|Revelations, Truth, Sex, and Life
© BlueNight -- all rights reserved
I was grumpy when I got home. My tail ached from sitting in meetings all day, my ears felt like they would flop down around my shoulders at any moment, and all I wanted to do was peel off my clothes and legs and sleep for hours. I put my hand on the door panel, and was rewarded by the sound of diamond-coated steel bars retracting. Opening the door, I looked around. He had a meeting today too, and I didn't know when it ended. He wasn't in the living room. "Eliza, is BlueNight home?" I asked our home computer's AI interface.
"No, he is not. Welcome home, Beth. You have four non-spam messages, and two phone messages." The cartoon ponytauress grinned, and trotted down the hall. "One of them is from hubby."
I raised my eyebrows, and followed her to my room. It was indeed from hubby. "Hello, dearest, sweetest Bunnie," it read, "The meeting ran long, but I took time during a quick lunch break to bring you something from the labs. It's robo-goo, nanites that can turn flesh creatures into robots. Even though it is an irreversable process, I scored some for you."
I stopped reading for a moment to adjust one leg, and to think. I had wanted to be a robot ever since seeing Transformers as a kid. I mean, not the new series, everyone watched those. I was lucky enough to have parents who had the old toys and videos, the ones that came out even before Beast Wars. Becoming an amputee only increased the desire, because I couldn't actually feel with my artificial legs and arm, just a sense pad against the stump connected to tactile sensors all over the "skin". We were working on a direct neural interface at Faux Paws...
"There are three pieces of beef in the bathtub to provide raw material for the transformation. Put them in the bathtub, and make sure they're touching your stumps when you pour the stuff. It has to be the bathtub, because the nanites are coded to glass, plastic, and air as stoppers and flesh as okay. The cotton of the bed would confuse them, and might cause glitches.
"I coded for the legs you liked most, and of course, a copy of your left arm. Remember, this is an irreversable process, due to the switchover from flesh to metal brain, so make sure you have the form you want. I'll see you soon. -BN"
My jaw dropped. Metal brain. This brought up a few questions. Through slow replacement of brain tissue, my conciousness would, presumably, be continuous. Would I sleep, or like BlueNight, be awake forever? Would my soul go to Heaven when I did this, or would it stay with my conciousness? Would I ever be able to smell again?
One of the best things would be the continual replacement of body parts instead of aging. BlueNight had a method of going into my body and removing wastes, deposits, fat, and wrinkles, that made me feel a year younger every six months. He did this for Caryn, too, and Natalie, when she was alive.
My eyes started to fill, and I closed them. Natalie. Perfect breasts, a genius at engineering and computer science. I was a decent substitute as head designer of Faux Paws, but nobody could match her style, her flair. She lost her legs in a tractor accident when she was very, very young, and grew up wearing poorly designed legs, thinking of ways to improve them. Maybe her brain, which had been male for nearly twenty years, was used to thinking spatially. Whatever it was, nobody could replace her.
Nobody could replace her as a lover, too. My husband's wife, my wife. Her pearl-white skin, perfect breasts, long, skinny tail, hairless body, and short, cute snout, were wonderful.
We hit it off immediately. More than once, we discussed being married in Vermont or Hawaii, before Utah allowed one-man, multiple-wife marriages. Shelley was my best friend since college, and Caryn joined our little group the day BlueNight introduced her to us. The five of us had a wonderful wedding, though having multiple sets of in-laws at the reception made it interesting.
I remembered our wedding night, the insanity, the lubricants, the inanimorph letting us have sex with him many, many times, in many forms. I think that's when we discovered Caryn was the always dominant alpha wife.
But Natalie could be dom or sub. In those legs that looked like thigh-length black leather boots, with that tail as a whip, she knew how to make us scream with pleasure, but strapped to a harness, legstumps just barely touching the floor, she was as helpless as anyone could be.
Natalie. Perfect, helpless, powerful, whimsical, melancholy, beautiful, perfect, Natalie.
A tear rolled down my cheek, and I smiled. Remember the good times, not the end. I opened my eyes, sighed, and said, "Eliza, where are the nanites?"
Her image strolled into the room. The chromo-matrix paint on the walls was well-suited to showing cartoons, and tv signals could be redirected to anywhere in the house. She said, "It's in the bathroom, but the beef is in the kitchen fridge. Would you like me to bring them?"
I said, "Could you, that would be a dear."
Eliza's image cocked her head to one side. "No, I'm a pony, and beef comes from cows."
I laughed. It was sometimes hard to remember that Eliza was a liquid-helium superconducting supercomputer, and that her personality was an extremely complex algorithm. "Vocal, dee ee ay arr. Reprocess."
She blinked, then smiled. "I'd be happy to take the beef to the bathroom for you." Her image left the room, and I heard her house robots humming across the carpet to the kitchen. I sighed, and looked down at my legs.
My artificial legs. Even when I was human, I wanted to be a robot. Illustrations of people with artificial limbs made me wish I could be an amputee, just to wear prosthetic, robotic limbs. I also loved animals, and furry fandom loved the pictures I anonymously posted when I eventually changed.
I met him on an amputee-wannabe webcam-chat, he was a lizard talking about growing limbs back, I was a rabbit. We both instant-messaged each other at the same time, discovered we lived in the same city, and started dating.
I had quite a temper, and I played a foul-mouthed tiger on a muck, even after I changed. I was angry all the time. We worked on my temper, and eventually discovered I had no trust in people at a basic level. I learned to trust him, and God, and my fellow wives, until I was the perfect submissive bunny rabbit. As a gag, BlueNight dyed my fur like a tiger, but I liked it, and kept it.
