Topiary Genetics: Part 4

Getting Stronger

At the end of the third week since the she woke in her new body, Kelli and her roommate Nicole were still practicing their fine motor skills by stacking blocks and hooking paper clips together on their tray tables.

"I can't wait," she said, "until they let us up by ourselves. I want to use the bathroom by myself."

Nicole replied, "At least we are out of diapers. I never thought I would be happy to use a bed pan before this. Pam said that by the end of next week we should be using walkers to get around."

"This morning in therapy, I was able to stand by myself for almost a minute," Kelli said. "My balance is coming back and I hope I will be strong enough to walk soon."

"Pam mentioned tomorrow they are going to get all of us together on mats in the cafeteria and let us meet each other again. It will be cool to see everyone, not just the people we see during sessions. I think that this will be the first time in years I am excited for a group activity," Nicole said.

***

Finally all of the girls and staff were together in the cafeteria. The girls were all sitting or laying on the floor which had been covered with exercise mats. The staff had positioned themselves along the back wall.

"Good Morning everyone Hailey said as she entered the room followed by a graying Asian looking man in a lab coat. "I now have the pleasure to introduce Dr. Dan to our young ladies. The doctor has a last name obviously, but for security reasons we aren't supposed to use it. He will have some brief statements that will probably clear up many of the questions that all of you may have."

The new young women turned their eyes to Dr. Dan in anticipation. "I am happy to see all of you doing so well. You may not realize it but you are recovering from the process an average of six percent faster than our next most recent protocol. I know that you have all been curious about the changes to your bodies and have asked the staff many questions for which they do not have answers. I will try to cover many of them now. It should be clear that you are all experiencing an accelerated version of normal childhood development. This has been a frustrating time for some of our previous girls. We are aware of the difficulties that you will face as you adapt to each new situation. I promise you that we will provide you with the support that you deserve."

Daniel felt a sense of accomplishment as he looked at the newly minted young women. He thought that even if they never were to control the Y chromosome reversion in his lifetime, he and his team had truly done something to help mankind.

"Speaking of support, you are done with the first round of hormonal therapy to kick start puberty in your bodies. Most of you will soon begin to ovulate, Some of you who came out on the lower end of the biological age range may need another round. The wellness team will be in constant communication with each of you to document the changes and ensure your good health."

Daniel paused to take another look at the attentive faces of his audience. "Both group and individual psychotherapy sessions will now become more frequent. Please remember that talking about any issues that may come up is vital to your future mental health. If anyone of you begins to feel depressed or think od self harm please contact any staff member for help. We can then look for the causes and try to fix it. At this stage of your new lives such issues are likely to be caused by a hormonal imbalance which we can and will correct. Now onto what is going on with your bodies. Please pardon my point by point delivery but I have a lot to cover."

"Your skin is like a baby's skin. It has never been exposed to the sun. You will begin getting very short daily UV exposure in the tanning both outside of the examination rooms next week. We will start with just 15 seconds and work up to five minutes of daily exposure to acclimatize your skin and promote vitamin D production.

"Growth. Like it or not you are all at nearly your full height, and it is probably not as tall as you would wish for. We cannot tell you exactly how much more you may grow, figure an inch and a half maximum future growth depending on your personal genetics.

"Teeth. The ones coming in are your permanent teeth. Due to the constraints of the process all of you will need the services of an orthodontist. Braces will be fitted as soon as practical while you are at this facility.

"Hair. You may not have noticed in the short time that you have been awake but your hair is growing in at about twice the average rate. This is an artifact of the process and will slow to the average rate of approximately 1/2 inch per month within one year."

Hailey spoke up at this point. "One of your on site mentors was once a Hollywood stylist and owned a high end salon. She will style your hair as soon as it is long enough. When she arrives she will also be in charge of what I am calling 'How to be a girl 101' it will be a one hour session every day."

