Vitale the Snevens
Legacy Name: Vigorous
The Common Experiment #1107
Age: 2 years, 4 months, 4 days
Born: June 17th, 2018
Adopted: 1 year, 10 months, 2 weeks ago
Adopted: December 4th, 2018
- Level: 13
- Strength: 33
- Defense: 19
- Speed: 17
- Health: 18
- HP: 18/18
- Intelligence: 28
- Books Read: 28
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Part-Time Test Subject
(Profile will be made soon!)
Katyusha led a charmed life for eighteen years. Her father was a minor government official, her mother an active socialite with a lovely singing voice. They doted on their daughter, dressing her in pretty silk gowns ordered from Moscow and giving her piano and riding lessons. She would charm Papa's many friends at one of the many parties where she sat on the polished bench playing classic Russian songs of love and loss and long winter nights.
Petya would come to blame himself for not marrying off his daughter when he had the chance. Possible suitors were too old or too cruel or so lacking in humor that they would make his little bird miserable. He was so confident in his ability to stave off any disaster, unable to imagine the day would come when he had to make the decision to forfeit his lands or sell his daughter for a serf.
Katyusha was not disillusioned by her father's promises of adventure and romance. All she could feel was betrayal. This was the man that had painted her name on the saddle of her wooden rocking horse and brought her a piano made by a master woodworker in Germany. This was the man that had told her from a very young age that he would always be there to look out for her.
Her mother wept over the little cloth bag that was the only luggage Katyusha was allowed to bring. Nestled underneath the handful of dresses and shifts was a Russian nesting doll she'd been given by her godmother at birth.
"Take it for luck, darling."
The plane was exciting for all of five minutes. The constant drone of the engines and the blank stares of her traveling companions soon lulled the nervous girl to sleep.
They hustled her into a growling machine. The thing rumbled over miles of frozen tundra, spitting diamond crystals of ice in its wake. Antarctica looked little different than the unforgiving stretches of Siberia. Katyusha began to feel a little less afraid. If this place was so like home, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to live here.
One of the men in white offered her a flask. It had a bittersweet taste but she was very thirsty. The two men that had been keeping pace with her knew just when to step in and keep her from falling. They laid her on a table. She couldn't get her eyes to open but she wasn't really asleep.
"This is the new one then? Good. It's mostly starved farm brats. To have a real member of the aristocracy...or what little is left of it...she'll do nicely for my purposes."
Katyusha couldn't make out what was said but the first speaker cleared any doubts.
"You had best hope she survives the trials, my friend. Else it may be your daughter I'll send for to take her place. No comrade can refuse the summons of Dr. Ivan Petrov, eh?"
Fat, fleshy fingers gently stroked the length of her cheek. She shuddered internally; her body totally unresponsive.
"I hope you can hear me, my pet. You are going to be very important to me. This glorious body will pave the way to the future of the Motherland. I will be a hero and you will strike fear into every man that fails to recognize the red star as supreme."
She must have passed out briefly. When she came to, Dr. Ivanov was still talking.
"...of the lion first. It is the riskiest but also the most critical to our success. We'll make the incisions here and here..."
The first stroke of the knife filled her world with a red haze that gradually faded to black.
The dry ache in her throat told her she had been asleep for many hours. There was a pewter pitcher next to her bed. A real bed it was, with a down-filled mattress and a goose feather pillow. She lifted her arm to reach for the pitcher.
A strangled scream didn't quite make it past her lips. Gone were the delicate hands that could pick out any tune on a piano keyboard, replaced with great, moss-colored paw-hands that bristled with short, stringy fur. Lethal black claws, their tips slightly curved, shot out without her consent. The motion shot white-hot bolts of pain up her arms all the way to the shoulder.
Her wails of terror brought the research team running.
Dr. Ivanov's voice roared above the general confused murmurs. "Strap her down! Which one of you idiots thought it was a good idea to remove the bandages?"
He jabbed a needle into her arm. It was a mild sedative, enough to take the edge off the pain without removing it completely.
"It is regretful my pet, but anything stronger would cause your body to reject the fusion process. None of my test subjects has ever survived the operation, let alone made use of their grafted limbs. Your DNA will make you a sort of mother of the future. I'll use it to stabilize the volunteers, to make soldiers that never complain when they grow weary and that never let fear get in the way of duty."
He leaned down and kissed her ever so gently on the lips.
"From now on, you will be known as Kerria. Your old name is forgotten with the faces of those that abandoned you."
She learned to eat whatever was offered and to sleep in those rare few hours when they weren't taking blood samples or testing her reflexes. She got used to staring at whatever was directly in front of her. She never looked down.
The next fusion was a simpler operation, one that left her with an ache in her lower back...and a lethal shark tail that threw off her balance so that even taking a few steps could land her flat on her face. Dr. Ivanov was thrilled when she accidentally whipped one of the assistants in the face, leaving him with a deep scar on the bridge of his nose.
"Give my pet a special treat tonight."
She cowered in bed, claws making holes in the blanket she hid beneath. She had to lie on her side to avoid pinching the tender skin around her tail. The soft shuffle of a warm body in the darkness brought her fully alert. The researchers had released a young rabbit into her holding cell. It ran around in crazed circles, thumping into the edge of the bed and the column of the sink, nearly braining itself against the side of the toilet.
She fell into a hunter's crouch, springing with a sound between a moan and a snarl. It wasn't until she felt the springy fur between her lips and smelled the sharp tang of blood that she realized what she'd done.
Her screams of denial and self-loathing didn't bring anyone running. Dr. Ivanov's team was under strict orders to offer her no words, no morsels of food, nothing but plain water until the rabbit was reduced to bones.
