Acts of Humanity 3:
Higher and Higher
(Part 06)
A MORFS Universe Tale
by Ray Drouillard

Tina Shepherd was in the final stages of dying a slow death due to cancer when she met the Martins and their friends.

sex: 1/10
violence: 6/10
profanity: 2/10

Categories: Hybrid, Elemental, PSI

Timeline: 2060

Chapter Twenty: Breaking Bread and Making Plans

*Time to come home!* we both heard at once.  Mom invited Jerry to our house for dinner, and let him know that they had already arranged it with his parents.

When we got there, we were immediately struck by the delicious smells that were coming from the kitchen.  In the dining room, the leaves had been put into the table.  It looked and smelled like a holiday dinner had been set up.

"The fatted calf?" I quipped.

"Not quite," replied Mom.  "Dad processed one of our turkeys right after we got home last Wednesday."

"Ah, aged just right to be tender.  Are we having an early Thanksgiving dinner?"

"More like the Last Supper," quipped Dad.  "We did some planning when you were recovering last night, but tonight's the night we put it all together."

"You, meanwhile, will play hostess for a horde of teens and help babysit the youngsters," Mom added.

"Does that mean we have to sit at the kid table?"

Mom rolled her eyes.  "What do you think?"

Jerry and I went to the basement to get everything ready.  We cleared off the bumper pool table and the ping-pong table, picked up the clutter and stashed it, and generally straightened things up.  I used my powers to give the place a good dusting and washing.  I tried the old flatscreen that we had taken to the basement when we got the vid wall.  It was still functional.  We noticed that Mom had turned on the basement refrigerator and stocked it with various soft drinks, juices, power drinks, and the like.  The cupboard was similarly well stocked.

When I was a little girl, we had turned one of the small storage rooms into a little club house.  Grandpa had even made some kid-size furniture for me.  We ended up putting a lot of my old toys there when I outgrew them, but the room was still pretty much set up the way it used to be.  We straightened the room out, gave it a good cleaning, brought down a couple of our old computers, and set them up for games and videos.  We still had all of my favorite old vid chips classics like Bugs Bunny, Veggie Tales, and 3-2-1 Penguins; plus the shows of my childhood like The Twonkeyville Ghost and Morf Avengers.

Satisfied with our preparations, we went upstairs and helped Mom and Dad with theirs.  Jerry's parents had come to help Mom and Dad when we were busy downstairs, so things were pretty much finished.

Soon, people started to arrive.  The entire Kitty Mansion household came, which increased the noise level and filled the house with warmth.  It always feels good to be around them.  I gave each of them a hug.

Markus was sitting on Cara's shoulder, as usual.  When he saw Gregory, he leapt down and introduced himself in the usual cat style.  Cara and I monitored our pets closely to make sure that they didn't get aggressive with each other.  We needn't have worried.  They got along just fine.  Pretty soon, they went outside to play.

Pastor Dan came, along with his family and a number of the elders.  Brothers Simms and Geralds brought their families, and two deacons from their church that were definitely going to be wearing fur in a few days.  They were introduced as Brothers Barryhaven and Merriweather.  Pastor Steve showed up with his family.  Elders Jim and Mark from my old church brought their families.  A few of the teens from the youth group came, too.  It was quite a crowd.

"Hey!  The cats are having a dogfight!"

I linked to Gregory.  He was flying around with Markus and having a blast.  I smiled as everyone went out to see the show.  Cara and I had the best view.

After a while, everyone got bored with their antics.  That's good, because everyone was getting hungry.  Mom called us all in for dinner by ringing the little brass bell that she keeps in the kitchen.  Pastor Dan said grace, giving a rather impassioned prayer.  He thanked God for bringing us together as one body, and commissioning us to spread His blessings.

Dinner started out as a solemn affair.  When I pointed out that those who have already morfed were happier than those who haven't, the mood lightened considerably.  We ate a leisurely meal and got to know each other.

After it was over, I led the teens and kids downstairs.  By the time I got the younger kids settled into my old clubhouse, the ping pong and bumper pool tables were in use.  There was a small group in the corner playing Antares Mercenary.  I saw Carol, Cara, Cindy, and Larry smirking at each other.  *You wouldn't ambush those poor unsuspecting guys, would you?*

*No, but we might give Jerry a lesson in high-speed shooting later,* smirked Cara.

*Did I hear my name taken in vain?* asked Jerry.

