of those people who used to cringe in health class you might want to skim through the demonstration scene.

    Here is The Fourth Experiment

    Click to read:

    Click to download:



  8. #8
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    Wew, that last chapter bombed pretty bad. So did my attempted spin off Feral Hearts Afire, which has been killed permanently. Despite that, I'm plowing ahead with this. Here is the fifth chapter, Zippy attempts to get Krystal to accept her life as a girl while she discovers Amber is turning into a much more dangerous nemesis. Please comment if you like this chapter (I know most of you don't, but on the off chance that you do).

    Click to read:

    Click to download:]



  9. #9
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    Here is the sixth chapter. Finally back at home over break, Zippy, Lizzy, and Krystal embark on the daring experiment they hinted at last story, much to the horror of Zippy's parents and friends.

    Click to read:

    click to download:



  10. #10
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power

    Default Zippy Zipperdale Moderately Mad Scientist--The Seventh Experiment

    Here's the seventh chapter. Still back at home, Stitchy takes her first steps outside the house on her own much to a frantic Zippy's distress, and Mandy finds herself in a dangerous situation. The climax of this chapter changed dramatically from what I had originally outlined. I decided I wanted to show Stitchy as being smart as well as strong, and I new item I'd seen a long time ago gave me the scenario to have Stitchy use her brains to save a life.

    Here is The Seventh Experiment.

    Click to read:

    Click to download:]]



  11. #11
    boopaloop! Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys has a reputation beyond repute Daenerys's Avatar
    Gifts Be Mine Red Ornament Present
    1 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    05-19-2013 11:08 PM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Blog Entries
    Rep Power


    I'm defintely not going to download it, so if you'd post the story here, instead of highly suspect download links which may or may not contain viruses (I'm not downloading them for that reason) then I'd read it. I like the idea of what I read a bit of, but the bold was really hard to keep reading for a long time.
    making emo kids[/URL] cry since 1998

  12. #12
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power


    It's hard to believe I'm actually still writing this junk, but I can't seem to stop. Despite my mounting pile of hate mail and increasing awareness that most people who use the internet will NOT read anything longer the a paragraph and only accompanied with pictures.

    In this chapter, Zippy is finally back at school and presents Stitchy to the class to general amazement. Needless to say, this arouses the ire of Amber and her cronies. And Zippy finally marshals the courage to ask Kyle out. Please comment if you like this story, I really need comments to know people are actually reading this and not giving up after two paragraph.

    Downloadable file link:



    The Eighth Experiment

    By Hardcover

    When everyone was in one class or another, it was a rare moment of peace and quiet within normally chaotic halls of Madame Petri’s Academy For The Gifted And Eccentric, and that made it the perfect time for Charity Milquetoast to carry out her mission, given to her by Amber Tiffendorf, the leader of her group, which was now unofficially called Amber’s Army. And they had all learned fast that it wasn’t a good idea to disobey Amber, especially when it came to ways to thwart Zippy Zipperdale and the rest of the Shark Tank Guild as they called themselves. And that was the quest that had Charity cutting class and sneaking around in the hallways like a thief.

    It was fairly common knowledge that Amber was livid about Zipperdale; her arrival had been something of a big deal, having received an award from Steven Hawking and such, and although she’d had a rough start, Zippy had quickly proved herself one of the best of all of them. That had ticked off Amber, especially after Zippy had ruined her chances of getting the Bell fortune by turning Cristobel into Krystal. And now that Krystal was an avowed member of the Shark Tank Guild, even wearing the small silver Megalodon tooth pin that the rest of them did, Amber’s wrath had reached a boiling point. And now, word was that Zipperdale had come back from break with something extraordinary to show for Mrs. Variola’s class, which was sending Amber into twitching fits of rage.

    In a way, Charity understood Amber’s resentment; she felt a lot of it too. To be frank, Zipperdale was undeserving of all that attention. Certainly, she was beneath Charity’s own station: Zipperdale did not come from money, she came from an average middle class family, and she did not come from a family of unrestrained scientists. Not even regular scientists for that matter. It irked Charity that someone of such low origin could achieve so much; so much that was hers by right of birth. She frequently resented the way Zipperdale simply did not know her place. Especially with people like Lizzy Malaria and Rina Matsura, both of notable (if odd in the case of Malaria) scientific families, would hang off Zipperdale’s every word.

    In any event, The Shark Tank Guild was something of freak show: With Buttercup the sloth girl and Eve the pseudo vampire among their ranks, to say nothing of the mongrel twins, Charity frequently whished they would all just go away and disappear, and to stop offending her aesthetics with their freakishness.

    But all the same, she also considered this thievery to be beneath her station. She knew it was below her, and below Amber, to stoop to stealing Zippy’s experiments like they had been, but Amber had ordered it, and Charity never went against Amber. Mainly because she was afraid of her and her quick temper, she had gone ahead and did it.

    Her, that is, and Amber’s other patsy that she used from time to time. Though Charity had no idea what Amber had over him, it must have been substantial to get him to do her bidding like that. Charity had hoped he’d be the one pulled for this job, but it had fallen to her.

    Needless to say, Zipperdale had quickly figured it out and now hid her projects exceedingly well, making these trips even more agonizing for Charity. If she got caught, she could easily be expelled or “volunteered” for one of Madam Petri’s experiments.

    Looking around and making sure she was alone, Charity slipped into the dorm room shared by Zipperdale, Malaria and Bell. She quietly slipped towards Zipperdale’s side of the room, looking around her to make sure there were no cameras or listening devices. After Zipperdale had realized Amber was stealing her projects, she had begun setting traps for any potential thieves. And the ***** was damn cleaver about them too, Charity had almost been caught several times, making her resent the Zipperdale girl that much more. Also she kept an eye out for Zipperdale’s revolting pet squid; that awful ugly creature she called a pet was a constant annoyance, since Charity was never sure when the damn thing would show up, waving its tentacles and sounding the alarm. Charity had been forced to get a new skirt once when she couldn’t get the squid’s ink stain out of it.

    Still, there was at least one way in which Charity had to give Zipperdale begrudging thanks: Freeing her from Cristobel. True enough, Charity had liked the idea of marrying into the powerful Bell family, and getting the respect and influence due to her by her station. Her own family was rich and powerful, but marrying into the Bell family would have strengthened it quite a bit, and raised her status in the family ten fold. But she really had loathed Cristobel, and his constant derision of her and her gender. It had been at her mother’s insistence that she had perused Bell. Now that Cristobel was no longer a path to the Bell estate, she was free to engage her relationship with Rick Millhouse.

    Her face grew warm thinking about her new boyfriend. He’d been around a lot, but it was only recently that she had begun to realize that he’d hung around because of her. The interest and attention he’d paid her had been starkly more appealing then Cristobel’s indifference, and more and more she’d found herself attracted to him and his earnest devotion. When Cristobel was gone and Krystal was cut off from her fortune, Rick had quickly made his move, and Charity had been perfectly happy to accept it.

    Not exactly the Bell family, Rick was still from a rich well off family, so Charity could easily avoid her mother trying to break them up. That was good because Rick made her feel like no other boy she’d ever dated (which wasn’t a lot), and his simple presence had become her rock to whether Amber’s storms. When she was with Rick she felt like she could do anything, and that was a feeling she never wanted to give up.

    Suitcases still sat around the room as break had only been over for one day, and they hadn’t seemed to have the time to unpack. Looking around the dorm room, Charity noticed something odd: The fourth bed in the room had some sparse luggage sitting on it. It didn’t seem to belong to Zipperdale, Malaria or Bell; did they have a new roommate? If they did, she must be huge because a dress was laid out on the bed and it was enormous.

    Charity searched the room thoroughly, frustratingly turning up nothing after several minutes of hunting. Finally, she found something taped to the underside of Zippy’s bed: A wide flat wooden box, like a jewelry box. This had to be it. Charity carefully made sure the box wasn’t wired to some kind of booby trap and then pulled it out. It took her only a second to jimmy the lock and open the box.

    What she found inside was deflating: Just a small scribbled note on a piece of paper. She squinted at it; it was definitely in Zipperdale’s handwriting.

    It read, “It’s not nice to steal, *****!”

    Realizing it was a trap, Charity tried to drop the box but there was sudden explosion of a bright whit light from the container and Charity screamed.

    Later on, people stared and pointed at Charity laughing as she walked down the hall, looking dismayed and humiliated. For she now had the word “thief” sunburned across her face in huge red letters.

    Looking out at the long rectangular shape of Mrs. Variola’s large classroom; Zippy’s heart beat fast in her chest. The classroom was shaped basically like a bullet: A long rectangular shape but round at the front end. Designed around displaying projects, the front of the class held a slightly raised stage area where all lessons were carried out. Just in front of the stage area was a long rectangular run; lower then the stage but higher then the floor that ran down the middle of the classroom to the halfway mark, looking very much like a fashion show runway. The students desks were arranged in a horseshoe shape around the runway; three rows of four desks on the right hand side, another three on the left hand side, and then three directly in front of it.

    A flat ceiling ran along the top of most of the classroom, but the front of the room had a much higher domed ceiling. The whole room was decorated in such a way that it looked like authentic DaVinci era Florentine architecture. And it was here in this aura of retro design that students leaned Mrs. Variola’s lessons on Artificial Life Form Creation; and it was here, that Zippy, Lizzy and Krystal were getting ready to present Stitchy, and stun the class with the Holy Grail of mad science.

    Zippy kept one eye on the back row of the room, where she knew Tiffany Pikenbeiler, one of Amber’s stooges, was sitting her eyeing her intently. As soon as this was finished, Tiffany would run and tell Amber, and Zippy was sure that would provoke some kind of unpleasant reaction. She would have to be ready for it.

    Mrs. Variola often taught lessons moving up and down that long runway, and students got used to repositioning themselves to see her better. She was doing that now, giving a brief introduction of their project, without giving much away. She couldn’t really have, because Zippy had kept quiet about what exactly it was she was doing, to avoid thievery. Mrs. Variola hadn’t known much more about the details of project then her students did until a few hours before the presentation.

    She was an older woman that seemed younger then she was; with a long face and narrow green eyes. She had curly blonde hair that she tied back in a pony tail behind her head. Her face was adorned with very little make up and she wore small oval glasses on her eyes. Her thin, scrawny figure was kept under a long black dress that had probably gone out of style when Wyatt Erp was still alive. She had a stern, no nonsense air about her that was usually intimidating, and was in no way as approachable as Miss Piranha or Miss Gojira, reminding Zippy more of Mr. DeSade, in her way.

    She spoke with slight Scottish accent, “And now, Miss. Zipperdale, Miss. Malaria, and Miss Bell will present the fruits of their labors. They all worked hard, even sacrificing their break to work on their project, so give then all your full attention.

    “Miss Zipperdale, you may proceed.”

    Feeling more nervous and more excited then she had since Stitchy’s initial creation; Zippy stepped up and began to talk. Never being one to shy away from a touch of the dramatic, Zippy began her speech.

    “What you are about to see today,” She began, “Is the culmination of a radical project using the combined talents of myself, Lizzy and Krystal, as we stood on the shoulders of giants such as Frankenstein, Jekyll, Manchu and Mabuse. Using the best equipment available, and the best material we could lay our hands on, we embarked on an experiment that would revolutionize unrestrained science as we know it:

    “The successful assembly, construction, and reanimation of a new human being from superior preserved dead body parts.”

    She paused for dramatic effect, and was not disappointed with the drama: A ripple of gasps flowed through the room as students looked at each other in amazement, wondering if it could be possible, could they really have pulled this off. Tiffany was staring at Zippy with mix of surprise and anger. Zippy let the excitement settle down before continuing. She picked up a small remote control, and dimmed the lights while lowering a screen. A slide projector installed in the ceiling came on with the familiar click, and the slide and video show began, detailing every step of Stitchy’s creation process. Zippy had set the show to an old song called Eye Of The Tiger, somehow finding it appropriate.

    As the footage progressed, Krystal noticed that Tiffany pulled out her cell phone and began punching numbers. She didn’t get far, since Krystal wasn’t the only one who noticed. With a quick, sure movement, Mrs. Variola snatched the phone out of her hands and hissed at her to pay attention.

    The other students watched as the video showed every step of the process, mumbling amongst themselves. Even Mrs. Variola stared at the screen in awe; and she had already seen both the video and Stitchy. The video clips and photos continued to play, documenting every step of the process. Once the information was finished, and everyone understood the project, the lights came up, and the class remained in hushed, astonished silence.

    A little smile appeared on Zippy’s face as she gauged their reactions. She then folded her hands in front of her after rearranging her glasses; all calculated theatrics on her part.

    She then announced, “And now, for your intellectual pleasure, I’d like you all to meet our creation. We call her Stitchy.”

    The door in the back opened and Stitchy strolled on stage, throwing her arms up above her head like a star athlete and strutting like a supermodel. Everyone gasped at the gigantic size of the girl, more then a little apprehensive, especially since they’d been informed in the slide show of her accented strength. Zippy had to giggle: All she’d asked Stitchy to do was walk out on stage, but Stitchy liked attention so it was a given that she’d milk this as much as she could. She even did a few dance steps and twirls as she reached the runway, walking down it to the end and turning, again like a runway model. Students chuckled watching her gleeful performance.

    For reasons of display, Stitchy was dressed in a bathing suit, a bikini that was as revealing as anything Krystal had tried on back at Zippy’s house. Stitchy was rather proud of the garment, never having had a shy bone in her body since her ‘birth’, since it had taken a little bit of work to find one in her gigantic size. As sexy as it was, they’d picked it to better reveal the assembly work to the class.

    Stitchy got back to the stage and announce proudly, “I Stitchy! Hello everyone!”

    After the shocked silence finally broke, there was a round of applause. From everyone, Krystal noticed, except Tiffany. Krystal gritted her teeth; they had worked really hard on the creation of Stitchy, the least the ***** could do was show a little appreciation. A sinking feeling a remorse flooded her as she realized she used to be just like her. Unbelievable, how much her perspective had altered.

    Step by step, Zippy took Stitchy through her paces, starting with simple movement and coordination, graduating to demonstrating her astonishing strength and reflexes, then moving on to her augmented sight and hearing. The last batch of demonstrations was all mental, wowing the class with Stitchy’s ability to solve complex math problems in her head and her practically photographic memory. The students were even impressed when Stitchy solved a Rubix Cube in under a minute.

    Once the presentation was finished, the room filled with thunderous applause as students rushed to the stage to get a closer look; mostly, Zippy noticed, the male students. Once the fervor died down, they began taking questions. Zippy was a little surprised to notice that the bulk of the questions were directed at Stitchy rather then the rest, but then decided that really was inevitable, since Stitchy was the object of curiosity here. Stictchy gleefully answered all the questions that were aimed at her.

    At one point, Caleb Murphy asked, “Do you’re various parts . . . feel different from each other at all. You know, from your point of view.”

    Stitchy thought about it a second, before answering, “No, it all a part of Stitchy. But it hard to answer that question; Stitchy never be any other way then Stitchy is now, so Stitchy have nothing to compare it to.”

    “Why does it talk like that?” Tiffany wanted to know.

    Zippy was not blind to the fact that Tiffany had snidely referred to Stitchy as ‘it’ and not ‘she’. She grimaced a little, but answered the question anyways.

    “We don’t really know, not for certain,” She said levelly, “But scans have shown some unusual electrical fluctuation in the Broca’s Center of her brain. Research has shown since 1865 that people with damage to that part of the brain lost the ability to speak, but could still think. We believe that is the cause of Stitchy’s unusual speech patterns. But what causes those fluctuations we can’t say.”

    “So you’re creation is brain damaged?” Tiffany chuckled callously

    “I’ll brain damage her in second.” Lizzy muttered.

    Taking a deep breath, Zippy answered, “No. There are no cognitive deficiencies at all that we can determine. As far as tests have shown, all of Stitchy’s mental functions are not only normal, but far above average.”

    She narrowed here eyes at Tiffany, “Maybe you’d like to come up here and try to do some of the math Stitchy did in your head?”

    When Tiffany didn’t move, the whole class laughed at her, and she cast her eyes down at her desk furiously. Caleb started to ask another question but they were out of time, and Mrs. Variola interrupted him.

    “Well, I hope you all enjoyed the presentation. High marks go to all three of our students here. We deliberated for a while on how to best handle Stitchy. But after seeing first hand her mental ability, and in the interest of further study, we have decided to admit Stitchy as a student at Madame Petri’s. After all, you don’t want to waste a life you’ve been given.”

    Stitchy clapped her hands together excitedly, and even Zippy was a little amazed that the matter was decided so quickly. She had thought she would have make a strong case and fight for Stitchy’s admittance. But Petri’s valued intelligence, as well as having a rather shallow desire for students of fame and notoriety, which a unique girl like Stitchy was likely to bring. Whatever the cause, Zippy was feeling a glowing sense of pride that her creation would be attending classes at Petri’s.

    Within a couple of hours, word about Stitchy was all over the school. Naturally, Petri’s had a large female population, and the fastest means of communication are telephone, telegraph and tell a girl. But this was the sort of news that spread fast over a unisex network, and pretty soon it was the only thing anyone could talk about and the whole school was bursting with excitement over Zippy, Lizzy and Krystal’s accomplishment.

    All that is, except for Amber, who was livid that Zippy was now the top student in the school, in spite of all her efforts.

    Krystal moved down the hallway, unable to contain her excitement at their success. Stitchy had been accepted more then she’d dreamed possible and unrestrained science had taken another leap forward. And she had been a part of that; sure, it had all been Zippy’s idea, but if Zippy was Neil Armstrong, then Krystal could securely feel like a fine Buzz Aldrin. And there was nothing wrong with that; she still felt like a piece of history.

    As she rounded a corner she passed Mr. DeSade’s classroom. She could hear him talking to someone inside the room, and he didn’t sound too happy. The hair on the back of Krystal’s neck stood up as she recognized Mr. Innsmouth’s voice. After all this time, the vice principle still gave her the creeps, no matter what. A little curious, she listened to what they were saying.

    “I’m telling you, I didn’t misplace it.” Mr. DeSade grumbled, “The materials where right where they were supposed to be the last time I used them. Someone has been stealing my genetic material.”

    “That seems to be a rather strong accusation, Mr. DeSade.” Mr. Innsmouth replied coldly, “What proof do you have that they were stolen?”

    “Well it wasn’t the sort of material that could get up and walk away on its own; I keep all of that stuff locked up in the freezer unit.”

    “Oh I see.”

    “Aren’t you the least bit concerned? What was taken could easily be very dangerous.”

    “Everything worth knowing is dangerous.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “Calm yourself, François. I’m sure your work will be unaffected.”

    And with that, a seemingly unconcerned Mr. Innsmouth turned and abruptly left the class room, turning his back on a baffled and frustrated looking Mr. DeSade, who shook his head in disbelief. Krystal frowned; it seemed rather dangerous to be stealing material from DeSade’s class. Who in the world would do that, and why didn’t the Vice Principle care?

    Krystal’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a voice she liked hearing a whole lot better then Innsmouth’s.

    “Hey, Krystal.” Kevin Crowsfeet said coming towards her.

    “Kevin! Hello!” Krystal said enthusiastically as her best friend approached her.

    As he got closer Krystal felt her heart quicken a little and her face flush a bit. She always got excited by the presence of Kevin, the one person who had stood by her through everything, remained her friend despite her past and what had happened to her. As a boy she had somewhat taken his friendship for granted, but now it had become clear that Kevin was the only true friend she had. Everyone else had only been interested in the money, now that she’d been cut off from that; she discovered that Kevin was the only one to stick by her. She valued his friendship and presence more everyday, even going so far to call him from Zippy’s house everyday over break. She had teased him a little with the project they were working on, piping his interest without letting him know what they were doing.

    He jogged up to her excitedly, and Krystal felt her pulse quicken the closer he got.

    “I just heard about your project.” He said almost breathlessly, “Did you really do it, create a new life?”

    Krystal nodded, “You bet. And she’s been enrolled here, so you’ll meet Stitchy soon enough. Really nice girl, actually.”

    “’Stitchy’?” He raised an eyebrow, “That’s really what you named her?”

    “She’s got a ton of them. Anyways, she picked the name herself.”

    “You know, you’re right, I can’t wait to meet her.” He paused and then continued, “That’s was why you weren’t at breakfast this morning?”

    “Yeah, there was too much preparation to do. Why did I miss something?”

    “Another ‘volunteer’.”

    “You’re kidding, who was it?”

    “Ricky Salazar.”

    Krystal knitted her brow, her face darkening. It seemed more and more ‘volunteers’ were being recruited for Madame Petri’s private experiments. The results were often almost horrific. A shiver went down her spine, even though she knew her grades were good enough to stay out of her clutches. Still, whatever the hell Madame Petri was doing in there, no one seemed to know what it was. Most of them had never even seen her.

    Petri’s could be a scary place, and everyone knew the importance of making alliances, friends who could watch your back. Without them, you could find yourself kidnapped and subjected to who knows what sort of experiment. It was the reality of their fringe science school, and simply a part of the process, as horrifying as it may have sounded to outsiders. Krystal realized she was quite lucky; event though she had lost most of her friends when he gender was reassigned and she lost her claim to the Bell fortune, she had made plenty of new ones; as difficult as that had been. She now knew that Zippy and the others would watch her back, and she felt the same protective need towards them. And then there was . . .

    She looked at Kevin, another swell of affection filling her breast.

    “Kevin . . . thank you.” She said.

    “Huh?” Kevin replied, “For what?”

    “For sticking by me all this time. For not abandoning me like the others. And for putting up with me, I know I was pretty obnoxious. I realize that now. Thank you for that.”

    Kevin smiled and put an arm on her shoulder, she felt her face go hot at the contact. What in the world was happening to her?

    “It’s like I said,” Kevin told her soothingly, “I always knew there was much more to you then what you presented. And it’s been my privilege to know that better you before anyone else did.”

    For one split second, Krystal actually thought she was going to cry, an almost euphoric feeling of happiness surging in her. Instead, she suddenly through her arms around Kevin and hugged him tightly, pulling herself close to him. He hugged her back; it only last a brief second, but to Krystal it seemed like an hour, and she wanted it to go on for an eternity.

    Kevin finally let her go and headed off to class, waving good bye and disappeared down the hall, leaving Krystal standing by herself. Her face was flushed with heat and her heart hammered in her chest. It was a perplexing feeling of excitement, one that seemed to be getting stronger and stronger every time she was with Kevin. A lot of emotions that had never really reared their head before had found their way prominently into her make up since her transformation: Things like compassion, loyalty, friendship; but the emotions that seized her in Kevin’s presence were a bit confusing. She pondered it, and all at once, all the pieced came together. Suddenly, all at once, she understood the emotions that flooded her in his presence.

    No, no, no, no, this couldn’t be true. It shouldn’t be true; it was impossible. She clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes going wide. This wasn’t right, this shouldn’t be happening at all. She had to be mistaken; she absolutely had to be mistaken. She was still new to her body; it had to be something else. I just wasn’t possible, it wasn’t possible at all. It wasn’t true.

    Except it was: She was in love with Kevin.

    The realization sent her thoughts spinning like an out of control kaleidoscope: Questions with no clear answers danced in her brain, coming and going with electric rapidity. Could she pursue these feelings, should she ignore them, could she ignore them, did he feel anything for her . . . they surged in her in a mishmash of uncertainty and bewilderment. Suddenly, just as soon as she’d accepted herself, her whole world was being turned upside down again. How had this crept up on her; how long had she felt this way about him? With sinking feeling, she realized she had started feeling this way on her first day as a girl; when Kevin had sat down and consoled her when no one else would. From that very moment, she had fallen hopelessly in love with him, and she had just been too blind to see it.

    The comprehension made her feel perplexed and confused, but also a little bit excited.

    Zippy grinned as Stitchy stepped out of Mrs. Variola’s office proudly dressed in her new school uniform. Due to her massive size, the Werx had been forced to create some originals for her, but they had done their work well and the uniform fit like a glove. Stitchy twirled a little displaying it.

    The Werx still fascinated Zippy: Most of them were pretty much the same, and all behaved the same way, running the preprogrammed duties unanimously. Most of the Werx were all activated and controlled by a wireless network called The Feed where they received most of their instructions and program updates. But certain Werx, like Vixen and Gortcha, were unique and functioned without The Feed, operating on their own.

    The oddest one was Posey, who was apparently supposed to be a normal Werx, but for some reason operated independently.

    “What think, Mom?” Stitch said, “Stitchy look cute?”

    “Very cute, Stitchy, very cute.” Zippy clapped her hands, there was always something endearing about Stitchy’s rampant enthusiasm.

    In the interest of continued study, Stitchy had been assigned, not surprisingly, to the remaining bed in Zippy’s dorm room, which suited the amiable frankengirl just fine.

    “Stitchy glad she here,” The big girl commented thoughtfully, “Stitchy happy for life mom give her, Stitchy not want to waste one second of it.”

    While Mrs. Variola led Stitchy off to be signed in with Mr. Innsmouth, Zippy headed off to her next class, though it was likely to be somewhat less exciting then the previous one. She quickly made her way down the hall, noticing the stares and whispers and the occasional holler of congratulations as she went on her way. With an accomplishment like Stitchy, she was suddenly the most interesting student in the school. In a lot of ways, she was basking in all the attention, letting it boost her ego considerably, but on the other hand, if felt like everyone was staring at her all the time. She’d gotten a little used to that since she came here, but now it was a near constant thing that got on her nerves a little bit.

    And she knew there was Amber to contend with; she wouldn’t take an upstaging like this sitting down. She would be out to event he score, and they would need to be ready for that. Indeed, Zippy had noticed Charity hiding the burned results of her trap by letting her hair fall over her face earlier in the day; so it had turned out to be a wise move to let Mrs. Variola hang on to all her notes and files until the presentation. She would have loved to have seen Charity’s face when that trap went off, however.

    Zippy fingered the small silver shark’s tooth pin on her collar. All the members of The Shark Tank Guild were wearing them since they got back from break. Rina had made them up over her vacation; they were based on one of Megan’s actual teeth, which the shark had graciously let Rina have. Like all other sharks, Megan went through a lot of teeth, dropping old ones and growing new ones over and over. She would probably go through twenty thousand teeth in her lifetime, so she had no qualms about giving out the old ones to people as gifts, telling Mr. Carcharias who to deliver them too after they were picked up by Werx from the bottom of her tank. Zippy had a massive seven and a half inch one herself decorating her desk.

    After a while of this, she felt like she really wanted to get somewhere where there weren’t any people. Maybe later she could stop by Megan’s tank? The thought was interrupted when Zippy saw someone she did want to talk to making his way towards her: Kyle.

    She hadn’t had a chance to talk to her crush since she’d gotten back, and obviously hadn’t seen him at all over break. As soon as she saw him her face flushed and her heart hammered in her chest, and all the old nervousness seemed to be flooding back to her. For a horrible second, Zippy thought the old brain shutdown she used to experience in Kyle’s presence was going to rear its empty head again. And then, she took a deep breath and focused.

    She noticed he was wearing the tooth pin himself. She grinned; Kyle wasn’t an official member of the Guild just yet, but he was friendly and supportive to them, so Zippy had insisted he get a pin as well.

    Kyle smiled, excited as the rest of them as he jogged up to her, “Zippy! Welcome back.”

    Zippy returned his smile, “Kyle, hi, it’s nice to see you again.”

    She hoped that didn’t sound too desperate, like she’d been waiting to see him; even though the really had been.

    He stopped in front of her, “I just heard, is it true? Did you really create your own human life form?”

    Zippy nodded, “Six foot seven of her.”

    Kyle grinned, “I heard about that too; that she’s really big.”

    “Everything had to be large to make the reagent flow correctly. So far, Stitchy doesn’t really seem to mind.”

    “’Stitchy’? That’s really what you called her?”

    “She picked it out herself. Well, she got it from Lizzy’s boy toy, but somehow it stuck. I know it sounds lame; it’s just ‘stitch’ with a ‘y’ on the end of it, but she seems to like it. She proudly announces her name when you ask her, so I guess it’s all right.”

    “Wait, wait, wait.” Kyle held his hands up, “Be kind, rewind . . . Lizzy has a boy toy?”

    Zippy couldn’t help but giggle, “Yeah, she hooked up with my neighbor Jason.”

    “Lizzy MALARIA?”

    “Hey, she’s got all the same drives you and I have. She may be odd, but she’s still a woman. Anyways, if you think that’s weird; Stitchy hooked up with my other neighbor Darren. Same day she came to life, too.”

    “She didn’t waste any time. Crist . . . er . . . Krystal didn’t get with anyone did she?”

    “Well, my brother developed this massive crush on her. He followed her around, gave her clothes to wear. Even kissed her before we left; I think she really dug all the attention.”

    “Wow, did he know she used to be a guy.”

    “I don’t think he cared.”

    “Damn, it’s like you guys had you own soap opera going on over break. I just went to Disneyworld.”

    They both laughed, but truth be told, Zippy was feeling awkward. All the talk of kissing and hooking up was starting to excite her, and her heart was thumping faster the longer she spent with Kyle. She had an urge, a strong urge, to just ask him out and be done with it, but she couldn’t bring herself to. I was a completely foreign feeling to Zippy, who had always been very confident about boys. She had never before had any trouble going after a boy she liked before; she’d flirt and bat her eyes an wiggle her body and if he didn’t ask her out, well she’d just go ahead and ask him. For some reason, she was petrified of doing that with Kyle: she worried about him saying no. No, more then that, she worried about him being offended or angry at the suggestion. It was stupid, there was no reason to think he would, but the emotion persisted, over riding Zippy’s usually romantic confidence.

    “Well, I gotta get to class.” Kyle was saying, awakening Zippy from her thoughts, “Lets hang out later, I’d love to hear more about your vacation.”

    Zippy scolded herself, she’d drifted and lost track of their conversation. Kyle must think she was a complete space cadet. She was burning to say something to him before he left, but the words wouldn’t come. He started to turn away, and Zippy’s heart sank; she was going to let another opportunity pass her by.

    Suddenly, Mrs. Variola’s voice popped into Zippy’s head: After all, you don’t want to waste a life you’ve been given.

    And then Stitchy’s: Stitchy happy for life mom give her, Stitchy not want to waste one second of it

    “Kyle!” Zippy called on full impulse.

    He turned around, “Yeah.”

    “Wouldyouliketogotothemanhattanprojectwithme? ” Zippy blurted out.

    Not unreasonably, Kyle replied, “Huh?”

    Zippy took a deep breath and spoke again, her ears burning and her heart pounding so hard she thought she might have a coronary at any minute.

    “Would you like to go to The Manhattan Project with me?”

    Kyle raised an eyebrow, “The Manhattan Project?”

    Pausing to collect her frayed nerves, Zippy replied, “Yeah, you and me, at The Manhattan Project. Together . . . like a date.”

    She sighed and finally said it, “Would you like to go out on a date with me?”

    There was a long, agonizing pause which probably only lasted a second or two but felt like an eternity to Zippy as she waited for Kyle’s answer. For a horrible instant, she was sure he was going to say no or the dreaded ‘lets be friends’ . . . or even worse, start laughing or making gagging noises or both. Zippy gripped her hands together so tight she probably cracked a few of her knuckles.

    And then, Kyle smiled. Zippy felt a wave of relief and excitement was over her like an Indonesian tsunami.

    “Sure!” Kyle said smiling, “I’d love to.”

    Zippy felt her heart skip a beat as Kyle became visibly excited by the idea. This was too good to be true; all she could do was giggle as release of nervous energy. She felt her face get hot and realized she was blushing.

    “Great.” Was all she said.

    Kyle exhaled running a hand through his hair, “Man, I wanted to ask you out for so long, but I never really thought you were interested.”

    “Seriously?” Zippy almost gaped, “You never noticed?”

    Whoa, ease down there, Zippy, she chided herself, you don’t want to drive him away by making him feel stupid or something. Don’t sabotage the chance before you even have it.

    “I mean,” She corrected herself, “I wasn’t sure if I was sending the right signals or not?”

    “I thought you might be interested, but I was never sure.” He said, “I guess I’m kind of a coward, I didn’t want to take the initiative.”

    They both silently blushed, staring at each other. Kyle finally broke the silence.

    “So . . . eight o’clock, at The Manhattan Project?” He said, nervously dodging that.

    “I’ll be there!” Zippy declared joyously.

    They said their goodbyes and then hurried off to class in different directions. Zippy practically ran down the hall, she was so elated. This was too good to be true; after all this time, after all the stupid things she’d done and said, she finally had a real honest to goodness date with Kyle. She felt like she was going to practically float down the hall, she was so getting and excited. And Kyle liked her, had liked her for a while, it sounded like. This could really be the start of something.

    Zippy had never had a crush like this one before. Oh, sure, she’d been with boys that really pushed all her buttons, but never one that made her feel like this, like his mere presence was a elixir that she got drunk on. And now, she had finally, after so many failed attempts, gotten a date with him. Zippy felt goose bumps all over her body, and butterflies made their presence known in her stomach.

    She had to tell somebody, she had to tell anybody and share this; her excitement felt like it was bottled up inside her so strong that she might burst. She spotted Nadjia Farrell and Lorne Vasectomy walking down the hall together, and ran up to the shouting out the news with so much gusto that she actually scared the crap out of them.

    Waiting by the class, Lizzy Malaria looked at her watch and frowned: Class was almost ready to start, and Zippy hadn’t shown up. In the whole time she’d been her room mate, Lizzy had hardly seen Zippy be late for anything. She wondered if something could be wrong.

    Finally, she spotted her friend coming towards her down the hall. Again, Lizzy knitted her brow in surprise.

    Was she . . . dancing?

    Cringing as the torrent of rage exploded at her, Charity clutched her hands together as Amber tore into her with enraged irritation. They were in Amber’s dorm room, and Charity was seated in a chair Amber had shoved her in. She looked up at her, the word ‘thief’ still burned on her face. She felt her hands tremble a little as she sat there, taking Amber’s ire like she usually did. Amber had been upset before, but now that Zipperdale’s experiment had been revealed, she was positively furious and fuming at Charity’s failure. Amber’s rages, and her ability to make life miserable for people, frightened Charity to no end. So she kept her mouth shut as Amber’s torrent spilled out of her lips, her usually pretty face crumpled with lines of rage.

    “How can you be so incompetent?” Amber screamed, “I sent you on a simple job; find out what Zipperdale was working on. How could you screw that up? How could you not see a seven foot monster covered in stitches, you moron? Your stupidity never ceases to amaze me.”

    Afraid to, Charity still felt she had to say something, “It wasn’t in the room when I looked; just its clothes, and I told you about that. Zipperdale didn’t have any notes or anything lying around in her room. She must have kept them somewhere else.”

    “Then you should have found out where!” Amber screeched, undeterred, “Instead of falling into one of Zipperdale’s sleazy traps like a complete retard.”

    Charity cringed but didn’t answer.

    Amber went on, “You know you have to be careful of that devious little twerp. Remember what she did to Cristobel? What if she caught you and turned you into a guy? Would Rick like you so much then?”

    That had stung; somehow, Amber had found Charity’s particular secret fear of late: That something might happen to her, she might be changed somehow, or maybe Rick would just learn something about her he didn’t like and dump her. The thought actually terrified her, she’d come to depend on Rick for so much support lately. Amber seemed to have an unconscious knack for finding stuff like that.

