MORFS_To Hell and Back


Chapter 3: Integration.

(Daemon)

I had thought June's description was quite clear. Then again, I had also thought I knew this city rather well. It had been about half an hour since I left the MORFS-center and I was fairly certain I had gotten myself lost.

June, the telepath at the center, had given me directions to a shop that caters to Survivors with body-modifications. Fittingly named Wings and Tails.

I was just about to give up and go home when I heard some yelling down the street. As I walked closer, it sounded more and more like violent purists. Sounds awfully familiar. I pushed apart a couple of the bystanders. How can you be watching this? Then I recognized the kids from just an hour earlier. Haven't these kids learned anything from their encounter with me?

The only difference was the victim, this time no armless girl. Now, they had picked a hybrid mother and son to harass. The boy was way too young to have caught MORFS, so I figured he had inherited his tail from his mother.

Hmm, maybe they know where to find that shop. Will have to chase off these assholes first though. I thought, as I surveyed the situation.

I extended my claws as I walked up to the scene. “YO! Remember me?”

The effect was fast and clear: in a blink, all eyes were turned to me. The two who had actually made contact last time turned green, it looked like they hadn't even bothered to visit a doctor. Idiots. The rest were outright terrified.

The two green guys made a silent escape, while I walked up to the victims.

“You might want to leave too, unless you want to get beaten again,” I advised the others.

“No way. This time, you're going down!” It seemed they weren't very good at taking hints as I walked towards them with extended claws.

As an added effect, I dragged my claws along a wall, leaving four neat marks. Apparently they hadn't realized I could actually damage stone with these, as the kids started to notice their leaders had made a run for it. One by one they came to the conclusion that it wouldn't be me who was going down.

Well, this ended rather peacefully. I thought, a bit disappointed, after they had all run off. I had been secretly hoping for a little practice with my powers.

The spectators started to leave as the chances of a fight were pretty slim now, while the victims rushed towards me to thank me.

“Oh, thank you. I thought those people were going to let us get beaten. How can we thank you?” the mother sniffled as she tried to calm down.

I dusted off my claws as I answered. “Don't worry about that, you're welcome.” I blew the last remnants of dust from my claws and retracted them. “Say, you wouldn't know where I can find a shop called 'Wings and Tails'?”

***

Turned out I had saved the right people, as they had me standing at Wings and Tails about five minutes later. Unbelievable, I had passed this joint three times and had not noticed it. Mother and son headed for the kids department and I tried to find the men's wear. The shop itself was quite narrow, but ran quite deep and in an 'L' shape to boot, so it still took me quite some time to find the section I was looking for.

As I was browsing through the rack, I heard a voice behind me. “Hello sir.” I turned to find the source to be a young woman with unnaturally yellow eyes and small blue wings sprouting from her shoulders. “My name's Erica. Can I help you find anything?”

“Yes, I think you can.” I replied. “I'd like to get a full set of jeans with tail-holes. These are not going to last long.”

I thought she looked at my butt a bit longer than necessary before answering. “Where did you get these? Whoever sold you these should close up shop.”

“Now that's just mean. I modified these myself.” I said with mock indignity.

“Oh, I'm so sorry; I didn't mean it like that.”

“Don't worry about it, not like I plan on making it my job. It was just meant to last till I could go shopping.”

“Then it seems you have come to the right place.” She showed me to a rack of pants. “We have exactly what you're looking for. Anything else that may catch your fancy?”

I was rather impressed by the assortment of pants, so I decided to give it another shot. When I asked for shirts with wing holes, the girl walked off. Coming back a few moments later with a men's version of the shirt she was wearing.

“Hmm, I don't think that is gonna work.” I said.

“We do have other colours and prints.” She tried to convince me.

“It's not that. You see, the holes are too small.” She gave me a funny look, when I said that. Obviously she was thinking my wings were similar to hers.

“Mine are not parrot sized, no offence. At the base, they stretch from my shoulders, all the way to my lower back.”

