Chapter 8: The Devil You Know – part 7
Joon sipped her mug of tea as she studied the mottled image on DiPhillipo’s computer screen. As much as she respected her colleague, she disliked working closely with the older man. His clothes smelled of stale cigarettes, even first thing in the morning. The sweet scent of her oolong tea masked much of it. “This is the 16 megabase microchromosome?”
“Twenty,” DiPhillipo corrected.
Joon blinked, pleasantly surprised. “Fantastic. The next trial should be outstanding.” The main door to the lab slid open. Out of habit Joon reached empathically, but sensed nothing. Shane, she knew before looking.
Her lover strode across the lab nodding his usual hellos and wearing his usual dress shirt and slacks. Nothing seemed amiss except for the seeming absence of his mind. That, and the fact that he was late every other Monday and went straight to his office, his mind hidden behind eerie mental shields. True to form, Shane disappeared behind his office door.
Suppressing her curiosity about his year-old routine, Joon returned her attention to the monitor. Then the door opened again. She turned in time to see a mail clerk who didn’t look old enough to shave toss a small cardboard box through the doorway. “Mornin’,” the kid said as his eyes raked over Joon.
The door slid shut automatically, cutting off the punk’s unbridled lust. Joon sighed with relief. Normally she enjoyed the attention, but not from horny 16 year-olds.
Since DiPhillipo, Dodgeson, and the others were on task, Joon set her tea aside and retrieved the package. It was addressed to a Sheila Branowski in Historical Revision, which was on the other side of the wing. Where do they grow these people?
Joon opened the door to toss the package back into the hall when a literal breath of fresh air hit her. One glance over her shoulder at her nicotine-stained coworker made up her mind. DiPhillipo and the microchromosome could live without her for a few minutes.
By the time Joon had dropped off the wayward package, her tea had gone right through her. She pushed open the door to the nearest women’s room and bumped into someone. “Sorry!” she blurted, taking a step back.
The gorgeous dark-skinned woman in the doorway scowled, then shoved past her. The twat looks like an Asian me.
The overheard thought left Joon staring after the woman. Dr. Harris. Mother of Shane’s son. She often forgot that he had a kid. She’d only seen the child on the few occasions Shane had brought him to the lab.
Willing her legs to work, Joon moved to one of the bathroom mirrors. She stared at her reflection, amazed and horrified by the woman staring back. Dark, loose curls fell to her shoulders, yet it had been months since she’d gotten a perm. Her skin was darker from the pigmentation serum, but Shane enjoyed it so and it gave her a tan without exposure to damaging ultraviolet light.
Trembling, Joon made herself really look into the mirror. She was darker than tanned. Her skin was negroid brown. Her lips were fuller and her nose wider. The only things that were the same were her dark Asian eyes and the shape of her face.
Grateful that the bathroom was otherwise empty, Joon stepped back from the mirror and took in the shape of her torso. Of course her breasts were larger; she’d seen to that, and then Shane had made the effect natural. But her hips were wider. When she’d started at Triptych she couldn’t have worn the hip-hugging slacks showing off her curves. I barely had curves, she remembered, forcing herself to turn 90 degrees.
Joon’s jaw dropped from the almost hourglass profile reflected back. She had an ass, and her breasts! They were larger than after she’d gotten the implants. Not that they looked bad, she conceded, with her butt to balance them out.
The twat looks like an Asian me.
Joon faced the mirror again. Tears blurred her reflection. He’s turning me into her.
The sound of the door opening sent Joon into one of the stalls. She silently let the tears flow. Who am I?
Joon Ri, daughter of Shin and Kyung-Soon.
The answer was unfulfilling, so she tried again. I am my body and the sum of my experiences.
I’ve changed my body. I’ve let Shane change my body. What does that mean?
It means nothing. I am the person I am now. I’m one of most prominent geneticists in the world. I have the power to change my body and my mind. As if to prove it to herself, Joon reached out empathically. The effort hurt, but she sensed dozens of minds, a few of which were shielded.
Joon wiped the blood from her upper lip as she drew back her senses. The pain had prompted an adrenaline rush, sending her thoughts racing. Shane has a kink? is obsessed with? Dr. Harris. It was a powerful piece of information, begging to be leveraged. But how?
A short time later Joon returned to the lab. Other than a few stray thoughts wondering what had taken her so long, no one suspected that anything had changed.
Not even Shane.