Interface By EMW
Friday morning I woke up bright and early, just in time to return to school. Mum had said it would be a bit silly returning for just one day, but I had insisted that I wanted to get back as soon as I could.
I picked out my clothing, showing Kittybot my selections, I'm sure her programming was not sophisticated enough to appreciate what was going on, but it gave me someone to talk to. I decided to go for a school skirt. Girls were allowed to wear trousers, but I wanted to be clear that I was not the boy Alex any more, I was the girl, Lexi. Wearing a skirt was a bit odd though, as I felt very exposed.
Once dressed, I loaded my school bag an over the shoulder book bag. I decided to take Kittybot with me to share in my first day back, so I took her downstairs with me to breakfast. I munched a small portion of cereal and then followed Dad out to his car. When I slipped Kittybot into my bag, she poked her head out of the gap in the top to see what was going on. Dad drove me to school and then walked with me to the administrative building. It was still pretty early and there were only a few students about making their way to their classrooms. Dad escorted me into the office with a smile. I saw that the school secretary Mrs Donnal was in, and she scowled at me as I entered, being one of those people that just seems to hate everyone.
“Caught one of the little blighters up to no good already, Mr Jones?” she spat, eyeing me with disgust.
“Actually, this is my daughter. She's just finished going through MORFS and I'm just here to fill in the relevant paperwork,” he said.
When she stiffened, looking even angrier, I remembered she had a particular dislike for MORFS students. She reached into a desk drawer, pulled out a form and threw it across the desk at my father.
“Fill that out!” she glowered.
He began filling in the form, so I decided to sit down for a bit since it might take some time, Mrs Donnal spent most of the time glaring at me. I grinned at her, exposing the full glory of my teeth, which caused her mouth to open in shock, but then she turned away, giving me only the occasional fearful glance.
While we waited, the head teacher, a friendly grey haired woman called Mrs Thomas wandered in, “Good Morning, Anne,” she said. Then, seeing my father, “Oh, good morning Peter, what brings you here?”
“Just getting my daughter checked in,” he said with a warm smile.
“I could have sworn you had a son,” she replied.
“Yes, I did till MORFS changed him. Lexi, say hello to Mrs Thomas.”
“Hello Miss,” I said with a smile, remembering to keep my teeth hidden.
“Well you have changed since I last saw you. How are you doing, dear?”
“I'm doing well.”
Mrs Thomas nodded to herself and gave me a smile. She was a nice lady, stern when she needed to be, but usually very nice. She seemed to take my assertion that I was doing well at face value, not badgering me because she thought I was putting on a brave face. She was one of those people who was very difficult to lie to, and she would likely have known if I had been pretending.
“Good, good. Well, I must get down to things. This school is not going to run itself,” she said as she headed into her office with a wave.
Dad finished up the forms, and Mrs Donnal inspected them, seemingly looking for anything she could use to get rid of me. She didn't find anything, so just waved us off, “You can go. This is all OK,” she said.
Dad thanked her and escorted me out, “What an unpleasant woman she is,” he said to me with a sigh. “Anyway, you'd best be off to class. Do you want me to walk you there?”
“No, I can manage,” I said
“OK Lexi, I'll see you at home. Oh, before I forget who is your house teacher?”
“Ah, Jim. I'll let him know you're back so he isn't surprised. Have a lovely day, Sweetheart.”
“I'll try, Dad.”
We hugged and then I trotted off towards my classroom while he headed up to the staff room.
As I made my way across campus I noticed I was getting quite a few looks from the boys. I wasn't sure I liked that. But at least none of them were calling me names or pushing me or tripping me up as often happened. I climbed up to the first floor of the maths building and went into my classroom. There were a couple of people in already, but not many. They all turned to stare at me. I wandered over to my usual seat and put my bag on the desk, opening it to play with Kittybot. I didn't get her out though I didn't want the rest of them to see her in case they decided to take her.
I petted her gently and then as more and more people turned up, sent her to sleep and closed my bag putting it out of the way. I had designed Kittybot to be tough and able to withstand punishment if it did get stolen, and it also had a tracking device built in that I could use to find her. Still, I didn't want her taken away while she was so new to the world, as it might damage her slowly evolving mental state.
I was getting more curious looks and my more sensitive ears could pick out a lot of, “Who's the new kid?” type conversations.
Eventually a group of girls walked over towards me. My heart soared. Perhaps they were going to be friends with me. I smiled my best smile mindful of my teeth as they stopped in front of my desk.
The leader, a girl named Tara eyed me up and down. “Who are you, what are you doing sitting in Lardo's seat?”
Not the best start, with them insulting the old me, but I decided to try and rise above it. “I'm Lexi, Lexi Jones.”
“Jones ...” said Tara, “That was the name of creepy fatso who sat here before. You're him, aren't you!”
