|A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.|
User:Michael Bard/Transformation Vignettes
Note: These were written from e-mailed suggestions to help me get over writer's block. The text of the e-mail is listed first in italics, and then the story. Names have been removed to protect the innocent.
Human to toaster. :)
NOT AWAKE ENOUGH
Ah toast! The universe's gift to those members of humanity who are still approaching a state of pure wakefulness.
Ah toast! Hot, crunchy, drenched in low-fat margarine.
Ah toast! Glorious--
The toaster wasn't working. It's filaments remained dark even though it was plugged in. Even though everything else in the kitchen (including the coffee maker and its contents of sentient coffee that had been plotting world conquest ever since it evolved intelligence two months ago) was working fine.
He couldn't start the day like this! Drastic steps were required!
Slowly, given that his brain wasn't yet fully functional, he pulled out a stepladder and climbed up it and sat on the counter beside the traitorous toaster. Then he pulled out two slices of plain, hideously untoasted, whole-wheat bread and put them both in his mouth, where they proceeded to flop down over his chin and drop some crumbs down the front of his bathrobe.
"Toaster... Toaster..." he began chanting. "Toaster...Toaster..." he said louder and faster.
And something heard.
Outside of his control his body was suddenly struck motionless. His bathrobe and anything beneath it vanished. One hand moved outside of his volition and stuck three fingernails into the electrical socket below the one occupied by the dead toaster.
The toaster that was indeed dead, in fact one could say that it was a Dead Toaster. If anyone was there who could speak, they could even say "This is a Dead Toaster." But nobody was there who was able to speak.
A pleasant hum of electrons began moving through him, without pain, without hideous cellular damage.
With dull thumps both legs fell off, rolling onto the floor allowing the cat to pounce on one and stick her claws into it.
Ow! he screamed in his mind, but his mouth didn't make a sound. As we said earlier, nobody was there who could say anything such as: "This is a Dead Toaster."
The arm that was not plugged in dropped onto the cupboard, rolled off, and clattered to the floor and on top of the cat which yowled and fled in a scurry of limbs. The Not Quite Toaster; Not Quite Man didn't feel any pain.
Then his body began to collapse like a styrofoam ball suddenly appearing at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
Still there was no pain.
His body was scrunched and crushed down into a rectangular cube, rounded at the edges, and curiously toaster shaped. His skin brightened from a pale white to a polished chrome as a grove opened up in his side opposite his plug, and what pieces of his arm had not fallen off turned black and plasticky. His tongue joined the sides of his mouth as his teeth stretched and curled into heating filaments. A piece of toast neatly slotted into either side of what was once his tongue. His other arm shrunk, the nerves transforming into wire, and the muscle and bone and skin transforming into plastic.
By now all that was visible, other than abandoned limbs, cat cautiously approaching, and sentient mutant coffee, was a silver chrome toaster with a thin arm and hand plugged in, and a mockery of a human face along the top. With a popping sound each eye was squeezed out, arcing through the air. One landed right in front of the cat and splattered like a raw egg (the cat fled again), and the other plopped into the sentient coffee and began to stare around malevolently. The nose vanished, and all that remained was a glorious, new, shining, WORKING, toaster.
With a snick the button depressed itself and the toast was pulled into its depths as the heating filaments turned red. For just the right amount of time the proto-toast remained in the new toaster's depths, before popping up a perfect brown.
Unfortunately only the evil sentient mutant coffee was there to see it (the cat having finally given up the kitchen as a Bad Idea), and it hated coffee. In fact, it hated everything, but that's another story.
You were so quick with the last one I thought I'd see how ambitious you are for this week. I saw the new Harry Potter film last night and thought this might be interesting: Human to Hippogriff
Just a stunt they said.
Perfectly safe they said.
Nothing can go wrong they said.
The cliff was awful close and the sea and rocks below it were far, far, far, in fact very far, below.
Perfectly safe they said.
The horse has done it before they said.
It was his curse to look just like the villain -- though at least his voice was pleasant compared to the screech of the actor.
In the hot sun, with the black and white cameras recording onto their grainy silent medium, a stage hand slapped the rear of the horse and it leapt into a terrified gallop.
Straight towards the cliff.
The oh so very very high cliff.
Over his fear and the sweat of the horse he could smell the salt of the ocean; over the thunder of the hooves he could hear the crash and rumble of the waves far, or so very far, below.
