The Girl with the Razor Blade Smile by EMW

Part 2

Chapter 4

I woke up tied to a bed, I could barely move the restraints were so tight. The room I was in was white and featureless only one plain white handle-less door leading out no other furniture or decoration. It was pretty boring. I started feeling around the room for any metal to see if I could use it to escape but it seemed they were wise to that trick everything was plastic or wood, like my previous room I guess they weren't taking any chances that I could use metal to escape or something.

As I lay there it struck me that they had made a misstep by shocking me for trashing my room, if they had been smart they would have just made no move to stop me and likely I would have burnt out my frustration cried myself to sleep in the ruins of my bed and been even more in their trap the next day. Instead I now knew a little about how to resist the implant as well as its limits. Which, as long as they didn't want to do me permanent harm, would be useful information.

Of course I wasn't sure what to do with this knowledge given I had been still fairly incapacitated by the pain I couldn't have escaped like that so it probably didn't gain me a lot.

Eventually the door swung open and Norton walked in a stern look on his face.

"Well young lady that was quite a performance and after you were doing so well," his attitude that of a parent let down by a naughty child.

I decided to try throwing him by doing my best not to get angry, "Had to fight had to let out the rage," I said slowly so as to be understood.

He seemed taken aback, "well ... we must punish you and see about straightening you out. I will have to think of something appropriate."

With that he left me alone. I lay there for some time it was hard to judge how much time had passed in this featureless room with no visitors and no window. Eventually the guards came in and gingerly undid the restraints, strong arming me out of the room and eventually back to my room. It had been repaired so as to leave no sign of my temper tantrum.

They locked me in and I sat on the bed wondering what my punishment would be. Sometime later the door to the eating area swung open, I wandered out to investigate.

All the other slaves are sitting at the table but there was now another table with one chair sitting in the corner of the room facing away from the main group. My fellow slaves eyed briefly me with sad slightly fearful eyes then quickly look away.

The guard predictably put my tray down on the other table then stepped back waiting for me to be seated.

"You are not to speak to the others, one word and we will trigger their implants," the guard said then stomped out of the room with a slight limp. I guess he was one of the ones who I got a taste of earlier.

Norton's punishment was fairly interesting he seemed to want to have me in the same room as the others while they chatted and laughed yet exclude me and make it so if I talked to them I'd hurt them. I quietly ate my lunch listening to the slightly strained conversations going on behind me. They obviously had instructions to ignore me and possibly instructions to talk so that I felt left out. It was an altogether more subtle punishment than I was expecting.

When lunch was over I returned to my room Norton showed up a short while later telling me it was time for training. When we got to the exercise room all the other slaves were waiting and they all had knives.

"Now that's more what I was expecting them to do," I thought to myself.

"Now then, time for you to learn to fight multiple opponents," Norton chuckled with an evil glint in his eye.

It seemed I didn't get a knife, not that it would have mattered. The fight went predictably. Five armed individuals against one, I didn't really stand much of a chance. I fended off a few attacks but they surrounded me and I was soon knocked down. I got stabbed and kicked and thrown around like a rag doll. Then there was a short break where the healer is brought in to fix my wounds and it started again. The last session they left me with several painful, but not life threatening, injuries and rather than heal me Norton had me dragged back to my room in pain only healing me the next morning. The next day the pattern repeated a morning sitting alone then lunch where I have to sit in the corner then a beating.

This pattern repeated for the next few days, I tried to bear it as best I could. Norton was trying to break me and I wondered how much of my emotional state he actually knew. Whether he only gets what he sees on the outside or if someone is telling him every thought in my head. I decided to try and make him think he'd got his own way and I did my best to cry during lunch. This had the unintended effect of making my fellow slaves look even more worried in those brief glances where their emotions are unguarded.

After another couple of days of beatings Norton came to me in my room one morning while I was lying on my bed bleeding from the last "practice" session. I did my best to make sure my eyes were suitably moist.

"Now I hope you have learnt your lesson," I managed a stiff nod and Norton began muttering to himself," Good good I can't keep wasting time on this your training is so far behind it simply won't do."

He waved in the healer and she put my broken body back together yet again.

Norton eyed me and sniffed in disgust, "You do look a right mess and you positively reek, get yourself cleaned up. After lunch we will pick up where we left off training your powers my dear."

I haven't had a proper wash in a while. Usually they left me too broken to do simple things like that. Even when I was relatively whole they didn't let me have clean clothes so washing the blood off only to put on filthy clothes seemed a bit pointless. The drawer flew open and a fresh jumpsuit a small towel and a bar of soap was waiting. I would have liked a nice hot shower but I guess this would have to do. I put the clean things on the bed and stripped out of my dirty things tossing them in the drawer. Using the sink I had a good wash getting rid of the encrusted blood that had accumulated on my body. My new skin seemed to make the blood stick quite well, all the scales giving it purchase I suppose.

Clean and dry I put on the new jumpsuit and sat on my chair waiting for lunch. When the door opened I made my way out finding my corner table was gone and I was once again allowed back with the other slaves. Everyone was quiet and they wouldn't meet my eyes, well except for Alex who was just staring into space.

Eventually Bethany plucked up the courage and said, "We're sorry, we didn't want to do that to you it was barbaric but we were forced to. Can you ever forgive us?"

I almost blurted out that I knew it wasn't their fault and I knew who was to blame but I stopped myself and thought about how to answer. That sort of response would make my captors wary. I wanted my captors to think I was beaten, that I was fragile and under their control, that I had grudgingly accepted my place, "I don't know maybe in time," I replied trying to sound weak.

