For convenience and reader ease, all conversations are translated in English.

 

Catalyst

 

***************************

Ciwalen, Jawa, Indonesia

 

“Hey Cary, wait up!”

 

Hearing my best friend Fariz’s voice I halted in my stride, so he could catch up and we could go together to school, which was still at least another kilometer away. As he caught up with me he said: “Did you hear about Rino?”

 

Rino was another friend of us; he caught MORFS a week earlier. I shook my head, “No what happened?”

 

“He was taken away by some government people. I heard he got some monkey traits.”

 

Now it made sense. The laws where I live are very strict against MORFS survivors with animal traits. Indonesia isn’t a pleasant place to live in these days, if you happen to be a MORFS survivor or a female. It wasn’t quite Sharia law, but it came very close.

 

Fariz asked, “What do you think; they will do to him?”

 

“I don’t know, I hope he’ll be okay. Do you think we’ll ever see him again?”

 

Fariz shrugged, “Don’t know, I hope so.”

 

Then we walked past a group of giggling girls dressed in their long skirts and wearing their Hijaabs. I felt sorry for them having to wear those clothes, I liked seeing girls with long hair. I even wanted to grow it myself, but boys are expected to have short hair. Arriving at the school building we went in with all the other boys, while the girls had their own entrance. There were no mixed classes anymore. And all the teachers were male, female teachers were not allowed. Well, I think there were some teaching the girls, but not many.

 

After being rigorously drilled with all the knowledge they wanted us to have, we were free to go home early as it was Friday. I had gotten a bit of a headache at school. I blamed it on the forced teaching methods they used. Fariz complained about that a lot as well. Even as we walked back home he complained why we couldn’t study more like they did in other countries. He had an older brother that studied in Europe, so he knew about things there. There was still one good thing though; we were required to study English. Though the language is used by the hated countries like America and England, it is one of the most used languages worldwide. So we had to learn it. Still I never quite understood why the government said that they are hated countries.

 

This being Friday meant we had to get home quickly and get ready to go to the mosque. My family wasn’t Muslim, but we had to pretend we were. Several years ago all the Christian churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples were burned down to the ground or leveled. Now everyone had to go to a mosque, or be declared a heretic and be subject to ‘Re-education’. I didn’t even want to know what that meant.

 

“Mom, I’m home.”

 

She came out of the kitchen were she had been cooking something for tonight. “Hi son, how was school?”

 

“Oh, okay. It just gave me a headache. Can I be excused from going to the mosque?”

 

Mom sighed, “Don’t you wish, I don’t like going there as well, but you do know some bad people will tell on us if we don’t go.”

 

I made a face, “I don’t understand why we have to pretend to be Muslim. We’re Christian aren’t we?”

 

Mom hugged me, “Yes we are, but the religious rulers have too much influence on the government, so they have been able to ban all other religions from the country.”

 

Then she looked at me, “Now you have just enough time to wash up and put on decent clothes before we have to go, your father will meet us there.”

 

Quickly I ran to the bathroom and splashed some water over me. Mom had laid out the clothes I needed to wear on my bed, they were made from fine cloth, but I still didn’t like wearing them. I hated even more all the wasted time being in a mosque listening to some religion that I didn’t want to know.

 

Moments later we were walking towards the mosque, with mom wearing her burqa, as was prescribed by law. She was so beautiful and had to cover it all up. They said that if she wouldn’t do so, it was like she was offering herself to men. I really hated those laws here.

 

We were almost at our destination when I started to feel queasy. I wanted to alert mom, but then I felt so nauseous that I ran to the side of the road and threw up violently. Mom was really concerned and felt my forehead. “You have a fever, I guess you did have a legitimate reason for wanting to be excused.”

 

I didn’t answer, I just kept throwing up some more. Mom talked to someone, saying that she was going to take me back home. We couldn’t go to the doctor’s office yet, as he was most likely inside the mosque himself.

 

After we got back home I first had to go to the toilet, then I crawled into bed feeling like crap. Mom soon came into my room and took my left index finger. I felt a little prick and looked with blurry vision at it. She was getting some blood on some sort of device. In my confused mind I didn’t even recognize what it was. Then my mom saw the result on it and said to me, “I’m sorry honey, but you have MORFS.”

 

Now I got really worried, would I be taken from my house by government people? What would happen to me after I morfed? “Mom? What is going to happen to me?”

 

Mom shushed me, “Nothing is going to happen, you’re just going to be sick for a while, after that everything will be okay again.”

