Babs Yerunkle / Jade / Jade 7: Over the Top
Jade 7 – OVER THE TOP
59: Ghoul, gator, gargoyle
Whateley Academy, “The Underground”
Tuesday, November 28, 6:53 PM
A rocky grey giant vied with a six-foot insectoid creature over the bean dip, while three different devil girls argued over whether the punch had been spiked. Billy Joel’s Only the Good Die Young was belting on the sound system when the entry door slammed open and Thuban made his grand entrance, a girl on each arm.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “friends and comrades, the gargoyle is dead! Long live the gargoyle!”
On his left arm, the dragon-man held a winged, tailed, blue-skinned monster. She was also stunningly attractive, and had the type of figure commonly described as “stacked.” This was her first appearance at a Faction Three meeting – that is, her first physical appearance. She had been seen many times before as one of the lead characters in a cartoon serial that played nearly every meeting. Every person in the room instantly recognized “Demona.” The only difference was that this Demona was obviously still a teenager, not an adult.
On his right arm, the reptilian host escorted a completely ordinary looking Japanese girl, perhaps seventeen years old. She wore a long sleeved white turtleneck, white gloves, and white pants. This made her color-coordinated with Demona, who wore an artistically ragged white skirt and white halter.
“I regret to inform you that some of our previous members will not be returning, Lazuli the gargoyle will no longer be joining us. Similarly, for those of you who were friends with the shapeshifter, Tool, I regret that she is also gone. In their wake, I ask you to accept Lazuli’s successor. I’m sure you all recognize Demona.”
“Who’s the norm?”
“I thought these meetings were for Faction Three only!”
“We don’t need her kind in here!”
The last came from a guy that looked like an oversized granite statue brought to life.
Jinn let go of Thuban’s arm and slid forward through the air, her feet six inches above the floor. No one paid much attention to that – this was Whateley after all.
“Oh, come on, Igneous,” Jinn told the statue. “We’ve got costuming class together! You were there when I made this face! Or maybe you didn’t notice ‘cause you were working too hard on your trench coat.”
While the rest of the group looked on, Jinn reached up and grabbed her hair, and then pulled her head off. Or rather, she pulled the scalp and skin off her head, leaving a metallic white skull behind, bobbing on an articulated metal neck. She kept her eyeballs and tongue, but that actually looked worse than a bare skull would have. The apparently-living eyes and tongue gave the skull a touch of the grotesque that was lacking in simple bone.
“Honestly, what’s with you?” her skull face clacked at him.
Igneous looked down, shamefacedly. “Oh, hi Jinn. Didn’t recognize you in that white outfit. You never wear white.”
She floated up higher, matching his six and a half feet of height. Manipulating the inside pins and clips, she disconnected her “skull” from the neck bones, picked it up, and began banging Igneous on the head with her own skull.
“I – don’t – like – name – calling!”
Igneous, for his part, tried to shield himself with his massive hands. “Ow! Ow! Okay, I’m sorry already!”
Jinn rotated in the air, holding her head out, Hamlet-style.
“So,” the skull chattered at them, “anyone else have a problem with me being here?”
The front row shook their heads, and there were comments from farther back in the crowd.
“You’ll do fine.”
“Gonna fit right in.”
“Still say she’s too normal looking.”
Jinn sighed. “Lemme get my face on.” She slipped the skin back over the skull in her hand. Now holding her normal-looking but disconnected head, she turned to look at the F3 crowd. Being both new and entertaining, she’d gathered a pretty good crowd. “Anyone else object to the normal look?”
There were a few affirmative sounds from the audience.
“Okay, look, I can do this any way that works. Let’s get a show of hands. How should I show up at F3 meetings? Normal, or creep show? How many hands for normal? Oh, not good. Creep show? Okay, I can take a hint. But I’m still gonna wear my face!”
Still in the air, she began to spin like a top. A tattered black cloak came out of somewhere (it was hard to tell with her spinning), then surrounded her cocoon-like. A moment later she stopped spinning. She still had her normal head and face, but wore a hooded cloak consisting of strips and tatters of ragged black cloth. Under the cloak was an equally tattered gray gown covering a withered emaciated form. Where her arms and legs poked out, they were nothing more than metallic white bone. Several rusty chains hung over her body, bandolier style. A perfectly normal-looking head was the height of incongruity on this body.
“There, that good enough?” she asked sarcastically, “or do you want me to poke my eyes out, too?”
“The eyes! The eyes!”
“Nobody’s ever satisfied. Okay, but just one.” A skeletal hand reached up to her face and pulled out an eyeball, leaving a gaping black socket. “You know, it might be better if I put it back in, only backward.” She stuck the eye back into the socket so that no pupil showed, it was only pure white. “Okay, now can I stay?”
The crowd was more agreeable this time, and Jinn floated back down to the floor. It was time to mingle.
As usual, Sted and Jana were hanging out together. Jinn spotted the centaur Sted right off, but it took a moment to recognize the black-furred catgirl she was talking to. Peering closely, Jinn recognized Jana’s features.
“Ah ha!” She said, coming up to the pair. “You told me you did a catgirl! This is just the first time I’ve seen it!”
The catgirl flicked her ears back and then forward, preened her whiskers, then held a hand out to the centaur. “Told you. Pay up.”
“What?” Jinn wondered.
Sted spun her human half almost 180 degrees around, and plucked a ten dollar bill out of a saddlebag. “We had a bet. She said you were Lazuli. I disagreed.”
“But… you’re acting like I just proved it or something.”
“You did.” Jana’s voice in this form was a sexy almost-purr. “You’re acting like you know us, but neither of us have ever met Jinn.”
“And it’s kind of obvious,” the centaur added. “I mean, it’s not like Tool switched rooms or anything. She goes out one night and comes back a gargoyle. That part is old news in Whitman. The only problem was that she said that Lazuli got killed – her body disintegrated.”
“And Laz always told us she was a fake. She just never explained how.” Flexing her claws out, Jana combed through the fur on her cheeks. “So when Thuban walks in, he’s got Tool on one arm and you on the other. He says Tool and Lazuli are gone but Demona is a replacement, then conspicuously says nothing about you. And then you did that little show-off bit in front of Igneous. If you can do that sort of stuff with bones and plastic skin, I figure you could do it with a life-sized gargoyle puppet, too. Am I right?”
Jinn looked helplessly from one to the other. “Uh…” she shrugged. “Busted.”
“So what happened? Tool insists on being called ‘Demona’ now, but she wouldn’t spill the beans. She was kind of happy, kind of sad, and kind of guilty, all at the same time.”
“Well, it involves this witch named Hekate…”
What Jinn really wanted to do was spend some quiet time alone with Thuban, but he seemed busier than ever these days. So it had seemed like the F3 meetings would be a good place to hang out with him. After all, if his friends become her friends, they’d have more reason to spend time together, wouldn’t they? Besides, they were an interesting crowd. Her plan was to cozy up to a few of her new acquaintances, then loop back to be with Stephen (though she usually only called him that in the privacy of her thoughts).
Unfortunately, by the time she got back to him he wasn’t circulating the way he was supposed to, he was deep in conversation with Demona. The blue-skinned girl was yammering on about something unimportant, and Thuban was listening intently.
Then Jinn noticed that, although his head was nodding intently, his attention was focused on something other than her words. Maybe some people hadn’t noticed – some folks had an inexplicable aversion to a warm, human intelligence looking out of those reptilian orbs – but Jinn liked his eyes. Which is why she quickly noticed that they were riveted on Demona’s breasts.
That wouldn’t do at all! Exploiting the confidence she never seemed to have in her real body, she wafted up to her boyfriend and attached herself to his arm, making sure that her own assets were accidentally pressed into his arm. “Demona isn’t stealing all your time, is she?”
“Huh? Oh, no, she was just explaining—” Normally more articulate, Thuban looked back to Demona for help.
As he turned away, Jinn took the opportunity to do a little “eye-popping” maneuver, swiveling both eyes forward toward Demona’s cleavage, then bulging them out of her skull. Nothing too extreme, just an inch or so.
Demona drew back in surprise, and looked down, perhaps wondering if she had a stain on her outfit. Unfortunately, it would be hard for her to see the skimpy halter, since her view was blocked by twin swells of blue flesh. The gargoyle was puzzled for a second, and looked up to see Thuban’s riveted gaze.
“All this time…” realization came slowly “…you’ve just been staring at my boobs!”
In situations such as this, there are very few safe answers that a man can give. Demona was both generously endowed and obviously able to support herself (as it were), the proof being that her skimpy garment gave little in the way of lifting support. Furthermore, said garment was under a bit more tension than its designers might have recommended. Finally, there was the fact that Demona’s movements had jerked her body forward, causing a motion that resonated hypnotically through the freely suspended masses at the front of her body.
Thuban could, perhaps, be excused for losing control for the briefest moment. One of his most prominent traits was that he physically incorporated many of the advantageous characteristics of lizards and ophidians. During this momentary lapse, he allowed his true nature to be displayed more openly. An ever-so-slightly-forked lizard tongue slid out of his mouth, darting more than twelve inches forward, as if reaching for the jiggling orbs.
“Eeeee!” The gathering girls all screamed at once.
Jinn squealed because he was only supposed to show his tongue to her! Looking around, half the girls were glowing orange, and half were metallic lemon yellow. Which meant that half of them were embarrassed, and half of them were feeling lust. And that utterly confused her. If they weren’t planning to kiss Stephen, why would they care what his tongue looked like?
What she wanted to do was yell out, “Back off! That’s mine!” She wasn’t entirely sure, but it felt right. But with the ups and downs of her relationship with Stephen, she didn’t dare get too possessive. Instead, she just clutched his arm tighter to her bosom and warned them, “Hey, find your own boyfriend!”
Jinn didn’t even need to turn her head to see – Demona had taken up station on the left arm, clutching his arm into her better-developed flesh.
Many things are attractive in a man – beauty, status, wealth. Some traits are immediately obvious, others are hidden. This is why many women use a quick shortcut to gauge a mate’s suitability, to wit: how attractive is he to other girls?
Thuban was already influential. Everyone knew that he’s put Faction Three together. And he’d had the money to spend to create their own private theater and party room.
But the girls in Faction Three were misfits and oddballs, their mutations making them into freaks, in their own minds most of all. And almost all of them had been mocked about their looks, at least a few times.
Thuban’s master plan had been to create an artificial girl hostess, to inspire the girls and break the ice with guys. His artificial hostess would be a familiar character, modeled after the attractive gargoyle-woman in the cartoon that everyone admired.
That plan had failed, with the elimination of “Lazuli.”
Now, a more familiar and more aggressive gargoyle had latched onto Thuban’s arm, while an attractive ghoul-girl (or something) had latched onto his other arm. Both girls were clearly claiming ownership, and daring the rest to do anything about it.
Suddenly, every shy and insecure girl there shared common cause, if just for a moment.
Thuban had expected a pleasant evening. Perhaps he could advance his business plans, slightly. His latest investment venture was beginning to dominate his thoughts. He’d planned to touch base with all the people in his Faction Three, then to move on to more important matters, which would in turn make him obscenely rich, which would grant him the ability to do even more with both Faction Three and the growing populations of dispossessed mutants.
They were ultimately his cause and obsession. He knew what it was like to be shunned and reviled.
Chased and admired, though, that was new.
Perhaps this would be a good thing.
As the gathered girls gazed at the gator-like guy, he made a quick comment that wasn’t the wisest thing he’d ever said.
“Calm down, everyone. There’s no need to rush. There’s time for all of us to get to know each other. That’s part of what these meetings are for! To give us all a chance to meet each other, one-by-one.”
It seemed reasonable on the surface. Thuban was adept at speaking in a several languages, and the statement covered the basic points he’d intended, while simultaneously avoiding the delicate topic of flaunting his newly-acquired girlfriends in front of a group of frustrated and insecure teen-agers. Unfortunately, what he said wasn’t quite what everyone heard. What some people heard went more like:
“Calm down, girls. We can take our time. I’ve got time to meet all of you – that’s why I started these meetings, to meet you all, one-by-one.”
Jinn’s hair didn’t stand on end (though it could), but an ultrasonic shiver passed up and down her clothes like the spark on a lit fuse speeding its way toward a keg of black powder. She glanced over to Demona, only to see the gargoyle staring back at her.
Jinn quickly calculated. One rival or dozens of them? That’s pretty easy to figure.
She gave a decisive nod to the gargoyle, who seemed surprised by the acknowledgement. Demona nodded back a moment later, and the two of them turned to face the female hordes of Faction Three.
Thuban was officially the Twain Cottage “fixer”, and though he deliberately kept a low profile, those who knew of him considered him more than a little competent. His tendency to be manipulative was easily past the level that would be labeled “control freak” in a normal human, but it hadn’t quite achieved the level labeled “mastermind” in mutant villains. Still, he hadn’t gotten where he was without learning how to make contingency plans. And now that his finely honed social danger sense was giving the first warnings of a looming catastrophe, Thuban’s hand slipped surreptitiously into the blue silk sleeve of his mandarin-styled jacket. He depressed a concealed switch, and activated Contingency Plan Alpha.
Before the crowd of girls could surge forward, there was a piercing sound! With a blare of trumpets, a column of scarlet water shot from floor to ceiling, rebounding into a complex pattern of spray. As the trumpets changed to a triumphant march, a table slowly rose from a concealed opening in the floor. Decorated in multiple tiers, like a wedding cake, the table rotated to display its contents to the watching crowd: Row upon row of snack offerings, cleverly prepared, cunningly displayed. And in the center was a bowl of scarlet punch from which the now-shrinking fountain issued.
“Uh, correct me if I’m wrong here,” Demona observed, “but isn’t that just more cheese and crackers?”
“Not at all,” Thuban replied, smugly, as the trio made their escape to the far side of the room. “This time, there’s also a veggie platter!”
60: The blue-skinned beast
Once the main hubbub died down, Jinn dragged the over-endowed gargoyle off into a corner. “Okay, what’s the idea with making a move on my boyfriend?”
“Did he promise to be exclusive?” the blue-skinned girl shot back. “’Cause from where I’m standing, he seems to be spending an awful lot of time trying to peep at my tits.”
Without hormones or other biological processes, Jinn emotions tended to be both slower and milder, but this was too much even for her. “Which you’re taking full advantage of! And maybe it’s not his fault! I mean, how could he miss them? They’re so…” words seemed to fail her, as she gestures with her hands in a semi-obscene fashion “…so huge!”
Demona reached out to lay a comforting hand on Jinn’s shoulder. Unfortunately, she misjudged her own bust size. The arm never made it, blocked by a now-jiggling mass on her chest. “Oops. Dang, I’m still getting used to these things.” She paused to poke herself, starting an interesting series of oscillations going.
A feathered boy, walking past, noticed and was unable to turn away. He ended up walking into a wall so hard that he apparently knocked himself out.
“Huh. They’re kinda fun, you know?” Demona admitted, poking herself again to start another round of the quivering jell-o effect. “Anyway, it’s only thanks to you that I’m here at all. I wouldn’t want to take your boyfriend away. I was just trying to save him from all those other girls.”
“Yeah, right,” Jinn muttered. “But who’s going to save him from himself?”