“Jemma saw this girl with that kid’s father earlier. She thought he was perving with the students as he hugged this one,” said one of the girls.
“I used to be Alex Jones.” I shrugged, still smiling not letting her get a rise out of me.
“What no tears?” spat Tara, “You like being turned into a girl or something? You perv!”
I looked at her thoughtfully, since she was being very confrontational. She was usually a bit abrasive and bossy, but it was as if she’d decided my change was a personal affront.
“I don't really like it, but there is not much I can do about it. Might as well just get on with things,” I said. Her face darkened with anger. I wasn't really sure what it was about me that made her so angry at me.
She seemed about to shout at me some more, but the teacher came in. Mr Roberts was an energetic man dressed in a rugby top and track suit bottoms. He was one of the nicer teachers with a wicked sense of humour, his blue eyes seemed to sparkle with amusement. He was also a PE teacher, but rather than being on some sort of power trip, he wanted everyone to enjoy themselves. He was a nice guy and a good teacher. He was our house teacher and took our class registration as well as some of the subjects that didn't match up with other teaching faculties.
"Good morning, class," he said, "Now a quick announcement. Sitting at the back there is Lexi Jones, who just returned after being out with MORFS. She used to be Alex Jones, and I hope you all welcome her back and help her as she adjusts to her changes. Stand up, Miss Jones."
I stood and smiled. Most people gave me grins or blank looks. Tara had an ugly sneer.
"She's not a real girl, only a pretend one!" shouted Tara.
"Tara, none of that! I'll not have that sort of bigotry in my classroom," said Mr Roberts in a calm low voice.
"But ...," started Tara.
"She wasn't even ...," she said angrily.
"Outside, now! I'll talk to you after we are through!"
"What! That's not ..."
"Keep this up and I'll keep you after school!"
Tara argued no more. Her face set in an angry scowl, she shot me a venom-filled glance, then walked out the door. I wondered what her problem was, realizing maybe she was one of those Pures I had seen about the place, though I couldn't recall her bullying any morfed kids before.
'Come to think of it, doesn't she have a cousin that's a hybrid she seems to be on good terms with?' I thought to myself.
I shrugged, and listened to Mr Roberts talk about a school play that was on. The bell rang and I headed off to lessons, getting a dirty look from Tara. As I passed her on the way out she tried to trip me, but I was too far away.
So far things didn't seem to be going to plan. Still, it was early days yet it was unrealistic to imagine I could turn up and suddenly have loads of friends. So far I seemed to have acquired a new enemy, which was a little unfortunate. I pushed my worries to the side and got on with the school day, looking forward to break time when I would be able to socialise a bit. Normally come break time I used to hide away in the library, but this time I was hopeful that I would be able to meet people out and about.
I was out like a shot when the bell went, practically skipping over to the main areas of congregation near the snack machines. I looked around wondering how I could go about attracting a friend. I stood in the main hall trying to look open searched around for people my own age who I might befriend. I failed to attract a friend, though instead I managed to attract an enemy. Tara stormed up to me. She wasn't a large girl but everyone seemed much bigger than me now, so she frightened me a little and I backed against the wall.
“You little cow! You got me in trouble with Roberts! I'm going to beat your perv body black and blue!” she said.
I puffed myself up to my full height, “It's hardly my fault! Why are you being so mean to me anyway? I never did anything to you.”
She slapped me across the face. “Ow!” I cried.
One of the teachers doing the rounds heard my cry and came over, “What's going on here!” she asked, eyeing Tara.
“She hit me!” I said.
“She called my cousin an animal freak!” said Tara.
“No I didn't!” I shot back.
“She's a nasty bigot!” shot Tara.
“That's just silly. I'm a hybrid, too!” I said, rubbing my face.
Tara looked surprised, then annoyed, “She's lying!”
“No I'm not,” I said and flicked my wings so they showed under my shirt, “I've got wings and everything.”
The teacher was now looking at Tara with an annoyed frown, “Plus, she is the daughter of a teacher I know fairly well. He told me about his new hybrid daughter in the staff room earlier on. You're coming with me. We'll discuss this little stunt with Mrs Thomas!”
She dragged a scowling Tara off. After that incident I didn't feel like hanging around the snack machines and made my way over to the library to spend the rest of my time in my usual hiding place.
I slumped into a chair, and checking around, got Kittybot out on the table and then began doing some homework. I watched her to make sure Kittybot was smart enough not to fall off the table, then looked around. Two girls from my year whose names I didn't know were sitting nearby, chatting away. One was a cat hybrid, and the other was a bat hybrid, . I thought about trying to talk to them until they were joined by three sixth form girls. One was normal sized but had large scythe shaped wings and was covered in feathers. I was slightly envious of her large probably flight capable wings. My pretty if stubby black wings were not much use. The other two girls were huge, at least in comparison to me. One was a tall, partial lizard hybrid with brown hair and dark eyes. The other was an enormous girl with purple hair and golden eyes. While the first of the large girls must have been maybe six feet tall, the other must have been seven or eight feet tall. Even normal people would seem small next to her, and I barely came up to her waist. I felt too intimidated to go over, so I went back to my work.