 

I was about to scream out that it wouldn’t when seemingly out of nowhere she produced a home transition pack and inserted the needle expertly into my arm. The sleeping drugs soon knocked me out and I fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

 

***************************

 

Diah Sumanti looked at her young son laying unconscious in his bed. She worried about his future. She knew that in this country MORFS survivors rarely got a chance to pick up their lives again. With even a hint of animal DNA spliced into their bodies, the survivor was taken away and never heard from again. There were rumors that they were being experimented on or that they were re-educated to serve as slave soldiers.

 

“Diah? What happened, I heard you excused yourself and Cary from the service.” Gus entered his house coming home from the mosque.

 

“Oh Gus, Cary got sick on the way, I already checked his condition. He has MORFS. At the moment he is out of it on his bed. I put the transition pack we had here on him. I hope everything will be all right. I don’t want to lose our only son.”

 

Gus Sumanti looked at his wife with a serious face. “The odds are against it, there is almost no MORFS survivor that I know off still living here. Still there is nothing we can do but wait till the changes are finished.”

 

***************************

 

I woke up feeling fine, a bit odd, but fine. I noticed something on my arm, which made a slight beeping noise before falling off. That must be the home transition pack falling off, so I must be finished with my changes. I was hesitant to see what MORFS had done to me. Would I be fearful for my life now? Or was I going to be able to pick up right where I left off? I wanted to stay in bed and not know what had happened to me, but I smelled and I had a pressing need to take care of, so I forced myself to get up.

 

As I pulled away the sheet covering me I got to see the first changes. I was taller, and then I noticed that there was something missing in my briefs. Quickly I dashed into the bathroom and undressed completely. I nearly screamed confirming what I feared. I was a girl now. I now had a vagina and breasts, though they were hardly noticeable. I could easily pass for a boy if I dressed like one. Then I noticed another change, I now had very long luxurious black hair hanging all the way to my waist. I wondered how I could have missed the weight before. I admired it and looked at it in the mirror from all sides. I really like having such nice long hair. Too bad I had to become a girl to get it.

 

After taking care of business and showering, I wrapped a towel around myself and wondered how I was going to dry all this long hair. My thoughts got interrupted by a knock on the door and mom asking, “Can I come in Cary?”

 

I opened the door for her and looked her straight in the eyes. I really was a lot taller now. “Hi mom, I really have changed quite a bit haven’t I?”

 

“Yes you have honey, but you’re still our child, so I don’t care much.”

I asked with hope, “If I dress like a boy, I can still look like one. Can I stay a boy in registration?”

 

Mom sadly shook her head, “Sorry, but the transition pack refills are registered. So we have to go to a MORFS center to register you as having gone through MORFS. And they will find out your new gender there. I’m sorry but you’ll have to dress like a girl soon. And you’ll have to change classes at school as well.”

 

My face fell, I realized that now I had to go into the other entrance and join classes with the girls.

 

Mom saw the face I made and said, “But we can cut off that long hair of yours, so it won’t be a bother to you.”

 

I recoiled, “No mom, don’t cut that off. It is the only thing I like about the new me.”

 

Mom smiled, I guess she knew how I felt about that. She had nice long hair as well but could only show it inside the house. I shuddered, that would be my burden now as well. I had to dress like a girl, covering everything up. Or get arrested for presenting myself to men. I really hated this country and its stupid laws. One thing was fortunate though, it looked like I didn’t get any animal DNA inside me with the change.

 

A few hours later my dad drove us all to the MORFS center in Bandung. I was wearing an old Hijaab from my mom and a sari with an old T-shirt of my father. It was barely long enough. If I had been any taller, my bellybutton would have shown and I could get arrested for indecent exposure.

 

We arrived at the center without problems though and went in with trepidation. We waited for a while, till my name got called and I had to go alone with a nurse. The doctor was a surly man called dr. Kumari. He gave me a complete physical exam, and I do mean complete. I didn’t know what girls are like, but after that I knew only too well.

 

Next was a male telepath who was also an Imam at the local mosque. He didn’t announce his name or his intentions, he just briskly entered my mind with his probe. I tried to hide as much of myself as possible, but he just broke through my barriers like they weren’t even there. After an agonizing 15 minutes he released his hold on my mind and looked sternly at me. Quietly he said, “I will forgive your transgressions of Christianity. I have studied other religions so I don’t see anything wrong with those. Though you could pay more attention to Muslim religion. Now your fears of having any animal DNA inside you, can be laid to rest. I have the preliminary blood work here and you don’t have any hybridism evident.”

 

He paused for a moment, “You do however have something of a power inside you. I will have to report it, and you might get contacted by the government because of it.”

 

My blood seemed to freeze hearing that. ‘Am I going to be re-educated? Will I never see my parents or friends again?’ The man continued, “But I don’t think they will take you away from your life as is. Now I know you’ll have a big adjustment to make with becoming a girl, but you shouldn’t be too afraid of it.”

