Angel's Tale: A MORFS Universe Story

By Joreymay

 

Part 19

 

When she reached the group blocking her way, the boy snarled, and reached his gauntleted hands out to grab her.

 

She walked right through him.

 

A few feet beyond them, she turned, sighed, and shook her head as though she was sorry for them. Then David let the illusion fade slowly away.

 

They stood there dumfounded. With all the things they had been rehearsing in their heads, from mayhem to martyrdom, they simply had not considered the possibility of that happening. They stood around silently, digesting this new development, until the next wave of people - the newly opposed Pures - arrived. When asked about Angel, the would be attackers just waved mutely down the path. The new group saw that there were no signs of a struggle, and moved to follow the path in the same direction.

 

Their movement brought the others out of their shock enough to start moving as well. They dispersed, as they had planned to after the attack. But they simply walked in their various directions, rather than running as previously planned.

 

In the shadows of the nearby trees, a dark, virtually invisible figure chuckled.

 

Safely at home, thanks to Robin, Angel shook her head. Lena, Penny, and Robin (or a lack of additional Robins) all confirmed that they seemed to have defused the situation for the time being.

 

There was a call from the spa, asking whether she could take three appointments that evening. She knew it wasn't urgent, since they had her eCom number and hadn't used it. She called her mother to clear it, and then called the spa back to confirm. She would eat dinner there. She called Robin and asked for some transport, "just in case." She touched bases with Lena, who was in a position to immediately tell David, then went to her room to get ready.

 

When they arrived at the spa, Angel was surprised to see Robin follow her in and thumb in. Robin grinned, and explained that she was now one of several 'porters under contract to the spa. She got standard employee benefits, and a generous fee for each flit. Not anywhere near as much as Angel got for her work, but generous.

 

She also told Angel that there was a sort of union for business teleporters, like the one for medical bio elementals. Hers was bigger, but not as pushy. They did have enough clout that certain parts of her contract were less restrictive than their counterparts in Angel's. Especially the no-compete clause, which was effectively missing. Not only could she work for other, similar businesses after her relationship with the spa was terminated, she could work for them while she was working for the spa. As long as the duties didn't interfere with each other.

 

In case of conflict, the spa would have the priority claim on her services. Not that it mattered at the moment, since it was her only customer just then.

 

She also told Angel that Mrs. Tabor was somehow aware of the other aspects of her abilities. From the way she said it, it seemed apparent to Angel that her friend didn't know about Mrs. Tabor's abilities.

 

*That's correct, my dear.* came a familiar voice in her head. *And I would greatly appreciate it if you treated that knowledge as a very important trade secret. Which it is.*

 

They fetched their tablets, and checked their schedules. Robin had one other pick up that evening, and was scheduled to take Angel home after her shift. Angel's appointments were all students, with remaining damage from the cafeteria battle.

 

The unusual part was the mixture. Two boys and a girl.

 

Since they both had time, the girls decided to eat dinner in their street clothes and then change into their working clothes.

 

She was not surprised that the boys were both morfs, with the usual range of superficial battle damage. The girl, however, was a bit of a surprise. She was a prominent member of a group related to the Pures. Unlike the Pures, they accepted - even appreciated - morf induced "powers". However, they drew a very firm line at hybrids. Especially those with a distinctly non human appearance.

 

Angel recognized her from that afternoon. She had been among the second wave of people coming down the path. Or the third, if you counted the second half of those who were there to trap her as a separate wave. She was from the group that seemed intent on rescuing Angel from the Pures and Pure Sympathizers who had surrounded her. Or, at least, her image.

 

Angel took extra care with her, making sure skin tones blended and so on.

 

In the end, Angel ended up with about $200 in tips. And Robin got a $50 tip, much to her amusement.

 

"I could get to like this," she cracked, when they were alone together.

 

Angel learned that Robin was in the same Homework club as her. They both knew they were expected to work on it in their free time between clients. And they both knew that help was readily available.

 

They made the trip home in their school clothes. Angel got home in plenty of time to watch the news with her family, before getting ready for bed.

 

One of the local items caught her eye. A recently unemployed man in their area had a particularly odd reaction to a version of one of the AMORFS virus triad. While it was not entirely uncommon for MORFS to turn a young adult into a teenager, or even a much younger child, this was a middle aged man who was restarting puberty. The nightmare aspect came from the fact that it had not turned him into a teenager. He was a middle aged man going through an almost unprecedented second puberty.

 

Various medical authorities speculated about what the unidentified man could expect to experience. Growth spurts, hormone spikes, even acne were discussed. One thing they all reluctantly agreed on was that he was vulnerable to MORFS again. And he was showing early signs of stage 1. Given the unknowns involved in someone that age going through MORFS, he would spend the critical stages under intense medical observation.

 

There was a little commentary at the end to the effect that he was a member of a group with a particularly high statistical incidence of AMORFS, so authorities did not consider the new variant to be any more of a threat to the general public than the original triad was.

 

Angel shuddered, having altogether too good an idea who that man was. And what his former job had been. The last she had heard, he was on unpaid leave and only contemplating resigning. But that could have changed. Or the news could have gotten it a little wrong.