“Oh my, what's that,” said a voice to my left.
I turned to see Miss Gordon standing at my table, looking at Kittybot. Miss Gordon was the librarian and a nice lady. She made sure no funny business happened in the library. Anyone that tried regretted it for the rest of their days. It was one of the reasons this was such a great sanctuary.
“Oh, it's my little robot. I call her Kittybot,” I told the slim brown haired woman.
She tried to pet Kittybot, who responded by running away and hiding in my pencil case.
“She's a little shy,” I said with a grin.
“How marvelous. There is a boy called Alex who comes here often, who was interested in robots and made some little wheeled ones. He'd be very envious of this little contraption,” she said with a smile.
“Oh, that's me,” I grinned at her, “I went through MORFS last week and now I'm called Lexi. I finished Kittybot last night.”
“Well it certainly seems lifelike,” said Miss Gordon with a smile.
Then the bell went. I packed away my things. Scooped up Kittybot and put her in my bag. I said goodbye to Miss Gordon and ran off to my next lesson. It was science. Which was interesting enough, though I had to content with Tara staring at me all through it. About halfway through something odd happened. My vision went weird and I saw all sorts of rainbow sheens around the place, emanating from the walls and out of some of the containers. It had happened once before but it hadn't been this intense before. I stared about in wonder at the strange patterns I could see. Then as suddenly as it had started, it stopped, and I was back to seeing normally. I shook my head and went back to concentrating on the lesson.
At lunch I sat on my own. I didn't feel confident enough to sit down with other people, yet maybe people would come and sit with me. While I was eating there was a scuffle over on the other side of the hall. It looked like some supers getting into an argument with some pures and two of them had started fighting. The staff had to forcibly separate the two groups then dragged two fighters off for punishment. I finished my food and was just about to leave when someone threw a spoon at me. I looked round trying to see who had thrown it but there was no one nearby and it wasn't my magnetic power. That was currently off. Then another one hit me, then another. The shock of it made my powers kick in and the cutlery began sticking to me.
Hearing a wicked laugh, I turned and saw Tara staring at me from a few tables away surrounded by her small gang of friends. She had obviously seen that the teachers who normally watched out for trouble were currently out of the room and decided to exploit the opportunity. She made a slight gesture with her hand and a spoon sitting on the table next to her lifted up into the air and flew at me. I tried to block it but with my magnetic power on, once it got into capture range it flew at me and stuck. I cried out in pain at that and Tara just laughed. Her friends were watching. Some were laughing along with her. Others looked decidedly uncomfortable. After a few more, Tara had run out of things to throw at me and I tried to focus on turning my power off so the metal wouldn't stick to me. Then I heard a scraping noise and looked round to see the rolling tray that had all the cutlery in it was moving towards me.
I let out a cry of fear and scrambled to get out the way, tripping and falling in my haste. “No please!” I pleaded.
“Enough, Tara!” shouted a girl. I think it was one of her friends.
“Oh come on, that little perv deserves it!” replied Tara.
The cutlery cart picked up speed towards me, and with a motion of her hand, Tara made it tip over and spill its contents towards me. I frantically covered my face and eyes as hundreds of knives, forks, and spoons came flying at me. I was hit over and over again as the metal stuck to me. Eventually I had enough of a protective layer that I didn't feel it any more. I just lay there covered in metal.
“Let her go!” said the girl who’d spoken up earlier.
“Yeah, come on, Tara,” said one of the other girls, “You could really hurt her doing that. It's not like she did anything to you.”
“I can't believe you're taking his side!” Tara spat.
“Let her go or I'll tell Mrs Thomas what you did, and how you misused your power!” said the first girl.
“No! You can't, Debbie! They'll kick me out!” said Tara, suddenly afraid, “You can't do that to me, not for that twisted pervert.”
“You crossed the line with this. Don't make me do it!” said Debbie angrily.
“Fine,” said Tara. I suddenly felt the metal moving away, pulling me with it. I cried out.
“Tara! Stop hurting her!” Debbie said.
“I'm not doing anything, just trying to get all that stuff off, but it's all stuck. It must be his fault.”
“Just get out of here! I can't even look at you, now!”
There was quiet, and the pulling stopped. Then a while later I heard the girl’s voice next to me. “Are you alright?” she asked. I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I had been trying to relax enough to turn off my magnetic powers but I had been too hurt and frightened with Tara there. I took a few calming breaths and tried again. This time it worked, and I felt the weight of the metal on me shift as the cutlery fell to the floor. I sat up and wiped the tears from my eyes.
