A week passed and Doctor Julius had already started his work on the chip. The chip itself was incredibly small and it would have been impossible for him to work on it without the aid of a magnifying glass that was at his disposal. After looking over the blueprint he couldn't see anything inheritably wrong with the chip so he thought that by looking at the chip itself he thought that he could find the problem.
For the moment he couldn't find anything wrong and it was beginning to annoy him. He knew that there was something but he saw this as a challenge to his intelligence and tinkering skills. However he had looked at the chip from every angle and so far he hadn't seen anything that could cause it to burn out in the manner that he had.
Before working on the chip Sasha had given him a video file which showed footage of the failed tests of the chip. The burnout in the rat test subjects had not been pretty and if it happened to a human they would not survive. He felt an enormous amount of pressure on his shoulders.
After around an hour of studying the chip he still couldn't find anything wrong but rather than keep going he felt that it was best to take a break. It was like when he did jigsaws in his spare time, if he concentrated on it for too long he would think that every piece looked the same. It was only by taking a break could he look at the puzzle again and see what he had missed before.
Because of this Doctor Julius stood up from his chair and left his private laboratory. He did remember to lock it up after he was done since corporate espionage was still around and the last thing that Sasha wanted was for her company's work to be stolen by a rival corporation. It had happened once before and it had caused her a lot of hassle so she didn't want it to ever happen again.
After taking the elevator down a couple of floors Doctor Julius found himself in the building's cantina which like most of the other places in the building was completely spotless. He took himself a relatively unhealthy lunch and sat down at an empty table. He didn't need to worry about paying for the food since the company paid for it. It meant that he would be able to eat as much as he wanted and not have to pay a penny.
"May I join you?" asked a voice. He looked up and saw Sasha with a tray of food in her hands. He was surprised to see her there since he hadn't seen her since his induction day to the company.
"Err sure," replied Doctor Julius. He thought that she would have her dinner somewhere in privacy rather than coming down to eat with the other employees. He just watched as she sat down opposite him. Her tray was filled with salad and other healthy items which made him feel guilty about what he was eating.
"So how are things progressing with that little project of yours?" She took a bite out of some lettuce and quickly swallowed it.
"Not good unfortunately, I've looked over the chip over and over again but I can't find anything wrong with it. There is nothing that I can see that could be causing the burnout in the test subjects."
"Hmm that is troubling. I've invested a lot of time and money into that chip and I would much prefer it to be operational."
"I know but maybe there's something that I've missed. Something that we've both overlooked." He began to think and something came across his mind. "Wait a minute what if it's not the chip."
"Come again?" She was a little confused with what he was saying but was intrigued to hear exactly what he was talking about.
"The only thing that we've tested the chips on are rats. What if we had another type of test subject? If I'm correct the chips will work at the standard operating capacity and we can go forward with human testing."
"Exactly what do you want to test the chip on? With how the chips have been performing in the tests I really don't want to go forward with human testing."
"We need a bigger animal, maybe something like a chimp. Their brains are more developed than a rat's but could you get your hands on one?"
"Chimps are obviously a lot more expensive to obtain than rats but if you think it'll work then we'll get one as soon as possible. Of course we'll have to keep this quiet, I don't want any of those animal right psychos protesting outside my front door again. It took me months to get rid of them last time and I don't want it to happen again."
"If I'm right we'll have nothing to worry about."
Elsewhere Sophie was in her house eating lunch, she was eating a healthy lunch since she thought that she had been eating too much junk food recently. Her increased height had caused her appetite to increase, it almost reminded her when she first became At-Lass. Her body had stabilised recently and her appetite was back down to normal. She was also looking in the local newspaper about looking for a job.
Most of the jobs that Sophie could see were for people who had left school and had qualifications and experience. She was finding it hard to spot a job that was right for her at this stage of her life. There was something else that she had noticed as well, there was an article about a stabbing that had happened a couple of nights before. This made her feel guilty as she thought that if she were still At-Lass there was a chance that she could have stopped it from happening.
Another article that she came across stated that At-Lass had not been seen for a week. They were speculating that the city's superheroine had either died or simply retired. There had been a couple of unconfirmed sightings but nothing concrete, she knew that those sightings had been fake but she did like to think that she was missed. She just hoped that not too many crooks would see the article and go on a crime spree.
