DNA

DNA

I like to walk to work on the days that aren’t too hot or humid. Virginia Beach weather can be very unpredictable with the exception that from May through October, everyone knows it will be both hot and humid. Today was one of those rare exceptions to the September weather pattern. It was seventy-five degrees and the humidity had dropped low enough to not guarantee the need for a shower by the time I got into work.

I smelled the fresh cut lawns and the subtle hints of humidity induced molds as I walked through my neighborhood towards my workplace at BioStore Inc. The neighborhood I lived in was a mecca for families. People were outside with their children. Older people were walking their dogs. I was enjoying my walk more than usual until I caught sight of a beautiful young woman. I frowned as continued to move steadfastly towards my office, but I kept an eye on the young woman through my peripheral vision. At forty-seven years old I knew I had no aspirations of securing a date with a twenty-year old. It wasn’t that I lusted after her. I wasn’t some creepy stalker with nefarious motives. I frowned because as I looked at the young woman, I had a deep sense of yearning to be like her, a yearning so strong that it made my stomach hurt.

As I continued to walk I reminisced about my life and how this yearning had always been so prevalent. All these years I thought I was the byproduct of my environment. Perhaps it was my upbringing, the media I watched, or maybe the choices I'd made over the years that led me to my confluence of thoughts, this dichotomy of my mind, this duality of who I was. Until recently I never knew why I was the way I was.

Growing up I was all boy. Well, maybe that's not quite true. I never thought I was anything but a boy, however, I found myself differing in subtle ways. I was slightly more emotional than other boys. Not an off-the-scale emotional wreck, but when things emotionally hurt me or when I felt passionate about a cause, my emotions were stronger than other boys in similar situations. Where most boys tended towards aggressiveness, I tended towards gentleness. Not enough to be noticed or pointed out, but even so, I was slightly different. I enjoyed spending time with girls just as much, if not more so, than with boys. It helped that I grew up with a girl neighbor my age and we played a lot together. And no, I didn’t play with dolls.

As I approached puberty I began noticing other things. I'd walk through a department store and catch myself glancing at girl's clothing. I’ve always had a fascination with girl's clothing. The feel of the silky softness and the delicate patterns of lace call to me. Still, no one would have ever say there was something odd about me, even though I secretly had a fantasy about being locked in the department store overnight where I could try these clothes on.

By my mid-teens the boys in my school became more and more aggressive. Because I chose to avoid fighting I was often picked on. It's not that I was smaller, rather, it was because I was larger. If a smaller boy wanted to fight me and I refused, it would make the smaller boy look tougher in the eyes of his peers. It's not that I wasn't a man, or courageous, I just thought all the fighting and machoness was stupid.

As I grew into a young man, I hid my wish that I secretly desired to be a woman. To everyone around me, I was one of the guys. I played soccer in summer, was a lifeguard, and in winter I skied downhill with some of the toughest and fastest skiers in the nation.

Later in life I entered the workforce and eventually got married. I knew I wasn't gay. I loved and adored women. Now, looking back, I led a very good life even though my internal pain was routinely pushed aside and I chose to live with the secrets buried within me. Unfortunately, I chose to confess my secret to my wife and she was less than accepting of my feelings. Although nothing would change between the two of us, she couldn’t understand I wanted to be a woman. All I desired was to share my deepest secret with the person I loved the most and it backfired on me.

Now divorced and afraid of entering another relationship for fear of future rejection, my mind craved something I knew I could never have. If anything my thoughts and desires to be a woman have only increased over time. The sense of conflict has become so great within me it seems every moment of every day my thoughts are consumed by the idea.

In today's world of Caitlyn Jenner and everyone claiming to be something, I imagine people over simplifying my situation. They'd say 'hey, if that's how you feel then go ahead and make the change.' Of course these same people don't realize what that would do to the people immediately around me and wouldn’t consider a six foot five, two hundred and seventy-five pound man would make a very unattractive woman who wouldn’t be able to pass. Ever. At all. Although I’m considered obese by BMI charts, I’m not in the least. My weight is nearly all muscle and I have a low fat percentage. I can bench press close to four hundred pounds and squat twice that much. Even though I’m large, I can run a marathon in under four hours and I remain flexible through my karate classes and exercises. In a way, my building up muscle mass is an attempt to hide my desire for femininity. This is my way of ‘hiding in plain view’. Weightlifting also has a side benefit of releasing the frenetic energy built up through my continual focus on wanting to be a woman.

It was only recently that I discovered the possible root cause to my gender identity issues. I discovered that my mother took Diethylstilbestrol (DES) when she was pregnant with me. DES is a synthetic estrogen developed to support a woman’s natural estrogen production. I began researching side-effects of DES as it’s potentially harmful to sperm production, yet the more I researched the more links I found between mothers that took DES and sons with identity confusion.

I reached out to a doctor who had performed some studies. Her reply indicated my identity issues were highly likely to have been caused by DES. This was when I had my ‘aha’ moment, as all my life I believed my condition was a direct result of my personal choices and the environment. As a man of faith, I struggled with the sin of my fantasies. I remembered reading the doctor's letter with a sudden flush that washed over me.

The reality is that extra estrogens from DES created an environment within my mother’s womb causing portions of my brain to develop more like a female brain. It’s been known for years that the sex organs differentiate in the second and third weeks of pregnancy, while the brain develops in the second half of pregnancy. Most of the time the sex organs and the brain develop in accordance with one another, although recent research indicates there’s essentially no such thing as a “male” or “female” brain; nearly all brains have some of both characteristics. We also know many factors, including the DES my mother took during pregnancy, can be responsible for the sexually dimorphic parts of the brain, those parts that are usually quite distinct between males and females, to develop in the opposite, or nearly opposite, direction to the physical sex organs. This results in a lifelong medical condition where, for example, the female brain steadfastly insists that the person is female, irrespective of what the body looks like. Throughout my entire life my brain was constantly working overtime to rectify my dichotomy.

Having received this revelation, I finally felt absolved of the guilt and feelings I carried my entire life. Yet, what difference would it make? There was no chance my body could ever become what my brain wanted.

I was now standing at the front of my office and my reminiscing was done. It would start all over again the next time I saw a woman. I did, however, have one small hope. My work in DNA memory storage was showing signs of progress and could offer some side benefit to easing my brain’s unrelenting focus. Two and a half years ago, I successfully transferred the contents of a novel into my own DNA. I could access this information in a similar fashion to regular memory recall. The process wasn’t foolproof and took a fair amount of preparatory time to generate, but the results were amazing.

The concept of using living DNA to store information has been around since DNA was first created. Every single cell in our body contains DNA, and the DNA from a single cell contains the equivalent 1.5 billion characters of information. A teaspoon of DNA could hold all the information in the entire world. Using human DNA to store and retrieve information that is accessible to the human brain would be revolutionary.

Two years ago, I attempted something new. I recorded both autonomic response and knowledge of a skill simultaneously. After some tweaking I managed to successfully test inject myself with the skill of Krav Maga. One day I knew nothing about Krav Maga and the next, I was a master. BioStore’s investors were very excited about the ramifications and potential markets, in particular military and education applications. They had connections with the military and CIA who had been taking an interest in touring the facility on a frequent basis.

Since the successful implementation of Krav Maga, I’d been building a mass set of knowledge and skills. This final test would include detailed knowledge of just about everything. Aircraft design, piloting and driving skills, architecture principals, complete sets of Wikipedia articles, computer science, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, languages, physical skill sets, survival skills, and much more. It was important to see how a person would react to a massive increase in knowledge and skills.

On the side, I was working on something to possibly help me in a very personal way. When I recorded the Krav Maga skills I found I could feel like the other person when using those skills. I had since modified the recording process to eliminate those feelings, but one thought persisted in my mind. What if I were to create a female framework? Record experiences from women so that I could truly feel those experiences as if I was a woman. I began building a library of recorded female experiences and also built an image of my perfect woman, the one if I could become, I would choose to be. This way I could tap into those feelings and that image at any time I wanted. Today, I would test the entire contents of this cumulative skill and knowledge set along with my recordings of my side project into myself. I was both excited and frightened at the same time.

***

Half a world away Matt Stinson sat in a room filled with Chinese hackers. He was conversing with General Yan of the Chinese Army. “We’re in.”

“And you believe you’ll get everything we need?”

“It’s all there. Their security has been very high and it’s taken longer than expected. We’re copying project documents and plans. We have video evidence the procedure works. If all goes well, in a few hours the Chinese government will be on the cutting edge of genetic enhancement.”

“You must also destroy their work to set them back.”

“I caution you against that. They don’t know we’ve infiltrated them. If we plant a virus they’ll be alerted.”

“Mr. Stinson. You’re being paid handsomely for your service to China. You’ll do as I ask. Insert the virus code into the implementation routine.”

Matt knew he still needed to get out of China so he decided he’d do what was asked of him. He didn’t consider that he’d be betraying his government as ever since his father had died in Iraq, he’d hated the US. This was his chance to get even. “I’ll do it.”

“A wise decision, Mr. Stinson.”

***

I updated the implementation code for the injection and prepared for the injection. I’d been delayed by several hours as I explained the process to a new General, Michael Anton, who was here to witness the event. An attractive young woman from the CIA, Samantha Moore, was also on hand. Over the past year I’d been getting to know Samantha with her routine visits to BioStore. I was attracted to her on many levels, but the nearly twenty years of age difference and my fears of getting involved again with my secret held me back.

The injection process is all computerized with robotic arms, but I could just as easily inject myself. Using the computers allowed me to record vitals and the progress of the injection. I sat back in the leather chair that resembled a dentist’s chair. The onlookers stood behind a glass window in another room. This was more for my personal comfort than necessity. At my right hand a laptop rested under my fingertips. A silver robotic arm with a laser guide and a syringe hung from the ceiling. A laser targeting point was located on my neck.

“I’m ready to proceed.”

“You’re good to go Blaine.”

I tapped on the keyboard and my wrists, head, and feet were locked into place by robotic braces. They weren’t heavy duty, but were used in case of convulsions and also had monitoring equipment built in to measure my vitals. This was the part I was the most concerned about. I was about to inject a massive amount of information into myself and there was no guarantee it wouldn’t overload my system. I tapped another key to initiate the implementation program. The robotic arm scanned my neck and aligned with the injection site. The process included the injection of DNA knowledge along with a set of nanobots that carried out the insertion of the DNA knowledge into my DNA before the nanobots went inert. I felt the needle enter my neck and I watched as the syringe contents empty into my body.

The needle pulled out just as a commotion and yelling began in the onlooker’s room. “Stop the injection! We’ve been hacked and the implementation code has been altered!”

I looked up at the window as the faces moved closer. The injection had completed. There was no turning back now. At first all seemed to be going as usual, but I knew it would take a few minutes before the integration of the knowledge began in earnest. Everything felt fine, just as it had before. I sighed in relief when suddenly I felt searing pain course through my body. My teeth ground together. Sweat pooled on my forehead and dripped into my eyes as I looked down at my convulsing body. I was pulling hard against the restraints. I let out roar of pain that morphed into a feminine sounding scream. My large body was shrinking in on itself. The massive muscles on my shoulders compressed.

The restraints could no longer hold me and parts of metal flew across the room as they shattered. One smashed into the onlooker window sending people scurrying. I fell out of the chair and onto the sterile cold tile floor. My leg convulsed, kicking the chair and sending it crashing into a bank of computers showering the room in sparks. The lights flickered with a power surge and finally went out. Red emergency lighting activated.

The onlookers stood in momentary shock, unsure of what to do. I was no longer near where the chair was and was outside of their view.

***

Samantha dialed 911 and quickly organized a security team to enter the room. She eased the door to the lab open. The red light cast an eerie glow around the room. The odd spark still flared to the left from the damaged computer systems. Two security guards had their weapons drawn. Samantha’s eyes searched the room and finally found Blaine curled in the corner. His back was away from her. It was clear his body had changed as his large shirt and pants looked like they were practically falling off of him. Slight movement of the clothing indicated he was likely still alive and breathing. Samantha waved at the two guards to move forward. They reached Blaine and carefully rolled him over. Samantha let out a gasp as she stared down upon the unconscious body.

Blaine’s short cropped and graying hair had been replaced by long brunette hair. His body was now that of a young woman. Gorgeous, even though Blaine’s clothing hid his shape. His face was angelic perfection. Samantha reached down and hesitantly touched his face. “Blaine? Blaine, can you hear me?” She waited and then lightly shook him. He seemed hard to move. “Blaine?”