 

Her father noticed her reaction, and grew thoughtful. He had seen it before. Daughter or son, Angel had always had a sense of social responsibility and empathy. But this was something else. Something personal. Sometimes, when they saw news reports of such infections, she took it personally. Other times, she just reacted to the unfortunate circumstances of the victims.

 

The only thing that would seem to explain it was that she somehow felt responsible for the infections. She had a good head on her shoulders, and one thing she did not have was an overdeveloped sense of guilt. Was it possible that she really was responsible? Or that she had some reason to believe she was?

 

He didn't know enough about her powers to know whether it was possible or not. But if it was at all possible, he had no doubt that she would have found a way to do it. It was not in her nature to use her powers maliciously. Even when she was a boy, he never used his strength or abilities that way.

 

But morfs, especially relatively new morfs, sometimes lose control. Especially under stress. If the man in the news report was the Dean, she could well have slipped when he was unjustly attacking her.

 

And it could work both ways. Those friends of hers, with the rare combinations of morf abilities. Could she have done that, too?

 

In the end, it didn't matter. He would be there for her, to support her and let her have the time she needed to work things out. And protect her if and when she needed protecting.

 

The only real question was whether his wife knew. Or suspected. And there was only one reasonably safe way that he could think of.

 

After she went up to bed, he thought *Lena? Can you hear me?*

 

*Sure, Mr. O'Connor. What can I do for you?*

 

*Does my wife know about that aspect of Angel's powers?*

 

*Not that I can tell.*

 

*Does she suspect?*

 

*Not really. She has had some passing thoughts, but that's about it.*

 

*Please don't tell Angel that I know. If and when she wants to tell me about it, I will be available to her. I assume she feels she has good reasons to keep it between the two of you. Thank you for being there for her.*

 

*You're welcome. Good night.* Lena didn't have the heart to tell him about the others who knew.

 

Dr. Miller had a lot of questions, and far too few answers. She decided that the next day, while Angel and her friends were at school, would be a good time to check out the spa where she worked. She had heard of the place, with its reputation for impeccable service and haute cuisine, but had never been there.

 

It catered to a fairly exclusive crowd, but her name opened a lot of doors. She called and made a reservation for a late morning massage. Once she gave her name, she was given a slot without further question.

 

As the lights in Angel's house went out, the watcher - and his watchers - settled in for a long night.

 

*Angel! Wake up and throw some clothes on! David and his family are in danger, and we might need you!*

 

Angel was wide awake and moving. *What's the situation?*

 

*Cassandragram. Someone with a grudge against his dad is about to bomb their house.*

 

*Are they out?*

 

*Not yet.*

 

*Get Robin to take them to her house, top priority. Even if they're naked, the empty house frees us to act!*

 

A few seconds later, while Angel was putting a t shirt on, Lena got back to her. *Done.*

 

*Can you read the bomber?*

 

*Yes. But he's hired muscle. He doesn't know who hired him, and he knows that his bombs are not the only part of the attack. The bombs are detonated by remote.*

 

*Damn! Time left?*

 

*About ten minutes. Start out back. Oops!* There was a short delay, and the now dressed Angel ran to wake her parents. *Sorry.* Lena came back. *That was for David. He's searching the house for other bombs.*

 

*Ask Robin whether she can sense other teleporters or aporters in action.*

 

*Yes.*

 

*Can she block them?*

 

*She thinks so.*

 

*Get her there.*

 

*Already there. She'll send the bombs to the reservoir when they get planted.*

 

"Mom, Dad! Get up! There's an emergency at David's house." Angel called through their door, after she opened it. Then, to Lena, *Is she intangible?*

 

*Not yet... Yes.*

 

*What else did Cassie know?*

 

*Multiple attackers. Guy behind them has a solid alibi. Without intervention, David's family would be dead and the guy behind it would get away with it.*

 

*Shit!*

 

*Really. Wait...*

 

*David dropped the bomber.*

 

*How?*

 

*Made some of his blood into the stuff from your tranq dart.*

 

*Ouch! *

 

*What does Cassie think now?*

 

*David and family seem safe. House still in danger.*

 

*Robin?*

 

*Safe, as far as she sees.*

 

The clock was still running, and they still had an explosion to avert. What made big explosions?

 

*Do they have any explosives in the house?*

 

*No. Wait... Got it!*

 

David came up with the vital link. Gas. He used his power to block the gas line well away from the house. They had Robin open windows and doors. Cassandra gave the ok.

 

It was well thought out. The leaking gas would have kept them unconscious, until the relatively small explosions from the bombs would set off the huge gas explosion - destroying the house and the people inside.

 

With the immediate danger defused, they had time for subtlety. David crippled one of the bombs in a way that made it look defective. Robin 'ported the bomb back into the hands of the unconscious would-be bomber. She then jumped to Angel's house, and carried her invisibly to his side. With all but one finger intangible, Angel was able to simulate a partly healed penetration wound on his neck. It was all but identical to the one she got in the attack on the path.

 

Robin spent a busy night. Once the remaining bombs exploded at the reservoir, and nothing happened to the house, she returned David and his family to the house. They called the police, reporting the unconscious man with the bomb. Robin short-hopped back through time and through space, invisibly following the bomber backward to the time and place he got his instructions.