Eventually her mother came into the kitchen while Sophie was still looking through the newspaper. Sophie didn't notice her mother just yet but when she heard the closing of a nearby cupboard Sophie quickly turned around to her. She wasn't all that surprised and she saw her mother making herself a cup of coffee.
"Any luck finding a job?" asked Sophie's Mother as she poured some boiling hot water into her mug.
"No nothing," replied Sophie. "All of these jobs are for people with experience or full time. I need a job that I can fit around school and homework."
"You'll find something, don't worry." She began pouring some milk into her coffee. When she was done she took a sip and discovered that it was a little too bitter. She poured a little more sugar into the coffee and then it seemed to be just right for her. "Besides I can see why you want some money. You want to buy yourself some new clothes since the ones that you have now don't fit you properly."
"What are you talking about?" She chuckled nervously as she had not told her parents that she had grown.
"You can't pull the wool over my eyes. I can tell that you've had a growth spurt recently and a pretty big one at that. You're over six feet tall now, how long do you think that you could have kept it hidden from us?"
"I wasn't hiding it, I just forgot to mention it." She was impressed that her mother had been able to notice. However there was the notion that a mother could always tell subtle differences in their children.
"You shouldn't really hide it, I always knew you were going to be tall, you get that from your father's side of the family. But just think each inch you gain is another step towards your basketball career."
"Yeah I guess you're right. But now none of my clothes fit me properly. I've had to wear flip flops for the last week because my feet are too big for my sneakers now."
"Well maybe we should get you some more sneakers soon. You can't expect to play in undersized footwear now can you?" Both of them smiled at each other and Sophie seemed to be glad that she could have this conversation with her mother. They had always been close, even though they disagreed numerous times on different ideals.
"Do you have any idea how I'm going to find a job at all? I've looked through this paper like three times and there's nothing that really suits me."
"Well there is one job that I did hear about. I have a friend who works at the Grendon Chronicles who says that there is an opening for a Saturday job there. It might not be the best job in the world but for what you need I think it'll be ideal."
"Do you really think so?" Her face began to light up as the idea of actually finding a job was soon becoming a reality.
"Sure, I'll give her a call and we'll see if it is still open."
The two women embraced in a hug, it seemed odd to her that she was hugging her mother while she was taller. But since Sophie had been taller than her mother for a good few years it wasn't too alien to her. The hug did last a few seconds before they finally broke it off and smiled at one another.
A few minutes later Sophie found herself waiting at the local mall for her friends to arrive. In her mind it felt nice knowing that she could spend time with her friends without the fear of being called away to being At-Lass once again. She felt like she was free as she stood next to one of the clothing stores that were in the mall. This one specialised in sportswear which was exactly what she wanted.
Because her clothes no longer fitted her Sophie's mother had given her some money so that she could buy herself some more. She did feel a little odd wearing these clothes since now they were a little too small for her. Her outfit consisted of a t-shirt that only just fit, a pair of shorts and her flip flops. She didn't need to wait long until she saw Lizzie approaching her, the pair waved at one another however they didn't go into the store just yet.
The two women waited for Mary to arrive. The blue haired giant had seemed to be warming up to the two ladies. Her somewhat short attitude seemed to be melting away as she was friendlier around them. It wasn't hard for them to spot her thanks to her height and hair colour. Both women didn't know how Mary's hair could be naturally blue, it was something that to them was very odd.
Eventually they did see Mary approaching them. Sophie waved at her so that Mary could see them properly. It was only a few seconds after this that she finally arrived at the store. She was happy to see them both although she didn't particularly show it, she still remained tough on the outside.
"Hey Mary," said Lizzie with a smile on her face. "We're glad that you could make it." She was genuine with her words which made Mary see that she wasn't being fake. She hated it when people were fake around her.
"I'm sorry that I'm late," replied Mary who was a little out of breath. It was obvious that she had hurried there. "I had to do something at home before I could get out of the house. You haven't been waiting long have you?"
"Only for a few minutes so don't worry about it. We should make a move anyway, the mall closes in six hours." This was a little joke that she was having with herself, she knew that she wouldn't likely stay that long but she thought it would get a chuckle. "Besides Sophie here is growing like a weed. If we don't buy her some clothes soon she'll grow out of the ones that she's wearing."
"Hey I'm not growing that fast," replied Sophie as she crossed her arms with some annoyance. This only made her friend chuckle for a few moments before it eventually subsided.
