((For the record, I have no problem with Caden. ;D ))
Caden smirked at his words, and Caleb had the distinct feeling he was being laughed at. The only response beyond that was a simple negative which trailed off into silence, and Caleb had to take a deep breath to keep the tight control he held over his expression from breaking. This man, this kid, was infuriating.
Heather spoke next, and Caleb gratefully turned his attention to the girl instead. "Not outside comic books. If I remember my physics correctly, radiation just causes decay. The thing that gets me is the fact that we can change back. What kind of mutagen is reversible? How did those sirrah splice us with animal DNA? I just don’t think we know enough to even make educated guesses and personally I'm not sure I'm smart enough to understand even if they did explain it."
Caleb noted the use of sirrah, and wondered briefly about why that would be in her vocabulary to begin with. She continued on, though, bringing up the fact that they could change back, and finishing up with a statement that Caleb could agree whole-heartedly with. This wasn’t a topic he really knew anything about--in college, all he’d taken was Bio 101, and in the twelve years since he hadn’t bothered doing much reading on the subject. Skirting the science requirements with Anthropology classes had been a good idea at the time, it seemed, but karma was a killer.
Not that it mattered much to him. He wasn’t a dumb guy--he had his degree, he’d done fairly well in school, he’d received a few job offers from decent companies on his first round of applications after graduation. He hadn’t taken that route, of course, preferring jobs with more flexibility to allow him to get away from the city. Others may have seen him as feckless, but he just refused to play the endless game of office politics and promotions that everyone else got sucked into. Being stuck behind a desk would have been worse than death, and he’d take lower paychecks to avoid it. Had he been born in Southern California, he’d often joked with his buddies, he probably would have been a beach bum.
The short of it was that lab sciences just didn’t really interest him, which made it difficult to talk about something like what had happened to them in any way that sounded informed. And if some punk brat wanted to look down on him because of it, then so be it. Still, he supposed that the situation was kind of funny in it’s own way. Never thought I’d actually prefer the fourteen-year-old.
Caden spoke up again in that same quiet, drawn out fashion. "....Well, radiation can mutate DNA. Normally the cell would then just die or become a tumor, but I guess if you modified the DNA correctly you could change the properties of the cell such that it's still sustainable.... But reversibility...."
And then Caden trailed off again. Caleb waited a moment to see if he was going to bother completing his thought, but when it became evident that that was where it ended, Caleb wasn’t sure what he could possibly say in response. Had they been at some sort of polite get-together, he could have simply walked away. Unfortunately, trapped as he was in this room, there wasn’t much to do except try to converse.
“Interesting theories,” Caleb said lightly, seeing Caden rub his forehead wearily and reminding himself to give the other man the benefit of a doubt. People turned into assholes during rush hour, and this whole situation was miles further along the whole stress scale than getting stuck in traffic. Caleb wondered briefly if he should deadpan about there being a built in ‘un-do’ button to their shapeshifting ability, but decided against it. There was a limit to how much scorn he really wanted to take on a day like this.
The how, though… Caleb, for the life of him, couldn’t think of why it was important for them to figure that out. It wasn’t usable. If they escaped, it was unlikely they’d come across a lab sophisticated enough to either reverse or duplicate the results. Knowing what procedure they had been put through wouldn’t make getting out of there any easier.
How was pointless. Did he really think that, were they to actually escape and rejoin society with some modicum assurance of safety, if anyone found out about their abilities they wouldn’t simply become lab rats again? Maybe Caleb was a bit of a cynic, but it seemed silly to think that availing himself of science in the hopes of reversing this ‘condition’ would produce the sort of results he’d want.
What, and Who were first on Caleb’s list, as in “what was this place,” “what am I,” and “who is holding us.” Where he already knew: Somewhere in Bridger. But what he had been turned into, what exactly he could do that he could then use against his captors, was what mattered to him the most. Who was holding them would be important once they got out, so he knew who he had to worry about out in the Real World once he got there. Why he already sort of knew, or at least guessed at, in his own case: wrong place, wrong time. The others, though, may have had some sort of connection he was unaware of. At the moment, though, Why was just as useless as How.
What mattered. How didn’t. But he could play nice like a good little boy was supposed to.
“Whatever it is, they did it in a lab. Did either of you see anything when you were out for the physicals on that first day? That might give a clue as to how they managed it.”