    Feeling tears starting to well up in her eye, Charity resisted the urge to wipe them away.

    Amber leaned over with another disdainful sneer, “Gonna cry, Charity? Hell, I’m the one who should be crying! We could have stopped this, would could have sabotaged it and then done one of our own and showed up that prissy little *****, but now . . . “

    Abruptly, Amber stopped, her face slacking and the anger suddenly draining out. She stared at Charity, right into her eyes. Slowly, a thin smile appeared across her face. Charity shivered, what in the world was she looking at? For a split second, Amber resembled a wolverine or a ferret with that sly, conniving grin.

    “Well, maybe I’m being too hard on you.” Amber said, “After all, Zipperdale has outsmarted all of us in the past. You can go; we’ll decide what to do about this later.”

    Thankful to be out of the room, Charity got up and left, casting apprehensive glances at Amber and her suddenly smug, self-satisfied expression. The sudden change in her demeanor creeped Charity out to no end. What had Amber seen that had changed her attitude so much?

    Charity found Rick waiting just down the hall.

    When he saw her he asked, “How’d it go?”

    Looking at Charity’s tearful eyes, he said, “That bad, huh?”

    Charity threw her arms around him sagged her head against his shoulder. Rick hugged her and held her until she lifted her head. He kissed her affectionately, running his hands over her back. When they broke the kiss, he looked into her eyes, and then frowned.

    “Did you get new contacts?” He asked her.

    “What?” Charity asked, perplexed, “No? Why?”

    “Your eyes have changed color.”

    Standing in the dark cold book laden office of the Vice Principle, Stitchy looked down at him with a bit of a shudder. Her mom had mentioned something about him being creepy, but that was apparently a severe understatement: Just being in the same room with him gave Stitchy the chills. His cold demeanor and piercing stare seemed to look right into her, almost unnervingly like he knew what she was thinking. He stared at her, appraisingly, looking her up and down. Stitchy was usually okay with being stared at; after all, she was unique and people liked to take a look at her. Stitchy generally liked the attention, but this was different. She did not like the way Mr. Innsmouth stared at her, as if he was ready to dissect her at any moment.

    “Well, I must confess, you make for a most interesting conundrum, Miss . . . Stitchy? Or shall I call you Miss Zipperdale, after your creator?” He said in his sinister low voice.

    “Uh . . . Stitchy fine.” Stitchy said, hoping to keep some of the fear out of her voice.

    He snorted, “A ridiculous childlike name, but to each their own. You mark the first time a student’s project has ever enrolled in the school.”

    Being one of a kind, that went without saying.

    He leaned forward and narrowed his eyes at her, “I’ll be blunt, I initially opposed your enrollment in the school. But the teachers have been adamant that it was a good idea, and that much can be learned from your interactions and development in an educational setting. I am not one hundred percent sold, but your mental ability far exceeds the minimum requirement for enrollment. So I have been persuaded to give you a chance, as you are a most intriguing subject.”

    He paused, and then narrowed his eyes at her, “It would be wise, therefore, not to disappoint me.”

    “No, sir!” Stitchy said, hoping it came out less nervous then it felt, “Stitchy give her best.”

    Mr. Innsmouth seemed to soften a bit, “You can do great things here, Stitchy. And make no mistake . . .”

    As the Vice Principle began the same speech that he had given to Zippy on her first day, Stitchy found her eyes drawn to the idol on his desk. There was something unforgiving and grotesque about the carving, which depicted bulbous, wretched amalgam of a human, a fish, and an octopus. The statue was ugly, that was for sure, but there was something even more disquieting about it; some sinister sense of menace that seemed to ooze from the relief. It sent more shivers down Stitchy’s admittedly large spine then Mr. Innsmouth himself did.

    Her attention was suddenly snapped back by Innsmouth standing up at his desk and turning his back to her.

    “You may go now, feel free to explore the school.” He told her, “We expect you at dinner in the dining hall at six o’clock. Good day, Stitchy. I hope you don’t disappoint us.”

    Without a word, Stitchy turned and walked out of the room. The further she got from the Vice Principle’s office, the more relaxed she felt. But her mind kept turning back to that horrid little idol: What in the world had been so frightening about it? She couldn’t put her stitched on finger on it.

    But hours later it still bothered her.

    The shimmering lights of the reflected water that bathed the walls outside of Megan the megalodon’s colossal tank were always a relaxing stimulation. Zippy often thought that was why they had chosen to center their meetings around the tank, and eventually naming themselves the Shark Tank Guild. There was something almost ethereal about the shimmers of blue that bathed the long hallway where they sat, and the endless blue of the water seen through one of the massive viewing windows. The underground tank was so huge you couldn’t see the other side of it. Sometimes it felt like they were really under the sea themselves.

    Right now, however, the mood was more excited then relaxed. Zippy sat on the floor, her back to the tank window, with Jetson her talking pet Humboldt squid in her lap. She was flanked on either side by Lizzy on her right and Krystal on her left. They all chatted animatedly while Megan floated lazily behind them, listening with interest to their conversation.

    Megan was an impressive sight no matter how many times you saw her: sixty feet long and weighing in at 115 tons, she was shaped like an overgrown Great White Shark, more or less, but her body coloring was deep greenish grey similar to a Greenland Shark, and her back was decorated with dark stripes similar to but more pronounced then the Tiger Shark. Her huge head filled the large viewing window, her speech implant visible on the top of her head between her eyes. For Megan was not the fifty million year old predator that had livid in late Oligocene epoch and Neocene period, but rather a genetically engineered mutation with intelligence in excess of a Dolphin or Orca. And the implant allowed her to talk, and carry on conversations.

    The swell of Megan’s pregnant belly was much more pronounced now, and she was due to give birth pretty soon. Ultrasounds had revealed that she was carrying twins. It might have been Zippy’s imagination, but she could swear Megan looked more motherly today.

    And, despite her fearsome appearance, Megan and her mate Morgan were perfectly friendly.

    The topic of conversation, naturally: Zippy’s success at finally getting a date with Kyle.

    The normally reserved Zippy was babbling a mile a minute, “I couldn’t believe it, I mean, I was there, he was there, and I just really thought I was gonna freeze up and say nothing like I always do and then . . . I just blurted it out. I asked him out and he said yes!”

    “After all this time, I’m glad he actually said yes.” Lizzy commented dryly as usual.

    “Oh! Oh!” Zippy chirped excitedly, “He didn’t just say yes, he got excited. No, he got really excited. I really think he actually likes me! I can’t believe I didn’t notice, but he was all happy to finally get a date with me. God, when I think of all the time I wasted just because I couldn’t get my courage up.”

    “It seems kind of embarrassing to ask someone out.” Krystal observed, thinking about it.

    “Yeah, I guess, but usually not for me.” Zippy replied, “I mean, I’ve always been pretty assertive about this kind of thing, but . . . I don’t know, something about Kyle flipped a switch off in my brain. I just . . . froze up every time I talked to him.”

    Krystal chuckled, “Yeah, I’ve heard some of the stories.”

    “Man, it just feels so good to finally make this happen.” Zippy giggled, “I mean, I’m just completely pumped right now.”

    As Zippy continued to talk, Krystal looked at her. Zippy was about as happy as she’d ever seen her, animated and practically ready to start glowing any second now. Krystal bit her lip, feeling a jumble of jealousy rising up in her stomach; Zippy looked so animated and so joyful, and Krystal realized she wanted that feeling for herself. More to the point, she wanted that feeling for her and Kevin.

    She had thought about mentioning her infatuation with him to Zippy or Lizzy, but she hadn’t known how to breach the subject. She was still blocked by the fact that she used to be a boy, and it was something she naturally had a good deal of trouble letting go of, so even though she realized that she was in love with Kevin, it was hard to accept it totally; as much as part of her wanted to. Admitting fully to herself that she was in love with Kevin meant accepting herself as a girl, and she still couldn’t quite do that completely yet; despite the clothes and the make up and fussing over her hair. So she had kept her feelings quietly hidden and watched Zippy’s joy with festering envy, and slight heartache. She doubted she could ever have a moment with Kevin like this.

    Moving her monstrous triangular head closer to the window, Megan spoke with her implant, her high cutesy voice always at odds with the mouth full of steak knife sized teeth.

    “I’m happy for you, Zippy,” She said moving her fins slightly, “It seems that your very cheerful about this. I don’t really understand this ‘dating’ thing that humans do, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”

    “Dating is much too complicated to explain properly.” Lizzy told her, patting the tank reassuringly.

    Sitting in Zippy’s lap, Jetson fumed with anger. How dare that pink monkey Kyle come in and try to steal Zippy from him. He turned a deep red color, clinging to Zippy tighter. She was so enthralled with her upcoming date that she didn’t even seem to notice. Jetson tried to calm himself down, exhaling out of his funnel; he liked seeing zippy happy, but he didn’t like her being happy because of some other male. He said nothing, continuing to simmer in his jealousy.

    “Jeeze, I don’t even know what I’m gonna wear.” Zippy realized.

    In spite of her jealousy, Krystal nudged her with her elbow, “Don’t worry, we’ll all help you pick out something good, right Lizzy?”

    “Of course.” Lizzy said.

    Krystal smiled a little; she had come to enjoy girl talk surprisingly easily, and now she found that she cherished these moments with just the girls. An idea came to her; maybe they should all plan some kind of activity together: A girl’s night out? The idea excited her and sounded like a lot of fun. Her thoughts were interrupted by Megan.

    “Oh,” Megan said, “This dating thing is always so interesting.”

    Zippy rolled her eyes, “How interesting can our girl talk be.”

    “You’d be surprised.” Krystal giggled, smiling at her personal joke.

    “Oh, it’s very interesting.” Megan insisted, “And I do love your company. I’m very pleased that you picked my tank for your meeting place; it almost makes me feel like I’m a part of your group. Especially today; Morgan is off getting his teeth cleaned, and no one else has visited me today. Unless you count the swimmers.”

    “Swimmers?” Zippy asked.

    Megan’s voice took on an air of annoyance, “Some people have been swimming in our tank uninvited. I see them from time to time, off in the distance. Groups of them, but when I get close they’re gone. I think they’re coming in through the aqueducts.”

    Frowning, Zippy wondered what sort of suicidal idiot would swim with a sixty foot long carnivore, even one as seemingly nice as Megan. Granted, just about anyone she’d seen on Wacked Out Sports or Jackass might think of doing it, but Zippy thought even those morons would think twice about getting in the water with a pair of sharks the size of Megan and Morgan. There was, after all, a bit of primal fear of sharks in the human psyche. It was something about them, rising out of the depths of the oceans silently to strike. The thought made damn near everyone shiver, and although Megan and Morgan didn’t seem to have the predatory instinct of a real natural shark; Zippy would still be hard pressed to think of anyone who would get in the tank with them.

    So the question was: Who was it, and why?

    At the moment, the large half circle classroom where Mr. DeSade taught his Genetic Manipulation class was completely empty. The raised seats, like an old fashioned medical school were vacant from the normal chit chat of the students, and the lights were out leaving the whole classroom in darkness, lit only by the outside light from the rectangular windows at the top of the class. The thick old school wooden desks were all clean and empty, except for one or two items or papers absent mindedly left by students.

    There was no one inside, to hear the door lock being jimmied.

    It took only a few seconds, but the door gave way and a figure cautiously slipped into the room, heading for the door next to Mr. DeSade’s desk, in which he stored all his genetic material. There was an intricate combination lock on the door, a large round brass construction that was actually digital despite looking like something out of the thirties. The figure looked around to be sure there was no one watching and quickly moved over to the door.

    Mr. DeSade frequently changed the combination to the lock, and after finding his stuff missing, he surely had done it again, but Amber had a source to find out what it was. She quickly dialed the number and popped open the door, leading into the teacher’s private stash of genetic material. Moving around in the wide circular room that was filled with a maze of modern storage cases made up to look like old style wood shelving, as was Mr. DeSade’s wont, Amber headed for what she was looking for.

    The room itself was slightly oval in shape, and the rows and rows of storage facilities made it into something of maze, but Amber knew exactly where to go. On the far side was a locked facility where all of DeSade’s live specimens were, but Amber just wanted some more of one particular kind of mutagen, along with some very specific DNA samples. She found them quickly, and slipped them into her bag.

    She left the classroom, making sure to lock all the doors behind her. She could whip this stuff up pretty fast on her own.

    And then it was just a matter of slipping it to her unwitting subject.

    Back in Zippy, Lizzy, Krystal, and Stitchy’s dorm room, the whole place was a buzz of activity. Almost every female member of The Shark Tank Guild was hanging around the dorm, filling up the usually spacious room. Usually they met in the library or at Megan’s tank for anything, but to day was a special project, picking out the perfect dress fro Zippy to wear on her date. Most of the outfits were from Zippy’s own closet, but a lot of the girls had brought things they thought Zippy would fit into. Vixen and Posey came along as well, helping then carry all the clothes.

    Problem was, everyone had different ideas about what that dress should look like and Zippy had tried on everything from cute and pretty to slutty and wild. So far, no real success, and Zippy continually thought of the old saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. Not to mention “How many morons does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Buttercup had turned out to have a weirdly Lolita like fashion sense, and Zippy had wound up looking like a hipper Shirley Temple. The image of Buttercup with her long extended sloth like neck and arms in that dress herself was a bizarre one, and it took a maximum effort for Zippy not to chuckle.

    At the moment, Rina had dressed her in a very conservative long skirt and blouse set, which didn’t really work on Zippy, although Rina still seemed to think so. She’d even put Zippy’s hair up behind her in a pony tail, making Zippy look and feel like a reject from the 1950s. She almost expected someone to say “Gee, Wally.”

    “Oh, it’s cute.” Rina said, leaning over with her hands on her knees.

    Behind her, everyone else was shaking their heads including the two Werx, which Zippy had to agree with, “I dunno, Rina, it’s not really me.”

    “Why sure it is . . .” Rina started but never finished.

    Suddenly, her body went rigid, and her eyes rolled back into her head with a little bit of tremble. Everyone knew what that meant, and when Madoka arrived, Lizzy quickly filled her in on what they were doing. Swiftly getting excited at the idea, Madoka frowned when she looked at Zippy’s current outfit.

    “Eww . . . did Rina do that to you?” She asked.

    When Zippy nodded, Madoka quickly ran over to her and unbuttoned the first three buttons on her blouse, opening it up wide, and then hiking her skirt up. Even Zippy had to blush a little at how forward she was about it. Taking a step back, Madoka made a face.

    “Naw, it still sucks.” She observed, “Better loose that one.”

    Zippy was in hearty agreement, and quickly pulled the out fit off, even letting her hair down for good measure. As she stood there, stripped to her bra and panties, looking over some of the other outfits that had been laid out, the door suddenly burst open and a grinning enthusiastic Miss Piranha burst through the door, dressed as always like some kind of fetish model, with a tight latex dress that hugged her curves like it was painted on.

    “Why hello, my little Frankenstiens.” She cried, “I just heard the good news!”

    “Hey, shut the door, Miss Piranha!” Zippy complained, “I’m in my underwear here.”

    “Oh hush.” Miss Piranha admonished her, “You look adorable in your underwear.”

    Zippy didn’t argue with that.

    Holding up what she was carrying, Miss Piranha displayed the dress she had brought, with a grinning naughty expression on her face. There were many moments like this one where Zippy thought Miss Piranha was kind of like a glorified student rather then a full teacher.

    “I heard you’ve finally got a date with Mr. Tordenholler.” Miss Piranha grinned wickedly, “Well, lemme tell ya’, when he sees you in this little number, he’ll be eating out your hand for life.”

    Zippy looked at the dress that Miss Piranha held and almost passed out. Not surprisingly, it was all leather, with a tight extra short skirt that was slit up the sides and a strapless black top studded with metal balls on the front. The outfit looked super sexy just hanging in her hands let alone with somebody actually in it. Again, Zippy found herself blushing, although she was by no means shy about her body (at least not about anything other then her breast size); she’d strutted around is skimpy bikinis plenty of times; but there was something just too erotic about that dress.

    “Jeepers, that’ll turn his head.” Vixen exclaimed.

    “I don’t really think that’s my style.” Zippy told her apologetically.

    Not to mention that fact that while Miss Piranha’s gigantic boobs would probably have fit nicely in those cups, Zippy’s little mole hill probably wouldn’t have even held them on. Zippy got a mental image of herself walking into the restaurant in that dress and suddenly having her top fall off in front Kyle. True, that probably would have him eating out of her hand, but it would also probably get her arrested.

    Disappointed, Miss Piranha sighed, “Awe, but I used to wear this when I was your age.”

    Zippy often wondered how long Miss Piranha had dressed like a bondage queen. An image of her as a little girl in elementary school; clad all in leather and latex and already sporting enormous hooters flashed comically through her mind, and she couldn’t help but giggle.

    More outfits came and went, and nothing really seemed to make the grade. Krystal grumbled about how long it took for women to pic an outfit.

    “Do I have to point out that you’re a woman now?” Lizzy asked her.

    “That’s exactly my point.” Krystal complained, “I have trouble picking out what to wear every time I change. It didn’t used to be like that, but now getting ready for anything always takes longer.”

    Everyone laughed, and Zippy observed how cutesy and feminine Krystal had gotten; the changes and growth she had made since the surgery had been incredible, and Zippy no longer felt the twinge of guilt she always had before. It seemed that quite literally, she had made a friend.

    Suddenly, Stitchy spoke up, “Here, Mom. This one.”

    She pointed to a dress laid out on her own bed. Jetson was sitting next to it as well. Her turned a bright orange of excitement and waved his tentacles.

    “Yes, Zippy. Stitchy is right.” He announced, “This is the one for your date. The good life at a great price, guaranteed.”

    Zippy thought she heard some inflection of hostility in Jetson’s voice when he said the word ‘date’ but looking at the dress, the thought dissolved.

    “Oh, wow.” Zippy exclaimed, “I bought that for a dinner party that I never went to. I forgot I even had this.”

    Stitchy held it out for her, “You try it on, Mom. Stitchy know Mom look great in this dress.”

    Zippy quickly donned the dress and displayed it for everyone, doing a few twirls and poses for good measure. The dress till fit like a glove, and just wearing it gave Zippy and sudden burst of confidence.

    Everyone was in agreement: This was the one.

    Standing in the cold dim office of the Vice Principle, Amber leaned against his desk slightly casually, as they talked. The attitude was casual, at least as casual as any conversation with Mr. Innsmouth could possibly get. Amber enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere with the Vice Principle the most, which she planned to exploit as much as she could. Still, Innsmouth regarded her with his sinister eyes, his intense stare as intimidating and threatening as always. No matter who he looked at, there was always a slight air that he regarded the other person as an insect to be stepped on. Amber, despite the hard shell she presented, always got chills in her presence, but she wouldn’t let that get in the way of her rightful place at the top.

    At the moment, their topic of discussion was Amber’s particular favorite subject of protest: Zippy Zipperdale.

    “It’s downright unacceptable.” Amber told him, “She’s some lowlife from the outside, and now she’d the top of the school? You told me she’d be inconsequential.”

    Folding his fingers together, Mr. Innsmouth answered levelly, “And she will be. But for the moment, I feel its fine to let her get overconfident.”

    “Easy for you to say, you’re not the one she’s humiliating all the time.” Amber retorted back.

    “Do not forget yourself, young lady.” Innsmouth said, his face darkening but with no perceptible change in his voice, “Our association is at my discretion. Do not make me feel it would be better to end it prematurely.”

    Amber backed off a bit, “You’re right, I’m sorry. It’s just so embarrassing and disheartening to be show up by some middle class pauper with no real scientific lineage. The top spot is mine by right of birth.”

    “Then I assume you will work harder in your studies to best her the next time? Honor that ‘right of birth’ with something more creative then thievery?”

    When Amber said nothing, Innsmouth continued, “Zipperdale is a thorn in my side as well. You say she has no real scientific lineage; but you and I both now know that this is not entirely true. Believe me, Miss Tiffendorf, if I had know about her . . . connection, I would never have risked enrolling her. She brings an unstable element to our plans.”

    “You can say that again.” Amber mumbled.

    Narrowing his eyes, Innsmouth spoke, “Zipperdale has excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. Her achievements have made use of knowledge and technology that none of the teachers here could have taught her. How and where she is getting her ideas is something of a galling mystery. Mark my words, I will solve it. But in the mean time, she is here, she is a student, and there is nothing we can do about it. As I said before, it will be wise to let her get overconfident, secure in her safety, before we think about dealing with her. Do I make myself clear?”

    Amber nodded, “Of course, sir.”

    “For now, lets move on to the subject of our . . . private experiment.” Innsmouth said.

    On that one, Amber brightened up, “I’ve already seen some results. I’ll administer the next infusion later tonight.”

    “Excellent, quite good.” Innsmouth replied, “If this works the way we want it too, we’ll be able to push up the next phase of our plan. You’ll receive high extra credit marks if the experiment is a success; one more step on the way to beating your rival.

    At the two continued to talk, they were, quite naturally, unaware of an unwanted visitor sitting on the ledge a little to the left of the large wide window that looked out of the Vice Principle’s office.

    Looking for a quite place to read when the library was too crowded, artificial vampire Eve Absinth had discovered that the easy way to find it was to use her claws to climb the side of the school and find a ledge to sit on during cloudy days like this one when the sun wouldn’t bother her too much. She hung upside down from the ledge, dangling a few feet from the window, engrossed in a new book.

    Her pointed ears perked up at the sound of the voices within. Through the thick metal walls, she couldn’t make out what was being said, but she could recognize who was in there. And the conspiratorial tone of the meeting was unmistakable.

    She bit her lip, wincing because of her fangs; this was bad.

    The Vice Principle and Amber had formed some kind of alliance.

    The medium sized town of Isotope lay a quick Eastward car’s ride away from Madam Petri’s School For The Gifted And Eccentric, resting on a slightly higher elevation in the large geologic depression in which both sat. Once far back in prehistoric times, Spiritwood Forest had been a massively wide and extensively deep lake; but that had long since dried up, the only water being the river that ran through one side of it, the rest of the lake having been replaced by miles of thick forest except for those places where humans had carved out a residence for themselves.

    Isotope was a medium sized town, but looking nothing like any sort of artificial Norman Rockwell painting; Isotope was a modern, fully up to date berg despite its small population. The town had grown up around the school and, indeed, many of the former students had taken up residence here, including most of the teaching facility. A quick tour around town revealed that Miss. Piranha and Miss Gojira were, in fact, neighbors. With a town full of so many high IQs, Isotope was the center for quite a few major international scientific conglomerates, and the local economy boomed because of it.

    Being the only town within easy distance from Madam Petri’s, Isotope featured many amenities for the students, including the Isotope Mall, a three story shopping extravaganza the was three times as large as any mall in existence and featured a small roller coaster inside the shopping center. Also available was Franken World, a large high tech amusement park on the outskirts of town twice a big as Disney World that came equipped with rides the like of which could be found no where else on Earth. The Isotope Theater was an vast series of concert halls that hosted everything from opera, to movie premieres, to rock concerts.

    And then there was The Manhattan Project.

    The large multi-section club had been constructed particularly to cater to the Petri’s students and was still the primary hang out for them in town. Indeed, it had been opened and run originally by a former student and his great grandson was now the current proprietor. The club had changed a lot over the years with constant remodeling and revisions. In its current incarnation, the club was divided into four basic sections: Nuke’s Diner, which was an ordinary sit down restaurant similar to a large Denny’s, took up the eastern section. Taking up two floors of the Western section was a more upscale fancy restaurant known as The Fission Lounge, where one could find exotic dishes that probably weren’t available anywhere else, including meals made from cloned dinosaur meat, if one was so inclined. Taking up the second floor of the Eastern section above Nuke’s Diner was The Private Experiment, a small area set aside for private parties and events.

    And then there was the Northern section, The Manhattan Project itself from which the whole establishment took its name. Built initially as a Saloon during the gold rush of 1850 that featured dancing girls, melodrama plays and saw its fair share of wild west gun battles, The Manhattan Project remained in business ever since, firmly supported by the flood of students form the nearby Madam Petri’s. The infamous development of the first atomic bomb, in fact, took its name from the club, rather then the other way around. It was now a night club, featuring live music, a full bar and grill, and plenty of wild nights all around. Many of the more shapely residents of town picked up extra cash as cocktail waitresses there, not to mention a quite a few of the students who wanted real world work experience.

    And it was in front of this section that a nicely dressed Kyle Tordenholler stood out front, waiting for Zippy.

    He had thought about taking her to The Fission Lounge instead, but tonight was Jazz Night at The Manhattan Project, and that was always a mellower, more date worthy, environment. The low lights, the smooth music, it was just too perfect to pass up. He was sure Zippy would enjoy it; they’d talked about Jazz many times before.

    He fidgeted, obviously nervous to anyone who passed him as he glanced at his watch. Still ten minutes to go; he knew he was being silly, but he couldn’t help but be nervous. This was, after all, his first date with Zippy and he was very excited. All this time he’d known her, he’d never noticed a hint of her interest in him. Now that he thought about it thought, he’d been asininely obtuse on that front, as now all the obvious signs that he missed came flooding back to his brain. He goofy school girl giggles alone should have tipped him off, but somehow he’d been slow on the uptake.

    Granted, he hadn’t had much experience with the opposite sex; not that he was unpopular with the girls, but rather that most of his checkered past left him with very little time for romantic or sexual pursuits. Before coming to Madame Petri’s and starting a new life, his family history had often reared its ugly head and ruined most of his relationships with girls before they even got started. The best he had ever managed were either one night stands, or at best brief flings.

    His mood darkened a little bit: Even though he was far away from all that now, the nagging fear that his past might ruin his friendship and barely begun relationship with Zippy still tugged at him. He had taken great pains to hide his family history from everyone and anyone, but it was still there, lurking in the shadows of his past like malignant cancer waiting to spread. If Zippy ever found out that he was really . . .

    His thoughts were mercifully interrupted by the arrival of a Petri’s car in front of the club. The cars the school used to transport students back and forth were experimental hydrogen cars. The school itself was powered entirely by wind, hydroelectric and geo thermal power, much the same way power is generated in Norway, so the electrical requirement for extracting the hydrogen from water burned up no fossil fuels (the main obstacle against hydrogen cars in the US: all the major power plants are fossil fuel powered, so the electricity needed to extract hydrogen used more gas then the cars they’re trying to replace). The way the new cars differed from standard hydrogen cars was that they could extract a certain amount of hydrogen from the air itself, when present, as they drove supplementing their fuel. To date, none of them had ever run out of fuel.

    Kyle recognized Posey behind the wheel. The passenger door opened and Zippy got out the car. Had Kyle been a Loony Toons character, his jaw would have hit the floor and his heart would have been protruding from his chest. He had never seen her looking so good as she did now in that dress.

    The dress was a slinky, form fitting number that hugged Zippy’s curves with a soft caress. It was tied on her right shoulder with small broach but was strapless on the other. It ran down knee length and was slit up the left side up to her hip, the dress was black with a red trim and a complex pattern made of several interlocking rectangles decorated the right side starting at her navel and going all the way down to the hem.

    The neckline fell at a diagonal angle from her right shoulder and ending under her left arm. I easily hugged and accentuated her small breast size pleasantly rather then hiding it or artificially inflating it. It was an agreeable surprise, since Kyle knew how sensitive Zippy was about her bust. He’d almost expected her to stuff . . . but no, now that he thought about it, Zippy probably wouldn’t bother doing that.

    She wore sparse but decorative jewelry: A thin silver necklace tipped with a fossil mako shark tooth, with matching earrings, and a similar bracelet on her wrist. Her fiery red hair was tied behind her head in a pony tail, leaving her facial features unobscured. For the first time Kyle could ever remember, Zippy was wearing contacts instead of her glasses, leaving her startlingly blue eyes much more visible then usual.

    Kyle swallowed: She looked fantastic.

    “Thank you, Posey.” Zippy said to the Werx.

    “Blork.” Said Posey and drove away with an amiable wave of her metal hand.

    Zippy walked up to the still dumbstruck Kyle, “Hey.”

    “Hah! Gflabbin!” Kyle stammered.

    “Excuse me?” Zippy asked, not unreasonably.

    “Hello.” Kyle said, regaining his composure.

    A little bit of color showed on Zippy’s cheeks, “I feel a little silly in this dress.”

    “You look anything but.” Kyle assured her, “She we go?”

    He reached out and took her hand. Zippy felt her heart quicken as she felt his warm skin press against her palm; this was it: She was finally on real date with Kyle. All that fumbling and giggling had evidently paid off. Zippy steadied herself, feeling light headed and faint. She looked at Kyle with a bit of wonder; what exactly was it about him that made her feel like this? She had never felt awkward like this with someone before, never felt this self conscious. What was it in him that triggered these responses in her? What was it that made her react so much differently any of the many other guys she’d been out with?

    Looking him over, Zippy realized that Kyle was just as nervous as she was.

    Zippy had been here once or twice with Lizzy, but those nights had been rowdy and noisy. The Jazz night was understandably, a much mellower affair.

    The Manhattan project was a wide rectangular room with all the walls painted black. All over the walls were mounted replicas of various scientific inventions from all over history, and high up on the ceiling hung two full scale replicas: One of the Wright Brother’s original airplane, and the other of the Apollo 11 space craft that had taken astronauts to the moon. Along the South side of the room ran a long full bar staffed by a few bartenders and some Werx. Tables were set up in front of the bar, all round ones with a radiation symbol painted on the tops. Interspersed were a few small stages with brass poles where dancers might strut their stuff on wilder nights, but tonight were empty. A wide stage took up the north wall with deep red curtains and in font of it laid a wide dance floor, with another radiation symbol painted on the floor.

    On the stage, a band played Jazz softly. The crowd was small and low key as they talked or listened to the music. Along the west and east walls were some private booths, and Kyle led Zippy over to one of them.

    Glancing around her, Zippy could tell the dress was really having the effect it was supposed to. Several glances came from guys in the club, a few sparking the irritation of their dates. At least two came from women.

    They got their menus, they ordered. And after that, things just got awkward. There were some uncomfortable silences as neither one really knew what to say. To their dismay, they were both a little intimidated by this sudden change in the dynamics of their relationship. Zippy realized, Kyle was just as afraid of saying the wrong thing as she was. After this went one for a while with a dizzying amount of idle small talk, Zippy felt like all her hopes were going to be dashed on the rocks. She decided to break the ice herself.

    It came flooding out her mouth without thinking about it.

    “I still remember the first time I saw you.” Zippy said, the words coming out with a smooth seductive tone that surprised her, considering her nervousness.

    Kyle relaxed a little, “Really, when was that?”

    “The first day I arrived at Petri’s.” Zippy said, remembering, “Madoka was showing me around, and I saw you outside the dorm hall. You were on your way somewhere. I noticed you right away. There was just something about you; I right away thought you were cute.”

    The sudden switch to more forward conversation made a little color come to Kyle’s cheeks. A small grin appeared across his face.

    “I . . . guess I didn’t notice you then.” He said sheepishly.

    Taking a sip of her drink, Zippy asked, “Well, when did you first notice me?”

    Without having to think about it, Kyle answered, “I think it was the same day. You . . . plunged out of one of the upper floors and fell right in the moat. When you came up to the surface you had Jetson on your head.”

    In an instant, Zippy turned beet red: She had forgotten about that incident with the Farrell Twins on her first day; or rather she had deliberately pushed it out of her mind. This was a nightmare, of all the things to be Kyle’s first memory of her; it had to be of her soaking wet with a squid on her head. And being taunted by Cristobel and everyone else, no less. She was quiet for a second as her face got hot, remembering her humiliation in front of all those students, and then she burst out laughing.

    “Oh . . . my . . . god!” She giggled, “That’s right; you were there at the shore. You said something to your friend. I can only imagine what it was.”

    Kyle glanced down at his plate, a little bit of sheepishness creeping into his face.

    When he looked up he said, “Actually, I told him you’re hair looks good when it’s wet.”

    Not believing him, Zippy was quiet for a second and then raised an eyebrow, “Seriously?”

    “You’ve got the kind of hair that lays smooth and flat across your head when it gets wet, instead of being all stringy and disheveled.” Kyle Explained, “It looked really good on you, even with Jetson messing it up a bit. So I asked my friend who you were, and that the first time I heard of that hot new student everyone was so excited about: Zippy Zipperdale.”

    He paused a little before continuing, “I wanted to get to know you better, and later on I really wanted to ask you out, but I never thought you were interested in being anything but friends.”

    “Really? You never noticed at all?” Zippy asked incredulously.

    He shrugged, “Nope.”

    “But my brain used to go all haywire every time I talked to you. It was horrible; it was like my mind turned off at the sight of you and got completely stupid till you left.”

    “I thought you were just kidding around.”

    “So we both just wasted a whole lot of time thinking the other one wasn’t interested? Man, are we pathetic or what?”

    And then, the both burst out laughing again.

    After that, the conversation flowed and they laughed and talked, drawing closer and enjoying each other’s company as the music played in the background. With the cat out of the proverbial bag, compliments went back and forth and flirting began in earnest and the two of the coyly played with each other over the meal. It was everything Zippy could have hoped for; she was finally here, out on a date with the guy she had been smitten with for what felt like an eternity. And he liked her just fine, it was like the magic had been turned on; and Zippy felt like she’d float out of her seat at any moment.

    It was the most fun Zippy could remember having in a long time.

    Deep in the darkened lower levels of Madame Petri’s, it was quiet as a tomb. And that was exactly what a student by the name of Felicia Eudemons was afraid it would end up being for her. She ran through the darkened hallways, turning one way or the other, not ever sure where she was anymore, her face a contorted mask of unimaginable fear as she ran around in a blind, horrified panic. Only sporadic light was available this late at night this deep in the school, yet Felicia ran blindly through the dark, more terrified then she had ever been in her life. Her heart hammered in her chest and she whimpered as she ran. Turning down one hallway then another, getting herself hopelessly turned around, but she dared not stop running.

    For a few seconds she paused, listening in the darkness. She heard nothing, and suddenly her heart relaxed a bit as hope filled her that she’d gotten away.

    And then she heard it: A sickly wet scraping sound rapidly coming up behind her.

    She turned and ran again, stopping only to try some of the doors on either side of her. Every door she tried was locked. She pulled on the door knobs one after the other frantically trying to find one that was open. They all held and she whined in terror as the sounds rapidly got louder. Closer as whatever it was that was chasing her closed in. She could now hear a disgusting slurping sound which seemed to echo off the walls.

    The hall ended up ahead and then split in opposite directions. There was another door at the end. She ran for it, grasping the handle and turning it. She felt a flood of elation as the knob turned: The door was open!

    She pulled the door open rapidly and felt all her hope sink away: The door opened onto a solid brick wall. She cured the bizarre features that plagued the lower and upper levels of the school. Earlier she had run up a flight of stairs, only to find that they didn’t actually go anywhere except to the ceiling. The whole school was loaded with features like that since it was a tradition of each headmistress to never stop construction of the school.

    She ran down the left hand hall pushing herself as hard as she could go. Her blood froze as the sounds seemed to be right behind her. She sprinted forward, tears now streaming from her eyes.

    Her skin crawled as something wet and smooth gripped her leg. Loosing her balance, her flesh trembling in horror and revulsion, she pitched forward towards the bare floor of the hallway. With an agonizing slap she hit the ground, her head colliding painfully with the wood. Flashes danced in front of her eyes are her pain shot through her head. The world swam around her, and she felt blood gushing from her nose. She was sure it was broken. Disorientated, she tried to get back on her feet.