Bethany nodded understanding and sadness written on her face. I wondered how many times they had collectively had to do this dance with the group of them being forced to attack another member. I wondered if they had resisted at first. I couldn't find much hate for them when they were as much a victim in this as I was. However I was brimming with fury for Norton and the rest of my captors. Lunch was a quiet affair. I guess all of the others still felt embarrassed or ashamed by what they had been forced to do to me. I ate my food lost in my own thoughts trying to think of what to do about my situation.

After lunch Norton brought me back to the training room there were several little wheeled carts with stuff laid out on them under cover of sheets.

"Today we are going to try something a little different, we are going to attempt to quantify the limits of your abilities. Ah you are most fortunate my dear this sort of work is what drives me. Taking something and working out its limits pushing it to the edge just for the thrill of discovery!" Norton said eyes ablaze with excitement.

I mentally added, “Taking something or someone" knowing his pushing the limits could equally be applied to any of the test subjects here.

"Oh what excitement, I am quite giddy with it. I'll probably need to have a quiet sit down and a cup of tea later. But first a test of range!" he cried dramatically whipping the cover off a cart to his side revealing a wired up metal bar and a large tape measure, "you must bend the bar at various distances so we can determine what your effective range is. Hold the end of this," he said tossing the end of the tape measure to me.

"Let's start at a meter and work from there my girl," he said.

He put his cane on the top of the cart and wedged the tape measure at one end so the tape ran over the top of the bar back to me in a roughly straight line. He rolled the cart back till the tape read a meter over the metal bar then he turned to me and nodded. I focused my power and bent the bar it came easily my earlier practice seemed to have helped.

"Good good," Norton said making a note on pad of paper he pulled from one of his pockets, "Now let's try five meters."

He rolled the cart further away and nodded, I reached out again and bent the bar back to a straight. It took a little more effort but still it was fairly easy. Norton rolled the cart back again to what looked like double the distance and once again nodded. This time it took more effort to bend the bar. I could still accomplish it but it was hard work. He rolled the cart away maybe double the distance again and nodded. I reached out to metal and it took a lot of effort to get it to bend. Whereas before the results were pretty quick now it took me a good ten seconds of focusing to bend the bar by the same amount. Norton rolled the car even further away till the measuring tape abruptly stopped and fell off the cart. He fussed with the tape and repositioned things for a bit then nodded.

This time it was very hard like trying to lift a very heavy weight with an effort that left me panting. I managed to make the little sensor light up to say I had bent the bar but I could tell it wasn't by much.

"Excellent looks like you have good control up to 20 meters though your power is less effective that far away and it falls off quickly after that. At the extent of the tape 30m you have very minute influence, perhaps with time that will improve. Good girl," Norton said and I fell to my knees panting as pleasure surged through my veins.

When the fog of that cleared Norton was unveiling a stack of boxes, "Now we look at how much you can control at close range. I'm quite proud of myself for thinking up this, you see it was a matter of getting easily divisible amounts of metal for you to manipulate while making it practical. Thus ball bearings!" he cried ripping open a box to show it was full of fairly large metal balls, "easy to obtain finite amounts of metal that can be had in sufficient quantities and allow us to give you and easily variable amount of metal to work with. Yes most ingenious if I do say so myself, goes to show that it's not just Harris in the implant lab that's got brains round here."

He pulled out a clear plastic tub maybe a meter cubed in capacity then tossed a few handfuls of ball bearings into it.

"Now your task is to fuse these ball bearings manipulate all the metal that make them up then separate them again. We will keep adding more ball bearings till you can no longer manipulate all the metal at once," Norton said taping the side of the tub with his cane, "Proceed."

I used my power to reach out to the metal in the tub. The ball bearings had spread out throughout the tub so I combined the ones that were still touching shaping the metal into a sphere then used my power to roll it around absorbing the rest of the balls. Once I had the whole thing combined I had maybe a tennis ball sized blob of metal. I went through the various exercises turning the sphere to a cube and then back forming various geometric shapes.

Norton held up his hand when I had run through half a dozen shapes, "Now back to their original form."

This was the hardest thing I had attempted to do so far with my power. Reshaping a solid piece of metal was fairly easy to imagine. Splitting it back up into balls again was more complex. In the end I used some mental shortcuts shaping the metal back into a cube that I could picture dividing up into smaller cubes then shaping those smaller cubes into spheres and letting go. It was quite interesting to watch a solid cube of metal suddenly having seams appear on it dividing it into a load of smaller cubes that turned round and then it was if the cube dissolved as the small spheres couldn't stack like that.

"Excellent now repeat but with some more of these," Norton said tossing the rest of the box of ball bearings in. He made a small note on his pad then nodded for me to continue.

I did the hoovering up trick again making the small spheres into one large one this time about the size of a grapefruit. It took a lot more effort to go through my paces changing the shape and even more focus to divide it back to ball bearings.

Norton kept increasing the amount of ball bearings I had to work with until I couldn't manipulate it all at once. By the time we were finished my absolute limit was a ball of metal maybe half a meter in diameter but I had to be touching it to control all of that at once and that was a lot of metal and very heavy. I couldn't move it without resorting to using my powers to change its shape and I worried about the plastic tub breaking. If I had to operate at a moderate distance a more comfortable amount was vaguely basket ball sized. It was still quite a lot of weight and even with my enhanced musculature I couldn't lift it. However by using my control over its shape I could move it about or even make it flow up things like some sort of slime monster from the movies.

By the end I was pretty worn out from using my powers to their limit. Norton seemed pleased led me back to my room I ate my dinner then passed out on the bed not even bothering to take the dirty jumpsuit off.