I shook the cobwebs from my brain, took off my work clothes, dumped them in the auto-hamper, and went into the bathroom. The robots had worked quickly and disappeared into their alcoves.
As a source of biomass, the beef would most definitely be enough. The blood ran down the tub into the drain, and reminded me of the suicide. I turned from the tub, the memory of her corpse raw in my mind, and looked in the mirror. The image was comforting. How did he describe me in that story?
"She was a brown rabbitmorph femme. Her face looked like the ideal furryfan wet-dream, a combination of the best cartoony-realistic morphic faces ever drawn by Brian O'Connell, Steve Martin, Doug Winger, and J. Bernal. The thick, creamy white stripe ran down her front, from under her chin to between her legs, ending at mid-thigh like some perfectly colored drawing.
"Her legs were thick and powerful, especially compared to the small torso and average-sized head. Her feet were about the length of my forearm plus the length of my hand, and her upper and lower legs were proportioned for great leaps. Her breasts were definitely not flat, about the size of my fist, with brown nipples poking out from under the fur. Her tail was short, a puff of fur with an enticing wiggle."
My legs had been like that, once, and my thighs still had the powerful muscles of a rabbit. Barely a year after the marriage, I was driving Shelley home from the movies. The Flu she contracted a decade before finally affected her, and she turned into a human skeleton, but her flesh remained, kept her from seeing anything. She grabbed my arm as her heart stopped and she was encased, blind, in her own corpse. I jerked the wheel to the left, turned, saw her face emotionless as the muscles untensed, her tongue lying there lifeless.
We wrapped around a tree, knocking the engine back between us. Due to airbag and seatbelt and luck, none of her bones were broken, but the flesh of her left arm was torn, and she could see through her arm. I wasn't so lucky. My right arm was mangled, and I couldn't move my legs. I saw blood, and I wondered who was screaming in horror and agony. Shelley wasn't screaming. Her ribcage couldn't move, her vocal cords didn't respond.
Mercifully, I lost conciousness. It turned out that an ambulance on patrol had to veer out of our way as I crossed the lane, and they saw us crash. Shelley was treated minimally, two holes cut into the flesh of her forehead. They used the jaws of life, and left my feet and shins in the car where the dashboard had cut them off. I almost died from lack of blood, and woke up in the hospital the following day. The airbag most definitely saved my life.
I looked into my own eyes once more. BlueNight said they mirrored the torment we all feel, the torment of living, the pain of existance. I looked down, and there was the jar of nanites, a silvery, mercurial liquid in a beaker. It was time.
I was about to become whole. I was about to become metal. A line from a song ran through my mind.
"Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun; but Mama, that's where the fun is..."
I looked at my solemn reflection in the mirror for a moment before laughing out loud. There was no way this beaker of silver metal was nanites that would roboticize me. That kind of tech was at least two decades away. This had to be another of my husband's sex games. I looked at the jar and said, "Okay, time to roboticize."
He had explained to us that he was a very tragic character. "I can't smell or taste, because those are biological brain-based senses. I don't know what my mind is now, tied to my atoms or shifted into a mindspace or hyperspace or something. Same with erogenous zones. Your kiss, to me, is like you pressing a finger against a table. The only difference is, you enjoy it more than the table does. I think. And I haven't slept since my transformation. It's amazing how much time I used to spend sleeping, eating, and gathering enough money to buy food and somewhere to sleep."
So he made us feel happy. He knew when we'd had a particularly boring or exhausting day, reading our body language like a book to know if we wanted sex or not. He used our body language against us to make us reach orgasm every time we had sex, and to keep it going for upwards of thirty seconds every time. "Simply stimulate the nerves that have had a half-second to rest, and vice versa, while giving the mind something to keep it going."
It was him in the beaker, and not nanobots, I was sure. I took the jar, placed it in the tub between the two larger pieces of beef, and sat down on the edge. Then I removed my artificial legs and set them next to the tub. I looked at the silvery liquid, and as far as I could tell, it hadn't done anything.
I shrugged, and using the special handles, lifted myself into the tub. I weighed much less without my legs, and I would have to get used to that weight again, if this was real.
The thought of my weight sparked the memory of that first day of the rest of my life. I woke up, groggy, and he was there, green against the white of a hospital ceiling, the horror of the crash a bad dream. I tried to sit up, putting weight on my right elbow, but I couldn't. I was mystified, and I reached over with my left arm. I touched my armpit instead of my upper arm. Was my right arm being held out at an angle by a cast or something?
I reached farther up, and discovered that my armpit connected to my shoulder. I felt myself growing aroused at the thought that I would have to wear a false right arm. Memory flashed again, and I looked farther down the bed.
There were empty spaces where my legs used to be.
Tentatively, I moved one thigh. I was sore from the crash, but even with the pain of moving a major group of muscles, I knew I should have been feeling my knees, shins, and feet moving against the bed. That just wasn't so. I reached down and cupped my left hand around my leg, where my mind was telling me I was reaching -through- my leg. The other stump felt the same.
I had stumps. I had stumps like Natalie. I would be able to wear prosthetic limbs, to touch them and not feel anything, as if I was a robot with a leg that I had damaged and could not feel. I felt my heart beat quickly, I felt myself becoming damp. Suddenly self-concious, I looked around. BlueNight was the only one in the room. "I didn't do it on purpose," I said weakly, and he made shushing noises and kissed my forehead.