"Ok but anyway we better get started before anything else happens."
Over the course of the next hour the three women were in the store trying and buying some new clothes. For Sophie she was having difficulties trying to find clothing that fit her properly, when she had last came here she had only just about been able to find women's clothing that fit. Now it was almost impossible and it seemed like she was going to be forced to buy men's clothing which wasn't fitting for her.
Shoes in particular were difficult as the store didn't stock sneakers in her size. Instead she had to resort to buying men's sneakers which didn't fit her feet properly. They were fine length but width wise they were still too big. However it was either that or nothing so Sophie swallowed the bullet and bought them.
Lizzie had more luck with her shopping as the store stocked a lot of clothes that were her size. Her choices were much greater than her much taller friends, sometimes she would be jealous of their heights but now she was glad to be the shorter one. She didn't need to buy much though as she didn't particularly need anything.
Since Sophie was having a problem buying clothes for Mary it had been turned up a notch. She was now an inch and a half taller than the tall redhead which meant it was close to impossible to find clothing that fit. By now she was used to it though and rarely bought any clothes that fit her in a store like this.
Mary would normally go shopping to a big and tall women's clothes store which was about an hour's drive out of town. Because it was such a distance she didn't normally go that often but when she did she would she normally bought a lot of clothes from there at a time. She had yet to suggest this place to Sophie but it was likely that she already knew about the place beforehand.
Eventually Mary did begin to feel pain in her body. She felt it like a thousand knives stabbing into her all at once. The pain was so great that she almost keeled over but she was able to keep her balance and composure for the moment. However she did quickly make herself to the restroom which was nearby and she went into one of the stalls. Quickly she went into her bag and took out a vial that had a blue liquid inside of it. With haste she opened it and poured the contents in her mouth.
Mary swallowed the serum almost as quickly as it had entered her mouth and she felt the pain beginning to subside. She looked at her hands and much to her relief they were still normal. She gave a sigh before she stood up and walked out of the restroom. It only took her a few moments to find Sophie and Lizzie who seemed to be ready to leave. They were concerned about her as they saw how quickly she had stormed off.
"Mary are you alright?" asked Sophie. There was concern in her tone as like Lizzie she was genuinely worried about her.
"I'm fine," replied Mary as she tried to brush it off as being nothing. "I just needed to go to the bathroom really badly and you know what they say. When you gotta go you've gotta go." She smiled to try and hide her nervousness. The last thing she wanted was for her friends to realise her secret, all she could do now was hope that they dropped it.
"Ok but you still shouldn't storm off like that. You got us worried there for a minute or two."
"Don't worry I'll warn you next time."
Sophie would normally let it lie at this point but there was something inside of her telling her that this wasn't normal. In the past she would have just forgotten about it but since she had become At-Lass she would often listen to her gut feelings since they never steered her wrong. For now she wouldn't say anything, she didn't want to lose her new friend by being too nosey.
Eventually they walked out of the store with several bags in their hands, one thing that Sophie did do was take off her flip flops and put her new sneakers on. At first her two friends were confused about why she would do this, it wasn't until she explained that they could see why. She wanted to break into the sneakers as quickly as possible and although she knew that they would rub her feet she thought that it was best to have it happen now before she was on the basketball court.
After a minute or two the trio found themselves in the food court. Sophie felt hungry since the salad that she had eaten earlier hadn't really satisfied her. Since her growth spurt she had definitely felt hungrier and she figured that her body was still adjusting to the extra height. She shuddered to think what would have happened if she asked Doctor Julius to make her six and a half feet or even seven feet tall.
They ordered some food at a nearby burger bar before sitting down and began to eat their food. Both Sophie and Mary ate their food quickly as they were both hungry, Lizzie just watched in some surprise as she saw her two friends eating. She couldn't believe that they could be putting away all of this food and not showing any fat at all. She just thought that it was a benefit of being tall.
There was one thing that Sophie did notice while she was eating. She could see a man not too far away from her. He was standing next to another man who was looking at some items in a store window. She watched as he reached into the pocket on the unbeknownst shopper and took out his wallet. With his prize now in his possession the man quickly began to walk away.
