Byakko: A MORFS Universe Story

By Tegrachan (aided by Shrike)  

Chapter 4

As Kumiko walked through the halls of the school everyone was smiling at her. She smiled back, but asked herself why the others were smiling. Then she looked at herself in a mirror and saw that she was wearing a pale pink dress that showed a lot of cleavage and very short hemline. Before she could think more about it, she noticed a boy looking at her. It was her neighbor Zack. He smiled at her and motioned to her to come to him. Kumiko sashayed over to him and as soon as they were close enough, they started kissing.

As they stopped for a moment to catch their breath, Kumiko thought, 'What the hell am I doing?' Then Zack grabbed her again and the kissing continued. Kumiko didn't even pull away as she enjoyed it too much.

With her heart beating wildly in her chest, Kumiko woke up from her dream. 'What the hell was that all about? I never want to kiss a boy. Why am I dreaming about kissing that neighbor boy Zack and in school of all places?'

She got out of bed and Stormy, noticing her distress, jumped on the bed to get closer to her. Kumiko sat down again on the bed and started petting her big kitten. She still felt out of odds though. Between her legs she felt warm and tingly, and even a bit moist.

Kumiko found it disturbing and took Stormy down the stairs to the kitchen. While going down the stairs she started to feel better and more at ease. By the time she got to the kitchen she felt her normal self, whatever that might be though. She took a milk jug from the fridge and poured herself and Stormy some. As she drank her milk, she relaxed a bit and soon felt calm enough to go back to bed, but some nagging feeling inside made her feel itchy about that. So instead she lay down on the sofa with Stormy in her lap.

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Next door to Kumiko

"Shit, she's out of range," cursed Zack.

"What happened," asked the man who called himself Henry.

Zack sighed, "She woke up during my projection and went out of range, I would need to get closer to the house to influence her. But I can't do that without exposure. I would have to have a good reason to be outside at this hour."

"Yeah, at your age you shouldn't be out this late," sneered the woman calling herself Blanche.

"I'm an adult and you know it," roared Zack.

"Well, you don't look like it and your cover is being a minor," said Henry coldly. "Now, I thought that you were such a powerful and experienced projection empath."

Zack gave him a dirty look, "Yes, I'm a bloody good empath. But even I have my limits to where I'm effective with my power. I wasn't finished with her conditioning. I'm afraid she'll elude the conditioning if she stays out of reach for much longer."

Blanche sighed, "Great, we'll have to stay here for a lot longer then. I don't look forward to that. I hate playing the nice housewife."

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Kumiko

In the morning Kumiko found herself waking up on the sofa, fortunately before any of the others had come down. She quickly went up to her room before heading out to the bathroom. She quickly washed herself and brushed her teeth before seeing what she could wear today. She choose a very dark t-shirt and matching slacks. It made her look somewhat more androgynous, just like she wanted.

Amaya was making breakfast when Kumiko got to the kitchen. Seeing the Tiger girl wearing the dark boyish clothes, she commented, "Why are you not wearing a nice dress to school."

Kumiko scowled, "No way, I don't need to look like a cute little girl. I want to be me, not the dress up doll that you would like me to be."

Amaya's face darkened, "Don't take up that tone with me, Ojousan."

At that moment Ichiro walked into the kitchen, "Ohayo."

Kumiko turned to him, "We had an agreement that I wouldn't be treated as a little kid."

Ichiro didn't know what to say for a moment and looked intermittent at Kumiko and Amaya. Amaya started, "I asked her why she wasn't wearing some nice dress to school."

Ichiro sighed, he was afraid that Kumiko's strong will would clash with Amaya's views on things. "Amaya, please let Kumiko dress as she wants. I know you want her to act, behave and dress as Sachiko did. But she has her views. Don't force her too much."

Then he turned to Kumiko, "Please indulge Amaya a few times and dress like a young girl should. You don't have to like it, but once in a while is not that bad, is it?"

Kumiko thought about it, it wasn't an unreasonable request, so she gave in, "Okay, I will wear a dress once in a while, but preferably not to school! Unless it is required for something."

Ichiro looked intently at Amaya, who gave in as well, "Oh, all right then. I'm sorry Kumiko. I shouldn't try to push you too much."

Kumiko sighed from relief. Finally she managed to dress less girly. She'd already had enough of all the frilly things. Now if only she could evade school? Her hopes of that were squashed soon enough as Ichiro said, "Come Kumiko, I'll give you and Sachiko a ride to school."

Soon after they were in the car and Kumiko whined, "Why do I need to go to school? I already know all that stuff."

Ichiro smiled, "Then it should be easy for you to get an excellent grade. But at your age, you have to be in school or we'll be in trouble with the schools inspectorate. That would also mean that you'd be violating your probation and that your case would be reviewed again by the court. I'm pretty sure that they'd put you into a special home with a lot less freedom than you have now."

Kumiko hadn't thought of that, "Oh, I see your point. Very well then, I'll go to that stupid school and be a good girl."

"Thank you, now get your stuff, we're there," replied Ichiro.

Kumiko got out of the car followed by Sachiko. Hesitantly she walked towards the school entrance. She looked up at the front and it looked like the gates of Hell had opened for her. However it was too late to turn back. Sachiko was right behind her and gently pushed her towards the school entrance. As both girls entered the school, they got called over by a small man.

Sachiko said as they approached, "Yes, Mr. Kensing?"

He looked at Kumiko, "I would want to have a talk in private with your adoptive sister Kumiko."

Sachiko objected, "I don't think that is appropriate, Mr. Kensing."

Kumiko turned to her, "It is okay, Sachiko. I can defend myself."

The headmaster Kensing harrumphed, "That is why I want to talk to you. I heard that you have a volatile temper. I just want to remind you that we don't allow fighting here. Punishment will be severe if I catch you or anyone else fighting."

Kumiko sighed, 'Why is everyone on my back? Can't they just leave me alone?' "Mr. Kensing. I'm not looking for trouble. I just defended myself. I am allowed to do that if someone attacks me, right?"

He snorted, "Within certain limits, yes. But I will be watching you, Miss Furumori."

Kumiko watched him walk away and turned to Sachiko, "See? I'm already condemned. I don't want to go to school."

Sachiko just smiled, "Too late, you're here and I'm going to make sure that you stay here," before turning around to go to the classrooms.

Kumiko quietly said, "Drat."

Sachiko turned slightly towards her, "I heard that."

The actual classes weren't so bad. Kumiko just felt bored sitting in class. She would much rather be doing exercises. She loved learning however. It made the classes bearable. One thing was bothering her though, that she already knew most things. How she knew it, was still beyond her grasp. She worried that she would never get her memories back from before her accident. She noticed a few other cat hybrids in some of her classes and noticed that they were eyeing her as well. 'Maybe I should have a talk with them later,' she thought.

During the change of classes she noticed some dog hybrids, and they didn't look friendly towards her and the other cat hybrids. Kumiko didn't like their attitude and posture at all. She vowed to be on her guard and look out for trouble from them.

During lunchtime it happened, Kumiko was standing in the line to get some tasty smelling meat products, when a dog hybrid pushed in line in front of a cat hybrid boy before her. Though the cat hybrid boy didn't say anything, the dog hybrid boy turned to him and said, "What? You want to make something of it, Johnny boy?"

The cat hybrid, presumably named Johnny, hastily said, "I didn't say anything. I don't want any trouble."

"Too late pussy. You're gonna get it now." With that the dog hybrid started swinging his arm for a right hook.

Kumiko stepped in and blocked the arm, hard. Then she faked a strike to the head while ducking underneath the blocked arm. Doing this she also grabbed the wrist of the blocked arm. While ducking under the arm she twisted it up and towards the armpit, locking his arm in place. Stepping away from the boy, she pulled him along. He had to follow the movement and Kumiko threw him onto the floor.

The boy quickly got back to his feet and turned towards Kumiko. He growled, "I'm gonna get you for that, little pussy."

He charged at Kumiko, who stepped aside just in time and put her shoulder under his arm, while locking it with her other arm. With the leverage she threw the boy all the way over the counter into the kitchen area. As the dog hybrid boy got to his feet again, a little slower this time, a voice boomed. "What the hell is going on here."

Kumiko startled hearing the voice of principal Kensing. She noticed that the others were also startled by the loud voice. Mr. Kensing quickly stepped in front of Kumiko, but looked at the boy behind the counter. "Who was fighting, and who started it?" asked the angry sounding Mr. Kensing.

Nobody dared to speak up at first, but then Kumiko spoke up, "Nobody was fighting, Mr. Kensing. He," Kumiko pointed at the dog hybrid boy behind the counter, "was just showing off at how good he could jump. He miscalculated and ended up over there."

Mr. Kensing squinted at Kumiko and then at the boy. "Is this true, Mr. Beans?

"Yes, Mr. Kensing. It was all my fault. I tried to show them something I saw in a movie and it got out of hand."

Mr. Kensing harrumphed, "Well, don't do it again or you'll be in detention for the rest of the week." With that he walked away.

Beans, vaulted back over the counter and stood before Kumiko, "Though I appreciate not ratting me out, this isn't over yet, kittycat. I'll get you later for attacking me."

Kumiko hissed back, "Bring it on, I've got more where that came from, and next time I'll take you down harder."

Beans tried to make a dignified exit, but failed miserably. Kumiko was praised by the intended victim, Johnny. He thanked her profusely and wanted to buy her lunch. Kumiko was about to decline when someone else came up to her. To her dismay, Kumiko recognized her next door neighbor, Zack. He said, "Wow, you are really cool Kumiko. You really handled that guy well."

Kumiko felt flattered by his praise, but that and something else that she didn't understand were setting off warning bells inside her mind. Sounding a bit embarrassed she said, "Thanks, can I have lunch now, please?"

Johnny had already filled a tray with lots of meat snacks and said cheerfully, "I've already got it, here you go."

Kumiko saw that all the things she liked were on the plate. She could do little more than accept it and sit down at a nearby table that miraculously had cleared for her and the people with her. Zack was one of the people sitting at the table and he looked at her all the time. It made Kumiko uncomfortable and weirded her out.

