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Cat Fight!

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A Whateley Academy Tale

Cat Fight!

by Rose Redd

 

Memory all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

- “Memory” from the musical “Cats”, lyrics by Trevor Nunn,
based on a poem by T. S. Eliot, music by Andrew Lloyd Weber

 

Sub-Saharan Tanzania,
1992

Lisa Stone heard the commotion from outside her tent. Doctor Travis was yelling excitedly. Peering from her tent, she saw the older man waving his arms about at another man and pointing emphatically. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she emerged from the tent. The young paleontology student slowly moved closer and closer to her mentor. Standing at close to five foot nine, with an athletic figure and skin tanned from her fieldwork, the brunette was attractive, to say the least. The man arguing with the dig leader clearly noticed her.

The man glanced at Doctor Travis and then at Lisa, He snorted derisively, and then walked to his jeep and left.

Looking at her professor, Lisa was worried. “What was that all about?” she asked.

The Doctor looked her in the eyes. “Trouble. That was Roderick Rhinehardt. Famed big game hunter, and pain in the ass to archaeologists and paleontologists everywhere. The sort that throws money around, doesn’t care for academics, and just wants to feed his own ego. He wants us out of here, despite our permits and permission from the government for this dig.”

Lisa nodded. “What an ass.”

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Lisa awoke to the sound of engines revving, and screams filling the air. Looking out from her tent, she saw the jeeps circling the excavation site. Men in military fatigues surrounded the camp, automatic weapons at the ready. Some of the local hired hands tried to flee but were gunned down. Lisa saw Doctor Travis laying still in the grass and crept over to him. Turning him over, she saw the bullet hole through the center of his forehead. She heard laughing and looked up to see Rhinehardt grinning an evil grin.

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Six months later.
Limbula Village, Tanzania.

The locals looked carefully towards the edge of the village, as the grasses rustled. There had been sightings of a rather aggressive pride of lions in the area, and some of the locals had lost livestock to them.

The villagers were stunned when out into the clearing stepped a tanned woman with brown hair, wearing a lion skin bikini, her pregnant stomach clearly visible.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History - La Brea Tar Pits.
Los Angeles, CA
May 4th, 2007

Doctor Lisa Stone smiled as she watched the young children happily laughing and giggling excitedly.  All but one child, she noted. The small brunette girl in the back of the pack was walking with her head down, and she didn’t seem to be listening to the guide. Not that it mattered. She had heard the tour quite literally thousands of times. If allowed, she could probably give the tour, and recite all the facts, and probably answer any question that anyone asked – she’d heard probably every question even distantly related to this particular tour. Only her overwhelming shyness kept her from doing something that brash.

Walking over, the Doctor tapped the girl on the shoulder, gently. The girl jumped a little but then calmed down upon seeing who it was. “Mom, don’t do that” the young girl pleaded.

 “Sorry dear.” the Doctor warmly said to her little girl, a smile spread across her face. “Want to go get some lunch?”

The girl meekly nodded. She would never let it show outwardly to her daughter, but Lisa was frustrated. She had always tried to get Megan to make friends and be more outgoing. Perhaps it just wasn’t in the girl’s makeup. She shook her head at that thought. It wasn’t her fault that she was born from that hateful act. She loved her little girl with all her heart, but sometimes the girl’s blue eyes haunted her. The same shade as that man. Lisa could never forget them. Not even after she had snuck from her tent, grabbed her excavation trowel, and plunged it mercilessly and repeatedly into the chest of the sleeping man.

Shaking off the memories of the unpleasant time, Lisa put her arm around her daughter and they walked to the parking lot. A short jeep ride later, they were sitting at the beach, watching the waves. Lisa ate her hot dog and watched the gulls circling overhead. Megan was more withdrawn and would occasionally glance down the shore. Beverly Ann McKensie – a girl who bullied Megan every single day at school- was parading around with her flock of hangers-on. She was the typical spoiled blonde California beach goddess, though Megan had wondered if her burgeoning assets were due to a trip to one of those illegal devisor medical clinics in the Caribbean, the ones where you went in looking average, and came out with your genes tweaked to be outrageously attractive. The tiny yellow bikini showed off her breasts which at fourteen were already approaching a high C or low D cup, the ass that would rival that of any member of the Kardashian family, and a waist that was impossibly small for someone with thighs that thick. 

Megan sighed quietly. Her mom was beautiful, not in the bimbo-to-be way that Beverly was, but in that natural athletic way that came from working hard at something you loved. Her tall, athletic body was toned and built for strength and flexibility. Granted, her mother went on excavation trips less often now, but she still did things to keep herself in shape. Megan had tried, but she just wasn’t able to keep up with her mother. At five foot even, and only eighty-three pounds, she was actually underweight. And nothing Megan did made could rectify that.

Lisa looked over at the direction that Megan had been glancing. She didn’t have to guess to know the problem, as she had been called to the school to pick up Megan after many an ‘accident’. An accident that gave Megan a bloody nose, or broken arm, while Beverly McKensie had “just happened to be nearby.”

Giving her daughter a tight squeeze with the arm wrapped around her shoulders, she looked at the large bag Megan carried. “So, what are you reading now?” she asked.

Megan looked up at her mom and smiled. “Continental drift and the effects of genetic drift upon the Pleistocene era by Professor Miles Sundergaard.”

“And what do you think?” Lisa asked her precocious child.

“Complete hogwash. During the Pleistocene, the continents were largely in their current locations, with maybe less than 100km variance. To propose that drift occurred dramatically at that point totally discounts the fact that greater drift would occur with more geographic distance.”

Lisa couldn’t help but laugh. “I argued the same point with him when the book first came out, but though he’s a dear friend, the man is sort of an idiot.”

She turned and saw the look in the eyes of her daughter. She knew what the look meant. Her smile faded as she shook her head. “No, he isn’t. I have never told you who your father is because he wasn’t a good man. You’re much better off not knowing anything about him. I know it’s tough, but you are safer not knowing.”

That answer never appeased Megan, but she would pretend to understand and drop the subject. Saying goodbye to her mom, Megan decided to head home, while her mother still had work to do.

Standing in her room, Megan stripped off her clothes, and looked at herself in the mirror. Her ribs showed clearly, and her chest was flat. Even though she was fourteen years old, she looked closer to ten or eleven. There were no curves to be seen at all. With a frown, she pulled out her one-piece swimsuit and a light hoodie. Putting the extra strong sunscreen in her bag, she grabbed her sunglasses and a couple books. A beach towel went into the bag.

A short bus trip later, she was back on the beach. Looking around, it appeared that Beverly was gone. However, it was a momentary reprieve, for surely some form of torment by Beverly and her hangers-on would be instituted on Monday, when they would all be crammed back into the torturous halls of learning.

Engrossed in her book, Megan failed to hear the quiet laughing as she was approached from behind. Swept up off her seat, Megan flailed as the mean girls carried her to the water and threw her in. Book, bag, and all. Flailing around in the water, she hurriedly grabbed the items that attempted to float away. The books would certainly be ruined. Dragging herself back to the shore, she shook the water off, and grabbed for her beach towel. Tugging at the towel, it didn’t move. Looking up, she saw why. Beverly was standing on it.

“Look girls, the little mouse wants her towel. Shall we give it to her?” Beverly taunted. There were laughs from the other half-dozen girls there, all clones of Beverly in physique. Sure, some were brunettes, there was a girl with long black hair, a redhead, and a black girl with long curly hair… but otherwise they all had the impossibly mature shapes that should not belong to thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls. They continued to laugh, as Beverly held the towel aloft, and well out of the much shorter girl’s reach. The girl with the black hair, Madison Tanner, grabbed a corner and the two proceeded to rip it in half. Throwing it back in Megan’s face, Beverly turned and promptly kicked her in the stomach, causing her to fall to her knees.

“Look girls, the mouse knows to kneel before her betters. But that’s not enough. What shall we do about her?” Beverly viciously commented.

Patricia Hollings, the redheaded girl, snidely responded. “She could be made to eat sand.”

Beverly smiled. “That’s an excellent idea!”

The bully grabbed Megan’s hair and pushed her face into the sand. Sand got up her nose, in her eyes, and in her mouth. Surely the lifeguard on duty had to see what was going on.

Gasping and sputtering,  Megan raised her head out of the sand. She was blinded and spitting sand, coughing from what had gotten down her throat. Beverly grabbed her hair and was about to push Megan’s head back into the sand when a whistle blew.  The lifeguard was responding to something else happening on the beach, but the reminder made Beverly reconsider. “You get off for now mouse, but I’ll see you at school!”

With that warning, the mean girls left, giving Megan time to look through her bag. The books were waterlogged, and likely ruined. Her pocketbook had stayed dry on the inside, for which she was grateful. Overall, the only casualties seemed to be the books and the towel. Defeated, the petite girl stumbled her way to the bus stop.

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Megan lay on her bed, sobbing. It wasn’t fair. Beverly was a shallow, petty bitch. Megan had never done anything to her, but it was the law of nature. “Survival of the fittest’ sucked, in Megan’s opinion.