“Careful with him. Let’s get him out of here.”

The guards tried to pick him up but he was too heavy. One of the guards began to comment on the situation. “If I didn’t know any better, he, she’s got to weigh nearly three hundred pounds. We need more help to move him. I mean her.”

***

I slowly opened my eyes. The pain had been so intense that I was frightened to see what might be left of me. I heard a sound to my left and turned to see Samantha and several members of the BioStore team standing there.

“Blaine. Thank goodness you’re awake. There was an accident. You… you were changed.” That was Bob Mathers, CEO of BioStore. “From what we can tell, we were hacked. The hackers altered the implementation code and turned it into some form of virus. Somehow it must have rebuilt your body in the image of…”

“Oh for heaven’s sake, Mr. Mathers.” Samantha pushed Bob slightly aside. “Blaine, your body was changed into that of a young woman.”

I replayed what I’d just heard. Did Samantha say I’d been changed into a woman? “You’re joking.” My voice was soft and gentle sounding. Definitely feminine. I raised my hand to my face and turned it around as I looked at it. Slender fingers, perfectly manicured nails. No hair on my arm. “You’re not joking.” They all shook their heads.

“How are you feeling?”

I had to think about that for a moment. Almost mechanically, I moved parts of my body and tried to sense if I was in any pain or if something was wrong. “I think I feel fine.”

“Gentlemen. I know I’m just a visitor, but I’m also the only female in the room right now. Blaine needs to see himself and he shouldn’t be left alone. I think you should leave me with him for a little while.”

They nodded and stepped outside the room. Samantha closed the door behind them and drew the blinds. Samantha turned back towards me. “Do you feel well enough to get up?” I nodded. “Let me help you up. Take it slow. Aside from a few anomalies, the doctors found you perfectly healthy and… fully female.”

“Anomalies?”

“While you appear perfectly normal in every way, you weigh the same as you did before the accident. You’re still two hundred and seventy-five pounds.”

I sat up in bed and immediately felt the weight on my chest as my new breasts shifted under the hospital gown. Inside I was both elated and terrified. I was a woman. But what kind of woman? I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and gazed down upon them. These were not the legs of a nearly three hundred pound woman. These legs looked like they belonged on a fitness model. They were silky smooth, lean, and lightly muscular. I remembered the female framework I’d built. Could it be? “I need to see myself.”

“Just be careful, Blaine. The bathroom has a mirror over the sink.”

I walked slowly over to the bathroom. I felt perfectly fine. In fact, I felt incredible. My body moved smoothly and gracefully. I noticed the sway of my hips and the movement of my breasts and the tug of my hair, but nothing felt awkward or off. Before I even got to the bathroom I glanced in the mirror. I recognized the face. It was the face I modeled for my dream woman. High cheekbones, full lush lips, perfect complexion, large blue eyes, and long lustrous dark brown hair. I reached my hand to tentatively touch my lips. I turned my head from side to side.

Not even thinking or remembering that Samantha was still in the room, I reach to the hospital gown ties and pulled, letting the gown drop to the floor. I heard Samantha’s gasp, but I was so enraptured by what I saw I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I looked exactly like the woman of my dreams, albeit slightly more lean. Large firm breasts, trim waist, a perfectly flat stomach, and my new womanhood. I was gorgeous. Every man’s dream. Definitely my dream.

I finally turned away from the mirror and looked at Samantha who was trying hard not to stare and blush. “I’m stunned.”

“I know this must be hard for you, Blaine, harder than even for us to see it happen. Can you please put the gown back on?”

I looked down at my naked body and realized this must be difficult for Samantha. I reached down and pulled up the gown and retied it. “I think I know what happened.” Samantha looked relieved to see I’d covered myself back up. I sat on the bed. “You might want to sit down for this.”

Samantha took a chair. “You don’t seem too freaked out by this.”

“I am and yet I’m not. It’s sort of a dream come true.”

“I don’t understand.”

“My mother took DES while she was pregnant with me. This caused portions of my brain to develop in a unique way from my body. The hormones in the DES confused the development process so that my body was male but my mind was female. I’d struggled with this all of my life. I felt that I always should have been female.”

“But you were the manliest man I’d ever seen. You were tall, good looking, exceedingly fit and muscular.”

“I was large to begin with and the weight lifting and things I did were to force myself to act and be more like a man. It was painful for me. When I confided this secret to my wife, she left me. Inside I was a mess. From the outside, I tried hard to make sure nobody knew my secret.”

“Why tell me this?”

“Because I’m now free, but it also has relevance to how this came to be.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“My initial research gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to be another person. The Krav Maga injection came along with it a sense of feeling like the other person. For the last two years, knowing I’d be the test subject, I secretly built into my injection a female framework. I built in the features, hair color, eye color, everything I could think of how I’d like to see myself. I even recorded women’s feelings and autonomic responses for everything from walking to, I know this will sound strange, having sex. With this injection, I would give myself a glimpse of life as a woman. One that I could tangibly feel and one I’d hoped would put my brain at ease.”

“I think I understand, but how did this happen.”

“Bob mentioned we were hacked and the implementation code was rewritten to act more like a virus as opposed to writing just the knowledge into my DNA. It must have used the female framework I built as a guide and re-wrote my body. It’s the only thing I can think of. It’s an accident and one we may never be able to reproduce, but it’s a blessing to me. My mind is finally at rest.”

“But what about your weight?”

“I assume that I never lost mass during the transformation. Thus, my cells compressed somehow leaving me the same weight, just smaller.”

“You look so lean.”

“I was around 14% body fat. That’s good for men, but would be lean and athletic for a woman. Assuming my cell ratio stayed the same, that’s why I look so lean.”

“How do you feel?”

“Fantastic. I want to get home. I want to learn… uhm… I need time to get used to the changes that have occurred.”

“Listen, Blaine. This accident has far reaching implications. We need to find out who hacked BioStore and what their purpose was. We need to verify you’re okay, especially in light of your transformation and risk to future use of the DNA memory process. I’m assuming this isn’t reversible and thus, you’ll need a new identity. You’ll need new clothes. You have to transfer things from Blaine to your new identity. All of this will take a lot of time.”

“I can help on the hacking. I now have all the skills I need as that was part of the knowledge bundle I was injected with. Can you help me with a new identity and take me shopping?”

“Before you help anywhere, we need you to have a psychological assessment. People will need to feel you’re moral values were not corrupted along with the changes you just underwent. I can help smooth the way for your identity change. I’m not so sure I’m the right person to help you clothes shop.”

“I understand about the assessment and thank you for any help on my identity. I know we don’t know each other that well, but you’ve always dressed so well. I’ve admired the way you choose your clothing. I thought you’d be a good choice.”

Samantha looked rather flustered. “I’ll help you out with initial shopping, but after that, you’re on your own. I’m going to let the rest of the team come back in. I’ll get started on your assessment and try to find you a set of clothes you can wear out of here.”

***

It was a half day later when Samantha finally returned. I’d been itching to get away from the hospital and all the commotion from my co-workers. I told the story a dozen times now and offered my suggestions as to why I thought it happened. I cautiously left out my secret desire to be a woman. I was frustrated that every time I snuck into the bathroom someone was knocking a minute later. My self-examination wouldn’t happen until later.

Samantha came into the hospital room with a bag of clothes. “How are you doing, Blaine?”

“I’m doing fine. I just need to get some time to myself to absorb everything that’s happened.”

“I think I can empathize. I have your assessment set up in a half hour. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find three psychologists that would believe me when I told them what happened. I had to show clips of the video recording, which, by the way, have all been classified as top secret. The entire project has and anyone hearing about it needs to sign non-disclosures and have top secret clearance. It appears the hack came from China. We know nothing else yet. The military implications of this research alone is beyond comprehension. I got you some clothes. I had to get you a dress. I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t know your sizes and a dress is a little more forgiving that way.”

I reached over and took Samantha’s hand in mine and looked into her eyes. “Thank you, Samantha. You’ve done so much for me. I wouldn’t expect that from a BioStore visitor.”

Samantha’s eyes were riveted on my hand touching hers. She slid it out from mine and tried to hide her face. “Here’s your clothing. I’ll be back in a few minutes to take you to the assessment.” She turned and exited the room quickly without looking me in the eyes.

I took the bag of clothes and emptied them out on the bed. I reached for the panties and ran my fingers over the fabric. I smiled. This was what I always wanted. I wasted no time in getting rid of the hospital gown. After checking myself in the mirror again I slipped on the panties and bra. The bra was a little snug around the chest but the cup size seemed appropriate. I examined the dress and thought how my massive frame would’ve been too much for such a small piece of fabric. I figured I’d lost eight inches in height and if I weighed a normal weight for this size and body shape, I would have weighed less than half what I was before. I stepped into the light, airy dress and struggled a little with the zipper, not quite able to get it all the way up. I found some flat shoes that were a close match for my feet. A hair brush was a nice touch that Samantha had thought of. I brushed out my long hair and checked myself out in the mirror once again. I had such a pretty smile. I looked to be about twenty one years old. I was flawless.

A knock on the door sounded and Samantha walked in. “How’d you make out?”

“Good. This feels great. I just can’t get the zipper all the way up.”

“I’ll help you.”

I turned my back towards Samantha and looked at myself in the mirror. Samantha came up behind me. She was my height. I watched as her golden hair and blue eyes as they came into view. She was focusing at my zipper. I felt her fingers lightly touch my skin; shivers ran down my spine. I felt her body’s warmth. I watched as she looked over my shoulder and saw the two of us in the mirror. Our eyes met briefly before Samantha looked away.

“You look beautiful, Blaine.”

“Thank you, Samantha.”

“Let’s go.”

***

The assessment took nearly four hours. The three psychologists peppered me with questions. It was another two hours of consultation between the psychologists before they reached any conclusion. Samantha, Bob Mathers, and I sat on a couch as they discussed the evaluation.

One of the psychologists began the review. “Blaine, we’re quite frankly stunned by your transformation. I doubt any psychologist in the world has had to perform such an assessment. You appear to have adjusted well to your new situation. Obviously there’s much for you to learn and you’re still in some state of shock. We’ve found that your emotional state is good, and that you appear to have had no ill changes to your character or demeanor. We’d like to follow up with you in a week. We recommend that your work be supervised, that your health and fitness assessed more thoroughly, and that, at least, for now, you either stay with someone, or have someone stay with you at all times.”

“Thank you. I don’t really have anyone I can call to stay with.”

“I believe you have another meeting after this yet. I’d suggest you bring it up then.”

I nodded slowly as I wondered if I’d ever get a chance to be alone again. We drove back to BioStore for the next meeting. When I walked into the room the conversations ceased immediately. It took an awkward moment for people to realize it was me and they sympathetically stood and clapped. General Anton, a few members of the board of BioStore, and some other people I had never seen before were in the room.

General Anton began the meeting. “We’re here to discuss matters of national security but I first want to check in with Blaine, Samantha, and Bob. Blaine, we’re all terribly sorry for what happened to you. I’m sure this has been a terrible experience for you. How are you holding up?”

“I’m doing well, sir. It’s an adjustment and I could use some time to get my head around the transformation. I’m trying to look at things on the bright side. By all accounts, I appear to have regressed close to twenty-six years. Aside from being a woman, I appear to be very fit, and at least I’m not a smoldering blob of flesh. I also seemed to have retained all of the knowledge set and skills that were a part of the bulk implementation.”

“And you can add you’re damn good looking. It’s a good thing you didn’t turn out like my cousin Vera.” The General shuddered at the thought. “Samantha and Bob, how’d the assessments go?”

“They went very well and said Blaine has adjusted remarkably with no ill effects towards character. The panel recommends supervised work and to have someone stay with him, I mean her, for the next week until a second assessment can be done.”

“Good to hear. Samantha, you seem to have taken a protective role around Blaine. Can you stay with him?”

Samantha blanched. “Sir, I’d have to clear something like that with my superiors. I’m not sure I’m the right person…”

“Nonsense. This is a matter of national security and your supervisors have cleared you for our disposal. You’re the only woman that is in the know with this situation. Look at Blaine. Do you think he’d be safe with some male chaperone?”

I tried to help Samantha out as I saw how uncomfortable she was. “Sir, I’ve got a black belt in Karate and with the latest injection I know Krav Maga, Jujitsu, Wing Chung, Mui Thai, boxing, and some mixed martial arts. I think I’d be fine.”

