Acts of Humanity 3:
Higher and Higher
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.
Categories: Hybrid, Elemental, PSI
Chapter Twenty-Six: Chaos at school
Jerry and I were glad to have had a restful weekend once we got to the chaos that had taken over the school. Over the weekend, a dozen kids went down, and a dozen more woke up to their new bodies. Some freaked out, and some just sighed resignedly. All of them had to see one of Doctor Myra's colleagues, and all of them had to spend some time with me or one of the other peer counselors. Some were pleasant to talk to, while others were downright nasty. They were either openly envious of my favorable transformation, or acted like it was my fault that they morfed. I wonder what they would say if they knew that I could actually introduce them to the person who caused them to morf.
Fortunately for everyone, the teachers have been instructed to go easy on us. We'll have to make up for it later, but it's the only way to keep things relatively sane while AMORFS makes its way through the student population.
Jerry and I were relieved when gym time rolled around. We blew off a lot of steam. By the time we hit the showers, we were bathed in sweat. We were done showering and on our way to lunch when our friend Mary came out of a classroom. "Hi Tina, Hi Jerry."
"It's good to see you smile again," I said to her.
"It's hard to stay depressed with you guys around to help me," she replied. "Besides, it's not like I'm the only one around here wearing fur."
I reached around and stroked the soft golden fur on Jerry's back. He lifted his wings a bit so that I could reach under them. "I've gotten rather fond of fur," I smirked.
"I guess I really ought to call it wool," she said. "I wonder what it'll be like in the summer. Maybe I should shear myself and knit a sweater for my mom next spring," she joked.
"That actually sounds like a wonderful idea," I said. "She will probably treasure it forever."
"Maaaaaary! Who's your daaaaaaady?" Tyler bleated. "Mary was a little lamb, her fleece as white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, her fleas were sure to go."
I scowled at him. "You'll be wearing fur soon enough. With all the payback you're going to get, I almost feel sorry for you."
"Says you, kitty bitch! My righteousness will protect me."
I rolled my eyes. "Just keep telling yourself that until the fur starts to grow."
I felt Jerry accessing my bio senses. "What irony," Jerry snorted. "You're about to turn into a real bitch – a poodle, to be exact!"
Mary turned to Jerry. "A poodle? Girl, I presume."
By way of answer, Jerry looked at Tyler. "You might as well call your mommy and tell her to come pick you up. You'll be puking your guts out by the end of the day." Then he kind of chuckled. "Meanwhile, you need to go into the bathroom and say a proper goodbye to your most prized possession. by the end of the day, you'll be too sick to give it a proper send-off."
"Jerry! That's mean!" I tried to sound stern, but a giggle escaped.
"Look me up after you change," Mary said. "The woolly fur under your clothes will make you look fat, but I know some tricks for dealing with that little problem."
"I'm sure you know all about losing your most prized possession," he scowled at her.
"Not really," Mary replied. "I got to keep it. Twice the goodies, twice the fun!" Then, she looked a little more serious. "I still had to deal with the appearance of switching sides. You'll know about that soon enough."
Tyler stomped off and disappeared into the bathroom. We continued on to the lunch room and sat with our growing group of friends. We had to eat quickly because we were both scheduled to counsel some new changelings. The school counselor tries to disrupt class as little as possible, so we end up with a lot of sessions scheduled during home room, study hall, lunch time, and even after school.
At the end of the day, we changed into our flying clothes and took to the air. The fall colors were starting to come in, especially some of the higher areas. The crisp air made us glad to have fur and warm flying clothes.
Since our ground training was complete, we both carried our Personal Avionics Packages. A standard PAP contains a transponder, aeronautical radio, GPS, library of aeronautical charts, and even some instrument landing electronics. It has a small display, but works best with the heads-up display built into the flight goggles. Since our flight adaptations include a telekinetic shield that keeps our eyes safe from the wind and small flying objects, we generally keep our goggles stowed in our flight utility belt.
While we don't have to carry our PAPs in unregulated airspace, we like the extra factor of safety. Also, it's easier if we just keep them with us at all times.
