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super-powers Envy and Lust (Ch. 17 added)


Philosopher

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Philosopher

This story is intended to be more of a slow burn, but it'll have regular updates. The first chapters are more of a set-up, until the interesting stuff come along!

Chapter 1

The only thing that kept me from screaming out loud was the constant, artificial reassurance of my internal monologue.

Calm down, Jason. It's a wonderful job, you know. Working with these people will teach you to come out of your shell and obliterate any remnants of your social anxiety!

I try to prevent my mind from responding to, well, my mind, but this cheerful voice inside be has been part of my life since I was a toddler, and so I indulge in my own insanity.

How exactly is working as a laboratory intern a way of fixing my anxiety? The only thing they make me do is clean up the apparatus after they're done with their experiments! And I just stand there like a scarecrow, with a fake smile on my face, saying 'Thanks!' as if they gave me the most important mission of my entire life!

The voice doesn't seem to have an answer for my accusation, and so it finally shuts up, letting me to resume the monotony of the past few hours.

In hindsight, working for 'Astral Arc' seemed like a great prospect of adding work experience to my CV as an undergraduate student, at least when some official representatives had visited my university to present their new and upcoming company. From Pharmaceutics to Research & Development, and even Bioengineering of infectious agents, the company appeared as the perfect place to work and learn, with 'friendly' staff and many opportunities to grow. 

In the first month of working here, I realized that the only good thing about Astral Arc was their marketing department, because they had done a damn good job at hiding the fact that all students would be treated like house elves that their only objective in life was cleaning and filing up stacks of paperwork.

But I'm not mad or anything. Besides, my inability to handle confrontation prevents me from speaking up about the horrible working hours or measly pay. So, all I do is keep my head down and follow the orders of the Senior Researchers, who're essentially in charge in the Bioengineering Sector of the building. The only silver lining in this scam job is that I have my own desk and computer that I use when I'm not cleaning lab equipment, although the laboratory has restricted access to the internet in order to prevent any leaking of 'redacted information'. The funniest part of this whole farce is that my section, Lab 1, is  only working on a potential bio-agent that can detect epithelial cell damage, which has to be the most boring assignment yet. It's rather unfair, because the other labs are working on far more exciting projects, or so I've heard.

As each minute passes, the clock on the wall somehow gets slower, the passing hours feeling like eons of boredom and apathy. Another intern sitting next to me taps the plastic wall that separates our desks. He's rather cute, with clear blue eyes, red hair and a gentle smile, but I never made a move, because not knowing is better than rejection in my opinion. It's not that I look unappealing, but courage isn't one of my strengths, to say at least. With straight black hair and black eyes, I'm no stunner, but I think I'm seen as generally attractive. Combined with an average 5'10 frame, I fit well into the median.

"Hey Jason, do you need anything from the vending machine? I ought to have a break now, my fingers are killing me from all this typing," he smiles at me as he flexes his hand muscles. He's taller than me, and slightly toned, and I briefly take a peek at the veins of his forearms. I look up at him from my desk, and my stomach suddenly reminds me that I haven't eaten anything after breakfast, and more than ten hours have passed since then.

"I-err. Could you get me a bar or something? Just make sure it has like, a gazillion calories," I reply back and with a nod, I watch him leave our cramped room and disappear into the nearby hallway. His butt perks as he walks away, and I tear my gaze away in case he looks back. Like I said, no courage.

Now with my eyes back on the computer screen, I notice a flashing icon in the taskbar, just underneath the opened documents where I'm working on today's lab report.

It's a red mail, meaning a message from Headquarters itself. My stomach suddenly feels as if its falling from Mt. Everest. From the rumors I've heard, receiving messages like this generally means one thing: reduced performance and subsequent termination. My hand trembles as I move the mouse towards the blinking message, and then I click.

>CODE SS-A: IMMEDIATE EVACUATION<

It has come to our attention that an accident occurred in Laboratory 5 of the Bioengineering Section. We have a verified report of a potential Bio-Agent human contamination. As such, we are requesting Labs 1, 2, 3 and 4 and their subsequent intern centers to be evacuated until the situation has been resolved. We have contacted emergency services and a team of first responders have been stationed outside the building. Do not be afraid. The situation is currently under control, and so we urge you to evacuate as calmly as possible.

Thank you for your mandatory cooperation.

The moment my eyes read the last sentence of the message, the white lights in the room suddenly go out and are immediately replaced by a bright, ominous crimson that bathes the walls in red. I look at my hands, and I see them shaking, a  bad omen from my experiences.