The shop attendant crossed her arms and looked like she thought I was joking.

“Here, I'll show you,” I said, pulling up my shirt.

As I carefully unfolded one wing - taking care not to hit anything - her expression changed form 'Yeah, sure' to 'Oh my god.'

I smiled. “Yeah, that's what I thought the first time I saw them.”

“How on earth do you get them to fold up like that?” She asked, with the same look of shock on her face.

“With a lot of effort. You think you have anything in this size?”

“I… I think we do,” She said before running off.

A few minutes later, she came back with the perfect shirt for the job: It had two slits at the back, which could be buttoned up when not in use. Too bad they had only one in my size, so I had to order the rest. While I was at it I also added a CNT hair set. Not gonna keep it this long.

As I pulled out my wallet to pay for my new wardrobe, I noticed a bulletin board behind the counter labelled 'Jobs'.

“What's that?” I asked, pointing at the board.

“It says 'jobs', what do you think?” Erica joked. “But seriously, it's a place where local businesses can post job requests specially aimed toward MORFS-survivors.”

“There are people who specifically want to hire morfs?”

“Yes, and a lot more than you'd think too. Are you interested?”

I could certainly use the money and otherwise I'd be gaming away my life anyway. I thought.

“Sure, why not,” I said, then pointed at a post for some restaurant. “That one sounds interesting.”

“Ah, Cat's Tail. It's a restaurant a few blocks away from here. They cater to morfs specifically. And have a policy of hiring morfs only,” The girl explained. “They've been looking for a waiter and kitchen assistant for some time. Here's their number in case you want to give them a call.”

I stuffed the note in my pocket, paid for my clothes and made arrangements for when to pick up the order.

On the way back to the train station, the weird looks from people resumed like they had that morning. By the time I was seated, it died down a little and I decided to do some practice with my shield power.

The first try was not a big success. Less than a second after I had created the shield, it slammed me right in the face. Good thing it knocked me out of my concentration, otherwise it might have done some serious damage.

I thought about what might have gone wrong and why it worked fine that morning. Maybe it has to stay stationary… Then again, that doesn't make sense either, the earth moves as well. Then I got it: anchoring. I simply had to figure out a way to 'anchor' the field to a different reference point. It took quite a few more tries, and bruises, before I figured it out. I got it to anchor to the train itself, so it stayed put in the cabin. I even got it to anchor to myself, causing it to move when I did. My day was officially made.

When I got home, I was greeted by both parents, asking how it went. I replied by showing them the pants, shirt and the 'clear-for-school' slip.

“And, check this out,” I said as I created a shield out of the way, just to make my eyes glow.

“Wow, when did you learn that? I'm sure you couldn't do that this morning,” My mom asked.

“True, I learned it at the post-MORFS centre. And it comes with a power.”

“A power as well? So what is it, I didn't see anything.”

“It's a sort of anti-kinetic shield. Like this,” I answered, demonstrating it by letting my keys bounce in mid-air.

At that moment my brother walked it with the strangest combination of surprise, jealousy and boredom on his face. “Damn it. You get all the good stuff around here.”

“Don't worry, John. You've only hit sixteen a month ago, you have plenty of time left to catch MORFS,” I tried to cheer him up.

“Let me just go upstairs, put this stuff away and change into something more fitting,” I said, as I made my way up the stairs.

I stuffed my new wardrobe in my closet and exchanged my current shirt for the one with wing slits. It was a strange sensation at first: wearing clothes and still being able to freely move my wings.

My afternoon was a lot less eventful than my morning had been and the guests for New Year's Eve wouldn't arrive till 9pm. So that gave me some more time to practice my wings and newfound power. Gotta have something to show off, after skipping out on Christmas.