 

Once she found that, she returned to the present for Lena and a vidcam. She took them back, and recorded the exchange between the bomber and the man who hired him while the invisible (thanks to Robin) Lena fished through their minds. They returned to the present, and copied the video to a chip. Robin planted the chip on the bomber before the police arrived.

 

Her part done, Angel and her parents went back to bed. As their parts in the proceedings ended, the others did likewise.

 

The next morning, as the friends dragged their sleep deprived bodies to school, Angel found out the rest. For a change, it had nothing to do with morfs. The person who set it all up was a businessman, who was very upset about a legal matter in which David's father represented the other side. He had plans for avenging himself on the clients as well, but their lawyer was his first target.

 

If the police hadn't found the incriminating chip, they wouldn't have caught him with the transmitter. He might have gotten away with it.

 

But they did, and he didn't.

 

The only one of the group who looked well rested was Robin. But to her, it was almost mid afternoon. The others shot her dirty looks.

 

While they plodded through their classes, Dr Miller was investigating the spa. Her information only served to confirm that it was what it seemed to be, an exclusive, expensive, well run spa. The owner and her deceased husband both came from old money. Their children were grown and successful. The spa employed top notch people, and paid them well. There had been a few scattered accidents over the years, but their record was better than most comparable facilities.

 

She arrived early for her appointment, and requested a tour. Apparently, from the young lady's reaction, it was not an uncommon request. She was impressed with the facilities, but a few things caught her eye. There were hidden cameras in the halls and many, if not all, of the rooms. Every staff member she saw carried a fairly high end tablet. And the only rooms she was shown, other than the dining facilities, were empty.

 

The staff was friendly without being familiar, and attentive without being intrusive. In short, they were clearly well trained.

 

As she relaxed and enjoyed her massage, her mind drifted over what she had been told about the would-be kidnappers. In particular, she wondered about the meaning of the well thumbed copy of "Foundation and Empire".

 

Sitting in her office, Mrs. Tabor caught that thought, and its context. She shook her head a little sadly, having a good idea about the relevance of the book. She typed a few things into her system, making arrangements for an evening trip.

 

At lunch, David was muttering something about needing more vowels. While it reminded Angel of a board game with letter tiles and a game show that was on something like its tenth resurrection, she couldn't figure out what he was talking about. She looked a question at Lena, who only rolled her eyes and gestured an invitation for Angel to ask him.

 

"Ok," Angel asked, "Who needs more vowels, and why?"

 

"Our group does." He replied, as though it was obvious. "Making an acronym from our names, the best I can come up with is 'FARCC' - maybe the 'FARCC Force' or something. But you know everyone is going to say it like 'farce'."

 

"What does it stand for?" Angel asked, feeling a little slow.

 

"Flit, Angel, Radar, Cassandra, and the Captain." He announced, with a satisfied grin.

 

"We can recruit Otter," Robin suggested.

 

Everyone agreed that she was a good friend, but they didn't have a good idea how she would fit in with the project. Maybe there would be times when they needed some muscle or something.

 

In the end, nothing came of the discussion. Almost nothing. It became apparent that all of them really did consider their little group a team of sorts.

 

After school, Angel learned that she had a couple of late afternoon clients at the spa. The work would be purely cosmetic, and not too difficult. Robin also had some work, including transporting Angel.

 

When Angel thumbed in, she was directed to Mrs. Tabor's office. When she got there, her employer was welcoming but uncharacteristically reserved. She seemed to have things on her mind - more than the subject of the meeting. Once Angel was seated, she began.

 

"We have another client for you, if you're up to it. A young woman who is getting married tomorrow, into a somewhat prominent family of Central American descent. Some of her soon to be in laws, who were not expected to attend the wedding, have arrived. If you are up to it, she would very much like you to regrow something long lost."

 

"I'm at full strength, and the other client requests are pretty trivial for me. It shouldn't be a problem. How... uh... discrete would I need to be?"

 

"This isn't a matter of state. Feel free to leave your signature. In fact, I would encourage it. It seems that some of those relatives may have indirect ties to some of the foes of your one time royal client."

 

"No problem, then." Angel smiled.

 

"Let someone know if you need anything." Angel recognized the polite dismissal, and smiled as she stood up and left.

 

When she got back to the employee area, she called her mother and told her about working late. She said that the spa would contact her if the shift took long enough that an overnight stay was required, and that she would be having dinner at the spa.

 

Both of Angel's early clients had dates that night (or "social engagements" as her briefings put it), and were getting a variety of procedures done by other staff members. Her parts were fairly superficial. One needed a tan evened out, and a little cosmetic work on the face. The other had a tattoo she wanted to be rid of, and a couple of small scars to be removed.

 

She had time for dinner and some homework before she needed to get ready for her more challenging client. Robin was busy with some other work, so she ate with a couple of the other employees she had met.

 

When she started studying her notes for the bride, she saw that she was not much older than Angel. Less than two years, in fact, although she looked younger than that. Her "cover story" was the fact that she was there to get ready for the next day. She would be getting a soak of some sort, a massage, and all sorts of beauty procedures. Her hair, finger and toe nails, and so on would be done to perfection. Her bridal shower would be in an event room at the spa later that night. In addition to the main procedure, Angel would be fixing a few facial blemishes.