The rest of the day was just boring to Kumiko, but after classes Johnny and a few other boys and girls, all cat hybrids were waiting for Kumiko. A girl introduced herself, "Hi, I'm Emily. I loved what you did to Meany-Beany. Can you teach me?"

Kumiko was a bit flustered for a moment. All the attention was crowding her. She couldn't find an easy way out of it though, so she answered, "I can teach you some basics, but you should go to a martial arts trainer for proper instruction. Besides, I only know this from muscle memory and instinct. I don't really know how to teach the correct moves."

Suddenly Kumiko grabbed her head with both hands, as she felt a searing pain going through her head. She moaned a little before collapsing on the ground. Several voices were saying, "Kumiko?" "Are you all right?" "What happened?" "Did she get attacked?" Kumiko couldn't say who said what, since her mind was totally occupied with the searing pain in her head. 'What could cause this much pain and why?'

Just as sudden as it appeared, the pain went away again. Kumiko got back to her feet and shook her head as if that would help get rid of whatever was aching her. She felt fine again and lied to the people around her, "I'm fine, I just had a little headache."

Johnny said, "You didn't look fine. Must have been some headache by the looks of it."

Kumiko snapped at him, "I'm fine, okay? Just drop it."

Disappointed, Johnny shut up and scowling, he stepped back a bit. Another girl introduced herself, "I'm Penny."

A boy grumbled, "Butch, nice to meet ya."

Kumiko sighed before speaking to them, "Hi, everyone. As you probably already know, my name is Kumiko." Kumiko thought, 'I don't need all this attention, but they want to be friends and I definitely need some friends. Better get through this and hopefully they'll turn out to be good friends.'

"Okay, I'm glad to meet you all, but I need to go home now. I'll see you guys later, okay?"

Amaya said to Kumiko as she entered the house, "Where have you been young lady? Sachiko came home ages ago already."

Ichiro was standing in the doorway to the living room, while Kumiko answered, "I got held up by some guys in my class. They wanted to be friends, so we talked for a while."

Ichiro stepped into the hall, "It is good that you made friends on the first day to school. Next time give us a warning that you'll be a bit late. We got worried, especially when someone out there that has it in for you."

Kumiko looked down, "I'm sorry, I should've thought of that. I promise to tell you next time and not to come home alone."

Amaya said soothingly, "Okay, wash up now, dinner is almost ready."

That night Kumiko had another disturbing dream where she was wearing some kind of revealing dress and dancing or kissing that neighbor boy Zack. She woke up sweating again, and went down to sleep on the sofa again. For some reason she didn't have those disturbing dreams there.

During the rest of the week, Kumiko tightened the bonds of friendship with her newfound friends, which she had dubbed her 'CatSquad'. When they were all together, Beany didn't try to do anything to any of them. When they were alone, that was another matter entirely.

Friday morning Emily came into the school with a few tears in her clothing. She was close to crying. The 'Catsquad' gathered around her and Penny asked, "What happened? Did someone do this to you?"

Emily started crying now, while Kumiko looked at her with disdain. She thought, 'What a crybaby! If someone had attacked me, he'd be running home for mommy by now.' But she kept quiet and listened to Emily.

Emily finally started, "It was Beany again. I encountered him just a block from home. He wanted to have my lunch money. When I didn't want to give him, he started fondling and handling me. I tried to fight back, but he was just too strong."

Just at that moment Beans came walking past and smirked at them. Kumiko was ready to jump at him, but held herself back. It would probably get her into trouble, a suspension or worse, expulsion from school. When she thought of it, 'Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea, I don't need to go to school anyway.' But she didn't want to let Ichiro and her new found family down though.

Meanwhile the others questioned Emily further. It turned out that Beany took all her money and tore her clothing a little doing it. He didn't assault her any further. Kumiko asked, "Why don't we go to the police? I'm sure he could get arrested for that.

Johnny shook his head, "We can never get that to work. His father is a hotshot lawyer. He has bailed out Beany several times already. And usually Beany makes sure that there are no witnesses or that he is attacked first. That way he has 'the right to defend himself'."

Butch confirmed that, "That is all too true, unfortunately."

"But there must be something we can do?" said Kumiko. "We can't let him get away with it."

The bell for first period interrupted them and the group broke up to go inside for class.

Kumiko kept thinking, 'There must be something we can do. Maybe I should get him alone, I'll show him that this cat is too much for him to handle.'

"Kumiko!" sounded the voice of an upset teacher. "Please pay more attention. Or would you like to tell the others where we can find the Indonesian island of Bali?"

'That's easy,' thought Kumiko. "Sure, here it is." She went over to the big map at the wall and pointed at Bali. The next countries that the teacher asked her to point out, she did with ease as well. The teacher looked at her peculiarly before sending her back to her seat. But Kumiko now had something else to occupy her thoughts. 'How did I know all those locations? I've never been there, have I? Oh, why can't I remember?'

Kumiko told Sachiko that she would be a bit late. She told her that she wanted to play with her friends. Then after school she met her 'Catsquad' and they talked about a way to take down Beans. Kumiko said, "Let's just wait for him alone on the street. I'll give him a pounding that he's never gonna forget."

Butch shook his head, "It'll never work. He'll sick his dad and the cops on us. Somehow he'll manage to convince them that you did it."

"But it would be only his word against all of us," said an exasperated Kumiko.

Penny chimed in, "I think we need to find a better way. Someway that he'll be humiliated for the rest of his life and never bother us or anyone else ever again."

Johnny and Emily kept quiet, like they were afraid or didn't agree with what was being talked about. Kumiko grudgingly agreed that they should humiliate Beans, instead of getting beat up. She would have preferred to beat him up though. She looked at her watch, "It's getting late you guys, I've got to get home. Let's meet tomorrow morning early in the park. We'll make a plan then."

That night Kumiko's nightmare intensified. She was dancing in a nice frilly pink dress with someone. Then that scene changed into undressing for that someone. No, not someone, it was the neighbor Zack. Then the scene changed again. She was having sex with Zack and loving every minute of it. That's when Kumiko woke up, sweating profusely and feeling horny as hell. She almost stormed downstairs to the kitchen to get a drink. Then she sat on the sofa, still shaking from her sexual dream. Stormy joined her and she petted her big cat, not really thinking about it.

The next morning early, Kumiko was out the door before any of the other family members got out of bed on a Saturday morning. She went to the park and found Johnny already waiting for her. The rest of the Catsquad joined them soon enough and they started talking about what to do to Beans.

"Let's strip him naked and let him run through the streets."

"No, trip him into a big pile of shit and run him through a crowd."

Kumiko said, "Why not do both, strip him and let him run home covered only in shit."

Butch agreed, "Yeah, let's do that. But when and how? Who knows where we can find shit enough to cover him."

Johnny said, "Finding it is easy, he's full of it."

They all laughed but argued about a spot and a time to carry out their plan. They agreed to think it over during the weekend and come up with a plan for that on Monday.

Kumiko came home from the park just in time for breakfast. She told her adoptive parents that she had been meeting her friends at the park. That they had been talking about sleepover plans at one of the friends place. Ichiro and Amaya bought her cover story and didn't ask anything more. Just as Kumiko finished her breakfast, she clasped her head as another of the killer headaches hit her. She moaned and groaned from the pain, but as before, it suddenly disappeared. Ichiro was looking at her, as Kumiko shook her head. "What happened?" asked Ichiro.

"I had a sudden massive headache. This is the second time it happened." Said a timid Kumiko. "Both times it was only a short time and then it disappeared as sudden as it came."

Ichiro looked thoughtful, "I did look over the X-rays that the hospital made of you. There was something on the photo from your head. Apparently you have something, possibly a bullet in your head. It is located near your long term memory, so I'm pretty sure that it is what resulted in your amnesia. Before you ask, the answer is no. We can't operate at that position in your head. Not even with the help of an MBE. The best I can do is prescribe some painkillers."

Kumiko thought about this before answering, "I don't need painkillers. The pain is brief, can't be predicted and is too short for a painkiller to be effective."

Ichiro nodded, "You're quite right on that. I'm sorry that nothing can be done about your headaches."

Kumiko just nodded silently and went upstairs to her cat. As she was playing with Stormy, she noticed something strange. Her hairs were changing color. Instead of pure white with black stripes, they appeared to become more pink with purple stripes. As she was watching it, the purple stripes changed more and more to blue. Her white hairs now totally became a bright pink. She began to freak out and was about to start screaming hysterically. Then she saw that the color was changing once more. Her old white and black started to come back. Moments later she was her old self.

Kumiko was perplexed, 'What the hell just happened? How did my hairs become pink, and how do I stop it from happening again?'

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The neighbors

"I've been influencing her again as she was in range, but I think something strange happened. She was upset about something that interfered a bit with my empathy. I think she discovered some power." said Zack to Henry.

Henry thought about it, "We may have to step up the plan. I'll notify the general. Keep me informed about any new developments."

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Kumiko

Kumiko came out late from school. She hadn't paid enough attention in class and had gotten detention. She probably missed the meeting with her catsquad and had to go home alone. 'Well, I can handle that.' She thought.

However just a block out of the schoolyard, she encountered a pack of dog hybrids led by Beany. "Any last words?" Beany sneered.

"Yeah, I could use a workout," Kumiko said, enraged but focused. She extended her claws and noticed that they might be a bit longer than expected. 'Another change? I like this one though.'

The Dog hybrids charged at her and she fended them off, being careful not to harm them too much. She was still on probation by the court after all. Just as she was throwing three dog hybrids to the ground, her head started hurting like hell and she clasped it with both hands. She thought, 'Shit, not now!'

She fell to her knees and the dog hybrids saw their opportunity. They started hitting and kicking her wherever they could. As her headache cleared, Kumiko became aware of her predicament and felt really hurt from the blows and kicks. She screamed in anger and slashed around with her claws. The dog hybrids quickly scattered and fled the scene. Clearly they got afraid of what she could do with her claws in a full rage. Only Beany lingered a little longer, "This is only a taste of what is waiting for you, kitty cat. Next time, we'll finish you off."