    And then, she was grabbed by her legs again. Her fingernails scrapped the floor as she was pulled screaming into the darkness.

    It was a little after closing that Zippy and Kyle finally left The Manhattan Project. They had been the last to leave, ending the night like a clique from a TV show: Still sitting at their table, talking and laughing amiably while the entire place was empty except for the employees cleaning up around them. They had finally decided to head back, getting up and heading for the exit. As they got out, Kyle had slipped his arm around Zippy’s waist. Her heart quickening, Zippy had returned the gesture and they’d walked out like a real couple.

    Out front, Kyle told her, “This was a lot of fun. I’m glad we finally did this.”

    “Definitely.” Zippy nodded, and then added tentatively, “Should we do it again sometime?”

    It was only a split second before he answered, but to Zippy it felt like an eternity.

    “Yeah, absolutely.” Kyle said.

    And then, suddenly, they were in ‘the moment’; Zippy had been in it countless times before, but this was more intense then it had ever been. They looked at each other, making eye contact. Zippy’s heart pounded in her chest sending blood to her face making her flush slightly. That electrical spark of excitement passed between them, and Zippy felt it energize her. They stood facing each other, goose bumps rising and Zippy’s arms.

    Kyle brushed some of the hair out of her face, and Zippy thought his was going to act, but the awkward pause remained. Her breathing had deepened as excitement flowed through her, and she could tell Kyle was just as excited. Still, he seemed unsure, not able to act. Zippy was at a loss for a second; should she act first? Should she be the aggressive one? She didn’t want to blow this moment. She thought of other guys she been out with, and suddenly, she knew what to do.

    This moment called for subtle body language: Those simple motions that communicated with small movement what words took a whole sentence too. She simply straitened up, and lifted her head up a little, displaying her readiness.

    To her relief, Kyle seized the movement and her at the same time. He stepped closer, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer to him, right up against his body. Leaning down to her, Zippy felt her whole body come alive with electric tingles as he placed his lips on hers and finally kissed her.

    She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him close as their lips moved against each other. Their eyes closed and Zippy felt her body warm as she pressed against him, feeling the soft touch of his lips. It almost felt like she was melting into his arms, the way a good kiss should feel. And this was a good kiss; it felt like for that brief moment of physical connection that the world had stopped and there was just the two of them and their passion for one another. She moved her body slightly, rubbing it up against his.

    His hand ran up and down her back, caressing her as they kissed, fleetingly threatening to ‘cross the boarder’ as they went lower, but never quite doing so. Zippy wasn’t sure she would have stopped him if he had.

    Finally, they broke the kiss, separating only a little as they looked into each other’s eyes, feeling the magic between the two of them.

    A chorus of cheers from in front of them altered them to the fact that they weren’t alone. Zippy yelped and Kyle gasped and they both flushed a deep pink color. They looked at each other, and then slowly, and apprehensively, turned towards the sound of the cheers. They both turned to see that Posey’s car had returned, and every single one of their friends were crammed into it and watching them.

    Everyone leaned out of the doors and window, whistling and hooting, clapping their hands with raucous enthusiasm, wide grins on faces and a few blushes. Suddenly, Zippy and Kyle’s private moment had become center stage.

    “Yeah!” Madoka cried, revealing which one she was at the moment, “You get her, Kyle-baby. Go for it.”

    “You go, Mom.” Stitchy cheered, having apparently defied all known laws of physics to fit in the car.

    “Ah, young love.” Cooed Miss Piranha.

    “They’re so cute!” Squealed the Farrell Twins in unison.

    “What a monstrous romance.” Laughed Miss Gojira, surprising Zippy with her presence.

    “It’s about time.” Commented Lizzy.

    “Blork.” Said Posey.

    Zippy and Kyle looked at each other, timidly at first, and then both started laughing. A small giggle at first, and then they were both doubled over with laughter, as all their friends piled out of the car and ran over to them. Zippy threw her arms around the first person who got there, who happened to be Lizzy. The crowd encircled them both jostling with excitement.

    As embarrassing as that had been, it was great to have the entire Guild behind her.

    Late in the evening along the central shaft, an exhausted and slightly frustrated Tiffany Pikenbeiler made her way back to her dorm room after long after hours work on her own project, followed up by helping out Amber on her project to best Zippy Zipperdale’s achievement. It hadn’t been going very well; the general concept was to create an artificial human with fully augmented capabilities from raw genetic material, effectively a perfect clone. Everything they’d tried had seemed to fail, and Tiffany was left wondering how Zipperdale had made making scientific history look so easy. Even when Tiffany had insisted that they needed a break, Amber had driving them on, consumed as always by her personal vendetta against Zipperdale. It was a nightmare, but Tiffany had held on, even when Charity had bailed out claiming she didn’t feel well.

    She wouldn’t have done it for anyone else but Amber.

    What was worse was that she was now sweaty and slightly disheveled, and she was out in the open where anyone could see. It was, Tiffany felt, completely beneath her to look anything other then her absolute best. She hoped no one saw her.

    She made it to the dorm room she shared with Charity without meeting anyone. As she approached, she could see that the light was already out. Her selfish ***** of a roommate was already sound asleep while she was up late looking less then stellar. She snorted with contempt; why was she the only one who had to suffer. She opened the door and went in reaching for the light switch as she did.

    Charity’s voice stopped her, it sounded weak and wavering. Through the light from the hallway, Tiffany could see that her roommate was curled up under all her blankets completely, almost like she was hiding in there; no part of her stuck out.

    “Leave the light off. I . . . I’ve got a terrible headache.” Charity mumbled.

    Tiffany rolled her eye, “Whatever.”

    She closed the door and went to her bed starting to undress. She didn’t care about Charity’s headache or whatever the hell her problems were, she just wanted to sleep. Couldn’t Charity see that she was tired, and she wanted to bug her with her own problems? She pulled off her clothes and slipped into her $400 Giorgyana night gown from La Perla and crawled under the covers, ignoring the slight whimpers from across the room.

    Hidden under the sheets, Charity shivered and clutched her arms around herself. Something was very wrong: Her muscles and skin felt like they were contracting and moving by themselves and her flesh was quite literally crawling. She shuddered and clenched her teeth as the room swam around her. She curled her twitching body up in a fetal position, fear and horror running through her as icy fingers of terror ran up her spine. Aches and small spasms ran all over her. It was almost like her body was changing; altering somehow.

    What was happening to her?

    I Stitchy! In next chapter, all us girls plan fun girls night out, Farrell Twins have big robot battle with Amber, and some things happen that change everything in next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist “The Ninth Experiment”

    Eureka! Stitchy got it!

  13. #13
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Original Fiction: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experimen

    After a long delay of starts and stops, and after getting distracted by projects that people appreciated more, I finally finished off the ninth Zippy chapter, still driven by whatever unknown force that compels me to keep writing this. In this chapter, Krystal finally get her girls night out arranged, but a surprising revelation takes everyone in a new direction they'd never thought they'd see.

    For those few of you who are still bothering to read this, I hope it was worth the wait. By the way, does everyone like the Megan character? I've been wondering about that since its the weirdest character I put in here.

    Click to download:



    The Ninth Experiment

    By Hardcover

    After a long night of tossing and turning in a sleepless torment, her body shivering and shuddering as its muscles seemed to move on their own, Charity Milquetoast only managed a small amount of sleep, finally nodding off after curling up in a fetal position, scared out of her mind while her body seemed to ripple with motion that was not of her own volition. She had been frightened out of her mind, not knowing what was happening to her, but she was even more frightened of going to a teacher. It was one of her secret fears, that something might happen to her and the teachers would turn her into their own private guinea pig instead of helping her.

    So she had lain in bed, as who knows what happened to her, afraid to tell anyone, not even her roommate.

    She awoke, not with a gentle return to consciousness; but rather a sudden jolt, as if from some nightmare that she couldn’t remember in her waking state but none the less left her fretful and scared. She peered out from under the sheets and saw through the dim light filtering through the shades that her roommate Tiffany Pikenbeiler had already left without even bothering to wake her. She had obviously slept right through her alarm.

    Timidly, Charity threw the covers back on her sheets and swung her legs over the side. Something was strange; the room seemed slightly different somehow: Almost like it was subtly more defined and clear to her eyes then it had ever appeared before. She dropped to the floor and tried to stand up.

    She could only manage a slight stoop; she was distressed to discover that she couldn’t stand up all the way.

    She staggered towards the bathroom, new fear crawling in her belly. She felt all different. She was standing on her toes, but she couldn’t seem to put her feet flat on the floor, and there felt like there was some kind of swelling at the base of her spine, it felt heavy and uncomfortable, like something was attached back there.

    She passed a mirror and looked at her reflection.

    At that moment, Charity screamed.

    Crouched down naked in the shower, Zippy playfully splashed water onto Jetson who was also in the tub with her. She giggled as she cupped the water in her hand and tossed it in the direction of the squid, who squirted back at her with his funnel. They were both having a good time when Zippy thought she heard a scream.

    What did someone screw up now, she wondered?

    Deep in the massive underground tank that she called her home, Megan the megalodon swam gently through the gloom. She was in the middle of the tank, and as such could not see the surrounding walls. It was almost like being in the open ocean, but safer. Nothing in this tank would threaten her children once they were born, or at least Megan hoped so. She lazily moved around, letting the salt water flow through her mouth where it was filtered through her gills, giving her the oxygen she needed to live. In these moments, alone with her unborn pups, Megan felt almost serenely at peace.

    She knew where her mate was, of course; Morgan was far below her swimming around at the bottom of tank, which he enjoyed. She floated around, noting the heaviness in her abdomen: It wouldn’t be long now, and her twins would be born. The thought filled her with an excited giddiness and a warm feeling that ran all the way down the length of her sixty foot body to her tail. She couldn’t wait to be a mother, a mother of the most unique set of twins in the world: The next generation of the new species of megalodon that she and Morgan represented. She swelled with pride and excitement at the thought.

    She moved and angled her head, pushing forward with one mighty thrust of her tail. Suddenly, her lateral lines, fine fluid filled vessels that ran along the length of her body that picked up vibrations in the water, began to detect movement. As she turned around, her keen eyes spotted something far at the end of the tank. They were almost invisible at this distance, but she could definitely make out several figures swimming in the tank with her.

    Annoyed, she gave another powerful thrust of her tail and headed in their direction. She didn’t mind guests, but whoever these people were; they were coming in uninvited and trying to sneak around unnoticed. It was just common courtesy to announce yourself when you entered someone else’s territory, and Megan didn’t like anyone sneaking around in hers and Morgan’s like a human thief; especially not with her twins on the way.

    But, as with the other times she’d noticed them, no matter how fast she moved, they were gone by the time she got there. Even at her top speed of 35 MPH, the human figures were gone before she arrived. She snorted in annoyance, pushing bubbles out of her nose. She was sure they were using the aqueducts to move in and out of the tanks, it was the only way. She clacked her teeth together: These intrusions were more then just irritating; they had her significantly worried, and when you’re sixty feet long and have a mouth full of six inch teeth, that wasn’t easy to do.

    What bothered her the most was something she hadn’t told Zippy and the other girls: Like all sharks, Megan’s senses were quite acute, utilizing a wide array of stimulation to sense things in the water. One of her most powerful was her ampullae of Lorenzini; a network of canals in and along her head that were filled with a special jelly like substance that allowed her not only to detect magnetic fields to help her navigate, but to detect the weak electrical stimulation of muscle movement that all living things give off. At any given time, Megan knew where every other animal in the aquarium section of the school was (hell, she knew when students were swimming in the moat), and she always knew when the humans were coming around before they got here.

    But these swimmers, these intruders into her territory, gave out such a strange, low key signal, that they were almost invisible to her in the water.

    Chatting excitedly as girls do, Zippy, Lizzy, Rina and Krystal made their way down the hall enwrapped in their conversation. They’re conversation was one to be expected; the other three were trying weed juicy details about Zippy’s date with Kyle out her. They were prodding, but Zippy was insistent that they’d seen everything that was worth seeing when he kissed her, but they still pressed for more details. What they thought could have happened, Zippy didn’t know; it wasn’t like he had proposed to her or anything. But the gigging and jabbing continued.

    In the midst of all this, Krystal was having a ball; as she had grown to adore girl talk, the kind of fun light conversation that had never been available to her as Cristobel; she found she looked forward to these moments of simple fun with the girls. She wondered if now would be the time to bring up a girls night out? She had been itching to try something like that for a while now.

    “I’m telling you, there’s nothing to tell.” Zippy insisted, “You saw all the best stuff when he kissed me.”

    “I think you’re not telling us the whole truth.” Lizzy said.

    “Of course I am.” Zippy rolled her eyes, “If we’d done anything else I’d tell you.”

    “Are you sure?” Rina smiled happily.

    “Rina, how shy do I look.” Zippy said levelly, “If we’d had sex, I’d have told you about it.”

    Rina blushed, her face turning a bright shade of pink, “Ah . . . that’s . . . that’s not what I meant.”

    Everyone giggled at Rina’s embarrassment. That hadn’t been entirely true; as far as Zippy was concerned, if they’d had sex, it was none of their goddman business (At most, she might have told Lizzy), but she’d said it to get exactly this kind of reaction and put the focus on Rina and not her. As they moved forward they were suddenly confronted by Miss Piranha, dressed in a slinky leather outfit that looked more like it was strapped to her body rather then worn by her. She clapped her hands gleefully together as she saw the four girls.

    “Why hi there, my little Frankenstiens.” She squealed, “And how is our girl Zippy after her big date?”

    Zippy smiled, “It was great. We really hit it off and we’re gonna start seeing each other. It was perfect.”

    “So,” Miss Piranha asked with a gleam in her eye, “Did anything else happen? More then that kiss we saw?”

    Zippy rolled her eyes and everyone laughed, even Miss Piranha was trying to wring the juicy details out of her. Maybe she was just reading things into it, but for the last few days it seemed like Miss Piranha had been overly chipper with them, as if she had been trying to hard to look happy and energetic. It occurred to Zippy, that she might be depressed about something, there was an unusual look of sadness in her eyes, and emotion that had seemed, for a long time, almost foreign to their strange leather clad teacher.

    The thought was interrupted by Krystal, who jumped in with a suggestion, “You know what, this calls for a celebration.”

    Zippy raised an eyebrow at her, “It does?”

    “Yes! It does!” Krystal insisted, “Just us girls! A night at The Manhattan Project!”

    As soon as she said it, Krystal felt a wide excited grin spread on her face. She tried to fight it down, but she couldn’t help her enthusiasm; she’d been wanting to have something like this since she first realized she treasured her moments with the other girls. With her friends, she realized; which she had never had a lot of before now. Well, that made sense, at least now she knew why she was so energized about this prospect.

    “You know,” Rina piped up from the back, “That’s not a bad idea; we haven’t had a night out with just us in a while. And the spa will be working tonight; we could all go there and relax afterwards.”

    Zippy chewed her lip, the idea seemed fun, “What the hell, let’s do it: A girl’s night out for The Shark Tank Guild. We can bring Stitchy along; she should experience this as well.”

    “Yes, and Eve will be awake by then.” Lizzy said “We should invite her too. The Twins will wish to come as well.”

    “Then it’s settled!” Krystal proclaimed, much too loud.

    Miss Piranha smiled at her, “You’re really looking forward to this, aren’t you, Krystal?”

    All Krystal could do was nod and giggle.

    Zippy patted her shoulder, “Wow, you really are one of the girls now.”

    Zippy noticed that Krystal’s eyes actually got moist at that statement. But it was the truth, Krystal had assimilated faster and more completely then she had expected. And she had become, quite surprisingly, a rather good friend to them. It was good to see her embracing her new identity; though the ease of it was unexpected. Though maybe it shouldn’t have been; Zippy now knew that Cristobel’s life had not been the perfect existence he’d made it out to be. The question was, did this new integration into the group make Krystal more fragile then she should be? Zippy wasn’t sure, she didn’t really think so, but it was a concern.

    On the other hand, watching Krystal practically skip down the hallway in excitement; it was hard to think her being so happy was any kind of bad thing.

    The sprawling fake city in Miss Gojira’s class was under attack once again, this time the four legged robot was a lithe wolf like construction that stomped its way through the miniature metropolis, crushing buildings, biting freeways and sending missiles careening at the targets with exploded with deadly accuracy and instantaneous results. The robot strolled forward, its’ lupine face swinging back and forth as it did so, moving further into the artificial conurbation, wrecking untold urban cataclysm. Its dark eyes whirred as the cameras within sought out its next target.

    The robot was called the Dual Kalkageon; it was seven feet long and polished a bright chrome color that glistened in the morning sun as it moved. It was controlled by the Farrell Twins, working in tandem at controls boards that sat on their desks. The class cheered with enthusiasm as the Twins demonstrated their creation. Miss Gojira happily made notes on her note pad, dressed in Uhura’s outfit from Star Trek, her cosplay fixation in evidence as usual.

    “Oh! Oh! This is so awesome!” She squealed with her usual glee.

    The Kalkageon made its way and spotted the last target. With a high pitched wine, its tail shot out in a curved whip like motion and hit the building with a tremendous crack. The metal whip slashed through the structure, ripping it apart in seconds. The small fake building collapsed and exploded, falling in pieces to the ground like a demolition drop. A huge pile of dust flooded out from the pile of rubble as the fake building ended its existence.

    The robot moved back and off the city settling down on its haunches as it powered down. The wrecked buildings lowered into the ground and were replaced by new ones a few seconds later that rose up from underneath. Miss Gojira picked up a small microphone that was remotely wired to a few speakers, a new addition to her class that made her lessons look even more like the WWE then they had before.

    “Alright, excellent work, girls.” She chirped happily, “Especially with that whip tail; the function came off flawlessly. High marks for both of you.”

    Miss Gojira came over and patted them both on the shoulders, and then as an added bonus, reached down and rubbed their bellies. The two wolf girls yipped with delight and twitched their legs like puppies.

    When she went back to the front, Lorne Vasectomy leaned over with his usual wide eyes and dark bags under his eyes, and said, “Great work, Nadjia.”

    “Thanks.” Nadjia replied.

    “So what am I, chopped liver?” Katjia raised an eyebrow at him.

    “Oh, yes.” Lorne admitted, “Good work, Katjia.”

    Katjia rolled her eyes at him.

    Amber got up and went to the front to give her presentation, passing the Farrell twins as she did.

    “Not bad for a pair of mongrels.” She sneered snidely.

    She suddenly jumped back as the twins both growled and bared their teeth at her. Giving them wide berth, she continued up to the front, casting another apprehensive glance at the twins. She gave a derisive snort and stepped up to the front of the classroom, where several Werx had moved her project into position, covered by a large canvas tarp.

    She cleared her throat and spoke, “For my latest invention, I decided to take a route rarely traveled before: Why duplicate the limited use of mammalian limbs? My new robot is designed to be as versatile and functional as possible, compacting a wide variety of functions with a simple, pragmatic design. I give you: The Multi Function Tiffenbot 2000!”

    At a rather pompous gesture from Amber, the Werx pulled the sheet off of her creation and revealed it in all its metallic glory: The robot consisted of a large slightly oblong rounded main body that was highly polished and glinted in the morning sun. The globe sat on top of a round pivot out of with two large HD cameras faced forward, moving back and forth on gyros. Along the left side of the globe, a small exhaust funnel pointed out at diagonal angle.

    Underneath the pivot, a series of eight gyros mounted an equal number of long metal tentacles, that seemed to house small doors in their tips. Amber pressed a button on the small remote control she carried, and a low groan was heard as the robot powered, raising it tentacles as if at attention.

    Tapping her clipboard enthusiastically, Miss Gojira exclaimed, “Oh, that’s a beautiful octopus robot, Miss Tiffendale.”

    Amber bristled at the comment, “It’s NOT an octopus. It’s a Multi Function Tiffenbot!”

    “It’s got eight tentacles.” Miss Gojira offered.

    “It’s NOT an octopus!” Amber insisted.

    “Okay, whatever you say.” Miss Gojira said, waving her off.

    Katjia rested her hands on her chin and muttered, “It looks like an octopus to me.”

    Rapidly pressing buttons, Amber made the robot move forward and into the city. With a rapid manipulation of the controls, the Tiffenbot lurched forward as the targets appeared. With a loud clack, each of the tentacles opened at the tops and revealed various weapons hidden within. Waving the tentacles with deadly accuracy, the Tiffenbot sent bullets, missiles, lasers, metal whips and other items at each target at once. Within seconds, all targets had been leveled.

    There was a collective round of gasps from the class at the Tiffenbot’s effectiveness. Amber chuckled to herself, narrowing her eyes. She punched a few more buttons and the Tiffenbot moved forward with smooth motions. As soon as it got close, the weapons in the tentacles retracted and other tools began to pop out with a series of metallic clicks. The Tiffenbot began moving it’s tentacles around rapidly, and to the surprise of all, began to rebuild the demolished buildings, working fast and rapidly, it’s tentacles a blur of motion.

    It took less then a minute for the structures to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, and when it was done, you would swear nothing had happened to them. When its task was completed, the Tiffenbot simply went back to its “attention” pose, awaiting further instruction. Amber gave a haughty smile at the class.

    “As you can see, the Multi Function Tiffenbot not only can destroy, but repair as well, and there is no end to its abilities with its unique design by me.” She announced, “And as such, I feel is just one of the best that can be achieved with current technology.”

    Despite the snotty wrap up, the class couldn’t help but be impressed by the display put on by the Tiffenbot. There was a round of applause, even if some of it was slightly reluctant.

    Even Nadjia had to say, “Wow, that’s an awesome octopus!”

    Amber turned and glared at her, “It’s NOT an octopus!”

    Nadjia shrugged, “It looks like an octopus to me.”

    Apparently, the Tiffenbot’s resemblance to an octopus had been some sort of contention the whole time that she was building it, because she became infuriated by Nadjia’s insistence that it looked like one. Truth be told, Nadjia was not the only one who couldn’t help but see a cephalopod in the round bulbous body and eight long tentacles.

    “That’s because you’re an uncivilized idiot!” Amber retorted, “Go back to your goddamn jungle, mongrel.”

    “Humph!” Nadjia folded her arms over her chest, “Beats being a snotty little stuck up skank.”

    Amber gritted her teeth, “You’re just jealous because my robot can mop the floors with yours.”

    Now Katjia was in on this, “Yeah, in your dreams, Amber.”

    Years of life in the wild had left the twins with almost remarkable intuition, so they knew what was coming, and had already powered on the Kalkegan before Amber furiously sent the Tiffenbot at them in a rage. The Kalkegan leapt forward and plowed into the Tiffenbot in a preemptive strike with a screech of metal on metal. The two robots flew back into the fake city, tearing through buildings and reducing them to rubble before splitting apart and squaring off.

    Miss Gojiria squealed with delight, speaking into her new microphone, “Oh, it looks like we have a death match here, ladies and gentlemen. In one corner we have the Farrell twins and their Dual Kalkagean, and in the other corner, we have Amber’s Multi Function Tiffenbot octopus thing.”

    “It’s not an octopus.” Amber growled.

    “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Miss Gojiria cried, excited beyond measure by this new development.

    The metal tentacles streaked out and tried to grab and crush the Kalkagean. The other robot moved easily and dodged the blow sending its whip tail out at its opponent. The Tiffenbot skillfully beat the whip off and tried to follow up with a laser blast but the twins had already moved their creation out of range. The Kalkagean ran at them jerking left and right, dodging the laser blasts until it was too close. The Tiffenbot raised its tentacles and swung them at the Kalkagean with attacked with its claws.

    Abandoning the exchange of fire, the two robots began to grapple with each other, exchanging blows back and forth, each one by turns gaining and loosing ground while their controller frantically hammered buttons on the control box. The clanging sound of metal crashing against metal filled the outdoor classroom as the titanic struggle gained steam, both robots pounding on each other with a furious determination, fueled by the endless energy of pissed off angst ridden teenage girls.

    Sounding like a ringside announcer at a wrestling match, Miss Gojira kept up a blow by blow announcement, “Good left hook from the Kalkagean, but the blocked by the Tiffenbot!”

    The Tiffenbot began to throw its tentacles at the Kalkagean furiously. The Twins blocked the blow but the Kalkagean was being driven further and further backwards loosing ground until it teetered dangerously close to the edge of the school’s moat.

    “The Kalkagean is backed up to the shore!” Miss Gojira squealed, “Is this the end.”

    Amber fired off one massive punch to the Kalkagean, shoving the robot over the edge and towards the water. Just as she thought she had them, however, the other robot reached out and grabbed hers, pulling the Tiffenbot down with it. For a split second, the two machines wavered on the edge of the moat, and the they both went over, hitting the water with a tremendous splash that sprayed the class with droplets of liquid.

    “Both combatants have plunged into the moat!” Miss Gojira announced, “Is this the end?”

    For a while, nothing happened, the water was still and quiet. And then, both robots broke the surface, still locked in their battle. Swept along by the water, they moved down the stream, trading blows with each other in furious conflict, seeming almost possessed by the irate rage of their controllers.

    Eager to see the rest, the class followed the two robots along the banks, with Miss Gojira gleefully keeping up her commentary.

    Just before the bridge that sat in front of the main entrance to the school, the robots reached shore and crawled up onto dry land still grappling with one another, much to the surprise of the students standing out front. People went scattering for cover as the two machines locked in combat with each other. Mud splashed and caked the bottoms of the robots as they crossed the banks, hammering on each other with tireless fury.

    Circling each other in as they exchanged blows, the robots sent the sounds of grinding metal on metal up into the air. They circled the fountain out front as their limbs flew at each other so quickly it became a blur to the human eye. In their fierce combat the creations almost seemed to come alive on their own, rather then being controlled by their creators as they pounded each other with reckless abandon.

    The class surrounded each other them and followed them, talking amongst themselves and laying odds on which one would win. The robots crashed through the main entrance to school, pulling the doors off their hinges.

    Gortcha appeared in the main hall almost instantly. He strolled forward angrily, his metal chest puffed out in indignation.

    “All right ya’ punks.” He glowered, “What have you gotten into this time? You don’t wanna go messing with Gortcha today, or I’ll whip your asses but good.”

    The two robots came bursting through the doors, locked in mortal combat with each other, their limps furiously lashing at each other with an almost hateful embrace of violence. Rolling forward without a hint of stopping, Gortcha screamed the minute he saw them, dodging out of the way and then running back down the hallway screaming in panic.

    “Waaaaaahhhhhh!!!! I don’t wanna die! Help me!” He cried like a little girl.

    Other students went running out of the front hall while Miss Gojiria’s students followed Amber and the Twins inside. The two creations battled it out, metal and gear symbols of the three girl’s animosity towards each other. Loud pounding and clanging filled the room with deafening intensity as each party tried to defeat the other, combat escalating furiously in and almost insane competition of irritation.

    In the end, the final blows came in a manner worthy of a Warner Brothers cartoon. The Kalkagean lurched one arm and got in a devastating blow to the Tiffenbot’s head, crunching into the metal and penetrating deep into the cranial circuitry. Just before it went down, the Tiffenbot threw a tentacle and neat eviscerated the Kalkagean’s chest, ripping its power supply to shreds.

    All Amber and the Twins could do was stare in shock as their robots keeled over in a useless shower of sparks and smoke. Werx filed into the room and quickly began repairing the damage as the girls stared at what had happened, speechless.

    Behind them, Miss Gojira was bouncing up and down like a kid in a candy store. Completely unconcerned that her tiny 1960s Star Trek dress had ridden up over hips, and revealed to the class that she was wearing red panties with the words “I love Nimoy” written on the back.

    Krystal was sitting in her dorm room putting together a list of things she needed for her next project. She was barely able to concentrate; the prospect of finally having her girl’s night out was just too distracting. She tried to calm herself; after all she didn’t want to go in having too big of and expectation for the night and let herself get bitterly disappointed. But the idea had been brewing in her head for some time now, and it was almost impossible for her not to get excited at the prospect of finally having it.

    She smiled a little; her time with her friends: It was the antithesis to her previous life of solitude and manipulation. All her life, she had heard people talking about the value of friendship; but she’d never understood it. Sure, she knew the importance of making contacts and alliances, but Cristobel had never really understood the real value of good friends. Except for his friendship with Kevin.

    She felt that now familiar warm flow over her body at the thought of her friend. She’d long since stopped trying to stop it when it came, even though it was a very good bet that there was no future for them. It inevitably led to bouts of sadness and frustration, but often she felt that the brief euphoria of fantasy was worth it. She chuckled and kicked herself; she was being foolish and romantic. There was no way she and Kevin could be . . . was there?

    She got up, slipping the list into the pocket of her uniform, and moved towards the door. He head was dizzy with both thoughts of Kevin and tonight’s festivities. She had her head in the clouds to such an extent, that she didn’t notice that Jetson was in the room until she had stepped on one of the squid’s tentacles. She didn’t realize what it was at first, only that she had stepped on something soft and squishy, until she heard the cephalopod yelp in pain and alarm.

    “Ouch!” Jetson called, “Medical assistance needed!”

    Krystal quickly moved her foot, looking down apologetically, “I’m sorry, Jetson, I didn’t see you there.”

    “Unacceptable, Krystal!” Jetson waved his tentacles indignantly, “Revenge shall be mine!”

    “What? Jetson . . .” Krystal began.

    But Jetson had already scurried off towards the bathroom, “When you least expect it: Expect it.”

    “I said I was sorry.” Krystal called after him, miffed by his attitude.

    She chuckled a little at her self; she was apologizing to calamari. Still, it seemed that Jetson had been agitated lately, and she wondered what the cause was. Zippy’s devotion to her pet had a certain endearing infectious quality to it, and Krystal thought she would probably feel bad if anything ever happened to the little guy.

    She slung a large bag over he shoulder and made her way out of the dorm room and down the hallway, moving out into the central chamber which was always crowded with people. She was heading for the supply room to pick up some of the stuff she needed for her project. As usual, the central shaft was pandemonium as students on all the levels ran this way or that in middle of various experiments. Krystal pushed her way through the crowd, heading for the lift. As she made her way forward, she was surprised by the sudden appearance of Rick Millhouse as he approached her.

    She’s barely known Rick when she was a guy; he’d always been that boy who always followed Charity around. After becoming Krystal, she’d talked to him probably once. She knew he was Charity’s boyfriend now, but none of the old groupies had anything to do with her these days, and it was almost like they were from another life. It was a bit of a surprise the Rick actually came up and talked to her.

    “Hey, Cristo . . . ah, I’m sorry, Krystal?” He started.

    “Hey, Rick. What’s up?” She asked, unconsciously giving him a gender neutral greeting.

    “I was just wondering if you’ve seen Charity anywhere.” He asked her, “Or if you know where she is?”

    Krystal shook her head, “Sorry, I haven’t seen her.”

    Rick ran a hand through his hair, “She didn’t come to any of her classes this morning, and she’s not in her dorm room. You don’t know what’s going on?”

    Again, Krystal shook her head in the negative, “I’d like to help, Rick, but Charity hasn’t spoken to me at all since . . . this.”

    She waved her hands down, gesturing at her female body. Rick nodded in understanding.

    “She’s not answering her phone either.” Rick moaned, “I’m worried about her.”

    “I haven’t seen her, sorry.”

    Rick thanked her and moved off. Krystal continued, thinking about the conversation. Rick had really looked worried about Charity. She wondered, almost playfully, if Kevin would get that worried if she disappeared. The thought made her smile a little as she moved to the platform.

    Suddenly, she was confronted by Jetson right before her. Before she could even register what he was doing, the squid took aim with his funnel and sent a blast of warm air out of it’s body and up in Krystal’s direction. She felt a gust of air against her bare legs and her hair flew back, billowing out behind her with the force of the blow.

    Too her shock, she realized that her skirt had also been blown up around her chest, completely exposing the cutesy pink and white panties she was wearing underneath. They even had a small heart on the front. She cried out as the whole area took a gander, more then a few camera phones clicking.

    Krystal turned beet red as she franticly shoved her skirt down, “Eeeeeeekkkkk!”

    The storage room she’d gone to, one of many in the school, was empty at this time of day, so Krystal had no trouble going around and finding the items she needed. Ticking them off on her list, she moved around, slipping what she needed into the bag she’d brought. This wasn’t exactly a high profile project, but it was a point of pride with Krystal that she never did a half assed job. For everything she attempted, she used her whole ***, or she didn’t do it.

    She grabbed another item, stuffing it in the bag. She didn’t admit it to anyone, but she’d always found these storage rooms pretty creepy when she was alone in them. Something about the low light and the shadows cast on the wall; it always made her feel a tad uneasy. If she stayed in here long enough, her mind began to play tricks on her. She shivered a little but moved on deeper into the room heading after the last item.

    When she first heard the sobbing, she was sure it was her imagination again. But as the sounds persisted, she began to realize it wasn’t; somebody was in here with her, somebody crying. For a split second, Krystal thought it was a ghost. She quickly chided herself for jumping to such an unscientific conclusion. She followed the sounds of the sobs deeper into the storage room, trying to pinpoint their source.

    The thought occurred to her that it might be Charity; maybe something had happened to her and she’d been hiding out here all day. Hell, maybe she was just still upset about having the word ‘thief’ burned on her face from Zippy’s booby trap. It was hard not to snicker at that thought. But when she turned the corner and spied the figure curled up on the floor, she could see that it was not Charity at all.

    To her utter surprise, it was Miss Piranha.

    She sat on the floor, curled up with her legs pulled up to her chest, tears flowing down her cheeks, smearing the excessive mascara and eyeliner she always wore. Her eyes were squeezed shut her body shook with the sobs as she cried and moaned despondently. It took Krystal back for a second; she’d never seen Miss Piranha like this before. She was usually so peppy and upbeat.

    Cautiously, Krystal approached her teacher, “Miss Piranha?”

    Miss Piranha gasped a little as she was discovered; she looked up at Krystal, an almost guilty expression on her face as being caught in such a vulnerable moment. She stared up at her, moisture still flowing down her face. She attempted a weak smile, with no success.

    “Oh, Krystal . . . I’m sorry.” She tried to wipe away the tears but fresh ones replaced them.

    “Miss Piranha, are you alright?” Krystal asked her.

    She kicked herself as soon as she’d said it; anyone could see that Miss Piranha was far from alright. It was almost frightening to see the always jovial and exuberant teacher reduced to this much misery; as if there was suddenly something very wrong with the world.

    Miss Piranha again tried and failed to smile, “Oh, I’m fine. I’m just having a cry.”

    There was a small, very uncomfortable silence, and then Miss Piranha broke down. Her face sank and she buried her face in her hands, sobs wracking her body as she cried loudly and desolately.

    “Oh, I’m not alright! I’m not alright!” She cried wretchedly, her tears spilling out from between her fingers.

    Staring down at her teacher, Krystal was at a loss over what could have driven Miss Piranha of all people to such despondency. Was it a man who dumped her? Or had she been reprimanded or fired?

    Krystal knelt down next to her, “Miss Piranha? What happened?”

    For a long time, the teacher didn’t say anything, simply cried, finally, she turned and looked at Krystal, a heart rending hopelessness in her eyes. Her lips quivered, and she seemed to be debating whether she should answer. She looked down at the floor, sniffling softly.

