Here On Earth

By E. Red

 

Chapter 2

 

I sank into the beanbag chair on my balcony, exhausted in every sense of the word. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I had some small cause to smile.

 

My friends had accepted me. Perhaps a little awkwardly, but they’d done it nonetheless. I grinned as I picked up my guitar, idly noticing how much easier it was to play with full use of my left hand. It actually sounded like what I wanted it to, and I didn’t have to concentrate nearly as hard. Maybe I can actually start playing for real, not just for therapy… The pick hit the strings, and I let my fingers do the talking. And, for what felt like the first time since the change, I felt totally at peace.

 

Once again, I noticed that the tune I was absently strumming out was one ‘d never heard before, and, in a heretofore rare flash of insight, I grabbed a couple of blank sheet music pages and played through the tune again, pausing every now ad then to jot the last few notes down.

 

I sat there for a couple of hours, chewing on a pencil and writing out the brief scraps of music that seemed to be coming out of nowhere. They were a little disjointed, so I left a lot of space blank, separating the brief snatches of song from each other. The sun was just falling down under the horizon when I quit, heading inside for my bed.

 

Only when I made to get undressed did I realize that I’d just spent several hours doing something completely normal, and I hadn’t thought once about my new body. Only the nightgown that Julia had left for me the night before had reminded me.

 

Once again, the pang of self-pity erupted in my heart, but it was accompanied this time by an odd sense of accomplishment. Only two whole days as a female and I was already becoming acclimatized? My male mind was repulsed at the thought, but, I realized with a start, I was rather proud of myself, for the first time in those two days.

 

I absently pulled the nightgown over my nude form, remembering the itchy, clammy feeling I’d woken up with this morning. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the silky garment felt as it clung to my new curves. Mini-Mia A and B decided that they liked the way it felt, too, and gave the garment a standing ovation, sending little tingles jolting through my body. My hands started wandering as I lay down in bed, running rampant all over my body until, once again, the dying vestiges of my former male self forced me to stop, and try to get some sleep.

 

And sleep did come, slowly. But it took every ounce of my willpower to not act upon the thoughts that were scampering through my head…

 

 

In a secluded lab, hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, a government computer was receiving a datastream from a hospital in California. Several case files for recently-treated MORFS survivors were unpacked, coded, and filed away into the US MORFS Registration Database. But a trio of blinking red folder icons remained on the screen, startling the government worker who was seated at the console. They were labelled Walker, Erik, Walker, Julia, and Smith, Antoinette. The man blinked in amazement. It was extremely rare that two high-risk profiles came from a single place in a single datastream. Three could almost be marked up as a national security crisis. He picked up the phone receiver next to the screen, and pressed one of the autodial buttons.

 

A gruff-sounding man with a southern accent answered. “Yes?”

 

“Sir, I think you should get down here.” The worker said shakily. “You really need to see this…”

 

 

In another lab, a mile offshore of the California coast, and another mile straight down, a man with a scarred face leered at the same files. “Rodent is earnin’ his pay with this one…” He sneered, showing off a row of slightly pointed teeth. He, too, picked up the phone and autodialed somebody.

 

“Gather the Dregs.” He growled into the mouthpiece as soon as the ringing stopped. “I’ve got a little job for them…”

 

 

I could hear Julia yelling at me, but, honestly, where was I going to find a shower cap?

 

“We’re going to be late! What were you thinking? Jeez!” She gave another slight tug on the hairbrush, muttering a few more curses as she switched the hairdryer to high.

 

Ugh. I hate morning people…

 

She didn’t even give me the proper amount of time to gripe about the clothes she had put out for me. A pale orange blouse and a black skirt that fell to just below my knees, accompanied by a set of creamy yellow panties and an under wire bra. Yeah, I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s a little hard to talk when you’ve got somebody cramming a bagel down your throat.

 

And yet, we still got to the school a full forty minutes early. Thankfully, I didn’t need to voice my anger out loud, but I think she may just have caught a glimpse of it. Just maybe…

 

Standing at the door, my thoughts once again began to stumble over themselves. It was like being the new kid all over again, despite the rather large group of students who already knew about my… Condition? No, that’s not the right word…

 

Julia gave me a gentle nudge across the threshold as I stood there. She responded to my glare with a raised eyebrow and a smirk, along with a feeling of smugness. I wouldn’t be the last time she’d irritate me with our empathy, either.

