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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 5

01/16/2021

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CH 05

The Torrentian Void aboard the Endeavour

Our trip through the ship was short, Hinderman led us down a corridor which adjoined the one through which we entered and stopped in front of a hatch. She smiled at me again, before she tapped on the door’s control pane. The once opaque surface became translucent, revealing enough details of the room inside to give me a good idea of its size and who waited inside.

“Oh God,” I muttered under my breath as my nerves kicked into overdrive, anticipating the shit that was sure to follow.

“Ma’am,” the lieutenant tapped the door again and leaned forward, speaking into it. “They’re ready for you.”

“Send them in,” my grandmother’s voice wafted through the door, sounding a little artificial conveyed through the audio transmitters.

The door slid open, and I pulled on my new blue locks with a single hard tug, as I looked my grandmother over, face to face after more than five years apart. She pressed her lips into a line, and her eyes locked on my hair and eyes, growing a bit wide as she took me in, no doubt surprised to find me sporting the telltale attributes of a joined host.

She stood and walked across the room, her hands reaching up to finger a shock of blue hair that came loose from my ponytail. “This, is unexpected.”

I shifted my footing and cleared my throat, as I sensed rather than heard the door shut behind Tanner and myself. I pulled her hand away, shaking my skull and trying my damnedest to keep myself from looking in her eyes, but to be honest, there wasn’t a chance in hell that I could exhibit that level of self-control. Unable to resist, I locked gazes with her and uttered a single word, which explained far more than a couple dozen could have.

“Khala.”

“H-how, you said Sofia died?”

“Mom used a stasis pod, it saved Khala’s life.”

“A fact for which, I am eternally grateful,” Khala spoke up, her curvaceous form materializing beside me, wearing a dress that was only a bit more modest than the last one.

The pair were well acquainted. In fact, since she’d been host to a symbiote all of her adult life, Kaya Briggs knew the K’teth when she was still host to my great grandmother, the late Lexa Briggs. A smile touched the rim of Khala’s lips, and my grandmother returned her affection in equal measure. My grandmother’s symbiote joined our odd reunion, her hard-edged features coalescing in the empty air beside my elder.

I’d only spoken to Crae a handful of times in my life on those rare occasions my Kaya permitted her to assume control of her body. I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting, but something about the form she projected seemed a little off. She was tall, and bulging with enough muscle that she would rival most Qharr if she possessed any actual body mass, but I guess the most remarkable thing was that she chose to project a female form at all. Crae was biologically a H’ra or a queen, but that hadn’t always been the case.

The Conclave sank a lot of money into increasing K’teth reproductive rates, and succeeded in one very significant way, by increasing the number of Queens through genetic engineering. Though Crae had been the first male to become a Queen, she was not the last. Given that she kept her male name, I sort of expected she might still identify as male. The K’teth were very different from humans, so there was no telling where gender factored into their identities, if at all.

Crae barely offered me so much as a second look, instead, offering greetings to Khala, but given that my symbiote who, in human terms, was Crae’s grandmother it would surprise no one that she would choose to greet a relative over a human who was barely aware of her existence.

As the two K’teth shared greetings, my grandmother slipped both of her hands on my shoulder and pulled me close. I stiffened, a little surprised as her arms wrapped around me. Kaya and I didn’t part on the best of terms. So it disconcerted me just a little to find myself in such a position. The oddest part? I returned the gesture.

Then sanity returned to me and I pulled away, feeling my cheeks burn as I turned my head enough to gauge Tanner’s reaction. She rubbed the back of her neck and staring at us as if she wanted to be anywhere but in that tiny little room. I jerked back, putting a good meter between my grandmother and me.

“Right.”

My grandmother cleared her throat and glimpsed at Tanner for the first time. I felt a bit of a knot form in my stomach, realizing that I hadn’t introduced either of them to one another.

“Tanner, this is my grandmother Kaya Briggs, Kaya this is my business partner Tanner Grace.”

“We sorta met already.” Tanner turned a brilliant crimson and took my grandmother’s hand. “When you called her over the HoloGRID.”

“Yes,” my grandmother replied, a smile touching the corner of her lips. “I remember quite vividly. So vividly in fact, I went to the trouble of checking up on your past.”

Tanner’s eyes grew wide, and she bit her lip, shaking her head. “Shit, you did?”

“Don’t worry, I found nothing too worrisome. Though I must say you turned out lovely. I never would have imagined that the young–”

“Right, well, um.” Tanner grabbed her by the shoulders, wearing the most grotesquely contorted smile I had ever seen. “It’s been really nice to meet you, Ms. Briggs, but we are here for a reason, aren’t we?”

My grandmother seemed surprised, but glanced toward me, nodded, and a knowing smile passed across her face. I didn’t have any idea what that brief exchange had been about, but if the wild-eyed look on Tanner’s face was any sign, I doubted I would find out about it from her any time soon. Whether I could milk it from my grandmother was another matter, but I soon put it out of my mind. Though I found the prospect worth further investigation, for the time being, I had bigger fish to fry.

“You’ve been reckless, Jek,” Kaya Briggs stated between pursed lips. “If it hadn’t been for my intervention, you would be in restraints right now.”

I blinked, then shifted on my feet and shook my head. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“The Valiant has already linked into the Endeavour’s computer systems. They ascertained that you used a Conclave access code to obtain entry to the ship.”

I bent my neck and cupped my face with the palms of both hands, ready to bite back with an angry retort, but Tanner spoke before I could say anything stupid. “You stole an access code from the Conclave?! What are you, some kind of a dumbass?”

“What else did you expect me to do?” I dropped my hands and clenched my jaw.

“I understood that if I ever found the Endeavour, I would never be included in any resulting investigation. The only way, I would have found out what happened to my mother, without the government feeding me some bullshit story, was to gain entry into the ship. Either that or force my way in. Since, my grandmother had the codes, it seemed like the easier solution.”

“You know that I would have never let the Alliance shut you out, Jek.”

“Oh, and you can’t tell me you wouldn’t have tried to shield me from the truth if you thought I couldn’t handle it? I was fifteen before I learned my dad offed himself. I found my mother’s corpse with a big ass fucking hole in its chest, no doubt put there by a creature out of my worst nightmares, don’t stand there and tell me, that you would have revealed that little tidbit to me.”

“Perhaps, when you raise children of your own, you’ll understand.”

God, how the hell could she be so clueless! I didn’t want her to shelter me, I wanted to know the goddamned truth. She’d been lying and manipulating me all my life. Supposedly to protect me, but she always wanted me to follow in the family footsteps and become joined to a K’teth. Her lies were just another way to push me toward that objective. The funny part was that she got her wish, but only because I had gone off and done the exact opposite of everything she wanted. That’s irony for you. I leave and do my own thing and end up fulfilling my worst damned nightmare. Figures.

I grated my teeth and glanced toward Tanner again. We’d had this argument before and it never ended well. It wasn’t something I enjoyed even without an audience, but I sure as hell would not let it happen with my partner lurking about.

“Look, we’ve both made our feelings known, I will not rehash the same old damn argument. Let’s just get to the point. I’ve made a shit storm of trouble and you’ve been forced to clean up my mess. Is that about right?”

My grandmother sighed. “It’s fortunate that I convinced Colonel Cayne that you were on the Conclave’s payroll and that I was the one who gave you those codes.”

“Of course you did.” I gritted my teeth. “Which means, what? I already know intergalactic law. Since the Endeavour was derelict, I had probable cause to enter and I can even justify blowing a hole in the research area wall since the artifact was going nuclear on my ass.”

“It means, Jellfree Keiran Briggs, that you’re not facing any criminal charges, but don’t believe it’s not coming without a price. I want to protect you, but you haven’t made it easy. Join the Conclave, and I promise you, whatever direction things go you will be right in the thick of it so long as you sign and abide by the NDA agreement.”

Good lord, in the thick of it? Geez, talk about cliched lines. I cringed and released a long breath of air before issuing my reply.

“If I don’t?”

“I can’t protect you any further…” And she paused, squaring her jaw. “And more importantly, you’ll never find out, who or what is responsible for your mother’s death.”

She pushed the right buttons. Honestly, unless my grandmother spilled the beans, I didn’t think I’d need to worry about any of those sticky legal issues, but I’d spent most of my life wondering what the fuck was behind my mother’s disappearance. I wasn’t certain I could step aside now that I’d come so far. Sure, that creature killed her, but who or what had sicked it on the crew of the Endeavour in the first place? She had me and she knew it.

Damn her.

“I don’t suppose you’re going to give me any time to think it over.”

“Three days,” she replied.

She left a lot unsaid, but for a change I didn’t press her for details. She wouldn’t be likely to reveal whatever secrets she might be hiding unless I agreed to her terms.

“Now that’s out of the way. I believe Colonel Cayne will want to have you debriefed . I was fortunate enough to convince him to allow us this little reunion before someone met with you, but his patience may wear thin if we make him wait any longer.”

My grandmother tapped her throat with two fingers, activating her sub-dermal transmitter. “Cayne, I’m done with him if you’d care to send someone down.”

Kaya Briggs peered at the exit, the slightest smile touching her face before pursing her lips and glanced at the door. Listening to a response transmitted back to her through a similar implant inside her ear. “It seems Cayne will debrief you himself.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing, but when my grandmother invited Tanner to leave the room, it set me on edge. Why the hell shouldn’t my partner be present?

separator
Colonel Cayne arrived moments later, just seconds after Tanner had vacated the room. He looked every bit as gaunt and severe as he had over the comm, but his most striking feature was one that couldn’t be detected over the holo system. His eyes were a cold steel blue, save for a small patch in his left one, which was a deep shape of green. An unusual birth defect, in an age where genetic engineering was so prevalent.

His parents had probably been conservers, but the fact that Cayne hadn’t elected to have this little feature fixed hinted that he might have kept some of those values. Most purist were opposed to military service since the UEAF still relied on clones to make up the bulk of its forces. Which also explained why he was scowling at the two of us. A lot of people distrusted K’teth and the Conclave by extension, but conservers took it to a whole different level.

“Ms. Briggs,” he said with a flat, almost monotone voice, so passionless and devoid of emotion that it seemed at odds with the sneer displayed so prominently on his countenance. “Please take a seat beside your grandson.”

My grandmother nodded and slipped into place at the very same time Cayne seated himself on the opposing side of the table. He set a small recording device on the tabletop and pressed a small indent on the side. “Why don’t you tell me all that happened and we’ll go from there?”

So I did just that, reciting everything that had occurred from the moment that I’d contacted the Faioloese traders until the point I contacted my grandmother. When I  finished, Cayne palmed the recording device, but didn’t deactivate it. Instead his scowl deepened as he held it out for us to see.

“The parasite was witness to everything that happened?

I nodded, ignoring Khala’s screams of indignation. “Right until the creature killed my mother.”

“Then I should speak with it. It’s answers may provide some much needed insight.”

I hesitated, knowing full well just what Cayne was asking me. Though my feelings toward the K’teth weren’t as negative as the Colonel’s I never asked to be a host and I was still annoyed that I’d gotten stuck with one. To give one control of my body was something I wasn’t prepared to do, but even though I didn’t like it, I recognized the necessity.

I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath, calling out to my symbiote. I didn’t know how it worked, but the only thing Khala told me was to relax and let go. It took me several moments, fighting down the sense of panic that rose to the surface. What if something went wrong? What if I lost command over my body forever?

As I struggled to answer these questions, a calm wave of reassurance washed over me from Khala. There was understanding there, and… love. Khala had known me through my mother’s eyes, it hadn’t occurred to me that she might have developed an attachment. It was soothing, and it was what allowed me to relinquish control.

My eyes snapped back open and my body grew very rigid as Khala assumed command. She craned my neck around, getting a good look at the room, then she snapped my head and turned her focus to Cayne pursing my lips.

“Well,” she said, folding my arms across my chest and smirked at the Colonel. “I believe this should be interesting.”

Although my lips moved when Khala spoke, the voice that escaped my mouth was not mine. It was soft and feminine, and if it weren’t produced through my vocal cords, I might have even thought it sounded sexy. I’d never heard of a symbiote manipulating a hosts voice in such a way, but seeing a person’s pitch was determined by the length and tension of his or her vocal cords it wasn’t much of a stretch that Khala would be able to manipulate my larynx to produce a much more feminine cadence. That being said, it was disconcerting.

If this surprised Cayne, he didn’t let on. Instead, he set the recorder back down and clasped both hands across the tabletop. He didn’t speak or even blink. I would have wilted under his stare, but Khala didn’t even flinch. She started speaking, unperturbed by the Colonel’s unblinking gaze.

She hadn’t even finished her first sentence before the lights in the room dimmed and a siren’s call rang through the cabin. Cayne was on his feet in an instant, tapping the side of his neck, more than likely to open a communications line to the bridge.

“Rodriquez, what’s going on up there?”

The response, issued out the loud speaker, rattled through the room, the speaker’s voice taking on a manic edge. “Sir, a ship just appeared out of nowhere. We didn’t detect any leap activity. One moment it was just there. There’s an energy build up inside the ship, we believe they’re preparing to open fire.”

“Raise, shields and ready weapons. Do not open fire unless they make the first move, do you understand Major?”

“Yes, sir!”

Cayne didn’t speak another word, spinning away and lurching toward the door with a blank expression. Khala leapt up with such force that the chair I had parked my ass on tumbled onto its side.

“WAIT!”

Cayne stopped, staring at me with a scowl. He glanced at my grandmother, then turned his back.

“What your Major just described, sounds what happened on the Endeavour. If you don’t stop and listen to me, it could very well mean the death of us all.”

Cayne stopped, craned his neck around again and studied my form with cold calculating eyes. “You come with me.”

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 4

01/09/2021

CH 04

The Torrentian Void aboard the Centennial Hawk

I spent the rest of the night and a fair bit of the morning tossing and turning in bed. The one dream I had wasn’t what I’d call pleasant and involved me waking up with a pair of breasts while a red macaw hung over me and told me to ‘find her. Set her free.’ Right before he threatened to use his unholy powers to change me into a pigeon. Needless to say, when ten o’clock hit, I crawled out of bed with heavy eyes and a loud yawn. I didn’t often sleep so late, but considering what my previous day had been like, it wasn’t much of a stretch to say that I would be pretty damn tired.

“‘FEINE!” I let out another yawn as I moved into the control room and pounced on the coffee distributor. In mere seconds, the aroma of freshly brewed heaven wafted into my nasal cavities and I released a deep sigh of contentment just before bringing my mug up to my mouth and drawing a long sip.

Okay, so the coffee wasn’t that good, but for someone as sleep deprived as me, it was a heaven-send. With it, I just might get through the day without collapsing into an exhausted heap. I turned my head, eying the phantom form of my symbiote as she stared at me with those magenta eyes.

“Coffee, never much cared for it.” She grimaced, leaning against a nearby bulkhead.

I sneered back at her and took another sip. “Well, don’t expect me to give it up on your account.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to.” She matched my gaze and glowered before letting out a long sigh and shaking her head. “Look, we need to talk. I doubt you want to hear this, but very soon I will be ready to produce offspring and–”

“It’s time for you to turn me into a woman. Is that it? I was dying! It’s the only damn reason I let myself be bonded with you. I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t ask for any of it. Goddammit, Khala. It’s not fucking fair.”

“No, it’s not,” Khala agreed, staring at me with a sad smile on her pretend face. “I understand that you’re angry. Lexa wasn’t thrilled at first either, but she adjusted and made quite the life for herself.”

“I am not Lexa,” I tossed the coffee cup to the side, shattering it into a half a dozen pieces when it impacted the wall and found my way to the pilot’s seat doing my best to ignore my new symbiote.

Tanner had her feet kicked up on the console, trying not to make eye contact with me or call attention to the fact that she’d been in the room the entire time. She couldn’t hear Khala’s end of the conversation, but given what I had said, I wouldn’t blame her if she freaking out over it.

“Morning.” My eyes darted to my partner, who smiled and returned my greeting.

“Listen, Jek… I can’t say I understand what you must be going through, but if you wish to talk things over, you have my ear.”

“Thanks Tanner, that means a lot.”

I smiled, glancing down at the controls, getting a good look at the readings for the first time since coming back aboard the Hawk. Nothing noteworthy there, but it didn’t hurt to check, especially after what had happened on the Endeavour.

‘You can’t just ignore me. Whether you like it or not, we’re stuck with each other until one or both of us dies.’ This time Khala’s voice echoed inside of my mind. Clearly she had, at least for the time being, given up on casting an illusionary image for me to communicate with.

“Fine, fine, talk away!” I threw my hands up in air all the while shouting at the top of my lungs. Not even daring to throw a glance Tanner’s way. I’m sure she must think I’d gone insane by this point, anyway. “You know what, if you’re going to give me a pussy, just have at it. Just do me a favor and make sure it’s–”

“Would you stop that already!” Tanner screamed, cutting me short before I finished. “You realize I can hear you? Good lord Jek, aren’t you supposed to be able to talk to that thing inside of your head without speaking out loud?” People are bound to think you’ve gone nuts if they see you talking to yourself like that.”

“Right.” I clench my jaw, my cheeks burning as I glanced her way.

‘Thing?! THING?! I am a living, thinking, sapient being! Why do you humans so insist on objectifying my kind?’

I rubbed my hand through my hair before looking out the viewport. ‘Maybe it’s because most people can’t see or hear you. You’re about as real to them as the air they breathe. They accept it’s there because they’ve been told it is, but all they care about is that they can draw breath.’

‘I suppose it’s to be expected,’ Khala replied. ‘Now, how about we move on to matters of more immediate importance?’

‘You need a female host so you can reproduce, is that it? We’ve already been through this.’

‘We can postpone it, for now, but there is something which I would prefer to get out of the way, now rather than later. As I’m sure you’re aware, my kind have what you might call a compulsion which–‘

‘The blue hair… Is that it?’ I glanced over at Tanner and rocked my head back and forth. ‘I can live with the hair, if it means keeping my man junk intact for a little longer.’

‘And the eyes?’

‘Yeah, I can even make do with the freaky eyes, too.’

I closed my peepers, fully expecting Khala to institute the changes, but she gave me a bit of warning before continuing. The symbiotes’ obsession with blue hair was a sort of control mechanism put into the K’teth genetic code, a means by which their creators had ensured they wouldn’t be able to stay concealed. As far as the eyes, a lot of people thought hosts sported them for the same reason, but that had never been true. Khala was the first K’teth to grant a human host magenta eyes, because she had liked the way they looked. When she produced offspring and other symbiotes joined the ranks of the conclave, they adopted the magenta eyes to separate themselves from joined Qharr.

‘Ready?’

I nodded, which seemed like a stupid way to respond, given that Khala couldn’t see my head move, but she must have sensed it. I felt her make the changes. It started with a slight itch atop my scalp, a sensation that creeped down the sides and back of my skull. It didn’t last long, but I knew from being raised around bonded hosts what would happen if I touched it. I told myself I wouldn’t, but shit, somehow I did it anyway. Sure enough, as my hand passed across the top of my head, the hair fell away. I’m sure it would have anyway, but seemed a little like I was helping Khala along with the entire process.

I glanced at Tanner, who gawked at me with her jaw hanging half open. “You know somebody it going to have to clean that mess up.”

I snorted and burst out laughing as what was left of my hair fluttered away, unassisted by my roving hand. The itching returned and in mere moments new hair cascaded down the side of my temples. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I had expected my hair to grow out to its previous length and stop. Maybe Khala had a thing for long hair since it just kept growing and growing until it’d gotten longer even than my forearm.

“Just got a damn haircut last week.” I turned to Tanner, hoping to gauge her reaction, but she only stared back at me like a deer caught in headlights.

I groaned and hunched over, feeling a similar itch in my eyes, and snapped them shut as Khala did her thing. The sensation that followed was uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt. Mostly it felt like Khala had put the old peepers under a few dozen pounds of pressure. As you can imagine, that’s not a pleasant experience. It was no small mercy that the K’teth could suppress pain. I was never so glad that Khala had spared me in that respect. Something told me that the pain which would have accompanied that would have been pretty intense. I shuddered as my eyes snapped back open, thinking about what I might expect from a full on transformation. It was probably something best left to the imagination.

I batted the hair away from my face, collecting it in fistfuls until I had it all clenched into a ponytail. “Could I bother you for a hair tie or a scrunchie?”

This provoked an unexpected fit of giggles from Tanner, and all I could do was grin and bear it. I’d just become the brunt of a joke, but I sure as hell wasn’t laughing.

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I spent most of the day spilling over sensor logs from the Hawk‘s computer, hoping to gleam something from the energy readings from the mysterious box or the creature who had attacked me. After many hours, the only thing I discovered was that most of the readings didn’t make a lick of sense. I was, very, very briefly, tempted to scoop the box up from out of the void of space, but given it had almost gone thermonuclear on my ass I was naturally resistant to the idea. It would be better to stick around until someone better equipped to deal with the potential risks arrived on scene.

I passed the remainder of my time ruminating over the Endeavour and her crew, but that didn’t mean it completely occupied my mind. Khala and I hardly had spoken two words to each other, but I was all too aware of her constant presence every time I batted my new length of blue hair out of my eyes. I considered, more than once, of grabbing some scissors and just going to town on my new locks, but there was a reason I went to a stylist.

I suppose I could have asked my symbiote to take care of it, but that seemed a bit like asking her for a favor. It was better to wait until I got back to Earth and have someone trim it down to its more usual length.

After what seemed ages, a ship arrived appearing from out of the darkness of the Torrentian Void with a brilliant flash of light as its leap drive transitioned the vessel out of subspace. I didn’t waste any time, opening up a communications line, making sure that our transponder signal was transmitting in the clear, before their sensors registered our presence.

“Unknown vessel, this is the cargo ship the Centennial Hawk. Please identify yourself.”

There was a brief delay, but I expected no less. The transition into regular space was more than a little traumatic to the senses, and even the most seasoned traveler would take several moments to adjust. Sure enough, a moment later the holo imager flared to life, displaying the visage of a tall, yet unassuming man in a crisp-cut military uniform. “I’m Colonel Tybrus Cayne of the United Earth Alliance Fleet destroyer the Valiant, I am here to investigate claims of a derelict ship.”

He spoke with a stiff jaw and a curled upper lip that spoke volumes for what he expected to find, but I didn’t let that deter me. The Endeavour was proof enough to win over any skeptic. I was, however, surprised that they had sent in such a large ship. From the looks of it, the Valiant was a titan-class destroyer, the largest and most powerful vessel in the UEAF. Either my grandmother had more clout with the government than I had ever guessed, or someone in power had reason to believe that the Endeavour’s reappearance represented a genuine threat. Either way, the Valiant’s presence scared the hell out of me.

I cast a sidelong glance at my business partner, who was staring at the holo display with wide eyes before meeting the Colonel’s gaze. Cayne struck me as a man that would pounce on the slightest sign of weakness, and there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d let him see any from me.

“Jek Briggs.” I had hopes that my family name might at least get him to chill out a bit, but he either wasn’t impressed or didn’t make the connection.