Kumiko made a weak hearted move towards him and he scampered away. "Coward," Kumiko yelled after him. Then she got up, moaning and groaning. She started limping home, and with each step felt better and better. Her healing power was apparently doing its job. She looked at a nasty gash in her forearm, and as she was watching it, the edges knitted together and the wound closed up. She knew her healing power was good, but not that good. 'What is going on? I'm changing color, extending my claws further than should be possible, and now I'm closing a wound faster than it should, without even as much as a scar or trace of a wound ever having been there.'

As Kumiko got home, Ichiro was waiting for her. "Where have you ." He stopped talking as he saw the state Kumiko was in. Her clothes were crumpled and torn and she looked disheveled. "What happened to you Kumiko?"

Kumiko gave a weak smile, "I had an altercation with some dog hybrids. They attacked me and while I was holding them off I got another headache. That's when they bushwhacked me."

"Do you know any of their names? We'll have them arrested for attacking a single girl." Ichiro said angrily.

"Yes, I know their names, but it's no use going to the police. It'll be my word against theirs, and one of them has a big shot lawyer for a father. He'll turn it around and will have me taken from you for fighting and being dangerous. Besides, how are we going to prove any of it? My wounds have already mostly healed. I would be accused of fabricating a story and get into more trouble."

Ichiro backed down, "Well, if you put it that way, but we should at least tell the school that some of your classmates attacked you."

Kumiko sighed, "No use either. The first day I was at school, headmaster Kensing already told me that he would be watching me. He doesn't tolerate fighting he said. So if you tell him I was in a fight, I'll be in more trouble."

Ichiro groaned, "But there must be something we can do."

"Nope, I'll handle this myself. Don't worry Ichiro. I won't be caught fighting or harming anybody. Please let me handle things. I promise it will be taken care of once and for all."

"Oh well, I guess so. But be careful Kumiko. Now get inside and wash up. Dinner is already ready."

As Kumiko was washing up, she noticed that her claws were still longer than normal. But suddenly they reverted to their normal length. 'Strange,' thought Kumiko, 'I don't want to tell Ichiro about this, they'd lock me up in hospital and study me. Maybe I've got a power?'

Right after dinner Kumiko went upstairs to her bedroom under the pretense of having to do some homework. In fact she did have homework to do, but first she wanted to go online to check if there was something about the symptoms that she had endured. As she looked for changing hair color and skin color in combination with growing nails, she found several hits, and started reading. She discarded most as not applicable or too outrageous. She read about shape shifters, but that didn't seem to apply to her as well. At long last she read one explanation that made sense. 'Is it possible that I'm a cell shifter?' she thought to herself.

Kumiko wasn't sure about it, but it matched all the things that had happened. Ichiro might know more about that, but she hesitated to ask him. She didn't want other people to know about this yet. She turned her attention to her homework and got it all done before getting ready for bed.

Kumiko looked out over a field of long grass. Confused about where she was, she looked down at herself, she was wearing a pale pink frilly dress. 'What the .' she thought. Then she noticed someone else standing in the field. He was walking towards her. 'How did I know it is a he?' She started walking towards the man. She didn't want to do it, but she couldn't control her body. She accelerated to a jog, then to a run. As she neared the man, she recognized him as the neighbor Zack. She jumped the last meter into his arms. He caught her very well and started kissing her.

"Noo," screamed Kumiko softly as she woke up from her sleep. "That was a bad nightmare. How come I have these dreams all the time?" she asked to no one in particular. Only Stormy and herself were in the room. She went down to the kitchen again like she had the past few days to get some milk for herself and Stormy. Then she slept on the sofa again.

"Wake up sleepy head!" said a female voice.

Kumiko woke up a bit startled, for a moment she didn't know where she was. Then she recognized the living room and her adoptive sister Sachiko standing next to the sofa. Sachiko was smiling, "What are you doing sleeping on the sofa?"

Kumiko grimaced, "Lately I've been having nightmares in bed. They make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. For some reason I don't have those nightmares sleeping here."

Sachiko sat down next to Kumiko. "You think that this isn't natural? Someone may be influencing you? Remember the strange man that tried to kidnap you at the MORFS Center?"

Kumiko nodded, "Who could that be, and why in my bedroom, but not in here? You know most of the nightmares include that boy next door, Zack. Maybe that is no coincidence as well. Do you think he's influencing me and that I'm out of range in the living room?"

"You may be on to something. I've got an idea, why don't we switch rooms tonight? We can test our theory, since my room is above the living room. Now, let's go upstairs and get dressed before Mom or Dad comes down."

Kumiko couldn't argue with that, so they girls went upstairs in a hurry to get dressed. Kumiko even put on some tasteful feminine clothes. She wanted to make sure that Amaya would approve her clothes this morning. She planned to stay out a bit late and get her revenge on Beany.

"You're looking nice," said Amaya to Kumiko as she got into the kitchen for her breakfast.

Kumiko just grumbled and dug into her breakfast. She was hungry. She hated the short skirt that she was wearing, but it was practical and it made her look good. She needed to be on Amaya's good side, so she would approve her cover for the evening. "Can I stay for dinner with a friend? We're going to study together." Kumiko said finishing her breakfast.

Amaya looked at Kumiko for signs of deception, but didn't see any. "If you call me where you are and promise not to get into trouble, then I give my permission. Please give me a bit more notice next time though. What is the name of your friend?"

"Penny Billings, she really needs some help with geography. Somehow I'm good at it. I promise to call you when I get there." Kumiko didn't say that they planned to go out at night to ambush Beany.

The day went by too slowly for Kumiko and her friends. Finally school was out and the Catsquad told each other to meet at the designated spot. Kumiko went with Penny to her house. They left the house unseen right after dinner and met the others soon after.

Butch knew that Beany would be walking towards home, alone or with one of his friends from a bar. He said, "I don't know how, but he manages to go to a bar at his age and get drinks. His parents don't even care that he is out late."

Johnny piped in, "I hear he even has his own key to the house and comes and goes whenever he wants."

Kumiko huffed, "Sounds like you all admire him. I don't care what he can or can't do. I just want to get even."

They all agreed and waited in a small group of trees for Beany. As they were waiting, some of them started whispering between themselves. Kumiko was about to tell them to be quiet, when a car stopped in front of a 7-11 across the street. Two men got out while a third waited behind the wheel. Kumiko had a bad feeling about it and quietly but quickly stepped from the trees towards the store. Looking through the glass she saw that the two people were wearing masks and one was pointing a gun at the store clerk. As the guy without the gun ripped the money from the guy behind the counter, the other guy shot him as they fled to the door. Kumiko was enraged, The one with the gun stepped out of the door first. Kumiko sprinted right past him and ripped open the arm holding the gun with her claws. He dropped his gun, bewildered from pain and surprise. Kumiko had whipped around him and kicked the second robber in his nuts, finishing him with a karate chop to his neck.

The first guy finally came to senses and looked for his gun. He should have looked out for his assailant however. Before he could even see where his gun fell, Kumiko had kicked him in the back of his knees. He fell down to the pavement on his knees and hands and Kumiko kicked his chin, knocking him out cold. The third guy in the car was afraid to be next and tore out of there with screeching tires. Kumiko watched him go before going to the store seeing if she could help.

For good measure she kicked the other guy in his head before going into the store. The store clerk was bleeding from a shot wound in his shoulder and looked with fear at the young tiger girl approaching him. Kumiko picked up the phone from the counter and called 911. She just told what had happened without telling her name. She was wearing a hoody and avoided looking at the camera. She asked the clerk, "I'm way out past curfew, can you keep quiet about me to the cops? I disabled the fuck ups outside, so you don't have to worry about them."

The guy nodded to her, "Thanks, Miss eh.? Well, thanks. I'll tell them I couldn't see you well enough."

As Kumiko got out towards her Catsquad, they were waiting for her. "What did you do? Now, we missed our chance to get Beany. He saw something going down and bolted before coming into range. Not to mention that we wouldn't dare to go up against him without you." Emily said a bit disappointed.

"Sorry, guys. But there was a robbery. They got the money and still shot the guy. I had to stop them. We'll get Beany next time. Let's go home now, okay?"

Grudgingly they agreed and everyone went home for some sorely needed rest.

Kumiko got home just before Ichiro locked up. He asked her if she had a good time with her friend and how her studies had gone. Kumiko just gave some half hearted answers and quickly went upstairs. She almost went into her own room, but remembered just in time that she was switching rooms with Sachiko for the night. Stormy was already waiting for her in Sachiko's room and greeted her with the usual begging to be petted.

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Feral

"Yo Larry, any news?" Feral said using his new eCom.

"Still haven't found anything on Paul or what might have happened to him. No police reports, no hospital admittance for a man with a leg injury. Not even a John Doe corpse that remotely looked like him," Larry reported back.

Feral sighed, "So we're no further than we started. Have you checked alien sightings? Maybe he got abducted."

Larry chuckled, "Very funny, Lando. During my searches I did come across something that may be worth checking out. Several days after his disappearance, a young tiger girl with amnesia was involved in a custody hearing. It probably is just a coincidence and she has nothing to do with Paul's disappearance. But she was also admitted into hospital with the amnesia and other wounds that healed during her morfing stage 3."

Feral thought back to his earlier findings. When he'd smelled Paul's scent, he'd also smelled something feminine and big cat scent. This was the most interesting lead yet. "Can you give me a twenty on the tiger girl?"

"Sure Lando, did it pique your interest? You know something I don't?" asked a curious Larry.

"Yeah, I also smelled something faintly feminine and big cat mixed with Paul's scent the last time. I think this may well be worth checking out," Feral said with some anticipation in his tone.

"Well, okay. She is in the care of a doctor Ichiro Furumori. His place of residence is 476 Mercer Avenue, Roselle, New Jersey. Oh, and one more thing. Lt Rowena Torrence was found dead in the Hackensack river. As I recall she was part of your team during a black ops mission."

Feral remembered Rowena Torrence, she hated her first name and called herself Ro. She'd always wanted to prove that she was equal to any man. "Thanks for the news, too bad about Ro. Must have been some bad ass to tackle someone like her. Talk to you later, Larry."

"Wilco, Larry signing off."

