A heavy black suitcase slammed the young lady's bed with a thud!. At the still-young age of twenty, Kuro had just returned from her trip to Egypt. No matter how much her family had tried to talk her out of it, the trip was a joint effort between her and her friend Sarah, and nothing could have changed her mind. Besides, even though half of her souvenirs had to be mailed specially (customs certainly wouldn't allow such fine things through!), seeing the Sphinx, the Great Pyramids at Giza, and a real open-air market had made the trip well worth the money.
Despite the pleasure, however, only two words that could summarize Kuro's mental state at the moment: Jet lagged. She ruffled her dark blond hair a little; the sun in Egypt had made it a few shades lighter, but it still wasn't quite the Valley Girl bleach blond. Though she had a sizable chest and nice legs, she fit the stereotype of 'female, not feminine' most of the time. It had been slightly irksome to the natives, who were used to girls being far more covered. Shorts and a sassy T-shirt had been her primary attire, and even now, a shirt saying, "Come to the dark side, we have cookies" stretched across her bust line.
Although it was far from unexpected, the sensation of changing time zones wasn't pleasant at all. She sat down on her bed and ran a hand on her forehead, letting out a low sigh. She needed to unpack her stuff, but she was way too tired for that, and it wasn't as if there was anything she currently needed in the suitcase anyways.
She lay down on her bed, and stared at the ceiling, her eyes half closed. Sleep was starting to sound like a very good idea.
"Well," she muttered to the air, "it couldn't hurt to take at least some of my stuff out, right?"
Slowly, she began to unpack.The first things to go onto her bed were her garments, sunscreen, and bathroom items. Beneath her clothes and other essentials were several oddities she had found at the open-air bazaar: A perfume, a statue of Bast, and, her personal favorite, an urn depicting the ancient Egyptian goddess Wadjet. The vendor had been surprised at her knowledge concerning that particular deity - the Milky Way serpent was known to most only as the cobra in the Pharaoh's headdress - and she had been able to haggle the urn down to a more than reasonable price.
The funny thing about it however was that, unlike other urns she had seen, this one was sealed. It was kind of like those old Roman vases that had been sealed to protect the scrolls hidden within. Apparently the objects that were sealed inside those vases could survive for centuries, or even millennia.
Kuro was definitely curious about what could be inside it; there would be no point in sealing something if there was nothing important to protect. It might have been the vendor's way to get people's attention, but no matter, the urn was what she really cared for. If there was something hidden inside it, so much the better.
It wasn't like she was about to open Pandora's box or anything...
There was a sharp seething as she removed the lid. She nearly knocked the jar over from shock. Slithering out of the now-open top came a red, slender serpent with a black stripe on its neck. The sole marking, combined with its large eyes, told her that it was a red spitting cobra. As the serpent flared its hood defensively, she became even more sure of the fact.
"OK...calm down," Kuro muttered to herself. She liked snakes, sure, and cobras were among her favourites, but she certainly wasn't ready to handle one!
The serpent's tongue flicked inquisitively as its new 'owner' edged backwards. She had one hand ready to block the signature spitting technique of the snake (it was really only harmful to one's eyes) but, more importantly, she had to get that cobra back into some sort of container. The last thing she needed was to be on the 6 o' clock news!
She slowly stepped to the side, avoiding sudden movements as much as she could. One thing that even laymen knew about snakes was the fact that you need to be calm while being around them. If you can show them you're not a threat, they won't attack.
The cobra just stared at her, flicking its tongue from time to time, barely moving a muscle. Kuro took a deep breath, and took a few more steps to her right, trying to reach the door to at least get away from the snake, find something to contain it, and, hopefully, contact someone who was adept with venomous snakes. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't quick enough.
Without any warning, the snake did what it was known for: It spat a spray of venom at the offender.
Kuro reacted as best she could: She shielded her eyes with her right arm. With her eyes hidden, she shut the door behind her, silently hoping that the exotic serpent wouldn't follow; the gap between the door and the floor should have been enough to keep it temporarily contained. She had to find something - a stick, a hook, anything - that would be able to prod that cobra into some sort of holder.
She stopped. Surely her broom closet would have something to deal with the serpent...
Right as she reached for a yard stick, she began to scratch at her arm. She tried ignoring it, but it was itching painfully. She eventually pulled her shirt sleeve up to check exactly what that snake had done to her. The skin on her arm was now a lifeless gray; there seemed to be like bubbles forming underneath as it was drifted to the ground. Right under the dead skin, there were pebbly, reddish scales. She had to blink several times to convince herself she was not hallucinating. She tried touching them, and sure enough, they felt hard yet smooth to the touch.
"And here I thought the spray was harmless to skin...thanks a lot, Wikipedia," Kuro commented, still wide-eyed at her new flesh. The blistering and ecdysis was spreading, and all she could do was watch in a combination of fear and amazement. The skin towards her hand was flaking off in frayed, translucent patches as red scale replaced delicate nakedness, and as the changes neared her fingers, it became quite clear that her 'talons' were edging closer and closer towards the real thing.