By the time the guests started arriving, I felt like I had been set up. My parents had forced me to play butler, welcoming each guest as they arrived. Well, I guess forced is not the right word, as it was a choice between either that or sweeping the curb tomorrow. At that time I had thought this was the lesser evil. Now, I was not so sure. Every time I opened the door to another relative, I got the same reaction of shock and awe, shortly followed by the same (to me rather obvious) questions. Things were more fun when Lisa and her parents arrived and she asked where I had hidden my wings, as I had folded them under my shirt before the first guests arrived. Her parent's reaction to my 'later' was quite funny.

The rest of the night though was filled with snacks, loving acceptance and fireworks. And another load of shock and awe when I revealed my wings. I found out that my tail is strong enough to lift my two year old cousin; he tends to grab and hold on to everything. And that, after being talked into it by my aunt, my hair looks quite good in a braid. I'll never admit that to anyone, ever.

The fireworks were a bit less fun than I had hoped, as some kids down the street thought it was funny to aim a sky-rocket at the lizard. Turns out I only get temporary blinded and deafened when one of those explode in my face.

After some persuasion from my family, I figured I couldn't very well mutilate them in the middle of the street. My family found it a bit unsettling though when I slammed my claws into a lamppost, leaving five neat holes when I retracted them. I guess my parents finally realized what the doctor meant by 'very sharp'.

Eventually I did get my chance to get back at the assholes. I managed to turn the joke around when I caught them aiming another sky-rocket. I created a shield between me and them, so the rocket would bounce straight into their parents' car. It did one hell of a load of damage in there. I think it got them grounded for at least a month.

With the assholes behind lock and key, I had a lot more fun enjoying the fireworks. Within minutes of the twelve o'clock signal, the entire town was covered by a refreshing cloud of gunpowder smoke. As once again four million's worth of fireworks were blasted into the skies, the smoke cloud was painted in almost every colour imaginable. My inner pyromaniac always finds this the best time of year, but this time it felt almost like a celebration for surviving MORFS as well. I knew full well it could have killed me, if my parents hadn't been watching me closely.

That night, I fell asleep with the gunpowder vapours still in my nostrils and the final pieces of explosives going off over my head. My bed felt like heaven.

***

Waking up, though, was more of a shock. Something was definitely wrong. It took me a while to figure out what it was though, then it hit me: I was back in my old body.

No way. There is absolutely no way the last few days were a dream.

“Might be because this is,” said a voice behind me, causing me to jump.

“SHIT. Nick, please don't ever do that again,” I yelled. “It's not even Wednesday yet.”

“Yes it is, roughly 3 am out here,” he answered calmly.

“Okay, got me on a technicality,” I admitted. “So, how did New Year's Eve go on your end?”

Nick plopped down on a chair he had just made out of thin air before answering. “Hmm, not too bad, lots of alcohol. Some assholes tried to get Gills drunk. And you know his tolerance for alcohol.”

I nodded. Zero.

“They're asleep now.”

“Courtesy of you, I assume.” Nick just nodded, sporting a wide grin.

“They never knew what hit them… But, we can update each other on our holiday escapades later,” he said, radically changing the subject. “From your knowing what day it is, I assume you've been awake for at least some time.”

“Yup, woke up last Friday. Let's just say I hit the jackpot. Though it seems that didn't leak through to my dreams yet.”

“Uh huh, looks like your subconscious self-image hasn't caught on yet,” he mused. “Don't worry, it's normal. Aaron's still hasn't caught on completely.”

“True, but he's a special case, it's not like I switched gender or something.”

“Yeah, didn't think so. You'd be a bit more on edge if that were the case, I think,” He chuckled. “Oh well, guess I'll have to wait till Monday.”

“He he, might as well. I'd hate to miss the looks on your faces anyway. Now, can I please resume my night's rest?”

“Are you sure you got it that bad?” Nick asked.

“Yes, I'm sure I got it that bad. Now get the hell out.”

***

The rest of the week was fairly quiet. I did some more practice, on both my wings and my power. Got some homework done, I had been neglecting that bit the past week. Playing comatose and all. Come Sunday, I had fairly good control over the wings, though flight was still out of the question.