When we got home, Jerry helped me with the chores – the few that were left, anyhow. Grandma and Grandpa were feeling so good that they took great pleasure in doing the farm work. They haven't said anything, but I can tell that they would love to move back and live the rural life again.
After the chores were done, Jerry and I did our homework, then rewarded ourselves by loading up the flight simulator programs and goofing around with the various airplanes. Some, like the old Piper Cub, are slower than we are. The Supercub is a bit faster, and the Cub IV, with its lightweight fuel cells, carbon nanotube based motor, and carbon nanotube composite body with an ACNR coating, can pretty much do rings around us. Nothing in the air has the agility of a human flyer, of course.
Our favorite aircraft is the Lockheed-Boeing-Scaled Composite Swift III. The unique Synergy thrusters, along with the lifting body design, allow this aircraft to take off and land without a runway, hover, and break the sound barrier. Jerry and I like to take turns simulating various mechanical failures. We look forward to the day when we can purchase one for ourselves. Meanwhile, we'll have to content ourselves with the simulator – or maybe the Martins will let us fly theirs once we get our pilot's licenses.
I was busy trying to land the Swift without the lift repulsors when Grandma called us down for dinner. I froze the simulator and, holding hands with Jerry, went down to dinner. Grandma smiled at us as we worked together to set the table. I could feel her approval for our relationship, and the pleasure she takes in cooking for family. I'm going to have to talk to Mom and Dad about asking them to move back in. They seem so happy to be here. They look good, too. Apparently, cleaning up the damage due to aging and renewing their cells allowed their bodies to renew themselves. They even lost the extra weight that often comes with age.
After clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, Jerry and I flew to his house. As usual, his mom had a nice dessert for us. Jerry and I eat at each other's house quite often, so our parents are quite used to having us eat dinner at one house, and dessert at the other. Everyone seems quite content with this arrangement. In fact, our parents have become good friends in the short time that they had known each other.
After chatting with everyone for a while, I flew back home. Grandma and Grandpa were snuggling on the couch when I walked in. They looked startled and embarrassed, then shrugged and continued. I just smiled at them. I had long since gotten over the idea that grandparents are somehow above feeling the urges that we mere mortals feel. I gave them each a kiss on the cheek and went up to my room.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: More Butterflies
Jerry and I landed on a concrete pad that had been designated as the official school landing area for flyers. Leave it up to the administration to try to turn everything into a big production.
As we were walking into the school, we were greeted by Tom, who had recently morfed into a rabbit hybrid. "Hi Bugs," Jerry grinned at his old frined. Tom grinned back, pulled a carrot out of his pocket, and chewed on it. "Ah, what's up, Doc?"
I giggled. "It's a good thing you and Tammy like rabbits. You two are going to make a big hit when you show at the next 4-H fair."
"Speaking of Tammy," Jerry said, "How is Miss Hunny Bunny?"
"I'm doing just fine," came a voice from down the hall. She quickly walked up to us and enfolded Bugs in a big bunny hug.
"Awwwww, the Snuggle Bunnies," I said with a smile.
Bugs and Hunny looked at me and smirked as Jerry wrapped me with a warm hug. "Far be it for me to ignore inspiration," he said. I was just enjoying a nice kiss when the bell startled us all. We sighed and walked to our classes.
Our gym teacher had to evaluate a new morfie today. He was strong, but not superhuman. Still, as a flyer, he was entitled to take advanced gym. I looked at him carefully. He didn't have a hair on his body, but his head and back were covered with striking feathers – black with white spots. I flew over to him. "It looks like you picked up some guinea genes."
He looked at me and smirked. "Yeah, now everyone expects me to be loud and obnoxious."
I chuckled. Well, that would be a good description of guinea fowl. Still, there's no guarantee that you're going to pick up their predispositions.
"Just my luck," he scowled. "I saw them once at a petting zoo, and AMORFS gave me their genes."
"Maybe it's because you were always loud and obnoxious," commented one of his friends. "MORFS often expresses a kind of Karmic justice."