 

When her cue came, she "appeared" and started with the face. Then she moved down to where an operator had just finished removing most of her pubic hair and styling the rest. As the operator moved out of the way, Angel stepped in and got to work.

 

Without the need for stealth, Angel found the process much easier. She used a balance of her own energies and the bride's, and let it find its own pattern. While she no longer got any thrill from the idea - much less the reality - of having her fingers in another girl's vagina for a couple of hours, her focus on the process kept her from thinking about that aspect. In the end, she was a little tired but nowhere near exhausted. And she felt a certain pride in a job well done.

 

When she had changed back into her own clothes and gotten ready to leave, Robin showed up to take her home. Angel noticed that Robin looked even more tired than her, and got an impression of her being a little out of phase. Like she had time traveled and wasn't quite back to her "home" time.

 

They both agreed that they could not talk about what they had done, and that a quick snack and then a flit home would do them both a world of good. As they were munching, Angel learned that she had gotten a tip from the bride. A thousand dollar tip. Either she was incredibly grateful, or the procedure was billed at a whole lot more than anything else Angel did there. Or maybe a little of both. She would eventually find out how much her commission from the procedure was, and she made a mental wager that it would be a lot.

 

After the snack, and the usual business of getting ready to leave, the trip home was quick and welcome. Robin barely said hello to Angel's parents before flitting home. After exchanging some vague pleasantries with her parents, mostly about "how it went", Angel dragged herself up to her room, quickly got ready, and flopped into bed.

 

 The number two man in Homeland Security was working late. As usual. He found it useful to do some things when he would be free of interruptions. So he did not exactly welcome this interruption, in the form of his door opening. His locked, electronically controlled door.

 

He was even less happy to recognize the woman who walked in. Moved by a lifelong impulse, he stood to greet her.

 

"What are you doing here, after hours?" He kept his tone civil, but disapproving.

 

"You have been a very bad boy, Johnathan. You've used your little group of bigots to push you up the career ladder, and to take your petty revenge on some people. And all that time, you were the very thing you encouraged them to hate and fear."

 

He worked hard to keep from showing how badly her words rattled him. "What are you talking about?" He asked, with feigned indignity. "More importantly, how did you get in here?"

 

"Kidnapping, killing, framing other groups of bigots for your activities. Shameful."

 

He didn't have to take this. She would feel better about him, would respect and approve of his power and position. She would...

 

"Oh, Johnathan." she shook her head. "Such a feeble attempt to misuse your abilities once more."

 

He was shocked. She shouldn't have been able to shake off his projected empathy. Especially not so easily. In fact, she should not have been able to do anything with her own abilities. Not in the suppression field flooding his office. It was carefully tailored to allow only his powers of perceptive and projective empathy to operate.

 

Her look was sad, like a disappointed mother confronting her errant child. "You never did understand the nature or extent of my abilities. Even then, so long ago, you thought I was just a silly girl who could sometimes read minds."

 

"And your sad little ego games. Really, Johnathan, styling yourself after The Mule? Using that book for your secondary code? Did you really think nobody would put it all together?"

 

He sat there silently, beginning to comprehend his situation.

 

"What will they think, those people of yours? Who would believe it? You, of all people... an illegally unregistered morf."

 

"You..." He began.

 

"Oh, no. I have all the paperwork proving that I registered. It was not my fault that the record was lost in that system conversion all those years ago. And of course, I would not have any way of knowing that had happened. You, on the other hand, just hid your status, That was naughty, Johnathan."

 

She went on. "But you have been naughty in so many ways. So very many ways. The guilt is weighing you down."

 

He started to become genuinely afraid, as he became aware of the waves of guilt washing through him.

 

"Oh, yes. You have reason to be afraid. What will they think when they find out? All those small minded people you used, what will they do? And your peers and superiors in the government?"

 

She let that sink in for a moment, then went on. "There really only seems to be one way out, But you cannot take that step. Not yet. You are not certain what lies beyond, but one thing is clear. If you carry all those secrets and deceits with you, you will never find peace. You will feel so much better when you finish unburdening yourself."

 

A sense of certainty filled him, as he thought about that. He was startled to notice his hands moving, almost of their own volition. Opening the hidden files, typing out a confession of his status and clandestine activities, laying everything out in detail. It was the most important thing in the world. And it helped him keep from thinking about what was next.

 

Finally, after working under her patient and strangely benevolent gaze, he copied everything to a datachip. He ejected the chip, and sent a copy of the information to his superior - attached to his resignation. As he handed her the chip, he did feel a sense of relief, of a tremendous burden lost.

 

But it wasn't complete. And she reminded him about the rest.

 

"There is really only one thing left to do. You do not want to face those who followed you. Not when they know how you deceived and betrayed them. And your friends and colleagues? You have nothing left to tell them. There is really only the one way. I will let you have some privacy now. Find peace, Johnathan."

 

With that sad goodbye, she stood and left the room. After the door closed behind her, she sighed at the barely heard sound that made its way through all that insulation. She was sure that the gunshot made a terrible mess of the office. In a matter of seconds, there was another kind of silence. She truly hoped he found some measure of peace.