*We were just talking about challenging you to a game of Antares Mercenary,* Cindy giggled.

*Be afraid, be very afraid,* I said.

Throughout the evening, we were called up one by one to discuss our testimony.  I was asked to give that rather impassioned speech that I had given last Wednesday.  The other teens would discuss the difficulties and blessings of their transformations.  We decided to avoid mentioning our powers, though.  AMORFS doesn't hand out powers, so we don't want to bring them up.

Occasionally, someone would go in and check on the little kids, or maybe keep them amused.  After a while, they started to get tired.  We got out some mattress pads, cots, blankets, pillows, and the like.  They went down readily enough after we tucked them in and prayed over them.

As the evening went on, it started to become hard for us to stay awake.  The adults were showing no signs of slowing down, though.  Soon, sleeping teens, in ones and twos, were scattered all about the basement.  I put a blanket on Cindy and Jim, who were curled up in the corner on a large beanbag chair.  Cara and Larry managed to claim one of the love seats in front of the flatscreen.

Jerry and I quietly padded about the basement, picking up the clutter and putting away uneaten snacks.  Then, I grabbed an old camping mattress and laid down on it.  Jerry curled up behind me, put his arm around me, and covered me with one of his wings.  As I was nodding off, I felt Kim and Sara's mental touch as they remote sensed the basement.  Mom and Dad opened the basement door, peeked down at all the sleeping teens, shook their heads, and gently closed the door.

Chapter Twenty-One: Preparation

As I slowly came out of blissful slumber, I felt Jerry's golden feathered wing over me.  While he stroked the soft fur on my back, I laid there, content to rest in his warm embrace.  I felt rather than saw his peaceful smile as he laid behind me.  I also sensed my friends.  Some were giggling.

"Shhhhhh.  She's purring."

"That's one of the things I love about feline hybrids," Jim whispered.  Cindy swatted him with her tail.  Cara just smiled and scratched Larry behind the ears.

As I became more awake and aware, I realized that they were talking about me.  I opened my eyes and sat up, stretched and yawned theatrically, then wrapped jerry in a warm hug.

"Well, it's good to see that the lovebirds are finally conscious," Tom commented as he walked over from across the room.

"Golden Eagle and Catbird," Larry said with a chuckle.  He turned to Tom.  "So, are sleepovers as fun as a boy as they were as a girl?"

Tom blushed.  "I certainly had a good time.  I didn't miss playing dress-up and make-up, either."

"Nor did I," Cara agreed.

"We'll make up for lost time next time, dear sister," Amy said.

"You loved it and you know it!" Cindy added.

"Well, time for chores," I said, changing the subject.  "Who wants to come yank udders with me?"  I walked up the stairs, followed by the horde.  As we passed through the kitchen, I snagged a banana and a power bar, then passed fruit and snacks out to everyone else.  When we got outside, the chickens started following us around.  I bit a brown spot out of my banana and tossed it to them.

I noticed some activity at the old ag-worker barracks where Grandpa used to quarter the migrant farm workers when he raised vegetables so many years ago.  Apparently, Mom and Dad opened it for all of our guests.

I let everyone grab a handful of scratch grain.  Some tossed them to the chickens, and others held the grain out and tried to lure the chickens over.  Some hens, like the buff orpingtons and silkies, came right over for a free hand-out.  Others, like the flighty leghorns and the almost wild guinea fowl, stayed at the fringes and grabbed any grain that they could without getting too close.

Some people grabbed more grain and went to the brood pen, where three mother hens were sharing a flock of thirty-four chicks.  With the exception of the one egg that had refused to grow, all the eggs had hatched.  Neither the mothers nor the chicks seem to care who initially hatched them.  It's common for flock birds to share chick-rearing duties.

Cindy grabbed a coffee can from the feed bin, stuffed some hay on the bottom for padding, and proceeded to collect the eggs.  "I see you learned something from mentally following me around," I commented.

Not to be outdone, Larry pitched some hay to the goats.  Cara used her powers to scrub the inside of the watering trough, then drained and refilled it.  Amy took some grain to Ginny, who was very appreciative.  She may be my horse, but she isn't going to reject grain from anyone.

I walked over to the goat pen.  They started begging for a handout, as usual.  I gave them my banana peel.  A few other people followed suit.  The goats acted as if banana peels were the most delicious treats in the world.

