This is set in the "Tales from the Blind Pig" universe.
"What? No, You can not run Kazaa, or for that matter, ANY file sharing utility. Why? Ask the last guy who did that, If he is out of prison yet. Ok, You can take it to him. He is nastier them I am." I unceremoniously dropped the phone back onto it's cradle, and muttered dark curses in four languages as I padded over to the 'Console of Doom'. A few clicks later, and that person's screen is on my desktop. hmmm.. At least they did not plug into the Nazi Net. I change screens over to the Network monitor, and remotely drop the switch port after reading the traffic levels. I did warn them...
I have changed jobs yet again. Granted, my old job was nice and "safe", but I wanted to do more then work on printers and computers. The folks in the NOC liked the fact that I could help them with remotely fixing problems, but I got the sense that they were not comfortable with me. In addition, I could not go on site to fix things, which limited what I could do over the phone. Fortunately, Kerry's job had a rather unexpected job opening. They brought in the occasional printer or machine that the IT admin could'nt figure out, but at one point they had to let the guy go. Something about running a large file sharing host, and handing out free samples of stuff we produced. Nasty business. In any case, they hired me. Kerry probably had a hand in it, though. She can be rather persuasive when she wants to.
Speaking of which, Kerry has become more to me then just a mere helper or roommate. I will not go into details, but during the Phoenix riots we became much closer. I will just say that we are getting married soon. We are still sleeping in separate rooms though. It is more of an love of the person, even though I think there might be something physical between us. She gets this odd expression on her face when she is helping me with the grooming. I will cheerfully admit that she is a fine example of a female human, but it is mearly a cold observation. The scent is all wrong for lust, or physical attraction. But that might be all in my head. My affliction turned me from a rather out of shape human male completely into a male Siberian tiger. The only thing I retained was my mind, and frankly I have my doubts of that.
I am told that my DNA was changed almost completely tiger, with a smattering of human genes. Essentially, I am a very smart tiger with an ability to shift my shape somewhere back to human. I had heard rumors of some animals that came down with SCABs gained similar abilities, but with science the way it is, we will never know for certain. I do know that my mind has changed, though. Just ask the instructor who was shocked as I set the record as the fastest person to gain a CCIE (two weeks, and I nearly aced all the tests). My mind gained the ability to absorb and utilize knowledge at an extraordinary rate. From what I understand, quite a few SCABS have picked up this will trick when the Flu re-wrote them. I learned a lot during my enforced vacation, and with talking with Kerry enabled me to learn a lot on how to run a recording studio. Combined with my hearing, computer, and network skills, I was the perfect replacement for their IT admin vacancy. I fixed the existing network problems within two weeks of my arrival. I got everything running very smoothly, with a minimum of expense, which made the owner quite happy.
We announced several months ago that we were moving from the Valley to a large city back east, because it was closer to the music scene, and also because the climate was better for the motley collection of SCABS that we employ. Other then the chronomorph (Kerry), and the inamorph (Grumpy, the incredible walking beerkeg and office manager), the other six of us have varying degrees of fur, fangs, and paws. The nice thing was that we all had a hand in setting up and designing the new place. It is well beyond the new ADA compliancy regulations.
One of the things that we all agreed upon was a separate room for administrative stuff. We also wanted a separate corridor for the staff in case things got out of control, or rioters decided to try and raid the place. We were still living with the memories of the Phoenix riots which drove a lot of the surviving SCABs out of Phoenix. As the new place did not have the room for all the mixers to have their own studio, Six of the studios were shared, which is ok with the six that share them. Kerry has her own, as she is the senior mix engineer and knows a hell of a lot about how stuff is supposed to sound. I got one simply because I designed the network which allows everyone in the studios to communicate, and I have apparently got what everyone calls "talent to spare". I do not think I am that good, though. That, and as I have the Nazi Net's server in my room, We needed somewhere that was physically secure. My room fit because it is smack in the middle of the place, and it is buried behind several concrete walls. It is also the disaster room for the place.
They gave Kerry a pretty decent budget for designing "The mixing room of the future." Between me and Kerry, we not only got it right, but the internal network is ultra fast, and ultra secure. It is informally called the Nazi Net, simply because it is highly controlled. Besides, the rooms have a separate network line run into the mixer's workroom which connects to the company's normal network (which is also secure, but not nearly as secure as the Nazi net.) I will not bore you with the details of how the network is laid out, except to say that no one has gotten past the first NAT machine. And even then I heard about it, and within an hour had an arrest from some luser in Seattle, and a conviction in three weeks. And visitors wonder why some of the network jacks have a swastika scrawled next to the number.
In addition to being the IT admin, I am also one of the sound engineers. Kerry taught me a great deal, and I have managed to learn a lot through practice. My room is set up a bit different then the rest of the rooms. I have a half cabinet with several systems in it: The Phone Console of Doom, the Nazi Net's server (aka Hitler), the Network monitor/controllers for both networks (Stalin and Himmler), the video recording system (Big Brother), and a few other goodies that the owner asked me to install. This occupies one corner. You barely hear it though, because it is heavily sound proofed and ducted into a dedicated zone on the big A/C plant. The counter is level with the top of the cabinet. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse for it sits next to the cabinet. A standard issue PC sits next to it. Instead of a chair, there is a large padded bench where I sit. It is comfy, but not as comfy as the pile of blankets that the boss let's me keep in one of the corners to, uh, cat-nap. (The owner of the company sympathizes with SCABs, as he lost his wife and unborn twins to the Flu.) I also have a mini fridge, and a small microwave in my room. That is the back wall as you face the room from the door. The wall facing the studio has a medium size one-way window set into it. The counter sits under the window, and is heaped with various bits and pieces of computer and mixing gear in various states of disrepair. The other wall is covered with large posters and other stuff: certifications, a copy of the infamous check that set my life free, pictures, and awards. There is one spot with an award for a record that I mixed. It went double platinum inside of two months after it's release. I am very proud of that. It also shuts people up when they ask why an 'animal' is mixing their precious music.