Chapter 5

I regretted not changing out of the jump suit come morning or what I assumed was morning. It occurred to me with no view of the outside I had no idea what time it really was. I felt really grimy and I hated to think what I smelt like. The tray slammed open shortly after the lights came on. I ignored it to have quick wash then changed into the fresh jumpsuit and ate my breakfast of raw meat.

Soon after that Norton led me to the exercise room. To my horror Alex and Mistress Hahn were waiting.

"As you see my dear we're going to go straight into the fighting today as I have some different physical tests lined up for afterwards. Oh it's going to be quite illuminating I've been looking forward to seeing how well they function and what reaction your physiology has. It will be a grand adventure and a great ..." Norton's Rambling was cut short by Mistress Hahn.

"You are not the only one who has important work today, can we cut to the chase while we're still young," she said in an annoyed tone.

"Oh yes I apologise dear lady you know how I get carried away, yes by all means fight," Norton replied and tossed me a knife.

Alex came at me as soon as I had the weapon in my hand and I had to dive out of the way to avoid his attack. After that it was the usual dance of attacking and blocking. It seemed the week or so of fighting multiple opponents had improved my reflexes a bit. While I had always gotten a bad beating trying to dodge 5 knives rather than one it must have helped improve my skills a little.

Alex still got several cuts in and I still hadn't managed to land a single blow against him. He always seemed to see the moves coming no matter what I did to try and feint or trick him. I swung the knife so he had to turn to avoid it and then swung my foot to try and knock him off his feet but he jumped before I even came in contact. He could never have seen the blow coming but he still somehow dodged.

'What ever I plan he seems to know about it's as if he can read my mind,' I thought to myself.

*That's right,* what seemed like a girls voice in my head said.

Startled I swung wildly my shoulder catching Alex who staggered backwards.

*As you guess telepathy is the trick. Enough to read your moves. The only blows that land are ones you don't plan or do out of instinct,* the voice said.

This knowledge from this random voice in my head was all very well but I was still faced with someone trying to stab me and I couldn't concentrate on it. I dodged and dived some more but eventually Alex cornered me knocking the knife from my hand leaving me defenseless. He was standing there ready to plunge the knife into me when I had an idea. Using my powers I took control of Alex's knife it melted back and covered his hand.

He stared confused at the metal now covering his hand and reached out to touch the flowing liquid like metal with his other hand. Which was pretty dumb I used my power to bind his hands together with his knife then as he began struggling I kicked his feet out from under him and gripping my hands together swung them down on his face.

I'm not sure if I landed the blow or not because I was suddenly incapacitated by a blaze of pain.

Norton stood over me his face had gone bright red like a beetroot and he was spluttering mad. I focused on the pain and used what I had learnt to blunt and push it away. I didn't want them to know I had some degree of resistance to their device so I stayed limp and let my body twitch.

"This was a no powers match! How dare you break that rule and abuse my trust!" Norton ranted but eventually the pain stopped.

I sat still for a bit getting my breath then turned to Norton and said, "You nnnnever sssssaid I wasn't to use powers. If it was a rule you should hhhave mentioned it. Besides heee wa using his powers."

"What!" Norton said obviously shocked.

"He's a telepath at leassst ppppartly he was using his ability to knoow what moves I was planning," I said.

"How do you know this," Norton's voice went cold and low I decided saying anything about the voice in my head would be bad.

"It's pretty easy to work out he was blocking moves he had no way of anticipating with methods that were specific to counter them not something general. It was pretty obvious that he was reading my mind," I said which was at least mostly truthful, I had figured he was using his abilities the voice had just confirmed it.

"Hahahaha," Mistress Hahn laughed causing Norton to send a dirty look in her direction, "She's cleverer than she looks. Still not very good in a fight. Have her release my toy so I can get some more productive work done would you Norton dear."

Norton scowled then gestured to Alex's restrained arms and waggled his fingers about. I assumed he wanted me to release him so I made the metal flow off his hands into a ball. He was left holding the now empty plastic grip that had been the handle of the knife. He dropped it and stood up following his mistress out of the room.

I turned to observe Norton he was breathing heavily looking angry still but seemed to be trying to get a grip. He turned and through clenched teeth said, "In future no powers unless I expressly say you can use them."

I nodded trying to look meek, inside I felt something like joy I had beaten them at their own game for a short while and I had nearly got some payback on Alex. Now I knew how the trick was done perhaps I could use that to my advantage.

Since the session hadn't left me too bloodied I didn't need the healer to repair my body. The few defensive cuts I'd received on my arms hadn't been deep and were already healing. Norton took me back to my room still muttering angrily but I got to attend lunch anyway. Unusually I was the first into the room and sat down to munch my way through my meat. Alex was the next to enter the lunch room. He walked silently over to take the tray of fairly normal looking food then sat down in his usual spot and began eating. He didn't acknowledge my presence at all, he just sat there staring into space.

I stopped eating my raw meat and stare at him for short while. I couldn't be sure if he even was aware of me he was like a Robot. No apparent emotions or interest in the world around him. It chilled my bones a bit to think what they had done to him to make him like that and given enough time would I end up like that.

Some of the other prisoners entered the room at this point they grabbed their food and shot me meek looking smiles still guilty for their part in my earlier punishment. I wasn't sure if I should seem to forgive them just yet it might seem a little too soon to my captors. It occurred to me that maybe one of them was the mysterious voice in my head and as such they might know I was pretending. The voice hadn't sounded like any of their normal voices but maybe in their thoughts they projected a different voice. Whoever it was either wasn't saying or was not listening as my head remained quiet. It was likely this outfit had a load of leashed telepaths like they had healers for various purposes so it could be one of them I had heard.