“Listen,” Demona confided, coming closer to Jinn to whisper in her ear, “I’ll keep helping you out during the meeting. We do need to keep the other girls at a distance. But I’m on your side here. We need to meet together in private to come up with a strategy, okay? Maybe tomorrow, after class? You could come up to my room, and it would be just the two of us.” She spoke the words from deep in her throat, breathing heavily against Jinn’s ear.
“Okay then,” Jinn agreed. “And thanks for the help. But don’t go thinking that you and he–”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Demona promised.
That night, Jade (after re-integrating Jinn’s memories) tried to explain it to her roommate.
“But I still don’t get it,” Billie said, doing her best to be polite. “Isn’t Thuban kind of … scaly? I mean, what’s the big appeal?”
“That has nothing to do with it!” Jade insisted. “I admit, that put me off a little too, at first. But you know that self-hypnosis stuff that I’ve been doing? I’m getting really good at it! Anyway, I used self-hypnosis to sort of convince myself that the cosmetic stuff, like his eyes and scales, that shouldn’t really matter.”
“You sure you didn’t overdo it on the old brainwashing?”
“Well,” Jade was thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t think so. Anyway, after I could see past the exterior that stops everyone else, that’s when I saw how sad and lonely he was all the time.”
Billie rolled her eyes. Fortunately, she was digging through a clothes drawer at the time, so her roommate didn’t notice. She finally spotted her favorite nightgown – an extra-long cotton nightshirt that bore the words “tough chick.” It was long enough and thick enough that she didn’t have to wear anything underneath, which was both more comfortable and a lot more convenient. She could even fly in it and remain semi-decent.
Jade, on the other hand, had picked a frilly pink nightgown that was obviously aimed at the pre-teen market. It was enhanced with an iron-on picture of Kimba the White Lion. Jade had picked up a half-dozen of those a few weeks before, and gleefully applied them to many of her shirts and nightgowns.
“Y’know,” Billie casually mentioned, “people might not take you as such a kid if you wore stuff that was a little older looking.”
“But it’s cute!” the smaller girl protested. “Besides, I don’t mind so much, so long as they take me for a girl kid.”
“That’s a safe assumption,” Billie commented dryly. “No boy would wear an outfit like that.”
“So is this rival of yours one of those devil-girls?”
“No, her name’s Demona, but she’s got blue skin and she’s really a gargoyle. You know, horns, wings, claws. ‘Cept when the sun’s up, then she turns into a normal human.”
“You know, if anyone would have sympathy for her, it should be you. How many people are there that have experienced freak accidents that turned them into the physical duplicate of an animé character?”
“You’d be surprised,” Billie said. “I know I was.”
“Well, I just feel a little responsible for her, you know? It’s my fault she got turned into that … that monster!”
Billie finally cracked a smile. “I thought between the scaly boyfriend and all those Faction Three meetings, you were learning to be more tolerant.”
Jade looked at her roommate intently. “It’s not the blue skin or the wings or anything.” She leaned closer. “She’s bigger than Nikki!”
“Huh? Nikki’s not that tall.”
“Oh, geez!” Jade clutched her hands in front of her chest. “You know – bigger!”
“She is a monster!”
“That’s what I’ve been saying!”
61: Inflated Egos
Wednesday, November 29, 3:35 PM
Jinn was wearing her regular school uniform as she headed for Whitman after class. Her last class had been martial arts with Jade, so she’d gotten a double-length charge after class. She’d be good through the end of dinner, which should be plenty of time. She skipped up the steps and pulled the ringer cord, then waited demurely outside.
A tall girl came out almost immediately, idly munching some sort of cookie.
“I’m here to see Demona?” Jinn said quietly. “She used to be named Tool.”
“Oh, sure. Come on in.” She held out a cookie. “Nilla wafer?”
“No thanks.” Jinn smiled at her. “I don’t eat.”
“Must be handy when you’re trying to lose a few pounds.”
“Well, you wouldn’t believe how fast I can lose weight.”
The other girl giggled. “Yeah, I know how that goes.”
She lead the way past a common room and library, then a small kitchen, before finally heading up the stairs in the back of the cottage. It was the same design that Poe had, but the furniture and decorations were different.
“You’re obviously not from Whitman,” the other girl said tentatively. “I don’t think I’ve seen you walking from Dickinson either, have I?”
“I’m from Poe, actually.”
The other girl seemed to stumble for a moment. “Really? You seem really, uh, normal for a Poe girl. I mean, no offense.”
Jinn gave a snort. “We’re not all Amazon bodybuilders.”
“Or sex-demon-princesses. Or naked elf models.”
“That wasn’t Nikki’s fault!” Jinn got so irritated every time this happened. “The modeling club set that up; she was just listening to her photographer. And you can’t blame the posters on her at all! Those were all the fault of that stupid Greasy and Peeper!”
“Friend of yours, huh?”
“I’ll try to keep that in mind. Well, here you go. Tool’s room.” She knocked on the door, then turned to go. “See you around. I’m Pamela, but they call me Sizemax.”
“Jinn Sinclair – Shroud.”
“Oh yeah – you got kidnapped by that other model, didn’t you?”
Jinn was about to respond, when the door opened and a well-endowed teenage girl looked out. She quickly looked both ways, then yanked Jinn into the room and closed the door. The strange girl had what could only be described as “big hair.”
“Uh… excuse me? I’m looking for a girl named Demona.”
“That’s me,” the big-hair girl confirmed. Then she smacked herself on the head. “Right! You haven’t seen me human, have you? Call me ‘Dominique’ when I’m in human shape. That’s the only shapeshifting I do nowadays – sunrise and sunset. It’s kinda handy, ‘cause I heal up nearly any sort of damage. And I keep the same figure and hair and stuff. I mean, who else do you know with flame-red hair like this?”
“I can’t actually see colors,” Jinn admitted. “And as for the color and the figure, well, this is Whateley.”
“Good point. So what exactly did I promise you?”
“Well…” Jinn collected herself. Might as well shoot for the moon. “You were promising not to chase after Thuban. But you’d help me fend off the other girls, and generally help me … you know, get him.”
The gambit seemed to have worked, since the girl seemed to be agreeing with Jinn’s conditions. Dominique sauntered over to her bed and sat down. The way she swayed her hips, Jinn could just tell that she spent a lot of time counterbalancing a thick tail. Even though she was wearing the same Whateley uniform and pleated skirt that Jinn was wearing, when Dominique walked the skirt swished.
Dominique plumped down on the bed and then patted a spot beside her. “Come, sit beside me and we’ll… talk.”
Feeling challenged by Dominique’s overbearing sexuality, Jinn was particularly conscious of her own walk. She didn’t tart it up or anything, but she did try to step elegantly. And though she was tempted to do her normal “sit in the air” routine, for some reason she felt like trying to look as normal as she could. She carefully sat beside Dominique on the bed.
“Okay,” the other girl began, “we can start right there. You definitely need some boob work. Fortunately, I’m an expert on boobs.”
Jinn looked down at her chest. She was proud of her figure! And compared to being Jade, she was the lucky one – the one who got to be a girl. So what could possibly be wrong with her breasts?
“I know they’re not as big as some…” she began.
“Naw, that’s not it.” Dominique waved the thought aside. “I know that not everyone’s as … gifted … as I am.” She reached out to put a hand on Jinn’s shoulder. “But there’s a lot more you can be doing, even with small breasts. What are you, an A?”
“I’m a B-cup! That’s plenty big!”
“Of course it is!” Dominique moved the hand on her shoulder, patting her gently in a gesture that was probably intended to be comforting.
Feeling self-conscious, Jinn cupped her hands, lifting herself to give a fuller figure. “What’s wrong with my breasts?”
“Nothing! It’s just, there’s room for more … excitement, you know? For example, guys like to see a bit more nipple. I can hardly tell where yours are.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my … those parts!” Jinn protested. Without being quite aware of it, she had pulled her arms over her chest, hiding the very area they were talking about. “Besides, it’s not like I can change them, is it?”
“Depends,” Dominique said, casually. “Let’s see what we’ve got to work with.”
“You want me to take my blouse off?” Jinn’s arms scrunched in closer.
“Hey, we’re both girls, right? Think of it like a makeover, which is pretty much what we’re doing here. A boob makeover.”
“I… don’t know.”
Jinn thought about it. If this were Poe, she’d think the other girl was trying to make out with her or something. But this wasn’t Poe, which meant that her big-haired competitor wasn’t trying to seduce her or anything.
“Yeah, I can tell you’re nervous. No problem. Tell you what, I’ve got to change anyway. I’ll show you what I mean, on me.”
“You’ve got to change?”
Dominique hooked a thumb back at her clock. “Sunset today is at 4:13. That’s only ten minutes. Which means I grow wings and a tail, my hands and feet change – the whole deal. If I don’t prepare, I ruin my wardrobe.”
“I get these sort of spikes on my elbows and knees. I found out the hard way that it’s really hard to get normal clothes off without tearing them.”
Dominique hadn’t even paused before she began unbuttoning her vest and then blouse. A moment later, she was topless and putting away her clothes, while Jinn looked on in awe.
Dominique grinned. “They’re pretty impressive, aren’t they?”
“Doesn’t that hurt, the way they bounce like that?”
Dominique shrugged, which set her oscillating with the two sides out of sync. “A little. Normally, for someone my size, walking around like this would be an invitation for early sagging. But apparently my twice-daily transformation fixes stretching and sagging problems the same way it heals wounds. So I’m just a bit more perky than you’d expect.”
“Still… isn’t there such a thing as too big? I mean, no offense.”
Dominique put her hands on her hips and faced Jinn. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Some girls get back pain, but I think my ‘healing cycle’ fixes that up. I’ve noticed that if I have sore or achy muscles, they feel fine again after a transform.” She paused. “Anyway, right after the spell was done, I was really messed up. The tail was bad enough, but I have to spend extra attention on how to sit at the dinner table so I don’t bump my boobs. And eating is quite the challenge with this shelf under me. And I still sometimes bump into myself when I’m reaching for something.”
She looked down at herself, using her hands to heft her breasts. “On the other hand, guys are practically falling over themselves to be nice to me these days. And no matter where I go, I know that every male eye is on me, or at least, on my chest. And most of all,” she squeezed herself a couple of times, grinning “I’m sure you’ve noticed how fun they are to play with!”
“Um… no.” Jinn thought. Did the girls in Poe play with their own boobs? If they did, she certainly hadn’t seen them. On the other hand, “I’m not exactly normal,” she admitted. “For one thing, I can’t feel anything like pleasure or pain, hot or cold.”
“Whoa, that really stinks!” Dominique said. “But… maybe it explains the lack of nipple action. Here, touch mine, so you can see what I’m talking about.”
Jinn’s eyes practically crossed at that suggestion. “Is that…okay? This isn’t perverted or anything, is it?”
“Don’t worry about it!” Dominique reassured her. She reached out and took Jinn’s hand. “Here, put your palm underneath, like that, so you’ve got me between your thumb and index finger. There! Feel how I’m hardening up?”
Jinn was frantic. This felt so naughty! But the other thing she felt was Dominique’s nipple becoming much stiffer. It hadn’t become that much larger, but it was almost as hard as a pencil eraser now. Even the skin of the other girl’s areola had tightened up, showing a ring of even harder spots that stuck up like goose bumps.
“I’m thinking of a hot … guy,” Dominique said. “And with you touching me like that, it’s really getting to me.”
“This feels really strange,” Jinn admitted. “Interesting, but strange. Does this happen very often, or just when you’re being touched?”
“Um … ah … not all the time—”
Jinn squeezed a little, judging the firmness, and Dominique gave a little gasp.
“Sorry! Did that hurt?”
“Hurt? Ah, no. No, it didn’t hurt.” Once the other girl’s eyes refocused, she continued. “You should … uh … probably experiment around … oh! … with your hands on my tits. I mean, if you really don’t feel pleasure or anything! You should know how to act if, if Thuban was to touch you like this. That’s what guys really get off on, touching a girl like this. He’ll … ah, ah, ah! … want to hear you making sounds and stuff and being … appreciative.”
Jinn let her hand drop away. “I’m … not so sure about this. Isn’t it like we’re making out or something?”
Dominique gave her a somewhat dazed smile. “Not at all! It’s not like one of us is a guy! It’s just training! Anyway, even if your boyfriend did find out, it would only turn him on even more. To a guy, the idea of two girls making out while he watches is about the hottest thing imaginable.”
“But you said we weren’t making out! And he isn’t watching!”
“Oh, you want him to? Anyway, he’ll think about it. Guys can’t help thinking about perverted stuff, it’s the way their brains are made.”
“But… but…” Jinn was more confused than ever. Was touching the big-breasted girl perverted or not?
“Look,” Dominique began slipping off her skirt and then her panties as she talked “the goal here is to teach you how to be sexier in front of your boyfriend, right?”
“I guess. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to try to move in on him.”
“Naw. Oh, I might tease him now and then. The guy’s got more cash than he knows what to do with, and it’s practically a crime for a girl to leave all that sitting there.”
Jinn’s mind was reeling under this barrage. “That’s not as comforting as I’d been hoping for.”
Dominique grinned. “Sorry. I know I come off a bit slutty sometimes, but I’m honestly not as bad as I sound. For example, I’m still a virgin.”
“You make it sound like it’s shameful or something.”
“Naw, I don’t mean to. Frankly, the idea of cozying up to a guy that way still kinda makes me a bit ill, you know?”
“But—weren’t you just talking about having every guy’s eyes watching you?”
“Yeah, watching. That’s different from touching.”
Now Jinn was totally confused. “Can we just start over? I think I’m getting confused here.”
Dominique, now stark naked, smiled. “Sure!” She took Jinn’s hands in hers. “You were supposed to be playing the part of the boy, studying how I react when you did this!” With that, she plastered Jinn’s hands on her chest. “Oh, yeah baby, touch me!”
“No!” Jinn jerked her hands away. “You started talking about a makeover or something. And how long are you going to be naked?”
Dominique glanced at the clock. “Not long. Maybe a minute or so. Hey, you want to see a real makeover?” She suddenly jerked, as if she’d been jabbed with a knife. “Okay. Watch this.”
The girl suddenly thrashed forward, and Jinn could see two huge growths on Dominique’s back. The skin over the other girl’s shoulder blades was stretching and bulging outward, and the girl wasn’t taking it very well, either. Her skin had turned ashen gray, and she was growling under her breath. Suddenly, the bulges on her back burst like twin sores, and a confusion of glistening dark skin burst out.
As spiked protrusions grew from the girl’s knees and elbows, her fingers hardened into clawed talons, and her legs – her legs changed completely, with the foot growing enormously larger, so that her heel moved up into position like a second, backward knee, in the fashion of many animals. At the same time, her spine elongated, and a thick tail seemed to drop down behind her.
“Aaaaahhhh, that feels good. Oh, yeah. It’s good to be back!” She snapped her huge wings out and flapped them twice to dry the residual fluids. She stepped carefully twice, the flexed her hands and swished her tail. “That’s so much better. Okay. Now I can get dressed.”
Stepping over to her dresser, the gargoyle opened a drawer and pulled out a ragged white skirt which she proceeded to step into with her oversized clawed feet.