It's just an evacuation, calm down!

The computer screen is displaying the message again, now flooded with warning signs and a map showing the nearest escape. Then, as if the lights weren't enough, a blaring wail begins echoing through the intern center, a screeching sound so loud that it floods out all other noises and senses. I can hear the faint screams of the nearby interns, three girls and two guys my age that I never introduced myself to. A primal fear has tainted their eyes, and if I had a mirror, I'd probably have the same kind of horror carved on my face.

Oh crap. OH CRAP.

The combination of the red lights with the roaring sounds of the alarm made me feel as if someone had opened a portal to Hell and let something truly infernal come out of it. Some interns scramble to run towards the door, while others are left behind to try and take their personal objects with them. All of them are shouting and screaming, and it makes me want to cry in fear, even though I know that there's no immediate danger. I try to drown my own scream from escaping my throat, but it only results in a pathetic sound that reminds me of a dying cat.

Thankfully, the human body is a work of art in terms of survival, and so my animal instincts kick in and I find myself running for the exit corridor. The only perk of working in Lab 1 is that its nearest to the escape doors, which should lead to the safety of the outside parking lot. And so, I join in the rampant run towards the exit, only taking my phone with me and leaving everything else behind. The security guards that are usually stationed out of each center have disappeared to somewhere unknown, and that makes me feel a tinge of anger.

They're supposed to be here to protect us, aren't they? Did they actually just abandon their posts and left us all to fend for ourselves?!

I push the thoughts away and focus on my current task: escape this hellhole as fast as possible. I didn't want to wait and find out just what exactly had escaped from Lab 5, but in my frenzied panic, a zombie apocalypse was the only thing that came up my mind, even though I knew that the chances of that happening was more science fiction that real-life. Maybe it was a bio-engineered bacterium that caused a number of diseases; maybe it was just modified corn that was somehow sneaked out of the lab.

The exit doors are now just in front of me, and so I push them with glee and panic, letting the evening wind hit me straight in the face. I quickly join the rest of my intern group, our faces drained of colour and still shaking from this possibly traumatic experience.

But everything was over. We had successfully evacuated from the facility, and so we could go home now, right? We would wait for the other groups to come join us, and then everything would be fine.

As soon as that happy thought crossed my mind, a ten-person squad of people in hazmat suits surrounded us. We couldn't see their faces, as the sun had set an hour ago and only the cloudy sky was reflected back from the glass. They screamed at us to make a line, so they could spray us with a primary disinfectant vapor, and then the tsunami of questions started pouring out of their mouths, the constant stream being muffled by the hazmat suits.

Before we could even begin to answer them, something absorbed all of our collective collection away. The doors of the building suddenly bulged outwards, and more than twenty people start running screaming outside. I recognize the cute intern in the horde, any trace of smile having been wiped clean out of his face, and subsequently replaced with an all-known terror.

But something was different. I couldn't pinpoint what exactly, but his eyes betrayed a whole different level of fear, not the mindless panic and chaos that my group and I exhibited.

And then we all heard it. A hissing sound emanating from the doors. It sounded like a giant snake, really. My imagination was quick to fill up the gaps with the horrors of animals mutated beyond recognition. The horde of interns was quick to take many steps back from the escape doors, and I saw many familiar faces, even a friend of mine. I had never seen Luke so scared in his life. 

I couldn't move from my spot to go and join him. Somehow, my body was completely frozen, with the exception of my hands, which were still shaking.

The hissing increased in pitch, and everything stayed still.

As I saw later in the news, the explosion obliterated the entire laboratory, along with many of its occupants.

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Chapter 13 The pathetic mass of muscles and bones and skin stares at me for just a moment, before its heavy legs start climbing down the hill, slowly but surely approaching the beautiful Echo Lak

The curtain rises and we are ready to begin. Chapter 4 "No, mother. I told you, all expenses have been taken care of by the shell company of Astral Arc. They even paid for the flight back to

Thanks a ton for all that feedback! I have to admit that I'm more of an intuitive writer and I don't have a specific plan in my  head, but as the story takes shape, I might have to actually start plan

