Rosetta: A MORFS Universe Story
*We need to talk.*
Lena knew she had to lead up to the grand
revelation carefully. And Rose's confusion about Missy gave her an opening.
They decided to meet at Rose's house, and soon they were sitting
in her room - drinks and snacks in hand - talking.
"First, the question you were trying
to figure out how to ask. It falls into one of those gray areas you
are finding increasingly annoying. Yes, there are people that narrow
and shallow. But a lot of it has to do with the limits on the way they
perceive the world. To a toddler in daycare, a three foot high barrier
is an insurmountable wall, and the play yard is gigantic. To you, the
barrier is low and the play yard is little bigger than a suburban backyard."
"If you're saying she's like a toddler,
I won't argue." Rose cracked.
Lena grinned. "Yes and no. Her walls
are more social. She sees the world in terms of local middle school
society, and somewhat the same for high school. And in terms of the
social class she perceives her family as being a part of. You've been
places she'll never go, and interacted with people she can barely conceive
of knowing. But within her limits, her world is almost as rich and varied
"Look at Angel. She is the weakest
bio elemental I have ever met. But she does things with that little
bit of power that bio elementals orders of magnitude more powerful wouldn't
have dreamed of doing. She comes from a family that worked their way
up from lower middle class to a neighborhood like this, but she has
casual access to social elites and the rich and powerful - access that
Missy and her family would kill for, but are never likely to get. And
she's one of the nicest, and least pushy, people you know."
Rose was about to ask how Lena could
know that, but the answer was pretty obvious.
"But you have your own limits. With
the breadth of your own world, you can't really see the depth and subtlety
of Missy's world. And it's important that you do."
"Why?" Rose was genuinely puzzled.
"Because you're limiting yourself.
You can understand what they say, but be completely clueless about why
they would say it. Or worse, would misjudge it. With your abilities,
it is pretty much inevitable that you will find yourself in between
two people or two groups of people with completely different world views.
And most likely, neither will match yours. If you can get into each
world, and accept it for what it is despite the differences in values
and perspectives from your own, you can do world class things. And you
can control the situation to a remarkable degree."
Understanding dawned on Rose's face.
"You've done that. I don't know when or how, but you have."
"Yes, but I faced limits you don't.
Without help, I can only do so with people or groups who speak some
variety of English. You can't read minds directly, but if they don't
speak English all I can read seems like gibberish. Their emotions are
clear, but the other information is just not there for me. Or any other
telepath, without the help of someone like you."
Then she dropped the first of an afternoon
of bombshells. "And I have never met or heard of anyone like you.
As far as I know, your combination of abilities is unique."
While Rose found the idea hard to believe,
her abilities made it clear to her that Lena believed it. And Lena seemed
pretty well informed about such things.
Lena shifted gears. "But accepting
the internal validity of their world views does not mean you have to
agree with them. You can understand and accept the internal validity
of, say, the people who tried to capture or kill you, or Angel, or the
Queen, or even David's parents, while still rejecting their actions
as utterly immoral and unacceptable. This is about understanding them,
not about becoming one of them."
She gave Rose a moment to absorb that,
while she took a drink.
"Not used to talking out loud so
much any more." she grinned.
"Sometimes, it's not so clearly
right and wrong. Most of the time, in fact. When we are dealing with
people your age, or even my age, it's more often a matter of 'Why on
Earth would they do that?' or the like. And all too often the best you
can find is 'It seemed like a good idea at the time.'"
Rose noticed an odd hint of stress in
her voice, but did not notice the extent to which Lena focused on her.
"For instance, why would a group
of powered morfs imitate an old legend? A few hybrids could easily pass
for Bigfoot or even Nessie or related lake monsters. Lots of different
kinds of powered morfs could effectively 'haunt' a house or some other
place. If you asked them why they did something like that, the most
honest answers would likely range from 'to see if we could' to 'seemed
like a good idea at the time.'"
"But sometimes, just sometimes,
there's more. Sometimes they might want to do something specific, and
hide it behind the legend. It might be something bad, but most often
it is something good with a chance of backfiring. About a century ago,
the politicians called it plausible deniability or some crud like that."
"Huh?" Rose was having a hard
time with the last bit.
"Ok, the politician part was like
in the movies, when someone has other people do something so he can
later pretend he had nothing to do with it. Like in the cop shows, where
the bad guy doesn't want to get his hands dirty."
