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ElectroCute 2: 2 Cute, 2 Furry-ous

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A Whateley Universe story

Electrocute 2: 2 Cute, 2 Furry-ous

by

Amethyst

 

ElectroCute new sm

 

Outside Vancouver General Hospital
Thursday, October 4th, 2007
4:53 p.m.

I almost threw up when we reappeared from the teleport. Rika had warned me that it would probably make me nauseous the first few times beforehand, but it felt like my insides had been turned outside before being haphazardly stuffed back in with a pitchfork. “Ugh… stop the ride, I wanna get off.”

It was as I was standing there, waiting for my stomach to settle that I was struck by a cacophony of discordant sounds assailing my ears and a riot of strange scents, each vying for my attention. People, traffic, smog, gasoline, the varied scents from nearby restaurants, and an overwhelming plethora of scents and sounds that I couldn’t place. I hadn’t been in a big city since I was two years old, my senses were a lot sharper now, and I had been in the wilderness since I manifested. I was used to the sounds and scents of the forest and its inhabitants and this sensory chaos was an assault on my senses.

It was too much at once, and all of it was strange and unfamiliar after my long trek through the wilderness. I fell to my knees on the hard pavement, clutching my head as I tried, unsuccessfully, to shut it all out. “Felicia…” Voices. “…you okay?” Human and nearby, filtering through the hundreds of other things around me now demanding my attention. “… wrong with her?” The voices were somehow familiar and sounded concerned, but I couldn’t place them as I tried to make sense of my surroundings and failed. Every instinct screamed that the unfamiliar was dangerous. I needed to…

That frantic line of thought, and my escape, were interrupted as someone restrained me and I was encased in an iron grip. Hands cupped my face, and I found myself looking up close at a lavender-hued face with strange eyes framed by near-white hair. “Felicia! It’s me, Rika. Focus on me. You’re going to be okay, you’re going through sensory overload. I went through something similar once, and it took me weeks to adjust.. Try to limit what you focus on for now, until you can make sense of it all and filter out the unimportant stuff.”

I tried to focus on Rika and tune everything else out, but it wasn’t easy with so many different scents and sounds, each vying for my immediate attention. Telling myself that I wasn’t in any danger while I was with Rika and my mom, I stopped struggling. Mom turned me around to face her with a concerned look on her face, “Are you alright now, Felicia?”

Attempting to put up a brave front, I nodded and tried my best to focus on her instead of all that other stuff. It was giving me a slight headache and it went completely against my instincts, but I could do this. How hard could it be? I took a look around and focused just on what I was seeing and the two people with me. “Sure, Mom, there’s just a lot to take in and it’s kinda noisy in the city. Is this where you live?” I was hoping that wasn’t the case with all the loud traffic and stuff.

“No, dear, since you’ve changed so much and have been living on your own in the wilderness for so long, I thought it best to have Rika bring us to the hospital first so we can make sure that you’re in good health. Are you going to be okay getting a checkup?”

Hoping that it would be less distracting inside the hospital, I quickly agreed. “Yeah, I’m great now, let’s go!” I turned around and tried to get to the big steel and glass building as quickly as possible.

“Felicia, no! The hospital entrance is this…” Whatever Mom was going to say was cut off as something hard smacked into me and I think I might have lost consciousness for a moment because the next thing I knew I was lying on the pavement with Mom and Rika looking down at me in concern.

Rika offered me a hand up but looked warily at the electricity arching along my arms before saying, “Maybe you should let your mother guide you, at least until you can focus properly, Felicia. Are you okay? You ran right into a telephone pole.”

“I’ve been better,” I admitted with a groan as Mom offered her hand and helped me up. It was a good thing that she had a PK shell because with all this other stuff distracting me I couldn’t focus very well on dispersing my electricity properly.

Mom and Rika led me to the hospital entrance but it wasn’t much better inside. As soon as we were inside, I was hit by a barrage of stringent chemical odors desperately attempting to cover up the scent of illness and death. The chaos of sound from outside faded somewhat but I could still hear it in addition to the conversations of other people in the lobby, the buzz of electricity, machines, footsteps on tiled floors, and faint noises that I couldn’t really identify going on all around me.

“Focus on Mom and Rika,” I told myself sternly as I tried and failed to shut everything else out.

Unfortunately, focusing on just them was easier said than done with the smell of death and chemicals burning my nose and my ears rapidly swiveling toward every sound in the lobby. I allowed my mother to pull me along and almost slammed into her when we stopped. Then I realized that she had been speaking to me, and I had no idea what she had just finished saying since I totally hadn’t been paying attention.

Mom sighed and repeated, “We’re taking you to a special wing for newly manifested mutants with GSD, problematic powers, and other associated issues. You’ll be staying there tonight so they can keep you under observation and run some tests. Tomorrow we can take you to a private MSA facility to get tested and get you an MMID, and then you can come home with me.”

I looked around at all the other people up and down the hallway we were in and cringed. Just the thought of being left alone with unfamiliar humans had me trembling as my eyes darted around looking for possible avenues of escape. No! It wasn’t safe, there were too many people to hurt me, to try to kill me.

Suddenly I felt Mom wrap me tightly in a hug. “Shhh, it’s okay, Felicia. I know that you probably want to come home with me, but I’ll need to sort out a room for you, and there are other arrangements that I need to make as well. Rika has offered to stick around for a while and make sure that nothing bad happens.”

Reluctantly, I nodded and said, “Okay, Mom.” Rika would keep me safe, I knew she would. She was like a big sister to me and she also looked like a Demon, so nobody should mess with us, right?

I was barely aware of our trek through the hospital to the MSA wing that Mom had told me about. There was just too much extraneous information around me that I couldn’t seem to get a handle on as Mom pulled me along. Soon I was being checked in, and Mom was saying that she would see me in the morning and wrapping me in a tight hug as we said our goodbyes. She seemed reluctant to leave me, but I guess that my sudden reappearance and my powers meant that she would have to make some special arrangements for me.

At least the examination room that they put me in was private, it also was very sterile smelling and had soundproofed walls, so I figured that they had probably dealt with people with enhanced senses before. The room made it a lot easier to focus on Rika and it was nice spending some face-to-face time with her after only ever talking online or on the phone before I had run away. Most people would probably been put off by the whole demon thing, but it wasn’t too different from her avatar on Ergan’s Tears. Besides, it was awesome.

Well, it wasn’t so awesome for her. While we waited for a doctor to come to do my checkup, Rika told me more about herself. She had been nineteen years old and learning to use magic from a mage who was like the father she never had. She was a guy named Mark back then, and ready to propose to his high school sweetheart, Leila, when things went off the rails.

There was a mix-up and the love of Mark’s life was struck with a wasting curse. Mark's teacher refused to help her, so Mark turned to forbidden arts, an equally forbidden artifact, and a deal with a Demon to save her himself. In the end, Mark lost everything. His master was killed by the Demon who used his own body to do it, he was cursed to spend eternity as a Demon that was a near duplicate of his girlfriend, and the girlfriend ended up hating Rika and never wanted to see her again.

Until we met online, she had been very lonely and spent most of her time looking for some way to break the curse that she was under. When I disappeared, she got worried and used magic to discover that my dad and his buddies had tried to kill me, and I ran away. The only way she had to follow me was the panties she had sent me, which were still in Churchill, so she found my mom and eventually made contact in case I ended up contacting one of them.

Since then, she was granted a consultant position with T.R.U North and has been working with them on a case-by-case basis and teaching Talisman magic. She figured that the position was to keep an eye on her, but having someone with her experience had already helped my Mom’s team a couple of times. She even tried to keep the MSA happy by keeping her feedings quiet and outside of Canada. Yeah, she feeds on people’s essence through sex and kills them in the process, something that she admitted to doing to my father.

“Ewww! You sexed my dad to death?! I mean, I’m not exactly sad he’s gone, but ewww,” I protested as I cringed and shuddered at that revelation.

The pseudo-succubus shrugged. “I need to eat, and I figured that he deserved to die thinking that he was going to Hell for what he did to you. Too bad the MCO is saying that you killed him, or rather Nathan did. They really wanted to pin the blame on a mutant, despite you being male at the time and having evidence of sex with a woman. I didn’t exactly clean up after myself.”

I wasn’t surprised, given that Vern was the lone MCO agent in Churchill, but to say I was concerned would be putting it mildly. “Wait! I’m wanted for murder?!” My eyes darted to the closed door, half expecting a squad of MCO agents to burst through at any moment.

“Damn, you were really out of it when we checked you in. Your mom used her credentials to get you checked in as a Jane Doe under MSA care. One of the things she’ll be doing today is calling in some favors with our boss to get you a new identity,” she said before assuring me, “It’ll be very hard to connect the catgirl found here in BC with your old identity in Manitoba.”

I wasn’t reassured. In fact, I was getting very antsy about how long the doctor was taking and whether he could be in cahoots with them until Rika managed to distract me by suggesting, “You should start thinking of a codename for your MMID since you’ll be getting tested tomorrow. The MSA made me get tested and get one as well once I agreed to this consultant thing.”

My eyes went wide and I was practically vibrating on the examination table at the thought. “Hold the phone! I get a superhero codename?! Maybe I can get a costume too… Huh, I wonder how I can handle the whole secret identity thing. Maybe a pair of glasses? Nah, that’s ridiculous, wearing those when you don’t need them can screw up your vision and my vision is better than perfect. Might be weird wearing them with the muzzle and kitty nose too. Wait, where was I going with this? Ah yes, codenames!” I quickly turned back to Rika, my previous worries forgotten as I said, “Ooh! I got it! I wanna be called ThunderCat!”

Rika offered hesitantly, “Uhh… Felicia, there may be a copyright issue with that one. Besides, you know that people would call you Thundercat Ho.”

"Awww, but... I already had a theme song. I guess you’re right though, I need to put a lot of thought into this,” I replied, trying to get over my disappointment as I carefully considered the problem. ThunderCat would have been purrfect too. I could handle this though. I was great at naming things, just ask my woodland friends. Maybe something a little less Japanese… though I wanted something cute. “Hmm… let’s see. I generate electricity and I’m really cute… "

“Adorable,” Rika agreed.

“I got it! Electradorable! Wait, that’s a bit of a mouthful. Who’s going to want to yell all that out when I come to save the day? Ooh! ElectroCute!”

“Electrocute? That sounds a bit threatening for you, Felicia,” my demonic sister figure said with a frown.

“No, ElectroCute! You know, with an emphasis on the cute part. It’s totally awesome, descriptive, and non-threatening,” I responded with a grin.

=^..^=

It was almost an hour before a frazzled-looking blonde woman in a skirt suit and a lab coat entered the room. Her blonde hair showed signs of silver and a few wrinkles had me guessing that she was in her mid to late forties. Her heart was beating a little fast and she smelled of sweat, perfume, antibacterial soap, and a dozen other things that I couldn’t identify. “I apologize for the wait; we had a rager incident down the hall and had to sedate and restrain them. I am Dr. Carroll. Now, which of you is my patient?”

I shrank back from where I was sitting on the examination table, my heart suddenly racing, and unable to breathe. Before I had been able to ignore all the people, and the threat that they presented because I only saw them in passing and was distracted by everything else that my senses were trying to tell me, and Mom and Rika had been with me the whole time, so I didn’t have to actually interact with anyone. This person I would have to deal with directly though, and the sudden fear at that thought paralyzed me for a moment.