“The trick is fitting it around the tail. You know Rogers’ Fabric Boutique, in town? That woman’s a genius! The secret is Velcro, and a loop that goes just over the tail. You need that to preserve modesty.” She fastened the wide belt around her narrow waist, then picked up a ragged white single-shoulder halter top. “I need special clothes to fit around my wings, too.”
She paused, still topless, and looked toward Jinn. “Hey, you know my skin’s a lot tougher like this, but there are still a couple of spots that are sensitive. Want me to show you?”
Jinn shook her head franticly.
“Coward. Okay, one more lesson.” She began putting on the halter. “Jump up and down a couple of times.”
That seemed innocuous enough, so Jinn did as she’d been asked.
The other girl finished with her halter. “Yeah, you need some help. Here, watch me.”
The gargoyle bounced on her feet a few times. Her oversized chest heaved and rebounded with each bounce.
“See? You gotta have some bounce. I admit, a B-cup isn’t going to give you as much action as I get, but you still need some movement. You don’t have any. It’s like you’re a manikin or something. And you notice that I get a little bounce even with my halter on. The guys are watching for movement as much as they admire size. How’s the old saying go? ‘It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.’”
Jinn had heard the saying somewhere. “That was about boobs? I thought—”
“Well, yeah, but same principle. So that’s probably enough for today, unless you need more study.”
Jinn held up her hands. “No, no, no!”
“Then you go work on things. I’m not sure how – that’s your problem. Let’s get together tomorrow and I’ll give you some more pointers.”
The gargoyle just rolled her eyes. “Well duh. What do you think keeps Cosmo in business?”
“Okay. I guess. So, uh, thanks Dominique. I guess.”
“It’s ‘Demona’ when I’m a gargoyle. Secret identity, you know?”
At dinner, Nikki turned to Billie for an explanation. “Is something wrong with Jade?”
The younger girl was eating with an intense mania, but her unblinking stare wove between the other girls at the table. Her eyes were narrowed in concentration, and every once in a while she would nod to herself, as if in confirmation.
Like a lighthouse’s spotlight, the young girl’s roving gaze traveled around the table, coming to rest briefly on Nikki, then Billie, then moving on.
“Was she staring at my chest?” Nikki wondered in a fierce whisper.
“She was!” Billie confirmed. Louder, she asked, “Okay, Jade, what’s going on?”
Jade turned to stare at them with an expression that was oddly intense for the normally good-natured girl.
“First,” Jade order dramatically, “Nikki, I need you to hand me the salt!”
“Here!” Toni, always about three times more active than anyone around her, had practically jumped out of her seat to reach across the table.
“No!” Jade intoned. “It must be Nikki!”
“Uh, if you say so,” the elf girl agreed, stretching slightly to hand the shaker over to Jade’s side of the table.
“Are you going to tell us now why you’re acting so weird?” Billie reminded.
“Just a minute,” the smaller girl said, giving a slight twitch as she closed her eyes. “Let me line up all the observations…” A moment later she opened her eyes and scowled at the other girls. “Damn! She was right!”
Before the others could demand more, she continued. “So you know that I’ve been … seeing … Thuban, right?”
“Sounded like more than seeing,” Billie commented. “You were describing some major kissy-face.”
“Not to mention all those love songs,” Toni added.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jade agreed “and Jinn is with him at his Faction Three meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Problem is, while he’s seeing me, he sure is looking hard at another girl.”
Toni nodded sagely. “Wandering eye syndrome. The bane of nearly every girl in the world at one time or another.”
“It’s worse, ‘cause the girl he can’t keep his eyes off of is Demona, the gargoyle-girl that I made in that spell.”
At the reminder of that, Nikki seemed to swell with anger. “That Hekate! She is so irresponsible! We were discussing magical ethics today, and—”
“Later, Nikki!” Toni waved her off. “Let her dish the dirt first. Delay the discussion of details, doll.”
Several people around the table glared at Toni, who just gave them a cheesy grin in return.
“Anyway, you’ve seen her around at dinnertime, right?”
“What?” Billie asked, “you mean the winged, blue-skinned monster-girl in the tattered dress who has absolutely huge … tracts of land? No, I must have missed her because she was so inconspicuous!”
Apparently Jade didn’t notice the sarcasm. “Well Thuban sure didn’t miss her. At one point last night I thought he was going to fall in, you know?”
Nikki nodded. “No kidding. Last week the models had to do a bit with the capes. Have any of you ever done anything in public with Mega-girl?”
“Does the hot tub count?” Jade asked quietly.
“I was talking about with guys around,” Nikki said. “I mean, it’s like those things were colossal eye-magnets, you know? That girl couldn’t take a breath without being eye-groped by practically every boy there. I wasn’t sure whether to feel angry or sympathetic.”
Jade nodded, suddenly serious. “Maybe I should follow her around, to add to my notes.”
“Hold it!” Billie ordered. “You’re back to the mysterious comments. Give! What the heck are you up to?”
“Well, it’s kind of embarrassing…”
Billie just looked at her expectantly.
“So I was talking to Demona and stuff this afternoon, and she was kind of making the same claim. Not exactly that bigger is better, but that boys can’t help but look. And then she gave me all sorts of pointers on what they look for.”
“Give!” Billie demanded. “We want details!”
Jade glanced at the Nikki’s amethyst pendant which was draped over the napkin holder and was currently glowing a ruby red. Then she leaned forward. “Well she claimed…”
The collective shout of “WHAT?!” briefly drew the attention of the cafeteria, but when the girls seemed to return to discussing boy-bands, everyone tuned them out again.
At the table, inside the anti-eavesdropping spell, the girls pulled back in alarm, half of them surreptitiously covering their chests with an oh-so-casually-placed arm.
“Well it’s true, mostly,” Jade claimed. “I’ve been watching boys, and their reactions, and where they’re looking.”
“Look,” Nikki said wearily, “this isn’t exactly news. As campus goes, my eyes are medium strange. Wanna know how many guys notice? Damn few.”
Billie, with her strange oval pupils, nodded. “I hear you. Even I’ve noticed that.”
Jade glared at her roommate. “What was that? ‘Even I’ve noticed’? You make yourself sound like bad leftovers or something!”
Toni intervened. “Look, there’s an easy way to solve this. Here comes the queen of sex. We’ll just ask her.”
Sure enough, Sara arrived at the table a few moments later, holding a cardboard box labeled “Dunwich Humane Society.”
“Maybe it’s time to go,” Nikki grumbled. “I’m not sure if I can handle more puppies.”
“Well,” Sara began, “they’re not exactly puppies.”
“Over in Dunwich, they’re just called ‘strays.’”
Curiosity getting the better of her, Nikki lifted one corner of the box and looked in. One glance and she slammed the lid closed, sliding back into her seat and looking a little pale.
“I didn’t know there were mutant animals,” she finally said. “Was there a toxic waste spill or something?”
“Bad devisor seems more likely,” Sara commented. She stuck her hand in the box, then withdrew it a moment later. “Hmmm, interesting … flavor.”
“For once I’m not even bothered,” Nikki said. “But now that you’re done with that, Jade has a question she wanted to ask you.”
“Me? You fink!”
“Glad to help, if I can. What do you want to know? Magic, finance, perhaps a matter of lust?” Sara gave a Groucho Marx waggle of her eyebrows, which had a very different effect from when Groucho had done it.
“Um, well,” Jade twiddled her fingers.
“How much do guys look at girls boobs, is bigger always better or does ‘bounce’ matter, and how much ‘nipple action’ is appropriate?”
Sara stared blankly for a moment. “Um… well.”
“I can’t wait,” Toni said, with a poorly concealed grin.
“I guess we’ll find out if she deserves her rep,” Nikki agreed.
Billie blushed. “Nice summation. Crude, but nice.”
When Sara recovered her (simulated) breath, she didn’t mince words. “Oooookay. How much do guys look? For teenage boys, time averaged, I’d say roughly 70% of the time. BUT, that’s time averaged. When they’re first getting to know a girl, it’s much higher. Or if she’s a new girl. Or an old girl with new clothes. You get the idea.
“Second, size, bounce, and … did you say nipple action? You mean like when you get cold and stuff?”
Jade nodded, deeply embarrassed now.
“Okay, those all fall into the same category – attracting interest. You have to understand that anything new or different here will attract attention. If the guys spot something they like, then there’s even more interest, and you get a second and third look. Sometimes a twentieth or thirtieth look. But it doesn’t have to be just size. A low-cut blouse that shows cleavage will do more than simple size in a dumpy sweatshirt. Likewise, there are clothing advantages you can exploit with smaller sizes, like going braless, or wearing something thin and skimpy like a camisole or tank top. Then when they think they’ve seen it all, you come in wearing a tube top, with no visible means of support, and you get them all over again.”
Jade nodded seriously. “So, if Jinn was wearing a nice tank top, and I was standing next to maybe Mega-girl, I’d have a good chance at stealing the attention from her.”
“Mega-girl? Whooo, tough competition. Okay, you’re going to want to work it all for this one. A thin tank, showing plenty of shape, and giving some nipple definition, maybe a necklace dangling to draw the attention…”
Toni leaned toward Nikki and Billie. “Can you believe this?”
“I’m not sure whether to throw up or take notes,” Nikki admitted.
“I’m just glad that you’ve got that anti-eavesdropping spell,” Billie said. “Can you imagine if Greasy and Peeper got ahold of this conversation?”
Toni nodded. “I’d rather just kill myself now. Quicker, and much more merciful.”
“…I see,” Jade finished, seriously. She gave a decisive nod, apparently to herself, and stood up. “Okay, then I’ve got my work cut out for me!” And she marched off carrying her tray.
Billie gave Sara a gimlet eye. “Why do I think this is going to haunt me?”
“Jinn’s a ghost, right?” Sara mentioned, nonchalantly. “Of course she’ll haunt you.”
“How’s Jinn involved?”
Sara gave an ironic grin. “You know what Jinn is, don’t you? She’s one of the most unlimited shapeshifters on campus. And she’s a life-sized Barbie doll, that Jade can make walk and talk and can be.” She grinned an evil, predatory grin. “Now how could that, combined with what I was telling Jade, possibly cause any problems?”
The other three girls stared at her, as the horror slowly grew in their minds. Then they made a mad scramble for the exit.
Jade was sitting on her bed in full lotus when they arrived. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be meditating. Billie gave a sigh of relief.
Toni said, “We’ll have to remember, if Sara ever goes way evil on us, that she’s a little too good at psychological warfare.”
Billie nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I keep thinking she’s got some sort of infectious sex attack or something—”
“You too?”” Toni asked.
“—uh, yeah. Anyway, I forgot for a minute that we were talking about Jade. I mean, get real! It’s not like Jade is suddenly going to go horn-dog on us!”
Nikki arched a delicate eyebrow. “Excuse me? ‘Horn-dog’? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate for a guy?”
As if on cue, Ayla walked in. “What’s the party?”
And Jade’s eyes snapped open. “Ayla! Got any party balloons? Can I borrow some?”
“Uh, not really.” She thought. “I’ve got some novelty condoms. Devisor specials, for bricks. Those might do.”
The little girl took the hand of the half-girl and skipped off.
Behind, the three girls wore identical expressions of befuddlement.
“Brick condoms?” Nikki repeated. “No. I don’t want to know.”
Toni tapped her chin. “What I’m wondering is why Ayla has a supply of them?”
“Well,” Billie mused, “she is, um, male down there, and she can be a brick if she wants. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be able to make herself as hard as diamond?”
Nikki pummeled her head with her fists. “That is NOT an image I want in my mind right now!”
Jinn stood still in the room, wearing her hooded cloak and the ragged bikini made of the devisor fabric known as “ultra-black.” The fabric made a sharp contrast with her chalk-white skin.
Jinn explained, while Jade used scissors to trim and adjust the outfit she was wearing. The fact that the scissors penetrated through Jinn’s intangible skin didn’t seem to bother anyone there.
“I’ve been experimenting with variations on my costume and look,” Jinn explained. “My most recent has been tattered gray. It’s an okay look for a haunt – sort of washed out and faded – but it’s not what I want to look sharp.”
“What about the chains and tatters and stuff?” Nikki asked. “And they always seem to be moving. I assume you were trying to look creepy, but instead it came off as just sort of … busy, I guess.”
“You remember when I did that gargoyle spell with Hekate?”
Nikki nodded. “I’m telling you, that girl is bad news. You’re lucky you got out of that with your life and soul.”
“You’ve said that before…”
“And I’ll say it again!”
“Anyway,” Jinn continued, “Tool was an uncontrollable shifter. She’d see something, and she couldn’t help shifting to match it.”
“Makes me wonder what happened when she saw a ripped guy,” Toni commented.
“Maybe that’s why she never let anyone see her. She was always under a thick cloak. But when I did the spell with her, I picked up some of that shapeshifting ability. Or maybe disability.”
“Yeah,” Billie agreed. “I remember it looked like you had cats fighting under your skin. That seemed to mostly go away when you got the chains.”
“My problem isn’t quite like Tool’s was. I don’t have to take the shape of whatever I see. With me, it’s like I’ve got a hundred hands, and they all want to be fiddling with something.”
“Which is why you had the chains and tatters and stuff,” Toni realized. “It’s stuff to fiddle with. Hmmm, could be useful in combat. I know that fighting anyone with more than two arms is always a challenge.”
“If I can work it into my style,” Jinn agreed. “The problem is all the ‘busy’ stuff is no good for being with a boyfriend. The chains and tatters and stuff distract him from what I want him to be paying attention to: me.”
“So how’d you solve the problem?” Billie wondered. “’Cause this is practically your old look.”
“I’m keeping the chains,” Jinn admitted. “I just won’t pop them out until I need them. For the rest…” She moved slowly, so as not to interrupt Jade’s fashion work. She tapped her chest, right over her sternum. “Inside the locker, I’ve got three dozen little lengths of string. I’m practicing knots. As long as I’m busy enough inside, I can keep calm on the outside.”
“This is a good look for you,” Toni said. “Classic white and classic black. I like it lots better than some of the grays you were trying. You’re right, they were faded looking.” She tapped a finger on her lips, lost in thought. “This is better for the team, too, next time we see combat.”
Billie raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
“She’s the highest contrast member of the team. White and black, sharp edges, you could spot her a room that was nearly pitch black, and she’ll show up just as well under the noon sun.”
Billie nodded. “And how’s that good? Lily’s Star League costume is the same way. They’re perfect targets, and that gold star on the chest tells you exactly where to aim.”
Toni grinned a feral smile. “Have you ever looked at those costumes? Nice work, armored and padded, bulletproof up to a pretty high caliber. And the chest star is even more heavily armored.”
Nikki chimed in. “Okay, so they gave themselves a weakness, and then compensated for it, right?”
Toni shook her head. “Those guys are pure-good hero types. Like Stormwolf. I’ll bet they figure that, ‘If you’re shooting at me, you aren’t shooting at the civilians.’ But the real point is that they then draw the fire to a location of their choice – the protected chest piece.”
“I get it!” Jinn said. “I’m invulnerable to gunfire. Heck, I’m invulnerable to most everything. So if I’m high contrast, and draw the big attacks—”
“That’s it,” Toni said. “I need to talk this over with Hank, but we ought to make that a regular part of our strategy. Come to think of it, Hank ought to get a high-contrast outfit, too. Same reason. He’s invulnerable, and he’ll draw the fire.”