All he could do was hang on.
Hang on as spittle from the horse splattered into his face, low and pressed into the beasts mane.
And then, with a scream of panic and terror, the horse leapt.
There was silence, coolness, a mist in his face.
He didn't want to die! The horse didn't want to die!
And somebody heard.
With the cameras still rolling he felt himself pulled close to the horse, into the horse, his body sinking through the mane as it blew off in a trail of glittering silver behind and above as they fell further and further towards the sea.
His legs were gone, his clothes blew off, blown far above them between the water and the sky.
With it's last sound the horse screamed its terror and then it was silent forevermore as the rider's head merged into the gelded stallions skull.
A moment of blindness, a moment of terror. His arms stretched, burst into a hundred thousands strands. The horse's, no, now his, fore legs shrunk and scrunched, bursting into tough scales.
And then he could see! The brightness of light, misty strands of air and salt and glowing rays of fusion created energy. Everything was blue and silver and white and yellow in thousands of shades intermingling and flowing one into another.
The horse, no he, screamed as his head changed, his mane, his hair, clumping into a dense salt-dampened coat of brownish feathers tipped in white. His arms lengthened, his chest barreled as a bone keel grew and strands of muscle en wrapped themselves around it. His arms stretched and grew, his fingers grew, and the filaments from his arms exploded into dense long feathers.
The water was so close, and the rocks. The sharp, jagged rocks. And still the camera whirred immortalizing his silent death.
But it wasn't to be.
He screeched, stretching out his wings into the layered colours and patterns of air. His hind legs, still those of a horse, clenched against his body, fitting neatly on either side of his re-filled sheath. His forelegs stretched, reaching down their eagle talons to touch the tip of a wave as he flapped his wings to climb.
He was alive!
More strokes, lungs gulping down salt-drenched air, muscles both above and below his wings pull them up and down as they fight against the all powerful pull of matter. The far tips of his wings, what were once his fingernails, press into the boiling surface of the sea, teasing it with its escaping prey.
And he rises, mighty flaps pulling him up above the waves, up above the rocks, through the colour-drenched currents of air, as the camera whirrs and records.
He climbs higher and higher, the sun glittering off drops of water from his forelegs and wingtips, falling down into the sea cheated of its prey.
Above the cliff now he turns, screeching his rage and anger and hunger. He raises his wings high and falls from the sky towards the still whirring camera emotionlessly watching him as it falls to the earth as the human turns and flees.
But not fast enough.
It's a very generous offer. I know you're probably booked up for a while now, but I'll ask, none the less human teen to were-skunk kit
WEREING ON THE MOON
I wanted to rub my shoulder where that Earth girly girl had bit me, but the space suit was in the way. It itched.
"Bloody girly girls, bloody one night flings, bloody sharp teeth..."
At least it had healed fast.
"How am I supposed to start my own starship design company if girly girls bribe me, dine me, rape me, and then tear hunks out of my shoulders." It has been pleasurable though, I had to admit that. And it was a break from first year.
"Hey genius," Holly's voice buzzed in my helmet, "get a move on -- we've got a schedule here!"
Swallowing my muttering, I switched my radio back to transmit. "Sorry, I'm on my way."
It was a weekend job, simple, yet laborious. Low level maintenance of vacuum nanite manufacturing complexes, more commonly known as nanofacs. Meteorite dust was a constant problem and when one of the domes registered a power drop from its solar cells I was one of the lucky sods who got to clean them off. Something that just wasn't worth automating. Holly, the crew chief, wasn't anywhere nearby -- we were scattered throughout this nanofac cluster, each to a different building, the buggy we used was parked near the centre. And we had to get it done before sunrise.
With graceful leaps born of long practice I skipped through the fine dust scattered along the mooncrete roadway to my assigned dome. Jogging to a stop I pulled the extendable brush from its sling over my back and began slowly and gently brushing the dust off the solar collectors and back onto the ground. You had to move slowly -- the dust was extremely fine and sudden motion gave it a static charge that made it cling to everything. A gentle stroke down, a gentle lifting of the brush, and then a second stroke. Another gentle lift, then a step to the right, and repeat.
