Back, and in Class.

This is set in the "Tales from the Blind Pig" universe.

I felt a prod where Kerry was nudging me awake. This normally might have hurt, seeing as she was pushing hard enough to contact the armor. The problem was not that she was poking, it was where. Let me explain something before I get started. My body has a layer of ultra dense bone armor, above which sits about two inches or so of flesh and skin and fur. However, there are gaps in the armor, mostly at joints and at plate junctions which allow my body to bend and for things to pass through to the surface (like blood vessels and the like). Most of the larger "gaps" in the armor are in the nether regions where all the fun adult bits are located. There is a plate boundary just above that area, and that is where she was pushing on. However, all I could feel was her hand pushing against the joint space between plates, which was quite enough to wake me up. It's one of the few places where I can be seriously injured, and there are enough nerve endings there to make the area quite sensitive. My eyes cracked open. "What? I want to sleep." I saw her smiling face, the playful twinkle in her eyes, and I opened the other eye. When she is in this mood, she either wants something, or she's set me up to do something that I normally would have refused outright. The 'something' usually turns out to be stuff that occurs behind closed doors. I've found though, when we do that, I usually end up in full morph afterwards for a few hours. "Again?? We did that last night!" I shook my head to finish waking up and to get the sheets out of my face.

"No, I don't want that. Do you remember the conversation we had with that trainer at the zoo?" I nodded, finishing the shift back to my "default" form. Stupid Flu Bug. Taking the voder off with a characteristic riiipp of the velcro, I replied. "Yes, I do. I told him no, if you recall correctly. Or did you set me up with him anyway behind my back?" The twinkle in her eyes abruptly died. Bingo. "But it's for the kids!" She countered. Faced with that, I relented, and sigh heavily. "Alright. I will do it, but you owe me, silly girl." I was not very happy with doing it, but somehow since I got the full time fur coat I found myself with a very soft spot for children. Kerry knew this, and I am sure she delighted in exploiting it, considering my views. Sure, I was a bit upset with her for pulling this one me, but she knew just as well as I did that I would get over it. I always did. After all, it was for the kids.

We showed up at the school about five minutes before we were requested. We had a little chat in the car before Kerry got out and let me out. We had both agreed that I was to remain in my full morph form and not use my voder. The eye color, she said, we really could not do anything about, but that was life. I had another surprise in store for her, but I was going to wait until afterwards to spring it on her. We met up with Mr Grey, the trainer from the zoo. I explained to him that I was not doing this for him, Kerry, or anyone else, but that I was doing it for the children. I also warned him that I was not likely to do this anytime in the near future, either. I also explained to him that when my eyes were my normal blue, I would be able to talk to him without any problem. When they were yellow, I would not. He seemed to agree to this, and we rehearsed the routine that he wanted me to do. It seemed to work out ok, and we finished up with about ten minutes to spare. I relaxed back stage, and closed my eyes to have a chat with myself.

I want to explain something before I go on. After the incident, I had taken quite a bit of time to really determine just what happened. In the process, I found that I could connect with the feral side of myself, which turned out to be exactly what I had envisioned in the character that I had based my morphic form on: a very powerful magic user, with one hell of a temper and a lot of intelligence. He was as sentient, if not more, then I was. And he was also suckered by kids too, a trait which I found that made what I was asking him to do quite easy. By this time, he had already heard what I was wanting to do, and had already gotten everything planned out. The reason that I closed my eyes to talk with him was because the color shift in my eyes was a dead giveaway that something was happening, and also by appearing to be meditating, I was generally left alone.

I was nearly done with my conversation when I heard a female throat clear. One sniff told me who it was. I took control again, opened my eyes, and said, "It is time." I got up and followed her over to the entrance. She peeked out, and told me that the auditorium was nearly packed. As I stepped out, I turned control over to The Beast. My eyes shifted from the normal blue to green, and then to the familiar pale yellow that a bog standard tiger has. At this point, instead of blacking out the last time I lost control, I could watch. It was like watching a television show where they are shooting from a first person point of view.

I felt control being given to me, and I heard the stern reminder in my mind warning me not to do anything that we might regret. I agreed, and took control of the body as we had agreed. My vision changed to my normal color mix from the vaguely alien view that I had before, and I picked right up where the other left off, not missing a step. I allowed myself to be led over to where Mr. Gray was finishing his lecture. I sat where Kerry, my 'trainer', indicated, and patiently sat for a few more minutes while Mr. Gray introduced us. There were a few large wooden blocks set up on the stage where I was to hop onto and off of. At Kerry's prompting, I got up, and padded to the first block, and started the routine that we had been told to do, with Kerry prompting me via a barely audible cue. The timing was nearly perfect, and I did not make a single mistake during my performance. That got me a good scratch behind the ears as the question and answer period stared, which lasted some 15 minutes. Most of the questions were of the obvious kind, although the "Do the stripes tell the gender" question as asked by a freshman was rather amusing. (No, they don't. It's a smell and size thing, actually, unless you happen to see the back end of a tiger. Fortunately, I was not asked to provide a visual indication.) The bell rang, and most of the crowd shuffled out to go home or to after school activities. There were a few that stayed behind. They were in the far back, and as the crowd thinned out they came down. Then it dawned on me: Most of these were SCABS, like me. They were mostly prey types too, which probably put them off a bit. I made a few adjustments to our scent to make sure that we were harmless to their noses. One of them, a deer morph, notices right away and visibly relaxes. They had a few additional questions about how normal animals react to SCABS. This question was in my field of expertise to answer, and unfortunately, Mr. Gray proceeded to screw it up. He stammered along for a minute or two with obviously wrong information. The other in my mind stated that we ought to correct him, and I agreed. We shifted our throat and chuff'd once, as our eyes shifted green.
"Well, the question of how a normal animal reacts to a SCAB is a tricky one. I've been on both sides of the fence, and it's not at all easy."
Mr. Gray looked at us like we had sprouted another head and that flames had started shooting out our ass. Kerry's look was priceless. She hadn't known that The Beast was sentient, and that we could share the body. Only us, Dr.'s Horse and Bug, and my shrink knew, as it could be a public safety issue if we went feral, which was simply not possible anymore now. We continued.