Philosopher

Chapter 2

Good afternoon. This is Elsa Thunders from BBC News with our daily update on the accident that continues to shake the entire country. It has been more than a week since the horrifying accident in one of the best laboratories for clinical research in London has occurred, and needless to say, our questions have not been answered. Police have yet to issue a statement on whether this was a simple malfunction that was miscalculated from the side of Astral Arc, or if the lethal accident contains more twisted elements from an unknown third party. Astral Arc seems to have followed the same strategy, as its CEO hasn't issued a single statement regarding the nature of the explosion. Unfortunately for Astral Arc, this means that its stocks have taken a direct hit, with its market price having a free-fall down to a tenth of its original value. This also stems from the fact that more than fifty employees died in the tragic disaster, along with the entire complex now resembling a nuclear test site rather than a pristine environment of science. All the surviving employees, with the wide majority of them being student interns, have all been stationed in the nearby Atlas Hotel, as MI5 continues to conduct daily interviews in order to find the cause of this entire tragedy. This is BBC News, more updates at 9 PM.

With a sigh, I pick up the TV-remote and hit the off button. The sound of running water emanates around the hotel room, and I find myself staring at the beige ceiling.

According to the news, I had been in this hotel for around a week, but honestly it felt far, far more than that. I could still remember the flashes of red and blue emanating from the police cars, the melting yellow of a nearby Hazmat suit that had caught on fire, the constant ringing in my ears as the shock-waves kept coming from what was once a massive complex of laboratories.

But what was seared into my memory was the smell. Oh god, the smell. The repugnant odor of sulfur and charcoal combined, large amounts of cysteine being burned and released. Cysteine contained in human hair, carbon contained in the human body. I think I passed out after that, and then I woke up here, on the 37th floor of Atlas Hotel, one of the biggest hotels in London.

Luke says that the police haven't managed to find a single body yet, but I think it will be impossible to do so. After all, the explosion was so strong, so titanic that every trace of humanity must have been simply evaporated on the spot, along with steel and titanium that had been the foundations of the complex. It still boggles my mind that all the interns, including me, managed to survive the minute-apocalypse that struck upon us. I guess the survivors are always the ones that pay the price.

A knock on the door snaps me out of my trance, and with great difficulty, I hop off the soft mattress of the bed and walk towards it. I'm greeted by a smiling hotel staff, along with two trays of food. She is a small woman, a head shorter than me but she emits a rather professional aura, asking me whether this is a bad time, and informing me that she can come later.

"No, it's fine. I'll take these off you," I try to smile, but my mouth doesn't cooperate. I feel like I want to burst into tears, and from her reaction, I think that she knows.

"I'll tell the kitchen staff to bring you guys another set of dessert, alright?" she beams again, but her smile has changed, now containing traces of pity. "Poor thing...." I hear her whispering to herself once I close the door and drop the plates on the table.

She's not wrong.

The pipes in the wall start groaning, a sign that someone just finished their shower. I start preparing the table, throwing away the leftovers from the morning breakfast, and putting the two trays of steaming food in the middle. Today's special appears to be steak fillet, and normally I'd be ecstatic for such delicacy.

The door of the bathroom bursts open, and a massive cloud of steam comes out of it, instantly fogging up the windows of the hotel.

"Do you really have to use all that hot water?" I ask Luke as he comes out the bathroom with only a single towel hiding his lower body. I do my best to look at his emerald green eyes and not anywhere else, and they frown from my comment. I look down at his beautiful red lips, and I see his smile, showing off his pearly whites.

"Well, my muscles keep cramping up, now that I can't have my daily workouts. You know that hot water is best in alleviating any knots," he responds and he starts moving to the table with his towel. As he sits down, his pecs involuntary twitch, bouncing up and down like two drums made out of steel wires. I look down at my steaming steak, the yellow cheddar on top of it still melting around it.

Luke has always been the most popular guy around since he got his first growth spurt in middle school. As if he wasn't big enough already, he easily shot up to 6 feet at the ripe old age of 13, making him the tallest guy in our grade. That had made the basketball and rugby coach to go into an actual fight, arguing that he'd best fit their respective teams. Luke had chosen rugby, telling them that he enjoyed close contact sports. From that age, his height steadily increased until he peaked at a very nice 6'2, making him one of the taller guys at high school. However, what most of the other guys didn't have was his dedication to rugby. The man wouldn't stop training every day and every night, his constant exercise regimes building up his body more and more until he was the strongest guy in our school. His muscles had become so dense and optimized, that nobody was able to stop him once he had gotten enough momentum on the field. Every Thursday afternoon, I was on the sideways watching him obliterate any opposition away with his superior power, thinking about how tough his abs and pecs must feel, never mind his biceps or thighs. But what was the cherry in the cake was his face. His body was already a near 10, but his face belonged on another, better universe. With a jawline that belonged to a steel factory and with cheekbones that could cut said steel, he was one of the most beautiful people I had ever met.