We didn't make love that day, but we did the next, and several more times in the hospital bed during my recovery. It took a while for my stumps to toughen up, to be able to support my weight, but my left arm gained considerable muscle.
Memory faded into a background hum of thoughts as I sat myself in the tub. It was easier to sit without knees, instead of deciding to sit cross legged or with straight legs. I would have to pour the silver stuff on myself while touching all three pieces of meat at approximately the places I wanted them to be attached. I made a final adjustment to the meat, and unstrapped my right arm. The connection broke between the biofeedback pad and the place where my armpit became my shoulder, where my arm should have been. My arm was gone again, but would be back soon enough.
I knew my husband could simulate a biofeedback touchpad, and probably would. I could tell the difference, however, between an array of pins mapping "my" arm and hand, and the feel of the real thing. It was a good fantasy, though.
I sighed, picked up the beaker, and poured it slowly up one piece of meat, over my leg, across my belly, down the other leg, then back up, over my chest, over my shoulder and the arm-meat, then back down. It was goopy, viscous, pouring like honey through my fur. I shivered, it was cold too, when it touched my skin. The last drop pulled itself from the beaker without leaving visible residue, and I set it down next to the drain.
The cold silver spread, covering the meat, my legs, my hips, reaching under me and closing around my tail, between my legs, the cold wetness spreading up inside me. It spread across my belly, up and over from the line on the arm-meat, around my chest, covering my nipples, around my shoulders, my left arm, my neck. It was like a liquid silver bodysuit.
I felt cold, as it covered my chin, my mouth, inside my mouth, around my tongue and teeth, up my nose, behind my head, up over and inside my ears, and around over my forehead. It dripped down into my eyes, and I blinked. I was in darkness, soundlessness. Two X's showed up, one on each eye, and I adjusted, making them combine stereoscopically into an X ten feet away. It came nearer, then went farther away, and various test patterns flashed past at a speed that made me dizzy.
Then it stopped, and green letters appeared in the darkness. "Stage 1 complete. Subject "Elizabeth Aoyoru" covered. Do you wish to continue?"
I moved my tongue experimentally. The silver had travelled almost to the point where my gag reflex would have kicked in. I said, "Yes."
The letters cleared from my vision, and more test patterns appeared. Numbers appeared over the test patterns, hovering stereoscopically closer. "10"
I felt the coldness in my legs and right shoulder increase. "9"
I felt a stretching sensation, as if my legs were growing. I tried to move, but I was paralyzed. "8"
I felt pinpricks all over my body, and a peculiar warmth. I almost panicked. It felt very real. "7"
It was in my blood! It was real! "6"
A peculiar warm-cold feeling spread over my scalp, and penetrated. "5"
My brain felt like it was being eaten alive. Lord, I thought, please forgive my sins. "4"
My brain was hurting, my brain was hurting, my brain, my brain! "3"
A coldness, a clarity shone into my brain. The pain went away. "2"
My arms didn't feel cold anymore. In fact, my entire body felt like the temperature it was supposed to be. "1"
I still couldn't move, but I felt my ears "turn on". I could hear. The background of test patterns faded to black, and a voice in my mind said, "Zero."
My sight faded in. Around the edges of my vision were various meters and gauges, and when I focused on the one that looked like a battery, it filled my vision. "75% of capacity. Recharge necessary at 25%, estimated time 4 hours." I grinned, then sat up, using both arms. I felt muscles move in my arms, and my right arm didn't feel like a sensor pad. He was really good at this.
I stood up in the bathtub. My legs, my wonderful long feet and short, thick legs, were back in place, and the pains I had dealt with for years were gone. In fact, I felt better than I had ever felt before. Maybe it was real after all.
I went to the mirror, and looked at myself. I looked like I was made of copper, with matte black tiger stripes, and silver where my white fur had been. My mouth was all silver, from my buckteeth to my uvula. In a gesture I knew was cliched, I reached out slowly, and touched the mirror with my right hand. My fingers slid along the smooth glass, and I felt it. Wonderful!
If this is a sex game, I thought, it's a damn good one. I felt like I was really a robot rabbit. I felt like I was really made of metal and electricity and a stretchy metallic skin. My fur was gone forever, no more tangles, no more brushing.
I looked smaller, and I realized how much of a difference in apparent size fur had made. I looked closely at my ears, and without warning, my vision zoomed in. I felt my eyes iris, and I was looking at the surface of my ear. The copper-colored skin reached around the back of my ear, and a thin groove seperated the inside from the outside. The inside was metallic pink, shiny. I unfocused my eyes, and saw normally. This was great!
A thought struck me, and I knew my husband wouldn't let me down. I opened the toilet, sat down, and thought about him, imagining him as a green male robot rabbit, with a shiny pink cock. I imagined him whispering sweet nothings in my large audio receptors (even the words made me shiver), running his cool metal hand across my cool metal breast, my cute, brown, permanently erect nipple. The thought made me run my hand across my breast, and the familiar sensation made me reach down with my other hand.
Oh! Two hands with which to feel, to stroke. The artificial arms of the past were replaced by a totally artificial body, and that made me feel like doing nothing else all day. I felt down, across the place that would have been furry even if I morphed into human, and stroked the lips. They were supple, flexible. I thought about him, as I plunged my left thumb inside, rubbing a nipple with the other.
He whispered sweet nothings, "My robot darling, my sweet metal creature, my perfect hardbody." At that moment, I realized just how aroused this little fantasy had made me, and I arched my back, waves of pleasure lancing through me. His pink metal cock was inside me, not my thumb, I imagined; not my finger around my clitoris but his metal torso pressed against me, as I came, my mind hushing itself, telling itself that it was true, don't ruin this for me.