“Blaine, I appreciate your willingness to help, but you’re a woman now. It’s a known fact that even with those skills, you’ll never overpower a man that weighs twice as much as you. I’m sorry, but you’ll need to stay with Samantha.”

“But…” Samantha tried to interject.

“What part of ‘you’ve already been cleared’, Samantha, don’t you understand?” I looked over at Samantha and tried to convey an expression of sorrow for her. She looked at me and quickly averted her eyes.

“Now, let’s get on with this. We’ve isolated the hack to Nanning, China. There’s a known Chinese hacking group working in that area. On a hunch, we’ve cross referenced every US citizen that has entered China in the past three weeks. We’ve come up with one name that had any connections to the work being done here. Matt Stinson.”

“He worked with me three years ago.” I was suddenly very concerned.

Bob stepped forward. “Yes, but we found him stealing secrets and fired him. You really think he’s behind this?”

“His bio suggests he’s held a grudge against the US for many years. If he’s behind this, that’s treason. It appears as if the Chinese have copies of everything you’ve done here. This is why the military was so interested in this project. With the successes you’ve shown, this technology could be used to create enhanced soldiers. Soldiers with the ability to know every weapon, to use any military vehicle, and to immediately go from recruit to a seasoned veteran in days. Minutes ago, under orders of the President, this facility has been locked down and cut off from the Internet. Everyone that been a part of these projects is to be under watch at all times. Starting tomorrow, we’d like to proceed with ongoing evaluations of Blaine’s knowledge and skills. Even with the virus impacting his transformation, that doesn’t negate the validity of the project. We must continue at all costs. I expect you all back here at 0900 hours.”

I looked at the clock. It was 12:30 am. Samantha went over and spoke with the General who just shook his head. She turned and led me to her car. “Would you like to stay with me or at your home?”

“I’ve got a spare bedroom you can use and I know I have enough food for breakfast.”

“And I have spare clothing if you need it unless you think you can survive with what you have on now? I don’t have an extra bed but I do have a couch. I don’t have anything I need to stay overnight and it’s very late. How about you stay with me tonight? I’ll pack some things for tomorrow to stay at your place. We can try shopping tomorrow for more clothing for you. Plus, I need to get my sidearm. I’m told I need it all the time now.”

“You were hesitant to shop with me and now you’re forced to babysit me. I’m sorry. I think I can understand how you must feel with a strange person that’s just gone through a transformation.”

Samantha started to reach out and touch my arm but then pulled back. “It’s not that… Don’t worry about it. Let’s go.”

I got in her little car and it leaned slightly at my weight. We drove in silence to Samantha’s apartment. I kept looking down at my breasts and exposed legs. I felt so good. Tired, but good.

Samantha’s apartment was small and quaint. She had nice furniture and excellent taste. “I’ll set up the couch for you. I hope you don’t mind? Do you need anything? I’d recommend showering in the morning. With all your hair it would be a mess if you slept in it while it was still slightly wet.”

“Thank you, Samantha. I’ll be fine.”

“Let me at least get you a nightgown so you can use those clothes in the morning. They’d be totally wrinkled if you slept in them tonight. The door is dead bolted and I have my handgun. I doubt we’ll have any troubles.”

“I’ll protect you.”

“I don’t think it’s me that needs protecting.” Samantha left the living room and returned a few minutes later with a silk nightgown. It was rather short and altogether very light and thin. “Good night, Blaine.”

“Good night, Samantha.” I went into the bathroom and did the best I could to get ready for bed. I stripped out of my clothes and stared at myself for many minutes before putting on the nightgown. I felt every nuance of my new body, ever subtle shift of weight, the sensitivity of my skin and especially my nipples, the feel of my hair tickling my back and getting in my eyes, the full feeling of my lips, and the smoothness of my perfect teeth. Every movement caused me to consider my new female body. Inwardly, I was thrilled. My brain, for the first time in my life, wasn’t screaming at me. I almost felt buoyant. I remembered some men that had started on estrogen therapy commenting on feeling that way.

A knock sounded on the bathroom door. “Blaine? Is everything alright in there?”

I opened the door and stepped out. “Sorry, Samantha. I seem to get stuck when I get near a mirror. I’m transfixed at what I see. To look at myself and realize that’s me when it appears as if a total stranger is looking back at me.”

“I can’t fathom what that must be like for you. I hope your transformation will ultimately be a blessing for you.” Samantha had a hard time looking me in the eyes. I suspected that she felt uncomfortable that I was wearing the skimpy, mostly transparent nightgown. Her eyes flickered lower as she squeezed passed me and into the bathroom.

I noticed subtle ques being given off by Samantha but took them as an indication she was embarrassed by me. I could empathize with her feelings. I walked back to the living room and placed my clothes on the coffee table before stretching out on the couch and pulling up the blanket. I waited patiently for Samantha to head back to her room.

It was nearly thirty minutes before Samantha silently crossed the hall to her bedroom. In the darkness of the apartment I thought she looked a little flushed, but I knew I must be mistaken. With her door safely closed, I let my hands roam across my body. I closed my eyes as my fingers danced lightly across my exposed skin. My skin felt so soft and smooth, my muscles underneath, lean and taught. I slid my foot along my thigh and calf relishing the sensitive touch of my skin. I slid one hand up my nightgown to glide across the skin of my stomach. I could feel my abs. With one hand I brushed my breast. They were large, and looked and felt larger than they actually were. A generous C-cup size, almost a D, that’s what I had felt would be the perfect size. I was suddenly glad I didn’t build this perfect female with anything larger. Men fantasize about large breasts but never understand the complications that come with them. It would be so hard to exercise with large breasts and I can imagine the backaches some women might get.

My hand cupped one breast and I let my thumb and index finger gently squeeze my nipple. A soft involuntary moan escaped my lips. I pulled my hand away and opened my eyes towards Samantha’s door. I waited, barely breathing, feeling like a thief in the night waiting to be caught. After several minutes and now feeling safe again, my hand found its way back to my breast.

***

In the bedroom nearby Samantha struggled to get to sleep. Her thoughts crisscrossed back and forth through the events of the day. She liked Blaine when she had a chance to work with him over the past year. He had a good sense of humor and an honorable character. That he was brilliant would be an understatement. She closed her eyes tightly as she recalled his screams. The image of the restraints shattering and his body convulsing caused her to shiver. The pain must have been extraordinary, yet Blaine didn’t even mention it afterwards. His confession that he’d been born with a female brain made some sense. He’d always seemed a little subdued. But after the transformation, his eyes were vibrant with life. His new blue eyes, swallowed her completely. His new body, beyond perfection. His lips… Samantha’s lips parted slightly, her fingers touched her own lips, mimicking the soft moist pressure of Blaine’s lips against hers.

***

My hand continued to gently caress my breast. Before my fantasies were always of myself as a woman making love to another woman. It was the only fantasy that allowed me to orgasm. Now that I was a woman, my fantasies blossomed within me. What I imagined before, I could now truly feel and what I was feeling was infinitely more pleasurable than I’d ever dreamed. My thoughts, so focused on myself throughout the day, now turned outward to fuel my fantasy. I thought of Samantha with her long golden hair and aquamarine green eyes that reminded me of a tropical ocean. She was beautiful, five foot eight, fit, with slightly smaller breasts than I now had, nice hips and a sexy behind and legs. I imagined her coming out of her bedroom, dropping her nightgown, then joining me on the couch.

***

Samantha had fought with herself throughout the day. She’d never told anyone about her fantasies and her relationships with men always failed. Her thoughts had continuously pressed against her mind since she first looked down upon Blaine’s new face and body. That she was attracted to him was a surety. Blaine was gorgeous. When he dropped the hospital gown she had fought the urge to tackle him and the rest of the day she was thrown into his presence. She’d watched the rise and fall of his new breasts and the sway of his hips with the dress she brought him. It was safe to fantasize, but the reality was Blaine had just gone through a major transformation. He probably wasn’t even aware of her. She’d avoided looking him in the eyes, but tonight, her restlessness demanded action. She imagined Blaine inviting her into the shower with him. He pressed his body against hers as the water cascaded over them both. His hand cupping her cheek and kissing her passionately. Samantha squeezed her breast as she let imagination run wild.

***

I was moaning lightly as I imagined Samantha kissing me starting at my lips and working down to my breasts. I imagined her hand sliding between my legs. I moved one had between my own legs and slipped a finger inside my very wet lips. I arched my back at the sensual feeling. It was as if an electric wire was connected from my vagina to my breasts as my nipples became instantly erect and extremely sensitive. In my mind, Samantha slipped her finger inside me as she sucked my breast. I could feel her golden hair cascade across my skin. Her scent of flowers and passion mingled together to form an intoxicating aroma.

***

Samantha whispered to Blaine in her shower fantasy. “Take me, lover.” She felt his lips against her neck, his thigh sliding between her legs. He pulled her up and along his thigh as they rocked back and forth. Her hand slipped under the bedsheets and between her legs. She was very wet from a day filled with tantalization. She moaned and caught herself, willing herself to be quiet.

***

I felt an overwhelming tension build and build within me. The erotic feelings of my new body were beyond my expectations. I continued to imagine Samantha making love to me. Had I known what I’d been missing out all my life, I would’ve been even more despondent over my old condition. With an amazing wave of pure bliss, I experienced my first female orgasm. I let out a loud moan, unable to control myself. The extreme pleasure lasted for far longer than any orgasm I’d experienced before causing me to curl up and sigh. If this was what life as a woman had in store for me, then I was very grateful. I was more tired than I realized and with the release of so many endorphins, quickly fell asleep.

***

Samantha was close when she thought she heard a throaty sexy moan coming from the living room. It was enough to send her over the edge as she shook with orgasmic pleasure. She let out a small whimper as the tensions of the day slowly drifted into oblivion. Knowing that a scantily clad Blaine was lying in the living room was almost enough to keep her going for more. However, the day had been long and the sudden release helped her to drift into sleep.

***

In a room filled with computer monitors, Matt Stinson was reviewing what they’d captured from BioStore. It was only two hours after they left the modified virus infected code that all access was shut down. It was clear they’d been discovered. As he perused the files, he examined one log file of experiments in particular. Right after they infected the code an injection test was scheduled. The logs indicated a complete knowledge and skill transfer would be used. There was an implementation serial number that he looked up amongst other files. Once found, his eyes went wide. Almost two years of skill recording, military applications, and knowledge had been built into a single application. He perused the captured files and slammed his fist down on the table causing the Chinese hackers in the room to jump. The implementation file was missing. It must have been in another location. Getting that file was critical.

“What seems to be the problem, Mr. Stinson?”

“We’ve been found out and our access has been shut down. We’ve everything we need to recreate the project.”

“Then what appears to be the problem?”

“Today they initiated a full knowledge and skill test. The cumulative DNA injection amounted to over two years of research. That file is critical to jump starting your endeavors.”

The General became visibly angry. “We need that file!”

Thinking on his toes Matt offered some suggestions hoping to extend his life. “There are two options I can think of.” He turned back to the computer and was able to bring up information on the recipient and the video recording they’d captured. “Blaine Pierce. He’s the primary researcher for the project. He’d have access to the files. He was also the recipient of the latest injection. Here’s the video footage.” Matt played the video that showed a clear shot of Blaine in the laboratory chair and the injection process. He turned back as the video continued to play. “All we need is him.”

“And you suggest we just sneak into the United States and kidnap Blaine Pierce?”

Suddenly a scream emanated from the computer and they both turned towards the screen. They watched Blaine writhe in pain and convulse on the chair, finally breaking the metal restraints and collapsing in the corner of the laboratory. Matt scrolled forward to watch the two guards and a woman roll a now very feminine Blaine Pierce onto a stretcher with six people carrying him away.

“What did we just witness?”

“This is just a theory, General Yan. We modified the implementation code just before he used it. We added code that caused it to damage the recipient as a virus would. We’re playing with DNA, sir. What if the code we added re-wrote Blaine’s DNA?”

“This has even better possibilities than I first believed. Assuming he’s still alive, we need Blaine Pierce. He, or now she, is critical to our success.” The General turned back to some guards standing by. “Guards. Take Mr. Stinson to his luxury accommodations.” He emphasized the word luxury.

***

I stirred on the couch. Surprisingly I’d slept well even though the couch wasn’t designed for a thin five-foot eight, two hundred and seventy-five pound woman. His new narrower and smaller frame increased the pounds per square inch on the poor cushions. My endorphins and transformation both left me able to sleep soundly. I got up and went to the bathroom trying to make as little noise as possible. It was just after 7:00 am and I thought Samantha could sleep a little longer.

