Acts of Humanity
Out Of Retirement
A MORFS Universe Tale
by Ray Drouillard
John Martin had turned his successful engineering business over to his kids – much to their consternation. While camping deep in the national forest, he met a fox hybrid in great need of help.
Categories: Hybrid, Elemental, PSI
Chapter Three: Off Into the Wild Blue Yonder
The three of us boarded, and Tabatha flew in after us, then immediately went to greet her father Gregory and her half-sister Brianna, Tina Shepherd-Wright's and Jerry Wright's flying kitties.
It's appropriate that Tina has a flying kitty for a pet, since she is a flying kitty girl.
As soon as we were on board and seated in the front row of seats, The Swift rose to 44,000 feet and headed for Sun City.
Kim used is eCom to call the state police airborne unit. "State police air unit 232, officer Saouda speaking."
"Hi Connie," Kim answered. "We have the two people of interest on board, and are heading for Sun City. The vehicle is being manned by two uninvolved male morfs."
"Thanks, Kim. We have captured all three of the original perpetrators, along with five verifiable accessories. All are sitting in a federal prison awaiting trial. Several other accessories have been captured, but they are unlikely to be charged. They are learning that being friends with the sheriff won't buy them immunity, though."
"It looks like we might just be able to clean up that little rats' nest, then. Or at least weaken it considerably," Kim replied.
"The crowd is rapidly dispersing. They started leaving as soon as they saw your aircraft leave. Your um, 'uninvolved males' can safely leave soon. The state police will escort them out of the county."
"Thanks, Connie! You guys are life savers. I'll let the 'uninvolved males' know."
"You're very welcome, Kim. It's been mostly boring after you left. Perhaps we can meet under better circumstances next time you come this way."
"I'm looking forward to it," said Kim. "Bye."
Kim called Mike and Rodney, then we all went to the back and greeted Sara.
I said, "Esther, this is Professor Doctor Sara Martin. Sara, this is Esther Newton."
"We already know each other," Sara said, giving Esther a hug. "So, how is my favorite pure student of MORFS studies?"
"I'm not pure anymore," Esther said with a grin. "And I haven't swallowed their belief system since I was old enough to think for myself."
"I'm afraid that you missed your ride by about fifteen minutes," Sara said. "Your doctor at the Herrington medical clinic called us just as you were finishing stage one. We sent a local IATE auxiliary member to pick you up, but he got detained. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that."
"Well," she said, "It was bad for a while, but all's well that ends well. And John wouldn't have gotten those cute ears and tail if I had been whisked safely away."
Kim smiled. "You figured it out, eh? I'm sure that you understand that we need to keep it a deep, dark secret, lest we end up with an epidemic of kidnappings."
"And just how long were you planning on keeping me in the dark about this?" I asked.
"Forever," Kim replied. "Or, at least, until you needed to know. Or figured it out yourself. Do you really want to know a dangerous secret that a telepath can pluck from your mind?"
I winced. "Point."
Kim clapped her hands together once. "I think it's time for two post-MORFS inventories. Sara, if you will do the honors with Esther?"
"You have the necessary instrumentation?" asked Esther.
"Yes, right here," Sara said, tapping her head. "The biomedical instrument engineers and manufacturers are less than happy with the rash of AMORFS2-induced bio elementals."
"Not really," I said. "I guess Big Pharma is upset, but Martin Engineering is having a great time designing instrumentation that works hand-in-hand with the new crop of AMORFS2 enhanced doctors."
"One would think that Martin Engineering had some source of inside information," Kim smirked. "Anyhow, it's time to look you over, little brother."
"Yes, darling big brother," I said.
"Why do you keep referring to her as your brother?" Esther asked. "Misgendering can be painfully insulting."
"He was my big brother Howard for far longer than she, or shi, was by big brother/sister Kim," I answered. "Remember that she is as male as she is female. Either pronoun is technically correct, so I use whichever one I feel like at the time. Besides, Kim isn't a normal trans person. She never felt alien in her own body, and never ached to be anything other than she already was."
Kim sighed. "Yeah, little bro can be a flaming dingdong at times, but he is essentially right. I love him anyhow."
"Shay?" Esther asked.
"Shi. That's spelled S-H-I. It's a pronoun that was coined for use with people of indeterminate or unknown gender. It was supposed to replace the singular 'they,' but it never caught on. It's now mostly used for hermaphrodites."
"Anyhow..." Kim said as she scrutinized me. She took her time studying my newly morfed body. Then, I felt her tapping at my mind with her telepathy.
"Let me in, little bro," she said. "You appear to have a nice mental shield going, which is a good thing, considering that you know the Big Secret."