    “I . . . got my medical tests back at the beginning of the week.” She said.

    Again there was a pause, Krystal’s heart hammered in her chest. She almost didn’t want to hear this. Medical tests? This didn’t sound good.

    Miss Piranha looked back at her, her eyes filled with despair, “I have bone cancer. I . . . I’m dying.”

    Her first reaction was a flood of denial; her mind flatly refusing to believe what she had just been told. In fact, a flare of anger rose in her; infuriating her that Miss Piranha would play such a cruel trick on her. But looking into her eyes, the disbelief fell away at the agonized, fearful gaze. Suddenly it was like the floor had opened up beneath her and Krystal was sucked down into a pit of never ending darkness.

    It felt like Krystal had been slapped in the face. Fear and pain clawed at her stomach as the news sank in. Miss Piranha, dying? It felt like the most unnatural thing in the world; not Miss Piranha, who was always so full of life. Although as Cristobel, she’d though of her as a ridiculous waste of a teacher; she grown to really appreciate her as Krystal. Much like she’d been with Zippy, Miss Piranha had been the one teacher who had been the most approachable and the most supportive of her since her transgender surgery. The thought of loosing her, of being without that bubbling support, it horrified Krystal. More then that, she realized she thought of Miss Piranha as a friend, not just an instructor; as important to her these days as Zippy and the rest of the Shark Tank Guild.

    And cancer, why’d it have to be cancer? Cancer was one of the few diseases that Madame Petri’s had never found a cure for.

    In a fully impulsive move, Krystal put her arms around Miss Piranha and pulled her close to her. The older woman shudder and heaved with renewed sobs, and quickly wrapped her arms around her student’s waist, her body trembling as she filled the air with the sounds of her frightened misery.

    “Oh god, Krystal.” She moaned, “I’m so scared.”

    Krystal held her tightly, almost desperately; as if she was afraid Miss Piranha would fade away right in front of her if she let go. She held on to her as her teacher cried despondently gripping her waist with such force that it actually hurt. She felt like a chasm of despair was yawning open to swallow her up, but she held on and let Miss Piranha cry on her shoulder.

    “Okay, let it out. Let it out.” She said softly, trying to sound comforting.

    What could she say? What in the world could you tell someone who was dying? What could you say to someone who told you something like that? Krystal was at a complete loss. She just hugged her and hoped it was enough. For a long time, the cries and sobs came uncontrolled, as Miss Piranha’s body shook with tremors of grief. After a while, they slowed down, turning into simply whimpers.

    “I’m here. I’m here.” Krystal murmured, hugging her.

    She didn’t know what else to say or do.

    “Thank you, Krystal.” Miss Piranha blubbered, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have burdened you with that. You don’t have to stay; you have that party with the girls tonight. I know how excited you were about that.”

    It took only a second for Krystal to respond, surprising herself with her words.

    “It’s alright, I won’t go. You’re more important.” She told her.

    She stayed where she was, blowing off the party that minutes ago had been so important to her. He decision surprised her a bit; for so long in her life, her life as Cristobel at least, nothing had ever mattered but himself. Other people were always tools for him to advance himself. As Krystal, she’d been aware of that changing, but she hadn’t really expected that much. Now, here she was tossing something she’d wanted so badly to take care of someone else. It wasn’t what she wanted to do, she realized, but it was what she felt she should do. And it was simply not in her nature anymore to leave Miss Piranha laying on the floor in this dire condition.

    Miss Piranha managed a bitter laugh through her tears, “I was lying. I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay with me. I’m selfish, I know.”

    “I’ll stay.” Krystal ran her hand over her head, “I’ll stay all night if I have to.”

    She felt Miss Piranha’s tears splash over her neck as the woman renewed her desperate sobs. She pulled tight against her, holding on to Krystal like a life boat. Krystal felt splashes of moisture on her cheeks.

    She realized that she was crying too.

    A far cry from the way it had been on her date with Kyle, Zippy found The Manhattan Project tonight to be a loud, wild dance club, packed with people. The décor was the same as it had been, with addition of stage lights that bathed the room in an ever changing spectrum of color. Music played, the kind of stuff you would have heard in any club, and people danced and drank or sat at tables conversing loudly over the noise. Stitchy had been practically mesmerized by the abundant lights as soon as she walked in, looking everywhere with her customary enthusiasm, trying to take in everything as quickly as she could.

    Aside from Zippy and Stitchy: Lizzy, Katjia, Nadjia, Madoka, and Eve were also there. Zippy was returning to their table where Lizzy and Stitchy sat waiting for her with their drinks, easy to find since Stitchy’s towering frame was easy to spot.

    As the music pounded, the Farrell Twins had hopped up on the bar and were bumping and grinding in fine booty shaking fashion, dressed in loose fitting tiger striped dresses that seemed appropriate for them.

    They both howled joyfully together, “Awwooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Although it was Rina who had agreed to come to the outing, it was Madoka who had shown up. Dressed in a tube top and a mini skirt that probably was illegal in some countries, Madoka was out dirty dancing with a variety of guys, grinding on them in ways that was sure to make Rina blush when she found out what Madoka had been doing with her body.

    Everyone, it seemed, was having a great time. While simultaneously wondering where the hell Krystal was.

    Zippy slipped into the booth, handing the drinks to the other too. She’d insisted on something non-alcoholic for Stitchy, worried about how it might affect her assembled system. Lizzy was dressed in a long black sleeveless dress, as usual looking like she was on her way to a funeral, or simply like Morticia Adams. Stitchy, on the other hand, was wearing a short mini skirt with black stockings and a sleeveless button up half top. The outfit exposed a lot of skin, and made Zippy feel a little wary of the looks her creation was getting.

    It also made her slightly jealous, Stitchy’s boobs looked great in that top, and Zippy knew her small ones would never have looked that good. She shook off the unwelcome immature resentfulness and focused on something else.

    Zippy looked around her, “No sign of Krystal?”

    Lizzy shrugged, “She is not here, unless she’s hiding.”

    “That’s odd,” Zippy said, “This whole excursion was her idea. She was so excited about it.”

    “Maybe she sick? Or working on project?” Stitchy suggested.

    “I guess so.” Zippy mused, “I’m just a little worried.”

    “You always worried, Mom.” Stitchy rolled her eyes a little.

    Zippy pursed her lips, “It’s just that . . . has anyone notice how fast Krystal has assimilated to her new identity since the surgery?”

    Lizzy nodded, “I’ve noticed it. But if everything Kevin Crowsfeet was telling us about is true, it should be expected. She suddenly has a free pass out of her former life. It stands to reason that she would embrace it. Besides, what other choice does she have?”

    Stitchy piped up, “Stitchy no know her when she was guy, but Stitchy notice Krystal always happiest when she with new friends. From what you tell Stitchy, Cristobel had no friends, just people he used. Stitchy think Krystal have what she secretly always wanted deep down.”

    “I know, I know.” Zippy said, “I’m just wondering if this sudden change from lone ******* to bosom buddy might have left her more fragile then she should be.”

    Stitchy took a sip of her drink, “She don’t seem that fragile to Stitchy.”

    Lizzy nodded, “I understand your concern, but I don’t think we have anything to worry about.”

    Stitchy added, “Besides, Mom doing this all wrong.”

    “What do you mean?” Zippy raised an eyebrow.

    “If you worried about Krystal.” Stitchy proclaimed, “Mom should talk to Krystal, no Stitchy and Lizzy.”

    That was true, Zippy smiled a little at that. Stitchy had a blunt way of putting things, but sometimes you needed to hear the obvious. Still, Zippy wondered why Krystal had skipped out on something that had been so exciting to her a few hours earlier. It was ironic how Zippy couldn’t have given a damn what happened to Cristobel, but she now counted Krystal as one of her best friends.

    Her train of thought was interrupted by the approach of a guy from school named Raj. He was a tall good looking guy from Indian descent who shared a couple of classes with zippy. He looked a little nervous and flustered as he approached the table. To Zippy’s surprise, he went up to Stitchy.

    “Hi, Stitchy.” He said, uncharacteristically nervous, “W-would you care to dance?”

    Instantly, Zippy got defensive. She opened her mouth to tell Raj to buzz off, when she was interrupted by Stitchy’s jovial response.

    “Yes! Stitchy would love to dance.” Stitchy said, standing up her full six foot seven inch height; six foot nine in the heels she was wearing.

    Raj smiled happily, “Great!”

    Taking Stitchy by one massive hand, Raj led her to the dance floor, the frankengirl skipping behind him enthusiastically.

    “Wait,” Zippy started, “Maybe you shouldn’t . . .”

    But Stitchy was already gone, following Raj gleefully onto the floor. Zippy looked after them apprehensively, defensive and protective instincts welling up in her stomach.

    “Lizzy, maybe we shouldn’t let her dance.” Zippy said, “If she’s not any good, she’d be humiliated. It could be detrimental to her development.”

    “When have you even known Stitchy to get humiliated?” Lizzy asked, “She doesn’t have a shy bone in her body. I know, I helped put them there.”

    “Yeah, but maybe she’ll have a bad experience, I don’t want her to get hurt.”

    “It was your idea that she should come with us and experience this. Stop with the overprotective mother routine, it doesn’t suit you and you’ll give yourself wrinkles.”

    “But I worry about her; she’s only been alive for a short while.”

    “You don’t have to worry, take a look.”

    Zippy looked over and saw that Stitchy was dancing happily with Raj. Not only was she dancing, but she was dancing really well. Despite her monstrous size, Stitchy moved fluidly and expertly, shaking her hips and moving her legs with confident movements, as if she had gone dancing a million times. And she had quickly attracted the gazes of other people in the room. She boogied gleefully, wiggling her body with moves that would have put Shakira to shame. And she did it with a shameless abandon that crackled with energy.

    “How is she doing that?” Zippy wondered.

    “The same way she knew how to save that girl in the hospital.” Lizzy reminded her, “Trace memories still embedded in her nervous system.”

    Zippy pulled the small digital voice recorder she always carried out of her purse and spoke into it, “Subject again displaying advanced motor skills, excellent control of muscles and concise coordination. Umm . . . also excellent control of hips.”

    Suddenly, Zippy stopped; several other guys had come over, and asked Stitchy to dance. Stitchy was giggling and talking with them, and it took a second for Zippy to realize that she was actively, and effectively, flirting with all of them. On full instinct, Zippy got up and started towards them. She only got a few feet before Lizzy grabbed her arm and stopped her.

    “Take it easy, ‘Mom’, I told you: You’ll give yourself wrinkles.” Lizzy berated her.

    “She might not be ready for this,” Zippy complained, “Maybe I should just chaperone her.”

    Zippy attempted to pull out of Lizzy’s grip, but suddenly found Madoka grabbing her as well. She saw that Stitchy, unable to decide on a dance partner, was now simply switching off from one to the other, dancing a bit with one guy, then moving to the next. Zippy bit her lip, both worried and a little jealous. Stitchy seemed to be using that great cleavage Zippy had given her very well, and as usual Zippy felt self conscious about her own size. She bit her lip and pressed against the Lizzy and Madoka’s grip.

    “I need to be there for her.” Zippy insisted, “What if one of those guys tries something inappropriate?”

    “Stitchy could pound all of them into a pulp with one hand. What could they possibly try?” Madoka rolled her eyes, “Stop worrying about her and let her have her fun.”

    Zippy looked at Stitchy. Her creation was smiling and laughing and having a good time, dancing her massive heart out. She did look like she was having a good time. Zippy was right, she shouldn’t spoil it for her. She just felt so protective of her; maybe it was her eternally optimistic attitude and joy for joy way of looking at the world. Or maybe it was just the fact that she was, in a very real way, Zippy’s own creation, her own child of sorts. But the over protective impulse just couldn’t help but rear its empty head.

    Zippy relaxed and let the others pull her to the dance floor. She eased up and began to dance, starting have a good time herself. But she couldn’t help glancing at Stitchy and checking up on her every once in a while. And she couldn’t help looking around the room.

    Where the heck was Krystal?

    Roger Hortan came back to his down room in the school more then a little exhausted after a long study session. He’d been in the library, working on his next exam. He’d been letting it go for a while, and now was cramming at the last minute as usual. He was tired and bleary eyed now, and really just wanted to get into bed and go to sleep. He was not the best student in the world, and it was a lot of back breaking work to keep from becoming Madame Petri’s next ‘volunteer’. At the very least, his roommate was off somewhere working on a project, so he could be sure of some uninterrupted sleep.

    He opened the door to his dorm room and walked in, not bothering to turn the light on, and closed the door behind him. The window let in enough moonlight so that he could see his way to the bed. He dropped his bags on the floor randomly, took off his jacket and tossed it in the general direction of the closet, and staggered over to the bed.

    As soon as he got there, he knew something was amiss.

    It wasn’t anything concrete, just a sudden feeling, like he was being watched. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and he felt a chill go down his spine. He glanced around the room, looking for whatever might be giving him this feeling. In the moonlight, everything seemed to be shadows, and every shape suddenly seemed a bit threatening.

    He reached for the lamp on the desk, and that was when he smelled it.

    It was a sudden overwhelming stench of ammonia, along with a distinct fishy odor that assailed his nostrils right away. He coughed and gagged as the smell seemed to coat the inside of his mouth. Looking around, he couldn’t see where it was coming from. He flipped the light on and gasped.

    It was barely discernable in the low light, but SOMETHING crouched near the foot of his bed. It seemed to be vaguely human in shape, but more like a primate in its hunched posture. He could make out the writhing shape of tentacles all over the thing’s body as it hunched there, looking at him. The only aspect he could clearly see where it’s eyes, which reflected the light like a cat’s eyes, but were grotesque globular orbs, devoid of a pupil or iris.

    The thing made a retching sound and vomited something out of its mouth. A thick sticky substance splattered over Roger’s face, covering his nose and mouth and keeping him from screaming. He tried to pull it off, clawing at with his hands as panic surged in him, the substance hardened to a bone like solidity instantly, and bonded to his skin like super glue.

    As he tried to pull the suffocating mask off, the creature attacked him. Roger fought as the wet, rough arms grabbed him and kicked and punched like mad, trying to break the grip of the revolting creature. It was like the animal didn’t feel any pain at all. Roger almost gagged as he felt the slick, pulsing tentacles wrap around his body, but he willed himself not to vomit, knowing he would choke.

    All at once, he was lifted off the floor. He twisted and tried to roll his body, fighting against the gripping tendrils, but they held him fast, and suddenly he was thrown across the room. He slammed hard into the window, the glass and pane shattering as his body flew through it. Shards of glass and splinters of wood nicked his skin and his blood ran cold as he found himself hurled out of his room on out to a three story drop.

    He plunged downward, screaming into the mask on his face. He hit the ground feet first. More pain then he’d even know exploded into his body as his leg bones shattered upon impact. He fell to the ground, convulsions hitting his body. Unable to breath, he was getting dizzy.

    He tried to drag himself forward, and that was when he saw them: Everywhere, things moved . . . crawled . . . OOZED towards him. Bizarre clicking and gurgling sounds filled the air as a dozen of those monsters surrounded him. He was grabbed and dragged helplessly along.

    He felt the icy cold touch of water, and his last conscious thought was the realization that they were dragging him into the moat. He was pulled completely underwater, and dragged downward. Further and further down he went until the liquid blackness swallowed him whole.

    Making her way down the hall, Krystal felt empty and hollow. She had stayed for hours on the floor, holding the distraught and despondent Miss Piranha in her arms. It had felt like an eternity and worse Krystal had felt completely helpless; there had been nothing she could do for her, except be there and hold her. She’d tried to say or do whatever she could, but she wasn’t sure if it helped or not. She cried quite a bit herself; the idea of losing Miss Piranha was tearing an unexpected hole in her heart.

    At one point, she had even kissed her full on the mouth. Any other time, that would have seemed astonishingly inappropriate. But then it hadn’t seemed sexual or perverse just . . . what they both needed: As much comforting affection as possible.

    Finally, Miss Piranha had calmed down enough that Krystal was able to take her back to her classroom and get her into the bed she sometimes slept in that was located in a room in the back of the class. She stayed by her side until she was sure Miss Piranha had finally fallen asleep, only then did she feel safe leaving her there.

    She fingered the shark tooth pin on her uniform, thinking of the other guild members.

    She’d missed the entire night out, but not unreasonably, it didn’t seem that important anymore. Looking at the time, she realized that everyone must be at the spa by now. After a moment’s thought, she headed that direction. After all, now that Miss Piranha was safe and sound for the night, there was no reason she couldn’t go and try to relax. She wasn’t going to do her teacher any good by being a ball of stress herself.

    And truth be told, she didn’t want to be alone.

    She made it to the spa area and entered the girl’s side, through the right hand door that led into the girl’s locker room. The wide round locker room was lined with shiny chrome lockers that opened and closed with the touch of a hand, as well as small non mechanical square shelves for those that didn’t want to bother. Most students hardly ever used the high tech ones since there was always a Werx guarding the place anyways.

    Krystal could see that the others were already here as their clothes and purses were laid out on the shelves. Picking one near the other’s, Krystal placed her bag on the shelf and then began to undo the ties on her uniform. A few quick pulls and she pulled off her top and dropped her skirt to the floor. Sitting on a cushioned bench, she began to remove her stockings.

    She wasn’t sure if she was going to tell the others about Miss Piranha’s cancer. True, Miss Piranha hadn’t told her to keep it a secret, but she may have wanted her to. After all, the only reason Krystal knew about it was because she’d found her lying there. She pursed her lips; it was a tough decision in and of itself.

    She stood up and placed her stockings in the shelf. She reached behind herself with both hands and unhooked her bra in one quick motion. She had to smile a little: She had gotten quite good at that. It had used to be a real pain and she’d struggled finding the clasp every time. Now she unhooked it one two three. She slipped her bra off, letting her breasts fall out. It was always a bit of a relief taking it off at the end of the day.

    She thought of her friends in the other room, that weird collection of eccentric geniuses. It might be a good idea to tell them, she thought. With all the unconventional thinking . . . well, she didn’t want to get her hopes up, but maybe they could help.

    She took off her panties, stripping herself nude, and after putting them on the shelf, she headed into the spa. This was actually a really good idea, she released she was infinitely stressed out after the revelations about Miss Piranha. A little relaxation might help, at least let her think more clearly. She walked out of the locker room and into the spa itself.

    She passed the massage tables where sever Werx stood ready should any student require a massage. They were made mostly of metal like the standard ones, but had soft latex covered hands to do their work. It looked inviting but Krystal passed them up and headed for the Jacuzzi. Her naked feet padded on the tiles and went into the room. There, sitting around as naked as she was were most of her friends.

    The room was tiled with black and white patterned tiles all over the floor, flanked on the walls by wide benches. The wall, unlike the usual metal and rivets that marked much of the school, was a slate grey color. There were several different sized hot tubs built directly into the floor. The other girls were all in the largest one available, a wide sized tub that was shaped like a lima bean.

    Zippy, Lizzy, The Farrell Twins, Madoka (at least it seemed to be her with her, Rina usually held her arms in front of her), Eve and Stitchy all sat soaking in the warm foaming bubbles. Krystal felt her face redden a little with heat. True, she had come to full accept herself as a girl, but there was still a bit of embarrassment and a tiny thrill at seeing them all naked together. Despite her transformation, and her new interest in guys, Krystal had not entirely abandoned an appreciation for women, and seeing the whole group like this still made her blush a bit. Even Stitchy, whom Krystal had helped assemble and had seen naked many a time.

    Jetson sat by the side of the tub, his tentacles waving lazily.

    Stitchy noticed her first, rising up her hand in greeting in her usual enthusiasm, “Hello, Krystal. Stitchy wonder where you were. Come join us, we miss you.”

    Eve turned around, “There you are, where were you? This whole excursion was your idea I hear.”

    “I . . . something came up.” Krystal said, “It was unavoidable.”

    All the girls gestured for her to come over, encouraging her to join them. Krystal felt a swell of affection for her friends as she knew this was what she needed at the moment. Despite the lousy prick she’d been as guy, they’d all made her feel like one of them. She slipped into the warm bubbling water in between Stitchy and Eve, instantly feeling the soothing warm caress of the hot tub. Her muscles seemed to relax almost immediately.

    “You missed it, Krystal.” Madoka chortled, “Stitchy was the hit of the dance, guys were falling all over each other to get on the floor with her.”

    Lizzy said, “Yes and Zippy was the over protective stick in the mud.”

    Zippy blushed as everyone laughed, “I was just concerned about her, some of those guys might not have had very good intentions.”

    “Oh, I’d say they had all kinds of good intentions.” Madoka winked in Stitchy’s direction and the continued, “Besides, I keep telling you Zippy; Stitchy could have taken all of them apart with her bare hands; they weren’t going to try anything.”

    “Oh, Stitchy no want to take boy apart.” Stitchy sang gleefully, “Stitchy want to hug boys and kiss them!”

    “Okay, so they weren’t going to try anything Stitchy didn’t want them too.” Madoka corrected herself.

    Everyone laughed happily, Krystal along with them. This was the kind of thing she had come to treasure as of late; the simple pleasures of being with her friends. Still, as the conversation continued, Krystal barely paid attention as her friends chattered on about classes and projects and other possible excursions in the future. Her mind continued to flow back to Miss Piranha and her cancer. She felt like she had to do something, but she had no clear idea what.

    Again, she weighed the options of whether she should tell the others or not. It was obvious that Miss Piranha was hiding her affliction, hiding out in the storage room to cry the way she had been. But out of all her students, the Shark Tank Guild was closest to her. Again Krystal thought of the amount of brain power and radical thinking that this hot tub full of naked girls represented. Add the guys to that mix and you had a lot of innovation; did she dare hope that the Guild might be able to save Miss Piranha.

    Looking across at Zippy, who was seated low in the water to cover up her undersized breasts, Krystal found her eyeing her with a bit of worry. Just like Zippy to notice that something was wrong with her. Very little got past her room mate, that was for sure.

    Eventually, everyone got out of the Jacuzzi and headed for the steam room. The wide wooden room filled with warm steam almost instantly and the girls lay or sat on their towels, continuing their girlish conversations. Again, it was the sort of moment that Krystal felt very attached to, but brought down by the haunting specter of her inner crises. Krystal talked, but half heartedly and it felt hollow. Still, she was glad to be with all her friends. She probably could not have bared to be alone right now.

    The room filled with steam and soon everyone had droplets of moisture clinging to their bare flesh. Lying around nude in the heat and steam, the girls chatted lazily about a variety of topics that tended to mesh nerdy scientific topics with ordinary girl talk; like weather or not their boobs would sag in long duration space flight.

    The conversation took the turn it so often did at Madame Petri’s, and they began discussing future projects. Topics ranged from invisibility to home made space craft, and it had long been suggested that the entire guild cooperated on some kind of massive project. Figuring out just what was, however, was a problem as usual. As the gaggle of naked geniuses continued debating potential ventures, Krystal too a deep breath and seized the opportunity.

    “I think we should develop a cure for cancer.” She declared quickly.

    Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at her. The twins both yipped in surprise at the suggestion. Zippy narrowed her eyes at her, staring at her intently.

    Katjia said, “That’s . . . ambitious, Krystal.”

    Madoka chimed, “Yeah, Krystal, I applaud your boldness, but a cure for cancer has stumped the most brilliant teachers at this school. What makes you think we can do any better?”

    Krystal gestured at Stitchy, “We’ve already have done better. The holy grail of mad science is taking a steam bath with us. Between the minds in this room, and rest of the Guild, I think we can do this: giants standing on the shoulders of giants so to speak.”

    The others looked somewhat less then convinced and cast uneasy glances at each other.

    Lizzy spoke up, “I don’t know, Krystal, what you are proposing is an incredibly difficult task. It could take a very long time before we find what we need, and we’d need to finish before the end of the year.”

    Much quicker then that, from the sound of it, Krystal thought.

    And then said, “Yes, but I really think we should work on a cure for cancer.”

    Zippy leaned forward, concern on her face, “Krystal . . . do you have cancer?”

    All eyes turned to her in shock. She couldn’t help but feel a little swell of pride that they all seemed genuinely distressed at the thought they might loose her, but she fought it down. That was the kind of thing she would have thought as Cristobel, but now she knew she had more important things to worry about. She looked at their faces, the worried expressions almost frightened expectations.

    “No.” She assured them.

    There was a collective sigh of relief from the group.

    Krystal added, “. . . it’s Miss Piranha.”

    The stunned silence that greeted the revelation could have been cut by a knife. Krystal began her story telling them about finding Miss Piranha crying and what had transpired, leaving out things she considered too personal but giving them the gist of it, telling them how she’d spent the whole night cradling the despondent teacher in her arms. When she was finished, she felt warm liquid trailing down her cheeks and realized that she was crying again.

    She wasn’t the only one, the Twins were tearing up and looking at each other, and Stitchy had buried her large head her massive hands and was sobbing despondently. Zippy put an arm around her and patted her back. Suddenly the warm climate of the steam filled sauna felt like it was ice cold.

    The silence was broken only by Stitchy mumbling, “No, Stitchy love Miss Piranha.”

    After another long period of nothing, Zippy took a deep breath and declared, “Well, alright then: A cancer cure it is.”

    Everyone looked at Zippy, questioningly. There was no objection to what she said, but just an air of doubt. Krystal realized that they all, herself included, were suddenly looking to Zippy for some shred of hope. Zippy was putting on a brave, steely face; but in her eyes, Krystal saw a hint of the same fear and uncertainty that plagued her. But with all eyes on her, Zippy was playing the role of leader all of a sudden, and burying her emotions.

    Lizzy spoke up, “Do you really think we can do it?”

    Zippy pursed her lips, “We have to try, if nothing else. But Krystal’s right: I don’t want to sound stuck up, but just three of us re wrote mad science as we know it and the result has her butt planted right here with us. Imagine what all of us can do if you put our minds to it, I think we owe it to Miss Piranha to at least give it a try.”

    A quick glance to Lizzy and Krystal made a silent statement that they both understood: They also had the knowledge in the hidden library.

    One by one everyone agreed; they would work on a cancer cure, and try to save Miss Piranha. It was a daunting task, but Zippy felt not only committed, but energized as well. As impossible as it seemed, Zippy felt a real tangible hope that the Shark Tank Guild could pull this off. After all, if they did this, they’d be saving Miss Piranha . . . and millions of others as well. As lofty goals went, you could do much worse.

    After a long time they finally got up and headed back to the locker room to get dressed. As they went, Zippy found herself glancing over at Krystal frequently. She’d come a long way since her days as the self centered and ego maniacal Cristobel. Zippy couldn’t help but be impressed by the amount of compassion that Krystal had developed.

    The massive, monstrous black eye bigger then Zippy’s head; bulged wide in shock. Megan’s huge mouth dropped open, six inch teeth and all as she heard the news. She floated in front of the window, as devastated as anyone else about the news. Her shark’s face was not made for expressing emotion, but the feeling was flowing off her just the same. Zippy could almost feel the shock and grief through the glass. She was sure, had Megan had tear ducts, she would have been crying. The sixty foot megalodon, that prehistoric killing machine, was devastated at the news of a friend’s illness.

    “Miss Piranha . . . dying . . . I . . . can’t believe it.” Megan stammered through her implant, “She . . . she always comes to visit me. She was gonna be there when I have my pups.”

    “Hopefully she still will be,” Said Zippy, “We’re going to working on a cure for her, but I don’t really know where to start.”

    Zippy stood in front of the huge window that looked out into the massive, seemingly endless tank that housed the two gigantic megalodons. Jetson sat on her shoulder, moving his tentacles slowly as she reached up and absent mindedly stroked his cone. This solitude was what Zippy had craved after Krystal had dropped the bomb about Miss Piranha. As always, being at Megan’s tank help focus her thoughts.

    Megan shook her massive head in despair, “Oh, Zippy, you’ve got to save her. This is horrible, I can’t believe it.”

    Not unreasonably, Zippy knew exactly how Meagan felt. She felt wounded and hollowed out inside her self. The night had started out with so much fun, but the news of Miss Piranha’s illness now made everything feel just a little bit off. She was torn up; her heart feeling like it had been shredded. But she knew everyone was looking to her to lead, for better or for worse, and she kept a brave face on. But it was a porcelain mask that felt like it might shatter at any moment.

    Suddenly, Zippy jumped back a little as another massive shape appeared in the window. Morgan made a rare appearance, rising up from out of the gloom and settling in next to his mate so fast that he actually scared Zippy a little bit. He spoke, his own implant flashing, in a voice that always comically reminded Zippy of Tom Selleck.

    “Did I hear you right?” He asked abhorred, “Miss Piranha’s dying?”

    All Zippy could do was nod silently.

    “No! No! Why? Why her?” Morgan groaned, thrashing his massive head back and forth.

    The anguish in Morgan’s voice, perfectly translated by his implant, stabbed Zippy right through the heart. She bit her lips, feeling sobs rising up in her own chest. She fought it down, keeping her cool. They all looked to her, she told herself, and she had to be strong for all of them. Even the massive sharks, as strange as that might sound.

    “It’s horrible!” Megan moaned, her implant picking up on her emotions and rendering a voice that sounded for all the world like it was crying, even though Megan was incapable of the action, “I hate it! I hate this cancer thing! I wish cancer was something alive! Something I could tear apart with my teeth and save her . . . I wish . . . I wish . . .”

    She trailed off, despondently. Morgan leaned in close and to Zippy’s surprise, nuzzled his mate with his nose. It was a display of affection Zippy rarely saw between the two giant sharks. It was almost human in its tenderness. Again Zippy felt tears well up within her. She fought them down, but it was getting harder.

    “We’re going to work on a cure. Me and the other Shark Tank Guild members.” Zippy told them, “We’re going to try to save her, get everyone in on working on this. We are going to try as hard as we can.”

    “Oh, Zippy! Please save her! Please!” Meagan begged her with heart rending hopefulness.

    “I’ll try. We’ll do our best.” She told her, “But I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know . . . how much time we have . . .”

    That was the biggest problem: Miss Piranha could easily die before they found their cure.

    That was it, she lost it. Zippy’s knees buckled beneath her and she fell against the glass of the tank. There no fighting the flood of emotions, Zippy broke down and let out an anguished cry, tears flooding down her cheeks, her body wracked with sobs of grief and despair. Her cries echoed in the empty hallway. Emotions swirled within her in a wild tempest: Fear, grief, and anger. So much anger. Miss Piranha had been the only one there for her when she’d first come to Madame Petri’s, she’d been the only one to support her. Now this cruel, amoral world was sentencing her to a slow, painful death. Zippy hated, hated the whole universe for what it had done to her teacher. She slammed her fist hard against the glass, feeling a jolt of pain surge up her arm. Her anger was in danger of overwhelming her, but her grief was doing that already.

    She felt Jetson’s tentacles grip on her tighter, and she realized he was hugging her.

    “Please don’t give up, Zippy.” Jetson said, quietly, “Please don’t give up.”

    As her sobs eased up, she opened her eyes and looked up. She saw that Megan and Morgan had lowered their heads to where she was pressed against the window, and were moving their heads back and forth. They were trying to nuzzle her, Zippy realized, like they had with each other. They knew, of course, that they couldn’t nuzzle her through the glass. With another pang of her heart, Zippy realized that they simply didn’t know what else to for her.

    Tears still streaming down her face, Zippy threw her arms wide against the glass, mimicking a hug, crying in great sobs as emotions spilled out of her in an uncontrollable deluge. Her dangerous anger subsided, replaced instead by pure undiluted anquish.

    Together in the long empty hall of the tank room, human, squid and sharks expressed their sorrow to each other.

    It was hours later that Zippy finally left Megan and Morgan’s tank. After her breakdown, she felt more focused; and much more determined. Unfortunately, it didn’t really make her feel all that better, and her thoughts as she walked down the hallways were haunted by the specter of loosing Miss Piranha. And the pressure was already starting to mount: As soon as Krystal had let them know of the situation, everyone had looked to her for leadership. It hadn’t occurred to Zippy before, but as the highest rated student in the school, she had stepped into the role of de facto leader of The Shark Tank Guild.

    She felt a little guilty about that; the whole secret of her success hinged on her access to the hidden library and its contents. Sure, not everyone could have put the knowledge contained in those books to good use, but still it felt like cheating. Madame Petri’s didn’t really care about cheating that much, everything was about results, but still there was that twinge of guilt. But then again, she’d cheat a hundred times if it kept her out of Madame Petri’s experiment program, whatever the hell she was doing to the students in there. Zippy still found Petri’s absence from the school more then a little odd, if not downright suspicious.

    She ran one hand over the other and winced. She had a nasty bruise on her hand where she slammed it into the tank’s glass. No smart, Zippy. Not good. You don’t want your anger getting the better of you.

    Jetson spoke up on her shoulder, “Zippy, are you feeling better?”

    “A little bit, yeah.” Zippy replied affectionately, “Why?”

    “Because you’re going the wrong way.” Jetson informed her.

    Zippy stopped and realized that she had passed up the right turn and was now walking out onto a catwalk running across and long circular shaft. This was the same catwalk she had chased Katjia and Nadjia across was they perused Jetson back on her first day at Petri’s. God, how long ago that felt; like it was a different life. Well, she knew how to get back from here.

    She peeked down over the railing, and saw the large metal box that sat so far down below on the floor of the shaft, with the square holes covered with metal mesh. The box, whatever it was, still looked like a jail cell to Zippy. It almost creeped her out, thinking what they might be keeping in there. She narrowed her eyes looking at the box.

    She had thought, for a second, that she had seen movement inside. She continued looking at it, but could see no further movement within. Damn, it looked so much like a prison, but who or what could they be keeping in there? She shuddered a little bit looking at it, and couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing something about it, something she should be putting together, as if there was puzzle to be solved and she didn’t even know it. After a time, she continued on her way back to her dorm room.

    Once she was back in the school proper and walking past the empty classroom, she stopped when something else caught her attention: The sounds of quiet sobbing coming from one of the other classrooms. She stopped, at first not sure which direction it was coming from. After a time, she pinpointed the location, a medium sized room off to her right. She hesitated and then started towards the room, still hearing the sobs.

    It had to be Miss Piranha, Zippy thought, she must have broke down again. But what was she doing way down here? She came into the room, gently pushing open the door. The room was dark, and she stayed where she was letting her eyes adjust. She spied the outline of what looked like a crouched figure, shaking as it sobbed miserably. She took a tentative step forward. She slipped her hand into her pocket and gripped the noggin bobber just in case.

    “Is someone there?” She asked, rather lamely.

    “Go away!” The voice screeched, “Leave me alone!”

    Zippy blinked in surprise: It wasn’t Miss Piranha, that was for sure, but she didn’t recognize the voice. It sounded familiar, however. Zippy took another step forward.

    “Do you need some help?” She asked the shape, “Are you hurt?”

    “Zipperdale?!?” The voice hissed, “Leave me alone, haven’t you done enough already?”

    Now the voice rang a bell, although it was slightly different: It was Charity Milquetoast. Zippy remembered Krystal mentioning that Rick hadn’t been able to find her, and come to think of it, Zippy hadn’t seen her all day.

    Charity sobbed pathetically, “Why did you do this to me? Why? What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”

    Did she want that alphabetically, or in order of occurrence? Zippy sarcastically thought, but she held her tongue.

    Instead she said, “Charity is this about the burns? They should have healed by now; you should let me take a look at them.”