Waking up as a woman was such a thrilling experience for me. It meant the entire thing hadn’t been a dream after all. I checked myself out in the mirror again and I knew I needed a shower. My hair was all disheveled and I smelled a faint musky odor. But first I thought I’d make some coffee to help wake up a little.

***

Samantha woke slowly to the odd sounds coming from her apartment. She knew Blaine must be up when she heard the toilet flush. She waited a few minutes as she tried to focus her thoughts. Last night her personal ministrations and fantasy enlightened her to her true inner feelings. Obviously she needed to let things happen as they came and take time to process the events of the previous day. She got up and wrapped a robe around herself before leaving her bedroom.

She didn’t intend to be quiet, but the door to her bedroom opened as silently as a gentle meadow breeze. She stood and held her breath. Looking into the kitchen she saw Blaine. He was in his skimpy nightgown and on his tiptoes reaching up into a cupboard. His extended reach had lifted the bottom hem of the nightgown to just below his shapely bum and fully exposing the backs of his smooth, long, and athletic calves and thighs. Suddenly the fantasies from the previous night came to her mind full-force and she instantly felt her arousal stirring. She deliberately turned away and stepped back into her bedroom to get a second robe for Blaine.

When she returned Blaine was still rummaging, this time bending down and looking under the sink. Samantha paused again admiring the view. “Ahem…”

***

I stood and turned. My eyes focused on Samantha’s. She looked so pretty standing there in her robe. I wondered what she had on underneath. “I’m sorry if I woke you. I was trying to make us some coffee.”

Samantha walked over to me and handed me the robe. “No worries. You might want to put this on.” Her hand brushed mine and this time she didn’t pull it away as quickly as she had before.

I looked down at myself and became self-conscious. I felt so comfortable in my new body that I’d forgot I was almost naked in the nightgown. “Thank you.” I pulled the robe around me and tied it off.

“I’ll get the coffee going. Why don’t you get showered and changed? Feel free to use my shampoo and conditioner. It should work with your hair. There’s a blow dryer and a brush also if you need it. I’d be happy to help you if you need it. Having long hair is both a blessing and a curse. I love it, but it takes some management and something I’m sure you’re not used to.”

I fought the urge to fulfill my fantasy last night and finally broke eye contact with Samantha. “I’ll reimburse you for anything I use or eat.” The comment sounded a little cold and I regretted saying it.

“For a few tablespoons of shampoo, some coffee, and a bagel? Please don’t worry about it. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to go into a bank as Blaine. Once we figure out your new identity and get you settled you can treat me. In the meantime, relax and try to adjust.”

“It’s a date.” I turned quickly feeling my hair fly up and land back on my shoulder. I grabbed my clothes from yesterday, and quickly headed to the bathroom leaving Samantha with a look on wonder on her face. I saw her smile.

I took my time in the shower, taking the opportunity to explore myself further. I wasn’t sure whether the compression of my body had caused concentration of nerves or just that a female body was more sensitive, but the water of the shower seemed harsher than before. I enjoyed the smoothness of my skin and the additional freedom of more space within the shower. The soap combined with water and my hands elicited waves of enjoyable pleasure. I let my fingers slip between my vaginal lips and a few minutes later I slid shaking to the shower floor in ecstasy. I realized that I never wanted to return to being a man. Not that I considered it, but in my mind I was still thinking my desire to be a woman might have been my own desire and not created by the DES. It was sort of a grass is always greener scenario. In this case I knew, at least for me, the grass was greener as a woman.

I finished washing my hair then, still flushed, proceeded to dry myself off and deal with my mass of hair. I brushed it out first then used the hair dryer. I was pleased how shiny and beautiful it turned out. The shower had done wonders for me. I felt clean and pretty as I donned my clothes and headed back towards the kitchen to find the table was set and breakfast and coffee were ready.

“You took your time in there. I was worried you might have drowned and needed resuscitation.”

I wondered if Samantha suspected something. “I took your advice and spent a little time adjusting. Even though this body is half my previous size, the varied equipment and options it came with take some getting used to.”

“You sound like you just bought a new car. Can you try to open that jar for me? It’s stuck.”

I grabbed the jar of jam and put a little effort into removing the lid. I figured that if Samantha couldn’t open it then I’d also have a hard time. I expected tension but found no resistance whatsoever and the jar exploded in my hands with glass and jam going everywhere. “I’m so sorry, Samantha. Do you have a rag so I can clean this up?”

“Did you cut yourself?”

“It doesn’t appear so.” I wiped my hands removing the jam and bits of glass. “No, nothing.”

Samantha grabbed my hands and held them, carefully turning them over. “Not a scratch. I guess you got lucky.”

I felt Samantha’s warm fingers on my skin, the soft stroke of her thumb. I realized she wasn’t avoiding me nearly so much. With a light squeeze Samantha let go of my hands so we could continue cleaning up. I wanted to reach back to take her hands into mine but realized she was likely just being nice.

We sat down together and ate our breakfast. “Have you thought about a new name for yourself?”

“Not really. What female names do you like? I guess I’d keep my last name.”

“I like names that seem to suit someone. Have you ever seen a Hildegard that’s young and beautiful? I always picture Hildegard as a woman the size of a mini-bus wearing her hair up and pulling on a latex glove.” I laughed and it felt good to laugh. Samantha seemed to take a bold step and looked directly at my face and eyes. “You’re hard to describe. Your skin is flawless and slightly olive shaded. Your eyes are vibrant and piercing in their blue color. I’d eliminate Slavic and Middle Eastern names even though you have the right coloring. I’ve always been fond of names like Amanda, Emma, Mia, Faith, Jennifer, Zoe, Sadie, and Kate. If I had to pick one, it would either be Sadie or Kate. You sort of remind me of a Penelope, but that’s such a mouthful. Sadie means princess, and you have that princess look about you. Kate means pure, clear. You sort of remind me of the royal British Kate. With your bright, clear blue eyes. I’d have to go with Kate. Kate Pierce.”

I sat back. That was the most Samantha had spoken to me in a long time and there was a lot unsaid within her words. “Kate… You’re sure not Olga or Hildegard?”

“It’s your name so it’s ultimately your choice. If you want people to picture you as a three hundred pound female shotput thrower…” She was smiling at me.

“Kate… I could get used to that. My birthdate could stay the same, just the year changed. 1995? That would make me twenty-one.”

“You’re definitely thinking like a woman now. You’re what forty-seven and you tell people you’re twenty-one?”

“You think I should say I’m younger? If I say younger then I can’t buy you a glass of wine when we go out on that date.”

“Funny. I don’t recall that we’re having a date.”

“I do owe you for some shampoo, water, coffee, a bagel, a jar of jam, and some air that I’ve breathed while here. Would you prefer a check, cash, or dinner?”

“Let’s just get through the next couple of days. What’s your backstory going to be?”

“My parents are both dead. Would it be possible to be Blaine’s niece or much younger sister? Could we claim that Blaine had an accident and was killed but he left all his money and things to Kate?”

“To do that you’d need a will. Don’t worry about your belongings or bank accounts. By tomorrow I can get all of those transferred to your new name. If you can start writing down your bank accounts, retirement funds, and any debtors you may have, I’ll get started this morning on making your new identity. I’m going to take my shower. Try not to break anything, Kate.”

I smiled and began writing down what I had at my fingertips. Hearing Samantha call me by my new name helped solidify my feelings about my new femininity. The name, Kate, felt comfortable but it would still take time to turn when someone called me that. I realized from this point on I needed to think of myself as a woman in every aspect.

***

Xin Xo received a call on an encrypted line. The conversation was in Mandarin and rushed. On his phone the grainy picture of the new Blaine Pierce was displayed along with instructions. He ended the call silently and walked to a hallway closet where he pulled out a long bag and a black backpack. His drive from New Jersey to Virginia would take an entire day and he had to stop to pick up a dozen more people along the way.

***

Back at BioStore Samantha had left Kate in the hands of General Anton. She had to start the new identity process and was grateful to gain a little distance from the situation. Samantha had started thinking of Blaine as Kate now and felt a need to let her raw passions subside. She was concerned what might happen had she been left with Kate for an extended period of time. She kept picturing holding Kate’s hands this morning and the intense desire to lick the jam from her fingers.

***

I went through another battery of tests that morning. These were physicals that even included a gynecologist exam, something I wasn’t too thrilled about. With the exception of my weight and one doctor getting injured when he checked my reflex response by hitting below my knee with a rubber hammer, everyone agreed I was the picture of health.

They found me some workout clothing which I changed into. I rather enjoyed the feel of the workout spandex material against my lean body. I was currently lying on my back with a spotter by my head for bench press. Starting out with just the forty pound bar I quickly had them add additional weight. After ten minutes I was nearing two hundred and fifty pounds and not struggling in the least. From this point I requested that they add ninety pounds at a time until I could no longer lift the weight. It was at approximately nine hundred and thirty pounds that I reached my limit.

General Anton stood by and watched until I finally stood back up. “How could this be?”

I’ve been trying to figure this out as I was lifting the weights. “I weighed two hundred and seventy-five pounds as a man. I could bench press over three hundred pounds. I still weigh the same amount but I’m less than half the size. Think of muscles like steel. A bar of steel has a certain tensile strength but if you fold the steel and compress it over and over again on itself, the strength of the steel increases. Not only did I maintain my original strength, but the compression of the muscle tissue caused my muscles to be almost three times stronger. Of course we’d have to test further to be sure. It’s unbelievable and explains how easily I broke the jar of jam this morning and how the metal shackles couldn’t hold me.”

“What about speed, jumping, and reflexes?”

“We’d have to assume they’ve also increased.”

For the rest of the morning I was further tested on strength and speed. Everyone, including myself, was astonished.

***

Samantha had finally arrived back at BioStore just in time to witness Kate being tested in hand-to-hand combat. Three soldiers with padding attempted to take her down but Kate was so blindingly fast. It was clear that the knowledge and skill training, combined with what appeared to be enhanced reflexes, speed, and strength were all working together to turn Kate into a weapon of mass destruction. Samantha stood in awe as she watched Kate easily knock the three men aside.

Samantha walked up next to General Anton. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

“That’s not the half of it.” He simply shook his head in disbelief even though he’d watched Kate all morning. “She can jump almost ten feet straight up, bench press almost a thousand pounds, and run sustained at speeds that would put her faster than an Olympic marathon runner. So far, all the skills that were transferred and tested are at a master level. Obviously there was a massive amount of information in the injection we haven’t tested. I’d need to get her to a military base for that.”

“How is she capable of these things?”

“You’d have to ask her that. She has a theory about muscle density, compression, and steel.”

Samantha looked at Kate with awe, but hardly witnessed the incredible skill. What she saw was the light sweat that glistened across her bare shoulders and her beautiful lean body. Her staring was interrupted by the General.

“She’s really something. How’s the identification coming?”

“Hmmm? Oh, yes. You’re now looking at Kate Pierce, 21 years of age, younger sister of Blaine. Some of the bank account stuff will take another day, but I have her passport, birth certificate, and driver’s license.”

“Good work, Samantha. We’re about done here for the day. This way you have the afternoon to get Kate situated. We’ll reconvene tomorrow morning at 0900 again. Our plan is to go to the naval amphibious base. They have a shooting range and we can test her operational abilities with some of the machines out there. I think the Pentagon wants her for military enlistment.”

“You’ll have a fight on your hands, General. The CIA has just informed me they think Kate might be an asset.”

***

Later that afternoon Samantha and I headed out shopping. Samantha had procured nearly a thousand dollars for my shopping spree. This was donated by BioStore employees to help jumpstart my new identity. I showered and changed back into the dress I’d been wearing for the last few days.

“Let’s start by heading to Ross. I know it’s sort of a low end clothing store, but you need so much that this will stretch your dollars. You’ll get ten times the clothes for the same price as the mall.”

I nodded and sat in contemplative silence for a few moments. “Am I a monster? What do people think of me? I need an honest answer.”

“You’re not a monster. Nobody thinks that. They recognize you’ve gone through a remarkable transformation and they may be confused, but they still see you as Blaine, just in a different looking body. You’re gorgeous, Kate. I admit I was a little shocked seeing how fast you were and how easily you took out those trained soldiers, but in no way do I consider you a monster.” Samantha hesitated a moment. “Quite the opposite actually.” She added in a low whisper.