 

I slumped onto a bench in the cafeteria, dropping my heavy binder unceremoniously onto the table in front of me. First period English. Second period Humanities. Ugh… (Humanities was the ‘politically correct’ name that the administration had coined for the government-required MORFS awareness class. Kinda misses the point, in my opinion…)

 

As was usual, Jen was the first person to arrive. She looked a little surprised to see us, but smiled brightly regardless.

 

“Morning, hot stuff!” She quipped.

 

I forced what I hoped was a smile onto my face as my stomach did a series of backflips. I knew she was trying to cheer me up, but it still hurt, nonetheless. “Hey…”

 

I guess she picked up on the false tone. “What’s up? You alright?”

 

“Yeah… I’m fine…” At least, that’s what I’m telling people…

 

She studied me for a few seconds before shrugging. “So, how is it?”

 

“How is what?”

 

She laughed. “How does you new body compare to your old one?”

 

I immediately felt my face flush. “It’s… Odd… I guess...”

 

“In what way?” She pressed.

 

“Well, my mind is telling me that I’m jiggling in all the right places.” I said brightly, forcing my acting gene into action. “Except that ‘all the right places’ shouldn’t apply to me, right?

 

She laughed, and Julia smiled. Funny how her smile, which used to brighten my mood instantly, now only served to remind me of how different things were…

 

The rest of the gang wandered in over the next ten minutes, and we made small talk for the better part of the next half hour. I could feel the strained formality in the air, and it hurt a little to know that they were still uncomfortable with me, but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, this was just as new to me as it was to them.

 

Jen seemed unnaturally quiet when we left for English, staring off into space. Occasionally, she’d glance over at me when she thought I wasn’t looking. She looked like she wanted to ask something, but every time I turned, she looked away. Even as we settled into our seats, she avoided my eyes.

 

The final bell rang, and our English teacher, Ms. Swann, closed and locked the door. She stood at the podium, silently going over the attendance, her eyes flickering from the page to various seats in the room with practiced ease. But she faltered when she hit the end of the list, quirking an eyebrow before glancing up at me. A tiny smile was the only indication that she knew what was going on. Without breaking stride, she immediately launched into her lecture for the day, pausing every so often to answer a question, or ask one herself.

 

All in all, it was just a regular class. Notes, questions, assignment. Nobody really even noticed me, besides the other CEC members who were in the class. Jen kept pretty much to herself for most of the lesson, which was about the only thing that set this period outside the norm. Usually, we’d chat it up for most of the class, jotting the minimum amount of notes required to look like we were working. But not today, which only served to make me feel even worse about myself.

 

Maybe I should have stayed home today…

 

 

Julia’s watch alarm woke her up five minutes before first period ended. She groaned a little as she stood up and stretched, picking her binder up off of the lounge couch she’d been napping on. She frowned slightly when she suddenly felt a twinge of guilt and fear, knowing they weren’t her own feelings. Wonder what that’s all about…

 

She took her time walking to Ms. Swann’s classroom, waiting outside as the bell rang again and her class streamed out. Jen saw her and waved, walking over. “How is she?” Was the first thing Julia asked.

 

Jen responded with a frown. “I think that something’s wrong. Maybe it’s just that h… She’s having a hard time adjusting…”

 

Julia decided not to call her on the near slip-up. “Well, she told me she was fine this morning.”

 

“Then she was lying.” Came a voice from behind them. They turned to see Jordan standing behind them, leaning against the wall. “Trust me. When your entire body changes on you, it takes a long time to get used to.” He paused, glancing between them. “See for yourself.”

 

They looked back, and Julia felt her heart nearly stop. Mia was just leaving the classroom, holding her books to her chest defensively, her eyes downcast. Julia could feel her embarrassment, along with a hefty mix of other emotions, but Mia just kept walking, not even noticing they were there.

 

“I… I had no idea…” She sputtered, fighting the urge to chase her sister. Why can’t I feel it?

 

Jordan smiled sadly. “I’ll talk to her. We’re together all afternoon.” He said as he walked around them. “But I gotta say, if you believed she’d be ready after one day, then you’ve either getting dumber, or more naïve.”

 

Julia opened her mouth to reply, but she knew he was right. Jen put an arm around her shoulders and gently started leading her away. “Come on. We’ll talk about this in class…”

 

 

About the only thing that kept me in my seat when I felt my sister’s sadness through the link was the fact that Seraphim had sat down beside me, a worried look on her face as she unslung her book bag and dropped it on the floor.