Jerry and I went into the milking parlor and started yanking udders.  A couple people wanted to try, so I gave them quick instructions and let them go for it.  Soon, the eggs and milk were properly stashed in the refrigerator.

Mom came over from the ag-worker quarters and let the teens and kids know that the adults were done with the showers.  They all followed her over, so Jerry and I leapt into the air for our morning flight.  We flew at full speed over to the pond, then over to Jerry's house.  He picked out some clothes and stuffed them into a duffel bag.  We flew back and dropped them off in my bedroom.  Then, we were in the air again, doing some complex aerobatics and having a blast.

Mom had managed to recruit a few kitchen helpers, and Dad was busy giving pony rides to the kids.  Everyone was fresh and clean except for Jerry and me.  I sent Jerry up to my room to shower and change while I walked around made sure that everything was going smoothly.  After Jerry was done showering, I took a nice hot shower and dressed in flying clothes.  I expect that Jerry and I will be playing host to everyone while the adults are out visiting the various members of the two churches.  Fortunately, Larry, Cindy, Cara, and Amy were familiar enough with the farm to help out.

Breakfast was a big affair, just like Dinner.  Pastor Dan said grace and commissioned everyone in their mission.  Soon, we were digging into scrambled eggs, mini omelets, hot cakes, waffles (with real maple syrup), sausage gravy, and biscuits.  We washed it down with freshly squeezed orange juice and apple cider.

After dinner, we did the 'flying dishes' cleanup much to the amusement of everyone.  Amy borrowed Cara's TK, and Jerry borrowed mine.

Soon, the adults started driving out to visit the members of the two churches.  Convincing the members of the Church of Genetic Purity to attend tomorrow's service was easy.  One of the deacons who hadn't morfed yet simply told them that attendance was mandatory.

As all of this was happening, I got the teens pretty much settled in the basement and out under the maple tree.  Some of my friends from my old church were helping me prepare and pack a picnic lunch when I heard the faint stirrings of Karen's mind.  My friends agreed to hold down the fort so that Jerry and I could go welcome the new butterfly.

"We're coming too," said Cindy.

"Jerry and I are flying over.  I guess you can drive over if someone will lend you a car."

"Oh ye of little faith," said Cara as she levitated herself a few feet.

"OK, come along then," I said just before I leapt into the air.  They all followed, flying sedately in formation with us."

*You guys need capes or something like that,* I said.

Within minutes, we were at Karen's front door.  Her parents couldn't miss the ruckus as seven teens landed in their front yard.

"Karen's about to wake up, and we're her official self-appointed welcoming committee," I joked.  They looked a little nervous, so I told her that Karen knows Jerry and me, but not the others, and that they can stay outside if anyone is nervous.  They invited us all into the house, then asked me what to expect when Karen wakes up.

"She'll be a bit disoriented, but she'll feel good physically.  She'll want a shower right away."  I turned to her mother.  "Knowing her, she'll probably appreciate it if you're right there when she wakes up."  I listened in on her mind.  "She'll be up in about two minutes."

I followed Karen's mom up with my remote senses.  Karen woke up and saw her mom sitting next to her with a broad smile on her face.  She got up, hugged her mom, and looked herself over.  She was pleased.

Her first shower was similar to mine.  She had to concentrate to control her wings.  She used a scrubby on a stick to clean under them.  After she was done, she struggled with the problem of drying fur and feathers.  Her mother tried to help her, but she was new to the task, too.  When she found out that I was here, she called me telepathically and asked me for help.

"Well, aren't you just the cat's meow!" I said to her.  "All of the boys are going to be asking you out."

She blushed.

I gave her what help I could with her fur and feathers.  I didn't mention to her that I have used TK to dry off since my second day as a kitty girl.  Soon, she was dressed and ready to face the world or, at least, she was ready to face some of her fellow morfies.

I led her downstairs and introduced her to my friends.  We chatted for a little while, but we all had to get back to the farm.  I gave her parents a few quick pointers about shopping for clothes to accommodate Karen's wings and tail, then invited them to the picnic that we were planning for the pond.  I gave them my eCom contact information, and pointed out that Karen knows how to contact me telepathically.  While we were there, we let them know about Tomorrow's service, and pointed out that Karen might be able to provide some moral support to some of the kids that were destined to morf soon.

We all flew back and joined the party.  Jerry ended up getting his tail kicked in Antares Mercenary at least for a few games.  He soon figured out how to control the game with his technopath powers, and turned the tables.  In the end, the matches were pretty close.