I ran my right hand across my tight belly, down my thigh, around my tail, between my leg and the seat, and pulling the lips from beneath. I was in heaven, as my tail brushed against my right arm, as I felt the subtle finger movement my other arm had never been able to provide.
Finally, the pleasure dulled, and I rested on the toilet seat. It was then that I realized no lubrication had been present. It had all been the nearly frictionless metallic skin. I was amazed. If this was real, which it probably wasn't, then I had all of time to make love to him as a robot.
Eternity for love.
I spent the afternoon trying on my clothes, underwear, party gowns, and the effect was wonderful. Each complimented me, in a way that made me look more beautiful than the last. Finally, I decided to try on the crotchless black leather underwear for a laugh. As I put on the leather bra, the one with nipple holes, I heard the front door open. I grinned. Caryn had come home, and she was going to get a surprise.
The secret of successfully living with someone is to not be around them enough to annoy, so we all had our own rooms. I left mine and padded down the hallway on my toes, grinning like a madwoman. She was going to be so --
BlueNight turned the corner. "Oh, I see you've already transformed. Congratulations."
To say I was shocked would as much of an understatement as The Sun is hot." I stood there for long moments, thinking, ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, it's true, it's real, I'm a robot forever and ever and ever. Then I fell to my knees, and arched my back and plunged both index fingers inside myself and came and came for three minutes.
Sometime during that three minutes, he transformed into a green metal rabbit robot, and replaced my fingers with his long, pink, metal cock, hugged me, kissed me, and whispered sweet nothings in my audio receptors.
Later, on my bed, the cotton rubbing against my metal skin, his metal hands ran almost frictionlessly against my breasts. He told me to access the orgasm control switch, and turn it back to "recharged". I did so, and immediately found I was ready to come again.
"Do you want to see something else?" he asked, and I nodded. He pressed several spots on the skin of my right arm, and it disconnected, leaving a socket. He ran his hands over it, and there was feeling from the skin around the edge, but no feeling from inside. "Again?" he asked, and I realized he wanted to disconnect my left arm.
I nodded, he disconnected it, and I felt, for the first time ever, no left arm. I had no arms, I couldn't hug him, I couldn't touch myself, and I told him so. He grinned, embraced me, ran his hands up and down my back, over the edges of my arm sockets, down over the small of my back, and slid his cock inside me. I couldn't hold on any longer and came, my armless torso against his chest, my shoulders thrown back, my arms on the bed next to us.
He disconnected my legs at the hips next, and reconnected my arms. He became black lacy panties without leg-holes, I put them on, and after a thrown switch on an options menu and a few minutes of feeling my legless pelvis, came again.
I felt extremely exhausted, and I said, "I'm exhausted. How do I recharge?"
He looked at me, opened his mouth, and vanished. Suddenly, the silver came away from my eyes and head, and flowed down around my neck. I was on my bed, and the silver goop was around me. My left arm was where it should have been, and my right arm was gone. My legs were stumps. BlueNight's head formed over my right breast. "You broke the illusion."
I stared for a moment, then exclaimed, "You mean to tell me this was all an illusion?"
"A hypnotic illusion," he said, "You need food and water. Shall I tell you in the kitchen?"
He formed metal legs, and simulated a biofeedback pad as he walked me to the kitchen. I prepared a snack, and he told me what had happened.
"The test patterns you saw the first time put you in a trance. In your ears, I whispered instructions the whole time. Most of what you saw was real, but I wasn't. I simply suggested you feel like you were being touched by a seperate person. I told you to imagine, and judging by your responses, you complied in spades. I mostly read your body language, and did what you wanted me to do."
I grinned. "Will you help me make love to Caryn as a robot?"
The head on my breast grinned, and said, "Absolutely. It'll..." The head turned to the left, a rather disconcerting feeling, frowned, and said, "Oh no. This is not good."
I swallowed another bite of the sandwich, and asked, "What?"
"Earlier today, two murder-suicides were found in different parts of the city, at different times. Each victim was a norm, each murderer was a SCABS victim. They just found another one."
I was aghast. "You mean there's a pattern?"
He nodded, peeled away from me, and I was legless again, sitting on a chair. I hadn't realized it, but he had been regulating my temperature, and now I felt my ears giving off heat as usual. He could not only emit light in any frequency, he could be any temperature.
He changed to his lizard form, and said, "There's a pattern, which means the media hounds will pick up on this. They know the police codes too, and this will have them barking about an epidemic. Each murderer was a SCABS victim, and they were all in relationships with the unaffected humans they slew. Eliza, riot alert alpha."
Riot alert alpha was the basic preperation for a possible anti-SCAB riot. All Alan Conglomerated companies in town and across the globe were to be told the situation. I said, "You think there's going to be trouble?"
He nodded sadly. "If there's one thing I know, it's that patterns mean things, and things have consequences. I just hope I can do something. But after this gets sorted out, we'll give Caryn a surprise. Scales on metal, mmmm. Seeya."
"Bye," I said, and watched him walk out the door.
I finished my sandwich, and slid myself off the chair. I walked on thighs and hand to the bathroom, put on my limbs, then went to the computer room, where I called Caryn's cell phone number. Tears formed in my eyes, and I wiped them away.
There was no riot that day, and the press, to their credit, made the point that there had been such bad coincidences before. However, that refrain sounded a bit strained when the fourth pair of bodies was found.
Jim Taylor slew wife Janet, then himself. He was a bawdy forty-turned-eighteen-year-old, she was thirty-eight. They had been having difficulties, but they were also seeing a counselor.