“Why does she hate me so?” I asked sadly.
“I don't know. You did get her into trouble,” said Debbie, a tall thin dark haired girl.
“I didn't do anything to her! She just attacked me for no reason and got in trouble for it, and then attacked me again even worse each time,” I said.
Debbie shrugged as she helped me up, “I don't know. She's a bit of a private person. I didn't know she was a telekinetic till she started throwing things at you. Why did they stick, though? I thought she was holding them on you, but she's probably too far away now for that.”
“Oh it's my stupid power! I keep turning magnetic. I can't control it though, except to turn it off again with a lot of effort after it kicks in.”
“Oh. Well come on, let's get this lot cleaned up and get out of here before we get into trouble.”
We tidied away the cutlery and then went our separate ways, I had been hoping I might become friends with Debbie, but it seemed she was still Tara's friend, but she just didn't like what she was doing to me.
I spent the rest of lunch in the library, focusing on getting my homework done. I tried not to let Tara get me down. On the whole, I had been treated pretty well so far. Once caught up on my homework, I got Kittybot out and played for a bit, which cheered me up and I faced the afternoon with renewed enthusiasm.
I decided top of my list of things to achieve was to gain control over my powers. They were currently a nuisance, and I needed to get them under control. I also needed to avoid Tara as much as possible. She was a bully, and even when she got caught, it only seemed to make things worse.
With a plan of attack I felt prepared and was much happier for the rest of the day. When it was time to go home, I wandered over to sit in the usual place to wait for my Dad. Usually he could give me a lift home, but some days he was too busy and I had to walk home, which was fine, so long as it wasn't raining. I sat on a bench just outside the admin block near where the teachers parked their cars and watched the stream of people leaving. I saw Tara leave, she didn't see me where I was sitting waiting, for which I was thankful. I got out Kittybot and played with her till Dad finished. I realised when I finished her casing I should probably waterproof her, since at the moment she was fairly susceptible to water damage.
After about ten minutes of waiting, Dad came over, I picked up Kittybot and followed him to the car, “Did you have a good day at school?” he asked.
“It was OK,” I said noncommittally.
“Did you have any trouble with other students because of how you look now?” he asked, in a way that made me think he already knew I had.
“A little. One of the girls in my class doesn't seem to like me much. I don't know why,” I said.
“Well if she gives you any trouble, you just tell your teacher,” he said, putting his arm around me.
I nodded and we continued over to the car. I was quiet on the drive home thinking about how to gain better control of my powers. Maybe practising with the magnetic field viewing bottle Dad had made, and trying to make specific patterns in the iron filings would be the way to go. First things first, dinner, and I needed to feed Kittybot. She had gone all day without a charge and she must have been feeling a touch peckish. I went up to my room and changed into some more casual clothes, some nice jeans and a light blue halter top which allowed me some room to move my wings, which were a little achy from being folded all day, so I gave a few flaps to get the kinks out. I put my school bag under my desk and sat Kittybot on her charge station, then bounced down the stairs.
I helped Dad prepare the dinner. Mum was working a bit late, as she had loads to catch up on at the garage from having been off looking after me. Most of it was paperwork, which she hated. She far preferred mucking about with engines, covered head to toe in oil and dirt, to filling out records and updating accounts. She came in just as we were taking dinner, a nice lasagna, out of the oven. She looked pretty worn out, but her face brightened when she saw we had taken care of the food so she didn't have to cook. Dad and I made a salad and then we tucked in to the food.
Mum was keen to know how my first day back had gone and I filled her in, focusing on the good stuff, and not the bad. After dinner I retrieved the bottle from the garage. The coat of white paint made it easier to see the filings in the oil. I went up to my bedroom and made sure anything metal was a good distance away, then put my homebrew magnetic field viewer in front of me.
“Wish me luck, Kittybot,” I said to my robotic pet. She tilted her whole body and looked in my direction, watching me, seemingly interested.
I focused on switching my power on and after a few minutes. I felt it activate and watched as the filings in the oil moved towards my hand. Forming a loop pattern in the oil. I focused. Trying to control the shape and intensity of the field. At first. Nothing happened. And I spent quite a few minutes focusing on the bottle, trying to control the field. I had to stop and rest at regular intervals, and turn my power off so I could shake up the bottle to distribute the iron filings evenly, as after a while they were all on the side where my hand was.