I fidgeted until we arrived at the clothing store. I was so glad the transformation had occurred, but was concerned about my future. We both sat in the car for a few moments. “What happens to me now?”

Samantha reached over and took my hand in hers. I felt a rush of warmth spread throughout my body at the touch. “I’m sure you’re somewhat afraid of what the future may bring. It’s expected with the suddenness of the changes in your life. What happens depends on you, Kate. I’d almost suggest you take some time off to help you remember what’s important. You have a new lease on life. You could do or be anything you want. You could be a model, you’re pretty enough. You could continue your work at BioStore. I need you to know both the Pentagon and CIA are looking at you to see if perhaps you could be leveraged there.”

“You’re right. After the initial tests are done, I should take some time off.” I squeezed Samantha’s hand. “Let’s go buy some clothes.”

***

Two black vans pulled into the parking lot across from BioStore. A dozen men exited the vans and found their way to strategic positions on rooftops, behind trees, and in the bushes. Using encrypted radio communications they relayed information back to Xin Xo. BioStore was still on lockdown and security was very visible. There wasn’t enough security to hinder their plans, but they also didn’t need to get into a firefight here. With a single command over their headsets, they all reconvened at the vans and disappeared into the evening.

***

It was getting late and the car was filled with clothes. I was excited as I’d never had so much fun shopping before. Samantha and I seemed to enjoy each other’s company and the uncomfortable unspoken rift between us seemed to be dissipating. I remembered one particularly sexy outfit I tried on. When I stepped out to model the outfit, Samantha reached out and ran her hands along my body, feigning that she was checking the fit. I didn’t mind at all and was flushed by the time I headed back to the change room. I purchased several dresses, a few pairs of jeans, four pairs of shoes, some rather sexy undergarments, a swim suit, fitness clothing, and some skirts and blouses. In addition, Samantha helped me to buy some new necessities including feminine hygiene items, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, creams, razors, and a few cosmetics.

I convinced Samantha to let me test some new culinary skills I absorbed at my place that evening. While cooking sauce for lasagna I asked Samantha to test the sauce. We stood close to each other. Samantha reached over and placed her hand on my arm, leaning forward to sample the sauce. Samantha smiled as the sauce touched her lips. Samantha’s eyes widened and she licked her lips. I was feeling particularly aroused at our closeness and focused on a small drop of sauce on Samantha’s lower lip. Tossing the spoon into the sink, I placed both hands on Samantha’s face and kissed her.

Samantha practically jumped on me, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me back long and passionately. “I’ve been wanting to do that for the past two days.”

***

Xin Xo lowered the binoculars and made a mental note of the fact that Blaine Pierce appeared to have a relationship with this other woman. He was still waiting for her picture to be identified, but she carried a gun so most likely was CIA. He sat back in the van and let his eyes close. He’d have to make his move soon.

***

Samantha and I had a hard time keeping our hands to ourselves, but it was Samantha that finally put the brakes on. “This is too fast, Kate. Neither of us want to do something we’ll regret. You just went through a tremendous change and are adapting moment by moment. You need to know for sure I’m what you want. After tomorrow, take your time off and regroup. If, in a month, you still feel the same, then we can consider a relationship between us. I’m just afraid that you’re still adjusting and I’m about to get very hurt.”

“I’d never hurt you, and yet I think I understand. You’re probably right, that we both need a little time. However, does this mean we can’t see each other?”

“I’ll work on getting someone else to stay with you. It might take a few days though.”

Logically, I understood, but in my heart I was still sad. I liked Samantha a lot, and my feelings hadn’t changed. Now that I was who I felt I should be, there’d be no more ‘issues’. The fact that Samantha seemed to reciprocate my feelings made this waiting time all the more difficult.

***

The next day we all met at BioStore before heading on to the naval amphibious base. Getting onto the base took a few minutes to get everyone cleared. While the outside temperature was still reasonably cool, the first test was for me to run the obstacle course. This was a two mile course with nearly twenty obstacles. It just so happened that when they got me to the starting line an entire group of men showed up to run it themselves. General Anton greeted the detachment lead and explained that the military was testing out a new recruit. He pointed to me.

The detachment lead shook the General’s hand. “Major Bruce Hammond at your service. Sir, she’s welcome to run the course with us. But no woman has ever completed the course before.”

I stood there in my fitness clothing which did little to hide my curvy, athletic figure. Some of the men from the detachment were making snide comments, while others were making crude comments. I noticed the frown on Samantha’s face as she overheard the crude comments.

“We’re only here to see if she can keep up with you all. She’s fast though, so you might have trouble keeping up with her.”

“All due respect, sir, but we have the course record holder in our group.”

The general actually chuckled as the detachment lead yelled out the commands to get lined up. I looked at the General who nodded for me to get in line with them. The first obstacle was a ten foot wall with a rope. I whispered to the General, “All out?” He nodded.

“Ready… Go!”

I ran forward, and jumped, taking the wall in a mere half second not even using the rope, then landing lightly I sprinted for the next obstacle. By the time I reached the half-way mark, I was already a half-mile ahead of the fastest man. I was so invigorated by the course that I was tempted to run it again. I was barely breathing hard by the time I sauntered back to the General and the detachment leader. “That was fun!”

“Exactly what’s going on, General? Is she a robot? Our fastest person is still only halfway through the course.”

“She’s not a robot. We’ll be here for the entire day so we might run into you again. Will you be sparring with your detachment later this morning?”

“Right after they finish this run. What are you thinking?”

“You’ve got twenty men with you today? What do you say we pit Kate against your detachment?”

“What?” I interjected thinking me against twenty men was a little unfair.

“Don’t worry, Kate. It would just be to a soft takedown. Once someone is down, they’ll be out. It’ll be a good test of your fighting endurance.”

“General, granted she’s fast and I’m happy to oblige, but you need to share with me what’s going on.”

“I need your entire detachment to sign some non-disclosures. Your men are needed to help us evaluate Kate’s skills.”

It was thirty minutes later when then detachment was briefed about my unique training. Nothing was said that I was a man a few days ago, or my strength and speed was enhanced. Samantha came and stood next to me and I could see she wanted to hold my hand but held herself back. “Take it easy on them.” I nodded as I was led out into a field with the twenty men surrounding me.

The General shouted out commands. “Fifty dollars to the man that takes Kate down.” A number of the men shouted “Huah!”

“What do I get if they can’t?” I shouted back.

“Lunch on the US government.”

“That’s not much of an incentive.” I shouted as the men all laughed.

The men began maneuvering around me and several tried to grab me from behind. I let one wrap his arms around me then I grabbed his wrists, pulled them from around my waist and threw the man as gently as I could over my shoulder. I settled myself into a low stance as two more men came towards me. The first tried to sweep my leg, but I blocked his foot with my shin. I could hear him groan in pain and take a step back. The second man swung a fist towards me. I leaned back letting his fist pass inches away before I stepped forward and kicked at the back of his leg, forcing his knee to bend and knock him off balance. It was easy at that point to launch myself off his shoulders, putting him on the ground in the process and I wrapped my legs around the first man, taking him down at the same time.

Three down as I stood and urged the men forward towards me. I closed my eyes momentarily to center myself. Four men were coming at me from all sides. I took a deep breath and went on full offensive. Several minutes later I looked back at the field to see all twenty men on the ground. I admit, I was pleased but also a little frightened about myself. I tried to lighten the mood of myself more than anyone. “Where’s lunch?”

Unfortunately it was too early for lunch and we headed to the firing range. I felt oddly isolated. Some of the men from the detachment were actively in awe, some considered me an alien, some tried to hit on me, and the remaining were simply too stunned to frame an opinion yet. I was a woman, an anomaly, and a highly trained and skilled machine, but I was also emotionally vulnerable and I was saddened by the way I was treated.

At the range I was given a dozen different weapons to field strip. Considering I’d never fired anything more than a handgun before, I was excited to see my hands sliding effortlessly over the components. Firing the weapons was even more fun. I was pitted against experts with each class of weapon and I performed equitable to the best the military had to offer.

By the time lunch finally came, I was famished. My earned free lunch was rather dismal, but I was hungry enough not to worry about it. I sat with Samantha who periodically leaned in close to my ear and whispered encouragement to me. Her hand slipped into mine under the table. That she wasn’t running shrieking from me was a testament to her character.

As I sat I felt every nuance of my new body. The extra cushioning on my butt, the way my breasts moved as I reached for items, and the way my hair drifted into my eyes. I prayed I’d never take these feelings for granted. I scanned the people at the table and those around me. The General was talking animatedly with the with the detachment captain who kept glancing my way. His men were whispering to each other and pointing at me periodically. I overheard one suggest I’d be a good lay. I sighed suddenly losing my appetite. I excused myself from the table and took a walk, leaving the cafeteria.

I hadn’t gone far when Samantha caught up with me.

“It’s hard on you, isn’t it? I mean, I know you’re thrilled to be a woman as I can see the vibrancy in your eyes, but you’ve never been the focus of so much attention before and it’s weighing heavily on you.”

“You’re a beautiful woman, Samantha. Perhaps if I lived my entire life as a woman it wouldn’t get to me so much, but the stares of the men and the comments they speak are horrible. I never knew how predatory men could be.”

“Before, when you were a man, I never felt that lustful gaze from you. I noticed you looking at me in a longing way, but never lustful. It was endearing. There are good men out there. Honorable ones, but they’re few.” Samantha glanced around as we approached a little alcove in the building. She took my hand and led me into the alcove. “You’ve seemed down this morning.”

“I keep thinking about last night. I understand your concerns, but in my heart, I’m grieving thinking of being away from you, even for a moment.”

“I’ve been thinking about that too. I’m glad we stopped when we did, but I can’t stop feeling your lips on mine. I’m willing to take a risk, if you are. I have vacation time. What do you say we take some time together? I just don’t want to lose you.” I smiled as I felt Samantha’s hands wrap around my waist and pulled me against her. Her lips sought mine. I closed my eyes as I felt her warm soft lips. Samantha pulled back and looked at me. “Would you like to take the next few weeks and travel with me to Florida?”

“I’d love that!”

“Then it’s settled. I’ll put in my vacation request today. Assuming they’ll give you some time to adjust and make decisions, we could leave as early as tomorrow morning. They’ll be expecting us back soon.”

“Just one more kiss.” Samantha willingly obliged.

***

That afternoon they challenged me with operating everything from a hovercraft to a helicopter. While I loved testing my new abilities on the various machines, I was most excited about the helicopter. I’d always wanted to fly and now I could. Of course, the FAA didn’t accept that a twenty-one year old, Kate Pierce had a pilot’s license so I imagine my options for regular flying would be limited.

It had been a long day as we headed back towards our vehicles at BioStore. I was discussing taking time off and promising I’d be back in a few weeks with the General when our van was violently hit from behind. The van shuddered and rocked as our driver tried to maintain control. I heard popping noises coming from behind us. The rear glass shattered. I rolled myself over top of Samantha. The van was hit from behind again, this time it careened toward the edge of the road, tipped on its side and crashed down a bank and into the thick Virginia forest. We came to a forceful stop on the van’s side. Everyone was shaken up but no one seemed badly injured.

I heard men outside the van. I watched as someone pulled the back door open and the muzzle of an AK-47 appeared. I kicked the door sending the man behind it flying backwards. I dove through the opening and picked up his dropped weapon only to be stopped with a rifle pressed to the back of my head. I heard a scream as Samantha and the others were dragged from the van.

An Asian man walked down the bank towards us. He held a phone in his hands and checked the screen as he looked us over. He walked straight up to me. “Blaine Pierce. You will come with us.” He turned and took a step away.

“Who are you?” The man turned very quickly and the back of his hand came up to strike me across my face as he spun. My arm came up automatically to block him. He looked surprised and I felt the rifle muzzle pressed harder against the back of my skull.

“Impressive. Kill them all except this one and that one.” He spoke in Mandarin and I understood. He pointed to Samantha. He looked back towards me and spoke in English. “You are now property of the Chinese government. If you step out of line, she dies, painfully, and slowly.”

I looked around assessing my chances. They weren’t good. I heard a struggle as the General ran into the woods but several shots rang out and I saw him collapse. Our driver was dispatched execution-style and I cringed. I considered my options. I believed I could get away, but they were just putting bindings on Samantha and I couldn’t leave her. I assumed they didn’t know about my enhanced strength which could give us opportunities to escape later. I needed to bide my time.