 

I thought, ‘Yeah, easy for you to say, you’re not a second class citizen. You don’t have to live with all the stupid rules women have to live by.’ I guess he picked something up from my thoughts, because his face became even more rigid.

 

Coldly he said, “Now your power seems to be chemical in nature. I’m guessing you can be described as a chemical elemental, or more correctly a chemical reaction elemental.”

 

My mood lifted a bit since I heard all the bad news. "I can change materials? I can change lead into gold? Cool!"

 

The man quickly rebuked me, "No you misunderstand, you can't change an element, you're more like a catalyst. You can manipulate molecules and elements."

 

“Oh? So what does that mean?”

 

He sighed, “You could make a chemical reaction happen. Like for instance water is made out of Hydrogen and Oxygen. Normally by applying an electric current you can reverse the process and get those elements from a water molecule. You on the other hand can make it happen with your power without the electricity needed for the natural reaction. Or take a combustion engine, inside fuel made of Carbon and Hydrogen burns with Oxygen to carbon dioxide and water. You might be able to reverse that process and produce fuel. What you can’t do is transform one element into another or change the basic nature of an element. So turning lead or any other substance into something else is not possible, that would be transmutation. And you can’t make diamonds from Carbon, although they are pure Carbon creating them requires heat and pressure not any chemical reaction so you won’t be able to do that.”

 

As I thought about it, I could see how this might be cool. I even liked being an elemental. But then I realized that I needed to know a lot of chemistry, and I didn’t know if girls were allowed to study that anymore.

 

The man didn’t react to my thoughts anymore, he wrote something in his eCom and dismissed me.

 

I joined my parents and they were given a folder with the findings of my examinations. My father asked, “What is a chemical elemental?”

 

Mom explained it to him while I just kept quiet and got inside the car as quickly as I could. I was expecting us to go home, but instead we drove to a big shopping center. Mom explained, “We have to buy you new clothes. You have to have some hijaabs, blouses, skirts and school uniforms.”

 

I made a face again, ‘Bleh, school uniforms!’ I wasn’t looking forward to wearing the long skirt and silk blouse. And to make matters worse, with my new height I would stand out like a sore thumb. Sighing my frustrations I followed my mom into the shopping center and had a gruesome time getting fitted and trying on the clothes.

 

As we got home, mom had another surprise for me. At the center she not only had my gender changed in registration, she also decided without my knowledge that I should have a name change. Now my name was Caryn. I did protest for a while, but she didn’t care about that. And to tell the truth I wasn’t that against the new name, I’d just like to know about it beforehand, and maybe have a say in it.

 

Only a week had passed, so on Monday morning I walked as fast as I could in that bothersome long skirt to where I normally would meet Fariz. He was just walking past the fork in the road as I got there and I yelled, “Fariz, wait up!”

 

He stopped and turned to look at me? “Excuse me? Who are you and how do you know my name?”

 

I sighed, he didn’t recognize me. Of course he wouldn’t, my face was now quite different as well. “It’s me Fariz, Cary. Or Caryn as it is now. I just had MORFS.”

 

His eyes almost fell out of their sockets, “Cary? I don’t believe it!”

 

“Well believe it. It is me, though I wish I hadn’t changed this much.”

 

Fariz quickly got his face back in line, “No I can’t believe it, you’re just some girl trying to con me into thinking you’re my friend. He got MORFS and has probably been taken away to some unknown place.”

 

“Fariz, it is me! Really!”

 

He interrupted me and yelled, “No you’re lying, all my friends have been taken away. Get away from me. I don’t consort with girls. I have to go to school.”

 

With that he ran off towards school and left me standing there at the side of the road. I was really hurt inside. How could he not believe I was his best friend? Then a girl came up next to me, “Hi, who are you, I’m Ika.”

 

I smiled wryly to her, “I’m Caryn.”

 

“Lets walk together, and hurry, or we’ll be late for school. You really don’t want to be late for school.” Ika practically dragged me along and we hurried along the road to school.

 

School was even worse than I had thought possible. Instead of learning something useful, we now only had some reading, writing, and simple mathematics that I already knew and a lot of sewing, cooking, cleaning and other household duties that as a woman I would need to perform. I did have a hard time at first learning cooking and sewing. I mean cooking was okay; mom had me help her a few times. But I didn’t know how to sew a button on a shirt, let alone all the other stitches and stuff. It really sucked being a girl in school. Even more so since I knew how it was for a boy to be in school. Ika was quite okay as a friend, but she didn’t know any better. Changing my registration at school had already been done and very discreet fortunately. Nobody knew I was new at being a girl. Except that everyone, especially the teachers frowned at my missing knowledge of cooking, cleaning and sewing.