    “Who cares about burns?” Charity shouted angrily, “I . . . I can’t be seen like this.”

    Zippy reached over to the light but Charity’s agonized shriek stopped her.

    “No! Don’t look at me!” She wailed, “Please, I don’t want you or anyone else to see me like this! I’m so ugly. Ugly!”

    She dissolved into uncontrollable wails of despair. Zippy’s finger hovered over the light switch, wondering if she should honor Charity’s request to leave the light out. Hell, Charity had done enough vicious underhanded things to Zippy, maybe she should just leave her to whatever fate she had encountered. Let her stay hidden in the dark, alone and miserable. Anger welled up in her, and Zippy quickly fought it down. For all her smarts, Zippy knew there was a mindless beast inside her sometimes, and letting her anger get the better of her led to . . . bad things.

    She flipped on the light.

    Charity shrank back, covering her face with her hands and crouching behind a large desk, letting out a frightened sob. Zippy’s mouth dropped open in complete shock as she saw her.

    “You did this to me, didn’t you?” Charity shrieked in a bizarre mixture of rage and sorrow, tears in her . . . were those eyes?

    “How the hell would I do this to you?” Zippy breathed, astonished by what she was looking at.

    Charity’s skin was a dull gray color all over. Her hair, once brunette, was now a grayish brown shade but retained her wavy curls. Her eyes were three times as big as they had been before, and zippy could detect no iris or pupils in the shining silver orbs which seemed to glow faintly in the light. Her ears had elongated and now rose into points through her hair and above her head. In her mouth, she could see that Charity’s canine teeth had elongated until the resembled Eve’s fangs. She seemed to be permanently hunched over on all fours. There were only three fingers and a thumb on each hand, and all her digits were twice as thick as normal. Her legs now sported and double jointed look similar to a dog’s hind legs, and ended in what could only be described as large animal paws similar to a bear’s feet. To cap it all off, a long fleshy tail, similar to a possum’s but flexible like a cat’s trailed out from under her skirt, swishing back and forth.

    Charity Milquetoast was no longer entirely human.

    Jeepers! This is Vixen talking. And I’m telling you a little bit about next chapter. Jeepers, Zippy and her friends get to work on saving Miss Piranha’s life while figuring out what happened to Charity. And Krystal gets the visit she’s been dreading in the next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist, “The Tenth Experiment”.

    Jeepers! I’ve got it!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor's Avatar
    My Mood
    In Love
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    12-29-2010 02:28 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Finland, land of santa claus and good dental care.
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Original Fiction: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experimen

    By now i've only read till the point where madoka's dual personality is revealed and the school for mad scientists-concept comes completely clear. I'll give my comments on what i've seen and prolly write more when i'm finished readin more of this.

    commenting the story so far in general, first thing that came to mind was really a science version of Harry Potter. Some parts were disturbingly similar, (like mister gravity ball player, cristobel=malfoy...) but the protagonist and the other girls surrounding her seem original enough. Overall, the whole concept seems like fun, especially the list of classes... I'm also interested in romance with whatever i happen to read and this story seems to showing signs of it too, so lookin forward to readin more in a lot of ways.

    Speakin of the writing style, it's the best amateur work i've seen in ages or perhaps ever. You describe things in detail, with rich and intelligent language, altough some readers might not recognize all the stuff you're referring to all the time. (Escher, jules verne...) and the language, stuff the characters say, is actually funny a lot of times.

    finally commenting a little on the protagonist, while seemingly perfect, she's still interesting. Her ways of thinkin are funny to read about, especially how she's sensitive about her breast size and how she's not hiding anything about herself, she has character, for sure.
    We are Pop Candy, very happy! ^--^

  15. #15
    Senior Member Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor has a reputation beyond repute Desulishor's Avatar
    My Mood
    In Love
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    12-29-2010 02:28 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Finland, land of santa claus and good dental care.
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Original Fiction: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experimen

    finished the first chapter. Just tons of fun... These ingenious ideas brimming with originality are just great. (the intelligent marine life, the wolf girls...) I wish I had some constructive criticism to offer, but I'm so amused, I'm having a hard time finding anything negative to mention here.
    We are Pop Candy, very happy! ^--^

  16. #16
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Original Fiction: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experimen

    Okay, after a lot of work, here finally is the tenth chapter of Zippy Zipperdale. In this section, Zippy and the group are trying to figure out how to save Miss Piranha as well as help out Charity, Megan finally gives birth to her pups and Krystal get a visit she's been dreading. This chapter ended up being way cornier and sappier then I'd originally intended, sorry about that. Also sorry for the pseudo science, I barely get time to write let alone do any series research.

    Click to download

    The Tenth Experiment

    By Hardcover

    Megan, the sixty foot megalodon shark and resident of Madam Petri’s aquatic area, thrashed her head in pain. Her whole body shuddered and twisted as the spasms shook her body. She clamped her six inch teeth together and expelled sea water out of her mouth.

    It was the day after the revelations of Miss Piranha’s illness. In the early hours of the morning, Megan had surprised everyone, including herself, by going into labor. Like most large sharks it turned out, megs gave birth to live young. Megan was now in a shallow birthing chamber, while Mr. Carcharias and his staff ran around making sure everything went smoothly. Many of the other teachers were there, including, Megan was glad to see, Miss Piranha. Also present were every member of Megan’s friends The Shark Tank Guild.

    Morgan swam in circles agitated and panicky, rising up next to the chamber to look at her, then twisting around as nervous as any new father could be. Feeling helpless and useless as there was nothing he could do to assist his mate. All other male sharks, and real megs probably as well, didn’t do anything for their offspring other then fertilize the eggs. But with Morgan’s genetically upgraded intelligence, he was every bit as keen to take care of his pups as any Orca or other dolphin.

    Her muscles contracting, Megan gave one more spastic twist and thrust of her massive muscular tail, and she could feel the shape of her first pup almost out of her birth canal. The agonizing spasms wracked her body and she gave another powerful push. Her muscles contracted and with a squirt of placental fluid, Abbey was born.

    She flew out of her mother and down towards the bottom of the birthing chamber. At first, she seemed not to know what to do. She floated there, and then her gills moved and she began to breath. Colored a grayish green coat like her parents, and striped down her back as well, the infant megalodon was the size of a large Great White at twenty feet, her mouth already full of razor sharp two inch teeth.

    “Oh, she’s beautiful!” Megan cried out in joy.

    Morgan had moved over to the tank and was eyeing his daughter, his tail flipping with glee, “She is, she is beautiful. I’m a dad!”

    The observers were cheering, and Megan held her head with pride. At least as long as it took for the contractions to start again, announcing that Brittney was now on her way. Megan slammed her huge teeth together as the pain started anew. But it was all worth it, she knew. She was now the mother of the most unique set of twins in the world, the new generation of a new species. As she so often did at the thought of her pups, she swelled with pride.

    Their names, Abbey and Brittney, were taken from a pair of conjoined twins that were apparently slightly famous within the human world. Being that her daughters were one of the most unique twins on the planet, the names had seemed appropriate. Actually, the original names had been Mary Kate and Ashley, but some human writer name Steve Alten had already beaten them to the punch with that one.

    Within an hour, the second pup was finally born, and Megan and Morgan were just the proudest parents in the world.

    In the dark circular office of the Vice Principle, Archibald Innsmouth looked at the collection of teachers before him levelly, and impassively. As always there was a stern, no nonsense air about him, to say nothing of a sinister aura, but there was also a frustrating lack of concern on his face as the teachers tried to bring the problem to his attention.

    The teachers were lined up in front of him, a regular line up of the usual suspects: Miss Piranha, Mr. DeSade, Mr. Carcharias, Miss Gojira and Mrs. Variola all stood their ground. As so many times before, the Vice Principle seemed to resent their presence. Despite his harsh glare which usually had most of them avoiding him whenever possible, the teachers this time held their stance.

    Mr. DeSade spoke again, “I’m telling you, several of the students have disappeared without a trace. They’re not just skipping class, they’re missing, and no one has seen or heard from them.”

    Mrs. Variola spoke up, her stern Scottish accent seeming ineffectual against Mr. Innsmouth’s heated gaze, “No one has seen Felicia for weeks. Her parents haven’t heard from her, her roommate hasn’t seen her. Mr. Innsmouth, we need to do something about this.”

    With no discernable change in his voice, Mr. Innsmouth said, “Calm yourselves, all of you. There is no need to summon the cavalry. You’ll be pleased to note that the students in question have been summoned to assist Madame Petri in a rather important project, which is of top secret and the highest standard of discretion. I’m sorry if it alarmed you, but I’m afraid I can’t say anymore.”

    The teachers looked at each other, incredulous.

    “Why are we just hearing about this now?” Miss Piranha demanded.

    “Madame Petri is under no obligation to explain her business to any of you, Miss Piranha.” He said coolly, “Now if you don’t mind, I believe the time is nearing that you might want to look after the students who aren’t quite so busy.”

    Realizing they had been dismissed, the teachers silently made their way out of the classroom. After following them for a few seconds, Miss Piranha turned around and looked at Mr. Innsmouth.

    “What is Madame Petri working on?” She demanded.

    The Vice Principle narrowed his eyes at her, “I beg your pardon?”

    There was a tense silence from the other teachers, but Miss Piranha kept going, feeling a little bolder. Bitterly, she thought of how much bolder she had gotten since finding out about her cancer.

    “What is taking up so much of her time? Why does she need so many students to help her and to experiment with? Why don’t we ever see her any more?” She asked, “Why aren’t we being informed when our students are being used as her personal lab assistants, if that’s what they’re really doing?”

    “It would do you well not to question either of us.” Mr. Innmouth said darkly.

    “’Either of us’” Miss Piranha repeated sarcastically, “There’s only you. No one has seen Madame Petri in a very long time. What is going on, Archibald? And don’t tell me it’s Madame Petri’s secret experiment, because Madame Petri would never have allowed this to happen!”

    Rising to his feet, Mr. Innsmouth slammed his hands down on the desk, his face contorted with rage, “Miss Piranha! You would do well not to forget your place! If you continue to question my methods . . .”

    “You’ll what?” Miss Piranha leaned over the desk, almost daring him to do something.

    The other teachers looked at on another with fear as Miss Piranha egged the dangerous Vice Principle on.

    “That is something you wouldn’t want to find out.” Innsmouth said, regaining his composure.

    He sat back down, and refused to say more. Eventually, the teachers left the office, filing off in uncertainty. A dark pallor seemed to have settled over the group as the walked away. Miss Piranha was the last one out, turning around and stalking off to the clacking sounds of her six inch heels. As she walked back down the hallway towards her classroom, Miss Variola fell in next to her.

    “You are going too far.” Miss Variola told her.

    “No, Valerie,” Miss Piranha sighed, “I’m not going far enough.”

    Between her cancer and the disappearing students, Miss Piranha felt the icy touch of fear running down her spine. For the first time in her life, the future; once so bright and full of promise, was now a very scary place.

    “This is Charity?” Krystal asked in amazement.

    They were in Examination Room 12. The Examination Rooms were located in The Dungeon one floor up from where the Operating Rooms were placed. Unlike the ORs, which were square rooms with low ceilings, the Examinations rooms were oval in their construction and had high raised ceilings. This was because the walls were linked with a raised metal platform that ran all the way around the room so observers could watch proceedings without having to peer over someone’s shoulders. A large moveable light apparatus hung down from the center of the roof, illuminating a long metal examination table in the dead center of the floor.

    Zippy, Lizzy, Krystal and The Twins all stared down at Charity’s new form as she sat despondently on the exam table, her knees pulled up to her chest, her tail swishing back and forth dejectedly. After discovering her, Zippy had wanted to take Charity to a teacher, but Charity had begged her not to, fearing that she’d end up the subject of lots of experiments. She also didn’t want any of the other students to see her like this, so in the end Zippy had ended up hiding her in one of the lower level store rooms and coming back the next morning to get her.

    Zippy had returned back to her dorm to find all three of her roommates crying still over the news of Miss Piranha’s cancer. She had joined them, and the four of them had practically cried themselves to sleep. It had been one of the worst nights of Zippy’s life, and she now had the deep sunken dark circled eyes to prove it.

    Charity had begged Zippy not to involve anyone else, but Zippy had felt she’d need some assistance and had talked her into letting her get Lizzy and Krystal. The Twins had gotten involved by accident, running into them as they went to the exam room while they were chasing Sharon’s artificial robot cat around, much to Charity’s dismay. Intrigued, they had invited themselves along to help. Less enthusiastic was Krystal, who was still bitter about the way Charity had treated her after her own transformation. Zippy hadn’t told Stitchy about this, unsure of her enthusiastic “daughter’s” ability to keep a secret.

    Looking her over, with her gray skin, long tail and altered body shape, Zippy had to admit that she didn’t know where to start. Rubbing her hands over her chin, she sighed heavily. Charity was looking at her hopefully, although Zippy somewhat wished she’d stop: Those blank gray orbs she had for eyes were creepy in the way that, with no visible iris and pupil, you couldn’t always tell where they were pointed.

    Zippy said, “I don’t want to get your hopes up; it’s going to be a long time before we even know what was done to you, let alone if there’s anything we can do to reverse it.”

    Looking back at her knees, Charity sighed despondently, “I . . . I was afraid of that.”

    “I’m not so sure we should be bothering with her at all.” Krystal muttered darkly, causing Charity to gasp.

    “Krystal . . .” Zippy began.

    “You weren’t there, I went to this ***** and her friends for help after my transformation and they just cut me down and left me there.” Krystal spat derisively, “Believe me, if any of us were in this situation, she wouldn’t do a thing to help.”

    Charity’s eyes widened and brimmed with tears. She dropped her head on her knees and started to cry again, muttering something that might have been “I’m sorry” over and over but Zippy couldn’t tell for sure.

    Taking a deep breath, Zippy said, “Cristobel wouldn’t have helped out either, but when you became Krystal, we were there for you despite that.”

    Krystal seemed to soften a bit, “Touché.”

    There was a long pause punctuated only by Charity’s sobs, finally Krystal threw her hands up.

    “Alright, alright, I’ll help.” Krystal relented, “I don’t know what to do, but I’ll help.”

    Katjia leaned over Charity’s shoulder, sniffing her curiously, her nostrils flaring as she did so.

    “Umm . . . could you stop that?” Charity mumbled weakly to her.

    Putting one hand on the table, Lizzy suggested, “Maybe we should get help from Mr. DeSade? After all, genetic manipulation is his area of expertise.”

    That made sense to Zippy, but Charity reacted with horror at the suggestion.

    “No!” She cried, almost desperate, “You can’t tell a teacher, they’ll turn me into an experiment! They’d poke and prod me, maybe even mutate me even more! Or they . . . they might d-dissect me! Please, don’t tell a teacher! Please!”

    “Some teachers might,” Lizzy opinioned, “But Mr. DeSade’s pretty safe. And he’s not adverse to keeping things secret between him and his students.”

    Zippy pursed her lips, “I suppose we could try ourselves first before going to Mr. DeSade.”

    Charity breathed a sigh of relief. Katjia stood on her toes and sniffed the tips of her long pointed ears, intrigued by the changes in her.

    “Please I wish you’d stop that.” Charity mumbled again.

    There was a long moment of silence as everyone retreated deep into thought. Zippy pressed her hand on her chin, thinking it over. What had happened here? The changes were not surgical, of that she was sure, so someone had radically altered her genetic structure to create these changes. But why, what the hell could be accomplished by turning a stuck up rich ***** into a human mercat? There were other problems, such as how they could hide Charity while they worked on this; it would be easy to find a hiding place in the labyrinthine halls of the school, but that would make her some kind of prisoner. She wasn’t sure Charity, as fragile as she seemed, could deal with that.

    Her fragility was another concern: Charity was not Krystal and didn’t seem to be made of the same stern stuff that allowed the later to adapt to the gender switch. Her mental state could easily deteriorate, especially without someone to help her through it. Zippy knew that someone should probably be Rick, but she was sure Charity would cringe at the idea of her boyfriend seeing her like this. And there was the problem of how Rick would react: Would he still love her or would he reject her and make the situation worse.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of pattering feet, and she realized with some bemusement that the Twins were playfully chasing Charity’s tail back and forth as it swished behind her.

    Getting irritated, Charity yanked it back and pulled it away from them, “Will you two knock it off! It’s . . . its very sensitive.”

    Nadjia straitened up, “Sorry, it’s just so cute. It looks fairly dexterous, can you grasp with it?”

    “Er . . . I haven’t tried.” Charity said, running her hand over her tail, a little bit of curiosity pushing through the despair, “You really think it’s cute?”

    “It’s going to be close to impossible to keep Charity hidden,” Lizzy said thoughtfully in her monotone voice, “The equipment we’re going to have to use can’t be moved, we’d have to sneak her up to various rooms without her being seen, and that’s not easy in this place.”

    “Yeah, and Petri’s is gossip central.” Krystal said, “For all the advance I.Q.s, this place is worse then a sewing circle. One person spots her and everyone will know. They’ll sure as hell notice that she hasn’t been to class.”

    Zippy nodded, “And I’m not even sure where to start here. I’m sorry, Charity, we’re going to need Mr. DeSade.”

    Charity groaned in misery, her tail drooping with the emotion.

    “Don’t worry; I’ll make sure he keeps it quiet.” Zippy assured her.

    “How are you gonna do that?” Charity asked her.

    “I’ll sleep with him.” Zippy joked.

    “Mr. DeSade only likes chubby girls.” Charity said, looking back at the floor.

    “Really?” Zippy asked, surprised. How did she know that?

    Lizzy said, “And sooner or later, someone’s going to see you. Sorry, Charity, but our best bet here is to come clean about what happened to you. Look, it’s not like this school doesn’t have plenty or strangely altered students running around. You’re in luck; you’re in the one place where you’re more likely to be accepted.”

    “Amber won’t accept me like this . . .” Charity began.

    “**** Amber.” Krystal said, rolling her eyes.

    “. . . neither will Tiffany . . .” she continued.

    “**** Tiffany.” Lizzy interjected, getting in on the theme.

    “ . . . Rick will leave me.” Charity finished up.

    This time, everyone was silent.

    “You don’t know that, Charity.” Krystal told her evenly, “The guy carried a torch for you for years and never gave up. I don’t think he’s going to just drop you like a sack of potatoes.”

    “Of course he will!” Charity spat bitterly, “Look at me, I’m ugly!”

    “Not really.” Zippy replied, looking her over.

    Odd traits aside, Zippy had noticed that Charity still retained much of her former good looks. It had been fairly easy to recognize her when she’d first seen her. After a bit more debating, they decided to take Charity directly to Mr. DeSade. Charity resigned herself but insisted that they at least try to get there without anyone seeing her. Zippy gathered up the papers she had been carrying and then made their way out.

    As they left the room with Charity moving behind them in her permanent stooped position, Lizzy spoke up again.

    “You know, Zippy,” She opinioned, “It’s going to hard to divide time between Charity and Miss Piranha.”

    Without hesitation, Zippy answered, “We should concentrate on Miss Piranha.”

    Lizzy nodded, “That goes without saying.”

    As they turned a corner, Zippy noticed something and brightened up: At the far end of the hall, Stitchy was walking the opposite direction with two other girls. They were all laughing and chatting and having a good time, teasing each other as girls do. The other two girls weren’t member of the Guild, however.

    Zippy smiled: She’s being accepted. Stitchy was branching out and making friends of her own. It was probably inevitable, with Stitchy’s infectious personality, but it made Zippy feel good that her creation was able to overcome her strange appearance and giant size and still interact socially.

    Good for you, girl, Zippy thought. This school, unlike many others, tended to thrive on the unusual. If a giant girl covered in stitches could make friends, Zippy was sure Charity could bounce back.

    Then again, considering who her friends used to be, it would probably be a lot more difficult for her. Zippy would be lying if she said she hadn’t had the same thought Krystal did of abandoning Charity to let her soak in her fate, the girl had never been anything other then rude to Zippy and everyone else. To say nothing of the fact that she’d tried to help Cristobel in his plan to switch her head with Lizzy’s. And to tell the truth, her motivation for helping Charity wasn’t all that pure: She was relishing the chance to prove she was better then her and put a good old guilt trip on her.

    “What is that that you’re carrying?” Lizzy asked her, eyeing the papers in her hand.

    Zippy grinned mischievously, “I thought you’d never ask. It’s something I’ve been working on for Miss Gojira’s class.

    Zippy handed some of the diagrams to Lizzy who took them, looking them over curiously.

    “’Sonic Grenade Launcher’.” Lizzy read aloud.

    “It’s a small handheld device,” Zippy explained, adjusting her glasses in a scholarly fashion, “it can easily be mounted on a robot. It holds 12 ‘bullets’, which are really the sonic grenades. It should be pretty accurate, and once the grenades hit, they sent out a blast of low frequency sonic pulses that will destroy the target by sending out outward blast of sonic force.”

    “Cool.” Lizzy nodded.

    “The only problem,” Zippy admitted, “is that I don’t know how to adjust the blast radius. I don’t want to blow up the school demonstrating this.”

    “No, that would be bad.” Lizzy agreed.

    They turned a corner, and to Charity’s horror, ran into another student. Charity held her head down, letting her hair hide her as much as possible as they almost knocked over Rina as she was coming. After a several apologies on both sides, Rina looked down at Charity; she crouched behind Lizzy hopelessly attempting to hide.

    Rina cocked her head the side, “What is that? Is that a new experiment?”

    At the words, Charity dropped her head lower and began to sob again in loud pitiful sounds. Very quickly, Zippy filled Rina in on the situation while Lizzy made a vague attempt to console Charity, though her icy bland demeanor predictably got in the way.

    As soon as Rina found out what was going on, she covered her mouth with a gasp and knelt down in front of Charity. For a second, Zippy thought Rina was going to start crying too.

    “Omigosh! Charity, I had no idea.” Rina said earnestly, “I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”

    Charity said nothing and continued to cry. Rina looked her over with compassion. A compassion; Zippy noted smugly, that Charity would never have shown any of them had the situations been reversed.

    Lizzy said matter of factly, “Someone was bound to see her sooner or later. It’s not like she could just hide in her room.”

    Charity lifted her head and hissed bitterly through the tears, “Of course not! Tiffany will throw me out the minute she sees me.”

    Dropping her head again and crying, Charity moaned, “No one will want me like this. No one will want to take me in.”

    “You can stay with me.” Rina said firmly.

    “Seriously?” Zippy asked her, one eyebrow raised.

    “Sure,” Rina nodded, putting both hands on Charity’s shoulders, “There’s plenty of room. I live with Buttercup, so I’ve already got an oddly shaped roommate. And with Madoka in my head, you could hardly call me normal. It’ll be fine.”

    That was true, Zippy noted. Like most of the dorms, the one Rina occupied had only two people living it (although Rina/Madoka basically brought it up to three), despite being built to accommodate four. Zippy’s dorm was one of the few that was filled to capacity. Zippy forced down a snicker at Rina’s constant good girl act, no one polished their halo as much as her. It would be interesting to see what Madoka thought of the arrangement.

    Looking up at Rina, her huge grey eyes filled with tears, Charity stared at her in amazement.

    “Really?” She sniffed.

    “Really.” Rina told her, “We’ll go to the school office and set it up right as soon as possible.”

    Charity cried, “Why are you being so nice to me? It’s creepy!”

    A few hours later, after Charity had been taken to Mr. DeSade who promised to take a look at her, and Rina had taken her off to set up their new dorm room assignment, Lizzy Malaria was back at the grav ball court, sitting in the back as always with a large book in her lap, watching the practice game. While she still had no particular enthusiasm for the game, she had begun to understand it more, and now found herself getting a little exhilarated during the matches. Especially when concerned with one particular player: Flash Driver, who she was watching now.

    She held the book up, absurdly pretending to read while watching him play over the top of the book. She hadn’t told any of her friends that she came here, although she was sure someone had told them by now, as she felt more then a little embarrassed by it. Often she kicked herself about this minor obsession: It was stupid, she was paying attention to the same guy all the other, more popular girls did. Roughly Madame Petri’s version of the star quarterback (although Petri’s did have a football team). She kept telling herself over and over that it was ridiculous, but she couldn’t shake this insane fascination she had with him.

    He was gorgeous and in great shape, but he was also really smart and very talented academically. He had a passion for science like anyone else, and it all conspired to hold Lizzy under his sway. At this point, she was now feeling a little guilty at all the teasing she’d given Zippy about her crush on Kyle.

    Looking over the edge of her book, she saw that Flash was talking to Caleb as he usually did after the match. Was it her imagination or did he keep glancing over in this direction? She dropped her eyes to her book’s pages, irrationally worrying that he might notice her looking at him.

    Again she kicked herself for the weird fixation. She had never been into sports or athletes before. When others had been at the big game in junior high, she hung out with a few friends having a picnic at Edgar Allen Poe’s grave in Baltimore, Maryland. The mainstream had never been a her cup of blood, so why was she so fascinated with the campus idol.

    Again she peered over the edge of her book, and saw that while Caleb was going back to the lockers rooms, Flash was walking towards the bleachers. With a sudden start, Lizzy realized that he was headed in her direction. The bleachers had mostly cleared out and all the girls who had surrounded him to fawn over him had left already. She shot her eyes back to the pages, her heart hammering in her chest. What would she do?

    He must have seen someone come in through the doors; they were just to her right. She ran her eyes up and down the pages of the book, not bothering to actually read. She mimed her reading, holding up The History Of Cannibalism Vol 4 as if it were a shield. She waiting to hear him walk past her, but didn’t hear the footsteps.

    When she looked over the top of her book again, it was almost like that scene from the Nightmare At 20000 Feet episode of The Twilight Zone where Shatner opened up the airplane window to see the gremlin staring right at him, or even worse the same scene from the original story by Richard Matheson, which had always scared the **** out of her when she was a little girl. She looked up and instead of seeing him walking away or past her, he was right there looking directly at her.

    She almost screamed and resisted the urge to hide her face in the book. And then, to her utter astonishment, Flash Driver smiled at her.

    “Hi.” He said pleasantly.

    “Hah-hah-hello.” Lizzy babbled helplessly.

    He was talking to her! He was talking to her! Why was he doing that?

    “You’re name’s Lizzy, right?” He asked her, “Lizzy Malaria?”

    “Yes, my parents gave it to me.” She said.

    She made a mental note to never make fun of Zippy ever again for some of the stupid things she’d said around Kyle. She kicked herself wondering why she’d said something so retarded.

    Flash laughed, “Yeah, my parents gave me mine too. It’s Flash.”

    He thought she was joking, thank the pagan gods. Lizzy almost breathed a sigh of relief although she was still tensed up and flustered. Unlike Zippy, Lizzy had not had that much experience with guys. Sure, she’d had boyfriends in the past, but not a lot. Lizzy accepted that she was different, and that her strangeness kept most guys at arm’s length. She felt like she was strapped down in the pit with the pendulum swinging back and forth above her, getting every closer with its blade.

    “Um . . . did you want something?” She asked.

    “Well, I’ve just been noticing you showing up recently at the matches.” He told her, “You seemed kinda interesting, so I thought I’d say hello.”

    Lizzy was fairly sure she was blushing, and with her pale skin, it was fairly obvious when she did. She didn’t know how to respond at first. What did he mean by ‘interesting’? Did he mean interesting as in interested in her? Or did he mean interesting in the way a freak show or a road accident is interesting. Or was he thinking of performing an experiment on her?

    She simply said, “Why thank you, and hello.”

    “Besides, I notice your reading about my favorite subject.” He told her.


    He laughed again, “You’re funny. I like you.”

    Lizzy forced herself to laugh a little. Not easy, Lizzy Malaria was anything but funny

    He tapped the other book that was sitting in her lap: Radical Molecular Biology—Risks And Benefits by the late John Twistenbody, “No, actually, I mean molecular biology. It’s a passion of mine.

    And just like that, they were talking. Easy, relaxed, and fun talk. All of a sudden, Lizzy realized that she had just made a new friend.

    Krystal was on her way to her next class, feeling somewhat confounded by all the recent problems. Between all her classes, Miss Piranha’s illness, and Charity’s new transformation, she felt like she couldn’t have more on her plate. More and more, things at Petri’s seemed to be getting complicated, or a least more complicated then usual, and somehow she and the rest of the Shark Tank Guild tended to be right in the middle of it. The question was: What could possibly happen next. Krystal had a nagging feeling that something else was just around the corner. It could just be nerves, the anxiety brought on by extensive stress, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something else just wasn’t right at the school. As she continued walking, however, her thoughts turned to something a little more positive.

    She had been noticing, lately, at first not sure if it was her imagination or not, that boys had started to take an interest in her. Not walking up to her and asking her out or anything bold like that, but she’d been noticing that she was attracting their attention. Eyes stealthily seeking her out, taking looks at her that were more then just polite interest. For the obvious reason, very few of the male students had paid that sort of attention to her (Zippy’s brother Zach not withstanding). She was, after all, basically a transgendered female, albeit a much more complete and accurately female one.

    She knew she was pretty, and she’d noticed a few more open minded guys that had seemed to like her right off the bat. But it seemed that the more everyone got used to and accepted her as a girl, the more her male past seemed to be less of an issue to her classmates.

    She couldn’t help but smile; she had long since accepted her new gender. She would never tell her, but she had actually become rather grateful to Zippy for what she had done. For the first time, she felt she was really living her own life for once, although she feared the eventual confrontation with her father.

    And she’d be lying if she said she didn’t like the attention. She was actually hoping one of them would man up and ask her out. In the privacy of her own thoughts, she had been thinking of boys romantically and sexually for a long while. She was, without a doubt, a woman now.

    The only problem was that the guy she was most interested in, Kevin, didn’t seem to be showing that sort of interest. She had considered asking Zippy or one of the other girls for help in gaining his favor, but she hadn’t found herself ready to admit her infatuation with her best friend. One more problem she wasn’t sure how to solve.

    Suddenly, Miss Piranha was standing in front of her. She was dressed in a black vinyl strapless dress with a red latex sash abound her waist. The dress billowed out around her supported by several petticoats underneath, and made a crinkling sound as she moved. She wore black nylon stocking and her usual high stiletto heels on her feet. Krystal jumped, startled, as the teacher had seemed to appear out of nowhere. She was dressed in navy blue leather strapless dress that hugged her body like a glove and seemed to strain to contain her voluptuous curves within its confines. As she had often of late, Krystal wondered if she could pull off wearing something like that.

    “Krystal, there you are.” Miss Piranha said, her usual cheerful self.

    “Ah, Miss Piranha, you scared me.” Krystal complained.

    “Sorry.” Miss Piranha shrugged.

    Krystal was silent for a second and then spoke, “Um, listen, Miss Piranha . . . you didn’t tell me not so, so I might have told some of the others about your cancer.”

    Miss Piranha nodded, “I know. Stitchy ran up to me first thing in the morning and grabbed me and hugged me so tight I thought my ribs were going to break. Wailing on and on about how she wouldn’t let me die.”

    She made a sad half smile, “She said you guys are working on a cure. Is that true?”

    Suddenly feeling numb, all Krystal could do was nod.

    “I appreciate it, but no one here has ever been able to cure cancer. What makes you think you can do it?”

    “No one here was ever been able to create something like Stitchy, but we did it.”

    Miss Piranha’s mouth tuned up in a smile, “That’s so true. If I can’t believe in my little Frankensteins, then who can I believe in?”

    “Did you want something?” Krystal asked after a pause.

    “Oh, I almost forgot!” Miss Piranha snapped her fingers, “Mr. Innsmouth wanted to see you in his office.”

    Krystal made a face: If Mr. Innsmouth wanted to see you, it was never anything good. The Vice Principle was certainly not in the habit of praising students for a job well done.

    “What’s it about?” Krystal asked.

    The teacher shrugged, “I don’t know, he just asked me to come get you.”

    Wordlessly Krystal followed Miss Piranha as the teacher led her to the administration area of the school. As they walked, Miss Piranha gleefully made conversation, mostly dealing with how well Krystal was adjusting to her new gender. She asked a lot of questions, like what kind of clothes did Krystal like, what kind of skirts or dresses she preferred and the like. She even began probing her romantic inclinations, asking what sort of boys Krystal liked. Krystal found she had very little trouble responding, citing the various traits she had begun to find attractive in boys of late. She stopped short of admitting who she was attracted to.

    They arrived at Mr. Innsmouth’s office and Miss Piranha opened the door and went in first. As the entered, Krystal could hear voices on the other side. As soon as she went in, her heart leapt into her mouth and her blood turned to ice in her veins.

    Her parents were here.

    Her mother, Constance Bell, sat primly in a chair in front of Mr. Innsmouth’s desk. She was dressed immaculately in an expensive dark navy blue suit dress, and designer high heeled shoes. She had her hands folded neatly in her lap, her fingers decorated with diamond and silver rings, each one more spectacular then the last. She was a beautiful woman, as pretty as expensive plastic surgery could buy, with long brown hair that was tied behind her head in a French braid, its streaks of grey carefully colored out. Her long thin face was taunt and her lips pursed seriously.

    Her father, Artemis Bell, however was on his feet. He was dressed in a luxurious Armani suit, a fine silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. On his feet wore a highly polished pair of Berluti shoes, gleaming slightly in the low light of Innsmouth’s office. Her father had chiseled, distinguished features, being possessed of a long face and strait hair brushed back and immaculately moussed in place. His hair was streaked through out with grey but retained a little of its original brown color. Unlike his wife, Artemis Bell had never bothered coloring his hair, nor his goatee style beard that was also heavily streaked with grey. His face was slightly pink as he angrily shouted at the seated Vice Principle.

    For his part, Mr. Innsmouth sat at his desk, his hand in front of him with his fingers interlocked. In a stark contrast to Mr. Bell’s hot headed anger, Innsmouth regarded them both with a cold icy detachment. You couldn’t miss the fact that he felt this whole meeting was a waste of his time. He looked over his hands eyeing Krystal’s father with barely disguised contempt as he ranted at him.

    “This is preposterous and absolutely unforgivable!” Mr. Bell shouted, “I did not pay you to have my son stripped of his masculinity!”

    “Calm yourself, Mr. Bell.” Mr. Innsmouth said smoothly, “You were notified of the transgender transformation of you son months ago. I wonder why it is only now that you have decided to show up and complain.”

    “I have had important business to attend to!” Mr. Bell snapped.

    “More important then your child, apparently.” Innsmouth said.

    “That’s not the point! The point is he was sent here to receive and education so he could take over the family eventually. I can’t give that honor to a daughter; it is a man’s task! You had no right to let this happen to him.”

    “You were apprised of the nature of our school, Mr. Bell, were you not? I believe you attended here yourself, as did most of your forbearers. Radical changes can occur to the students here, it’s the nature of unrestrained science. If you were afraid of that happening, you shouldn’t have enrolled your son.”

    “’Radical changes’? You emasculated him! This is the sort of thing that should happen to OTHER students here, not the scion of the Bell family.”

    Viewing him incredulously, Mr. Innsmouth simply sighed. Miss Piranha took advantage of the break in the conversation to speak. Krystal, for her part, would have been happy to go on unnoticed. She even felt to urge to hide behind Miss Piranha like a little girl.

    “Mr. Innsmouth, I’ve brought Krystal like you asked.” Miss Piranha announced.

