Gabriel paced back and forth in his room, as his mind began to wander like his feet. He was growing tired of standing still in this place as much as he did not know what seemed to be going on. The Doctor kept asking questions but she wasn’t really providing him with any answers. It was all very frustrating; he was being kept in the dark. He was being kept locked away in this room. And he was quickly growing tired of both.
The irritation began to build itself into a slow boil inside that burned his blood. Gabriel could feel as he paced that he was feeling warmer and warmer. His muscles begged to be put to work and his nerves tingled with nervous need for releasing the pent up power. With each step Gabriel found himself roaring like a revved motor, ready to run.
What was this feeling? He couldn’t explain it; it raced through him with a rippling surge to sweep him into its influence. The strange sensation was some instinctive desire that threatened to push aside all his thoughts. All this contemplation was driving him crazy! “Where are you Doc?” Gabriel growled. “What is this that is happening to me?”
With each question that he couldn’t answer Gabriel grew even more enraged. And with each increasing measure of anger he found a tidal wave of primal might erupting from within. At first he thought his teeth felt different as he flexed his jaw in frustration. Then he noticed his gait was more of a smooth stride that held an odd hinged quality to it. But when he looked down he discovered there was more to it than that.
The sight was enough to make him howl in horror and roar with rage. Like water thundering over a waterfall, Gabriel found his fury in a similar collision course downward. Thriving on his terrible temper this strange shape seemed to be shifting into something between the man he used to be and some manner of creature. Where his left arm had differed from his new metal man-made right by retaining its proper natural nature it now had become something bizarrely bestial.
Where once burnt-sienna colored the hair on his head now there was a freshly formed layer of thickening fur sprouting to coat his flesh. Everywhere the chrome components ended a sea of rich reddish brown contrasted. As he watched on his left hand began to form the tell-tale pointed tips that heralded claws. His every sense exploded with fresh sensory input that threatened to overwhelm him.
Gabriel could feel himself starting to be pushed deeper and deeper inside. He felt like someone looking out a small window, who could only watch on as things happened. “No!” Gabriel objected defiantly. Summoning all his force of will that he could muster he speared his sense of self back upwards to regain control. If this anger could give birth to such primal power then perhaps he could temper it, restrain it. He needed to focus on something that didn’t evoke anything that might feed his rage.
So Gabriel focused hard on working in his grandfather’s workshop. He concentrated on the feel of his hammer in hand and investing himself in his work. The image of the shy little boy worried for his pet came to him and he held on to all those things that he could to calm himself. Gabriel pushed aside every thought about his father, anything that might threaten to tempt his temper. And as he did he found his breathing slow, his swelling adrenaline diminishing.
Gabriel allowed himself to sit back down on the edge of his bed for a moment to consider things. He didn’t need the Doc to explain this one to him. As he gazed into his own reflection cast back at him from his right arm he looked into the mirrored image. His eyes were still the same steely-grey they always had been. But when he looked into them now he couldn’t help but find the monster starring back that had so savagely stripped so much from him.
As he considered everything he found himself feeling every part of him that was so distinctly different now. Each piece was a price paid to defy death, every one something that had been taken from him. And now he had to come to terms with the fact that whatever that thing was it had managed to try and still take another thing from Gabriel. His very humanity seemed now to be dangling in the balance.
It was a cost that he refused to willingly pay, one that was far too high. Perhaps it could be reversed he wondered, or maybe the Doctor could do something. And if nothing could be done to stop it, if he began to turn into something like what had attacked him? It was a thought he did not want to entertain.
What if someone saw him change into this mysterious monster form? Gabriel began to find more questions forming that he also didn’t like. He already had to admit that looking as he did with all these implanted cybernetic components he was bound to draw some unfriendly attention. But if a walking patchwork of man and machine began to transform into a fur-covered creature odds were nobody would question its fearsome intentions.
“I think we should talk,” Dr. Foxfire suggested softly from the open doorway. The sudden presence of his devoted doctor caught Gabriel by surprise. He realized that he could smell her faint scent upon the air, even hear the hushed clicking of her heeled shoes on the floor. Somehow he had been so distracted that he hadn’t noticed her approach he decided.
“There are some things you should know,” she continued as she carefully entered the room. Her eyes were firmly on the floor and something about her body language Gabriel realized was different. “Yeah,” Gabriel answered awkwardly. “I have a few questions myself and I think I should tell you about some things I discovered while you were gone.”
Dr. Foxfire met his eyes with her own fixed stare full of emerald enigmas. “I already know,” she confessed with a clever crooked grin. Gabriel found the same irritated impulse threatening to claw its way back to the surface and wrestled to bite it back down. “What is going on,” he snarled. “Like I said, let’s have a little chat, shall we?” Dr. Foxfire offered once more, and this time Gabriel got the distinct impression that he didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.