Paws and Effect
A MORFS story by Nuke Danger,3rd Aye
Looking up from her desk, President Serena McCall recognized her Secretary of Defense who had arrived with the Secretary of Health. “Yes, I’m pleased with your unusual punctuality, Lawrence, especially since you called for an emergency appointment this morning. I thought the idea of an emergency was unlikely given that the world has been, for want of a better word, quiet.”
The SecDef, Lawrence (never “Larry”) Hutton, a man she had chosen specifically for his inability to lead a platoon of marines into a brothel, did not smile. “We had… a bit of a surprise, ma’am. Last month, a female MORF with, if we believe everything she gave us, both teleport and chronoport capabilities, appeared in NORAD to drop off a documentation package and, we’re sad to say, then shot herself in the head. The chips, with video, stills and written material… provided us with more history than we wanted.
We are still sifting through it and have only really gone through a small percentage of the material, but, given the information about the development history of MORFS we found, I called on Helen’s department to evaluate those items we didn’t have the expertise for.”
Turning to Helen Carter, her Secretary of Health, she asked, “Well?”
Helen sighed. “MORFS has been a problem for some years, you know that, right?”
The president nodded. “I think the anxiety over the side effects—especially if you live through the changes—is rather more severe than the reality. The polarization and religious persecution doesn’t help, either. I think you are all already aware of my irritation with the Attorney General on this issue, along with the rest of the so-called Department of Justice.”
“Well, ma’am, based on what we’ve managed to understand from the mother-lode of information we’ve gotten, it may be that the political effects are less of a problem than the more likely alternatives. This MORF, a Serena McCall, her mother’s maiden name, was there when the terrorist’s bio-containment facility was breached and may have had a hand in ensuring that MORFS was inflicted on the whole world.”
The president sat up. “Who was she? Why was she using my name?”
Lawrence leaned back on the couch opposite Helen and sighed. “Apparently this MORF comes from another time-line, one where MORFS also occurred. Her mother kept her maiden name and this MORF—and her sister—kept their mother’s maiden name. Her brothers had their father’s name. This Serena McCall was born in 2037, based on her biographical information, and, ma’am, would have been your daughter, had you ever met the man that fathered her. Granted, from what we’ve read, you would never have chosen a political career, had you had children. She recorded that one of her last acts, before delivering that packet, was to make sure you never met her father, back before you had to have a hysterectomy. He’s not dead, by the way, we looked him up. In any case, this young woman chose to meddle with her history, leading to our history. We can only be glad that it was in small ways.”
She sat back, stunned. “How could… a daughter of mine… choose to do something so dangerous and stupid?”
The Secret Service agent by the door started laughing. All eyes turned to him, and, when he saw that, he shut up.
“Well?” Serena asked. “Want to share what you thought was so funny?”
“Ma’am,” the agent spoke up, “You were stupid enough to run for the Presidency. You still want the world to be a better place. You care. If that girl you’re talking about was your daughter, I can’t see the acorn falling far from the tree.”
Serena leaned back in her chair. “And you can say that…”
The agent stood at attention. “Ma’am, most of the critical position on the Detail are held by those of us who MORFS gave empathy. We can feel threats. We can also get a measure of a person we meet with, so, really, I can sense that part of you. And, just in case you worry, the Detail likes you.”
Serena nodded to him. “Thank you. I worry that such a sense might make those on the Detail feel like the Praetorian Guard. In any case, Helen, did she go into what she did?”
Helen chose to speak up, say “Simple, ma’am. She tried interfering with the bio-terrorists and saw that, stymied, they’d use other weapons of mass destruction. Given some of the nationalistic mindsets and the instability, she said she was able to see a lot of lines end in a nuclear war. She then, somehow, undid that change and saw what would happen if containment hadn’t been lost… and that was, if anything, worse, since that led to them releasing a real killer of a virus. In only a few threads did even the instigators survive since they didn’t put enough effort into a vaccine, worried that the development would leak. She also learned that there was too ready a supply of terrorists that erasing even a small number of them was not going to make a difference… and, like a hydra, no matter who she erased, another would pop up. The ones we see in our history are, from what we’ve been reading from her notes and recordings, the least, in her words, ‘rabid’. She made a note that she wasn’t too pleased with the way the US political climate had been going, so she tried to manipulate some elections, something about hanging chads, to ensure that we, in the US, could regain some balance. She hoped that, when the pendulum swung back, it wouldn’t do as much damage. She commented that having to deal with MORFS did political wonders by damping out political oscillations.”
“So,” Lawrence spoke again, “the MORFS epidemic was one of those forks in history with the lowest likelihood of successfully exterminating life on this planet, even if it stirred a lot of genetics material around. Additionally, on a more personal note for you, she expressed some surprise that, once she made sure you would not give birth to her in this time line, that you made it to the Presidency.”
The president sat back, stunned.
Helen spoke up, adding “The information she’s given us on the original viral genome will go a long way to stabilizing things and finding ways to better control the expression of the implanted genetics. I have some folks working with the CDC who are waxing rhapsodic about finally being able to manage MORFS changes, though it may take a couple of decades to converge on a solution.” Helen quieted and sat forward on the couch, her eyes, looking sad, on the President. “Oh, one more thing, Madame President…”
“She had a message for us to deliver to you.”
Holding up her tablet, Helen played the message. The girl displayed, though a cat hybrid, still had enough human traits to be recognizably related to Serena. She was surprised and felt some pangs at never having had children, before the message playback started.
“Mom, I know you don’t know me, but… I’m so sorry I had to keep you away from Daddy. You were both so happy… and I’m sorry that I couldn’t let that happen, not when there was a chance I could be born. I’m sorry I ended up erasing Billy, Bobby and Tommy as well as Sheryl, but, having someone like me around is too dangerous. For a while, there, I was back far enough to worry that I had erased you.” The girl on the screen sniffled, a tear running down her face, before she raised a paw-like hand to brush it away. “You can find Daddy, now that the world is safe from me.” It was heart-wrenching to see a girl like that cry, sobbing out “I love you, Mom.”
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