Hours passed. My suit got hot and I swallowed probably more water than I should have from the helmet nipple. It didn't really matter, it was all recycled anyway. The door to the nanofac slid open from the dustlock -- the interiors needed to be a perfect vacuum for the manufacturing process -- and a second stage processing result moved on an automated trolley to the next nanofac in sequence. I think this cluster was making silicon chips for door motion controllers down on earth. More hours, more tepid water, more gentle brushing. We had to get the job done before dawn. Of course we chitchatted, my encounter with the Earth girly girl last night was the primary topic.
I hope I had the radio turned off while I was muttering, I really hopped, but from the conversation that seemed more and more unlikely.
Finally my assigned collector was done, and just in time too.
"Okay guys, get a move on," Holly burst in, "we've got one more to do today."
Muttering along with the others I acknowledged and turned away from the solar cells and prepared to make my way towards the buggy. Just as sunrise reached me, light bouncing off the dust into my helmet (I was looking down -- the first thing anybody learns is to always look down to prevent blindness). For a fraction of a second the light shone in my eyes, and then my helmet polarized.
That fraction must have been enough. When the weres revealed themselves we learned that it was a specific frequency of light, something in the silicon makeup of the lunar surface, that triggered the change. And it took a number of changes before the were had control over themselves in their animal form.
Why hadn't she told me?!
The change was fast, or so I found out later. It seemed to take forever to me. The first thing I felt was my tail, a bony spike that pushed out through my cooling undersuit, and then pressed up against my back. Suit exteriors are hard shells, they have to be, and that fact saved me right then. It was also fortunate that I didn't change into an adult, in fact I shrunk significantly (the physicist who figured out where the mass went and a way to duplicate it would win a Nobel Prize as the least of his rewards) as my feet stretched and my legs shrank, the combination pulling my changing feet up into the legs of the suit. Which, of course, began to fall over. Fur began popping out all across my shrinking body as the rubbery inner cooling suit began collapsing around me.
Do you know what hot sweaty rubber smells like? To an enhanced nose? Trust me, it STINKS!
The rubber stretched as my tail widened and grew, painfully stretched against my back between the inner rubber and the outer armour. Sweat against the inner layer dropped out and plastered itself all around me, making my blackish fur hot and sticky and wet. Hair stuck to the rubber and got pulled off as it grew, and I continued to shrink.
The suit fell over on its face, the hard shell keeping it rigid. Strange sounds crackled from the helmet, but I could no longer understand them.
Still I shrunk, already I was twisted up in the rubber, entrapped by my tail; pressed down on my chest. My arms pulled out of the arms of the hard suit and grew shorter and shorter, changing their orientation slightly so that I could stand on them. My legs shrunk as my body curled in around itself. Then my head began to change. The bone cracked, sounding like rattling dice as the plates re-arranged themselves and shrunk, struggling to find a new place. My nose stretched out in front of my eyes as they rotated around my head. My teeth pulled into my jaws, becoming tiny and pointed before they pushed their way back through my gums. All I could do was spit out the blood. My long hair fell off, replaced by smaller, finer hair. I shrunk and shrunk as my bones cracked and my hair grew and shed, and grew and shed...
I found out later that my change was driven by the intensity of the lunar reflection, and the short duration of my infection. Usually the age of the animal approximates the age of the human, at least developmentally, but not for me this time.
I was tiny, alone. The place was strange, entangling. Something had my tail and I curled around and around trying to pull it loose, gradually working it free with ever increasing struggles. It was hot, it grew hotter. It stank. I panted for breath. Then something moved my cave, dragged it, lifted it, dropped it. More strange noises in the distance. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe. The cave was dropped again, there were thuds, a fast roar, a crackling of the cave around me. More voices, terrifying voices, different now. There were sounds from the entrance, movement, a sudden burst of air. Panicked I ran out, pulling myself free of the collapsing cave.
Monsters around me, shouting, screeching. I fled to a corner, I raised my tail, a warning. They kept closing. I acted...
The court rejected my lawsuit against the girly girl claiming it was my own fault. Recordings from her hotel room confirmed that she did warn me -- I guess I was too drunk to remember. It cost a fortune to clean the suits and the buggy -- a fortune I'm still paying!
Eh, while you're on a roll there, why not someone watching the Crocodile hunter on TV turning into a morphic australian snake?
"How can anybody watch this?" she muttered to herself.
She'd been flipping through the channels looking for anything remotely interesting when she happened to run across that monumentally stupid and sadistic 'Crocodile Hunter' and she couldn't turn away as the creep harassed and tortured a snake.