My shield trick had also gained a little boost. I had managed to split the shield, creating two instead of one. The combined surface was the same as that of one big one however. I also made an appointment for a job interview at that restaurant.

As the week drew closer to an end, I found myself getting nervous. Sure, I'd be safe from almost anything they could throw at me and I didn't think Weaver would fry my brain. But that's why it's called irrational fear.

***

Monday morning started out great. I had overslept by half an hour. Which, with my very tight morning routine, is a disaster. I must have looked like a mini-tornado as I tried to get ready for school in time. Filling up my bag, packing breakfast, falling down the stairs while trying to get some pants on. Good thing bruises don't really show through the scales. Running out the door, turning back to grab my keys and almost running headfirst into a passing car. All in all, just wonderful. I did get to school in time to turn in my post-MORFS slip though.

As I left the office, I saw my friends heading for the stairs. As expected, they didn't recognise me. So I decided to give them a little shock.

I walked up behind them and slapped Peter and Aaron on their shoulders. “Hey, guys!”

“Who the hell are you?” shouted Peter.

“HOLY SHIT! Jake?” It seemed Nick recognised my brain. “Is that really you?”

The rest looked between me and Nick for a moment.

“Yup, told you I'd hit the jackpot,” I grinned.

Warren looked me over and asked, “So, scales, eyes and claws. What else is new?”

“Strength, powers and lots of CNT.”

Aaron let out a whistle, “Nice.”

We talked some more about my upgrades on our way to class. Our algebra professor pretty much ignored me, which was fine by me. It also allowed us to silently continue our conversation.

*So, when do you think your other power will unlock?* Asked Weaver.

*Dunno, as soon as possible, I hope,* I answered. *I also have another passive one. Some automated defence against telepaths. Wait a minute, why haven't you hit a mine yet?*

*Oh, so that's what those things are. I thought it would be best to avoid the dark blobs.*

*How come you can spot them, anyway? June said they were pretty much invisible.*

Gills cut in before Weaver could answer: *What are they loaded with?*

*Uhm… She said she got hit with an empathic feedback.*

*Well, that explains why I can see them. I can't see emotions at all. So it's more like seeing a lack of things than actually seeing the mines themselves.* Weaver explained. *I have no doubt, however, that they would hurt like hell.*

*Hmm, one thing less to worry about.* I mused. *Hey Myst, your parents home today?*

*No, why? Want a post-MORFS party?* he asked teasing.

*Nah, want to show you the last of my upgrades.* I included a mental grin.

*Check this out.* I said, before lifting the side of my shirt and wiggling one of my wing 'fingers'.

Sakura was the first to get a good look at what I meant. His eyes nearly popped out of his head as he asked: *Is that what I think it is?*

*Depends on what you're thinking.* I said mysteriously.

“Hey, you guys back there! Pay attention!” That cut our conversation short.

We spend the rest of the lecture pretending to pay attention and occasionally taking notes. Once the lecture was over, we said goodbye to Peter and Gills. They had to go to another class, while the rest of us headed to Chem.-Calc.

I actually dreaded this part of the day the most. Mr. Schröder was a known Purist. He tended to keep his hybrid students just on the brink of failure, but only just. And with my new and 'improved' looks, I would definitely be on his bad side.

As expected, problems started as soon as I entered the classroom. “Hey, You are not in my class, get out.”

“Uhm, sir, I'm Jake. I got hit with MORFS over the holidays.”

“No, no lies. Jake is way too old for MORFS. Now get out before I drag you to the office.”

I sighed. “Okay, dean's office it is then.”

With that he was pretty much fuming. He slammed the classroom door behind us, after telling the rest to study page something, and marched towards the office.

The dean looked up from her tablet when he barged in. “What can I do for you, Mr. Schröder?”

“This… this person,” he spat the last word like it was something nasty. “Is trying to impersonate one of my students. I will not stand for such things.”

“It thought I wouldn't see the difference between it and my student, Jake Wilson.” The 'it' really rubbed my scales the wrong way.