Rika looked toward me in concern and then addressed the doctor herself and flashed a badge. “Dr. Carroll, I’m Fallen, a consultant with the MSA. This is Felicia; she has been living alone in the wilderness for over seven months while she manifested and seems to have some trauma involving people. If you don’t mind, I would prefer to stay with her to help keep her calm while you conduct her checkup.”

The doctor looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before replying, “I don’t see a problem with it, if Felicia is more comfortable that way. Just a basic health checkup then?” I breathed a sigh of relief as I scooched closer to Rika.

The lavender-skinned demoness nodded. “We just want to make sure she’s healthy and has no physical issues from her GSD. She will be tested for powers and any associated issues tomorrow at a private MSA facility. I would appreciate a copy of the results of her medical tests to forward to them though since she will be seeing a specialist in GSD there as well.”

“Right, it’s not the first time we have had MSA referrals. Given the nature of her GSD, I would suggest an MRI, ultrasound, and blood screen in addition to the regular checkup,” the doctor said before turning toward me. “I’ll try to tell you everything I’m doing before I do it, Felicia. Now, I’m going to start off with some general health questions before I examine you. Will you be okay with that?”

I got as close as I could to Rika without touching so I wouldn’t shock her accidentally but hesitantly answered, “Y-yes.” I was still nervous as hell, but at least she seemed to be taking my feelings into account and Rika was with me.

She asked questions about my health and medical history, medications, and allergies. Not that there was much to tell on any of those fronts. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a doctor. A doctor would have seen the scars or the occasional signs of a beating that Dad left on me so he wasn’t too keen on taking me to see one. On the few occasions that I had been really sick, Dad’s medical advice was the same as all the other advice he gave me, that I needed to man up.

“And what about your lifestyle? Are you sexually active?” Holy procedural questions, Batman. Why would she even ask that when we just told her earlier that I spent the past seven months and change alone in the wilderness?

By this point, I was so nervous that I was babbling in response to most of her questions and my brain to mouth issue returned from its long absence with a vengeance. “Well, Mr. Whiskers tried, but I had to tell him I’m not that kind of girl. I almost had a thing with that wolf, but we were just too different so we parted as friends. Cats, canines, you know how it is.”

I face-palmed almost as soon as I realized the words had actually left my mouth. Thank you, sardonic wit, I’ve missed you. Rika looked like she was trying to stop herself from laughing and the doctor looked confused for a moment. I took a deep breath and muttered, “Sorry, sarcasm reflex. I’ve been out in the wilderness a long time, so no… umm… companionship of any type.”

She looked apologetic as she said, “Right, I apologize. I don’t suppose you have any idea when your last period was then. Could you give me a ballpark guess?”

I managed to stop a comment about the blood moon, but I was probably bright red under my fur, as I admitted, “Never? I don’t even know if I can have one, I… wasn’t a girl… ummm… physically before manifesting.

I was looking at my lap by that point but I heard her mumble something that sounded like changeling. I suppose it could have been something about me changing, but I already knew that. When I looked up, she smiled at me and said, “I definitely want to do that ultrasound later then, and probably some x-rays and an MRI as well. Let’s start with a basic physical examination then. We’ll start slow by checking your pulse, Felicia.”

“I should warn you, she seems to be an energizer and has already given me a couple of nasty shocks without meaning to. I have regeneration, but I’m assuming you don’t,” Rika warned as the doctor reached for my arm. My eyes immediately turned toward my demonic-looking big sister figure in concern. I’d hurt her? When? Probably when I was distracted on our way here.

Dr. Carroll’s hand stopped its advance toward me and she quickly nodded. “I see. If you don’t mind, I’ll call in Fleur. She’s a mutant, like Felicia, who is a nursing student at UBC. She’s doing her residency here because her PK shell comes in handy when dealing with our more troublesome patients. I’ll be right back.”

She left the room and several minutes later, she came back with the one of the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. She didn’t look any older than nineteen, but she had to be an exemplar with a killer body like that. Her face was just as impressive; large azure eyes, a cute nose, and pouty lips set in an artfully sculpted face framed by long black hair with a white streak down the center that starkly contrasted it. She even smelled amazing.

“Helllooooo nurse!” Oops, did I say that out loud? I was totally blushing under my fur as I looked down at my lap again.

“Ladies, this is Fleur Dupris. Fleur, this is Fallen, and our patient, Felicia. She seems to generate electricity, so I’m going to need you to check her vitals and get some blood samples for me please.

“Of course, Dr. Carroll,” Fleur replied in a voice with a noticeable French accent that made my heart go pitter pat.

“Before she does that, are there any other powers besides the electricity that we should be aware of?” Dr. Carroll asked as Fleur fetched a blood pressure armband from the wall.

“I… umm… seem to heal really fast, but only when I’m sleeping,” I admitted as I tried to keep from staring at the pretty young woman who was getting ready to vigorously… examine me.

Things weren’t awkward at all as Fleur checked my blood pressure, took my pulse, listened to my heart and lungs, looked inside my mouth and ears under Dr. Carroll’s supervision. Who am I kidding? It was totally awkward, and it only got more so when she did the breast exam. Thankfully, the doc wanted to wait until she saw the ultrasound before deciding whether she wanted a gynecological exam.

It was simultaneously uncomfortable and a bit of a turn on having somebody not much older than me who looked like Fleur touching my naked body (well, except for the fur). Her PK shell didn’t help since it felt a bit different than my mother’s. Mom’s PK shell was hard and unyielding, while Fleur’s was kinda slippery and slightly warm for some reason.

Finally, she took some blood samples and I thought that we would be done then, but Dr. Carroll had Fleur run the samples to the lab and wanted her to bring something back with her. “There is something that I would like to test before I send Felicia to the radiology lab, but I would like to keep her overnight as well, so we can do the ultrasound first thing in the morning.”

“That should work for us, we’re still arranging a place for her to stay anyway,” Rika agreed after a quick glance in my direction. “Are you going to be okay with that, if I stay here with you, Felicia?”

My heart raced and a whirlwind settled into my chest, and for a moment I couldn’t breathe at the thought of sleeping in a strange place surrounded by people that I didn’t know. People who might want to hurt me, like my dad, those hunters, or Captain Cyptid. I didn’t even realize that I was shaking until Rika placed a hand firmly on my shoulder, gave it a gentle squeeze, and looked me in the eyes.

Her eyes would have scared off most people. Hell, her entire appearance probably would have, but I knew who she was inside. She was one of only two people that I could trust in this world, and if she said that she would stay with me, then I knew she would do her best to make sure that nothing bad happened to me.

“Finally, I managed to swallow the lump that had taken up residence in my throat and stammered. “O…okay.”

A few minutes later I was calmed down and Fleur returned with a handheld electronic device of some sort in hand. She handed it over to Dr. Carroll, who turned to me and gently explained, “This is an EMF meter. Before I put you in an MRI, I’d like to make sure that you aren’t generating an electromagnetic field. I don’t want to lose another MRI scanner this month. If you are generating one, we’ll have to make do with x-rays and an ultrasound.”

I was barely paying attention though because Fleur was back in the room, she smelled and looked amazing, and it was really distracting. I got the gist of it though, she wanted to test me for magnetism. “Okay Felicia, it’s time to do more than just sit here and be terrified of people. You can save them some time, right? And if Fleur just happens to end up thinking that you’re super awesome in the process, then that’s a win-win. Yup, you got this,” I told myself.

“Now this may make some noises, but it’s nothing to be startled over,” the Doc continued while my thoughts were drifting.

“Be cool, Felicia,” I told myself as I tried to get psyched. I just needed to act casual and do something awesome. I’d already done the magnet thing once before by accident, so how hard could it be? I gave a shaky smile and dismissed the device in her hands. “Pshht! You don’t need that thing. Look what I can do, I have a magnetic personality. You could even say that I’m very attractive.”

I turned to try giving Fleur a sexy smile as I tried to focus on that sense of the metal around me that I had noticed while accidentally magnetically pinned to the side of a metal building earlier today. I just had to remember how I released myself and do the opposite, right? I focused on the Doc’s stethoscope and tried to pull the metal toward me instead of canceling out the pull or pushing away like I had tried at Captain Cryptid’s forest retreat.

The stethoscope started to drift toward me, I could feel it. It was barely a visible reaction though, so I pulled harder. Suddenly, the stethoscope jumped from around the doctor’s neck to smack me in the forehead, a metal tray hit me in the chest and stuck, then followed everything metal in the room that wasn’t bolted down or inside of a cabinet or drawer. Tweezers, a speculum, and paperclips assaulted me. Three reflex hammers hit me in the shoulder, the gut, and the right knee. My reflexes were apparently good because my leg only narrowly missed kicking Dr. Carroll as I yelped, “Ow! Ow! Owowow!” Then the machine beeped.

I had metal sticking all over me, some of it in some very unpleasant places. Fortunately, there hadn’t been any scalpels or needles there since all the sharp pointy things were kept in a secure and durable plastic box attached to the wall. “That was a close call,” I thought just before the box in question flew off the wall to hit me in the side of the head.

“Felicia! Are you okay?” Rika asked in concern as she pried the box off the side of my head and kept a firm grip on it so it wouldn’t come back to me.

“P-peachy,” I tried to assure all three of her as I shook my head to clear the stars that swam in my vision and gave her a thumbs-up. Since I already made my point and was now bright red with embarrassment underneath my fur and metallic accessories, I concentrated my attention on trying to turn my ‘attractiveness’ down to normal levels again.

It took a moment or two, but all of the metal objects that had attached themselves to me soon clattered as they fell upon the examination table and floor. I was mostly trying not to look at the pretty nurse-in-training since I was pretty sure I had just struck out with her after that embarrassing display. Oh goody, my anxiety was rushing back.

“Well, at least we know that you’re generating an EM field,” Dr. Carroll said after the awkward silence had stretched on a little too long. “I’ll escort you to the radiology lab so we can take those x-rays. Fleur, it’s time for your dinner break, but I would like for you to pick something up while you’re out, if you could. There is one more test I would like to run on Felicia, but that can be done once she’s had her x-rays, eaten something, and we have her settled into a room for the night.”

“X-rays? Are you sure you don’t mean a Cat scan?” I suggested nervously. She didn’t reply to my joke though.

Instead, the doctor jotted down something for her assistant on a notepad and then dismissed her and escorted me and Rika to the radiology lab. Once we were outside of the soundproofed examination room and walking the halls, I was again assaulted by an overwhelming cacophony of strong and unfamiliar scents and sounds. I tried to pay better attention this time, but there were just too many things competing for my attention and the unfamiliarity of it all had me on edge. What little attention I could make myself spare at the moment had to be focused on putting one digitigrade foot in front of the other and trying to keep the electricity that was building up in my fur from hurting anyone since there was no place to safely ground it.

Dr. Carroll introduced us to the very bored looking x-ray technician, but I didn’t really catch the dude’s name since the new scents and faint sounds in the lab were once again distracting me and whatever cologne the guy was wearing was worst of it all. It was so strong that I had to fight my gag reflex at first and it was making my eyes water and my nose unbearably itchy. At least going to change into a proper hospital gown gave me some time away from that horrid smell.

Rika noticed my discomfort, of course, and when I reemerged from changing into the gown, she softly said close to my ears, “You just need to hold on for a few minutes, Felicia. Once he’s done getting the images, I can take you to get something to eat. No people, I promise. I’ll escort you to the room Dr. Carroll has you in and I can teleport out to get you whatever you want to eat.”