I ate the rest of my meat. It was amazing what one could get used to, at the beginning of my stay eating raw meat repulsed me but now I didn't even notice. I could go so far as to say I even enjoyed it. One of the many changes to my mind and body I had endured since I woke up here.

Soon it was time to get back to work and Norton was waiting for me when I got back into my room.

"This is so exciting, a new frontier if you will on the environments we have tested our tools with. I had to request this testing unit specifically," he gushed, "Well we'd best get a move on my girl so much data to gather!"

He raced off down into the maze of corridors and led me this way and that. It was hard to tell due to the generally identical nature of the interior design but I thought this was a new section one I had never been in before.

I sniffed the air trying to pick up some clues and got a hit of a nasty chemical smell from somewhere up ahead, it reminded me of something but I couldn't place it. The smell got stronger as we made our way through the corridors and was to the point of being quite unpleasant by the time we stopped. Norton opened one of the doors to which revealed a large tank of water. That's when I placed the smell it was chlorine like you got in swimming pools.

"This is going to be a wonderful test of your biology and it will open up a lot of potential new approaches for our later use of you out in the field. But first things first time to strap you in so we can do the depth tests," He motioned me over to what looked like some sort of frame.

Two of the guards appeared out of a side door and before I knew what was going on had picked me up and were strapping me to the frame device. They were also attaching various sensors pads to my body.

"The frame will enable us to get some nice clear readings on how your physiology handles the effects of being immersed," Norton said excitedly, "Once we get some good data we can test at more depth."

I realised not only was I going to be dunked in the tank I was going to be held under the water in this frame. I was going to drown!

I struggled helplessly against the bonds that held me to the frame but it was very sturdy and designed to keep me as still as possible. The guards had hooked it up to a small block and tackle mechanism mounted to a rail in the ceiling which they used to lift me over the tank which was a lot deeper than I had expected.

"It's an old water storage vessel, this facility was constructed in what was once a nuclear facility which used tanks like this to store water in case of nuclear wars," Norton pointed out, “Mostly useless these days of course but we had this one recommissioned and fitted with oxygenation pumps for just this test. You should be honoured my dear."

I was not feeling remotely honoured and was starting to get frantic now I was over the water. The guards began to slowly lower me into the tank, the freezing cold water slowly creeping up my limbs. I began hyperventilating trying to breathe as much as possible. The water passed my waist now I pulled at the cuffs trying to get free. Slowly the water crept up my body until it was at my neck I strained my head trying to keep it above water but they kept dunking me. I took a frantic last huge breath as the water touched my chin and then held it while they lowered me into the tank.

I struggled some more but the effort was only using my now limited oxygen reserves I looked out into the tank blinking my eyes and noticing I could see remarkably well. Whenever I had gone swimming before it had always been really blurry under the water without a set of goggles or a mask. The panic of being held under the water was burning in me, my lungs aching for air. My vision started to tunnel as the lack of oxygen started to get to me the impulse to breathe in got stronger and stronger finally I couldn't stop myself any longer and I found myself breathing in water. There was an odd pain then a strange sensation in my throat and the darkness fringing my vision faded back and suddenly I could breathe again.

I hung there in the water in a sort of daze for a bit and then realised what was happening. It was my gills now doing the work of getting oxygen into my blood. I had forgotten almost completely about the odd slits in my neck. It seems my captors hadn't and had devised this setup to test them out. It seemed they worked just fine which was something of a relief. I felt different under the water like I was drifting everything slowing down the chill of the water gone. They kept me under the water for a while then I felt the rack moving back up towards the surface. As I breached the air I had a nasty coughing fit choking up all the water from my lungs and took a ragged breath of air feeling the odd sensations of my body switching back to air breathing mode.

Norton was fiddling with a tablet looking like a kid with a new toy, "Fascinating! I think your body expels all the air in your system when your gills start to function. Your body also seems to lower its metabolic rate as well as shutting down most of the organs thereby burning less oxygen to compensate for the lower oxygen content of the water. If my numbers are correct at peak capacity the throughput of the gills would seem to be enough to extract sufficient oxygen for higher levels of activity if need be. Let's take her deeper!"

Before I had even got my breath back they were dumping me back in the water again. Again the panic of going under the surface hit me almost as bad as before. I had to force myself to relax and take that first breath even given the strangeness of it. It reminded me of when I had tried scuba diving the panic of immersion with all that gear on you the sheer unnatural feeling of breathing under the water the fear of seeing the surface far above you. It had taken a while for the strangeness to fade and for me to enjoy the experience. Even then there were people trying it who just couldn't take it, the wrongness of it too much for them.

I breathed in a lungful of water and felt the burn of my body switching over to gills. Again almost immediately I began to feel odd a sort of calm, I guess it was my body adapting to the oxygen levels. The rack I was tied to sunk deeper and deeper into the tank. The world got dimmer as the water depth filtered the light from above to a dim blue. I could feel the weight of the water pressing on me as I approached the bottom of the tank. I couldn't really tell how deep this thing was but it was a significant depth. It was as if my body was reacting inside shifting and adjusting to allow me to function deep in the water.

I wanted to swim about to feel the freedom of moving through the water but the rack held me tight so I just hung there relaxed at the bottom of the tank. Sometime later they began pulling me out again and it wasn't long before I was on the surface choking up water so I could use my lungs.