Daniel smiled at the interruption, "Trust Hailey to keep track of what is truly vital." Everyone in the room chuckled. "What's next? Oh yes, muscle tone will also begin to come back rapidly though coordination is somewhat slower to develop as all of you have been experiencing.

"Breast development will not be noticeable for a week or two. The rejuvenation process is quite a shock to the system and so even though we have given your bodies an estrogen jump start, you will not begin to notice any development until your body has reached the appropriate stage of equilibrium. Please let the staff know of changes that begin to occur in your body so that we can capture the data as accurately as possible. Next..."

Daniel spoke for almost an hour before making his last point. "Some of you may have noticed that you lack a navel, or belly button. This is because there was no umbilical cord during your transformation. Unfortunately it was not safe to do this procedure before your bodies had begun to recover. So beginning next week I and my staff will be performing umbilicoplasty on each of you to provide a proper appearance. Before you ask, everyone is getting an innie."

***

After Dr. Daniel had left Hailey and the therapists encouraged them all to reintroduce themselves.

"I am Courtney, though you might remember me as Joseph," the light brown skinned girl sitting behind Nicole said.

"I think I might remember you, I'm Nicole. This is Kelli," she said nodding to her roommate.

"Hi Courtney," Kelli said trying to memorize the name. She had never believed names were so important before her transformation. Now every time someone called her by name she felt warm inside. It was as if her true self was being affirmed. "Is the screen in your room only able to get kid shows too?"

"Yes. Hailey told me that we were going to only be able to watch certain shows for some time in order to understand all of the cultural references that girls our age should know. It kind of makes since to me. Who knew some of these cartoons even existed? Besides I really liked 'Frozen'. I think that by the time we leave here we should be up to date. "

"I hope so, I am kind of concerned about fitting in," Kelli said. "Listen to us we are still choosing the same words that older adults would choose. I don't want anyone to start speaking with me and think that I am strange."

Courtney replied, "That is probably another reason that they are restricting the media that we have access to. Total immersion in youth culture should enable us to fit in better. I do miss the news hour on PBS though. I can't imagine many sixteen year old girls choosing to watch the news when anything else is available though."

The three girls laughed at the idea.

"I am sure there are a few. I think that those kids would certainly stand out in a group. I get the impression that they would prefer us to fit in rather than call attention to ourselves," Nicole said.

"I don't blame them," Courtney said. "Can you imagine the advantage this technology will give our security agencies once they work the bugs out."

***

The girls had been broken up into four groups to simplify scheduling. Hailey had named three of them after the Powerpuff Girls cartoon characters, Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles. For the fourth she had chosen Barbie to keep with the B theme. Kelli found herself in the Buttercup group with her new friends Nicole, Michelle and Olivia.

Kelli soon found herself in a daily routine of group therapy, then physical therapy followed by speech therapy and personal health education, then lunch, then more physical therapy, this time for fine motor skills, then 'Girl101' as they were calling it and once a week she met individually with Holly, her psychologist. At five they had dinner. As soon as the girls could use walkers or canes to get around they had begun taking meals in the cafeteria. After dinner they had free time but the only entertainment that was available was age appropriate music and shows. They were doing about a year per week and were told that they would be up to date by the time they were transferred to school. Kelli had decided that the Barbie movies were really not bad at all.

They soon began learning yoga with Hailey and that was her favorite part of the day. There was just something about the slow stretching exercises that made her feel good. It was slow going relearning almost everything but the rewards were worth any temporary frustration to Kelli. She found herself actually counting her blessings whenever things began to overwhelm her. The list was becoming something of a mantra for her. 'No debt, I'm a girl, no joint pain, I'm a girl, good vision, I'm a girl, great hearing – no more ringing, I'm a girl, I have hair, I'm a girl, I'm getting in shape, I'm a girl.'

Sometimes they were quizzed on their background stories as if they were talking to someone outside of the project. Each girl had been given a packet with the tragic details of her life. Kelli's packet was a sparse 15 pages detailing a family that moved around a lot until her unemployed parents had died when their house had exploded as they had been cooking meth while Kelli was at school. She had been hoping for something better but had not been given a choice. She was studying her packet while lying on her bed when she realized that she had to hurry if she didn't want to be late for her session with Holly the psychologist.