I concentrated on opening the door for her. Telepathy is not new to me, considering my long experience with Tabitha.
"Hmmm... Interesting..." said Kim.
"What?" I asked.
She started dictating into her eCom. "Subject John Martin, D.O.B. April two, two thousand one. finished morfing August twelve, two thousand sixty-eight at the age of sixty-seven. Hair: fox red. Eyes: emerald green, slitted. Height, five foot ten inches. Sex: male, no change from birth. Power rating: four. Threat level: yellow."
"Only yellow? I'm far more dangerous than that!"
Kim snickered. "Do you really want to be flagged as a red? Misuse some of your new powers, and it'll happen."
"Patience, little brother. I'll get to it in a minute."
She turned the eCom recording mode back on and continued. "Physical Enhancements: Speed, Hearing, Sight (increased sensitivity to light, sees near infrared centered at 750 nanometers + human tetrachromancy [normal RGB with added yellow cones] + UVA centered at 350 nM), Agility, Endurance, Strength, Jump Height, Carbon Nanotube reinforced bones, nails, claws, teeth, hair. Slightly enhanced hearing."
"Wait a minute. Claws?"
I looked at my fingernails and saw a faint dark stripe down the middle, just like on Kim, Sara, and their kids. I concentrated a bit, and my sharp satin-black claws slid out.
Kim sighed. "If I may continue."
I bowed. "Be my guest."
"Fox/Feline Partial Hybrid (Red Fox coloring): Feline/Vulpine Pupils, Feline Ears, Retractable claws on hands and feet, Vulpine Tail. Electrical Elemental, Technopath, Cyberpath, AMORFS2 mark one medical package. Strong mental shield, but the only native telepathic and empathic powers come from the AMORFS2 power set. Telepathy and Empathy can be shared from his flying cat Tabitha."
Kim looked at me. "Please don't experiment with your electrical elemental powers until we land. I would prefer that the Swift stay in the air."
"Tina and I can get you started with your powers," Jerry called from the front.
"Fly the plane, Bird Boy," Kim called.
"I got it," Tina called back.
Sara started dictating. "Subject Esther Newton, DOB: February eleven, twenty forty-two. Morfed august eight, twenty sixty-eight at the age of twenty-six. Hair: Fox Red colored. Eyes: Emerald Green, slitted. Height: five foot, six inches. Sex: Female, no change from birth. Power Rating: four. Threat Level: Yellow."
She continued, "Physical Enhancements: Speed, Hearing, Sight (increased sensitivity to light), Agility, Endurance, Strength, Jump Height, Carbon Nanotube reinforced bones, nails, teeth. Fox Partial Hybrid (Red Fox coloring), Vulpine Pupils, Vulpine Ears, Vulpine Tail. AMORFS2 mark one medical package."
Sara looked at Esther. "It's pretty much as we expected. When you came down with MORFS, we figured that you would enjoy the AMORFS2 enhancements. We have gotten quite creative at finding different vectors to deliver the enhancements. The fox hybrid is part of your original morf, by the way."
Esther asked, "That dog that just had to be my buddy and lick me when I was on the way to the clinic?"
Sara nodded. "You're right. She's a smart one. She doesn't miss much."
I just smiled. "You're not the only ones capable of finding talent in weird places."
Kim said, "Speaking of talent, you two are eligible for some scholarships. Do you want to attend the MBE or the MD program?"
"Esther Newton, MD. Has a nice ring to it."
"I'm retired, remember?" I said.
"Nuh uh, little brother. You're not allowed to retire until I retire, and that's not going to happen for a few centuries."
"If I recall correctly, big bro, Doctor Sanura bribed you with scholarships for your kids and strays," I replied.
"She also pointed out that we would be bored out of our gourd very soon after leaving academia," said Sara. "Wasn't two weeks away from all your projects enough to convince you? Did you really need to go on that little shopping expedition, or were you just getting bored sitting around?"
"I admit nothing."
"You don't have to. Empath, remember?" Esther said, tapping her head.
I folded my arms and sat back.
"He'll take the MD program," Esther said. "He's not one to go half way."
"Someone is awful sure of herself!"
"Empath, remember?" she said with a smirk.
Sara chuckled. "Give it up, John. She's got your number."
"I never give up. Not totally, anyhow. I shall have my pound of flesh."
I looked at Esther. "Do you want to live the idle life of academia, or would you rather have a co-op job helping Martin Engineering design the next generation of biomedical instrumentation with living components?"
Esther just looked at me. I got the distinct impression that she had visions of Doctor Frankenstein.