“Look, I’m sure you’ve already detected an energy reading–”

“Yes,” he stated with a flat, almost bored tone. He turned his head as if glancing at a display or listening to some subordinate speaking in his ear, then glanced back to me. “Our sensors have detected some anomalous readings several hundred meters adrift outside the stern of the cruiser. ”

He paused again and glowered back at us. “Prepare to dock, we’ll need to debrief you, as will the representative of the conclave, to whom I believe you have a certain amount of familiarity.”

The Colonel’s holo image blinked out, and I gritted my teeth, glancing toward Tanner as my stomach sank. I put on my best grin, shook my head and started doing as Cayne had suggested.

“Why the hell am I not surprised?”

Tanner furrowed her brows and glanced at me sideways. No doubt hoping for some sort of explanation, but at the moment I was a little too preoccupied. If there was someone here from the conclave, there was a very good chance that person was my grandmother.

“Well, this ought to be fun,” I whispered under my breath as the Hawk, now under control of the Valiant’s systems, moved as if with a mind of its own.

“Why do I get the sense we’re about to walk into a shitstorm?” Tanner walked up behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“Trust me,” I rose to my feet and turned to face her, “you don’t know the half of it.”

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Several moments later, the airlock hissed and swung open, revealing the dull gray and uniform bulkheads of the Valiant. I shuddered and stepped forward, grimacing as my roving eyes failed to find a single smudge, spot, or flaw. Even the dark steel floor plates were unblemished. God, it was horrendous!

The one thing you could always be sure of with UEAF vessels was that they always looked the same on the inside. I had no issue with the military, but there was just something about a place that looked so pristine and homogenous that set me on edge. Places like this were an anathema to me. There was no adventure, no creativity, and no sense of wild abandon. You know, the good things in life.

A young woman, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen, approached, clasping her hands together as she smiled at the two of us. She was pretty enough, so I put on the charm, giving her my best smile and winked, holding my hand out or her to shake. “I’m Jek Briggs and this is my business associate Tanner Grace.”

“Lieutenant Hinderman,” she replied, a smile touching the corner of her lips as she met my gaze.

Although Tanner and I had what some would consider a flirtatious relationship, neither one of us ever acted on our innuendos. If she was uncomfortable with me coming on to Hinderman, she didn’t say so, but if the way she glared at the Lieutenant with arms folded across her chest was any sign, I don’t think she was too happy about the situation. That’s not to say I had any intention of backing away.

If Tanner really was interested, it was about damn time she stopped pushing me away. Flirting was one thing, but every damn time I’d made a move, she turned me down flat. If she wanted something more out of our relationship, maybe it was time she did something about it.

“Listen, Hinderman, I don’t know what you’re doing in your off hours, but I–”

“If you’ll come this way, Colonel Cayne is waiting,” the lieutenant said, not even giving me a chance to finish before cutting me off.

Ouch, I’d struck out enough to recognize it when I saw it, but it left me more than just a little mystified. Either she was playing hard to get or I’d misread the smile she’d given me.

“Swing and a miss,” Tanner whispered in my ear as she followed the younger woman out on her tail coats.

I grimaced and followed suit. It would be best to just get this over with, anyway. So what if my attempt to win the lieutenant’s attentions had failed? It didn’t make me any less of a man, right?

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 3

12/19/2020

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CH 03

The Torrentian Void aboard the Centennial Hawk

You know what? I always thought that if I ever lost consciousness that, whenever I came awake again, it would be like waking from a long nap. Yeah, not so much. It was dark one moment and the next my eyes snapped open. I sat bolt upright and screamed bloody fucking murder. It might have something to do with my encounter with the thing that should not be and the immense hole he tore in my chest, but a part of it was damn well the realization that I’d taken up a little hitchhiker.

No, we hadn’t made a stop on some cosmic highway and picked up an eccentric but charming psychopath with a pleasant smile who intended to tie us up and chop us into little pieces. If only. I let myself become bonded to a K’teth symbiote, and sure enough, it was the very same goddamned one responsible for everything wrong in my life.

A pair of hands grabbed me by the shoulder and shook me. I found myself looking into Tanner’s rather bounteous chest. Usually, that would put a smile on my face, but guess what? Not this time.

“Jek, calm down. It’s all right, you’re safe now.”

“My chest!” I screamed, my hands clawing at the fabric of my shirt, expecting to find an enormous gaping hole where the creature tore into it. Instead, I found nothing. Disturbing, right?

“God dammit,” I cursed, my hands sliding down my pants and finding a familiar bulge, but it wasn’t quite the reassurance that you might think.

“Thank God! I’m not Lexa!”

“Uh… What?”

I rocked my head, took in a deep breath and shook away the last of my confusion. It was doubtful Khala would transform me into a Lexa duplicate, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t end up batting for the opposite team.

“Forget it.”

Okay, so she hadn’t worked her voodoo… yet. I gritted my teeth and sat up, drawing in several sharp gasps as I glared into my palms. They looked the same, but that would change all too soon. K’teth queens had a nasty habit of transforming their male hosts into women, and lucky me I got saddled with one.

“Khala!” I screamed the name, waiting for the symbiote to respond, but she never did.

“Jek,” Tanner grabbed my head with both her hands and forced me to look into her eyes. “Hey, hey, you’ll be okay. Just talk to me.”

I nodded, taking in several deep breaths as I screamed Khala’s name out in my head over and over. I got a response, but not quite the one I expected. A busty girl wearing a white dress that looked like it would slide off with the slightest wrong move, appeared in the doorway, a sultry smile on her face. I might have assumed I was witnessing the beginning of an erotic dream, if I wasn’t aware the K’teth could project images into the minds of their hosts.

The woman stepped inside the room, brushing at the mane of blue hair that cascaded down her head like waves crashing against an embankment of rocks. She stared at me, with magenta eyes nearly identical to my mother’s, and neither one of us broke our gazes as we sized each other up.

“Jellfree.”

The woman was illusory, of course, the only thing Khala saw was whatever she witnessed through the eyes of her host, now me. I didn’t question how she recognized me. I could damn well guess, though we hadn’t encountered each other in almost twenty years. As an entity capable of manipulating the genetic structure of its host, first my mother and now me, it wasn’t much of a stretch that she would be able to identify me through those very same genes.

“Actually,” I grimaced, ignoring the worried look on Tanner’s face. “I go by Jek these days.”

“Jek, then. I’m assuming since you’re now grown, I was in that stasis pod for more than a few years.”

“Almost twenty.”

She walked over, passing through Tanner as she moved through the room and sat down on the bed beside me. I had to stop and remind myself that it was all an illusion when she reached out to touch my face. You know the freaky part? Those soft hands that cupped my cheeks weren’t even real.

“I’m sorry about your mother, believe me when I say there was nothing I could have done to save her. It was only because of her foresight that I survived. Our time together was brief compared to most of the hosts I have inhabited over the centuries, but she was a kind woman.”

I stood, moving away from the mirage created by the symbiote, and glanced at Tanner. She looked at me, her mouth hanging open and eyes cocked. Had I jumped off the deep end? Was it possible that I was sitting in some padded room blubbering away like an idiot? Something told me I wasn’t that lucky.

“Tanner,” I turned to my partner and grabbed her by the shoulders. “You’re probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me, but let’s just say I have a new house guest rattling around inside my brain and I think I’m stuck with her.”

“What?” She studied me with furrowed eyebrows, her body tensed as if she were ready to bolt, but I wasn’t loosening my grip.

“Okay,” I dropped my hands. “It’s a K’teth symbiote. Khala, she was bonded to my mother and Lexa before that. She was preserved in a stasis pod.”

“Okay, well, that explains some things.” She bit her lip and did about the last thing I expected. She threw her arms around me and pulled me close to her. Her breasts were pressing into my chest and my cheeks burned as less than gentlemanly thoughts flowed through my head.

She pulled back and looked up at me with wide eyes. “Did it say what happened to the Endeavour?”

Khala’s eyebrow arched, as she glared at Tanner, but if she objected to my business partner’s use of ‘it’ when referring to her, she didn’t speak up.

“I haven’t had a chance to ask her, but I was kind of wondering that myself.”

Khala fell back, landing atop the bed, and her scowl faded away before she clenched her eyelids closed and released a long sigh. Tears gushed down her cheeks as she spoke, and I almost walked over to the bed to comfort her before remembering she was just an illusion. “It all happened so fast I’m not sure where to begin.”

She jerked up, and I took a step back, startled by the abrupt movement. “I probably don’t need to tell you that the Endeavour expedition was a joint mission between the military, the Conclave, and the scientific community. Officially our goal was to search for traces of the Phyrr Lesch. What you wouldn’t have been told was that Cobaldis traders had already discovered ruins on a remote world in the Cythsten system.”

“The Cythsten system? How the fuck then did the Endeavour get all the way out here in the Torrentian Void? That’s way too far for it to have drifted out here.”

“I-I don’t understand how that would’ve happened,” Khala blinked away a new deluge of tears before continuing. “We found the ruins and started excavating. Lots of tedious, tedious work, I never understood why your mother loved it so much. We excavated for weeks, before uncovering the box. We never discovered its significance, but the ruins where we found it were right around ten-thousand years old which would put it near the end of the Phyrr Lesch’s reign over the galaxy.”

“And what exactly was the significance?”

Khala shrugged and shook her head. “We never found out. We took the box aboard the Endeavour, hoping that we could set up a clean room environment in the lab, but the moment we got the damn thing transported onto the Endeavour, a strange ship showed up. It blasted us half to hell and your mother died before I could do anything to save her. I don’t know what happened after that creature attacked your mother or even how the Endeavour ended up where it is now. I don’t have the answers.”

I turned away from Khala and Tanner, fighting away tears as I struggled to block out the image of my mother’s corpse from my mind. Most times, I wasn’t the crying type, but I don’t think anyone would blame me under the circumstances. I’d just received the closure I’d sought for so long, but in such a way that I could say would shape the rest of my life. Seeing your mother’s frozen corpse after twenty years of looking and subsequently getting pursued and almost killed by a creature right out of every child’s worst nightmares would have that effect on a person.

“Maybe, later we can put the puzzle pieces together. For now, I think we should contact the right authorities. It’s time to share the Endeavour‘s ultimate fate with the galaxy.”

I stepped out of my cabin and into the Hawk’s control room, sensing both of their eyes on me as I departed. Khala witnessed everything through my eyes, but the image she projected into my mind seemed very real to my senses. Without hesitation, I stepped toward the communications controls as my thoughts turned toward the task at hand. All my life I had sought to step out of Lexa Briggs’ shadow and distance myself from her legacy, but the very act I was now committing would have the exact opposite effect.

If I contacted the United Earth Alliance government or the military I’d wind up dealing with bureaucrats and I’d waste a lot of time trying to convince them I wasn’t trying to scam them. There had been many people who claimed to have found the Endeavour over the years and, like it or not, my reputation wasn’t exactly what you would call squeaky clean. If I convinced them, it might take weeks to lure the right people out to the Torrentian Void.

I was acquainted with someone who had the resources and power available to bypass all the rigamarole and get shit done, and as much as it sucked, that person was Kaya Briggs, the woman who raised me. Not only did my grandmother embrace the family legacy, she expected me to do the same. If I got in touch with her, it might lead to me getting pulled back into the world of the Conclave, especially now that I was bonded to the most notorious symbiote in the galaxy.

I parted my lips and opened a comm line. A sense of dread settled in as the ship’s comm array beamed the signal out through subspace. At this hour, there was only one place where my grandmother would be, asleep at the family estates on Earth. That meant communications would be patched through a subspace relay. She might be wealthy, but even someone with her money wouldn’t see a reason to install an expensive subspace module in her home communications system.

“This is Earth subspace relay station 47, servicing the greater California region. My name is Lexa, how can I help you today?” The bright and cheerful, subspace operator’s face appeared, hovering like a spectre of doom in the empty air above the console.

I grimaced between gritted teeth. Of course, the subspace operator had to be named Lexa! Good lord, a hundred and sixty years and people were still naming their children after my ancestor.

“Yes, I’m trying to contact Kaya Briggs,” I said, and gave her the routing number to the family estates.

“One moment please,” the operator offered another artificial smile, and I bit my tongue, fighting off a surge of irritation. “Uh, sir, it looks like because of the high volume of calls to that line, it has a restriction on it.”

“What sort of restriction?”

“You must have a recognized passcode or biometric signature, sir. If neither of those options are suitable, I can put in a request–”

“That won’t be necessary,” I cut her short before she went off on a long tangent.

“I’m sending over a biometrics signature now.”

I placed my hand on the console, letting the scanner do its work. Biometrics were the best and most accurate way, not only to encrypt data but also to identify a person. Every person’s body had a unique system of blood vessels that was damn near impossible to fake or copy. Even cloning couldn’t duplicate them, as circulatory systems grew in a random pattern. So even if a person shared identical DNA, the pattern would be unique. It was a shot in the dark, given that my grandmother and I hadn’t parted on the best of terms, but she had an encoded copy of my pattern on record. Whether she had me on her list depended on if she thought I was a lost cause.

“Well, the home’s AI has accepted your biometrics, sir. Have a delightful night.” The woman smiled just before her image faded away. So, my grandmother hadn’t given up on me. Not a comforting thought, given that she’d had my life mapped out from the moment my mother went missing.

I waited, sensing rather than seeing Tanner approach, all the while thrumming my hands on the control surface. I hadn’t spoken to my grandmother in almost five years and would have been happy letting another five pass me by with no contact, but given the circumstances, I was especially nervous. She would never say as much, but Mom’s disappearance had been like a dagger through her heart. I did not look forward to confirming her worst fears. Just because we weren’t talking, didn’t mean I was heartless.

An image flared to life in front of me and I froze, my breath caught in my throat as I looked into those all too familiar magenta eyes. Kaya Briggs was host to Crae, one of the first K’teth born on Earth after its liberation. Though symbiotes didn’t really see familial relationships the same way we did, biologically Crae was Khala’s grandchild through her daughter Dyssa. The two symbiotes couldn’t communicate over such great distances unless we allowed them control of our bodies or pass along messages from them, but I sensed an odd sort of tension from Khala. She knew her descendant lived somewhere behind my grandmother’s eyes and wanted to speak with the other K’teth.

“Jellfree?” My grandmother’s eyes were alert and alive despite the bags under her eyes and the late hour.

“How many times do I have to ask you to call me Jek?” I stared back at her, all the while shaking my head. Time hadn’t diminished the hard feelings I felt toward her, but it had tempered the anger.

Neither of us spoke for what seemed to be ages but was only a few seconds. I was the one who broke the silence, fresh tears streaked my face as I stared across at my grandmother’s disembodied visage. “I found her.”

Her features softened, and she matched my gaze. “Found who, dear?”

“I found Mom.”

She blinked, mouthing my mother’s name and looked back at me, all signs of fatigue and wariness replaced by that thoughtful frown I had learned to dread. “The Endeavour?”

“Adrift in space, the crew all dead…”

“Sofia too?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak the words. My grandmother seemed to get the message. She sighed and her eyelids drooped shut. “I always feared what finding the Endeavour might mean. How did she die?”

“You don’t want to know.” I shook my head and let out a sigh of my own. “Trust me, what I saw I can’t unsee.”

I expected her to press me for details, but maybe the haunted cast to my eyes stopped her. “Give me your coordinates.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Tanner spoke up, pushing past me so that she was staring my grandmother right in the eyes. “Jek discovered the Endeavour, and I’m not letting him give you any coordinates until you guarantee the reward money is his.”

I should have expected Tanner might try something like that. She wasn’t the most trusting person, least of all, toward people in positions of authority. “Tanner, back the hell off, would you?”

I grimaced at her as she glared at me and retreated, albeit with a reluctant sigh. “Forgive my business partner she can be a bit… protective.”

“Well, she can rest assured I have no need of any reward money. Tell your friend that whatever finder’s fee that is applicable is yours. Give me the coordinates and I can get a ship out to you inside of a day.”

I complied, transmitting the coordinates via the computer terminal.

“Finally, after all this time, we can find out what happened.”

I nodded, biting my lip as I prepared to end the transmission, but before I could it seemed my grandmother had a little surprise in store for me. “Jek, I know these aren’t the best circumstances, but it’s nice to see you again. I missed you.”

I nodded, and just barely managed to croak out a reply of my own before my hand pressed down on the console, ending the transmission.

“That’s it?” Tanner asked as I turned my back to the console and retreated toward my quarters. “What do we do now?”

I reached the doorway and glanced over my shoulder at Tanner, who hadn’t taken a single step away from her previous position. “We wait.”

I entered my quarters, letting the door slide shut behind me, and collapsed onto my bed. It was going to be a long wait, and I might as well get some sleep.

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 2

12/12/2020

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CH 01

The Torrentian Void aboard the Endeavour

I panted, coming to a stop in front of a door. “I really, really need to spend a little more time working out.”

“Jek?”

“Forget about it,” I shook my head and gritted my teeth. “I think I’ve found it.”

“Are you sure… I mean, how can you tell?”

“The door marked ‘Research Area: Authorized Personnel Only’ kind of gives it away, Tanner. If shit is going down, it’ll be in there.”

It made a certain amount of sense. The Endeavour had been a research ship on a very specific mission. If someone brought something freaky aboard, they would take it to the one place on the ship where they would be able to examine and contain it. I toggled the controls, cursing when they failed to comply with the command to open, and took a few steps back. I whipped my pistol out and removed the energy cell. Though I wasn’t really keen on blowing the door to shit, you know what they say about desperate measures and all that.

Energy cells were designed to prevent idiots like me from doing just such a thing, but when you spend enough time with sleazebags and lowlifes who live on the outskirts of their respective societies, you picked up a few tricks and… I’d lived a pretty sheltered life until striking out on my own. Tanner was the one who showed me that trick, who had taught her was a matter I hadn’t quite figured out.

I finished the modifications and ducked around the corner, seconds before the resulting explosion rocked the corridor. Okay, so rocked was too strong of a word. What came was more like a little tremor. Either way, once I ducked my head back over the bend and got a perfect look at the huge freaking hole in the door, I didn’t pause to debate semantics with myself. I took action, running toward the opening and crawling through without hesitation. My eyes as wide as saucers, I stopped dead in my tracks, staring at the form laying prostrate on the deck.

“Mom.”

I should have figured that my mother would be at the source of the shit I stepped knees deep into. That didn’t mean I understood what the fuck any of it meant. My mother’s corpse lay sprawled out on the ground, covered in blood, and would have looked lifelike were it not for the huge gaping hole in her chest. Her dead eyes stared out into nothingness, and I knelt down, a sigh escaping my lips as I looked upon her body. Tears cascaded down my face as I found the closure I had sought for so long.

She looked exactly as I remembered. I was only six years old when she disappeared, but I etched the image of her face into my mind long ago. She looked young, perhaps in her thirties, but appearances can be deceiving. My mom had been close to eighty years old. Medical technologies progressed a lot after the occupation, and each successive generation lived longer than the last, but her longevity had more to do with her symbiote. Bending over, I stroked her blue hair, a telltale sign that, in life, she hosted a K’teth symbiote. I slipped my fingers out to close those striking magenta eyes, as tears splattered my cheeks.

I cupped my gloved hand in hers, only realizing, as I did so, that she held something clenched in her palm. With gentle force, I pried her fingers loose, careful not to break or damage her hand. What I found was a stasis pod no larger than a medium-sized orange, the sort used by scientists to preserve organic samples for later study. I had no idea what she was doing with the thing, but judging from the way she clutched it in her hand, something told me it might be important.

“Jek!” Tanner’s voice cried, and my mind jumped back to the present. “Energy levels are building to dangerous levels. If you’re going to do something, it better be soon.”

The only reason I ran towards the energy buildup’s source was to prevent the ship from being destroyed and along with it, whatever hope I had of discovering my mother’s fate. I did not expect to find her corpse within its vicinity, but now that I had, I would go to whatever means necessary in order to ensure the ship remained intact.

Not that I had a death wish or anything, but I spent pretty much my entire life wondering about the fate of the Endeavour. If it got blown up, I would never discover the truth. If nothing else, the family of the crew deserved to learn the final fate of their loved ones.

My eyes scanned the room and locked onto the only item that looked important, a plain, unadorned box that wouldn’t have looked very out of place in the Centennial Hawk’s cargo hold. That is, if it weren’t for one small little detail. The thing looked ancient, like someone buried it thousands of years ago and the Endeavour crew only recently unearthed it. There were even a few clumps of dirt still affixed to its surface, but what caught my eye were a pair of blinking lights, which alternated between green, yellow, red and orange, on the front along the seam. I couldn’t guess the box’s significance, but if I were a betting man, which I was, I would say it was the origin of all the interference.

I secured the stasis pod to a clip on my waist, walked over toward my prize, reached a hand out to touch the box, and the hairs on the back of my neck rose as the entire cabin quaked.

“What the hell?” I turned toward the source, just as the opposite wall collapsed and shot toward me with sudden violent force and a loud metallic shriek.

A figure stood in the fresh opening, a hulking creature with muscles bigger than my head. Amidst the debris still fluttering through the air, I didn’t get a very good view of it, but I understood one thing without even having to ask, it wasn’t friendly. I snatched the box off the counter and booked my ass the hell out the entrance I’d made, the tiny hole snagging the suit’s fabric on the jagged steel edges of the opening. A high-pitched wail followed me out the opening, accompanied by the collapse of metal on metal as the creature, unable to fit through the opening, tore the door free from its frame.

Tanner’s voice called out, but it was not intelligible against the creature’s roar when it came tearing after me. I risked a glance back, but it moved so fast that I saw little more than a blur. It was big, gray, and had lots of teeth. That was pretty much all I needed to know. I didn’t stop to examine it or try to reason with it, assuming it was even a sapient being. For a change, I didn’t do the stupidest thing humanly possible, I did the exact opposite. I ran like hell.

“Tanner. I uh, think I made a new friend.” I panted, rounding a bend, just barely evading the creature’s fist as crashed it down toward me.

“Holy fuck, what is that sound?” She replied as my pursuer let out a blood-curdling scream.

“My new friend, don’t you listen, Tanner?”

“Uh huh, and this new friend is trying to kill you, isn’t it?”

“That’s why I like you Tanner, you’re such a smart cookie.”

“You realize I can’t help you, don’t you? I can’t read a damn thing on my end.”

“Figures, I’m being chased down by a massive gray blur with muscles that would make any man tremor in his little booties and teeth big enough to bite me in two and all you can do is provide commentary. Story of my life.”

“Why don’t you shoot it?”

“Can’t, I already used my energy cell to blow a crater in the research area’s door and my only spare one is inside my suit. I think I might have a plan… I won’t speak it aloud in case smiley understands me, but assuming he doesn’t get to me before I institute it, it should work.”

“Why doesn’t that fill me with confidence?”

“Tanner, you need to–” I stopped short as a sudden and very violent force yanked me back and slammed me into the wall.

“Jek? Jek? JEK?!” Judging from her screams, I’m sure Tanner had at least an inkling that something had gone wrong, but the cold acceptance I experienced as I stared into the eyes of the creature was far and beyond the most terrifying feeling… ever. I know that itsounds like a contradiction, but it’s like I had divided my mind in two. One half was scared beyond reason, and the other half had already accepted that I would die.