 

“Are you alright?” Was the first thing she asked. “You don’t look so good…”

 

“No.” I said, groaning. “The old goat is gonna make me his example for the rest of the semester.” Mr. Waterlander, our humanities teacher, was very fond of using recently-MORFed students as material for his classes, and I, being the first transgendered student in our year, was very likely to be called upon.

 

Great. How lucky for me…

 

“You know, it’s not that bad.” She said quietly, looking down at her desk. Her normally cheerful disposition seemed to disappear.

 

“What?”

 

“Being… Well, different…”

 

My mouth engaged before my brain could stop it. “That’s easy for you to say. You’ve been different for six years, you’re used to it!” I regretted the words as soon as I said them.

 

She remained silent, but the pain was all too evident in her eyes.

 

I laid my head down on my desk, sighing. “I’m sorry.” I told her quietly. “I didn’t mean that…”

 

Her response, however, was interrupted by the bell, and Mr. Waterlander’s voice. “Good morning everybody!” He said cheerfully. “And how are we all this morning?”

 

He talked for a few minutes about somebody he’d met the night before, a MORF who was having a hard time adapting to her change. (For once, I could relate…) But it was only about halfway through the class when he finally managed to work me into the topic, much to my dismay.

 

“And even now, amongst our own student body,” He said, his eyes clearly locking onto me. “We have another new, unique situation brought upon us by MORFS. Mia, would you stand up, please?”

 

He was pointedly ignoring the horrified glare I was giving him, and I felt the heat rush into my cheeks when the whole class turned to look at me. The CEC members acknowledged me with slight nods, which I was grateful for, but everybody else…

 

Standing up, I very nearly trembled under the scrutiny of my peers as Mr. Waterlander launched into a tirade about the effect of MORFS on gender roles.

 

“If you don’t mind, Mia, I’d like you to tell us a few-”

 

He was cut short, however, by the bell, signalling the morning break. “Ah… Perhaps next class, then… Very well, you’re all dismissed. Thank you, miss Walker.”

 

The few people who knew who I was left with no further actions. The rest, however, put two and two together.

 

“Walker…?” I heard someone say quietly as I collected my things. “The twins…?” Said another…

 

I ran out of the class without a second thought.

 

 

Julia sat down at the usual table, dropping her sketchbook onto the seat beside her. She closed her eyes, concentrating on the feeling of her sister’s mind, reaching out for a feeling. All she caught was a brief snatch of embarrassment, which made her frown.

 

I thought we were supposed to be linked strongly…?

 

“Penny for your thoughts?”

 

Julia looked up in surprise. “Hey, Hiro.”

 

“Hey, yourself.” He said, smiling. “You look a little down, are you okay?”

 

She shook her head, not trusting her voice.

 

“MORFS really hit you hard, didn’t it?” Came another voice. Michelina gave her a friendly pat on the back as she sat down, idly chewing on a toothpick.

 

“That’s a bit of a redundant statement.” Said a third voice. Allan slouched into an empty seat, grinning. “Of course, you could have come out a lot worse.”

 

“You mean like my brother did…” Julia said quietly, laying her head down on the table.

 

The group sat in awkward silence for a moment before Mic spoke.

 

“You know… I went looking on the net for information on TGed MORFs. There are a lot of options open for support…” She trailed off, realizing that she wasn’t helping.

 

“…She said she was fine this morning, and I believed her…” Julia said sulkily.

 

There was another awkward pause, which seemed to drain all of the energy out of Julia’s body.

 

“Well, if you feel that badly about it…” Allan said suddenly, smiling slightly. “Then let’s go find her.”

 

“Yeah, Mr. Stuart won’t mind if we’re late.” Mic chimed in. The four of them were on rather good terms with the Art teacher, and he really wasn’t much of a stickler for the rules.

 

Julia smiled. “Yeah, we should do th-” A sudden, tearing pain shot through her mind, and she cried out, holding her head. Then, all she knew was fear…

 

 

I ran from that class like the very demons of hell were chasing me. I couldn’t face them. I heard the tone that the other students had used. I knew what they were thinking.

 

So I ran.

 

I was out the door and off the school grounds before I realized what I was doing. I eventually collapsed onto a park bench a block away from the school building. The forested park was part of a community improvement program, several acres of forest that had been relocated into the city. The bushes and trees blocked out most of the sun, but also pulled a lot of the moisture out of the air as well. That, and the warm breeze, made the tears I was crying evaporate almost as soon as they left my eyes. Why had I come today?

 

There was no reason to rush. Nothing really imperative that I needed to be at school for. And everybody told me to take as much time as I needed…

 

“Hey there, pretty lady.” A gruff, deep voice sounded from somewhere behind me. “And what are you doing out here, all alone?”