***

"How are you finding your new life this week, Kelli," Dr. Holly Graves said.

Holly looked quite young to be in charge of the project's neuropsychology group, but she had explained to Kelli that she had been deathly ill. As the older brother of Topiary Genetics CEO, she had been asked to be the first human test subject for the process. That was only twelve years before. The first generation of the process had left her with the body of a thirteen year old and about half of the memories of the man that she had been. Subsequently she had been fast tracked through high school and entered college as sixteen year old prodigy. The changes in her brain had given her a fascination with memories and how they are formed and maintained. Simon and Daniel had recognized what a great fit she would make to the team and offered her a job even before she had finished junior year.

"My life isn't exactly what I was expecting," Kelli replied.

"How so?"

"I never expected to be so tired all of the time. I walk on tread mills and do yoga and even practicing handwriting makes my hands hurt. My mouth feels funny with the new braces too. I thought it would be easier."

"Do you regret your decision?"

"Oh, no. Absolutely not. I know that I need to work my new body to make it the one I have always wished for. You know how in the movies when the main character needs to train for something and then there is a two minute montage of training scenes, then presto, the hero is now an expert. I was kind of hoping it would be like that," Kelli said in a wry tone.

Holly laughed. "Do you think you would value your new situation as much if things were easier?"

"I don't know, Dr. Holly. I just want to see some progress. Look at me. I look so plain. My body doesn't look so much like a scare crow anymore, but my face is so plain. I mean most of us are pretty average looking so it isn't like I feel ugly. I actually like my face better than before. I was just hoping to be pretty like Hailey. You are very pretty as well. What happened with the rest of us?"

"Trust me, every one of you are far above average in the looks department. The process is actually still going on in your body giving you a somewhat unfinished look. Also you haven't been given the girls secret weapon yet. Makeup," Holly said. "Go to the media room and do an image search for stars without makeup in your spare time. Believe me, none of you have anything to worry about." Holly was thinking to herself that the geneticists may have done too good of a job with most of these girls. How were they going to explain an entire high school filled with nearly flawless orphan girls. At least it wasn't her problem. Hers was making sure each girl came through this transition mentally stable and confident in herself.

"Why haven't we been given makeup?"

"There is no time for it yet, and with all of the perspiring you girls do it would not be a good idea. Marissa will teach you everything about it soon."

"Is it difficult to learn?"

"It takes practice. When I first started I would spend hours trying to get things to look good. Now it is second nature. I suspect that all of the transformed men will be highly motivated to learn the skill. What else have you been thinking about?"

"I have been wondering how long term I should be thinking once I am on my own. I mean by the time I am old again the process may be commercially available. Are we effectively going to be immortal?

"I have wondered about that myself. The answer is no. At least until there is a major breakthrough. Part of what makes the process attractive is that it shields your brain from altering so much that you lose all of your memories. As we live we constantly add and subtract memories from our brain. Experiments on animals indicate that after the second time through the process subjects are just not as coherent. Personalities alter significantly in rats and monkeys appear to exhibit signs of dementia. Like it or not it looks like two times through the process is all that one can have unless we have a breakthrough. We haven't tested this on humans yet obviously, but that is our assumption."

"Still that gives all of us the chance at a really long lifespan."

"True but I can tell you that the process will always be expensive. There is an enormous amount of resources involved. Probably the cheapest it will ever get will be the cost of a major operation coupled with a long hospital stay. If you really want to try for a third youth some day you either need to stay involved with the project or get very rich."