After many goes, I was beginning to get a little disheartened. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference, but I decided I would not give up yet. Then a small success! I managed to alter the shape of the field a tiny amount, making a more focused magnetic field around my hand. After an hour of practicing, I was beginning to go cross eyed from the effort, but I was making progress. I decided a break to recover and a drink was in order. I shut off my powers. That, at the very least, was getting easier. When I headed downstairs to get some orange squash, Kittybot followed me out to the door. I decided to see if she would follow me all the way, and held the door for her. She hesitantly followed me until we reached the stairs, where she stopped, peering over the edge. I reached down and picked her up and carried her down the stairs, not wanting her to tumble down and damage herself. Setting her on the table, I poured some orange squash, then picked her up again and took her into the living room.
My parents were sitting, watching the telly. I sat down in an arm chair and put Kittybot beside me and drank my squash while watching the news. Kittybot climbed into my lap as if she wanted a cuddle, so stroked her head. After my recuperative drink, I set off back upstairs for some more practise. I made very little progress manipulating the field, but I did discover something interesting. During one of my attempts to control my powers the strange rainbow thing happened again. This time I noticed that the rainbow effect was also coming from my whole body, a luminous blaze of strange looping rainbows. I hadn't noticed that before and I wondered what it meant, but then I realised that the looping rainbow patterns coming from my body precisely lined up with the shapes in my magnetic field viewer. Somehow, I was able to see the magnetic fields, and the reason I hadn't noticed it coming out of me before, was I hadn't had my powers on the last few times it had happened.
I remembered reading in science that some migratory birds use the earth's magnetic field to navigate by, and that some research suggested that they could actually see magnetic fields. I wondered if, along with my wings, I had gained this ability too, or maybe it was an aspect of the power and completely unrelated to my part avian nature. Either way it would be useful, as it showed far greater detail than my home brew magnetic field viewer, and it also meant I wouldn't have to carry a bottle of baby oil with iron fillings in it around with me to use my powers. I knew that was something that would have got me strange looks.
For the rest of the evening I focused on trying to work out how I triggered my rainbow magnet vision thing, figuring that would be more useful to have control of it, at the moment. It was almost as slow going as trying to control my powers, but eventually I found how it worked. I had to focus my eyes in a certain way and then the ability kicked in. I had trouble maintaining it, but I figured that would come with practise. I was pretty worn out now, so I decided to spend the rest of the evening relaxing, so I picked up Kittybot and headed downstairs.
I excitedly told my parents my discovery, which fascinated my Dad. He wanted to test me to see how my vision worked. I was keen to try it out but Mum, sensing how tired I was suggested we wait till tomorrow. It was just as well, as not five minutes later I dozed off in front of the telly and didn't wake up till I was being carried up to bed, Kittybot held tightly in my arms. I gave Dad a sleepy grin as he put me down and wished him and Mum a goodnight as I went into my room and changed into my pyjamas. I placed Kittybot on her charging station, and after brushing my teeth, slipped into bed feeling completely shattered. &&
I woke up reasonably late on Saturday morning and stretched out, feeling my wings mimic my arms in that otherwise familiar gesture. I had a wash, then put on some of my new clothes, a nice t shirt and jeans. Pausing only to grab Kittybot, I headed down to get some breakfast.
I got myself some cereal and then munched away at it while Kittybot explored the various jars of jam and things put out for breakfast. She seemed especially interested in this metal toast rack that was shiny enough to show herself in there. She ran away from the mirror Kittybot at first then curiously examined it from safely behind the peanut butter. I giggled at her antics and ate my breakfast.
When I was done I put my bowl in the dishwasher and picked up Kittybot then went to see what my parents were up to. I found them in the garden working on their latest project an ancient car called a beetle. It looked horribly primitive compared to modern alternatives but apparently it had been very popular back when my grandparents were young and it was a remake of an older car of the same name. I stared at the slightly battered exterior of the thing and watched as Mum and Dad repaired the damage to the thing. They had found it on one of their trips to the scrap heap where they got a lot of spares and bits and bobs for their various projects. It had been in pretty poor shape all rusted and full of weeds but after a few weeks of work it was beginning to look more like a car.
I took Kittybot into the workshop and began measuring her for her outer skin. Mum and Dad had encouraged my tinkering and allocated me a small corner of their crowded workshop at the end of the garden where I could make my projects. I had never gotten to a completely finished robot before so had never really bothered to give one a finished outer shell. I decided to use some brushed aluminium as the finish Kittybot would be shiny and stylish. I sat designing the shell to attach to her chassis making sure to make it as tough and rugged as possible. I also made sure that I would be able to maintain her and then all her ports would be accessible afterwards. It would be a fine mistake to finish her outer body only to find she could no longer charge herself.
With my plans done I asked Dad if I could use some of their sheet metal. He found me an off cut that I could use, I didn't need much Kittybot was small so only needed a small amount of paneling. Cut out my template and began bending a forming it on the various metal forming machines. Most of the pieces would be flat or have a few angles in but the head required a few curves that took time to get right.