Rose understood what Lena was saying,
but couldn't really tie the idea to morfs, unless they were criminals
"Alright, here's an example. I know
a telepath out on the west coast, who did something like that when he
was younger. He used to hang around a local wishing well, and mentally
listen to the wishes being made there. A surprising number of the wishes
were simple things. Or at least, simple for him. Things like 'I wish
Johnny would notice me' or something. So he would prod Johnny to notice
her and say something."
"What did he get out of it?"
Rose wondered out loud.
"Mostly, a feeling of doing something
good for someone. That, and it was more interesting than sitting around
watching the tube. The problem is, the wishes didn't always work out
well. Johnny might have been a jerk, and when he noticed her he might
have ended up hurting her emotionally. Or the wish itself had consequences
he just hadn't thought through. After a while, it seemed to him that
the bad things had piled up so deep he couldn't see the good ones any
"Does he still do it?"
"Sometimes. He's a lot more careful
about it, though. Especially after the times he nearly got caught. He
wasn't doing anything illegal per se, but he still could have gotten
in a lot of trouble for some of the things that went wrong. But what
do you think about that whole thing?"
"Well..." Rose could tell that
the question was a lot more important than it seemed. Lena was leading
up to something bigger than that, something hidden. What would happen
if she gave the wrong answer?
"Nothing." Lena answered her
unspoken question. "There is no wrong answer. And yes, there is
more. But I want to know that you are ready to hear it."
Lena was telling the truth as she knew
it. Rose was certain about that. But there was more to it... a lot more.
And she wasn't sure she was going to like it. But there was no trick
question. "As long as he was careful, and did good things, I suppose
it's ok. And when he did step in it, as long as he did what he could
to fix it that would be ok too." Lena would understand the subtleties
in what she was saying, even if nobody else would.
Time for another bombshell.
"Good." Lena said. "I
know a group of people who are doing much the same thing here. Bigger
and more complex, but more alike than different."
"The closest thing to a working
wishing well around here is Pope Hill," Rose mused, "and Ohmygod!
it's you!" She had put most of it together. "The whole thing.
You read their minds and give them those feelings. David makes the glowey
thingy. But what about the MORFS itself? The only bio elemental I know
around here is Angel. Is she that much more powerful than she's telling
"No, she really is that weak. She's
just learned to do a lot with what little she has."
"Can all bio elementals do that?"
"No. There are only two that I know
of in the entire world. It has something to do with extra brain power
"So... my wish, my special powers...
that was all you, David, and Angel?"
"Yes and no. First, Robin and Penny
- Cassandra - had a hand in it as well. And second, Angel wasn't the
one who triggered your special bout with MORFS. The other one was."
"But who IS the other one?"
"That falls into the 'Not my secret
to tell' category. I can tell you that she doesn't live anywhere near
here, and you haven't met."
Rose shifted gears a little. "So
why tell me now? Let me guess... you need my help and you're going to
make me a part of the group?"
While she didn't "read" as
entirely happy about it, she wasn't angry or resentful. Lena forged
"Yes and no. We made you a part
of the group a long time ago. We do need your help for something big,
that someone has asked us to do."
Memories of the basement flashed briefly
through Rose's head. Lena hurried to reassure her. "Nothing like
that. We would be doing a one time Pope Hill type thing somewhere else.
Somewhere they don't speak English. We'll understand if you feel you
can't, or don't want to, be involved after we explain it more."
"But first, your other question.
I'm telling you now because you deserve to know, and you seemed ready
"And because I needed to know about
the scam to help with it?"
"It would make it easier. We could
have worked around that in some way, but you deserve better."
Rose was still wrapping her head around
the idea that Pope Hill was a fake, and that her new friends had made
those changes in her. Her new friends?
"When I met you... that wasn't a
coincidence, was it?"
"No. But we do take that path a
lot. After you changed, I kept a little bit of an eye on you to make
sure you were ok. And after the trouble you had that day, you just seemed
to need some new friends. We didn't want to push it, but we knew we
could make you feel a little better."
"But why me in the first place?"
"Part of that was pure coincidence.