The mere thought of something to eat made my stomach growl in protest. I hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning in another province when I’d eaten part of an elk for breakfast. “Anything?” I asked. I’d never had many options for eating out in Churchill, there weren’t any fast-food places and Dad never liked eating out anywhere other than the pub, and I was never invited. Well, I guess I was ‘invited’ once, but that was at gunpoint when Dad, Vern, and their buddies tried to kill me.

I started to tremble at that thought and quickly directed my thoughts elsewhere, like on how much less variety I’d had available for eating out in the forest. Wait, doesn’t everything count as ‘eating out’ in the forest since I was outside and all? Or is ‘eating out’ simply a human idea of a meal that you don’t have to personally work at to put on the table? I had to catch my meals myself so that wouldn’t have counted in that case, not that I had a table to put those meals on. It was an interesting conundrum.

I had managed to well and truly distract myself from the bad thoughts when Rika distracted me further. There was concern in those ominous orange and black eyes as she whispered, “Yup, anything your heart desires. I’m not even limited to places in the city. As long as I’ve been there before, I can go anywhere to get you something special.”

That was when the technician, who was now wearing a blue protective lead vest, said “Felicia, you can lay down on the imaging plate. This shouldn’t take too long.” He gestured to the bed-like device with the x-ray projector above it and I sighed. The plate didn’t even have a paper sheet or a pillow on it. Still, I laid down, thankful that the technician didn’t seem the chatty type that would force me to try to socialize.

That cologne, along with the other scents in the room, was doing a number on my poor nose though. I managed to get through him taking x-rays of just about every part of my body, and we were finally near the end. “Just one more, to go, Felicia,” my tormentor said as he adjusted to projector and brought it to the level of my head.

It was too much, he was way too close, and the smell that had been bothering me since we first entered the room had me wrinkling my cute little kitty nose until I started a sneezing fit. Electricity arced around me, causing the technician to back off in a hurry and it was only once I had stopped sneezing and managed to shake my head clear that I noticed he wasn’t hurt by my expended electricity and let slip a sigh of relief. I didn’t want the MCO to come after me for accidentally killing some dude who was just doing his job, even if he did have horrible taste in personal scents.

Unfortunately, the x-ray projector hadn’t fared as well from the incident. “Ummm… I don’t think it’s supposed to be smoking like that, you should really get that thing looked at, it could hurt somebody.”

=^..^=

As much as I had wanted to try authentic Japanese dishes, brought straight from Japan, I decided on something more standard for my first meal back in civilization. I had been craving a good cheeseburger and fries for the longest time while out in the middle of nowhere and it was finally time to get my fix. While I devoured the six double cheeseburgers and the large side of fries that Rika had bought for me, I discovered two things.

One, while chocolate milkshakes may be awesome, drinking them from a straw is impossible for people with muzzles. I had to pour it into my mouth and wow, that caused major brain freeze. Thing two was that while I could eat other stuff in moderation, I was a carnivore and my meals needed to consist of mostly meat. I had to remove the veggies from my last four burgers after I had a very strong instinct that any more would make me sick.

Other than sneaking a few of my fries, just to be social, Rika didn’t eat anything. When I asked her about it, she said that while she could eat regular food it just allowed her to blend in and didn’t really do much for her, she needed to feed on essence to live. She told me that she had fed yesterday though and that she probably wouldn’t need to feed for another four or five days as long as she didn’t have to use too much magic.

I didn’t much care for the room that we were staying in. Unlike the examination rooms, it wasn’t soundproofed, and I was constantly being assaulted by the various sounds coming not only from this wing of the hospital, but from outside the closed window as well. It was giving me a headache and making it hard to concentrate on my conversation with Rika. The scent of various cleaning solutions was too strong too. They burned my poor nose and overwhelmed all the nicer scents, like clean sheets and the flowers on the bedside table.

I had just finished my meal when there was a tap at the door, it opened, and Dr. Carroll and Fleur stepped inside. I recognized their scents before even raising my head to look at them. Fleur had such a wonderful scent; I would recognize it anywhere.

“I heard that there was some excitement when you got your x-rays taken,” the doctor said conversationally.

“Um… yeah…” I muttered guiltily as I looked down at the bed instead of her. Was she mad? I couldn’t tell by her tone. Talking with people was so hard, I just couldn’t get a read on them, I could only function somewhat normally with Rika because I knew and trusted her even before my long sojourn in the wilderness. Animals were so much easier to talk to, there was no pressure.

“At least we got most of the x-rays that I wanted. I’ve told Matt a dozen times that he should go easy on the cologne, maybe this time he’ll learn. It’s hard enough on a baseline person, I don’t want to think about how strong it must be to people with heightened senses like yours,” the doctor said reassuringly. At least, it sounded like she was trying to reassure me, and she was smiling faintly when I finally managed to look up at her. “Speaking of that strong nose of yours, Felicia, I’d like to see if you have a reaction to this. You just need to sniff at first.”

Fleur approached and offered me a pair of leaves that smelled almost as nice as she did. “Is that… catnip?” Rika inquired with a worried look.

“Given Felicia’s feline-based GSD, we need to make sure that she isn’t going to have any sort of negative reaction to it. I have heard that some do, and some don’t, but I would like to test it under controlled conditions, so we know if it’s something that she needs to be wary of in the future,” the doctor replied.

I took the nice smelling leaves, brought them toward my muzzle, and drew in a deep breath to get a good whiff of them. Holy crap. Cats have it right, this shit is da bomb. It made me feel so happy and floaty, and I couldn’t help but let out a giggle as I wondered if the leaves tasted as good as they smelled. “Okay, from the look on her face. I’m going to guess that… Felicia, no!”

I wasn’t really paying attention to the doc though because I felt amazing, and those leaves tasted so nice and minty, like my favorite gum, when I chewed them. I giggled again as I looked up at Fleur. She was the hottest girl I had ever seen and that white streak in her black hair looked so badass. She was so kind and gentle and wanted to help people though, and she just smelled right. It was like we were meant to be. All that I needed to do was make my move and I was sure that she’d sense that chemistry between us too.

I took her in my arms and held her close, whispering sweet nothings. “Ah, mon amour, can’t you feel it? It is written in the stars that you and I are meant to be,” I told her before rubbing our cheeks together and then raining kisses upon her as I held her tight.

I was so lost in it that for a moment, I failed to realize that she had slipped away somehow, leaving me holding and kissing nothing but air. Oh, there she was, running out the door. Boy was she fast. “Heh, she is so coy.”

As I skipped out of the room and down the hall, following her wonderful scent, I vaguely heard Rika’s voice snap, “What do you expect me to do? Calming people down when they’re like that is the opposite of what I do!”

Thanks to my keen nose, I found my love in a room down the hall. Awww, she was playing hide and seek, and oh so hard to get. “Mon amour, I am looking somewhere to find you,” I teased back before catching her behind the door. “Ah, there you are!”

Once again, that slippery PK shell of hers allowed her to slip from my embrace and elude my affections. She was fast, but even just happily skipping down the hall, I was able to catch up with her at the elevators. Her eyes were wide as she watched me skip toward her, breathing heavily and causing her ample chest to heave as she rapidly slapped the elevator call button. I was just about to take her into my embrace once more when I heard a familiar voice chanting something behind me as someone grabbed me and held on tight. The last thing that I heard before passing out was Rika’s voice muttering, “Sorry about this, Felicia.”

=^..^=

Two hours later…

Something was wrong. There were too many strange and unfamiliar smells and sounds around me as I woke. The sound of breathing nearby and a hint of brimstone as I tried to sort everything in my still-waking brain caused me to bolt upright, claws slashing in the direction of the sound. A gasp and a hiss of pain followed, and it took a moment for me to process my surroundings and realize where I was, and who I had just attacked.

“Oh noes! I’m so sorry, Rika!” I blubbered as I looked at the four gashes across her chest that had torn through the fabric of her blouse and the lavender skin beneath. The gashes healed before my eyes, almost too quickly to see, and a moment later there was no evidence that I had lashed out at her other than the slashes and blood stains on her cream-colored blouse, a garment that was also blackened and burned in spots.

“Hey, it’s okay, Felicia. I healed right up. I need to ‘port home for a change of clothes anyway, I just wanted to make sure that I was here when you woke up,” the demonic looking woman replied as she reached out to gently squeeze my shoulder. “I had to restrain you and cast a sleep spell on you. You were acting like you were really drunk or stoned and electricity was arcing all over the place while you were chasing poor Fleur around. Her PK shell kept her from getting seriously hurt, and my regeneration healed me right up, but it’s a good thing that you didn’t get too close to anyone without powers.”

Now that she mentioned it, I did remember something about chasing Fleur, and possibly hitting on her, after sniffing those leaves, but everything was kind of hazy. “I’m sorry,” I said again, “I kinda have to focus on keeping it grounded or dispersing it whenever I’m active. I didn’t want to accidentally hurt any of my friends, but it’s really hard to focus on if I get distracted. Is… is Fleur okay?”

“Physically, yeah, and she was understanding about the whole thing and isn’t going to press charges or anything,” Rika quickly assured me. Then she asked, “Are you going to be okay while I go take a quick shower and change my clothes real quick?”

“Yeah… I guess so,” I replied. Truthfully, I was kinda scared to be left alone in this unfamiliar place, but I didn’t want Rika to think I was a scaredy cat.

Thankfully, Rika was only gone for half an hour or so and nobody bothered me while she was gone. When she got back, we talked about the new updates that I had missed on Ergan’s Tears while I was traipsing through the sub-arctic wilderness for seven months and change. I had so much new content to catch up on and I was looking forward to playing with her again when I could use a computer without accidentally frying it.

It was a good distraction from the bothersome scents and sounds that I was having issues adjusting to. It was so different from what I was used to in the wilderness and the unfamiliarity of it all had me constantly on edge. It was like every instinct that I had was telling me that the unfamiliar was dangerous and it was making it hard to focus. There were a few times that Rika had to get my attention and bring me back to the conversation.

At one point, I asked, “What about that new game that we were thinking of trying before I had to bolt? What was it called, GEO?”

Rika’s expression became suddenly serious and with her eyes and demonic features, it was kinda scary. “Stay away from that game, Felicia.” It wasn’t a suggestion, or a request, this was something that she was adamant about, and her tone was deathly serious, a far cry from the lighter conversation that we had been having until that point. “I downloaded it and tried it once after you vanished to try and distract myself, but I never went past the tutorial. Something about that game feels… wrong.”

After that we found other stuff to talk about, like her work with Mom’s team. Technically she was a consultant to the MSA on all things magical and demonic, but she was helping out on their missions too when the MSA didn’t have something magical that needed investigating. She was registered as a reserve member of T.R.U North now, and the only reason that she wasn’t a full member was because their agreement with the MSA required all members of T.R.U North to have at least two years of military service.

There was a loophole though. Her current contract as a consultant was for two years, after which it could be renewed, and it was agreed that those two years could be counted toward the military service requirement since she was also acting as a special operative. She wasn’t even the only such ‘contractor’ that the MSA had on their payroll since Mom had mentioned one in Calgary as well. Really though, Rika’s contract was to make sure that she could tow the line and wouldn’t go rogue, and both she and my mother knew it.