“There!” Jade announced, speaking for the first time. “I think that’s pretty good. What do you think?”
“A lot like your old look,” Billie decided. “Same gloves and booties, same cloak. The scoopneck is new, and the outfit is a little skimpier.”
“I wanted something that was good for a formal occasion,” the young girl announced.
“Well, I guess it’s okay if they accept ‘superhero chic,’” Nikki allowed, dubiously. “But where’s the big change?”
Jinn bounced on her toes. “Notice anything?”
“What are we supposed to be looking for?”
“You’ve got bounce!” Toni realized.
Jinn nodded. “Not a lot of it, with a B-cup. That’s why I needed Ayla’s balloons.” She cradled a hand under each breast. “They’re filled with water, so I can get a feel for the weight. Once I know how I’m supposed to move, I can get rid of the balloons. My mind will just handle things automatically.”
Nikki scowled. “That’s pretty degrading, isn’t it? I feel like I should be indignant on behalf of all women!”
“Good effect, though,” Toni decided. “Definitely draws the attention, which is what you wanted, isn’t it? I’m just glad you went for something subtle and retrained. With everything Sara was hinting at, I was afraid you’d go completely over the top. This is good.”
Jinn nodded happily. “Hey, fetch one of the hetero guys, okay? I want to test things out on them!”
“Is Hank around?” Nikki wondered.
“No,” Toni answered. “But Ayla is.”
“Is she a guy?” Billie wondered.
“Sure,” Toni confirmed. “She’s just a guy with nice accessories.”
“Go get her.”
A moment later, Nikki came back, a skeptical expression on her face, dragging Ayla by the hand. “I think she just wants you to tell her whether she’s hot.”
“Jinn? Not quite my type. I’m not into imaginary figments.”
“Really?” Jinn bounced on her toes a couple of times, but Ayla apparently never noticed. “Okay, then how about this!” She slammed her hands together, intertwining her fingers in an complicated series of gestures that was halfway between sign language and mystic motions.
“Isn’t that—” Billie began.
“Yeah,” Jade agreed. “I swiped the hand seals from Naruto.”
Jinn finished the rapid gestures and announced her technique: “Super-size me!”
Before their eyes, the pallid girl’s bust expanded to C-cup, then D-cup, then beyond.
“Ha ha! I did it! I did it!” She jumped up and down, and the hydrodynamic spheroids on her chest echoed that motion as well as they could, given the constraints of gravity and inertia. Her newly trimmed scoopneck still maintained the bounds of modesty and decency, but only barely.
Ayla didn’t notice the thin trail of drool leaking from the corner of her mouth. “Okay, that’s new.”
Toni slapped herself in the face. “Did I say subtle and restrained? I take it back.”
62: You can lead a horticulture
Toni saw it immediately. “This is SO not a good idea!”
“Well,” Nikki drawled, “I’d normally convince her that she’s going to have balance problems, or back pain, or something like that. But she’s just a TK entity, right? So aside from being a walking offense to women everywhere, what’s the problem?”
“What’s the problem?” Toni’s voice was disbelieving. The hyperactive girl usually didn’t descend to sarcasm, but she was bordering on that now. “What’s the problem? I’ll tell you what’s the problem! She used magic to give herself bigger boobs!”
“Well, it wasn’t really magic—” Nikki began.
“That’s right, sempai!” Jade said, hopping up and down in pleasure. “Jinn’s a shapeshifter, remember? I used some meditation and self-hypnosis to adjust what I look like. Then Jinn uses the spooky hand gestures to sow confusion and misdirection, the way Hank was talking about. And then she just takes the new shape. Pretty cool, huh? And now I can compete with that top-heavy man-stealer! I can beat her at her own game!”
“Look,” Toni patiently explained, “Nikki knows it wasn’t real magic, because she can see magic. Most magic users can’t. The rest of us know it wasn’t real magic, because we know you, and we figured out what you really did. But imagine, just for a second, that a lot of people saw you and believed the misdirection. Let’s say some girls believed you. Or maybe guys would be even worse. And they believe that you did this through magic. In other words, they believe their eyes, they believe that there’s a spell out there to give girls enormous, unwieldy, parody-sized boobs.”
“They’re not that big,” Jinn protested.
“They are,” Sara said quietly, from where she was leaning against the wall.
Toni continued. “The only problem is they don’t know the spell. So they research. They experiment. I’m not sure whether they succeed or fail. Either way it’s a nightmare! Do you understand me now? I’m telling you right now, I don’t want to be the target for some idiot mage’s balloon-boob spell!”
“Oh!” Jade suddenly got it. “You’re right. Wow, that would be insane. Do you really think it might happen?”
Ayla had been monitoring the conversation. “Point: This is Whateley. Need I say more?”
“Uh, yeah,” Jade agreed. “Good, uh, point.” She turned to Jinn. “Better fix things.”
Jinn made another quick set of hand gestures. “Revert!”
There was a brief puff of smoke (or chalk), and when it had cleared, Jinn was back to normal. “I hadn’t thought, but you’re right. Magic is just too dangerous. And once we gave them the idea, someone would try.” She thought. “I like the Naruto-style hand gestures. Maybe I’ll use them for combat techniques and the like. It would be pretty good cover for what’s really going on. But no more magical body-sculpting.”
“But I liked that look!” Jade wailed. “You were bigger than Demona!”
Nikki massaged her head, as if fending off a migraine. “Please tell me you didn’t really like that look.”
“Thuban seemed to like it well enough during yesterday’s Faction Three meeting,” Jade protested, with a pout. “And didn’t I read about a study that found women’s salaries increased according to breast size? I’d be rich in no time!”
Nikki handed the headache off to her roommate. “I give up. You try.”
“Look,” Toni began, “what if it wasn’t Jinn. Let’s say Thuban got used to it, so he expected your real body to look like that. And there’s ways to do it. Implants, that sort of thing. Although it would take a real quack to make ‘em that big. Anyway, somehow or other, your real body ends up like that, permanently. Imagine what it would be like. I’ll bet you’d never run again. Forget about martial arts. And in a real body, your back would hurt. Your breasts would hurt. You’d get stretch marks and veins, and have all sorts of problems.”
Jade considered. “But I’d be a real girl, right?”
With her keen sense for the flow of combat, Toni realized that she was seconds away from a resounding loss. Using her masterful sense of tactics, she turned quickly to Sara. “Your turn!”
The demon girl gave a smug grin. “Look Jade, you like sugar, right?”
“Would you eat a spoonful? Would you like it?”
“Do you want pure sugar, all the time, every day, every meal, and nothing but sugar?”
The younger girl shook her head. “Of course not! That’s stupid.”
“Mmm hmmm,” the pale girl agreed, without offense. “How about sweets? Cake, candy, pie, chocolate milk, candy bars, doughnuts and pastries, sweet-and-sour pork, prepared cereal, peanut butters sandwiches, coffee with sweetener. Could you eat something sweet for every meal, every day, forever?”
“Yeah, I could do that! Of course!”
Sara leaned down, closer. “Okay now, here’s the trick. Your boyfriend is the one eating. Big boobs are sugar. The other sweets represent the many other variations – clothing choices, lingerie, posture, they way you move, the way you brush against him, a deep breath, a lover’s touch, the drape of a veil. But big boobs are simple, ordinary sugar.”
Jade thought about it a minute, frowning.
“Let me put it another way,” Sara said. “I’m a shapeshifter, too. And you better believe that I have a considerable interest in inducing lust. I could alter myself however I like. If I’m not sporting Triple-E breasts, it’s because I choose not to.” Again she leaned in, flashing a glimpse of cleavage as she did so. “And guess what? I choose not to. Think about that.”
With that, Sara straightened and turned to walk away. It wasn’t actually a walk, so much as a slink. “That’s how it’s done, girls.”
“Master psychologist,” Nikki breathed in awe.
“Dayum!” was all Toni could say.
Dai Kaiju groaned in irritation as his roommate continued to work at his desk. “Give it a rest, Stephen! The world’s not going to end if one of your plans has to be postponed for a day.”
The lizard man seated at his desk shifted his attention between a printout, two reference books, and three different LCD computer screens. “No, this has to be finished tonight. I need to finalize purchase of the property if they’re going to start construction on Friday. And I’ve got a lead on the perfect man to head things.”
With a sigh, Dai reached for a blackout mask – the kind that day sleepers used to keep the light out. “I’m still not sure that I really deserve a slice, but if I do, it’s for putting up with you and your late-night scheming.”
Thuban’s eyes never left the screens. “Wealth and power, Dai. We could be bigger than Merck.”
“It’s not going to fly without your girlfriend’s agreement, you know that.”
“Oh, she’ll agree. I’m quite aware of the drives that compel her.”
Dai finished adjusting the mask so that he couldn’t see the glow of computer screens and reading lamps. “Still, you might try asking her.”
“Not until I actually have something to show her. Not until I can make her, make all of them, believe.”
“Your choice, buddy.”
Dai rolled over to sleep. Thuban worked long into the night, finalizing legal agreements, designing facilities, arranging construction, hiring workers, and handling the hundreds of other arrangements necessary.
Demona settled himself in bed, listening as Tesla’s breathing dropped off. His roommate was fairly normal – when she wasn’t giving off sparks. And best of all, once she fell asleep it was like she was dead to the world.
Tesla started to snore softly, which was Demona’s cue. He turned again. That was one downside to this new body. Back as Tool, he could just flatten out in bed, getting looser and more comfortable as he relaxed. Nowadays, though, he had these gigantic breasts in front. He could no longer lie face down. But he had wings in back, which made it tricky to lie on his back. He wondered how the other winged girls managed.
He lay on his back, wings spread so that one spilled out of bed and onto the floor. He lay there and thought, and smiled, his eyes glowing slightly red as he did so.
His new body was a kick-and-a-half, he thought, idly tracing one pointed talon over a sensitive breast. He’d always been obsessed with breasts. It had been a bit of a problem, since he’d tended to shift into whatever he was thinking about. On the other hand… so many girls! Naked girls, bathing girls, dressing girls!
When he’d been the freaky “Tool”, his chances of any romantic activity had been pretty near zero. But even so, a weird, sexy, interesting girl had shown him attention, and practically lost her life trying to help him. It was only normal for him to be fixated on her now, wasn’t it? And while the ghost might not be the sexpot that Lazuli had been, she was still quite attractive. And so innocent! That certainly added an element of spice.
Fortunately, his days of being a constantly shifting blob were over for good. Now when people looked at him they were admiring, or intimidated, or even lustful. He was really starting to enjoy it.
Both hands were now at work, sliding over his body. He was learning so much about what turned girls on! And while he hadn’t achieved his dream of becoming the strapping manly figure of Goliath, he found plenty of compensations in the form he did have. Admittedly, he’d lost a certain organ of masculine pride. That had been a shock the first time it happened as Tool. After a few thousand uncontrollable shifts, you got used to it. Having it gone permanently was unfortunate, but at least it could never give him away as he watched the other girls. And what he’d gained in return was certainly … different. Better in some ways, worse in others. Slower to start. He had to fantasize about Jinn for a bit before that special warmth began to grow. That was one of the strangest aspects to this new body – all girl, all the time. It was amazing that he’d had to become Demona to experience this, but as Tool, his gender had been constantly in flux. Constantly. Back in his original guy’s body, the goal, reaching release, that had been all-important. But in his new body, that was all different. The release itself was still good, but the motion itself was the best part. He sometimes wished the release would never come.
Tonight he imagined Jinn, so innocent, so naïve, as he touched her and seduced her and eventually they had their way with each other.
And afterward, he lay there tingling and enjoying it, as he tried to figure out how he could get the other girl to show him her ghostly little pure-white breasts. And with luck, who knew? He might even get some.
It never occurred to him that the meaning of “get some” had changed for him, severely and permanently.
Thursday, November 30, 10:45 AM
Jinn looked like she was paying attention in physics class, but she was really lost in thought. How could she get Stephen to pay more attention to her in tonight’s meeting? For one thing, she wasn’t going to go with the “withered old hag” look again. The other kids might have voted for it, but she knew it was a turn-off. She could go as a white-skinned ghost. But that wasn’t quite good enough for Faction Three. The only one who looked normal there was Fubar, and out of everyone attending, he didn’t need to establish his credentials.
Hmmm, she could change her teeth so that she had fangs. Demona had fangs. They were kind of cute. She shifted in her seat and snorted to herself. Naw. When Stephen stared at Demona, it sure wasn’t cause of her cute little fangs.
Maybe if she had a big pair of horns on her head? She remembered a manga, Outlanders. The lead heroine, what was her name? Kahm! She’d had a pair of horns, and she still looked plenty cute.
But… it wasn’t quite right for her. She didn’t need to put on a fake costume to look more appealing. She needed to figure out how to be herself, and be more appealing.
Jade sat in biology class and thought. How could she get Stephen to pay more attention to her in tonight’s meeting? Maybe if she re-designed Jinn’s eyes – made the pupil and iris a bit larger, a bit sharper green. That wasn’t a bad idea. And even better, she could mount a little battery-powered red LED inside the ball. That way, she could turn the eyes backwards, and then make them glow a solid red. That would help Jinn’s spooky look, particularly in the dark. And in fights, it was good for Jinn to draw the attention, since she was invulnerable. Red eyes would be nice. Demona had red eyes, and they worked really well for her.
Jade shifted in her seat and snorted to herself. When Stephen stared at Demona, it sure wasn’t cause of her glowing red eyes.
Jann hovered at the periphery of Jade’s skin and clothes. She would occasionally dip a “finger” into her body’s skin to put them into telepathic contact. It was just to monitor her other self’s thoughts.
She, too, was thinking about tonight’s party. How could she look good for Stephen, while still being suitable and appropriate for Faction Three?
The trick was, she needed to be herself, only more so. The “withered look” wasn’t really her, it was a cosmetic that allowed her to be accepted. She needed some way to emphasize her weirdness, and hopefully the backstory she’d worked out with Sara about ghulahs. She thought back to that story… shapeshifting air spirits formed of smokeless black fire… beautiful, with powdery white skin dressed in dark clothes… feasting on the bodies of the dead (or as she re-told the legend, the spiritual energy)… marrying men under false pretenses to bear children… eventually inspiring stories of the vampire and baobhan sith who would dance with men in faerie circles until they dropped of old age.
There had to be something there she could use. Vampires were sexy, weren’t they? But chalk white skin wasn’t enough to qualify for Faction Three. Albinos and Goths got along fine in regular society. Besides, Sara did Goth way better than she ever could.
“Alright!” Morrie cheered, as Jade walked into the maintenance center. “The kid’s are here. The day’s lookin’ up.”
“Hi Jade,” Stan greeted her. “Lemme get the supplies. You think Jinn can still handle the whole toolkit?”
“Yeah,” she said easily. “I think it’s a permanent change. It’s like she’s got a hundred hands these days.”
“Handy if you want to be a plumber or a mechanic. How’s her strength? We got a bunch of door jamb pieces that are about 250 pounds apiece.”
“She can handle that,” Jade confirmed, “but only barely. How many do you need to move?”
