By: Storm Warden

Part 1

If I had to point at a point in time and say, “That’s where the shit hit the fan.” it would be the summer of 2076. Yep, that’s when the shit hit the proverbial fan. It all started one morning in June…

I was getting set up for a hack into the local S.H.A.M.E database. I hate those motherfuckers. They don’t do shit and they are worth even less. However, nobody can get any dirt on them. That wasn’t why I was doing this though. They attacked my best friend. Put him into the hospital, into ICU actually. So, I figured it was payback time.

I guess I should give you a little background about myself and where I live. My name is Vincent Mays, I am 16 years old, 5’4” tall and weigh a whopping 120 lbs soaking wet. I am a gamer, a hacker, and a country boy. I am the only son of Wilhelmina and Fred Mays. My Dad is a technopath, although a minor one. He is able to see what’s wrong with electronics and make them better sometimes, so he works at the local repair shop. My Mom is a cyberpath, also a minor one. She is able to pick radio waves and suck, so she works at the local radio station.  We live on 20 acres of good timberland in northern Montana. You can see the Rockies from my bedroom window. We don’t really have many amenities here other than my VR gaming rig and my tablet. Everything else is old. It works though.

My high school is Pine County High School in Timberland, Montana. Wonderful little town. At least it was until the charity called Soldier of Humanity for Animal MORF Extinction, or S.H.A.M.E, moved in. They are the ones that think that hybrids are exotic animals that should be collared and leashed. They started taking over everything. They boycott businesses that sell to MORFS and hybrids in particular. They vandalize homes of MORFS survivors, and have been rumored to kill those MORFS survivors that won’t buckle under their rule.

My best friend is a canine hybrid by the name of Snoopy. Actually, his name is Alex McMillan, but after he got MORFS, he told us to call him Snoopy. He looks just like Snoopy from the old comic strip. He finds it hilarious. He didn't get any powers or such. Just a hybridism. He didn't even get the metabolism that is common for MORFS survivors. Which Is probably why he is still in ICU. But more on that later. 

Problem is that S.H.A.M.E doesn’t find hybrids funny. They find them unnatural and disgusting. When Snoopy's parents refused to collar him, they caught him alone and put him in ICU. No witnesses of course. Mid day in town and nobody saw anything. They broke both of his legs, both his arms, several ribs, his tail and gave him a concussion. That’s where I come in. I know what happened, even though I wasn’t there. I know who did that to him, and I am going to pay them back for it.

In the hacker circle, they call me 3rd degree. You get hacked by be and you can tell everyone you got “burned”. And that day I was planning on “burning” S.H.A.M.E to the ground. Or at the very least the local chapter of it. I have pretty good hardware. It isn’t the best; you have to have a neural implant for that. And they cost about the same as a small house. We can’t afford that. Not on what my parents make.

My parents don’t know about my being a hacker though. They think that I use the tablet to do the normal teenager stuff. If they only knew right? I had to do the hack today for that very reason. They both wouldn’t be home until late because of some meeting in town called by the mayor. I had to get in, drop the virus and get out before they got home. Sounds easy right? Well it isn’t, S.H.A.M.E has a tighter security system then you would think. They know they do stuff that isn’t exactly above board. They have to hide it somehow.

I climbed into my VR rig, set up my tablet for outside connection, put on my helmet and dived.

Diving into the internet while wearing a VR rig is an experience like none other. You actually experience the Internet. Not just seeing it on a tablet but you really gets to experience it. It ends up in 2d and seems almost alive.

First thing I had to do was reroute my signal through a few places to confuse anybody tracking me. After that, it took me a bit to find the database. I almost missed it totally. Only reason I found it was that a certain system didn’t look quite right. I cracked it open and looked at what I found.

Jackpot! It’s the mother lode.” I thought.

What I found was indeed the mother lode. I had every sneaky deal and underhanded thing that so-called charity had done in Pine County. From simple vandalism to murder. Only thing I didn’t have was names. They weren’t that stupid apparently.