I found myself unable to sleep that night. And not because of my magically induced nap earlier in the evening. I honestly tried, but while Rika dozed off in the chair beside my bed, I tossed and turned. My senses were just getting too much input and it was making it hard for me to sleep. The traffic and occasional ambulance and police sirens outside my window, Rika’s breathing, the other people and machines on the floor, the harsh scents of the cleaning solutions, all gnawed at my mind while there were none of the forest sounds that I had become familiar and comfortable with.

When I finally did manage to fall asleep, it was plagued by nightmares that woke me repeatedly, though I tried not to wake Rika. I think that I was a little scared about being around people again, and my dreams reflected that. Some were flashbacks of the beating that my dad and his friends had given me when they tried to kill me, being shot again, and angry mobs of baselines chasing me while wielding pitchforks and torches.

The worst nightmare of all though was the one where I went back to school and tried to make friends with the kids there. Familiar faces from my former school made up part of the cast of that night terror and it was back to Jerry and his brother bullying and trying to beat me up and awkward attempts at social interaction, but instead of just ignoring me like they used to, the other kids would call me a freak or other nasty names, join in on the bullying, and again they somehow found pitchforks and torches to chase me out of the school with as others shot at me with hunting rifles.

It was that dream that woke Rika when I awoke screaming, shaking, and sobbing. I shook and cried in the faux Demon’s arms, my heart still racing from the nightmare as she whispered reassurances in my ears and held me tight. I think that I may have shocked her a couple of times, but they were relatively small since I wasn’t very active at the moment, and she didn’t complain.

After talking to me a bit about the nightmares and trying to calm me down, she asked if I wanted her to cast another sleep spell on me. I didn’t feel good about the idea of making her use her essence up unnecessarily, especially knowing that it would make her have to feed again sooner, and how much she hated doing it. We compromised by deciding to call the nurse and asking for something to help me sleep.

The nurse said that what she was giving me would knock a normal person out for about eight hours, but I was awake again in about half that time, roughly half an hour before they took me for my ultrasound at eight in the morning. The technician slathered some gel all over my belly and used a specialized ultrasound scanner for use on mutants to look at my insides.

At least she wasn’t wearing some overwhelming scent to annoy me like the dude who did the x-rays. There was a slight floral scent to her along with something that smelled like soap and the faint scent of citrus, blueberries, and a vague mix of other things that I couldn’t identify. It was subtle enough not to be overwhelming, but it and the other scents and sounds in the ultrasound lab were still making it hard to focus.

Between that and the gross feeling gel that was probably going to take forever to get out of my fur, I wasn’t a happy camper. I was still a bit tired, and I was extremely hungry too. So, I did what I usually do when I’m uncomfortable and tried to cover it up with humor. Or rather, I was so distracted and grouchy that I lost all control over that brain to mouth problem that I had as she pressed down a little too firmly on my belly with the device and started moving it around. “Geez, you could at least buy me a drink first.”

“Sorry, but the scanner needs to be as close to your skin as possible to give an accurate image,” the twenty-something brunette woman in the lab coat replied. “Please stay still and try to keep any electricity away from the scanner.”

It seemed that she had been warned about me in advance. I sighed and tried to remain as still as possible as she snapped several pictures of my insides and Dr. Carroll looked them over. “Hmmm…” the doctor hummed pensively, and the technician held the scanner over something that I didn’t recognize from my biology lessons. “Your internal physiology is still changing, Felicia. I can see the beginning of a womb forming. This here, where your appendix would normally be, the shape and size are all wrong and it seems very active. I believe that this is probably your electric organ. Do you see how it looks like it’s rapidly pulsing?”

“Huh, and I’ve never had a single lesson. I always pictured myself as more of a guitar girl though. Keyboards are too techno for me,” I sassed before my brain could catch up to what my mouth was saying.

For a moment, the Doctor and technician both looked at me in confusion before Dr. Carroll sighed and shook her head. “That is where all that electricity that you’re producing and storing in your fur appears to me coming from, Felicia.” This is why I need to get control over the brain to mouth thing, nobody appreciates my humor.

Once they were finally done looking at my insides, the doc took me aside to explain what they saw in there. She said that my internal changes seemed to be almost complete, and while my uterus and fallopian tubes and stuff seemed a little small at the moment, and not quite where they should be, they were still growing as my new plumbing developed. She thought that I should be completely female and could probably expect my first period in the next month or two, given the rate of my changes so far.

Dr. Carroll then turned to Rika to ask, “Does she have someone to explain what to expect, and general feminine hygiene? I could refer her to a gynecologist, I would like her to see one after she’s had her first period, regardless.”

Rika seemed to find this topic of conversation even more awkward than I did, probably because she used to be a guy, and unlike me, never wanted to jump the gender fence. “She will be staying with her mother soon, I think she can handle that,” she replied, her lavender cheeks turning a dark bluish shade as she blushed.

Ten points for the Doc, getting someone who was essentially a sex demon to blush. Though it sounded like Rika didn’t really like her body, or the appetites that came with it, from how she had talked about it last night. She had learned to live with it until she could find a way to cure herself, but only because she had no choice but to do so.

Until we met online, Rika had tried not to get close to anybody, fearing that they would fear, hate, and reject her, just like the girl that she had loved. Leila, the one she had bargained with a Demon to save, the one she lost everything for, even her humanity. It sounded like the last decade of her life had been pretty lonely until we met, but she said that because of me she had people that she cared about again, people who accepted her for who she was.

Then I was allowed to go back to the bathroom in my room and clean up while we waited for my mom. As we walked back to the room I was staying in, and I tried to ignore the general abuse to my nose and ears that the busy hospital presented, I wondered if Rika even had the biology to worry about that time of the month. She was essentially a replica of a Succubus right? Do demons even have…

Rika tightly gripped my hand, pulling my attention back to her and preventing me from bumping into someone walking the other way down the hallway. We were almost back to my room when the pseudo-succubus sucked in a deep breath. Her eyes didn’t leave the floor as she quietly said, “Felicia… I… your mother should be the one to have that talk with you… but… if she can’t for some reason, you can come to me. I… didn’t have anyone to help me the first time I… you’re… I’ll be there if you need me.”

Somehow, I resisted the urge to glomp her and hug her tight. I was building up a charge again and I didn’t want to hurt her. Just grabbing my hand while I was distracted had probably already given her a nasty zap. Sure, she healed from injuries almost instantly, but she could still feel pain and I didn’t want to cause her any if I could help it, she’d been though enough pain already. That thought helped me to restrain myself, and I merely replied with a teary, “Thanks, Rika.” We spent the rest of the walk back to my hospital room in silence. She was there for me, and I was going to try to be there for her, and that was all that mattered.

=^..^=

MSA Powers Testing and Research Facility
Northwest of North Vancouver
Friday, October 5th, 2007
9:57 a.m.

By the time I was finished cleaning up, my mom had arrived, once again wearing the dark blue mask, bikini top, and waist wrap that served as her official costume. I guess that she needed to be mobile if she had to go underwater and with her shifting, most clothes and shoes would be more of a nuisance to her than anything. She didn’t really need much protection anyway since she had her PK shell.

The clothes she had brought me were more important than what she was wearing, though I figured that she was in costume because she planned on taking me to some special MSA powers testing and research facility, so she wanted to make it official. Her outfit wasn’t really all that important though because she had brought me some clothes so I wouldn’t have to keep wearing the stupid sheet dress that I had improvised at Captain Cuckoo’s Criminal Compound. She’d had to guess at the sizes, of course, so the sports bra was bit tight, and the green shorts and white t-shirt a bit tight in some places and loose in others, but aside from my little tail making things awkward, I was wearing the first real clothes that I had since running away from Churchill.

After Mom and Rika took me out to eat breakfast at a buffet style restaurant, I was almost relieved when Rika teleported us to the special government testing facility for people with powers. As much as I enjoyed my breakfast, the restaurant had been noisy and all the sounds, smells, and people there were overwhelming my senses again. I was also getting stared at, a lot. You’d think they had ever seen a fuzzy catgirl eat so much before.

This MSA complex was somewhere out in the middle of the coastal rainforest, so I was somewhat calmed to find so many trees and some familiar scents and sounds. That lasted for all of five minutes before we approached the security gate, my mother told them who we were, and we were ushered inside the grounds and into the building. Inside, the place smelled a lot like the hospital; harsh cleaning solutions, machines, electronics, and the scents, combined with the sounds of unfamiliar devices and the distant sounds of conversations, were making it difficult to focus.

Just great, they were going to be putting me through who knows what kind of tests and I was probably going to be distracted the whole time. Maybe I could convince them to do some of them outside, where things would be a bit more familiar. It was as I was considering how to make that happen that a tall and fit blond man in a suit approached us.

The blond man smiled as he approached. He smelled faintly of soap, cologne, paper, ink, and various strong chemical scents that bothered my nose, but not nearly as badly as the guy from the x-ray lab with the overpowering cologne. “Barracuda, Fallen, it’s good to see you both again, I was surprised when the guards at the gate told me you were here. I haven’t seen you since we tested Fallen for her MMID months ago. Lithe isn’t due for her annual testing for another two months, so I assume that you’re here in regards to this young lady?”

“That’s right, Dorian,” my mother replied as she took an envelope from the satchel slung over her shoulder. “Classified orders straight from the Regional Director, this is for your eyes only. ElectroCute, this is Dr. Dorian Gray, the Chief Administrator for this complex. Dorian, this is ElectroCute, she needs testing for an MMID immediately.”

“I see,” he said as he took the envelope, though he made no mode to open it quite yet. Instead, he was looking me over with such scrutiny that I wanted to run away and climb the closest tree just to get out from under that intense gaze and away from the chemical scents that were burning my nose “Another girl with feline GSD, and... those eyes…” he mumbled thoughtfully before finally taking his eyes off me and opening the envelope.

There was an awkward silence as he read the contents of the envelope, his eyebrows slowly rising. “I see,” he finally said a moment later, “another classified case. Is this related to Lithe somehow?”

Me, classified? And who was this Lithe that he kept mentioning? Well, I guess the classified thing explained why Mom had quietly insisted at the restaurant that I only call her and Rika by their codenames while we were here, and not tell anyone anything beyond what powers I had already displayed and my chosen codename.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” my mother said without a hint of emotion to give away her thoughts or feelings on the matter.

Dr. Gray sighed but nodded as he carefully folded both letter and envelope and placed them in the inside pocket of his suit. “Yes, and I should have known better than to ask. My apologies, Barracuda. Well, I’ll escort her down to the Testing area so she can get started. I’m afraid that Dr. Olsen is out with the flu today, but I’m sure that Dr. Zhang will be willing to accommodate her today. You and Fallen know the drill, this will likely take several hours, so you can either wait and enjoy our entertainment room for a bit or return for her sometime this afternoon.”

“Unfortunately, we have some team matters to attend to, so we’ll return once we’re finished,” Mom said as she and Rika both cast an apologetic look my way. I knew this was coming and that I was going to be left alone here for a while, they had warned me about it during breakfast, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was ready to spend hours with a complete stranger yet, especially someone who looked like a baseline.

Maybe I would get lucky, and Dr. Zhang would be some friendly old lady who wouldn’t make me feel threatened or summon flashbacks of my father or those hunters who had shot me. I really hoped that luck would be on my side for once as I said, “I’ll see you later, Barracuda and Fallen.”