 

Later when we got out of school I saw Fariz again, he looked at me and I stared back. Then he quickly turned around and with another boy ran towards home. Ika stood next to me and said, “What is it with you and that boy? Don’t you know that you can get into a lot of trouble looking at boys like that?”

 

I turned to her, “Yes, you are right. I thought I knew him, but I guess I didn’t.”

 

She took my mind of my problems, starting to talk about all the things she learned at school today. I didn’t tell her, but thought that all those things looked so useless to me.

Back home I quickly disappeared to my room, despite my mom asking how my day was. I guess she could feel that I didn’t want to talk about it. In any case I wasn’t called down till dinnertime.

 

A few days went past in an agonizing slow pace. I resigned myself to be a girl learning all the girly things so that I could be a good housewife later. But I was getting more and more frustrated all the time. Mom tried to lift up my spirits saying that it wasn’t that bad. Still I had tasted the other life and wanted it back.

 

Then on Thursday I got home from school and found some ominous looking men waiting inside the house. Mom quietly served them some tea and looked fearful at me as I arrived home. One of the men got up and indicated for me to sit down. With trepidation I sat down fearing what would come next.

 

The other man introduced himself as Mr. Widsastri and said that the first man’s name was Mr. Kudarjo. He said, “We’re from the ministry of paranormal powers. We read your file and need to test you in a controlled environment near Jakarta.”

 

My blood froze in my veins. ‘I knew it; they are here to take me away.

 

Mr. Kudarjo added, “You’ll be away only for a week at the most. So don’t worry about school or your friends.”

 

I wasn’t worried about any friends. I didn’t have any anymore. Well maybe Ika, but I didn’t really think of her as a close friend. Still I was very fearful to go with them. I really had the impression that I would never see my parents again ever. I turned to mom. “Mom?”

 

She sighed, “You have no choice in the matter Caryn. You have to go with them.”

 

I got up in a hurry and hugged her. I whispered, “I’m scared Mom.”

 

She whispered back in my ear, “I know, but there is nothing we can do about it now. Just hope for the best and think positive.”

 

I let go of her and felt a few tears roll down my cheek. Mom brushed them away and told me to be brave. I felt like going before a firing squad as I followed the men out of the house. Just as we approached the car the men had come in, some other men jumped out of the bushes and started shooting at the government men.

 

For a moment I was totally confused and just stood still as a gunfight erupted around me. Mr. Kudarjo returned fire with a gun he pulled from his shoulder holster that I hadn’t noticed before. Mr. Widsastri already lay on the ground dead from a gunshot wound.

 

Then the fight was over and some unknown men grabbed me and pulled me away into the bushes. I looked back at mom. She was screaming for them to let go of me, and then the view was blocked by the plants around us.

 

The armed men didn’t say anything to me other than to hurry if I didn’t go fast enough and to indicate a direction for me go. Soon we arrived at a helicopter that had landed in a field and with all of us inside we flew off to the east.

 

I didn’t notice where they took me as I was sleeping when we reached our destination. Some time later I woke up in a small room and met the leader of my captors. I never learned his name, only that sometimes his people called him ‘Os Duto’. He made it very clear to me what he wanted. They had kidnapped me for my power.

 

He explained that a chemical elemental was the only person to transform some components of some leaves into a powder. Since their current chemical elemental was very sick I was to take his place and produce the powder for them.

 

I was taken to the other chemical elemental. He was very thin, his skin was almost like a see through parchment. He didn’t have much fat as well and I could almost see his bones. He didn’t say anything else than what I was supposed to do and he showed me what to do with the leaves to produce the powder. Then I was left in a room with a supply of leaves and was told to start producing. I said, “You can stick those leaves where the sun don’t shine.”

 

Os Duto smiled cruelly and said, “We also kidnapped your parents. If you don’t do as you’re told, they will be tortured beyond your imagination.”

 

That quickly got me going and I started making the powder as they wanted it. Sometimes I ingested a little of it, and when dinnertime came I felt ravenous. Everything smelled sharper and tasted better as well. Even my touch was more sensitive.

 

After a few days I understood why all this happened. The powder was a kind of drugs. I had to eat a lot to keep my body fat intact and I always felt very hot, like I was running a fever. I also knew that my predecessor was sick because of this. A few times I asked to see my parents and they showed me a holorecording of both mom and dad shackled and threatened with guns to kill them or at least hurt them a lot.

 

My sense of time began to blur as all I did was produce powder, eat and sleep. Sometimes I was dragged somewhere and a teleporter took me to another place where I had to start work again. I didn’t even know what country I was in anymore.

 

One time I tried to change the composition of the powder, to make it harmless, but their quality control noticed it immediately and I got punished severely. They stripped me naked and I got flogged with ten beats of a cane stick in front of everyone.