“We got four doors to put in today, which is 24 sections to install,” Morrie said. “We’ll be using the boat, taking ‘em a ways down the tunnel. Be real nice if Stan and I didn’t have to do the heaving and toting at each stop.”
“No problem.” She’d had a burst of development in the last week or so. She was teetering on the edge of two different milestones. Jinn could lift 298 pounds and last for 113 minutes. She was just shy of 300 pounds and two hours, and the wait was driving her nuts. Still, she lasted long enough to manage two classes between charges, if they both timed it right. That helped quite a bit.
Morrie pointed at a pallet containing rounded concrete and steel constructs. “You load ‘er up, Lipscowycz. I’ll get the guns for us.” He opened the weapons locker and pulled out a pair of gigantic, oversized assault rifles, and then began to assemble two packs for additional ammo. “I didn’t see any raptors this morning, but there were plenty of crocks.”
“Do I get a gun today?” Jade called from behind a curtain, as she changed into the overalls and waders.
“Naw. Stan ‘n’ I can keep the varmints off a you. You two do the work, and the two of us will do the target practice.”
“I love this part of the day!” Stan admitted.
Jade pulled her waders on, then charged Jinn into a pile of equipment on the cart. Jinn no longer even bothered taking a human shape at work – it was more efficient to become an animated cloud of tools and parts. Unfortunately, school rules made it so that she could only do that when she was hidden from sight, like in the tunnels.
“Couple more access doors and we’ll be done with the main tunnels,” Morrie told her. “I’ll lay down suppressing fire at the door, hold it open. Stan, you wanna secure the boat?”
The thin man grabbed his weapon and hopped through the door. “I’m on it!” Moments later, Jade heard the low crump of concussion grenades, and saw the rapid flash of automatic gunfire.
“Okay, I’ll get the toolbox.” She saw Jinn rising up, in the form of six gloves. “You start moving the hardware.”
The gloves began hefting large chunks of prefab concrete as Jade clambered through the armored hatch and climbed down into the flat-bottomed metal boat docked in the tunnel.
“So,” she asked Stan, in the silence between bursts of gunfire, “can we expect any surprises today?”
“Had some excitement earlier,” he calmly informed her.
“Really, what happened?”
At that moment, something like an enormous worm reared out of the filthy water. Stan stitched it across the body with automatic rifle fire. As the worm thing gaped in wide-mouthed agony, Stan chucked a grenade down its throat. The worm vanished beneath the water, and a moment later the surface roiled as the grenade exploded.
“As I was saying,” he continued, “I brought a bag lunch today. My wife packed a sandwich you wouldn’t believe!”
“That does sound interesting,” Jade agreed. “Homemade?”
“Yeah, she’s got this special sauce…”
Jinn wafted along behind the boat, as it motored down the tunnel. The water levels were slightly above normal. It had been cold and icy for the last week or so. That had largely melted on Sunday, and water was still trickling into the sewers. In front and in back, the tunnel stretched in shades of gray twilight. The only color came from the happy bodies in the boat and the occasional bright spots of larger animal life waiting in ambush. She let Stan handle those, he seemed to be getting a extra glow of happiness each time he blasted away at something.
It was interesting, down in the tunnels. Being a girl was nice, but lately it sometimes felt a bit restrictive to Jinn. Her pensive mood really only hit when she had something to accomplish, like maintenance or combat. She suspected it was a side-effect from the magic spell with Tool – she’d picked up some sort of shapeshifting restlessness, and sometimes she just wanted to be doing a hundred things at once. Down in the tunnels she didn’t have to worry about protecting herself from greedy avatars, or trying to cling to a humanoid form, or anything like that. Instead, she let herself go, handling an entire tool belt full of equipment and supplies. Last week, she’d had five hammers going at once, and was feeding them each individual nails as necessary. Jade handled more delicate work, but her physical body seemed ever more limited sometimes.
Stan and Morrie were still necessary to give instruction and direction, but lately they’d been treating her more like an apprentice who did the real work, while they supervised. It let them hold the guns, relax, and talk, while she did the actual work. Stan and Morrie saw it as a break; she saw it as an opportunity for self-discovery.
The boat began to slow, and she saw they were approaching a landing and side door.
She spread her six hands and prepared to begin lifting the concrete pieces out of the boat.
“Each section is numbered, people! They’ve got to match up!” Morrie called. “I’d help, but you know we can’t let anything escape out the door!”
Jade collected the miniature pieces and began assembling those, while Jinn moved the concrete of the jamb into place, and floated up the large steel door.
The entire door-and-jamb had been pre-assembled down in some lab, then broken apart for ease of installation. At the same time, a tiny miniature had been created of both door and jamb – constructed at the same time, out of the same materials. The miniature was crafted out of shavings from the full-sized assembly. Jade’s job was to reassemble the miniature. It constituted a “mystically linked” object (through the property of “similarity” or some such nonsense). Once this was done, there would be linked miniatures for the entire tunnel system set up in the security building. That way, a security guard could look at the miniatures and know the state of the full-sized match, out here in the field.
As if sensing the direction of her thoughts, Morrie commented, “it’ll be a sweet system.” He paused to shoot off a small fan of flame. “Every access point, covered at least four ways. We’ve got the old network connections, to signal open or closed. Really just a high-end burglar alarm. And once we’re done with next week’s upgrades, we’ll have night-vision cameras on every entry, inside and out, as well as surveillance for the main tunnel sections.
“Fat lot of good that did for Halloween,” Jade commented, renewing the perennial discussion.
“Point,” Morrie conceded. “But the stringers are putting in some new sort of encryption modules. They said it makes the system lots tougher to spoof. Least, I think those were the words they used. I swear, mystics and computer people – can’t talk to either of ‘em.”
“I’m not sure if I trust the computers,” Jade said. “My roommate had a computer go berserk on her, a couple of months back. It tied to kill her.”
“Yeah.” Morrie paused to spit. “I’ve seen ‘em do that. Man’s best friend, till they turn on you. That’s why I follow a strict policy of never mounting any weapons on none of my computers.”
“You liar!” Stan called from deeper inside the tunnel. “You just don’t know how to do anything more complicated than plugging in a printer!”
“It’s the principle that counts,” Morrie countered. “Anyway, even if you don’t trust the electronic junk, and I don’t, you got that there ultrasonic alarm that goes off, whenever the door opens. They got animals and machines and stuff can hear that, all over campus.”
“I can hear it,” Jinn said, from where she was lifting the door jamb into place.
“No shit?” Morrie looked at her with a moment of mild surprise. “You never mentioned that before.”
“She never realized that other people couldn’t hear it,” Jade told him. It had been the same for her. Testing each door, the high, pure tone had issued when the doors opened. Jann-sensei was always with her during maintenance work, and Jann had instantly linked to her, so it was like Jade heard the sound, too. She’d never quite noticed that it was different from normal hearing. It wasn’t unpleasant or painful, more like a very high overtone to the creaking sound some doors normally make.
Morrie nodded. “Yeah, so we got the ultrasonic sound, which they told me doesn’t need power or anything, so if anyone manages to unlock a manhole cover, that’s going to go off, and good luck stopping it.”
“What was the chemical bit?” Jade wondered. “I didn’t quite understand it, the last time you explained that.”
“That’s cause I was a little fuzzy on that myself,” Morrie explained. “It’s right on the seal, between the door and the jamb. The chemical builds up in a little pocket or something. Then, when the door opens, the chemical leaks out. It’s supposed to hold some sorta special smell. They got an animal that can smell it. Afro-gnome, I think they called it.”
Jade puzzled over that for a moment, scratching her head. “A pheromone?”
“That’s it! I think it’s the name of the creature. Not quite a rodent, not quite a bug, a little bit of both.”
“You never heard of pheromones?” Jade asked in disbelief.
“Course not. It’s something they came up with here at the school.”
“Now who’s the knucklehead,” Stan called out from the tunnel. “Everyone knows about pheromones! They’re armpit stink. And, like, mating smells. For animals and insects and stuff.”
“Insects don’t get armpit stink,” Morrie pointed out. “And thank God for that! Most a them bugs got six or eight armpits each.”
That discussion went around for the half hour it took Jinn to finish assembling the new door. During the final test phase, Jade took special note of the ultrasonic tone, when the door was open. Jann had no problem hearing it, but when they were unlinked, it was completely silent.
“What do you know,” she muttered to herself. “You learn something new every day.”
“What was that?” Stan asked.
“Nothing. Just admiring the new doors. They should do a lot better job of keeping people out of our tunnels, right?”
“We’ll see,” Morrie said, skeptically. “I can think of about a dozen ways to bypass these things, without even trying. There’s all those people who do the ghost thing and walk through solid walls; there’s that guy that turns into gas; I figure if you just blow a hole completely around the door, you can pull the whole door out without even opening it. Or someone can punch their way into the tunnel without using a door. Or maybe—”
“We get the idea,” Stan said, wearily.
“Okay, you’ve got a point,” Jade agreed. “But at least it will be tougher to sneak a whole army in, right?”
“Eh, we’ll see. Ask me after the next invasion. Bet they come up with a whole new pile of junk for us to install.”
She and Demona didn’t enter on Thuban’s arms this time, but they did enter a half-step behind him. The three of them abreast wouldn’t fit through the door.
Demona wore her usual outfit. Jinn had worked extra hard, and was decked out. First, she’d been productive today, creating both new eyeballs (slightly larger, with a more arresting color of green), and a new set of teeth that featured the cutest little vampire fangs. And her outfit was perfect, in her opinion. She wore her traditional hooded cloak (with the hood down, of course), full and imposing, and at ankle length. Since she was charged into the cloak, it always swirled and swooshed with just the right amount of drama. The material tonight was crushed velvet, in a midnight blue that looked black from most angles. (She’d checked the color carefully, back in her real body.) The top was a strapless corset made from the same material. It had a modest V-neck which was extremely dramatic against her white skin.
The skirt was also full and heavy, swishing and flowing dramatically with her movements (often with a bit of help). It was also done in the same crushed velvet. Fortunately, she’d found that she could “hum” the material and instantly shake off most dirt and lint.
Her black hair and eyelashes matched the clothes for dramatic black. The rest of her skin was pure, chalk white. Her head and neck were solid, but she showed the merest hint of transparency at the shoulders and through her chest. With the light behind her (difficult, because of her cloak) you could see that there was some transparency there, and in bright light you occasionally saw the structure of white bones inside the skin.
It was easiest to see in her arms. They were opaque at the shoulders, growing more insubstantial as you looked down toward the hand. As far down as her elbow the white skin was see-through, showing the bones beneath. By her forearms, the skin vanished completely. But her black gloves seemed substantial and hand shaped, even if the eye reported nothing more than skeletal finger bones that hovered inside.
Her midriff was bare, showing her spine and the upper points of her hip bones, but still giving the curve of her transparent white waist and the half-seen navel on display.
And her skirt was slit up the side. It should have shown an enticing amount of leg, but there was nothing at all under the skirt. Nothing but empty air. Despite that, the skirt kicked and flowed, moving in response to the non-existent legs within.
Thuban’s reaction had been gratifying. She’d met him in his room to escort him to the meeting. He’d eyed her appreciatively. The way he’d run his glance up and down her body had given her a sinfully good feeling. Of course, with that particular yellow tinge to his aura, she’d known he was feeling at least a little lust. Unfortunately, Demona had shown up moments later, and Thuban had repeated the check-out, with considerably more lust oozing out of his aura this time.
It was enough to drive a girl to distraction!
They entered the room, Thuban gestured for them all to split off, and then she and Demona had headed for opposite sides of the room while Thuban strode into the center. They hadn’t discussed or practiced it, but they all peeled off to divide the room into thirds. She wondered what that meant, and whether Thuban considered the two of them to be his lieutenants or something?
She was in fine form this evening, her full skirt and cloak flowing like an intelligent mist, as if they were both a part of her. She almost chuckled at that particularly apt way of putting it.
She checked with an armor-skinned boy, who reminded one of an armadillo.
“How are you doing Keith?”
“Jinn! Looking good!” Both eye and aura were appreciative.
“Thanks.” She meant it sincerely. “Too … mundane for Faction Three?”
“No, I don’t think so.” He thought for a moment. “I don’t know. You sure look better this way, instead of the prune look from Tuesday.”
“Thanks,” she responded in relief. “I’m trying to be more real-me, you know?” She gave him a smile of confidential understanding. “And if I can look nice at the same time, that’s another benefit. I think Thuban likes it better, too.” She searched the room for the big lug, only to find him talking to Demona again. And like usual, he seemed to have his overly long nose buried in her prominent cleavage.
“’Scuse me. I gotta go take care of something.”
63: Getting in shape
Friday, December 1, 3:43 PM
Dominique sat admiring as Jinn paced back and forth, ranting at her.
“I mean, it’s like you’ve got giant magnets hidden in there, and his nose is the iron bar!”
It wouldn’t be sundown for another half hour. She was looking forward to doing the transformation strip-tease in front of Jinn. In the meantime, she did her best to sit and lounge suggestively, inhaling just so. Eventually, of course, it was possible that the build-up of horniness and frustration would cause her to explode. In the meantime, she was determined to enjoy every advantage of her new form.
“Cut it out!”
“What am I doing?” Dominique said, arching her back.
“You know full well what you’re doing! You’re not a gargoyle, you’re a succubus! You do this on purpose! Here I was, blaming poor Stephen, when it was all your fault! You have some mutant mind control or something.”
Ignoring her, Dominique tried on a necklace. “Does this look good on me?” She turned away from the mirror, leaning forward toward Jinn.
“Oh, quit it. You just want a chance to shake those things in my face.”
Dominique pouted. “You don’t like me?” She deliberately summoned up some crocodile tears. “So many girls hate me because I’m well endowed.”
“My poor, sweet Stephen! Trapped in the thrall of your hypno-boobs!”
Dominique smirked, looking down at her chest. “They are spectacular, aren’t they? I mean, before the change I had boobs in every shape and size. And I do mean every. Maybe all that experience helped, because this has to be the finest pair of the lot.” She gave herself a little squeeze, enjoying the feel.
Jinn just grumbled to herself.
Dominique was puzzled. “So why are you jealous? I know you’re a shapeshifter. And you don’t even have the minor physical limitations that apply to most of the rest of us shapeshifters. You could have a pair identical to mine, or even bigger, even perkier, even more gravity defying. So why don’t you?” She suddenly got a crafty idea. “If you’d like, I could help you practice…”
“No, no, and no.” Jinn folded her arms under her B-cup breasts and huffed. “I want Stephen to love me. Me! He should be interested in more than the size of my chest. There’s a lot more to love than just rutting and lust.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t hurt to prime the pump a little.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” Jinn decided. “You aren’t a succubus, you’re a devil-girl. You’re trying to tempt me to do things I shouldn’t.”
Dominique’s eyebrows rose and she licked her lips. “Oh? What sort of… things… am I tempting you to do?”
Jinn looked left and right, as if making sure that she hadn’t overlooked anyone hiding in the room. “Well… stuff like this.” Quickly she slapped her hands together, forming a set of complex patterns. “Super-size me!”
The girl was still wearing her school uniform, and the blouse and vest were cut for Jinn’s figure. But as Dominique watched, Jinn’s tits seemed to grow and expand until they were straining the buttons on that blouse, and the vest pushed her up and together in a way that looked both uncomfortable and incredibly sexy.