 

My head snapped around fast enough to startle the thugs that were stepping out of the bushes, grinning ruthlessly. “Come to play wit us, ‘ave yeh?” One of them, plainly the leader, said. The leader scratched his crew-cut head. “Well, can’t think of any other reason why there’d be such a pretty young thing jes’ sittin’ in our little park, eh lads?”

 

There were thirteen of them in all. They were all dressed in ripped jeans and black leather jackets, and they all had the same flaming skull tattooed onto their left hands. That meant that these guys were members of the Dregs of Hell, one of the gangs that had been rising to power in the city. I felt my mind and body freeze up, and I took a step backwards, tripping and falling on my back.

 

 The only other similarity was the fact that they were all armed, most with large hunting knives, but a few had lengths of chain hanging from their belts, and the leader was carrying what appeared to be a standard-issue police billy club, and…

 

I scrambled backwards in terror. The man had a gun holstered to his belt.

 

He saw where I was looking and laughed cruelly. “You like my piece, missie?” He said, laughing quietly as his goons circled around me. He took a step forward, bending slightly to leer at me. “Got it off’a cop I did a couple of days ago. But don’t you worry your pretty little ‘ead over it, lass.” He sneered, bending over just a little further and lifting my chin up with his club. “We got somthin’… Special planned fer you…”

 

I couldn’t even scream for fear…

 

 

“Jules! Jules! Can you hear me?”

 

The sounds of the outside world were being blotted out with the intensity of the emotions Julia was receiving. She was dimly aware of the feeling of cold tile on her cheek, and the bright lights of the cafeteria, which flickered slightly, sending stabbing pains shooting from her eyes through her mind.

 

“Wh…” She tried to say, but the words died under the realization that followed. “Mia!”

 

She shot up like a bullet, stumbling slightly as the room span. “We… We gotta find… Her…”

 

Somebody guided her into a chair, gently pushing her down into it. “Take it easy, Jules.” She recognised Allan’s voice. “We’ve sent for the nurse-”

 

“No…” She said, shaking the dizziness out of her head. “You need to call the police. Something’s happened to my sister.”

 

“Shit...” He cursed. “Hiro, go get Frankie and call the cops.” Frankie was the school’s security officer, and one of the best in his line of work, at that. He was a tracer, a specialized MORF that allowed him to pick out anybody’s psychic signature and know exactly how far away, and in which direction, the person was, relative to himself.

 

An image flickered across Julia’s minds eye, and she gasped in horror. “No…”

 

“What? What is it?” Mic asked anxiously.

 

“The Dregs.” She said. The image of the flaming skull tattoo burned in her mind like an iron brand, surrounded by terror the likes of which she’d never experienced before in her life. “I have to go to her…”

 

Without another thought, she was up and running, her increased musculature carrying her at a speed that few among the student body had ever seen. She flew through the halls, scattering the crowd as she went. Before she knew it, she was outside, and Johnny Black was pounding along the pavement just behind her.

 

“Ricky told me about Mia.” He shouted. “Figured you could use a hand. Or a fist, if necessary…” Ricky LaFonde was a CEC member, a junior who happened to be a powerful telepath, specializing in thought projection.

 

Julia nodded, pausing for a second in an attempt to try and get her bearings. A new image flashed into her mind, and this one nearly made her lose it.

 

It was an image of Mia’s skirt, being ripped from her body.

 

Julia’s head ripped around, glaring in the direction that the images appeared to be coming from. “They’re in the park!” She growled as she took off again, Johnny only inches behind. As they dove into the trees, the general silence of the morning was shattered by an enormous detonation, coming from somewhere up ahead…

 

 

I was as shocked as the thugs were when the tree exploded. Huge chunks of steaming, scorched splinters of wood flew through the air, blasting the leaves off the bushes and the thugs off of their feet. The remains of the trunk toppled over, crushing a pair of them underneath it.

 

“What the hell was that!?” Baldy shouted. The chunks of wood had passed right through him, as if he were empty space. He gaped openly at the scene, and I could see the gears turning in his head. “You little bitch! You did this!”

 

His hand reached for the gun, a crazed look coming over his face. Several of his goons were sitting up, angrily pulling foot long splinters out of various locations. He motioned to two of the less injured ones. “Hold the little bitch down.” He snarled, unbuckling his belt. “If she tried anything funny, cut ‘er.”