 

There were some women at that compound to cook and clean for the men and one of them was a weak bio-elemental. I think nobody really knew that about her and she kept it well hidden. She did heal my skin, so I wouldn’t be scarred too much. And since I had to wear covering clothes again anyway it wasn’t noticed.

 

I was getting really desperate, I couldn’t find a way out, if I didn’t perform well enough I got punished and still the threat of them hurting my parents hang over me. I cried myself to sleep every rest period. I felt so miserable all the time.

 

***************************

In the Nexus

 

Sanura frowned at the invitation message on her eCom. She wouldn’t have even bothered with it if it hadn’t come from a high ranking official and friend at the ASA. He wanted her to join him in a meeting, he said that he just had a conversation with a director of Interpol. She hadn’t had any dealings with them yet. She sighed, ‘Better get this over with then.’  

  

Moments later Sanura stepped out of a portal near the room she was expected at. As she opened the door, agent Green got to his feet to greet her. “Dr. Miller, I’m glad you could come.” 

  

He sat down with her in his office. He started, “Let me explain something about Interpol nowadays. They are licensed to operate in every country on the planet. And with permission even can operate in the special cities of Tenkei and Freeventure.” 

  

He paused for a moment before continuing, “The reason I asked you to meet me here is that I know a little about your special skills.  Interpol has a very big problem at the moment. There is a criminal organization that we can’t get close to. They are at the moment the biggest manufacturers and distributers of the illegal drug called Inferno. This is a real threat to the public and we would like to eliminate that threat with all the resources available.” 

  

Agent Green paused again, this time to take a sip from his refreshment. Sanura followed suit as a drink had been set in front of her. “The problem they’re having with this specific gang is that they employ several MORFS survivors. In particular a telepath who senses when security forces or agents try to either infiltrate or come in close to raid the facility. I suspect a telesense person is also used. And they have a portal maker or a teleporter on staff to take every person away before any agent can come close enough to set up a teleport inhibitor. Interpol has asked us to help out with them. Unfortunately we don’t quite work that way with regular police. So I thought of you and what you’re setting up” 

  

Sanura asked, “So what do you want from me then Agent Green? I’m not an police officer.” 

  

“No, but you do have a unique transportation at your disposal. We would like you to go to a location where we suspect the lab of this gang is. You can take anyone with you that you want. We can have regular Interpol agents and officers around there in no time. We just need to secure them to that location. I’m sure you have an idea on how to accomplish that.” 

  

Sanura thought about it. “If I do this I want only people with me I absolutely trust to do this. You said you only need to have a teleport inhibitor working within moments right?” 

  

Agent Green nodded, “That is right, though any perpetrator will want to take out the inhibitor at a moments notice of it being activated.” 

  

Sanura thought, ‘This might be a job for my newly assembled team. We could learn from this and work out any kinks that might arise in the field.’ Then she looked at Agent Green, “Okay, You just get me the coordinates and I’ll inform you when the place is secure so that you can move in for the arrest.” 

  

He nodded and said, “Okay, Dr. Miller you got it. Can I reach you on your eCom then?” 

  

They soon reached a consensus on the details and Sanura went back to the cave to inform her team members on this next job. Arriving there she first made a call to some new friends she made at the orbital city Tenkei. 

  

The vidscreen activated with the distinctive image of Sarah on the screen. “Hi, Sanura. How are the wee bairn's?”

 

Sanura smiled as she said, "They're fine, growing like weeds." She decided to jump right in. "Can I ask you for a favor?"

 

"Of course," Sarah answered without any hesitation.

  

Sanura smiled, “I know you made a field generator to block teleports. Would I be able to borrow one of those devices to catch some criminals with teleporters in employ.” 

  

Sarah frowned, “Our field generator dinnae work for a big area. I'd have to see if it could be scaled up, and if it is a portal? Agh well, that’s a completely different thing all together. Let me ask Todd about it. Can I call you back on this number?” 

  

“Sure I’ll look forward to hearing from both of you.” 

  

She closed the connection and went to the team members to discuss possible strategies of entry. 

  

A day later Sanura greeted both Todd and Sarah as they stepped through her portal with a strange device they carried. “Hi Todd, Sarah, glad you could make it. So this is it?” 

  

Todd proudly showed it to her. “Yep, Sarah really out did herself this time. Guaranteed for any known teleporter and should even make a portal generator stay-put. A few warnings though. It hasn't been tested very much and I can’t be sure about being able to block everyone. Teleporters have been studied for years, but portal makers are a rare breed. And we put in an option you should like. You can teach it which teleport signatures are authorized. We don't want to block the good guys, do we?" 

  

Sanura examined the device and though it looked like a prototype, instead of a sleek finished design, it looked impressive. She hoped it would be effective. “Anything else I should know about it?” 