Dominique couldn’t believe it. It was just like her own transformation, only this was a sort of librarian-turned-hot-stripper, and it was happening right here in her own room! “That was the god-damned hottest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“No, really! And I see you took my advice about nipples. I can—” she swallowed nervously “I see they look hard. Are they?” She couldn’t help herself. She really, really wanted to touch the other girl.
“Well,” Jinn admitted, “I tried to get them right, but I’m not sure I succeeded. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to show this to anyone, right?”
“Well, I can’t tell if you got them right without touching you,” she murmured. “And what was that spell you used? It almost looked like a cartoon I saw, a couple of years ago.”
“If you want to go feeling up another girl, I guess you can tell me if I did this right.” Jinn shrugged erotically. “No big deal. And yeah, I swiped the whole mystic gestures from a cartoon called Naruto. The gestures are supposed to look mystic, but I checked with my friends and they’re safe. It fits in fairly well with my limitations as a shapeshifter. I can do stretches and blobby shapes on the spur of the moment, but if I want to look right, I have to meditate for a while on the form. And it helps to have, I don’t know, some sort of cue or trigger. I’ve been using my knuckles,” she squeezed the knuckle of one finger “for some of my cues. But I was watching Naruto, and it looked really cool. So… you know?”
“Huh, weird,” Dominique half mumbled, as she glided toward Jinn’s blouse. She hadn’t really been listening. She was trying not to cackle at being given permission to feel up her visitor! She tried not to stare at the two huge breasts, as they strained against the taut fabric of the blouse. Reaching out and running her fingertips over the straining fabric, she felt the give and heft of the other girl’s mammaries, Jinn’s nipples were tight with desire and expectation. The feel of the nipples, their firmness against her fingers and palm, the tight excitement of the other girl’s areola, it was enough to arouse her, bringing the same sort of reaction to her own chest. Her thumb flicked the other girl, hard enough to draw a gasp, but Jinn didn’t gasp. In fact, Jinn seemed unaware of the sensation, even when she gave the girl a painful tweak through the material of her blouse.
“That didn’t hurt?”
“Like I said, I can’t feel pleasure or pain. So how’d I do, sensei?”
“Good. Very good.” Dominique wondered if she could sneak away for a cold shower. “You’ll have the boys panting over you, like me.”
Jinn gave her a weird look. “What was that?”
“I mean – I mean, they’ll pant over you, the same way they pant over me! That’s all.”
“Oh, well, it’s not like I really want that, you know.”
Dominique eyed her. “Oh, come on! You’re going to keep that little show under wraps? That’s a crime!”
“I’m not really that big on being an exhibitionist.”
When Dominique snickered, Jinn seemed to realize what she’d said.
“No, I mean, I’m big, but not an exhibitionist! Oh, you know what I mean!” She made a new hand gesture. “Revert!” Instantly, her chest returned to normal size.
“Aw!” Dominique snapped her fingers. “You took my toys away!”
“I just wished Stephen showed half as much interest as the other girls did.”
“You have other girls looking at your chest?” Dominique was intrigued. It sounded like her sort of crowd.
Jinn shrugged. “Toni-sensei just about bust a gut. Nikki didn’t seem too worried at first, but she sure didn’t want me to stay this way. It was Sara that finally talked me out of it.”
Dominique was still trying to get herself under control. “So you were showing this off to Chaka – the martial arts hyper-girl, Nikki Reilly, and Sara Waite?”
Jinn shrugged, as if it was no big deal to be hanging around with major hot girls. “Billie was there, too. Uh, Tennyo, you know? And we got Ayla, for a guy’s reaction.”
Dominique nodded. She knew that one. “Ayla Goodkind. She’s a guy?”
“Of course she is. Rather obvious, isn’t it?”
Dominique couldn’t help asking, “What bathroom does she use, over in Poe?”
“The girls’, or course. She’s really only a guy in two spots.” Jinn tapped her head. “The brain, and, you know, the guy part. The rest of her is all girl. No one would even know if she didn’t wear pants like that. So, being a guy, she naturally acts fairly perverted, a little like you that way, but she’s one of the girls, stays at our end of the hall, uses our bathroom, and hangs with us.”
“Even though she’s a guy,” Dominique confirmed.
“Sure. Hey, it’s not like she’s the weirdest one around. Jamie wakes up as a different sex or species half the time, sort of like Jimmy T, only less Hollywood and more mythological.”
Dominique was indulging in a brief fantasy. Despite her transformation and her new (and permanent) gender, she hadn’t come to an acceptance of the implications. The thought of kissing another guy, much less touching his … thing …, much less letting a guy sleep with her (to be euphemistic) – she couldn’t deal with any of those thoughts. But Ayla… that was a new idea. Ayla wasn’t really a guy, was she? Kissing that curvy girl would be more than fun. And she was getting so damned horny she thought she was going to implode some times. Maybe… She shook her head, trying to banish the oddly compelling image.
That’s when she noticed the clock. “Oops, time to change.”
Maybe she’d picked up more attitude than she’d expected from the cartoon, but she’d come to see her gargoyle shape as “real” and the human shape as the less-wanted from. It was always a thrill to change into her more powerful, more exotic form. Making sure to give her ghostly girlfriend a show, she made every movement deliberate as she unbuttoned her blouse. Honestly, it wasn’t as easy as it looked, since for some reason girls’ buttons were all on the wrong side. She slid the blouse off her shoulders, looking coyly at Jinn, then arched her back while she unfastened the bra. It always gave her a bit of a thrill as the cups came free of her, letting the cool air circle around those strange and wonderful orbs that were her most noticeable human feature.
Jinn was pretending not to look, but even so the other girl gave a start when she brushed away an imaginary piece of lint from one nipple. That gave her the encouragement to make a production out of it when she stepped out of her skirt, and then wriggled out of her lacy panties. She sat down on the bed to pull her socks, being quite immodest in the process. Then, just to top it all off, she stood and stretched, enjoying the feel of her naked skin.
“Are you through?” Jinn asked, with an air of exasperation.
“I can’t help celebrating,” Dominique bragged. “Goodbye ordinary human, hello real me. Power and strength and flight and my beautiful blue skin. Is it any surprise that I feel good about it?”
“I do like watching you change,” Jinn admitted. “There’s something, you know, magic about it.”
Jinn liked watching her? How to capitalize on that? “But you’re a shapechanger. Why would you think it’s such a big deal?”
Jinn fidgeted nervously. “Well, I’m not really. I’m, sort of not alive, right? So it’s just shape. With you, it’s actually your flesh shifting… and moving, and stuff.”
“But I assume you were a shapeshifter back when you were alive. You must have gotten used to it then.”
Jinn shook her head, making her hair swish enticingly around her head. “Nope. I didn’t get my powers until I was … post-body, I guess you’d say. I’ve felt a real body change just once – and that was so magical I was practically in heaven. But it faded, and that was fairly traumatic.”
Dominique’s eyebrows arched up on their own, and she tried to keep the sly grin off her face. “Oh? Well if you want to feel what it’s like, you can reach around and feel when my wings come out.” She reached her arms out, as if to hug the other girl.
Jinn looked doubtful. “Isn’t that kind of … intimate?”
“I don’t mind.” Dominique gave her a comforting smile. “I trust you.” It’s just that you shouldn’t trust me!
“Okay, thanks. But I think I’ll be able to feel them even better from the back.” She moved around behind and pressed her palms against Dominique’s back.
Dominique was cursing inside, but then noticed the clock.
“Any second now…”
She could feel it as the sun set. The magic wrapped over her, enfolding her, penetrating her, bringing her to life. She spasmed in sweet pain as her real body returned. Bones and flesh erupted from her back. Her tail unrolled, in a sensation that rippled down her spine, between her legs, and up the front of her. Her fingers hardened into talons, her feet and legs shifted into a vastly more efficient form, and as her eyes changed she felt the fangs pushing out of her gums. It was misery and ecstasy combined in one sweet burst, and despite herself she gave a feline yowl as the feelings burst through her.
“God that’s good!”
She stomped carefully, getting used to her true feet once more, shifting her tail for balance, then turned to her visitor.
“Like what you see?”
The Asian girl had an expression that practically glowed with wonder and longing. “It was … magical. I wish I…”
Demona – she was Demona now – grabbed her favorite outfit and began dressing. White leather, designed with the “wild and ragged” look.
“You know,” she mused, thinking as she dressed, “you might not have been a shapeshifter in life, but I expect that I have more than enough experience for the both of us. I could give you some lessons.”
“Really?” For a moment, Jinn’s face was alight, then the joy faded. “But… I like looking like this. I don’t really want to be something different.”
Demona snorted. “Which is why you obviously aren’t a real shifter. Problem One: You don’t need to be something or someone else. Most shifters have the need. They’re never really satisfied with who they are. Problem Two: you’re too well grounded in who and what you are. Most shifters have a fairly mild sense of their own identity.”
Jinn smiled shyly back. “Well, that’s obviously not a problem you have. Your identity, I mean.”
Demona shook her head. “Wrong. Mega wrong. I used to be a person of my own before I became Demona. Even before I became Tool.”
“Who? Who were you?”
Demona flashed her favorite smirk. “Who cares? I sure don’t. That person is long gone, and I say good riddance! I’m Demona now, and let me tell you, it feels great!”
“Oh. That’s kind of sad, isn’t it?”
“Not at all. It’s triumphant. Now, I was going to teach you some genuine shapeshifting tricks.”
“But how can I do real shapeshifting?” Jinn wondered. “I don’t have real flesh.”
“Good point.” Demona tapped a diamond-sharp talon against the stone-hard skin of her chin, making a ‘tik-tik-tik’ sound. “Right. I’ll teach you how to accomplish the same thing, while making it look like you’re a normal shapeshifter.”
“Deception’s good,” Jinn agreed. “I like the sound of that. What’s lesson one?”
Demona knew exactly what she wanted, but she deliberately paused, as if considering many options. “Clothes! That’s always a good trick for shifters.”
“Shapeshifters do clothes? I thought they could only shift their own bodies.”
“Well, yes and no. For example, me now, I can only do my body. The most I can do with clothes is to rip ‘em when I change. But back as Tool, it was a different story, though no big loss. It’s just like hair. Even your most basic werewolf can grow and absorb hair when he shifts back and forth. The next step is to grow and absorb clothes made of hair, like a wool shirt. Only it’s reversed – the werewolf absorbs the shirt and grows wolf hair, the human absorbs wolf hair and grows the shirt.”
“Okay, I think I see that,” Jinn agreed. “Does that mean that the shirt is attached to you?”
Demona waved her hand. “Amateur mistake. After wool comes cotton, then silk, and by then you’ve got about everything you need. But even easier than wool is leather. That’s why you find so many shifters dressed in really nice leather. It ‘digests’ easily, and grows fast. After all, it’s just more skin. Most of them even cheat. If you could examine their leather clothes closely, you’d find that it’s human leather. Thicker and tougher, of course, but with the basic structure of human skin, rather than cowhide. Your better shifters, like I was, can achieve true animal mimicry.”
“Wow, where do you learn all this stuff?”
“It’s part of the Shifter Studies sequence. Shifter Bio is in the morning, this semester, with Shifter Lab in the afternoon. Shifter Fashion I comes after Costuming II, next semester, but you need the other classes as prereq’s.”
“I see. But like I said, I don’t have flesh, so…”
“Yeah, so what I’ll do is teach you to fake it so that it looks and feels like what a shifter would do.”
Jinn thought about it a moment, then slowly nodded. “That might be a good idea.”
“Betcher ass it’s a good idea. Shifters practice until they can do it with style. That’s what you need!”
“But I’ve known shifters that can’t seem to do clothes at all. Like Bloodwolf. He’s always wearing that same pair of ragged jeans.”
She rolled her eyes. “All he ever cared about was the animal. It was his obsession. You know, like I was talking about earlier? He could care less about human clothes. He never even bothered to learn. The guy’s okay in some ways, but in others he’s really lame.”
Jinn goggled at her. “Bloodwolf, an ‘okay guy’? Are you serious?”
“Yeah, completely. I’ve heard he’s a bit of a jerk to non-shifters, but he was always okay to me.”
“He’s a bit more than a jerk.”
“Hey, you want to learn this, or not?”
Demona suppressed her grin and tried to look serious. “Okay, take your blouse off. We’re going to make it look like you’re growing, and then absorbing your bra – just like a shifter would.”
It took more convincing than that, but soon she was feeling the shorter girl up once more, as she placed her hands on the other girl’s breasts for “tactile feedback”. It took Jinn a while to adapt to the particular style and appearance that shifters used, and apparently she had to fake things out by suspending different colored “skin particles” above or through the garment in question, but within less than sixty minutes, she was pulling a variety of effects and looking as convincing as any shifter that Demona had ever seen.
Reluctantly, the gargoyle was forced to admit, “Well, I think you’ve got that lesson down. I’ll come up with something new for lesson two.”
“Okay,” the Asian said. “I need to get back to Poe. Damn. All this time, and I still don’t have any ideas for how to pry poor Stephen’s nose out of your cleavage.”
“Oh, that. Right.” Demona shrugged. “I’ll think about it, okay?”
Jinn just growled in reply.
64: Caught with pants down
It was half past seven when Nikki went to check on things. Unfortunately, she got caught in a four-way tangle. Jade was in her room, Jinn was coming back from the library with a small stack of books, and Billy came running out of the room with her ballroom dancing dress under one arm, just as Nikki slipped in for a visit. They all just missed colliding in the doorway.
“Gotta go,” Jade apologized. “I still have time to hit the devisor lab!”
“But I just want to know—” Nikki began.
“Not alone you don’t!” Billie ordered, ignoring Nikki. “We always travel in groups of two! Remember?”
“You aren’t!” Jade accused back.
Billie gave a nasty grin that would have surprised many people. It was feral and hungry and looked perhaps a bit evil. “Yeah, and I’m just hoping that Donny Boy or someone tries to take advantage of me. Especially after the Section 33 order. It’s been, what, three weeks? I’m just hoping they’ve forgotten. I’ll let ‘em take enough swings to make things VERY clear. Then I start hoping that security doesn’t show up.”
“No time. Gotta go! Don’t you dare go alone!” And she quite literally flew out the door.
Jinn dropped all but one book, then spun around inside her cape, coming back out as the white-skinned ghost girl. Jade touched fingers with the ghost, then they prepared to run off together.
“You’re all going somewhere?” Nikki wailed. “Isn’t anyone hanging around here?”
Jade glanced at Jinn. “Copy two?” Jinn echoed back, “Out of sight.” “Could use a guard anyway.” “Check.”
Jade dodged back inside the room to touch a sack, then she and Jinn pelted off.
Nikki crossed her arms and huffed, blowing a wisp of red hair away from her over-sized eyes. “But I’m so bored! Surely someone wants to hang around!”
“Sure! Your place or mine?” Jinn said from inside the room.
Nikki glanced in to see the older Asian girl, in her uniform, sitting on her bed. “Didn’t you just run off with Jade?”
“Uh huh. That’s why I need to stay in a room. I don’t want anyone seeing me while I’m running around elsewhere.”