Norton was raving on about his discoveries to the very disinterested looking guards who were doing the lifting, "I had wondered how her body would cope given almost all large gill equipped animals are cold blooded but it seems she has picked up some tricks from her shark DNA. Her metabolism drops very low and specialised heat exchangers in her gills keep her from losing heat that way. She keeps her brain and her eyes warm so she can function but shuts down almost everything else."

They undid the clamps and let me out of the rack. I was still dripping wet but no one handed me a towel or anything I guess I would just have to drip dry.

"Excellent," Norton said regarding me, "We can get on with some practice with your abilities while my colleges crunch the numbers on your little trip. I hope we will be able to get some idea of how long you can survive and at what depths. Come along then."

He raced off into the corridor again this time I nearly lost him my body was still a little sluggish from the water. A bit of frenzied running got me all warmed up again. Norton led me back to the training room from previous sessions his equipment still setup.

"Do keep up!" he shot at me as I staggered to a halt behind him.

He had me do some warm-up exercises just generally manipulate the metal a bit and test my control at range and of volume. It seemed to have gotten a bit easier to go to my limits, I couldn't really push any further but it left me less worn out.

"Now we'll try some more practical exercises," Norton said uncovering more experiments for me to participate in.

The first test was a large cube made of plates with various holes in them it was plastic and I guess it could be described as a 3d maze of sorts.

"Now then my dear perhaps in the future you will need your manipulative skills to open a door or get inside something or any manner of scenarios. If there is no metal present for you to use you will have to put some there. Now I want you to shape this bar of metal and thread it through this obstacle course," he said pointing at a small bar with his cane.

I studied it for a moment then reached out with my powers to get a feel for it. I had noticed different metals, for want of a better word, 'tasted' differently. When I reached out to them I got a sense of them and for some reason my body interpreted that as taste. This tasted a bit like iron I smoothed its shape out ready and rolled it over to the entrance to the maze.

The entrance to the maze was a round hole about twenty centimeters above the base so I stretched the metal up into a pillar and flowed it into the entrance. There was not a lot of stuff to grip to so I sort of had to hook the metal to the hole and brace it between the various layers of the maze to stop it falling down. As I continued to thread the metal through various holes and around the various obstacles it became easier I could form the metal to any shape and make it extrude some fairly elaborate structures to support itself. I was most proud of bridging a gap across a section of the maze by making a rudimentary cantilever bridge structure to extend the metal away from its grip of the wall. It was probably showing off but it made me smile to see the silver bridge form and then dissolve as the metal flowed across the gap.

Pretty soon I had wormed the metal through the maze and into the little end goal.

"Ah well done my dear, on another day we repeat the test with you blindfolded to replicate not being able to see the inside of something but that will suffice for today," Norton beamed.

Pleasure hit me and I nearly fell to my knees it was so intense, it caused me to clench my jaw catching my tongue on one of my razor sharp teeth, the pain momentarily cut through the haze. It was useful to know I could counter the effects a little I filed the knowledge away for future use.

"So you were quite creative with your shaping of the metal but for this next test we will see if you can affect the micro as well as the macro," he brought a fresh cart in front of me and revealed a bar of metal and some sort of scanning device, "For this test I want you to focus on the microscopic structure of the metal and reshape it into a foam like structure."

I stared at the metal bar for a short while completely unsure how to accomplish what Norton wanted. I knew now how to make the metal form into any shape I could imagine but how could I imagine changes at a microscopic scale. I decided the best thing to do was start with what I knew make the changes on the big scale then try to reduce them.

"I am going to sssstart bahig ... then wooork smaller," I told Norton so he wouldn't be inclined to zap me thinking I was disobeying.

"A sensible approach, proceed," he nodded towards the block of metal.

I shaped it into a series of bubbles the small metal bar expanding massively in size as I spread it out filling its volume with air. The metal wasn't very stable like this the very thin metal forming the skin of the bubbles had a tendency to collapse in on itself and it took me a lot of effort to find the right balance between thickness of metal and size of the bubble. Once I had a sort of large scale model of what Norton wanted in the metal I tried to duplicate its shape but smaller. I folded the metal in on itself forming dividing the air pockets I had made at the large scale making the bubble smaller and the metal surrounding them thinner. It reminded me a bit of baking a cake where you had to fold air into the mixture to keep it light and fluffy.

After a good ten minutes of metal folding I had a bar maybe three times the size of the one before full of tiny bubbles of air. Now that I had done this the hard way I was pretty sure I could achieve the same sort of effect without so much effort. I had just needed to practice manipulating the metal at such a small scale to learn the trick of it.

Norton held up a hand, "That will do for now my dear let's take a look at your handy work."

He lifted the bar up and gave it a quick visual inspection then put it under the scanner.

"Yes excellent quite a good structure closed cell foaming with suitable diameter bubbles. The material retains a lot of its strength with greatly reduced density. Good for spreading a smaller amount of metal out even getting it to float as well as quite for shock absorption. While usually this sort of material is one shot shock absorber as it deforms on impact and stays deformed with your powers you could correct that. Well done my dear this sort of precision fine detail work is what separates the blunt objects from the surgical instrument," Norton beamed.

I didn't want to think about my being his surgical instrument too much so I didn't react. Norton had me do a couple more exercises building on the work of foaming the metal but I was flagging fast and so it wasn't long till I was being escorted back to bed.

Chapter 6

My life was beginning to become routine wake up wash eat raw meat. Get beaten to a pulp by Alex, lunch, power or physical training, dinner, and sleep till it all started again. Several days went by with me slowly improving my skills my control over my powers improved and I learnt more about how I could use them and their limits. My body got stretched to its limit in exercise then beat up in sparing sessions with Alex. I wasn't really showing much improvement, I was staying out of range of his blade for longer but it was just delaying the inevitable. I hadn't heard the mysterious voice again that had clued me in to Alex's telepathy I was beginning to think I had imagined it.

