This is set in the "Tales from the Blind Pig" universe.
"Are you sure about this?" I asked her. Kerry merely nodded her head. I sighed, a strange noise that in my full morph form took on a long and noisy chuff. "Alright. Let us get it over with." We went out into the garage, and got in the car. I sat in the back seat and tried to figure out just how she managed to talk me into going out to eat as she drove.
There is a reason why I am not terribly fond of going out to eat. It is incredibly hard to find a place that will happily accommodate a carnivorous SCAB. Especially full morphs. The large chains, for the most part, will stick you in the far back, and work to get you in and out in as little time as possible. Sure, they fake the happiness that you are there to spend money there, but really they are not terribly pleased to see you in the long run. The 'mom and pop' places will sometimes refuse to serve you outright, or even to let you in the door. They will cite just about anything, ranging from the health code, to the fact that the part time worker who comes in every other week is seriously allergic to animal dander, even though she owns four dogs, two cats, and a chicken. So, eating out is pretty much lost on me. And not everyone really wants to see just how a tiger eats. I am as polite about it as I can get, even going as far as pulling my paws up to something with opposable thumbs so I can use silverware. Granted, I am a "mittened" big cat, but holding silverware with these monster paws, even with the mitten thumbs, is really hard.
I look out the window. We are in town proper now, and entering what looks like a slightly nicer part. Kerry refused to tell me just where we are going, but she did say that it was a 'nice place', and that I really ought to groom myself up better then normal. Now, I do an adequate job normally, but this was just too far when the groomer showed up. But she paid for it, so I am playing along for the time being to see what she is up to. Tonight she is dressed to kill. She looks very sexy, even to my eyes.
My mind starts to drift, and as usual for these past few months, it turns back to the 'incident'. This horrific thing that nearly cost me my life, nearly took my sanity and freedom. It has shown me that I can be truly dangerous if I ever get pissed off, and it frankly scares the holy hell out of me. Granted, I have been a lot more careful with my temper as of late. I am not sure if I can ever keep myself willingly from going feral, but after seeing what happened, I must give it my very best. And the Flu virus did not help any by changing my 'default' form to that of an inhuman killing machine I dreamed up years ago during the incident, that form which resembled a form from hell... I stopped that line of thought before it went any further. My brow must have ruffled my expensive grooming job, because Kerry spoke up.
"What are you thinking about back there?" Kerry asks. She is watching me through the rear view mirror, and she sounds and scents worried. "I am thinking of what happened in the warehouse."
"Again? What exactly happened that's got you so worried?"
"Because I am not sure if anything I can think of will keep me from going feral again. If I go feral in my default form, the consequences could be... unpleasant. You did see what happened, right?"
"Actually, I didn't. Bronski wouldn't let me in that far. I did see the vending machine though." A shudder ran down my spine as I thought back over the incident. "Pull over. I need to tell you what happened, and why I have been worried so much as of late." She did, and I started.
"You already know at least the first part, how I was mugged, and then cat-napped by some very unscrupulous criminals. They were eventually going to strip my hide off, and probably other rather nasty things. At least that is what I overheard them talking about. When I regained consciousness after being mugged, I was in my morphic form and chained to the wall in a warehouse. I could not move a whole lot, aside from moving my head around and maybe a few inches in any direction with my limbs. I was in pain, not from the beating I had received, but because I had apparently been in this form for far too long. The police tell me that I had been there for nearly two days, which accounted for the pain all over my body. This form did have a limit, which I had far exceeded. The pain grew worse. As my vision started to tint red from the pain, I silently wished for the pain to go away. I lost consciousness again. I came to, with a burning emptiness in my stomach, and the realization that the virus had somehow reactivated, and scrambled me again. The empty pain in my gut was my body screaming for food of any type. I had fully changed into this formerly imaginary morphic form. Later tests would show that my bone armor had increased well beyond what I originally had to be able to stop anything short of a 20 cm armor piercing shell. I picked up a healing ability that was close to that wolverine morph that we saw the last time that we were at the Pig. I can not regenerate limbs as fast, but I could probably re-grow my tail over a year. My aging stopped totally. I even got sharp, color vision and my voice back. The penalty for all this? That is what worries me so much. It is frightening. I went feral for the first, and hopefully only time in my life.