I got my first good glimpse at the creature, as the hand grasped tighter and tighter around my neck. My original assessment had been correct, but as my eyes filled in the gaps, my imagination hadn’t, I realized just how much shit I was in. The creature looked like someone had taken a Qharr warrior and crossbred him with a Dre’k. The Qharr are big, gray, three-eyed and fairly human looking. Dre’k are not… They’re four legged reptilian beasts from the darkest depths of hell. The resulting combination was the most horrifying and fearsome creature I had ever laid eyes on. One who was all scales, teeth, muscle and claws.

Shit, it was like the living-embodiment of the fucking boogeyman.

I would have died there and then, but as my bowels evacuated, the part of my mind that was scared shitless did something completely and unexpectedly rational. I kicked out with my legs, hitting the huge bastard where it counts. That’s right, square between the legs. The effect was instantaneous. The fucking beast dropped me like a ship ejecting its cargo and I hit the floor gasping for air. I struggled back up, shaking my head as I fought the remaining effects of hypoxia.

Back on my feet before the monster had recovered, I swooped down, snatching the fallen mystery box from the deck before taking off down the passageway. I rushed forward, moving at a speed that only adrenaline could sustain, and screamed at the top of my lungs as the beast jumped at me with one spectacular and impressive leap. It prompted me to run even faster, moving at speeds I never would have believed possible without the aid of a K’teth symbiote.

I felt the creature’s hand on me again, but before his grip tightened, I spun around and forced the box into his hands. “You know what? You can have it.”

The ploy worked… in a matter of speaking. My attacker’s hand slid away as it fumbled to grasp its prize and I scrambled away, once again launching myself down the corridor. It roared and resumed pursuit, and I screamed louder. Why couldn’t he just have been happy with the damn box?

Pretty soon I reached my destination, which was a small miracle since I had no clue where in the hell I was fucking going. I didn’t make to celebrate, instead I made a beeline right for the cargo dock release controls, but before I reached them, the creature stopped me and slammed the box square into the center of my back. I went down like a sack of potatoes. This time I slid across the floor and slammed my head into the nearest bulkhead. The collision had me seeing stars, and before I could even think about getting back up, something pressed against my back.

I thrashed about, trying to break free, but the more I struggled the more the pressure tightened. I cried out, begging for mercy, in a vain hope that the creature understood me, but if he could comprehend, my cries were either unnoticed or more likely he just didn’t care. With a sharp intake of breath, I squeezed my eyes shut, preparing for what must be my end when a voice cried out, screaming the most beautiful words to have ever been uttered.

“Hey, fuck-face! Over here.”

Phase fire illuminated the corridor, as my attacker lifted its foot off my back and he went tearing through the passageway after his new prey. I rolled onto my back, just in time to watch Tanner’s fabulous ass, prominent even through the thick fabric of her EVA suit, disappear into the passageway followed by the beast. This time I had a lot more difficulty clawing back to my feet, because of the throbbing pain in my back. The fact that I could move my legs meant he hadn’t injured my spine, at least not to the point he’d paralyzed me, but there was some definite damage in my mid-back. One thing was certain, I wouldn’t be doing any running soon.

“Tanner, god dammit, I told you to stay on the Hawk!” I spoke into the comm. “Do you have any idea how dumb what you just did was?”

“As opposed to your brand of stupidity?” She replied. “Besides, you’d be dead right now if not for me, so I fully expect to hear the words thank and you some time in the not so distant future.”

I grimaced, rubbing a hand up and down my back, hoping that it would ease the overwhelming pain and thus help me move better, but the fabric of the suit was too thick for me to feel much of anything. “Right, just get back here, would you? And have a tether ready, things are gonna get pretty… turbulent in here.”

“You’re one crazy motherfucker, you know that, Jek?”

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t expecting you to be here.”

“Need I remind you? Tanner here… Jek not dead.”

I hobbled over to the controls, trying to hurry, but unable to produce more than a crawl. Whatever the hell that thing had done to me, it had really fucked me up. Just walking in a straight line was a challenge. I did finally reach the control panel and, by some minor miracle, it was ready to take my commands.

A glimpse through the transparium doors, and into the area beyond revealed nothing. It was dark, probably to conserve power. Not a surprise, cargo holds saw little foot traffic compared to the rest of a ship. Why keep it lit all the time? Tanner and I did the same thing on the Centennial Hawk.

I knew what was on the far side of the cargo bay concealed by the shadows without being told: the bay doors. Though it was a stroke of brilliant deductive reasoning, I didn’t have time to congratulate myself. An unearthly scream cascaded through the corridor, hitting my ears and producing a shiver down my spine.

“Fuck it.” I anchored my tether to the console and turned my head just as Tanner reappeared, tailed by the creature.

I opened the doors leading into the cargo hold and Tanner took her cue, latching her own tether in place. Before I could open the exterior doors, the creature’s eyes locked onto me again and it let out another howl as it came charging straight toward me.

“SHIT!”

I slammed my hand down on the emergency override mechanism. I guessed it would have been too simple to have labelled it with something a tad more straightforward like ‘jettison’, but who was I to argue in a life and death situation?

The beast had me before the doors had opened. It tore into my chest with claws that looked a great fucking deal more menacing than a phase pistol. When it pulled its fist back, I got an up close and rather personal view of the serrated, jagged little growths that were sticking out from the outside of its hand. When its fist struck, it rent through flesh like butter, producing an immense hole just below my heart.

If I wasn’t completely and utterly terrified beyond rational thought, I probably would have reasoned that he ripped through the thoracic aorta, the artery that runs down from the heart.  Instead, I screamed out, blood splattering all over the place, but it was to no avail. The creature did not let up. He smashed me into the controls, and I cursed, spitting blood into his face as he raised one of his massive arms to make a swing at me.

He never had the chance. The doors slid open with so much force that it produced a loud clang and the ship rocked. Everything in the area not bolted down or tethered in place hurtled through the new opening. Most of that included the cargo and the mysterious box, but what it didn’t include was my buddy, the grotesquely terrifying creature from the deepest darkest recesses of my nightmares.

No, the bastard had grabbed hold of my ankle and was holding on for dear life. I took the only option open to me: I kicked the bastard with my one free leg. The blow wasn’t as hard as I liked, but his hand slipped so it must have done some good. Three successive kicks. His hand shifted a little further until finally he slid free and flew into the deep abyss of space.

Blood was everywhere, and the darkness crept at the edge of my vision as I struggled to pull myself close enough to toggle the emergency switch off. I was just able to grab hold of it and force it back into place before my hands went limp. Even as the room re-pressurized and my lungs filled with air, unconsciousness continued to creep away.

It was all the blood I lost and there wasn’t a lot I could do. I should have been delirious, but somehow, I remained lucid. Something clicked inside my dense skull, and I realized why my mother had been clutching the stasis pod so obsessively. Somehow I mustered enough strength to yank it free from my waist and slammed it down to the ground, shattering the glass into a thousand pieces.

Tanner screamed my name, but by then it was already too late. The darkness carried me away, but just before it took hold there was a blur of movement from something that looked an awful lot like a clear ball of gelatin. Maybe I was hallucinating, or maybe it was just something I knew that could save my life. Either way, I didn’t remain conscious long enough to see what happened next.

As my mind receded, I heard a voice calling out. Speaking words I had heard a thousand times over, but always in my dreams.

‘Find her, set her free.’

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 1

12/05/2020

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Author's Note

This story is a sequel to Battle for Earth set close to 160 years after the events of the previous story. It can be read as a standalone, but (and it’s a big but) to read this without having first tackled Battle For Earth will result in spoiling the plot of the first story.

Thanks go out to the following people: Jenny North for her valuable input on the fictionmania hyperboard, Jessica Nicole for proofing the bits of Spanish dialogue, and Zapper, Patricia Marie Allen, Chris, and Xtrim for pre-reading various drafts.

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CH 01

The Torrentian Void aboard the Centennial Hawk

Cold chills trickled down my spine as I stared out the viewport of the Centennial Hawk and out into the vast expanse of space. A long cigar-shaped ship, of obvious human design, floated through the emptiness, dark and devoid of the lights that were so evident on other vessels of its type. Had I not been familiar with the class, I might assume it was a stealth vessel on some secret assignment, but the United Earth Alliance had decommissioned that line more than a decade ago and it was never used for that purpose.

“Good lord,” a voice said beside me.

I turned, studying my business partner, trying my damnedest to keep any sign of emotion off my face. I couldn’t say how good of a job I was doing, but the lump in my throat made it pretty hard. For the last twenty years, I wanted nothing so much as to find the Endeavour and discover what happened to her crew. I let my hands manipulate the controls, seemingly taking on a mind of their own, but I couldn’t keep them from shaking.

Tanner didn’t know my history with the Endeavour, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to reveal it to her. I stepped away from my past life years ago, and I was not quite prepared to let myself get pulled back into it. I wasn’t ready to cast aside all of my heritage just yet. Not until I discovered the truth. I needed to know for closure’s sake.

I bowed my head before glancing back out at the derelict ship. “Begin docking procedures.”

Tanner’s head twisted toward me, her hair whipping out far enough to brush against my shoulder. “What about the casu marzu? We have cargo that needs delivered.”

“Maggot cheese is the least of my concern right now.”

I rocked my head back and forth, and despite my statement to the contrary, let myself wonder for the briefest of moments why the Credknotts seemed to love the stuff so much, but the prospect of the task before me soon overtook such thoughts. I stood up, moving across the control room with quick determination, not saying a word as I opened one of the overhead storage compartments, my hand finding purchase on a small black duffel and helmet.

“What!? Are you nuts?” Tanner scrambled across the room and yanked the bag out of my hands. “We don’t know anything about that ship!”

I turned back to her, and grabbed her by the shoulders, a smile touching the corner of my lips even as my heart pounded in my chest at what felt like a thousand beats a minute. “Sure, we do… It’s the Endeavour.”

“The Endeavour?” She took a step back, her brows furrowed as she shook her head. “This is what you’ve been looking for, isn’t it? All these little side trips over the years. You always said you wanted to see the universe, but that’s not it at all. You were hunting for that ship.”

Tanner knew me well enough that she could tell when I was lying. So, I didn’t deny it. I bit the inside of my cheek and nodded, not even bothering to look her in the eyes before I seized the duffel out of her hands. “I’ve been waiting for this moment a long time. Start docking procedures, please.”

I expected Tanner to issue further protestations, but she didn’t let out a peep. She didn’t need to, I saw her misgivings in her eyes. Derelict ships were left abandoned for good reasons. There might be dozens of dangers lurking inside the hull of the cruiser, but no risk would be great enough to keep me from seeking the truth. The Endeavour had been missing for almost twenty years, and there wasn’t a human alive who hadn’t heard of it. My reasons for seeking it out were personal, but there were an overabundance of people who would gladly lay their hands on it. The rewards offered by the United Earth Alliance and the Conclave alone were incentive enough for most people to search it out. Of course, there was the whole bit about salvage rights to consider, but none of that mattered to me.

It smacked of predetermination, but, though I was only six-years-old I’d known from the moment they declared it missing, that I would find it.

My hands shook as I pulled the EVA suit free from the duffel. The Endeavour was devoid of energy signatures. I had no idea whether there was a breathable atmosphere inside, but even if there was, I’d still need the suit. Without working life support, the ship would be damn cold. Unless I wanted my own little ice age and to get frozen into a meat popsicle after I stepped inside, precautions had to be taken.

Modern EVA suits were pretty light, a mere nine kilos, but the damn life support tanks were another matter. Those would wait till just before I entered the Endeavour. With the ship dead, the artificial gravity would be offline and the air tanks would be weightless. I lugged the air pack out of the storage compartment and made my way toward the hatch just in time to watch through the viewport as the Centennial Hawk inched closer and closer to the Endeavour. From far off, the larger ship was a dark mass devoid of any identifying marks, but as we drew closer, I got a better look. The whole side of the vessel had been scorched to hell, no doubt, from weapons fire, but what seemed odd to me is that there was no sign of forced entry on the air hatch. If Ghrev pirates or some other marauder force had attacked them, they would have been boarded.

I caught a brief glimpse of the United Earth Alliance Fleet insignia before the lights from our ship were smothered out by the Endeavour’s darkened hull. A moment later, a slight tremor rumbled through the Centennial Hawk, accompanied by a snap-hiss. I clenched my gloved fists at my side and my heart jerked inside my chest, now beating so fast I thought it must leap out of my rib cage and perform a musical number.

With slow yet deliberate movements, I reached down and grabbed the helmet, securing it to the neck piece before moving on to the tanks. It was a major pain in the ass, let me tell you, but modern suits featured a hook on the back which allowed a person to fit the air supply without a whole damn team to help them… Well, at least when you had something to hook the damn thing onto.

“Tanner,” I spoke into the helmet, as a rush of air pelted me in the face, a sure sign the suit had transitioned from exterior air supply to the suit’s tanks. I grabbed my pistol from its hook near the door and secured the weapon around my waist and glanced back at my business partner. “I’m all suited up. Open the airlock.”

“You sure about this, Jek? That cruiser looks pretty banged up. If something goes wrong in there, there isn’t a lot I can do from inside the Hawk.”

“You bet that sexy little ass of yours, I am. I’ve wanted this for the better part of two decades.”

“All right,” she replied after a brief delay. “Just don’t get yourself killed in there. You still owe my twenty creds after that little wager we made last week.”

“Right… Well, it’s so nice to learn you got my best interests at heart.” I walked inside the airlock as the door hissed open and my gloved fingers twitched as it sealed shut behind me with a snap-hiss.

“Always and forever.”

Any other time I would have issued a reply, playing off the deep-seated sexual tension that neither one of us would ever admit to, but for once my mind wasn’t on sex. My nerves were shot to hell. To think I might, at last, discover the truth, but as much as I would like closure, I also feared what I might find. I didn’t even realize it until the hatch on the Endeavour slid open, but my hand had been resting on my pistol the entire time I’d been waiting.

“Good luck,” Tanner said seconds before the Endeavour’s entry hatch closed behind me. Most airlocks would receive power from exterior sources, like another ship, but that only applied to the outer door. Human vessels, especially military ones, required some sort of access code to allow for docking, but fortunately for us, I had one handy. The means through which I had acquired it weren’t legal per se, but they would do the job.

Even so, I was pretty relieved when the hatch slid open. Whatever had happened, the cruiser was for all intents and purposes dead in space, which meant the inner door needed to be manually opened. So, several minutes later, after a fair bit of panting and grunting accompanied by no small amount of tugging and turning, I got the damn hatch open.

The interior, no surprise, was just as dark as the exterior, but activating the light on the side of my helmet, at least remedied that problem. Though it lent a certain degree of creepiness to the whole experience. I stood there, getting my first good look at the bulkheads, and bit my lip. Like the exterior hull, phase fire had blackened the metal bulkheads, but beyond that the light from my headlamp didn’t illuminate the corridor enough to tell me a damn thing. The only thing to do was continue forward and hope further exploration would help me uncover the truth.

The means humans used to simulate gravity tended to have a bit of a bleed through effect so the first few steps were under its pull, but the further from the hatch I moved, the less of its tug I felt until I put a foot out and it didn’t fall back down. I understood what I had gotten myself into, so it was no surprise when my body drifted from the ground. The effects of anti-gravity had never been very easy on the stomach. God, my insides were crawling with grasshoppers.

I tried not to think about it, gripping my hands on a bulkhead and leveraging myself before pushing off. I glided through the passage, using whatever handholds I could find to help me bolster my momentum. “Tanner, you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here.”

“You had any success mapping the corridors with the sensors? I have the ship’s layout memorized, but it’s hard to tell one corridor apart from the next when they all look the same.”

“You memorized the layout, Jesus Christ, Jek, what the hell is with you and this ship?”

I grabbed hold of a bulkhead trying to halt my momentum, but as an added bonus also slammed into the bulkhead, or I suppose in this case it was the overhead, which is ship-talk for the ceiling. I gritted my teeth and glanced down the passageway, trying to visualize the layout in my mind, but shook my head, realizing I might be almost anywhere. All the damn bulkheads looked identical.

“Tanner.” I repeated her name, trying not to let my impatience bleed through the comm.

“Sorry, Jek, I’m not getting anything useful. I think there must be some interference. I can’t even get a read on your position.”

“Just great,” I muttered under my breath before shoving off again. “Tell me if you get anything. Who knows how long it’s going to take me to find what I’m looking for.”

“Right, which means you have the perfect opportunity to fess up and tell me what the actual fuck is going on.”

I released a deep sigh.  “My mom was a member of the crew.”

The silence that followed was damned eerie. The more time I spent inside the ship, the creepier it got. I’d never explored a ghost ship before, but I’m pretty sure it beat cemeteries for level of creepiness by a long shot. The silence only made it worse. I guess if Tanner would not talk, I’d just have to do something about that. “Sofia Briggs.”

“W-what?”

“That was her name, Sofia Briggs. I know what you’re going to say and you’re right. I haven’t been completely honest with you. I am related to the Briggs of the Conclave. I just wanted to make a name for myself. It’s been almost a hundred and sixty years since the occupation ended and my family still can’t step out from under Lexa Briggs’ shadow. Do you have any idea what it’s like–” I stopped mid-sentence, catching sight of a dark form floating in the passageway a half a dozen meters in front of me.

“Hold on.”

I didn’t pause, but instead let my forward momentum carry me toward the shadowy form, and as I drew closer, the figure took shape. It was a woman suspended face down, her arms spread out full eagle as she hung there in the emptiness. I drew close enough to grab her by the shoulder and spun her around to see her face. It wasn’t one I recognized, but I felt my heart sink. She couldn’t have been much older than eighteen or nineteen at the time of her death. I couldn’t tell which had done her in, asphyxiation or the cold, but neither would have been a very pleasant way to go.

With a shudder, I moved on, trying to rid myself of those pallid, lifeless eyes. I’d long suspected that if I ever discovered the Endeavour that I wouldn’t find the crew alive and well, but I always had this faint hope they might have somehow survived. Now, it was time to accept the truth. They were all dead, which put the ship’s creepiness level up to a ten. Nothing was creepier than a derelict ship in the middle of nowhere, filled with lifeless corpses. Okay, so far there was only one dead body, but where there was one there would be others.

I grunted, propelling myself forward once again.

“Jek?” Tanner’s voice whispered over the comm. She had a direct feed into my helmet’s cam, so she’d seen the whole thing. I lucked out. She took the conversation in a different direction. “How did you figure out that the Endeavour would be here?”

“I didn’t.” I replied, thankful for the distraction. “Last week I had some drinks with a few Faioloese traders and one told me about a gagava… Their word for ghost ship. They’re a pretty superstitious lot, so I had some difficulty filtering out the religious bullshit, but after getting them good and drunk, I finally got one of them to reveal the location. I didn’t have a clue if I would discover anything at all, given how much the Faioloese love to exaggerate, but it wasn’t a lead I could overlook. The prospect was just too damn good.”

“Well, you’ll be happy to hear the sensors are now picking up the interior.”

I blinked. “What, how?”

“Fuck, you tell me.”

“That’s odd, maybe you can give me some direction. I don’t have the faintest idea where the hell I’m going.” I grabbed a corner, using it to swing around and stop my momentum.

“If you’re looking to reach the control room, you’re headed the right way, but there’s something else you might want to investigate. There’s a dead spot in the heart of the Endeavour the sensors still can’t penetrate. I think it might be the source of the interference which was giving me so much trouble earlier.”

“First stop, control room. If I can get backup power going, I might could get artificial gravity and minimal life support running. All this floating around makes my stomach churn.”

“Well, just keep going and you’ll reach it soon.”

I grimaced, then launched myself forward. “I’d say that’s good, but something tells me we’ve stumbled into some deep shit.”

I grunted as I continued, I didn’t know it then, but I was right. Sometimes I wish I would learn to just shut the fuck up.

separator

When I reached the control room, I found the place in shambles. Someone had blown half the consoles to shit while the other half looked almost untouched. I would have been a lot less creeped out if that was the only shit I found, but it got worse, so much worse. A full dozen corpses littered the place, two still strapped in their seats with enormous holes in their chests and the rest floating around covered with more wounds than I could count. A few were even missing limbs.

Several had bled out so much, gore stuck to their clothes and froze to their bodies. Bits of red icicles hung in the open space all around me. The creepiness level jumped from a ten to eleven surpassing my previous estimate, which was saying something since everyone knows the scale only goes up to ten.

My mother was not among the dead. It sounded odd, but I had mixed feelings about that. I mean, sure, it would be the fulfilment of my deepest dreams to find her alive, but given how long she’d been missing, it didn’t seem likely. The Endeavour expedition should have lasted a year, but when a group of people go missing for a long period, you kind of expect that they’re all dead. Some closure would be nice after so many years.

Those sorts of thoughts gave way to the sight of all those corpses. I could only ignore them for so long before they were thrown into the forefront of my awareness.

God, it was worse than the woman.

I turned my head and looked away, closing my eyes as I dry heaved. I swallowed hard and slowed my breathing. Vomiting would have been bad enough, but spewing in my suit would only make things worse. When I got my stomach under control, I slid my eyes back open and moved through the area, looking for an undamaged console, and found it.

An indicator light was blinking in the bottom left corner. It was so dim, I might have missed it, if I hadn’t been searching for that very thing. I moved close, tapping my fingertips over the console, and allowed a grin to stretch across my face as the control interface blinked to life. I looked about, my smile fading as I remembered I was surrounded by the bodies of the long dead. Not only did it seem creepy, but it was just a little… disrespectful.

“Jek, did you just do something? I’m reading an influx in power from the control room.”

“Yeah, it was me.” I grimaced, returning my attention to the console. “I activated a control panel. It’s looking for biometrics.”

I grabbed the arm of the pilot, who sat just a few feet away, and groaned as I fought to bring her hand down to palm the console. Okay, it was just a little more difficult than I imagined. It might have been because the frigid temperatures had frozen her solid, but it may also have something to do with rigor mortis. How should I know? It’s not like I was a doctor or anything. I reached for the straps which secured her to the seat and grimaced as my hand brushed her chest. It made me feel like some sicko-perv necrophiliac, but I clench my jaw and forced aside my discomfort. I released my breath as the clasp on her harness came free.

I placed her hand on the console and released her wrist the second the ship accepted her biometric signature. She floated away, and I shuddered, never so glad to have that ordeal done with. I remembered hearing stories of my ancestor, Lexa Briggs, using dismembered limbs to unlock the biometrics on Qharr ships and had always thought it sounded grizzly. What I had done was bad enough, I didn’t care to try it with a severed hand.

I paused, dry heaving again as I struggled to get the ghastly images out of my head. Bile rose in my throat and I gagged, taking in several deep breaths before managing to once again gain control over my rioting stomach. The taste in my mouth was none too pleasant, but at least I’d spared myself from soaking the interior of my suit with the not-quite digested remains of my last meal.