Damn, even though I have all this info. I can’t do anything with it if there aren’t any names on it.” I ranted

I looked at the time and saw that I only had less than an hour left until my parents were supposed to get home.

Crap, I don’t have time to look further. Mom and Dad are going to be home soon. I will just copy this over and drop the bomb.” I thought.

The bomb was my personal calling card. It waited until the next time the information was accessed locally then told the person that they just got burned by 3rd Degree before erasing their data. Only this time the bomb I dropped was modified to say, “This is for Snoopy you fucks. Have fun in hell. You just got burned by 3rd Degree!” Pretentious I know, but I wanted them to know why it happened. On hindsight, it definitely was not a good idea. Although it seemed one at the time.

I can’t wait till they access this again. Wish I could see their faces.” I chuckled. "Although I have no idea what to do with the data. Maybe Snoopy will have an idea"

I had just enough time before my parents got home to erase my tracks, get out of the rig and get everything put up. I had just sat down on the couch in the living room when they walked in the door

“Hi guys. How was the meeting?” I asked.

“You don’t wanna know Vince.” said my Dad.

“That bad huh? And I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to know.” I replied.

“Worse.” My mom said tiredly. “It turns out that the meeting was called by S.H.A.M.E. Apparently they have convinced Mayor Greenwald that their view is the only right one. So, now Hybrids are considered Exotic animals and have to be registered, collared and leashed within the county limits.”

“There is more.” Dad said tiredly. “Hybrids now have to be taken to the vet instead of a doctor or a MORFS Clinic.”

“What?” I asked surprised. “What about Snoopy? He could die if he is moved.”

“Well in cases where they are already in the hospital they can stay. Any hybrid that gets injured from now on is treated as an animal and taken to the vet.” My pop said exasperatedly.

“Is that all that was discussed? Or was there anything else?” I asked surprised.

“No, that was basically it. There was the normal stuff like who had gone through MORFS recently and such, but that’s it.” Mom said.

“So, if that was it, what took so long?” I asked.

“Everybody arguing about what the Mayor said.” Said Dad.

“Ah, I see. So, what’s for dinner?” I said.

“Pizza. I don’t feel like cooking.” Mom said.

“Cool. Do you mind if I go see Snoopy after dinner?” I asked.

“Not as long as you are home by 10. And, you obey the nurses and doctors OK?” Said dad

"I always do Dad." I assured him.

I went to the kitchen and got a frozen pizza out of the freezer. Unwrapping it, I started the oven preheating. While it was doing so I pondered what to do with the data, I got from the database. I knew I was going to tell Snoopy about it. But, I didn't know what I could do with the information. I didn't think it would be any good to tell the police about it. At least not personally. I had to figure out a way of getting this information out to the public.

Hearing a ding, I turned around to put the pizza into the oven. Setting the timer on the oven, I figured I had just enough time to take a quick shower in preparation for seeing Snoopy in the hospital. Going upstairs, I started the shower warming up while I shaved. I didn't have a whole lot to shave, but it had been almost a week since I had done so. Getting out of the shower, I heard Mom calling me to dinner.

"Be down in a sec Mom." I called back

"Alright, hurry up! It's getting cold." She yelled.

Getting dressed I went downstairs. Grabbing a couple of pieces of pizza I started eating while gathering up the stuff I wanted to take with me to the hospital. I didn't want to take much just my tablet with all the data I gathered from S.H.A.M.E. Well, that and a cute little stuffed yellow bird I found. Apparently in the comic strip snoopy had a little yellow bird friend named Woodstock. Finishing my pizza, I picked up my bag and started towards the door. Turning around I asked if I could borrow the truck to go into town. Ever since getting my license on my birthday a week ago on the 3rd I have been asking to use the truck whenever possible.

"Yeah, but be careful out there tonight. There are a lot of upset people out there this evening," my dad said tossing me the keys.

"I’ll be careful Dad, I promise." I assured him.

Getting into the truck, I started the 15-minute drive to the hospital in town. I arrived at the hospital, parked the truck and went in to find my friend. I walked up to the information desk.

"Excuse me. I am looking for Alex McMillan. Can you tell me where he is please?" I asked politely.