“I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Schröder. But this is Jake Wilson.” My calc. professor looked confused. “He came to my office this morning with his post-MORFS papers.”

“No, it's lies, all of it. That plague only affects heathens and devil worshippers, besides Wilson is too old for it.”

The dean looked like she'd just about had it with him; I thought I could even see a little vein pulsing on her forehead. “William, we both know MORFS isn't a plague. We also know twenty is not the maximum age to get MORFS. And YOU know I have better things to do than to listen to your prejudiced complaints!”

Schröder was taken aback a bit by her outburst; it did not calm him down though. He turned to me, before softly growling: “You won't get away with this.” He then stomped out the door and back to his class.

I was about to follow him, when the dean called to me. “Jake, if he tries something stupid, please come and tell me. I'll probably be able to work something out.”

I nodded and left her office. I didn't feel like returning to chem.-calc. again, so instead I headed for the library. I spend a few minutes skipping through the pages Schröder had given the rest of the class to study, but found it was just a repeat of the last class. I spent the rest of my 'calc.-class' playing some games on my tablet and trying some new tricks with my shields.

By the time my friends found me, I had a paperclip perpetually bouncing up and down between two shields.

“Hey, how are you doing that?” asked Myst.

I smiled as I turned around. “Told you I got some powers.”

“Yeah, but that doesn't explain how you are doing this,” added Pete.

“Yeah, well. I was told I'm a sort of telekinetic, but it seems I do just the opposite.” I looked back at the paperclip. “I think I can best describe it as an anti-kinetic shield, two in this case. I remove any movement from an area, relative to an anchor-point, causing all kinetic energy it encounters to be returned in full. Sort of like a 100% rebound bouncing ball.”

Gills looked impressed. “Nice, sounds like it could be useful. But what do you mean by anchor-point?”

“Well, think about it. If it removed absolutely all movement, it would spin off the Earth in less than a second. I have learned a few different anchor-points already: Earth being the first of course and on the way home from the check-up, I managed to anchor to the train and myself.”

“So… You mean: when you move, the shield moves as well?”

“Yup. Though so far, I only managed to anchor to my own centre of gravity. But with practice, I think I should be able to attach it to my hands or tail as well.” I said while dropping the shields and catching the paperclip. “Now, how about we go get some lunch?”

***

As we rounded the corner to the cafeteria, we literally bumped into Jenny. Fuck. Today just keeps getting better and better.

She picked up the bag she had dropped and looked straight at me. “YOU! It was you!”

“Wut?”

“Don't play dumb, you filthy animal. You mutilated my brother. Because of you he can't even go to school anymore!”

“Uhm… like I just said: Wut?” My brain was working full tilt to figure out what she was yelling about. “Ooh, those guys… What did he come home with?”

“Your lizard brain doesn't even remember mutilating his arm and injecting your filth?” Her face showed a mix of disbelief and burning hatred. Apparently her brother had caught some infection. Not very surprising, given how long he waited to visit a doctor.

*What the hell is she talking about?* Weaver looked at me from the corner of his eyes.

I growled back at her. “Two things Jenny: One, be glad I didn't rip his arm off, as that wouldn't have been too hard. And second, could you tell him to pay attention to whom he's threatening next time?”

“Are you trying to threaten me?” Jenny said, glaring at me. “How does an animal like you know my name anyway?”

“Quite simple Jennifer King, we already know each other. I'm Jake, version 2.0. Now fuck off.” I growled at her as I extended my claws.

After she had taken her cue and left, we headed to the cafeteria for lunch.

“So, retractable?” asked Peter, nodding at my hands.

“Yup. They're actually twice what I normally show.” I said while extending and retracting the nails in turn. “And insanely sharp too.”

“Nice. By the way, what was that shit about Jenny's brother just now?”

I gave them a brief rundown of what had happened a week before. Including my second run-in with them. My friends thought the kids had gotten what was coming for them, but that I should be a bit less reckless. Couldn't really argue with that, knife to the face and all. Nick even mentioned how he would've been tempted to turn him into a vegetable.