“Okay,” I said, clearing my throat. “It looks like I need a passcode to get into most of the major systems, but I think I can at least make things a bit more comfortable. Whether there’s enough power is another matter.”

I tapped the controls, and again a smile spread over my features as the ship responded to my commands, coming to life with a glorious humming sound. With a suddenness I wasn’t quite prepared for, artificial gravity kicked in and I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. Okay, it wasn’t the smartest thing in the galaxy to do, but in my defense the room happened to be filled to the brim with corpses. That would unnerve even the most stalwart of Qharr warriors.

Granted, most ships had safety systems to prevent just such an occurrence, but given the Endeavour was in pretty terrible shape, it seemed likely that those systems might not be functioning.

“Well,” I grunted, clutching at my chest and climbing to my feet, “gravity’s working.”

“Now let’s see what we can do about environmental systems.” I leveraged myself against the console, still shaken from having my ass slammed to the ground, and toggled the controls. I let out a sigh of relief as the life support kicked in with a hiss and whirl. Someone must have invaded the ship, then shut the reactor and secondary power supplies down. Why the hell would anyone do that? They’d already killed everyone on board and left the ship adrift. What purpose would shutting down the power serve? Something wasn’t adding up.

It would take a while for the ship to heat enough to take my helmet off, but my respirator had already switched from the tanks to outside air supply, allowing me to shed the heavy as fuck pack. I didn’t hesitate, releasing the latch that held the damn air tanks in place and set them on the ground.

“Tanner, you still there?” I asked glancing at the temperature reading on the console’s display and undoing the clasps on the helmet, relieved the ship had warmed enough.

“Yeah, I’m getting a lot of unusual readings. Whatever is causing all the interference is getting stronger. I think it’s reacting to the influx of power.”

“Shit, of course it is.” I cursed, releasing the final clasp, and slammed it onto the console before I took off running, making my way out of the control room and back into the corridor.

If I had learned one thing in my twenty-five years, it was that when you detected a strange energy signature and it started getting stronger, shit was about to go down. I know that sounds oddly specific, but you’d be surprised how often it comes up when you transport cargo for a living.

Okay, it almost never happens, but there are some situations in life that are just no-brainers. This was one of those times, but instead of running back to the safety of the Hawk, I did the stupidest thing I could ever do, I ran toward danger.  What can I say? I may very well be the biggest dumbass who was ever born.

“Tanner, I’m gonna need you to point me in the right direction. Which way is the dead spot?”

“Keep going straight and at the next fork, turn left and then left again. I can’t read anything beyond that point, so you’re on your own from there.”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, why does this shit always happen to me?” I cursed, taking off down the corridor and toward what I’m sure was certain doom. Further confirming that I was, in fact, a dumbass.

,

Honey Bunny: An Easter Tale

04/11/2020

Author's Note

This tale is set in the same story universe as both of my Santa Babe stories, but can be read as a standalone. Like those stories it is a bit more graphic and fetishy than my usual stuff. This time around, the story features Anthropomorphic rabbits, basically Easter Bunnies who transform (more or less) into humans. It also contains very light female domination.

“Jack.” Peter rolled his eyes, speaking with a forced almost condescending tone, a fat hand motioning with a broad sweeping gesture. “I get where you’re coming from, I really do, but children these days don’t care about this stuff.” The other rabbit lifted the egg from the display stand, fingering it idly, a frown, or a close approximation of one, creasing his short snout and tossed it into the waste bin beside his desk.

I leaned back in my seat and rocked my head back and forth, fighting hard to keep my anger from showing on my face. Egg-painting had become something of a lost art among the bunnies of the Spring Valley Warren. It was a tragedy we’d been so quick to discard our traditions to appease the humans.

My father would be hanging his head in shame if he were alive to see Peter, his chosen successor, disregard our people’s ancient customs with such callous indifference. It was too bad I’d been so uninterested in succeeding my father in my youth. Perhaps things would be different if I had followed in his footsteps like he wanted me to.

“I realize your dad was into this stuff and I understand you want to honor him, but we’re in the business of bringing happiness and joy to all the children of this region. That is particularly important with this pandemic that is spreading all over the world.”

I folded my arms across my chest and sighed.

We were just one conclave of Easter bunnies. Though we possessed a modicum of magic, it wasn’t quite on the scale of our Christmas counterpart, the Santa Claus. We couldn’t freeze time, or travel at rocket speeds. Instead, we traversed The Burrows, a system of magical tunnels capable of transporting us substantial distances in a fraction of time. It was one thing to send a bunny from Germany to Bavaria, it was another matter to send one clear across the Atlantic Ocean.

When the Easter traditions spread to the Americas, our brothers and sisters in Europe became overwhelmed by the demands for their services. So our ancestors founded new warrens, each with their own ‘Easter Bunny’ calling the shots and overseeing the operations of the entire warren. Though humans couldn’t distinguish the difference between a helper bunny and our exalted leader, in our case Peter, no rabbit of the warren would dare refer to themselves as The Easter Bunny, we were mere helpers.

“Look, would you just drop this shit and get back to work? Easter is less than a week away and we have a deadline to meet.” Peter adjusted his reading glasses and returned his attention to the stack of papers on his desk. In his mind, he’d already dismissed me. I supposed I should be thankful. Most times he yelled at me. Compared to our previous encounters, this one was downright friendly.

I rose to my feet, collecting the display stand and my basket of eggs, then retreated from the office, head hanging between my shoulders. This was not my first attempt at trying to revive our people’s egg-painting traditions, and it had been no less successful than the previous ones. This time, I had taken months learning and honing my skills, hoping that a demonstration might sway Peter better than words had, but as usual he’d been more interested in deadlines and paperwork.

I cursed myself and retreated home. My work shift would begin in less than an hour and if I wasn’t on the factory floor, there would be hell to pay. The other rabbit was a stickler for tardiness and I still needed to complete a few tasks at home.

Work was sure to be hell, I doubt I’d heard the last from Peter. Even on the best days, he bullied and demeaned me. I was, after all, his favorite target.

“Hey Jack,” a sweet feminine voice spoke out of the fog of my funk and my head jerked up, eyes focusing to find a familiar face staring back at me.

“Hey Esther,” I glanced up at her, a long plaintive sigh escaping my mouth.

Esther worked for the Inter-warren Postal Service, and my place was the last on her route, so I frequently ran into her on the way home from work.

“Bad day on the production line?” Esther asked, hand grappling inside of her mail bag.

That was an understatement, Peter had been on my ass from the moment I stepped out on the floor. He’d gotten me so self-conscious I’d gotten the mixture wrong on one of the machines and ruined an entire batch of chocolates. Peter had erupted in a fit of rage, humiliating me in front of the entire factory floor. I was lucky he hadn’t fired me on the spot, but then he would have lost his favorite little punching bag. Instead, he docked my pay and put me at the top of the overtime list for the next three weeks.

I peered around, realizing that I was just a few doors down from my place. I’d been pretty much on autopilot since the fiasco at work, and my walk home through the tunnels had been no exception. My eyes settled on each of the brightly decorated holes, festooned with the bright pastel colors of Easter, and sighed when my eyes fell on my home. Caught up with my egg painting I’d neglected decorating my place which, I doubt, would win me friends with any of my neighbors.

“Uh,” I scratched my neck, doing my best to avoid making eye contact with Esther.

“Oh, God,” she groaned. “Don’t tell me you went to Peter about the eggs, again.”

“Guilty,” I grimaced, dropping both my hands and cupping my face.

She sighed and reached out to pull my hands away from my face. “Okay, tell you what. Why don’t I come over tonight? I can cook you a nice homemade meal and we can have a long chat and I’ll help you forget all about it.” A coy smile spread over her muzzle and she raised a single eyebrow as her fingers traced over my chest.

I froze, mouth agape, and stood there like a jack ass. Esther was a friend, a good one, but I’d never considered her to be anything else. I never thought of her that way, even if I had, I doubt I would have worked up the nerve to ask her out.

She raised an open palm, tilted my chin up, forced my mouth closed and smiled. “Well?”

“Uh, yeah sure,” I replied letting loose a nervous little chuckle.

“Great!” She beamed. “I’ll be over say, eight?”

I nodded, still trying to process what had just happened. She turned to leave, then turned back, reaching inside of her bag. “Hey, you don’t mind saving me a few steps and taking your mail now do you?

I nodded, smacking my lips. My mouth seemed just a little dry. She slipped my mail into my hands and leaned in to peck me on the cheeks. She didn’t say another word, but winked at me and started walking away. I watched her depart, her nice hips swaying as she walked. I swallowed, and started back toward my place, numb to everything but the memory of her lips on my cheek.

Not until I got back home did I realize I was holding a christmas-red package about eight-inches long, about half as wide and deep and pretty damned hefty. I set the envelopes down on the counter and eyed the package, examining the flowing script on the tag.

Samson, I mused, eying the box. A few years back, the Santa Claus and Samson, one of his helper elves, paid a visit to our little burrow on a diplomatic visit, and the old man had spent most of the trip in an out of the way drinking hole on the other side of the warren, blind stinking drunk. I’d had the unfortunate privilege of spending his entire trip babysitting the miserable old bastard.

The only plus side was I’d gotten to know Samson and he seemed like a pretty stand-up guy. We’d corresponded when possible and gotten to be friends. It had been a while since I’d heard from the wry little elf, but it appeared he’d at last gotten around to answering my last letter.

The return label was written in a flourishing script I recognized as the elf’s, but oddly he’d signed it Sammie Twinklebottom instead of Samson, and it looked a little more bubbly and feminine then I remembered. Still, I didn’t think much of it at the time, my thoughts still on Esther.

I plopped the box atop the counter, pulled the ribbon and tape off and popped it open to reveal two liquid-filled bottles nestled within. The fluid inside the first of the odd rectangular containers was baby blue and the other, a soft powder-pink. Though I didn’t take time to read the letter in the sealed envelope wedged between the pair of bottles, I had a good idea what they contained.

Knowing Samson, I guessed it to be some kind of liqueur, the elves loved their spirits and they liked them sweet. During Santa’s first day at the bar, Samson spent twenty minutes complaining about the old man’s alcoholism while sneaking sips of something sweet smelling from his flask. He was an odd fellow to be sure, but I’d enjoyed his company.

The trouble was his taste in beverages, were just a tad sweet for my tastes and considering I devoted most of my days to filling chocolates into molds that said something. I pulled the bottles from the box, and slipped them inside the cupboard, retrieved the envelope with Samson’s letter and tossed the box into the garbage pail which was heaped so high, the package just tumbled to the ground.

I winced, peering around at my pig sty of a kitchen. A mixed assortment of cooking and egg-painting implements covered most of the counter space and about half of the tabletop and the sink was so full of dirty dishes I’d pretty much given up on using the faucet for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d swept or done the dishes, but it had been at least a month. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.

I sighed, shaking my head. Already forming a plan. My mental checklist of chores supplanted thoughts of the package and it slipped from my mind.

I didn’t read the note until much later and by then it was too late. As much as I enjoyed the cranky elf’s letters, Samson tended to be a bit of a windbag. If I knew then what I know now, things would have turned out a fair bit different.

I retreated to my room, dropping the letter on my night stand, and retrieved a spare set of clothes, tossed them into the bathroom and got to work cleaning. I’d need to hurry if I were to get everything cleaned and still have time for a shower.

“Hey.” Esther stood in the doorway, paper sack clutched in both hands. I stared, jaw going slack. She wore a rather simple skirt and blouse combination. The entire time I’d known her, which had been most of my life, I hadn’t once seen her wear anything so feminine. Though it was simple, it looked good on her, and hugged her curves in interesting ways.

“Jack? You gonna ask me in?” She leaned forward, glancing through the doorway.

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” I mumbled stepping back and motioned forward with an exaggerated sweeping gesture. “Come in.”

I forced a smile and she pressed her lips together, slipping past me and dropped the bag onto the counter. She turned back to me, pulling a strand of snowy-white hair from her eyes and collecting it behind her ears. “Listen, Jack, I know I sort of threw you through a loop today. I wanted you to know that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. You’re the only guy who’s ever treated me right, and this whole time you’ve been right there. I-I just thought maybe…”

She trailed off, all wide-eyed uncertainty. I nodded, and moved up beside her, slipping both hands over either of her shoulders. “I-I was a little flustered, I admit, but ever since you invited yourself over, all I’ve been able to think about is you. It’s funny how something can stare you right in the eyes, and it takes a proverbial slap in the face before you finally notice.”

She smiled and nodded, leaning in for a kiss. This time, it was more than a simple peck and lasted seconds, but boy did it leave me wanting more. She cleared her throat and pulled away. “Uh, well, I guess I should get started.”

I nodded, biting my lip so hard I tasted blood and watched her get to work. Esther was pretty, in a girl-next-door kind of way, but a far cry from what most bunnies would consider beautiful. Her figure was too round, her snow-white fur a bit too dull, and her ears always seemed to tilt at an odd angle. That being said, I’d never found a female more attractive in my life. She had such energy, a girlish vitality that had never faded as she aged, though she was now a few months shy of thirty. She was kind, generous and open-minded, and I added, she had great legs and not to mention a nice set of cans. It felt odd thinking about her that way, but once I started looking, I couldn’t unsee it nor did I want to.

“So, um I don’t know what you had planned for drinks, but that package that came today had something I thought maybe you’d enjoy.” I moved to the cupboard where I’d left the bottles sent by Samson and slipped a hand inside blindly grabbing one from within the cupboard. Esther turned away, now rifling through her bag, and I glanced down at the bottle of pink fluid clutched in my hands. I felt a pang of disappointment, but I suppose it was for the best. Despite being a notorious tomboy, she always went for the girliest drinks.

She swung back toward me, a bundle of carrots and greens clenched in either hand, gave me an appraising look, then stuck her chin out toward the bottle.

“All I had time to grab was some Carrot Schnapps. So, yeah, we can try it. Might be interesting, why don’t you pop it open. It might help us loosen up a bit.”

The words seem innocuous enough, but she spoke them with a sensuous, husky quality to her voice that gave the statement a whole different meaning. I swallowed, fixing a hand over the stopper and pulled, almost hitting myself in the face with the back of my hand when it came loose.

She slipped her hand around the bottle, and I released my hold, allowing her to take it. She brought it up to her nose, taking a good long whiff before locking her lips around it, threw her head back and took a good long gulp.

When she at last dropped the bottle from her lips, wiping them clean with the back of her arm, she held it out to me. I swallowed, harder this time, and took it from her hands. I mimed her earlier motions, sniffing the concoction, and stopped pursing my lips.

Aside from the strong scent of alcohol which burned my nostrils, it was if someone had taken everything soft and feminine and bottled it as a liquid, it was flowery and fruity and sugary, but there was something more to it which I couldn’t identify. When I smelled it, I thought of a beautiful sex-goddess of a woman, breasts heaving as she drew in breath and hips swaying with each step. My heart pounded in my rib cage and I hesitated. Something was weird about the whole situation. I don’t think Samson would send me anything poisonous, but it raised the hackles on my neck. I started to set the bottle back down, but then I locked gazes with Esther. She arched an eyebrow and cocked a smile as if to say, ‘Oh, come on, stop being so silly.’

I exhaled, then brought the bottle to my mouth,chugged it until my throat burned and slapped it on the countertop. It was everything I expected, sweet, fruity and every bit as strong as whiskey.

Esther hunched over, and I lurched toward her. A wave of dizziness washed over me and braced I myself against the counter before I could reach her.

She fell forward, hands thrown up at the last moment, fur now falling from her skin in patches.

Oh god. What was going on?

I scrambled forward, still spinning, but leveraged myself and dropped to my knees beside her. She peered up, and my breath caught in my throat. Not a single shred of hair remained on her face. She groaned as the skin around her muzzle rippled and contorted. I reached out, but a loud crack reverberated through my wrist and I cradled it against my chest, raw hot pain pulsating up and down my arm.

I threw my right arm out, tearing the sleeve of my shirt up my arm, in time to see chunks of brown fur fall away in clumps. It was no coincidence that it was happening to me too. That strange concoction must be to blame. I shuddered, a pit forming in my stomach, thinking back to the feminine aromas that had emanated from the drink.

Flesh bubbled and stretched, reshaping wherever the fur fell away. The bones in my hand popped, my palm becoming a little less rounded, my fingers thinned out and lengthened. Claws crunched, spreading out, flattening to become fingernails. My shoulder popped and I dropped my hand. I hunched over, howling in pain, my insides roiling. I wanted to scream, but the best I manage between stabs of pain was a soft miserable moan.

My chest tingled and I brought my hands up, the transformed one looking quite dainty and very human, the other was unchanged, but a quick look at Esther told me all I needed to know. She peered back at me with a human face, panting between a set of pouty lips, breasts heaving with each breath.

A sickening crack sounded inside my ribs and I tore the front of my blouse open. I watched with wide-eyes as two mounds rose from my now hairless flesh. I shuddered, panting and heaving, groaning with each pop that sounded through my insides.

I clenched my eyes shut, too terrified to watch the remaining changes, but while I didn’t see them, I felt the bones snap and reforming inside of me. My other shoulder crunched, and my eyelids flew back open as I gasped for breath. When my hips changed, they each snapped with such force it vibrated through my whole body.

The tissue of my left arm continued to mold and reshape, but I managed to fling my right hand between my legs, feeling for familiar contours through the crotch and legs of my jeans. My manhood remained intact, but I doubted that it would stick around for much longer. I traced my fingers along my hips and waistline. The former seemed so huge! It seemed so out of place. The latter felt so narrow, so dainty, I could have easily wrapped one arm around it before my transformation.

Then it came, a sharp jab of pain and a pulling sensation in my nether region. My hand slipped inside my pants and shot into my crotch like a bullet. My fingers wrapped around my dick in time for it to slither away inside my fingers. My balls contorted and reformed, molding like putty in some invisible hand. I clawed at the flesh, a futile and irrational attempt at preventing the change. Within a few seconds my testicles squeezed into my skin, reshaping into a smooth hairless vagina.

I fell back, panting for air and stared up at the ceiling, tears rolling down my cheeks. It wasn’t only from the pain I wept, but for the loss of my masculinity and my bunnanity. My transformation continued unabated, hair falling away on my legs and feet, flesh twisting, knees popping and inverting and my spine creaking and reshaping.

Then it started, a trickle in my throat, followed by a burning. I took a breath, but could not exhale. The flesh of my neck oozed around, merging and reforming, and I flailed about, my lungs burning from the lack of oxygen intake. Darkness crept into the edges of my vision and a strange calm came over me. Then air flooded back into my lungs and I jerked upright, both hands clasped over my throat.

A high feminine wail escaped my lips, and I sat there panting, sharp pain shooting up and down my face. Esther knelt beside me, her human face peering at me, her quivering bunny ears her only recognizable features save that they were now pink. A shock of short white hair was all that remained of her once luxurious coat.

There was a pressure in my face, as cracks and pops reverberated through my skull, and my muzzle slurped away retracting until it was flat. There was a strange plumping sensation and my lips took on more human proportions. A creak sounded from my face, when a human nose wiggled its way into place. The last few changes settled in, a strange burning in my eyes, followed by tufts of hair cascading from my scalp with an explosion of itches and tingles, and the pain faded into a dull throb, before, at last, disappearing.

I sat there and leaned back against the kitchen island, gasping and panting for breath. Esther studied me, her new countenance an expressionless mask. Her eyes were another story. They were wide with mixed confusion, shock, concern and something I couldn’t quite identify. She pursed her plump lips together, a hand reaching out to cup one of my naked breasts.

“God,” she moaned and leaned in, her lips brushing mine.

Then I understood. Something stirred inside me, a wild unyielding need, a sexual desire so strong and so pervasive all I could do was give in to it. I leaned forward, pressing my lips into hers, locking them into an open-mouthed kiss. When two bunnies kissed, they just pressed the ends of their muzzles together. Their mouths weren’t pliable enough for anything else, but our new human lips were capable of so much more.

Esther moaned, both hands now kneading my breasts, her body throbbing against mine. My lips worked their way down her neck, and my hands unclasped the buttons of her blouse. A flurry of hair, trapped inside during her transformation, fluttered away, and I got my first look at her chest, human or otherwise. God, they looked glorious.

I kissed her nipples, and she moaned in pleasure. Her hands reached for my waistband and the button came away. She peeled the fabric away, which was stretched tight across my widened hips, and after repeating the process with my boxers, my new pussy lay exposed to the air. She grinned from ear to ear and slid her index and middle fingers inside the crevice. I gasped, a low stifled groan emanating from my mouth and I shuddered from pure orgasmic pleasure.

Our love making continued, unabated, for what seemed like hours. I experienced more orgasms in that one night then I’d had at any point prior. I didn’t care that Samson’s drink had transformed me or that I’d, more or less, become a member of a different species. All that mattered was the sex, and it was spectacular.

When at last we separated, I laid on the ground, eyes closed, a smile touching my lips. Not once in my almost thirty years had I experienced pleasure so all-encompassing, so overpowering I couldn’t stop myself.

It didn’t matter, I had become a walking wet dream for the hordes of human males who lived on the surface. I yearned for more, yearned to make love to Esther again, and… to have a big fat cock hammer into my tight pussy. Even so, I was curious about the strange beverage that had prompted our transformation and that is what won out.

I opened my eyes and sat up, a soft moan escaping from my lips. I stretched my arms, my large pert breasts jiggling on my chest. It was an unusual, but not unwelcome sensation. I stood, locking eyes with Esther for the first time since we’d finished fucking each other.

She did not speak, but watched me, keen interest reflected in her eyes. I padded across the floor, my bare human feet slapping against the hard ceramic tiles. Over the course of our lovemaking, we’d disrobed one another and scattered bits of our clothing about the kitchen.

I sauntered over to the cabinet, a slight shiver working its way down my spine as I let my hips sway. I retrieved the bottle of blue fluid and set it next to the pink one.

“So,” I said, my voice light and airy, and so very feminine. “If the pink one does this,” I motioned down at my wondrous knew hourglass figure. “I betcha the blue one does all sorts of interesting things.”

I shivered at the prospect. Though I had no intention of trying it out myself, there were plenty of other bunnies who might be persuaded to give it a go. I imagined Peter transformed, his big hard cock pulsating inside of me, his muscled frame throbbing against my soft feminine body and I moaned, licking my lips.

That was assuming the blue drink wasn’t intended for something else. I thought back to Samson’s letter, the almost feminine quality of his writing and the fact that he’d scrawled Sammie on the package. What she must look like, so dainty and small.

I stopped long enough to tell Esther I’d be back with something I hoped would explain everything and slipped out of the kitchen. Making my way up the stairway and into my bedroom, I retrieved the letter from my end stand. When I turned to leave, I caught my reflection from the corner of my eye and stopped to study my new features. My new face was oval-shaped and framed by a shock of messy dark, almost black hair, a nice petite little nose and a smile that would have most men and a few women eating out of my hands. Good god, I was gorgeous. As I had only ever seen a handful of humans face to face, I had difficulty pegging my physical age, but the firmness of my breasts and the softness of my skin suggested I was on the younger side, perhaps in my early twenties.