As I wondered what would happen to me, I felt my body moving under it's own violation. I was no longer under direct control of my body. I was merely a passenger. I became angry, angry at the Flu virus, angry at the bastards who did this to me, angry at the world for taking my former life away from me. In my feral state, my body somehow sensed my anger, fed off it, and it got stronger and stronger. In one smooth motion, I jerked out of the restraints, not heeding the fact that the skin under the fetters had peeled away to the bone armor underneath. The pain grew, feeding my anger and whatever was controlling my body. My legs came free shortly after, and I stumbled around, searching for something to eat. I came upon the vending machines. I raged at them, but they were heavily armored. In desperation, My feral self screamed internally at me, demanding that I open it. I showed it where to direct the attack, at the locking mechanism that held the door shut. My body punched two claws into the area where the lock was and rotated, the claws cutting the think steel like it was not even there. the door was ripped open, and most of the high energy food was eaten, wrapper and all."
Kerry spoke in a quiet, dangerously cold voice that gave me a shiver. "That explains the damage to the vending machines. Bronski said that few people could have opened them like that. They would have needed a blow torch, or something that could cut through metal easily. But continue."
"Indeed. After feeding, I started looking around the warehouse. I heard voices. I scented the punks who did this to me. My last image is finding the room that they were in. My vision went opaque red, and then darkened to black as my feral self pushed me asleep. I woke up again in that room. It was frightening. I was covered in blood. A patch of fur and skin on my chest was missing, but it was healing even as I looked. A bulge appeared, and burst open, spraying blood onto the already soaked floor. A chunk of metal hit the floor. I picked it up. It was a flattened bullet. More bullets followed." I swallowed, closed my eyes, and continued slowly onward. Kerry had the windows rolled down, which helped. She scented of fear, and it was mixing with my own. "I then looked at the room again. There was blood and gibbed chunks of flesh everywhere. I recognized part of a skull here, a whole foot there still in it's shoe, chunks of flesh and body parts everywhere. The floor was coated in a slimy layer of blood, urine, and entrails. Mixed in with all this gore were bits of clothing, and two guns. They were sliced neatly in half lengthwise. I stared at it, this horrific scene from a slasher film, and realized that in my feral state, I had done it all.
I started crying. I do not remember how long. Bronski and the other officers found me after some amount of time."
I opened my eyes and looked at where Kerry was. Her eyes and mouth were opened in a look of pure horror. "I am sorry that you had to hear this. But I had to tell you at some point." Tears were streaming down my muzzle. "I am sorry that I have hurt you by telling you this. But I felt that you had to know the truth, instead of the partial story that the police told you. But you now see why I have been worried so much as of late. I am afraid that if I lost control of my anger, if I went feral again, that something like this would happen again. I simply can not let that happen. Bronski, Phil, and my lawyer kept my from both jail and the mental institution, but just barely." The look on Kerry's face had faded to a numb look. "If you want, we can go home and go out another time. I will pay for the grooming next time." That did the trick. Life flashed back into her eyes, and she snickered, and ruffled the fur on my head playfully and she scolded me. "Are you kidding? This took weeks to plan! Just because you decided to let the skeleton out of your closet does not mean that I'll have to do this again! Besides, Now it's my turn." She put the car back in gear, and we continued on. "Now just sit right and I'll tell you about what happened to me during the Phoenix Riots."
I had been after her for a while to find out what happened to her during that time. It had been a scary time. As we drove, She told me what had happened to her during the week long riots and mob violence that drove 98% of the surviving population of SCABS out of the Valley of the Sun. The other 2% were either well hidden, or looked human enough, or simply had the cojones to stay in a place where SCABS simply were not wanted. She finished shortly before we arrived, and had confirmed a few things that I had heard. "So that is how you discovered your talent. I never knew it was that powerful, though." I stated after a moment. Kerry's talent is the ability to regress people temporarily back to 12 year old children or earlier. It only works on non-SCABS, though. "Doing it on that scale drains my energy like you would not believe. Permanent changes are very time consuming, and worse on energy requirements. I have to have contact with the person for over 5 minutes, and I have to wait for 15 minutes before I can permanently zap someone else. But we're getting side tracked here. The would-be rapist is still sitting somewhere as a 3 year old. Permanently. He's aging as fast as I am, and that's not very fast. Ah, we are here. Now be on your best behavior, or I'll have to smack you with a rolled-up newspaper." I stuck my tongue out at her and we both laughed as we pulled up to a rather fancy looking restaurant. We both got out, and the valet parked the car.
As we walked in, we were ushered into a separate room. There, I got the shock of my life. My family, and Kerry's were there, all dressed for the wedding reception that never happened. I looked at my family, then back at Kerry, then at her family, and commanded my voder into silence as I morphed my throat into 'daffy duck' mode:
Kerry merely smiled.