He's so hot. How can someone be so hot? I remember asking myself. There had been no answer. After graduating, we got in the same university, me in a Bio-molecular science course and him on a Business one. We started hanging out more on our first year, but even then, I knew that we belonged in different worlds. He started hanging out more with his new rugby friends, going to fresher parties and making out with dozens of different people. He was destined for something great, whereas I would watch by the sidelines, praising the star and wishing I was half the man he was. After that, we lost contact.

When third year rolled around and I learned that we had found internships in the same company, my initial reaction had been happiness, before realism sapped it away into a dark void. I had long since abandoned the idea of coming closer to the star that Luke was, I couldn't see any point or reason.

He's way out of my league. It's not even worth the try.

And now, here we are. Luke, half-naked, in front of me. His abs and obliques still look like they're made of marble, even when he's sitting down and wolfing on steak fillets. His skin is divine, without a single scar or blemish on it. Even the body towel seems to be struggling to keep whatever is hidden below it. Flawless is the word I'm looking for.

How. How. How? The lack of answers makes me feel a weird cocktail combination of potent lust and another emotion, something I can't pinpoint out. I know its acrid and cold, and so I bury it deep down into my subconscious. 

I take a bite of the steak, and it feels like actual rubber being forced down my throat. I take a sip of the orange juice next to it, and I get up from the table, the meal uneaten. Luke looks at me with apprehension, squinting his eyes. "I told you yesterday, you can't just starve, Jason. You need to get over what happened," he replies and gets up from his chair as well. With a swift move, he's right in front of my trembling self, looking down on me. I have look up into his green eyes, and the feeling of lust resurfaces, along with the other, less pleasant one. He's tall and well-built, and that's such a turn-on that I just stare at him. My eyes are in level with his upper pecs and they flex again. They honestly look like mountains of muscle, and his nipples hover slightly down from their weight.

That's all it takes, and I flinch. My mind takes back control and I sit down my bed, burying my head in the soft pillow. I can't let Luke see me like that. I don't want to see if he knows that I know that he knows about what happened in Astral Arc. He has to know, his department never visits ours, and something tells me that he hasn't told the exact truth to the police. Why was he there at the day of the explosion? It makes no sense, and as a scientist in-training, I have to find out.

"Wh-when are you going to tell me?" I muffle out, my body now curled up like a pathetic little baby. I sense the mattress groan as he sits down next to me. I don't get it, how dense must his muscles be? And he's not even that big! What would happen if he actually decided to bulk out? It was at that moment that I realized that my body had more control than my mind. Instead of focusing on the more pressing matter of the Astral Arc explosion, I instead lust after a gorgeous man who could have anyone he wanted.

After all, we're just animals. It's so much easier to indulge in our primal desires than trying to think. I have to agree with the voice in my head. It feels like the entire explosion would vanish if I could touch his lips with mine.

"You know I can't-," he tries to say, raising his hands up, his biceps bulging with power, but I stop him by getting up and throwing the pillow at him. He easily catches it, and he throws it to his bed.

"Bullshit! The company is basically gone, there's no more redacted information you need to hold, and MI5 will find out about everything anyways! So just tell me! What the hell was so important that Astral Arc bombed its own lab to keep it from leaking out?!" I shout at him, my eyes only showing rage and anger now.

"You don't know that. Stop it with the conspiracy theories. Besides, I only visited the complex to get a glimpse of what every lab was working in order to build an effective marketing strategy for every potential product!" he shouts back, and I instantly see in his face that he let something important slip out. The room is now silent, and I think he can hear the clogs turning in my mind.

"Wait. You visited every lab? Even. Even 5?!" I stare at him in horror.

Luke decided to reply with the most appropriate way.

"Shit."

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Ro20316

He is ont you Luke and he knwos the contamiantion was caused by human hand. He read the report.

Luke... What did u just do?

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Philosopher

Chapter 3

"Have you ever played Resident Evil?" Luke asks me as if its the most reasonable question in the world.

"Wha-if I played what?!" I look at him, turning my head sideways. This was not what I was expecting at all, and my mind couldn't make any assumptions on why a zombie game mattered in this conversation. "I haven't played the games personally, but I've seen some videos on YouTube. It's your usual, run-of-the mill zombie apocaly-," I start recounting, and then I freeze.