BlueNight checked in constantly on his quantum device. This was a nifty little piece of bug-proof communications hardware, using eight quantum pairs of particles to connect directly with the home computer. I wasn't sure exactly how it worked, but he said it was instantaneous. There was a broadband quantum device connecting our moon colony with the Internet, slaying the mother of all swack-iron lag monsters, but BlueNight said he could personally only handle four bits either way at once.
I could never quite picture how he viewed the world. He saw radio stations as a glowing, sparkling point of light, and also heard them when he "focused his attention". As an analogy, he explained that touch and sound are the same, but ears are radically more sensitive due to the amplification of the eardrums. The way he explained his world made me frustrated sometimes, because I would have a picture in my mind and he would shatter it with a few words.
The discovery of the fourth pair of bodies made him nearly frantic. He showed up for the autopsy, but he couldn't find anything to suggest it was something other than someone going a bit nutso and killing someone else. He was frustrated, and he vented when he came home by growing a sledgehammer from his hand and a computer from his foot and smashing them into little bits.
I cried that night.
The next day, while I was at Faux Paws, two more pairs of bodies were discovered. One news anchor blurted out, "They're killing us off! What can we do to stop this epidem-" before the station cut away. A crowd gathered around the police station, with signs calling for rounding up all the SCABS in town. The floating theory was, SCABS itself was causing them to go mad. The cameras gleefully picked out a sign with a drawing of an ostrich with his head in the sand.
Detective Bronski's reputation was working against him. He was having a rough time, because all the murderers were dead, and the autopsies showed exactly what they were expected to show. Forensics didn't help when they filed their report saying the scenes showed exactly what they seemed to show. The simple truth was, there was nothing he could do. There was nothing anyone could do.
BlueNight went to him, told him what he was, and asked how he could help. Bronski said if he could watch all the couples in town that fit the pattern, he might be able to do something. The only leads they had were that the deaths had occurred inside houses or apartments, never in public places, and none of the killers were inanimorphs. The last was not statistically a factor, considering less than one tenth of one percent of the SCABS population were inanimorphs.
When I got home that night, Caryn was talking on the phone. "Okay. Okay. Okay. Bye." She hung up, and turned around. "Blue's watching all the mixed couples he can find."
I had an image in my mind of an invisible multilegged creature standing over the town. He could see all around him, from every point on his body if he wanted, in full stereoscopic vision, and that was something I couldn't imagine. Six percent of the city's population had been affected by SCABS, but few of those were in norm/SCABS relationships. Talk of such relationships made me remember the weeks and months after the crash.
Shelley had tugged on my arm, and when I saw the dead emotionless look on her face caused by the death of her flesh and the unresponsiveness of her relaxed muscles, I freaked and crashed the car. After her flesh was carved off, after she sat in a case of maggots for hours at a time for three weeks, after he entered her skull and cleaned out her dead brain, she was clean white bone. How could she speak without lungs or vocal chords? Ask a talking plush animal, I don't know.
BlueNight discovered that walking around in Earth's gravity was creating microfractures in her legs, so after digging out and furnishing a city on the Moon, he took us all up. We said our goodbyes, promised to visit, and left her there. She was connected to the Internet, and we talked often; our husband took more inanimorphs to the Moon every year to keep her company, and we went along for the ride. It worked out, they didn't need air or food, and they could relate with each other.
Every year, when we got back to Earth, he gave us each a diamond. He said that making diamonds from our carbon dioxide was the easiest way to recycle our air, to keep us alive during our Moon trip. He couldn't create air that could separate from him, and he couldn't give himself velocity without leverage, but he did liquefy and compress supplies of hydrogen and oxygen to rocket us there and back.
Being invisible was a tad more difficult. Everything transparent has a refraction index. Glass, diamond, and water all refract light, so if he turned into those, he could be seen. Turning into air was easy, but staying in place and not shimmering like hot air was the hard part. He had to anchor himself to the ground to keep from blowing away whenever he turned into air.
Maybe he was a web of microscopic fibers, anchored to the walls and windows and ground, watching those couples, waiting for an argument, waiting for something.
Something happened, and Eliza displayed it on the wall. He sent text, "Argument." We waited. "Bad argument. Knife!" I held onto Caryn's arm, and she hugged me. After long minutes, he sent, "Stopped argument. Surrounded with bubble of me first. Nothing trying to escape."
We waited, and he sent an explanation. "MRI of brain of SCABS victim shows rage, chemicals in blood samp"
The text stopped there, and we watched, and waited. Finally, he sent, "Tiny thing bit through me! I felt pain! Chemicals in bloodstream caused rage, flushed chem, couple safe. Following thing."
We gasped. He hadn't felt pain since he died. If something had added chemicals to the bloodstream of the killers to cause homicidal rage, and probably another chemical later to cause suicidal depression, then torn through BlueNight's impenetrable bubble, it was an inanimorph much smarter than the one that copycatted police cases, and much more dangerous.
He followed it for miles, twisting and turning, sometimes only knowing where it went from the turbulence it left in air or water, but it finally managed to gain enough ground to lose him, probably as a soda can or a grain of sand. In frustration, he reported back to Detective Bronski.
The ostrich looked him straight in the eye and asked, "Can you kill him if you catch him?"
"Now that I know what we're dealing with, I'll do my best, but both I and the killer know what we are. I managed to stop the argument, so I think it takes someone who isn't aware of the situation."