"If that was true, you would have morfed into a rat," he retorted. Then, he turned to me. "I'm Rodney Harmon, by the way."
"Tina Shepherd," I replied. "Jerry and I are thinking of starting a school club for human flyers once all the hubbub dies down. Are you interested?"
"I'm afraid I'm not much of a flyer," he commented.
"Real guineas will fly up into a tree when startled, but they prefer to walk," I confirmed. "Still, with practice, you may very well become a strong flyer." I smiled. "In any case, you are a flyer, and therefore welcome to the club."
He smiled back. "Thank you." He thought for a bit. "How do you know so much about guineas? Do you know someone who has some?"
"We have a small flock of them at home. You're welcome to come take a look at them if you like. I can even get you some keets next spring if you have the room for them."
"Baby guineas," I said. "Guineas tend to be half wild, but people have been known to tame them."
He smiled. "I guess it makes sense to keep a pet guinea. Lots of hybrids keep pets like that."
After a good workout in gym, Jerry and I ate lunch quickly. We had each just started a counseling session with some recent morfies when we got a call from the Martins. My parents are about to wake up. We really wanted to leave right then, but we needed to finish the sessions.
We got to the Martins just in time for my parents to come down the stairs. I was stunned. They walked with a lithe grace, and looked absolutely wonderful. I ran up and jumped into their arms. They caught me, and seemed startled that I felt so light. "Surprised at how strong you are?" I asked them with a smile. "You guys make a really good-looking couple!"
After feeding the hungry butterflies, we went outside so that they could try their wings. They caught on very quickly, and were tempted to fly home. We had to get the van home, though.
On the way home, we talked about my grandparents. This led to a discussion about my scholarship at the Sun City Preparatory School, followed by the University of Sun City. It seems that my parents are interested in living at Sun City for a while. We're going to ask my grandparents to do us a favor by taking over the farm so that Mom and Dad can move to Sun City while I attend prep school and college. We'll have to visit them at the farm a lot, of course.
When we got home, my grandparents were every bit as pleased with Mom and Dad's changes as I was. We all agreed that getting rid of the pain and infirmities that have plagued us all to a greater or lesser extent was well worth the price of a bit of fur. I commented that, since they can expect to live for a good long time, they ought to go to college in Sun City when I go next fall. When Dad said that someone needs to run the family farm, I suggested that Grandpa and Grandma sell off that senior citizen condo that they no longer need and move back to the place where they belong. They made a show of hesitating, but we could tell by the grins on their faces that it wasn't going to be a hard sell. They made it clear that we were all expected home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and summer vacation.
You would think that we planned it or something. hee hee.
They were still planning the details when I wandered upstairs to prepare for bed. Somehow, they all came upstairs just as I was slipping between the covers. They prayed over me and went back downstairs to continue their deliberations. I basked in the glow of their happiness. Grandpa and Grandma were coming to realize how much they had missed the farm, and were looking forward to spending time with their family. Dad was happy to once again have access to the wisdom of his father, and was looking forward to working the farm with him. Grandma had felt comfortable and happy to once again have possession of her kitchen, and was even happier to share it with her daughter in law and granddaughter.
Their thoughts and feelings soothed me better than the world's best bed could have. I drifted off with a happy smile on my face.
Chapter Twenty-eight: Halloween
On the Friday before Halloween, Jerry and I flew to the farm and picked up Gregory and four of the kittens. They are old enough to give away, so we are taking three of Snowpuff's flying kittens over to the Pope Hill Gang. Jerry, of course, is keeping one of the seal point girls for himself. Mom and Dad chose the other seal point girl, Jerry's parents got the seal point boy, and Grandma and Grandpa chose the pure white girl. This leaves the Chocolate point boy, the cream point girl, and the red point boy for Angel and her friends.
We took two kittens each and cuddled them inside our flight suits. We flew to the airport that is near the Martins'. We had no trouble calling the tower and navigating in the controlled airspace. We came in low – just high enough for the radar to reliably ping our transponders, then landed next to the Martins' minivan so that we could help move the luggage to the Swift. We needn't have bothered. They had already levitated the luggage, including the extra clothes that we keep at their house, and loaded it.
