Well, this is just great, I thought. First I had been made fun of because of my lack of athletic ability, now this. The Change had come as a seeming godsend to me. I mean, my primary tormenter, who was two years older than me, turned into a rat! But that was three years ago. Now they had a new reason to taunt me: I hadnít yet Changed.
"This happens to a few people, maíam. No reason to be concerned, your son is fine. The only thing that confuses me is that fact that heís already well into puberty. Usually, no one gets beyond a few months before the change." Dr. Zachris stated, his avian face an unreadable mask.
"So youíre saying there are no problems associated with this?" That was my mother. I have NO idea why she gets so worked up over this sort of thing -- every time something unusual happens, she takes the offending party to the doctor. You think that going to med school would have stopped that. Then again, she did wash out.
"Mom, you are getting paranoid again. I hate to say it, but this is really irritating. This is what, the third time youíve taken me to a specialist in the last week?"
"Donít talk to me like that, young man. You know I am naturally cautious. Besides, Iím a deer morph -- the instincts donít help."
"That is one weak excuse, Jennifer. First of all, I think heís right- youíre paranoid. Second, youíre a lowdee. I doubt you have very many deer instincts in there at all." Momís almost-human face contorted a bit at that. She couldnít argue too much, though- she was one of the lowest degree people in the state. About the only things that changed were her ears, rear end (very small tail) and a fine coat of fur. "Anyway, to answer your question, there are some problems associated with this," Mom shot me a ĎI told you soí look, "those problems, however, are very rare."
"What are they?" Zachris sighed. "I should have known you would ask that. One moment, please. I need to get my files." Mom fidgeted nervously, looking at her watch. "Mom, calm down. Looking at you, you would think that you were hyperactive or something!"
"I donít need that kind of talk from you, Chad. After what happened to your father and sister, I have a reason to be nervous."
"I--" I cut off as a wave of nausea swept over me. Then the long-awaited First Sign happened. A dorsal fin shot straight out of my back, and hit the door. "Ouch! That thing is huge!" I turned my head around and saw that I had nearly impaled a young intern. The thing was, he was on the other side of the door! The fin was at least a two and a half feet long.
"Well, this is certainly unusual. I havenít seen a First Sign that dramatic since the day of the Change." that was Zachris, calm as usual. He walked up behind me, carefully avoiding my huge fin, and walked up to Mom.
"This is one of the problems I told you about. Extremely violent and large first signs. Although Iíve never seen one quite so rapid, or violent, since the Day." Mom had nearly fainted when the fin slammed through the door, and she looked like she might now. "W-what exactly are the other problems, doctor?" I shook my head. "Obviously there is nothing we can do about them, right?"
"That is correct. However, advance warning may help you deal with them. The rest of the problems associated with a late Change: the Change will be much faster, leading to more discomfort, the rate of change is unpredictable, and those who change late usually are much higher degree than those who donít. Balancing those, however, is the fact that most late changing people end up with the rarer Powers, such as polymorph. Now, if you would please follow me." I followed him -- at least out the door. "Ouch!" I had nearly forgotten about the size of the fin, but I was painfully reminded when I attempted to turn down the hall, and my fin got bent in two. The doc turned around and glared at me as I attempted to get the fin into the hallway. Luckily, the fin did bend a little. "Well, that confirms it."
"Your species, as well as your Degree, most likely." Mom looked confused.
"Why would that make a difference?" The doctor turned to her then.
"Jennifer, Iíve know you for a while. If I tell you, you will freak. However, if I donít youíll freak." Mom was in the process of confirming his statement when he continued, facing me, "Chad, the only animal I know of that has that large of a fin, that color, and that flexible is an orca." He was right -- my Mom did freak. Well, not really. She just fainted. Zachris and I sighed simultaniously.
"I have a license. Just help me carry her to the car and Iíll drive home." I said.
Mom woke up almost three hours later, and immediately panicked. "Where am I? Help! Iíve been kidna-- oh." I shook my head. She can be so paranoid sometimes, "Has anything else Changed?" and is overprotective when she isnít. I mean, Iím not even her son -- my dad divorced my bio mom shortly after I was born.
"No, Mom, the only other Change occurred shortly before you passed out."
She fell back on the couch. "Thatís good."
I shook my head again, not understanding her at all. "Listen, I need to get going if Iím going to get to school on time. I called your boss and explained things to him."
"You did what?!"
"Chill. He understood. Anyway, see you later." I walked out the door before she could protest. I got on my bike, and took off for school. The school was only a kilometer or so away, so I didnít think I would have any problems.