"The zoos I've been to in my full form had issues with me being around the prey stock. A few of the tigers and predator stock thought I was encroaching on their turf. The zoo I currently go to for advice will only admit me in my morphic form, as the scent is different enough that the critters don't react to it. In fact, that scent is what I'm putting out right now. I altered my body a bit to make you feel less threatened." The deer morph nodded in understanding. "If you don't mind, I can shift up to my morphic form, if you want to see. It may be a bit frightening, though."

We looked at Kerry. She nodded blankly, but with a certain look in her eyes. We had a feeling that we'd be getting reamed all the way home over this one. The kids nodded eagerly. Mr. Gray looked like he'd lost the ability to breath. I agreed to turn over control at this point, and I half-jumped to allow the transition to occur as we were shifting. As we shifted, my vision went back to it's bluish normalcy, and I ended up in almost my default form. The Beast made me gender neuter, thankfully. I did not need to open that can of worms, at least not yet. The beast stayed in my mind, wanting to at least listen to what was happening and possibly add comments. This was cool, and I allowed it. The special ed teachers for these students were watching with a bemused look on their face as Mr. Gray was now standing face to chest with a 7 foot, 6 inch quarter ton sentient monstrosity out of a Larry Niven novel. The kids were in awe. One of them muttered something about a K'zin 1, and I tail grinned. "That was the basis, yes. This form has armor plating, however." There were a few other questions, mostly centered around how people tolerated working with me, and about life in general for a working SCAB such as myself. I answered all of these, and got the nods from the teachers and the principal what had walked in just after I had started talking.

After the session was completely over, I help Mr. Gray load the crates onto a trolly. They belonged to the school, and they had to go back to wherever they came from. He was not at all happy about it. I shrugged and told him that I wanted to give honest answers, instead of something made up or inaccurate. Kerry had gotten out of her numb state, and was talking to the principal. After Mr. Gray left with the trolly, Kerry and the principal came up to me. The Principal had a few questions of his own, and I was all too happy to answer them while Kerry brought the car around. He thanked me for agreeing to do this presentation, and hoped that I might want to do it again in the future. I said that I'd consider it, and wished him a good afternoon. Kerry had brought the car around, and was holding the back door open for me. I shifted back down to full morph, and climbed in. Kerry shut the door, got in, and we started back home. "Does this mean that I am sleeping in the cat house tonight?" I asked timidly. I got an annoyed grunt for a return. So, looks like I was in for the silent treatment for the ride home, which it turned out to be. She got out, and opened the door for me. She closed the door, and I tried again. "You really are mad at me. Would it help if I said that I was sorry?" In response to this, I got something I did not expect- a great big hug. "I think you did just fine, silly tiger. Although you scared the hell out of me with the eye color thing. How did you do that?" Now it was my turn to grunt. I gently broke her hug, and trotted toward the elevator, and pushed the call button. "I'll explain upstairs."

He didn't say a word until after we were upstairs, and he had gotten drinks for both of us. He was rather embarressed, and almost afraid of explaining. I persisted, and he reluctently explained to me. He was afraid, mostly, of being committed, or forced to take drugs because of the two beings inside him. He explained to me that the Beast was as intelligent as he was, as they shared memorys and abilities, and yet were two distinct personalities. At one point, they both talked at the same time, which was very unnerving. They showed me the full extent of their abilities, something that they'd never shown anyone except Dr. Derksen. Several of the forms were terrifing, like the form he simply termed his 'ultra-morph' form. It was frightful to say the least. Standing nearly 9 feet tall on all four paws, this body was heavily armoured and armed, with 6 inch fangs in his mouth, and 9 inch claws that gleamed a silvery metallic. His ears were tattooed like in his other fighting forms, and his eyes burned a brilliant glowing jade green, indicating that both minds were sharing control of the body. He gave control over in this form to the Beast, and the eyes changed to a burning angry orange-yellow. The beast then shifted back down after sensing my growing terror to the more normal full form that I had gotten used to.

It took a while to calm her down after telling her that I went feral, intentionally, on stage, but after she realized that nothing bad happened and calmed down, she asked me/us for a demonstration. Which we did. The Beast even went on to explain a few other things as well. We also swore her to secrecy, and told her about the few people that also know about it. We also showed her the full extent of shifting that we were capable of when we combined our abilities. The ultra-morph was the last one, and she later told us that it gave her nightmares that night. Little did we know how soon that form would be used to prevent her death.

1For more information on the Kzin, Please click here.