A "Winds of Change" Story
By Jon Sleeper
I thrashed around, unable to think or control myself, the animal within me wanting to runrunrun!!!
"Jon, *calm down*," Bryan said above me. Amazingly, I did so immediately. Then I opened my eyes. "What the..." I shook my head. I started panting hard, my ears sagging against my head limp, one hand rubbing my forehead while Maxine rubbed my neck. "What happened? And why do I see three of each of you?" I said through clenched teeth.
"Uh oh." Was their response.
They informed me that there had been an earthquake, and I'd fainted for some reason. My vision cleared after a few minutes of Maxine cradling my head in her lap (oooh, that felt good, what a gal she is!), then I became aware of a strange tingle all over. I felt rather light headed, especially around my pedicles.
After a few more nervous minutes Brian told me that he thought I must of absorbed a lot of kinetic energy. When I thought about it "a lot" was an understatement. It was a funny thing, I always thought I had a maximum capacity. I guess the Rut was having an effect of some sort... I did not like it one bit. "Um, guys, are you perhaps wondering why the shaking stopped so quickly?"
All I got were stares of astonishment. All except Janet seemed to know about my Power, so I quickly explained it to her. "You mean you absorbed all the earthquake's energy?"
"Something like that, yeah."
More staring. "So what do we do now?" said Kim.
I thought a moment. I'd never been as charged up as I am now... the power in these antlers made me shudder to think about it. There were several atomic bombs inside these things. A radio came on and said the quake was a 4.5, and the shaking had lasted longer where they were than here. It seemed that I'd only absorbed *local* energy, maybe a few miles radius. That did not make me feel any better. "I have to get rid of it," I said. But where? The only way is up, but the backwash will collapse anything around here! I wish I had Brian's wings!"
Maxine, whom I was looking up at, coughed. "What?" I said.
"I think I can help you there."
That made all of us curious. "What do you mean?" said Brian.
"My Power is a little more than shapechange Inducement. I can make Jon a body double of Brian, so maybe that way you can get high enough to throw it off without hurting anyone. I've used it several times, and I think I know how it works. Nothing else *should* transfer except his physical form, and I don't think it'll interfere with your Powers."
All of us were gaping. "Maxine," I said. "Why didn't you tell me you could do that?"
"Because I did not think it was important a the time. It is now. What do you think?"
Brian and I looked at each other. I thought about it. If I got high enough I could work all this KE into a beam and throw it off into space. I knew it would dissipate after a few miles, and would do no harm up there. I smirked. "You know, I think I've always been curious about flying. Brian?"
He sighed. "Sure, I guess. Especially since I have this funny feeling that I'm responsible for your whole situation anyway. Weird feeling. Besides, the flying thing has been really hard to describe."
The first thing we did was go outside. The building looked very unstable anyway, and I did not want to be in there any longer. My scanner was out, so I could not get called to duty (and I was too dangerously charged to *go* on duty anyway). We moved into an open area, and Brian and I stood side by side with Maxine standing in front of us.
"You two ready?" Maxine said. Brian nodded, but I paused a moment. Flying! I thought. Too bad I would not be able to enjoy it. At least until after I got rid of this extra charge... I nodded.
Her face got a look on intense concentration on it. She put one hand on Brian's left shoulder, and one on my right. Her hands started to glow blue. Then something completed, like an electric circuit. Then a blue arc traveled from Brian to me.
The first thing I noticed was the fur around where she was touching me. It was rapidly turning dark brown, and ticked as it changed into feathers. It spread outward from there, down my arm. My forearms lost their fur and turned orange and scaly, my hooflike fingernails sharpening into talons. I could not move throughout this entire thing, and neither could Brian.
My backbone creaked and popped, then there was a tingle and I knew I was gaining wings on my back. I could feel the tingle move down my torso, my chest muscled up, giving me a keel-like breastbone that would anchor my growing flight muscles. The feathery feeling moved down my legs, I said good by to my hooves as *they* went the same was as my hands, but I almost fell over when my toes unstuck into the splayed, taloned feet.
For a curious moment I had a deer's head on an eagle-morph body. Then my vision started to go all strange. I took one last deep breath, knowing my sense of smell was about to go bye-bye. And it did. My hearing too. I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket. I closed my eyes.
I felt my muzzle go numb, my nostrils migrate upward to just beneath my changing eyes, my ears shrank and shrank, then disappeared altogether.. The curious tingling that was my kinetic charge moved from my shrinking antlers to my... beak. Beak. I'd actually been a little afraid that maybe it would come out in another way. But it did not. Good thing, too.
Then it stopped, and I could move again. Then I opened my eyes.
The first thing I noticed was my vision. Everyone was staring at us. "Incredible!" Brian said next to me. "It's like looking in a mirror!" Probably so, but I could not tell.
Then I looked at Janet. And looked and looked... "Do you know you have seventy nine eyelashes on your left eyelid?" Incredible! Brian laughed.
