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© Copyright 2017, Veronica Sloan, All Rights Reserved
NOTICE: This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Disclaimer: This story contains explicit content, including graphic descriptions of sexual intercourse and consensual incest. It is intended for adults only. All characters depicted are 18-years-old and older. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
Image Disclaimer: The individuals depicted on this book's cover are models and should not be mistaken for the characters in the book.
Cover design by Veronica Sloan. Cover photo © Artemfurman.
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Aaron is a brilliant young scientist on the cutting edge of genetic engineering. When an accident in the lab merges Aaron's DNA with a wolf's, his increased aggression threatens to drive him insane. Fortunately, his big sister Michelle has made a career of managing his outsized ego. She knows exactly what to do to soothe the savage beast.
© Copyright 2017, Veronica Sloan, All Rights Reserved
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Scientists are egomaniacs. Take it from one who knows.
I'm not saying we can't be fine, upstanding citizens or have altruistic intentions, just that, at the end of the day, every scientist wants to prove how smart he or she really is. And that's a good thing. Competing for grants and working towards the betterment of mankind is well and good, but the real reason we invent things is to show off. Hawking, Curie, Pasteur, you might think of them as saints of science. In reality, they were rock stars.
Think about it. If you shred a mean guitar, you can't not play it. That's how you show the world what you're worth. If the world agrees, it showers you with rewards. In the same way, when you're born with a head full of wiring that can see something the rest of the world just can't, you owe it to them to illuminate the darkness. If you don't, they'll never know just how big your brain is.
Plus, if the work is good, the people who sign your checks will put up with a lot of weird behavior. Case in point, my lab lets me do whatever the fuck I want. Is that dangerous? Oh, yes. Does it rock? Oh, indeed.
At just 27-years-old, I am the lead researcher and public face of the FeniX Group, a private laboratory specializing in gene therapy and drugs so nuts the FDA doesn't even know how to test them yet. I'd say that's a liability, except FXG's primary mission isn't to mass produce wonder drugs for our ailing nation. Our operation is funded by three billionaires that want to live forever. I shit you not, we spend millions of dollars every year and employ some of the brightest technicians of my generation, just to satisfy the whims of three super-rich assholes.
Yes, you know their names, and I have no problem calling them assholes. They like being called assholes. They like employing assholes like me because we get the job done.
So, in the immortal words of the Talking Heads, how did I get here?
When I was in college, I created a chemical stimulant that replicated the positive effects of caffeine with none of the drawbacks. As long as you took the solution with a meal, or just three ounces of fiber or protein, it improved concentration and focus and amped up your energy for roughly two hours at a stretch. The effects were clearer and more immediate than caffeine and you could safely do about three doses per day without the nervousness, irritability, elevated heartbeat, or upset stomach, that can occur with coffee or energy drinks. I invented it first and foremost because I love coffee and hate the weird, spacey feeling it sometimes gives me. I had an inkling it might make me rich and started sharing it with my study partners.
I didn't consider the legal issues. Things went poorly at first. The primates on my campus thought I was dealing in Adderall and had me wrongfully arrested. I was harassed by campus police, threatened with expulsion, my reputation tarnished, but ultimately I was redeemed. During the court case that followed, I became a pseudo-celebrity for my outside-the-box innovation and spit-in-your-eye attitude. Time proclaimed me Man of the Year for being that year's hot new entrepreneur or millennial or rebel or maverick or whatever.
The rest of my education and subsequent Ph.Ds were handed out by various universities and companies that wanted my brain to do brainy things for them. I did a little of this, a little of that, and ended up going with the folks that offered me the most freedom. I could have gotten paid to do a lot less for a lot more, but extending life seemed like the kind of challenge Dr. Frankenstein would enjoy. I consider the man a personal hero (despite his handicap of being fictional). You can't get more rock star than creating life itself.
It would be a nice bit of thematic poetry if this turned into a Victorian mad scientist type story. Instead, I ended up transforming into my second favorite monster: The Wolfman.
I'm not easy to get along with. Shocked? I didn't think so.
I've already called myself an asshole and that's not a cute turn of phrase. Part of it's the big brain, part of it's my upbringing. I prefer to be direct about my needs. It saves time. Unfortunately, it gives you a reputation for being selfish and terse. That doesn't bug me personally but it can make socializing a challenge. My science team doesn't care since they, like me, are interested in results, not popularity contests. We're a fine-tuned machine, but when it comes to dealing with the public we're a bunch of clueless dopes. That's why my benefactors agreed to hire Micky as my head of PR.
Michelle was always going to come with me when I got hired to run FeniX. It was part of my contract. They could move me wherever they wanted, sign me for however many years it took to accomplish our goal, but they had to pay for my big sister, too. It only took a week of dealing with me before they realized dealing with Micky was so much easier. Everyone likes Micky. She's cute, she's kind, and she's the only person I give a shit about, which means she's the only person I'm willing to sit down with and explain how I do what I do. Michelle doesn't have a scientific bone in her body--she never went to college and most of her jobs have involved name tags and too much coffee--but she's a great listener.