Kim handed Jerry the pre-flight checklist, and watched as we carefully went through the list. After we finished, she signed it off and motioned for us to board.
Jerry and I were about to take our seats when Sara motioned for us to go to the cockpit. Once there, we found kim sitting in the jump seat with a smug look on her face. She had Jerry and me to sit in the pilot's and copilot's seats. Jerry called the tower and obtained clearance for takeoff. We followed Kim's flight plan and headed for Denver. The flight was uneventful, but it was still a thrill to make it in the hot seats. I handled the radios on the way in and landed the aircraft.
We all piled into a rental van and headed to a hotel near the university. Kim and Sara had purposely planned a seminar for Friday evening and Saturday morning to act as cover for excursion to Pope Hill.
The next day, while the Professors Martin were teaching, we gave the three kittens to Angel, David, and Flit. Angel's blue eyes got big when I put the little cream point ball of fluff in her arms and forged the link. The kitten purred, crawled up on her shoulder, and nuzzled her neck. Her colors went very well with Angel's blond hair. I smiled dreamily, remembering the day that Gregory had woken up from MORFS.
Radar forged the link between the little chocolate point boy and David. Somehow, probably because she is so close to David, she ended up being part of the link. I thought that the kitten set off David's brown hair very nicely, but didn't say anything.
*I heard that,* David sent with a smirk. I don't know if he read me through Radar, or through his kitten.
Flit fell in love with her little red point kitten, and smiled even wider when the link was forged.
Once we were done, Angel took all the bios to Mrs. Tabor's spa while David, Radar, and Flit showed everyone else around town.
Mrs. Tabor was very happy to have our help because a lot of her customers wanted to look their best for their upcoming Halloween parties. Some of them wanted temporary changes – bio costumes, essentially.
The day's work earned us each a nice wad of cash. Some of the customers tipped very generously. Also, Mrs. Tabor gave us all gift certificates that we could pass on to our friends and families. We were also offered contingent positions. The Doctors Martin didn't need the cash, but it would give them a handy excuse to come to Denver. The rest of us... well, what teen can't use a little extra cash? I know that my Christmas list is going to be huge this year, so I'll be only too happy to spend some time getting the spa's rich customers ready for the holiday season. Flit assured us that she can pick us up from anywhere we might be. What started out as a cover story and a way to help Angel out a bit turned out to be a nice opportunity to earn some extra cash.
Mrs. Tabor treated us all to a massage and mud bath, which left everyone limp as a rag. After showering and dressing in nice clothes, we met everyone at one of Angel's favorite restaurants.
On Sunday, October 31, 2060, we prepared to make a lot of dreams come true. People have been whispering about Pope Hill for weeks, and a lot of kids were dreaming of the powers and bodily changes that they would like to have. There were a lot of hurting people who needed to make some changes in their lives. Radar had been 'listening in' ever since they planted the rumor that Halloween would be a Big Day. We spent a couple hours in the Martins' hotel suite working out exactly what we would do for those people, and who would do the work. It would be up to Angel, Amy, and Cara to actually design the DNA changes; crunching a ton of data and coming up with the actual DNA code that would need to be attached to the engineered virus. Another bio would then create the DNA, attach it, and deliver it.
Cassandra alerted us to a few groups who were trying to find out how the custom morfs were made. A few of the people involved were known to the ASA. Kim passed that information on to Doctor Miller, who passed it to the ASA agents. The people involved were quietly removed. That took care of those with nefarious intents, but there were still people who, like Doctor Miller, simply wanted to know what was going on. We left them alone, but their instruments had some unfortunate failures. Jerry was getting quite creative.
I was standing in the crowd around Pope Hill, dressed as Caitlin from Morf Avengers, when I sensed someone approaching shyly. He was a chubby twelve year old boy who was trying to put his wish together in his mind. I checked with Radar and found that he wasn't on her list.
The more I studied him, the more confused I became. My bio senses detected an overweight boy with poor muscle tone, but my telepathy detected a sad little girl who was bullied constantly and who felt out of phase with the rest of the world. The more I delved, the more pain I found.