A video was released to the press, detailing what the public should know, along with a message to the killer that his days were numbered. Bronski hoped the killer was still human enough to feel insulted.
BlueNight told us the whole tale before we went to bed. He was going back out to watch the city.
It was Friday night.
Saturday morning, I woke around ten. I popped my back five or six times, scratched my headfur, and crawled into the bathroom. I hoped BlueNight would catch that turd soon, and then we could all get back to our normal lives of being a trillionaire's multiple wives, and having sex every day for a long time. I tugged at my left ear. The ache at the base and the slight crease in the middle told me I had slept on it wrong.
I pushed the button that lowered the sink to my height and brushed my teeth, then pulled myself onto the toilet with my one arm. I went, wiped, showered, and went through the bathroom's second door to the pool. The cool water was nice, and as I lay floating on my back, I thought about stuff.
Inanimorphs were the most rare and peculiar of all SCABS variations. Inanimorphs that weren't stuck in one form, like pianos, pencils, or plushies, were even rarer. I had met one, once, that could be any size or shape computer monitor, even flatscreens, LCDs, and Mac-compatibles, but never a television. As for the chemicals injected into the bloodstreams of the recent victims, well...
I remembered BlueNight telling me about Gornul. The clay dragon had melted in the stream, and even after he was clumped back together, he had lost a large amount of mass. He ate food to regain the mass. Somehow it was converted into clay. He had lost mass, as pieces floated away. Part of him had come off and was not rejoined. BlueNight couldn't do that, but apparently the killer could separate parts of itself. The chemicals were simple enough to create.
Gornul had absorbed mass and made it part of himself. BlueNight couldn't do that, but apparently the killer could, and did, absorb enough of BlueNight's impenetrable bubble of himself to get through. BlueNight could be any combination of atoms, any level of complexity up to a nonfunctioning "dead" organic cell. He could pull mass from somewhere, shrinking to the size of a virus or growing to an upper limit he hadn't tested. Presumably, the killer had similar abilities.
Maybe it's a matter of willpower, I thought, maybe it's psychological. Psycho logic. Could it be that if a total control inanimorph thought he could do anything, he could?
I sighed, and dived to the bottom of the shallow end, holding onto the rail so I wouldn't float. The silence was beautiful. What would it be like if the silence lasted forever?
Caryn arced under the surface of the deep end with a splash, shifting her fur into scaly hide. I watched with fascination as her face and body took on the proportions of her bear form, with her dinosaur skin and tail. With three powerful strokes of that massive tail, she had reached and embraced me underwater with a smile, then pulled me up to the surface. "Hey there, beautiful," she said.
"Hey yourself," I muttered, cupping her breast in my only hand. Since she was about one third human, one third bear, and one third dino at the time, it was smaller than it was in her three-fourths human form, with skin and nipple of rough leather dino hide. Due to accidental exposure to some combination of chemicals and mutant strains of the MFV in a blood sample at a lab in England, she could not transform into more than three-fourths human, but she could become fully or to any degree of mixture, a red fox, a brown bear, a plant-eating warm-blooded dinosaur, and a mountain lion.
"Mmm, randy rabbit this morning?" she asked. She was the randy one, so I went along. She sat down on the steps in one corner of the shallow end, and I closed my truncated thighs around her tail, between her spread legs. I don't know why, but the horizontal vent of her cloaca always felt good, comforting, against my labia. I nibbled on her nipple for a minute, then dragged my chin up to her mouth and kissed her. Her tongue was thin and slimy, and mine was wide. Her left hand held my armless shoulder, her right pulling my hips down, to counter my buoyancy and put pressure on her own cloaca. She came against me, gasping. I didn't come.
When she finished, she sighed, and scritched my ears with both hands. "I am SO GLAD we married you!" she said, grinning. Then she called, "Eliza!"
The cartoon ponytauress "transported in" onto the tile walls, using the diagonal sparkling flash-bars from Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. She clicked her front hooves together, and said, "Ja vhol, mein Herrin."
"Any word on the situation from Blue?"
"Two messages, one in each of your mailboxes, duplicates by CC. Shall I open them?"
Eliza pulled an envelope from behind her back, tore it open, extracted the letter, and unfolded it. She cleared her throat and started reading, in BlueNight's voice. "My wives:
"I have been watching the city. Nobody has died since last night, except one old person in a retirement home, a premature baby and a meningitis case at the hospital, and nine abortions. I sincerely hope this person hasn't moved on to another city, but there have been no reports of deaths that fit the pattern. Perhaps it has gone into hiding. Perhaps it is simply waiting for something else.
"In any case, I want you to be careful. The killer knows the police and public know, so it'll be on the lookout. This weekend holds the most potential for danger, because more people are home and not at work. I love you both, and I'll see you soon. -BN"
Eliza cleared her throat again, and said in her own voice, "I'm stepping house security up to level eight, which detected BlueNight entering in various forms ninety-nine times out of a hundred during tests he knew were happening."
"Thanks, Eliza," I said, then slid backward off my dino wife's tail without a word, turned around, and started doing laps. I was very slow, because a short, stubby form isn't the most aquadynamic shape.
BlueNight didn't show up for lunch, but he sent us an update: nothing happening. I sighed, and went into my room to nap. Sleepy as I was, on a quiet Saturday afternoon, I just couldn't drop off. I rolled over, looked at the headboard, put my face in the pillow, waited, and rolled onto my back. It was useless.
So I went to my room's terminal and pulled up the file for a new leg I had been working on.