Unsurprisingly, she's the reason the internet loves FXG. They think I'm a pompous ass and my team are autistic mole people, but they've fallen in love with the hardworking thirty-something from the wrong side of the tracks. Micky isn't a scientist but she makes science accessible to the masses. She's always attending STEM events and giving talks about what careers FXG and other innovators can offer young women. Girls look up to her, women admire her, men...
Well. You know men.
When our patent for a telomerase knit kit started generating buzz in the health community, a rival lab tried to torpedo our good press by smearing Michelle's reputation. (They actually thought that a scandal would overshadow the ability to push back the Hayflick Limit by ten cell divisions, the imbeciles.) The lab, whose name I'll refrain from printing because it's no longer relevant, leaked a story about my sister working as a stripper in her twenties. (It was the only job in which she didn't wear a name tag.)
The smearjob backfired spectacularly. Their first mistake was trying to slut shame one of the few prominent women in the tech field. Women all over the U.S. and the world rallied to her defense, sending the company into a tailspin that it had little chance of recovering from. I sealed its fate when I issued my first (and, to date, only) public statement. Micky did work as a stripper for two years, I said, and she did it to put me through college. Even if her conservative critics found fault with the career choice, they couldn't deny that her decision to shake her tits and ass led directly to me inventing CaffX and a handful of modern miracles. For better or worse, the media used that revelation to turn what had been a minor scandal into a story of "true female empowerment."
The rival lab didn't survive the fallout. To add insult to injury, after the company folded, I poached the best members of its team for my own projects. It was a stirring lesson to the world: No one talks shit on my big sister and gets away with it.
Michelle came out of the ordeal an even more beloved figure than before. It did have the unfortunate side effect of sending every obsessive Micky fan in search of topless photos from her pole dancing days, but versions of that were already in motion. Entire websites are dedicated to pictures of my sister in bikinis and low cut tops.
In interviews, when Micky gets asked about the attention, she always changes the subject. People think she's too embarrassed or humble to talk about it. The truth is, she thinks it's hilarious. "I'm not saying I'm flattered," she once told me, "but the idea that men--"
"--and women," I pointed out.
"--sure, whatever--are trying to find grainy pics of my boobs? Talk about dedication."
I don't know why she's never believed in her own beauty. You'd think a girl who worked a pole for two years would have a higher opinion of herself, but she never has. I blame my parents and a string of dumbass boyfriends for letting her martyr herself for most of her life. That's not what bothers me the most, though. She's always had an irrational fear that I'll leave her one day, not out of malice but because I just let myself get carried away by my work. No matter how many times I've told her that's ridiculous, she just won't believe me.
The truth is, I couldn't survive without her. No one means more to me than my sister. She's the only person I've ever been able to depend on, to trust unconditionally. As a cold, clinical atheist, I'm suspicious of any expression of emotion that claims spiritual rather than chemical origins, but I've allowed my love for Micky to inhabit the small, superstitious part of my brain. She is magical.
She's always been my protector. I was a child prodigy born to shitty parents living in shitty circumstances. I was smart enough to know better, but I couldn't help myself from jumping directly into the shit. Mom and dad were not sober people, nor were they even-tempered, so when I called them out for being losers--on account of the drugs, the senseless beating of each other and myself, their equal inability to hold a job longer than a month, and their general flakiness--things did not improve. I remember, at the tender age of six, telling them it was reprehensible that we didn't have running water in the apartment. The bathroom was a bucket and baths were the local pool. That's the first time I remember Micky taking me away.
That time we stayed with a friend of hers for a few days. It would have been longer but mom found us and dragged us back to Hell. Every few months Michelle would try again, staying with friends or boyfriends of less than pure intentions for just a few days or even hours of respite.
When things got really bad, Michelle invented a game for me. When the banging and the screaming started, she'd drop whatever she was doing and roar as loudly as she could, chasing me outside or into another room. She was the big bad wolf, she said, and I was little Red Riding Ron. The object of the game was to escape her clutches, but her clutches were always big, soft hugs. Accompanied by wolfish growls that tickled my ears, those hugs were the only ones I ever received. She'd pick me up, embrace me, and then send me running away again. I could still hear the terrible things happening through the wall, but the big bad wolf reminded me that I was loved.
I suppose that childhood game was what got me started researching the wolf genes. Wolves are strong and fierce and have remarkable healing abilities, at least compared to fragile humans. Despite the mess it caused, WGH-1 was intended as a tribute to my sister.
It figures that she was also the one to clean up the mess.
Though the resources of the FeniX Group were considerable, and my discretion to dole it out equally so, my benefactors were impatient. They wanted results.