  

Sarah bit her lip. “Aye, this thing is even worse with needing power than the one on Tenkei. So you’d need a powerful generator to power it. You don’t have Synergy around here do you?” 

  

Sanura laughed, “Actually we do, but I wouldn’t want to bother her. You know her condition and I wouldn’t want to trouble her. But her husband Gabe is available.” 

  

Todd nodded, “Well, good luck with the thing. Let us know how it behaves, we have about four different agencies looking for something just like it.” Then he and Sarah said their goodbye and went back through Sanura's portal to their home in Hawaii. 

 

************************

ECLIPSE in a remote part of Puerto Rico

  

A portal opened in warehouse in a remote part of Puerto Rico. Fluently a group of seven people dressed in black suits and wearing helmets jumped out. Two of them carried a piece of machinery and as one man put his hand on it, the machine came to life. The others took up defensive positions or spread out from the portal as it closed. Moments later several people shouted. Shots were heard firing but also sounds of fighting. It didn’t take long for the group to overpower the people inside the building. Some tried to find a way outside, but were caught by a large police force that suddenly showed up. A few of the people in black opened doors and found more people working on packaging red pills or handling some kind of plant leaves. Then two of them opened a door that was guarded by a MORFS survivor. He had been build for agility but didn’t stand a chance against the either of the two elementals attacking him. As the door opened to a bare room the black clad elementals found a single slender person looking like a young boy with a headdress of an Islamic girl working on leaves.  

  

The boy or maybe it was a girl, said with a rough voice, “No, I don’t want to process more of the stuff. I want to see my parents. Please?” 

  

One person said with a female voice amplified by the helmet, “We’re not with those people. Who are you and what are you doing here?” 

  

The androgynous person looked perplexed at the two people, “You aren’t … Oh but my parents then. They have them and they will kill them if I don’t do as they say.” 

  

Again the same person said, “Who are you?” 

  

The person pulled off her headdress revealing her long dark hair, “My name is Caryn Sumanti, but they also call me Catalyst. I’m a Chemical Elemental and they forced me to transform the stuff from the leaves into the powder. Please, can you free my parents for me?”

 

The person in the black suit with white Chinese symbol on it said in her helmet link, “Team, Shine here. We got a possible victim and probable hostage situation on our hands.”

 

From the other team members came the acknowledgements and suddenly a portal opened and another black clad person, this one with a tail and a purple Chinese sign on the uniform came through. It was obviously a woman and she quickly assessed the situation.

 

***************************

Catalyst in Puerto Rico

 

I just realized that I had been rescued from the drugs people, but now feared for my parents’ lives. I looked at the strange people in front of me and asked again, “Please can you find my parents and free them?”

 

The latest arrival came up to me, “Who are you?”

 

Again I introduced myself, “My name is Caryn Sumanti, but I’m also called Catalyst. I’m a chemical elemental and they forced me to transform the stuff from the leaves into the powder. They said that they were holding my parents hostage. I saw some holorecordings of them. Please can you free my parents?”

 

The woman with the purple sign asked, “Where did they capture you?”

 

Without thinking I answered, “Ciwalen, Jawa.” As they did not react to the place I mentioned, I asked them, “Where are we now?”

 

The woman with the white symbol said softly, “We’re in Puerto Rico.”

 

The woman with the purple symbol said, “Molten, grab someone important. Preferably the leader, I want some answers from him.” Then she came over to me and put her arm around me. “Now let’s get to the bottom of this shall we?”

 

A little later I was sitting with some of the people in black. The leader had said her name was Void, and introduced the others as Shine, Grit, Flutter, Blitz and a weird scorpion hybrid as Poison. Void asked me several questions on how I came to be here and what I was doing. I had already told her everything I knew, including the name of the leader from the criminals.

 

As I was having a big snack and something to drink, a new person in black entered with Os Duto. I started shaking from anger and fear as I saw my captor, but Void put her hand on my shoulder, “Don’t worry, he can’t harm you anymore.”

 

Then the man in the black uniform with a Orange Chinese symbol said, “Here is the leader of the gang, as you requested, Void. It took some convincing, and I had to promise to give him back to the police. Sorry about the bruises, he failed to see the wall he walked into.

 

Void nodded and motioned to the man to follow her. They disappeared into a room and sometime later exited again. I looked up at her, but she said to the man, “Molten, throw that piece of garbage to the police. Have them add to the charges what we have learned here.”

 

Then she silently came to me and took her helmet off. I was a bit surprised to see that she was a cat hybrid, with long black hair. Then I noticed her sad expression. A feeling crept up my spine, “What is it? What did you find out?”

 

She hugged me, “I’m very sorry, Caryn.”