By the time that Dr. Gray had led me to the Testing area, I was feeling more jittery by the minute and annoyed and distracted by the constant buzzing and other sounds made by unfamiliar machines and devices, and the smell of chemicals, machines, and people who spent too much time in their offices or labs. My mood fell further when I was introduced to Dr. Jon Zhang, a slight Chinese man in a suit and lab coat who seemed to have a perpetual frown firmly embedded into his face, a small mole on his right cheek, and a goatee that was trying really hard to be a real beard but ended up making him look like some stereotypical villain, especially with that frown.

I didn’t like him, he looked at me like a thing rather than a person and my tail bristled even as we were introduced, and I offered my hand to shake. Maybe I could scare him off with a little shock, not enough to hurt him seriously, but to make him want someone else to test me. The jerk left me hanging on the handshake. I couldn’t wait to get this over with.

=^..^=

Dr. Qian Zhang had been waiting for years for this moment. All his education, training, and years infiltrating the Ministry of Superhuman Affairs and this powers research facility had finally come to this. He had even taken on an English name to make it appear like he was embracing the Canadian way of life. That could not be further from the truth.

Qian Zhang, given the codename Jade Tiger by the Iron Dragon himself, had been maneuvering his way into his current position for years, with the goal of accessing the MSA secure server and sending information about the facility’s mutant and supernatural research, the locations of their dangerous artifact vaults, and the MSA’s database of information on Canadian mutants back to Mother China and the Iron Dragon. If the opportunity presented itself, he would attempt to capture any mutants of Chinese descent to send back home through a smuggling operation on the docks. Local operatives of the Tong of the Black Dragon had been very useful in this venture so far.

This was not his only task in Canada though. For years he had been keeping an eye on the Chinese population of Vancouver, paying off politicians, and threatening Chinese ex-patriots into doing espionage, supporting key politicians, and other things. He had made it quite clear that if they refused, their families back in China would suffer the consequences.

Today was the day that he would finally succeed in his primary mission and return to China a hero. The MSA’s secure server was protected by both mystical and technological means and access was limited to only those with special devisor-made security keys, and those keys were only given to people high up in the MSA hierarchy. Only four such keys even existed in the province of British Columbia, and they were held by the Regional Director, the leader of T.R.U North’s west coast branch, and the Chief Administrator and Head Researcher for this complex.

Dr. Olsen, the current Head Researcher, was sick and would be for several days at least. Slipping the devised drug into his fellow researcher’s coffee last night without being seen had not been easy with all the security cameras in the complex but would be well worth it. With Olsen sick and unable to work, Dr. Zhang, as the second most senior, had been given his duties and his key until his return. Now, nothing would prevent him from completing his mission.

It was as Jade Tiger was heading to Olsen’s office with a cleverly disguised storage drive for the data that he ran into Dorian Gray, the Chief Administrator. With him was some sort of fat mutant girl with feline based GSD. “Ah, good, we were just looking for you, Jon,” he offered with a smile. The man was so aggravating with that constant smile of his, he would be glad when he no longer had to put up with it every day.

“What is it?” he asked the blond man curtly. Couldn’t he see that he was busy?

“This is ElectroCute, she needs to be tested. I’m afraid this is a last-minute request from the Regional Director’s office and the results are to be classified for now, so just powers testing, her file won’t be added to our database until the Director has gone over it himself and determined what needs to be redacted on her MMID. ElectroCute, this is one of our top researchers of Powers Mechanics, Dr, Zhang, he will be testing you today. He’s a bit of a grouch but he knows a lot about mutant powers,” the administrator said.

Jade Tiger resisted the urge to snap at him when he realized that with Olsen gone, this was one of his duties for the moment. He hadn’t been expecting to have to test anyone today since none had been booked in advance. If he didn’t want anyone to get overly suspicious then he would have to do the testing. He could get the data when the testing was done and be on a boat back to China tonight, but until then he needed to act normally.

Besides, there was one word amongst Gray’s nattering that had gotten his undivided attention. Classified. His gaze locked upon the mutant, wondering what could possibly be so special about her. What secrets did she hold? The subject wasn’t much to look at, more beast than human, overweight, and overly cutesy. Except for the claws, there seemed to be nothing threatening about her and she seemed timid as well as she reached out her hand. There must be more to it, something to make her an important asset if the Regional Director wanted her kept classified.

He ignored the proffered hand, turning on his heel as he snapped, “Follow me.” Without waiting to see if the mutant followed, he hurried down the hall to the main testing facility, leading the subject to the medical room first. Once there, he removed his tablet from the pocket of his lab coat so he could make notes on everything. “What is your name?” he asked as the subject entered the room behind him.

The subject, who was sniffing the air as her overly large feline ears twitched, seemed distracted and didn’t reply. He had to repeat his question twice, practically yelling it the third time, before the subject was paying attention and seemed to consider the question for a moment before timidly replying, “Uhh… Classified? That’s why I was told to choose a codename. You can call me ElectroCute.”

The way that the subject stressed the word ‘cute’ was irksome. If she insisted on using that ridiculous name, then he would do his best to avoid using it altogether. “Hmmph, come here and roll up your sleeve, I’ll start by testing you for any form of regeneration. I’ll need to make a small cut on your arm,” he told her as he removed a scalpel from the container meant to keep it sterile. The subject looked at the instrument in his hand warily, but he wasn’t about to coddle her. He looked at the fur on her forearm, searching for a good place to make an incision as he reached out to grab the arm in question.

“Umm… you might not want to do that, Doc, I’ve been…” *BZZZZZZTTTT!* “building up a charge,” she finished lamely as he spasmed on the floor. “Wow, I’ve never seen another person’s skeleton all lit up like that before. If I hadn’t been pulling as much electricity as I could away from the fur in my arm, you could have been seriously hurt.”

Could have been seriously hurt? Jade Tiger didn’t reply, mostly because he was still spasming and couldn’t get his mouth, or much of anything else, to work properly. It was a good fifteen minutes before he could finally move again to retrieve his scalpel, stand up, and glare at the mutant still sitting on the examination table and staring off into space. His right hand was burned, the arm of his lab coat scorched, and he was still tingling as he bandaged his injured hand.

Once he was done patching himself up, he turned back to the girl who still had a vacant expression on her face as her nose and ears twitched. Was she completely ignoring him? She would learn who was in charge here. “Why didn’t you warn me about that?!” he angrily snapped.

The mutant girl snapped out of her daze to blink at him. “Huh? Oh, yeah, that. I tried to warn you, but you were being Dr. McGrabby. Really though, my name should have been your first clue.”

Ah, yes, that annoying name. It made so much sense now, but he still wasn’t going to use it. “Hmmph, since you’re not safe to touch, I’ll need to get you to make the incision. He placed the scalpel on the exam table beside her, but she recoiled and said, “Ewww no! That was on the floor! Besides, I’ve got my own.”

She used one of her claws to make a shallow cut in her forearm, under his supervision, and Jade Tiger watched it for several minutes until the girl’s annoyingly chirpy voice asked, “Whatcha doin’?”

“I’m watching to get a general idea of your healing rate,” he replied irritably.

“No offense, Doc, but your job seems really boring.”

“Hmmph, well, you seem to be healing slightly faster than a baseline, likely because of the inherent regeneration that mid and high-level Exemplars display,” he grumbled. He had been hoping to put the bloody scalpel aside for ‘cleaning’ so he could get a DNA sample, but it appeared that it wouldn’t be that easy. If she was classified, then perhaps she was some kind of Canadian secret military project, and DNA tests might help determine what made her so valuable.

Then he was hit with a brilliant idea, and he quickly looked inside one of the cabinet drawers, retrieving a plastic sample bag, holding it in his bandaged hand so his good one was free. “I’ll need a sample of your fur,” he demanded. The subject didn’t seem to hear him as she was staring either off into space or at his face, so he repeated his question.

“Mole,” she mumbled. What?! Had she figured him out?! She snapped out of it and shook her head as if to clear it. “Sorry, did you say something? The way that that mole on your cheek bobs around when you talk is really distracting.”

He managed not to breathe a sigh of relief that the girl was just an idiot instead of actually suspecting him and, keeping his expression carefully neutral, he repeated, “I need a sample of your fur.”

The mutant narrowed her eyes, regarding him warily once again. Did she suspect something? “Why do you need that?”

He was ready for her suspicion though and smoothly lied, “I want to examine it under a microscope and see if I can determine how it is channeling the electricity that you are producing. I only need a small sample.”

She continued to look wary and thoughtful for a moment before clarifying, “You just need some of my fur, right?” He nodded slyly and she sighed before agreeing, “Fine, just gimme a minute.” To his shock, she put a hand to her mouth and began making disconcerting coughing sounds. *Cough* *Hack* *Hwaaaaarf* Then as he watched in horror, she slapped the resulting hairball into his free hand, giving him another shock as she smiled. “There ya go, Doc, knock yourself out.”

Jade Tiger put the disgusting item in the baggie as fast as possible and then went to the sink just as quickly to awkwardly wash his unbandaged hand. Once his hand was mercifully clean and dry, he snatched up his tablet from where he’d left it on the counter to make some notes. Once he was finished noting her regeneration, and the electricity that she seemed to be generating, he went to pick up the scalpel for later sanitization, but it wouldn’t budge.

The scalpel seemed to be magnetized and stuck to the table, and try as he might, he couldn’t pull it off. With a weary sigh he decided to leave it there as he ordered, “Let’s move on to the workshop so I can test you for Devisor or Gadgeteer abilities.” This was going to be a very long testing session.

=^..^=

Jade Tiger was getting annoyed. They had already been in the workshop for five minutes and for the entire time, the subject just looked warily at the piles of scrap as if they were going to bite her. “Well?! What are you waiting for?!” he snapped as he gestured toward the scrap piled and the work bench and its tools. “Go try and make something!”

“I dunno,” she complained as she cast a leery glance towards the piles of scrap. “I just got these clothes, and I don’t want to get them all dirty while playing dumpster diver.”

“Go!” he snapped angrily.

“Fine, but it’s not like I’m gonna get any sudden ideas just from looking at a bunch of junk,” the subject huffed as she stomped off toward the pile of scrap. She looked utterly bored as she sifted through scrap, until suddenly her face lit up. Jade Tiger moved closer to observe. “Oh. wait, I think something's coming to me...” the mutant mumbled before snatching a somehow intact lightbulb from the scrap to hold it over her head, where it immediately lit up. “Yes, I can feel it now, there's something I need to create!"

She rummaged wildly through the scrap, tossing aside anything she didn’t need, such as the toaster that hit Jade Tiger square in the face. He was still rubbing at the swelling that had formed around his right eye and trying to watch as she tore apart various scrapped appliances and electronic devices for whatever it was she needed. For over half an hour he attempted to watch her creation process, but it was uncanny how she always seemed to be blocking his view, or perhaps she could just hear where he was, judging by how her ears followed his movements.

Finally, she triumphantly yelled, "Yes! This is it! It's perfect!" Then she proudly displayed… a massive ball of wire. “There was no string, but I totally improvised,” she proudly declared before she began to chase the ball around the floor, batting it with her hands.

She was on her back and tossing her improvised ball repeatedly up in the air when Jade Tiger finally stopped cursing in Chinese and trying to pull out his hair and muttered, “That’s a no for Devisor and Gadgeteer.”