For three years my team and I had explored several intriguing avenues of life extension and regeneration. Some of these avenues brought us to dead ends, others to surprising, potentially delightful, destinations. As pioneers in the field, we lacked shortcuts to either outcome, so projects were operated concurrently with researchers dividing their attentions according to their specialties. It was a chaotic method, I admit, and a handful of my scientists went mad with the strain. They rarely complained, however, because their salaries were excellent and oversight was minimal. Progress was paramount, so I allowed my team leaders an independence that was jealously coveted by our peers.
As I've previously explained, all a scientist truly desires is the chance to prove how smart they really are. That opportunity was worth the nervous breakdown.
My sister disagreed. When she thought I was working my teams or, more often, myself too close to the edge, she demanded a break. If she discovered that a researcher had sequestered herself in the lab for 20 hours straight without food or sleep, she made it her personal mission to not only provide these things but prevent the researcher from returning until she'd recuperated. More than once she forcibly removed me from my own lab.
"When was the last time you showered?" she'd ask.
"It's quite cool in here," I'd reply. "I'm not sweating."
"No, but you're doing that thing where you mumble to yourself and scare off the interns."
"Leave me alone, Micky."
Then she'd grab my arm and escort me from my own laboratory, like a naughty child. God bless her, she was the only creature on Earth that could treat me like that. My scientists, even the ones twice my age, lived in fear of me. You can imagine how they adored her.
On the fateful morning of the accident, Micky found me alone in my lab. She knew I'd been avoiding her because I was on the verge of a breakthrough, or was so exhausted that I believed I was. It was a Sunday, which was significant because it was the one day Michelle mandated for rest. "It smacks of religion," I told her when she came up with the idea.
"That's the point," she said. "Not all of your scientists are hardcore atheists, and even if they were, making a little nice with the religious groups makes you more approachable. You've already got people picketing the place and saying you're playing god."
"But that's the whole point!" I said.
She arched her perfect eyebrows and gave me a meaningful look. "A little humility, little brother, goes a long way."
I rolled my eyes and did what I always did: I obeyed. I promised my staff they could take Sundays off without reprisal. It was a favorable result for me, in the end, since it gave me a whole day to work in peace. Unfortunately, without the hustle and bustle of my teams, it made hiding from my sister impossible.
She strode into the lab with a disapproving smirk on her rosy pink lips. "Aaron, do you know what today is?"
Hunched over a microscope, I grunted at her like a caveman.
"Aaron," she repeated.
I replied only when the tapping of her foot grew too irritating to ignore. "It's Sunday," I mumbled.
"Yes," she said, "and you said we were going to leave the labs and grab a coffee across the street."
"I have CaffX. I invented it for both of us, you know."
"I don't care what you drink. The point is, you're sitting down with me. You promised no work today."
"Don't have time to read," I said.
"You're not going to read," she said. "You're going to sit down at a table, put some kind of food in your stomach, and I'm going to tell you what next year's marketing plan is going to be."
"You don't need my approval for that," I said.
By the smack of her footfalls on the tile I could tell she was wearing sandals. While peeking through the microscope, I opened my other eye to catch a glimpse of her freshly painted toenails. A rosy pink to match her darling lips. "You just get a pedicure?" I asked.
She grabbed my face and forced me to look at her. "Uh-huh," she said. "Thank you for noticing. Now where are you going to be in twenty minutes?"
I sighed. "Do I have to?"
She laughed. "Smartest man in the world and you are still such a child..." She was dressed, I couldn't help but notice, in her Sunday best. Shorts as white as snow that showed off her tan, muscular legs. A blue and white striped blouse, tied flirtatiously over her trim belly and opened at the top to show off the baby blue tank top beneath (and her generous cleavage). She must have just washed her auburn hair because it hung in damp curls over her shoulders.
"If I say you look nice will you give me another twenty minutes?"
"No," she said severely. "Why do you fight me every time? I haven't had a real conversation with you in a week. It's 'uh-huh,' 'can't talk now,' wolf this and wolf that. You're not allowed to do that. You're in charge of the science but I'm in charge of you. That's how it works."
"Okay," I said. "Okay, okay." I took her slender hands and warmed them between my palms. She always complained that it was too cold in the laboratory and this simple gesture improved her mood.
"Promise," she said.
"Again," she demanded.
"I promise again."
She finally left, though not without reservation. She half-expected to return in an hour to pull me out by my earlobe. That she didn't stay and demand I leave with her was a testament to her faith in me; she, too, smelled a breakthrough just around the corner.
In the last six months I'd devoted most of my time to what I dubbed "The Wolfman Project." My splicers had mapped out the genome of Canis lupus arctos, the Melville Island wolf, in hopes of isolating its particularly hardy characteristics. The goal of this project wasn't to extend human life but to improve endurance and viability. If the correct wolf genes could be grafted onto a human's, I hypothesized, the debilitating effects of aging could be reduced, maybe even eliminated. Imagine no appreciable difference in health between a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old. That's what I was aiming for. Other teams were researching turtles, jellyfish, and even trees, to find out how to extend that improved lifespan. If we were all successful, the next stage in human evolution would be indebted to the animal kingdom. Our DNA would become a menagerie of nature's fittest creatures.