 

Downstairs, as she prepared to leave the building, she silently handed the chip to a black dressed woman of her acquaintance. She nodded, smiling mirthlessly at the notion of such a person officially being known as a color. At least, as far as she was officially known at all.

 

They went their separate ways, without further comment. The woman met up with a teenaged girl, and they walked to a nearby coffee shop. Once inside, they headed toward the restroom and then vanished.

 

 Angel woke up slowly, enjoying the luxury of a late morning. She had a theater inspection that day, at her convenience, and a couple of late afternoon clients at the spa. Otherwise, the day was hers.

 

*That's what you think.* Snickered a familiar mental voice. "You up for running the Hill this afternoon?*

 

*I guess. I have a couple of clients at the spa, later. Will it be before or after?*

 

*Before, I think. And it should be an easy one for you. Most likely, she will either be rejected or punished.*

 

*How come?*

 

*She's from a different, sort of anti morf, group.*

 

*Sort of?*

 

*They accept people like us, who look completely human and have powers. They also accept those who look human but did not get any powers. But they completely reject absolute hybrids, or even those with significant non human features.*

 

*Like David?*

 

*They're not as clear on people like David. Some call him an angel, ironically enough. Some think of his wings as a power rather than an animal characteristic. But others consider him a part animal because of them, and reject him. She's one of those.*

 

*Why bother with her at all?*

 

*We want the down side to be known. The idea that the Spirit of Pope Hill has its standards, and if you don't measure up you don't get what you want. And if you really piss off the Hill, you get something you don't want.*

 

*What does she want?*

 

*Power. She changes her mind a lot, but she wants to be some kind of elemental or converter, so she can use her power to "put those animals in their places." Not a nice person, inside that pretty little head.*

 

*A good candidate for a turn down. Anything else and I would want strong assurances. I don't want another suicide on my conscience.* Angel was adamant about that.

 

Lena understood. She remembered Angel's anguish when she heard about the AMORFS inspired suicides.

 

Angel had another thought. *What about the timing? I can do my theater later this morning, and maybe even take in a movie. But the appointments at the spa are pretty fixed.*

 

*Worst comes to worst, Robin can flit you forward or back in time to make things work.*

 

*Ok. Gotta go... I smell breakfast!* Angel was already up and moving, wrapped in her old bathrobe. Ok, not so old, she realized. Just not as nice as the new one she would soon be able to wear.

 

The theater inspection went routinely. She was mostly inspecting recent shipments of snacks and looking for potential hotspots in the concession area. The manager congratulated her on her accolades at the meeting, and left her to it.

 

It was a little windy as she left the theater. Suddenly, some people were looking above her head and a couple were screaming. She looked up just in time to see some kind of translucent black shield deflect some falling chunks of the building. About the time they struck the shield, she heard the sort of ping and whistle that movies used for ricocheting billets.

 

As quickly as the shield had appeared, it was gone. Angel ran back into the theater, and got the manager. He sent his assistant out to block off the area and preserve the scene, then called the police. Angel called the office, to let them know as well.

 

When the police got there, they quickly ruled out accident. It was clear that the masonry had been deliberately broken. It was clearly an attack. The only question was whether it was aimed at Angel personally, or at the theater. Even that seemed to be cleared up fairly quickly, when the police found the remnants of a vanisher bullet. It was clearly an attempt to kill her, and make it appear superficially like an accident.

 

While an officer was taking her statement, he got a call and let her know that the person who dropped the masonry, and fired the shot, was in custody. He finished taking her statement, then moved on to other witnesses.

 

Angel was more puzzled than anything. She figured that she was probably in shock or something, but she was spending more time and effort wondering about the shield than about what it averted. What was it? And Where did it come from?

 

*From your Dr. Miller. She's been watching you.*

 

*Lena! I thought you couldn't read her.*

 

*It comes and goes. She has a shield, but she doesn't always have it up.*

 

*Not that I'm not grateful for the save, but why is she watching me?*

 

*She's suspicious. She doesn't believe the Pope Hill story, and doesn't believe that David and Robin are coincidences.*

 

*What does she know?*

 

*No idea. I only had a few seconds to get what I did.*

 

*Damn. Are we still doing the Hill thing today?*

 

*She's on her way. Are you ready to leave?*

 

*Give me a minute.*

 

Angel went and checked with the manager. The police had her contact information, and he had things well in hand. She was already thumbed out, so she told Lena she was good to go. Lena told her that Robin would teleport her, and had her get to somewhere she wouldn't be noticed.

 

She checked the break room, and it was empty for the moment.

 

*Ready for transport.* She grinned, using the words from an ancient vid.

 

A moment later, she found herself in Robin's living room. It was apparently functioning as Pope Hill Mission Central, from the look of things. There were snacks and drinks on the table, and David and Lena were standing facing each other, with Penny just to the side. They murmured things to each other, apparently reinforcing telepathic statements.

 

Robin took Angel aside, and explained what she had missed.

 

"Our subject is on her way there. We have time for a brief experiment we wanted to do." She waved her hand to indicate a potted plant on the table. "We want to see whether you can scan someone while I have you invisible and intangible. We'll use the plant for the test. Ready?"

 

Angel nodded. Robin hugged her, and vanished. Angel looked at the plant, and chose to understand it's biological nature. She got the feeling she had done so, even to the point of knowing where there were small areas of damage that she had not seen. "Got it."