I slid a hand over my locks to straiten them, but gave it up. The mirror was a small decorative piece my mother had hung years before her death. It was now level with my face, meaning I’d lost a good three or four inches in height. I brushed my hands through my hair along the side of my head, where human ears would be, but I found nothing save for soft velvety skin and hair. I tilted my head down trying to get a better look up top and furrowed my eyebrows, my ears were pink like Esther’s.

Absently fingering my ears, I studied my reflection a few moments longer and withdrew from the room. Sliding a hand down my back as I walked, I was oddly comforted to discover I still had my fluffy little bunny tail.

I found Esther waiting in the front room, sprawled naked upon the couch, flipping through an old book as if it were the most normal thing in the world. When she turned to meet my gaze, I stopped, studying her pink ears, a near match to mine, perched atop her snow-white crown.

It was difficult to tell, since she was sitting down, but she looked about the same height as before. Her form however, had changed in almost every way, her breasts were larger even than mine, but not so large they seemed disproportionate, her hips were only a little narrower than my own, and I thought, perhaps, her and I were about the same age.

I smiled, shivering at the memory of fucking her, and took a seat beside her. She leaned in close, her breasts pressed against my side and I released a contented sigh. I experienced none of the nervous anticipation from before. All of that had disappeared the moment I’d changed. I felt a confidence I’d never possessed before.

I caressed my lips with my tongue and clasped the envelope in my lap, tracing the wax seal with my finger-tip. Only an elf would be so old fashioned. So adorable… It was almost a shame to open it, but curiosity won out. I tore it open, slicing through it with the tip of my fingernail.

I removed the papers, back folded them, and flipped through them. There were more than a dozen individual papers, each filled back and front. Like I said, Samson tended to be a motor-mouth. About half way through the stack, a photograph fluttered out, landing on the coffee table. I reached out, flipped it face up and found myself looking at a rather provocative image of two beautiful ladies posing naked. A tall gorgeous brunette with bright blue eyes, hips that made me want to salivate and round large breasts, clutched at the form of a smaller woman with strawberry-blonde locks, elvish ears and a killer figure. I dropped the photo, bit my lips and mustered all my willpower in order to return my attention to Samson’s letter instead of fingering myself.

The first three and a half pages was a letter detailing Saint Nicholas’s accidental ingestion of something called the Aphrodite Potion, Samson’s resulting exposure and their subsequent efforts to spread as much of the strange brew through the North Pole, including an interesting situation with the Elvish Council of Elders. Towards the end of the letter Sammie mentioned the Adonis Formula, the blue beverage in the box, was a prototype potion designed to invoke a more masculine transformation.

She ended the letter, with well wishes and was hopeful that I would find the enclosed photo a titillating example of what the Aphrodite formula was capable of doing. She then remarked that I should give it a try for myself, it had sparked a “renewed passion “for life and that perhaps it could do the same for me.

I shivered again at the prospects now laid out before me, and turned to Esther detailing everything to my lover, grinning from ear to end, imagining Nikki and Sammie fucking my brains out. I might have found Sammie’s letter alarming had I not experienced the transformative effect for myself, but knowing what I did it was all I could do to contain my excitement.

Sammie gave me everything I’d need in the letter, the formula for both potions, tips for brewing, dosages, everything for which a sexy bunny girl could ask. I learned another interesting tidbit that produced a giggle of excitement. When the Adonis formula was combined with its counterpart, it made for some very… interesting results.

I pressed my lips together, a plan beginning to formulate in my mind.

“So, is it permanent?” Esther asked, and I stopped staring back at the other woman, surprised by the question, my mind already a thousand miles away.

“Uh, yeah,” I said offering her a reassuring smile and rifled through the pages until I, again, found the section detailing dosages. “Apparently, the bottle we drank out of contains a concentrated formula. It varies by body weight and metabolism, but if these numbers are correct. I’d say we drank several times over the recommended dose, so I don’t think there’s any chance of reverting.”

She released a long breath of air, and I grinned at her, licked my lips and shared with her my plan. With any luck, I could have my cake and eat it too.

It was late, into the early hours of the morning, most of the populace was asleep or at least making a stab at it. It was dark in the warren, but it was always dark. We lived underground. During daytime hours, smokeless torches, kept alight by magic unfathomable to humans, rimmed the corridors, but they only provided a modicum of illumination. At this late hour, only a handful remained lit.

It was fortunate, then, that Esther and I had retained such excellent night vision. I doubted human eyes would have provided us with clear enough sight to find our way. Our town was small in human terms, spanning just under a square mile, and Peter’s home wasn’t all that far from mine, anyway.

Peter had dedicated himself to his work, spending long hours away from home, and had never gotten married. He lived alone, which suited our purposes just fine.

I paused just out of range of the porch light and again pondered what we were about to do. Esther would never have gone along with my plan before her transformation and I wouldn’t have come up with such a harebrained solution were I not being influenced by my new libido. The disconcerting part was I didn’t find it the least bit disturbing, knowing that I planned to change someone else’s life just for my own gain. I should have, and that scared me, but not enough to keep me from going through with the plan.

I licked my lips, just the thought of what we were about to do producing a shiver of excitement. My lady parts quivered in anticipation.

I glanced back at Esther, who watched me with nervous anticipation. She wore a pair of my sweats and a dark long-sleeve shirt, and a similar ensemble adorned my frame. Neither one of us had clothes that fit us particularly well, and after discussing my plans we’d decided that we needed to act before word of our transformations spread through the warren. We’d grabbed what we could find in my rather sparse wardrobe which would fit over our new frames.

I motioned her forward and crept toward Peter’s home. We weren’t worried about getting in, no door within the warren had locks. Our prime concern was being seen. There weren’t many bunnies up this late, but you could never be too cautious.

We were inside in moments, and without delay made our way through the house, creeping on bare feet. Esther found his room, waving me inside with hurried motions. I stepped inside and barely managed to stifle a giggle. Peter, though fast asleep, had a massive erection.

It must be a sign, I told myself, reaching into my pocket and produced a small tube of violet fluid, a diluted mixture of the two potions. I knelt beside his bed, unstoppered the potion and popped the open end into his mouth. I tilted his head back, forced his mouth closed, and massaged his throat.

Peter came awake with a start, sitting bolt upright, coughing and wheezing, but I’d done my job. Other than a few droplets, none of the potion came back up.

“What the hell? Who are you? What’s going on here?” Peter glanced between the two of us, eyes wide as saucers, speaking between coughs.

“Oh, Peter,” I said a soft gentle tone to my voice, much like a mother soothing a child. “You’ll understand very soon.”

“Look human, I don’t know what you think you’re doing in my ho–” He never finished the sentence. A gurgle sounded from his throat, and he hunched over, clutching at it.

He took a nose dive, and I barely caught him before he face-planted, but I managed. My arms and back burned from the effort. Somehow I pulled him back on to the bed and collapsed atop it beside him, gasping and heaving. I hadn’t realized how much strength I’d lost from my transformation, and I lay there, experiencing the slightest pang of regret.

I shook my head, craning my neck down at my melons and smiled. The odd brief moment of loss evaporated away. My loss of strength was a small price to pay in exchange for the carnal delights my new body offered.

A soft feminine moan sounded from Peter’s lips and I pulled myself back up, determined not to miss any more. A slender and quite lovely furless neck, far too small to support his large head, had taken up residency upon his shoulders.

Fur dropped from his face in swathes, and the skin beneath bubbled and contorted, reshaping and smoothing out. Bones cracked in his face, his snout retracting in on itself. A blood-curdling scream escaped his mouth as his new face snapped into place. Smooth almost milky-white skin now covered a soft delicate almost doll-like face which was framed by silken honey-blonde hair. Instead of turning pink like mine, his ears shifted to a lovely violet shade. Pouty lips and a tiny button nose complemented his wide doe-eyes and generous eyelashes quite well.

I didn’t yet know just how much height Peter would lose, but if the size of his dainty little head were any sign, he would be quite the petite little thing. I shivered in anticipation.

Peter lay there, panting like a dog and I unbuttoned the front of his pajama shirt as his shoulders snapped and cracked, matte grey fur fluttered away as if carried off on a wind, soft milky human skin took its place. His shoulders narrowed, and the transformation trickled down his arms and chest. A loud crack and a crunch sounded from within his limbs and chest, fat collected beneath his nipples and soon a pair of beautiful round breasts swelled out from his flesh.

He cried out, howling in misery, and arched his back, the contours of his spine snapping into a new alignment. Each crack and pop produced a fresh change. His waistline shrank down, and his hips did too. Legs and feet shortened to match, and soon a tiny little slip of a woman sat bolt upright, frantically pulling at her pajama bottoms.

My hands shot out to help, but she swatted them away with a frantic sweep of her arm. When the last of her clothes came free, she gasped and stared down between her legs. Though she had the usual female parts, she still had a cock.

On a male Peter’s former size, it would have been above average. On her new tiny frame, it appeared massive. She grasped hold of it, her second hand slipping up her chest to knead a breast. The fear and panic that had marked her features before, faded away and a slow dreamy smile stretched across her face. She fell onto her back, and I crawled over to her, kissing Peter’s soft feminine lips. Her raging hard-on pressed into my hip, and I pulled away, hands reaching for the waist of my sweats.

Though Peter’s transformation was temporary, I full intended to give her a fully test-drive. Once I’d disrobed, I wasted no time, working my lips up and down her soft, feminine form. Esther joined in, pressing her breasts into my back, hands pushed into my breasts. Though we’d fucked each other silly a few hours before, we were ready for more.

Peter had always been the leader of the pack, always the dominate male, even when we were children. It was my turn to dominate her, and she yielded like wax to the flame. When I permitted her to penetrate my cunt, there was no doubt who was in charge. I rode on top.

Things turned out pretty much how I planned them. After our first night together Peter was like clay, so easy to mold and shape. Though she reverted to her old form a few hours after her transformation, she hadn’t been the same old Peter. When we made love, she’d let me take the reins. There was a clear shift in power and we both knew it.

The first time she reverted, the dear thing begged me on her hands and knees to change her again, and I relented the very next night. I needed her to be Peter during the day, but at night, so long as she behaved, she was my little toy. Though the transformation was agonizing, she seemed more than happy to undergo it if there was even the slightest chance Esther and I would provide her with the sweet pleasures of the flesh. When she asked me for a new name, I knew she was firmly in my web, and so she became my little Honey Bunny, and I her mistress.

Esther, of course, was mainly along for the ride and was happy to do anything I asked her in bed. In her I found the partner I’d so long desired. Honey was just my plaything, but with Esther our connection wasn’t just physical, I cared for her even loved her.

‘Peter’ covered for my disappearance, saying that she’d sent me on a special errand. No one questioned it. She was, after all, the Easter Bunny. Esther was another story, she was not employed in the factory and thus Peter could not speak for her. No one knew of our burgeoning romance, but we’d long been close and all it had taken was a few whispers here or there. According to the stories, Esther left with me, having at last admitted her true feelings. There were other rumors too, ones of a darker nature, but no one stepped forward with concrete proof and they left the matter hanging.

A few days after Easter, the first transformations took place. We’d been pretty random about who we picked and were careful not to drug any children. At first there was panic and finger-pointing, but as the changes continued night after night, and little by little attitudes shifted. Though many tried, none determined a cause. A few fled the warren in fear, but even interference from the other warrens did little to slow the onslaught of transformations. Soon, with the help of a select few unwitting dupes, we disseminated the potions to the other warrens.

We even began making our own formula from scratch. Roughly half of those we transformed were given the Aphrodite formula, an eighth the Adonis, and the rest what we dubbed the Hermaphroditus formula, the same mix that I’d given Honey.

I enjoyed riding the cock of a big hunk of a man as much as the next girl, but males had a lot of silly ideas. I should know I used to be one. It was best to keep them in the minority so us ladies might have a turn at the wheel. Those transformed by the Hermaphroditus formula weren’t a problem. Something about their transformations made them so pliable, they did pretty much anything we told them.

Before long, those who’d been changed outnumbered those who had not and as I hoped, the females were the ones who filled the power vacuum. By then everyone knew the truth, but those that were transformed didn’t care and the rest had given up hope of things ever returning to normal.

Jack was all but a bad memory, I’d become a vibrant, confident, and sexy woman, I took a name that fit the new me. Briana, it made me feel sexy as hell and I think it fit pretty well. Esther also adopted a new moniker. She confessed to me, she’d never really liked Esther much to begin with and since we’d already changed so much why keep such a ghastly name? Etta seemed to fit her just fine.

That was when I made my return to public life, with Esther in tow, revealing that I had been behind the entire thing. There had been so very many thankful bunnies that there was a campaign to name me the new Easter Bunny. I hadn’t asked for it, but who was I to argue with the will of the people? I at last permitted Peter to become Honey full time and other than the rampant sex, and the tide of transformed bunnies, everything returned to normal, save for one little thing.

My first act as Easter Bunny was to put a new emphasis on hand-painted eggs. There was still a place for the mass-produced candy-filled ones that had supplanted their more traditional counterparts, but by next Easter I intended that every human household receive at least one hand-painted egg, more if we could manage.

I never yelled at my workers, and I gave them encouragement wherever possible. I couldn’t say if that had anything to do with it, or if it was the increased stamina from the potions, but productivity went up more than twenty-five percent.

Etta, Honey, and I moved in together. Instead of working with me Honey pursued a new career as a seamstress, she displayed an aptitude for it that surprised us all. It was just as well. There was a real clothing shortage with the wave of transformations and no one wanted to wear their drab old outfits, anyway.

Etta helped manage the factory, and during lunch breaks we made time for each other, which is to say we fucked like the bunny rabbits we’d once been, and Honey, always eager to join in the fun often showed up to participate in our escapades. At first, she was just our little play thing, but over time she showed a great deal of remorse for the way she’d treated me, and I, in turn, for manipulating her. Without quite knowing how, we found a place for her in our hearts. The three of us married the next spring.

I don’t know if my father would approve, but I tried to honor him in whatever way I could. It was a shame he hadn’t lived to see me at last embrace the responsibility he’d wanted for me all along.

,

Santa Babe 2: Elfsurrection

12/24/2019

Author's Note

I didn’t think I’d finish this one in time for Christmas, but inspiration struck at the last minute and I managed to finish it off this morning. Please note, that like the first story in this series, Elfsurrection is far more fetishy than my usual offerings.

A slow smile found its way onto my lips, and I licked them winking at Arcadius Noel who kept sneaking furtive glances at my chest. I couldn’t say I blamed him, I wasn’t wearing much. A candy-stripe bra, matching leggings, black stiletto heels, an elf-green mini-dress, and a matching stocking cap were all that adorned my frame and a girl with my proportions was a rare sight in the North Pole. Elf women were flat-chested and possessed hips almost as narrow as their male counterparts. Transformed by the Aphrodite Potion, I was the epitome of feminine beauty. Was it any wonder the old elf couldn’t keep his eyes off me?

“Samson Twinklebottom!” Greogira Glittertoes screamed out at the head of the table.

I turned, clenching my jaw at her use of my former male name, and regarded her with cool eyes. Even before my change I had not cared for the elder, though the youngest of the council, she was the most conservative and the most steeped in tradition. She would, of course, be the one most threatened by my transformation.

I stood before the council of elders, the governing body of the Elves of the North Pole. One seat, remained empty, a padded, human-sized affair that belonged to Saint Nicholas, but given that our employer was the subject of this gathering, and her transformation from rotund sad sack to busty babe, it seemed doubtful she would be in attendance.

“I will not tolerate distractions!” Greogira added rising to her feet and peering across the table at me.

Though, I now towered over her because of my transformation, I shrank back unprepared by the intensity of her gaze.

She might have been pretty if a scowl didn’t crease her ageless face, which was unmarred by wrinkles or age spots. Elves did not age in the way of humans. The only sign of the passage of time, was the gradual graying and eventual whitening of the hair, and among males, the ability to grow facial hair. All who sat on the council sported a shock of snow-white hair, and all save the councilwoman possessed a matching beard.

“Now, now, Greogira,” Bernaldo Mugginbubbles rose to his feet, a chiding tone in his deep baritone voice. “Do remember that young Samson, is under the influence of a powerful magic.”
Greogira glowered at him, but only regarded him for a second before returning her attention back to me, her scowl deepening tenfold. “You have failed to carry out your duties as a helper elf. We tasked you to watch over the Santa Claus, ensuring only that he completed his gift-giving role and not get into any mischief. You have allowed both yourself and our exalted leader to be transformed into some kind of sex-crazed bimbos by that insidious concoction and have jeopardized everything toward which elfkind has worked for these countless centuries. Do you not understand the seriousness of this situation?”
I gritted my teeth, my anger simmering just below the surface. Though Santa was quick to jump in bed and delighted in her new appearance, she was far from a bimbo and was not intellectually deficient. The potion did not diminish intelligence or change an individual’s overall personality. Yes, Santa possessed the same body and sex-drive as a centerfold in a dirty magazine, but every attribute that made her the Claus was still there. She was just wrapped in a prettier package.

Until her transformation, Santa had been a drunken shell of her former self, but walking in on your wife of countless centuries boinking Jack Frost would do that to a fellow. The new Santa was most definitely an improvement. Something about her transformation had brought that glimmer of child-like joy back into her eyes. She had been just doing the motions for so long, I’d almost forgotten what the old Santa had been like.

Hands caressed my shoulders, and I shivered as lips brushed my neck. I turned, a smile creasing my lips as I met Santa’s gaze. She wore the same white-trimmed red-velvet minidress and knee-length boot she’d been sporting while delivering gifts and a shiver worked its way down my spine at the sight of her.

Just a day ago, the mere thought of Santa transforming into this leggy brunette with wide-hips and large breasts would have seemed laughable, but now that the change had come about I couldn’t imagine her any other way.

“They won’t know what hit them,” I whispered, kissing her on the lips. I closed my eyes, letting myself be swept away by the sensations. When she pulled away, I didn’t want it to stop, but I bit back my disappointment and watched her saunter toward the council of elders.

“Nicholas,” Greogira nodded at Santa, her expression blank, but fire still smoldering in her eyes. “I was just—”

“Greogira,” Santa said her otherwise plump lips pressed into thin lines. “There’s no need for a recap, I heard everything.”

Greogira flinched as if Santa dealt her a physical blow, her whole body trembling. In living memory no elf had crossed Santa. Even for her to say as much as she already had bordered on scandalous. Even now, facing Santa in her new feminine form she could not bring herself to speak against the old gift-giver.

There was a scuffle and a clatter behind the old elf, and Greogira turned revealing the slender form of Eros Butterbee, with a tray of drinks and pastries. “Um, mistress I thought you might be hungry.”

Butterbee was the shortest elf I’d ever met, a mere eighteen inches tall, he was more than a century older than me. He worked in the kitchens, a thankless job that kept him busy throughout the seasons feeding the army of hungry elves, but one which he seemed to enjoy.

“Thank you, Butterbee.” Greogira eyed the diminutive elf before waving him off with a disdainful flick of her wrists. “Begone.”

The kitchen elf, glanced toward Santa and me and set the tray on the table, a strange mix of wonder and confusion in his eyes, before he scurried away and disappeared from sight. Santa furrowed her brows, peering at me, but if she knew what I had planned she didn’t say a word.

Elves love sweets so much, we eat almost nothing else. As magical creatures we aren’t susceptible to human failings like diabetes or tooth decay and given that we had a sweet tooth that surpassed even that of the most voracious of human children, we indulge whenever possible. Even a sourpuss like Greogira would not let the opportunity to treat herself to a pastry or a piece of candy slip by.

Greogira selected a tall goblet, no doubt filled with some fruity sugar-coma-inducing concoction, and a danish, before passing the tray along to Wilbur Jellyfluff, the only member of the council who had yet to speak up. Jellyfluff made his own selections before passing his tray onward, nibbling on a cherry tart as he rose to his feet.

I eyed the tall elf, my heart skipping a beat watching him nibble and waited on bated breath to see what would happen. My head jerked sideways and I regarded Santa, but she did not turn to meet my gaze. We separated the moment we’d returned to the North Pole and I had just enough time to nab some potion and enlist Eros Butterbee’s aid before the council had summoned me. I’d thought to inform Santa of my plans before then, but the opportunity had not presented itself. In any case, she would discover the truth soon enough.

At almost four feet tall, Wilbur Jellyfluff cut an imposing figure for an elf, and he was the most well loved among the council members, but he too was a traditionalist albeit one with a kinder disposition than Greogira.

“Nicholas,” a gentle smile stretched across his face. “What are we to do with you?”

“Exactly what we’ve always done, Wil,” Santa answered back massaging her neck and emitting a soft moan. “You make the toys and I deliver them, but please won’t you call me Nikki?”

“This won’t do, I’m afraid. Greogira despite her lack of tact is right. Imagine the scandal it will generate amongst the mortals. Santa Claus become a sex-object? We’ll never hear the end of it from the social justice warriors or the Christian fanatics. Allow us to examine you, perhaps with some time we might undo the effects of the Aphrodite formula and return you to your proper form.”

Santa narrowed her eyes, and clenched her fists at her side, regarding the council of elders between gritted teeth. “For over a decade you have let me drink myself into a stupor, not once attempting to render the aid and compassion I needed. Now, that I have been reborn, and found a new measure of happiness, you wish to take it away from me? No, Wilbur, I won’t allow it.”

“Then we—.” Jellyfluff groaned and hunched over clutching at his stomach. He collapsed atop the table before him, tart dropping from his hand, its cherry filling splattering all over the ground.

Greogira and Bernaldo were on their feet and moving toward the other council member, but the former soon hunched over, disappearing from view on the other side of the table shrieks of pain reverberating through the chamber. The latter fell to his knees, the skin on his face rippled and contorted and a soft and far too feminine moan escaped his lips.

Only Arcadius Noel remained seated, throwing out both hands and howled in agony as he too underwent the first stages of his transformation.

Wilbur shrieked and I turned back in time to watch him jerk back to his feet. His arms flailing about and grappling with the front of his tunic. He pulled it free just in time, for a budding set of breasts to materialize upon his flat hairless Elven chest. His bones cracked and popped as his torso extended, and he fell chest first, atop the tabletop. Hips exploded outward, fat appearing as if from nowhere his stockings ripping open unable to accommodate his burgeoning human-sized and very feminine proportions.

Greogira raised her head then, sporting a head of chestnut-brown hair, and threw a set of human-length arms across the table to balance her tiny Elven frame. She moaned, her frame shooting up as her legs and torso extended outward, just moments before her breasts and hips swelled to match her enlarged frame. She groaned and collapsed atop the table her transformation, less severe and thus complete.

Wilbur howled once more, bearded face contorting as hair began to fall from it in clumps, revealing his flat unremarkable features. A loud crunch sounded and his face bubbled out, growing to match his already human-sized form, but also becoming softer and rounder. His large flat nose, reshaped and remolded itself, worry-lines smoothed out and as his snow-white hair disappeared altogether, honey blonde hair spilled out in ringlets, cascading past his shoulders and down his back. Thin lips plumped out and a low and still very masculine moan escaped his lips. Then his voice, cracked and his prominent Adam’s apple receded into his throat disappearing altogether. He jerked, a loud pop reverberating through his spine, and he leaned forward, emitting a much more suitable feminine groan as his spine curved and his posterior ballooned out.