"It's nothing like that," I said. We managed to create a strain of e. coli that can detect bio fields, and are developing ways to grow it on a carbon nanotube matrix so that it can be read with tiny electrodes. We are trying something similar with another strain that can be used to send information straight to someone's mind telepathically."
"Kinda like a heads-up display," added Kim.
"Also," I said, "We plan on building it into a pair of glasses for blind people. Images from small cameras will be fed to the bacteria, and the blind shall see. The same goes for hearing."
"I'll bet regular people will want them if you put really high quality cameras and microphones on them. I know that I like my enhanced senses," Esther said enthusiastically.
"And the same technology can be used in cars and planes to give the drivers and pilots full three sixty degree vision, plus directly 'see' radar and the like," said Jerry.
"The military is quite interested in the technology," I said. "I believe in giving our fighting men and women the best possible tools, but I'm not going to involve our company in black projects or restrict technology from the general populace."
"And let's not forget the original bio technology that the company was developing. Neosilk, algacotton, drugs, vitamins, natural flavors and colors, adhesives, and all kinds of other chemicals produced by various microbes; healthy Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins mass produced and used to manufacture healthy and tasty food, implants that regulate the blood and supply micronutrients. The world is about to become a much happier and healthier place!" enthused Tina.
Sara smiled. "Grab it, Esther. It's not often that someone gets a personal invitation from the Head Honcho of Martin Engineering."
"Head Honcho? Is that your official job title?" Esther smirked.
"Yes," I sighed. "The kids bestowed it upon me when I turned the company over to them. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!"
"I gratefully accept your offer, mister head honcho sir."
"Well, that settles that," Kim said, typing on her eCom. "Classes start in two weeks. That'll give you two plenty of time to get used to your powers. You two have identical schedules, by the way. No sense splitting up an effective pair of nerds."
Sara nodded. "You two have managed to defeat the evil alliance of the Church of Genetic Purity and the sheriff's office. Not a bad accomplishment, especially considering that one of you went through a case of MORFS while doing it."
Chapter Four: Home Again
Jerry and Tina started their descent about twenty miles out from Sun City. Instead of landing at the airport, they took us to the Martin Engineering compound a few miles north of the Sun City cliffs.
After landing vertically on the helipad, we taxied into the hangar. A crowd started filing in as soon as the hangar doors closed and the powerful heaters brought the interior up to a comfortable sixty-eight degrees.
Jerry and Tina turned the Swift over to our airframe and powerplant mechanic as soon as they were done with the shutdown checklist.
We were overwhelmed by the people that came to greet us. All of the kids were there – Mine and Kim and Sara's. The Joneses were there. Some of Esther's on line school mates were there. A good number of my employees were there. Introductions took quite a while.
They had set up a 'welcome home' party in the cafeteria. It's good to be missed.
We took the company tunnel from the compound to the warren of tunnels that reside behind the north cliff of Sun City.
We went in through the back entrance, through a maze of hallways and offices, and out to a comfortably appointed balcony on the face of the North Cliff. "Welcome to Martin Engineering International Headquarters," I said to Esther.
"Wow!" said Esther as she took in the view of Sun City spread about us to the south. "Who would have thought that such a tropical paradise would be found in the frozen north? Why in the world would you want to retire from this?"
"Because he's ornery," said Kim.
"Because I want my kids to fly on their own," I said. "I wasn't about to kick them out of a nest that they helped build, so I left them to maintain the nest."
"I think they have sufficiently proven themselves," added Sara.
"Just because we can fly by ourselves doesn't mean that we want to fly by ourselves," said my daughter Amy. "We're all perfectly content to run a department that is bigger than most private companies."
"I fly fine by myself," Tina said, "But I fly a lot faster and longer when I'm piloting the Swift."
"Okay, okay, you have all made your points," I sighed.
"That's good," my son Phillip said, "because the office of the Head Honcho of Martin Engineering, International is behind that door," he said, pointing to a door. Next to the door was an expansive mirrored window.
The door opened at my touch. It had already been set to my biometrics. Behind the door was a well appointed office, already personalized with everything I had packed away when I vacated my office at the compound back home. It even had a brand new feeding/watering station, scratching post, and automatic litter box for Tabitha. And some potted plants. And a bunch of platforms and cubbyholes for Tabitha.
"Oh goody!" I grinned. "Now I can see who is slacking on the balcony when they should be working."
"As if you couldn't use your telepathic and empathic skills to tell that, anyhow," Sara said.
I tried my best to give them a scowl. "Anyhow, dear children, it would seem that you were assuming much."