 

"Now try to do something to it."

 

Angel accelerated the growth of one leaf, then stopped it a moment later. Even invisible and intangible, she could use her elemental field.

 

"Ok," Robin said. "Now give it a virus."

 

Angel had to stop and think for a moment. She had encountered plant virii before, but it had been a while. Then she got one, and her powers created it and prepared it for delivery. But when she tried to pass it to the plant, nothing happened.

 

"Doesn't work. I can prepare it, but I can't give it to the plant."

 

"I was afraid of that." She seemed to adjust something, and Angel noticed a slight breeze on her fingertip. "Try it now."

 

Angel reached the finger over and touched a leaf, expecting the transfer. This time, she felt the familiar jolt. Looking at the leaf, she could see the slow spread of the virus.

 

"It worked." She announced. Robin appeared, and grinned.

 

"I made your finger, well... part of it anyway, tangible but still invisible. That will work." Robin went on to explain their plan. Robin would take Angel to the park, and they would invisibly and intangibly follow their subject. When Angel had enough information, she would "tell" Lena, who would "tell" Robin. Robin would teleport them back to the house. When they had decided what to do, Angel could deliver the packet - if any - with her invisible finger at the same time that the illusion touched the girl's chest.

 

Angel had a worrisome thought. "Where's Dr Miller?"

 

"With the police. She's the one who captured the guy who tried to shoot you."

 

Angel shuddered at that. Until that moment, she had not really accepted that the sound was a shot. Much less one aimed at her. Seeing her distress, Robin hugged her and they sat on the sofa for a few minutes. Angel found the contact comforting.

 

"She's at the park." Lena announced. It was clear that she was describing the subject, not Dr. Miller.

 

Robin looked a question at Angel, who nodded. They stood up, and then they were at the park watching a girl park at a nearby picnic area. She just sat in the car for a few minutes, as though she was debating her plan or getting her "wish" together. Angel made use of that time, gathering the necessary impressions through the open car window. When she was ready, she let Lena know, then found herself back at the house. In the arms of a visible, grinning Robin.

 

What followed was a quick, intense conference. Apparently, the girl's thoughts made it clear that she wanted powers to "smite" the "subhuman" hybrids. She even had some ideas - some very ugly ideas - about what she would do.

 

They agreed that it was fitting, if somewhat regrettable, to make her a furry hybrid. David suggested a prairie dog hybrid, and Angel found that she could do it. Down to the short, black tipped tail. They quickly refined the plan, with Penny predicting that suicide would not be a problem as long as they left her the ability to speak.

 

The time came and, with a final check on the status of Dr. Miller, Angel and Robin went to do the deed. The girl had the look of a mouse facing a snake as the image moved toward her, but she didn't move.

 

At least, she didn't move until Angel touched her. Then she collapsed on the ground, in a heap.

 

Back at the house, they watched as Lena and David kept tabs on her. Angel and Robin both reached for the refreshments, to rebuild their expended energies. Angel hadn't used all that much, but she still had the appointments at the spa.

 

With that thought, she asked Robin whether she would be flitting her to the spa. She said that she would.

 

A few moments later, the others joined them. The consensus was that everything had gone well. Word would go out that the Hill still worked, and that it punished certain kinds of malicious requests. And none of them had apparently been anywhere near the girl before, during, or after the event at the Hill.

 

Some miles away, an eCom signaled a call. It's owner smiled as she watched the data flow on the screen. The three dimensional chart it displayed told her just what she expected to find. A police officer standing nearby shuddered at the sight of her needle sharp teeth.

 

Later, at the spa, Angel was studying her client backgrounds. While both were cosmetic, the second was not quite the usual thing. It was an all over body thing, but instead of a tan, she wanted her tan removed. She wanted her body and face to be the color of the skin near her pubic mound, and her breasts the same pale, creamy color all over that they were on the protected underside. She also wanted a few stretch marks eliminated.

 

Angel understood when she actually saw her client. She recognized her as a well known actress, who was supposed to be receiving some sort of award that evening. Angel didn't remember whether the ceremony was supposed to be in New York or California, but she guessed it really didn't matter. She wondered whether Robin would be doing the transport duties.

 

Angel felt a small twinge of remembered reaction, from all the times her former self had imagined the scene before her: the actress, completely naked and on display, waiting for her special caress. Of course, when she had those fantasies she was a teenaged boy.

 

Angel saw that while she was working on the skin, others would be working on her hair and fingernails. Her toe nails and pubic hair had been done.

 

Noting the neatly trimmed and shaped pubic hair, Angel set to work. She took in the basic information she needed, then paid particular attention to the areas that were to provide color for the results. She found the stretch marks, and eliminated them first. Then, starting from her left foot, Angel worked her way up her body. She was careful to reach places like between her elaborately pedicured toes.

 

When she was up to the woman's navel, she was startled to hear herself addressed.

 

"Can I ask you a question?" The actress inquired, politely.

 

"Of course." Angel kept her tone professional, with pleasant overtones. Just as she had heard the others do.

 

"Why do you have to touch every part you change?"