"I will have to keep that in mind. Maybe I will find myself a sugar daddy," Kelli chuckled. "Though at this rate I wouldn't know what to do with one."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean, that I am bothered that I haven't yet experienced any sexual urges. I am what, about sixteen? I know that many normal girls sometimes masturbate from an early age. My younger sister would wear the faces off of her stuffed animals as a kid using them to get off. She told me about it once when I asked her what happened to her stuffed rabbit, that was a bit awkward for teen guy me. Anyway, I have tried playing with myself and I got nothing out of it."

"Kelli, you have to understand that while you are one hundred percent girl now, it is going to take time for your body to reach equilibrium. As far as your brain is concerned it is trying to recover from something like a stroke. The metamorphosis that you have been through is both mentally and physically taxing. Even though you know that you are feeling better than you probably have in years, all of your systems are still reacting as if you have just come through a major trauma. I see on your chart that you are still sleeping nearly fifteen hours every day. This is a sign of your body and mind are coming to terms with this new situation. You will be here for two more months before we move the group out for summer conditioning. Try not to be too concerned about it. By the time you leave here, you will be a fully functioning young woman. Just do your best to follow our guidance and everything will be fine."

"It just seems to be taking so long." Kelli said.

"I understand. It has only been two months since you have been out of the can and one since you have been awake. So many things have happened in that short time that all of us not experiencing it are amazed at the progress you have shown."

"I will try to be more patient." Kelli said with a sigh. "I have wanted this for so long though. Do we need to talk about anything more?"

"How is your memory doing? What is the last thing you remember before your change?" Holly asked.

"I remember playing pool with a couple of the guys and missing easy shots because I couldn't concentrate. Mostly I just remember itching and pain."

Do you remember what you did for a living?"

"I remember that I had been an accountant."

"Were you a CPA?"

"I think so. I remember studying for the exam but I cannot remember taking it."

After a few more questions about the details of Martin's career Holly felt it was time to try a different set of memories. "Okay let's try places that you lived..."

***

Kelli's second favorite part of the day were the sessions with Marissa White and Hailey. Their 'girl 101' class covered everything about presenting yourself to the world as a young woman. From fashion to dealing with someone trying to grope you, nothing was out of bounds for discussion and they never acted like any of the girl's questions were stupid. It had been stressed repeatedly that they needed to learn to blend in. The last thing the project wanted was to have a school full of weird girls. That might cause people to wonder where they had all come from.

One of the most surprising things Kelli had learned was that girls talk to each other in public restrooms. Even though she had always longed to be female she just assumed that the unwritten rules of no prolonged eye contact and silence were universal.

Many of the things that they covered were about health and beauty. It seemed that every day they talked for at least a little while about skin care. Kelli assumed that this was because their recent sudden rush of hormones had caused them all to begin experiencing acne and it was especially troubling for people who had not had to deal with a gross whitehead zit for decades. Kelli religiously followed the prescribed skin care regimen and was happy to note that her skin was much less cluttered with red eruptions than many of the other girls.

Most of the girls had been agitating for makeup lessons from Marissa who had spent several years as a makeup artist before opening her own salon and fashion consultancy where she had created looks for many famous and scores of not-so-famous Hollywood personalities.

"Please Marissa. I don't see why they won't even let us have concealer," Jessica, the chief whiner was saying.

"I would love to give all of you lessons. The people in charge of the study have decided that they don't want any unnecessary outside influences on your systems for the time being. The lab is evaluating the products that I gave them and I hope to be cleared to begin soon," Marissa replied.

"It seems unfair. They turned us into girls and now they don't want us to act like girls. Just look at us. All we have to put on is gym clothes. They won't let us have makeup and we all have this ridiculous short hair," Jessica continued to rant. "We are going to look like a school for bull dykes if things don't improve.

"That is not fair to us or the staff," Marissa replied calmly. "We are working hard to make sure that everything reasonable has been done to prepare you for the future. You have to realize that the science has to come first. Each one of you already represents several million dollars of investment by Topiary Genetics. You made a deal and it's a pretty good one. You get poked and prodded and give blood every other day and in return you get a new life in a new body. I think that you can wait a few weeks to put on the war paint. Don't you?"