Morning came, and Megan got ready for school. After her shower, she toweled off, glumly looking at her prepubescent body. Sighing, she went to her dresser. A few minutes later, she came down to breakfast, looking cute in her pink chucks, black tights, pink and black pleated skirt, and black light hoodie over the pink tee shirt.

Her mom was eating her usual breakfast of half a grapefruit, some granola, and a glass of milk.

Lisa looked at her daughter, she looked so cute and small. It was really unfair that she had it so rough. Repeated meetings with the principal and staff, complaints at the PTA meetings, nothing had done any good. Lisa was well off, due to her lecturing and her salary… but the McKensies and the other bullies were children of the ‘privileged few’, The sort you would see articles about in Forbes or Fortune. The sort of people where the almighty dollar could fix anything. It hadn’t escaped her notice that Patricia McKensie had taken her daughter on a Caribbean trip at Christmas and had come back looking ten years younger. Or that Beverly had rapidly ‘blossomed’ after said trip.

“You look pretty sweetheart. Have a good day at school” Lisa hoped she would, but mother’s intuition clearly was telling her otherwise.

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Megan sat on the bus, the usual taunts about it ‘not being the elementary school bus’ had been hurled at her. She was so over that joke. Trying to attract as little attention as possible, she sat quietly until they arrived at the school. She hurried in, managing to avoid Beverly and her clique being dropped off by their chauffeurs. There were times where she wondered if public school might actually be safer for her than private school, but that was unlikely. The same level of unlikely that would have her shoot up a half foot in height, and suddenly sprout a killer physique.

Walking into class, Megan smiled for one reason. History field trip! It was silly, given where they were going, that she had to come to school. She could have just ridden to the site with her mother, because after all, she did work there. But rules were rules… even if they were silly. Or downright stupid.

On the bus, the usual taunts continued, including the ones she had heard on the way to school. Having practically grown up in the museum, she could almost walk around blindfolded.

Mr. Havershire led the students into the building. Most of the boys were looking around at the models and skeletons. Most of the girls, except Megan of course, were looking bored out of their mind. Reaching the atrium, they were greeted by a muscular woman with brown hair, wearing a wide-brimmed bush hat, green tank top and khaki shorts. She had on well-traveled boots and a lab coat.

“Students, this is Dr. Lisa Stone.”

Beverly sneered and dismissively asked her a question. “What exactly are you a doctor of?”

Lisa looked at the girl, and despite wanting to wring her neck, she answered cordially. “I have a bachelor’s degree in geology from Stanford, and a PhD in paleontology from UCLA.”

Beverly rolled her eyes, clearly unmoved.

One of the boys spoke up next. “Are there any dinosaur fossils here?”

Lisa shook her head. “I’m afraid not. During the age of dinosaurs this area of Southern California was still ocean.

The boys all looked disinterested.

Megan knew it would likely get her beat up later, but she felt she had to help her mom establish credibility with her classmates, moronic cretins that most were. 

“Um, what sort of animals have you found here? Anything cool?”

Lisa looked at her daughter and smiled. “Oh, there are all sorts of cool animals that lived in this area during the ice age. There were dire wolves that averaged around 150 pounds, with teeth specialized for bringing down much larger prey, including mastodons and giant camels. Imagine a pack of those after you. Speaking of mastodons, or more accurately the mommut, we have several skeletons here. In addition, we have fossils on display of giant ground sloths. That probably would be boring, except that they were as large as a modern elephant. We have a fossil of a North American camel, the American lion, wild horses, and giant armadillos – again, very different and usually much larger, than their modern cousins.” The group had been walking, and she stopped and pointed behind her. “But I think the most fascinating one, and the one that gets the most attention is this beauty: Smilodon Fatalis, or as most of you know her, the saber-toothed tiger.”

The class looked at the skeleton and the model next to it. The model depicted a small-tailed cat, stocky and muscular with long fangs that jutted out menacingly from the snarling mouth.

“A Smilodon Fatalis could weigh over six hundred pounds and had fangs that were between seven and eight inches. In conjunction with its sharp claws, it could grab a much larger prey animal by the throat, with those huge teeth slicing the soft tissue of its victim’s neck like daggers and hang on until the prey dropped from blood loss. In such a manner they took down animals weighing many times more than themselves, like the ten-ton mammut.”

The tour continued, Megan drifting towards the back of the group. Most of the students paid attention to the teacher and to Dr. Stone. Beverly hung back with her mean girl clique. “If we can embarrass her in front of the class, and in front of her mother, it’d be perfect. I mean these tar pit things are still sticky, right? If we push her over a barrier into one, she’ll be a laughingstock.”

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It had happened so gradually and subtly that Megan hadn’t noticed until it was too late. Beverly and her goons had isolated her and had used their presence to hold her back from the group. Like lions isolating a young or wounded animal from the herd, she thought ruefully. The class had passed around the bend in the path and could no longer be seen or heard.

“Well, little mouse, it looks like you are all alone. Nobody to help you, nothing to save you.” Beverly said with a malicious smile.

“W...why? Why do you do this? I… I never did anything to you.” Megan stuttered. She knew the answer but was hoping to stall for time until someone noticed they were missing from the group.

It didn’t work. “Why, little mouse? Because you are weak. And didn’t Captain Kirk or one of your other nerd heroes say something about survival of the fittest?”

Megan didn’t even have time to comment on just how wrong that was, as one of the girls covered her mouth from behind. She struggled and fought, but it was useless. They hoisted her over the barrier with little effort and threw her over, and into a tar pit.

She screamed to try to get attention, or help, and also she tried not to struggle. Megan knew that her weight and the force of her landing were working against her. She slowly spread her arms and legs out, trying to create as much surface area as she could. The more compact she was, the faster she would sink. Her mouth had filled with tar, and it was hard to breathe. Her hair was caught and she couldn’t lift her head. Her eyes were covered, and she couldn’t see. She struggled slowly, trying to inch her way towards the safe ground, but the lack of oxygen was making her light-headed. She felt her consciousness slipping away. 

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Cedars-Sinai Hospital,
Los Angeles California.

“Oh honey, don’t try to talk yet. You swallowed tar, and they had to pump your stomach. You got some in your eyes, and unfortunately they had to shave your head to get the tar out of your hair. The doctor wanted to wait until you were awake to take the bandages off. Security saw the confrontation on their security cameras, and they arrived in time to pull you out. You need to rest, baby.” Her expression hardened, and her words took a very menacing tone. “Beverly and the other girls are under arrest – for attempted murder.”

The doctor came in and addressed Megan’s mother. “Now that she is awake, it should be safe to take off the covering over her eyes.” He spoke to the girl. “Please tell me if you have any problems with your vision.”

The doctor very carefully removed the gauze, and then stepped back, his mouth agape with surprise.   

Lisa looked at her baby girl laying there. “Sweetie, can you see? Is anything wrong? Talk to me, Megan!”

“Nnnnn… I’m okay mom. I can see you.” She saw the visible surprise on the doctor’s and her mom’s faces, and she heard the concern and shock in her mom’s tone.    “What’s wrong?” Megan asked, still groggy from her ordeal that afternoon. 

Lisa looked at the doctor, who nodded silently. “Sweetie… your eyes, they’ve changed color, they are… gold now.”

Producing a mirror, the doctor handed it to Megan, who sat transfixed by the sight. They were indeed a rich golden yellow. A color Megan had seen before, in wolves, dogs, domestic cats, and certain large predatory cats.

While Megan sat and looked at her eyes, the doctor spoke up. “Megan seems to be in perfect health. We were concerned about the possibility of tar getting into her lungs, but that thankfully did not occur. We would like to keep her overnight for observation, but I see no reason you can’t take her home in the morning.”

Lisa nearly collapsed with relief at the good news. She thanked the doctor and sat down beside her daughter’s bed. If the doctor thought that Lisa was going to leave her daughter alone in the hospital after her major ordeal, he was sadly mistaken.

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Morning came, and the Doctor was as good as his word. Megan was wheeled to her mother’s jeep. “Strictly, policy.” the doctor had said. After arriving home, Megan sat on the couch for a bit, and tried to concentrate on one of her books. It was no use though, as her mind kept wandering. Seeing her Daughter’s frustration, Lisa came and sat down beside her, giving her one of those arms around the shoulders hugs that parents do.

“Sweetie, I talked to the doctor about your eyes. While he’s not ruling out the tar as the cause, he thinks that you may be undergoing a mutant manifestation.” Seeing the concern in her daughter’s expression, Lisa quickly spoke to calm her. “Remember, always, that you are my special girl. I will love you no matter what. Evolution is part of nature. New species emerge, old species go extinct. Some adapt to co-exist. As a renowned colleague of mine once said. ‘nature finds a way’ I’ll be here with you as you – as WE - find our way through this” She gave Megan a reassuring smile. “The chairman of the museum committee called me this morning. Officially, I’m ‘on call’, but I can take as much time as we need. They are truly appalled by the attack, and they’re going to help do whatever they can to help. In the meantime, all those incident reports and notes from school helped convince a judge that despite their parents’ money, the girls are a serious threat to your safety and need to be held pending a proper bail hearing.”