    Krystal’s mother turned her head first and gasped when she saw Krystal, putting one hand to her mouth in surprise. Hey eyes were wide, but there was something unreadable in her expression that Krystal couldn’t quite interpret. The shock in seeing the girl who was once her son was obvious, but Krystal couldn’t quite see how she really felt about it on the face of her mother.

    There was no mistaking the expression on her father’s face, however. His face turned from pink to red, and he glared at her in fury and contempt. The Bell family was old in its traditions, and still held the rule that only males could inherit title and estate. In his eyes, Cristobel’s transformation in Krystal was the most miserable failure imaginable.

    “What the hell is this?” Mr. Bell roared, pointing a shaking finger in Krystal’s direction, “This is what you’d hand me in place of my son. A weak female? I demand that she be removed from this school. My wife and I will produce a new male heir. This woman is nothing to me! I reject any association with her, my son is dead! And that’s it.”

    It felt, in a very real way, like Krystal had been stabbed through the heart. She had been dreading this moment for months. And it hurt just a badly as she had feared. Her father had dominated her life for as long as she could remember. She had always sought his approval and sanction in everything she had done as Cristobel. His rejection of her, though expected, seared at her like scalding water. Her mouth dried up and she felt like a yawning abyss was opening up beneath her. She could say nothing as he screamed at her.

    Behind her, she heard Miss Piranha gasp in shock. Krystal realized that Miss Piranha was unfamiliar with her home life drama and the situation with her family.

    Levelly, Mr. Innsmouth told him, “Mr. Bell, I believe you are familiar with the contract you signed. You’re offspring is enrolled at this school until she graduates, you cannot simply pull her out and send her to some charm school. Also, you have been informed by post that Cristobel Bell has had his identity legally reassigned as Krystal Bell, your daughter. You cannot simply declare her dead just because it is convenient for you.”

    There was a small pause as her father digested this, and then he replied with a huff, “Alright, fine. If I’m stuck with another daughter, I’ll just disown her. Simple as that. No point in anything else, she can’t inherit my title, and I can’t marry her off to increase the strength of the family, no one would take a wife who used to be a man. In any event, I will not let this girl back into my house; the shame would be too much. Maybe you can hire her as a janitor after she graduates so she’ll have free room and board.”

    Pain beginning to give way to anger, Krystal felt herself begin to tremble. Her mother, ever docile and obedient, clapped her hand over her mouth but made no other sound or movement. Suddenly, Krystal felt Miss Piranha’s hands on her shoulders.

    “She can stay with me!” Miss Piranha declared, “If Krystal needs a roof over her head she can come live with me, I’ll take her in.”

    Of course, with the patents in her name for the various inventions she’d been a part of, Krystal actually had quite a bit of her own money that was not connected to the Bell family fortune. The tissue regenerator alone probably generated enough funds for her to buy her own place. Just the same, she wanted to kiss her teacher at that moment.

    “How very generous of you, Miss Piranha.” Mr. Innsmouth said drolly.

    “Fine, as long I don’t have to deal with her.” Her father snorted, “Let’s see how far she gets without the Bell family to hold her up. It’s what she deserves for letting this happen to her.”

    Shaking now with rage, Krystal felt torn apart, like she had been shredded from the inside out. But she held her ground, furious and determined.

    For the first time in her life, she raised her voice to her father.

    “I don’t care about your money!” She said sharply.

    “What are you babbling about, woman?” Mr. Bell asked, clearly finding the idea absurd.

    “You heard me!” Krystal said icily, “I don’t care about your lousy money! I don’t care about your worthless title, either. All I really ever wanted was my father. I guess I shouldn’t have cared about him either!”

    Angrily, Krystal turned on her heels and stormed out of the room, not noticing that her father looked like he’d been slapped. He hadn’t expected that. Miss Piranha glared at him fiercely and then turned and followed Krystal.

    “Wretched excuse for a man.” She muttered as she left.

    With a certain amount of bemusement, Mr. Innsmouth regarded Artemis Bell.

    “I believe you know the way out, Mr. Bell?”

    Krystal stalked down the hallway putting on a brave face. She still had a problem with people seeing her cry. Although it was more acceptable as a girl, she still didn’t like to show too much weakness. She didn’t like to seem vulnerable. She kept her head up and kept walking, trying her damndest to look like nothing was wrong. Inside, she was in complete turmoil.

    At first, anger flared in her at Zippy for the first time in a while. If Zippy hadn’t turned her into a chick, then she’d still have her father’s support. But no, that dissipated right away: If Zippy hadn’t done this, she’d still be a slave to her father’s will. She was better off the way she was now, she knew that deep down in her bones, as strange as it might sound. Her anger then turned more appropriately to her father. Her father whose archaic notions and prejudice had practically ruined her as a guy, and continued to grind at her now. She had accomplished great things here at Petri’s, many of them after her transformation. And all he could see was that she had breasts now.

    It was true, loosing her title and fortune had hurt, but it had also freed her up to be her own person for the first time ever. When she thought about it, as Cristobel her life had been nothing but stress and anger, and fear. Fear of her father, fear of disappointing him in even the slightest way and tarnishing the Bell family name and all the well laid plans his father had made for him. As Krystal, she felt calmer, more focused, and more at peace. And happier, she admitted, much happier. It had been his complete rejection of her, completely disowning her entirely that had really hurt the most.

    She’d been expecting this, but it hurt just the same. She’d been disowned, and now she no longer had any claim to her family title. She had no father.

    The black pit of despair, illogical in its way, that came with that last thought was almost too much for her. She broke down and started crying. By the time she got back to her dorm, she was completely in tears. She got to the dorm room and opened the door, hoping to be alone with her misery.

    Instead she found Zippy and Stitchy sitting around tossing ideas back and forth for the cancer cure. From the looks on their faces, it wasn’t going very well. There were also a lot of notes and references to something Stitchy had come up with involving ball lightening for Miss Gojira’s class. The both looked up as Krystal entered. She must have looked pretty bad because Zippy instantly stood up. Stitchy actually gasped.

    “Oh no, Krystal, what happen?” Stitchy asked concern.

    Krystal opened her mouth to say something, and then just fell onto the bed between the two of them, sobbing uncontrollably. Stitchy put a massive arm around her and Krystal found herself falling against the giant girl’s shoulder. In an instant it all came flooding out of her and she told them both what had happened, the words gushing out of her mouth as fast as the tears from her eyes. When she and finished she felt Zippy squeeze her hand. It was a simple gesture, but Krystal felt grateful for it just the same.

    She looked at Zippy’s face and saw that it was aghast, her mouth open and her eyes wide. And there was that trace guilt that Krystal always noticed whenever Zippy was reminded that her actions had cost Krystal more then just her previous gender. The funny thing was, Cristobel would never have understood that feeling. Krystal did all too well.

    “I knew he was going to remove your title and claim, but to cut you off entirely?” Zippy almost whispered, “That’s insane! I can’t believe he’d do that.”

    “Yeah, well, he did.” Krystal sobbed glumly.

    Zippy put her arms around her and hugged Krystal tight, “Oh, Krystal, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”

    Krystal hugged her back, happy for the affection and concern of her friends. No, even were it possible to change back, she knew she would never take it. Her life was so much better now that she was Krystal. She would have to go on without her family. She had the best friends in the world, the realized.

    Stitchy stood up, angry and irritated, her face tinged with indignation.

    “Nasty, mean Mr. Bell! He make Krystal cry!” She declared in fury, “Stitchy mad!!!!”

    “No, Stitchy will not smash.” Zippy admonished her.

    “That not what Stitchy meant, mom.” Stitchy rolled her eyes, “Stitchy think he no good father. Mean Mr. Bell no deserve Krystal.”

    After a while, Krystal managed to calm down. The pain was still raw, but she was managing. She bit her lip; first Miss Piranha, now this. What a horrible two days this had been. Glancing over at Stitchy, she invariably began to think of Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein, loosely based on the experiments of the real scientist, whom Shelly had met at some point. She’d read the book several times, but always had the notion that something about it eluded her. Thinking about it, she realized she had never quite realized that the true horror of the story wasn’t the monster himself, but rather Frankenstein’s treatment of it. Everyone knew the monster wasn’t evil, just misunderstood, but she had never quite pinpointed the truth of it. She sighed heavily as she realized that the true monster of the novel was Frankenstein’s rejection of his ‘child’ when it didn’t turn out to be what he’d expected. Now, sitting here without a family, even surrounded by friends, Krystal felt she now finally knew how the monster felt.

    Hatred brewed in her for her father, for everything he constantly put her through. She began to think of changing her name. If she was going to be disowned, then why not? Maybe she should move in with Miss Piranha? Hell, maybe she should change her name Krystal Piranha? No, that sounded like a song from the 60s.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Stitchy bounded over and opened the door. The door swung open to reveal the well dressed form of Constance Bell, standing with her purse held in front of her. She began greet politely, but flinched when she saw Stitchy.

    “Hello . . . Ah!” She gasped, before composing herself, “You must be Stitchy.”

    “I Stitchy.” Stitchy nodded, proudly as always.

    Krystal stood up, surprised, “Mother?”

    “Hello Cris . . . Krystal.” Her mother said curtly, “I managed to sneak away from your father; while he’s here he’s still trying to conduct business with the school board members. May I come in?”

    There was a bit of a pause where Krystal contemplated telling her to go to hell. When she saw that her father was not with her, she got curious, and nodded. Stitchy stepped aside, but eyed Mrs. Bell with suspicion, as if she was ready to pick the woman up and physically toss her out of the room at the slightest hint she’d hurt Krystal, which probably wasn’t far from the truth. Mrs. Bell entered the room giving a polite greeting to Zippy and then reached into her pricey hand bag and removed something, handing it to Krystal.

    “These are for you.” She told her.

    Krystal turned the two objects over in her hand. They were hair barrettes, expensive and high quality but really not that different from any other pair that Krystal had bought since she’d become a girl. That is, until she noticed the unmistakable lion and serpent crest of the Machevilli family.

    “This is your family crest, isn’t it?” Krystal asked her mother.

    Constance Bell nodded, “I have a pair just like it. So does your grandmother, and so does your sister. And now, I’d like you to have some.”

    Not quite knowing how to react to that, Krystal just stared at her mother. Constance turned her head and peered out the doorway into the hall, as if looking for someone.

    She’s looking for father, Krystal realized, making sure he’s not following her.

    Her mother turned back to her and then let out a high pitched excited squeal that shocked everyone in the room. She grabbed Krystal and gave her a huge tight hug that knocked the wind out of her daughter.

    “Oh, Krystal!” She squealed, “You’re so pretty and so cute! You’re just adorable! I always wanted another daughter!”

    Krystal was struck speechless; she’d never hear her mother get so excited about anything. For fifteen minutes strait, Constance Bell gushed on and on about her daughter’s hair and face and make up and clothes, punctuated with excited compliments about how beautiful she was. All Krystal could do was endlessly mutter ‘thank you’.

    Stitchy leaned over to Zippy and whispered, “She seem nice. Why she married to mean Mr. Bell?”

    Calming herself a bit, Mrs. Bell put her hands on her daughter’s shoulders, “I want you to know, I love you no matter what. Son or daughter, that will always be true.”

    It slipped out of Krystal’s mouth, “Father doesn’t.”

    Constance’s face darkened and her eyes saddened, “I know he said some horrible things to you. But deep down inside, he loves you. One day, you’ll realize that. One day, he will too.”

    Krystal didn’t believe that for a second, “I think you’re giving him too much credit. I know your marriage to him was arranged by your families to strengthen political ties. Are you trying to say that you really love him?”

    Bluntly, Constance answered, “I don’t know. But I don’t think he’s completely unredeemable. You’ll see, I’ll talk him out of disowning you entirely. I don’t think I can get him to put you back in the will and restore your title, but I can talk him out of kicking you out of the house and family entirely.”

    “I don’t know about that.” Krystal said doubtfully.

    “You’ll see.” Constance smiled, “I’ll bet I can even get him to come to the Atom Smasher’s Ball.”

    “What?” Krystal exclaimed incredulous, “No way would he come to that for me.”

    Zippy was confused, “Wait, I’m sorry, what is this Atom Smasher’s Ball?”

    Krystal told her, “It’s this big formal ball they throw every year at Petri’s for the students and their parents. It’s a really big thing, all done up in splendor. Kind of like a prom, sort of.”

    Stitchy raised her eyebrows, “Stitchy surprised you no know about it, Mom. Everyone talk about it. Even though it a long way off towards end of semester.”

    Zippy rubbed her chin, “I didn’t know they had something like that here. Wow, I’m going to need to get a dress for this.”

    A wide grin appeared on Mrs. Bell’s face, “Krystal, you don’t have to worry about a dress, I’ve more then taken care of that.”

    She then leaned over conspiratorially to her daughter, “I had my assistant buy you a whole a lot of new outfits and had them brought up here without your father knowing about it. I’m sure you’ll find something appropriate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my husband.”

    She turned with one more loving look at Krystal; she tuned and walked towards the door. As she did she stopped to look at Stitchy, who now looked at her with less suspicion.

    She looked her up and down, and then said, “Amazing. What a fantastic achievement. And what an amazing woman you are, Stitchy.”

    Stitchy blushed a little, “Thank you.”

    And with that, she left the room with another glance back at her stunned daughter. Krystal said nothing for a long moment. Her mind was racing; she’d always seen her mother as a dutiful slave to her father, probably because that what she’d been told all women should be. It was surprising to see her sneaking around his back, and manipulating his will. Plus her heart was pounding, maybe all was not lost. So, her father had rejected her; but her mother hadn’t. Well, it was something. All of a sudden she remembered the comment about the clothes.

    Frowning, she walked over to the large wardrobe closed that flanked her bed. She flung open the doors and was astonished to find it STUFFED with expensive new clothes. So much so that it looked like the wood might crack at any moment.


    Having finished up his business, Artemis Bell was irritated when it was difficult to find his wife. She was, after all, his, and should be making herself available to him whenever he needed her. When he finally found her she gave him some womanish story about walking around in the gardens. He was irritated and angry still, so he silently took her along with him as they left the school. They were walking now down the hallway that led to the main entrance

    He was livid at this new administrator’s treatment of him. Really, first they take his only son from him, the only one who could become his heir and take over the family, and then they try to force him to accept that . . . girl as his son. How dare they, didn’t they realize who he was? How much he supported this school? And they’d try to make him take that girl who had replaced his son. Well, she sure wasn’t his son any more, he told himself.

    And he kept telling himself that. Over and over, repeatedly. Because for all his resolve and belief in the family tradition of male only leadership, that girl’s out burst had stung him. Deeper then he would like to admit or had even expected. As much as he tried not to, his mind kept drifting back to her anguished but determined face as she stared him down. Cristobel had never stood up to him like that, and he had frankly worried that because of that, maybe he didn’t have the metal to continue the family.

    But when that Krystal girl had stood up to him and delivered her brief but fiery statement, well, a nagging thought kept popping up in the back of his mind that maybe she was still capable, maybe even more so now then before, of fulfilling his legacy.

    Ridiculous, he chided himself. She was a female and women were not suited to play in men’s arenas. This was not his son anymore; she was just another female in dire need of taming by a strong man.

    But her words continued to haunt him: ‘I just wanted my father. I guess I shouldn’t have cared about him either!’. Delivered with Cristobel’s all too familiar patterns of speech. For all her long hair and curvy body, he could still see him in there, though he consistently tried to deny it. He shook it off, no, that was not right. It’s just an illusion, and that was not his son. You shouldn’t care so much about what she said to you.

    But you do care, a nagging voice spoke up in the back of his head. You do care because she’s still your child and you love her.

    He tried to quiet it, but it continued to speak. The specter of her and what she’d said should have simply irked him in its brazenness, but it wounded him in ways that he couldn’t quite conceive. That nagging thought that she was still his, that she was still his offspring continued to play itself out. He wondered what might happen to her now that he’d disowned her. He found himself worrying: Would she be able to make it, would she fail and end up on the street. Suddenly, the image of that girl who used to be his son, destitute and alone, sputtered into his mind. It was silly, of course, to worry about some woman, but he kept doing it. He tried telling himself that Miss Piranha would take her in, and then wondered why it was so important to him. And still, he found this nagging worry as to her fate.

    Whatever happened, she would hate him for doing this to her, he realized. A nagging pit of despair opened up in his stomach which he couldn’t fight off. Guilt, a feeling usually alien to him, rose its tormenting head in his mind. It hurt, he realized, more then he thought possible, that she would hate him; that his own flesh and blood would resent him now. And it was his fault; he had made her do so. The tiny voice rose up in his mind again.

    What have I done?

    “You unimaginable bastard!”

    The voice, which seemed for a moment to be responding to his own thoughts, had come from Miss Piranha, who stood in front of him with her arms folded over her ample chest. She glared at him with a cold fury. He had been so wrapped up in his thoughts that he hadn’t even noticed her standing there. She was dressed as she had been before with the black strapless vinyl dress and red sash. Her eyes were filled with contempt and her mouth was curled into a snarl.

    “I beg your pardon,” Mr. Bell recovered and faked indignation, “Do you know who I am?”

    “Yes, you’re the arrogant bastard who just disowned your child just because she didn’t turn out exactly the way you wanted.” She snorted, pointing a finger at his chest and pushing in there, “Let me tell you something, you son of a *****; you don’t deserve Krystal. Yeah, that’s right. Krystal has accomplished more and done better work then she ever did as Cristobel. She was part of the creation of the first composite reanimate since the days of Frankenstein. She is one of my most promising students, and you don’t want her. Why not? For lack of a Y chromosome? That’s preposterous. You hurt her, you bastard; you hurt her quite a bit. Despite how you always treated him, she still respects you. And all you could do was toss her away like a bag of garbage.”

    “W-we have certain standards in the Bell family . . .” He began.

    “Yeah, so I hear. And suddenly nothing Krystal ever accomplishes will be good enough for you, just because she’s a girl?” Miss Piranha glowered, “I guess it’s not like it ever was before. Krystal is better now then she was. When she was Cristobel, I think he lacked compassion entirely. As Krystal, she’s developed a keen sense of friendship and camaraderie. She values people now, for the first time ever.”

    Mr. Bell sneered, “So she’s getting weak and soft? Just like a woman.”

    “Compassion is not weakness.” Miss Piranha declared, “And ignoring it is not strength.”

    “Whatever.” Mr. Bell shrugged, “Apparently she’s your problem now.”

    “I gladly accept that,” She paused as if considering her words carefully, and then said, “Recently, I was at my lowest point. A personal crises brought me as far down as I’d ever been. Do you know what Krystal did? She blew off something that was very important to her, something she’d been looking forward to, and spent the whole night with me.”

    Behind him, Mrs. Bell’s eyes widened and a smile appeared on her face. A look of pride came over her at hearing of her daughter’s actions.

    Mr. Bell paused and then said, “Did you have a point, Miss Piranha.”

    She stared at him with disbelief in her eyes, and then turned and walked away, shaking her head in disgust.

    “Wretched excuse for a man.” She muttered as she left.

    He continued towards the main entrance, pretending it hadn’t affected him and making like he was blowing her off. But his insides were still in torment, and the well of guilt and remorse was threatening to widen into a chasm that could swallow him up. Why was he still so concerned about this girl that had replaced his son? All attempts to dismiss his feelings were failing.

    Behind him, a small smile appeared on Constance Bell’s face. She could tell that chinks were appearing in her husband’s armor. Maybe for the first time ever.

    Suddenly the Bell’s inner thoughts were once again interrupted by the sudden appearance of a gigantic girl in a school uniform appearing in front of them. She held both hands on her hips angrily and glared down at Mr. Bell with anger and fury on her face. Mr. Bell’s eyes widened: This girl was like something out of a horror show, almost seven feet tall; her skin was covered with an intricate network of stitches like she had been pieced to together. Huge metal bolts stuck out of her neck, and she glared down at him with two mismatched green and blue eyes. Everything about her huge massive form radiated power.

    Oh my god, it’s her! It’s Stitchy, that massive Franken girl that everyone’s was talking about.

    The one your daughter helped create, the voice in his head said.

    He backed up, his heart hammering in fear as all the blood drained out of his face. She could easily crush him in one blow, and she looked absolutely furious.

    “Mean Mr. Bell make Krystal cry.” Stitchy sneered down at him contemptuously.

    Unconsciously, Mr. Bell was putting himself between Stitchy and his wife, a rare display of chivalry on his part that more came out of instinct then any real rational thought. His thoughts were simply fearful as he braced himself for the blow. Instead, Stitchy leaned in close, her fuming stitched together face inches from his.

    “Stitchy no like you.” She said simply.

    Sticking out her chin with a ‘humph’, she then turned on her heels and walked away, leaving Mr. Bell to do nothing except listen to the sound of his heart and breathe and long sigh of relief. After getting himself together while students around him giggled and chortled at his expense, he led his wife out of the school.

    It was almost an hour before his heart finally stopped hammering in his chest.

    Back in the spa, Krystal had taken a break to get some much needed relaxation. Between Charity and her father, this day had been taxing, both mentally and emotionally, and it was only halfway done. She shuddered to think what could happen next. But for now, she just needed to take it easy. She sat naked on the edge of the hot tub, letting her feet dangle into steadily warming water. She felt like she was bubbling up on the inside as well, feelings of depression swirled with feelings of anger and loss after the events of the last two days. It was hard to put it all together in her mind, harder still to reconcile it all in the future.

    She looked down at her nude body and smiled a little. There was no way of getting around it, she liked her new body. She was absolutely sure that if given the chance, she’d never go back to being the way she was. Despite getting disowned by her family, she realized that things were better now, that she was much happier as Krystal then she ever had been. Kevin was right, getting out from under her father’s thumb was the best thing that could ever have happened to her. But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt, hurt in ways that were almost impossible to describe.

    So what now? She had plenty of money of her own, she’d be alright. Miss Piranha was offering her a place to live when she wasn’t at the school, so there was that. She could easily buy her own place, that wasn’t a problem. But Miss Piranha was dying, and Krystal was not confident at all in their ability to save her. A dark cloud seemed to settle over her as her thoughts turned towards her teacher. It was almost impossible to imagine Miss Piranha, always so vibrant and full of life, being eaten away by something like cancer. The full horror of it gnawed at her stomach.

    She bit her lip in determination: No, she couldn’t let that happen. To hell with her father, this was more important.

    Krystal looked up as a figure entered the room. She was surprised to see Miss Piranha strolling into the spa. She was naked, like Krystal, with her rounded voluptuous curves well displayed. Krystal felt herself blush a little; despite being familiar with her own woman’s body, the sight of a naked woman still embarrassed and excited her. And Miss Piranha was stunningly beautiful, and wore her nudity as well as she wore those fetish dresses she always had on. Krystal was pretty sure she was swinging both ways in her new form.

    “Hi,” Miss Piranha waved as she approached, “Mind if I join you, Krystal.”

    Krystal shrugged, “Go ahead.”

    Coming over right next to her, Miss Piranha sat down on her left and slipped her feet into the hot tub. She closed her eyes for a second, enjoying the soothing feelings and then turned to look at her student.

    “How’re you holding up?” She asked her, concerned.

    Krystal sighed, hunching her shoulders, “Alright, I guess. I mean, I was expecting this but it still hurt. Worse then I thought it would. Guess I’m not as tough as I thought.”

    “Miserable bastard, I can’t believe he did that to you.” Miss Piranha scoffed.

    “Believe me, I can.” Krystal replied darkly.

    After a pause, she added, “Were you serious when you said you want me to come live with you?”

    Miss Piranha nodded, “Absolutely. You’ve been there for me, I should do the same. I know you don’t need it, it’s not like you’re in danger of being homeless. But I guess what I mean is you won’t be alone. If you want to come stay at my place, your more then welcome. We can party, and play clue, whatever you want.”

    Somehow, Krystal had never pegged Miss Piranha as board game enthusiast, “That does sound like fun. My family . . . I was raised to think that men were always the leaders, that women couldn’t accomplish anything on their own. Daughters were only good for marrying off to strengthen family ties. That’s the way my family has been for ever. Now, suddenly I found myself as a girl, and I realized everything I’ve ever been brought up to believe is a lie. I wanted to hate my parents for that, but, I guess I can’t entirely. Everyone has been saying, and their right, that getting out from under my father’s thumb was the best thing that could have happened to me. Zippy’s surgery basically cut the cord and let me live for myself for a change. I just wish my father could accept me like this.”

    Pausing a bit, a warm smile appeared on Miss Piranha’s face.

    “You like being a girl, don’t you?” She declared.

    “I do. I really do. I love being a girl, actually.” Krystal nodded.

    It was the first time she had openly admitted that, although she really didn’t have to.

    Krystal went on, “I love all the pretty clothes, and the girl talk, and all my friends, and all the attention from boys. I’m sure it’s all the hormones, but I really love boys now.”

    Miss Piranha laughed heartily, “Were on the same page with all of that.”

    They both laughed and then they were quiet for a second.

    Krystal turned to her a little guardedly, “How are you holding up?”

    Sighing and turning her eyes to frothing bubbling water, Miss Piranha replied, “I’ll tell you, I’ve never been so scared in my whole life. Sometimes, it’s just horrible. But, I have hope now. Thanks to you everyone else. Thank you for everything, Krystal, you were really there for me when I needed you.”

    “I’ll still be if you need me again.” Krystal said without hesitation.

    “Thank you so much.” Miss Piranha replied, and then gave her one of her patented bear hugs.

    She wrapped her arms around Krystal and pulled her tight, squeezing her hard like so always did. This time, however, since they were both naked, it was even more uncomfortable then usual. Krystal felt her face grow hot as Miss Piranha squeezed her head into her ample bosom, laying her head on top of hers with her usual over affectionate charm.

    She finally let her go and then slid into the bubbling water of the hot tub, “Oh, this feels so good. It’s been a while since I took a dip.”

    Krystal slid into the tub next to her, letting the warm water bubble around her. As before the swirling bubbles seemed to wash away all her problems for a bit, relaxing her and soothing her body. She glanced over at Miss Piranha, who sat with the water all the way to her neck, her eyes closed blissfully. Looking at her, Krystal felt a strong determination to save her. But she had no idea how they would do that.

    Again despair threatened to swallow her up. Would she go stay with Miss Piranha, only to watch her whither away and die? The thought was almost too painful to bear.

    The future, once a clear pre planned path laid out in front of her in a strait line, was now filled with uncertainty and doubt, endless potential rubbing shoulders with the haunting specter of tragedy and failure.

    The school library was as quiet as ever as the group sat at a long table in the middle. There was no talking; only the quiet turning of pages as they sat around the large stack of books and papers stacked up haphazardly on table. Present were Zippy, Lizzy, Stitchy, The Farrell Twins, Kyle, and Kevin. Eve was also there, hanging upside down from column next to the table. They were all working on the same project, a cure for Miss Piranha’s cancer. To anyone looking at their long drawn faces and bloodshot eyes, it was obvious that they hadn’t had much luck in even finding a place to start.

    Not that there were many people to see them, the only other people in the library at this hour were the school librarian Mrs. Lovecraft, who sat at her desk near the entrance going through some computer files. She was dressed in a plain grey dress with a bow at the collar and round hat on her head like something out of the 1920s. She had a long face and narrow dark eyes that peered out behind small rectangular glasses. There were also her two assistants; the Poe Twins, Lenore and Annabel Lee, who were bringing over more books that the group had asked for. They dressed all in old fashioned gothic clothes with the long black lace covered billowing dresses. Both sisters had fair skin and black hair that they tied behind their head in a bun that matched their wide dark brown eyes.

    Lenore dropped a few more books off and then scurried off to help her sister, her long dress crinkling as she moved away. The group looked exhausted and glum as they stared down at the material. Some of the books were from the hidden library (although most of the group didn’t know that as Zippy had still kept its existence a secret), but even that didn’t seem to be helping. Zippy sat next to Kyle, comfortably and familiarly, their chairs pushed close together and his and around her shoulders. Across from them, Krystal sat with Kevin, but casually. As Annabel Lee dropped off another few books, Kyle furrowed his brow.

    He leaned forward, “Maybe we’re looking to the past too much here. Maybe we should be looking at something more recent?”

    “What do you mean?” Zippy asked.

    “Well, our biggest problem is how much time Miss Piranha has,” He said, “I think we could modify Krystal’s tissue regenerator to repair the damage done by the cancer. Keep the malignancy from getting too much of a foothold. That would give us a little more time to look for a way to eradicate the cancers cells themselves.”

    Krystal straitened up, “You know, I think we can modify it that way.”

    She grabbed a piece of paper and began writing down a few notes before adding, “But a lot of the cells are going to be too far gone to repair.”

    Zippy suggested, “Well, while were thinking of Krystal; we could used the gene splicing techniques that Lizzy and I used on her to fix even more of the cells. That would slow the progress of the cancer, at least for a bit. I think we can come up with a way to use the tissue regenerator to deliver it, so both would be used at the same time. I’m pretty sure I know how we can do that, though we’re gonna have to build a new tissue regenerator from the ground up.”

    “It doesn’t sound like it would be very much.” Nadjia speculated.

    Zippy slowly shook her head, “No, it wouldn’t be by very much.”

    Again the gloom cloud seemed to settle over the students. Stitchy had been uncharacteristically silent the whole time, but she was hardly idle; she was deep in thought, her large hand rubbing her chin as she turned over possibilities within her purloined brain. A book lay open in front of her, and a sheet of paper lay to her left on which her other hand tapped a pencil without writing. Her hand slipped from her chin and down to her neck and she began to idly finger the bolts in her neck as she was prone to do whenever concentrating. Everything was going on in her brain as she listened to the other suggestions.

    Finally she spoke, “If necrosis of cells is problem. Perhaps we just bring them back to life?”

    Everyone looked at her, questioningly.

    Stitchy went on, “Stitchy been looking at Mom’s notes about how Stitchy was created. Reagent that help create Stitchy is perfectly bondable with gene splicing techniques Mom talking about. We could reverse damage in many of Miss Piranha’s cells, so we fight back cancer until we can find permanent solution.”

    When she saw that not everyone was getting what she meant, she explained, “We build new tissue regenerator like Mom and Krystal say. But we also equip it deliver reagent to cells that are beyond repair. It no be perfect, many cells be still too dead to bring back, but it severely retard cancer’s progress. If we give Miss Piranha regular treatment, cancer find it hard to get foothold. Keep her alive longer; give us better chance of finding solution.”

    Everyone looked at one another, it seemed plausible.

    Kevin said, “You know, I think that just might work.”

    Lizzy replied, “It’s no cure, but it’s a starting point. We’ll need to commandeer a lab to ourselves for the duration of the project. I can’t see Miss Piranha giving us any reason not to. This is the best idea we have, so I say we run with it.”

    Lizzy looked over to Zippy for approval, as every so often did now, only to find their de facto leader grinning from ear to ear as she looked at Stitchy.

    “Oh, Stitchy!” She gushed, “I’m so proud of you!”

    Stitchy blushed and looked down at her book, pleased and smiling a little. Kyle couldn’t help but glance at Zippy and chuckle a little at how his girlfriend was beaming with motherly like pride. Given the effort, he felt Zippy had every right to be proud, Stitchy had not turned out just functional, but exemplary in every way, and had exhibited a dependable, loving personality at every turn. Everyone who took the time to know her, those who could see past her huge size and rag doll like appearance, liked Stitchy. He certainly felt good for Zippy at that achievement.

    The amusing moment was interrupted by the sound of a commotion outside the door. Raised voices fill the air and a steady thumb and pound of a plethora of feet hitting the floor flowed through the library’s huge main doors and something had a large mass of students in an uproar. Looking at each other everyone, including the Poe Twins and Miss Lovecraft, ran to the entrance to see what was happening.

    When the doors were opened, they found a large group of students heading down the hall in a hurry, breathlessly chasing after something. They all looked panicked, excited, and every other emotion prevalent when something unexpected was going on, even though the unexpected was the norm here at Petri’s.

    “What’s going on?” Eve called to them.

    “She’s gonna jump!” One male student said over his shoulder.

    Zippy looked at Kyle, and then they both took off after the crowd, the rest of the group following close behind. Zippy followed the mob all the way up the North West staircase, leading to the tallest spire in the school. As she ran she became worried; she had a sickening feeling in her gut that she knew who would be up there: Miss Piranha. Had she given up? Had she lost her faith in the Shark Tank Guild’s ability to save her? Zippy bit her lip in frustration, they were on to something, and she knew it. She couldn’t bear the thought of Miss Piranha committing suicide before they had a chance to try. She hoped and prayed they could talk her out of it in time.

    She tore up the steps taking two at time, wishing she’d had some of her speed gel on her. Her heart screamed in her chest as she mounted each flight, pulling in front of the other students in her haste.

    When they got to the top balcony of the spire, Miss Piranha was indeed, there. But she was not near the ledge, instead it seemed like she was trying to stop someone else from jumping. Zippy almost breathed a sigh of relief until she realized who was on the ledge ready to end her life: Charity.

    Mrs. Variola and Mr. DeSade were also both on the balcony, and so was Rina and Buttercup. As Zippy entered, Rina turned to her, frightened and frantic.

    “Oh, Zippy!” Rina cried, “I’m so sorry, she got away from me!”

    Charity was crouched on the banister of the balcony, her three toed feet gripping it precariously. Her tail hung despondently behind her and her body shook with sobs her face turned down and away from everyone. Her arms were splayed out in eight side as she moaned and cried, teetering on the edge of the drop. All too obviously ready to throw herself off and end her life.

    “Go away!” Charity screamed at Miss Piranha, “Don’t look at me. Just go away and let me die.”

    “Please, Charity, come off of there.” Miss Piranha was coaxing, “You don’t have to do this.”

    “Yes! I do!” Charity hissed, “I’m ugly! I’m horrible! I need to end this, I can’t live like this!”

    Mr. DeSade leaned in, “Listen to reason, Charity. I promised I’d help find out what happened to you, you don’t want to end it all before I have the chance to fix it do you?”

    Katjia turned to Zippy, “I’ll get Rick!”

    Without another word, Katjia threw herself down on all fours and took off running back down the stairs, sprinting out of sight fast like a racing dog.

    Looking back a Charity, Zippy’s mind raced a mile a minute along with her heart. Charity wasn’t completely ready to die, or she would have already jumped, so there was still a chance to talk her out of it. Part of Zippy still rebelled at helping Charity in any way after all the horrible things she’d done to her, but there was no way Zippy could let her go and kill herself. Besides, she’d given her word to help her, so she would do that.

    Again, the chance to prove herself better then Charity reared its empty head.

    People were clamoring at the entrance for a view; some had come in and were trying to talk her out of jumping. All that is, Zippy noticed, except for Amber, who sat at the back of the balcony, viewing Charity with barely disguised contempt and disgust. It was hard to tell whether it was because of her actions or her new form, but Zippy glared at her hard.

    Buttercup had approached the banister, leaning her long neck over and looking up at Charity.

    “Charity, you don’t need to do this.” She told her, “It’s not the end of the world.”

    “It is for me!” Charity cried, “I can’t live like this! I can’t go on. Look at me, I’m a freak!”

    “How do you think I felt?” Buttercup countered, “I’ve been where you are when this first happened to me. But you know what? I’ve not only learned to live with it, I’ve learned to embrace it, to own it. People like you and me, we’re unique. That’s a good thing. Imagine going through life with no one ever noticing you? Come down, I can help you. I was looking forward to being roommates.”