 

The pair ‘held’ me down by my wrists as the man grabbed my panties and jerked them off with one quick rip. I couldn’t do a thing. I wasn’t strong enough…

 

 

Another image flashed into Julia’s mind, the image of an unbuckled belt. Scarcely thirty seconds had passed since the explosion, but she’d already lost the trail. This final flash, however, lit up Mia’s location like a neon beacon.

 

She took off in a flash, Johnny trailing only slightly behind. The trees thinned out slowly, and she could see a group of people in dark clothes.

 

“’Ope you enjoy this, little missie. I know I will…” Was the last thing she heard before the world was blotted out by a crimson haze…

 

 

Johnathan Black was scared of very few things in life, and even fewer after his bout of MORFS. Woking for his mom at The Gardens Zoo had brought him into contact with Kiki, the silverback gorilla whose DNA had been the secondary substance his MORFS had used.

 

When you’re strong enough to destroy a car with your bare hands, very few things could scare you.

 

But now, pausing at the edge of a clearing next to one of his best friends, Johnny was scared. Not afraid for his life, not afraid of a bunch of gang bangers. None of that.

 

Johnny was afraid of what happened.

 

He saw the dozen and one thugs and his temper had flared nearly to its peak. But Julia, one of the nicest girls he’d ever met, let out an utterly feral snarl that expressed a rage so deep, it terrified him.

 

“Jules?” He whispered. But she was gone. Cursing, he dove out of the bushes after her.

 

Chaos ensued. Huge chunks of cement came flying into the clearing out of nowhere, bludgeoning several of the thugs and knocking them out instantly. Johnny cocked a massive fist back, about to lay one of the punks out, when the ground underneath him swelled, and a gyser of water shot the guy straight up fifty feet into the air.

 

By the time the shock had passed, Johnny couldn’t hear any more fighting. And when he looked, he knew why.

 

All twelve of the Dregs were laying on the ground, several of them under large slabs of rock, and all of them were unconscious. The bald guy, who’d been taken by surprise, hung helplessly from Julia’s outstretched hand. She was staring at him with primal hatred shining in her violet eyes. She held him there for a second, and then balled up her other fist, swinging out wide.

 

Jonny barely caught her arm in time, and even then it took every ounce of strength he had to keep it from connecting with the bald man’s head. “They’re done, Julia.” He said softly. “You don’t need to kill anybody. Not today.”

 

The light that had been in her eyes drained instantly at the sound of his voice, and she dropped the man, stumbling backwards into Johnny’s waiting arms, where she promptly collapsed. He laid her gently on the ground, making sure she was alright. When he was satisfied that she was, he turned and ran across the clearing, towards where the thugs had been.

 

What he saw next, he wasn’t prepared for.

 

Mia lay on her side in a patch of dirt under the steaming remains of a tree stump, sobbing openly. A huge slab of concrete had landed on her left hand, and she struggled feebly to free herself from the massive block. The ripped remains of her skirt lay on the ground a few feet away, next to…

 

Johnny blinked in shock, and then nearly bellowed with rage. He grabbed the giant stone slab and gave a mighty heave, sending it spinning through the air, to land across the clearing, twenty feet away. Mia jerked the smashed mess that had been her hand back to her body, instinctively curling up into the fetal position.

 

The sounds of the world came rushing back into Johnny’s ears as the rage slowly left his body. Sirens, incredibly close, blared loudly, and he heard the sound of dozens of footsteps coming closer. Pulling his custom made jacket off, he wrapped Mia’s (comparatively) tiny, shaking body in it.

 

He slumped to the ground against the tree, and did what came naturally to all men when confronted by a distraught female friend. He very gently lifted her into his lap, and closed his massive arms around her protectively. “It’s okay…” He told her softly. “They’re gone now, you’re safe…”

 

 

Frankie Rivers was a simple man, a twenty three year old police academy dropout who now worked privately as a security officer for the Victor St. Lewis High School. His MORF had helped him very little at the academy, and so he fell back onto what most ex-cadets did. But me got by, and even managed to make a few friends among the student body.

 

Two of the biggest among these were the Walker twins. The pair of them had been very good to Frankie over the last three years. They treated him far better than half the other students in the school combined. So, naturally, he was quite upset to hear that they were in danger.

 

Their psychic signatures gleamed at him through the trees, along with Johnny Black’s, just under a hundred yards ahead. The rumbling sounds had stopped, and he couldn’t hear anything else. Pausing, he glanced back at the dozen SWAT officers that were following just behind him. Apparently the state was taking the gang problem very much to heart. Making a couple of simple hand motions, he gestured them in the direction of the beacons and the number of extra signatures he could see. The squad leader nodded, and motioned his men forward, weapons cocked as they stalked into the bushes.