After a bit, Lisa headed upstairs. Megan tried to read, but she was restless. She felt that she needed to get up and move around. The feeling nagged at her, and she couldn’t shake it. She tried walking around the downstairs, but that did little to help. When her mom came down in her running clothes, it was almost a relief to her. “Sweetie, if you are okay, I think I’m going to go for a little run.”

Megan practically ran up the stairs. “Wait a moment, I’ll be right back” she hurriedly responded as she took off for her room. A minute later, she returned in a pair of Lycra shorts, and a loose t-shirt.

“Mom, can I join you?” she asked excitedly.

Lisa smiled. “Sure, sweetie. Want me to get your bike down from the rack?”  Lisa knew that Megan couldn’t keep up with her on her runs. She had gone out with her on a few occasions, but even at her slowest, she usually ended up outpacing her daughter by a block or two.

“No thanks, Mom. I feel like I need to run.” the girl replied.

Lisa looked at her skeptically. “Ok, but if you get tired, let me know.”

Running through the neighborhood, Megan actually did better than she normally did, only trailing her mother by half a block the entire time. When they reached the house Megan was huffing and puffing and quite sweaty, but she was happy. In the past, they’d had to stop early because Megan tired too soon, but not this time.

Megan went up to her room and grabbed her bathrobe. She undressed and happened to catch a quick glance in the mirror. It might have just been her mind playing tricks on her, but she felt like she didn’t look quite as frail as she normally looked.

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May 9th, 2007
The home of Lisa and Megan Stone
Beverly Hills, CA

A couple days passed, and Megan’s improvement increased. She was nearly able to keep up with her mother on ‘their’ run now, and she definitely saw improvements in her physique. She was no longer looking underweight and frail. Her hips had started to widen - not by much, but enough she could notice. Her panties were getting tighter as well, as she was starting to develop a rounder, fuller backside.

Sitting at lunch with her mother, Megan rapidly downed her lunch and went back for more leftovers from the night before. Her caloric intake had increased. Whereas she struggled to finish even a modest helping of food before, she now seemed ravenous. 

Lisa watched as she downed most of the leftover chicken. “Sweetie, are you okay? I know this mutant thing must be confusing. I’ve been reading up online. If you have anything you want to talk about, please let me know.”

Megan sighed. “... ’M fine mom. Really.” Megan was not fine. She was troubled and moody. She didn’t know why. She felt irritated and there was a building sense of… anger and aggression boiling below the surface. When she thought about Beverly McKensie and her tormentors, she wanted to hurt them. It had been a few days since the mean girl clique had gotten out on bail. There was an order out that they were not allowed within five hundred feet, but that didn’t calm Megan any. She still felt that they might try something. The only saving grace was that with her grades, and it being close to the end of the school year the faculty had decided to let Megan test out of the remainder of the school year.

Megan wandered up to her room. Perhaps a bath would calm her down. She stripped out of her clothing. With an accidental glance over her shoulder, she saw her back in the mirror. Letting out a scream, she panicked and fell to the floor.

Lisa heard her daughter’s scream and bolted up the stairs. Rushing into the bedroom, she saw her daughter sitting on the floor and curled up in a ball, crying. The first thing she noticed when she saw her undressed child wasn’t that her figure was filling out. It wasn’t that she was gaining muscle. No, the first thing she noticed were the dark stripes that radiated outward from her spine.

Sitting on the floor next to Megan, she wrapped her arms around the trembling child. “Mommy’s here. It’s alright.” she repeated over and over, until Megan finally stopped crying. Megan finally uncurled from the semi-fetal position and looked at her mom. Lisa sighed. “In the materials I’ve been reading, there is a lot of mention of a type of mutant called an avatar. It seems that people have something called a ‘hallow’, which is the metaphysical space their consciousness resides. For an avatar, they have a much larger hallow, one that is big enough to share with a non-corporeal entity called a spirit. In these cases, there forms a symbiosis. The Spirit allows their host access to their powers and strengths, while the spirit gets a link to the physical plane.”

Megan nodded. “So… you think I might be one of these avatars? Why do I have stripes though?”

Lisa hugged her daughter. “Sometimes the host manifests physical traits of the spirit, especially in situations where the spirit can’t adequately fit in the hallow. It’s a method of easing the strain on both parties… at least that’s what I read.”

Megan looked at her mother, not entirely convinced, but reasoning that it was a possibility. “But what is it that I have inside me? How much more will it change me? And why now?”

Shrugging sadly, Lisa stroked her daughter’s shaved head, feeling the stubble of regrowing hair. “As for why now, the doctor told me that it’s not uncommon for a mutant to manifest after a traumatic incident. It’s possible that when you were thrown in the pit, it triggered your manifestation. I don’t know how much more you will change. But I will always love you, no matter what.” Lisa bent over and kissed the top of Megan’s head gently. “The last question… given that your manifestation began at the tar pits, it is possible – however remote- that the spirit might be tied to something found there. Looking at you, you seem to be gaining muscle, and becoming more athletic.” She smiled. “I think we can rule out giant sloths and such,” she added with a small chuckle.

Megan cracked a smile at that, and actually gave a little chuckle. “Nnn… Mom, I wanna go out for a run. I feel all cooped up and antsy.”

Lisa smiled. “Sure, and after, how about some In-N- Out?”

Megan grinned. “It’s like you read my mind.”

Lisa couldn’t help but notice that when she smiled, Megan’s canine teeth looked slightly larger, and pointed. “Sweetie, I have an idea. Your changes seem to be coming in fits and starts after you run or work out. It might be scary to you, but how do you feel about packing up the jeep, and heading into the hills for a few days, so we can see if we can push this to its conclusion?” 

Megan thought about it, the idea did scare her some, but on the other hand it kind of thrilled her. That feeling of being pent up that loomed in the back of her mind came to the forefront as excitement. “I… I think that might be a good idea.”

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May 11th, 2007
San Bernadino National Forest
San Bernadino, CA

Megan yawned slightly as she got out of the jeep. Four AM was juuuust a touch early to be out and about, but she understood her mom’s thought that it was best to beat the infamous LA rush-hour traffic. Megan got out and stretched. Her mother planned on putting her through the wringer that day, but she also knew that she wouldn’t subject her to anything she wouldn’t do herself.

Glancing over at her mom, Megan was a little envious. Her skin had always been pasty white, and she burned easily, She didn’t show off much of her mother’s Costa Rican heritage, whereas her mother always had that golden tan that so many envied. It was true that her own skin had started to darken up, but she could do without the black stripes. Having a paleontologist in the family, and being interested in science herself. Megan knew all sorts of facts. She knew that if you shaved many animals, their patterns weren’t just on the fur, but they also existed on their skin. She just hoped that fur didn’t come along with this whole thing. It was a horrifying thought that she might end up a furred girl in Los Angeles in August. Guh, no thanks.

A week passed of strength training, running, and hunting. Megan passed her mother up, able to out-run her, outlast her, out jump her. Soon enough it was Lisa that needed to take her bike off the bike rack in order to follow her daughter. It was touch and go when Megan’s ears migrated to the top of her head and became cat-like. The pain as her skull reshaped to accommodate the migration of the ear canals felt unbearable, but despite feeling that the pain was killing her, she survived. The elongation and thickening of her fingernails and toenails into claws didn’t hurt, but it did shred through her favorite sneakers. Having discovered one of her powers, Megan started exploring beyond the campsite during the night. It startled her mother the first time she used her cat-like night vision, her eyes changing from round pupils to elongated cat pupils. Lisa did comment on how it and her claws eliminated dire wolves as a possibility. Whatever Megan was changing into was clearly of the cat family.

The worst changes, in Megan’s opinion, were the final ones. The ones that revealed what she had inside her hallow. When the six-and-a-half-inch tail sprouted painfully, she was nearly inconsolable.  Lisa could only watch helplessly as her baby girl went through the pain. Any attempt to hold her hand through the pain would likely have gotten her hand broken or shredded accidentally.

Once the pain from her tail growing in subsided, Megan slept for an entire day, only for the next, and last painful change. Bleeding from the gums, she woke up in a panic. Her mother looked and gasped at the inch and a half canine teeth jutting from her upper jaw. The teeth had pushed forward, out of line with her upper jaw. They curved outward, and down into the cheeks, resting against the lower jaw. When they finally stopped aching, she experimented with talking and eating. They caused some issues initially, but Megan was adaptable and rather quickly got used to it. The part that stunned them both was when a coyote howled nearby, the girl snarled and the teeth grew to nearly the length of her pinky finger. After she calmed down, they reverted to their new ‘resting’ size.

A couple more days passed and no further changes occurred. Concluding the changes were past,  Megan and Lisa packed up the camp and they drove home.

Megan rushed up to her room. She was sweaty and smelling rather ripe. In the course of her changes, her body had decided to outgrow her clothing, so she had been borrowing from her taller mother. The thing that irked her about that was that her mom’s clothes fit her, and in a couple places they were actually a little snug.