All 'n all, we weren't bothered anymore for the rest of lunch break. Nick, Peter, Warren and Aaron headed for their last lecture and I went back to the library again. Annoying how, almost every time, at least one of us is left with nothing to do. I guess it can't be helped, different majors and stuff. Me with bio-medical, Nick and Aaron doing Bio-chemistry and Warren and Peter going for synthetic chemistry. I'd say we're pretty lucky to have ended up such close friends as we are.

When they were done, the rest of the gang would come and pick me up. So I busied myself with some more shield practice. And when I got bored with that, I decided to watch the replays from our last tournament. I found it truly unbelievable, how those guys had kicked our asses in the semi-finals. And the replays confirmed my suspicions; the only way they could have done it was with a pre-cog. While rummaging round on the site, I found something else. Something a lot more fun, something I'd have to show to the rest of the gang.

They walked in on me about ten minutes later. “So, you ready for your demonstration?”

“Yup, but one question first. Any of you guys have plans for spring-break?” I asked.

“Uhm… Nope,” answered Nick, shortly followed by negatives from the rest.

“In that case, how about we head for London for a few days?”

“London? What for?” said a confused Aaron.

To answer his question I showed them the page I had found on the site: The next Halo-con would be held over spring-break, in London. But the more important part was that the top five teams of the last tournament would be allowed free entry. And being number three ourselves, that would only leave transportation and accommodation costs.

The rest of the gang found it a good way to spent spring-break as well, provided that our parents didn't veto it. So we agreed to make plans later on.

About fifteen minutes later, we were at Aaron's place. “So, what was it you wanted to show us?” he asked.

I looked around the room and figured I had enough room for a full spread.

“Could you guys go stand a bit to the side?” I asked. “Don't want to hit you in the face or something.”

“What exactly are you planning?” Aaron asked while backing up.

“Glad you asked,” I said while pulling off my shirt. “This.”

“Damn man, you look like a burn victim.”

“Yeah, I guess it does. But it's a lot more awesome than that.”

I slowly unfolded my wings, expanding them to their full five point five meters. “God, you guys have no idea how good it feels to stretch them after a full day at school.”

My friends' eyes nearly bulged out of their head, as they stared at me.

“Holy shit… Are… are those functional?”

“With some practice, they should be as functional as your gills.” I grinned. “Now check this out.”

I bend forward a bit, extended my claws, repositioned my wings a bit and made my eyes glow. The sight of me like that, my tails gently swishing behind me, must have been terrifying.

All except Weaver took a step back. He mouthed a 'wow'. “Dude, you should make that your profile pic. Looks like we'll have a real demon on our team.” He said laughing.

The rest had recovered somewhat from my show as they laughed at Nick's joke.

“Damn, I wish I had your upgrades,” mumbled Gills.

“Hey, it's not like it doesn't have any downsides.” I said. “Ever tried typing with a set of razors taped to your fingers without ruining your tablet?”

“Not really, but I doubt it would be that much trouble.”

“Also, showers take almost twice as long. As I have to take care of about ten square meters of extra skin.” I was getting a bit agitated now that I had to consciously face the downsides. “And don't expect drying off gets easier with the scales. Now, water clings to the edges. And there are a lot of edges. The chairs in lecture halls are not made to accommodate tails. And no, a reptilian tail is not as flexible as a feline one. Until I have enough control I'll have to fold my wings under my shirt at school, which is a major pain in the back. Literally. And then come the problems with Schröder and co, not to mention an inevitable and unavoidable confrontation with the twins.”

“Hey, it's not so bad,” said Nick as he slapped me on my shoulder. “Think of it this way: you could have ended up like Skunk.”

“Yeah, you're right. Though I just hope my second power activates before the Twins come knocking.”

***

Tuesday morning. And I already knew it wasn't going to be a fun day. Sure, it started out a lot better than yesterday, but I just had this feeling of upcoming problems. There was no doubt the Twins had by now heard of the 'new' morf.