Legs. Mine were gone halfway down the thigh, and had been for somewhere near a decade. Every day, I had to wrap them, to make sure they weren't changing shape oddly. Shifting from rabbit to human wouldn't help. Once, I fell and cut my chin, and it made a scar I liked to hide under my fur. I rubbed it with my left hand, then moved it back to the controls designed for one hand.
This leg had a more detailed sensory pad, which meant more wires, which meant a bigger power supply, which meant the foot was heavier. This particular leg was designed to help support digitigrade feet lost at mid-shin, usually a great deal of trouble for high percentage cats, dogs, that kind of thing. Change the action of this motor, that one had to carry a heavier load...
I groaned with frustration and leaned back in the chair with a muffled whumff. It tipped over and spilled me on the carpet. I checked for bruises, and hit the floor with my fist. Why couldn't just one thing go wrong at once? Why did it have to be performance reviews at work and feet that didn't work and bad batches of plastic from a supplier that refused to buy back the bad batches and a killer prowling the city and a husband who wasn't here enough?
I felt the old tiger rise inside me, and I started crying, lying on my back on the carpet, feeling the pain and frustration of the past forty years welling up inside me. Why couldn't I just be normal? Why did I have to fall in love with a person who could be anything, but wanted to be a comic book hero? Why did I have to find pleasing a person who couldn't make her snout and tail and claws disappear? Why did I have to fall in love with my best friend, and nearly kill us both when she changed? Why did I have to love and miss and cry for my mouse, my dead mouse who could have solved this foot problem in a few hours' work?
I cried for minutes on end. I knew I would be a mess, but I knew they wouldn't care. What kind of freaks don't care how bad someone looks? Don't they know rabbits are ugly, with their big teeth and big ears and big feet, oh wait, I don't have any feet, but that's okay, we'll still keep you around as a pet!
I grimaced, and crawled over to my limb closet. I picked out the ones covered in fake fur, the ones that matched my dye job, and went to the kitchen. She was sitting there, reading the comics on the circular LCD in the middle of the kitchen table. It was a marvel of technology, a complete wraparound screen. Nat had designed the programming for it, so more than one person could use it at once, or so we could all look at the same thing. There was a program that downloaded the day's comic strips from the syndicates, twenty for a dollar, and displayed them.
I really didn't care. I was in a really foul mood, I hadn't been able to sleep, and I kicked the table as I passed it. A leg buckled, and it fell away from Caryn. "Hey!" she said, and stood up. She couldn't figure out what she was going to say next, so I said it for her.
"Fuck you. I'm pissed, and I don't care. We can buy a new one. We can spend all the money in the world, but we can't find a cure for SCABS or amputation. Oh," I said sarcastically, "cloning brainless bodies is a violation of the genetic engineering law. Well I don't give a rat's ass."
"Calm down." As soon as she said it, she knew it was the wrong thing to say. I threw a bunch of bananas at her.
"What do you expect me to do, wait around here until hubby finds that killer and captures it? I'm going out."
She blocked the door. "No driving until you calm down."
"Oh, and I should roll over just because you say so? I'm his wife too, I'm your equal. Just because you have three prey forms doesn't mean I should kowtow to you every time. I want out!"
"Out of what?"
"Out of this house, out of this marriage. I don't know!"
"You'll just crash again."
"Oh, I'm not good at anything, it's the mysterious senior wife that can do everything right. Come here, do this, do that. Lick me. Whip me. Well I've had it up to here," I raised my artificial hand to my neck, "and I'm going out." I punched her square in the snout with motorized power. She crumpled, I pushed her to the side, and opened the door.
Just outside the door to the garage, a wall of pink goo fell on and surrounded me. "Let me go!" I shrieked, and bit the pink stuff. It was chewy, like rubber, but it didn't budge.
"Please, Beth, please don't do this!" said my husband's voice. I was one of the lucky few lapines that didn't lose rationality when cornered or startled, but I kicked and bit. I felt a pinching sensation on my neck, and blood started to flow. The pink goo sealed off my neck, and rolled around the garage, as if fighting something inside it. They broke through the garage door, then two sickly swamp-green propellers sprouted from the goo and pulled them up into the sky, out of sight.
I felt woozy, and sat down hard. Caryn hugged me, and wept. "It didn't kill you," she kept saying, "It didn't kill you." I patted her back with one hand as the adrenalin of the fight and the shock of seeing my own blood flushed the anger chemical from my system.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, as blood dripped from her snout onto my shoulder.
We knelt there, hugging, for a minute, then together walked outside and looked up.
In fantasy novels and stories, "a wizards' duel" is a battle between two shapeshifters, each becoming a form that can knock out or kill the other. Between full control polymorphs, such a battle would make sense.
What we saw when we first stepped out of the garage would stay with us our entire lives. Two dragons were battling in midair, using deadly particle beam and laser beam weaponry. They both looked like BlueNight's "dragon" form. Each time one would fire, the other would become a mirror or prism to redirect the beam. One kept extending tentacles that became mirrors lightning-quick, to reflect stray beams up instead of down. We knew that was our BlueNight.
They saw that neither was getting anywhere, so they dropped to the ground and took humanoid forms.
BlueNight became a green bowling ball, and stepped from the crater in his lizard form.
The other inanimorph turned into a lead ball, fell, hit, and flowed upward. Feet, legs, torso, arms, head.
The other inanimorph was a woman. Her face looked like a supermodel's. She wore a flowing white robe around herself, and a golden olive wreath in her hair. "This is my true face, mighty one."
BlueNight walked up to her, and said, "Why did you do it? Why did you murder innocents?"
She laughed. "I stopped a few chemical reactions, and for that, you call me an enemy?"