 

Several seconds later, Frankie heard one of the officers barking orders into his radio. “We need two EMS units to St. Lewis Park at 38th and Moreaux, one vic unconscious with only mild injuries, the other severely injured but still awake. Also scramble one of the special tanks here, I think we’ve got an intangible. ETA?” There was a hiss of brief static as the answer came back to him.

 

Pushing his way through the bush, Frankie was struck dumb by the scene that he saw. Several large chunks of the cement walkway had been ripped out of the ground, and were scattered all over the clearing, some half on top of what he assumed to be the Dregs that he’d been warned about. Johnny was in the process of lifting these off of the men, neatly stacking them in a pile, while the SWAT team quickly neutralized all of the gang members.

 

The squad leader was standing over one of the bound men, holding an instrument that Frankie recognised as a field MORFS identifier, a tool that was still in its testing phase. It looked for key identifiers in a subjects DNA, specific patterns that gave certain abilities, ones that would make transport and containment difficult, like super strength or, in this case, intangibility.

 

The unconscious body of… Frankie shook his head, not sure of what he was seeing. But psychic signatures could not lie. Julia lay on the ground, unconscious to the world, and a young woman, one who used to be Erik Walker, sat with her, wrapped up in a too-large jacket. One of the SWAT guys was trying to talk to her, but she just shook her head and continued cradling her sister’s head in her lap.

 

Frankie knelt down beside the pair of them, confused and worried at the same time. “Are you alright, ma’am?” He asked, uncertain how to address the new Erik.

 

She glanced up at him, a blank look on her face. “I’m fine.” She said quietly.

 

Frankie didn’t quite believe… her, but he dropped the subject, listening to the sound of more sirens approaching the park. The SWAT truck was already being loaded, and the gang members were being moved into a newly arrived holding truck. An ambulance team was jogging down the path, one of the SWAT guys shouting directions at them.

 

 

My hand was screaming at me, pain flowing up and down my arm like molten rock, but there was nothing I could do but grit my teeth and bear it. Heh, kinda ironic that I loose my left hand again, so soon after getting it back… Oh well… Fate and all that crap…

 

Besides, I’ve been in worse pain before.

 

The medics immediately went to work on my sister, which I was glad for. She looked okay, but I couldn’t get anything from our link, which made me worry. One of the men looked at me curiously, and I pulled Johnny’s jacket tighter around me. My bare butt was sore and raw from sitting on the ground, and I caught a sudden chill, shivering.

 

When I couldn’t stop shivering, one of the medics noticed. “Miss? Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine.” I said through gritted teeth. “Take care of my sister first.”

 

He ignored me. Figures. If I’d still been male, he wouldn’t have looked at me twice. He motioned to the second team, who were just coming into the clearing. The last clear thing I was able to see was Julia being ushered away on a stretcher. After that, lights and sounds started to blur together.

 

Amazingly, I managed to stay awake throughout the whole thing, though much of it was far too fuzzy to really matter to me. I remember the needle, though. Big, five inch long fucker. Thank god they started pumping drugs into me, or I might’ve freaked. Of course, I was in shock at the time…

 

When the fuzz began to take shape again, and the warbling sounds started to separate into distinct ones, I found myself, yet again, in a sterile, white room. Just because I expected it this time, doesn’t mean I liked it…

 

A pair of voices was the first thing I heard. One of them, a woman with a slight nasal twang to her voice, was saying something about UMBE, which confused me a little. As good as healthcare was in Canada, they wouldn’t pay for a Medical Bio Elemental to fix my hand and leg when I’d… When they were irreparably injured. Why was this wiman talking about them?

 

“… irl’s got some pretty high connections.” She huffed. “I’ve never seen an MBE on the scene so quickly…”

 

A man’s voice answered, a deep, heavy voice that made me feel just a little odd for a second. “That’s enough idle speculation outta you, ensign.” He said. “You’re dismissed.”

 

Ungh. Military. And Navy on top of that. Great…

 

A phone rang in the room, and there was a slight click as the man answered it. “Captain Mendez here… Yes, sir… Yes, I’m with her now… Stable. Bio finished a few minutes ago… Yes sir… Yes… Of course… Understood, general.” Click.

 

General? The army’s involved in this? “Nngh…” I finally managed to find my voice, as the world finally drifted back into focus. “Where… Am I?” I groaned as I tried to sit up.