Or maybe fate. The other bio elemental was visiting, and it was important
to show her how the whole thing worked. We might have done it anyway,
if I had heard your approach to Pope Hill. Then again, we might not
have been able to get together at the right time. The big thing was
that your request was very moving. And you were clearly a very worthy
"But why the powers? Not that they
aren't useful and all."
Lena blushed. "She... the other
bio-elemental... was new to the whole thing and she kinda... overshot."
Rose was stunned for a moment. Then she
burst out laughing. All of it - the good and the bad - that had happened
because of her powers, and it was all a screw up? It was too absurd
to be anything but true. After her laughter died down, she got down
"Ok, when and where is this going
"The when is easy enough. On the
Winter Solstice. I don't even know where, except that they don't speak
much English there. We'll be teleported there, by someone other
than Robin." She then went on to detail the plan.
Some of the more important parts were
also the more disturbing. They would be going somewhere, but they wouldn't
know where. They wouldn't officially be there - there would be no records
of their time there. If things went as planned, nobody - not even the
person they were helping - would see or hear them. And after they were
done, they would never know where they had been, or who the person had
been. Neither would their parents.
And if things didn't go quite as planned,
they could face two or even more hostile armed groups. They would have
some help available, but nothing official. And if the authorities got
hold of them, things could get sticky.
Yeah, sure... nothing to worry about
At least in Tokyo she was officially
there. On the other hand, there wouldn't be highly organized groups
of heavily armed people who knew who she was and were trying to kidnap
or kill her. And her family. And her friends, old and new.
For better or worse, there was one thing
Rose was sure of.
"We need a test run."
Her arguments and ideas tumbled through
her head in a jumbled mass, making it hard for her to express them.
Then again, she didn't have to. Lena "saw" it all, and agreed
it would be a good idea. The problem was time - they basically had the
weekend to prepare for the real thing, which would start late Monday
or early Tuesday.
Lena decided they needed to get the rest
of the group together for the discussion. After a bit of negotiation,
they settled on Lena's house. Since it was likely to go beyond supper
time, they all decided to chip in on some takeout and relieve her parents
of the burden of feeding a room full of teenagers. Since Rose didn't
have any real source of income, and her parents weren't home yet, they
decided to cover her share as well. Rose left messages for her parents
to let them know where she was, and they were off.
They didn't flit there or fly there.
They walked. After taking Robin and David for granted, it almost seemed
novel. On the way there, Lena told her about David and Robin. Hearing
about their going through the same pattern of being fooled then later
told somehow made Rose feel better about it happening to her.
When they got there, the others were
already inside and settled in the living room with drinks provided by
Lena's mother. After offering Rose a drink, which Lena went to fetch,
she excused herself and went to the room that served as her office.
Rose could hear her muttering something about lanterns.
*Lanterns? I didn't mean to eavesdrop.*
*Used to happen to me a lot. Still does,
sometimes. She runs a company that sells camping stuff online. Well,
together with some of her old friends.*
The exchange was so brief that none of
the others noticed it. Somewhat to Rose's surprise, Angel took the lead
in the meeting. After the obligatory "I suppose you're wondering"
joke, she turned to Lena. "So why did I call everyone together
"First, to let everyone know that
Rose has agreed to help with the Project." It was clear to Rose
that the others already knew the details, or at least as much as she
did. Lena went on. "She brought up a good point. Our integration
will need to be as clean as possible. For that, we will need a test
Robin glanced at Lena, and after apparently
getting a satisfactory response, spoke up. "One of the things we
will need to do is run the test we did with Angel."
Since the others seemed to know what
she meant, Lena turned to Rose. *We'll be handling the sensitive stuff
this way.* she thought to Rose. Rose thought that was just a little
bit obvious, but didn't say anything or think it too loudly. Lena went
on to describe the tests with Robin rendering Angel invisible and/or
intangible, and determining how that affected what she could perceive
"Since my powers can't do squat,"
Rose commented to the group, "some of those tests would be pointless.
The rest sounds interesting."
David spoke up. "Now all we need
are some victims." He had a grin as he looked at his girlfriend.
Lena rolled her eyes, then looked at Rose.
"What do we need?"