Feral quickly told Synergy that he would be gone for a several days and went out on his motorcycle that he'd bought. He had modified it and added Synergy thrusters that Maren had given him for testing. He had completely adjusted the frame for his big cat body.

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Kumiko

Kumiko woke up early from a fitful sleep. As she stretched, she realized that she hadn't had any nightmare that night. She hurried over to her room and found Sachiko still sleeping in her bed. "Sachiko, wake up!" she said not too hard.

Finally Sachiko woke up and after rubbing her eyes saw Kumiko standing. "Ohayo, sister. I had the weirdest dream. I was looking like you, wearing a pink dress and kissing and making out with the neighbor boy."

Kumiko hissed, "I was right then. It is Zack who is influencing me at night."

Sachiko nodded, "But the question is, does he do it intentionally, or is it by accident?"

Kumiko thought about that, "If it is intentional, then he'll pay for it. Do you think I should tell Ichiro?"

Sachiko shook her head, "Don't involve him yet. I'll ask some people about influencing other people first."

Kumiko agreed and Sachiko went to her own room to get dressed. Kumiko looked in her closet for clothes and decided on a very short dress, almost a shirt, with a tight short pants under it. She put on a skirt on top of it, so her adoptive parents wouldn't notice the pants right away.

After a boring day at school, Kumiko got home early and right after dinner retreated to her room to do her homework and go to sleep early, as she said to her 'family'. She did do some homework, but when it got dark she jumped out the window and sneaked out into the street. Quickly she hooked up with her Cat-squad and they proceeded to an abandoned building. It was a lot closer to the bar that Beany frequented and they planned to lure him inside or force him inside if he didn't take the bait.

As they were waiting for Beany to pass by, Kumiko had a feeling that they weren't alone. She looked around and suddenly saw something move at the other end of the room they were in. She shouted, "Watch out!" to her Catsquad and prepared for a fight. As the unknowns came closer, she saw that they too were mostly Cat hybrids.

"What do you want?" asked Kumiko in a cold manner.

"I can ask you the same thing. You are trespassing on our turf," was the reply from the closest person. His voice sounded a bit coarse, but he was also mewling. He was definitely a cat hybrid.

"Well, I asked you first. But if you must know, we're waiting for someone to teach him a lesson he'll never forget."

A girl from the other group sneered, "Really? Well, we're doing the same. You're in our way, so you'd better scram."

"Quiet, Randi," first guy said to her.

"Stuff it," she replied and stormed at Kumiko, probably to start a fight. Kumiko ducked, and Randi's momentum carried her into Butch's waiting arms. He held her tight so she couldn't move, while Kumiko was attacked by the guy who had answered her.

Kumiko parried from the guy's blows with some difficulty. He was fast and strong, but Kumiko had more agility and flexibility on her side. Kumiko used every dirty trick she unconsciously knew, but still couldn't get the upper hand against her adversary. Then something black raced towards them and landed on the guy's back. He grabbed it and Kumiko recognized to her dismay that it was Stormy.

The guy grabbed the wildly scratching cat and threatened to throw her aside. Kumiko yelled, "Please, don't hurt my cat!"

The guy stopped abruptly and looked at her with surprise. Everyone else had started fighting, but stopped with the outburst from Kumiko. She looked pleadingly to the guy, "Everyone stop fighting. We'll go away. Please don't hurt my cat. She just wanted to protect me against you."

The guy looked at Kumiko, "Sure, please call your cat. She is too fierce to be handled without caution."

Kumiko firmly asked, "Stormy, come here please."

The big housecat responded and jumped into her arms upon being released by the guy holding her. The guy motioned to his friends to gather around behind him. "Who are you?" he asked, sounding a bit more friendly.

"I'm Kumiko, these are my friends Butch, Johnny, Emily and Penny. We call ourselves the Catsquad."

"I'm Bjorn, and my friends are Anika, Benjamin, Emma, Randi and Guillaume." Bjorn said, introducing his gang. "So, who where you ambushing?"

Johnny quickly said, "A mean dog hybrid from our school. His name is Beans, and he needs a lesson."

Bjorn snarled, "Beany? We were also going to wait here for him. He and his fuckups beat up one of ours. We got dibs first."

Kumiko snarled back, "We get him first, you can have what is left. He's in our school, not yours."

They almost started fighting again, but Bjorn grudgingly gave in. "Fine, you can make him pay. Can we help? Or at least watch you do it?"

Emily was looking outside and said disappointed, "We missed the window. He left the bar and is already out of reach now."

"What?" several of them exclaimed. They quickly went to the street and saw only a glimpse of Beany before he vanished around a corner. "That's a second time we missed him," said Kumiko. There won't be a third. I'll get him next time."

Bjorn asked, "If you call us, we'll be there as well. We want to get our two bits in."

The Cat-squad agreed, and they talked a bit longer. It turned out that they had a lot in common, and they agreed to work more closely together as one Cat squad.

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Feral

The big black cat hybrid stalked around the house at 476 Mercer Avenue in the town of Roselle, New Jersey in the evening. He found out that only three people were around, and none of them was a hybrid. Feral also noticed something weird about the family next door. They seemed strangely agitated, and were watching the same house he was.

Late at night someone approached the house stealthily and Feral made sure that he was downwind and out of sight. When he got a good view of the approaching person, he could see that she was a girl, and a white tiger hybrid at that. She was wearing a long shirt or short dress with short tight pants. Feral noticed that she was holding a quite big house cat in her arms. Feral kept very still, realizing the cat might notice him if he moved even an inch. The girl made her way into the house by sneaking through a window that she'd apparently left ajar. 'She probably sneaked out without permission,' thought Feral.

Feral climbed a nearby tree to get a look through the window and saw the girl get ready for bed and after she turned out the light faintly saw her get into bed with her big cat laying on her blanket. Feral had seen enough, but as he prepared to jump down to the ground, he noticed movement in the other house. 'They aren't sleeping yet?' he thought.

The boy, or at least the smallest one of them, was sitting in front of the window facing the window of Feral's target of surveillance. He had his eyes closed, like he was focusing or something. Feral didn't like what he saw one bit. Was there someone after this girl? He got a bad feeling about it. He decided to get out of there and try to follow the girl the next morning from the other side of the street.

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Kumiko

Looking up at the handsome face, Kumiko sighed as he turned his head towards her to kiss her. 'No, don't kiss him.' A voice inside her screamed. Just then Kumiko woke up, startled that she had another romantic dream. 'Fuck it, I should go over to there and kill them all,.' Kumiko thought angrily.

But she realized that she didn't have much proof. Besides she wasn't someone who killed people just like that. As she turned on her nightlight, she startled again. Her new Cell-shifter power had unconsciously kicked in again. Her white hairs had turned pink again. She went to a mirror and looked at her body. When her look was drawn to her face, it looked like she was wearing pink lipstick. And her eyes stood out even more with the dark blue colors around them. 'Why am I wearing make-up? I would never put on make-up! Did Sachiko.' Then Kumiko caught herself. Sachiko would never do something like that. Was this even make-up? Kumiko focused and with effort willed her hair color back to white. She looked again into the mirror and noticed that her lips were pale red again. The color around her eyes was her normal skin tone as well. 'Phew, I'm glad that it is only my power. But why did I change color? I didn't want that to happen.' Then a new thought sprung up in her head. 'Oh no, it must be the influence that is making me dream those nightmares. It must be affecting my power, and it changes me to what I should look like according to my dream.'

Now Kumiko was really angry with her unknown assailant. She was about to hiss her anger into some expletives, when she grasped her head in excruciating pain. A small area in her head felt like it would explode. She was gasping and panting and fell down on her knees while clutching her head. After an agonizing few minutes the pain subsided just as quickly as it had appeared. Kumiko slowly got back on her feet and was fearful that the next attack would be even worse. Why was she having those bad headaches? Was the bullet inside her head moving? But that was impossible. It was embedded in tissue, Ichiro had said to her. They couldn't discern if it was brain tissue or something else, though they feared it was brain tissue. Kumiko went to the bathroom to freshen up and didn't even notice that she felt better and more at ease.

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The neighbors

Zack was grasping his head as he felt a very painful backlash from his empathic power. He even cried out in pain, causing Henry to come into his room. "What is the matter with you?" He asked coldly.

Zack pulled himself together, though everything he looked at was still swaying in front of him. "I really don't know, somehow I got a backlash from influencing the tiger-girl. I don't know what happened this time. She woke up from her dream and was upset about something that she looked at in her mirror. I was pouring on more of my empathic power, when suddenly she fell down to the floor and I got a huge headache."

"Maybe she has a new power to block you or get back at you?"

Zack grimaced as his pain subsided, "I don't think so. I watched her grasping her head a few times before. Maybe she has migraines or something else."

Henry snapped his fingers, "Wait a minute, remember what was in her file? She has a bullet in her head. Maybe that is causing her headaches. Maybe it is possible that it is causing a backlash to you."

Zack looked thoughtful, "It might be that. Whatever it was, I took quite a hit. I'm going to lie down for a while."

Henry commented, "Don't take too long, the operation has already started," and he turned up the sound of the TV. The newscaster said, "Police commissioner Levinson was questioned about the misappropriations in his name at the department. He denied any knowledge of any wrongdoings. The evidence is now being investigated by a special commission combined with Internal Affairs. Meanwhile the investigations to the hybrid child porn found on the Governor's computer are reaching new levels. Investigators are employing special computer experts to recover deleted and hidden files. The governor has always been very outspoken against hybrids, so .." Henry turned the sound down again.

Zack said wearily, "Fine, I'll hurry my influence. If not we'll have to take more drastic measures."

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Feral

Feral saw the tiger girl and an older girl walking down the street. The tiger girl was wearing black cargo pants with a long black overcoat. The girls were chatting all the way, though the tiger girl was eyeing the next door house with more interest than she should. She also kept looking behind and around her a lot more than was usual. 'Does she feel that she is being watched? Or did something happen that has gotten her spooked?.' Whatever the reason, Feral kept his distance and followed them all the way to school. There he observed an altercation with some dog-hybrids and nearly felt the agitation between the cat-hybrids and the dog-hybrids. He felt an aversion himself towards the dog-hybrids.