“Oh. My place then. Maybe I can clean up while we’re doing whatever.” She glanced around in mild envy. “Obviously this place doesn’t need any more cleaning.”
Cracking open the door, Nikki checked the hallway for observers, then they both made a dash across the hall to the other side, quickly slipping into her room. She slammed the door behind her.
“Safe!” She grinned, looking at the other Jinn. The situation of multiple-Jinns and Jades and whatever confused some people, but she’d never had any problems with it. Simulacra were a fairly basic magical concept, and much simpler than some of the ideas that magic required her to comprehend on a day-to-day basis. She did have problems keeping track of their names, though.
“So are you Jann, or what?”
The other girl sighed. “I guess. Honestly, I’ve been confusing myself with that, you know? Last month I was trying to name myself based on the order I cast me in. The first one out was ‘Jinn’, then ‘Jann’ and so on. That system didn’t work at all. So now I’m naming myself based on function. This person,” she gestured at herself, “is always Jinn, or Shroud when I’m using my codename. Jann-sensei is the one who’s busy training my physical body to keep alert, improve her skills during surprise situations, stay mindful of tactical options, things like that. The only problem is if two of me are around at once, like now. I suppose technically that one of us should be Jinn-2 or something, but it isn’t worth worrying about, since we’re never in the same place.”
“So how many of you can you make at once?”
“At the moment? Four. I do that every night. But number four knocks me out. It’s how I go to sleep.”
Nikki nodded, guilelessly. This all matched with what Billie had reported the week before. She trusted Billie, but powers gossip was almost as good as romantic gossip. And this was particularly interesting, since she’d started having thoughts about how useful Jade’s power was. Once there was more snow around, she was going to be pushing hard to learn the simulacrum spells. Then, when she had a small army of Nikkis running around, then she’d show ‘em! She chortled to herself in anticipation.
“You okay Nikki?”
Nikki stopped herself in mid-chortle. “Uh… no problem. Just a bit of a … cough, you know?”
“Oh, good. For a second there I thought you were dricking out.”
Nikki waved her hands in denial. “No, no, of course not!”
“So…” Nikki searched wildly for a change of topic “so four copies is your limit?”
“Well, for now. In the morning, right after breakfast, when I’m fresh and energetic and well fed, I’ve tried it a couple of times. I think with a few more weeks of practice I might be able to pull off five. I’m sure I’ll be able to do it by early next semester.”
Nikki smiled with relief as the other girl chattered on.
As they spoke, Jinn folded up her legs and sat down in the air, about three feet off the floor. Nikki noted that the girl had managed a nicely modest pose, with both knees to one side and her feet tucked under. The skirt should have hung down in back, but instead it was tucked up under her, as if she sat on an invisible cushion.
Forgetting that she was going to clean up, she pulled out a desk chair for herself, cursing as she sat. Damn Aunghadhail! Always pushing me to be so cursed regal in every movement. I should be allowed to slouch like any other teenager!
Pushing her irritation to the side, she probed a little deeper on her guest. “So… do you like your power? It’s pretty unique.”
Jinn smiled. “Yeah. The psi part is almost like a weird variant of the whole ‘Package Deal Psychic’ thing, and there’s plenty of those around. And I’m only mild to middling in power for a PDP. The multiple selves part – that’s a bit more unique, but not completely.”
“Impossible,” Nikki insisted.
“You can’t be ‘a bit unique.’ You’re either unqiue or you aren’t.”
“Well,” Jinn thought for a moment. “My exact mixture is unique, but there are people who can split their minds, or personalities. Some of the computer hackers create ‘avatar’ versions of themselves that they send out, and later re-merge. I’ve been talking to some of the devisors. Those are usually pretty crude – not real AI. And there are a lot of manifestors that create fairly intelligent animals. Some even create human troops. But they don’t learn, they don’t re-merge like I do. That’s the best part, but it takes a while to figure out how to take full advantage of things.”
Very carefully, Nikki tossed out the question. “Would you mind, if there was someone like that?”
“What, a manifestor that could re-merge like I do?”
“I guess it depends on whether they were a friend or an enemy. A friend … that might be kind of cool. Why? Did you run across someone like that?”
Nikki decided to spill the beans. “Not exactly. It’s just that there are a whole class of spells in the ‘simulacrum’ category.”
Jinn’s eyes went wide. “You?!” She thought for a moment. “That would be so cool! Wow, I can just picture it! Two or three of me, four or five of you – we’d be a whole army!” She thrust a fist into the air. “Back off, you stupid Alphas! Here comes the Kimba Army! Or even better, Girl Force! Ha ha ha ha! That’ll make ‘em think twice!”
Nikki’s eyes crossed at the thought of such a scene. “Hmmm, be kind of a tip-off with so many identical copies, wouldn’t it?”
Jinn waved her hand blithely. “You’ve got that glamour thing. Can’t you, I don’t know, switch it? Use it to make you look like someone else. A bunch of someone elses?”
For just a moment, a manic gleam returned to Nikki’s eye. “Heh heh. They want an elf queen? I’ll give ‘em a queen – when I’m leading my own damn army!” There was just one tiny problem. “Too bad you’ll still have all those identical Jinns.”
Without rising from the bed, Jinn’s face seemed to quiver and move in an odd way, as if it were growing and changing before her eyes. Long ears – though not elfin – grew out sideways, and Jinn’s hair lifted up in a spiky pattern. A moment later, she was looking at a version of Tennyo, save that the hair was black, and the eyes weren’t Tennyo’s oval.
“I’m really a shapeshifter, remember?”
“Oh, right. I keep forgetting. Only, you’re not a shapeshifter, you’re really an intelligent energy field. And since that’s the case… Why can’t you be any shape you can imagine?”
“’Cause it’s easy to do a lava-lamp blob, and it’s hard to do a person. I need some real preparation and meditation and stuff. But I’m working on it! I’m actually taking lessons from a shapeshifter I know over in Whitman.”
As if to prove the point, she shifted from looking like Tennyo, back into her normal self.
Nikki considered. This was going better than she’d thought; Jinn didn’t seem to mind the idea at all. She wasn’t actually sure she could make an army (or even a crowd) of simulacra – she hadn’t done more than glance at the spell. But the odds were that the snow-based copies wouldn’t be all that durable. If she ever found reason to need a small elf army, it might be nice to have two or three invulnerable Jinn girls in front, taking the first line of attack. Not that she’d ever need a magical elf army. But still…
Aloud, Nikki just mused, “Lessons from a shapeshifter. Hmmm. Anyone I know?”
“Dominique? I was talking about her at dinner. After sunset, she turns into a blue-skinned gargoyle. Hard to miss.”
“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen her in the cafeteria,” Nikki admitted. She gestured with her hands in front of her chest. “The one with the big—?”
“Yeah, that’s her.”
“She’s the one you did that spell with, with Hekate?” She fought to keep the distaste and disapproval out of her voice.
“Yeah. Anyway, she thinks she owes me now, so she’s teaching me how to look like a real shapeshifter. I can do clothes pretty well! Watch this.”
Jinn stood up. First, she shifted from a pink-skinned normal human girl into the ghost. It was a good effect. There wasn’t a whisper of magic (which made it even creepier), but the life and color suddenly leached from the girl’s skin, as she turned bone white, except for her eyes and hair. A moment later, the transformation reversed.
“Okay, now the clothes. This is how a shifter would do it.”
Again, the first change was a shift in the color and texture of Jinn’s vest and blouse. In a rectangular grid, following the weaving lines of the fabric, the blouse seemed to become the color and texture of skin. It was still raised – that is, it was as if skin had been stretched into the exact hang and drape of the blouse. Then the skin sucked back into her arms and chest and back. That was the only word Nikki to think to describe it. It was as if there had been all this excess skin, hanging loosely, and it has sucked back in, young and firm again, as Jinn stood before her, topless.
“Okay, that’s freaky,” Nikki admitted.
“Yeah, but that’s the way shifters do it – the ones that can do clothes, I mean.”
“That’s their skin?”
“Uh huh, although usually dead and disconnected. It’s kind of like if you cut your hair, then knit it into a shirt.”
“I’ve heard of a hair shirt, but…” Then Nikki decided she wanted to see more shape-shirt-shifting. “Do it again!”
“Okay.” Jinn pointed down to her modest endowments. “No bra – don’t blink now – bra!”
The movement had been swift, but a bra had suddenly come into being.
“Okay, I’ll do it slower. Watch what happens. Better yet,” she reached out for Nikki’s hand and placed it on her breast, “feel it as I shift.”
“Hold on!” Nikki protested.
“Don’t worry, it’s how my teacher taught me. There’s nothing wrong with it – we’re both girls. And apparently shifters touch a lot.”
“Uh…” Nikki wasn’t sure about this, but Jinn’s bra was shifting and changing against her palm, in a way that was more than a little freaky. Again, the fabric seemed to change to skin, then the welt-like pattern faded back into normal skin. Against her palm, a firm nipple was now pressed, without benefit of a fabric barrier.
“I’m hoping that if I look less like a dead person and more like a living shifter, my boyfriend might be more interested in me,” Jinn admitted.
Standing as she was, with her hand on another girl’s breast, listening to loaded statements like that, Nikki’s brain wasn’t working at its greatest efficiency. She didn’t know what to say or what to do. Finally, all she could do was blurt out the one thing she could think of.
“Well he’s bound to notice that you’re colder than a witch’s tit.” She gave a chuckle at her self-referential humor. “After all, I should know.”
That’s when there was a quick knock at the door. Before either of them could move, the door sprang open and Bunny burst into the room. “Hey Nikki, want to do something … fun?”
The cuddly little blonde stared at them, while Nikki had her hand pressed on Jinn’s bare breast.
Nikki snatched her hand away, like she would from a hot stove. “Would you believe, it’s not what it looks like?”
65: Turning up the heat
The Underground, Devisor Lab 1 (“Small Mechanics Bay”)
Friday, December 1, 7:41 PM
It was Friday night. Where else would a good devisor be, but down in the lab? Jade stamped her feet and rubbed her arms, thinking that the Whateley blazer just wasn’t warm enough for a December night. Maybe if she sprinted on the way back to the cottage she wouldn’t freeze her delicates off.
Beside her, Shroud floated, bobbing gently like a balloon to emphasize her ethereal nature. Since Shroud was the bodyguard, she was in full intimidation mode – spectral white against the impossibly black outfit, old chains and her tatter-cloak. Jade knew that her “sister” was prepared with the metallic arms and legs primed for combat. The other girl had tried another minor variation on her appearance, making her eyes into dark pits as black as coal (which amused her more than a bit).
It was a good effect, Jade decided. Creepy and intimidating, but not outright angry, like the glowing red eyes. “Eyes good,” she said, in their abbreviated talk. “Spook show, not combat.” She rubbed her arms again. “Lucky, cold.”
To which Shroud replied, “Lucky, cold.”
When translated, that meant, “I like the effect of your eyes, Shroud. They look spooky; it’s a good show. Not that it would make any difference in combat.” And also, “It’s freezing out there! You’re lucky you don’t suffer from the cold.” To which Shroud had replied, “The winter air is crisp and full of sensation for all living creatures. You’re fortunate that you have a sense of touch, and can experience the world.” Though Shroud said that in a briefer, and somewhat less eloquent fashion.
Jade pushed her palm up to the scanner in the door lock. There was also a keypad and other ID-confirmation devices. None of these was strictly necessary, but this was a devisor lab and so the extra stuff just seemed to get added on even if it wasn’t required. Likewise the door had been severely over-built. Most of the doors in The Underground just slid aside. Simple and functional. Not so with the devisor bays. The students that used the labs seemed to take offense at a simple door. Lab One currently had a door that was a iris – a set of metallic leaves set in a spiral pattern, like in a camera lens. In this case, it was actually a double iris, with the inside and outside offset higher and lower, so that the centers didn’t match up. It was very nicely over-complex. Jade wondered how long it would last before another devisor came along and “fixed” it some other way.
The palm ID flashed, recognizing her, and the door double-irised open. She stepped over the razor-sharp threshold and into the bay; Shroud wafted in behind her. The room had started as a blocky garage shape, two stories tall and perhaps forty feet by forty feet. It had been added to, specialized, and built up continuously since it had first opened, with the result that the walls were lined with tool and equipment benches. Here and there were semi-enclosed cubicles housing the computerized workstations with the holographic displays necessary for checking advanced designs. There were the tools of an earlier age – the metal lathes and grinders, drills, welders, and even micro furnaces. In between these were also the tools of the modern era – the laser cutter, the 3D synthesizer, the various stations for working plastics. In the center of it all was a giant anvil, a multi-angle laser furnace, a collection of hammers, and the annealing barrels. The ceiling was a grid of brilliant fluorescent lights, and between the lights dangled the omnipresent metallic tentacles of the maintenance robot – dropping down to a bench to clean it, or retrieve tools, or replace parts into their appropriate bins.
It being Friday night, there were naturally several devisors present. She recognized Thunderfox – one of the Betas. Was the girl a junior? Maybe a senior; she was a foot taller than Jade. She had a set of wrenches and screwdrivers laid out before her as she took apart the articulated framework of what looked like some sort of exoskeleton power armor. No, not full armor. It looked like just a framework, perhaps to boost speed or strength.
Jade was a bit too intimidated to bother one of the Betas (she belatedly reminded herself that the Betas hated that name and preferred to be called the “Wild Pack”). Instead, she drifted over to another bench where a black guy named Dredz was talking to auburn-haired girl who went by the codename Loophole. Loophole was definitely a freshman, but she thought Dredz might be a year older.
Dredz had a high-power, very impressive rifle off to one side, but he was watching intently as Loophole examined a bullet through a complex microscope.
“These channels on the side must help accumulate the charge,” she said. “Maybe as it’s being fired. It couldn’t gather charge as it travels through the air, could it? Though that would explain why it packs such a punch. I’d like to cut it open so that we can examine the hypothetical capacitor inside.”
“Not until we know we can put it back together again,” Dredz insisted. “You know what it took for me to get this one bullet?”
“Reverse engineering?” Jade asked, trying not to interrupt.
Dredz looked up at her. “Generator, right? Wallflower’s friend?”
Jade nodded confirmation.
“’m lookin’ to have a non-lethal load, like security wit’ their grenade launchers. GLOCK-jock does it, but he barely gave me time o’ day. He said, and I quote, ‘Good luck spying on my leavings.’ So I figured that was, like, permission.” He nodded toward the girl looking through the microscope. “Too bad for him, Loophole here can reverse engineer just about anything. All she’s got to do is touch it and examine it for a while.”
“True,” the girl said, not looking up, “except in the case of a devise. Which I’m starting to think this might be.”
“Hell. We outta luck?”
“Not necessarily. If we assume that he’s supplying some sort of energizer ability, we might be able to come up with a substitute…”
Jade drifted away, resolving to never ever let Loophole get a finger on any of her fake “devise” creations. She headed over to the spare-parts bin and began rooting through it. As a deviser, people expected to see her in the labs. This counted toward that. And every once in a while, she came across something good. Kneeling down, she braced herself against the bin, then cast into it.
Her spirit form, free to examine the outside and inside of every piece within the bin, would do a faster and better job than she ever could, examining the contents.