I had been working on creating a mental voice that sounds like an angel. *Welcome,* I sent to him. He jerked just a bit. *Don't be afraid. I'm here to help you. Picture in your mind the girl that you want to be, then walk toward the hill.*
He nervously started walking toward the hill. I interacted with his mind to help him get a good image of his new form. As soon as the form was clear, I conferred with Amy. We decided to give him limited empathy and extra strength, balance, and flexibility to go with his new lithe body. That should help him... her gain confidence and repel the inevitable bullies.
He was resistant to most forms of influenza, and to MORFS itself, so I chose the virus carefully. I had to selectively lower his resistance to allow the virus to get a good bite. When Amy gave me the DNA code, I put it together and attached it to the virus. I used telekinesis to carry the virus suite over to the boy. At the same time, I created an image in his mind of a vague ghostly shape that lifted from the ground, went to him, and merged with him. I gave him an intense image of his new body for a small fraction of a second, then I withdrew from his mind. He went to his knees and started sobbing. Soon, two adults helped him to his feet and led him to their car. I could see in his parents' minds that they didn't really believe that he would find help here, but that they had decided to make the trip because they didn't want to stand in the way of his hope; no matter how thin the thread may be. I could sense their worry for their child – and their love. I sent vague warm feelings to all of them.
A few of the people who had intended to misuse the powers that they wanted refrained from going to the hill at the last minute. As they walked away, they developed a compulsion to try to debunk the Pope Hill legend – to tell everyone that nothing happened. Those that went through with it and asked for powers that they intended to misuse ended up with changes that they wouldn't like. There were three researchers who didn't particularly want to morf, but were there simply to figure out what is going on. They ended up with no changes, and never saw any of the light shows or felt anything. They also felt slightly compelled to tell anyone who asks that nothing happened at the hill.
As midnight approached, Radar caused all those who hadn't yet approached the hill to get the feeling that time was running out. She enhanced their feeling of hope, while letting them know that they need to try now or forever wonder if it would have worked. There ended up being a rush just minutes before the stroke of midnight. David and the telepaths did the light show thing (whether visible to all or just in the mind of the recipient,) and the bios passed out bugs. The last light show happened at the stroke of midnight, and the last bug was passed out perhaps a half an hour later.
We hung around as the people left. Jerry used his technopath powers to alter or erase the instruments that were being gathered up by the researchers.
"That new engineered virus makes it a lot easier to get the changes we want," commented Amy.
"I suspect that that's because the virus cleans out all the exterraneous DNA before inserting the new stuff. That means we have less junk to work around."
Angel nodded. "I think so, too." She smirked a bit, then added, "It sure is easy to overdo the powers. It's almost as if the virus is taking what we want and giving us more."
Amy and Cara nodded.
Finally, as the last of the trick-or-treaters were leaving, we went back to our hotel and crashed.
Chapter Twenty-nine: Back to School
We got up late on Monday morning had had a leisurely brunch. While we were eating, Kim had Jerry and me make the flight plan and file it.
Kim drove all the bios to Mrs. Tabor's spa so that we could remove the bio costumes that we had made earlier. We also worked on a few new customers that were impressed by what they saw at yesterday's parties. When we were done, we found that our luggage was already stowed aboard the Swift. Jerry and I did the pre-flight, and took our seats in the front. Kim didn't bother watching us this time. She just sat in the jump seat and waited for us to radio for clearance and take off. This time, I took off and Jerry landed.
Once we got home, Jerry and I caught up on our homework and prepared ourselves for school.
Things have started to calm down a bit at school. The edge of panic is gone. Everything is in place to help the changelings, and those who haven't changed yet are pretty much resigned to their fate. Also, the epidemic has slowed down.
On Friday, I was called over to the middle school to look at a boy who was coming down with MORFS. I got there just a bit before his parents. Yep, he's going to come out just as planned.