Feral assumed that the girl would be tied up in school and went out hunting. A quick kill and even faster meal later, he returned to the school and waited hidden in some shrubbery for the girl to come out.

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Kumiko

School was boring again for Kumiko. She felt agitated. Tonight she would deal with Beany. She wouldn't be deterred again, she swore to herself. This time she had taken a weapon with her for the first time. She found an Ontario Spec Plus Marine Combat Knife with a 7" Blade in the shed. It probably belonged to Ichiro. She 'borrowed' it for the occasion.

While she was feeling bored with the lecture of the teacher, Kumiko suddenly got an idea. She could experiment with her new power. She extended a claw and grew it longer and longer. She kept it hidden under her desk so no one would see it. Finally, when the claw reached almost 6 inches, she looked at it and sliced it through the air for a few seconds. Then she tried to diminish its length. Slowly it got smaller and smaller till it was the normal size again. She tried to see how fast she could let it grow, and learned that the first few inches were quite fast, but the longer it got the slower it went.

As she had another claw extended to about 5 inches, the teacher asked her something and she startled. Kumiko looked up to the teacher, while her claw had gotten stuck into the underside of her bench. She tried to answer the teacher, but in the meantime tried to pry her claw lose from the bench. It wouldn't budge however. The teacher was satisfied that she was paying attention and got back to the lecture, while Kumiko tried to force the claw lose. She put more force on her hand, and suddenly the claw snapped off. Kumiko almost yelped from the pain, but held it in barely. Everyone seemed to be looking at her, because of the sound she had made. Kumiko just posed inconspicuous. The pain subsided quickly and as soon as the attention to her had waned, Kumiko inspected her hand. It looked fine again. She willed her claws out and noticed that a new claw had already started forming in place of the old one.

'Cool, I can leave my claw into something and grow a new one.' Kumiko thought with joy. ' I never have to worry about losing my claws anymore. I can just grow new ones whenever I want. What else can I do? Can I grow wings and fly? Or grow gills and swim underwater?'

During lunchtime she met her fellow Catsquad members and placed a call to Bjorn, to let them know their plan.

The whole afternoon, Kumiko kept herself busy experimenting with her cell-shifter power. She could now make her white hairs darker to conceal herself more in the dark and got better at growing her claws. She did however, also have another headache attack, which resulted in a trip to the school nurse.

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Feral

Feral followed the tiger-girl back to her house, and settled down for long wait. After it got dark, he heard a window opening and saw the girl come out alone. 'She's sneaking out again? What is she up to? Is she really my old friend?'

He followed her again and was tempted to surprise her and ask her straight out who she was. For some reason he hesitated though. Moments later he was glad that he had waited. Several other cat-hybrids, probably her school friends, joined up with her. They positioned themselves at the edge of a small group of trees with a lot of shrubbery around it. It was a perfect hiding place for him.

Feral waited for things to come and didn't have to wait too long. A boy approached. From the smell, he was obviously a dog-hybrid. Soon he recognized him as one of the dog-hybrids who had been harassing the girl and her friends earlier at the school. The cat-hybrids quickly surrounded the boy, but he looked at them with a mix of disdain and amusement. He didn't seem to be afraid at all.

Confidently he said, "I hope you're not thinking of beating me up. I'll sue each and every one of you."

A cat-hybrid boy said, "Yeah, but this time it is your word against all of ours. So who is more believable to the courts?"

The tiger girl said, "Drop your pants before I slice them off."

Hesitantly the dog boy complied. He stood tall in his shorts, "So, now what kitties?"

Another cat hybrid girl said, "Shorts too, asswipe."

"Oh, kinky," said the dog boy. "Are you getting off on having boys undress themselves, Penelope?"

"Shut it," the girl replied angrily.

"You know that I'm going to get all of you for this, don't you?" the dog boy said while dropping his shorts.

The biggest cat-hybrid boy said, "Now, crap on your pants."

The dog boy snarled, "There is no way I will."

Feral choose that moment to show himself to the dog hybrid and as the moonlight shone on his face, he opened his mouth and exposed his large canines to him. The boy looked at the big panther in fear and crapped on his pants. He tried to say something, but then found control of his leg muscles again and bolted. Well, he tried to anyway. His pants prohibited such movement and he fell on his face, before kicking his pants off. He grabbed it on his second attempt to run and soiled mostly everything on him as his shit flew everywhere.

The cat-hybrids were stunned. They hadn't counted on it being so easy and with such an excellent outcome. They started laughing amongst themselves. Then one of the boys turned around and saw Feral. He paled and said stammering, "Who . who is. is t. that?"

All the others turned towards Feral and each got a scare, seeing the big black cat with its exposed large canines. When he started a low growl, they scattered. Feral quickly followed the tiger girl. The girl noticed her pursuer after a short while.

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Kumiko

Panting from the exertion, Kumiko was running at her top speed from the scene, where moments earlier they managed to let Beany soil himself in his own shit. Everyone had scattered after seeing the big menacing cat that had jumped them. 'Why is a big cat getting so close to lots of people? Is it attracted to us because we're cat-hybrids? Or is it hungry?'

Kumiko didn't know what to think of it. What she did know was that now the big cat was chasing after her. She could just make out his scent sometimes, and at times saw that it seemed to be following her. Suddenly she had enough of the chasing game and turned around to face it.

Kumiko growled, "What do you want from me?" She now noticed that it was a male cat as well.

The big black cat slowed his approach and just looked at her kind of weirdly. Kumiko surprised herself and the big cat by suddenly jumping on top of him and first extended her claws into his back. Then she grew them longer driving them deeper into his back. The black cat screamed out in pain before twisting his back and managed to swipe the nasty kitty off of his back. Kumiko was surprised at his move and quite easily let herself be removed from the cat's back. She did however break her claws off and left them in the big cat's back.

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Feral

Feral was feeling excruciating pain from the big claws that were still embedded in his back. He was quite enraged at the little kitty. Then he remembered how he looked and that he had been chasing her. But he had to do something about the claws and teach the kitty a lesson. As she landed quite gracefully on the ground, Feral sprinted towards her and smacked her across her face. She flew a few feet through the air and landed against a low wall, knocking her for a loop and seriously injuring her. Feral said, "And stay there for a while."

Feral turned his attention to the claws stuck in his back and pulled them out one by one using his telekinesis. It was hard work, the pain threatened to break his concentration on using his TK. He got a really bad headache from the exertion. Fortunately the little kitty seemed to be out for the count.

After all the broken off claws where removed, Feral turned his attention back to the catgirl and noticed that she was playing possum and healing her injuries.

Feral snarled, "Are you ready to talk now, kitty girl?"

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Kumiko

Kumiko was disappointed that the big cat managed to pull out her claws with such ease. She was also very surprised to hear him speak to her. 'So this isn't a hungry animal, but a MORFS? What does he want from me? Why was he attacking me?' It didn't occur to her that she had attacked him first. When he said to her, "Are you ready to talk now, kitty girl?" she cracked open an eye and flipped a finger to him.

"I just wanted to talk to you, no need to get insulting," the big cat said in a controlled voice.

Kumiko sat up against the wall now and said indignantly, "Ever hear of child abuse?"

The cat's answer surprised her even more though, he said, "If I'm right, you're not a child."

'What is he talking about? Does he know more about my past? Is he also with the people that are after me?' She needed to make sure that he didn't abduct her or worse. She sneaked her hand towards her hidden knife and kept up the small talk to appease him. "Hello, I'm like just over 4 feet. I'm really small."

The big cat surprised her again. He said, "Ah, ah, ah, no grabbing weapons. I have one myself." He showed her a Glock 22. "Just hear me out, cute little girl."

Kumiko fumed at being called a cute little girl. She said on what she hoped an innocent tone, "What weapons? I'm just a little girl." Then she quickly drew her knife, ready to throw it at her assailant.

But the big black cat was faster. He shot the knife out of her hand and seriously bruised her hand and wrist doing that. He said, "That weapon, cute little girl."

She yelped from the pain, before she replied with a painful expression, "Okay Mister Thundercat, tell me what you want to say and leave me alone."

The cat wasn't fazed by her reply and surprised her once again. "I think I know who you used to be."

'What the hell?' thought Kumiko. 'What does he know? Can I trust him? He doesn't seem to want to hurt me too much. Maybe I should hear him out?' "Err, you know me?"

Very controlled he said to her, "I think you used to be a friend of mine!"

Kumiko got even more confused. She didn't think she could ever forget being friends with such a big cat MORFS. Hesitantly she asked, "Huh?"

The cat continued, "I know we both looked a lot different back then."

"I would think so. I think I would remember, even with my amnesia, a reject from the island of Doctor Moreau." Kumiko taunted snidely.

"Why are you insulting me again? I just morfed into this fur a few months ago," the cat said with a strained voice.

Kumiko got more and more confused. 'Is this guy for real?' "So, who am I, and do you have any proof to back it up?"

"My friend disappeared almost at the same time you appeared. It can't be just a coincidence. Apart from that, I smelled my friend's scent mixed with your scent along with some gun oil. That set off my warning bells even more."

Kumiko was more perplexed. She sniffed herself. Though she had quite a good nose, she couldn't determine anything wrong with her smell. "Are you saying that I smell?"

He snickered, "Everyone smells, yours is just distinctive, and my nose is very acute and it doesn't lie."

"So, who am I?"

"You used to be Paul Bartlett, an injured soldier, and a friend of mine."

Kumiko tried to remember the name. It didn't ring any bells, but there was something, just out of reach. She couldn't tell if that was because it was her name, or something else. She decided to go along with it for now, but to be on her toes, just in case. "Well, I don't remember any of that. I woke up in a hospital and was subsequently adopted into a family who are missing me at the moment."

The cat snickered again, "I saw you sneak out of the house. You'll not be missed for several hours more. As to your story, my friend Larry already confirmed that. In fact he gave me this lead to follow."

Kumiko was thrown around in her thoughts. This guy kept her going around and around, surprising her at every turn. She feigned indignity, "Larry? Geez, who named you guys? Let me guess, you are Moe."