"Some people who speak languages
I don't already know. They can be their primary language, or not. It
doesn't matter whether they speak English or some other language I know
in addition to the unknown." Rose briefly felt a little wistful,
as she thought about her now distant relative and their exchanges in
Going back into "sensitive"
mode, they came up with a plan. Lena would sweep the area, much like
her code namesake technology, until she encountered thoughts in a language
she didn't know - anything but English, Spanish, or French. She would
run the thought past "our own Rosetta Stone" to see whether
she recognized the language. If it was a new language, she would have
David identify the thinker and add him or her to the list. They were
reasonably sure they could find subjects for the first part of the test
They were less sure about finding an
appropriate subject for the full run through. They would need someone
reasonably close, who was in the right age range for MORFS but didn't
have and hadn't had an active case, and who was interested in getting
something from going through such changes. And who wouldn't be likely
to be rejected by family, community, government, etc. because of it.
After a year or two (ok, about an hour
and a half. It sure felt longer), they took a break. So far, they had
found a half dozen candidates for the first part - all adults - and
eliminated two of them after warnings from Cassandra. Rose had learned
that she was still capable of being surprised and embarrassed by random
thoughts in languages she did recognize. And they had agreed that Rosetta
was a good code name for Rose.
As they rested, Penny had a head palming
moment. As Cassandra, she would need some amount of time to "settle
into" anywhere new before she became effective. She had experienced
the effect before, whenever she traveled too far from home. And she
had never done so with a single point of reference for language issues.
Especially one she was "time sharing" with a telepath like
Radar. When she "mentioned" the problem, everyone groaned.
And then agreed that another individual test was in order.
Before they could work out the details,
Lena's father came home. Used to his daughter's adventures, he was startled
but not really surprised to find the group huddled in his living room
in serious, mostly silent, conference. It had all the hallmarks of a
situation he would never know the details of, and one that he was probably
happier not knowing the details of. He also knew that he couldn't sneak
up on that group if his life depended on it. "Anything I can do?"
The smiles they turned on him ranged
from guilty to calculating. Not surprisingly, one of the calculating
looks came from his loving daughter. Teenagers.
After a moment of silent consultation,
they told him that they would be busy that evening, that they would
be coming and going at odd times (by way of Flit Express), and that
they had pooled their money for take out so he wouldn't have to feed
a room full of teenagers. After he smiled at that last part, he agreed
to fetch the food for them. As they discussed dinner choices, he went
off to see his wife.
He made sure he was not interrupting
any electronic conversation, then kissed her on the cheek. "They're
up to something again, I see." he commented with a wry grin.
"You don't suppose it involves finding
me a new lantern wholesaler, do you?" She asked with a sigh.
"Somehow, I doubt it. More shipping
After brief recaps of their days, he
got down to a more serious issue. "What do you want to do about
dinner? The kids are ordering some take out, which I volunteered to
pick up for them. I get the impression this is going to be home base
for more scanning the area and popping in and out for a while. Maybe
just tonight, maybe longer."
After giving her screen another scowl,
she turned back to him and her face softened. "Let's go out. Maybe
even take in a movie. Been a while."
They decided to leave after he got back
with the takeout. She would be getting ready while he was gone.
When he got back to the living room,
they had called in their order and had their money ready for him. He
wouldn't have minded paying for their food, but he knew how important
such hallmarks of independence were to teenagers. Besides, some of them
made more than he did. He let them know his plans for the evening, in
the unlikely event they would need him (or his wife). Just before he
opened the door, he turned to face them again.
"Humor an old man," he said,
with a small touch of concern in his voice. "Tell me you won't
be doing anything too dangerous tonight."
They grinned at each other, then said
in unison "We won't be doing anything too dangerous... tonight."
While the pause before the final word
was less than comforting, he took what he could get. When other parents
went out for the night, leaving their teenagers and their friends unsupervised,
all they had to worry about was sex, drugs, or an out of control party.
After he left, they decided to try the
first test while they were waiting for the food. One of their potential
subjects was sitting in the airport, apparently waiting for someone.
Robin would take Rose there, arrive invisible and intangible, and see
whether Rose could learn his language in that state. Lena would be "listening"
to them, and if they seemed successful would try using her link with
Rose to translate his thoughts. If any part did not work, they would
try with Rose merely invisible. If that didn't work, Robin would flit
them back for more brainstorming. And food.
As it turned out, they had over-planned.
Like Angel, her perceptive abilities worked fine when she was invisible
and intangible. Unlike Angel, she didn't have any power to "do"
anything, so it was a moot point whether she shared her other limitation.