 

My feeling washed through me like a tidal wave, “Noooooooooooooo” I started wailing. “Don’t tell me that they are …”

 

Void tried to comfort me as best she could, and softly said, “Your parents died almost directly after you were kidnapped. I’m so sorry.”

 

I cried for a long time on Void’s shoulder, and didn’t even notice when she took me through one of those portals. All I noticed was that some other people were there. Some other woman with long black hair, a black tail and yellow cat eyes guided me away from Void and held me tight in a bear hug. I was still crying but had some cramps as well. Then I started shivering. The woman noticed and asked, “Why are you shivering? Is it too cold here?” She felt my forehead, “Oh you’re burning up, I’ll ask Jamie if she can help you.”

 

She guided me to a bed before saying into a wireless eCom, “Jamie, can you please see if you can help me here?”

 

As I lay down on the bed feeling miserable, I looked up at the mysterious woman. That’s when I first noticed that she was very pregnant. She noticed me looking and said, “Oh sorry, I’m Synergy. But you can also call me Maren if you like and yes, I’m very pregnant with my third child.”

 

I looked at her wondering why she said Synergy, but then the cramps in my insides doubled and I retracted into a fetal position trying to get away from the pain. I didn’t even notice the entrance of another person. But I felt something hard brush my side and out of curiosity looked up; straight into the face of the scorpion hybrid. She didn’t have the uniform on anymore, but still looked ominous with her shell and curved tail with the customary spike.

 

***************************

Poison in the Nexus

 

Jamie inspected the girl on the bed laying in a fetal position. She found some strange things going on in her body. Something was blocking her efforts to identify and remedy the ailments of the girl. She had never encountered anything like it. She doubted that any bio-elemental could help the girl.

 

***************************

Catalyst in the Nexus

 

The woman said to Synergy, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do about this. This poison has gradually built up and if that wasn’t enough, the drug creates a barrier that I can’t overcome. I’m sorry but she has to go through withdrawal on her own.”

 

Why is she talking about me like I’m not here?’ I got up from the bed and yelled, “I’m right here! Why don’t you talk to me?” I grabbed a chair and swung it towards both women. The scorpion hybrid blocked it and the chair broke in three pieces. Then I realized what I had done. I was threatening the people that were trying to help me. I even threatened to hurt a very pregnant woman. I started crying again and fell back on the bed.

 

Synergy leaned over to me, “We understand it Caryn, we’re all here for you to get well again. Now please try to get some sleep.”

 

She put her hand on my head and suddenly it felt wonderful cool there. I was thinking, ‘maybe she’s a cold elemental or something,’ just before I fell in a restless sleep.

 

***************************

Synergy in the Nexus

 

Maren looked at the sleeping girl and felt for her. She had lost everything she held dear and had just been rescued from criminals. On top of that she had to fight withdrawal from a drug she had been forced to make.

 

Quietly she exited the room and made her way to an office that was occupied by Samantha Bolton, the girlfriend of Jair. She was currently working as counselor in the Nexus. Maren knocked and Sam opened the door almost immediately. “Hi Maren, How are you feeling? Everything all right with the baby?”

 

Maren smiled, “Yes, everything is okay, though he moves and kicks a lot. It shouldn’t be too long now anymore though.”

 

Samantha Bolton smiled back, “Glad to hear that. Now you want to ask me something?”

 

“Yes, I just came from someone who needs your counseling. She’s traumatized, very ill and really in need of your services.”

 

Sam’s smile evaporated, “You’re talking about the girl that the team rescued, right?”

 

Maren nodded, “Yes, I think Caryn got the really short end of the stick in life. Can you help her? She already flipped when Poison was telling me that she couldn’t help her.”

 

Sam sighed, “I’ll get right on it then. What is your opinion of her?”

 

Maren grimaced, “She’s not a bad girl, she’s acting up from withdrawal at the moment and she just lost everything she held dear. I think we need to help her get back on her feet. She needs to know that there are still nice people in this world. So what do you say? Shall we give it our best effort?”

 

Sam laughed, “Sure Maren, I’ll give her all my attention.”

 

***************************

Catalyst in the Nexus

 

Waking up I felt even worse than when I went to sleep. It felt like my insides were tearing me apart. I cringed into a fetal position to try and relieve the pain a little, but it didn’t help. Then the door of the room opened. ‘Someone is inspecting the imprisoned morf?’ I looked at the door and saw a hideous creature enter the room. She looked like a wrinkled old hag with burning eyes. I yelled, “No, get away from me. Don’t you touch me!”

Then the image changed in front of me and it was slim build woman with brown hair and glasses.

 

I blinked and rubbed my eyes. ‘How did that happen? Did she bewitch me?’ “How did you change right before my eyes? Are you some kind of shapeshifter?”