Once I had the pieces ready I prepared to install them, as a last minute addition I added some sensors to the new metal skin to give Kittybot some more touch sensitivity. I carefully shut her down then began installing her skin. Using some specialised epoxy resin and some riveting, I attached the panels, careful to keep them looking good as well and making sure they sealed properly to prevent water getting in. About an hour of assembly later her new outer shell was complete and installed. I carefully wiped it down to remove any dirt and grease or excess sealant. She looked like a stylised shiny metal kitten now rather than a mechanical toy. Careful design had allowed me to hide the seams in the metal, and her access panels were carefully concealed with hidden catches. I gently carried her back up to my room to allow the glue to set before I started her up again. I set her in the charging bay to make sure she could still receive power and remotely checked on her systems. I had wired in her new sensors so she would be able to use them when I switched her back on. It would take a few hours for the resin to cure properly so I left her charging and went to tidy up the workshop.
I saw Mum standing by the car wiping some oil off her hands, “I saw your robot. It's looking very good, Lexi,” she said as I came back outside.
I smiled, “I think she's turned out well,” I replied.
“The brushed metal look really makes it stand out, and you did a really neat job,” she said.
“I tried to make it look as clean and seamless as possible,” I said, “I wanted it to look a bit like it was cast out of a single block of metal. You can see underneath that it is several bits, but from the top and front you can't really tell.”
“You're getting quite a knack for shaping the metal like that. You’ll put some of my boys at work to shame.”
I beamed at that. I knew she had very high standards at her work. And some of the people there could do amazing things with metal so she was probably just saying that. Still. It made me smile.
I went inside and began clearing up, taking my plans so I could put them in with my notes on Kittybot. I was careful to make a note of how and where her new sensor systems attached so I would have a record should I need to make repairs. I swept up the various cuttings of metal into the bin, saving any that were still of a useful size, then took my plans upstairs and put them away.
“Lexi?” called Mum from downstairs.
“Can you come help me with lunch?”
I headed down and helped Mum. Mostly it was fetching and carrying. Since we were having mainly sandwiches, the main effort was preparing a salad. We had lunch, Mum and Dad chatting about how their car was going, asking me the occasional question on what I was up to and how I was doing.
“So have you had any more luck controlling your powers?” asked Dad.
“A little, I still can't make them do much. I spent most of my time yesterday working out how to turn my magnet vision on and off, so I could use that to see what I was doing more easily”
“I'm sure you'll get it with practise. You've only had them a few days, so it might take you a while to learn full control of them.”
“Yeah I know, they are just a bit of a nuisance at the moment.”
“I'm really intrigued by your ability to see magnetic fields,” Dad grinned in that particular way that he always does when something has aroused his scientific curiosity, “I wonder if it is down to particular properties of your eyes, or some sort of telesense that your brain simply interprets as a visual pattern. It also seems very useful for all sorts of things.”
“Well, locating wires, say in a wall, is a simple application. The electric current in a wire generates a magnetic field, so you should be able to see it if your vision is sensitive enough. A lot of gizmo's will do that for you for DIY, but you would probably be able to see exactly where all the powered cables are. You can take that up to buried cables in the ground. Not to mention things like navigating. You can probably see the earth's magnetic field to some degree. I'm sure there are a whole hosts of other applications even without your magnetics power, which adds all sorts of possibilities to the mix.”
I hadn't really considered what I might do with my new abilities, merely being focused on turning them on and off. I supposed if properly used I might be able to do many things with these abilities. Still, I couldn't see a way that would make me more friends. Maybe if I started acting all tough and throwing my weight around I could join the supers, though I suspected my powers were not nearly flashy enough for them to accept me. I didn't really like them much anyway. They had been pretty mean to me in the past and seemed so arrogant and insular.
After lunch I decided to have a bit of practise with my powers. I first switched on my magnetic vision and marvelled at the new colours and flows of power I could now see. I could make out some of the global field and see the lines of force flowing to magnetic north. The field of the earth were thin ribbons of power flowing through everything, bending as they approached local fields then carrying on again. I could see small rainbow swirls emanating from the local magnetic forces, like the rings around the wires in my walls and more complicated patterns out of various electrical items.
Looking at Kittybot, I could see the flow of power through her, but also see how her structure interacted with that field. The various metals and synthetics that made up her body interacted with the magnetic field in complex ways.
After some more staring at the various fields around me I stepped away from anything that could be magnetised and turned on my own field. This was the first time I had observed my powers while activating with my vision, and it was quite a sight to see. Flows of lines of magnetic force burst out of me in radiant swirls of colour. It was quite pretty. It was a bit of a shame no one else could see it.
I began practising my control over the field and found that shaping it was now just a little easier after my practise yesterday. I found I could alter the strength of the field and also change its shape slightly. Deciding to see how my field interacted with objects, I turned my power off and found a small metal object. I had a small scrap piece of the metal I had used to make Kittybot's skeleton which had I had messed up, drilling it wrong, but kept in case I could reuse it.