We were shoved roughly into a black cargo van with our hands bound behind our backs. Three Chinese sat in the back, their guns trained on us. The man in charge took the passenger seat as we quickly drove away from the area. Once underway he turned back to me. “Blaine is a strange name for a woman. Where’s the file?”

“What file are you asking about?”

He rambled off a filename with a sequence number. I knew exactly what he was looking for. I was assuming that the Chinese didn’t get everything they wanted. With the file isolated and stored away for safe keeping after their hacking attempt, it would be near impossible for them to get it. “It is back in BioStore on an isolated network.”

“Then you’ll retrieve it for us.”

“I’m afraid that’s impossible. The US Government has locked down the facility and even I, the creator of the file, will not be able to gain access.”

“Then I hope you like international flights. My orders are either the file, or you, or both.”

“Let her go. Please.”

“The only way she survives is with your cooperation. Until we get what we want from you, she’s our hostage. I know all about your little love-affair with her. Truly a shame you’re both not into real men.” With that statement he moved from his chair and squatted in front of me. The guards now were blocked from their ability to shoot us. He reached his hand to my face and slowly slid it down my neck towards my cleavage.

This was my chance. I easily snapped the ties behind my back, grabbed his throat and threw him back into the guards. The driver veered hearing the commotion, but I quickly disabled the man in charge and his three guards just as the driver turned with a handgun pointed at me. I dropped low and kicked up, the handgun clanged off the roof. I reached over with a knife and held it to the driver’s throat. “Pull over and stop.” I told him in Mandarin. His wide eyes indicated he had no intention to do anything other than I asked him. Once stopped and the van was parked, I pulled him into the back of the van and secured him and the others before untying Samantha.

“You were amazing!” She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. “We need to go back and see if the others are still alive.”

“I’ll drive. Take their guns and watch them. See if you can find a phone. Call the police and have them meet us at the scene.”

***

By the time we reached the scene where we’d been forced off the road, the police were there. Samantha took over and directed them to take the prisoners into custody. Our driver was found dead, and the General was wounded, but alive. There were no signs of the rest of the Chinese attackers. General Anton was shipped to the hospital. The police didn’t know what to do with me as I had very little history as Kate Pierce. Samantha vouched for me, but they still questioned how we were able to escape.

Soon we were on our way to the hospital. The place was abuzz with security and military staff. This had been an act of war and everything was being locked down tight. No one had yet contacted Samantha or me regarding why they wanted us so badly. I’m sure that would be coming soon. Our little vacation plans were looking like they weren’t going to happen anytime soon.

We approached a man that looked like he was in charge. “How’s General Anton doing?”

The stern-faced man regarded us closely. “And who might you be?”

“I’m Kate Pierce and this is Samantha Moore. We were with General Anton when the attack occurred. Is he going to be alright?”

His face softened with the recognition of our names. “He’s about to head into surgery. He was shot twice, but nothing life threatening. He wanted to see you both before his surgery if possible. Follow me.” He nodded to two guards that flanked us as we walked down the hall and took us to a prep room. General Anton was lying on a gurney with an IV drip. Blood stained the sheets near his right shoulder and left thigh.

“Samantha, Kate.” He winced as he spoke. “This is Lieutenant Maxwell Birdsall. He and his team have been briefed.”

I placed a hand on the General’s arm. “This can all wait until you’re recovered.”

“Unfortunately, there’s more urgency. You’re obviously both in danger. How did you get away?”

“An opportunity arose for me to use my special skills. We captured the ring-leader and four others. They were looking for either the injection file data or me.”

“Listen to me carefully…” The doctors came in to wheel him into surgery. “I need three minutes. Lieutenant, have your guards remove the doctors so we can speak freely.” The doctors frowned but followed the guards outside. “I need you to go to BioStore and secure the file. Remove it from the premises and deliver into the hands of the CIA for safe keeping. Once the file is secured, reconvene with Lieutenant Maxwell. We bought ourselves some time, but it won’t be long before the Chinese will be after you again. You need to be protected.”

“Sir, I can take care of myself. They want me alive because without the file I’m the sole source of the skills and knowledge they want.”

“And why did they want Samantha?”

I blushed and Samantha blanched but she spoke up. “Somehow they know Kate and I have an interest in each other.”

The General blinked and looked back and forth between me and Samantha. “So you’re the bargaining chip to make sure Kate behaves?” Samantha nodded slowly. “Lieutenant. I want armed escorts for these two wherever they go. At 1400 hours tomorrow I need everyone at a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kate?”

“Yes sir?”

“Do you feel comfortable briefing the Joint Chiefs on the technology?”

“I’ll do whatever is necessary, sir.”

“Good. I’ll hopefully see you all tomorrow then.”

“Rest up and let the doctors take care of you sir.” He nodded as the Lieutenant ushered us out and the doctors back in. We watched as the General was wheeled into surgery.

***

It was determined that we’d head to BioStore first, then take the file to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. We’d stay overnight nearby as the next day we’d be at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Our escorts were rather stoic and spent a lot of time hovering close to us. Why was it that ever since my transformation I haven’t had the time I’ve wanted to myself?

Back at BioStore we went through the motions to secure the file. It was at this point that I hesitated and requested a bathroom break. I encouraged Samantha to follow me while the guards waited outside.

I pulled Samantha to the side and whispered to her. “I’m concerned for you. I’ve put you in such danger.”

“I’m a highly trained CIA agent. This is what I signed up for.”

“I know, but when I saw the gun to your head, something snapped inside me. The thought of you being hurt because of me, because of what we’ve done here…” Perhaps these new female hormones were getting the best of me, but a tear slipped from my eye.

“Oh, Kate!” She hugged me close and wiped my tear away. “If it wasn’t for what you’ve done here, and what happened, we’d never really have had a chance to get to know each other.” She kissed me and pulled away. “Let’s do what we came to do. The sooner we get that file to a protected place the better.”

We headed to a secondary lab where I built the injections and stored the cumulative skill and knowledge file. I transferred the file to an encrypted flash drive and removed it from the BioStore server. “Just one more thing…” I moved to a safe and opened it. Inside was another injection.

“What’s that?”

“I had made two injections. One with the female framework and one without. This was the one without. I’d debated using it thinking I didn’t need the other, that it was just all in my head and it would only make my despondency worse. It was preprogrammed with the code from before the virus was written. Unfortunately for me, or maybe rather fortunately, I updated the code of my injection the morning all of this started.” I looked back at the needle in my hands. “If this got in the hands of the Chinese, they’d be able to duplicate it.”

“So had you used this injection, you wouldn’t have transformed?”

“That’s right. I’m so glad I used the other one…” Gunfire erupted down the hall. We heard shouting. I grabbed Samantha and quickly stared into her frightened eyes. “Forgive me!” I pushed the needle into her arm and injected her. Her eyes went wide.

“What did you do?”

The guards had been focused on the attackers coming down the hall. One guard was shot, his gun skittered across the floor towards me as he fell. I picked up the weapon and pulled Samantha out of the line of fire. I looked back at Samantha, her eyes were dilated, a clear sign the nanobots were writing the knowledge and skills. It would take about a minute to complete. I moved to the doorway next to the other guard. He signaled six men were approaching. I leaned out and took aim, dispatching two attackers in two quick shots. More shots rang out. I glanced at Samantha willing the nanobots to fully complete their work. She was still wide-eyed and shaking slightly. Thirty seconds more.

Another shot and our second guard went down with a bullet to his right arm. I leaned out again and peered down the hall. One of the attackers pulled the pin on a flashbang and lobbed it towards the room we were in. I was suddenly very grateful for the skills and reflexes I had as I shot the flashbang from the air. I turned away as the sound and the flash blinded the attackers. I glanced back at Samantha, her eyes vibrant and normal. A small smile was on her face as she drew her gun. I rolled into the hallway, knowing Samantha was right behind me. The attackers, still disoriented by the flashbang, were hit, kicked, and disabled by two incredibly skilled and good looking women.

I removed their weapons and secured their hands and feet while Samantha administered first aid to the guards. We placed a call to the Lieutenant. Twenty minutes later the place was flooded with military. After some debriefing Samantha and I finally had a few moments to ourselves. I pulled her to the side.

“I’m sorry, Samantha. If that injection was taken, it could have been replicated and used by our enemies. By using it on you, they wouldn’t have access to it. I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok. I understand. I feel amazing! We moved through those four attackers like a tsunami. I’ve never had formal first aid training, and I was able to help the guards. I would’ve never risked the injection after seeing what happened to you, but I agree you had to do something with the injection to protect it in case they got to it. I can fly a plane! This technology is incredible!”

The Lieutenant came over and interrupted us. “We need to get you both up north. We’ve got a detachment staying here and we’ll transport you to Langley with another detachment, even though it appears you can both take good care of yourselves. I received word from the hospital. General Anton came through the surgery just fine. He’s even planning on attending the meeting tomorrow. I assume you have the file?” I nodded. “Get whatever you need. We leave in five minutes.”

***

On the way to Langley we stopped to let Samantha and me pick up some clothing for tomorrow’s meeting. Neither of us were appropriately dressed for standing before the Joint Chiefs. It had been a very long day when we finally settled into our room for the night. Guards were posted outside the room. I showered and changed into a nightgown and cleaned myself up. There were two queen beds in the room. I picked one and slipped under the covers as I waited for Samantha to shower as well.

Days. It had only been days and so much had happened. I felt so comfortable in my new body. I loved the way it felt. How my hair flowed, how my body moved. I didn’t miss my dangling bits between my legs in the least. I rolled over on my side and felt the weight of my breasts shift under the silky nightgown. It seemed like every move elicited a sexual response. Maybe it was just the newness of it all? If all women felt this way they’d be more easily aroused than men. I realized that I hadn’t thought about sexual things most of the day, only when I was near Samantha. It was her nearness, her smell, her touch that moved my emotions and made me excited.

I didn’t hear the door to the bathroom open, but I did feel the pressure on the far side of the bed. I rolled back over, right into Samantha’s arms. She smiled as she kissed me. I could feel her satin legs gliding over mine. Her sheer nightgown didn’t cover much. “If it’s alright with you, I’d like to sleep next to you tonight. It’s not every day a gun is pressed into the back of my skull.”

Her warmth radiated through me. I caressed her cheek with my hand and ran my fingers through her freshly washed hair. She moaned softly at my touch. “I want you so badly, but sleeping sounds good. We both had a crazy day and I want to give you my full attention and not let my mind drift to events of the day.”

She snuggled in closer and nuzzled my neck. “If we’re not asleep in half an hour, we’ll reassess. You smell nice.”

There was something so comforting simply holding each other. The long day churned through my mind but soon, the stillness and the comfort of our bodies entwined settled me. We drifted off to sleep.

***

We woke the next day late in the morning by a knock on the door. Samantha snuggled back into my arms and ignored the knock. It came again, more insistent this time. I felt the coolness of the air and an unhappy sigh as I slipped out of bed, put on a robe, and went to the door. Lieutenant Maxwell stood there with a computer bag in hand and a bag of food. His mouth was agape as he looked me over. “I’ve got a laptop for you to use. You might want to make up a few slides for your presentation. I brought breakfast for you as well. I’ll be back 1230 hours to take you to the Pentagon.”

He peered over my shoulder to see only one bed messed up. I close the door behind me a little to cut off his view. “Thank you. Any update on the General?”

“Just that the hospital pitched a fit when he wheeled himself out this morning. He’s a tough old bird. He’ll meet us at the meeting. I’ve been briefed on all that’s happened. You were really a guy a few days ago?”

It was still shocking for me to think people would still be hearing about that. I shrugged. “I admit it’s nice not to have to shave every morning.”

“That’s a trip. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. I’ll see you at 1230 hours.”

I nodded and closed the door behind me. I looked over at Samantha who was smiling at me through disheveled hair. “Coffee?” I held up the bag.

***

Samantha wore a red dress and I wore a dark blue skirt with a white blouse. If I could live the rest of my days wearing skirts and dresses, I would be more than thrilled. I luxuriated in the feeling of the air across my legs and the hem of the pretty skirt against my thighs.

We walked into the meeting room which contained a large wooden oval table. Screens and speakers were suspended from the ceiling above the center of the table. We arrived early and a very professional lady and several men were taking care of the details. They were setting out water, snacks, and fired up the presentation and computer system. At the stroke of 2:00 pm people filed into the room. The general was in a wheelchair but other than the odd wince of pain, he appeared in good spirits.