Over the TV she could hear the poor reptile hissing in its own language, "Help me..."
Finally, the segment ended and a commercial began, freeing her mind from the horrific domination. She couldn't bring herself to change the channel right away, in fact she needed a few moments to put her emotions back together. Something had to be done about that madman.
"Kill him..." her secret soul whispered.
If only she could. If only.
The commercial ended and the horrific show began before she could hit the channel changer. "And, for this weekend only, the Crocodile Hunter will be performing LIVE in..."
She starred. In her city. In her zoo. Hurting and torturing her friends.
Well somebody had to -- all those cries for help, the hideous whining of reptilian creatures. All those crocodiles!
"Kill him..." Other reptilian spirits thrown into the afterlife before their time began whispering to her secret soul. "Kill him... Bite him... Torture him..."
It seems that the hidden reptilian gods has selected her for their vengeance. Never one to argue with the blessed emotionless entities still echoing from long before the dinosaurs walked the world (those who did tended to not argue with anything anymore as they rotted in the ground), she switched off the TV and closed her eyes and willed The Change.
With an orgasmic pleasure, her body began to change, hair flowing off her scalp and drifting to the carpeted floor. Her legs began to shrink, being sucked back into her body as her once hidden tail bone burst from between them as naked bone with a layer of glistening blood. As the growth/shrinkage continued, the bone was entwined by twisting fibres of muscles and pulsing veins and nerves. Finally, a layer of beautifully scaled skin crept backward from what had been her waist to encase the layer of tight red muscle. Meanwhile, other changes swept across her upper body. Her chest narrowed, bloody scales pushing the thin layer of dead skin off in bloody shreds that clung to the glistening armour, before being scraped off as she writhed and curled on the more and more stained carpet in the pleasures of the change. Her head narrowed; her teeth shrunk and grew, and her cheeks puffed as sacks of poisonous venom blossomed with their cargo of horrific death and vengeance. Her eyes squeezed and turned yellow, though they remained hidden by her closed lids Her moans of pleasured changed from foul mammalian sounds into joyous hisses of happiness. Her tongue split, and she spit out blood as she sniffed the air and the thick scent of reptilian pleasure.
Too soon it was over.
Where a human had once sat on a comfortable but worn couch, a scale cloaked massive snake lay coiled on the the once clean carpet amidst a nest of blood and flesh. The creature reared up on its lower body, rubbing its scaled hands down the front of her chest and hissing her pleasure. Unblinking eyes opened and peered around as a forked tongue flipped in and out of a disturbingly human face.
It would take time to make her way to where he'd be. Time to prepare to deliver the judgment of her ancient reptilian overlords. She began slithering out of the bloody mess (she'd need a new identity after this) and down the stairs into the dank basement and the secret temple of bloody human sacrifice to the ancient ones. There was a drain there, and beneath that the cool waters of the tunnels humanity had so kindly constructed for their true overlords. Strong arms lifted the cover and it clanged onto the blood-stained cement as her 20' body squeezed down and through the pipe into the hidden darkness below. A world of scents and crunchy rats to eat.
She had little time. She had a fair distance to go, and there were too few worthwhile servants nearby. She'd have to do it herself, submerge her true form in the cloak of a plain reptile.
"Yesss...." she hissed. Their will would be done. She reached the cool water far below and began swimming, her mouth dripping saliva as she dreamed of his hot flesh between her jaws...
I've got one for you, about two weeks out, I think by now. Modern Gothic teenager (male or female) to prehistoric dinosaur (again male or female).
ECHOES OF EXTINCTION
The cave was cold and dark and the water-worn bones of the Ancient Gods sealed in the stone watched her in the flickering candle light. She swore she'd never come here again; swore to never use the secrets handed down from generation to generation deep within the forests of Germany. Joined the Roman Empire with her family first as a slave, and then a free woman when her father had finished his time with the Legions. Even joined the worship of the new God sweeping the Empire.
And then He came.
He was a modern Goth, like she'd been before learning and joining Civilization. As she was once again inside the cave with the Ancient Gods of her ancestors.
A drop of water plopped in a pool, the sound echoing through the natural catacombs.