They had the extreme lack of grace to laugh.
Carol, my little calico kitty daughter, said, "To tell the truth, we figured it would take you a month or two to come crawling back. Nothing like finding new talent and battling the pures to speed things up."
"Battling? We ran from them."
"I would say that shooting two of them and getting shot in return constitutes a battle. And calling out the cavalry makes you more of a general than a foot soldier," said Mindy, my cream point Siamese kitty daughter.
With all of the selfless volunteers, it took us little time to become adept with our powers. The telepaths were adept at plucking a skill from one mind and transferring it to another. It's kind of like taking the muscle memories from one person and giving them to another. I wonder if the technique can work for things like playing instruments, dancing, sports, and martial arts.
Chapter Five: Two Problems, One Solution
I was back in my old office at the old compound. After attending college for a semester, I had decided that it was time to go home for a while and maybe tie up a few loose ends. One of those loose ends was the german shepherd morf in front of me. I had his employee profile on the desk.
"By all accounts, you are doing a very good job as the head of security. However, I have been hearing complaints that you are too domineering, even to the employees over which you have no authority. Not unkind, just domineering. Unfortunately, the creative types that we employ here don't deal with that very well at all."
"I'm sorry, sir. I'll try to do better."
"I'm sure you will, mister Hanson. Unfortunately, your morf causes you to have a strong need to be dominant. Fortunately, I can tell that you are a kind and fair dom. None of that is my business officially, but I have a proposal for you that will solve both of our problems."
I could feel the pain and humiliation inside as I drove up to the little house that my ex occupied. I broke in and caught Jack in the act of beating her.
I ran up to him, picked him up, and threw him across the room. He gave me a furious look and attacked. "This is my woman, and I'll treat her as I see fit!"
"I could have your ass tossed in jail again, but that didn't work last time. It would just be a waste of taxpayers' money."
"I've been wanting to get you back for having me tossed in jail!" he said as he threw a punch at me. I brushed it aside and kneed him in the groin. He doubled over, but recovered quickly.
Molly was huddled in the corner. "Please don't hurt him! I deserved that beating!"
"No you didn't," I growled. "The fact that he convinced you of that means that he's just too nasty to be allowed around anyone that I love. Or anyone else, for that matter."
Molly whimpered, but didn't say any more.
He picked up a knife and lunged at me. I knocked him down and stomped on his hand.
The bulldog hybrid kept attacking, and I kept knocking him back. After about an hour of being knocked down, he stayed down. He was covered with scratches, and had some deep furrows.
I grabbed him by the collar and held him up. In a low growl, too low to be picked up by the security system, I said, "You are out of here. If I see you within a half mile of Molly or this property, I will wipe the floor with you. If I hear of you abusing anyone else, I will wipe the floor with you. If I even suspect that you are abusing someone, I will wipe the floor with you. If I just feel like it, I will wipe the floor with you. Pray that I don't see you some time when I'm in a bad mood. If you see me first, run away. You're welcome to tell all your buddies and even the police, how a nerd kitty wiped the floor with you."
I lowered him to the floor.
Mark Hanson was standing in the open door. "Come on in, Mark," I said.
Mark came and stood over the bulldog.
"Mark, please take out the trash."
Mark picked up the bulldog by the scuff of his neck and the back of his pants, walked outside, and gently laid him in the dirt. He had been well trained in the handling of prisoners.
I used my bio powers to heal him just enough so that he could make good his escape.
"Molly, Mark Hansen is your new master. He will treat you kindly, but will not put up with any disobedience. Understand?"
She nodded meekly.
Mark and I took Molly to the police, along with some security footage of her being beaten. We declined to press charges at the time, but reserved it as a later option. We arranged to get a court order keeping the bulldog away from Molly, Mark, and all Martin International property.
After we got home, I healed Molly, and gave Mark the codes to the security system.
"I wish I could see the kids," whimpered Molly.
"I'll tell them that the asshole is no longer in your life. If you wait a couple weeks and write them all an abject apology, they might get over their anger. Maybe it'll help if I ask the pastor to give a good sermon on the value of forgiveness. Holding in the anger isn't helping the kids. We all need to come clean."
"Are you still mad at me?"
"No," I said. "I still love you, just not romantically. I care about you, or I wouldn't have bothered removing that plague from your life. Just understand that I'm content to love you from a distance."
"You did WHAT?" gasped Kim.
"If you want to communicate with someone, you need to speak their language. I communicated with him using the only language that would penetrate his thick skull. I still feel bad that I allowed him to stay with Molly for so long."
"You realize that what you did is borderline illegal?"