Lunch time was approaching, so we loaded up the back of the ute and drove it to Great Grandpa's picnic shelter.  Actually, Larry drove it.  Jerry and I flew there, and everyone else walked.  It didn't take us long to set everything up.  With the coolers and warmers and covered dishes, we were able to set everything up and leave it.  We expected people to be coming and going all day, so having a nice spread of food was a good idea.

Jerry sat at the base of an old oak tree and gazed out over the water.  I sat in front of him and leaned back against his muscular chest.  I sighed with contentment as he put his arms around me.  We sat there and conversed mentally until my eCom beeped.  It was Karen.

Jerry and I flew over and met her and her parents at the house, then drove them back to the pond in the ute.  Some of the teens from my old church relinquished a picnic table so that they would have a place to eat.

About an hour after they were done eating, Jerry and I led Amy and her family to a clear area near the pond.  We encouraged her to spread her wings and test the breeze.  Then, we leapt into the air.  She followed us.  It didn't take her long to become proficient at flying.  I could feel the pride in her parents' minds as they watched their daughter fly around the pond and over the forest.

People drifted in and out for the rest of the day.  Karen's parents went out with Pastor Steve at one point to talk to some of the members who had kids out with MORFS.

By the end of the day, everyone was tired and emotionally drained.  The adults had been out all day talking to various church members and officials, and most of the teens had taken their turns when appropriate.  The evening spread was more like a boarding house dinner than a holiday meal.  Still, it was no less tasty.  Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, a variety of vegetables, salad, and dessert were all eaten with gusto.  All of the people who live locally left after the meal to prepare for a busy day tomorrow.  Some of the people from Pastor Dan's church also headed home, but those who will be making the earlier service at the Church of Genetic Purity stayed here.

There was no slumber party this time.  There was plenty of room in the ag worker quarters to put everyone up.  I slept in my own bed.  Alone.

*I miss you too, Kitten,* I heard as I drifted off.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Day of Reckoning

We got up early for what promised to be a long day.  With the help of the other teens, we got the chores done quickly.  Soon, we were all eating a hearty breakfast.  Pastor Dan said grace and prayed for the success of today's mission.

After a quick shower, I changed to a conservative dress that falls below the knees, but has an open back designed to accommodate wings.

Brothers Simms, Geralds, Barryhaven, and Merriweather soon arrived with a pile of hooded robes.  We all chose a robe that fit reasonable well, piled into four minivans, and headed to the Church of Genetic Purity.

I was kind of apprehensive.  After having run-ins with people from that church, actually entering it was kind of like going into the lion's den.

Cara and Amy were nervous wrecks.  I turned to Amy and held her.  She was shivering.  "It's OK.  We'll keep you safe," soothed Sara.  I caught glimpses from her mind of what it was like to be chained to a stake and stoned.  I don't blame her for shivering.  I shivered, too.

While Sara and I were holding Amy, Larry and Cindy were comforting Cara.  We were all pretty much linked together at that point.  By the time we got there, they had calmed down considerably.  We all put our hoods up, got out of the vans, and walked into the church.  The four deacons and their families took their places in the deacon section, and the rest of us went to the 'honored guest' section.

The bells in the tower tolled, and the six deacons solemnly got up and walked to the back of the church and into a small room.  The organ started playing a dirge, which was their cue to lift the coffin and slowly walk to the front.  They set the coffin on a platform in front of the altar, paid their respects, and took their seats.  A preacher that had been sent from another congregation took his place behind the altar.  He motioned for everyone to rise, then read the funeral service from a large leather-bound tome.  After he finished the reading, he lifted the staff of office and proclaimed, "The honored leader of this church has been laid low.  He went with honor."

The six slowly filed from the deacon section and took their places around the casket.  With great ceremony, they lifted the casket and walked it to the waiting hearse.  The visiting preacher handed the staff of office to Brother Simms, entered the hearse, and motioned to the driver.  As they left, Brother Simms led the five deacons to the front of the church, then took his place behind the altar.

"Today, we learned a great lesson.  MORFS claimed Preacher Merrifield, not by killing him directly, but by making him think that life was no longer worth living.  Had he not made the tragic decision to take the lives of his wife, daughter, and himself, they could all be here celebrating this service."

The members of the church looked surprised.  This was not what they expected to hear.