He glowered at her. "They are what we were. We have a moral obligation."
She asked, "And why is that?"
He said, "Because we were them once."
"Does a butterfly protect the caterpillar?"
He shook his head. "That's different. The caterpillar-"
She interrupted. "I did that to get your attention! We are above them! We are what the Martians became! Their technology allowed us to become gods. Speaking of which, I don't believe we've met. I'm Aphrodite."
He laughed. "You are no better than a poop-flinging ape, saying to the zoo's guests, I've got this nice field of grass, this climbing equipment, and I get fed for free."
She shouted, "I want to love you, and you dare speak to Aphrodite that way?" and flung metal-spike hands at us, but they were stopped by a sheet of pure, clear diamond that became a bubble that surrounded them. She screamed, though we could not hear her, turned to diamond spikes, and dug her way through BlueNight, absorbing with every scratch.
He screamed soundlessly inside, and added more and more mass to the outside of the bubble. He reached for her from behind, but she flung out a hand. Suddenly, she exploded, a mass of red coating the inside, eating outward.
I prayed harder than I've ever prayed before. It sounds like a cliche, but it's true.
Suddenly, we saw him stop being eaten. Somehow he had learned how to keep from being absorbed.
Then, we saw the mass of diamond start to fill in, to press the red toward the middle. We saw a face of red pressed against the inside, screaming. She sent two last tendrils from the center, but they stopped barely a centimeter from the surface of the diamond bubble. They were aimed at us. The surface of the diamond vibrated, and an alien-sounding voice told us, "She's trying to become a fusion bomb! I love you both."
With that, a huge bubble of vacuum surrounded by his diamond towered over us, and they rose into the atmosphere. High above us, we saw a rocket engine flare, and disappear from sight.
We waited, but there was no boom. we went inside to eat and wait and pray.
Finally, we heard Eliza say, "Password confirmed. Welcome home, BlueNight."
He walked to us, his lizard form looking as handsome as ever, and said, "That takes care of-"
Another BlueNight tackled the first from behind, and started punching him on the floor. We were backed into a corner.
Each punch thrown by one of them pulled a chunk of the other away, and they extended tendrils, trying to surround the other. Obviously, like Thumb Wrestling, the first one to be surrounded would lose, and would die.
We heard one say, "You promised!"
The other said, "I lied," and faster than we could blink, had the other in its mouth. With a pained look on its face, the winner gulped, turned to us...
And asked, "Do you know what I just did?"
We shook our heads silently.
It said, "I just killed someone. And the worst part is, I don't feel any different." It looked at us with those big brown eyes, and tears, real salt-water, don't-have-to-be-reabsorbed tears fell from our husband's cheeks.
"She told me," he sniffled, "how inducing suicide was easier than rage. She told me about a test subject, and how, with a little change in brain chemistry, slicing off her ears and tail and snout was worth more than living."
He looked down. "I don't know if she was just saying that, but I can't know for sure." He shook his head. "I can't ever know for sure. Rest in peace, our darling Natalie."
"We had a conversation, out there in outer space," said BlueNight.
Caryn, BlueNight, and I were sitting around our repaired kitchen table, the day after the fight. The authorities had been contacted, the garage door repaired, and all was right in our little city. He continued, "We discussed moralities, and the nature of reality. What it boiled down to is that most moralities are based on 'life is good, human life is really good.' I also told her that I was convinced I would win in any fight to the absorption, because I'm an avatar of an Author."
I looked down, then back up at him. I had heard this all before, and it annoyed me. "Because cinematic action-movie fights to the death between inanimorphs -don't just happen- in real life, right?"
He nodded. "Of course, but that doesn't matter to us. What matters is that you're both alive, and I've discovered a new power. I think I always had it, but never had to use it before. I never needed it before, but fighting an opponent of such power forced me to do something. I just saw how she was eating me, and I followed her lead. In fact, all those years ago, when the bacteria were eating me, I hardened myself.
"Now that I can make myself into something, then separate it from me, all our businesses can bypass the raw materials stage, which means less damage to the environment, and trouble from certain unions. It also means our profits can soar. Liquid gases will no longer mean a trip to the upper atmosphere for me. It also means I can keep you alive much longer on the Moon, on our next trip."
We sat in silence for a moment, then I spoke. "I need to say something." They looked at me, waiting.
"I feel like a second string around here," I said, "I feel like wife number two. I feel like I'm you guys's pet, that I'm a hobby. I feel used."
Caryn's face twisted up as she held back tears. BlueNight said, "Beth, you know that I love you, and you know I love Caryn. It's harder to have two wives here than four, and harder than three. I've always said that love is a way to cope with life, but I also know it's the reason for life in the first place. If you need a week, or a year, or any amount of time away, you know you can have it."
"That's not it!" I nearly shouted, then realized I had raised my voice. "I need more time with you. More cuddles, more hugs, and definitely more sex."
Caryn smiled, as tears rolled down her face.
Blue looked at me, then at Caryn, then back at me. The expression on his face was priceless. "You mean right now?"
"Caryn, could you be what you were in the pool yesterday, with a one-piece bathing suit? Blue, could we go discuss something?"
We went into my room, and a moment later, I heard the door to Caryn's room close. I said, "Can you map a penis?"
BlueNight raised one eyebrow. "To you? Sure. I'd have to put you in a light trance, same as with the metal."
I grinned. "Okay, metal me, with a penis."
I was going to dominate. Every life needs balance, and I had been submissive long enough. I was going to show them a rabbit can be more than soft and cuddly.
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