"Real borderline. The house and property, after all, still belong to me. She isn't even leasing the house. She just has permission to occupy it as a guest free of charge. The fact that there are security camera signs all over means that nobody can claim that they didn't know of their existence. I even made it explicit in the divorce agreement that the house belongs to me, and that I can enter it at any time for any reason. I have complete control of who can enter the house. I can even kick her out at any time for any reason."
"I'm surprised that mister bulldog didn't object," said Kim.
"The divorce settlement came after he was cooling his heels in jail. He wasn't there. He didn't have a thing to say about it. In fact, I doubt if he knew about it. Her lawyer was a different story, though."
"I'll bet," said Kim
"He simply didn't have a choice," I said. "It was that, or get absolutely nothing. The judge really was not impressed with Molly. Or her lawyer, for that matter."
"What about the beating that you laid upon him?"
"Self defense, mostly."
Kim made a face. "And the initial attack?"
"He was attacking an innocent. I defended her."
"It could be construed that you interfered in a fight, favoring one combatant over the other."
I had to laugh at that one. "She was cowering and trying to cover herself."
"Well," said Kim, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You are nothing if not pragmatic and unconventional. Still, that really isn't like you."
I nodded. "That makes it even more effective. It keeps everyone guessing."
"I wonder what Esther and Sara are up to. Those two are thick as thieves," I commented to Kim.
"Oh, you know... Girl stuff."
I chuckled. "Maybe you can give me a clue. You seem to understand that stuff now."
Kim made a face. "Are you sure you want to know? Some things are best left unknown by mere mortals."
"I guess not," I admitted.
I was in my wonderful new office going over some projects with Esther when the process server showed up. I was summoned to a hearing for my extradition. It seems that mister bulldog accused me of attacking him.
I immediately called my lawyer. He recommended a good criminal lawyer. After paying his retainer, I gave him the security footage and let him handle the details.
According to him, the city attorney had a good laugh about it. They sent the footage to the court that was requesting the extradition. The request was withdrawn.
The next day, I received a call from the district attorney back home. He begged me to press charges because the police department had been receiving reports about the bulldog.
I went ahead and filed charges, and called Mark so that he could have Molly press charges.
Long story short, the deposition that I recorded here in Sun City wasn't enough. I had to interrupt my studies and fly over for his trial. It was worth it, though. He won't be bothering anyone but his fellow prisoners for the next seventy-five years. The judge had presided over his previous trial, so he threw the book at him. Because of the knife, he was charged with attempted murder. That, added to felonious assault, several counts of assault and battery, and several counts of domestic violence, put him behind bars for a long time. The extra security footage of previous beatings did wonders.
Esther came along for moral support, not that I really needed it. Still, it was nice to have her there. We watched the recordings of the classes, then studied together.
The trial for Esther's attackers was not nearly as short. Fortunately for us, it occurred during a break between semesters. The kids had to fly solo for a while. I wasn't worried. The company was in good hands.
We stayed at the compound and commuted every day in one of the company aircars. Mindy stayed with us to take care of Tabitha and offer moral support.
Esther couldn't help but be nervous when we first entered the court. All of the authors of her nightmares were there, staring daggers at her. The fact that we were both hybrids made them hate us even more. As empaths, we could feel the hate. I shut it out as much as I could, and projected love and calmness to Esther. She looked at me gratefully.
The trial was long and convoluted. The lawyer team that they retained specialized in defending pures.
They tried to claim that they shot at Esther because she was resisting arrest. The fact that there was no arrest warrant, no probable cause, and that they never announced to her that she under arrest scuttled that strategy. Still, it it served to waste time and bore the jury.
The defense attorneys tried to subpoena the feeds from the internal security cameras, but we had never turned them on. They loudly wondered why they were left off. "Because I didn't want anyone to watch me get dressed," I answered. That caused some laughter from the jury.
They tried to claim that Esther attacked them when they were trying to arrest her when we were on the island. The footage of them shooting first, the damage to the Winnebago's paint job, and the fact that they, again, had no reason to arrest her, scuttled that.
They wasted an amazing amount of time muddying the water with all of their attempts.
In the end, they were doomed to failure. The jury found them guilty on all counts, including hate crimes. The judge, a wolf morf, threw the book at them. It is unlikely that any of them will ever again see the light of day.
There was some sobbing from the section where the wives and other loved ones of the defendants sat. The stared hatefully at Esther and me, but we just smiled back. That infuriated them even more.
There was a gaggle of reporters outside waiting for us. The pures ranted that God would punish us and the court for repressing the One Pure People.
We gave a short prepared statement and left.
(end of part two)
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/