Lieutenant Maxwell began the meeting. “Ladies and gentleman, please take your seats. You’re all aware of General Anton, who we’re very grateful to still have with us. Let me introduce you to Samantha Moore from the CIA, and Kate Pierce from BioStore. As you’ve already been briefed, I won’t repeat the attacks we’ve suffered over the past twenty-four hours. I’ve asked Kate Pierce to present to you some background on the technology that is now a threat to the United States. Take it away, Kate.”

“Good afternoon.” I clicked the button in my hand and a picture of BioStore came on the screens. “I’ve been working at BioStore for the past ten years. My project and research was to develop DNA memory storage.” I brought up another slide that outlined the basics of the technology. “It was two years ago that I had a breakthrough in the technology. I was able to record the knowledge and skills of a Krav Maga master, store that in human DNA, and inject it into myself making me instantly a Krav Maga fighter.”

“Excuse me, Ms. Pierce. You’re what, twenty something? How could you have been doing this work for the past ten years?”

“I anticipated that question.” I clicked the button to display a picture of myself, Blaine Pierce. “As difficult as it will be to understand, this was me four days ago.” There was a lot of commotion in the room.

“That’s not possible!”

General Anton wheeled himself to my side. “I witnessed it myself. Bring up video one on the screens.” The screens flashed and we all watched the transformation video. I winced as I remembered the pain and heard my own screams. Everyone sat in stunned silence.

I spoke again. “Over the past two years I prepared a cumulative skills and knowledge injection. I included military skills, machine operations, including piloting helicopters and jets, language skills, survival knowledge, medical, and much, much more. During my final preparations for the injection the Chinese hacked into our systems and altered the injection code making it react more like a virus. When I injected myself, the virus portion of the code re-wrote my DNA. While I retained all the knowledge and skills from the injection, the virus transformed my into what you see today.”

A senior looking gentleman spoke up. “If I understand all of this, your transformation had nothing to do with the project and everything to do with the virus code left by the Chinese?”

“Yes.”

The General helped us get back on track. “The important thing to note here is that the Chinese now have all the information to use this technology with the exception of one thing. The cumulative skills and knowledge. After interrogating Xin Xo, leader of the Chinese attackers, his goal was to find Blaine Pierce and retrieve him or the file. His phone had a picture of Blaine as he now is, thus we fully believe they copied the transformation videos. To give you an understanding of what this technology can do and how vital it is for us to recover it, we have some additional video for you. Play video file number two.”

The screen flashed again and the showed videos of me fighting, piloting a helicopter, and firing weapons.

“Kate? You’re telling me that this injection allowed you to fight like that and pilot helicopters?”

“Yes sir.”

“There’s more, but perhaps Kate can describe her specific condition.”

I was hesitant but the General gave me a nod to continue. I looked around the room and picked a man that was obviously a body builder. “Sir, could I please borrow you for a moment?” He stood and came by my side. “Lift me off the ground.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s all right. Please try to lift me off the ground.” He shrugged and tried to lift me but struggled. “Do you mind if I try to lift you?” He had a funny look on his face but nodded. I easily lifted him from the ground before I indicated for him to take his seat again. “Before my transformation, I weighed two hundred and seventy-five pounds. The virus code rewrote my DNA and rebuilt my muscle tissue, bones, and everything about me without reducing my mass. In essence, I’m highly compressed. My muscle mass is approximately twice the density of a normal human being.”

“What does this mean exactly?”

“I have enhanced strength, speed, and reflexes.”

“Play video number three.”

This time the video showed me lifting nearly one thousand pounds, racing the obstacle course, jumping, and taking on a detachment of twenty men. I didn’t even know this had been recorded. The room fell very silent.

“There’s a little more. It was these enhanced abilities combined with the DNA set of stored skills and knowledge that allowed us to escape the Chinese for both the attacks. While we were securing the file back at BioStore, I made sure to get a second injection I had made before the virus code was added. When we fell under attack, rather than risking the injection falling into the wrong hands, I injected Samantha Moore with it. She now has all of the skills and knowledge that I do, albeit without the enhanced strength, speed, and reflexes. If you could take a look at your handouts, you’ll see the entirety of the cumulative injection.” I watched them flip through nearly twenty pages of single line items that listed everything that was injected into us.

“You know all these languages and skills?”

“We both do.”

The silence in the room was deafening. The General finally spoke. “As you can see, the ramifications of this technology in the wrong hands could sway the military power of entire nations. It’s possible that they could recreate the transformative process making soldiers similar to what you witnessed from Kate. We need a plan of action. Options?”

The senior man at the table shared his thoughts. “It’s obvious our goals should be to find and destroy the technology in the hands of the Chinese and to bring to justice those involved. The attacks on US citizens are not enough to declare war as the people involved are naturalized Chinese and China would deny their involvement. Sending a cruise missile would escalate this to a war with China no one wants. A large team wouldn’t get across the border. We need a small team to infiltrate and make the destruction of their facility look like an accident.”

General Anton agreed. “Who do we have? I want names.”

“We’ve got Seal Team Six. They’re probably our best bet, however, none can speak Mandarin.”

The room got quiet for quite some time. The senior gentleman finally spoke up again. “Replay video number three.” I furrowed my brows as they watched me in action. He turned to me. “How about Kate and Samantha?” He held up the twenty page document. “If they’re skilled in all of these things, then they’re equally as skilled as our best military. They have survival skills, medical, and languages. Kate’s enhanced abilities could easily make her worth a dozen men.” I opened my mouth and closed it again not sure what to say.

The General tossed out a word of caution. “Wouldn’t this be playing right into their hands? They either need the file, which is secured now, or they need Kate or Samantha. Samantha is CIA, she would likely be picked up trying to enter China.”

“I wouldn’t suggest they travel the regular routes. Nanning is close to the Vietnam border. We give them fake visa entries and sneak them across the border. As to playing into their hands, at least they wouldn’t be shot on sight like anyone else.”

I didn’t know what to think. I had skills and knowledge, but no real experience. I didn’t want to put Samantha in danger, yet she was a CIA agent, more than capable to this type of work. Who would we report to? I had so many questions.

“You can’t ask Kate to do this. I’m CIA, this is my job, but leave Kate out of it.” Was Samantha trying to protect me? I couldn’t imagine letting Samantha go alone.

“I’m willing, but I need everyone to understand that skills and knowledge do not equate to experience. We could build additional injections, but that’s a month-long process. By that time the Chinese could easily move the data and their operations anywhere. Have we considered reverse hacking them and destroying the data?”

General Anton spoke again. “Kate brings up valid points. Unfortunately the IP address used to hack BioStore has been shut down on their end. The good news is we’ve breached the closest router to their facility and know that no files have been transmitted out to other locations. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t copied the files to something portable and moved them the old fashion way. Time is of the essence. We know the building they’re operating in is located in a cluster of apartment buildings, but there’s no indication that building is being used for anything other than this operation. My biggest concern sending in Kate and Samantha alone is that they lack the strategic experience. I recommend we send them in with two experienced military men to handle the operational side. Off the top of my head, we already have two leaders that are in the know about this project. Lieutenant Maxwell Birdsall and Major Bruce Hammond.”

***

Thirty minutes later the final details were still being put together. Samantha and I were told we could leave but needed to remain nearby. We would likely have a briefing tomorrow morning at 0900 and be on a military transport to Thailand by that afternoon.

We stepped out of the room and found a smaller empty conference room that we could sit and wait in. I sat down and started to cry. I don’t know why I was crying. Samantha was immediately by my side with her arm around me. “What’s wrong, Kate?”

“I… I don’t know. This…” I waved my hands up and down my new body. “…is everything I ever dreamed of and more. It’s here…” I pointed to my head. “I’m overwhelmed by hundreds of thoughts at once. I’m thinking about my shoes and if they really match my outfit. I’m worried about your safety. I feel your kiss on my lips. I’m replaying my emotions from the attacks. I think I left some dishes uncleaned in the sink. And, I feel bloated with the odd sharp pains in my stomach.”

“I’m sure anyone in the same situation would be overwhelmed. I know I am and I’ve been trained for these very situations we’ve found ourselves in. The female brain works differently from a man’s. I once saw a video where a professor was explaining the difference between how a man and a woman process things. A man will have intense surges of emotion, but at some point, his logical side will kick in and push aside the emotion to focus on the solution. Men are very limited in their focus. The professor displayed a picture of a single light switch representing the male thought process. I remember vividly the picture he displayed for a woman’s thought process. It was a picture of a heaping pile of spaghetti. The analogy is so accurate. We women tie our emotions to our memories. Subtle events like seeing a color, a smell, or hearing words that someone says can unlock a memory and bring forth the associated emotion. At any given point in time, we can think of dozens of things at once. For the rest of the female population, we’ve lived with this all our lives. It’s natural. For you, you might be just starting to experience this.”

“I love it and hate it at the same time. I feel more aware of everything.”

“I think I can help you. When I get overwhelmed I intentionally begin eliminating the clutter in my head. I’ll check my shoes and confirm they match my outfit, then I can put it away. Who cares about the dishes? They’ll be there when you get back.”

“I think I understand and I can see that will help.” I winced a little. “I must have eaten something bad.”

“I could be wrong, but you might be experiencing the start of your first period.”

“Really? Oh my God. That would be so wonderful!” Another bloated painful feeling hit me. “Is it always like this?”

“You think having a period is wonderful? You’ve got a lot to learn, Kate Pierce.” She chuckled.

“The wonderful part comes from knowing I’m truly and fully female. I’m capable of getting pregnant, of bringing a life into the world. Isn’t that the most wondrous thing in the world?”

“I always saw it as a bit of a pain, but I can see your point. For someone who has always desired to be female, it would be a grateful hindrance.” Samantha fished in her purse and pulled out a pad and a couple of Motrin. “This pad is self-explanatory. If you need a tampon, which you might not need for a day or two, I can explain how you use one, or if you feel more comfortable, there’s bound to be online information to show you how to put it in. The Motrin will take the edge off the pain. During this time of the month, your hormones are also heightened making you more susceptible to being overwhelmed.”

I stroked the paper container of the pad with my thumb. I really was a woman. I smiled at Samantha. “I’ll be just fine.”

***

It was another hour before the meeting with the Joint Chiefs ended and the General found us. “Everything’s all set for tomorrow. There were concerns that you have no designation, that, in essence, we’re throwing a civilian into helping resolve a national security incident. For the moment, you’ll be considered a military consultant. You’re both free to go, but you’ll need to be at CIA headquarters first thing in the morning at 0600 hours.”

Samantha and I left the Pentagon and took a cab into DC and found a quaint little restaurant to have dinner. I held her hand in the dark of the corner booth. “Did you think we’d get our vacation in Thailand?”

Samantha laughed at that. “There’s no reason we can’t stay there for a while on the return trip. I’ve been wanting to see you in a bikini and Thailand has some of the nicest beaches in the world.”

“That would be so wonderful. Assuming we come back without incident, do you think they’ll let us footloose and fancy free for a few weeks?”

“I sure hope so. I’m enjoying our time together and getting to know you, but if things don’t slow down soon, I’ll likely pounce on you in the middle of some public place.”

“Mmmmm. I’d enjoy that immensely. You know I was married before, right?”

“I think I heard that you had been. Have you… I mean, can you compare the differences.” She blushed, winked, and I blushed too.

“I did some self-exploration to put it nicely. As a man, the pleasure is intense, but it’s focused and explosive. As a woman, it’s as if my entire body experiences wave after wave. It’s far more spiritual and emotional. I can’t imagine what it would be like making love to another person.” I squeezed Samantha’s hand.

“Is it hot in here?” She fanned herself a little.

***

Samantha and I rolled into the CIA office on schedule and were immediately escorted into a large briefing room. I was amazed at the efficiency of everyone as on tables before us was all the gear we would need for the mission. Clothing had been carefully selected for everyone that would allow us to move freely as tourists through Thailand and Vietnam. There was everything from shorts and tops to dresses. Next to those clothes were documents and papers we would need in case we were stopped anywhere. Finally were the mission clothes and weapons.

Bruce Hammond appeared at my side. “How are you holding up, Kate?”

I smiled a little as I contemplated my response. My period did indeed start the night before and I was getting a crash course on feminine hygiene. I noticed the clothes chosen for Samantha and I were practical, yet not something I’d necessarily choose for myself. I smelled the Major’s aftershave and was grateful it did nothing for me. “If someone had suggested I’d be in the middle of an international military mission a week ago I would have laughed at them at the nonsense of it all. It’s a bit overwhelming if I’m honest.” I looked back at the clothing. “They didn’t pack beachwear so I’m assuming we won’t have time to hit the beach?”