As it turned out, I was spectacularly wrong. A gust of wind hit me and threw me off my bike and into the river I was riding beside. The water was freezing, and I soon passed out.
When I woke, I was in a tank. I nearly panicked, but then I remembered the events of the past few days, and relaxed. I then took stock of my surroundings, noting absentmindedly that I seemed to be in the ICU of the hospital. The tank I was in had numerous wires connected to it, and seemed a bit small. Then I started to take stock of my immediate area, and got concerned. The tank was small, but it really didnít matter, as I was couldnít move. There were several wires attached to my skin, and a breathing tube over my blowhole. Blowhole?! I thought I didnít have one of those when I passed out.. Shit! I had changed more than a little while I had been out -- I was completely orca! No need to curse, little one. A voice Ďsaidí except it was quite clearly in my head! What the? Who-- or what-- is that? I thought. If I was some people, I would take offence at that. Oh, great, you can read my thoughts. As you can tell, I wasnít exactly being too bright at the time. Of course I can read your thoughts! I am part of you, you know. Or rather, at the moment, you are part of me. This was getting a little too bizarre for my tastes. I tried to move, but nothing happened, not even the slight amount of the tank allowed. I could feel myself, but I couldnít control my movements. Donít bother trying to move. Even if you could, it wouldnít do you any good. Oh, and in answer to your earlier Ďquestioní, have you ever heard of sentient instincts in people after the Change?
Well, sort of. But I had only the word of the people who had them, and they never did something like this...
Thatís because the other half has to be willing for this to happen.
Iím getting to that. Hold on a moment. Outside of the tank, someone opened the door.
"I am telling you, this has to be him -- why else would an orca be halfway up a river that it couldnít swim in?" That sounded much like my Mom.
Well, thatís unusual.
Usually, she would just assume I was dead -- sheís quite paranoid. Mom walked in and placed her hand on the tank. "Miss, I assure you, there is nothing there except for a fully grown male orca. Your son is quite possibly dead -- he probably washed out to sea."
Mom spun furiously to face the doctor, getting quite close to his face. "And how do you know that? You donít, do you?"
"Unfortunately, we do. We had a telepath check him over. No signs of human intellect anywhere in there. Iím afraid we canít afford to keep him in there any longer; we will release him into the bay tomorrow."
Obviously, they detected me and not you.
Oh, great. Come on, let me back in control!
Why? Iíll tell you why. Point A: this is my body. Point B: I may be able to get them to re-scan me, and point C: if they donít theyíll dump us in the bay!
Not a valid point in there. This body is as much mine as yours. Besides, whatís so bad about them releasing us into the bay? We are an orca, after all.
I sighed mentally. It didnít look like he was planning to give me control any time soon. Then he really dropped the bomb. In fact, I donít see the point of shifting to morph ever again.
There is no real point in yelling, you know.
Just answer the question!
All right. What Iím saying is, why should we take morph form ever? We can live just fine in the ocean...
Not really. Ever heard of a pod? Anyway, we wouldnít have to deal with all that crap humans put up with -- money, crime, work, and school.
Money and school no. Everything else, yes.
What do you mean? Before I could respond, the doctor walked into the room. I had been so engrossed in my conversation with my Ďother halfí that I hadnít even noticed he had left. With him were two bull morphs carrying a large cart. Now what are they going to do with that? As they disconnected the wires leading into my tank, I realized what the cart was for: transporting me to whatever vehicle would be taking me to the bay. Or so I thought. They disconnected the air hose last, after all the wires, but didnít open the top of the tank. What the fuck? What do they think they are doing? They wheeled me out of the ICU, not using the main door as I expected. Instead, they went out of a door that was hidden in the wall, and into an alley at the back of the hospital. I think they were not on the up-and-up about this.
Hmm -- what gave you that idea?
Well... That was sarcasm.
Yeah. Whatís with that -- you use human expressions, but you donít know what sarcasm is? By this time, we had reached a van parked near the exit of the alley. Look, they are going to load us in that van. Somehow, I donít think theyíre planning to open this -- I mean, for all we know, we could be tonightís seafood special!
So, what do you plan to do?
Do we have any Powers?
I think we can type-shift, but thatís it.
Perfect. Give me control for a moment.
Only if you give it back.
Sigh. I suppose.
I had expected something to happen when he relented control, but I probably wouldnít have noticed if I hadnít been straining to move. I snapped the restraints and slammed into the glass of the tank. "Shit! I thought you said those restraints were unbreakable!" that was one of the bull-morphs. Idiot. Nothing is unbreakable. Now what?