"MORFS didn't kill our beloved preacher, but a MORFS survivor did save the life of his daughter Ruthie.  I have met her, and she treated me with more respect and compassion that I deserved.  She treated the members of this church much better than we would have treated her.  She displayed to me, an honored deacon, the kind of love that we Christians are called to embody.  To say that I was humbled by this young teen would be an understatement."

Some of the church members were chewing on this really hard.  Some were accepting it.  Others were getting upset at what appeared, to them, to be blasphemy.  The two deacons who had not been involved with yesterday's planning were whispering to each other.  They planned to stand up and denounce Preacher Simms.  Kim passed this information on to him.  He was ready when they stood as one.

"Brothers Sanderson and Cichetti; do you rise against me?  Either take your seats, or take your leave."

As they started to leave, Preacher Simms dropped the bombshell.

"Brothers Sanderson and Cichetti; you and your families are infected with AMORFS."

They stopped, then continued their walk.  Their families fell in behind them.

"I have been told that all but twenty-one people in this church are infected with AMORFS.  Of those twenty-one, seventeen have already gone through MORFS, but never told the church about it."  He let them digest this for a bit, then continued.  "If you fall in behind Sanderson and Cichetti, and you aren't one of the seventeen hypocrites, you are taking a risk.  You are taking a risk that you will have to eat, not your words, but your actions."

Forty-two people followed them out.  Everyone was silent as they left the building and closed the doors.

*And the third of them followed after Lucifer,* Kim said sadly.

Preacher Simms addressed the congregation again.  "We have some guests who will help us in these difficult times ahead.  They, and some people they know, can help us adults get our voices back.  They can help our kids cope with the changes that will not only alter their appearances, but perhaps their genders.  Comparatively, we adults have it easy.  A visit to a microsurgeon or bio elemental will give us back our voices, and can even rid us of the fur that most of us will be wearing."

I could sense a lot of nervousness in the congregation.  Also, there were a bunch of people reevaluating their earlier convictions.

"For years, I was guilty of pride.  I thought that getting through my teen years without morfing was proof that I was somehow superior.  It was hard to be hit in the face with that false assumption, but I don't regret it.  I would rather live with humility than die of pride."

He threw his hood back, displaying his furry face.  There were gasps from the congregation.  Some were surprised, but others expected it.

The other three deacons stood as one and threw back their hoods.

"Brother Geralds changed when I changed.  Brothers Barryhaven and Merriweather will be changing soon."

Kim walked up to the podium, still robed.

"I would like to introduce to you the honored Professor Doctor Kim Martin.  She could be at home preparing to go to her home church right now, but she has chosen to help us in our hour of need.  Please honor her with your attention."

Kim threw her hood back.  "Good morning, everyone.  We are not here to taunt or ridicule you.  We are here to help you."

Kim gave them the good news first, that we have arranged with Doctors Josephson and some bio elementals to fix their vocal cords.  "You have to understand that life-threatening illnesses will take precedence, but the good doctors and the bio elementals that we have recruited are willing to put forth extra effort to make sure that everyone can get back to some semblance of normal as soon as possible."  She let that sink in a bit, then stated, "The only practical difficulty with AMORFS in adults is the loss of your voice.  The fur and horns are only a problem because there are people who make it a problem."  Some people cringed as she said that.  "If you insist on getting rid of the fur and horns, Mrs. Tabor's spa in Denver employs a low-level bio elemental who can do the job for you."

Kim called Sara up.  Sara gave some practical hints on adjusting to the changes caused by AMORFS, and the more extensive changes that the teens must undergo.

Sara called Jerry up.  Jerry gave a speech similar to the one I gave on that Wednesday service.  Was it really only a few days ago?  With his wings hidden under the robe, he still looked like an unmodified human.

I followed, and essentially echoed what Jerry said.

Cara came up and addressed the teens on the issues faced when changing gender.

All in all, things went OK if you ignore the forty plus people who absconded.  Interestingly enough, most of the seventeen fakers stayed here.  They even confessed and promised to help their brothers and sisters with their changes.

Preacher Simms started a new tradition new, at least, for his church.  He, the deacons, and the honored guests all went to the back to meet with the people as they filed out.  A bunch of people hung around and chatted.  It kind of reminded me of our new church.

After the crowd had died down, we said our goodbyes to the deacons.  I surprised myself by giving them each a hug.  I looked at the Barryhaven and Merriweather families and gave them each my best estimate of when they would start morfing.  We piled into the remaining three minivans and headed to our church.  I guess it's still our church, since we committed to attending the Wednesday night services.