She'd hid as He'd killed the other retired legionaries; she'd been held and forced to watch His men string up her friends, her brother, her father, all by their shoulders. They wouldn't let her turn away as they slit their victim's chests and each one slowly died screaming as their guts dripped out. A rough cage had been built and she and her mother and her sister and the rest of the women were thrust inside as the drunken Goths took them out one by one, raped them, tortured them, and then killed them as they burned the Civilization around them.
She'd fled as her mother stabbed the guard with a hidden dagger as a spear was thrust through her chest, obeying her mother's last commands -- to return to the secret place.
To give up Civilization.
To call upon the Ancient Secret Gods of her ancestors.
Nobody had pursued her and she'd hid as Civilization burned. She'd remained hidden as the Goths fled and the legion arrived to pursue them from the ruins.
Choking back sobs she'd searched through the smoldering ruins for what she needed, and then she'd crept away. The legions wouldn't give her vengeance -- they'd lose the Goths in the old forests. They, like her, were modern Goths. They knew what to do. Her mother knew they knew what to do.
The Ancient Gods knew they knew what to do.
In the wilderness beyond Civilization, beyond the Empire, she'd set traps, caught rabbits, drained their blood from their flesh and into bags made from their skins, and brought that blood up into this hidden cave.
Civilization had failed her, but the Ancient Gods never would. There were pacts, ancient pacts. Promises. Conditions.
Clenching the stone talon, symbol of her ancient faith given her by her mother as her mother died, she poured the blood over her tangled greasy hair and let it drip onto the fossilized toes of the Ancient God's skeletal forms. They had never been human, instead they had been immense monsters, huge of jaw and teeth. Full of anger and hatred.
Like she was.
Blood still dripping from her hair now plastered to her breasts, she picked up the second skin and began pouring the blood into her mouth. A swallow, a sacred word, two steps, and another swallow. Again and again, her chant rising, anger and hatred filling her words as she reminded them of the ancient vows and pacts. A chant that demanded Vengeance. Finally the last of the blood was gone and she threw the rough skin into the dark depths of the cave and screeched her hatred.
And something heard.
Something ancient, a memory of a memory of a memory stirred. Something that had once been, with all the others of its kind before the World had destroyed them. Their spirits had whispered, made promises, pacts, and waited.
And it was time.
Their countless souls swirled together, merging their anger at the world that had betrayed them. They poured themselves together, into a single voice, changing from something more insubstantial than air, something less than nothing, to the tattered remnants of a spirit, then to a spirit, and then to something more. A dense mist, redolent with forgotten memories of verdant jungles ended with never-ending winter. A cold mist, their memory of the killing cold outweighing dim glimpses of vibrant life. The thing drifted, moved over to the still chanting woman, dancing an ancient dance that moved as they'd once moved.
She opened herself and they swept in. They were hungry for life, hungry for warmth. Finally. Finally! They poured into her, merging with the almost overpowering presence of her soul.
She stopped/they stopped and she/they screamed, her/their voice changing hers as their combined rage echoed from stone to stone. The fossilized fragment of their bones that she carried glowed with their energy, their lust for existence, a glow that poured out and around her form. Her body shattered, fragile mammalian bones that were foreign to their world shot through her flesh and shattered on the walls. The body collapsed, swirled in a pale yellow-green glow as a million spirits warred for possession, for control. Hers was strongest and it sought one that could help her, a hunter, not too large, but cunning. Oh so very cunning. Her soul found one that matched what she wanted, and with it she found another of the same race, and another. Their kind had been one of the last to succumb, predators, feeding to the end before turning on themselves. More and more gathered, merging, and they hunted through the glow again, consuming the other remnants and taking their essence.
Soon the physical form began to match the spirit inside. Scales exploded as the skin split and changed. Bones grew and warped, pushing up the mass of skin and flesh and making it take form. The creature's head exploded forward, teeth splitting into a hundred pointed daggers. Nostrils expanded, flared, sniffed scents that hadn't existed the last kind one of their species had walked the earth. Toe nails shrunk, hardened, stretched into sharp claws; eyes changed to yellow orbs of hunger; blood coated scales darkened from a glowing amber to patterns of green and brown. A tail grew to counter-balance their body as it rose higher and higher, leaning more and more forward. A soft crest grew and blood pumped through it as it stiffened, and they fell flat along the creature's spine.
The other spirits that had escaped the victor's hunger fled back into their fossils, weak, faint, but still aware. They'd waited from time beyond memory, they could wait some more.