The cat replied calmly, "Nope, I'm Lando Johns. But you can call me Feral, since I'm going by that name now. Just calm down and let me explain."

Kumiko blew, "Calm down? You shot me!"

Feral answered calmly, "You stabbed me!"

She yelled back, "You scared me first!"

"Well, I can't help it if you can't detect an approaching cat."

Kumiko got even more upset, "If you claim to know about me, then you know that I don't deal well with being surprised."

Feral snickered again, "You never did, that's why we always liked to surprise you all the time."

"Who is we? No, forget that." Kumiko gave a half hearted kick at Feral, which he dodged gracefully. Kumiko had a thought and asked, "If you knew who I was, why didn't you just call my adoptive father?"

Feral answered thoughtfully, "I don't know how he fits into all of this. He could be part of the conspiracy."

Kumiko couldn't help it, she had a super confused look on her face. She didn't know what to say.

"Remember that I said there was the smell of gun oil when you were abducted and when you resurfaced in the state of morfing?"

Kumiko remembered she replied thoughtfully, "Yeah, I still got a bullet lodged inside my head."

Feral joked, "Want me to try to get it out?"

Kumiko was confused again, "Uhm, it's in my skull. That would totally hurt. Are you stupid or just dense?"

"You're military trained, you are used to resisting pain and keep on going while being hurt."

Kumiko was furious, "You're not going to do some type of field surgery in or on my head. Besides, I don't trust you. You could be part of that conspiracy you told me about."

Feral laughed, "If I was, I wouldn't be trying to talk to you."

Kumiko said with disdain, "Yeah, well I can't beat you, and you can't beat me. So, maybe you're trying to lull me into a trap."

"What would be my reason for that? And for your information, I can beat you seven ways from Sunday."

Kumiko felt her temper rise again. This Feral was really pushing all her buttons. "Let me get this through your furred thick skull. I need proof to trust you!"

Feral laughed shortly again, "If I really wanted to hurt you, I'd have done it from very far with a sniper shot. Just like you taught me, and you taught me well on that."

Kumiko winced, "Maybe, but still."

Feral interrupted her, "Okay, you want proof? Here is my Glock." He handed his gun to her.

Kumiko's eyes lighted up, 'Finally, I get a chance! No wait, he's not that stupid. He's way too smart.' She checked the chamber which was empty, and set the safety.

Feral laughed, "Good thing that I unloaded it before giving it to you."

"Oh yeah, an unloaded gun is so very useful," Kumiko sneered.

"I don't really need it with my knives and the claws that I have."

Kumiko tossed the gun back to Feral, who caught it expertly and loaded it with a full magazine. Kumiko felt cheated out of her chance. She sneered, "I know, you should always have a weapon ready for use, or it is a useless paperweight. Some soldier you are."

Feral grinned at her, "I want you to trust me, but I'm not stupid enough to give you a loaded gun."

Kumiko feigned ignorance, "Hey, I'm just a high school kid. What do I know about shooting guns?"

"The way you checked the chamber and set the safety gave you away like a neon sign."

Kumiko felt disappointed, again. "Drat."

Feral started, "Now, what I wanted to ask you ." He trailed off and sniffed. The wind had changed slightly and brought with it a scent he didn't like. He quickly did a scan with his TK and suddenly kicked Kumiko hard. She fell backwards very surprised and didn't see Feral jumping the other way.

"Hey, why did you ." Kumiko stopped talking when she heard a bullet wiz by just as a gunshot sounded.

She scrambled for cover, 'Where did that come from? Who is trying to kill me? Or was that guy Feral the target?'

She didn't see Feral anywhere anymore. How did a big cat like that move away so quietly and fast? She concentrated on making her white hairs, that were standing out in the dark, darker. A few minutes later her white hairs were a dull grey, making her more invisible in the night. She peeked out into the dark surroundings, but couldn't see anything. She wondered where Feral was and what he was doing.

A faint thud sounded and Feral said from quite a distance, "You can come out here now. I took care of the sniper. I think it is your neighbor boy."

Kumiko hurried towards where Feral's voice came from. She found him standing on his hind legs next to a figure lying on the ground. He said, "Nice camo color," to her.

Kumiko mumbled, "Thanks," before kneeling down at the figure to roll him over. Indeed it was her neighbor Zack. She was filled with rage. Her claws sprang out and she was about to tear into him, when Feral held her arm. "No need to kill him yet. I think we need some answers. Like why is an apparent adolescent using a sniper rifle to try to kill you?"

Kumiko snarled at Feral, "That SOB has been stalking me. I don't mean on the street, but in my dreams. I have been having nightmares almost every night, and found out that I don't have them sleeping in the living room which was farther from his house."

Feral sighed, "That sounds like he may be a projecting empath, with a maximum range. Still, we need answers. Killing him would do no good, and I don't want you to have that on your conscience."

Kumiko stood up to him, "If what you say is true, I have killed people before already."

"That is true, I can provide you with a list if you want. But since you don't remember it anyway, there is no need to burden you with those memories again."

Kumiko turned away from Feral with a grunt of frustration. However he did have a point. Besides she wasn't a cold blooded killer, even if she had been in her previous life, which she doubted. She turned back to Feral and was about to ask him what to do now, when he snapped, "Take cover!" and drew his gun.

Someone started shooting at them, while Kumiko dropped behind the unconscious Zack. She recognized the opponents as the other two neighbors Blanche and Henry. They were firing pistols at both her and Feral. Feral returned fire and soon took out the woman Blanche. Kumiko wanted to do something, but common sense told her that she couldn't do much against flying bullets. So, she waited to see how this would end. Feral seemed a quite capable soldier, she had no doubt that he could get out on top.

Suddenly Zack started moving a bit, he was waking up! Kumiko was about to club him into submission again, when out of nowhere her head felt like a hot knife had been trust into it. 'Did I get hit?' was her thought as she screamed for moment and clutched her head. Her headache worsened and as someone knelt next to her, she experienced another stab of white hot pain before falling into a bottomless pit.

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Feral

A scream alerted Feral that something was wrong with the girl Kumiko. He fired one last shot towards the man still firing at him and luck was with him. He managed to hit him. The man went down, so now he could focus his attention to Kumiko.

As he knelt at her side, he quickly inspected her visually and with his telekinesis. She didn't appear to have been shot or anything. There was something strange with her skull though. He used his TK to feel what was happening inside her head and quickly discerned that it was a bullet that was moving around going outwards. 'What the hell is going on?' Then he got an idea. 'If she can change her hair color and grow out her nails, maybe she can move a foreign object inside her body?'

Feral kept track of the bullet inside her head, but then it stopped moving and Kumiko went limp in his arms. She had lost her consciousness. The bullet was quite close to her surface of her head, it was almost through her skull already. Feral took out his knife and made a small incision in her skin. Then with his TK, he pulled the bullet out of Kumiko's skull. Before he could have a look at it, both the man and the boy stood close to them and the man said, "Put down your weapon or we'll kill the both of you on the spot."

Feral had no choice but to comply. Kumiko was unconscious and he couldn't leave her like that. The boy bound his hands behind his back, before doing the same to Kumiko. Then both were slung over a shoulder and carried to a van.

A short drive later, Feral was carried into a building. He was put on a chair with Kumiko on another next to him. A man in uniform, with the markings of a general walked up to him. "Who are you, and what is your business with the girl?"

Feral decided to be inconspicuous, "She's a tiger girl, I'm a big cat! What do you think I want with her?"

Henry said snidely, "Then why were you armed with a gun and knives? Those are military issue."

"Oh, I took those off someone that was bothering me. He wasn't very good, nor very tasty," said Feral airily.

Zack started, "You expect us to believe that? I saw you talking with the girl. She doesn't seem the kind to respond well to possible suitors. It also didn't look like you were fighting, so what gives?"

Feral was about to answer, when the general spoke first. "I don't care about all that. I just need to know what the girl remembers. She's the last loose end to tie up. The Torrence woman didn't know anything. We interrogated her extremely well before disposing of her."

Feral perked up internally. Fortunately he didn't show anything on the outside with his fur and stoic appearance. 'So these people are responsible for Ro's death?'

The general continued, "The other one that was missing, a Sergeant Johns, was tracked down to a black ops in the jungle of South America. However everyone there died in a big cluster fuck. Someone blew up the place and incinerated everyone inside."

Henry asked seemingly worried, "How can you be sure that no one survived?"

"We did an extensive search around that compound. Though several tracks were found, none of them were fresh enough to lead to any survivors," the general said resolutely.

Feral sighed inside, 'Good thing I didn't tell them my real name. They must have been looking for me. Apparently they don't have connections inside the agency Dawes is working for. So, if they were after us, it must have been something to do with our job together. Let's see, that would be the mission where we 'rescued' that cyberpath from Tibet. Is this all about him?'

Kumiko started to moan a bit and woke up from her ordeal. The captors were paying attention directly to her, ignoring Feral. He didn't waste time and with his TK loosened the Tie-wraps with which they had bound him.

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Kumiko

Kumiko slowly came to and found out that her hands were bound behind her back. She was sitting in a chair, well slumped was more like it. She lifted her head up, eliciting a cry as her headache flared once again. But this time it was different. She felt more focused and clear headed. Someone asked her a question, but she didn't comprehend it yet. Someone else, she recognize him as a general when he came into focus of her eyes, asked her, "What do you know about the mission in Tibet. You were part of a team to get someone out of enemy hands."

Kumiko racked her brain, but she couldn't find any reference a mission in Tibet. 'Have I been in Tibet?' But then she suddenly realized that she had been in several parts of the world. She knew that she was, well rather had been, Paul Bartlett. She also realized that she couldn't tell them. "I don't know what you're talking about. I have amnesia. I don't remember anything from before I morfed. It has something to do with a bullet in my head."

Zack added, "That is true, general. She never showed any knowledge. I haven't been able to fully convert her to cooperate, but I did subtly interrogate her. I also observed her during normal activities and she never showed any knowledge of her past."

The general harrumphed, "Fine, then we don't need them anymore. Dispose of them as soon as possible. Everything is in place and as you know the process is underway. The commissioner is busy explaining his financials and the governor is effectively occupied as well. I'll give the order to start up the next phase. Let's get the money so we can get on with the plan."