A scream sounded from the end of the table and Arcadius Noel lurched forward falling across the table and over the side, rolling onto his back. I knelt down beside him, surprised to find that there was only the barest hint that potion had begun its work on him. I don’t know if there was something he’d consumed that might have slowed down the progress or if perhaps something about his physiology had caused it, but whatever it was, it didn’t last much longer.

Bones snapped and popped and I reached out cupping both hands around one of his, smiling down at him in reassurance. I’d undergone a very similar transformation, and I understood all too well how painful it could be. That beings said, I would not take back what had happened to me for all the world.

For whatever reason, the order in which someone transformed varied from person to person. I soon found his hand, ballooning out within my own, but neither of his arms nor his other hand followed instead, his face rearranged itself. His flowing white beard, maintained over so many centuries fluttered away, seeming to disappear into the open air. His rugged, sharp-edge features dissolved, and his long comically over-sized nose shrunk down even as the rest of his face expanded outward. Fire-red hair spilled out from atop his head stopping at his shoulders. Lips parted, but no sound escaped instead they plumped out, and a crack resounded inside his neck as it reshaped itself.

Arcadius’ left hip swelled out, stretching his tights until they tore open, but the right side did not follow, at least, not yet. One side of his chest, expanded and I slid my hands out, cutting opened the front of his tunic with a work knife procured from within my left boot, to make room for his contorting proportions. The right side of his chest ballooned out, a single breast occupying his otherwise flat chest. His arm came next, at last stretching out to the proper proportions for his hand. The second arm followed, but this time the changes stopped when they reached his wrist.

A waistline, previously untouched, expanded outward, narrow by human standards, but much wider than any elf alive possessed. At last, his other boob swelled out to the same size as the first and granted his form a degree of symmetry. His torso extended outward and first one leg then the other stretched out to match it, before her last hand creaked and popped coming to match the first.

Arcadius screamed, a high-pitched wail so loud, it forced me to cover my ears. He grappled at his privates and I watched unable to keep myself from shivering in anticipation as I realized how close he was to completing his transformation. Soon, he emitted a long breath of air and his attention shifted from the space between his legs to his remaining hip which had swollen outward. My attention, however remained on his privates where the outline of a lovely camel toe showed beneath his hosiery. Soon, Arcadius had completed his transformation, his spine realigned to more feminine proportions and his feet, swollen to a size more befitting his taller frame. I beamed down at him and held a hand out.

He hesitated and then grasped my outstretched hand, his or rather her, bare chest jiggling like a bowl full of jelly as she rose to her feet. A hand, again, touched my shoulder and I turned to regard Santa swallowing hard. Her eyes were wide, shock reflected at me.

Nikki turned, and my eyes followed her gaze. Greogira, Wilbur, and another young woman, sporting a shock of long raven-black hair that fell well past her knees, I assumed was Bernaldo, approached. Though each had grown to more human proportions, a side-effect of using a potion intended for humans, Bernaldo was the shortest of the three coming in at just under four and a half feet tall. Greogira stood only a few inches taller, and Bernaldo towered over the pair of them almost six feet tall. They looked human for the most part, save for their ears which kept their telltale pointy tip.

A familiar scowl marked Greogira’s face, but it did not mar her features as it did before. Still recognizable, her features had nonetheless softened and there was no doubt that she was beautiful, even with her teeth clenched. It did however, make her seem less the wrathful elder and more a petulant child. Wilbur approached with a frown one hand kneading an exposed breast. Bernaldo followed not even looking up one arm folded across her chest, the other clasped over her vulva offering only a modicum of modesty and her cheeks turned such a bright shade of red it was a close match to tattered remnants of her scarlet tunic.

“This only proves our point!” Greogira said jabbing a finger into Santa’s chest. Whatever reservations she had about confronting Nikki had evaporated away with her transformation. “The Aphrodite Potion has clearly affected your judgement. Nicholas would have never drugged one of his elves let alone four of us.”

“That was my doing.” I smiled stepping between Nikki and Greogira.

“Regardless, even you Samson would not stoop so low,” Greogira countered this time rounding on me.

“I-I don’t know,” Wilbur said slipping a hand between her legs as a dreamy smile stretched across her lips. “It feels pretty good.”

Greogira snapped her head around, both hands on her hips as she stared at her peer with wide eyes. “Get a grip on yourself Wilbur, the potion is messing with your mind.”

Wilbur smiled a soft moan escaping her lips as two fingers caressing the insides of her lady parts. Greogira rounded on her, latching both hands around the other elder’s arms and shook her so hard the other’s head snapped back. Wilbur, stared at her wide-eyed and I thought for a second she might have reached her, but then the dreamy smile returned and Wilbur leaned in to kiss the other woman.

Greogira stiffened like a plank, even her lips remained frozen in place, but her resistance soon melted away against the other woman’s continued efforts. As they broke for air, a soft moan escaped her lips.  “I never imagined.” She shivered, biting her lip and took several steps back.

I folded both arms across my chest and smiled, regarding Greogira and each of the new women my eyes lingering on Bernaldo who still refused to make eye contact with any of them. “You’ve each received a small dose of the Aphrodite formula. In a few hours, or a few days, depending on how much you consumed you should revert to your original forms.” I slipped a hand inside my bra, producing four small vials of a familiar pink fluid. “Should you wish to make the change permanent, I do believe we can come to some sort of arrangement.”

Arcadius who had remained off to the side throughout the confrontation, peering down at her hands and shook her head. “I can sense them, the sensations, the desires swelling within me. It terrifies me, but…” She lurched forward, and whipped a hand out, sliding one of the vials from my outstretched hand, pulled the stopper free and downed it in one gulp. “I never want to go back. It feels too good.”

We all peered at her with wide eyes. For Arcadius to make such a quick snap-judgement seemed so unlike the brooding, taciturn man we all knew. She licked her lips and peered at me with an arched eyebrow a suggestive smile creeping its way onto her face. “There isn’t a male version of the Aphrodite formula sitting about is there? I would dearly love to spend some alone time with a nice big hunk of a man, if you catch my drift.”

“No, but with your support, I’d like to resume production of the Aphrodite formula. If we bring the original creators onboard, I’m sure they can… come up with something that will whet your appetite.” Santa cleared her throat, answering before I even had a chance, her ruby red lips stretching into a smile.

At this pronouncement, Bernaldo’s head jerked up, and she peered about glancing at all of us. She didn’t speak a word. Instead, she took several steps back, spun around on the balls of her feet and took off running her long locks trailing after her. The look on her face telling me all I needed to know.

I watched her depart, then paused long enough to slip all but one of the remaining vials into Santa’s hands and took off after her. I knew all too well what she must be going through and could guess why she’d fled. That being said, if she reverted to her old form, she could rally the rest of the denizens of the North Pole against us and ruin everything. That I could not allow.
 

 
As you might imagine, running in stilettos is damn near impossible, a fact I came to realize as I burst out of the council chambers and face-planted onto the hardwood floor. The resulting flash of agony from my chest left me breathless for several long minutes. I groaned, rolled onto my back, hugged my knees against the chest, gritted my teeth against the resulting burst of pain, unclasped the straps holding the shoes in place and tossed them aside. I lurched back to my feet prepared to resume my pursuit, but the corridors were silent and I could detect no sign of the elder elf’s passing.

I sank my teeth into my lower lip, again ignoring the resulting flash of pain, my mind racing as I tried to put myself into Bernaldo’s mind. She might have gone for help, but I knew precious little about her. The elves did not possess any policing agencies, lawlessness was not a predilection toward which we were inclined. So, she would flee to the home of a friend or family member or… I stopped a smile creeping across my lips as realization dawned on me. She wasn’t running with any plan in mind; she was fleeing out of fear. No, it seemed far more likely she would return home and since I knew she never married, it seemed unlikely there would be anyone waiting for her when she reached her destination.

I took off running barefooted and better able to keep my balance, but unprepared for how much my bounteous chest would bounce while I moved. I could measure my time spent in my female form in hours, not days or months. The Aphrodite formula granted me a fair bit of confidence and understanding of how to move in my new form, but familiarity was not something I’d developed just yet.

I burst out of the exit, shivering against the cold, bare feet pounding against the frost-covered peppermint-striped pavement, bouncing breasts aching with each new movement. Still, I kept running my feet raw and scuffed and heart hammering in my chest. Soon enough, I caught site of footprints in the snow, toward Bernaldo’s cottage and I veered off catching my second wind as I went tearing thorough the winter landscape.

No elf had feet that large. In her eagerness to get home, Bernaldo had elected to take a more direct path and had given herself away. I guessed right in assuming she would flee to her cottage instead of seeking aid.

I reached the house a few moments later and stepped onto the porch, hesitating as I reached for the doorknob. This felt wrong, Bernaldo had done nothing to harm me and I doubted she would seek aid once she’d sequestered herself within her cottage. Maybe, I was approaching this from the wrong angle, I mused, hand turning the doorknob. The potion transformed her, in the same way it changed me just a short time ago. She needed my help, and here I’d been chasing after her as if she were a convicted felon.

I slipped inside the door with no issue. As I said earlier, crime did not exist within the North Pole and we respected each other’s privacy… mostly. I closed the door behind me, and paused just inside listening for sounds of movement, my keen Elven ears picked something up within seconds and I crept deeper inside, eyes scanning the interior.

Bernaldo’s cottage was small, and I made my way to the back, stopping just outside a door, through the cracks of which light poured through. I put my ear to its hardwood surface, and a muffled sob spilled through. Waiting no longer, I turned the knob and stepped inside. The other elf was slumped on the ground, still wearing the tattered remains of her tunic and tights. She lurched to her feet ready to bolt for the door when she caught sight of me.

I held my hands up and out, taking careful steps before swinging the door shut with the back of my elbow. “Look, I know you’re afraid, and confused as hell, but I can help you. I went through it myself last night,” I said realizing that it was now well into the early morning hours as I spoke. “I don’t want to—”

“Fuck me,” she yelled, screaming out at the top of her lungs, eyes wide and looking for all the world like an animal confronting a predator. “I can’t contain it anymore, just help me release it.”

The Aphrodite formula had that affect. Santa had gone through her own metamorphosis while delivering presents to a widower and his young children. It had taken her less than a minute to seduce him, and moments later when I underwent my change it had taken little for me to join in. Over the course of the night, Santa and I had seduced a lingerie model, a college freshman, and a set of identical twins. Not to mention the number of times we’d fucked or made out inside the sleigh between stops.

Bernaldo straightened and the terror that marked her face before, faded away. She smiled and sauntered toward me, her lips finding purchase around mine. When she broke for air, she pushed me down atop her bed, in the back of my mind it occurred to me that it was much too small for our human-sized frames, but she was already unclasping my bra. Her lips, were soon kissing my breasts, and when she plunged her fingers inside my clit the pleasure that followed was indescribable.
 

 
I sat up, a soft groan escaping my lips as I fought to come awake. Hair covered my face and I reached out collecting it with my hands before slipping it behind my ears. That seemed odd, but I was pretty much dead in the water so I couldn’t quite grasp why. I peered down at my chest, sucking in my breath as I looked down at a pair of bare breasts protruding from my chest.
It all came back to me then, and a slow smile crept onto my face as I recalled my transformation and all the fun I’d had since taking on my new form. I cupped my melons and craned my neck about eyes scanning the room for my discarded clothing and Bernaldo. Neither were in evidence, nor was the vial of Aphrodite formula.

There were blankets and pillows strewn about the place and I didn’t care to dig through them to retrieve the discarded articles of clothing. Modesty didn’t have the same hold on me as it had before my change and so I shrugged and slipped out of bed, peering about the room one final time before sauntering through the doorway.

I found Bernaldo in the living room seated atop an old couch, a vial of pink fluid clutched in her hands. She’d yet to revert to her male form, and she looked out of place perched atop the elf-sized sofa. The other elf looked up at me as I approached, and I seated myself beside her and smiled.

“This isn’t me,” she said motioning down at herself tears rolling down her cheeks. “But I want it to be too much. It terrifies me, that if I take this I’ll lose myself, that I’ll give myself over to the desires and urges of this body. Like I did last night.”

“So?” I asked peering back at her. “What’s wrong with having a little fun? You’re still you, you’re just in a prettier wrapper. Last night, I saw Santa returned, the drunken bitter jackass I’ve had to contend with the last ten years gone, and the Jolly gift-giver of old returned. She is the Clause, just as I am that moldy old stick in the mud Samson, I happen to be a fair bit easier on the eyes and will fuck almost anything that walks on two legs. My appearance and sex drive doesn’t change who I am… it makes things more interesting.”

Bernaldo bowed her head, but didn’t speak again. I reached over, sliding the vial from her hands and held it in front of her face. “Look, if you don’t want it, that’s fine. Give Santa your full support and—”

Bernaldo sobbed and I froze watching her shake her head. “I’ve been alone so long I forgot what it felt like to hold another in my arms.”

She reached for the vial and I let her have it. Again, she held it before her and she tightened her grip pulled her arm back and I tensed expecting her to throw it across the room. She peered at me, sighed, and uncorked the bottle, downing the contents in one gulp. She looked back at me, eyes wide and her hands shaking. The vial clattered to the ground shattering at her feet.

“You won’t regret it,” I smirked, pecked her on the cheek and glanced back over my shoulder toward the bedroom door. Perhaps a little celebration was in order, but before I could voice this thought a series of dull thumps sounded from the exterior door.

I kissed her again, this time on the lips and rose to my feet. Bernaldo was still in something of a fragile state and I don’t believe she was quite ready to entertain. “You stay there, I’ll get it.”

I swung the door open and found myself peering down at a minuscule little morsel. An elf who’d undergone the transformative effects of the Aphrodite formula, but one who was a fair bit shorter than any of the others at a mere three feet. She froze staring up at my bare chest, and I bit my lip only then realizing that I was still naked.

“Sammie!” She beamed up at me, gazing at my figure with an appreciative expression. “It’s me, Eros! I’m going by Daisy now!”

I bit my lips waving her inside the cottage. Eros or rather Daisy Butterbee had been far more eager to help me than I expected and when she named her price I’d been more than a little flabbergasted. She wanted a full dose of the potion for herself, something I’d not expected of her, but when she confided in me she had long been fostering a secret yearning to be female, I was more than happy to accommodate her.

“Is it done?” I asked slamming the door shut behind her and shivered against the cold.

Butterbee nodded, eyes locking on Bernaldo on the couch. “How about you, any luck?”

“Yeah,” I replied arms folded across my chest smirking back at Bernaldo.

“Great!” Butterbee beamed, pulled her top over her head and tossed it aside with a flick of her wrists. “I’ve been itching to give this new body a whirl.”

Bernaldo regarded her a moment before dashing to her feet, scooped the diminutive elfup, and carried her into the bedroom without a word. I stared after them, my smirk stretching into a grin as Bernaldo’s moans sounded through the doorway. I sauntered into the room, eager to join in and soon she wasn’t the only elf screaming out in pleasure.

The End

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Displaced

09/21/2019

Author's Note

I’ve been sitting on this one for over a year and a half. I figured it was about time I dusted this puppy off and get it fine-tuned so I could share it with all of you. Thanks again Xtrim for providing grammar edits.

This story is part of an open universe, please visit the open universes page for details.

At the sound of footsteps, I dove into a copse of bushes near the base of the exterior staircase. My heart hammered in my chest as I positioned myself to surveil the path leading into the building. It was dark and illumination from a streetlight beamed down on the sidewalk giving me a clear view of the newcomer.

His perfect teeth were gritted, and he was yelling into his phone. “The wry little bastard has been giving me the slip all day.”

When Jared Travis stepped in front of the bushes where I’d concealed myself, he stopped and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know, Mom, but last month it took him almost a week to pay up and I’m getting real tired of trying to hunt him down.”

Linda, Jared’s mother, owned Shady Acres Apartments. She’d retired a few years back and left the management of the building up to her son. That she’d taken a personal interest didn’t bode well for me at all.

“Okay, okay,” he said turning his back to me and shaking his head. “Calm down, no one said anything about evicting him.”

Okay, did I hear that right? I shook my head and discounted the notion. Linda was a far sight more pleasant to get along with than her son. She’d been the most easy going landlady from whom I’d ever rented. That being said she’d evicted more than a few people over the years, it seemed unlikely she’d spare me a second thought.

Jared growled under his breath, tapped the screen of his phone and slid it back into his pocket. He glanced back toward the bushes one final time and for a second I was sure he’d seen me, but then he turned away and disappeared back into the building slamming the door shut behind him.

I waited a few tense minutes, certain that he would return, but when he didn’t show his face, I pulled myself out of the bushes. After brushing myself off, I made my way back into the building keeping my eyes and ears open. It was late, and the hallways were devoid of anyone or anything which made it a lot easier for me to get back into my apartment unnoticed.

Still, where Jared was concerned, I’d learned to be cautious. When I got to the elevators, instead of hopping in, I walked past, taking the opposite doorway and made my way up the staircase.

I lived on the third floor and the effort shouldn’t have winded me, but I’d spent all day booking my ass around town and hopping from bus to bus. I submitted my resume to more than half a dozen places and I still didn’t like my chances. Needless to say, I was tired.

When I got up to my floor, I paused at the door, glanced out the little window and cursed under my breath. “Dammit all to hell.”

Jared, my super, waited just outside my apartment door, arms folded across his chest and, as cliché as it sounded, tapping his foot on the floor. The slick bastard must have figured out I wasn’t inside and was waiting for me to get back. Which meant I would either have to confront him or wait him out.

I chose the latter cursing the pretty boy under my breath as I slumped down to the ground and let out a long sigh. Must be nice to have a rich mother to hand you a damn job. Meanwhile people like me had to do things the hard way. Given that I froze up during interviews, I didn’t have much success.

I sighed and pulled my phone out of my pocket confirming what I already knew, the thing was dead. So, I put it back and looked around.

That’s when I saw something which caught my eye.

I grunted and reached over retrieving what looked like a rolled-up magazine which someone had jammed into a slat in the railing. Once unrolled, I peered into the thing and snorted. It wasn’t a magazine at all, but a catalog titled ‘Aethermysts: Your number one source for all your magic needs.’

I flipped through the pages and snorted again.

“Give me a fucking break. Mach-O-Blaster, Gend-O-Matic? What the fuck is this?” I asked no one in particular then crumpled the catalog into a ball and threw the damn thing as hard and as far as I could.

With a long plaintive sigh, I folded my arms across my chest and gritted my teeth. Something told me I would have one long ass wait on my hands.

#

The wry little bastard lingered for another three hours before finally giving up and traipsing out of the hallway. I had to hand it to him he stuck around much longer than I expected. I guess it just goes to show how big of an annoyance I’d been. I just needed to keep away from him until tomorrow morning. After that, there was a good chance I’d have the money.

I waited ten minutes after he left, then opened the stairwell door and glanced about the hallway before slinking my way toward my apartment door and slipped inside. I dropped my coat at the door, so tired I didn’t even give a fuck about expending the extra effort to put it on the coat rack.

My apartment wasn’t much to look at, and, to be honest, I was no interior decorator. By almost any standard my living space was damned spartan, but that suited me just fine. I didn’t need to clutter up my place with useless crap. I had everything I would ever need.

Moving through my modest little living space, I cut a beeline to the bedroom. Once inside, I fell face first into bed. I rolled onto my side, and just before I slipped into a semi-vegetative state, I noticed a wadded up piece of paper resting on my nightstand. Within seconds, I was out and lost in the blissful world of dreams.

#

It was late by the time my tired ass woke up. Had it not been for the sound of several loud thuds, I would have slept longer. At first, I convinced myself the sound resulted from muted gunfire, but as I came fully awake, I realized something much more mundane was at work. Someone was at the door.

I stumbled out of bed, knocking the crumpled up wad of paper off of my nightstand, and staggered toward the door. I had just enough presence of mind to glance through the peephole before swinging the door wide open.

“Waddya want?!” I demanded barely capable of even grunting it out and squinted at the little fellow as I scratched the back of my head.

“Hi, I’m Steve we talked yesterday on the phone about your Gregslist ad? You’re Harry, right?” He looked at me eyes wide and darting away from the door.

“Oh? Right, right,” I said throwing a hand over my shoulder and let out a loud yawn. Shit, I’d forgotten all about him. “Sorry had a late night. Why don’t you come in and we can do this thing?”

I moved away from the opening and Steve stepped inside. Once I closed the door behind him, I glanced around and held my hand up as I emitted another loud yawn. “Uh, wait a minute I’ll be right back.”

I slipped into my room and stopped dead in my tracks. I walked over to my nightstand and furrowed my brows.

What the fuck? The clumped up wad of paper was again sitting on my nightstand. I could have sworn I’d knocked it to the ground when I stumbled out of bed. It looked an awful lot like that weird catalog I’d found in the staircase. I shook my head, convinced I must have been mistaken, tossed the wad into the garbage and retrieved the item for which Steve had come.

I found him waiting where I’d left him and motioned toward the couch with an open hand. “Uh, I guess you’re gonna want a look at the merchandise.”

Steve nodded, took a seat, and I set the laptop down in front of him. He flipped the thing open and booted it up. I sat opposite him. “I put in new hinges, upgraded the ram, replaced the original hard drive with a solid state drive and did a clean install of the OS.”

Steve nodded, but didn’t say a word, eyes glued to the screen as he logged into the computer. I waited with bated breath, ever since I lost my job I’d been eking out a meager existence by refurbishing damaged laptops and other electronics. Some folks made good money that way, but I’d only been at it for less than half a year. While I was pretty good at repairing things, I wasn’t much of a people person.

Steve continued with his inspection, and I leaned back into my seat waiting for him to finish up. He continued for a good ten minutes before he flipped the notebook shut and looked back up at me. “I’ll take it.”

Next came the haggling, and as I expected, I ended up selling it for less than my original asking price, but it would be enough. The laptop hadn’t exactly been high end, and I’d come out of the deal with more than I’d put in. With some money I’d already collected from another repair job, I would have enough to pay rent for the month and not much else. I guessed I’d be living off ramen for the foreseeable future. I was getting real tired of scrimping by like this month after month. Shit, I needed to find a job and fast.

After letting Steven out I returned to my bedroom, just a little disconcerted to find that the paper wad had again found its way back onto my nightstand. Either someone was playing a prank on me or something strange was going on. As much as I strained my mind I couldn’t think of anyone beyond Jared or the super who might have access to my apartment and there would be no reason why either would punk me in such a manner.

I picked the ball of paper up, collapsed into bed and retrieved my phone from inside my pocket. I dialed Jared and put my cell against my ear while un-crumpling the wad with my free hand. Sure enough, it was the same catalog from the stairwell. I turned the thing back to front and began to flip through the pages as I waited for Jared to pick up, but he never did. So I left a message and hung up.