There wasn't even any drama in his thoughts.
He was from Norway, and in addition to the fjords he was pining for
his wife and three children. He was an inventor and businessman, and
was there to meet some other businessmen to discuss licensing some clothing
related invention. Nothing revolutionary, but useful.
Since their test was completed successfully,
they flitted back. They even had time to rest and talk a bit before
Mr. Morgan got back with the food.
That promising start turned into a frustrating
weekend. Try as they might, they couldn't come up with a practical way
to do the other test. One problem was that Rose knew too many languages,
and didn't know what some of them were. And too many people in the hemisphere
knew English or Spanish (even if it was only a second or third language).
The real killer was transportation - the person who would be getting
them there was not available yet. For the first time Rose could remember,
the group gave up on an idea after the Friday gathering and several
On top of all that, there were the mysterious
packages from other countries, all of which arrived on Saturday with
clear instructions that they were not to be opened until Christmas.
In a fit of group paranoia, David and Lena both checked the packages.
But then they refused to tell Rose anything about the contents, just
grinned at her when she asked.
And then there was the studying. Lena
had Rose going through the books she had given her every chance she
got. After learning to spot and catalog a person's unconscious physical
reactions, she learned "patterns" for making subtle changes
in that person's thought and behavior patterns. And once she got a pattern
down pat in one language, she had her practice it in others as well.
"Eventually you will get to the
point that these patterns are second nature, and will be automatically
available to you in any language you learn." she explained. While
they would never really amount to the mind control Rose had joked about,
they could be powerful tools for changing the way a person - or a group
of people - thought about something. A small change in the right place
could create a surprisingly large effect in the person's life. That
would be useful in everything from therapy to business. Or even politics.
Rose wrinkled her nose at that last thought. Politics was not her thing.
Even the weather was frustrating. The
Sunday afternoon snow didn't add all that much to what was still on
the ground. It just added the chores of clearing the driveway and sidewalks.
Rose briefly enjoyed a pleasant fantasy about what a certain Japanese
girl could do about that snow. And with school already out, it didn't
even bring the promise of a snow day.
At least it let up early enough for another
family tradition. With a jug of hot chocolate and other necessary supplies,
the family piled into the car and drove around some of the nearby neighborhoods
known for their elaborate displays. As long as anyone could remember,
certain streets had shown the results of informal, personal competitions
among the neighbors to outdo each other. And a little farther out, the
enclaves of the mansions (you could hardly call them neighborhoods)
boasted decor that put most of the municipal and commercial displays
to shame. As holiday traditions go, the drive was relaxing, fun, and
And for a change, the only danger they
were in was from drivers paying more attention to the displays than
to the road.
The next morning, she got a couple of
clues about their destination. Not that they helped much.
Lena relayed a suggestion that she dress
for roughing it in hot weather. Rose knew enough geography to realize
that they were either going to somewhere near the equator or somewhere
in the Southern Hemisphere... or both. Unfortunately, that combined
with the middle of nowhere implication narrowed it down to about two
and a half continents. English, or at least their version of it, was
pretty universal throughout Australia and vicinity as far as she knew.
That narrowed it down to somewhere in either Africa or South/Central
America. And that was about as narrow as she could get it. Both had
plenty of middle of nowhere places with local languages. Both would
be starting Summer about then.
And the details of the "mission"
she got didn't really narrow it down any. Lena was (and would be) in
contact with an older and more powerful telepath, who was in contact
with the person they were doing the favor for and the person who would
be transporting them to and from the location. The mysterious person
they were doing the favor for was both personally powerful and politically
well connected, and the group owed her big time. And her identity fell
under "not my secret to tell".
They would be arriving near a small shrine
of some sort, and David would hide them with an illusion. Someone would
approach the shrine somewhat reverently, with something between a hope
and a belief that the shrine would have the power to grant what he needed.
And an expectation that he would have to sacrifice something in the
process. What he would ask would be a delicate balance of ability, cultural
tradition, and local politics. After that, it would go pretty much like
it had with her - except for the "over did it" part.
Unfortunately for Rose's curiosity, both
continents had plenty of remote locations which could host such shrines.