"As a matter of fact I can young man.," said the older woman. She looked blithely ageless in a matronly way. Let's see. Alex McMillan is in ICU room 406."

"Thank you very much Ma'am." I told her.

"You are very much welcome young man. It isn't everyday that I come across someone as polite as you, especially at your age." She said a little surprised.

"Well my parents raised me to be polite to others Ma'am. I find that if I give respect to others first they will give it back in return." I replied.

"Your parents are very smart then aren't they?"She asked.

"Yes Ma'am they are. I agreed.

Picking up my bag, I continued along the hospital corridor. I passed a gift shop on my left and decided against getting something else for Snoopy, He didn't like others spending a lot of money on him. As it was he would complain about the small bird i got him. I followed the signs to the elevators  and pushed the up button. Getting into the elevator i pushed the 4Th floor button. Arriving at the fourth floor I got out and looked around for the way to room 406. Once again I followed the signs. I hate having to follow signs. I always feel like a dork doing so. You know. "Where to? Duh, this way George."

Finally getting to his room i slowly went in. I didn't want to startle him although if he was awake he probably heard me coming as soon as  I got out of the elevator.  Peeking around the door I looked to see if he was awake. He was. He looked like a mummy with all those bandages on him. Looked drugged too. Probably from the pain medicine.

"Well hi Shorty." Snoopy called happy to see me. Shorty is his nickname for me. It wasn't my fault that I am stuck here at 5'4 and he gets to be 6'4.

"Hi yourself, you bean pole. You don't look too good."I said

"You wouldn't look good either if you had been beaten almost to death by a bunch of assholes using bats." He shot back.

"Yeah, you're probably right about that. Did they ever catch who did this to you?" I asked.

"No, not yet. They probably won’t either." He said regretfully.

"Why not?" I asked concerned.

"For one thing, they all wore masks, and scent memory isn't acceptable to the court as evidence," he said sarcastically. "Besides, we both know that S.H.A.M.E never gets caught."

"Don't be so sure about that. I said cryptically.

"Oh? Why is that?" He asked suspiciously.

"Well, let’s just say that they got burned" I said with a straight face.

"You didn't! You didn't do what i think you did, did you?" he asked in disbelief.

"I didn't do anything. But, I got a bunch of stuff from 3rd degree again." I said smilingly. Well it was the truth. I did receive it from 3rd degree. Being that I am 3rd degree, I received it from myself but that's splitting hairs. He knew that I was 3rd degree and to keep the information to himself. The shock of being in the hospital was probably what caused him to slip.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Show me what you got." he demanded.

I set my bag down on the nice little table the hospital gives you and opened it up. As I was getting my tablet out the little bird fell out on to the bed.

"What’s this?" He said accusingly.

"What’s what?" I asked distractedly

He held up the stuffed bird.

"Oh, that. That's Woodstock." I said

He looked confused.

"Oh, come on. You know, who that is." I said looking at him as if he was stupid.

He still had that stupid look on his face.

"Woodstock. You know, Snoopy's best friend from the comic?" I reminded him.

"Why'd you do it Vince? You know I don't like others spending money on me." He accused.

"Ah, you know me." I said. "I saw it and knew you would get a kick out of it, so I bought it."

What I didn't tell him was that it took me three hours to find it on the internet. And that it cost a pretty penny to order and get it here over night. But somehow either he knew or suspected.

"How much did this cost? Indeed, I know you. I also know that something like this can’t be found around here. So, you must have ordered it. Give, how much did it cost," He demanded.

"Does it really matter? It is here and it is yours. It is a present from your best friend. There is no need for the third degree man." I defended.

"Yeah, you're right. Doesn't mean that I have to like the fact that you spent so much money on me. Third degree huh?" he allowed. "I thought you were supposed to be here earlier?"

"Yeah, well. There was a town meeting called tonight by the mayor. My parents had to go, and they took the truck. That reminds me, there was some stuff from that meeting that you might be interested in."

"Yeah? Like what?" he asked curious.

"Well for one hybrids are now considered to be exotic animals or pets in Pine County." I said bluntly.