I was getting on fairly well with the rest of the prisoners whom I saw every day at lunch it was the only normal feeling part of my day.

Norton had been getting more and more excited about something but he was being uncharacteristically quiet about the details. This could only be a bad thing for me and I was getting increasingly nervous about what was coming next.

It all came to a head a few days later Norton was waiting for me as soon as I finished my breakfast.

"Today's the day my girl the day we see if you are all we hoped you'd be!" Norton gushed practically hoping about with glee, "We've been preparing now for weeks getting you ready getting the course ready finding suitable challenges. Now all the waiting is over! Come along come along time is of the essence!"

He rushed off down the corridor with me following worriedly in his wake. We went through several sections of the building that looked new to me and I could smell a lot of people and thing having been through this way. There were so many scents I couldn't get a good impression of what had been happening it was just a mish mash of people equipment animals chemicals and so on.

Norton led me through a large door a sort of entrance way with a door sealing us in.

"Now unlike previous tests this is an all or nothing affair, use any skills or powers at your disposal, use the environment to your advantage. You have carte blanche as the French would say. To be clear there is no safety net on this exercise, you fail and you will die, and we don't want that it would reflect very badly on me. Now then on to the fun stuff," Norton grinned like a child in a toy store, I felt sick, "This is your target."

One of the walls lit up with a projected image of a thick set shaven headed man who looked like he might be the missing link between apes and humans. He looked like the sort of person that in my old life I would have crossed the street to avoid walking past or even turned round and found a completely different street to walk down.

"He is an employee of ours who has ... failed us ... this is his one chance to redeem himself by killing you. There will also be several guards with dogs to simulate an entrenched protected target. They are also under orders to kill you but they are also expendable so feel free to kill them if you want however we would prefer a stealth approach. We have set up a simulated estate with walls fences and so on. The moment I twisted the handle the lights went out in the warehouse beyond this door we will be keeping it dark to pretend it is a night approach. The estate does have surveillance and radio communication between guards. Now then your equipment, one black slip suit, gloves, hat, and here is a small amount of metal to get you started." He waved a hand over the table with the few items on.

"That's it?" I said still in shock, "some black clothes and a metal bar!"

"Yes well this is supposed to be a test my dear. What would be the point of giving you any more than that? Your body is a weapon better than any your opponents have. So get properly attired then enter at your leisure. The exit will open once you successfully kill your opponent," Norton said and made for the door.

"I have to kill him!" I said that part just sinking in.

"Of course what good would you be to us as an assassin if you can't kill on demand? Well best of luck we're all rooting for you, all your little friends from the canteen will be watching cheering you on no doubt. Try to enjoy yourself have a little fun with it it's so much more rewarding that way," he said and dived out of the door it shut behind him. There was an ominous clank as the lock engaged.

I stood staring at the door for a few seconds wondering what to do. It seemed it was kill or be killed no last minute heal or halt. It would be me or the guy on the wall. Not to mention the rest of the psychos they had stocked their mad obstacle course with. Was I ready to kill someone, especially kill someone for these bastards? I really didn't fancy dying myself but was I ready to take someone else's life to save my own.

In the end I went with my own survival over that of this unknown stranger. It still made me feel a bit ill inside just the thought of it but I consoled myself with the knowledge that this guy was one of the people holding me prisoner, at least as far as I knew. I changed into the black suit and formed the metal into bracers on each wrist where I could deflect attacks and also have access to the metal if I needed it. I made the metal flow under the fabric of the suit so it wouldn't reflect the light and give me away. I thought about trying some of the fancy metal manipulations I had learnt like foaming it for impact absorption but it was too new a skill and I didn't want to drain my powers this early.

I checked myself over, ink black clothes, with metal armoured bracers under the fabric. My hair tucked away out of sight under the hat. I suppose I looked dangerous which I suppose was a good thing. Taking a deep breath I gripped the handle and opened the door. The moment I twisted the handle the lights went out. I guess this was to give me a fighting chance of going undetected.

Pausing in the dark I gave myself time for my eyes to adjust then slowly pushed open the door. I slipped out into the next room, in front of me was a wall it seemed to surround the fake compound as it spread out for the entire length of what I took to be the real room. It was a few meters tall with what looked like razor wire on the top. I crouched there quiet letting my senses expand and tell me about the environment. I could smell concrete, wood shavings, still drying paint, and various clues on the materials they had used to make their course with. I could also smell the scent of sweat, coffee, and cheap deodorant the humans set to stop me there was also some sort of animal smell which must have been the dogs. The strange fuzzy sense that told me where people were gave me the impression that there were several people but no one near me though they were moving about.

I carefully approached the wall and then made my way along it to the corner staying low. Peeking out I spotted one of the guards a man black uniform walking the perimeter holding by a chain the biggest dog I had ever seen. There was an entrance way further up which had a little guard post and more sentries. They were clearly going all out on this. The guard turned as he got to the gate and turned back coming my way. I ducked back round the corner not keen to get caught by the dog. Examining the walls I found a way to clamber up as I approached the razor wire I absorbed the section of it into my store of metal.

The compound below me had several small buildings and vehicles sitting about as well as the primary building a simple two story box building with a few rooms. They had mentioned cameras so I had to be careful not to get spotted. I stayed pressed against the wall the remaining razor wire above me as camouflage. The area was full of more guards all on the lookout, I was going to have to be extra sneaky to get past them without a fight.