*Just as well,* Lena told her as she
dressed. *You really don't want to know. Neither do I. What we don't
know, we can't accidentally reveal later.* Then, with a shift of tone,
*How are you doing?*
*Nervous. Frustrated. Curious. And a
bunch of other stuff mixed all together. And hungry.*
*In other words,* Lena quipped, *Monday
Rose laughed and finished dressing. *Any
idea when we'll be doing it?*
She got a fleeting impression of an off
color reply started and rejected, then *Not really. I get the impression
that they're watching the situation, and will send us when he is on
his way. I get the impression that the less time we're there, the happier
they'll be. And the happier we'll be.*
*That I can believe.*
At breakfast, she reminded her family
that she would be vanishing (literally) on a moment's notice. And they
reminded her that they would be vanishing shortly in a more conventional
way. Her parents would be going to their offices, and Tara would be
going out shopping (and boy watching, Rose was sure) with her friends.
They all assured her that they were a phone call away if she needed
Rose soon had the house to herself. She
quickly found that she couldn't sit through any of her new vids. As
soon as she settled in to watch, her mind started racing about the mission.
She might have minutes left to wait or she might have hours. What she
needed was something she could lose herself in, but drop on a moment's
notice. After pacing around the living room and kitchen and back to
her room, her eyes fell on the books Lena had loaned her.
She had been going through them in odd
moments of spare time up to then, and they seemed like a good way to
pass the time. A little too good.
*No, I didn't plant any of that in your
mind.* Lena replied at once. *But that is a good idea. I can help walk
you through some of the exercises while we wait. How do these thoughts
That last part caught Rose off guard,
and left her puzzled for a moment. Then it hit her... She could "feel"
when a telepath or empath was actively in her mind.
*Exactly. Right now, you can recognize
the difference if you are thinking about it. With practice, we can get
you to the point where you recognize it any time.*
*Won't that limit what you can do with
me?* Rose half joked.
With her best sinister overtones, Lena
replied *Remember, my dear, there is always someone out there with more
skill and experience than you.*
Lena smiled at a vivid thought about
her own mentor, which she firmly kept private. For all her reputation
for power and competence, Lena knew she had years of hard work
ahead of her if she ever wanted to come close to that elegant little
Over the next few hours, they went through
exercises from one of the books, teaching Rose a mindset and a subtlety
with language she never would have believed possible.
Unexpectedly, Lena stiffened briefly
then said "It's time." The others appeared in her room, ready
to go. Catching something odd at the corner of her eye, Rose saw that
her bedroom door had been replaced by darkness. At a nod from Lena,
they stepped through the door. And into what looked like a jungle right
out of the vids. As Rose stepped through, she noticed her ears gently
popping. That told her that they had gained or lost some altitude from
their mile high starting point, but not too much. They were in what
looked to Rose like some sort of jungle or rain forest. She didn't know
enough about botany or geography to tell more from the trees and other
Other than them, there were only two
language using minds at all nearby. One was human, one not. Rose was
surprised that she could tell that much. It made sense in a way - this
was the first time she had been this far away from significant numbers
of people since her transformation. She turned her attention to the
human and had the familiar feeling of learning a new language.
When she was done, she noticed that the
non human's language was similar to the one she had just learned. She
supposed it only made sense that a talking hybrid would use something
like the local language. She learned it quickly, as well.
While she was busy with that, the others
had been busy as well. They found a hiding place not too far from the
shrine, where they should be safe from discovery. CP readied an illusion
to hide them more if needed. Flit took a practice jump to and from the
shrine, since she was not familiar with the area. Radar was taking a
look around the area and "listening" for nearby minds. Cassandra
was clearing her mind, readying herself for a potential flood of new
*Ready.* Rosetta "told" Radar.
*Right.* came the reply. *Listen for
things happening around us.*
Yamai was not happy. How could he be?
His mother had been kidnapped by those crazy, heavily armed, strangers
who had taken over and rebuilt the old drug cartel compound. The man
who would have become his step father was killed trying to rescue her.
As bad as that was for him personally, it was made worse by the fact
that his mother had been the healer for his village and his would be
stepfather was the water worker for another nearby village. Each was
known as the heart of their village, a symbol as much as a person. Their
marriage was supposed to cement peace between the two fractious populations,
a peace that had been forged by the two of them sharing the benefits
of their gifts with both groups.
The villages blamed each other for the
losses, and many were ready and willing to tear each other apart over
them. But, to be honest, there were all too many men in both villages
who nursed other grudges and would like nothing better than to have
the fighting resume.