Instinct won out again, but not until she'd had a few days to really get hungry. She flung away the last of the rabbit in shame.
Dr. Ivanov's assistants laid out plates of bread and sweet cakes and a platter of fresh fruits. She dug into these eagerly, only to be made sick by the bitter herbs snuck into the food. Predators ate meat. Prey ate plants. Dr. Ivanov meant to make that point clear.
The third fusion was postponed until she could control the motion of claws and tail. She would take down rodents without a second thought but she refused to attack Dr. Ivanov's assistants. She could no longer pretend she wasn't an animal...but she would never let him turn her into a monster.
The third fusion was even more delicate than the first. Dr. Ivanov gave her full release from the pain, but those two days of oblivion came with a price. She ran a shaking hand over the ram's horns that had been fused to her skull.
"The headaches will be fierce. It will take your body years to adjust to this particular adjustment. Your basic anatomy wants to deny my work but I have a serum that will at least allow you to function."
She begged for that serum the first time the headache threatened to split her skull in half. He pointed to his new assistant, a young man with thick glasses. "Tail-whip this boy. Then you can have a dose."
The tip of her tail twitched but she refused to obey his order.
"If you have the energy to be difficult, the pain can't be all that bad." He started to whistle a broken tune, setting her to writhing in agony.
"I thought we'd cured you of stubbornness. An ill-trained animal is even more useless than a sickly one. I'll let you think about your priorities tonight and we'll see how you fare in the morning."
Her cries became more desperate as the night wore on. Most of the assistants had been too desensitized to pain to even hear but there was one young graduate student who had witnessed her bravery and who was not so easily swayed by the intimidation tactics of a supposed hero. His own father had been a general, after all.
Dimitri stole Dr. Ivanov's keys, using the man's own snores to cover his soft footfalls. Kerria was too miserable to focus on the shape hovering over her. She barely twitched when she felt the needle. Coolness gradually spread to put out the fire in her head.
She did look up then, meeting the eyes of her personal hero.
"I didn't sign up for this. I wanted to become a doctor, to help heal the world, not tear it into more pieces. I'm going to find a way to free you."
It wasn't hard to act listless at her next wellness check. Dimitri gestured at the rash forming at the base of her tail and on those patches of skull where the hair hadn't quite grown back. "These men practice medicine on animals. They know almost nothing of the human body. I could never hope to live up to your brilliance...but I think I can cure the subject of this infection."
The only thing Dr. Ivanov liked better than flattery was a chance to destroy some young upstart. He heartily agreed to the treatment plan.
Dimitri guided Kerria with a hand on her arm, taking great care not to touch the fur on her hand-paws. They had lost some of their greenish tinge but would never be the lovely tawny-brown of their original owner.
He brought her to a stop in front of the huge freezer door. "There are two backpacks next to the trash chute at the back. Take them. Don't wait for me. There's a plane bound for America...a place called Alaska. The pilot's been well paid to leave in three days without asking questions about the cargo he's carrying. Dr. Ivanov won't dare try to cross the Americans."
He gave her a fierce hug and a gentle shove. "Get going and don't look back no matter what."
She shuddered when she got a closer look at just what was kept in the freezer. Failed experiments, some of them barely recognizable as human.
The chute was a looming black square with no definable depth. The metal screeched in protest as her claws scraped the edge nervously. Both backpacks were slung over her shoulders but there was no sign of Dimitri.
Until she heard the sounds of distant shouting and the heart-stopping thud of the freezer door closing.
She leapt over the edge, tumbling head over tail, shooting into the frigid air at an alarming rate of speed. A huge snowbank stopped her forward motion quite definitely. Her breath exploded out in a huff.
Sheer luck had landed her on a chunk of ice rather than in the water. A man that would chop up endangered species for parts had little concern for ocean pollution. The water all around her had a sickly green tinge and there were bits of garbage bobbing up and down on its surface.
She picked her way from one chunk of ice to the next until she came to solid ground then ran with the fear of the hunted.
It was on the morning of the second day that she found the huge cluster of penguins. Mingled desire and revulsion helped her to bring down a bird and choke down the raw meat, a meal that was wasted when she made sick all over a cluster of rocks exposed by the scratching of many tiny feet.
It was with a shriveled heart and an empty belly that she came at last to the air field.
She crept up the ramp and huddled among the crates and boxes. A handful of raw potatoes provided a less traumatic meal, allowing her to settle down in a nest of old rags and sleep through another flight.
The pilot had followed his orders to the letter. When she woke, she was alone and the door to the cargo bay had been left open.
She became a thief in the night, stealing bits of food and clothing. A huge, bulky jacket allowed her to conceal her tail without discomfort. A sewing basket snatched from the bedroom of an old woman let her knit her own oversized hat and a cute blue pair of gloves that entirely hid her fearsome paw-hands. She might look shabby, but with her disguise she was passably human.
She slowly worked up the courage to let herself be seen at the trading post. She was courteous to everyone she met, hiding her apprehension behind a thick accent. Plenty of the villagers had at least a little Russian - some were even former citizens of the Motherland gone to seek a new life. They weren't friends, precisely. It was more like they tolerated her presence, especially when she earned her place by the fire. She was always willing to lend a hand with sweeping the floors or peeling potatoes. (When no one was looking, she'd just give them a few claw-swipes.)
She saved up and got herself a little room. It was nothing fancy, but it was better than sleeping in a cave. Every evening when she lay down to sleep, she would mutter a small prayer for the parents she had left behind, for she had never forgotten them. Added to that prayer now was her one true friend in a world where humans are as much animals as anything that walks on four legs.
Pirate Treasure Chest