Taking my time I picked out the cameras and more guards once I had a good idea of the routes and sweeps of the cameras I dropped down into the fake compound. Hiding behind one of the smaller buildings I waited for the next gap in the security to slip further in towards the back of the building. I slipped unseen between the camera zones hiding in foliage or behind boxes or buildings.

I was doing pretty well till one of the patrols abruptly changed direction and headed back towards me. Trapped against one of the cars with no route back due to a camera behind me I had no option but to slip under the car and hope no one spotted me. Waiting there I tried to keep as still as possible. They passed by without incident but then some dust or something under the car made me sneeze. I caught it before I made too much noise but even so it was enough to get them stomping back to investigate.

As they approached I thought fast and realised the car above me was mostly metal or at least the parts nearest me were. With little time to think I reached up pushing aside the metal compressing it into less space. Above me had been the engine it was now a great deal less functional and the metal that made up most of it was holding back the rest of the components making room for me to slip into the engine compartment and make a floor so I could be out of sight. The guards looked under the car finding nothing.

I waited till they resumed their normal route before slipping out of my crudely hollowed out car and slipped closer to the house. Out of the buildings this was the most realistically constructed. It had windows doors furniture and internal rooms. I could sense several guards inside it were not going to be easy finding my target.

I made it to the back of the house, they had thoughtfully provided a back door. I pressed myself to it listening ... nothing. I took a sniff ... nothing but building material smells. I tried my fuzzy people sense which seemed all clear too. The door was locked with a fairly complex lock it also felt like it had wires of some kind across the edges which were possibly door opening sensors. I could have picked the lock as Norton had taught me but here I decided to use the easier way I had thought of, I simply made the metal bolts holding the door shut separate so they no longer held it closed. The door sensors were trickier they used some kind of magnet from what I remembered so I felt for the screws holding the sensor in place then made the metal reshape to hold the magnet to the sensor rather than to the door.

I pulled open the door and slipped in shutting it behind me then waited. No alarms went off no people came running I was so far undetected. I reformed the metal bolts so the door stayed shut I didn't want it swinging open and giving away my entry point. A corridor stretched out in front of me leading deeper into the house, my instincts as well as the concentration of guards seemed to suggest my target would be upstairs. Stalking down the corridor I nearly made the fatal mistake of walking into view of a camera the slight wiring sound of it moving caught me at the corner just in time.

I knew there was a camera right around the corner but I didn't know its field of view or how it was moving. Taking a gamble I formed a small mirror like metal plate and edged it out around the corner. The camera was at the far end covering the corridor it would periodically swing to its left to cover round another corner. I slipped out as it swung away running up the corridor as quietly as possible hoping to get under the camera before it swung back far enough to see me. It was a close run thing a last minute dive covering just enough of the distance to put me out of view.

As I straighten up I found I had a clear view of the room with the stairs and the two men guarding them. They thankfully had their backs to me at that moment but not trusting my luck to last I slipped quickly behind a desk where they wouldn't see me. The room had two entrances one leading to the front of the house and the other, the one I had slipped in through, leading to the back. It was square double height room with the stairs on one side and a balcony above me that the stairs led to. A single camera scanned the room from the wall above me.

I doubted I could slip past the guards but the distance to the balcony looked jump-able. I would just have to time it so I could get up and out of sight before the guard turned which they seemed to do periodically. I waited tense as a coiled spring for them to turn. When they did I scrambled up onto the desk then jumped grabbing the edge and hauling myself up onto the balcony then lay flat as far in as I could get to be out of sight.

I stayed there for a little while recovering waiting for any sign they had seen me. When none came I crawled to the door and opened it carefully slipping into the rooms on the first floor of the house.

There seemed to be less cameras but more guards on this floor, I evaded them carefully. Eventually I came to two guards sitting outside a reinforced metal door. I guessed my target must be in this heavily guarded room. The two guards sat facing the entrance waiting guns at the ready to mow down anyone who came in. There was no way to sneak past them. The only reason I could observe them and not get shot was my mini metal mirror trick. I noticed the chairs they were sitting on were metal folding chairs, perhaps I could make use of that.

First I would need to disable their weapons. I had no idea how to do that not being that familiar with guns so I decided on overkill and fused all the moving parts I could feel. I even made the bullets fuse to the magazine so they couldn't be removed or loaded.

With the guns neutralized I needed to take care of the guards this was going to require some careful control. I focused on their chairs making the metal mine to command. I had to be quick so I formed some shapes ready behind them then struck. Metal restraints flowing into place holding their jaws shut, the arms of the chair encasing their arms, other bands holding their legs still, the metal of their guns encasing their hands. It happened fast enough that neither one made a sound. I rounded the corner seeing their immobile forms eyes wide with fear bodies locked in the act of covering the doorway.

I left them as they were if any of the other guards wandered past they would see them doing what they expected and might not notice they were trussed up in metal bonds. I approached the metal security door, which would be a piece of cake for me to get through. Rather than open it I did what I had done to the car and moved the metal aside slipping through a hole low down in the door. A room full of equipment and monitors greeted me. The thick set shaven headed man that was my target sat in a leather office chair watching the screens.

"Group 3 check section 4," he murmured into a walkie talky.

He scanned the monitors constantly, "Come on someone find her she can't have gotten far! For fuck sake with an ugly mug like that she should be easy to spot!"

He sounded angry desperate and I guess he was, this was his one chance to save himself.

I psyched myself up making a metal club with one of my bracers. I had to kill this man or it would be me dead. He worked for this crazy organisation so he had to be a bad guy. The thought crossed my mind that he might be as much of a prisoner as me maybe blackmailed or anything. There was no way to know if this was a good man or not all I did know was if I didn't kill him I would be killed and I wasn't ready to die.