They weren't completely isolated or ignorant.
They knew that she was a bio elemental and he was a water elemental.
That their powers owed more to MORFS than to anything supernatural.
Still... they fit so seamlessly into their roles from the old traditions,
and it was so much like the old prophesy. While Yamai wasn't sure about
the man (it just seemed wrong to use his name, given all that happened),
it sometimes seemed that his mother believed she was living the legend.
All they had to do was "become one" with their marriage: a
man-woman spirit of life and water to father and bear children of both
Now that would never happen. The whole
legendary image went through his mind, weighted with the impossibility.
His mother had taken him to the shrine
of the Lady Of The Mountain in times of trouble. She said the Lady helped
her find her answers, but he didn't really know whether it was just
the peace of the shrine letting her find the answers within herself
or her expectations of an answer that helped. Or if it really was the
Lady doing the helping. All he really knew was that she had found her
answers when they went up after that stupid accident had claimed his
father's life all those years ago. And he seemed to cope with the loss
of his father better as well.
Both villages recognized the shrine as
sacred. The stories say that dated back to a time when the two had been
one. And both villages had customs - stronger than most laws - that
limited access to the shrine to certain people in certain positions,
and those escorted there by such people. That access was a jealously
guarded sign of prestige. Yamai's mother, as Heart Of The Village, had
such access and had every right to bring him along. Without her, or
some other "authorized" guide, he was stepping on some sensitive
toes by going there.
He'd had to sneak out of the village
and follow a somewhat indirect route to avoid detection. It wouldn't
be enough to fool the more experienced trackers in the village - in
both villages - but it might buy him enough time to get back before
he was discovered.
As he approached the shrine, he turned
his mind back to the issues that had brought him there and to the way
he thought The Lady would look and sound if she was there. It remained
there as he put the offering on the flat stone in front of her image
and went through the ritual greeting.
His mind went blank, however, when she
appeared in front of him.
*We're agreed, then?* Radar asked her
companions. *Turning him into a living symbol and embodiment of legend
is nothing small. Angel, you can do it?*
*Apparently. It "feels" ready,
pending any changes. MORFS will give him both elemental abilities, and
the ability to both father and bear children, like the legend specified.
As bad as sex changes can be back home, I don't envy him his transition
Everyone was keeping the conversation
silent, due to their proximity to the shrine and to the local wildlife.
Flit confirmed that there should be no
problem delivering Angel in the usual way. CP, however, was not as sanguine.
*I will need a lot of feedback about his reactions to and expectations
of this Lady. And I won't be able to scan the area while I do this.*
*Got that covered.* Radar assured him.
She grinned. *You should know by now that I'm a woman of many talents.*
CP smirked. *Get me thinking that way,
and she'll appear to him naked. With your body.*
*Hmmm... Back to work, Captain!* She
turned her focus to helping him build a good image.
Cassandra had adjusted to her new circumstances,
and found no serious problems with the plan. She had a general feeling
that his sex change was going to be uncomfortable, but not disastrously
CP and Radar "watched" as their
target approached the shrine and set a piece of fruit on part of it.
Then it was show time. CP created the image of The Lady, and Radar added
feelings of moderate religious awe, belief, and warmth. Rosetta had
suggested that they avoid spoken words from the image, to avoid problems
with any expectations of old fashioned language. While the image gave
Yamai a smile of motherly pride, he came to understand that his life
was about to change. He would grow ill, which he correctly interpreted
as MORFS, and would emerge with the ability to unite the villages. He
would have the powers over life and water and, to fill the role assigned
by legend, he would change so that he was both man and woman.
Yamai was not all that sure about that
last part. But he remembered the legend, and in the end it was not too
big a sacrifice. Even the most frightening part, the idea that he would
some day lay with a man and come to bear a child, was not too much to
endure for the good that could come of it. He acknowledged her gift
and the responsibility that came with it, and she put her hand over
his heart. For a brief moment, he would swear he could feel her touch
and something more. When she seemed to encourage him to embrace his
destiny, he thought about the way that destiny extended even to his
She seemed about to send him on his way,
when she held up her hand in a gesture suggesting that he should wait.
*Company's coming!* Radar told the others.
*And something is happening at the compound.*
End part 14
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/