 

The woman looked strangely at me, “I think you’re a bit delirious, Caryn. No doubt it’s because of the withdrawal from the drugs. I’m a councilor and I’m here to help you.”

 

Now I was really confused, she sounded nice and warm, but could I trust that? Or maybe she is right and my eyes are deceiving me. ‘Arg, I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so confused. I wish I were dead.

 

I started crying and the woman put her arm around me. “Caryn, my name is Samantha Bolton. I’m here to help you.”

 

I leaned into her, “I really don’t know anymore. How can I trust anything my senses tell me? For that matter how can I trust you?”

 

She caressed my head, “Give me a chance, I won’t let you down Caryn.”

 

I thought about it and decided to try it. “Okay Miss Bolton, but please be patient with me. I don’t mean to, but sometimes I feel like smashing things and I don’t want to hurt people.”

 

Sam smiled, “I got that, and please call me Sam. Miss Bolton is so formal. I want to be your friend as well as councilor. Now do feel up to talking about where you grew up?”

 

As I thought back about Indonesia I shuddered, “That wasn’t one of my good times. I don’t know if you know Indonesia, but it sucks to be Christian or female. And it’s worse if you’re both.”

 

“Please enlighten me, Caryn. Maybe it’ll help if you talk to me about it.”

 

I told her all about my childhood and what we had to endure. As I got to the dangers awaiting MORFS survivors, and the fear when I got sick, she hugged me. I really opened up to her after that.

 

After that first session I had several more sessions with her, with varying results. Sometimes I was so out of touch with reality that I threatened her. Other times I couldn’t stop crying or kept on talking about what had happened to me. I was sure that I bored her to tears with that.

 

Slowly I got over my withdrawal and started to feel better again. Though the food tasted bland and my senses were dull. I even lost a lot of weight during my captivity and during withdrawal. I looked like an anorexic. Sam and Maren tried to get me to eat a lot, and I tried, but it didn’t work that well at first.

 

Gradually I recovered somewhat and I paid more attention to the people around me. I learned that I was inside a secret base called the Nexus and the team that had rescued me, consisted out of only elementals. They were called ECLIPSE. I got to know most them and they introduced themselves to me at one time or another. Some were hard to talk to, like the boyfriend of Sam, Jair. He really scared me at first. He’s so militaristic. And even after I got to know him a bit, he was a bit rough and very intense. Poison was the other way around, she looked very scary, but really was very nice to talk to.

 

One of the team members I met made me feel weird. She had long pink hair and blue eyes. Then I overheard somewhere that Echo was a boy that looked like a girl, while I look like a boy but am a girl. I looked more closely at him and felt an attraction that made me realize the feeling I had, was maybe like that of having a crush or falling in love with him. I wanted to go to him and ask him out on a date, but I felt too shy to do so. Then I found out that he had something going with another elemental called Alloy. It crushed all my hopes for ever being able to approach him, though I still wanted to.

 

Then when Maren went into labor, my eyes opened to a new level of understanding. I thought I had it tough during my withdrawal, but I could hear her scream all the way in the hall. I shuddered at that, ‘Is it always that painful to women? I hope I don’t get to find out. I still felt quite male inside myself.

 

Later I was allowed to see her with her new baby. And she looked so happy, that I was happy for her as well. It made me think that the pain might be worth it. At least she looked like she didn’t mind that anymore. Her husband Blitz stood next to her. He looked really happy with his son as well.

 

A few months after I got rescued, Dr, Sanura Miller asked me into her office. I had learned that she was the mysterious Void, and really looked up to her. I went there feeling honored of getting asked by her for a talk. When I entered her office she stood up and told me to sit down as she closed the door.

 

I sat down not feeling at ease, here I was sitting down in the office of the famous Dr Miller. And she started talking to me like a friend. I felt so intimidated.

 

She said, “So tell me, how are you doing now Caryn?”

 

I looked down to the floor, “Okay I guess. Sam, I mean Dr. Bolton said that I am still in need of lots of counseling. But I’m getting better. I don’t have that many nightmares anymore.”

 

Sanura smiled, “That’s good to hear and you can call her Sam. That’s what she likes. Now I have something to ask of you. I would like you to get back to studying and become a member of ECLIPSE on a trial basis first.”

 

I looked up at her with wide open eyes, ‘Does she mean that? Or is she offering that out of pity for me. Am I even worthy enough for them? What should I do?’ “Uhm, you caught me by surprise with this, can I have some time to think?”

 

Sanura gave me a warm smile, “Sure Caryn, take all the time you want. I don’t want to pressure you. But I have a feeling that you may fit right in with us.”

 

I felt warm and excited hearing that, but also felt fearful of what lay ahead of me. I really needed to talk to some people about this.

 

The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


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