Zombies.

Oh god no.

Luke must've realized what I was thinking, and for some reason he finds it hilarious because he starts laughing right in front of my face.

Even his laugh is gorgeous, a deep, reverberating sound that tingles my ears.

"NO. No zombies. Don't worry, they weren't making any zombie viruses in Lab 5." As he calms down from his laughing fit, his face grows darker. "They did play Bob the Builder with a virus, though. In the games, there was this corporation, right? Umbrella Co. They basically engineered a virus because their main goal was to turn humanity into a superior version of it. Absolute strength, limitless power. A superhero race that nothing will ever be able to stop.These two concepts were held at the core of that company... and Astral Arc."

"You mean... They actually engineered a virus? To do what exactly?" I say and my voice trembles after hearing the word. Bad things happened when unchecked scientists messed up with organisms that were capable of wiping out entire continents. From my limited information, Astral Arc wasn't meant to actually engineer novel viruses. Research was its main objective, and any modified organism was only taken to conduct several tests on it and to discover any hidden potential that it held.

"Now, before you freak out, I have to say that in theory, the virus sounds like a god send. Increased human growth, both height and muscle mass. Near unlimited power, levels of it that have not been experienced before. Enhanced vision, hearing, everything. Improved immune system that's able to fight all infections after the initial virion cycle. And so much more. The report I received didn't tell me the exact details, but I had to go to the lab and see the work for myself. Besides, I wouldn't be able to even enter the complex if I wasn't specifically invited to join for a demonstration. And..." he trails off, and then just stares at me. "What I'm about to tell you can't ever leave this room, do you understand? It's not for the faint of heart."

I nod, but my brain has already picked out several details from his answers. Someone had explicitly invited Luke into a top-secret experiment for reasons unknown. That made zero sense. Luke wasn't a scientist. He was studying business, not medicine or any science-based degree. Why did they want him there? I couldn't wait to find out, although something told me that I wouldn't like the answer. 

"...Right," Luke coughs, and I catch him scratching his forearm. Although his skin is perfect, there seems to be a slight discoloration on his left hand, like he was bitten by a bug or something. I could swear that it hadn't been there before, not for an entire week.

Did Luke have allergies? I sincerely doubted so. Perfect humans like him couldn't have a single imperfection on them.

 His eyes glaze over me, and then he speaks again. "I think you're aware about the international laws of human experimentation, correct? Needless to say, Astral Arc had connections, and powerful ones indeed. It wasn't hard for them to find some 'willing' participants which they paid millions for a potentially life-altering experience." His face turns sharper now, and I find myself backing towards the top of the bed. I've seen what happens when Luke gets angry, and I didn't want to be in the center of an explosion for a second time in a week. "They injected them with some kind of red substance. They called it Inferno, and it looked more than blood, but that doesn't matter. The screams that followed were thankfully muffled by the soundproof walls of Lab 5..." he looks away, as if he's ashamed. His breathing sounds laborious now, as if he sprinted a mile or two in five minutes. "It's not just you who hasn't been sleeping at night, Jason."

The news were honestly overwhelming, but I think I was in a state of relative shock, so I only nodded at him to continue.

"And then, these men somehow shattered the carbyne chains. Carbyne, Jason. One of the strongest materials in the world and even industrial-sized machines weren't able to break them. Christ, the sounds the participants made, it was as if the researchers injected hot lead in their veins. The bulletproof glass didn't stand a chance, of course. One of these... people, they started coughing uncontrollably, and you could see a red steam flow out of his mouth. The other guy, he just started... ballooning. His muscles, they bloated up, and they didn't stop increasing in mass. At first, it was amazing! He gained the mass of a hardcore bodybuilder in less than a minute... but then it turned into a nightmare. The skin didn't have enough strength to contain them. It tore like paper, Jason." Luke stops, and he looks like he's about to throw up. He somehow manages to control himself. "It was a miracle that I didn't pass out right there and then. It was getting harder to see with all that red haze emitted by the other 'participant', but somehow, I found the door and ran out of there."

I could feel the adrenaline seeping out of me, and the initial shock of Luke's revelation started weighing upon my mind.

Human... experimentation? What. The. FUCK?!

I had to have stared at Luke's face for more than two minutes, trying to process the news. He tried to smile, and it almost worked at making me forget the horrible news that had just gotten out of his mouth.