I set the metal on the wooden table a little distance away, then switched my powers on. I reached for the metal with my hand holding my palm about 30 cms above it. I saw my that the points where the field was at its strongest were a ways away from it. I focused, stretching out and I saw the field move as it touched the object. The magnetic field flowed into the metal and start to magnetise it. The force of attraction increased as I stretched the field, till the metal started sliding towards me, eventually leaping off the desk and slapping into my palm. I examined the field for a bit and then tried to reduce it to let the object go. This was harder, but eventually I managed it. The field gradually reduced till the force between my hand and the metal was no longer enough to hold it to my skin and it eventually fell away clattering to the floor. I played about for a long time, placing the metal between two magnetic fields and holding it between them in midair, even managing to move it by adjusting the field strength. I also levitated it with one hand by balancing the force of gravity with just enough magnetic force.
In the process of my exploration I discovered I could focus all my magnetic field into my hands with a little effort. This meant most of me was not magnetic, and also slightly increased the strength of the field emitted from my hands. I was quite pleased with this discovery and my progress to date, so I went down to get a celebratory cup of tea.
I found Mum in the kitchen putting the kettle on like she had read my mind.
“Hey Lexi, I was just about to ask you if you wanted a cuppa,” she said.
“Yes, please Mum, I'm parched”
“What have you been up to?”
“I've been trying to control my powers some more.”
“Oh? Any progress?”
I decided to show her, I switched on my field just in my hands and then let it play across a spoon on the table next to me. It leapt into the air and with some careful coordination, I managed to catch the thing between my two hands and hold it there. “Look, no strings,” I exclaimed proudly.
“Wow! That's a neat trick,” she said with a smile.
I captured the spoon, grabbing it with the one hand and turned off the field, putting it back down on the tabletop, “It took a lot of effort to get to that stage.”
The kettle finished boiling and Mum began sorting out the teapot. After a few minutes of mashing she asked, “Would you get me some milk please Lexi?”
I went over to the fridge and got the milk, handing it to her. She poured the tea and handed me a mug before she left to go back to work with Dad. I went to sit out in the garden to drink it so I could watch what she and Dad were up to. They seemed to be removing the engine with a small hoist in order to more easily repair it. I had seen them do this sort of thing before when needing to get at parts of the engine that were inaccessible from underneath or under the bonnet. It was a fairly tricky job from what I could determine, involving disconnecting the engine from its mounts and drive shaft. Still, I guess it made repairing it easier in the long run. I watched the two of them working away for a bit, then decided I had waited long enough for the glue in Kittybot's chassis to set up, so decided to go and switch her back on. I went back to the kitchen to get rid of my mug and then headed back up to my room. After a quick check that everything was working okay, I powered Kittybot back up.
She promptly fell on her arse, and began flailing her legs in a confused manner. It seemed the additional weight of her new casing had upset her carefully learnt balance. It took her a good few minutes of falling down to adjust to her new body. When she had remastered her limbs and could walk around in a shaky fashion, she looked up at me I what I took to be an accusatory manner.
I kneeled down to examine her. “I'm sorry, Kittybot, I didn't think your new casing would give you trouble walking, but it does look very nice and will keep your innards clean and dry. Plus, it has more stroke sensors.” I gave her a stroke. Her smooth metal body was easier to stroke. Before, with all the exposed circuitry it had been more pat the sensor than stroke.
She seemed to enjoy the effect of her new sensors, and her light panel lit up with joy. I picked her up and carried her down the stairs to show my parents her in action. She could now sense me holding her, and she seemed to like it. As much as I could tell, it was easy to ascribe human emotions to her, when she might not be capable of anything that complex.
We went out into the garden and I put her down on the path so she could explore, and my parents could see my diminutive metal companion in action. They seemed impressed with her ability to move around and how lifelike she was.
“She almost acts like a real kitten, Lexi,” said Mum, “Curious and playful, like she is out exploring the world. She even moves a little like a kitten, although the shiny metallic casing looks really good.”
“Tiny, but very sophisticated and beautiful to look at, a bit like her creator,” said Dad playfully, making me blush. “It's wonderful. You should try showing it to others. I'm sure they would be interested.”
I smiled and petted Kittybot happily. She was my most successful creation to date, and coming now, with the new me, it represented a new start. A new page in my history where I would get some of the things I longed for, friendship and happiness with people my own age. I loved my parents and liked being with them, but I wanted to have people my own age to be with, who shared my interests and were more open to the sort of things I wanted to do. So far the prospects hadn't been brilliant, but maybe they would improve.
I decided more practising with my powers was in order and took Kittybot, who was batting at a flower, back inside before she ran off or got herself into trouble.