 

A tall black man dressed in what looked like a formal uniform stepped into view, an odd look of understanding on his face. “Good evening, miss. I suggest you take it easy for a while. You’ve been through a lot…”

 

“Then why didn’t you knock me out…” I muttered, sitting up too fast and trying to stop the room from spinning. “Where’s Julia?” I said louder. “Where’s my sister?”

 

“Your sister is fine, she’s asleep in the next room.” He said, the tiniest frown appearing on his face. “Right now, however, you are the person we’re most concerned about…”

 

“Yeah, and who exactly is ‘we’?” I said angrily. “And while you’re at it, where the hell am I?”

 

He frowned a little more. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to react like this. “We are nobody of any real importance, but you’re currently in the Westpoint Naval base Medical Facility emergency ward.”

 

“Well, when ‘we’ are ready to talk, you can come find me.” I said coolly, as I turned and hopped off the bed, pulling a few errant wires off of my chest as I did. They’d dressed me in some kind of robe, a far cry above usual hospital attire, and I adjusted it slightly as the monitors on the wall started to whine and beep loudly.

 

The man, apparently flustered by my actions, reached out and grabbed me by the arm, squeezing just a little harder than I’m sure he meant to. “Miss Walker, you’ve just been through a traumatic experience. I think it would be best if you remained in bed until-”

 

“I think it would be best if you let go of my arm before I have you discharged for assaulting a civilian and conduct unbecoming of an officer.” I interrupted, all of the military lingo I knew flashing to the front of my mind. “You’re hurting me.” I added, wincing involuntarily at the stinging pain of his grip.

 

He twitched slightly as he let go of me. Guess he wasn’t expecting me to have military knowledge. “Miss, for your own good, I suggest you lie back down. There is a councillor on the way, and by the sound of it, a medic team as well.”

 

I pushed open the door, glaring back at him. “I’ll deal with it, sir.” I said blankly. “I always do.” And with that, I turned and left him standing there, dumbstruck.

 

When the adrenalin wears off, I’m gonna crash so hard…

 

I found Julia with no trouble at all, and I settled into the waiting chair beside her bed, ignoring the commotion outside the door.

 

There’s something you need to realize about me. Ever since the incident with ‘the stairs’ and my stepfather, I’ve been a very closed up, extroverted person, keeping my own feelings and well-being entirely to myself while I worried about the rest of the world around me. The rest of the world, of course, being mainly my sister.

 

But on rare occasions I find myself effectively alone, left with nothing but my thoughts, I’ll do almost anything to avoid confronting my feelings and problems. This happened to be one of those times. Sitting by my sister’s hospital bed, waiting for her to wake up and tell me she was okay, my mind was caught between thoughts about two things that I didn’t want to think about. My body, and my most recent conflict.

 

Naturally I chose my body. I’d by and large ignored it for the last few days, listening blankly to my sister’s ‘girl lessons’ and not really paying any attention to my new shape. The brief glance down I’d taken after waking up at the end of my bout of MORFS was basically the entirety of my acknowledgement. But faced with the undesirable and the inconceivable, I gladly explored the former.

 

It was still hard to do, looking at my new body. At first glance, all I noticed were the things I’d lost: My strength, my height, my scars, my manhood. Things that defined me, that made me who I was. All I saw was a weak, scared little girl, who bore no real resemblance to the man she used to be.

 

But looking at myself now, dressed only in a soft cotton robe, sitting in a hospital room with my now identical twin sister, I saw something else, something just a bit more than I  had earlier. I saw my reflection on the side of a metallic bedpan, and when I realized that it was me, I was a little shocked.

 

I saw a young woman. A woman of average height. A woman with an excellent figure. But what really caught my attention was my eyes. As a man, my eyes had always been cold, and somewhat threatening, but my friends and family always told me that they could see passion behind that harsh exterior. And staring into the violet orbs that had replaced my cold, grey ones, I saw for the first time what they meant.

 

Even with the rest of my body essentially dead and gone, I could see the power behind my eyes. It sounds a little egotistical, I’ll grant you that, but it was there. Ever looked into a girl’s eyes and seen that primal ‘don’t fuck with me’ confidence in them? The kind that makes grown men weak at the knees, and sends small children into cowering fits?

 

Lucky me…

 

Seeing the fire in my eyes made me feel a whole lot better about myself, for the first time in a while. Maybe being a girl isn’t so bad… I thought to myself, looking down at my tiny-seeming hands. I have to admit, I sure am… smooth would be the word, I guess…

 

I amused myself for the better part of a half hour, exploring my new body with pokes and prods and rubs. Discreetly, of course, and certainly nothing inappropriate. I guess I started to crash down from the drugs and the adrenalin, because I found myself getting more and more tired as the minutes passed.