"They are WHAT?” He yelled.

"That's not all, they have to be collared, leashed, and taken to the vet from now on. They have to be registered, as do the parents. Failure to do so gets you a steep fine I would assume." I said matter of factly.

He just lay there looking stunned. I decided to let him digest the information before saying anything else.  It took a few minutes but he finally asked the obvious question.

"So, what about those of us already in hospitals? When do we have to move?" he asked still stunned.

"You don't have to move. All those hybrids already in hospitals can stay there. But, if you have to go back to a hospital you have to go to the vet instead." I said dully.

We sat there, well I sat and he lay, for a while each thinking our own thoughts about this newest invasion of MORFS rights. I didn't know what to do about this. Hell, i didn't know what to do with the information i got from the database, much less what to do about MORFS rights fights. That reminded me that i wanted to get Snoopy's opinion and what to do about the data.

"Hey man. Do you have any idea what we can do with that data 3rd degree lifted off that database?" I asked.

"Not really man. You can't give it to the police; they will just wonder where you got it. You can't get it published for the same reason. The only way it would do any good would if everybody had the info, you know?" he said,

"Yeah, I will just have to figure out a way to do that, get it to everybody without exposing that it is from me." I said dejectedly.

Just then, the night nurse came in and ran me out of the room.

"Alright now, visiting hours are over. You have to leave, and Mr. McMillan has to sleep and take his meds. Go on home young man." she said hurriedly.

I gathered my stuff up and said to Snoopy, " Alright man, I will come by tomorrow sometime and fill you in on what’s going on. See ya later, man"

"Later man." he called as I walked out the door.

I made my way back down the halls to the elevator and back down to the first floor. I distractedly walked down the main corridor thinking about everything that happened that day. That is probably why i didn't notice the commotion going on in the emergency room until I was right next to it. Late at night, you have to exit via the emergency room exit instead of the main exit that is like 20 yards away. As I opened the door to the emergency room, I heard what sounded like a cat's tail being stepped on. When I looked up that’s exactly what it was, in a matter of speaking. There was a female feline hybrid holding her arm like it was broken and the security guard had just stepped on her tail while trying to get her and her mother out the door.

"You can't do this to us. We have rights. Since when were people not allowed to be treated in hospitals? I'll sue you for every cent you have!” the mother screamed

The guard was calmly trying to reason with the understandably upset mother."I am sorry ma'am but your daughter is no longer allowed to be treated in hospitals meant for humans. You have to take her to a vet from now on," he said reasonably.

"Since when? When were people considered animals that have to be treated by a vet?" said the mother said getting more upset by the second.

"Since the town meeting today. And people aren't considered animals  but hybrids are.

When I saw that this situation would just escalate into the mother getting arrested and the daughter not getting any help I felt that I had to step in. "Ma'am, I totally agree with you on this, but you can't fight S.H.A.M.E. And we both know that that is who is doing this. It appears that they have bought off the Mayor." I said. Although that last was whispered.  I wasn't stupid enough to say that where the guard could hear me. "I will take you somewhere where your daughter can get her arm looked at. Tomorrow you can lodge a complaint at the court house and file charges and a suit at the lawyers." It must have worked because the mother shut up except for telling me that she will just take her daughter to the vet clinic herself.

The guard looked at me in relief, appreciation showing in his eyes. I didn't think that he approved of the new statute any more than the mother did. Having taken care of that problem, I went on to the truck and started the long drive home. Arriving at the house safely I parked the truck in the driveway and made my way in doors. Mom was listening to the radio when I came in. I must have had a weird look on my face because she looked up at me curiously.

"What's wrong Hun? You look like you just received some bad news," she asked concerned.

"I just came from the hospital, and as I was going out I saw the first sign of trouble from that town meeting today." I said dejectedly. I proceeded to tell her about what happened with the mother and the girl hybrid.

"I was afraid of this happening. I am starting to pick up some calls from emergence that are being refused," She said exasperatedly. 

"What I don't understand is how they can do this legally. How can they take away basic human rights from hybrids," I asked confused.