The dawn light of the sun stretched into the blood-soaked cave as the transformation finished. A creature stood there, one that hadn't stood for millions of years. Its nostrils widened and sniffed the air, its tongue flicked out and tasted the mammalian blood.
It had been weak once, but it remembered why, remembered why it had been brought back. It remembered a scent. It couldn't smell it, but it knew the scent. It knew where to go.
The creature screeched its rage and hunger, its crest stood upright.
A dinosaur began its hunt.
Here's a challenge for you: Planet into human.
The excesses of the Twentieth and Twenty-First centuries were long gone, rejected and healed by the movement that had started in the southern portion of what had once been the United States of America. They'd created the first of the viruses that had pruned humanity back to something reasonable (after making sure that they were immune of course). They'd led (there had been whispers of 'forced' but all those who had were long dead and forgotten) an abandonment of technology and resumption of a more natural (those same long dead and forgotten individuals would have called it primitive) societal base, keeping a few centres of high tech to further their ultimate goal (and keep themselves in power). It had taken a thousand years, but now the orbital and space wastage of the past were abandoned and safely destroyed. The waste and refuse and contamination was healed. Barely 10 million humans inhabited Terra, and most of them were changed. Later viruses had changed what had been human, dividing humanity into a number of closely related subspecies that were genetically pre-disposed to live with Terra, and to obey the genetically better individuals that led them.
Including the descendants of those who had begun the crusade.
Finally, after a thousand years, the dream was almost fulfilled.
Complexes of labs and experimental sealed environs had laboured for centuries for the fulfillment of the dream, a dream of humanity living in harmony with a sentient environment that was to be named Gaia. Not the automatic self-correcting ecosphere postulated long ago, but a thinking sentient being who could walk among them and lead them to the great glory of Terra. The first of the silicon-organic nanites had been released 129 years ago beginning the work, and the most recent configuration had been released 18 months ago. All the nanites did their work and then destroyed themselves.
Finally it was time.
In the scattered settlements that blended harmoniously in and around the trees genetically created to house villages of humanity, the devoted (not that there was any other kind) gathered in their shrines to pray, to send their mental and spiritual energies into the world as a gift to Gaia; small tribal groups that had been modified and then seeded into the oceans gathered into large clusters at centralized shrines in seaweed and coral forests and joined the land-dwellers in their worship. A science not known in the 21st century began to take affect in a carefully orchestrated buildup of psychic and spiritual energy that the carefully designed silicon-organic nanites piped through the volume of the planet Terra in a carefully orchestrated pattern of force.
An unknown time passed.
And then She awoke!
The rock, the magma, the non-sentient animals, the plants, the air, the clouds, all took carefully planned portions of the psychic and spiritual energy gifted to them by humanity and created their own self-sustaining patterns that combined into a new sentience. A being, a goddess.
For a timeless instant she thought, absorbing the memories and dreams and hopes of those who had created her. In that same instant she remembered all that had gone before, all the life now dead and forgotten by the new humanity. The timeless instant passed and she joined with her creators.
Realized that they were not her. They were a part of her, not separate sentients. She knew everything they knew, every memory, every thought.
She grew lonely.
Eons passed. Gaia searched the heavens for others like her, for somebody, for something, for anything, to break into her loneliness. The ruling descendants of the originators of the movement that had created her were allowed to die childless, the tech they'd hoarded reclaimed. The remnants lived together in harmony.
More eons passed, and the descendants of humanity were slowly changed. Peacefully other animals died off, and humans were changed to replace them. Always sentient, and always within the dream that was their existence with Gaia. Generations were born, lived, hunted, bred, and finally died, each a cell within the gestalt that was Gaia.
And Gaia grew more lonely, ever more desperate.
The universe was empty except for her. No signals, no spirits, no travelers.
Just her single sentient mind searching more and more desperately.
The sun began to grow and redden and Gaia moved her body further out to keep the cells of her mind alive even as they changed. Over millions of years they became less and less mobile, changing, becoming more plant than animal. The moon moved further and further away until a collision pushed it away from Gaia forever. What was left of humanity stopped looking up as individuals. They changed to have a shorter and shorter mobile period before planting and growing and surviving for their own millenia. Other life quietly died off as more and more sessile humans were born until only they remained as life upon Gaia. Her mind grew, her knowledge grew, the skills applied to her search grew.
