"Wind's picking up again, and I think it'll stick this time," said Jack from the bow of the 50' sailboat. The sails started to boom, then inflate. "Heh, these big ears a good for more than hearing."
"Good, I'll tell our towing service that they can detach," I replied.
"No problem, I felt the line slack off," came the musical answer from below. "WhaleTow is always at your service. I'll be in the area if you need me any more." Then the humpback-norm who'd been towing us breached once off the port bow, making a big splash. The boat is basically a pure sail boat with a small electric fuel cell propeller to get in and out of the slip. So, we therefore had to get a tow to save our power, we'd been becalmed for at least a day. Then the boat started to rock a bit. Not from the whale's splash, but from something inside the ship.
"Are they at it again?" I asked surprisedly as I heard the muffled whinnies of pleasure coming from below. There was a lot of soundproofing in those staterooms. Fox spoke up, "You really should give her the benefit of the doubt, old boy. She has not had a body of her own in ten years, after all."
"I'm missing something here," said my wolfy cousin Dan sitting at the wheel. He'd been so gracious as to bring the ship up to San Francisco for us to use to get home, the ship was computerized enough for one to sail it. For some reason it seemed appropriate to sail home instead of fly. It'd given us all a chance to reflect on what had happened in the past few days. The sea seems to have such healing powers.
"I'll tell you the whole story at home, at least the parts I had not experienced yet before last Halloween when we get back," I told him. Last Halloween had been exiting, but that's another story.
I heard a splash, and a high-pitched voice that was still unmistakably Coonie's announce, "I caught dinner!" She was on her tail flukes for a moment, then she tossed a large fish in her jaws onto the deck. Other than the raccoon and velociraptor forms that were her favorite, bottlenose dolphin ranked a close second. She was not alone in that. But right now I was not sure I could even shapeshift beyond my normal morph-norm. The Doct... excuse me, "Maya Lighthoof" was the name she had taken, and of course liked to be called "Maya". Seems she thought a real name would me more appropriate for her now.
As Fox went to gut the fish that Coonie (who'd gone for another) had caught, our two lovers came up the steps from the hold smelling of sweat and sex. First came Maya, looking very happy with herself by the confident set to her ears and tail. Maya is a horse morph like Bob, average Degree. She's got hoofed feet with high ankles, a relatively short tail, four- fingered hands. She's got a very horse-like head with her mane on her neck down to her shoulders, and her head itself has very forward facing, but widely set eyes; then a long, slender muzzle, topped by her long pointed ears. Her overall coloring is chestnut, with white socks and a white stripe down the middle of her muzzle.
It had been love at first sight between Maya and Bob. Even before she'd finished Changing they'd been gazing into each other's eyes for long periods. Maya told me later that she'd loved Bob from the beginning before the Change, but had kept it to herself. Bob had not been aware of the Doctor's origins, and really did not care. They loved each other, body and mind. I knew that between the two they'd probably find a cure for my father's problem (and similar problems facing others) very soon indeed. They were already communicating with the Lab back in La Jolla.
Bob's equine face had that same dazed/content look. I briefly felt a pang of jealousy. Maya and I are connected in a way that's hard to describe. And the thought of sharing her with someone else... I think you get the idea. "I miss you, you know," I said, almost choking up.
"David, David. I'm still here, I'm just not so close." She kissed me with her thick lips on my scaled forehead. Dad would like her. She's a lot like Mom.
"Why aren't you out with Coonie?" she asked, interrupting my thought.
"What? Oh, I'm not sure I can still do that. Shapeshift, I mean." I'd not used the suit in that capacity since Maya'd gotten her own body. Mostly because I was not sure I could still do it. I had some diagnostics that I could run that confirmed the nanites were still working. But I do not know what works and what doesn't. And I really was not keen to find out on my own.
"You know me better than that. I would not make you suffer just because I'm gone from that thing. All major functions that were under my control are now under yours. With a few pluses, no less. And the healing function has always been a separate program." She smiled.
"First, I was taking up a huge amount of NeuroActive memory. More than originally. I'm afraid I lied to you when I told you that your suit was bringing out your Powers. They are yours alone without my help. You see, I found myself fading, and so I determined I needed more. I thought you could deal with the time limits, which you did." Her head drooped.
"Fade? Maya, you should know me better than that! I would have given up the ability completely if necessary!" Talk about non-communication...
"Of course your right. I'm sorry. But. The point is, with me gone you have all the NA memory to yourself, it's that kind of memory that keeps you as you when you shapeshift into a species with a tiny brain like arthropods have, like that time I changed us into a spider. My point is that you no longer have any morph-shape time limits, and no norm-shape limits shorter than a month. You can also acquire about 50 more types with only a slight time limit cost. Also, remember no matter the form you take your velociraptor-morph will always feel the most comfortable to you." She nonchalantly bounced the small red ball once or twice.
That reminded me of a question. "Why didn't you Change into a tiger like he was?"
"Simple. First I overwrote the DNA of Dr. 'Superbounce' Chandra here with my own. Then with this O2500 unit I introduced a 'equine bias' into the 'dice roll' that determined I'd become. I could not really choose my species, but I did make it far more likely that I'd be a horse-morph. You can guess why." She looked lovingly at Bob, who nickered in embarrassment. She bounced the ball again.
"Please don't do that! You're making me nervous." The ship was pitching in the rolling waves. Another reminder. "Do you think it's wise to turn him over to Fox's associates?" The sails boomed a few more times in the growing wind. We must have been going ten knots, a lot for a sailboat like this. Dan was having fun, he'd found that he liked sailing. Janice liked it to, she and Dan had been house-sitting for us while we were gone. I like Janice. She's got a very level head. Besides, she manages the web site for my business.
"No, but I can't keep watch over him all the time. I'm refuse to let him ruin my new life by making me worry about him all the time. Besides, Fox has assured me that they have a safe place for him." Her smile turned vicious. "But enough of this depressing talk. Go out with Coonie, you and she belong together."
No argument there. Bob and Maya's relationship reminded me of the one Coonie and I shared. I dove in, surprising her pleasantly with my clicking. We rode the bow wave of the ship all the way home.