Stripped clear of her clothing, Megan got a good look at herself. The skinny, underweight frail girl was gone. The flat chest had blossomed, not just the breasts that had been pinched tightly in her mother’s C cup bra, but the muscular pecs underneath. Her stomach was firm, with well-defined abs. She had changed from a figurative stick figure to much more feminine figure, with a narrow waist and broad hips. Her pipe-cleaner legs now had muscular thighs and a solid, yet plump ass. She briefly flexed her arm, her shoulder and bicep muscles bulging. She was definitely built powerfully, but still had sexiness in the form of ample curves. Her ears wiggled unconsciously, drawing her attention to them. They were black-furred and pointed like a house cat. Taking in the whole thing, she swished the furry half-foot tail. Looking back at her breasts, she shook her head. Among the many black stripes that covered her skin were a pair that extended over her breasts in such a way as to color her nipples and areola black.

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May 21st, 2007
The home of Lisa and Megan Stone
Beverly Hills, CA

Megan was going stir-crazy. She was annoyed at the presence that sat in her head, and made her need to move. The problem was, the more she got angry at it, the more it overwhelmed her mental defenses and made her just angry in general.  After a few minutes running around the backyard in frustration, she came back inside and slumped at the counter in the kitchen. Seeing her daughter’s frustration, Lisa spoke up. “Sweetie, we have to go somewhere. Get ready. I’ll be down in about fifteen minutes.”

Megan had changed quickly out of her baggiest sweats into some spandex tights, she threw on some baggy sweat-shorts. After binding her breasts, she tossed on one of her mom’s (or her) knee-length night t-shirts, and her athletic sandals. She was irritated that her new clawed toes had wrecked most of her sneakers.

“Mom, where are we going?” Megan asked, curious as to the sudden departure.

“Megan, do you remember Domingo, from custodial services at the museum?” Megan nodded at her mother’s question. Unlike some scientists who Megan had met at her mother’s job, her mom didn’t care about status, and she treated everyone with respect. From the chairman of the County Museum Board down to the custodial staff and unpaid internists, they were all treated equally. That was perhaps why her mother was so popular at work.

“I remember him. What about him?” Megan tentatively asked. She was confused at this sudden topic change.

“Domingo’s son, Jon manifested as a mutant last year.” Megan had never met the boy, but she nodded. “I was talking to him for guidance and advice. He told me that the Los Angeles MCO is notorious for making mutants disappear if they don’t have the proper Mutant Identification Card. He suggested to me that I should take you to Venice Beach for testing with the Crusaders. Hero teams can provide MID cards, and given you are the avatar of a Smilodon, I don’t think either of us would want the MCO deciding ‘ooh, dangerous saber-tooth tiger girl, we better keep an eye on her’, correct?”

Megan swallowed hard and nodded meekly. Inside she felt the beast stirring, pacing in her hallow. After a tense but silent car ride, they arrived at an ultra-modern looking building that fit in perfectly with the fancy surroundings of Venice Beach. There was an athletic woman standing with an air of authority in the foyer, wearing a sky-blue skin-tight pair of tights and a blue warm-up top with the team logo scrawled across the back, like a sports jacket. 

She walked up and held out her hand, which Lisa shook. “I’m Sunburst. And this must be our guinea pig” the blonde said with a smile. Megan growled a little, which made the blonde woman step back.

Lisa laughed. “I’m Lisa, her mother. Don’t worry. She’s had all her shots, so don’t worry if she bites you.”

Megan pouted and, in a huff, reacted. “Mooooom….”

Lisa tussled her daughter’s hair and laughed. “Don’t worry kiddo, I’m just teasing.”

Sunburst led them into the building and across the foyer to what appeared to be a blank wall. She then pressed a panel on a wall, which opened a hidden door. The woman ushered the other women in. As soon as the door closed, the feeling of motion hit them with a lurch. Realizing they were in an elevator, the two visitors looked around. The door opened after a few moments, and Sunburst stepped out. “If you will follow me to the testing area, right this way.”

Megan looked around, taking in everything around her. If she had read comic books, she might have thought it something out of the X-Men. Soon enough the trio arrived at a couple doors. “This is the changing room”. The hero looked at Megan and spoke. “There should be a shelving unit with workout suits. Please find one that fits and put it on. They contain micro-circuitry that will allow us to monitor your physical reactions and bio-readings.  A headband is included that can follow brainwave patterns. Please tie that on tight. When you are finished, please join us out here. Oh, and I would suggest using the restroom now, if you can.”

The gorgeous blonde woman was waiting when Megan came out. The suit was annoying. She had picked the best fitting one she could find, but the wedgie was really annoying, and she had to tear a tail hole into it. She hoped that wouldn’t cause any sort of issues.

As she walked into the testing area, Megan gawked at what looked like a futuristic gym, with treadmills, weightlifting equipment, free weights, and the usual things one would expect, but there were also several cabinets with chairs and tabletops. Wondering about them, she looked more closely as Sunburst led her to a weight bar that was attached to a hydraulic contraption. After Sunburst showed her how, Megan did some lifts. After every few reps, Sunburst would push a button on a pad she was carrying, and the mechanism would beep in response. Gradually the weight increased, until Megan could no longer lift it. After a look at the pad, the woman smiled at her.

“How did I do?” The young girl asked. “Did I clear three hundred pounds, at least?”

The look of amusement and confusion on Sunburst’s face was priceless. “Three hundred? Sweetie, you cleared thirteen hundred pounds.” Megan gasped, and so did her mother, who was watching from behind a one-way mirror.

After that revelation, Megan was eager to try the treadmill. Hopping up on the device, she started to run at a leisurely pace. Slowly the machine sped up, and she was forced into a full-on run. After several minutes, she had to stop.

The blonde hero commented. “Fifty miles an hour. That’s quite impressive.”

Once again, Megan was stunned. In very little time she had gone from an underweight weakling to someone with inhuman strength and speed.

“We have some more tests, but I suspect these probably don’t apply to you. Still, we have to rule out any and all possibilities.” As predicted, the assorted mechanical odds and ends that had been gathered on a table only caused confusion in the girl. The hero smiled at her puzzled reaction.    “Clearly not a devisor or gadgeteer.”

A woman entered the gym, carrying a wicker basket. She was an imposing woman, of probable Hispanic and Native American ancestry.  Her outfit hinted at Aztec inspiration, but Megan giggled to herself upon noticing that parts were actually very loosely inspired by Toltec design. Someone had not done their homework when designing the costume.

Sunburst explained, “This is Green Brujah. She is here to test you for magic potential.”

The mis-dressed woman nodded. “Just from looking at you, I suspect you don’t have any magic abilities. Still, one never knows.”

The magic-using woman produced several pieces of what looked like topaz and turquoise from the basket, along with some carved stones, and a few leaves, sticks, and branches. Megan was instructed to sit on the floor, and the woman surrounded her with the items. “If you possess magic abilities, these sacred items should resonate with it, and begin to float in the air. Close your eyes, and keep them closed until I say that you may open them.” 

Megan did as instructed, and after a few minutes had passed,  she was told she could open her eyes again. “As I surmised, you have no magical potential tied to your mutation.” Picking up the items, the woman quickly scurried from the room without another word.

Megan got up off the floor and moved to the chairs. Psychic testing was next. Sunburst pulled out a stack of cards, and placed them face down on the table. “You’ve seen Ghostbusters, right?”

Megan looked at her, perplexed. “Isn’t that a movie?”

Sunburst resisted temptation to look over at the mirror, where Lisa was facepalming. Megan wasn’t one for movies or TV; reading was everything to her. “Anyhow, in the movie… they do a standard test for psychic powers. I’m going to hold up a card, and you tell me if you can either see the image on it, or read the image from my mind. This will test for clairvoyance and telepathy.”

Megan grinned. “You aren't going to wire me up to receive a shock... like in the movie, are you?”

Behind the mirror, Lisa hung her head and shook it side to side. Sunburst glared at the girl briefly, but recovered quickly. She picked up the first card and began the questioning. Out of one hundred cards, Megan got three correct. “Okay, no psychic powers. You did manage to get three, which is about on par for someone guessing at the cards.”

Megan shrugged. She expected as much. Sunburst walked over to another counter, and waved her over. “Now comes the last part of the testing. Usually, this is the most traumatic for people, even if it is the simplest. The regeneration test. If you would like your mother to join you, she can. It’s fairly easy, but it looks … unpleasant. We have to give you a slight cut, using a scalpel, and we watch to see if there’s anything unusual – or quick – about your healing.”

“Define slight,” Megan interjected with a scowl. The thought of being deliberately cut while she was conscious was unnerving.”

Megan sighed and held out her arm. Sunburst cut a small cut on her forearm, which healed relatively quickly afterwards. Megan didn’t even realize it, but when the cut was made, her ears flattened back, she let out a low growl, and bared her teeth. Sunburst arched her eyebrow, interested in the response.

“Okay, the tests are all done. The suit has registered the bio-metric data, and I’ll input what I’ve seen. You may go get changed.” 