Almost.

At the time I hadn't noticed, but my hands were trembling again.

A ring from the room's telephone line made both of us jump in fear, and Luke instantly moved to grab it.

"Hello? Yes, this is room 3712. O-Oh, it's our turn for the interview? Y-yes, I understand. Yes, I'll tell him right away," Luke said with his most confident voice, but I could see the cracks in his facade.

Somehow, the pedestal I had put him all these years started cracking as well, and that terrified me even more. Strong men like him couldn't be afraid of anything. It's just impossible. "They want you down at reception. It's time for your interview with MI5," he shakes his head and smiles. The water on his body had dried by now, and his blond hair looked more fluffier than ever. I wanted to touch them so much, but I didn't move.

Instead, I took a peek at a nearby mirror.

I looked like a zombie. Disheveled black hair ran down my forehead like unruly bangs, and my eyes were bloodshot red, the consequences of all these sleepless nights. I tried to smile, and my lips almost cracked from the strain. I gazed back at Luke, who looked like he had visited the beauty salon in the bathroom. He was absolutely beaming with power and virility, it almost didn't make sense.

The acrid emotion suddenly flooded my brain, along with anger and a sense of injustice. I could feel my fingers tighten into a fist, and I let it happen. That venomous emotion had almost taken total control of my senses. I had never felt anything like that before. I never want to feel it again.

"Wh-why are you looking at me like that?" Luke suddenly said, and took a step forward, as if he was preparing for a fight.

"What do you mean?" I shoot back and I get up from my bed, taking a few steps back in order to make some space, and to also prepare for the interview.

"...Nevemind," he whispers and lets the towel fall off his body. At that moment, a tinge of pink enters the endless green inside my mind, and I feel reason and logic come back to me. He's looking away from me, but even then, the sight is truly divine. His calves are built like actual bricks, and the vascularity is insane, even from that distance. His quadriceps look swollen and radiate power and authority; they look like you can crush a watermelon between them. And his ass must've been one of Michelangelo's works of art that was lost in the passage of time. It's so rigid, yet so smooth at the same time.

Luke coughs again, and I instantly jump for the door of our room. "I... I'll see you later, then," I say and I open the door.

"Jason, wait!" Luke scrambles behind me, now wearing some boxers that look a size smaller on him. I couldn't help but notice how much they struggled to contain both his ass and his other... more than sizable appendage, but I couldn't keep staring at them, so instead I focus on his pectoral muscles. "Just.. please don't say anything about the experiment, alright?" he says and slowly grabs my hand. It feels like there's so much power hidden in it, and yet he's so gentle. "Please."

I can only nod at the star in front of me. I don't want to open my mouth in case I say something I'll regret later.

As the door closes, I can sense both the green acridity and the pink softness fight inside me. On one hand, I want to tell everything to the MI5 agents and be done with this horror story. On the other hand, I feel like I can't betray Luke like that. He asked me not to tell anything, and I must follow his request, right? The conflict of emotions is beyond confusing, and my reason doesn't seem to be able to help.

But alas, I must choose.

And I think that I have already made my decision.

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Ro20316

I love how this is going. Luke knows what's up and what happeend and why teh lab exploded but i think many got exposed to the virus agent Luke being one cause he was closer.

I cant wait to read what's next

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Philosopher

The curtain rises and we are ready to begin.

Chapter 4

"No, mother. I told you, all expenses have been taken care of by the shell company of Astral Arc. They even paid for the flight back to King's College. Yeah, I know, the CEO should be in jail for what he made me go through, but money is power... Speaking of money, would you mind if I got my birthday present earlier this year? O-yeah, okay. Thanks, mum. Tell dad I called, alright? Yes, really. Yes, he does hates me. Okay, bye!" I sighed and I threw my phone on my bed. 

It had been two weeks since the interview at Atlas Hotel, and now I was back at King's College to resume my studies. Since my year in an industrial placement had literally exploded and made a hole in the ground, I was forced to either take a gap year from my studies, or immediately resume them to save both mine and the university some time and effort. As such, I chose to take a small vacation back home in Lancashire, and then come back and focus on getting through the year. Luke had apparently chosen to do the same, but I was trying to block him from all parts of my memory. We hadn't really talked since our last day in the hotel. A certain kind of awkwardness and silence had befallen between us, and I wasn't the type to disturb the status quo.