I set the phone down and eyed the catalog with all my attention. Again, I flipped through, this time looking for a website or a phone number and found neither. Instead, all I found was a P.O. Box. Thinking, perhaps, that it might be outdated, I looked for a copyright date and found one the very bottom of the back cover. It was less than a month old.

I wasn’t sure what convinced me the thing was authentic. The whole teleportation act it pulled seemed impressive, but, face it, with enough time I would have rationalized it. Maybe, I wanted it to be real. A part of me was still wary of the catalog, even if the items listed within were real, there was no telling how well they worked or if they worked the way they advertised.

I have to admit, the Mach-O-Blaster piqued my interest, for that matter, so did the Power Potion, but the item that really caught my eye was the cheapest in the entire book. It seemed a little ironic given the item’s intended purpose, but that didn’t raise the red flags it should have.

The catalog listing called it a Prosperity Spell and from what I could tell it was meant to help the user be successful in their future endeavors. Was it so surprising given my current predicament?

I was getting desperate, and tired of trying to eke out a meager existence on almost nothing. Something needed to change, or I’d be out on my ass in no time. Most people would scoff at ordering a spell out of a catalog, myself included, but the thought didn’t give me much pause.

I ended up sending in the five dollars with the order form. My budget was already slim, but that small amount of cash would not make a lot of difference. I just wish I’d read the small print before completing the order form, it would have saved me a lot of trouble.

#

Her hips swayed and her breasts jiggled with each step. She leveled her gaze on me and I stopped, ramen-packed grocery bags clenched in my hands and stared at her with wide eyes. She wore a skimpy little black formal dress, and she was easily the most attractive woman I’d ever laid eyes on shy of the television or big screen.

Something was wrong. I saw it in seconds. For one there was a strange vacant expression in her eyes, and for another she was moving straight toward me. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from ugly, but we didn’t even exist in the same league. Hell, I doubted she’d even give Jared a second glance, and women loved the guy.

The elevator doors started to close on me and I lurched forward letting the doors hit my shoulders and open back up. I eyed the woman, bit my lip and smiled. “Hey, how’s it going?”

She didn’t pause, or even acknowledge that she’d heard me, but just kept coming. I took a few awkward steps to the side and as I did so she turned to adjust course. Now, I don’t mean she turned upon seeing me step away, but did it in perfect sync with me. It was freaky as hell and it raised the old shackles on the back of my neck.

She held a little envelope in her hands and when she got close, she raised her hand holding it out to me. I froze and stared at her with wide eyes. She didn’t budge a muscle, keeping so still that she may well have been a statue.

I looked into her eyes and waved my hand in front of her face. She didn’t respond, but stayed in place hand still extended. When I took a step back, and she moved forward, again in sync with me.

I glanced toward my apartment door, contemplating making a run for it, but sheer morbid curiosity got the better of me. It was obvious she wanted me to take the thing, and I was dying to know what could be in it.

I gritted my teeth, shifted both bags of ramen into one hand and snatched the paper out of her outstretched palm. The moment I had it, she shook her head and looked around. It was almost as if someone had switched on a light inside her mind.

“Where the hell am I?!” She demanded her eyes settling on me.

“Uh, Shady Acres Apartments,” I replied.

She stood there eyeing me with a pair of striking blue eyes that seemed to look right through me. She lifted a wrist glancing at a jewel-encrusted watch that probably cost more than I’d made in the last year and started cursing under her breath.

“Dammit, I’m late!” She took off down the corridor, her high-heels clicking and clacking against the hardwood floors of the hallway. The tight little dress limited the movements of her leg and coupled with the height of her heels I thought for certain she’d lose her balance and take a tumble. Somehow she made it all the way to the elevator, and she soon disappeared through its shiny metal doors.

Like a jackass I stood there and watched the elevator doors, still, just a little freaked out by what had happened. It took me well over a minute before I had the bright idea to examine the envelope. It seemed ordinary enough, save that someone had sealed it with wax. There were no addresses or post office box numbers, but it had my name on the middle of the front. In the top left instead of a return address it listed Aethermysts Order Fulfillment Services.

If I’d had any doubts about the legitimacy of the catalog, their delivery method damn well put them to rest. I slipped the envelope into one of the grocery bags and walked straight for my apartment.

Once inside, I dropped both my grocery sacks onto the counter, retrieved the envelope from inside and plopped down on the couch tearing it open. Inside I found pretty much what I expected, directions for completing the prosperity spell that I’d ordered. It was all hand-written in a simple, impeccable script that resembled calligraphy, but which appeared to be written with a ballpoint pen.

I read it front and back and leaned back on the couch letting out a long sigh. The whole thing just seemed a little too good to be true, a prosperity spell that promised to bring wealth and well-being to whoever cast it and it had only set me back five dollars? I bit my lip and eyed a particular line at the very top of the paper that was just a little disconcerting.

‘Warning, be sure to follow the directions exactly as instructed and pronounce each portion of the spell as written. Failure to do so may result in transfiguration, and/or chronological displacement.’

I didn’t know what the fuck the warning meant, but, I think, it would give anyone pause. I almost crumbled the spell up and tossed it in the wastebasket, but stopped eyeing a second envelope sitting on the coffee table before me. It contained another bill.

I didn’t have more than a few dollars to my name and unless I sold half of the crap in my apartment, managed to sell another device or landed a repair job, I wouldn’t be able to pay it. I was getting damned tired of scrimping by just to make ends meet. The spell might be the answer to that.

So, against my better judgement I moved into the bedroom to retrieve what I needed. When I had a candle and a little lump of sidewalk chalk, I returned to the living room. The candle from a small supply I kept around in case of power outages, which were frequent in the area, and the chalk had been left by one of the previous tenants and I’d never bothered tossing it.

I pushed the couch out the way and upturned the ragged old rug that protected the hardwood floor. Had I any money, I would have replaced it months ago.

I plopped down, and put the paper down in front of me, as the instructions mentioned and drew a circle around myself. According to the spell, it would contain the thaumaturgic energies and prevent them from hemorrhaging into the worlds beyond. I didn’t know what the hell that meant, but it didn’t sound like something I wanted to happen. Needless to say, I was really careful while forming the ring.

Next, I put the unlit candle in front of me, clenched my eyes shut and started to chant the words on the paper as instructed. “Subponatis… Adolebitque illud… advocabit potestate.”

I opened my eyes and almost jumped out of the circle in sheer shock. The candle was lit! Fortunately, I kept still. I didn’t want to screw this up. I continued with the incantation, careful to read each line as specified. When I got to the final few bits of text, I paused sweat dripping down my whole body. I opened my mouth to speak the final few words, and the damned doorbell rang.

Startled, I jerked sideways and knocked the candle over. I didn’t dare leave the circle, I had no idea what kind of effect that might have in the middle of the spell. I righted the candle and glanced down at the spell reciting the final few words and then broke the circle. An odd tingling sensation coursed down my body as I stood and moved towards the door.

Before I got there, a sharp stabbing pain shot through my gut and I hunched over collapsing to my knees. The oddest sensation wove its way through my chest, and as I slipped my hands over one of my nipples, it swelled outward. I collapsed to the ground as my bones cracked and popped. My throat burned and I let out a single scream which sounded far too high-pitched to my ears, just before everything went dark.

#

A hand touched my shoulder, and I gasped my eyes snapping open. My vision was muddied at first, and my mind couldn’t quite grasp where I was. So I lay there squinting into a blurry blob of dull grays and browns, no doubt looking very perplexed. As my vision resolved itself, my mind snapped back into focus and I found myself looking into the face of a stranger. His lips moved, but I couldn’t quite make out what he said.

Like my sight, my hearing returned, and I grunted as the stranger’s words became clear to me. “—kay?”

I nodded and met his gaze. Memories of casting the spell returned to me and I sat bolt upright, my chest jiggling in a very disconcerting way. I swallowed hard and glanced down, confirming what I already suspected. A set of large breasts now protruded from my chest. I slid a hand down, touching them before swallowing again and dropped it between my legs. Though I couldn’t feel much through the fabric of my jeans, it was more what I didn’t feel that drove things home.

A strong breeze hit my face and for the first time I took in my surroundings. I was outside in an empty field. An old dirt road stretched into a treeline in the distance, a classic Ford pickup was parked just off to the side where they met and storm clouds darkened the sky. I didn’t recognize my surroundings, or the man who stood so close to me.

The warning on the spell sprang to mind and wondered if this might not be what it meant. My heart hammering in my chest, I raised both of my arms and touched my face. It seemed, different, wrong. All my stubble had gone, instead my skin was smooth and silky, and my nose was too small, but that was not all. Further, explorations revealed a set of soft lips, a missing Adam’s apple and

I glanced at the stranger and pursed my lips. “W-where am I?” My eyes bulged out of my head at the sound of my voice. It was soft and feminine, dare I say, sexy?

“Just off the Old Fork Road, Miss.” He said gazed at me his eyebrows shooting way up.

“Um,” I palmed my face with both hands. “What town is that in?”

“New Haven,” he said, and when I didn’t respond, he added. “That’s in Utah.”

I met his gaze and bit my lip and looked around again. “New Haven?”

I was more than a little familiar with New Haven, I knew it well. My apartment building was located there, and I’d been living in the general area for pretty much my entire life. I’d never heard of an ‘Old Fork Road’, but I didn’t know the name of every street in town. That being said, the place I’d landed myself in, didn’t look familiar at all. I wondered, could he be wrong?

New Haven was a tiny little landlocked town. There hadn’t been an empty field for as long as I could remember. Maybe before I’d been born, but…

Realization hit me like a ton of bricks and I held my breath. Without even thinking about it, I began to recount the warning message from the spell over and over in my head.

‘Warning, be sure to follow the directions exactly as instructed and pronounce each portion of the spell as written. Failure to complete any step correctly may result in transfiguration, and/or chronological displacement.’

Though I didn’t understand at the time, I now had an inkling of what those words must have meant.

I gritted my teeth, met my rescuer’s gaze and released the air out of my lungs. A wet trickle kissed my cheek and peered up just in time to catch another in the eye. I blinked wiping the drops from my face, but it was a futile effort as more followed. In moments, what started as a slight drizzle became a steady downpour.

“Can you stand?” My new friend asked.

I bit my lip, nodded and lurched from the ground. My feet slipped out of my shoes as I took my first few steps and I stumbled forward damn near falling face first, but my rescuer’s firm arms grabbed me by the shoulders and held me steady. The warmth of his body pressed into my new breasts and I stood there mesmerized by the strange new feelings that this awakened with me.

He cleared his throat and pulled away, and a cold shiver traveled down my spine. My heart hammered in my chest and it was all I could do just to look away. My new body responded to his touch in ways I didn’t want to admit.

“We should get out of the rain.” He smiled and held out his hand.

I nodded and accepted his hand. I don’t know why I felt I could trust him. Somehow I knew it would be all right and, if I was going to be honest, a part of me wanted to do more than just go with him.

I didn’t bother retrieving my shoes before we took off running again. They wouldn’t have fit me anyway, my rescuer glanced back at them, but shook his head and sighed, no doubt thinking better of it. My pants sagged from my waist, but caught around my wider hips. My pants slipped down past my ankle and over my feet, and even though they flopped about as I ran, I kept at it. I tripped over them once, but again Trey caught me. It wasn’t long before we reached the pickup I’d spotted earlier. I got there first and stopped panting for breath outside the passenger side door.

My body seemed so alien, but one area was particularly troublesome while running. My breasts jiggled and shook with every movement and the faster I went the worse it got. It actually hurt a little. No wonder women wore sports bras.

A hand touched my shoulder, and I jerked out of the way allowing my rescuer to open the door for me. I jumped inside and whipped my hand out to close the door behind me, but my rescuer beat me to it. I hugged my knees against my chest and rolled my pant legs up as I waited for him to climb on the other side.

I glanced down at my breasts again staring at them with wide eyes, still trying to wrap my head around my transformation. My clothes were soaked through and my nipples showed through the shirt. I’d never liked the way a wet t-shirt had clung against my skin, but now that I had breasts it was worse. Particularly since the shirt stretched tighter across the chest than it ever had been before my transformation.

“You got a name?” My rescuer asked, and I turned in time to see him swing the driver’s side door shut behind him.

“I, uh,” I stopped mind racing trying to come up with a name to throw out, but I couldn’t quite form the words.

He turned to eye me and began to panic.

“Linda,” I spoke the first name that came to me and it left a sour taste in my mouth just to speak the lie, but I saw no other option.

If I’d guessed right, I had not been born yet. Even if I was wrong, and I’d landed myself in some area of New Haven, I’d never been before, which seemed unlikely, there was no way to prove my identity. So, I could either tell everyone what had happened or play it safe and put on a bit of a show. Since, the former of my two options stood a good chance of landing me in a mental institution the latter seemed the wiser choice.

“Linda?” he said eyeing me for a moment before starting the pick up. “I’m John Benedict Travis the third, but all my friends call me Trey.”

I froze, and folded my arms across my chest, very aware of Trey’s eyes on my breasts.

“Pleasure,” I mumbled and cold chills trickling down my spine. I shuddered and looked out at the rain drenched expanse. Even though I’d been chilled to the bone, the shiver had nothing to do with my clothes being soaked through or the temperature outside. John “Trey” Travis had been the name of Linda’s husband.

I knew of the implications, but I wouldn’t allow myself to accept what they must mean. It was a coincidence, nothing more.

Trey, watched for a moment, then slipped his jacket off and handed it to me. “Sorry, it’s not much, but once the heater kicks in, I’m sure you’ll be warm enough.” He smiled at me, shifted the vehicle into gear, and started down the road.

“Is there somewhere I can take you Linda?” He asked glancing at me before returning his gaze to the road ahead.

I bit my lip and shook my head. “No, I’m not from around here and the truth is I’m not sure how I got here.”

In a way, it was true, but it still seemed like a lie to my ears. I leaned forward and slipped his jacket on. Though huge on me, it did help warm me.

“It’s funny we don’t usually get rain like this. Doesn’t look like it’ll get better any time soon. I’ll take you back to my place and get you some dry clothes. You look about the same size as my wife. We should be able to find you something.”

“You’re married?” I asked, thinking perhaps I’d encountered a different Trey Travis, but his answer shot that theory to hell.

“I used to be, she passed away last spring.”

“S-sorry.” I eyed him, another shudder rippling down my spine.

“You had no way of knowing. When we get there, I’ll put in a call to Sheriff Riley. He’s a friend of mine, if anyone out there is looking for you he should be able to find out.”

It made sense, from his perspective, if ‘Linda’ had gone missing someone might have filed a missing persons report. Linda hadn’t existed until I’d woken up in that field, so any effort on their part would be a big old waste of time. If I felt guilty before it was nothing compared to the pit that formed in the bottom of my stomach.

“Do—,” I glanced over at him my lips quivering. I never finished the sentence. I gritted my teeth suppressing the urge to break down in tears. Some people might think all the girly hormones now coursing through my new female body were responsible, but under the circumstances almost anyone would be bawling their eyes out.

The spell had transformed me into a woman and more than likely transported me back in time. On top of that, I had no legal identity. Which meant, no social security, no credit score and no citizenship. I was a man, make that woman, who had been cut off from everything and everyone I’d ever known. The chances of going back to my old life were slim to none and as miserable as it was, it had been familiar. Now that my whole life had been thrown out the window, I didn’t have any idea what to do with myself. I’d seen grown men cry over less.

Hot tears stung my cheeks, and I hunched over just letting them come. Trey glanced over at me and smiled. “Hey now, it’ll be all right. You hear me? We’ll get this thing figured out.”

His words actually helped provide some small comfort, but still I cried. Save for the occasional sob escaping my lips, we spent the rest of the car ride in silence. I leaned into Trey’s side and he wrapped an arm around my waist. I wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, least of all myself, but it made my heart flutter. What the hell was wrong with me?

#

I stood staring at myself in the mirror and found myself looking at my reflection with wide eyes. The girl who looked back at me bore more than a passing resemblance to the Linda I’d known. The more time I spent in my new body the more I became convinced that I had, in fact, become her or, at least, a past version of her. I hadn’t realized how much of a looker she’d been in her youth until I’d become her.

It had been more than a week, since Trey found me in that field and in that time I was no closer to wrapping my head around what happened.

In the short time since then, I played my cards well. The police, and the folks at the hospital had all bought my act. All I had to do was bat my eyelashes, and they fell for it it all hook, line and sinker. It was frightening how easy it had been. There had been a few local officers who expressed suspicion, but with no proof they dropped the matter.

Trey hauled me off to the hospital, and they did the obligatory physical examinations and the police took my fingerprints and ran a background check. They turned up nothing. Since I showed no signs of physical injury, the doctor’s thought I might be suffering from dissociative amnesia, basically memory loss brought on by serious mental trauma I let them think that given that the alternative was a one-way trip to the loony bin.

I came up with some bullshit backstory about moving across the country to start a new life. Though ‘Linda’ remembered bits and pieces of her old life she didn’t recall enough to be of any help. She possessed very little money and just enough cash to get where she needed to go, but even her destination she did not remember. When I woke up in the field, I had nothing and so neither did my new persona. Her car and what little money she had disappeared along with most of her memories or would have if they’d existed in the first place. The details didn’t matter, it was just another damn lie anyway, but it ate me up inside. I kept hearing my mother’s voice in my head telling me she had raised me better than that.

Trey offered to give me a place to stay until I got my feet off the ground and I accepted. Grateful for a place to stay, I took him up on his offer, but it made me uncomfortable as hell staying in the home of a strange man that wanted to fuck me. That wasn’t even the worst part, though. I wanted to fuck him too.

When I peered back into the mirror, I shook my head, and cast such thoughts out of my head.

I bit my lip and began to unbutton the blouse I wore. It had been difficult, but I’d spent the time since my rescue avoiding even glancing in the direction of a mirror. I tried my damnedest to pretend that I was still regular old Harry, but Trey made that difficult, if not impossible. I ignored the fact that his eyes always seemed to focus on my chest, or at least I pretended to. I didn’t blame him. If I were occupying the same space as the living personification of a goddess I would have a hard time keeping my eyes to myself too.

When I’d woken up that morning, I’d concluded that I wouldn’t bury my head in the sand any longer and that was how I’d found myself looking in the mirror.

The clothes I wore, a button up blouse and a pair of sweats belonged to Tray’s wife Mary, and they fit me rather well. I couldn’t bring myself to wear any of her nightgowns, they’d all been so very feminine and it seemed wrong wearing something she’d worn in the bedroom. Every time I looked at them I imagined Trey making love to her… and more often than not, me in her clothing.

I often fantasized about him, which disturbed me more than anything. Since, my transformation, I didn’t have eyes for the fairer sex. Before my change, it had been easy to conjure images of myself making love to beautiful women, but try as I might I couldn’t bring such fantasies to life inside of my mind. I even tried to arouse myself by thinking of some of my former girlfriends and what I’d done to them in bed, but it just didn’t do it for me anymore.

Soon, the shirt was off and I found myself looking at a nice set of breasts in the mirror. I hadn’t gotten around to getting fitted for a bra, and I’d been walking around with them hanging there on my chest unrestricted beneath my clothes. In times past, if I saw such a pair of glorious tits I would have found it difficult to keep my eyes off them, but while they held my rapt attention it was for very different reasons. I experienced no arousal whatsoever.

I looked young, perhaps in my early twenties, my breasts had not begun to sag. I’d regressed in age almost a decade, given a form that was vivacious in every sense of the word and while I think a lot of women would have been envious, all I experienced was disgust. Sometimes I didn’t even feel like myself. Every movement, every sensation, seeming wrong.

I cupped my boobs, not for the first time, but with more attention to detail than before. They were firm, firmer than any set I’d ever laid hands on. Even ones half their size.

Next, I slid my hands down my side and unclasped the button on my jeans. I leaned over to slide them down my legs and glanced up at my reflection. It still unnerved me to see that girl in the mirror. I stood full upright and eyed her.

The only piece of clothing I wore were my panties. They would come off later once I’d gotten a better look at the rest of my body. My vulva would be too great of a distraction if it too were exposed.

If the spell had been designed to create my ideal woman, it couldn’t have done any better. Before my transformation I liked my women soft, and Linda was exactly that. She wasn’t fat, but nor was she skinny, merely what I would consider an ideal weight. Her hips were wide, and she possessed an ass that just didn’t quit. She had slim shoulders, and hair done up in a masculine style exactly as it had been when I was male, save that it was now a fiery red where before it had been a dull brown. It seemed odd to me, that my haircut alone would be the only thing that had not changed, but it was the least of my worries.

There wasn’t a single blemish on my entire body as far as I could tell. No cellulite, moles or a single freckle. I had the body the likes of which I had only believed existed in magazines until that day. Perhaps through surgery someone might achieve such a figure, but, it would take dozens of procedures to receive results that even came close to what I saw before me.

I stood holding my breath taking in every detail, every little curve for what seemed like several minutes, but was probably closer to a few seconds. Then, I let all the air out of my lungs and slipped my panties free from my waist and over my hips before letting them fall to the ground.

Like the rest of my physique, my vagina was, perhaps, too perfect, but as I stood there eying the god-forsaken thing in the mirror, I only hesitated for the briefest of seconds before plunging my finger inside. The sensations that arose were pleasurable.

My eyes widened, and I found thoughts of Trey coming to me unbidden. I pursed my lips, emitting a soft moan as I slid my finger in and out of my clit. Though I’d heard it said that arousal worked differently for women than it did in men, never until that moment did I realize how wide the gap was. I slid a hand up my chest and messaged my left nipple even as the other one worked its magic on my nether regions.

Things might have been taken a step further, had it not been for one thing. I sensed rather than saw, the doorknob moving and I turned just in time to witness the door swing open.

“Linda, I thou—” He stopped mid sentence, and just stood there wide-eyed like a deer caught in headlights.

My heart hammered in my chest and I too stood there frozen looking back at him with my jaw hanging open. In that moment, something changed in me.

It was sparked by the realization that I would never go back to being the person who I was before. It had only been a fluke that I’d discovered the catalog and it was unlikely I’d ever be able to track down another copy if it even existed yet. I could spend all my time living in denial or I could accept what the spell had done to me and move forward in my life.

“Oh, god, I’m so sorry. I thought you’d be in bed,” Trey said still frozen in place.

What I did next surprised even me. I didn’t attempt to cover myself, but instead sauntered toward him, my hips and ass swaying to some unheard tune. Though I’d seen women move like that before, never in my life would I have suspected I would be able to pull it off myself. I don’t know if it was something that was natural to every woman, or if perhaps it was something that came with my hyper-sexualized body. The truth was I was beginning to care less and less.

I suspected that this change in attitudes may have been a side effect from the spell, and it scared me more than a little. That being said, there would be no stopping myself. I wanted Trey, no, I needed him to do things that would have been unthinkable just moments ago.

When I got close, I grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him toward me. He didn’t resist and our lips locked, sharing a kiss that took my breath away. He put his arms around me, and soon I found myself spread full eagle atop the bed. I wasn’t sure if I had pulled him toward it or if he had pushed me atop it, but either way the result was the same.