Nodding, Megan walked towards the door. “Good. This suit is giving me the wedgie from Hell”

A few minutes later, she re-entered in her casual clothes. The heroine smiled at Megan and ushered her over. “Final thing is a code-name. This will insure your anonymity to the MCO, and other parties. Do you have anything in mind? In case you were thinking of the obvious, Marvel Comics has a trademark on ‘Sabertooth’, so that’s not an option.

Megan shrugged. She hadn’t known the info on Sabertooth, nor did she much care. The spirit and the whole mutation was an inconvenience to her. She just wanted to be left alone with her books and her learning. The fact some dumb, long-extinct spirit was pushing her to always be active was annoying.

With a sigh, Megan asked if ‘Saber’ was available. After a computer search, Sunburst provided a “thumbs up”, that name was available as a code-name. Moments later, a printer on the side of the computer produced a small plastic card.

Sunburst looked at her. “Keep that with you at all times when you are out. The MCO can detain you if you are not carrying your ID, and that’s never a good thing.”

Lisa entered the room, shook Sunburst’s hand, and thanked her. Megan hadn’t realized before, but from what her mother and the heroine said, she gathered that the LA branch of the MCO was considered one of the worst when it came to mutant rights and treatment violations. When Sunburst pointed out that Megan had a mutation with an obvious offensive leaning, it was heavily implied that if she had gone to the MCO for testing, she might have been marked for extreme sanctions, or designated as a potential threat. It could be seen why; she was an Avatar 2, Exemplar 4, and Regenerator level 3. She was strong, and could heal fairly fast. And there was the influence of the annoying spirit that even now wanted to go hunt.

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May 28th, 2007.
The home of Lisa and Megan Stone

It had been a week, and other than a brief stop at Target to pick up a few much needed clothing items, Megan had been cooped up indoors. Of course, her mother hadn’t said she needed to stay inside, but Megan had books she wanted to read, and a life to organize. The fact that she had gone from an underweight petite girl with a flat chest to a shapely girl with a D cup sized bust in a matter of weeks didn’t escape her thoughts. Not that she was always sure how much the thoughts she had originated with her. The sight of attractive men on television hit her like it had never done before. Megan was more than a little suspicious that was the Smilodon’s mating urge kicking around. It wasn’t too bad, at least not yet. Still, it made her nervous. Would she go into a heat cycle, like a feline? A couple of nightmares about her slinking around Los Angeles, picking up men had terrified her. More accurately, it terrified and intrigued her. She was quite embarrassed about sneaking her bedding down to the laundry covered in sweat and… other things. It was a relief then, that her mother returned to work a couple days later.

Getting up from the couch, Megan wandered to the kitchen. She sighed and opened the fridge. The increased allure of animal proteins hit her once again. It used to be that she would be full after a grapefruit and a couple pieces of cinnamon toast. Not anymore, this morning it was going to be two chicken breasts, a half-dozen pieces of bacon, four eggs over easy, and the cinnamon toast and grapefruit. Having downed her meal… and three glasses of milk, Megan got up from her chair. She had to placate her hitchhiker. A run would do it for now. Stretching, she pulled on one of her various LaBrea hoodies. They had once been huge on her, like she was drowning in fabric. Now they were still loose and comfortable, but nowhere near ‘too big’ still, the hood helped hide her face and ears, and the largeness covered her tail. Some tight lycra running pants hid her striped legs and if not for the hoodie, would show her firm, round ass. Slipping into her new athletic sandals, she shook her head. Shoes, she had quickly learned where out, as her clawed toes had shredded her favorite pair of pink Chucks.

Running felt freeing, not just because the thing in her head would shut up, but it gave her time to think and reflect on things. Megan’s mom had offered to get her a new smartphone, one with enough storage capacity that she could listen to books. Megan had refused, partially because she preferred the sensory stimulation a book provides. The smell of the paper, seeing the words, feeling the heft of it. The physical reality that audio books and electronic books just didn’t provide. If she had to be honest with herself, the other part was that while you could get earphones and headphones designed for mutant physiology, they were still very rare and expensive. Her mother had shelled out so much money and time after her change already. Taking time off work, having to buy her a new bed – one that resisted getting shredded in the middle of the night by a random night terror, getting her new clothing and new shoes, none of that could have been good for her mom’s bank account. And that was not even mentioning how much more she had to eat now. These worries swarmed in her head, distracting her.

When Megan finally stopped for a moment and looked around, she realized she had no idea where she was. It had been seven o’ clock when she had headed out, and her watch showed it was a quarter after eleven.  Looking around, and observing the street signs and sights, It finally came to her where exactly she was. Two facts rose to prominence in her mind. Firstly, that she had crossed half of Los Angeles in just a few hours on foot. Secondly, Compton wasn’t the best place to stop and ponder that fact. Pulling her hood tight and turning, She picked up the pace, and set course for home.

Unfortunately, she drew some unwanted attention. “Hey, yo shorty. Stop for a minute. I wanna talk to you. Ignoring the voice from behind, and the revving car engine, Megan picked up the pace. But her unwanted followers also sped up. “Yo, why you gotta be like that? I just wanna talk.  A quick turn to look, and she saw her pursuers. Six boys dressed in gang colors were hanging out of a drop top black sports car. Megan had no idea about what gang they belonged to, as gang colors were far outside her knowledge. However, when one hopped out of the car, near tackling her she froze. Pulling down her hood and revealing her face, she snarled, her fangs growing.With a warning growl, Megan assumed a defensive stance.

“Yo, fuck!” one of the boys yelled out. “Bitch be a mutie. Gotta be one of El Gato’s crew. Waste her!” Megan knew nothing about El Gato, or his cartel. If she had, she would have been more alert. The mutant leader of the Mexican gang was merciless, leaving calling cards in the form of slashed up rivals. Megan, a now Latina-looking catgirl, would surely be confused for one of his runners.

She felt the first bullet slam into her left shoulder, after the second and third impacted with her ribcage and ricocheted off in opposite directions, her vision went red.

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Three hours later.

Waking up, Megan put her hands to her head. She had a blinding headache and everything seemed to be spinning. Shakily getting up, she looked at her watch. The face was cracked, but it still worked. She had a couple hours before her mom would be home. She was in her own backyard.  Letting herself into the house, she staggered up the stairs to her room. Stripping out of her clothing, she noted the half-dozen bullet holes in her sweatshirt. “Damn, I loved that shirt”, she said to herself quietly.

Looking in the full-length mirror on the door, she noticed that her skin looked unmarred. Whatever bullet wounds she had had, they were now gone. Still her shoulder ached, and it outright hurt when she tried to move it. Looking at the hoodie more closely, Megan noticed an entry hole on the shoulder, but no exit hole.

Grabbing her hairbrush, she moved to the bathroom and sat in the shower. Biting down on the handle of the brush, she cut open the shoulder with her claws. Partially suppressing the urge to scream, she let out a whimper as she dug around for the bullet. Pulling it out, she tossed it out of the shower, and into the sink. Reaching up, Megan turned on the shower and sat under the warm water as the wound closed up.

For no apparent reason, she washed the bullet off and placed it in her nightstand drawer. The hoodie and shirt that had been underneath were a lost cause, but her pants were salvaged with some spot-treatment with hydrogen peroxide and detergent. Clean and re-energized, Megan slunk out to the garbage, making sure she was not noticed by the neighbors or any possible passersby. She buried the incriminating clothes in a trash bag, and tossed them in the garbage can.

Emotionally drained, Megan collapsed on the couch. A couple hours passed, and her mother came home. “Honey, I picked up some pizza and ice cream on the way home. Got you a couple large meat lovers.”

Getting up, Megan grabbed the pizzas and some plates and brought them into the living room. Lisa brought some glasses and soft drinks into the room. Placing the 2-liter of Dr. Pepper before her daughter, Lisa cracked open a can of Diet Pepsi for herself. Laughing, she casually commented on how she still wasn’t used to the new appetite of the girl that “used to have to have her finish her happy meals” for her.

Both of them had a good laugh over that, and then Lisa turned on the television.

“In breaking news, we go to our DeShina Smith in Compton, where six people have been discovered brutally mauled. The six teens are suspected to be members of the‘Ya Boyz’ gang. Turf wars in this neighborhood with the rival Los Gatos gang have been escalating for the past couple years.”

Megan sat and looked at the television and took deep breaths. It wouldn’t do her any good to have a panic attack in front of her mother.

The reporter continued to discuss the gangs, and the brutal evisceration of the corpses. The police seemed eager to pin this on El Gato, which relieved Megan.

Looking at her daughter, Lisa commented. “That’s so awful. I’m just so relieved that you couldn’t possibly have done such a thing. I know it’s unfair but now that you have manifested as a mutant, and a potentially dangerous one, at that you have to be careful. The police or MCO could bring you in for questioning, and throw you in a cell. Or worse, you could ‘disappear’ or ‘be killed in an attempt to escape’. I’m just so relieved that you were home all day.”