=^..^=

Shifter and Manifestor testing proved negative as well. It was no surprise though that the subject turned out to be a fairly potent Energizer. She seemed to generate electricity whenever in motion, but she had to constantly ground or disperse that energy since she lacked the focus to keep from shocking people. She claimed that she was just distracted, and given her general vacant expression, Jade Tiger was forced to grudgingly agree that it was a possibility.

The subject also seemed to have an electromagnetic field that she could exhibit some control over, but she had similar control issues as with her electricity. Jade Tiger’s knee still ached from the wrench that had hit it when the subject had demonstrated her electromagnetic abilities with a box of tools. She had also managed to fry his tablet, and probably his disguised data storage drive as well. Now he was limping alongside the subject as he guided her to the magic testing room, where she could hopefully make someone else’s life miserable for a change. He would make sure to observe from a suitably safe distance.

They stepped into the domain of Daniel Edwards, a small office with walls filled with bookshelves that were filled with various tomes that related to spirits and magic. Behind the large oak desk, littered with various books, scrolls, and knickknacks, was a slightly overweight and balding man with near white hair. He was absorbed in reading a book but looked up when the door opened to look up at the pair who entered, “Dr. Zhang, to what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked coldly.

The two shared a mutual dislike and Jade Tiger was looking forward to seeing what the subject would screw up to harm someone when it wasn’t his own health at stake. The fact that it was that oaf, Edwards, would only make it more satisfying. “This mutant needs to be tested for any magical or spirit-based abilities.”

The portly man’s face turned from a frown to a smile as he looked at the mutant girl standing beside Jade Tiger. He was always too soft on the mutants who came for testing. “Hello there, I’m Dr. Daniel Edwards, but you can call me Dan. As Dr. Zhang stated, I test mutants in all things magical and spiritual. I’m not a mutant myself, but I am a Mage, and I have dedicated my life to studying magic and the supernatural.

The subject relaxed visibly and offered, “I’m ElectroCute, it’s nice to meet you, Dan.”

Meanwhile, Edwards was rising from his chair to approach the subject. “An appropriate name,” he said with a smile, but to Jade Tiger’s disappointment, he didn’t attempt to shake the girl’s hand. “Yes, I can see the energy that you’re giving off, it’s very impressive. I don’t sense any spirits, but it is always possible that you have one that is difficult to detect. Have you noticed any strange presences? Any odd sensations, or urges?”

The subject shook her head and shrugged. "Uh… no? I think if someone else was living in my head, I could just ask them? One of the ladies who brought me here said that I'm probably not an Avatar though. She's this cool Succubus mage lady that eats men to death by having sex. I wonder how that works exactly, does she have a mouth down south or something? She’s cool, but I’m too scared to ask her, but… um… yeah, not an Avatar."

“Ah yes, Fallen,” Edwards said with a piteous look. “I had the pleasure of testing her several months ago, she is a powerful and adept magic user, and quite misunderstood. I have been trying to help her find a cure for her condition, but demonic curses are notoriously difficult to break. I guess that since she has confirmed that you don’t seem to be an Avatar, we can move on to testing you for magic of your own.”

With that, Edwards led the way through the door behind his desk and into the large, reinforced room where he tested people for magical talent. Target dummies were arranged along the rear wall, a circle inscribed with arcane symbols sat to one side of the door, and on the other side was a pedestal where a fist-sized pink crystal sat. The subject eagerly approached one of the dummies, forming a finger gun when she got within a dozen feet and then threw electricity at it. “Pew pew! I cast lightning bolt!”

Jade Tiger sneered as the oaf, Edwards, laughed at the mutant’s childish antics. “I think that was more to do with your Energizer ability than any magical talent, ElectroCute, but if you want to find out if you really do have magic, pick up the crystal on the pedestal. Once you have it in hand, I want you to will it to light up,” Edwards instructed.

“That’ll be easy,” the subject said cheerfully as she moved to the pedestal and picked up the crystal, “I did that to a lightbulb earlier.”

She didn’t have a speck of magical ability and watching her try for ten minutes while shouting out various ‘magic words’ was both tedious and annoying. She hadn’t even managed to accidentally injure Edwards somehow during that time. Finally, Edwards put a stop to it. “Well, it looks like you don’t have any magical talent, kiddo.”

“I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with being a super awesome catgirl and having cool electric powers,” the mutant girl said with a shrug as she followed him out of the room and Jade Tiger trailed behind.

=^..^=

The subject was able to lift enough weight to put her strength solidly in the Exemplar three range and now Jade Tiger had her on the treadmill, to test her speed and stamina. Her top running speed seemed to be in the Ex 3 range as well, but he was pushing her to continue to test her stamina. The fact that she was still breathing evenly enough to incessantly complain meant that she could still keep going, though she seemed to build up more electricity the more active that she became.

“I really think this is a bad idea,” the mutant complained once again as she ran on the treadmill, sparks flying and electricity arcing around her. He continued to ignore her complaints as he sat watching her from a safe position and distance, behind her and a good fifteen feet away. He popped another couple of aspirins, carefully washing them down with his hot coffee as he observed her.

Suddenly, electricity arced all over the place and he was glad that he had kept to a safe distance, right up until the sparks and black smoke erupted from the treadmill, and that damn mutant came flying right at him as she was thrown away from the now non-functional piece of equipment. There was no time to dodge, too little time to do more than think, “Oh no.”

The subject flew right past his left side, knocking him out of his chair as scalding coffee landed in his lap and an arc of electricity grazed his uninjured arm, scorching his lab coat, giving him a severe shock, and causing his arm to tingle numbly. From his new position on the floor, he saw the subject crash into the wall, in a spread-eagled position.

In his dazed state and through a fog of new burning pain coming from his crotch, Jade Tiger could have sworn that she just stayed there, attached to the wall, for a moment before finally falling face down onto the ground like a felled tree. Plaster from the wall where she had impacted crumbled to the ground, leaving an imprint of a spread-eagled humanoid figure with cat-like ears. For a moment, things were blessedly quiet as he lay there on the ground, burning pain in his crotch, and now his arm as well as the numbness started to recede. Then the mutant’s right hand rose in a thumbs up as she called out, “I’m okay!”

=^..^=

After another trip to the infirmary to apply some burn cream to his various burns and bandage his previously unbandaged left hand and arm, Jade Tiger was feeling particularly vengeful as he guided the subject to the dodgeball room for the next test. There was another test that still needed to be done first though. Usually, he would test for psychic awareness when the subject was on the treadmill and preoccupied, but with one of the treadmills already destroyed and the subject in a state of near-constant distraction, he decided to do it now.

He was going to take great pleasure in this after what she had put him through so far. He pulled the tennis ball from his lab coat pocket as he instructed, “Turn right at the T section up ahead to get to the room where we will conduct the next test.” Then he let her get a bit ahead of him before winding up and throwing it at the back of her head as hard as he could manage with mere baseline strength. It was times like this that he wished that he worked out more.

The subject’s ears twitched and before the ball could impact, she dropped to the ground, causing the ball to sail right over her head. It bounced off the wall of the intersection just ahead of her and he froze as he realized that it was coming right back at him. “Oh no,” he muttered a fraction of a second before the ball hit him square in his uninjured eye.

Once she had gotten to her feet and they continued their walk toward the dodgeball room, he rubbed at his new black eye and noted, “The subject may possess some form of psychic awareness.”

“Or I just heard you grunting as you threw it, and it whistling through the air,” the subject suggested sarcastically. “You also threw a fuzz-covered tennis ball at a girl who generates static electricity. Of course, I could sense it coming. I’m just not stupid enough to let something hit me in the head when I can avoid it."

Jade Tiger continued to fume from the mutant’s attitude until they arrived at their destination. He was looking forward to this test. This time it would be her who would be getting hit with balls while he was nice and safe in the control room to enjoy the show. As soon as the mutant girl stepped inside the room, he gleefully slammed the door shut and ensured it was locked before making his way to the control room.

He gave the subject no notice before initiating the testing sequence. She avoided the first tennis ball easily, and the second and the third. Perhaps her hearing and ability to sense the balls through static was as accurate as she claimed after all.

“Geez, dude! What is it with you and balls?! Overcompensating much?!” She loudly complained as the fourth hit her. No, it hadn’t hit her, the test would only really be a problem for an Exemplar 1 at this stage, she had twisted in midair to kick it away. The ball flew straight at the observation window, as if homing in on Jade Tiger, and he fell back out of his seat in surprise as it impacted, banging his already wrench-injured knee on the control panel on his way down before he crashed to the ground, hitting his head with a solid *thunk*.

It was several moments before Jade Tiger got back up to his feet, cursing at the renewed pain in his knee and the pain in his head. He was still a bit dizzy as he turned his attention back to the observation window where he glowered at the mutant girl who was still deftly avoiding tennis balls or batting them away. She had built up a charge again and electricity was arcing off her with every movement as she easily managed the Ex 2 stage of the test. An evil smile lit up his face as he cranked the level up to something more suitable for an Exemplar four.

The girl had managed to avoid the first few, but now she was being pelted continuously with tennis balls. A satisfied smirk fell upon his face until the arcing electricity started setting the tennis balls and, by extension, the subject’s fur on fire. Dammit, if he killed her, he would be fired before he could bring in a new storage drive to copy the data from the MSA’s secure server.

He slapped the red button to end the testing sequence as the subject ran around yelling, “Put me out! Put me out!” Then she started rolling on the ground to extinguish the flames as Jade Tiger reluctantly grabbed a fire extinguisher and hurried out of the control room to unsecure the testing room and enter. By the time he arrived, she had already managed to extinguish the flames, but the subject’s fur was scorched in places where it wasn’t missing altogether.

Thankfully her burns seemed relatively minor, but with the burned and scorched fur and her damaged clothing, this could be a problem. Her shorts seemed mostly unscathed, if a bit blackened and scorched, but her t-shirt was a complete loss, and the sports bra beneath it was scorched in places as well. How was he going to explain this when the Chief Administrator and those heroes came for her? He could find replacement clothing among the practice bodysuits that she probably should have been wearing for her testing, but the burns and the missing fur?

The subject glared at him before looking down at her damaged clothes and patches of burned and missing fur. “The first new clothes that I’ve had in months, and they’re ruined. I’m gonna have to catnap for a while to heal from this and grow my fur back too.”

“We already tested you for regeneration and…” he started to argue.

“Yeah, but I can’t seem to heal fast when I’m awake, only when I’m asleep.” The mutant girl countered as she continued to pout about her clothes and fur.

Jade Tiger was conflicted. On one hand, if she was telling the truth, it would solve his current dilemma, but on the other hand… “Why didn’t you mention that when we were testing you for regeneration?!”

“Uh… you didn’t ask?”

Bandaged fists clenched and trying to ignore the migraine that the subject was the sole cause of, Jade Tiger took a deep breath to steady himself. “Hmmmph. Well, I guess we can allow you a brief rest to test this alleged sleep-healing ability before continuing our tests. Then we can find some replacements for your clothing.”

The mutant girl looked at him as if he was a particularly stupid child. “What? Right here? Right now? I can’t just nap on command you know; I need ambiance.”

Ten minutes later, Jade Tiger had the subject laying down on the couch in his office so she wouldn’t disrupt the other researchers and staff while she napped. He planned to use that time to make notes on his computer about her powers while the knowledge was still fresh in his mind. He had just created a new document for that purpose and was about to get to work when the mutant’s annoying voice complained, “You call this ambiance? And the couch isn’t very comfy, could I at least get a blanket and a pillow?”