I lifted my arm to swing bringing the club down on the back of his head but my movement must have been reflected in the monitors or something as he dived out of the way at the last moment. A kick to my mid section sent me sprawling.

"So here you are you little bitch," he cried sending another swift kick to my ribs as I tried to get to my feet, "You're pathetic think you can take me down! It makes me sick the outfit sending freak kids to do a professionals job."

He went for another kick but I rolled out of the way and scrambled to get up. He pulled a nasty looking knife from a sheath on his hip. In his other hand he raised the walkie-talkie.

"All units she's here you're all a bunch of useless idiots. When I've taken care of her myself I'll see the lot of you in chains," he spat into the mic then tossed the unit and turned back to me, "So darling just you and me. Time to get down to business."

He came at me fast and it was clear he knew what he was doing. My training with Alex kept me ahead of his blade just barely. I swung back at him trying to keep him back and buy myself some time more than anything. We danced round the room dodging and diving over furniture trading blows mine clumsy his more precise.

Most of the furniture became trashed as we tramped around the room. He threw things at me so I returned the favor soon the floor was littered with smashed bits of equipment and furniture.

He managed to nick me several times with the knife and it was getting harder to stay ahead of him. I spun trying to bring the club down on him but he had anticipated me and dodged slashing my arm and knocking the club from my grip. I dodged to try and grab it but he caught me kicking my legs out from under me. In a flash he has me pinned to the floor. I bucked and fought but he had the advantage on me and I couldn't get lose. I flailed my arms trying to go for his eyes or any weak spot I could think of. Some painful slashes from the knife and an adjustment of his position and he had my arms pinned as well holding me down with one of his arms the other twirling the knife.

"Well then missy you've led me a fine dance but it's time to punch your card, be sure to write," he lifted the knife high ready to plunge into me.

I needed some freedom so I focused on my remaining bracer making it rapidly extrude an array of sharp spikes into his arm holding me down.

He let out a high pitched scream of pain, the spikes were counterproductive as they actually pinned his arm to mine so I had them break off still embedded in his arm. This meant he let go of my upper body I did the only thing I could think off and went for his throat with my teeth. They cut in like knife through hot butter and the taste of blood filled my mouth. I wanted to spit it out but I forced myself to bite down hard then rip away to try and sever something vital. There was blood everywhere but I obviously hadn't done enough to kill him.

"You freak bitch!" He cried blood bubbling out of his mouth a cold resolve in his eyes his fist tightening on the knife.

He was bleeding profusely and I suspect I had gotten one of the important arteries so he might well bleed to death in the next few minutes but he was still moving and seemed intent on taking me with him. I spat the chunk of flesh out and tried to work out what to do.

He pulled back lifting the knife high and began to swing down. Gathering all my strength and will I smashed my fist into his chest and concentrated on shaping the remaining metal on my arm into a spike coming out of my knuckles.

There was a strange crack and a wet noise like then a long shaft of metal ripped out of his back. The knife clanged to the floor and he stared at me with shocked eyes still with one hand grabbing his ripped throat. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish no sound came out the light in his eyes went out they went cold and death took him. His body went limp and fell on me his dead weight pinned me down.

I lay there unable to move for several seconds then used what little of my strength remained to throw his limp body off me. I scrambled away from him into the corner curling up hugging my knees against my chest. I started shaking uncontrollably tears pouring out of my eyes which I couldn't take off the dead body in front of me. I kept thinking about this man, even if he had been a bad sort there were probably still people who loved him. A loving parent, an adoring sibling, a devoted partner, or a worshipping child chances were someone would feel this loss and it was all my fault. Even if there were people that would mourn my passing it seemed either they already had or they had been responsible for my current predicament selling me off to this outfit. Maybe it would have been better for all concerned if I had just let him kill me. But I was too selfish I didn't want to lose my life and I could see now that would mean many more people dead at my hand like this man.

I stayed still the sorrow and hurt and shock of the event making me unable to get up. I knew I had to do something I couldn't feel like this if I was going to survive. Gradually I pushed those soft feelings down locking them away. I imagined that my captors were watching my every move now laughing at me it was a good bet they were videoing my entire progress for their own sick thrills. I stoked the rage at what had been done to me that I had been forced into this that one day I would have my revenge on all concerned. I forced myself to my feet letting my anger give me strength letting the monster they were making of me show on the surface. I grabbed the body by his legs and began heading towards the door.

I gestured to the door thrusting the metal away tearing it open down the middle like it had been blown apart. Passing the two still captive guards I gave them my best smile their eyes looked ready to pop out of their heads as I dragged the body past them. I walked out of the house into the main area several groups of guards stood staring the lights were on it was clear my controllers knew I had accomplished their task.

The guards just stared as I dragged the body across the fake lawn towards the reinforced gates one pulled a gun. Before he could think of pulling the trigger I melted the gun it leaving him with a handful of bits. At my command the metal gates peeled back like some strange insect rolling up and out of my way. As I got closer the dogs paroling the surrounds growled looking ready to take a bite out of me I gave them a wider smile and focused on their choke chains tightening them till the dogs backed off.

The final door was in front of me I kicked it open and threw the body in surprising Norton who was waiting he scrambled out of the path of the body.

"Dead as requessssted," I said simply.

"Well it's a good start," Norton said eyeing the body, "Well done my dear."

Pleasure surged through me as he triggered the implant and through that bliss I heard, "but we have a long way to go yet."

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