Swallowing hard, Megan nodded. “Me too.”

Smiling and gently tussling her daughter’s hair, Lisa took a bite of her pizza before speaking again. “Oh and in the future, don’t leave the bloody clothing on the top of the garbage.”

Megan nearly choked swallowing her pizza, but managed to recover.

Lisa looked at her daughter and smiled. “When you finish your pizza, there is a tub of peppermint chip in the freezer for you.”

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June 11th, 2007
The home of Lisa and Megan Stone
Beverly Hills, CA

To say that Megan was bored was an understatement. Ever since the ‘incident’ in Compton, she had been extra careful of paying attention to her surroundings on her runs. Frankly, she wished that she could do away with them entirely, but immobility and her spirit did not co-exist. When she tried to scale down her activity, she would get overwhelming feelings of hostility and frustration from the spirit, sometimes to the point where it gave her headaches. This was one of those days. It also didn’t help her mental state that Beverly and her minions had their trial coming up soon. It was a near certainty that she would be required to testify. Her mother had taken her shopping a couple days before, and in addition to replacing more of her out-grown clothing, a skirt and blazer combo was included, as were some open toed dress flats.

Sighing and looking at the coffee table, Megan recalled the lecture about how tapping her fingers on the glass in boredom was wearing through the table. “Hell with it.” the girl thought. Running upstairs and changing into her running clothes, she decided to do something she had long put off. Something that the meek and timid Megan had been scared to do. Locking up the house, Megan set course for a place where surely the answers to many of her questions resided. Questions she had long been afraid to seek herself. And so undaunted, Megan took off for the most wonderful, amazing, and also potentially scary place she could imagine… the public library. While Megan preferred the tactile feel of real paper and leather-bindings of books, she also knew quite well how to use the Internet for those occasions when the joy of a real book might not be at hand.. Getting her library card out, she logged into the terminal, and swallowed hard. She was aware that she was drawing looks, but at the moment, she didn’t care. She needed truth. A truth that her mother didn’t want to reveal. And so she googled her mother’s name.

Dr. Lisa Stone

Ignoring the orthodontist in Des Moines, the pediatrician in Halifax, and a dozen others, she finally found her mother. An old newspaper article from before she was born held the terrible truth.

Famed researcher and team massacred in Tanzania

Associated Press.

The search for missing anthropologist Dr. Charles Travis and his dig expedition in Tanzania was formally called off yesterday when his body was found buried near the campsite. The Tanzanian Army released a statement that the bodies of Dr. Travis, and several members of his party were found buried in shallow graves. Along with the researchers, there were several other individuals, including famed big game hunter, and suspected smuggler and human trafficker Roderick Rhinehardt. Of the twelve person research party, four have not been located. Three were local villagers that were hired by Travis. Also missing is graduate student Lisa Stone, a student of Travis’ at UCLA. Search parties are searching local villages, but it is suspected that Reinhardt may have relocated them prior to the massacre. Officials have no suspects in the death of Reinhardt, or his associates.

Rheinhardt’s involvement in drug trafficking and human slavery have long been suspected among international police circles, but no formal charges had ever been brought.

Megan shuddered.

She suspected the cause of her mother’s silence, but could not say it. She could not allow herself to think it. About to get up and leave, she saw another article further down the page.

Missing grad student presumed dead found alive

Associated Press.

Lisa Stone, a UCLA student missing for six months in Tanzania was discovered alive Friday when the Twenty-four year old woman unexpectedly wandered into a village. Dehydrated and suffering from severe sunburn, the woman was transported to Dar es Salaam by medivac helicopter. It has been revealed by sources in Tanzania that Miss Stone walked into the village dressed in animal skins and carrying a spear, and that she appears to be pregnant. Though conscious and recovering, Stone has not volunteered any information on the attack on the archaeological dig she had been working on six months prior, nor where she has been for the past six months, nor the circumstances of her pregnancy.

Megan hurriedly closed the computer down and bolted from the building. The anger and shame building in her was triggering the Smilodon’s own rage and she did not want to hurt anyone else.

She ran home as fast as she could, bolted to the basement and straight into her mother’s gym. Hours of beating on the heavy bag did nothing to lessen her emotions.

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Several hours later.

Lisa walked into the house and headed into the kitchen. Megan was sitting at the counter, her ears back and a serious look on her face.

“So… Roderick Rhinehardt…” she said in a growling tone.

Lisa dropped her keys and bag. She backed up, against the door. Megan wasn’t supposed to find out. At least not until she was older and could handle the truth. Dropping to her knees, Lisa began to cry. The upset teen looked at her. Clearly conflicted, she just sat there looking at her mother. “My father was a slave trader, a murderer, and a rapist.”

Lisa looked up. “How did… how did you find out?”

“Not hard with the internet,” she said, while glaring at her mother.

“I… I didn’t want you to find out, at least not until you were older, and could better deal with it… I… I was afraid, not for me. I was afraid for you.”

“Well, I’m the daughter of a murdering rapist. How can you even stand to look at me? How could you even keep me?” Megan slumped over, tears flowing from her eyes. In her sorrow, she had manifested her large teeth.

Lisa looked up at her daughter. “Don’t. Don’t ever think that. I love you. You are the light of my life. Everything I went through gave me the most precious gift of all. A bright, kind daughter that I love more than my own life. If I were given the chance for it to have never happened, I would never, EVER accept, because despite the trauma and pain, I gained something precious from it, and I would pick you every single time.”

Standing up, Lisa walked slowly over to Megan and the two embraced. Tears flowed as the two stood there silently.

Eventually the tears stopped, and they went into the living room. Lisa sat down and when Megan sat next to her, she held her baby girl and began to tell her about the attack on the dig site.

Lisa related the story of how Rhinehart attacked the camp. She skipped the more… graphic details about the assault, and related a tale about how she followed the remaining slavers through the desert. She caught up a month later, finding the shallow graves of the final members of the expedition. She wandered the Savannah, trying to find her way to somewhere she could contact the outside world. Hunting and scavenging, she traveled East, hoping she could get closer to Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam.

Eventually, Lisa was finished, and a crying Megan sat in her lap and hugged her. Everything forgiven, she went up to sleep.

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June 19th, 2007
Los Angeles County Courthouse
Los Angeles, CA

Megan was nervous. Today was the day she had to testify. Silently, she cursed at the stripes on her skin that showed from under the sheer stockings. Buttoning her blouse, she frowned at the way her breasts prominently stood out. The drive to the courthouse was spent in silence. Megan and her mother were ushered in through the back door and led to the courtroom under police escort. Sitting in her seat, she watched as the Lawyers and Judge met at the bench. It didn’t escape her notice that they kept looking over at her. As expected, Megan was called to the stand first.

The prosecutor walked up to her with a smile plastered on her face. She looked to be relatively young, with blonde hair up in a bun, and black glasses on. Relatively attractive, she was dressed in such a way as to subtly catch the attention of the jury, with a black pencil skirt and matching blazer. Her pumps had a slight heel, elevating her to a very tall six foot, or so. She strode up to the stand.

She sat there for what seemed like hours, as the prosecution asked her questions about her history with the bullies. She answered as best she could. Not realizing that she was gripping the arm-rest of the witness stand. When she let go of it, the wood creaked from the compression, and cracks formed in it. Her claws had left deep grooves. She was breathing hard, and near the point of hyperventilating after recalling years of torture.

The judge looked over at her and then the attorneys. It was clear that the girl was close to a panic attack. The prosecution caught the unsaid intent of the judge, and asked for a ten-minute recess, which was granted. After the break, Megan had calmed down some, but she could feel the cat wandering in her hallow, restless.

Sitting through the proceedings was torturous for her, and day after day passed, with Megan gritting her teeth and clutching her chair’s arm with all her strength. Every day a new chair was there, replacing the previous one, due to the badly mangled arm rests.  Three long, arduous weeks passed and a verdict was ready to be handed down.

The jury foreman handed the paper to the bailiff, who handed it to the judge. When the verdict was read out, Megan and Lisa sat there in disbelief. “Not guilty on all charges.”

Lisa put her hand on Megan’s shoulder, not physically restraining her daughter, but reminding her to not do anything stupid.

Glancing over at the parents of her tormentors, Megan saw several smirking. They had to have gotten to the jury. People of wealth and influence that flaunted their power got to her. She was struggling with her emotions.

When Megan arrived home, she locked herself in the basement workout room. Lisa heard crashing and the sound of things being thrown and smashed. This went on for hours. When things finally quieted down, Lisa cautiously went down the stairs and opened the door. Weights had been thrown through the walls, the workout bench was in pieces, the speed bag and heavy bag torn to shreds. In the corner sat Megan, asleep and sniffling.

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July 10th, 2007
Crusaders HQ
Venice Beach, CA.

Megan sat in the re-enforced steel-walled room, her claws regenerating from the wear she had caused by trying to tear through the metal. She snarled and her chest heaved up and down with deep breaths. The big cat prowled in her hallow, feeling the anxiety of being trapped. Megan sat helplessly in her mental landscape, unable to get past the apex predator.