"I guess so. I am just impatient," Jessica pouted.

"Moving on," Marissa said brightly. "Let's go over some scenarios. Let's say you are walking through a crowd and someone grabs your butt what would a proper reaction be? Anyone?"

Hands raised around the room. "Ok, Kelli. You're up."

"Well," Kelli began. There are two choices. I could either confront it of ignore it. It depends on the situation. If I felt threatened I might choose to avoid confrontation however my inclination would normally be to call the guy out about his behavior in the most embarrassing way I could manage."

"Fair enough. How about you Courtney?"

***

It was during the last week of third month of her new life that Kelli got her first period. She was not alone. At lunch on Wednesday, Courtney had begun to spot. On Thursday Kelli was nauseous and had terrible stomach cramps all day. At dinner her flow came but having talked extensively in group sessions and with Courtney about what to expect, she was as prepared as possible. By the end of the week all of the girls had the experience.

It had been an awkward week for everyone. On Sunday, by special permission from the head nutritionist, they had a small party to recognize their new status as women.

Hailey was again standing in front of the girls in the lounge. "Congratulations ladies! You should now be convinced that all of the plumbing is in working order. We thought a celebration was appropriate. You all have been allowed a special dispensation from the optimized diet we have had you on. There is cake and frozen yogurt in the cafeteria if you will please follow me."

The girls all followed Hailey down the hall avidly discussing what kind of cake they might be getting. As they entered the cafeteria they quieted down immediately. All of the tables had tablecloths and the room was lit only by the tea lights at the center of each table. Many of the staff had come in on their day off. They were waiting across the room as the girls filed in. Dr. Dan stepped forward.

"This has been an important week for all of us. Important to you for obvious reasons. Important to us because we now have confirmation that things are working as expected. Please be seated and it will be our honor to serve you." The staff gave the girls a round of applause as they took their seats.

Kelli and her table mates thought that the party was a nice touch. That night she went to sleep feeling happy and content with herself.

***

Monday morning they were greeted with a change in routine. The group therapy and 'girl 101' sessions were going to be combined for each of the four groups. The psychology staff had decided that they needed to discuss some of the events that were likely to happen over the next few weeks. Kelli's Group, was the first up.

"Today marks the official beginning of the next phase of your development," Dr. Holly began. "Things are going to get emotional for a while. You may find yourself thinking about sex a lot. This is normal. It will pass, but be aware that for some time you are going to be really horney, for lack of a better term. I encourage you to take this time to explore your own bodies. Masturbate. Have sex with each other if you are so inclined and can find a consenting partner. We know that almost all of you had exhibited bisexual tendencies before the change so we won't be shocked. We will be limiting staff access to the participant areas from now on to give you some required privacy," Holly winked and the girls gave a nervous laugh.

"I cannot stress this enough, if you find yourself unable to concentrate, you are probably suffering from sexual frustration. If you are in an inexplicable bad mood, you are probably suffering from sexual frustration. If you find yourself behaving in an uncharacteristic way such as being aggressive or argumentative without cause, you are probably suffering from sexual frustration. I can tell you from my own experience that the next couple of weeks will be surreal. You will probably have some form of sex with more frequency than most people can imagine. Don't worry about it too much. You are not becoming sex maniacs. It is a side effect of the process and every one of your predecessors has gone through the same experience. Relax and try to enjoy the experience until it passes. I am now going to introduce you to my colleague Constance Salazar who is also a recipient of the process. Connie."

A young woman with long dark hair who had been standing quietly at the back of the room strode forward to stand before them. She was dressed in business casual tan slacks and a navy knit shirt with the Topiary Genetics logo on the breast.

"Hello girls, I'm Connie I will be with you for the next couple of years working on the study and being one of the dorm mothers at the school. I recently finished my masters in psychology and my area of study is human sexuality. I encourage all of you to talk to me whenever you have any questions about anything that is happening to you. But today I am here to introduce you to a new friend."