“I don’t have any here, you’ll have to manage without,” he snapped back.

He managed to get a whole three sentences typed up before she complained yet again. “I’m thirsty, could you get me a glass of water?”

The mouse that he was using creaked as his hands clenched and he tried to control his breathing and his temper. He needed the girl to go to sleep so she could heal, and nobody would see her injuries, slight as they were. With that in mind, he made his way to one of the vending machines and returned with a bottle of water that the mutant didn’t so much sip at but pour into her muzzle as she gulped away.

=^..^=

Seven minutes later…

“Ummm… Doc? I have to go to the bathroom. Could you show me where it is?”

Resisting the urge to either scream or strangle the mutant was growing increasingly difficult, but Jade Tiger was a master spy and sometimes people in his position had to pretend to be nice, for the sake of the mission. So, he led her to the closest ladies’ restroom. She took ages in there and he could feel the stares and suspicious glances of his fellow employees at both his condition and location as he waited outside the door.

Once she was finally finished and he had her back on the couch in his office, he sat back down at his desk and got straight to work. Or rather, that had been the plan. “This isn’t gonna work, Doc, the ambiance is terrible, and all these unfamiliar scents and sounds are driving my senses crazy. Is there maybe a place outside that you can take me to so I can relax? You know, it’s, like, early afternoon and that’s prime sunbeam time. A nice warm sunbeam always puts me right to sleep.”

=^..^=

“See, Doc, it’s a beautiful day outside. You really should get out more, it’s good for your health. You know, they say that most avoidable accidents happen at home or in the workplace,” the subject said far too cheerfully as they stepped out into the garden, and she glanced briefly at his now half-scorched lab coat and bandaged hands.

Jade Tiger fumed at the innocent expression on her face. She had that kitten-like cuteness, probably to deceive enemy forces and hide the true monster within. The aches, pains, and frayed nerves that he was currently suffering from were testimony to that. “Find a spot and sleep,” he snapped back at her irritably.

Against his better judgement, he had brought her out to the garden. Well, it wasn’t so much a garden as an extension of the rainforest outside the compound that hadn’t been developed and was inside of the fence that surrounded the compound. That fence was barely visible through the trees, a ten-foot-high chain link affair topped with barbed wire and bearing no trespassing signs.

Still, there were trees, and the sounds and smells of nature, which he hoped would satisfy the mutant girl. Some people had even planted rose bushes and wildflowers to make the place more ‘relaxing’, though the majority of the flowers had long since wilted. There was even the sound of birdsong coming from the trees and the animals here were used to being around people.

The subject took a deep breath in and sniffed at the air, her ears swiveling atop her head to track the sounds around her. “Yup, just let me find a nice sunbeam and I’ll… oooh birds.” And, yet again, the subject was distracted by a bright and shiny object, or in this case the annoying birdsong. “Well… it is past lunchtime and I’m a bit peckish, so maybe a little snack to tide me over…”

Without any warning, she jumped almost ten feet into the air to latch onto the trunk of a chestnut tree and climb upward. At least this would help him to observe her agility and her jumping and climbing abilities. She didn’t so much climb up the tree as stalk, making her way onto a large branch overhead where a yellow warbler was perched, and apparently the source of the birdsong that was making Jade Tiger’s headache even worse. The mutant catgirl slowly and carefully stalked along the branch on all fours, making her way toward the little yellow bird.

She had almost reached her prey and was about to strike when a resounding crack sounded and the branch beneath her snapped and everything seemed to go into slow motion, like a train wreck that he knew was coming but couldn’t avoid or look away from. Even as the little yellow bird flew nonchalantly away and the branch fell, she tried to make a grab for the bird, pushing her considerable weight off the falling branch. Her hands came up empty and she only succeeded in slightly changing the branch’s downward trajectory.

As the subject plummeted into a rose bush, the falling branch came down at Jade Tiger from above. He moved backward as quickly as he could, determined to avoid whatever hex the subject had put upon him this time and barely escaped the wayward wood as if fell in front of him. For a brief instant as the branch fell in slow motion past his field of vision, he thought that he had come away unscathed, and then the weight of the narrow end of the branch hit his foot.

He was still hissing in pain on the ground and clutching his foot as he heard, “Ouch! Owie!” and the subject tried to gingerly extract herself from the thorny rose bushes. “That’th it. Birdth are off my list,” she lisped before spitting out a mouthful of leaves.

Then the chittering of a squirrel that was perched on a redwood tree not far away caused her to spin around, glare at the small creature and shout, “I’m not fat! I have a bit-thingy!” The squirrel chittered again a moment later and she yelled at it yet again, “Hey! You take that back! Come down here and say that!”

After an apparent shouting match with the squirrel, she turned away in a huff and rolled her catlike eyes extravagantly. “Don’t believe a word that Nabiki says, Doc, she’s nuts.”

Jade Tiger made a mental note of her apparent ability to talk to animals, or maybe she was just insane and taking him along for the ride. At least his foot didn’t seem broken, though it was probably well bruised and had added to the gift basket of agony that the subject had given to him already. He would be glad to sit down and rest for a while when the subject slept. Even if he had to monitor whatever regeneration she had while sleeping at least he would be free of her constant nattering for a little while.

Thankfully, it didn’t take her long to find a spot where the sun peeked between the trees and make herself comfortable on the forest floor. He sat against the trunk of a redwood to observe and once her eyes had closed and her breathing seemed to settle, he dared to breathe a sigh of relief. At long last! Peace and quiet!

He should have known better because a moment later the subject’s green catlike eyes opened and looked at him. “Still can’t sleep, Doc. Tell me a story?”

“No! I am a scientist, not your nanny! Go! To! Sleep!” he snapped angrily.

“You really need to work on your people skills, Doc. Scientist huh, well tell me about your research then,” she suggested. The suggestion mollified him somewhat and he began to talk about the research that he was doing at the compound, only too happy to hear the sound of his own voice instead of hers. She started snoring in less than a minute.

=^..^=

The subject appeared to have level 4 regeneration, at least while asleep, or possibly being inactive allowed her to have the energy to heal that was normally being diverted to her energizer ability whenever she was in motion. During her brief forty-five-minute nap, all her burns healed, and new fur grew out to replace that which had been scorched or burned away. Jade Tiger wished that he was so fortunate since the brief reprieve only seemed to make his own injuries even more painful.

He had managed to find the subject a black bodysuit in her size and had allowed her to eat at the cafeteria before resuming her testing. It had given him the opportunity to eat something as well, and pop a couple more painkillers, not that they seemed to be helping very much. Now they were on their way toward the psychic testing room, after testing her for warping abilities.

He still couldn’t believe the results of those tests. There was no way that this mutant wasn’t some sort of luck mangler, despite what the tests had indicated, not after all that she had put him through so far today. His aching balls, one of the unintended results of those tests, agreed with this sentiment wholeheartedly. The only other possible options were that she was somehow onto him and trying to make him miserable, extremely accident prone, or that she was purposely messing with him for some reason, and he didn’t believe her clever enough for two out of the three.

He groaned in pain as he took one of the seats at the lone table in the room and instructed the subject to take the one across from him. On the table was a deck of Zener cards, which he was reaching for when the subject quickly snatched them up off the table and started to awkwardly shuffle them before spreading the cards out in her hands and presenting the deck to him. “Pick a card, any card,” she said as she closed her eyes. He snatched the cards from her outstretched fuzzy hands, but before he could chastise her, she asked, “Is your card the seven of clubs?”

“This is not a game! We’re here to test you for psychic abilities!” he snarled as he slapped the deck back on the table in front of him.

“Well, duh! That’s what I’m tying to do. Was it the seven of clubs?”

I didn’t draw a card!” he fumed, his burned and bandaged hands protesting the pain as he clenched them in fury.

“Is that a no, then?” the subject countered.

He didn’t bother answering such an inane question. Instead, he took the top card from the deck, a star, held it face away from her and ordered, “Guess the card.”

“Is it the seven of clubs?” she asked thoughtfully.

“No!”

“How about the Jack of hearts?”

Jade Tiger was beginning to get red in the face as he fumed. “It’s not…”

“Wait! Don’t tell me, it’s… the Queen of hearts!” she interrupted.

He furiously slapped the card down on the table in front of her. “It’s a star! There are no hearts, clubs, diamonds, or spades!”

For a moment the subject just blinked at him across the table before calmly stating, “Don’t you think you should have mentioned that before we started, Doc? This test is rigged, of course I’m not going to guess right if you’re going to cheat like that.”

He snatched up another card, three wavy lines, his bandaged hand shaking in fury. “What. Is. It?” he slowly asked as he attempted to rein in his temper.

The subject placed her fingers to her temples and closed her eyes and then asked, “Is it a star? ‘Cause that’s the only one I know.”

Twenty-three cards later she had proven without a doubt that she had no trace of ESP and Jade Tiger was getting close to the end of his rope. Still, he needed to test for other psychic abilities, to be certain. He sighed as he said, “I need to test you for telepathy, or mind reading. Tell me what I’m thinking about right now,” he instructed as he sipped at his bottle of water.

“Is it sex?” The instant that the words left her mouth, the water left his, spraying all over the table.

“No! Try again, what am I thinking now?”

“Is it sex this time?” she asked hopefully. He sat there, tense and fuming until she pressed, “Is that a yes?”

“No! Why do you…” he was so angry that the rest of the sentence was just incoherent sputtering.

“Darn. I figured my chances were pretty good since guys think about sex like ninety-nine percent of the time. I figured you’d be thinking about it for sure after I said it the first time to put the thought in your head. Are you sure you weren’t…”

“Enough! You’re not psychic! Let’s go, we still have two other tests to go, and I’d like to get this over with.” With that, he stood up and walked gingerly to lead the way out of the room. “Just two more tests,” he told himself, “how much worse could it get?”

=^..^=

An hour and a half later…

Jade Tiger clutched his rapidly scribbled notes on the subject’s powers as he hobbled wearily and painfully alongside her toward the entertainment room. Any light of passion had left his eyes, replaced by a fevered twitching and the hopeless darkness of one who had seen the abyss and had it look back. It had not looked back kindly.

He shambled along, his entire body an agonizing patchwork of burns, abrasions, bruises, and swelling. Both eyes were nearly swollen shut, haphazard bandages covered a smorgasbord of injuries on his extremities, some of the hair on the left side of his head had been scorched off, and his limp distinctly favored his left side as he dragged his mostly useless right leg along. He was missing a shoe, bandages worn in its place, and his lab coat and the suit that he wore beneath it were scorched, torn, and dirtied, a far cry from how they had been clean and pressed just that morning.

Just ahead of him, the bane of his existence practically skipped toward their destination. When they arrived, a call of, “ElectroCute! Over here!” emerged from one of the couches that lined the walls of the entertainment room. There, sitting on said couch and seemingly waiting for her were the leader of T.R.U North’s west coast team, the Chief Administrator of the complex, and a Demon. The former two were having what looked like a serious conversation, and it was no surprise to him at all when his former test subject immediately ran toward the Demon that was calling out to her. It made so much sense.

Dr. Gray looked up from his conversation with the redheaded superhero and his eyes widened in shock. “Jon, what happened to you?!”

Jade Tiger wasn’t fooled by the look of surprise on the gathered faces at the sight of him. It was all an act, it had to be. They knew who he really was and what his goals were, and they had sent that hellspawn mutant to punish him for it. They looked to the monster in question who just shrugged and said, “He’s really accident prone.”