When I got to school, I met up with Peter and Warren for Chem. Lab.

“Hey Jake. You cooled off a bit since yesterday?” asked Peter on our way up to class. “You got pretty worked up over the downsides.”

I looked at the floor. “Yeah, sorry about that. I just got a bit frustrated.”

Warren patted me on my back saying: “Don't worry about it, me and Aaron went through the same thing. I think it's normal for big changes.”

“Yeah, I guess you're right.”

“Sure, if you need someone to ta…” Warren stopped mid-sentence, staring down the hall.

Following his gaze, Aaron and I found the problem. Shit, Twins. To my surprise, though, they didn't come our way. Guess even they are not stupid enough to skip classes. On the other hand: the look they gave me spoke volumes. Our confrontation would happen today.

Chem. Lab itself managed to keep my brain occupied for a few hours. It was a simple test, but it kept me busy. Apparently honey is for 98% made up of glucose. No shit, Sherlock. I could have told you that myself.

When we were done, we headed for the cafeteria where we'd meet up with Nick and Aaron. However, things hardly ever go as I plan.

The first sign was Skunk walking up to me with a sympathetic look on his face and patting me on my shoulder.

Skunk himself does require some explanation: He's no skunk, in fact, he's not even a hybrid. Do you know how sweaty feet smell? That's butyric acid. For some reason MORFS caused him to sweat the stuff, whereas it's normally produced by bacteria on the skin. Thus deodorant doesn't work for him, and earning him his nickname.

The Supers around here tend to view him as their own personal punching bag. I don't know why Skunk puts up with that, or how the Supers manage to ignore the smell. It should be obvious how bad you're fucked when he goes all sympathetic on you.

And indeed, a few steps behind him came the Twins.

“Hey, lizard. Care to dump those things,” Kevin almost spat the word at Warren. “And come join the cool guys?”

I turned around to face them. “Now, why would I do that?”

That was not the answer they were expecting. It didn't stop their attempts to recruit me though, as Jeremy made clear: “Well, for starters. Unlike the toad, mind reader and that sorry excuse for a human being Wilson, we can keep the purists off your back.”

I knew I had some sort of reputation with the Supers, but this was pretty harsh, even from them. “One: What makes you think I cannot take care of myself? And second: Don't insult the guy you're trying to recruit.”

By now we had gathered quite a crowd and it was threatening to get even bigger, when Kevin turned towards Jeremy. “Are we gonna let him talk to us like that?”

Nearly everyone took a step back, as they knew what was coming. “Don't think so.”

On cue, both produced a sphere of their respective element. Which they, like trained professionals, hurled at me at exactly the same time. Personally, I had been waiting for this and already had a shield up. The moment the spheres hit, time seemed so slow down for just a second. Suddenly I felt like I could see or feel something more than I could before. I recognised what had happened, but like last time, I didn't have time to pay much attention to it.

As expected, both elemental balls collapsed once they'd hit my shield. I looked down for a second at the point where they had disappeared, then back up at the Twins.

“Well that sucks, doesn't it?”

Disbelief was written all across their faces. Clearly they never had this happen to them before.

Their dumb ape Steven was less impressed though: “No-one talks to us like that and gets away with it!”

He raised his fist, cocked his arm… Oh god, he can't be stupid enough to… CRUNCH!! “Rhaagh! My hand, what have you done with my hand!?”

*Well, apparently he IS stupid enough to punch it.* Came a mental snicker.

*We already knew super-strength doesn't mean super-brains. Seems we can scratch super-bones too.* I observed.

“Steven. I didn't do shit. You guys where stupid enough to attack a new morf, without knowing what he can do. Just give up on trying to get me to join.” I said before walking away. After a few steps I turned back around. “You might want to get that hand checked out though.” I pointed at the wreck of blood, bone and skin that Steven cradled in his other hand.

As I rounded the corner to the cafeteria, I was joined by the rest of the gang.