Something inside of Sophie told her that she needed to act. She told her friends that she would be back in a moment before getting up and quickly moving towards where she could see the pickpocket. He was still moving quickly but she had to almost run in order to catch up with him. She could feel some pain in her feet as her new sneakers were continuing to rub her feet. She did think that she still had more chance catching up with him in these sneakers in comparison to flip flops.
Other thoughts were flashing through her mind such as whether she should be doing this. This time she didn't have her suit that allowed her to change her size or Doctor Julius giving her information in her ear. She was on her own and she was at much more risk of being harmed. Despite all of this she still couldn't simply sit there and watch a crime like this happening and then doing nothing about it.
After a minute she was finally able to catch up with the man. He was walking along his way before she tapped on his shoulder. She didn't want to attack him since she thought a diplomatic solution was more likely to forceful one. He quickly turned around expecting to see mall security but instead he could see Sophie. He was relieved but curious at the same time. He was quite a short man and he had a smell about him that was unpleasant for the tall girl.
"Hi," said Sophie. She was beginning to think that this might be a bad idea but she had already committed to this now and needed to wait to see it through. "I couldn't help but notice that you took something from someone that didn't belong to you. I think it is in both our interests that you return what you have stolen."
"Or maybe I'll just walk away and you'll forget what you saw if you know what's good for you," replied the Pickpocket. "You seem like a nice girl and I don't want to have to do anything that could unsettle your future if you know what I mean." He went to walk away but Sophie grabbed onto his shoulder.
"No you're not going anywhere. I can't stand by and watch you walk away with something that you know doesn't belong to you. Now return it or else I'm going to have to get physical." She hoped that this threat would be enough to convince him, she felt him struggling to get out her grip.
With one quick move the pickpocket forced his way out of her grip and began to run away. Without much of a second thought Sophie chased after him, she didn't know what she was thinking as she seemed to be acting on instinct. She could see that he was a very fast man and she ran as fast as she could. Unfortunately her new sneakers weren't helping but she tried to ignore how much they rubbed her.
What was surprising for both of them was the fact that Sophie was keeping up with the pickpocket. Every now and again he would turn his head to look behind him and each time he could see that Sophie was still on his tail. He even resorted to tricks like jumping over obstacles and taking sharp corners. However this didn't deter the tall girl who kept on running towards him.
Despite the fact that she was keeping up Sophie was beginning to feel tired. Now more than ever she would want nothing more than to grow in size and simply grab him like he was a toy. Unfortunately she didn't have her suit anymore so she had to keep up with him using only her own pace and might.
After a couple of minutes of chasing Sophie thought that she was close enough to attempt a tackle. She dived towards his legs and she was able to grab them just about. She held on tightly and the pickpocket fell down to the ground hard. As he did numerous other wallets and purses that he had stolen also fell onto the floor. He struggled to try and escape but as he looked up he saw two mall security guards standing over him. Sophie saw them as well and at first she thought that she was going to be in trouble.
"Peter Davids," said one of the Security Guards as he grabbed onto the arm of the pickpocket. "We've been after you for some time now." The second guard bent down and grabbed the other arm of the pickpocket. Together they pulled him up to his feet without that much effort.
It only took a few moments for a third mall security guard to arrive on the scene. The first two security guards took the pickpocket away as the third helped Sophie onto her feet and began to collect the stolen wallets and purses. Sophie did brush off some dirt that had attached to her clothing but she seemed to be fine.
"Are you alright?" asked the Mall Security Guard. He watched as Sophie rose up to her full height. He didn't realise how tall she was until she actually stood up, she was around an inch or two taller than him.
"Y-Yeah I'm fine," replied Sophie. She was having to catch her breath after the chase. "I just need to catch my breath, that's all."
"You know you really shouldn't of done that. It could have been very dangerous." He adjusted his hat as he spoke.
"I know but I couldn't allow him to get away." By now she was beginning to calm down and the adrenaline was wearing off. She felt her body truly becoming tired but she was still more than capable of standing.
"That might be true still thank you anyway for your efforts. We've been after him for some time now. You've got my thanks for that but for now I suggest that you take a rest and try not to do something like this again."
There was another small exchange from the two before Sophie walked off. She made her way back to the food court but she couldn't help but smile as she walked. She felt like a hero for the first time since she had retired as At-Lass. It was a nice feeling but she did admit to herself that she was much more vulnerable than she was before. If she hadn't of been careful this might have been the last day of her life. All she could do now was return to her friends and hope that everything was fine.