"You know that's the first thing I said too? Hah! But I should caution you, you're going to be really motion sensitive."
"No kidding... could you all stop blinking for a moment? You're giving me a headache." Then I took a deep breath, and quite frankly nearly went insane.
I couldn't smell anything! Nothing! NOTHING!! NOTHING!! NOTHING!!
NOTHING!! NOTHING!! NOTHING!! NOTHING!! I started to laugh. Not a happy laugh, but one on the edge. None of these people around me were *real*. None of them, I mean, I couldn't smell them so they could not possibly be *real*. Bryan seemed to realize something. "Jon, *it's normal, there is nothing wrong with you*." Then suddenly my descent into gibbering insanity was halted, and I was brought back to my senses.
"I'm sorry guys. I just... I think I need to get into the air." Along with my near insanity I felt something strange in my beak. The Transfer must of screwed something up. I felt a force building, and I did not like it one bit.
Maxine gave me a hug. "Come back safely," she said. I rubbed my hooked beak against her muzzle.
"Okay Brian, how to I use these wings?" With that, Brian helped me do some practice take-offs and landings. Apparently I was doing better than he did on *his* first flight, he seemed jealous. The feeling of power and freedom was incredible, but I had no time to enjoy it. Once I got experienced enough after about a half hour, Brian left me alone in a thermal so I could gain altitude. I would need a lot (and it was a lucky thing bird morph ATC was down).
Higher and higher I flew. My eyes were amazing. Even at two thousand feet I could still clearly see our little group standing on the beach in front of the restraunt. But I had to refocus as my beak started to throb.
Brian had given me his flight computer, I was at almost ten thousand feet before I decided I'd gone high enough. I was also out over the water. Using it's radar connection I noted there were no aircraft within miles. I'd worked out how to get rid of the charge. I started to do a loop. I hoped.
That part actually worked out better than I expected. Just as I reached the top of the loop, I initiated a KE transfer. But not all of it went to my hands, but my wings as well. I cupped them on the downsweep, preparing to release a whopping blast. They glowed bright blue along with my hands. Energy arced between them. But I was so focused I did not notice.
I focused my Will and fired.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the small group of people watched the speck up in the sky grow smaller and smaller, until even the two with the sharpest eyes could not see it anymore. "Are you sure he's okay flying?" said Bryan.
"I'm sure, Maxine's Power seems to of given him my flight experience like she said it would."
"I'm worried," said Maxine. "He acted like he was not going to come back..."
Suddenly the air felt electric. Up, far up in the sky was a small, but visible blue glow. Then there was a blinding flash, and when they all looked again all they saw was a wide, impossibly wide blue beam leaping almost vertically upward. The source of this beam seemed to be falling, but still managing to keep it vertical. Then, after what must of been several seconds, the beam abruptly cut off.
But to Brian and Kim, the speck was visible. "Oh my god!" screamed Kim, "he's falling!!"
It was the recoil that did it. I must of had the energy of a couple of atomic bombs in my beak. The recoil knocked me senseless, and I fell at least two thousand feet before I even realized what was happening. Then two thousand more before I was conscious enough to try to rectify the situation.
Frankly, my story almost ended then and there. At the speed I was falling hitting the water would of been like hitting concrete. But something inside of just refused to let me stop fighting. I simply shut down my human mind and let the bird take over.
Among the things that had partially transferred was mental Degree. As a deer, I was somewhat a High-D in that department. The Transfer had mitigated things somewhat, but I there was still a lot of bird in me, more than Brian, in fact. The bird knew what to do with my help. The next thing I knew I was flying straight and level again. When I opened my eyes I must of been just ten feet above the water!
Then in an action that astonished me, I saw a movement beneath the waves... and snatched the fish into my foot talons. Also, I downed it before I could even tell myself not to. It seemed that I could not taste anything... and I was glad about that. I also snatched another one, but stopped myself before I ate it again (I could still feel the thing wriggling in my throat. Yuk!).
I saw two other birds flying towards me, one Brian, and the other Kim. He reached me first. "Are you okay Jon?" he yelled.
"I'm fine... want a snack?" I yelled back. He laughed.
We landed on the beach, Kim landing on Brian's arm and Shifting back (I'd just dropped the fish). I gave Brian his slightly singed but still functional flight computer. Then Maxine walked up to me. "Okay Jon, time to change you back now. All I have to do is touch both of your shoulders." She did it before I could say otherwise. There was an almost electric shock. Then I was on the ground, my old antlered self again.
"Well, that was fun. Not often I get to act like a channel for an atomic bomb." I said sarcastically. "Come to think of it, the flying part was fun at least." I turned to face both Brian and Bryan. "Either of you want to try being me for a change? Might be fun. Besides, I need someone to spar with." I grinned widely.
Copyright 1997, Jon Sleeper
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