Maybe I stopped talking to him because he forced me to commit a federal crime by not telling to MI5 everything they needed to know, which included unethical human experimentation, possible bio-terrorism and a blatant breach of human rights. I guess it was my fault for asking him the complete story, even though Luke knew just fragments of it. He probably didn't want me to say anything because that would put him in the center of both the crime and the explosion, which would dramatically increase his chances of becoming the police's scapegoat. Or maybe it's because I didn't want to see him get in trouble because of my obvious infatuation towards him.

The only good thing that resulted in me returning to the university this late in the term was that I had successfully gotten my own, two-person dorm, even though it was supposed to be for more than one student. The administration didn't seem to really care where I would go and just shoved me in the first available space, but after pleading with them for something better than the public dormitories, they agreed to let me stay in a better part of the campus.

Several moving boxes still surrounded me, and I know that eventually, I'd have to start organizing this space. But even after spending two weeks with my family, I still had trouble sleeping at night. I'm constantly plagued by nightmares of fire and smoke, rays of crimson light seeping through broken walls and disintegrating everything on their wake, of bloated humans, their muscles growing beyond recognition and exploding in supernovas, their faces melting from their uncontrolled power. Luke is in my dreams as well, his face still beautiful but somehow warped and twisted, as if he was a demon that escaped Hell itself and now he was ready to spread the infernal fires of death in his wake. I can't remember the times I had woken up screaming for my life, my body riddled with sweat. The subconscious mind is a curious thing.

I even visited the local clinic to get some sleeping medicine, but instead they forced me to do a full physical exam after realizing that I was one of the survivors of the accident. Turned out, I had lost more than 15 pounds last month, fat and muscle combined, one of the reasons I felt like absolute garbage all the time. They warned me of the potential dangers regarding low calorie intake, and how I should eat more, but I simply nodded and smiled. I couldn't tell them that every bite of food I forced down my body felt like I was consuming dirt and gravel. Even gummy bears, my favorite treat, had lost their taste. Instead, I felt as if I was eating actual plastic rather than artificial sweeteners and sugar.

So everything seems to be great!

And then, as if I wasn't suffering enough, the university accommodation team informed me that a new roommate will be arriving today. I asked them how could this be, it's the middle of the year and freshers week was literally months ago, and to please reconsider because I could not handle having another person live with me right now. Their only response was 'No dice, have fun with your new buddy!' and that was the end of the story. They even gave me a second pair of keys to handle to him once he arrived.

If that's not a violation of my rights as a student who survived a massive explosion and with potential PTSD from it, then I don't know what it is.

My opinion didn't matter anyways, because I couldn't just stop this new guy from barging in and shattering the wonderful, false sense of peace and serenity I had created in the confines of this dorm. So, as a last act of defiance, I chose to lock the door and throw his keys to his room on the other side of the apartment. I know, it was childish and frankly pathetic, but I needed someone to be the center of the seething anger I felt inside me, and the new roommate proved to be the perfect target. I knew that eventually, I'd calm down and unlock the door before he arrived, but emotions are such a complex labyrinth that humans often get trapped in.

Unfortunately for my new roomie, today was one of the rare times I fell asleep in my own bed, and my body was quick to snatch the opportunity and send me into a deep, albeit uneasy slumber. I don't remember what I dreamed about, but I do remember what woke me up.

It was a loud thud from the front door. It sounded more like a bear trying to barge its way in more than anything, but I was still very groggy from my sudden awakening that I just laid still in my bed, pretending to be dead.

"Motherfucker!" I heard a deep voice curse outside the small apartment. The sound was loud enough that I felt it travelling throughout the walls and I don't know why, but his voice kind of reminded me of James from Monsters Inc. With a weak sigh, I stood up to my full height and stretched my muscles, hearing audible pops from various bones of my body. This new weight loss has made me feel half-dead for the better part of this month, but at the same time, I had actual definition in my belly. I could actually see some sorts of abdominal muscles peek out from my remaining fat, but it's nothing compared to actual, gym-acquired abs. Still, a win is a win, and so I moved to open the door.

Before I could grab my keys and open the lock, I heard rapid movement outside, and the helpful voice in my head told me to stand away from the door right this instance. I must have still been half-awake, because for some unknown reason, I trusted it and took a few steps back.

The entire wooden door proceeded to explode towards me, before falling down with a laughable squick. My mouth instantly opened to swear or scream, but I could only stare at the door, which was laying on the ground like a simple piece of wood. Like someone had just pushed it, and the door's hinges didn't have enough power to stop the force from coming in, instead submitting to the authority and simply breaking into bits and pieces.