There was a crack and a rip as her flimsy, human fingernails were swapped for scaly, scarlet gloves. Each digit was tipped with a short, but sharp claw. They made deeper grooves than she thought as she tested them on one of the brooms; maybe it was the scraping that they made as nail met wood, maybe it was something that had been in the venom spray, or maybe it was the fact that, amidst cracks and pops, she could feel her muscles strengthening, but there was something calming about that slash. It had felt right. It had felt powerful.
If she had been more logical in that moment, she would have called a doctor or an ambulance, because it was pretty clear that what was happening to her was not normal. Her arm looked somewhere between reptile and human, and as her other arm started being affected by the mysterious changes, she felt the scales growing and spreading up her shoulder, swiftly moving towards her neck and chest.
"Holy...no way..." she breathed. She quickly took her shirt off to check what was happening there with her own eyes, and not only saw the scales covering half of her chest, but also her ribs painfully showing underneath her skin as they were pushed outward a little. Not only that, but they seemed to multiply, making her upper body growing a little longer than before. They were quickly covered by fresh coats of scale and muscle; it was soon clear that her breasts were not exempt from this treatment, as they snapped out of her bra.
Her breathing stopped for but a second as the rib extension continued into her elongated, scaly torso. She could tell that she was getting a less-severe version of a snake's lengthy organ arrangement, and clutched the lighter, layered scales covering her underside as the changes progressed. It felt so painful, but so good.
There was a soft flick at her thigh as the skin there began to peel. The cobra was watching interestedly, flicking its forked tongue in intrigued, long licks.
"You little -" Kuro tried to say, but she was suddenly interrupted when she lost control over her legs, landing on the linoleum with a painful thump. At first it felt like pins and needles, but, as they dissolved and blended into a new mass of flesh, muscle, and bone, it became clear that they weren't there at all anymore. More ribs began to fill the new structure, and it swiftly became covered in a coating of smooth, red scales. For a final touch, the scutes left an opening towards the end; out of the base of the mass of ribs, organs, and muscle sprouted the true tail, which blended almost seamlessly in with her longer body.
Suddenly overwhelmed by the changes, Kuro instinctively closed her eyes and let her tongue loll in relaxation. She didn't even notice the scales spreading on her neck and crawling their way up to her head. Her exposed tongue suddenly got thinner and longer; the tip began to bifurcate into a serpentine fork. She found herself flickering it out of her mouth almost automatically, and found that she could taste every living creature that had been in the area within the last hour or so. Some of them even struck her as, perhaps, being appetizing.
"Yeah...thissss isss rather...tiring," Kuro agreed with the part of her that smelled rodent. Lunchtime was imminent. The lisp she had acquired was a small issue, but it was going to be more than compensated for shortly.
She heard her skull crack and liquefy as her face was suddenly pushed outward into a blunt, red-scaled muzzle. Her forehead flattened as her eyes painfully moved to the sides of her head, slowly becoming more and more reptilian: the colour changed to dusky yellow, and their pupils grew larger than before. The only thing separating her new eyes from the harshness of the outside world were clear scales, almost like tough, large contact lenses, that had evolved over the course of serpentine history. Her dark blonde hair was shed upon the tiles as the scalation progressed, and she felt her hearing lessening. A pair of small lumps appeared at the base of her skull; she felt a slight choking sensation as her neck began to flatten into a truly cobralike hood.
But that was all nothing compared to the fangs. Short though they were, as her teeth clattered onto the linoleum, the two curved, thornlike fangs of the spitting cobra pierced her new gums. There was a sort of puffiness to her mouth as the venom glands began to grow in, their lethal contents routed directly to her spraying eyeteeth.
With that, her changes were finally complete, and she was now a naga with the patterns and potency of a red spitting cobra.
She opened her eyes and raise up, somehow managing to balance on her lower body without any problems at all. She tried moving around by slithering, and she was surprised to see that she could naturally do so, as if she had been a snake her entire life. Every question she could possibly have about snakes was immediately answered by her new wiring.
She smiled at herself, running a hand down her body, feeling the smooth scales underneath it. She had never felt better in her life.
The little cobra was still staring at her. She looked at him and smiled, offering him her scaly hand. He didn't waste any time getting on her hand, and eventually climbing up her arm. She gently caressed his long, smooth, slender body, feeling the snake relax under her finger.
"I can never thank you enough, little one," she said, flicking her tongue. The snake flicked right back at her.
Sunset came quicker than she had expected. Kuro had always wanted to try hunting with her own teeth, her own claws...and, now, her own venom. There was a forest nearby, and she was more than happy to take advantage of its fauna. Over hunting wouldn't be a problem; winter, however, might.
For the moment, though...
The deer didn't know what hit it. Kuro's strike had come out of nowhere; in a flurry of venom, coils, and claws, the animal was slowly losing its life. It couldn't fight back as she opened her jaws to their fullest, swallowing the deer headfirst. A lump appeared in her serpentine body as the deer's hooves finally slipped down her throat, and she flicked her tongue in satisfaction.
There were legends, now, of a red serpent living in the forest. The creature was sometimes followed by a smaller snake of similar colors, movement, and toxicity. Most of the time, she avoided human contact entirely, preferring the company of either that serpent or any number of snakes in the forest. She was clearly aware of her status as a mythological creature; should any eager cryptozoologist try to hunt her, they found themselves surrounded.