"Well health service is not a legal right. If it was we wouldn't be charged for it. We would get it free," mom explained.

Wanting to change the subject as this one was depressing me I asked," Hey Mom. Where’s Dad,”

:"Oh, you know him dear. He is down in the basement working on his precious project. How's Alex doing? Have they taken him out of ICU yet," Mom said off handedly.

"Nope not yet, and he is fine," I replied. Dad has been working on inventing something that he says will revolutionize the world. But then again all inventors say that. He has been working on it for a long time. Neither Mom or I have any idea what it is, just that if it works we won’t ever hurt for money again. We hope that it works.

Knowing better than to bother him while he is working on his pet project, I decided to go up to bed.

"I am going to bed now Mom. Is there anything you need from me before I go," I asked.

"Yeah, the truck keys," she said grinning.

"Oh, yeah them," I said. I had totally forgotten about them until now. I tossed them over to her while starting up the stairs to my bedroom. Getting to my room, I stripped and lay down to sleep. Sleep evaded me for a long time as I was thinking about what all had happened today. I hoped that there was not going to be anymore happening between S.H.A.M.E and me. I was getting tired of how they always seemed to show up at the most inopportune time.

The next day started like all the others before it. I woke up, went through my morning bathroom routine, got dresses and went down for breakfast. The day may have started out like all the others, but it didn't stay that way.

After breakfast, I went out to the living room with my tablet to start going through the information I lifted from that database. There was all sorts of illegal stuff in there. Rapes, killings, robberies and attacks among others.  I knew that S.H.A.M.E was no good, but I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't see how even they could be that nasty and evil. "How could anybody hate somebody else that much to consider them less than human?" I thought. "I can't let them get away with stuff like this. There has to be something I can do to slow them down." I knew that as good as I was that not even I could take them down, not as things stood. Something would have to change drastically for that to happen.

I don't know how long I sat there going over the data and trying to figure out what I could do. When I heard my name called, I glanced out the window and saw that the sun was high in the sky.

"Vince. I need you to go to the store for your Dad. He needs some more stuff from the electronics store, and I need some stuff from the grocery store as well," my mother said writing down the items that needed picking up on a list.

"Alright, be there in a sec. Gotta put some stuff up first," I hollered back. Hurrying up to my room, I put up my tablet and grabbed my wallet before going back down. Going into the kitchen I saw Mom holding out the keys to the truck and the list to me saying, "Drive safe hon."

"You know me Mom, I always do," I said giving her a hug. Indeed, I always did drive safe. Once I turned 16 and got my license I was told that the only rules were that I couldn't use the truck when they needed it, and that any ticket I got better be produced as soon as I got into the house along with my license and the keys to the truck. So, with that in mind I was very careful to drive safe indeed.

The drive into town seemed to take longer than usual for some reason. There was a feeling of foreboding that I just couldn't get rid of.  There was no reason for me to feel that way, but there it was. Something was going to happen, and that something was not a good thing either.

Getting into town I went to the local electronics store first thinking that it would be better to get Dad's things first so the food wouldn't spoil. I had gotten all of the things on the list for dad when I heard a couple of guys talking about being burned. Now these guys didn't look in the least burned in any way so the word caught my attention. I stopped and pretended to look for something on my list so I could listen to what they were saying.

"...will prove to that damned hacker that it isn't smart to mess with us," said one of them.

"Yeah, although I think that we should have killed that damn dog the first time. Would have saved us the trouble of doing it now," Said the other.

"Damn it shut your mouth. You Idiot. You are going to get us caught. Let’s just get the stuff to fix the database and go," said the first one in an undertone.

I had heard enough. There could be only one conclusion for what they were talking about. They were from S.H.A.M.E and were here to get parts to fix the database I broke. Not only that But S.H.A.M.E was planning to kill Snoopy. I had to do something, but I couldn't let them know I had heard what they were talking about. I calmly took my purchases to the register and paid for them. I went out to the truck putting the electronics into the passenger floorboard. Before starting the truck and heading towards the hospital as fast as I could risk without getting a ticket.