The General walked briskly out of the room, and Henry said to us, "Well, you heard him. I'll make this quick and painless. Who wants to go first?"

Kumiko felt something pull on the tie-wraps that bound her hands. It loosened and soon she had her hands free of it. She kept them like they were however. She needed a chance to get into action. 'Did Feral have anything to do with her new freedom? Or was there someone else involved?'

Feral answered, "Well, I do have one question first. What are you going to do about them?" and looked behind Henry.

He fell for it and turned around to see what Feral meant. He soon realized that there was no one there and turned back to him saying, "Nice try, kitt." Before he could finish what he was saying he was knocked out as Feral jumped him.

Kumiko saw Feral jump into action and Zack had turned to see behind him as well. She jumped him and tore into his arm holding the gun. It was almost sheared off by her razor sharp claws and barely hung on in tatters. She was about to do more damage when Feral held her back, saying, "Wait please, Kumiko. We need some answers."

"We can get them from him," sneered an enraged Kumiko, pointing at Henry.

"Yes, we can, but I prefer an option. If one doesn't talk, the other will. So please indulge me."

"Fine," Kumiko sighed and turned away from him. She looked at her claws and retracted them as much as she could.

Feral turned to Zack, "So, tell me boy. What was this all about? What does that Cyberpath from Tibet have to do with a Black op here in the states?"

Zack was looking perplexed at Feral. How did the cat know about the Cyberpath? Then he remembered his injured hand and looked down. He screamed from pain, agony and fear. The blood only now started to gush out and Feral ignited a lighter and scorched it closed. It caused even more pain for the small man, but it did stop the flow of blood. Feral gave him a few moments before resuming the interrogation, but Zack didn't have much to say except moaning the loss of his hand and the excruciating pain.

Feral ordered Kumiko to watch Zack and rudely woke up Henry. Again he asked, "What was this all about? What does that Cyberpath from Tibet have to do with a Black op here in the states?"

Henry was confused, how did the cat know about the cyberpath, did that fuck up Zack tell him anything? He looked at Zack, but all he did was moan and whimper. "I don't know what you're talking about," he tried.

"Stow it," said Feral. "I know all about the cyberpath from Tibet. So, how much money are you going to have him steal?"

"It's not." started Henry, but then he stopped as he thought of something.

"So, stealing the money is a diversion? That's good to know." Feral surmised. "So, what is the real plan?" As Feral didn't get an answer, he continued, "Well, I'm gonna find out. I'm guessing the general has some kind of nefarious plan that involves the problems of the police commissioner and the governor and maybe a lot more."

"Who are you, that you know all that?" asked Henry with confusion

"I'm sergeant Lando Johns, the missing soldier the general was looking for. Now I'm mostly known as Feral. Too bad you can't do anything with the info."

With that Feral knocked Henry out again and bound him securely before putting him into a deep hole in the ground. Then he did the same with Zack. Kumiko had watched him and helped a little. Then she asked, "What are we going to do now, Feral?"

"Well, we find out where the general went to and stop him and his goons from executing their plans. How are you feeling?"

Kumiko moved her head around a bit, "I feel fine, still a little headache but not as much anymore. What happened? I only remember something happened to my head. The next thing I know I'm tied up and interrogated. By the way, did you loosen my bonds?"

Feral grinned at her, "Yeah, I'm a telekinetic. As for what happened, when you screamed I noticed something going on inside your head. I think your cell shifting powers were trying to get rid of the bullet in conjunction with you healing power. I pulled the thing out with my telekinetics when it was already almost out. I hope you feel a lot better now."

"Hell yeah!" responded an enthusiastic Kumiko. "Though I told you not to pull it out, right? I did tell you that it would hurt."

"Yes, you did, and I wouldn't have if it wasn't coming out already by itself," replied a calm sounding Feral.

"Well, since it is out I do seem to remember a lot more. I know that I used to be Paul, and I do remember how you looked like, old friend. I even remember teaching you how to shoot a sniper rifle. But there are a lot of things that I don't remember, including a mission in Tibet."

"So, how do you feel about changing into this new body? Must be quite a shock for you?"

Kumiko grinned, "No more than you in your body. At least I already feel fine in this one. I had quite some time to get used to it, without my memories getting in the way. Now that my memories have returned somewhat, I still feel fine, if not a bit odd. But I do remember that I was crippled in my old body. Now I'm so much healthier."

"Well, good to hear that." Said Feral. "How about getting that general, the trail is getting cold as we speak."

Kumiko nodded and together the two cat hybrids exited the building. Soon they came to a spot where a car had been parked, where the general obviously had been picked up. Feral followed the trail a bit longer, till they both reached a spot near Kumiko's house. Kumiko started, "Why are we here? Are you going to tell me to get back to bed? I'm not going to let you go off alone, you hear!"

Feral snorted, "Hardly, my ride is parked here. I need it to follow them faster. Just hop on my back and we'll be off." He uncovered a very low motorcycle and hopped on it.

Kumiko saw no reason not to do the same and after a appreciative glance at the motorcycle climbed on Feral's back.

A short and soundless drive later, Feral pulled over and pointed to a seemingly abandoned warehouse. "They're in there." He whispered softly.

"How can you tell from this distance, whispered Kumiko back to him.

"The trail leads there and there are several guards patrolling the area." He pointed them out to Kumiko

Feral parked his bike and led the way through some alleys. He clambered up a building and made a jump to the Warehouse that was their target. Kumiko had some difficulty following Feral as he could jump farther and higher than her. Her agility was better though and she managed to keep up with him, mostly anyways.

Just as Kumiko caught up to Feral on the roof, he opened a skylight and silently dropped inside. She didn't want to be left out and quickly followed him inside. Her feet barely touched the ground when a foot seemingly out of nowhere connected with her left side. The kick sent her sailing a few feet through the air, and made her yelp a soft cry of pain. She saw that Feral was already engaging the attacker, but two more dark dressed persons were about to jump him from his back.

Kumiko didn't hesitate and launched herself towards them, extending her claws while doing so. Before she could get within striking distance however, a whip coiled around her right calf and yanked her violently backwards. She almost struck the floor with her face, just managing to catch her fall with her hands. Her claws embedded themselves into the floor with the impact and in her haste to free them, she tore them off.

Kumiko saw Feral sail over her, doing a flip in the air and slashing the cord that was around her calf. He continued towards her new attacker and in a flurry of punches knocked him or her down. Kumiko got up herself and launched an attack against the two persons she had seen about to jump Feral earlier. She quickly knocked out the smaller female one, but received a few punches from the other as result. Her agility came in very handy, and she ducked and weaved around the kicks and punches from the obviously martial arts trained man. She managed to score some devastating kicks on him, but as he went down, another attacker was moving in from her right.

Kumiko saw that Feral was holding his own against three more attackers, so she was on her own again, fighting this one. She didn't mind though, she finally felt like she could let loose and enjoy herself in a fight. Her claws were already growing back and she tore into the flak vest of her opponent.

Just as Kumiko downed her opponent and Feral was only engaging one more attacker, several shots rang out. Several tranquilizer stun darts embedded themselves into Kumiko and Feral, knocking them both out twitching from the current before succumbing to the anesthetic.

When she came to, Kumiko found herself sitting on a hard surface with some weird kind of cuffs on her wrists and hands. They completely covered her wrists and hands. She tried pulling them apart, but of course they didn't budge. Then she tried to extend her claws to see if they could cut through them. But she got a big jolt of electricity coursing through her as reward for her attempt. Kumiko screamed out, though she hadn't wanted to.

The general, who was standing behind someone sitting in front of several screens, turned to her. "Hello kittycats! Glad you could join us in the waking world again. It is no use to try to get these new stun cuffs off. They are specifically designed to keep super powered MORFS in check. Now please be quiet, I have an operation to run."

"Oh, that is right," said Feral airily. "You need to explain to your cyberpath what money to steal and where to hide it. But that isn't the real objective, is it?"

The general quickly ran over to Feral. "What the hell do you know about all this? How do you know I have a cyberpath here?"

Feral looked back at him menacing as he could, "Because I was one of the men that 'rescued' him from those Chinese enforcers in Tibet. I also know that the money stealing scam isn't the real objective. You're planning something bigger. The money will create chaos, which is enhanced by the problems that the commissioner and the governor are having. You are planning a take-over, probably declare Martial Law and run things directly in this state. Now, I know you have some more things up your sleeve because when the national guard or something like that try to restore order, you wouldn't stand a chance, since a state is not allowed to be run by a military junta or some other dictator. I just haven't figured out what that is yet. Are you going to start a fire sale in the country or something?"

The cyberpath turned around towards the general still standing in front of Feral. "He knows too much, we can't go through with the plan."

The general snarled at the cyberpath, "Quit yapping and go to phase 4. I'll deal with these interlopers." he turned back to Feral, "You know a lot. Who are you? You said that you were with the team that got him out!" He pointed at the cyberpath.

"Yes, I was with the team. I'm Sergeant Lando Johns. I hear you went looking for me. Since I morphed I am known as Feral, and I blew up the installation in South America." Just then somehow the stun cuffs clicked open and Feral lunged for the general.

The general seemed to have expected it. He moved out of reach and pulled his gun. "I don't know how you got away from my operatives or how you got out of those cuffs, but it ends here for you. Surrender now or I will shoot the girl." He pointed his gun at Kumiko who was frantically yanking on her stun cuffs.

Kumiko looked at Feral, wishing that he wouldn't do something stupid. But she didn't want him to surrender as well. They were in a standoff, neither one would make the first move. Then the general said to a man standing a bit to the side, "Kill that cat, would you please."

The man strode up to Feral with his gun drawn and pointed it at Feral's head. Feral just squinted at him, but didn't take his eyes off of the general. Then the man redirected his gun and shot the gun out of the general's hand. Feral leaped at the general and pinned him to the ground. The man who helped them went over to Kumiko and released her from the cuffs. She didn't know what to think of it, 'Why is he helping us? He was a henchman wasn't he?'

The man said to Feral, "Regards from Elias. You sure made a mess of it again, Feral."