Warren hugged me like a madman. “Do you realize you've just beaten the Supers, without so much as lifting a finger?”

Gills had had some pretty harsh treatment from those guys, so I guess he had every right to be this energetic. Still, it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable.

“You know I didn't really beat them, I just showed them they can't hurt me,” I said as I gently pushed him off. “I doubt I could have done much to hurt them either. All of them have a lot more experience with their powers than I have.”

“Does it really matter?” Aaron chimed in. “It's not like they'll bother you any time soon. Which would make us quite safe too.”

“Sorry to disappoint you there,” Ugh, save it for Nick to ruin the mood. “The Twins think a little different. They will take this as a challenge. They will however, think long and hard about their next move. Especially after going down this hard.”

Lunch at our table was strangely subdued, compared to the exited buzz around us. It's not every day that the established Supers get served by a new guy. Our gang however was more concerned about the implications Nick's revelation might hold.

Then I remembered: “Oh, guys.”

“Huh.”

“On a more positive note, I think my heat power activated. It seems pissing off the twins was enough to wake it up,” I said, when Nick suddenly jerked up. “What's wrong with you?”

Nick shuddered a bit. “It seems the Twins weren't the only ones you pissed off.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well… Since Steven had to get what's left of his hand to the hospital, they called his father. I doubt Steve gave him an accurate recount, cause I could sense his outburst from here.”

“Oh shit.”

“Hmm, yeah,” said Nick, as his eyes took on a glassy look. “According to Steven's side of the story, Jake here attacked them and Steve had to pay with his hand-bones to make it stop.”

The story couldn't be much further from the truth than that. I kind of wondered how he would try to prove that, but before I could comment on that Nick continued: “Seems Mr Dirksen wants to try and get you kicked out for that joke.”

“Dammit. This day keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?” I shook my head, as I tried to think of a way out of this mess. “Any of you guys got any bright ideas?”

Peter looked lost in thought for a moment, and then spoke up: “Well, Steven has no proof, save his own word. If you can prove self-defence, I think you'd be safe.”

“And how do you suppose I do that?” I asked. “Steven probably has the Twins lying for him till their dicks fall off and his dad will do the 'my son in an angel' scene. Unless they'll allow you guys to help me, I don't think I got much of a chance.”

Aaron chuckled, and then said. “Cameras.”

“What?”

“If you look from here, you can see that the spot where your little scene played out is almost dead centre to one of the security cameras.” He was right on that point, video does weigh a bit more than words. “And if they won't allow access to the cameras, you can always ask for a telepath screening. No doubt Steve and co will refuse.”

“OK, let's go with that then.” I nodded, then asked. “Say, Nick. Got any idea when Steve will be back here?”

Again, Nick's eyes glazed over for a second before he answered. “I'm guessing not for another half hour. So it looks like we'll be able to enjoy the remainder of our lunch-break in peace.”

And that we did. We talked a bit about my new power and possible uses of it and the shields. My friends really have some twisted ideas when it comes to using my shields.

I found my new power very strange to explain. It's like I can see 'pressure', if that makes sense. But thanks to June telling me the power was heat based, I realized that the pressure had to be heat energy. Which explained why people seemed to 'look denser' than the surrounding air. And if that wasn't enough, somewhere during our conversation, I learned I could somehow persuade the energy to move. Weaver seemed to think I would probably learn to do that almost without effort, but for now it was just another thing that required practice and attention.

All too soon our lunch-break was over and it was time for my friends to head to class. And for me to head to the dean's office. Three times in two days. That has got to be some sort of record. I thought, shaking my head.

As I rounded the corner to the office, I already saw Steven walking in, bandaged from the elbow down. Along with a man who, if possible, looked even bigger than Steven was. I took a deep breath, hoping the man didn't have his son's temper, then walked over to follow them in.

Looking through the door, I could see they were already having a heated argument.

I took a deep breath and reached for the door. Here goes nothing.

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

 


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