Arriving at the hospital once again, I parked the truck and ran into the hospital. Once inside I slowed down, for being asked to slow down would cost me more time than doing so in the first place would do. As I was waiting for the elevator to arrive, I couldn't help but think about what I heard in the electronics store. They were going to kill Snoopy. What had I done? Was it all really my fault? If I had not done what I did to their database would Snoopy be off their hit list? I didn't have time to think it through before the elevators opened and out stepped a man. I knew I had seen him somewhere before. I just couldn't put my finger on where. I didn't remember where I had seen that guy until the elevators opened to the fourth floor. I didn't remember pushing the button.

"I knew I had seen that guy before. He was in that stuff I got from that database. That means... Oh, God NO!” I thought frantically.  I took off towards Snoopy's room at top speed. As I got closer to the room, I heard something weird on the hospital intercom.

"Doctor Allcomb to room 406 please. Doctor Allcomb to room 406 please." Said a pleasant voice out of nowhere.

The closer I got to the room the more doctors and nurses I saw heading in that direction. In the end, I couldn't even get close to the room. I backed off and let the professionals do their thing. After 20 minutes, they all came out of his room one at a time. I stopped the first one i could.

"Excuse me Doctor? Can you tell me what’s wrong with Snoopy?" I asked worried.

"Who are you? I can only give that kind out information to relatives. Are you his brother?" he asked back.

"No, But I am his best friend. Can't you make an exception this once?" I asked plaintively.

He looked at me for a second before answering. "Alright, but don't tell anybody I did this. It could cost me my job. I am only doing this because you are his best friend,” he said sternly. "Mr. McMillan apparently was given the wrong pain medication earlier and he had an adverse reaction to it. He is currently stabilized but he is dropping very quickly. The bio elemental has been called but she is dealing with a different case right now and will come as quick as she can. Truthfully his only hope is that she gets here soon enough to save him," the doctor said blandly.

I didn't know what to do. So, I used the phone in Snoopy's room and called my parents.

"Hello, Mays residence. Mrs. Mays speaking," I heard my mother say when the phone was answered.

"Hi, Mom? It's me. I'm at the hospital and Snoopy's dieing," I managed to get out before I broke down.

"Hold on, son. Take it from the top. Tell us everything," Mom said calmly.

So, I did. I told them everything that had happened since I had left home. Leaving out the part about hacking being referenced. After I stopped, talking Mom said that they would call Snoopy's parents and that all four would be there as soon as they could. In the mean time, I was to stay by Snoopy's side in case he woke up. He had been out since the medicine kicked in.

I sat down in the plush chair that always seems to be in hospital rooms and waited for Snoopy to wake up. I didn't have to wait long. He opened his eyes soon after I started my vigil.

"Hey, man. Take it easy. You don't look so hot," I said gently.

"What Happened?" he croaked out.

I filled him in on the whole story. Including everything that the S.H.A.M.E guys said. Afterwards I broke down again saying that it was all my fault. That if I hadn't hacked that database then he wouldn't be dieing.

He just looked at me as if I was stupid and said. "It ain't your fault bro. They would have done it anyway in time. And, if anyone would hold it against you that I am dieing it would be me right?"

I nodded.

"And does it look like I am mad at you or anything?" he asked.

I shook my head.

"Well then. Cheer up. But, if you feel like you have to make it up to me somehow. There s something you can do for me," he said.

"What’s that?" I asked stupidly. As if there ever was anything, I could do to make up for getting him killed.

"Get them. Don't let them get away with this. Spread the news and what’s in that data as far and as wide as you can. Make them pay," was what he said.

"I will," was all I could say. I would do what he wanted. It was the least I could do. I didn't get to say anything else as the parents picked that time to show up. His parents hugged him and told him that they loved him. He had enough time to say that he loves them and that he would never forget them, before he started convulsing and the monitors went nuts.

Snoopy died right before the bio elemental showed up. She was too late to save my best friend, but i didn't hold it against her. His death wasn't my fault either. No, his death lies at the hands of S.H.A.M.E. And, I would make them pay.




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