Pastor Steve met us as we were walking to the front door.  He led us to the church basement, where a pot luck lunch was being set up.  I smiled when I noticed a basket full of various colored eggs.  I smirked and handed a blue one to Jerry.  We all grabbed some food and sat around a table and made our final plans for the service.

It was a weird homecoming for me.  I sat in the front with my parents and everyone else who came for this special service.  I was in my old home church with a lot of my new home church friends.  The sanctuary held more people than I had ever seen in one service.

Apparently, they have pretty much revamped the service.  Even the announcements were different.  Along with the usual dry administrative stuff, they made birthday and anniversary announcements.

After the announcements, Pastor Steve walked to the front.  For the first time I remember, he had a smile on his face as he took his place behind the lectern.  "Thank you for coming.  As most of you already know, this service marks a change in the way we do things."  He looked out over the congregation.  "If you look around, most of the people you see appear to be untouched by MORFS.  Over the next few weeks, that is going to change.  AMORFS has hit the area, and the majority of you will be wearing fur soon.

There were a couple gasps, but there were more sighs of resignation.  The majority of the people know the purpose of the special service.

"I'm ashamed to say that I allowed myself to get infected by the self-righteous attitude of radical anti-MORFS movement.  I became concerned with pleasing the crowd instead of doing what's right."

He surprised me by calling me up.  This hadn't been part of the plan, as far as I knew.

"About a month ago, Tina was infected with MORFS.  Far from being a curse, it was an unmitigated blessing.  MORFS literally saved her life by curing her of the cancer that had plagued her for half a decade and stolen much of her childhood, not to mention the joy of changing from a little girl into a young woman.  I think that most of you remember her."  A picture of me before my change appeared on the video wall behind him.

"Her cure came not after one of our half-hearted prayers for her, but within days after the congregation of another church prayed over her.  We couldn't take care of our own, so they had to go elsewhere and thank God they did!"  He looked over at me, then back to the congregation.  "She came back to share her joy with us, and we rejected her.  I'm ashamed to say that I went along with the crowd."  He turned and addressed me.  "As the pastor of this congregation, I would like to apologize for their actions, and for my failure as a spiritual leader."

I was ready for it this time.  I smiled at him.  "I have already forgiven you and the congregation."  I gave him a hug, then started to go back to my seat.  He motioned for me to stay and asked me to address the congregation.  I was ready for that, too.

"Some of us consider MORFS to be a curse and a symptom of moral depravity."  I paused for a moment and looked out over the congregation.  "I was dying, and MORFS gave me a new life.  I have never been happier.  MORFS saved my boyfriend's life, and we are both living life more abundantly than ever before.  It's not just the commuting of a death sentence.  We both have the health and energy to enjoy life like never before, and we look forward to a long life together."

I was startled by the spontaneous applause that erupted from the congregation.

"As for moral depravity" I paused to gather my thoughts.  "Well, I have been privileged to meet dozens of MORFS survivors in the past few weeks, and they are anything but morally depraved.  They are some of the most loving and upright people I have ever met."  I took a couple deep breaths and added, "If wearing fur or feathers is a problem, it's because some people treat us differently."

After that, the service went pretty much like the one we did earlier.  Kim and Sara gave them advice about handling their changes and the changes of those around them.  The MORFS survivors from our new church told their stories and answered questions.  I was impressed by the courage of some of the gender change morfs.  I know that I would have a hard time standing up and announcing it if I were to switch sides.

Pastor Steve stood up to close the service.  "When we worry about contamination, we need to worry about the contamination of our souls, not our bodies.  Our bodies, after all, will be left behind when we go on to the next world."

After the service, we went to the fellowship hall for a pot luck.  I was overwhelmed by the number of people who congratulated me and apologized for their earlier coldness.  Some people asked me to tell them how they would change.  A few people had changes that would really mess with their minds.  By reading their minds and looking at their changes, I could see that they would suffer from severe somatic dysphoria (to use a term taught to me by Doctor Myra.)  With some consultation with the Doctors Martin, and with the help of Cara or Amy, we were able to quietly fix things.  The Doctors Martin kept careful track of the modifications we made so that we could keep them from showing up in epidemiological programs.

While we didn't have the mass exodus of a third of the congregation like we had at the Genetic Purity church, we did have a few dissenters.  One of the dissenters, a short middle-aged lady, started asking some pointed questions.  It didn't take long for it to degrade into a theological debate.