"Yeah? Well they attacked us first. I didn't even know about the operation till we got captured the first time. And if you guys would just let me know when you have an undercover operation going, I could change my plans." Feral snorted.

The general looked furious at Feral and the man he thought worked for him, "You'll never catch me." Then he bit down on a tooth and started frothing at the mouth.

Feral jumped back as he smelled the almond scent. "Cyanide, nothing I can do."

"Shit," the man said, "I needed info on who else was behind this."

Feral smiled viciously, "But, we have the cyberpath here. I'm sure he can locate trails for us that lead to the other culprits."

The cyberpath, looked at them with trepidation, "I. I don't know anything. P. p..please don't hurt me."

Feral stalked over to him, "Well, that depends on you restoring everything you messed up and showing us some evidence of who else was in on it." he growled softly, but very, very menacingly.

Kumiko was only just catching up on everything mentally. She was amazed at the speed things had been unfolding. She asked, "Why did you tell so much about yourself to the general. No, wait! You were stalling for time, right?" At Feral's nod, she continued, "But who is Elias, and why do you suddenly trust this man who seemed to be working for the general?"

Feral explained to her, "Elias is the name of an operative that I worked with. This man is from the same agency. That is why I trust him. I do not understand why he infiltrated though."

He turned to the man, "Why did you get into this? You usually only deal with Morfed people, and who are you, by the way?"

The man smiled, "Call me Don. We got a tip about the cyberpath, we weren't sure if other morfs were involved. Just in case we decided to check it out. Lucky for you we did."

"Well, Don. Thanks for the rescue, though I could've handled it myself," said Feral.

"I'm sure you could," Don replied stoically. "Now, let's see who really is behind all of this." He turned his attention to the cyberpath and the screens.

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Furumori household

Ichiro knocked on the door of Kumiko's room. Both he and Amaya had called her for breakfast several times. Normally she would have been the first there, now even Sachiko beat her to the table. As he didn't get any answer, he get more worried. 'I hope she doesn't have a brain aneurism or something. I knew I should have gotten her checked out about those headaches.'

He opened the door and saw only Stormy sitting on an empty bed. It looked like the bed hadn't been slept in. Stormy was looking at the window, which was slightly open. 'Did she run away? But she wouldn't leave Stormy behind I think. What is going on here?' He stormed down the stairs and told the others, "Kumiko ga kieta."

Both women gasped, "Nani?"

"It looks like she never went to bed. Stormy is still sitting there, like he is waiting for her. She wouldn't run away, would she?"

Sachiko said, "I don't think so. She would have told me something, if she really was unhappy here. Maybe she just snuck out for something and got caught up in something?"

"Well, I think we should call the police," said Amaya.

Ichiro replied thoughtfully, "We better wait a little while. If we make too much of it, it will fuel the opposition that wants to take her from us. That would really be not good for her."

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Kumiko

Kumiko looked at her watch, "Shoot, is that the time? My family will be going nuts for me not being home."

Feral looked at her. "They aren't your real family, you do know that, do you?"

Kumiko looked at the big cat, "Yeah, I know, but it's like this. I'm underage. I need a home. I do know more about who I was and what I was, but I haven't gotten back all of my memories."

"I do have some family and friends that can give you a home and a place to try to get back your memories," Feral said warmly.

"I'm sure you do, but I have kind of grown fond of my adoptive family and my housecat. I never thought I'd say this, but I would like to stay with them for a while longer," Kumiko admitted to him.

"As you wish," said Feral as he pulled out his eCom.

"What are you doing?" asked Kumiko.

Feral didn't answer, but selected a number and talked into the phone as soon as the other side picked up. "Hello? Is this Mr. Ichiro Furumori? Good. You don't know me, I'm Sergeant Lando Johns. I am a friend of the person that Kumiko used to be. She is here with me right now." There was a pause before he continued, "She is quite alright, I would like to explain everything to you in person. I do have to warn you though, I'm an absolute full hybrid."

Feral hung up and told Kumiko, "I'm taking you back to your home and we'll explain things to them." Then he turned to Don, "Do you need us here for anything, or can we go? By the way, don't forget to collect the other two guys at the warehouse. We put them in a deep hole in the ground there."

Don replied casually, "I've got some men getting here soon. I can handle it. You two go, it's better that you're not seen here."

A short drive on his bike later, Feral arrived with Kumiko at the Furumori house and stepped up to the front door. Kumiko rang the bell and almost immediately the door was opened by a distressed looking Ichiro. He started, "Where have you been, Kumiko? Did you try to run away?"

Feral had been standing a bit to side and stepped into full view now. "She did not, Mr. Furumori. She was with me."

Ichiro took one look at the big black cat hybrid and stepped back in surprise and fear. "Kami no seinaru haha."

Kumiko stepped in saying, "It is okay. Feral is a good friend of mine. Please, let us go inside and we'll tell you everything."

Soon everyone was sitting down in the living room with a refreshment. Amaya had been perplexed seeing the big black cat hybrid, but had asked unnerved and politely what he would like to drink. Sachiko had been a bit scared but looked interested after that at Feral.

Feral started the explanation, "It is my fault that Kumiko was not at home. I came to her window and asked her to step out. I noticed something was up with the neighbors, and I also knew who Kumiko used to be. As we were talking about what had happened and what I knew, we got attacked by the neighbors. We managed to defeat them, but got caught up in a bigger conspiracy. Everything that has been going on, the attack that led to Kumiko's transformation and all the other attacks were a part of one big conspiracy."

Ichiro interrupted, "What other attacks?"

Sachiko replied instead, "Kumiko was receiving nightmares from a projecting empath next door."

Feral nodded, "That is correct. The neighbors were operatives in the conspiracy. Anyway, it turned out that a mission from our team, meaning me, and Paul here, who is now called Kumiko, had been used to get a cyberpath to an organization. They wanted to create havoc, and through declaring martial law, take control of the state. Maybe even more, but that is being looked into now by authorities."

"Wait, so Kumiko is in reality someone called Paul?" Ichiro asked.

Kumiko spoke up, "Yes, that is true. During the fight I got another headache, and it turned out that my power as a cell shifter, combined with my healing power was trying to get rid of the bullet. That was causing the headaches that were so severe. As it was almost out, Feral here pulled it out the rest of the way and since then I have been getting back some of my former memories. I now know who I used to be and more."

Amaya looked crestfallen. The other family members didn't look too happy with that news either.

"So you're leaving us," said a disappointed Sachiko.

Kumiko smiled, "No, I'm not. I like you guys, so I'll stay here for a while longer, if that is okay with you. I still appear to be a minor, so I need a home. I only ask of you not to treat me like a little girl, but more like the adult like I used to be and know that I was."

Ichiro was relieved, "Of course, but please forgive us if we don't always do it. Amaya, you have to adjust the most. Please don't treat Kumiko as a small child."

Amaya looked guiltily at Kumiko. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't, but it is so hard as I see you like this."

Kumiko gave her a hug, "That's okay, if you don't mind me reminding you that I'm really an adult."

Feral asked, "I do have a couple of questions though. Why is she named Kumiko? And why did you offer her to stay with you?"

Kumiko answered, "Well, when I first woke up like this, Ichiro was there and he talked to me in Japanese. Now I know that I had lived there, so I responded in Japanese. He suggested the name to me. He also offered a home to me that was better than an orphanage, since I didn't have memories or a place to stay." At a movement from Ichiro she added, "Well, maybe not entirely true, Sachiko suggested it first."

Sachiko kept quiet but blushed furiously.

Kumiko continued, "Later I spoke in Bahasa Indonesian and Chinese to other people. I didn't know why I could speak all those languages at the time, but I do know now. I have lived there. It also explains why I'm so good at geography."

"So, what is going to happen now?" asked Ichiro.

"Well, I'd like to stick around for a few days, talk with my old friend, have a little R & R before I head back to my family," Feral said casually. "That is, if I'm not intruding on your hospitality, of course."

Amaya said quickly, "No, no. You're not intruding. You're welcome in our home. Eh, do you have any special requirements?"

Everyone laughed at that and they talked some more about what they thought about it. Feral told them that he liked meat or fish over vegetables, and he did like the sushi Amaya prepared. The fish made the taste of the rice blend into the background.

Making friends with Kumiko's cat was a bit troublesome. Stormy was territorial, but at the same time quite scared of the big cousin. They made a truce between them, and Kumiko soon became a bit upset that Stormy like to snuggle up to Feral more than to her.

Monday rolled around and Kumiko was happy going back to school. She still didn't like sitting bored in the class room, but getting to learn things again was a thrill. Her newfound past did put her into a spot though. Not only did she now know why she knew things, she could make a path for her future to follow. Her thoughts were interrupted when her 'catsquad' got to her in the school yard. They took her to a group of people where someone was talking.

"I'm telling you, I saw Beany run scared shitless to his mommy. I really mean shitless, he was covered in his own shit doing it."

"You're shitting me," said a big sheep hybrid guy.

"Nope, if I'm lying, I'm dying. Why don't you see for yourself? Here he comes."

He pointed at a rather skulking figure that turned out to be Beans. They saw that some hybrids, that had previously been harassed by him and his cronies, were now taunting him and throwing stuff at him. Instead of his normal bragging posture he fled into the school like a scared puppy.

The 'catsquad' separated from the group of people. "That worked even better than we expected," said Butch.

Penny added, "Yeah, I never thought it would work, and it works even now, days after the fact."

Johnny didn't smile as brightly, "I don't know if we should keep on rubbing it in."

"Oh, come on. He was always harassing us. This is payback. The good news is, we didn't even lay a finger on him."

Johnny perked up, "That reminds me, it was because of that big black panther. I hope it doesn't come after us now."

Kumiko laughed, "Not to worry, he won't. In fact I want you all to meet up with him after school. He is a friend of mine and I want you all to have a talk with him."

"A talk? Is he sentient?"

"He's a MORFS. An absolute full hybrid. He only looks scary, he really is a nice person once you get to know him."

The catsquad were a bit hesitant, but agreed to meet up with the panther later. But it would have to wait, as the bell for first period rang.

The end... for now.

 

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

 


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