 

All in all, a reasonable question. And the answer was no secret. "I am a bio elemental, but not a powerful one. My field only extends about a quarter inch from my skin. And I need some of that quarter inch to get deeply enough into your skin to get the effect you want. I am very sorry if you find the contact unpleasant."

 

The woman was quick to respond. "No, the contact is not unpleasant. The feeling was a little odd when you removed the marks, but the rest has been like a gentle caress. If anything, it is very pleasant." She closed her eyes, and relaxed.

 

Angel had continued her actions while they spoke, and had started working her way around her well formed breasts by then. She was saving those for last, since their color would be a little different. Well, last on the front side, anyway.

 

As she worked her way up the woman's neck, she noticed that she was wearing no makeup. She also notices two of the better makeup technicians were in there making preparations. Angel understood that the desired effect was somewhat unusual, since such preparations usually took place behind the scenes. And because every now and then the technicians would show the client something for her feedback.

 

The woman was no fool. She asked whether Angel could undo anything she did. Angel thought she understood where that was leading, and said that she could certainly do so with skin color, and could probably do so with some of the scars.

 

The woman asked that Angel temporarily change the hands of the technicians, one hand of each, to match her own new skin tone. That way, she could better see what they proposed. After getting nods from her two coworkers, Angel did so. She would have to stay at the spa until they were finished with her, so she could change them back.

 

Once she was done with her client's face, she did her breasts and then had her turn over so she could get her back. There was no question where her work stopped and started. Even relatively protected areas showed some color difference.

 

Her back went more quickly, since it was less complex in shape and there was less territory to cover. But Angel was every bit as thorough as before. The instant she was done, she stepped back and the makeup and hair people asked their client to turn over again. As she did so, Angel waited until her back was to her and then stepped through the hidden door.

 

Angel was done for the afternoon, other than restoring her coworkers' hands. She got her eCom from her locker and called home. She told them that she might be a little later than expected getting home, but should be there in time for a slightly late dinner. By way of compensation, she offered to bring home dinner from the spa. Her mother commented that the stew she was making would taste better if it sat overnight, anyway, and accepted the offer.

 

She contacted Robin to get an idea of when she would be ready to go home, then ordered the meals. Robin came and found her, and they decided to get a snack together. They got the herbal drinks from the service bar, and a sampler platter from the kitchen. Angel wasn't even sure what some of the things there were, but tried most of them and found them delicious.

 

They had just started in on the snacks when the makeup technicians stopped by. Angel restored the color of their hands and, while she was at it, healed a number of scars on both sets of hands. The women commented that no matter how careful you are, working with the things they did inevitably marked you sooner or later. They thanked Angel and, after a brief consultation, went to get their own sampler platter.

 

As they were settling in to talk and eat, a hand snaked in and grabbed one of the goodies. A familiar hand.

 

"Donna!" Angel smiled. "Pull up a chair and join us!" Angel introduced the two of them. Donna recognized Robin's name as one of the teleporters.

 

"Say," Angel asked, curious. "What was that you just ate?" It was a smallish disk of some sort of red meat, battered and fried. Angel recognized it as some sort of organ meat, but the cooking had rendered it too far from its living state for her to gather any information.

 

"Some people call them home fries."

 

"But they're meat, not potatoes." Robin joined in.

 

"That's right. They're Rocky Mountain Oysters, sliced, dipped, and fried." Donna grinned, reaching for a fried mushroom.

 

"Oysters?" Angel asked. She had eaten fried oysters (and clams) any number of times, and liked them. But these tasted nothing like them. She noticed Robin's rather strong negative reaction to the description, but could see that her friend was not sick or anything.

 

"Not the seafood kind." Donna replied, holding up a round of fried calamari as though to illustrate.

 

Much to Angel's frustration, neither girl would elaborate. She did notice that Robin gave her a funny look when she took another one to eat. And that Robin kept well clear of the few remaining ones.

 

She decided she was going to look them up, the first chance she got.

 

They sat there, talking and eating, until the reminder tone on Robin's tablet chimed. She grabbed the last potato skin, grinned, and left. Angel went to change, and Donna kept her company. On the way, Angel noticed that her tablet had some new information. The actress had given her a very generous tip. Out of curiosity, she opened a table that showed her recent earnings.

 

She stopped dead in her tracks. In a little over one work week, she had earned more than $50,000, including the tips. At that rate, she would make more in two weeks than her mother made in a year.

 

Donna saw her reaction, and what caused it. She knew it was from the "specials" of Angel's powers, but she was still impressed. "Just remember," she warned Angel, "some weeks will be busier than others. You are a premium commodity, and even the rich ones will tend to only use you for special occasions. Don't go too crazy with the spending sprees."

 

Her grin took the sting out of the final remark. Angel, still somewhat in shock, replied "Don't worry. Most of it goes right into my college fund."

 

"Planning to buy a college?" Donna quipped.

 

Angel laughed. "Who knows? If I can keep this up, maybe I could afford to." She closed the table on the tablet and went in to change.

 

While she was changing, her tablet pinged. By the time she looked, a few seconds later, she had four messages from coworkers. Each was asking for some healing, mostly of work related injuries.

 

Angel acknowledged the requests, then asked Donna how to get one of the training rooms for a little bit. Donna took her through the process, and they ended up with the same one they had used that first day. Donna grinned at that. "Our special place." she commented.