Lisa Stone looked through the narrow viewing slot in the door at her daughter, Sunburst standing behind her.

“It’s a good thing you brought her here” the hero said. “It’s evident that she’s in a rager fugue.”

It was true. After Megan collapsed the previous night from exhaustion, she had not spoken once, growling and hissing, swiping at anyone that approached.

Sunburst looked through the safety glass and shook her head. “I was hoping that she was strong enough for this to not happen.”

Lisa looked at her daughter, then the heroine. “What?”

Frowning, Sunburst explained. “If a person with a timid or passive personality hosts a dominant spirit, they can sometimes be overwhelmed by the spirit, or the more dominant spirit’s emotions can bleed into their own psyche, influencing their emotions and responses. In cases of extreme emotional stress, the avatar’s psyche can actually be brushed aside by the more dominant spirit’s will.”

Lisa looked concerned and put her hands on the one-way glass.”What do you mean ‘brushed aside’…?”

Looking at Lisa, the blonde shook her head. “I’m sorry. I should have phrased it better. She’s fine, mentally. Emotionally, I’m not so sure. Think of it like locking yourself in your room, but having a fierce guard dog blocking the door. She’s in there, but nobody can interact with her while the stronger will is in the way. I was going to contact you about perhaps sending her to Whateley Academy in the fall, but with this new development, for her own welfare, it may be best to consider sending her sooner than later.”

Lisa looked at her, slightly perplexed. “Whateley?”

“A boarding school in New Hampshire that was established to train mutants, while also providing them a quality high school education. My ward is currently attending. Many of the faculty members are mutants or otherwise powered individuals” the heroine responded. “Perhaps we should go to the sitting room, and we can discuss it. We have brochures, and information packets. The two women sat for hours discussing the school, and what might be best for Megan.

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July 15th, 2007
Whateley Academy
The helipad on the roof of Doyle

“Are we sure she won’t escape?” the attendant asked nervously as the unconscious girl was unloaded from the helicopter.

The air-paramedic looked at her dismissively. “She’s tranq’ed up on enough sedative to knock out a rhinoceros, she’s not going anywhere.”

The gurney that Megan was strapped to was wheeled down into the hospital with no issue. Once inside,   Ophelia Tenant met the paramedics and attendants, and had them wheel the gurney to the high security psychiatric holding room.

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One week later
Doyle Medical Center

Megan opened her eyes, looking at the white ceiling tiles, speckled with holes.

“An unfamiliar ceiling”, she remarked.

 Vague memories floated around the periphery of her consciousness. Memories of a man in a bowler hat. Of him coaxing her with gentle words and encouragement. She recalled the smilodon pacing nervously as the man stood before them both. The big cat blocking her path, as she sat at the entrance to a cave.

Megan’s thoughts shifted suddenly when her mother rushed in, followed by two tall blonde women.

“M...mom? What’s going on? Where am I?” She meekly asked.

“Oh baby, you’re okay. You gave me quite a scare. After the jury read the verdict the spirit pushed its way to the forefront, to protect you. I brought you here on the advice of Sunburst.”

One of the women stepped forward. “I’m Elisabeth Carson, headmistress of Whateley Academy, and this is Dr. Tenant, the chief of Medicine at our medical center.”

Dr. Tenant moved to her bedside and undid the restraints that Megan had not even noticed she had been wearing.

Megan looked at her mother with a look of concern and confusion. “Mom?”

Instead of Dr. Stone replying, it was this Carson person. “Whateley is a boarding school for mutants, and as such we have some of the most advanced medical and psychiatric tools at our disposal. Our Head of the Psychic Arts Department personally saw to helping you reign in your spirit.” Turning her head, Carson seemed to look over her shoulder. “Louis?”

A tall, thin man in a tweed blazer wearing a bowler hat suddenly appeared. Megan could see him, but there was something… off about him. The man didn’t trigger her senses. There was no feeling of him being there, except the visual indication. No smell, no sound, he wasn’t casting shadows. Even his visual appearance seemed wrong somehow.

“Hello Megan, you might remember me, perhaps? I’m Louis Geintz.” the man said.

Recollection came to the girl slowly, sifting through the hazy memories, she recalled the man appearing in the mental space where the smilodon had trapped her.

“I remember… you were there. You helped me out of the cave.” Megan gasped.

Louis nodded. “I’m a telepath. I only distracted the spirit so that you could retake your rightful place. However, I feel that you would best be served by having regular therapy sessions, and also working on your confidence. If you build up your mental fortitude, the tiger will be less likely to overwhelm you in  situations of stress or fear.”

Looking uncertainly over at her mother, Megan tilted her head.

“Sweetie, This is clearly what you need. I love you… but I know you need to be here. I enrolled you for the next semester.” Lisa calmly said with a smile.

Carson stepped forward. “In the mean time, for your own safety, and the safety of the incoming students, you will be staying here as a patient, under the guidance of Mr. Geintz and our head of Psychiatry. We will release you in the interim to our special needs cottage, Hawthorne Cottage. For now, we will give you and your mother time alone to talk.”

The two women turned and left, while Mr Geintz just vanished. Megan sat up, and crying, she hugged her mom.

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The next day.
Doyle Medical Center.
Whateley Academy

Megan was fidgeting with the hem of her hoodie. Wearing the ‘property of Whateley Academy’ sweatshirt and matching sweatpants that her mother had hastily gotten from the campus store. Her mother had left for the airport an hour ago, after much mutual crying and hugging. Shortly someone would be along, and she would be escorted to the cottage that would be her new residence. Things had been discussed hastily. Her mother would pack clothing, and a few relevant necessities and ship them.

A few minutes passed, and there was a knock at the door. Dr. Tenant was standing in the hall with a redheaded girl. The girl was very pretty and if you overlooked the fact that

she was gigantic. She could easily make the biggest NBA center look like a dwarf in comparison.

The doctor smiled and looked at her clipboard. “It seems you are ready to go. I leave you in Fire Forge’s capable hands.”

The redhead, who was apparently Fire Forge, smiled and led the way through the halls. Walking out of the hospital Megan looked around. Things were far different from California.

“It’s so nice here, not humid at all, are we still in California?” she asked.

Fire Forge looked at her perplexed. “California? This is New Hampshire. Wait… didn’t anyone tell you?”

Megan shook her head and sighed… “Honestly, mom…”

The giant winced and shook her head. “I’m sure it was just an oversight. My name is Mary, by the way.”

Looking up, Megan responded with her own name. As the two walked on, they exchanged small talk. Eventually Mary stopped and motioned towards the building they were standing in front of. “Here we are, Hawthorne Cottage. They entered the large doorway (though not large enough that Mary didn’t have to duck down).

“Hawthorne Cottage is where special needs students reside. I’m here because none of the other buildings have a room that can fit a ten-foot-tall person comfortably.”

Megan looked up at Mary and nodded sheepishly. “I can imagine not.”

With a chuckle, Mary resumed speaking. “It may sound strange to some people that a school for mutants would have special needs students, but mutation is a bitch. We have people here that need special aid. One of the students here produces deadly toxins in her body. Sadly, she isn’t immune to them, so she has to be kept on special support machines that flush her system, and keep her alive. Some students are here to protect others from them, or their powers. Some people don’t have sufficient contr… oh, I’m sorry.”

Megan shook her head. “No, it’s okay. I’m guessing you were told about my situation?”

Mary nodded. “A little. I’m filling in for the resident advisor until she gets back from summer break.”

Megan responded. “I… see.”

Sensing the awkwardness, Mary looked around. “A...anyhow, it’s not just a matter of protecting others from us. Sometimes it’s the opposite. Do you see that brunette over there?” she asked.

Glancing in the direction that Mary was looking, Megan noticed a tall girl with the figure of a voluptuous supermodel.

“You mean that woman over there?” She asked, pointing at the girl.

“How old do you think she is?” Mary asked in a neutral tone.

Thinking about it, Megan responded. “At first I would have said twenty, twenty-five. I had thought she was an employee at first. I’m assuming that’s not the case?”

Mary sighed. “She’s eleven, if she were roomed anywhere else, I’d fear that some lecherous pervert would try to take advantage of her. Here, she is safe.”

Megan swallowed hard. There were so many things she had to be thankful for.

After being shown to her room, Megan curled up on the bed and took a nap. It didn’t matter that the bed had no bedding on it. She was mentally exhausted. Shopping for essentials could wait.

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July 24th, 2007
The Quad
Whateley Academy

Megan walked the path through the campus. There weren’t a lot of students about, but that was to be expected. Most of the people that were there were either there because they had make-up classes, were taking extra coursework for early graduation, or like herself, needed to be here for other reasons.

What she hadn’t been expecting was for someone to come up to her and engage her. So when the enormous furry antlered boy came up to her and introduced himself, she was momentarily startled. The boy, who called himself Springbuck, stood in her way.

“So, girlie, you are hot. I know where one of the devisors keeps a hidden stash of hooch. Wanna go get hammered and find out why I call it my extra foot?” he asked, in a smarmy manner.