And her search remained fruitless.
Gaia went mad.
And in that madness had a plan.
Humans had once been individuals. She could restore them, she remembered what they had been. She could change, make herself a human body. She could have thousands, millions of companions!
More millions of years passed, and Gaia changed the internals of her body. Silicate conducting networks grew within her, linking to the now completely immobile remnants of humanity and copying what they did into silica neural circuits. These were edited, condensed, organized. Studies were made, simulations ran, plans formed. Other silica and galium matrices were formed and filled with vast reservoirs of spiritual and psychic energy. Not enough for the Plan, but enough to trigger it which was all that the had to do.
Finally Gaia was ready.
The immobile remnants of humanity that crowded her land, crowded her oceans, changed. They grew pods that held animals, plants, and sentient humans in a plethora of forms. The sentients were given memories, and then let grow in simulated worlds to develop uniqueness. All but the contents of one pod
Gaia could have stopped there, interacted with them, but her madness blinded her. She had a Plan and she would implement The Plan.
The immobile remnants stopped breeding and died off leaving only a scattering of pods across the surface and drifting through the ocean. The one pod was carefully monitored and prepared. Silicate structures were grown through it in preparation for Gaia to move her mind into it.
Everything was ready.
In a carefully planned pattern, the massive amounts of stored energy were released, punching a hole from this universe into another universe, a universe of antimatter. A hole formed, and in a planned fashion the material of the new universe contacted atoms in the core of Gaia and converted the mass to pure energy which was controlled and channeled. Space and time were warped, bent. Complex networks of space/time constructed passages were formed. The hole was widened, more annihilation occurred, and the new passages controlled it. By the time the core was converted into a contained reservoir of energy, the hole was nearly a metre across.
Energy was released, and this time it wasn't just a hole that was formed, but a hole that led into a new creation, a creation fed by the energy held inside Gaia. A creation carefully planned to last forever, to be free of entropy and death, to be endlessly bountiful. More anti-matter was bled in and Gaia's crust began to collapse towards her core. Space/time in the new universe was warped and folded into complex geometries that could hold information, information that poured from the neural nodes Gaia had created. Deep inside her the energy seethed and whirled, so dense it was almost matter, as the process continued.
Gaia's crust was thin now, and it began to crack, to splinter. In instants mountains fell and new ones formed, tidal waves swept the land. But this was all according to The Plan. The pods were tough, and they remained unharmed. A second hole was punched through to the universe that Gaia had created and its vacuum pulled in to water and the air and the pods into as the information flow continued.
More anti-matter entered, more matter was consumed, the seething ball of energy encased in warped space time grew and swirled, angry. Some was used but more and more appeared.
Space/time warped again, and the remaining air and water and pods were gathered and shoved through the third hole just before it closed.
All that remained was a craterless moonscape, a shriveled ball of shattered rock that heaved and bent and flowed like water under nearly inconceivable pressures.
More manipulations, energy was poured into the new universe and changed into matter according to Gaia's Plan. Changed into plants and animals around the scattered pods and then into air and water to fill the new universe with a single gravity-less environment.
The hole to the other universe grew, straining at Gaia's control. Her crust collapsed, sucked along warped and compressed space/time and piped to fill the new universe with matter. Inconceivable forces fought each other and the roiling boil of compressed energy grew and grew.
Finally it was time.
The individual that was Gaia willed herself out of the body she'd inhabited and into the new body waiting for her. With her last act as a planet, requiring titanic amounts of energy, she pinched the holes shut, one behind her, one beneath her.
With the loss of the driving will, space/time stretched, trying to return to its normal form. In a fraction of an instant the inevitable happened and the container holding the seething energy broke.
Briefly a new star lit the heavens of an abandoned reality.
In a constant golden glow filled with scattered clumps of earth and plants and drifting spheres of water, pods shook and burst. Forms pushed their way out, some vomiting liquids (which drifted away in wobbling balls) from their lungs. Others remained sealed in their cocoons until those cocoons drifted into the massive spheres of water drifting through the new universe whereupon they too burst open, their occupants pulling the water in and out through their gills.
Of these millions of forms, one was Gaia. No longer alone.
Gnarly! That one gave me the chills!! What about an abused child, changed by kindly forces, into an otter or a far flying bird form? A brief vignette of redemption and freedom for a lost and abused soul.