    “No! I’m not like you!” Charity wailed, “I was born for better things. I’m meant to be beautiful, to be a leader a true scion of the Milquetoast family. I can’t be a freak like you, and can’t be ugly.”

    Amber snorted, “Go ahead and jump, no one cares.”

    Nadjia turned and growled at her furiously. When Amber scoffed at her, Nadjia leapt forward and bit her out the arm. Amber yelped in pain and turned and ran. Nadjia chased after her a bit on all fours, growling at her and baring her teeth.

    With all the attention on Charity, no one hardly even noticed the incident.

    “But you’re not ugly . . .” Buttercup started.

    Charity inched towards the edge, “Yes I am! People are staring at me everywhere!”

    At that one, Stitchy stepped forward, “People stare at Stitchy all the time. Mommy explain all to Stitchy: People stare at Stitchy because Stitchy unique, there only one of Stitchy. Charity unique too. If Charity were the same as everyone else, no one would notice her. She’d bee just one more bland face in endless crowd. Come down and let us give world something different to experience.”

    Not responding, Charity continued to cry. She looked away from them, staring down at the long drop that would end her life. She gripped her hands together, her body trembling.

    “You don’t understand.” She moaned, “I’m not like the rest of you. I’m a Milquetoast; I was born for better things. This ugly body is not becoming of my station. I can’t live like this, what would my family think if they saw me? Oh . . . god, I’m going to disappoint them. I’ll be such a failure to them.”

    She started to cry even more, and on those words, Krystal suddenly stepped forward.

    “Charity, listen to me.” She said trying her best to sound calm and soothing, “The rest of them might not be like you, but I am. You know that, I was the hope for the next generation of the Bell family. When I was changed, I thought that was it, it was all over for me. I’ve been where you are right now.”

    She paused looking around warily before continuing, “I haven’t told anyone this, but the day of my surgery . . . I put a gun to my head.”

    Zippy’s mouth dropped open, she hadn’t known about this. Again that horrible bone crushing guilt rose up in the pit of her stomach. Part of it was just the fact that Krystal had become a good friend. Sure, Cristobel had tried to do things much worse to her, but all the pain she had inadvertently caused the perfectly likeable and friendly girl Krystal had become frequently stabbed Zippy through the heart. She didn’t know if she wanted to hear this.

    Krystal sniffed a little as some tears rolled down her cheek, “I was there, in a room, with a plasma gun I’d made for a project. I had the thing right under my chin. You see, I was horrified that I was going to disappoint my parents. I knew I’d never be the son they wanted, ever. I was going to end it there, so I’d never have to live with that.”

    Again she paused, her fingers touching her mouth. It was obviously hard for her to talk about this, but she did it, to save Charity’s life. Again Zippy was impressed with the mount of compassion Krystal was now capable of.

    “And you know what happened?” She said, “I thought of something Kevin had said to me before. He said, ‘What you probably need to do, what everyone else who’s been altered here has probably done, is look forward instead of looking back: Find how to make this new body work for you.’ I mean, I was seconds away from oblivion, and that one sentence stuck to me. And it was then I knew I had to get on with my life, and I knew who to go to. Right after that I went to Zippy and asked her for help. And now . . . Zippy and Lizzy, and all my new friends are the most important thing in the world to me. Now I can be my own person, and not dependant on the approval of my parents. They don’t define who you are, Charity, you do. Please, come down, Charity, and I’ll help you make this adjustment.”

    For a few seconds, Charity stared at her. She seemed to contemplate her words, and it looked like she was about to come down. Then, something in her face changed, and she abruptly turned back toward the edge.

    “No!” She cried, “It’s not the same! You’re still human!”

    “Not to my father!” Krystal protested, “He just disowned me!”

    There was a gasp and mummer from the crowd. Charity’s eyes widened even more then they were.

    “I . . . I didn’t know that.” She said.

    Krystal cast her eyes down at the ground, “It happened this morning. He doesn’t want anything to do with me. Charity, your parents have always been supportive of you, at least they’ve been better then mine.”

    Again, there was a moment of indecision, as Charity seemed to contemplate Krystal’s words. Again, she reverted to her suicidal intentions.

    “I’m sorry, Krystal, I have to do this.” She moaned.

    “Charity!” Rick Millhouse’s voice suddenly cut through the noise.

    He ran out onto the balcony, followed shortly by Katjia, a desperate frightened look on his face. He stopped short when he saw Charity’s new form, unable to keep the shock from his face.

    “Oh my god.” He said, and instantly a look of shame crossed his face at his exclamation.

    Turning to see him, Charity’s face filled with horror. She turned away from him, covering up her face with her hands.

    “Oh god, Rick!” She sobbed, “Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me, go away! I don’t want you to see me like this!”

    But Rick had already recovered form the initial shock and was coming forward desperately, “Charity, please don’t do this. Come back down, I love you. Don’t leave me alone again, I couldn’t bear it.”

    “I have to do this, it’s the only way.” Charity insisted.

    “No, it’s not.” Rick told her, “Please, I don’t care about this, I want to be with you, and I’ll still be with you. Just don’t leave me like this. Please come down, everything will be fine.”

    For a split second, it seemed as if Charity would come down. But then, she turned her head, tears gushing from her eyes, and threw herself towards the edge.

    “I’m sorry, Rick.” She cried, and threw herself over the banister.

    “NO!” Rick shrieked.

    Rick screamed in horror and despair and ran forward, trying to grab her. Zippy had to grab and hold him to keep him from going over the side with her. Rick struggled against her, trying desperately to get to his girlfriend. Charity pitched over the edge, turning over and beginning to fall towards the ground head first.

    But then she suddenly stopped and was suspended upside down in mid air in front of the balcony . . .

    . . . because as she had jumped, Stitchy had calmly reached over and snagged Charity’s tail with one massive hand.

    “Silly Charity.” Stitchy admonished her as she held her, “If you go splat, everyone get sad.”

    Hanging upside down, Charity swung back and forth a little like a pendulum. It might have been comical had it not been for the situation, her legs were splayed in either direction, her arms and hair hanging down, her skirt hanging over her chest exposing her underwear. But on her face, things were anything but funny, she sobbed and trembled despondently.

    “I . . . I changed my mind as soon as I jumped.” She mumbled weakly.

    Stithcy brought her back over the banister and onto the balcony, but didn’t let go of her for fear she might jump again. Rick ran to her throwing his arms around her, in a way that looked absurd since she was still hanging upside down. He knelt down and kissed her, tears forming in his eyes.

    “Oh, Charity, please don’t ever do that again.” He begged her, “I love you, I love you so much. I’ve loved you since the first time I ever saw you.”

    “We were seven.” Charity said.

    Rick nodded, “I know. You moved in across the street. I remember seeing the moving van, and I knew the new neighbors were here. So I ran to the window, and there you were, standing on the porch, dressed in a blue dress and holding a large stuffed white bunny. I though you were the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. I spent so many long years loving you from afar, but you never seemed to notice me. And then, when we both went to the same school, I thought I had a chance, but you were always pining after Cristobel. When that ended, and we finally got together, I was so happy, happier then I’ve ever been. I can’t loose you now, not again, not like this.”

    “I’m not pretty anymore.” Charity moaned.

    Rick kissed her again, “You’re still pretty. Hell, you still look like yourself. I don’t care about your changes. I love you, and I’m not going to let a silly thing like a tail get in the way of that.”

    Through her tears, Charity finally began to smile. They kissed, deeply this time, again looking slightly absurd with Charity hanging upside down. As they wrapped their arms around each other, and a collective “awe” came up from the crowd, Stitchy finally let her drop and she threw herself into Rick’s arms, kissing him passionately, crying and laughing at the same time. Everyone started clapping as the couple kissed.

    Zippy let out a long sigh of relief, one she’d been holding since this had started. To tell the truth, her heart had leapt into her throat when Charity had jumped and Rick had almost jumped after her. For a second there she’d thought she was going to witness a romantic double suicide. She was glad it had turned out the way it did, and glad for Stitchy’s quick thinking and fast reflexes. She allowed herself a pat on the back for that one, as she’d been the one to give them too her. Once more she felt proud of Stitchy, that motherly pride that also made her feel like she was aging before her time.

    Mrs. Variola clapped her hands authoritatively, “Alright! Alright! Everyone please disperse, there’s nothing more to see here.”

    Reluctantly, people began to leave, still shooting glances back as Rick and Rina took Charity back to their dorm room. She’d have to undergo some psychiatric therapy with the school psychiatrist, Dr. Freudstein after this, but Zippy hoped she’d be okay. What worried her the most is Charity’s reaction now that her secrete was completely blown.

    Krystal stepped up next to Zippy and mimed wiping her brow in a sign of relief. Zippy nodded in agreement.

    After a pause, Zippy said, “Krystal, I’m sorry. I didn’t know about . . . why you almost did after the surgery.”

    With a slightly embarrassed look on her face, Krystal admitted, “That . . . wasn’t entirely true.”

    Zippy started, “What?”

    Krystal shrugged, “I was desperate to get Charity off that ledge; so I exaggerated it a little. I never actually went and got a gun. I certainly didn’t put one to my head. I . . . let’s just say I sat somewhere contemplating it.”

    She smiled but a bit of a tear still ran down her cheek. Zippy stared at her friend; maybe the gun part had been a lie, but Zippy suspected the bulk of that story had been true.

    “And Kevin’s words . . .?” She asked.

    Krystal smiled, “All true, every letter.”

    Zippy put an arm around Krystal and squeezed her shoulder, feeling a warm outpouring of affection for her. Whatever Krystal had been, she was one of Zippy’s best friends now.

    Stitchy stepped up next to her, and Zippy patted her arm.

    “Good work, Stitchy. Good work.” She said.

    She then reached over and hugged her creation around the waist. So much had happened, so much still to come, she was grateful enough for the reassuring feel of her gargantuan daughter next to her.

    But, come to think of it, there was someone else she’d like to be feeling right at this moment.

    Several hours later, with the moon high in the night sky; on a smaller, different balcony, in an entirely different spire on the opposite side of the school, Zippy pressed her lips deep on Kyle’s mouth, melting into his arms as he leaned her back and kissed her. Her hands ran over his back, rising up and tracing the length of his neck, feeling his warm skin under her fingers. His hands ran up and down her back, running over her lower waist, dancing ever so close to the border but never quite exceeding it. A teasing sensation the flowed through Zippy’s body as she seeped into her passion, the warm almost insane feelings of love pulsing in her racing heart as she made out with boyfriend.

    Her eyes were closed, and the world had seemed to cease around her. All there was left was the sensations on intimacy with the man she loved. Their lips moved deep against each other, almost exploratory in the way that they glided over each other. Zippy felt safe, secure, and very happy.

    She was glad for this time alone with Kyle, after everything that had gone on in the last few days. Not just glad, but she had really needed this. She abandoned herself to her passion, kissing him deeply and warmly.

    It seemed like it went on for hours. After a while, they finally broke the kiss.

    Kyle brushed the hair out of her eyes, “God I love you.”

    Zippy smiled, it was the first time he’d said it. She had no problem returning it.

    “I love you too.” She said, nuzzling his shoulder.

    The held each other for a long time before they began to speak again.

    “Do you think Charity will be all right?’ Kyle asked her.

    “I don’t know.” Zippy answered honestly, “I don’t even know what was done to her. We’re getting Mr. DeSade to help us out. I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I’m sure she’ll be seeing Dr. Freudstein, and he’ll be helping her out too. I’m hoping she’ll be okay.”

    Kyle grinned a little, “It seems you might be taking in another stray.”

    “Huh?” Zippy asked intelligently.

    “Like with Krystal, if Charity gets rejected by Amber, which she most certainly will, I think you’ll eventually take her into The Shark Tank Guild.” He said.

    Zippy nodded, she had considered that, “I suppose so. I mean, it could happen. It all depends on Charity. Do you really think Amber will reject her? It’s not like she’s no longer rich or anything.”

    “I’m sure of it.” Kyle said, his face darkening, “You don’t know what she’s like, Zippy. You don’t know how . . . cold and calculating she is.”

    An icy pallor seemed to fall over him, as it so often did when the subject of Amber Tiffendorf came up. Zippy knew he was hiding something, and often she wondered what Amber had done to him to cause him to regard her with such venom. The list of possibilities was damn near endless, Zippy was sure. She hadn’t ever pressed him about the details. In fact, he wasn’t very forthcoming about his past before the school, and Zippy wasn’t willing to pry.

    Zippy sighed and Kyle put his arm around her shoulder.

    “Things are just getting so cockeyed.” She mused, “Miss Piranha’s cancer, Charity, everything’s just getting complicated.”

    “I think it’s more complicated then that.” Kyle said.

    “What do you mean?”

    “People have been talking. They’ve been saying that a lot of students have been disappearing. Officially, they all supposedly are helping Madame Petri with some project. But nobody can even find out what part of the school they’re in. Like Felicia and Roger, they just upped and left.”

    “I’ve thought of that too, that something else might have happened to them.” Zippy sighed again, “And what’s also been nagging me is Madame Petri. Don’t you think it’s strange that no one ever sees her?”

    Kyle’s face darkened, “I’ve had the same suspicion. You think it might all be related?”

    “I don’t know, but it’s safe to assume . . . hey, what’s that?”

    Zippy pointed down to the moat, far away, mostly obscured by shadows, several odd looking shapes could be see crawling, almost slithering, across the ground. One by one they slipped into the moat and disappeared. They were too far away to make any visual impression of, and it was too dark, but whatever they were, they seemed strange in their movements.

    “I . . . can’t tell.” Kyle replied, leaning over and squinting into the darkness.

    Soon, all the mysterious creatures had disappeared. Kyle and Zippy looked at one another, each one asking the same silent questions. There was a sudden feeling on unease, and of nagging fear. They turned around and head back towards the doors, arms around each other; taking comfort in each other’s presence.

    Suddenly, some THING appeared out of the shadows in front of them. Zippy’s blood ran cold as the frightening visage melted out of the shadows. Red eyes stared at them unblinking through a pale gaunt face that was surrounded by falling white hair on all sides. Fear gripped Zippy’s stomach and icy fingers clawed at her spine. They both screamed in shock and jumped back, as the frightening creature came forward towards them.

    “Damnit, Eve!” Zippy admonished her as she realized who it was, “Don’t do that!”

    The pseudo vampire smiled a little, “Sorry, it’s in my nature.”

    Catching his breath, Kyle complained, “I think I almost had a coronary.”

    “Wait a second,” Zippy exclaimed, “Were you there watching us the whole time?”

    Eve blushed a little and nodded, “Yes, I was.”

    “You little perv!” Zippy chuckled, “When did you turn into a peeping tom?”

    “I needed to talk to you, and I didn’t want to disturb you.” Eve insisted.

    Kyle looked at her suspiciously, “You didn’t want to join did you.”

    Ignoring him, Eve said seriously, “I think Mr. Innsmouth may have had something to do with Charity.”

    Kyle and Zippy exchanged a glance.

    “What do you mean?” Zippy asked.

    Taking deep breath, Eve said, “I saw him, in a window in one of the other spires while Charity was on the ledge. He could clearly see her from where he was, and he was looking right at the whole thing.”

    Pausing again for effect, Eve went told them, “He turned his back on her and walked away, like he didn’t even care. Or like he’d been expecting it.”

    All right ya’ little maggots, listen up! This here is Gortcha, Madame Petri’s best guard, and I’m here to let ya’ know what’s going on next chapter, so ya’ better listen up! Next time, everyone tries to work on a cure for Miss Piranha, and to find out what happened to Charity and even manage to find time for a karaoke party while new things develop at the school that could spell doom for one of them in the next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist, “The Eleventh Experiment”.

    Eureka! I’ve got it!

  17. #17
    Junior Member Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover is a glorious beacon of light Hardcover's Avatar
    My Mood
    0 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Latest Post
    10-04-2011 04:50 AM
    User Info Thanks / Tagging Info Gifts / Achievements / Awards vBActivity Stats
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Original Fiction: Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist--The First Experimen

    It's back


    By Hardcover

    For most of the students at Madam Petri’s School For The Gifted And Eccentric, the most familiar part of Mr. DeSade’s Genetic Manipulation class was the large half circle main classroom with it old fashioned step ladder seating. However behind the door at the back of the stage area lay the teacher’s private lab and it was here that Zippy, Rina and Charity were at the moment, under the supervision of the teacher himself. In contrast to the high ceilinged teaching area, the lab was a simple rectangular construction, although done up with DeSade’s penchant for old fashioned, almost antique décor. Cutting edge equipment shared space with wooden varnished cabinets and hand crafted tables, giving the lab a feel as if the Victorian era had collided head on with the space age.

    On the large examination table in the far rear of the room, Charity sat, completely naked while the teacher ran about pulling up the results of the endless tests he had run on her. She sat on the table with her double jointed legs stretched out in front of her, supporting herself on her three fingers hands, her tail swishing behind her. Her large pupil-less eyes watched with guarded hopefulness as the Mr. DeSade went about his tasks. She felt nervous in this room, with all its reflective surfaces in which she caught glimpses of her weird freakish new form. It was made worse by the fact that she wasn’t wearing any clothes.

    She was grateful she didn’t have to go through this alone, as Zippy and Rina had agreed to accompany her. Still, it felt very strange to have her one time rivals taking such concern for her. Rina, when she was Rina, had been almost non stop in her attempts to console her and lift her spirits. Though, as always, Rick had been her most solid bit of support. How quickly her old life had been ripped out from under her. At least now she was no where near as depressed as she had been. Those days after her transformation and attempted suicide had been horrible, her waking life an unending torrent of fear and depression, her dreams while asleep even worse, leaving her with little or no escape from a painful, debilitating hell.

    Little by little, she had begun to feel better. With help from Rick, the psyche Werx, and Zippy’s bunch, she had begun to feel less despairing. Not great, but better. And ‘better’ was a vast improvement of where she had been.

    After carefully looking over the results, Mr. DeSade came back over to her. She looked up at him but her hopes were dashed by the expression on his face.

    “Well,” Mr. DeSade said in low, slightly French accented voice, “I’m afraid I have some bad new for you.”

    Charity drew her legs up and put her chin on her knees, “Color me stunned.”

    Her tail dipped a little bit with her disappointment.

    Mr. DeSade continued, “I have no idea how to turn you back. Not only that; I am not entirely sure of what was done to you in the first place. This isn’t like any sort of genetic manipulation that I have ever seen before. This radically advanced, scary, work; I cannot even think of anyone off the top of my head at the school that would even be capable of pulling this off.”

    As Charity sighed despondently, Zippy stepped forward, “Mr. DeSade? What exactly is she? I mean, what sort of material was added to create a change like this?”

    He turned back to the computer screens, “It seems to be a lot of different things, really, all altered in and of themselves before being used to alter Miss Milquetoast. Despite all that, I recognize a lot of these genetic codings. And here is the odd part; they all correspond to material that has been stolen from my lab in recent weeks.”

    Zippy pursed her lips, “So someone stole your personal material and used it to change Charity?”

    “Not all mine.” Mr. DeSade waved a finger, squinting at the screen, “There is something else here, buried under all the rest. Some sort of trigger component that made the entire process happen the way it did. I don’t recognize it at all; it is something I have never seen before. At a guess, I believe it was originally constructed for use with fish DNA and RNA, but has been altered somehow in order to work on mammals. But that is just supposition, this is a complete mystery.”

    Rina put a sympathetic hand on Charity’s shoulder. Charity looked up and her and smiled weakly.

    Tapping the screen, Mr. DeSade asked, “Are the changes all just her physical appearance, or has there been any change in her abilities or requirements? I understand Buttercup’s sloth DNA has her only able to sleep hanging from those bars installed on her dorm room ceiling. Has anything like that cropped up?”

    Both Rina and Charity nodded.

    Rina told him, “She sleeps hanging by her tail from the bars. It took her a few nights to respond to the instinct to do that before she could sleep.”

    “There’s more.” Charity lifted her head up, “My limbs are way more powerful then they used to be, I can run a long time before I get tired, and . . . hell, I might was well show you.”

    Charity shifted to a crouching position, and then with a powerful thrust of her legs she leapt up to the ceiling like an acrobat. And stayed there. To everyone’s surprise, she crawled across the ceiling, sticking to it like Spider-Woman. She crawled for a few feet, and then dropped back down to the table with a fluid athletic motion.

    She shrugged, “I discovered it last night by accident.”

    “That was actually pretty cool.” Rina said, elated.

    “Hmmm, I would like to do some further examinations of you hands and feet. To see how you’re able to do that.” Mr. DeSade told her, “But in the meantime, I have got enough for today. You can get dressed. I won’t give up; I will keep on working on this until have some kind of answer for you. I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much; however, even if I figure out this trigger component, I do not believe it will be possible to change you back.”

    Charity nodded solemnly, she had suspected as much.

    “You’re going to have to start going back to class, Charity.” Rina told her. “You can’t stay locked up in our room forever.”

    Again, Charity nodded. After her breakdown on the balcony, half the school had seen her new body anyways. There was no point in hiding it. At least Rick still seemed to like her like this. In fact, he seemed, at times, to like her even more, if that were possible. Charity began putting her clothes back on, resigned to her fate now more then ever.

    As Charity was getting dressed, Zippy noticed something up on the wall: A long dueling saber and scabbard hung over one Mr. DeSade’s desks. It looked finely crafted with a thick handle and bowl shaped hand guard and a blade that almost looked like a cutlass.

    “Hey, Mr. DeSade, what’s that?” She pointed to it questioningly.

    DeSade smiled, “That’s something that was made for me a long time ago. Its hand crafted in the old manner, but the metal is a new alloy that will slice through almost anything. It’s the sturdiest metal on the planet, but it’s very difficult to make so very little has been made with it.”

    He shrugged and smirked a little, “To tell you the truth, I mainly wear it as decoration at formal occasions. Having a sword on my belt just makes me look a bit more dashing and regal.”

    Finishing up dressing, Charity and Rina headed out the door, Rina giving Charity another pat on the shoulder. Zippy remained behind a minute, looking as Mr. DeSade looked over the computer screen with a furrowed brow. He had an uneasy expression on his face, as he rubbed his chin, looking at the data.

    When he noticed Zippy was still there, he looked up, “Was there something else, Miss Zipperdale?”

    Zippy paused a bit and then asked, “I don’t suppose there’s anyway to find out who did this to her?”

    “That is the million dollar question, is it not?” Mr. DeSade replied, glancing back to the screen, “Not that I can see, but I’ll keep digging. Believe me, Miss Zipperdale; I would like to know how this happened as much as you.”

    “Thanks for doing this for us.” Zippy said, and then on full impulse gave him a brief hug.

    “It is no problem. I just wish I could be of more help.” He chuckled.

    The chuckle sounded forced to Zippy as she turned and left the room, she heard Mr. DeSade mumble, “I wish Madam Petri was here.”

    She glanced back at him and saw that same look of intense worry on his face, and something else: A touch of deep sadness.

    Catching up with Rina and Charity, Zippy noticed that Charity, with some practice, had managed to get herself walking mostly in an upright position, though with a slight slump of her shoulders and neck. Her long double jointed legs had her standing a head or so above Zippy and Rina. She clutched her hands as she walked, not looking anyone she passed in the eye, mainly because everyone was still staring at her.

    “This is me,” Charity sighed, “I’ll be like this forever.”

    “Maybe not.” Rina said hopefully, “But in any event, it’s not that bad.”

    “To tell you the truth,” Zippy offered, “You actually look pretty cool.”

    “I look like a transvestite Nightcrawler!” Charity moaned.

    Rina raised an eyebrow at her, “You don’t look anything like a worm.”

    “No, the comic book character . . . oh never mind.” She sighed, “I’ve lost all my friends, my whole life, except for Rick.”

    “Charity,” Zippy said, “It does feel a little weird to say this, but now that you’re not and Amber thug, I actually like you.”

    Rina chimed in, “So do I. And so does Buttercup.”

    Although her face did not change much from her dour expression, Zippy thought she noticed a hint of a smile on her face. The whole thing was giving Zippy a sense of Déjà vu; since Charity’s situation was similar to what Krystal’s had been. But, Zippy reminded herself, Krystal was still human and we didn’t know who did this Charity. Again she felt a pang of guilt for what she had done to Krystal, but it disappeared just as quickly. Although it was unintentional, Krystal was now happier then she’d been before. And of course, Cristobel had it coming for trying cut of her and Lizzy’s heads and switch them. It could be said, of course, that Charity had it coming as well. In truth, she had been, along with the rest of Amber’s Army, a gigantic pain in the kiester since Zippy had gotten to Petri’s.

    But looking at her now, Zippy couldn’t help but feel the need to lend her support. Maybe she was just a sucker for a charity case. Zippy snickered a little at the unintentional pun.

    Zippy’s thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Katjia who playfully yanked Charity’s tale and then took off running on all fours giggling wildly. Charity’s tail had been an endless source of fascination for both the Ferrell twins for days.

    “Hey! Don’t yank my tail!” Charity shouted.

    She then dropped to all fours herself and took off after Katjia, her powerful limbs propelling her across the floor. She closed the gap quickly, but the wolf girl was far too adept at four legged running.

    “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me!” Katjia taunted, sticking her tongue out over her shoulder.

    “Wanna bet?” Charity grinned, starting to enjoy the chase.

    With a push of her limps, she leapt up at the wall ran along the side of the wall, bypassing easily astonished students who Katjia had to go around.

    “Hey! No fair!” Katjia protested, “I didn’t know you could do that?”

    “Too late!” Charity taunted, “My tail cries for vengeance!”

    “I don’t have a tail!” Katjia called back, “I wish I did, but I don’t!”

    “You’re hair will do just fine!” Charity announced, racing along the wall, her hand and fingers adhering to it just enough to keep her from falling.

    Charity was suddenly finding herself feeling very good. Running and leaping along the walls in her new body was actually exhilarating, and she found herself laughing as her little wolf girl nemesis. Deep in the back of her mind, something told her that she could get used to this. Her tail flapped behind her as she picked up speed. For the first time in days, she was suddenly and unexpectedly having a lot of fun.

    Zippy and Rina both looked at each other and laughed. It was the kind of thing you could only see in a place like Petri’s, so absurd and yet so much fun to watch. As the continued down the hall talking about Charity and what they could do for her, Mr. Charcharias approached them.

    Like most of the teachers at Petri’s, Mr. Charcharias cut an odd if impressive figure. He was an Indian man, tall and thin, but with broad shoulders. His face was long and he looked at you with intense brown eyes. His hair was black and brushed back over his head in a wave, and he sported a pointed goatee on his chin, and a long ended Fu Manchu style mustache. He dressed in a long grey double breasted coat and matching pants that resemble sort of a cross between an old fashioned sea captain and a confederate soldier.

    He stepped up to them, giving a curt bow with his usual politeness.

    “Ah, good evening ladies.” He said with only a hint of an accent, “I had hoped that I would run into you.”

    “What’s up?” Zippy asked.

    “Actually, I wanted to speak to Rina.” He replied.

    “Me? Why?” Rina said, getting nervous like she did every time someone asked her for something.

    “You told me earlier you’d be happy to do extra credit work to help me with my specimens?” He reminded.

    Rina nodded, “Sure, what did you need?”

    He smiled a little lopsidedly, looking slightly embarrassed, “I’m afraid I’ve let work pile up lately. I am in need of someone to feed my specimens on occasion while I catch up on it. Would you be available from time to time to do that for me?”

    Rina ginned, nodding enthusiastically, “Yes, of course I would.”

    “Splendid.” Mr. Charcarias replied, and then added, “Um . . . in the event that you yourself are not available . . .?”

    “Madoka will be happy to do it, I’m sure.” Rina said, blushing at the discussion of her other personality.

    “Thank you so much, the both of you.” He clapped his hands together, “I really appreciate this . . .”

    He was interrupted by Katjia letting out a shriek of pain.

    “OW! Charity! I’m sorry; I didn’t pull your tail that hard!”

    After seeing Rina to her dorm, Zippy made her way back to her own, already tired a bit from the days events. As she went, she passed a small stairwell where she could hear to raised voices in an argument of some kind. Listening, she realized it was Amber and Adam. Whatever they were fighting about it seemed pretty intense. She kept going, ignoring the noise.

    As she so often did, she felt a twinge of pity for Adam Fission, and his deep seeded seemingly unquenchable love for that lady Amber. How in the world Adam, who seemed like a nice enough guy, could be so smitten with someone so stuck up and obnoxious was beyond her. She arrived at her dorm room, thinking about her relationship with Kyle, and how well that was going. As usual, a warm feeling flowed through her as she thought of her boyfriend.

    She pushed open the door and entered the spacious dorm room. As soon was she was in she was greeted by the sight of a glum looking Stitchy sitting on her bed next to Lizzy who seemed to be trying to cheer her up. Her naturally sullen expression and demeanor weren’t really up to the task and Stitchy was absent her usual enthusiastic optimism. As soon as she saw them, Zippy became concerned. She dropped her book bag and crossed over to them.

    “What happened?” She asked.

    “Stitchy just broke up with Steve.” Lizzy replied.

    “Steve?” She asked.

    Steve? Steve who? Zippy wracked her brain, but couldn’t come up with a face to match the name that she’d seen around her creation. A slight feeling of shame came over her as she realized that her erstwhile “daughter” had just broken up with a guy Zippy hadn’t even known she’d been dating. Had she been ignoring her? Not paying enough attention to her?

    Stitchy grimaced, “He dump Stitchy. He say Stitchy overshadow him. He say he feel invisible whenever Stitchy with him.”

    She didn’t say it, but that made a little sense: At almost seven feet tall, criss-crossed with lines of stitches, and possessed of an energetic, enthusiastic personality, Stitchy more or less drew the eyes of every room she walked into. It was somewhat fortunate the Stitchy was a bit of a show off who liked to be the center of attention.

    “Don’t take it too hard.” Lizzy patter her on her huge shoulder, “They’ll be plenty of other boys.”

    At that remark, Stitchy brightened up and her natural optimism returned, “Yes, that true.”

    Reaching behind her, she fumbled in her bad for something. Zippy was finding it slightly amusing that Lizzy of all people had managed to cheer someone up. Stitchy pulled a stack of small envelopes out of her purse and began shifting through them. With a start, Zippy realized they were all love letters. A considerable amount of them; all asking her creation on a date.

    “Let’s see . . . which one . . . which one?” Stitchy murmured, seeming to have completely forgotten the mysterious ‘Steve’, “Ah! He handsome! Tight cute little butt too!”

    At first, Zippy felt protective of her, worrying about her going out with all those boys. But then she realized that it was highly unlikely any of these guys were going to try to take advantage of a girl who could snap them in half like a twig.

    Much later that night, deep down by Megan’s tank, all the members of The Shark Tank Guild were gathered in front of one of the massive viewing windows, awaiting the arrival of the proud new sixty foot parents. The blue reflective light from the tank shimmered around the room, and soon the two huge hazy shapes began to materialize out of the gloom.

    Even now, there was always a bit of fear as the massive sharks came closer, their dark greenish grey hides fronted by rows of seven inch steak knife sized teeth. They swam up to the massive window, their huge flukes guiding them along. As they slowed to a stop, Megan was the first to speak.

    The implant on her head flashed, “Why hello everyone. You’re all here, how wonderful.”

    “We wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Madoka chimed in.

    Morgan floated forward a bit, and greeted them. Within a few minutes, two more shapes appeared out of the gloom, and soon the two babies were floating in front of the window.

    The ‘babies’ were the size of great whites, a good twenty feet each, and covered with a thick grayish green hide like their parents. They were clearly twins as all their markings seemed to be identical. They floated towards the glass, looking over all their visitors curiously. Zippy could see that they now sported the same implants on their head that their parents did.

    The one on the right flashed and a high child like voice came out of the speakers around the window.

    “Hi, I’m Abbey.” The baby meg said.

    “And I’m Britney.” The other one introduced herself, her voice identical to her sister’s.

    The all greeted them with enthusiasm, marveling at this second generation of this new species of megalodon. Charity even climbed up the wall and leaned in from the side to get a better look. Zippy watched the twins in wonder as the played and flipped their bodies back and forth; this was truly and amazing school to be in, whatever risks it had. She knew then that she would never want to attend anywhere else. She laughed and clapped with the rest at the playful antics of the new arrivals.

    The weeks passed and gradually the other students, as they so often did before, became accustomed to Charity’s new appearance and abilities. As predicted, Amber promptly kicked her out of her group, but Charity had already started to settle in with the rest of the STG, and was little by little being accepted by them, much as Krystal had before her. While it was pretty much obvious that Charity was out of Amber’s Army as soon as her change became known, no real official dismissal occurred other then Amber including Charity in her snide remarks against the STG. That and Amber had seemed to promote an Asian girl named Phoebe Pham into Charities old position, whatever that was other then thief. Of course, Amber found herself loosing Rick as well, who followed Charity over to Zippy’s group. Zippy was pretty glad to have him; smart, dedicated and not too bad to look at. She felt they both added to the group. Amber, of course, was livid that Zippy had taken in her rejects, and accused her of causing Charity’s change herself. On the other hand, Zippy had begun to suspect that Eve was right: Amber might have had something to do with Charity’s transformation.

    Stitchy went about her usual routine of school work and dating a seemingly endless revolving door of boys. She had begun to a take a keen interest in the phenomenon of ball lightening, pouring over books on the subject, and Zippy thought her gargantuan creation was nursing some personal project. She’d also taken a interest in the book written by Zippy’s Great Aunt, as well as picking up extra credit volunteering as a nurse for Dr. Cavorkian, even going so far as to have the Werx make her a nurse’s outfit, which proved rather popular with the boys.

    For her part, Zippy continued her relationship with Kyle, their bond seemed to get just a little bit stronger each day and they spent whatever free time they could get together. Usually not studying. She couldn’t believe that she’d found a guy like this amongst all of this chaos, but the chemistry had just seemed to click. With the minor glitch that Kyle seemed a little guarded and vague about his past.

    Experiments with the cancer cure continued, but only resulted in failure after failure. Still, no one even thought of giving up. They pressed on, looking for a result.

    For his part, Rick did exactly what he said he would and stood by Charity. At no point did he seem to find her new form any less desirable then her old one, and the pair could be found making out frequently in the private corners of the school. Charity had seemed to find a new form of expression in her powerful legs, grasping tail, and ability to stick to flat surfaces, often blowing off steam by performing elaborate calisthenics amongst the schools many towers, a hobby that gave her boyfriend many nervous moments.

    The rest of the STG continued hanging out at Megan’s tank like they always had, striking up a similar friendship with Abbey and Britney. In particular, the two baby twin megalodons seemed to have formed a particular bond with the Farrell twins. It made sense since both sets of twins were fairly unique in the world.

    But even as life went on its usual strange way at the school, Zippy couldn’t shake the feeling that something very wrong was lurking beneath the surface.

    Sitting at her desk in Miss Piranha’s class, Zippy kept one eye on her teacher. Miss Piranha was going about her instruction with her usual exuberance, a smile plastered on her face and her fetish outfit crinkling as she moved, her stiletto heals clicking on the school floor, but Zippy could see the hollow look in her eyes. She was scared, very scared and doing her best to hide it, masking her terror and despair behind a porcelain covering of artificial excitement. There was extra makeup under her eyes, no doubt hiding dark bags. Zippy wondered if she was sleeping at all.