I had heard all the arguments before, of course.  Like most cult-like belief systems, it was based only loosely on the Bible.  I kept annoying her by asking her for Biblical references, and by looking up the ones that she could supply so that they could be read in context.  As she started to run out of ideas, I told her that she would be changing in a couple weeks, so she really ought to take a second look at what she has been taught.

It was then that I noticed that we had attracted a crowd.  "You seem to know your Bible," Pastor Steve commented.

"She was terminally ill for better than half a decade," my father commented.  "To her, reading the Bible was sort of like studying for the final exam."

As people were leaving for home, we got back into our minivans and headed for our own church.  We went to the church's web site and looked for Pastor Dan's sermon.  As usual, the tech crew had it posted before the service was over. We listened to it on the way.  After dropping the teens off at church for youth group, the adults went to the Kitty Mansion to relax and discuss today's Good Works.

The youth pastor, knowing that a bunch of us would be coming back from a busy morning, planned activities that didn't tax us too much mentally or emotionally.  He didn't take it easy on us physically, though.

Because so many of us were dropped off, there weren't enough cars to take everyone home without making extra trips.  Jerry and I decided to free up a few seats by flying to the Martins'.  Larry, Jim, Cindy, Cara, and Amy did the same.  I still think that they ought to get capes.

It didn't take us long to get there, but we were still pretty wiped out.  We all took showers to freshen up.  The water couldn't wash off the fatigue, though.

I rummaged through my duffel bag.  Nothing clean.  I sighed and dragged all of the clothes into the shower.  After wetting them down with soapy water, I forced everything out with TK, rinsed them, and then dried them.  I grabbed some loose comfortable sweats, then thought about Jerry and decided to wear something a bit more flattering.  A telepathic giggle drifted through my mind.  *Oh hush, Cindy,* I sent back with a smirk.  That resulted in a chorus of giggles.

I sat down next to Jerry with a sigh of contentment; or maybe it was fatigue.  He, seeming to read my mind, reached over and started to massage my shoulders.  This time, it was definitely a sigh of contentment.  Pretty soon, I was laying face-down on the couch as he worked the kinks out of my back and shoulders.  I had to lift my wings a bit so that he could get at all the knotted muscles underneath.  Soon, I was melting into a puddle of kitty girl.  There's something to be said for a masseur who can read your mind and knows exactly where to put his strong hands.

"Hey, Catbird."


"You gonna let me sit down?"


He gently gathered me up, cradled me, sat down, and set me on his lap.  I tiredly put my arms around his neck and rested my head on his strong shoulder.  I sensed rather than saw his smile as he stroked the soft fur on my back.  I felt his love as a palpable presence.  I let it sink deeply into my soul.  I felt the love and approval of my mom and dad, and of Jerry's mom and dad.

I listened to the murmur of conversation more with my telepathy than with my ears.  There were a couple comments about someone purring, and Cindy giggled something about "They're just so cute."  Mostly, though, they discussed today's activities.  Everyone was tired, but quite happy with the way that the day went.

Kim's eCom dinged.  She looked at it and scowled.  "It looks like the pures are trying hard to hang on to their bigotry," she sighed.  I climbed off of Jerry's lap and sat next to him as Kim piped the video clip that she had received to the vid wall.

The preacher that had started the service at the Genetic Purity Church was saying, "The infidel morfies went to considerable trouble trying to destroy the One True Pure People.  Their evil bio elementals worked hard to craft a virus that would morf us, but it doesn't work!"  He tried to look triumphant, but merely looked defiant.  "While true MORFS rewrites, rebuilds, and corrupts the entire body, right down to the very soul, AMORFS isn't able to touch the Pure People.  No, AMORFS merely causes the superficial growth of hair and vocal cord.  Even the horns are nothing but hair!"

The camera zoomed out, revealing two AMORFS victims flanking the preacher.  "AMORFS is an attack on the Only Pure People.  AMORFS only affects the Only Pure People.  Getting infected with AMORFS is proof that you are one of the Only Pure People.  Therefore, wear your affliction with pride!  Wear your fur proudly like a battle scar!  Come join us, and together we will rise up and defeat the immoral morfies who dared to attack the One Pure People!"

Kim turned off the vid wall with disgust.  "They are nothing if not cunning."

"And determined," agreed Sara.

"Not to mention prideful," said Sue.

(End of part six)

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