It didn’t matter. All I knew was that he was on his knees atop the bed ready to fuck. My hands slid up his waistband, and I pulled his belt free and I tossed it sideways. I heard the buckle clink against the wall, but I neither saw nor cared where it landed.

Soon, I was looking at his cock, and a nervous grin spread across my face as he lowered his body and plunged it into me. If my eyes had been wide before, I’m sure, it was nothing compared to how they looked then. There was a pressure inside of me, a tightness that left me gasping for air. God it was amazing, and yet, it hurt a little too. His lips touched my neck, and his hands kneaded my breasts. I screamed out, in exquisite agony as he pulled out and plunged his member deep inside of me again.

I didn’t have any idea how long we went at it. It might well have been hours or minutes. We did things to one another for which I didn’t have words. I’d never made love so passionately. Which made me realize just how selfish I had been before my change. I released my load and been done with it.

It was clear Trey knew how to pleasure a woman and for that education I was very grateful. Never had I imagined what it must feel like for a woman nor had I imagined I would ever be so vocal. I couldn’t help myself every time he kissed me in just the right place, my heart fluttered and my loins burned with desire. Sweat ran from every pour, as our passions evoked a heat the likes I had yet to experience. Bodily fluids dripped from every orifice, and every time his hands touched my breasts or slid down the nape of my back, I shivered.

When he released his load, and I found myself panting for air. He rolled off me and lay there looking up at the ceiling, my heart still hammering inside of my chest. I should have been in a frenzy, but all I felt was the warm afterglow of our lovemaking. Panic would come later.

#

The change that had come upon me when Trey and I had been making love was not something that I knew how to articulate, but it marked the beginning of the end for Harry and sparked my journey to becoming Linda. It didn’t take place all at once, nor did I let it happen without a fight.

Three months came and went and in that time I’d almost gotten used to seeing Linda looking back at me in the mirror. I barely even thought of myself as Harry anymore, which was what terrified me. I’d had several periods and in an odd way I felt as if it was an initiation, but even so I was only just beginning to understand what it meant to be a woman.

Trey and I made love, frequently, and it was one of the few things that I didn’t regret. He made me think that it might somehow all be worth it. When we fucked, it didn’t matter if I was Harry or Linda. Everything just made sense. It was one of those times that helped put the final nail in Harry’s coffin.

Trey spent his day off in the field tending to his animals and when he got back, I saw hunger in his eyes. I might have wondered what had ignited his interest, but I knew from the moment his eyes met mine that it was all me. I answered with the same hunger, damn near flying across the room to get to him.

Our lips locked and the next thing I knew I was down on my back atop the counter. That was another thing about our liaisons they weren’t ever bound by the restrictions of a single room. Although, I must admit that this was the first time we’d fucked in the kitchen.

I shivered and shook my head, clearing my mind of distracting thoughts. It had been weeks since that event and the memory of it still burned bright in my mind. Our lovemaking had been passionate and wild. I’d been little better than an animal, but neither had Trey.

I looked down at the home pregnancy test clenched in my hands. In my time, they had come a long way from their earliest days. The one I was holding in my hands was among the first that had been commercially available in the United States. They’d only been out a few years and as yet hadn’t evolved into the much simpler little sticks that my partners would use.

The whole process was easy, you put some pee, water, and the provided chemicals into the tube, shake the hell out of the thing and stand it up inside of the little case that came with it. Then you waited, two fucking hours. The waiting was the worst part.

This was only the second time I’d used one. The first being after the morning Trey had walked in on me naked and we’d made love for the first time. After that incident Trey used a condom, but when we fucked that day in the kitchen our passion got the better of us and we hadn’t been thinking with our heads on straight.

I’d already waited the prerequisite two hours. So I looked into the little box, peering into the little mirror, and my breath caught in my throat.

I dropped it and it clinked and clattered on the hard linoleum floor. The vial fell out and rolled across the floor and I bent over to retrieve both. By some miracle neither broke, but, truth be told, I kind of wish they had. At least then it would have given me something to do with my hands.

I leaned my back against the wall and sank down to my knees my heart hammering inside my chest. The results were correct, I knew it in my heart, but I damn well intended to get it confirmed by a doctor. I sat there for quite a while, before I stood up and tossed everything in the trash bin. If I waited too long Trey would come looking for me so I moved out of the bathroom heading down the hallway toward the kitchen where he was waiting.

I had a little casserole baking in the oven and Trey was seated at the kitchen table reading the paper, waiting for dinner to finish. He was often up before the local periodical arrived so it had become something of a habit for him to read it after he’d gotten home.

I sat across from him and just stared off into space. Trey didn’t stop to greet me, we’d already shared our hellos at the door. He paused after a moment, lowered the paper down and eyed me. “Looks like they’re renaming Old Fork Road, to Wilson Avenue.”

Wilson Avenue was the name of the road they would eventually build my old apartment building on. Again, I held my breath, but I didn’t say a word. The field I’d woken up on was Trey’s property and I knew that it would become home to Shady Acres. Trey had inherited a pretty penny from his parents, a lot more than his neighbors new, far more than you’d expect from a simple farmer.

He eyed me, put down the paper and cleared his throat. “Linda, what wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I stared at him and shook my head hot tears stream drowning my cheeks. I opened my mouth, attempting to form the words, but I couldn’t find the words.

“Linda what is it?” He asked again.

I let out a long sigh and forced myself to speak. “I-I’m pregnant.”

Somehow, I hadn’t seen it coming. Linda and Trey were Jared’s parents. A part of me must have realized that if I stayed with Trey I’d get myself knocked up, but I hadn’t expected it so soon.

Trey, didn’t react as I expected. He was out of his seat, in a flash and pulled me up off my feet. He enfolded me in his arms and kissed me full on the lips. I melted in his arms and when we broke for air, I put my head on his shoulder.

“You gonna be okay?”

I nodded, my tears dripping down his chest. “The neighbors will talk.”

The truth was the neighbors were already talking. Trey and I hadn’t made our relationship a secret, and the town was mainly populated by Mormons and a handful Catholics so it went without being said our pre-marital activities would get the town gossip mill all in a flurry.

“Let them,” he whispered, and I just stood there lost in his embrace. Whatever part of me that was still holding on to my masculinity faded away in that moment. For all intents and purposes, it was the final death knell for Harry. He would always be a part of me, but I would never think of myself as him again. I was Linda, and that was just fine.

“Trey, I love you.” I spoke the words, without a moment’s hesitation. I pulled away to gauge his reaction, both of my hands on his shoulders.

He stared at me for a moment, before a smile stretched across his face. “I love you too.”

Crying anew, I collapsed into his arms. I wasn’t crying out of fear or shock, but joy. For the first time, I thanked my lucky stars that I had found that catalog. I’d never been happier in all my life.

One thing was for certain, if I ever got a hold of that catalog, I knew a certain stairway where I could stash it.

#

The End

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 38

09/14/2019

Part 38 – Epilogue

“–In what experts are calling a landmark victory for Twisted rights.” The female reporter’s voice blared from the television as video footage played on-screen of Mr. Hails and me descending the steps of the courthouse.

I muted the volume, a smile spreading across my face as I watched the news report. I shook my head still unable to believe that it was real, or that I was the focal point. Star Capital Realty and Development Corporation, the company that owns the Clearville Mall offered to settle out of court, in exchange for my silence, but Mr. Hails and I agreed that I needed to share my story.

On the surface my case had been a simple lawsuit claiming damages against Star Capital, but Mr. Hails seemed to think there would be more far-reaching implications. Such a victory could pave the way for civil cases like Loving v. Virginia or Brown v. The Board of Education.

Though painful, relating my memories of what happened in the mall in a courtroom for everyone to hear, the tears I shed on the stand helped drive my point home. All of Star Capital’s money and their slick lawyers didn’t stand a chance.

The judge awarded us more money in damages with which I might have otherwise know what to do, but with which I already began to make plans. The cost of higher-education wouldn’t be getting cheaper any time soon, and if the future I envisioned would ever come to pass I would need some of that money to fund it.

At first, Mr. Hails wanted to take on my case pro bono. He insisted that the notoriety alone would be a major career booster, but I persuaded him to take a portion of the judgement. He relented and suffice it to say that I wouldn’t be the only one who would be paying for her college expenses with all the money.

With everything that had transpired, I did a lot of self-exploration and made some decisions about my career path. I wanted to help people and… well, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad. Not Carrie, but the man who took me in and protected me when my own mother wanted nothing to do with me. As you guessed that would be Mr. Hails or John as I was calling him these days.

My mind turned to Jeff Goldwin and those jackasses at the convenience store. One of the first things I asked Megan about after our reunion had been about Jeff. As I already surmised I was premature in assuming I killed him. He tried to pin the whole thing on me, but someone in the park filmed the entire confrontation on their smartphone. Mr. Hails used it as leverage to get the charges against me dropped.

As far as ‘Jet’ and his friends in the convenience store, they didn’t come forward until after the lawsuit against Star Capital and only because they saw my face on the news. Again, video footage saved my ass, this time from the convenience store security cameras. Like Jeff, Jet and his friends had been the ones to face the music. Unfortunately, the worst charges that were levied against them had been disorderly conduct. I would take any victory I could get, even the small ones.

Though I escaped both unscathed, Mr. Hails saved me from the legal repercussions of their actions. It was a sad truth that the victims in situations like mine tended to be ones who faced criminal charges. Namely because no one would stand up for them. Maybe I was meant to help others in the same way Mr. Hails helped me.

I glanced at my reflection, a smile touching my pink gloss-stained lips as the girl in the mirror peered back at me. It took some time, but I put to rest the war between my male and female halves. My masculine half surrendered to my inner girl, and I embraced her with no reservations.

I don’t think any of that would have happened without the help of Dr. Mansfield. Our regular counseling sessions helped me realize that aside from my desire to be pretty and a few weird compulsions I was still pretty much the same old me. I still liked video games, I still ogled girls, and I was as big of a nerd as ever. The only difference being, most people didn’t see past my looks. For some that meant they saw a freak, but for most people in Spiral it meant another pretty face albeit one who looked a little more exotic.

The other big change in my life, was twist-related as well and that too I embraced. As I guessed I would, I took the dive into martial arts. I enrolled in lessons just two short weeks after walking past that studio in the mall and didn’t look back. My sensei told me he’d never seen anyone progress as quickly as me, but that would surprise no one who knew what caused my twist.

Since learning of my interest in martial arts, there had been no other surprises. I hoped that doing a little research of The Rise of the Anthecron the game which triggered my twist, might offer some clues, but I gleaned nothing helpful. Even the character bio for Kalena had been a bust. If there was anything new to discover about my twist, I would have to uncover it on my own. The version of the game I played was a demo and had yet to see a final release. When it did, I would be sure to get a copy. Who knows? I might enjoy it if nothing else.

My attitude towards my twist had changed in recent months and I was beginning to see that despite all the hardship it caused me, it was the best thing to have ever happened to me. I found my father… won over the girl of my dreams and my future seemed brighter than ever. College always seemed like wishful thinking when I lived in Clearville. Now, it had become a very likely prospect.

Armed with my ambitions I started applying myself in school and went from an average student to one of the top in my class. I made new friends and found a family, some of whom were blood and some not, that supported and lifted me up. As devastated as my mother’s rejection left me, she’d never been very supportive. My new family had their difficulties, but when it counted they were always there for each other. I couldn’t say the same for my mother.

Even the twins seemed to have accepted me. I overheard them discussing me with one of their little friends and although they still thought I was an ‘icky girl’ I was ‘kinda nice’ too. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but an improvement from the accusatory glares they used to level at me. Amanda, was a highlight and while she could be needy and temperamental, she made even my worst days worth living. Drew, seemed pleased to have me around and included me in all the family activities. Our dynamic isn’t what you would expect of a stepfather and stepdaughter. He treated me like a younger kid sister, which was just fine by me.

As for Carrie… The paternity test had been a closer match than anyone had anticipated. Dr. Clark had seemed surprised, but I made perfect sense to me. I looked just like her, after all. Nevertheless, it was reassuring to have confirmation, even if Carrie insisted it wasn’t necessary.

Liz and David had become something of a fixture in my life. Though their visits were less frequent than I’d like, I looked forward to the times they visited. I’d even started learning sign language so I could communicate with my grandfather.

I gazed into the vanity mirror one last time, giving my makeup a quick once-over, and smiled. Though I’d been reticent to give cosmetics a go, because of the price, I had to admit that the results were well worth it. There weren’t a lot of places that sold makeup to match my blue skin tone, but I managed to find a place that custom made it. I lived in Spiral after all.

I moved away from the mirror and grappled with the remote, flicking off the TV mounted on the opposite wall, a recent addition, and tossed it onto my bed. I stopped by the dresser, retrieving an envelope with the address to a certain convenience store scrolled across the front it and my purse. Sliding the former into the latter, I slipped out of my bedroom and down the hallway.

I found Carrie and Drew lounging on the couch in the living room. She was wearing her scrubs from the clinic and he was still sporting the t-shirt and jeans he usually wore out to the job site. I stepped into view, spinning around on the balls of my feet.”Well? How do I look?”

Carrie rose to her feet and rested her hands on my shoulders. “A slam dunk as always.”

I nodded, glancing down at my outfit pleased by her compliment. It was less revealing than my usual fare, but I didn’t want to out-do Megan by too wide of a margin. She was still very much a t-shirt and jeans sort of girl and I always felt so overdressed when Megan and I were out together. I sported a pink halter top and black knee-length-skirt and matching pair of heels.

“Do me a favor, and try not to stay out past ten-thirty, okay?” She asked.

I nodded, biting my lip. Though she made the same request every time I was out with Megan, I was more than happy to accommodate her. “Okay… Mom.”

She froze, her gaze never leaving me. It was the first time I’d called her by anything other than her first name and, I managed to catch her off guard for a change. Eventually, her mouth cracked into a smile, and she turned away wiping a tear from her face.

Before either of us could speak, the doorbell rang, and I tore down the stairs tripping over myself to get to the front door. Somehow I made it without face-planting into the hardwood steps and swung the door open to reveal Megan standing on the other side.

My heart fluttered at the mere sight of her and I stopped momentarily short of breath. Megan was my everything, we’d been through so much together and I couldn’t imagine life without her. Our relationship had raised a few eyebrows because of our age, but I didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought. The way my heart yearned for her whenever I was apart from her was more than just a simple crush.

Our relationship had evolved a lot since my flight from Clearville. It had been a little bumpy at first, due largely to the aforementioned flight, but we’d had a long talk and cleared the air. Megan still thought me a bit dense for fleeing town, but she had come to accept my reasons. She told me all about their own flight from Clearville and the sense of abandonment she’d experienced when I left.

What must it have been like all those years thinking that she was the only twisted person her age in our little town only to discover that not only was there another, but that person also happened to be her best friend? Then I had left, abandoning her just days before she’d undergone her own twist. Was it any wonder she slapped me when we met back up in the mall?

After my mother’s rejection, I understood all too well what Megan had gone through. It tore my insides up just thinking about the pain I’d caused her. I promised myself, and Megan too, that I would never abandon her again. Looking at her now, I found myself reaffirming that vow.

For a change Megan had switched things up. She wore a red button-down shirt, with half the buttons unclasped to reveal her rather generous cleavage, and instead of jeans she wore a pair of tight-fitting black dress pants. Without a doubt it was the most revealing thing she’d ever worn and yet still managed to fit into her tomboy sense of style.

Her cosmetics changed as often as I morphed my clothing and at times it seemed at odds with the way she dressed, but I’d gotten used to it. On that day she’d gone with something relatively conservative, blush, mascara, a little eyeliner and scarlet red lipsticks. The previous day she’d gone with a rainbow effect around her eyes and lips. Needless to say when the two of us were together we stood out in a crowd.

Megan’s twist had been a result of an aborted attempt at a makeover by Allison. She’d experienced a shift in appearance to more closely resemble her cousin and compulsion to wear cosmetics. Aside from that she was more or less the same old Megan which was just fine by me.

If it was possible, the rift between the two girls had widened even further. I didn’t see much of Allison these days, and though I understood much of her behavior was a result of her twist I couldn’t say I was disappointed by her absence. I only prayed that she one day found a way to make peace with herself.

I bit my lip then leaned in to peck her on the cheek. “You look nice.”

“You too,” she beamed back at me. “So what do you have planned tonight?”

I slipped outside, and closed the door behind me, my smile stretching into a grin. “Oh, I have some ideas.”

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 37

09/07/2019

Part 37 – Reunited

Though the girl that stood before me looked far different from the one I remembered, it was Megan. The nose I knew so well, the one which used to be a tad too large for her face had shrunk down to a more dainty and proportionate size. Her eyes were the same brilliant green and her lips just as generous. Her hair was another matter, she was now sporting long blonde locks. I couldn’t say whether it was a dye job or part of her twist, but either way it made her a near twin to her cousin.

Megan was the biggest tomboy in our class, and I hadn’t seen her wear the slightest bit of makeup the entire time we were friends. Today however, it was plastered all over her face. Many people would have thought her drop dead gorgeous, but it was her old face that I’d crushed on all those years.

Her fashion sense, at least, hadn’t changed. She was wearing a plain white t-shirt, jeans and a denim jacket.

Had I not known her better, I might have assumed that it was Allison I was looking at, but Megan was shorter and curvier and she was far less graceful in her movements. She stared at me all doe eyed for a moment. I even saw a tear glistening in her eyes, but then she swung her arm out slapping me across the face.

“IDIOT!” She screamed her feature’s twisting and contorting into an angry scowl.

I probably deserved that.

I was so flustered that I backed right into a mall directory. Carrie called after me, but I held a hand up warning her off.

I glanced back at her panting and with wide eyes. Her features softened, and she moved closer. I put my arms up, not to attack, but defend myself in case she struck again. She reached out, but when I swung my arm out to block her, she forced it aside and grabbed the collar of my dress.

Certain that another attack was incoming, you can imagine my surprise when she pulled me toward her and locked her lips around mine. My face was still throbbing from her blow, but I melted into her arms, nonetheless. When we broke for air, I stood there panting and staring back at her with eyes still wide. I slipped a hand up the side of my face, rubbing my fingers over my jaw and cheek.

Megan frowned, stepping back and folded her arms. “What the hell were you thinking?! Do you know how worried we’ve been! We didn’t have any idea what happened to you! I thought, I lost you!”

Unwilling to look her in the eyes, I lowered my gaze and adopted a pose almost identical to hers. “I thought if I left, it would take some heat off you guys.”

“You’re an idiot,” she repeated and pulled close slipping her arms around me. She put her head on my shoulders and I felt warm tears splatter on my shoulder. “Never do anything like that again, okay?”

“Megan?” A familiar voice spoke before I could respond.

We turned in unison to find Mr. Hails standing a few feet away. The toothy grin on his face told me all I needed to know. I craned my neck around at Carrie, my suspicions confirmed when I caught a knowing smirk on the corner of her lips. Our encounter was not a coincidence. Twice now, Carrie had pulled the wool over my eyes. One of these days, I told myself I would get her back.

I peered at the pair of them, arching an eyebrow. I might have expected more concern from Carrie, given that Megan just attacked me, but perhaps our kiss was enough to dispel any uneasiness, Pursing my lips before jerking forward, I threw my arms out and wrapping them around Mr. Hails.

“It’s good to see you!” I beamed. “Both of you!”

Mr. Hails stood stiff for a second, but then he relaxed and returned my hug. I pulled away looking up at him and glanced back over my shoulder at Carrie. All those years of looking for my father and I did not realize, until that moment, that I couldn’t have wished for a better dad than the one that now stood before me. Though we shared no blood ties, he had been there for me when no other adult would and had stood by me when my mother kicked me to the curb.

I was grateful to have found Carrie, but as we got to know each other and our relationship evolved she was coming to fill the role of a mother more than she ever would a father.

I cleared my throat and took a step back. As much as I wanted to tell Mr. Hails how I felt, it was neither the time nor place. Someday soon, I would make my feelings known, but for now the hug would have to do.

I stepped back, moving back toward Carrie. When I reached her, I held a hand out to her. “Megan,” I said. “This is my father… Carrie Christianson.”

“Shit,” Megan blurted out. “That’s why you could never find her! She twisted into a girl just like you! That’s so rad!”

She stopped, her eyes scanning each of our faces before shaking her head and smiling. “I mean, um, nice to meet you!”

Megan dropped to her knees and peered at Carrie’s legs. Confused, at first, I followed her gaze and caught sight of Amanda peeking out from behind them.

“Who’s this?” Megan asked, a smile spreading across her heart-shaped face and her eyes lighting up.

“This is Amanda,” Carrie answered bending over to retrieve my younger sibling. “She’s my youngest.”

Megan and Carrie, with Amanda in her arms, rose to their feet, and the former smiled at my youngest sibling. “Hi, I’m Megan, I’m Calista’s friend.”

Amanda buried her head in Carrie’s shoulder. “You’re mean!”

I smirked, watching Megan out of the corner of my eyes wondering how she would address the situation. Amanda saw her slap me, and it was nice to see at least someone had come to my defense even if I deserved the slap.

“I’m sorry, did I upset you? Your sister scared me, I promise I won’t do it again, okay?”

Megan looked up at her eyeing her with her big brown eyes and scowled at Megan. Though she didn’t seem convinced, she nodded. “Okay.”

“As much as I hate to break this up,” Mr. Hails said stepping forward, his hands fingering the cuff links on either of his wrists. “I’m afraid I have a job interview in less than thirty minutes.”

Megan arched an eyebrow, peering back and forth between her father and Carrie. “I thought it was after the movie?”

He smirked and then shrugged. Megan rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. “So we’re not going to the movie?”

“I’m not,” he said making eye contact with Carrie and nodding.

Understanding dawned on her face and Megan peered back at me a smile touching her lips before she turned back to her father. “Uh, yeah, so I guess I’ll see you tonight.”

Mr. Hails nodded at Carrie, then he turned to me still smiling. “We’ll catch up later.”

I nodded, and he turned away. He’d only taken perhaps half a dozen steps when without even realizing what I was doing I ran after him. I threw my arms around him, and he jerked to a stop glancing back at me with a startled look on his face.

“Mr. Hails…” I froze as I looked up into his eyes. “I-I just wanted to say, thank you… for everything.”

“Of course.” He peered back, surprised reflected in his eyes.

“And… good luck, with the interview, I mean. You’re a shoo-in.”

Mr. Hails sauntered away, and a second later a weight pressed into my side. I glanced toward it just in time to witness Megan slip her arms around my waist and smile. I peered into her eyes and leaned in to peck her on the lips.

Of all the ways I’d expected my day to turn out, this hadn’t even made the list, but that was not a bad thing. Not at all.

We rejoined Carrie and made our way to the theater seating ourselves within the nearly empty auditorium. When the lights turned dark and Megan’s head came to rest on my shoulders, I let out a contented sigh. I’d come a long way to get where I was, and for a while things looked bad. I’d found my father and reunited with the girl I loved even if she looked a little different. What could be better?

As the opening credits rolled across the screen, I took Megan’s hand and squeezed it. I had no idea what the future held, but it had never looked so bright.