    Biting her lip in frustration, Zippy looked down at her work. It killed her to see Miss Piranha like this. Miss Piranha, who was always so full of life and energy being eaten away, physically and spiritually, by the cancer cells in her body. Zippy knew, intellectually, that cancer cells were not ‘evil’ per se. But she could help but feel an intense personal hatred for them from deep inside her gut, how they would conspire to rob her of her favorite teacher; the one teacher who had supported her right from the start. She realized that cancer didn’t conspire, it just ran its life cycle, but she still felt that personal vendetta rising against it.

    Just you wait, you murderous bastards, Zippy thought, I’ll find a way to beat you. I’ll find a way to kill you.

    After classes, Zippy and Lizzy met up with Lorne and both Farrell Twins. As they walked they talked a lot, light heartedly, and soon they were on the topic that most of the school was getting on.

    Katjia said, “So, what are everyone’s plans for the Atom Smasher’s Ball?”

    Zippy shook her head, “I don’t have a dress picked out yet.”

    “Well, we’re going to need more then just clothes,” Katjia replied, “We’re going to need dates.”

    I slight flush of color came across Zippy’s face, “Well, that I’ve already got covered, I’m going with Kyle. I can’t wait to see him in tux.”

    “Naturally.” Nadjia nodded, and then added, “It’s just tough to find good guys who will go out with my sister and me despite all our more savage traits. I mean, they never seem to be around.”

    “Who knows?” Katjia said, “Maybe it’ll be someone right under our nose?”

    The others didn’t notice, but Lorne cast his eyes down on the floor a little after that comment. His wide bloodshot sunken eyes glanced over at Nadjia and he sighed a little inwardly.

    Grabbing Zippy’s shoulder, Katjia drew her attention to something. There, at the bottom of a nearby stairwell, Stitchy was crouched down, making out with some guy that Zippy only vaguely recognized. She certainly had moved on from whoever Steve was pretty fast. She watched, blushing a little as the two made out passionately without a care as to who saw them. Again, Zippy’s protective instincts rose up in her and she thought for a second to march up there and demand to know who this guy was and what his intentions were towards her ‘daughter’. But Katjia pulled her along.

    “I’ll bet she won’t have any problems finding a date.” Katjia winked at Zippy.

    Zippy felt a surge of anger well up in her: Was Katjia calling her ‘daughter’ a {word meaning one who engages in sexual acts for financial compensation has been redacted}? She fought it down, taking a few deep breaths. Of course not, Katjia was just being playful; she loved Stitchy as much as everyone else. Zippy kicked herself for her anger; she knew she had to control that. She sat on a lot of rage sometimes, and she still hadn’t forgotten how much trouble it had once gotten her into. Instead she clicked on the small digital voice recorder she used to take notes on Stitchy.

    “As usual, subject is quick to put set backs behind her and more on.” She said, “She seems to be eternally optimistic that something better will always be around the corner. I wish I could think like that.”

    “Well, I think we’ll all find dates.” Was Nadjia’s optimistic response, “But I’m sure Lizzy probably won’t even go. I mean, you skipped out on last year’s.”

    “I couldn’t find a date and my parents were stranded at comic book convention because of a tornado warning.” Lizzy answered matter of factly, “But it might interest you to know that I plan to attend this year’s. And I believe I will have a date.”

    “Oh really?” Katjia leaned in grinning, “Who’d you have in mind?”

    Lizzy’s only response was to smile a little and say nothing.

    Deep down in the lower levels of the school where the labs were located, one in particular had been set aside for the Shark Tank Guild’s cancer cure experiments. It was a rather innocuous looking room, except for the sign on the door that read ‘Quiet: Miracle In Progress’, despite the fact that the experiments had been, as yet, anything but miraculous. The room was similar to the one in which Charity had first been examined; long and rectangular with raised runways around the side and filled with state of art equipment. The light was rather low and cast shadows about the room, which were interrupted by the continuous flashing lights of the machines.

    In this room, sitting in front of a large computer screen, sat Zippy and Krystal as they waited for the result of their latest endeavor. Machines hummed all around them as they waited, and they passed the time in conversation. Zippy had noticed that Krystal seemed to relish girl talk quite a bit. She knew Krystal had pretty much accepted her gender by now, and she had all but openly admitted that she liked boys, so Zippy decided to broach the subject of the Atom Smasher’s Ball with her.

    Truth be told, Zippy was both anticipating and dreading the event. She had never been a prom girl, but she loved gatherings and dancing. What made her dread the event was the fact that it was a night for students and family as well, which meant her parents and brother would be invited. She wasn’t sure if they would come, but if they did . . . well, they had barely been able to handle Lizzy and Krystal and Stitchy being born in their basement. She wasn’t sure how they’d react the first time they ran into Charity or Buttercup. True, Stitchy had grown on them, to the point that in every letter she got from them, they usually asked about her.

    But then that was Stitchy, she had a unique ability to endear herself to almost anyone.

    “Say, Krystal.” Zippy asked, “Are you planning on going to the Atom Smasher’s Ball?”

    Surprised by the question, Krystal looked up at her and then shook her head, “No, my parents won’t even be there, I’m sure. Dad isn’t going to come to support a daughter he never wanted.”

    The usual dark cloud of depression spilled over Krystal’s face when she talked about her father. His rejection of her was still a wound that felt raw. She tried to pretend it didn’t matter, but Zippy could tell: Some part of her still yearned for his approval. He didn’t deserve that small bit of devotion, and Krystal probably knew it. But something in her still needed that. Needed it and knew she could never have it.

    “Even so, you might want to go just the same. Kyle’s parents aren’t going to be coming either.” Zippy told her, “It might be good for you, to get dressed up all pretty and attend a formal ball. All of us will be there, we’re all your friends, and it could be good for you.”

    “You’ll all have dates.” Krystal pointed out.

    “So? Get one.” Zippy shrugged.

    “Easy for you to say,” Krystal chided, “How many guys want to go to the dance with the transgender girl?”

    “Oh, Krystal.” Zippy rolled her eyes, “You’re making up excuses. Lots of guys here are interested in you and you know it. I see them checking you out, and I’ve seen you enjoying the attention and playing up to them.”

    Krystal blushed a bit, “I know, I know: I just wouldn’t know how to ask someone to the dance.”

    “Just go up to them and say ‘Wanna go to the dance?’.”

    “You could do that, I couldn’t.”

    “What’s the worst that could happen? He could say no.”

    “He could say ewwwww.”

    “Krystal, you’re beautiful.” Zippy declared, “I worked hard on that. You’re a sexy little hottie. No one is going to say ‘ewwwww’.”

    They were quiet for a second. Zippy thought it over: She knew Krystal had hinted that there might be someone at the school that she was interested in, but she’d never let it slip who it was. As her acceptance of her new gender had grown, Zippy had seen her more and more playing up to guys, some days being downright flirtations. She was fairly certain Krystal still also liked girls, but there seemed to be a definite shift in her preferences. Which led to . . .?

    Zippy leaned over, “Krystal? Have you got a crush on someone?”

    Krystal almost didn’t have to answer; the flushing on her cheeks told Zippy everything she needed to know. She glanced down and let a small smile appear on her face.

    “I . . . might have my eye on someone.” Krystal admitted.

    “Really?” Zippy leaned forward, getting interested, “Who is it?”

    “No, I’m not telling you. You’ll think I’m being silly.” Krystal shook her head.

    “No I won’t, come on, tell me. Who is it, huh?” Zippy prodded.

    Krystal giggled, “No, no, no!”

    Zippy attempted to tickle it out of her, but all Krystal would do is laugh and twist away from her and attempt to tickle her back.

    “Come on, spill it!” Zippy prodded, “Who do you like?”

    “Never! Never!” Krystal laughed.

    Their little bit of revelry was interrupted by the sound of the computer as the results of the experiment came back. They both leaned in and read the data as it scrolled on the screen.

    It was another failure.

    Later that night while everyone had gathered in the dining hall, another volunteer was chosen, some girl from the back that they hardly knew. They were so numb to the event by now that they hardly paid it any attention.

    The room was noisy with the chatter of students and the mechanical sounds of the Werx moving to and fro. Discussions rained on every table each depending on the group and the sounds of plates and silverware moving echoed through the large hall. Zippy gazed up at the large painted compass on the domed ceiling and the words that surrounded it, “Life, Mind, Imagination, Invention, Happiness.”, hoping against hope that she’d find some kind of inspiration there. The table was all a little subdued at the news of the latest failure of the cancer cure. Everyone was there, including Eve which was a rare occasion. No one had said it would be easy, but the lack of any progress had been frustrating to say the least.

    Zippy’s mind poured over other options that they hadn’t tried. As she did that she looked around the room, getting a feeling from the crowd. So much had happened since her arrival. She had no point of reference, but she got the impression that the school had been weirder and more dangerous then usual after Madam Petri left, for whatever project was keeping her occupied and requiring so many students. Students that so far, no one had heard from again.

    Krystal placed her hands on the table, sighing heavily, “Maybe we could all use some down time?”

    The suggestion was greeted a few tired nods.

    Nadjia spoke up, “You know, it’s karaoke night at The Manhattan Project. Maybe we should all go? Belt out some tunes, have some fun. Party it up a little like young people instead of sighing like old people.”

    Zippy grinned, “You know, that’s not a bad idea. I’m in.”

    One by one, everyone at the table agree. But then Madoka spoke up.

    “Sorry guys, I’d like to, but Rina volunteered us to help Mr. Charcarias feed his animals, and he needs us tonight.” Madoka told them.

    “Oh, sorry to hear that,” Zippy said, “Well, have fun with that.”

    “You know, I kind of do.” Madoka said, “Some of these mutations are really fascinating.”

    When everyone looked at her in surprise, Madoka added, “What? I can’t have layers?”

    Suddenly, the music in the room stopped, signaling an announcement of some kind. All eyes turned to the balcony above and the door opened to admit the sever figure of Vice Principle Innsmouth as he strode to the end of the railing. Zippy glanced around and noticed the teachers were looking at each other in surprise; apparently they were unaware of any announcement today. She looked back up and Mr. Innsmouth’s hard and cold face as he strode to the front of the railing, looking down at them with those deep sunken eyes. He brushed his long white hair aside and then spoke in his deep voice.

    “I am pleased to announce,” He began, “That in the interest of continued excellence in education and the continued enforcement of proper discipline; I have decided to appoint two new Assistant Vice Principles, which you are to obey in all things as you do myself. They will report only to me, and have authority over every part of the school such as I do.

    “Please welcome, Mrs. Hydra and Mr. Xenon.”

    From out of the door two tall figures emerged, even taller then Innsmouth himself. Hell, they were almost as big as Stitchy. The woman had long wavy blond hair and narrow eyes that seemed black as pitch as well as freakishly long lips that stretched across her face. She smiled at the students, but it was a cold, rehearsed smile that almost looked like it was an animal bearing its fangs.

    Mr. Xenon did not smile at all. He had blonde hair that was brushed back over his head but still seemed wild and unkempt, and a long face with a pronounced almost pointed chin. He started at them with wide bug eyes that almost seemed never to blink. Both figures wore long silver capes that were buttoned at the neck and down the front, running down the floor in shifting flows, leaving only their heads visible and the rest of their bodies covered up completely.

    But what struck Zippy was they way they both moved. They didn’t seem to be walking; it almost looked as if they were . . . gliding across the floor somehow. Both new Assistant Vice Principles seemed to have an aura of the unearthly about them that made Zippy shudder when their eyes passed over her. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and something deep down in her gut was telling her these two meant trouble. She made a note to avoid them when she could.

    She felt Kyle’s hand touch her knee under the table. At first she thought he was getting frisky under the table, but then she saw him gesturing to the back where the teachers all stood. She looked over and saw that they were all glancing at each other and whispering in confusion and incredulity. This was obviously the first thing they’d ever heard of this. Innsmouth had appointed his new assistant vice principles without bothering to tell anyone on his staff. Why? Why would he do that? And to what end could he need these two? The positions had not existed before now.

    Looking back up at Innsmouth, Zippy narrowed her eyes at him. Behind his cold dark eyes, wheels seemed to be turning. Zippy could almost see the sparks of planning and conniving going on in there. What in the world was he up to?

    Later that evening, things in the sprawling school library were pretty much normal. Mrs. Lovecraft sat at her desk hard at work, while the Poe twins moved around returning books to their proper places. Eve hung from one of the railings upside down engrossed in a book, and a few students sat at tables here and there around the room.

    Two of those students were Krystal and Kevin, seated off to the side across from each other, exchanging notes on possible ways to make the cancer cure work. They had, between the two of them, plenty of good ideas. But good ideas weren’t a cure.

    The table they were sitting at was rather narrow, and Krystal could feel her knees brushing up against Kevin’s. She was excited a little by the brief contact and felt her heart beat a little bit faster and her face grow just a tiny bit warmer. Kevin, for his part, seemed oblivious to his former guy friend’s new infatuation with him. Krystal sighed inwardly; this inexplicable unavoidable crush she had on Kevin sometimes felt like it was tearing her apart.

    She couldn’t really put her finger on the exact moment when she’d fully realized that she liked boys now. Some time after the point where she had really begun to think of herself as girl. It had probably started during her stay at Zippy’s house, when she had found herself enjoying the attention Zach heaped on her. She had, she had to admit, had even liked it when he’d kissed her. But it was hard to tell when she had started viewing boys sexually and romantically.

    The thing was, she still liked girls. That hadn’t changed, although her newfound interest in boys seemed stronger and more driving. She wasn’t sure if her room mates realized this, but she was always blushing a little whenever they were undressing together. In fact, it seemed like most of the STG liked to take their clothes off for whatever excuse they could get. A trait Krystal was starting to share, finding it more relaxing to lounge around the dorm naked or in her underwear during her down time.

    She thought of Zippy’s discussion earlier of the Atom’s Smasher’s Ball. Of course, she’d meant Kevin when she’d said she had a crush on someone, but she hadn’t wanted to tell Zippy that. True enough, Zippy was pretty trustworthy and could keep a secret. Maybe it was just that some part of her didn’t want Zippy to have the satisfaction of knowing how much happier she was as a girl. Illogical, of course, as Zippy was already well aware of that. Still, she wondered what it would be like, to dress up and a sexy beautiful gown and have Kevin in a tux leading her into a ballroom like something out of one of her sister’s old fairy tale books that she’d kept hidden.

    She glanced up at Kevin and decided to poke around a little, to see what he thought of her now. She mustered her courage and then approached it as casually as she could.

    “Kevin?” She asked, looking up from her paper and trying to seem nonchalant about the subject, “Do you see me any differently since my transformation?”

    She’d tried to make that as smooth as possible, but she detected a little tremor in her voice. She didn’t know if Kevin picked up too.

    Kevin glanced at her, “What do you mean?”

    She felt her face getting hot, and her knees twitched a little. She was sure she was blushing as she pushed forward with the subject.

    “Well,” She asked him, “D-do you find me . . . attractive at all?”

    Kevin smiled and patted her hand, “You’re very pretty.”

    He then looked back at his book, leaving Krystal to have conflicting emotions. That hadn’t been quite what she’d been hoping for. She wanted him to say that he found her very attractive, that he thought of her all time, or maybe just sometimes. She was looking for some clue that at least some of her infatuation was being returned. It wasn’t like she expected him to sweep her off her feet and plant a great deep kiss on her lips while the theme from Gone With The Wind played in the background (although she certainty wouldn’t mind that). But she’d hoped some acknowledgement that he might have some interest in her.

    Still, she thought with a bit of a smile: He did say she was pretty.

    The long curved hallways through the larger section of the aquarium level bathed the walls, floor and ceiling with shimmering reflections of water from the massive windows that looked into he huge tanks that lined either side of the passageway. Madoka strolled through, pushing a large cart that contained food for the various strange mutations that resided down here. The squeak and drag of the wheels echoed through the long passageway as she went, humming to herself.

    She was slightly resentful at Rina for volunteering them both for this, as much as she loved these strange and bizarre creatures, she really wanted to be out with Zippy and the other’s tonight, maybe picking up a few cute boys to play with. Not that Rina would ever appreciate that. Still, she loved interacting with these fantastic animals, so maybe she shouldn’t be so quick to get pissed at Rina.

    She pulled up next to a large window, huge but no where near as big as the ones in Megan’s tank. As she came up to the window, a giant sea turtle the size of pick up truck floated towards the glass, peering at Madoka with her wide dark eyes.

    Pulling the turtle food out of the cart, Madoka waved to her, “Hi, Shelly.”

    Shelly’s head was graced with an implant similar to Megan’s. The implant flashed and Shelly’s voice came out of the speakers at the base of the window. She spoke, for some reason, with a clipped proper English accent, sounding like some kind of rich debutante.

    “Oh, why hello there, Rina.” Shelly said, “And how might you be today?”

    “It’s Madoka, actually.” Madoka corrected her, “But I’m good.”

    “Oh, I am so sorry.” Shelly apologized, “It’s so hard to tell who’s in the pilot seat sometimes.”

    Madoka felt that she really couldn’t be more different from Rina, but people still seemed to have trouble telling who they were talking to.

    “Well, I’ve got dinner for you. Yum Yum.” Madoka said playfully and shoved the block of turtle food into the slot on the side of the window.

    There was a hiss and the block was ejected out the other side and into the tank.

    “Ah, what a marvelously accommodating young woman you are.” Shelly said, floating down and digging into the food.

    After a little bit more small talk with Shelly, Madoka moved on to the next window. On the other side of it, a large Colossal Squid floated in the water just a few feet from the glass. Looking quite different from a Giant Squid, the Colossal Squid had a round bulbous body and much shorter tentacles our in front of its face. Its body was a deep red color and it sported a speech implant as well. The squid jetted over to her as soon as he saw her.

    “Alright! Chow time!” The squid waved his tentacles happily.

    “Her, Gordon.” Madoka greeted him, “Soup’s up.”

    She put the block of squid food in the slot and pulled the lever. Once again the food popped out into the water to the delight of its inhabitant. Gordon stretched out his tentacles and pulled the block towards his beak, shredding the meal with his clawed suckers like a paper shredder. As Madoka watched him chow down, she suddenly gasped as she noticed something else in the tank with him. Something that looked almost human shaped.

    She leaned in close and managed to get a good look at the new visitor as it swam by. As soon as she saw it, she recognized it and her shock became even more pronounced: It was Felicia, one of the students who had disappeared recently, supposed off on some special project, according to the vice principle. But she was only vaguely recognizable, her form having been completely altered somehow, much in the way Charity’s had.

    She was naked and what were once Felicia’s legs were now a mass of writhing tentacles. Her skin was covered in what looked like silvery scales all over and she had no hair on her head at all; she was completely bald. She sported webs of skin in between her fingers and fins along her fore arms. Here also seemed to be a large dorsal fin on her back and Madoka could make out gills on her neck. Jutting out of her hips were two large funnels and her eyes were at least twice as large as they should have been.

    Madoka had only a few minutes to take that all in. As soon as Felicia saw her, she covered face and jetting away into the tank, disappearing from sight.

    Staring into the empty stop with her mouth hanging open, Madoka turned to Gordon and asked him.

    “Gordon, did you see that?” She asked, not believing her own eyes.

    Munching on his food Gordon replied, “Who? Felicia? She’s been moving around from tank to tank for weeks. She’s afraid to see anyone she knows because she’s ashamed of how she looks now. I dunno why, I think she’s a honey.”

    Madoka grabbed the mike that broadcast into the tank, “Felicia? Felicia? Please come back, I want to help you? Felicia?”

    She called several more times but Felicia did not return. Madoka stepped back from the glass: What in the world could have happened to her? She wondered if this could somehow be related to Charity, after all, apparently Mr. DeSade had mentioned whatever changed her was related to fish DNA. Was all this the result of whatever Madam Petri was working on? Or was it something else? What about the other students who had gone missing, the other ones who were supposed to be working on this ‘secret project’ that Mr. Innsmouth had told them about. Were they all like this too? What possible reason could there be for this?

    She pushed the cart aside and headed down the hall. Feeding would have to wait; she had to tell Mr. Charcharias about this, he was the best one to go to. As she walked rapidly down the hall, she suddenly heard a pounding on the window next to her.

    She turned to see Felicia again. She was floating in front of the glass; pounding on it was a balled fist.

    “Felicia! Thank god!” Madoka exclaimed, “Listen, I’m going to get help for you . . . “

    She stopped mid sentence as she realized that Felicia was pointing directly behind frantically gesturing with her hands. Feeling the hair on the back of her neck rise, Madoka suddenly became aware of a strong scent of ammonia. She turned around and her blood froze.

    Behind her, things crawled, oozed and slithered forward. They filled the corridor, shambling forward greasily with grotesque sucking and slurping noises. These things were nothing like Felicia or Charity, whatever they were; Madoka didn’t think they had ever been human. They had large bullet shaped heads that didn’t sit on any visible neck. Their eyes stared out at her, the size of softballs: unblinking, a light grey color, and wet like they had been crying. Their skin was scaled and oozed with moisture, their whole bodies a sickly yellowish grey color. There was no visible nose or ears, and only a small circular hole served as a mouth. Gill like slits ran across their cheeks and along their sides.

    Their torsos were slightly human shaped, although their arms seemed to have no bones and flailed like tentacles with hands on the end of them. Fins adorned their backs and arms and their hands were webbed like a frog’s, the fingers hard to discern. Their lower halves were nothing but an octopus like mass of writhing tentacles, on which they slithered and flopped forward, trailing grease and oil on the floor.

    The effect of them was so repulsive, Madoka felt her stomach churn. She turned to run but the fishmen, or whatever they were, leapt at her at an amazing speed. They were on her in a second.

    While it was true that before Madoka had lived in Rina she had mostly been a dating sim and adult game program, she had also functioned as a sparring program for martial arts lessons and knew quite a few self defense moves, and she was damned if she was going to go down with out a fight. She spun around and roundhouse kicked the first fishman in the face. It was like kicking a bag of Vaseline, the face sunk in as if there was no skull at all in it. Still, she’d hurt it, and as the others came in, she let loose on them with ever move she knew. Poor little Rina couldn’t do this stuff, but Madoka knew how to kick donkey.

    As the fishman attacked, Madoka let loose with a furious assault of fists and feet, punching and kicking and dodging as the gross monstrosities came at her. There were too many of them, she knew it, but all she had to do was give herself time to escape. That in and of itself could be a problem.

    The other problem was that while Madoka had a lot of hand to hand combat knowledge, she had only used it in cyberspace. She had no practical experience using it in the body she now shared with Rina outside of Miss Anvil’s class, and it wasn’t like she had been practicing every morning as a work out like Zippy did. Her moves were clumsy and uncoordinated, but they smacked hard at the fish men and though they had no bones, the blows did hurt them. In fact, it was probably a good thing that they didn’t have bones, other wise this might have really hurt.

    As tentacles and hands reached for her she batted them away and twisted out of reach. She shoved them back enough that she was able to make a run for it. She darted down the hall with the sickening sound of the oozing fish men coming close behind her. She pushed forward as fast as Rina’s frail legs could carry her. She spied a door up ahead that she knew led to one of the pump utility rooms that pumped the water through the tanks. She jumped to the side as a fish man grabbed at her legs and lost her footing.

    She hit the ground and slid across the floor, spinning around and kicking the advancing fish man in the face. It made a satisfying thunk and the gross figure fell back. She threw herself at the door yanked it open. She knew she could close this door and lock it and then run across to the other door and up to the upper levels were she could find the Werks or hopefully a teacher.

    Leaping into the open door way, she slapped it hard and locked it, grossly severing the tip of an extended tentacle as she did so. She stopped, breathing heavily, as she could hear the sounds of the fish men pounding on the door on the other side. Sweat covered her body and her heart was thumping in her chest. She turned around and all of a sudden her blood turned to ice.

    Everywhere she looked, she could see nothing but wide unblinking eyes staring at her. The room was filled with them, and they were blocking off her escape route. They gurgled and made strange clicking sounds and then they surged forward at her, reaching out with waggling oozing tentacles. She almost chocked on the noxious fumes the horrid creatures emanated from their disgusting bodies.

    She darted to the side, but felt the tentacles wrap around her and pull her back. She rolled over and kicked out, sending her foot hard into one of the creatures’ head. Again, it was like kicking a sack of jelly but the thing grunted in pain and flew back. As it dragged its tentacles over her, her exposed skin felt searing hot pain. Furiously, Madoka pounded and kicked all around her, her moves no longer the stylized martial arts from her gaming days, but the desperate attacks of a cornered animal. She struck hard at anything fleshy near her, trying to dislodge herself from them and get away.

    She finally managed to wiggle free of their grasps. There was only one other door in the room, and it led a utility closet. She ran for it fighting her way through the encroaching fish men, every punch, ever contact with their horrible skin made her want to vomit. Shoving a huge one out of her way, she threw herself at the half open door. Darting through it, she turned and slammed the door shut.

    She grabbed a large thick handled mop and slid it into the door handle, barring the door, and then grabbed the only chair she saw in the room and propped it up as well against the knob. That wouldn’t keep them out forever, but she was safe for now. The problem was, she was trapped, and she now had no way out. The door vibrated and shook as the fish men pounded angrily on it. Desperately, Madoka looked around for something to use as a weapon.

    The room was practically empty, only a janitor’s cart and a selection of mops, brooms and buckets were around; aside from the large pipes running along the walls in which Madoka could hear the water being pumped through.

    She was bruised all over, and her arms and legs had bloody scraps on them. Those fish men must have had teeth inside their tentacle’s suckers, like a squid. She felt dizzy, and worried that she had lost too much blood.

    All of a sudden, she realized why she was feeling light headed.

    No! Oh no! Not now!

    But she could feel it happening, her personality fading into the background. Rina was coming out at the worst possible time. She could feel herself sinking fast. She fumbled for her cell phone, useless for calls within the school, but useful always for communicating with Rina. She flipped it open and hit the video record.

    “Rina,” She said hurriedly, “Whatever you do, don’t open that door. There are things out there, horrible things that want to do horrible things to you, to us. You need to figure out a way to get out of there and get help. They’re coming for you and that door won’t hold forever. You need to figure out a way to fight them.”

    After a second, she added, “Be strong, Rina.”

    And then, the world faded away to black and all the Madoka disappeared into a void of nothingness.

    Rina blinked, the room coming into focus. Why, she wondered, was she in a utility closet? She looked around and didn’t see any of Madoka’s boy toys, thank god. But then she heard the pounding on the door as it violently shook and heaved against the barrio. She jumped back, fear flooding her. What had happened? How had she gotten here? She back up, her lips trembling as she stared at the door: What was out there? What was trying to get in?

    Another heavy pound on the door caused Rina to scream loudly. From beyond the door she could hear gurgling and clicking and other foul sounds. She shrieked in terror, wondering what sort of polluted horrors were coming for her.

    She realized she had her phone in her hand and quickly pulled up the latest video message. Instead of the smug, playful expression Madoka usually wore, Rina was greeted by a panicked, apprehensive face. As she listened to the message, her horror and terror grew. She dropped the phone to the floor and continued backing up covering her mouth and staring and the shaking door.

    “Be strong, Rina.” Were the last words of the message.

    Rina covered her ears and sank to the floor. She wanted this to go away, she wanted this to be some kind of bad dream. She wanted it all to go away, to wake up safe in her own bed. She was curling up in a fetal position, her eyes closed and her whole body seized with shakes as fear burned in her belly and ice flowed through her veins. Tears ran down her cheeks as she started sobbing and crying as she huddled in a ball on the floor, with no idea of how to save herself.

    As it turned out, The Manhattan Project’s karaoke night had an 80s theme this time, although not everyone was sticking to it. Someone was singing Britney Spears when they came in, for example. The familiar set up of the main lounge was now decorated like an MTV set from the period, all weird shapes, splattered with florescent paint and everything in bright, rather offensive, day glow colors. A few of the patrons had even shown up in costume, two girls from the school wearing tight tube dresses that would have been sexy had they not been so bright they actually hurt your eyes to look at them. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed up like icons from the era: Don Johnson, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Elvira and such, and even a Ronald Reagan.

    Still, after a few drinks the Shark Tank Guild were all having a pretty good time, dancing and flirting and talking. Finally, after enough lubricant, they decided to get in on the singing.

    To start things off, The Farrell Twins got up on stage and sung a duet of “Hungry Like The Wolf” By Duran Duran, belting it out with such fervor that they won a lot of applause despite having average voices. The short micro dresses and tube tops they were wearing probably helped as well.

    Zippy got in on the act by singing “She Blinded Me With Science” By Thomas Dolby. She was no Celine Dion, but Zippy cold carry a tune and the ironic choice of the song made most people, especially Kyle, smile a lot.

    To everyone’s surprise, Lizzy got up next and belted out “Neon Knights” by Black Sabbath with an appropriately growling voice that seemed fitting. She also banged her head pretty well until Zippy was worrying that she’d get whiplash.

    Next up on stage, Krystal popped up and sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. Zippy couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of affirmation by Krystal asserting herself as girl completely. She did seem to be singing towards the boys more then the girls. It might have been her imagination, but was she singing to Kevin a lot more?

    Eve was next, who sang a very passable version of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, which came as no surprise. She was followed up by Kyle who dedicated his song to the creation of Stitchy and sand “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor, the same music Zippy had used when she presented her to the class.

    Even Charity seemed to be letting loose a little as she climbed up on stage, tail swishing, wide eyes glowing, and sang “I Wanna Rock N’Roll All Night” By Kiss (which, technically, was the 70s but no one said anything). It was good to see her cutting loose like that, but Zippy still worried about her a little bit, especially since she was one of the STG now. She was one of them.

    The biggest surprise of the night happened when Lorne got up on stage and belted out not a rock song, but “Music Of The Night” from the musical Phantom Of The Opera, in a damn near pitch perfect operatic rendition, his singing voice being strong and sweet and enough to give Pavarotti a run for his money. He sang it so well and so beautifully, that there were actually a few tears in the audience. Zippy marveled that this incredible voice had been hiding in that small creepy looking body this whole time and no one ever knew it.

    And then, Stitchy got up on stage with her customary enthusiasm and took up the mike. She then opened her mouth and proceeded to let loose with such an awful distorted screeching voice that no one could tell what she was singing. As Stitchy belted out the tune, filling the air with the horrendous sound of her ‘singing’ voice, people were clapping hands over their ears and some left entirely, running for the door.

    Plugging her ears, Krystal grimaced, “We gave her the best ears we could find and she’s totally tone deaf.”

    Dryly, Lizzy said, “I’m so glad she doesn’t sing in the shower.”

    Picking up her digital recorder, Zippy ducked behind a booth and spoke into it, “Subject revealing dreadful new weapon . . . possible military applications.”

    Undaunted, Stitchy cheerfully continued to sing passionately, and quite badly.

    Rina huddled in the corner of the utility room, her knees drawn up to her chest, her whole body shaking in fear as the things outside pounded on the door. She’d been here for hours now, but the door seemed to be holding. It wouldn’t hold forever, she knew that. What would it be like, she wondered despondently, to die at the hands of such creatures? Would it be long and painful, was that the horrible fate that was in store for her. She cried and trembled, unrelenting fear clutching her body. It wasn’t fair, she didn’t want to die like this, and she didn’t want to die at all. They hadn’t found a cure for Miss Piranha’s cancer yet, and now Miss Piranha would probably out live her. She whined in total desperation.

    (Be strong, Rina.)

    Madoka’s words came back to her. She knew she should listen to them, but she wasn’t strong and bold and shameless like her. In many ways, she sometimes envied the daring way Madoka went about things and wished she could be more like her. She would never have told anyone that, but it was true. There were so many things she hadn’t told anyone, and now she never would. She sobbed miserably into her knees as the door cracked and began to give way.

    (Be strong, Rina.)

    But how, how could she possible do anything to save herself and Madoka? There was no way out of this room except the one door. She looked around the place and soon her eyes were drawn to the pipes that ran through the room up the walls. She moved over to the closest one. These pipes connected to the levels above. To small for her to escape through, but maybe there was a way she could call for help.

    She suddenly remembered, as part of some of the courses, all the students learned old Morris Code. Leaning over the pipe, she began to tap out dashes and dots, hoping the sound would travel enough. She called for help, said who she was, and where she was trapped and what was happening, and again begged for help. She was sure no one would hear it, but she couldn’t think of anything else to do.

    To her utter astonishment, she got a reply almost immediately, tapping coming though the pipes in response “Hold tight, Rina. I will go for help”

    Whoever it was, hadn’t given their name.

    Rina, of course had no way of knowing that her message had been received inside the tanks, by none other then Felicia, who finished tapping her response, floating mid level with her tentacles writhing about like a great billowing ball gown. She turned and raced through the aqueducts, the funnels on her hips jetting her through the water at break neck speeds. She shot through the maze of tunnels, heading upward every chance she got.

    She had to find someone, even though it might mean exposing herself in her gross new form. She didn’t want to do that, but she couldn’t leave Rina to die or worse become like her at the hands of those horrible abortions. She had no idea what they were or where they’d come form, only that they did this to her, and she hated them.

    Felicia raced around a corner and though a large grate that the squeezed through easily.

    She suddenly found herself face to face with the tooth filled mouths of Abbey And Britney.

    Still trembling, Rina began to look around herself, trying to see if anything in here could be used to defend herself. Her eyes rested on the big mop on the side. She stood up and grabbed it. It was heavy, but she though she could swing it. She put her foot on the front and with some effort broke the mop head off the top. She then pulled one of the metal buckets aside and used the edges to sharpen the broken end, until she had a primitive spear to use.

    Next she grabbed up the cleaning supplies, looking them over and began to mix some of them. When she was done, she put them on the cart and pushed it in front of her. She ripped off the bottom of her skirt and used part of it to tie her hair back, and the over one to wrap around her head like a bandana to keep sweat out of her eyes. That done, she ripped more of her skirt off and tied it around her mouth and nose, her skirt now a short as Madoka liked to wear them, but modesty be damned in this situation. Those things were noxious, and she also didn’t want to breath what she had in store for them.

    Gripping her impromptu spear, she looked at the pounding door. Fear was starting to be replaced by something rare for her: Hate. She hated these things that would try to take not only hers, but Madoka’s life as well. They would not get her without a fight. She knew that’s how Zippy would do it, battling head on. She could do this, she told herself, and she could be like Stitchy and Madoka. The wood was starting to splinter in places and she could hear the foul sounds on the other side as the wet thumps of the fish men continued relentlessly. The noxious odor of ammonia was now wafting into the room, causing Rina to hate them even more. She felt a rage burning inside her now, mingling with her fear, a rage that was energizing and fueling her.

    (Be strong, Rina.)

    She gritted her teeth, and waited for them to come.

    Hi, there, Krystal here, everyone’s favorite transgendered mad science student, here to tell you that in the next chapter Rina must face those revolting fish men and hope someone rescues her. More plans are made for the Atom Smashers ball and we all learn some disturbing things about Madame Petri in the next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist: “The Twelfth Experiment”.

    Eureka! I’ve got it!

+ Reply to Thread

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)


Similar Threads

  1. Hardcore Scientist Overlord Builds an Armored Suit With Assisting Bionics
    By Jiang Jin in forum Miscellaneous Miscellany
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 12-18-2010, 12:27 PM
  2. Zippy Zipperdale Art By Hardcover
    By Hardcover in forum Art Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-19-2009, 01:57 AM
  3. An Experiment
    By diablo111 in forum Wallpapers
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-25-2003, 08:17 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts