A/N: Yes, I know. I shouldn't be posting another fic that I probably won't finish anytime soon. But I needed to get this off my chest. This is a story that gives me a chance to indulge in a bit of nerdiness without going overboard. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know.
Title may change later, we'll see. Beta'd by lilybri, whom I thank for taking the time to do so.
A low, steady humming, punctuated by light scratching sounds, woke Sakura from her slumber.
"Subject PFX-01 seems to be responding well to the treatments."
What? Had she left the tv on again? Dammit. Her head was pounding and whatever was humming or buzzing was giving her a killer headache...
"Low response to stimuli, subject may possibly be exhibiting REM sleep patterns...registering faint impulses...may be reacting to sounds..."
Her lids flicker, but her eyes were so heavy; she just wanted to keep lying here and sleep forever. The low, droning voice was highly irritating, though. Her hand twitched with the urge to punch something.
Shut up, she wants to say, but her mouth is firmly shut and it feels like it's full of cotton and glue. A flash of insight strikes her-
Something doesn't feel right.
Get up, her inner voice shouts. Get up now!
How long has she been asleep? What was she doing last night? Why is there an unfamiliar voice so close to her? She struggles against the waves of sleep threatening to bury her into unconsciousness once more.
"Ah, her brain pattern is changing, she's waking up," the irritating voice says.
Pale pink lashes laboriously lifted-and then promptly slammed shut as bright light floods her sensitive eyes. Sakura swore hoarsely and tried to clutch at her face, but her shoulders and wrists wrenched against something tight, causing her to groan at the unexpected pain.
"You're not used to the light after going so long without it," the voice informed her. It was a very matter of fact tone and it was vaguely condescending. Thankfully, the bright light in her face retreated, and Sakura breathed out in relief before cautiously cracking her lids. The sting was a little more subtle this time around, but it wasn't anything that she couldn't handle.
Bare white walls met her sight and she blinked for a second, wondering if she had somehow managed to land herself in the hospital. She frowned, her eyes struggling and failing to focus. It certainly had that medicinal smell and painfully white, sterilized look but there was some niggling sensation in her mind that had her foggy brain trying to stir itself and think...
Curious dark eyes peered down at her from behind thick glasses and silver-white hair. Sakura stared back in confusion. The man, surprisingly young despite his hair color, gave her a perfectly pleasant smile in return.
"Ah, you look well, PFX-01! How's your head?"
Sakura frowned, and her lips cracked at the suddenness of the motion. She winced at the sharp sting, then narrowed her eyes at the stranger and carefully moistened her lips before asking, "Excuse me?"
The man hummed lightly before giving her a falsely cheerful smile. "Ah, I see you're still a bit disoriented. Well, my name is Kabuto; I am your doctor and I'll be monitoring your vitals and breeding progression."
"What? Breeding?" Sakura growled, her throat feeling raw and abused from the force of her voice. "What the fuck are you talking about? I've never seen you before a day in my life!"
Or at least she thought so, anyway. Sakura couldn't really remember much at the moment. Did she have friends and family somewhere who were worried about her?
Kabuto tsked at her outburst. "You are a female who carries a rare gene that produces something called Antibody X; it is genetic information that is very important to my employer and myself. We're glad you've been cooperating with us on this project so nicely." The cold smile on his face froze Sakura's insides and made her stomach feel heavy.
Antibody X? Project? Cooperating? What in the hell was going on here?!
Her head turned and she tensed in shock at the sight of straps holding her hands and arms down; a light, testing pull of her legs informed her that her legs were also bound. She stared up at the male in front of her with wary eyes. "What do you want from me?"
Kabuto smiled down at her for a moment, a dark expectancy in his eyes. Sakura waited silently and was rewarded when he finally spoke; unfortunately, what he said next was not what she expected. "Do you believe in lycanthropes and shapeshifters?" he asked softly.
Sakura gaped once more, her green eyes wide and nervous. What kind of nut house had she been put in? "Are you some kind of nutjob?" she demanded. "That's ridiculous! No one believes in that bullshit!"
"Ah, but rest assured," a smooth voice whispered from somewhere beyond her field of sight, "we believe in you."
At her side, Kabuto made some sort of motion that she couldn't quite catch, and the table she was lying on was suddenly tilting. Her eyes roamed over the weird-looking vials and syringes lying around and a few odd, cylindrical glass tanks filled with green-tinted or reddened liquid.
Jesus Christ, she was being held prisoner in some kind of mad scientist's lab and had no fucking idea how she'd gotten there.
A man walked around in front of her and Sakura felt her heart begin to accelerate at the odd, slitted pupils set in tiger-gold eyes. The man was thin, tall, and his long, dark hair, pale skin, and high cheekbones gave him a strange aura of aristocracy. The hard, flat look in his eyes made him look distinctly predatory; his entire visage screamed unnatural, and Sakura didn't like him one little bit. She tensed.
"Hello, my dear," the man said, his smile thin-lipped and indulgent. "I am Orochimaru, and you have something very important to me inside of you."
Sakura began to tremble. "This better be some sick joke," she spat, glaring daggers at Orochimaru.
The pale man laughed and Sakura watched in sickened fascination as a thick, unnaturally long tongue flicked out of his mouth before her. "I am perfectly serious, Haruno Sakura," he hissed softly, almost lovingly. "There is a select percentage of people out there just like you who have no idea of how important a role they play in this world."
I am going to be raped and die, she thought numbly. I'm going to be killed by some insane freak with a huge tongue that will probably eat me and use my bones for his buddy's mad scientist studies.
"What are you?" she whispered, her lips barely parted as she shallowly began taking harsh, rapid breaths. She barely registered the rapid beeping of the heart monitor as flat golden eyes stared at her like an interesting morsel ripe for catching."Why do you need me?"
A prick at the inside of her elbow made her flinch and her eyes darted to the silver haired man watching her with that phony smile on his face. "Don't worry PFX-01, we'll take good care of you."
Her eyelids drooped. Even as she struggled against the drugs flooding her system at an alarming rate, she opened her mouth to protest, but coldness spread through her veins, lulling her heart's frantic beating into a slow thud. Sakura weakly cried out, her eyes rolling into her head as she moaned weakly.
The waves of darkness she'd just barely managed to fight back rose up from the corners of her vision, crashed over her, and then Sakura knew nothing once more.
The experiments they did on her were long, invasive, and at times brutal. Sakura had the impression that she'd always been an academic type; the first time she'd seen her unclothed body, it had looked soft, pale, and unscarred, as if she had never been outside in the sunlight or done hard labor before.
Now though, her pale skin was littered with needle marks and scars from where blood and flesh had been regularly stripped. After that first initial encounter with Orochimaru, Kabuto never bothered to answer her anymore. No matter how much she demanded, cried, screamed, or begged to know what was going on.
It was like she'd been stripped of her status as a human being and had no right to do anything anymore. They didn't even bother to use her name beyond that first mock 'introduction'. To them, she was Subject PFX-01, a unique specimen that held the secrets to their insane genetics project or whatever the fuck it was.
"Well, PFX-01, you'll be happy to know that we've collected sufficient data on you and will no longer need to draw eggs and tissue samples from you," Kabuto said to her after what seemed like weeks of silence, his dark eyes disturbingly cheerful in the face of his words. "Now, we can begin the preparations for the more interesting parts of the experiment."
Sakura merely stared blankly in surprise, her aching body long since grown too weary to fight or struggle against them. She'd noticed that a lot about Kabuto. He had ideas with what he'd like to do with her that he couldn't follow through with, without express permission from Orochimaru, but he talked about them to himself when he thought she was unconscious. Often. No matter how disturbing his fantasies were or how disquieted she grew.
Suddenly the scientist before her began prepping a needle with slow, measured movements.
"The difference between lycanthropes and shapeshifters is very simple, PFX-01. Shifters are not limited to a single form in their lifetime, and they are born with the potential to develop shapeshifting abilities once they hit puberty. The ones who can transform usually adapt to a specific species of animal; the more powerful the shifter, the more animals and color varieties they can adopt. Shapeshifters have complete control over their ability once they pass puberty and gain and lose power based on solar and lunar cycles.
"Lycanthropes, however, are those who have not been born with the ability to shift. They have latent genes from a shapeshifter ancestor that could not transform and have been infected by a shapeshifter's bite or blood. They gain the ability to transform, but they have no control over it once their lunar or solar cycle sets in."
Even as she listened to Kabuto, Sakura watched with a spike of fear as a vial filled with an unknown, viscous red fluid was carefully affixed to the needle that the scientist was fiddling with.
"This is blood from Specimen RMX-02," Kabuto said conversationally as he lightly began preparing her vein for the injection. The cold swipe of alcohol made her flinch. "He is like you, but he has been chosen for this experiment from birth, as his father-an associate of ours-specifically bred him for this purpose."
Sakura grew cold. What kind of monster would promise their own child for experiments under someone like this? It was disgusting and inhumane.
The horrifying glint of excitement in his eyes made Sakura tense and attempt to strain backwards. Uncaring of her unease, the mad doctor efficiently injected her with the tainted blood, and sent a curious glance to the screen monitoring her vitals as he did so. "Unlike you though, he is stronger, faster, and a full breed shapeshifter."
Sakura froze at the implications.
Even if they rarely discussed the experiment with her and Kabuto had never revealed what he just had, Sakura had picked up enough to know that lycanthropy was like a disease; once you got tainted by the blood or saliva of a powerful enough shapeshifter, your body's bloodstream would begin to produce the virus strain in mass amounts until it had the ability to literally remodel your body at will. Your organs and immune system would be strengthened, and your senses would multiply to something way beyond the capabilities of a normal human.
It was also incredibly painful. She'd seen what Kabuto's other test subjects went through when they were injected with the various strains. And now one of those strains was running through her system, seeking to change her inside and out.
It was silent for a while as Kabuto spent the next hour or so alternately setting his beady little eyes on her and her vitals whilst jotting down notes on his chart. Whatever he was expecting didn't seem to be going to happen anytime soon.
Sakura wasn't sure whether this was good or bad, just yet.
Then a twinge of discomfort hit her. Sakura stiffened and Kabuto immediately leaned over her with his ever-present curiosity.
It was like cold fire was racing through her veins, making her skin all over her body abruptly begin to pimple with goosebumps. Her pupils dilated into odd, thin slits as blue veins began visibly outlining themselves under pale skin from the strain of what was happening inside. Sweat began covering her forehead and she shuddered as the sound of her own heartbeat began drowning out her other senses. Sakura gasped and abruptly bit down on her tongue as her eyes shut and she arched as hard as she could away from the icy cold grip of the examination table.
Too much, too much, her nerves were sending. Every touch was incredibly painful, and even the clothes on her back felt like sandpaper dragging through open wounds.
Something oddly sweet and thick filled her mouth as her teeth began to ache and throb in harsh pulses. Tears leaked down her face as she choked and gagged on the liquid-blood, blood, it's my blood-
and she could hear alarmed shouting from seemingly far away as something cloth-like was forced into her jaws and the feel of a warm body settling atop her own brought forth an odd, guttural sound from her throat as she began to struggle in earnest against her bonds.
Don't touch me, donttouchme, DON'T TOUCH ME, IT HURTS!
Something snarled in the distance and Sakura decided she did not want to know where it came from.
The bed groaned ominously with each ferocious jerk of her body as she fought to escape the sensations overwhelming her until there was a sharp crack in her shoulder and wrist, which she responded to with a howl of pain. Suddenly, her hand was gloriously free, and God her fingers-her fingers- they felt like they were ripping in two, and then they were buried in something soft, warm, wet and squishing like pulp between her knuckles-
Sakura fell into the darkness screaming.
When Sakura awakened, every joint in her body was screaming in pain. Her body was oddly restless, her mouth dry and her skin tingling as she began to impatiently pace the small confines of her prison cell. A few quick gulps of water solved one of the problems, but the sudden urge to throw herself against the bars of her cage made her grasp her head in alarm.
A strange scent, musky, sharp, and annoying rose from her perspiring body and Sakura snorted in disgust. It wasn't BO, necessarily, but it was...potent. You'd think the fucking morons would clean her properly. She glared for a long moment and then lashed out at the bars; almost immediately she recoiled and growled in pain at the forcible jolt of electricity.
She grunted in annoyance, hobbling a bit before finally giving up and sprawling onto her cot.
After a minute or so of lying there with her eyes closed, she began to notice that something was...off. Her eyes narrowed as she slowly raised her body off the bed. A soft thrumming sound met her ears and she struggled to place it as she lightly put her feet on the ground. It was a low rushing sound, like something at high speed moving...
Moving. She was moving. The sound was of the wheels on open road, with the occasional thump of uneven gravel and rock. Her green eyes blinked in surprise. In all the time she'd been here, she'd never had them move her cage before. Where could they possibly be moving her?
"Ah, I see you're done with your reaction," Kabuto's voice finally said. Her head turned towards the bars to see the man himself giving her his usual false pleasant smile.
"Reaction?" Sakura asked. She blinked at the sting in her throat and the rough, hoarse sound of her own voice. It sounded as if she'd been screaming for hours on end.
"Yes, well, you were bound to have one from the transformation, but I may have forgotten to factor in blood type differences. You had what's called a hemolytic blood transfusion reaction. It was quite interesting to see how well your cells fought to overwhelm the injected solution; you have a powerful immune system with rapid response time. That very speed is what made you ill."
Sakura glared. "What does that mean?"
"Simple. Your body recognized the threat faster than most would and attacked it; most normal people's cells fold immediately under those of a lycanthrope, but yours actually resisted for a time; I was worried by the lack of reaction until your body began trying to force the change."
"Change?" she said hollowly.
"Yes, you took rather well to it, I think. Maybe it was the powerful strain we gave you, but the instant you changed, you were able to free yourself from your bindings and nearly ripped a guard's heart out of his chest when he tried to touch you."
I knew it, Sakura thought, her insides freezing at his last sentence. They actually did it. They turned me into a monster.
"Right now we're going to conduct the first experiment and see just how well your new strain has taken to your body. Not only that, but we've given you the sufficient hormone dosage to promote the mating response in today's other participants."
Sakura eyed Kabuto wearily, her eyes narrowed on his entirely too pleased expression. Did he really mean what she thought he meant? Surely they wouldn't...
"Other participants? Mating response?"
The doctor nodded, his dark eyes sharp on her own as he smiled disarmingly. "Yes. In roughly fifteen minutes you will be released into an open field on an island specifically chosen for its seclusion. There are hidden monitoring devices that will record your vitals and response to environmental stimuli. You will be given a five minute head start before the other experimental males-all lycan and shifters of various types-will be released to pursue you. All of you will be given drugs to suppress the change, but nothing else. Should your instincts be in proper order, then only the strongest male will get to mate with you; should you fail in that aspect...Well, you will either be rutted by as many males that can catch you or torn to shreds while they fight over the right to claim your body."
The din as her cage was lowered was deafening. Animalistic howls, grunts, and growls echoed around her as large forms forcefully butted against their cages, struggling for release. Sakura felt bile rising in her throat at the thought of those vicious snarls and bodies coming for her, intent on raping her and forcing her to accept a brutal coupling without protest.
Someone was screaming obscenities while others growled or screamed at him and Sakura grit her teeth. They'd all been reduced to little more than animals; it was sickening and horrifying, but she had no choice but to run when they opened the cage.
She had no desire to die just yet.
The buzzer went off and the bars slowly began to rise. Sakura felt something wild within her spread throughout her body, and her entire body readied itself to spring. The bars rose.
Five inches off the ground...
The instant the gap was wide enough, she scrambled out on all fours, her heart pounding as her blood began to sing with adrenaline. The wind blew her scent backwards and the noise behind her became ominously silent.
Then the first howl rang out.
And the second.
Soon other voices filled the air, the notes eager and deep, throaty with the thrill of her scent being forced to their attention. Fear made her move faster, eager to get further into the trees so that she could lose herself in the darkness of the forest.
From his spot above the rest of the cages, Orochimaru watched impassively as their prized female vanished; on some level he was certain that the experiment had worked. Even he, a reptilian lycan with a different chemical balance than that of the mammalians they'd acquired, had felt the pull of her gene flaring in his veins. Whatever the outcome of this experiment, it was sure to be a good show, he decided, his lips pulling into a thin, pleased smile. He turned to Kabuto.
"Now? But sir, I told her five minutes and it's barely been two..."
"Do it," he hissed, eyes locked onto the area she'd vanished into.
Kabuto knew that tone. He lifted the remote hesitantly and pressed the release key.
The cage doors silently swung open.
The howling grew silent once more. The dark shapes darted forth from their prisons so fast, they were mere shadowed blurs upon the ground as they took off into the direction the female had gone. A few of the specimens took a cautious sniff of the air and looked in their direction, their faces creased in angry snarls. One in particular with vibrant teal eyes peeking between crimson strands of hair turned to look at the both of them, his face human but still utterly unapproachable by the sheer hatred in his eyes.
The wind shifted, and then all the males left behind, even the latter, turned their gazes and loped off to claim their prize.