Most of our clients are pretty SCABs friendly, though. We have a few that are not, and they usually get dumped on Kerry, who is the most human of all of us, unless someone asks her just how she manages to look so young. We looked around on several web sites when we moved to see what kind of place we were moving to. This was, after all, where a human tried running for office based on a campaign of hate. But overall, it got good reviews, and there is this place about a mile and a half from the studio that is not only SCABS friendly, but listed as a great hang out. We decided to go over there one night. What a motley and strange collection of creatures! There was a wolf morph in a cape quoting Shakespeare (in the proper accent, no less!) leading a collection of other lupine morphs, an annoyed looking cheetah morph drinking a rather unusual concoction which I ended up trying later, and a white rabbit. What was unusual was that the rabbit not only was out in this otherwise fearsome collection of predators, but he did not have a chaperone. I asked discreetly about this, and found that he was not in the colonies. Quite a feat, really. I noticed him shoot a somewhat worried glance in my direction once or twice. Shortly after I got the explaination about the colonies, an ostrich came over and explained everything1. We bought his drinks for the rest of the night. We even tried a few drinks ourselves, and by the time the evening was over, I was throughly sloshed. The last drink I remember having was a small version of what that cheetah morph was having...
I must have been snoring, because I was being poked in the side. I snapped my eyes open at this sudden intrusion. Big mistake. The light streaming in through the window was more then enough to blind me and start the small headache I had into a pounding sensation that sounded light a fast techno beat. I slammed my eyes back shut and rolled over. The poking became much more insistent and a muffled squeaking noise was being made from underneath me. I rolled over the other way and grunted a few times. the poking stopped, and I painfully heard the sheets being flung about as the person I squashed got up, one of the sheets hitting me in the nose. I cracked my eyes open a bit slower this time. My voder made a few noises, and I finally managed to croak out something that sounded like "what was the number of that truck that ran me over?". It came out more like someone who was seriously drunk:" wa waass he umbe f ha uck hat an ee over?" Oy. I grunted a few more times, and turned to face a very annoyed Kerry who turned out to be the one I squashed. I closed my eyes again because it felt better (the beat in my head was lessened) and also because she was stark naked. She muttered something that sounded like it was my turn to fix breakfast and walked out of the room. I then noticed it was my room. I slowly and painfully got up, waited to the vertigo to pass, and slowly padded out to the kitchen and started breakfast. She came out twenty minutes later, by which time the pain killers had finally kicked in and I was able to put myself into a form which I had recently found myself capable of shifting to. Kerry was in for a shock, as I had not told her that I had finally found a way around the full morph problem.
I had been fooling around with the idea for quite a few years now. I had the idea for this form a long time ago, before Earth had ever even heard of the flu. I had taken this form from several science fiction books I had read, and added a few twists. Now, I had figured out just how to get this body to shift into it, and it turns out that it is an even bigger plateau form then the 'taur form. 12 hours, and I have no hint of any pain or twitching that normally accompanies the imminent and painful reversion to full-morph. There were a few drawbacks, of course. This form, unlike the fictional one I had based it on, can not talk. So, I was still stuck with the voder. I also lost the (mostly) color vision that my fullmorph had. So, I am stuck without a voice, and totally color-blind. At least my close up vision improved to 20/20. My full morph has a bit of trouble seeing up close, so I had a set of both contacts and glasses made. I normally wore the contacts, but I had the glasses as a backup. This form had a few other differences then a 'normal' morphic tiger, but the only person who knew what these differences were was my doctor. I mean, if you had bulletproof bone armor, a set of claws that could cut a metal door open like hot butter, and an accelerated metabolism which could heal most minor cuts shortly after they were opened, would you want the world to know? Hence, I told no one.
Kerry came into the kitchen after her shower, wrapped up in a robe. I had breakfast mostly done by this time, and by the time she got over this form, I had a plate in front of her with her favorite: waffles drowning in honey. I had my breakfast done, and was just turning off the stove and tidying up. I slid onto the bench, which was intended for my full-morph form. Hence, I was a bit lower then the table, but I did not dare sit on the spare chair that we had for fear of breaking it. I ate my breakfast somewhat quickly, so I could clean up the kitchen before we left. Kerry watched me eating with an amused look in her eyes. She finished her waffles, and sat quietly for a minute or two before speaking as I cleared the table. "This is a new form for you. When did you come up with this?"
"I came up with this about a month ago, when I was hanging the new speakers in the studio. After the old speakers crashed down on me, I thought a lot about a creature I dreamed up several years ago, before SCABS took over. Somehow in the process of visualizing it, my body shifted. I worked in this form the rest of that day. You were home sick, if I recall correctly."
"That's very impressive. We'll have to discuss that later. But I need to get dressed. We've got work today, remember?" I nodded, and finished cleaning up.