I sat her on the bed and then switched myself back into my magnetic vision, it was becoming easier and easier to use the new sense, activating almost immediately with barely a thought, and the information I could gain seemed to be increasing as well. I spent the afternoon practising under Kittybot's careful supervision. I didn't make much progress, but my control was slightly improving. I even playfully tried levitating Kittybot, using her own weight to balance the force. She didn't seem to like flying, worriedly flapping her legs and pulsing, so I grabbed her and turned off my power giving her a reassuring stroke. It was getting late so I decided to have a break, maybe play some games or read a book.
I started to play a little, but couldn't get into it. My more sensitive vision made the display a little hard to use, and I just couldn't get into the game. I tried to read but couldn't seem to focus on that, either. I decided to see if there was anything on the telly, and carried Kittybot downstairs. I had my own screen, but it wasn't as big as the main screen in the living room, and also the living room chairs were much more comfy. Grabbing the remote, I curled up on one of the armchairs with Kittybot.
Saturday afternoon telly was as bad as usual, a mix of game shows and pulp TV. Eventually after surfing the channels for a while I settled on a rerun of an old super hero show called Violet Dawn, about a girl called Violet whose family are killed, and who gains superpowers through MORFS, then goes on to become a vigilante in an attempt avenge their deaths.
It was hardly high drama, and the special effects looked a touch dated. Most of the villains were MORFS as well, mainly to allow the attractive titular Violet to have a big fight with some gimmicky villain on her quest to avenge her family. The fact that she was doing that while still somehow still managing to attend school and have an active social life, seemed a little far fetched. Still, it was good fun. I always found Violet a little boring, since she was always moaning about the horrible card life had dealt her, while failing to see all the good things she had. The villains often seemed more interesting. They were intelligent, and had some objectives beyond just getting even. Still, that didn't help them. They would eventually feel Violet’s wrath, and, after a sufficiently dramatic fight, reveal some vital clue for the next step in her search just before expiring.
I watched that until it was time to help with dinner. We had a nice meal and then a relaxing evening watching a comedy film. I went to bed happy, giving Kittybot a kiss goodnight before tucking her in to bed on her charge bay.
Sunday was a lazy day. I was woken by Kittybot leaping on my chest, I'm not sure how she got up onto the bed, but she seemed quite insistent that it was time to get up. When she playfully rubbed her head against my chin, I laughed and stroked her before picking her up, then rolling out of bed. I gave a happy flick of my wings, then put Kittybot down on my desk while I got dressed. I picked out one of my skirts, just to be different and to get used to wearing more feminine clothes. I still wasn't quite used to the feel of my new girl clothes. Wearing a bra was odd, and skirts seemed wrong somehow, but I guess my new anatomy meant it all fitted.
I picked up Kittybot and skipped down to breakfast, where I had toast with jam. The jam tasted almost too sweet to me, but it was still edible. Peanut butter still tasted good and some of the less sweet breakfast bread toppings like marmalade tasted better than before.
I decided to try and help out Mum and Dad. I was fitter and seemed more able to do more physical things now even with my reduced size. With breakfast out the way I went out to help with their project. Dressed in a spare boiler suit my Mum had, which was huge on me, I was soon helping to carry about and clean bits of engine. I made good use of my abilities after a chunk of engine fell in a bath of oil. Rather than getting all dirty, or having to chuck out the oil to get it, I used my magnetism to retrieve the part, levitating it so I didn't get my own hands dirty. Kittybot watched all of this while perched on one of my shoulders like a parrot. I used a small magnetic field to keep her from falling.
By lunch I was partly covered in grease, having thought of my magnetic levitation trick a bit late in the process, but happy with the progress we had made. Mum and Dad looked pleased with me for helping, and it was nice to do something as a family. We all washed up, then had sandwiches, with Kittybot watching, intrigued by our food. After lunch Mum decided we should do something to celebrate my new change so we decided to go see a film. I wanted to take Kittybot along, but Mum thought her cameras might make it difficult to get her into the cinema. I apologised to her and left her in my room.
We drove into town and arm in arm, made our way to the cinema. When we got there Mum and Dad let me choose the film. I chose a comedy that had looked good, partly as it was something we could all enjoy, but also because I liked to laugh. The film was good, making me laugh so hard I felt like I was going to pass out. Mum and Dad seemed to enjoy it too, which made me glad. After we were done Dad took us to this fairly fancy restaurant. One of the waitresses looked familiar, a partial lizard hybrid, and I wondered if maybe she was someone I had seen at school. The food was excellent, good old fashioned traditional grub, not overcomplicated or pretentious. It used all sorts of local produce, which meant things were deliciously fresh. I felt stuffed at the end. Getting used to my smaller appetite was difficult, and my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach in this case.
I ended the day curled up on the sofa, cuddling up next to Mum, and falling asleep while watching the telly.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/