 

 

As shocking as it was, the last thought I had before drifting off, leaning against the edge of Julia’s bed, was about my crotch. More specifically, the thought was about what my crotch could do. I wonder what having a baby would be like…

 

 

Captain Walter Mendez stared through the open door, watching the girl as she sat silently by her sister’s bedside. This girl had a stronger will than he’d anticipated. “Watch them, but inform me when the sister wakes up.” He said shortly to the nurse who was assigned to the pair of them. He turned and left before she could reply.

 

He’d only just got around the corner when his ECom went off. “Captain Men-”

 

“What the hell is wrong with you, son?” The gruff southern accent only served to make the man’s voice sound more irritated. “I told you to avoid confrontation, not cause it!”

 

“General, with all due respect, I was caught completely unaware by the girl’s reaction to her situation.” Mendez replied as calmly as he could. “The psychics couldn’t get a decent read on either of the pair, and the psychologist told me that she’d react in an entirely more compliant, not to mention upset manner.”

 

The general sighed. “Did you ever read the kid’s file, son?”

 

He frowned. “I read all the usual pertinent information. Family status, MORFS results, breakdown of past movement-”

 

“Good, then you were aware that she was male until three days ago.”

 

“Of course, sir, but-”

 

“And you are aware that her parents are military, or ex-military in her father’s case.” The general interrupted. “And that this kid has endured injuries and experiences that go far beyond the usual scope of human tolerance.”

 

Mendez wasn’t aware. Of any of that. “No, sir, I was not aware.”

 

“Damn it, boy! You’ve nearly ruined the whole damn op!” The captain flinched. “Let them go as soon as they’re ready.”

 

“But sir-!” Mendez protested.

 

“No buts, damnit! I’m sending in a specialist, to clean up this mess. You just stay quiet until I call for you.” Click.

 

Mendez gritted his teeth in aggravation. This is gonna come back and bite me in the ass…

 

 

Julia awoke with a start. White, sterile walls greeted her. Where am I? She thought to herself, listening to the various beeping, whirring sounds of the different monitors that she could feel were hooked up to her head and chest. She felt something else, too, attached to her hand. And when she looked, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

 

Mia was holding her hand with both of hers, as she slept on the edge of the bed, a look of odd contentment on her slumbering features. She finally seemed to be somewhat at peace with the world, and with herself. Julia cried happy tears as she settled into a more comfortable position on the bed. She’d been scared out of her mind at the thought of how traumatized her sister was bound to be after her attack, but it appeared, yet again, that she’d proven her wrong.

 

At least, that’s how it seemed at the moment…

 

 

In the darkening city, a small shadow flickered through a dark alleyway. It stopped at the edge of a sidewalk, stepping out into the streetlights. A ripped, dirty pink dress, smudged with soot and ash, clung to the shaking body of a tiny young girl, a pair of innocent green eyes filled with tears staring out into the world. A huge pillar of smoke was rising behind her, and the sounds of sirens were blaring into the evening. She stood for a second, her head cocked as if listening for something, before running down another alleyway as fast as her short legs would carry her.

 

All around the city, the daytime workers were snuggling into their beds, and the nighttime people were waking up to go through their normal routine. But for one little girl, be it day, or night, there would be no rest.

 

 

A mile beneath the waves offshore, a computer screen sailed across a crowded meeting room. “Idiots!” The man with the scarred face shouted. “I’m surrounded by idiots!”

 

He whirled, glaring crazily at the group of people who sat in the shadowy room. “I said CAPTURE one of them! Capture, you incompetent mongrels! You’re lucky I haven’t had you shoved out a bloody airlock!”

 

He slammed his fist into the polished stone table, taking several deep breaths to calm down. “What of the third?” He asked quietly, struggling to control his anger.

 

“She… Evaded us, sir… There were some… Complications.” One of the figures said. The man’s eyes flashed with rage for a second.

 

“Very well.” He finally said. “I’m sending in a specialist to… Deal with the situation. You incompetents are dismissed. Get out of my sight.” There was some quiet shuffling, and the man was quickly left on his own. Fighting back an urge to growl, he pressed the intercom button on the table. “Hunters Alpha through Delta, report to briefing room one immediately.” He sneered slightly as he spoke. “I need a package picked up…”

 

To Be Continued…

 

   

 

 

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

 


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