If nobody had heard her scream, they certainly heard his, as he called for someone to come and “help get the insane bitch off him.”

The claws on her feet and hands dug deeply into the boy’s flesh, securing her to his back, as she ripped violently at his shoulder with her elongated canines.

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An hour later, in the office of Chief of Security


Samantha Everhart looked at the girl before her, then at the trio of people standing behind her. Nodding to Dr. Bellows, Louis Geintz, and Elisabeth Carson, she sighed and spoke. “Miss Stone, I want to reiterate that you are not in trouble. Security feeds picked up the incident, and we have audio of Mr. Higgins rather… crude comments. However, after discussing the situation with everyone here, we have decided that you should be added to the ultraviolent list. Now I will reiterate, you are not being punished. For many the UV tag is a deterrent, telling them that they are poking the proverbial hornet’s nest.”

Megan swallowed hard. “But… I’ll be singled out and people will fear me, or make fun of me. I’ll be a laughing stock.”

From her place behind the girl, Elisabeth Carson spoke next. “That won’t be the case, I’m sure of it. We are doing this for your own safety. We do genuinely care about what happens to you, and how you are doing emotionally.”    She paused, looking at the girl with an expression of a genuinely concerned parent – which upon reflection, was the impression she seemed to be trying to show the girl.

Megan stared for a few long quiet seconds, then gulped and nodded. If Mrs. Carson was truly concerned, then maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. She was going to have to ponder that.

“Oh, and here’s something that might interest you,” Mrs. Carson added, almost as an afterthought, and bearing an amused smirk. “One of our students in the computer studies department just happened to ‘stumble’ onto records of payments from the father of one of the girls that assaulted you in Los Angeles to several of the jurors. As such, Mr. McKensie’s assets have been frozen, furthermore his firm fired him, and his wife has left California with his children while filing for divorce. And a number of jurors from that panel are facing felony charges.

“Furthermore,” Carson continued “a retrial has been ordered by the prosecutor’s office. With young Miss McKensie out of state, she will be considered a fugitive, unless she returns to California for a bail hearing.”

Dr. Bellows was the next person to speak, as he put his hand on Megan’s shoulder, in a comforting manner. “Don’t worry about the trial. I’ve submitted my recommendation to the court that you not be put through the emotional distress of another trial in your ‘emotionally fragile state’, an agreement to enter your prior sworn deposition into evidence has been filed.”

After an hour of lectures and education about the UV system, Megan walked out with the UV tag affixed over her sleeve. She had tears in her eyes, but for the first time in quite a while, they were tears of joy.

Wandering back to Hawthorne, she entered and went straight to her room for a nap.

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July 25th, 2007
Office of Chief of Security
Whateley Academy

Sam Everhart shook her head and looked at the report before her. “Springbuck, again? You just put him in Doyle yesterday.”

Megan looked down, frowning. “I couldn’t help it. I just was trying to get to the store to buy essentials, and he was waiting for me when I got to the quad. He attacked first.”

Looking at the young girl, Sam could pick up on her earnestness. Her augmented systems could pick up no wavering in the girls breathing. Her pulse was steady. Her eyes focused on one spot on the floor. There was no obvious deception in the girl.

Sighing, Sam stood up and walked around the desk and put her arms around the girl. “I know it’s hard, but things will get better. I’ll put out a notice reminding people that there are penalties for going after UVs and perhaps I should have another discussion about grudges with Mr. Higgins.”

Everhart walked back to her desk and pressed the intercom button. A woman’s voice came through the speaker. “Walker here, what can I do for you, Admiral?”

“Melody, can you escort Miss Stone to the campus store? Apparently her attempts at shopping keep getting interrupted.” Sam said in a neutral tone.

A minute later, a short woman with black shoulder length hair walked in. The petite woman was wearing a mid-thigh length skirt and uniform top. There was a nightstick strapped to her belt that glowed a deep cobalt color that matched her eyes. It was also pretty impossible to miss the brutish all-business, heavy-caliber gun in a holster on her hip.. “Sure thing, Admiral.”

Megan was in awe of the deceptive-looking campus store. From the outside, it looked like a modest store, but the surprise waited inside, where many escalators and elevators led to the main underground store. For a school the size of Whateley, the store was easily the size of a typical big box store. It took her an hour to complete her shopping. With everything she needed finally purchased, she headed back to her cottage. Thanking Sgt. Walker at the door, she entered with her packages and went up to her room. Flopping on the bed, the girl sat and practiced her meditations.

It had been recommended to her by Louis Geintz that she meditate and commune with her spirit, trying to earn its trust and respect.

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August 1st, 2007
Hawthorne Cottage

Megan sat in the common area, watching people come and go. She was following Dr. Bellows’ advice to continue meditating and communing with her spirit. The relationship had been getting better over the past week, and she could get the smilodon to stand down on occasion, although reluctantly.

At the moment she was deep in thought, as her eyes followed various students. It was relatively calm, and as such surely it wouldn’t last. Sure enough, a noise snapped Megan out of her torpor. People parted as a girl stormed into the room. She was perhaps only slightly taller than Megan, but she exuded a sense of danger far beyond her size. She twitched her large animal ears. And shook her head. Her hair was spiked and she had a menacing grin. Maniacal laughter erupted from her. “You!” she said, pointing at Megan “Fight me!”

Megan shook her head. “No. Why should I?”

The girl started laughing and grinned, showing her enormous teeth. “Who said you get a choice? We can do this here, or we can take it outside.”

With a sigh, and a roll of her eyes, Megan got up and followed the lunatic outside.

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Thirty minutes later
The office of Chief of Security

Sam Everhart looked over the end of the desk at the girl sitting there. “Really, Miss Stone? Another fight?” Sam said in a tone that Megan couldn’t read.

“I… I couldn’t help it. The crazy girl said that I could either fight her in the cottage, or we could take it outside. I only did what I did to minimize damage and casualties” the young girl said in a shaky voice.

Sam nodded.“Several witnesses have corroborated your story, additionally Laugh Riot is not the most stable girl. It makes sense that she would do something like this.”

Megan looked up. “What’s wrong, if I may ask?”

Everhard shrugged and leaned forward. “I suppose you have the right to know, since she will no doubt try to initiate a fight with you again. Amari has some… psychological issues related to her spirit.”

“I see. I’ll try to keep an eye out for her.” Megan stated solemnly.

Smiling, Sam Everhart got up and motioned to the door. “I think I have everything I need. You weren’t responsible, and no punishment will be handed down. Your moving things outside was the correct call. I’ll let Mrs. Cantrel know you are on the way back. Oh, one other thing though. You’ve been fortunate that Chief Delarose has been on his summer vacation. He’s a good man, but it’s best not to try his patience.”

With an audible gulp, Megan responded. “I understand.”

 Hustling, Megan reached Hawthorne in almost no time. She darted to her room, and got out her laptop. Turning it on, she thought for a moment, then began to write.

To: ProfLStone@LaBreaMuseum.org

From: SnaggletoofMega@Gmail.com

Subject: Love you Mom.

 

Hi Mom, I’m doing well. I’ve been working with my therapist and the head of the psychic department on my confidence. I’m making slow progress. The Smilodon seems less wary. It even let me briefly pet it in one of my meditation sessions!

I received my luggage, thank you. And thanks for the cookies! I shared them with some of the residents here in Hawthorne Cottage. Oh, speaking of- Dr. Bellows said that if my sessions go well for the rest of the month, they might move me to a normal cottage. 

I’ve been trying to stay out of trouble, but it’s been hard. Even though they put me on the “ultraviolent” list, some people still try to challenge me to fights. There is a boy that tried to hit on me. He’s like nine ft tall, and covered in mossy fur. Honestly, even if I were interested in dating, it wouldn’t be him. He looks like the cross between a man, a moose, and a ground sloth. He was told by security to stay away from me, because apparently biting a chunk out of his shoulder wasn’t enough of a deterrent.

There was a girl that also challenged me to a fight. I feel sorry for her. From what I can tell, it seems like she is an avatar like me. I’m fairly sure she is the avatar for a spotted hyena. She seems to be bi-polar, going from manic laughing to anger to crying. Sometimes I think it’s so unfair. I’m getting used to the claws, the ears, the tail, seeing in the dark, and my sharper senses overall... but the little things still bother me – like being able to open my mouth wider than a regular person. I couldn’t even imagine having the sort of issues she might have. I’m glad that I don’t go into heat, or anything like that. I couldn’t even imagine having everything change down there.

I know what you will say, ‘befriend her if you can, but be wary always’, it’s good advice. I can’t wait to see you again. I hope you can make it for Parent’s Day. I love you and will do everything I can to make you proud of me. I love you mom, and I promise I will get better.

 

Love,
Megan.

 

 

 

Saber will return.

Read 1850 times Last modified on Monday, 22 January 2024 20:32
Rosalie Redd

The Murder Bunny

More in this category: « Old Habits... Silver and Cold »

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ReadingIsGood
1 month ago
An interesting beginning, I sure hope something very bad happens to those girls who bullied and attacked her!
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