Connie caught something Holly tossed to her from the back of the room. "Meet your new friend," she said holding out the purple object so they could all see it. "This baby has almost everything you could want. Statistically average six inches long, with a realistic ball sack and a suction cup for firm attachment to any convenient smooth surface. Made of durable, body safe silicone this bad boy is just the ticket to stay happy and sane for the next few weeks and beyond. I still have the one I was given during my change. Trust me, it is a lifesaver."

Today I am going to show you how to keep it clean and hygienic and answer any questions about using it, either alone or with a friend. When we are done each of you will be given one of your own. First let's talk about cleaning..."

***

That evening Kelli and Nicole were lying in their beds watching an American Idol episode from a fewf years before and talking. Nicole had her dildo stuck to her nightstand and was idly flicking it with her fingers to make it wobble back and forth.

"Just when are we supposed to try those things out," Kelli said. "It is not like there is a ton of privacy around here."

"We are in private now," Nicole replied.

"Yeah, we are, but I am not."

"Oh, please! I watched them changing your diaper just a few weeks ago. I don't have a problem with you knowing what I am doing."

Kelly pointed to the still wobbling dildo on the nightstand. "Really? I don't see you jamming Mr. Purple there up your vag."

"Well, I want to see who wins. I thought I might experiment after lights out."

"I remember this one. The chubby guy wins," Kelli said while getting up to hit the lights. "There. The lights are out. Don't let me stop you."

"God, what's got into you? There is no need to get snarky about it. Wait. I do know what's gotten into you, or rather what needs to get into you. They told us that if we are in an abnormal mood it would probably be sexual frustration. Kelli, how long have you been wound up like this?"

"I am not snarky," Kelli started then thought better about what she had been planning to say. "Okay I have been feeling like my nerves are all jangly since breakfast. Nikki, I feel like a horney kid. It is really uncomfortable and I don't want to embarrass myself."

"Kelli, you are the best friend I have had in a lot of years. You and I should never be embarrassed about anything with each other. Here, I will go first and you can watch me if you want. That way you won't have any reason to feel awkward."

"I don't think you understand the meaning of that word."

"Shut up. You know exactly what I meant," Nicole said then blew a raspberry at Kelli. "Are we gonna do this or what?"

"Fine, but you have to go first."

"Okay, but you have to take your clothes off. If you are gonna watch me play, I want something pretty to look at."

"Pretty plain you mean," Kelli said. But she took her nightshirt and underwear off in spite of her protest. Kelli had been thinking about how beautiful her friend was for several days. Nicole's blond good looks had been featured in a couple of her more erotic dreams as well. Now that she was sure that Nicole wouldn't think that she was a freak, Kelli was becoming excited about the situation.

Nicole was rubbing herself while watching Kelli in the light of the television. Kelli stood beside her bed watching the show the blond girl was putting on for her. It was amazing. Nicole looked so sexy. After a while Kelly found that she was breathing hard and had begun to touch herself without thinking about it.

Nicole asked in a low sexy voice, "Like what you see, babe?"

Kelli could only nod in reply, too caught up in the moment to do more.

"It's time to put it in. I want you to do it for me. Kind of make it a little more special."

"Nikki, I..."

"I am not asking you to be my girlfriend but sex was always more fun with a partner and..."

Kelli interrupted. "No, silly. I was going to say I would love to do that for you. Now hold still for a second..."

***

Later as they were cuddled together Nicole asked, "Do you feel better now?"

"Mmm, yeah. I feel so relaxed. Thanks for helping me out with that. How about you? I feel like I shortchanged you."

"It was perfect. Although if you feel like more later I wouldn't say no."

***

Dear readers. I originally had a more elaborate sex scene than the final cut you just read. I debated about including it and decided that the suggestion of sex was better than trying to do such a scene justice.

There will be other times in this story where sex will come about in what I intend to be a natural way that will hopefully help to further the plot or define a character.

I would be interested in hearing your preferences.



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