Actually, I wasnít planning to do that. Hold on. I tried Ďlookingí for the trigger for any Power I had in my mind; the way people had described it. Damn it. I canít find it!
"Ready? Heave!" Too late, I realized that they were loading us into the van. The Power! I canít figure out how to type-shift!
I donít care, as long as itís big! To my astonishment, we immediately started to grow. Hey, when did you figure that out?
I just know. Whatís this supposed to do?
Watch. Our body had now hit the side of the tank, and was pressing against it. Just as the pain of the pressure started to be too much, the tank shattered. Yes! Now shift us to morph!
Why? The door is locked. Letís keep going. I couldnít control it, so I was helpless as I continued to expand, filling the truck. I donít think the truck will break quite as easily as the tank did. As I grew, I pressed into the shards of glass all around me. Then I hit the truckís sides, pressing the glass deeper into my skin. Damn! I thought the tank wall hurt, but this...! I simply moaned in pain. It went on and on, seemingly forever. Then I noticed that the truck was leaning backwards, and the walls were bending.
Damn. I still wasnít thinking straight -- the truck had been moving for quite some time, so when the sides went, we were in a very inconvenient place -- on a freeway. Stop it! Glass is bad enough but-- The truck tipped even farther Road rash will be worse!
Ok, ok. Then the truckís tires simply gave out. Ahh! Too late! We fell from the truck, skidding along on our very sensitive skin for at least 100 feet. Ohh man. Thatís gonna leave a mark. Shift to morph! By some miracle of chance, we hadnít yet been stuck by anything, although it looked to be rush hour. As soon as had legs again, I stood and hobbled off the freeway. Meanwhile, the truck driver had lost control and spun off the freeway, dragging its rear end. "There he is! Get him!"
Shit. We pissed those guys off.
Run you idiot!
Why? Just then, a bullet went over my head. [Oh.] I ran as best as I could, but the doctor and his men hadnít been hurt when their truck lost control, and I was covered from head to toe in buried glass and road rash. Turn around and let me have control. I obliged, and he started walking toward the three men. Are you nuts? Theyíll kill us! He simply kept walking.
The three men kept firing, but nothing was even coming close, and the range was closing quickly. Then, in the most chilling voice I have ever heard, my other half said "Give it up or youíre dead." The two bull-morphs stopped short, but the doctor, a mid-degree dog of some sort, kept coming, and firing. Again, nothing even came close. Then my other half jumped at him. The next four seconds will forever be imprinted on my mind, but that is my own personal horror, and I will not relate it. It will suffice to say that when it was over, I was covered in blood, and not a drop was mine. The other two ran.
Well, wasnít that... tasty.
Very funny. What did you want me to do?
Well, you didnít have to eat him. Oh well. Now what?
Now we go home. As he started walking, I saw a movement in the bushes above us.
What was that?
What was what?
Never mind. A police car drove over to the stalled truck, and he jogged toward it.
Two days later
"So thatís what happened, from the beginning of the Change, till I was picked up by a police cruiser. Any questions?" All the hands in the room went up, and Chad Ryeold signed quite audibly. "Yes, you there?" The reporter from the local paper stood.
"Mr. Ryeold, do you have an explanation as to why all of the bullets fired missed you?"
"No, I really donít. The best I could do is guess -- either they were really bad shots, or there was someone with a Power up in the bushes."
"Thank you." The reporter sat down, jotting on his note pad.
"Mr. Ryeold, do you have any comment on the allegations by the parents of the man involved that you could have spared him?"
"Yes, I do. Itís easy for someone to play--" The police chief interrupted.
"If I may, Mr. Ryeold?" Chad nodded. "Chad acted as the situation accorded. We train our officers, and any civilian who comes to us for self-defense training, that if anyone attacks them, they are to attack- in whatever way works best -- the attacker until the attacker stops moving. Unfortunately, that is usually when the attacker is dead. Chad Ryeold acted exactly as he should have."
"I am willing to bet someone else will ask why I... ate him. To those who would criticize me for that, I say this: I was not in control at the time, and as the attack made by my other half lasted just four seconds, I had no time to react to what he was doing, let alone stop him. Remember that he is an orca, no matter how human he seems, and he was doing what came naturally to him. Now, if there are no other questions, I will leave." No hands went up, and Chad walked out the back and into his motherís car. As he closed the door, she turned to him, "No matter what they say, Iím proud of you. Most people -- myself included -- would have panicked to have another in their head, let alone what happened to you at the same time." Chad smiled as bast as he was able. "Flattery will get you everywhere. Now letís go home."
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