He spared a nervous glance at the catlike mutant, his eye twitching and hands shaking. This was a test, it had to be. He knew now that there was only one thing he could do, only one way to escape eternal torment. He fell to the floor in front of Dorian Gray and prostrated himself. “I’m a spy for the Iron Dragon! I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Please, just keep me away from her!”

=^..^=

This wasn’t fair. Why was I being punished when Dr. Zhang was the criminal? He had even confessed to it in front of everyone. Now, while he was being taken away in handcuffs, I was being tested again. I just finished and now they were making me do it again because they didn’t think his results could be trusted. He was a spy, of course he couldn’t be trusted.

Not that anyone had known that beforehand, but I did kind of call it when I fist met him. Something smelled off about him and that goatee and mole made him look like some stereotypical supervillain, but who would have thought he was actually working for a supervillain, and that the guy with the mole actually was a mole. I just thought he was a jerk and he made me nervous.

He was mean; not like my dad, or those hunters who had tried to kill me, but like Jeremy and the other bullies that I had dealt with for most of my life in Churchill. He looked down on me with this smug sense of superiority at first. In a way, that was worse, but I at least had experience in dealing with bullies.

I tried not to think about it and focus on my testing. At least this time I sorta knew what to expect and the person that Dr. Gray got to test me seemed much nicer. Dr. Geller was a mousy little brunette with glasses who seemed a bit timid and was their resident expert on GSD, who I was supposed to be seeing after my testing anyway. She was really interested in my physical changes, but she seemed kinda shy and awkward at first.

Being with someone as socially awkward, anxious, and nervous as I was actually made me feel a little more relaxed, which was good because when I’m nervous I tend to babble, and it makes it hard to focus on controlling my powers too. I had enough trouble controlling them when being distracted by every little sight, sound, and scent without adding nervousness to the mix. I hoped I could adjust to being around people again soon, because all of this was giving me migraines.

Thankfully, the testing didn’t take nearly as long this time since things went faster, we didn’t have to test me for magic again, and there were no unfortunate accidents with Dr. Geller. She gave me plenty of space and wasn’t constantly snapping at me, so I was actually able to focus on the tests. She also actually listened to what I had to say.

When we were finished, Mom and Rika weren’t back yet from wherever they had gone this time, which I figured had something to do with Dr. Mole. Since they were still gone, she dropped off the testing results with Dr. Gray and then looked over both me and the medical files that Rika had sent her from Dr. Carroll, which had my name redacted, of course. Dr. Geller seemed a lot more relaxed and in her element when she was explaining the quirks of my body to me.

My GSD appeared to be based on a Bobcat at first glance, which sadly meant that my tail probably wouldn’t grow any longer. Several of my adaptations were actually closer to the Canadian Lynx though, like the shape of my feet, certain details about my fur, and a few other things. Apparently, like the Lynx, I was well adapted for living in subarctic environments. I wasn’t fat either, she said that it was insulation to provide another layer of protection from the cold beneath my fur, something that a lot of animals, and people, living in the arctic had developed to survive.

After explaining that she said, “Flex the muscles in your arms please.”

I did as she asked and found myself staring at the bulging biceps in my right arm, noticeable even under the fur. “Holy crap! Which way to the gun show?”

The small brunette woman smiled. “You see, under all of that insulation you actually have a build more like that of a particularly buff fitness model. Try to remember that if other kids start to tease you about your physique.” I liked Dr. Geller; she was one of the good ones.

After having watched me heal when both awake and asleep during my second testing, she thought that she might have also figured out the quirk in my regeneration as well. She thought that my regen ability might be tied into my energizer abilities and that my regeneration only works at its full potential when I’m unconscious or in a similar state of relaxation. She believed that this is because when I’m relaxed and not moving, I’m not building up a charge, and that puts my energizer abilities in cooldown and lets my regeneration take over.

By the time that she finished telling me everything that she could figure out about my mutation, it was after ten o’clock pm. Mom and Rika were finally back from wherever they had gone to this time, and Dr. Gray had an MMID with my name on it, or my chosen codename at least. There was an awful lot there marked as classified, but it did show my powers. I was an Exemplar 3 and for now they had me labeled as Energizer 4 and Regen 4.

By this time, I was really tired and ready to call it a day and go to wherever Mom called home so I could get some sleep. Mom and Rika looked tired too. I guess that they and the rest of T.R.U North had been coordinating with MSA strike teams and the RCMP to follow up on some information that they got from Dr. Mole. They found a few stash houses with black market goods being smuggled into Canada, hidden compartments with power dampening collars and cuffs stored, and an underground maze of pens and holding facilities for people.

There were a few people of the mutant variety in those holding areas that Dr. Mole had been waiting to ship to China on the next boat and they discovered some storage containers at the docks that were converted for transporting people as cargo as well. They also caught a few of the smugglers, people from some cult-turned-crime-syndicate, when they raided the stash houses. Hearing about what Dr. Mole had been doing made me feel kind of sick to my stomach and I was really glad that they managed to put a sizable dent in his operations tonight.

Before we could leave for home though, it seemed that there were some more personal things that Mom and Rika needed to talk to me about. They took me to a private meeting room, where Rika immediately set up spells to make sure that we couldn’t be overheard. Then they told me the bad news.

Even though it was Rika who had boinked my Dad to death, the MCO wanted Nathan Hanson for the murder. Rika had mentioned this yesterday at the hospital though and I had had some time to think about the situation since then. She was right, it was extremely unlikely that I would be connected to my old self, especially with some of my mutations.

It was a good thing that I’m not Nathan anymore, not that I ever really was, or I would have been in deep shit if they managed to find me. That was why the whole classified thing around me and my testing, because they didn’t want anyone accidentally finding out who I used to be. “Uh, what are they gonna do, Mom? Fingerprint me?” I asked as I displayed the pads on my fingertips where my fingerprints would be if I was a baseline.

“Well, that does help things,” Rika said with a playful grin.

“They can’t physically tie you to your old self, but I still called in a favor from my boss to keep this all hushed and to have the MSA create a new identity for you. The plan is to make you my second child and say that some details surrounding your birth were classified. There’s a file with all the details that you’ll need to read through once we get home,” Mom told me seriously.

“Are people really gonna believe that?” I asked dubiously.

“It’s… happened before, but in that case, she was born manifested and, being the daughter of a public figure whose work is classified, she needed some protection as well. You heard Dorian mention Lithe earlier, right? That’s her, and you… you’ll meet her later,” she replied, looking uncertain for the first time since she and Rika had come to bring me home.

=^..^=

Vancouver Suburbs (Near New Westminster)
Friday, October 5th, 2007
11:14 p.m.

We appeared from Rika’s teleport in front of a nice-looking house in what looked like a normal suburban neighborhood. It wasn’t what I was expecting so I turned to my mother to ask, “This is where you live?”

She smiled and shook her head, “No, Felicia, we live downtown, above our headquarters. Fallen has a room there too now, so we’ll both be close by if you need us. This is a good friend’s house. We’ve known each other for a long time. He’s doing me a favor and I’m afraid that I’ll need to ask him for another one now. The two of you have a lot in common too, he knows what it’s like to live with severe GSD,”

“What kind of favor?” I asked suspiciously. I did find myself wondering what kind of GSD she was talking about though. Could he really be like me?

“He’s a Gadgeteer and I want to see if he can come up with something to help you control your electricity better, and maybe store it, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally shocking people. As for the other favor, you’ll find out in a minute,” she replied, seeming hesitant to tell me.

Rika interjected both quietly and tiredly, “Sorry, Jessica, but you girls will have to drive from here. I’ve been using a lot of essence over the last couple of days so I’m going to have to teleport somewhere that isn’t Canada to find a suitable meal, I’ll see you both in the morning though.” The last was said as she gave me a reassuring smile before vanishing once again.

Now I was alone with my mom for the first time since I was two years old. It felt a little strange, especially now that I knew she was a bigtime superhero, which was a little intimidating and a lot awesome. For a moment, she continued looking at the spot that my pseudo-Succubus friend has just vacated. “She’s a good friend,” she said after a moment. “She loves you like a… sister, and she never gave up on finding you.”

“Yeah, she’s like the sister I never had,” I agreed. I owed Rika a lot, she was more than just a good friend and it sounded like Mom was starting to see her as almost family as well, judging by how she just spoke about her. I almost missed seeing her furtive glance toward the house before she took me by the hand and led me up the walk to the front door and rang the doorbell.

The door was answered by what I could only describe as a seven-foot-tall pink grizzly bear with devil horns and a long spaded tail standing on his hind legs and wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. That was totally not what I was expecting and I kinda hid behind Mom a bit. “You’re later than we were expecting, Jess, we were starting to get worried,” he said in a masculine voice.

“Sorry, Herb, you know how it is. Some unexpected complications came up that we had to deal with, and they were time sensitive. Thanks for looking after Tabby for me.”

“Anytime, Jess. You two are like family. I take it that the kitten trying to hide in your shadow is Felicia then? Come on inside, there’s no sense staying out there all night,” the big pink bear replied with a booming laugh.

“Yes, this is her. As I told you earlier, you two have something in common, so I thought that it might be nice if you can talk to her and help her adjust, and maybe you could help with her electricity problem?” Once she was finished replying to him, she pulled me out of her shadow and toward the door. “Felicia, this is Herb, better known to the public as Super Bear. He’s an old friend and…”

She was interrupted by what sounded like a girl’s voice on the heels of feet pounding down a flight of stairs. “Mom?! Is that you?! Uncle Herb and I were getting so worried!”

The girl who pushed past Super Bear looked to be about twelve or thirteen years old. If I had to pick one word to describe her, it would be ‘lithe’. She was slender with a dancer’s build and almost as tall as me, but probably less than a hundred pounds. What really locked my gaze on her though was the bright green cat-like eyes that were so like mine, long ginger hair topped with feline ears, and a long and graceful ginger tail swishing behind her.

Mom took a deep breath and gripped my hand reassuringly in hers as she took a deep breath and added, “And this is Tabitha… your sister.”

 

The End
Read 2244 times Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2024 01:18

Comments

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ReadingIsGood
1 month ago
That was an unexpected twist at the end! It's good to see the two stories linking up here, though.
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Amethyst
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Amethyst
1 month ago
Quoting ReadingIsGood:
That was an unexpected twist at the end! It's good to see the two stories linking up here, though.


Yeah, I wanted to hit both Felicia and the readers out of nowhere with that bit at the end, though I did give vague hints at Tabitha's existence. It's nice to have Felicia linking up with some of the characters from Short Tales, and she should be meeting the others once she arrives at Whateley.

*big hugs*

Amethyst
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Cybergirl007
1 month ago
Great story
Need more
Loved the catnip and testing sections
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Amethyst
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Amethyst
1 month ago
Quoting Cybergirl007:
Great story
Need more
Loved the catnip and testing sections


Thanks, Cybergirl. This was a lot fun to write, Felicia is just such a wacky character in general, though she as her tragic moments too. We will be seeing more of her in the future though.

*big hugs*

Amethyst
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Monica Rose
1 month ago
Great story. It was good to see Felicia able to get back with her mother and her unexpected sister. I loved how she handled her powers testing. It made me think of the Road Runner dealing with Wily Coyote and the Ransom of Red Chief.
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