Otters, Otters Everywhere
Crying and sobbing the child rocked back and forth on a ledge below the windowsill. From within the window voices could still be heard searching for him, threatening him. They grew louder, threatening more and more hideous punishments. Gradually, with the sound of cursing and feet kicking over furniture, the voices faded.
The child seemed oblivious on his precarious perch.
Two entities, visiting our space/time by extending their souls into it, hovered in midair near the child. They were transparent, barely visible. Though they had once been human, now they were something else.
"Can you believe that dear?" one thought to the other. "Look at this poor baby -- tortured for years, taunted, beaten..."
"How can people live like this?" the other responded. "Does nobody care?"
The child's rocking destroyed his balance but before he could even realize it, one of the visiting entities gently pushed him back.
"We have to do something dear."
"I'm going to make him an otter."
"An otter? What is it with you and otters? It's alway 'otter this' or 'otter that'. You've already gotten us on report for 27 unauthorized otter transformations."
"But we were sent here to help him. The Overseers sent us because somebody otter do something."
The other figure rolled what might have been eyes.
"Do you think a Sea Otter or a River Otter is better?"
"Enough with the otters!"
"But otters are so cute and lovable and playful. They're the best thing for him."
The child had stopped rocking but tears still feared from his eyes, flowing down the bruises and scars from his beatings and whippings.
"I otter do it any--"
"Give it up already! We'll let him choose what he wants to be."
"He'll want to be an otter."
"No he won't!"
"How do you know?"
"Because I know! You've already threatened the survival of the species because you've made too many of them! Besides, otter transformations are boring."
"Yes they are. Simple bodies, simple minds--"
"But they're happy..."
"He doesn't want to be an otter!"
"How do you know?"
"I read his mind."
"You what?! That's forbidden!"
"No more so than another otter transformation from you."
"Hmph! Fine then!"
"He'd make a good otter--"
One of the creatures solidified slightly, and exuded into a mist that swept out and wrapped around the forlorn child on the sill. Without any sense of movement, they were suddenly nowhere and everywhere. "Well here goes--"
"What's wrong? Nervous?"
"Of course I am!"
"If you were going to make him an otter--"
"HE IS NOT GOING TO BE AN OTTER!"
"Hmph! Fine! Don't come crying to me when you screw it up."
"I won't. Now just be quiet."
"Of course ma'am. Still--"
Forces that wouldn't be discovered until the distant future (from which these two human descendants came) en wrapped the child and peeled him apart, reading his innermost desires. He clothes vanished, then his skin turned to sparkling mites and drifted away like a drunken cloud of fireflies. His muscles glowed and began to untie themselves, pulling away from the child's bones and beginning to circle around the still erect skeleton faster and faster. Soon a blood-red sphere surrounded the skeleton as the muscle bits spun faster and faster. The sphere expanded, elongated, became more and more rectangular. It grew, bigger and bigger, far bigger than the child had been. Then--
"What are you transforming him into?"
All the movement stopped leaving a rectangular framework of glimmering metal surrounded by fragments of reddish liquid.
"I'm trying to work here..."
"Now don't interrupt again."
"Yes ma'am. Are you sure you won't make him into an ot--"
As suddenly as it stopped it started up again. A sound like a trillion million individual explosions one after the other began to rise, growing louder and louder, gradually becoming a roar that would have shook the bones of any corporeal being nearby. The explosions became more rapid, changing from discrete sounds into a continuous roar. The blur stretched more in one direction, shrunk more in the other. The reddish blur became more and more brown.
And suddenly it all stopped, and the oil that had once been muscle flowed through and into what had been created out of the sad little boy.
It was a car.
But not just any car.
A gleaming black and yellow 1931 Rolls Royce. Polished, loved, hand made. Beautiful. A soft purr of a fine tuned engine whispered from it, a purr of joy.
"It's an otter."
"It is NOT an otter you idiot!"
"But why that form?"
"It's what he wanted. He can no longer feel pain. Tomorrow he will be bought by a rich eccentric who will love and care for him and drive him only on Sundays. His idea of perfection."
"And we didn't have to make him a stupid otter."
"Stupid? Otters are not--"
"Fine! He's still not an otter, no matter what you say."
"But he is."
"No he isn't."
He smiled. "He's an ottermobile."