Bruce smiled. “Missions like these are always nerve wracking. We do our best to maintain a sense of humor. R&R doesn’t happen until we’re successful. Have you checked your papers?”

I pulled a driver’s license from the table. “Kate Hammond?”

Another disarming smile by Bruce. “They thought it best we pose as two couples. I’ll be Tom Hammond, your husband.”

Samantha who was standing nearby squeezed in front of Bruce and wiggled a finger at him. “Just because I’m not as strong as Kate doesn’t mean I can’t kick your ass. Keep your hands off her.”

He backed up a step and put his hands up, smiling broadly. “I wouldn’t think of it, Mrs. Birdsall.”

“Really? I get ‘stoic by-the-book’ Maxwell? You sure we can’t go as singles or even as politically correct LGBT couples?”

Maxwell walked up to us. “Briefing in five minutes, then we need to be transferred to the plane that departs at 0900.” We all looked at him and laughed. “What?”

***

The flight to Thailand was long, boring, and uncomfortable. I felt like a crate in a cargo hold instead of a passenger. So much for military transportation. We stepped out of the back of the plane and were immediately hit by a hot and humid wave or air that smelled rather like a mixture of jet exhaust and mildew. The short walk with our gear to our rental car was more than enough to make me need a shower. I was grateful to be wearing a light sundress so my legs could breathe.

Bruce, or Tom as he was known for our trip, drove us across the border and into Vietnam through the night and into the next day. As with most technology in Southeast Asia, our car barely functioned. The air conditioning broke down early into our drive and my new mechanical knowledge only showed me enough to tell me it was a lost cause. The boys sat up front due to their larger size and Samantha and I sat in the back. I was thankful for my smaller size and managed to sit with my feet folded under me and stretch out at times with Samantha making the entire trip somewhat more comfortable. By the time we stopped in a small town near the Chinese border we all smelled badly and my dress was sticking to my body. My hair was plastered to my head. We all needed showers and a change of clothes in the worst way.

When it came to the room assignments I wasn’t happy we had to stick with appearances. My ‘husband’ Tom and I took one room and Samantha went with Maxwell. What made matters worse is that there was no air conditioning and the rooms only had a single small double-sized bed. I realized this was a mission and nothing would happen, but seeing Samantha walk into her room with Maxwell nearly drove me insane with jealousy.

We each got showered up then met up at a small eating establishment across the street. We ordered a few beers as it was cheaper and safer than bottled water. There was no discussion about the mission as we were well briefed and couldn’t risk anyone overhearing us. I sat next to Samantha as I ate my pho. Her fingers, hidden by the table, kept sliding up my dress. I overheard some of the Vietnamese talking about us. They were suggesting they hit our husbands over the head and have their way with us. Samantha and I looked at each other and laughed.

***

It was a rough night being so hot and having a guy sleep next to me. Bruce was honorable and kept his distance. Of course, it could have been Samantha’s warning the day before. It was three in the morning when we snuck out of the hotel and drove closer to the Chinese border. We hid the car on a dirt road and made our way through the thick, steamy forest to the border. Using night vision goggles and infrared sensors we managed to sneak across the border without incident. Dropping some of our gear and hiding it, we moved further into China on foot until we came to a small village.

Samantha found a car we could use and we pushed it a mile down the road before hotwiring it and started driving it towards Nanning. We reached the city by midday and stored our gear in the trunk of the car. We then did a few tourist type activities and even stopped by the local Pizza Hut for some food. This was like no Pizza Hut I’d ever seen before. It was tall and shiny made of glass and steel. There was someone to open the door for us and escort us to our table and no fewer than five people to wait on us. The entire thing reminded me of a scene from the movie Demolition Man when the fanciest restaurant in town was Taco Bell. The cheese on the pizza tasted terrible however. Definitely not your US pizza parlor pizza.

We made our way back to the car as it was now dark. We’d not been stopped once, but we did have to show our papers at the restaurant. We drove to the neighborhood where the hackers were located and I was surprised to see how plain the living conditions were. The apartment buildings all looked the same and were cement on the outside. It was easy to spot our target as it was the one with a helicopter and antennas on the roof, guards out front, and fancier vehicles parked outside.

The backside of the building faced a polluted river and had a large cement wall dropping some thirty feet to the river below. There were no entrances on this side of the building, but there were some balconies. One several floors up had a door open. This was our way in. Keeping to the shadows we worked our way beneath the balconies. I took some rope and jumped lightly to the first balcony then jumped again to reach the second balcony. I listened intently and used night vision goggles to peer inside. It was all quiet. I secured the rope and tossed it down. Once everyone was on the balcony we drew our pistols and attached our silencers.

We opened the door to the hallway beyond and found this floor to be empty. We slowly made our way to the third floor. Once again I was reminded that skills did not equate to field experience. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I struggled a little with the leapfrogging movements and communications.

Now on the third floor we used a little mirror to look into the hallway from the staircase and spotted several guards in front of a wood paneled door. We pulled masks over our faces to hide our identities. Samantha and I were handed tranquilizer guns and we each marked out target and shot. It only took moments for the guards to slump, but we were all there to catch them as they fell so that they wouldn’t make any noise. We pulled them into the stairwell to let them sleep the night away.

We flanked the door to the room and were about to burst in when the door opened and a Chinese military officer stepped into the hallway. I grabbed him and held a knife to his throat as Samantha, Bruce, and Maxwell rushed in and spread out throughout the room.

This was it, there were about twenty Chinese in the room as well as Matt Stinson. I yelled out in Chinese. “Put your weapons down and step away from your computers.”

The hackers were frightened and did as they were told, but Matt grabbed a gun from another guard and fired three shots into the chest of the man I was holding. I saw him reach for a USB drive and run out the far door. I dropped the man I was holding. “Take care of these people and wipe all the data. Meet me on the roof. I’ll get Matt!”

I ran after Matt, leaping over a table and elbowing the guard at the far end of the room. Matt was running for his life and heading for the street. He paused briefly to shoot at me a few times, but he was never close. By the time I got to the ground floor, he was already getting into a fast sports car. I was slowed by several guards, but managed to take them out quickly. I tapped my ear. “I’m in pursuit of Matt. He’s in a sports car heading towards the main part of the city.”

“Be safe Kate! We have things under control here.”

I jumped on a sports motorcycle, having never ridden one before. I had the skills, but I was still shocked how fast these were. In mere seconds I was flying down the narrow streets and dodging late night people looking for a meal of noodles at the local shops. I had Matt in my sights and I gunned the engine knowing few sports cars could match the performance of a motorcycle. I careened around the corners laying the so low my knee almost touched the ground.

I watched as Matt’s car raced into a crowded intersection, skid, and turn ninety degrees. I cut the corner over the sidewalks and got closer, but I narrowly avoided hitting some pedestrians. I stayed on the sidewalk and paralleled the car. When it was safe, I pulled my pistol and began shooting at his tires. I shot out the back right tire then I shot out his front right.

With the two tires on the right side destroyed, the car veered right as the rims dug into the asphalt. I skidded to a stop and saw the look of panic in Matt’s eyes through the side window as the car lurched then rolled flipping three times and smashing into a parked van. I ran to the car just in time to see the light in Matt’s eyes dim. He was dead. I reached in through the twisted wreckage and grabbed the hard drive. I heard the sirens and jumped on the motorcycle and headed south.

“On my way back. I have the hard drive. Matt’s dead.”

“We’ve got company. The building’s been scrubbed and we locked the staff we found in another room.”

“Samantha. Can you reach the helicopter?”

“We’re here now. Take off and meet me south of the city.” I looked back over my shoulder to see police racing after me. “I’ve got company too.” I could hear gunfire in the distance over the microphones. “Hang in there Samantha!”

“We’re good!”

I raced the motorcycle south towards Vietnam as fast as I dared go for the conditions with the police in hot pursuit behind me. “Right above you sweetheart!” I felt the wind of the helicopter and looked up to see it hovering not too high above me. Suddenly a truck pulled out before me with a machine gun in the back. It started to open fire on me. I swerved to the left as it continued to rake the ground with bullets near me.

“Drop lower!”

The machine gun fire was closing in and the truck was now heading straight for me. I stood on the seat and at the last possible moment I jumped, grabbing the helicopter skid. “Pull away!” I felt the helicopter veer to the right, swinging me outwards but I hung on tight. Below the motorcycle careened straight into the truck exploding both into a huge ball of fire.

Bruce pulled me into the helicopter. “That’ll leave a mark. Do you have the drive?”

I pulled it from my backpack and handed it to him and climbed into the co-pilot seat.

“Miss me?”

“Always! I’m flying a helicopter, how cool is this?”

***

We landed well away from the border, doubling back towards the city before landing. This was to throw off any pursuit. Another stolen car and several hours of driving found us close to our original border crossing. Security had been tightened with helicopters and military patrolling the border even though I doubted they knew who it was that attacked the building.

When we got to our original stash of items, Bruce pulled out several stealth suits. We each put one on to mask our heat signatures and make us appear dark in night vision. It was a tenuous thirty minutes as we crept across the border and back into Vietnam. I don’t think I’d even breathed during that time.

By the time we made it back to the car the sun was starting to come up. We changed into our tourist clothing and I looked at Maxwell and Bruce. “Sorry Bruce, I just don’t love you anymore. I’ve been having an affair with Maxwell’s wife.” With that I pulled Samantha into my arms and kissed her passionately.

It was a day later that we were back in Thailand. As far as we knew we recovered all of the data and while the Chinese were hinting to the US that they knew something had happened, there was no evidence for them to blame the US on anything. Several Chinese were injured when the motorcycle had crashed but other than that the only loss of life was Matt Stinson.

Samantha and I convinced everyone that two weeks of vacation were due and we’d both take a military flight from Thailand then. Maxwell and Bruce headed back for the lengthier debriefings.

***

Twenty-four hours later Samantha and I we soaking up the sun in our bikinis on a tropical Thailand beach. With all the craziness of the past few weeks, we still hadn’t felt like it was the right time for us even though we’d been together around the clock. I rolled over onto my back and automatically adjusted my bikini top. I’d been so amazed how quickly I adjusted to being a woman. Perhaps it was because my brain had always wanted this, or that I’d fantasized about it all my life. I’d even had my first period, which turned out to be not so bad. I reached my hand over to Samantha’s and entwined our fingers together.

“Mmmmm. This is wonderful. No one shooting at us, the world is safe. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’ve had any more time to think about us.”

“It’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about, Samantha. I want us to be together.”

Samantha rolled towards me just as the skies opened up with a heavy warm rain. We quickly gathered our things and tossed on the thin, almost see through covers we wore as we ran back towards our beachfront bungalow. We ran through the warm rain and were about to enter the bungalow when Samantha pulled me to the side and pressed me against a wall.

“I had a fantasy about us, Kate. The rain reminded me.” My back was to the wall and the rain was dripping from my hair. My clothes, now totally soaked, hugged my body transparently. I looked into Samantha’s eyes as she stared at me with a mixture of lust, longing, and love. Her hand reached for my cheek and stroked my smooth skin before moving into my long hair. She leaned forward and kissed me, her thigh moving between my legs, and her other hand sliding up the exposed skin of my hip.

“Come on, sweetheart. Our bed, shower, and couch are awaiting us.” She took my hand and led me inside.

***

Several months later Samantha and I had moved in together. I decided to leave BioStore as I was afraid of the ramifications and ethical decisions that needed to be made around the DNA storage. As far as I knew, no one had been working on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government was, however.

Samantha and I managed to work a deal with the CIA so that we could work together as partners and act as special military consultants as needed.

I looked back at my life and was so grateful for the chance I had to become a woman. I thought of all those other men who suffered the same way I had. I wished there was a magic pill everyone could take to be what they wanted to be, or better yet, what their brain thought they should be.

I stood in front of the mirror and looked at the woman dressed in a sexy black dress and high heels looking back at me. I’d finally come to accept that she was me and not some figment of my imagination. Samantha came up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist and kissed my neck.

“Any regrets?” It always amazed me how she knew when I was thinking back about my old life.

“Only that this all didn’t happen earlier in our lives.” I turned and kissed Samantha passionately, knowing with a smile I’d have to redo my lipstick.



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