The sound of screeching metal snapping in a gruesome fate informed me that my deduction was correct.

Several seconds passed before I realized that someone is at the entrance, waiting for me to invite them in. I raised my eyes and what I saw made me want to fall back and crawl under my bed forever. He was bigger than I remembered, another thing that I added to the list that made zero sense. Only two weeks had passed since the interview, and he literally looked bigger. Both horizontally and vertically. There was no light outside the apartment, and so I could only see an outline of the massive silhouette currently tapping his thick fingers on the wall, waiting to be allowed inside.

"What's up, Jason? I say we split the cost for the door, what do you say?" Luke's deep, beautiful voice echoed around the room and he stepped in to greet me.

"No. NO. Stay the hell away-," I tried to evade him, but even with all that mass, he proved to be much, much quicker than me, easily grabbing my waist and lifting me up like a ragdoll. He then proceeded to give me a giant bear hug, one that I couldn't ever escape, even if my life depended on it. I felt the strength that his body radiated. It was different, far different than before. It was abnormal. I slowly raised my hands behind his back, which was rather easy as I was still in the air and supported by Luke who didn't seem to register any weight, and I tried to squeeze his shoulder muscles.

They didn't budge a single inch. It's not that known softness, that spongy feeling that my muscles have. His were made of steel. Tungsten would be the more appropriate metal to describe the hardness I was gripping right then. Moreover, Luke smelled like masculinity incarnate. I took a deep breath, and it was like I could feel the testosterone and absolute power he emitted enter in my lungs. Oddly, it reminded me of summer. A shining day in the beach, eating orange bites while letting the salty wind of the sea dance around you while you bask in the glory of the sun.

That's what he was. He was the sun. A star.

I tried my damnest to not get hard. I didn't know if it was even humanly possible not to, but somehow I could just barely control myself.

"Please. Can you let me down? I... I feel dizzy," I gently asked Luke, patting him in the back. I felt so small when I was close to him. Smaller than an atom. I both loved and hated that sensation of masculine dominance. He responded by backing me away from his body, still holding me up like a toy, and I felt him massaging my torso with his huge paws masquerading as human hands. Even his fingers radiated power that I could never even imagine. They probably had the power to snap me like a twig. Finally and with a last smirk, he let me down on the floor.

I slowly realized that while we were in the hotel, I was used at gazing at Luke's pecs and higher neck when he was talking to me and our bodies were relatively close. Even then, his vascularity was something out of this world. The lines and crosses of his veins had reminded me of a map that I desperately wanted to trace with my fingers.

That was in the past.

Now, it suddenly dawned upon me that I was looking straight into the lower side of his pecs, far lower than before. Just above his first set of abdominal muscles. Even through the North Face jacket he was wearing, I could still see the bumps that his pecs and abs made, sticking outwards like blocks of marble.

Yeah, he had definitely gotten taller.

And bigger.

"You look like you saw a ghost!" Luke laughed as he stepped out of the apartment to grab two massive suitcases with one hand. Each must have weighted more than 100 pounds. "It's not even Halloween yet. We should totally go to a party, you and me!" he smiled as he went to find his room. I noticed that his head was just inches below the roof of the apartment, something that both aroused and terrified me.

People didn't grow that much in two weeks. Even if they did, their bodies wouldn't be able to handle it. They'd simply break apart.

And yet, a miracle was unfolding right in front of my eyes. The evidence was there, and as a scientist, this is the most important part of the job. Evidence dictates whether something is, or isn't working. Evidence either proves or disproves a theory. Without evidence, all the studies conducted in the world would be for nought. Yes, Luke had obviously come in contact with the engineered virus.

Inferno.

Nothing else made sense.

But scientists are humans. I'm a human. And a human lets their emotions get a hold of the steering wheel. Right then and there, I'd do anything to jump towards Luke and kiss him like my life depended on it. I'd give my own soul to spend a night with this absolute, perfect stud. Who wouldn't? He could have everyone, everyone, with no exception. Even if you couldn't see his beauty, his handsomeness, you could still feel the strength seeping out of his muscles, his tall stature that could withstand a thousand lighting strikes, his massive hands that could make you cum with just a simple brush on your dick.

I... I'd even kill to become like him. Become him.

I might had been a mere mortal in the presence of a god, but I wanted to be a star.

I had to be one.

I had to.

One way, or another.

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