Once his parents got there, I explained that he would be going through a sex change, that he would be eligible for advanced gym, that he would be slightly empathic, and that she would be a real cutie. He tried to play it cool but, to my empathic senses, he pretty much lit the room with his joy. I gave him a hug and sent him home with his parents, telling them that I would be willing to help him adapt to his new self, and that they can set it up with the high school office. That pretty much wiped out my second hour class, so I went to the study hall and caught up on my homework.
Jerry and I had a blast in Gym, then it was off to lunch and more counseling.
Jerry spent a lot of the weekend at the farm with me. His kitten, Brianna, was learning to fly. It was quite amusing to watch.
We tried to do the chores, but Grandma and Grandpa got them done before we got a chance. They have settled in, and had their condo up for sale. Grandpa and Dad were already planning out next year's crops, and are setting up some equipment to process them before sale. It looks like the farm is going to be even more profitable.
All too soon, Monday rolled around again. As usual, Jerry and I met in the air and continued on to the school. We landed in the designated area and walked in. We wore our heavier flight suits to fight off the chills of November, so we were a bit overheated by the time we reached the locker room.
I was asked to come in early on Tuesday to help orient the latest changeling, who had chosen the name Caitlin. Jerry and I met her with a smile when her parents brought her to the middle school office. "Wow, what a cutie," Jerry said.
"Behave yourself, bird boy," I said as I swatted him with my tail. "You're taken, remember?"
Caitlin giggled. I don't think I could have wiped the smile off her face if I tried. I took her into one of the offices while Jerry sent smart remarks to me telepathically.
I looked at her as she sat down on a comfortable seat. "I know you wanted this," I said to her. She looked kind of nervous, and nodded her head. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. I was born a girl, too. The only difference is that I managed to kind of get the right body."
"Kind of?" she asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "Everything was fine until I got some kind of weird cancer that almost killed me. MORFS gave me a new life, just like it's giving you a new life."
"But what are my friends going to say?" she asked.
"Are you happy with the new you?"
"Yes," she said with a big smile.
"Then don't worry about it. Your real friends will stick with you. Also, I suspect that each one you lose will be replaced with a dozen new ones."
"I guess. Now that I look good, I'll be more popular," she said.
"It's not just that," I replied. There will definitely be those who want to be around you because you're so cute, but the ones that you want to hold on to are the ones who like you for the girl inside."
That caused her to flash a smile.
"You'll find people wanting to hang around you for the sake of social status, but that has little value. You can trust me on that one because it happened to me."
"I don't know what to do."
"Just be yourself," I said. "Be friendly to everyone, and listen to your heart. Your best friends will be the ones who are attracted to you because you are a warm and happy person. The fact that your body now matches your mind frees you to be yourself. Be that person. Cherish her. You have to get to know yourself all over again. Once you feel, deep down in your soul, that you like the new you, others will like you, too."
"What about the bullies?"
"They will always be there. You have a bit of an edge now, though."
"What is that?" she asked.
I held my hand out to her and helped her out of her seat. I picked up the heavy recliner, set it down, and asked her to do the same. She was surprised at how easy it was.
"You are now stronger than most of the students here. Don't brag about it or show it off, but allow yourself to realize that you are more than a match for any bully. Once you realize that, people will see the confidence in your walk and leave you alone.
She gave me a wicked grin, then balled up her fist and slammed it into her other hand. I shook my finger at her, then pulled her into a hug. "You'll like being a girl. Girls are allowed to give hugs for no reason."
We chatted for a while. It turns out that one of her cousins in the Denver area told her about a girl that got her wish and morfed into a boy. When she heard the rumors about Halloween, she begged her parents to take her there.
Caitlin and I said our goodbyes and left the office so that each of us could attend our first hour class. "I'll see you in advanced gym," I told her.
Sure enough, she came made it to advanced gym. She did well, too. After she was done with her evaluation, I gave her some tips about dealing with bullies, and using her projective empathy to get them to leave her alone. She could also use her empathic senses to tell who likes her, who is being phony, and who wants to bully her. We were still chatting as we went through the showers.
It looks like I have a little sister now. Too bad I can't take her home.
(End of part eight)
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/
More writing and photography by Ray Drouillard at http://ray-d.deviantart.com/