 

Angel messaged the others, asking them to meet her there. Donna's tablet pinged, sending her on some mission of her own. Angel was left to handle the crowd on her own.

 

The problems were surprisingly minor. Two burns, a cut (which was a little bit nasty), and a more interesting problem. A spilled container of dye had gotten on him. Most of it just hit his uniform and his disposable gloves. But there were areas on his wrists and face that were splattered. Worse, the dye had burned him there.

 

Working carefully, Angel took the face first. She carefully wiped off what little of the die was still on the surface, then convinced his tissues to push out the remaining dye and heal the burns. She wiped off the dead skin and dye as it came loose. While she was at it, she asked his permission, then healed a few other scars on his face.

 

His wrists were somewhat easier, since the area of damage was so limited. She took the same approach, and was quickly done. He was followed by a man with a request for an almost-all-over tan. Or rather, to have his existing tan evened out and a few tan lines erased. He changed discretely into a thong swimsuit, then moved to the table. It took Angel relatively little time and effort to complete the work.

 

He thanked her, and invited her to call him any time she needed something. Or one of the men in her life did. He specialized in deep tissue massage and acupressure, but was certified in other spa specialties as well.

 

He helped her police the room (the real cleaning would be handled by the cleaning staff), then left. She logged out of the room, and shut the door.

 

After all that, she got another energy drink. She was far from exhausted, but she had done a fair amount of work in a short time.

 

Besides, she liked the drinks.

 

She was about halfway through it when she got two notices on her tablet. Robin was back, and her food was ready. She put away her tablet, then went to get the food. Robin met her on the way, looking a little ragged.

 

"Don't ask." was all Robin would say, rolling her eyes.

 

Moments later, Angel was home. It was hard to believe it was still evening, and the sun was still up. While the family gathered around the table and ate, Angel told them about her earnings. She repeated what Donna had said about differing weeks, but she was still impressed. Her father reminded her that part of that was her so called "signing bonus", which was a one time thing.

 

That said, he congratulated her, and acknowledged that she was making quite a lot of money. Both parents were happy to hear that she still planned on putting the bulk of it in her college fund. At that rate, she should be able to afford any school in the country, if she chose to do so out of her own pocket.

 

The news relieved her mother in another way. She had seen too many other kids and young adults - family members and children of friends - who had come into a little money and let it go to their heads. So far, Angel seemed to show no signs of following their bad example.

 

Later that evening, as Angel watched the news with her parents, she was excited by the news about the raids leading to the breaking of a ring of criminals operating as an anti morf militia. And that some of those arrested worked for Homeland Security, including one Regional Director. In particular, Angel was happy to hear of the rescues of Ms. Wilson and two other bio elementals the group had been holding prisoner. A few members were still at large, but the authorities expected to have them in hand soon.

 

As she discussed it with her family, they all but missed the more routine, if sad, report about the death of a high government official. Their attention was caught with the report that he had resigned, admitting that he was an illegally unregistered morf, the day before he died of a brain hemorrhage.

 

They had no way of knowing what the report didn't say - that the hemorrhage was caused by a small, high velocity piece of metal traveling through that organ. Or that the details in the admission had helped open the way for the raids mentioned in the earlier report.

 

Nor did they connect any of that with the apparently accidental death of a local police officer. They learned that he was killed in a shootout that afternoon, apparently a victim of friendly fire. When his picture was shown, they recognized him as the unpleasant Officer John, the one who had all but accused Angel of kidnapping and killing Ms. Wilson..

 

Angel smiled when the news turned to a lighter tone, announcing the winners at a gala event in Hollywood. Her client won not one, but three awards. And she felt a certain pride when she heard comments about how striking she had looked, with her unseasonably light skin and her breathtaking, if somewhat daring, gown. Apparently, it was made in such a way that you could glimpse most of her skin (other than her nipples and privates) through the fabric in person, but not through any video lens. Even the cameras could catch the large expanse of her back revealed by the backless gown, and the décolletage framed by the low neckline. They also commented on her spectacular hair and makeup.

 

Before getting ready to go to bed, Angel checked her eCom. She found a somewhat odd and ominous message from Dr. Miller, instructing her and her friends to meet her at the picnic tables near Pope hill Sunday afternoon.

 

*Lena?*

 

*I got it, too. So did David and Robin. Somehow, she seems to have missed Penny. I think she knows, somehow.*

 

*How? She was busy when we did the last one, and wasn't around for the others.*

 

*Dunno. I can't read her thoughts, but her emotions about the time she sent those read as a sort of satisfied certainty.*

 

*What do we do?*

 

*Meet with her. If she wanted to make trouble, she wouldn't need to go through all this.*

 

*What do the others think?*

 

*Robin is kinda tired, and says she's too tired to think anything. She'll be there.*

 

*David?*

 

*David will be there. But he is wondering whether he should bring his father.*

 

*Probably not a good idea. Yet. If we need him, we can get him pretty much on a moment's notice - fully up to speed.*

 

*Pretty much what I told David. Still, he's gonna check out the area before we go.*

 

*Sounds good. 'Night, Lena.*

 

*G'night Angel. Pleasant dreams.*

 

 End Part 19

 

 

   

 

 

The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


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