A few moments later, the memories came to her, and she began to eagerly dig toward the bottom of the bin. A find!
Saturday, December 2, 10:03 AM
Jade sat cross-legged on her bed, working on the equipment she’d acquired, along with different sizes of transparent plastic tubing. She had minor tools laid out around her – screwdrivers and wrenches – as well as a beat-up old stainless steel thermos.
Billie was naked except for a skimpy pair of light blue panties that almost matched her hair. She was rooting through her lingerie drawer and trying on various bras.
“Either that stupid Monkey King did something to all my bras,” Billie muttered, “or else I’ve grown.” She reached down to pinch each breast, inspecting them critically. “What do you think? Do I look bigger to you?”
Jade smiled up at her oneesan. “Do you want to be bigger?”
Billie looked like she was about to snap off a quick answer, when she suddenly rocked back. “Hey, today’s December second, isn’t it?”
“It’s the anniversary of my change.” She quickly counted on her fingers. “It’s been nine months exactly since the day I was changed into a girl. Nine months ago this morning, I was a regular guy with posters of Ryoko on my wall, friends in school, and girls that I admired. Now I’ve kinda left the school and family behind, I look like the posters, and my former friends wouldn’t recognize me.” Under her breath she muttered, “My own family didn’t even recognize me.” Louder, “I wonder if any guys admire me, the way I used to admire Ryoko?”
“You know they do, oneesan. So it’s exactly nine months?”
“Yeah, freaky symbolism, huh?” She placed her palm on her flat abdomen. “The same amount of time… ugg! I absolutely refuse to think about that! Damn. This trans-gender stuff really screws with you, doesn’t it? It changes everything you think you know about who you are.”
“You and me both, oneesan. And we’re both doing our best to ignore the unpleasant details.”
“What do you mean?”
“You wanted to look at beautiful girls, not be one. Now you’re the wrong gender, and you’re trying to cope, so you’re ignoring details like boys, and dating, and babies, and being a mother.”
Billie snorted. “You’re half right there, for sure. I’m no longer sure that this is the wrong gender.” She ran a hand down her side. “I think I like myself like this. It… grows on you, you know? Ignoring the stuff like dating – you sure as hell got that right, sister! But we’re only freshmen, even if I sort of got demoted back a year. Back in my old school, most freshmen weren’t even thinking of stuff like that. You, with all the kissy-face you’ve been doing with snake-boy, would have been the talk of the class.”
“He’s not a snake, he’s a dragon,” Jade insisted, returning to her tinkering. “And… sometimes, when he looks at me, he sees the person I wish I was. Sometimes when he’s with me, I believe it’s really true.”
“Hmmm.” Billie didn’t know what to say about that. She was far too aware of her roommate’s problems and insecurities. Searching for a safe way off that topic, she asked, “What are you working on? You know you’re not a real devisor.”
Jade looked up. “Yeah, but you’d be surprised what they throw away. I was thinking about some improvements for Jinn. You know how people are supposed to get, like, a chill whenever a ghost is near? So what if it was really like that? And then I was reading about liquid nitrogen…”
“Cool stuff!” Billie interrupted. “They had a flask in genetics class, and we all had to study some safety rules. Oh, yeah, you could do a bunch with that, if you could find a supply.”
“Which is why I wanted a refrigerator,” Jade said. “But then Nikki was feeling Jinn’s skin—”
“I heard about that,” Billie muttered.
“—and she said I was cold! Which makes sense, when you think about it. And I was thinking, maybe Stephen would pay more attention to me (Jinn, I mean) if I was warm like other girls.”
“I bet you’re right,” Billie said, thoughtfully. “In fact, does he have ‘pits’?”
“Ew! Arm pits?”
“No, pits like a pit viper. Some reptiles can sort of see infra-red. He could see your heat without ever getting close to you.”
Jade had a look of dawning horror. “And if I looked cold, he’d just stay away from me!”
“So that junk is going to fix all that?”
“Uh huh! This is a miniaturized cryogenic cooler.” She pointed at different parts. “It all runs off a big motor that I removed. Jinn can just spin this shaft. This end chills input air enough to condense out liquid nitrogen, which drips out of this tube. But the heat has to go somewhere, so the heat gets pushed through to here. I’m going to circulate water through to dump the waste heat. If I just loop some runs of tubing under my skin, it’ll make Jinn as warm as a normal person.”
“Hmmm, that almost sounds reasonable. What are those bags for?”
“Reserve fluid,” Jade explained. “This large one is the main reserve, ten liters. These two smaller ones…”
“Oh no, you aren’t still on that kick about the Gainax Effect, are you?”
“Check out any Gainax animé,” Billie explained, dryly. “Look at the girls’ chests. ‘Excessive boob motion.’ And they put in plenty of scenes like calisthenics, running up and down stairs, stuff like that. I’m told that it’s pretty painful.”
“Well,” Billie, still topless, bounced on her toes. “See? A little motion, but not too much. I think it has something to do with being immune to gravity and acceleration.”
“So why do you even bother with a bra?” Jade wondered.
“I keep asking myself that! And they keep telling me that it’s perverted if I don’t wear one.” She turned back to her lingerie drawer. “Only now they don’t fit! Arggg! I hate these things!”
Saturday, December 2, 2:27 PM
Moving down her list, Jade moved across the hall to knock on Toni and Nikki’s door. As the door opened, she saw the ruckus was already in progress. The subject seemed to be Nikki’s new outfit: a strapless, bare shoulder dress with a very short flared skirt. The dress was bright red and trimmed with white fur at the hemline and as it traced its way across her bust. It was accompanied by long, elegant red gloves, also trimmed in white midway up her upper arm, and there was a matching red Santa hat, also trimmed with white fur.
“…and I’m telling you,” Toni was saying, somewhat emphatically. “Wearing that thing on campus is a bad idea. Forget about sugar plums – every boy on campus is gonna be dreaming about opening your presents!”
The redhead gave a mature and thoughtful reply, sticking out her tongue. “You’re just jealous. I’m a Christmas elf. What could be more innocent?”
“Damn straight I’m jealous. That outfit’s so hot – say goodbye to any chance of a white Christmas. You don’t ever plan on bending over, do you?”
Nikki demurely squatted, keeping her legs together as she gracefully dropped to sit on her heels. “That’s the way well behaved girls do it. I learned that from Poise in the modeling club.” She stood again and explained, “But it wouldn’t matter if I did bend over. The bottom is integrated with the outfit – like a cheerleader’s uniform. It’s completely modest, see?” To demonstrate, she bent over, leaning away from them.
“Urk.” It was about all Toni could say.
Nikki straightened up. “What? Nothing shows, does it?”
Toni repeated: “Urk.”
Jade, blushing furiously, tried her best. “Um, well, you see, everything is covered… technically. But the bottom is kind of sheer.”
“Sheer? What do you mean? How sheer?”
“Well,” Jade looked down at her toes, suddenly unable to meet their eyes. “If I wore that, and bent over like that, uh, everyone would know my secret.”
Jade looked back up to note that Nikki’s face was acquiring the same shade as her dress.
“I guess I’ll have to be careful not to bend over.”
“I guess.” Toni agreed. “On the bright side, we won’t have to worry about the Christmas bonfire. Every boy on campus will have a Yule log.”
Jade didn’t understand why the boys would be gathering wood, instead of admiring Nikki’s great outfit, but it seemed like a good time to interrupt with her question.
“Uh, sempai, could you help me with something?”
“Sure, kid, what’s up?”
Jade held up her laptop. “I’m trying to figure out where they store the public student records. I tried asking Bunny, but she’s still mad at me.”
“Bunny!” Nikki said in sudden inspiration. “I should show her my new outfit! Maybe this’ll get her to forgive me.”
“Can I borrow your laptop again?” Toni asked.
“Sure. Don’t break it!” And Nikki flounced out the door. There was no other word for it.
“Well, we’ve got the rest of the afternoon,” Toni announced. “Bunny’s going to give her such a licking!”
Jade felt a stab of fear. “Oh no! She’s that mad? She wouldn’t really hurt Nikki, would she?”
Toni just stared at her with a perplexed look of worry. “Uh… never mind. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
From down the hall came Bunny’s voice in what was obviously a squeal of glee. “Wheee! For me? Goody! Goody!” That was followed by the sound of a door slamming.
“Are you sure Nikki’s going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. We’d better let them work it out between the two of them.” Toni snickered at that. “I never did hear why Bunny was mad at her.”
“Oh, that’s sort of my fault. Bunny walked in on us and it looked like – well, it wasn’t what it looked like.”
“Uh huh. What did it look like?”
“Well, it looked like she was feeling me up. Jinn, I mean. But it wasn’t my fault!”
“Well, I was topless, and I’d just put Nikki’s hand on my breast. But the explanation is really very simple. You see—”
“No!” Toni held up a hand, silencing her. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”
Jade looked at her in puzzlement. “You don’t? That doesn’t sound like you, sempai.”
“Oh, it’ll be far more interesting worming a confession out of Nikki – now that I know the incriminating details.”
“Oh.” Jade gulped, wondering how long she’d be paying for this.
“Now, hand over your laptop.”
“Uh, okay.” She felt particularly meek, as she offered the device to Toni.
Toni grabbed her own laptop and placed it in the middle, with Jade’s laptop on one side and Nikki’s on the other side. “Okay, you want student public records? Who for? You want to see what they have on you?”
“No, I need to check on Thuban, to see if he’s got IR vision.”
“Oh, reptile thing, right? Okay, gimme a second.” Toni’s hands flashed over the keyboards, typing faster than Jade’s eyes could follow. In less than two seconds, she had logged in on all three machines – with a temporary account on Jade’s and Nikki’s machines.
“Now comes the long wait, letting it finish the login.”
“Uh, sempai? When did you become a hacking expert?”
“What are you talking about? I don’t know anything about hacking.”
The screens cleared, and Toni’s fingers danced across three different keyboards. “I learned touch-typing oh… last month, I think it was. Of course, like any martial arts technique, you need to learn how to apply it ambidextrously. Also, once you master the form, you can strive for speed and control. I could do better, but most keyboards can’t keep up.”
“I didn’t know that typing was one of the martial arts,” the younger girl commented.
“Are you kidding? For the modern information warrior, it’s essential! Like knowing how to block, or fall, or fill out forms in triplicate!”
Each of the laptops was now coming up with an image. On Jade’s laptop, the Whateley school records were displayed. On Nikki’s computer were records from international police databases. That page prominently featured the words “No match.”
“Hmmm, not much there. Makes sense that the Whateley records are so sparse, since they’re available to everyone at the school. It’s filed under codename, and only has basic details of his ability. Nothing about IR vision. Do you know his real name?”
Jade frowned. “There aren’t any hackers or anything spying on us, are there?”
Toni thought for a moment. “I don’t think so, but this is Whateley. This computer is as safe as I can make it, but I’ve only read a dozen or so basic computer books.” She tapped her temple. “Exemplar, remember? So I know the basics, and I can type a term paper faster than I can read it aloud, but that’s a long way from being a hacker.”
Still frowning, Jade said, “Search under ‘Stephen Cheng Lee’. There might be records in Hong Kong, London, or Boston.”
This was a more complex operation. Toni cleared all three laptops, then typed furiously on their keyboards. After making a series of complex entries on Jade’s machine (one handed) she repeated the process on the other two machines, using a hand on each machine.
“There! Give it a second for the net to catch up with us… there you go!”
Jade leaned forward to peer at her machine. “Huh. That must be a picture before he started changing. Nothing about infra-red here… Oh no!”
Toni snapped forward. “What is it?”
“His birthday! Look!”
Toni peered at the data. “December 5. This Tuesday.”
“What am I going to get him for a present?”
66: Last minute
Jade worked steadily on the cryogenic unit, cutting and joining plastic tubing to mimic the major arteries and veins. One of her selves checked out books and did research, another helped her physical body work on the central heat converter. The converter was designed so that one end heated and the other end cooled. The hot end was set to dump waste heat into a circulating fluid, like water. She suspected that it had been intended for one of the giant robot projects, or maybe one of the vehicles, and the water was intended to run through a radiator. It was really an advanced heat pump, and it was a major project in itself. She discovered quickly enough that it had been discarded because it didn’t quite work. The bearings and seals hadn’t been able to handle either the load or the temperature differences. She thought she might be able to solve those problems. Her telekinesis could keep the central compression unit rotating and hold the pieces in perfect alignment – without any bearings at all. And the seals would work, so long as the alignment was perfect. But to do that she would have to be concentrating intently on the pump, all the time.
Her hope was something she had learned through her self-hypnosis and training of Jinn. The brain is capable of performing extremely complex tasks. Walking, typing, reading, driving, all are tasks of immense complexity, all of them take a great deal of effort to learn. Learning involves endless hours repeating drills, training, exercising, practicing. But after all that work, the brain adapts. It’s able to automatically stimulate and regulate dozens of muscles, applying feedback so naturally that it’s not even noticed consciously.
In the same way, Jinn’s task of using telekinesis to simulate the shape and movement of a human body was stunningly complex. No one who truly understood the difficulty of the task would have ever tried – it was obviously impossible. But Jinn had been “born” knowing how to automatically simulate a body. She was now learning how to coordinate multiple tasks at the same time – her “hundred hands” problem. If Jinn could train herself to operate the heat converter and pump at a similar level of ability, it wouldn’t require conscious attention.
So, once the pump was reassembled, another one of her spent full time practicing running it, concentrating on nothing but the rotor, and positioning, and turning.
And slowly, as she worked on the compressor, an idea was appearing for a birthday present. It combined the subconscious, automatic reactions, her frustrations with Thuban, and a few other ideas. She pulled out the Centi-grab and her Universal Remote. She fondly remembered using them on Peeper. But this was for a birthday present, so she began to disassemble. The only question now was: Would she be able to finish by Tuesday?
Monday, December 4, 7:05 PM
Everything was finished and working… almost.
She came to Bunny, hoping the girl had gotten over her irritation. “Bunny, I’m desperate! You have to help me!”
“How come? I haven’t even forgiven you yet for making a move on my girlfriend!”
“But I explained that! It was all just a big misunderstanding! And she told me important stuff – about how my skin was so cold. But I’ve fixed that! Jinn, come over here. Uh, shake hands maybe?”
Bunny sighed. “Let’s just skip that part and go straight to the help you need.”
Jade held out a small box, the size of a pencil case. It was black plastic, with an antenna at the top and a large dial in the middle. It had a cartoon image of a ghost girl painted on the top. The dial was illuminated “-“ on the left and “+” on the right.
Bunny took the device and peered at it. “What is it?”
“Well…” Jade scratched her head, then popped the case open. “It’s like the Universal Remote, only simpler. See, I’ve got one dial here, for up or down. And like you showed me, I’ve got this chip for synthesizing sound effects, and this chip for the controlling the LEDs and stuff. And of course there’s the self-destruct chip over here, in case anyone tries to take it apart without knowing the secret. All just like you showed me last month.”
“Mmm hmmm,” Bunny agreed, pleasantly enough. “And over here?”
“Well, I wanted it to be really impressive, so that’s a force feedback unit, from an old joystick. Use this baby, and you’ll know you’ve activated some serious power.”
“Okay,” Bunny agreed, “What’s it supposed to do?”
“Oh, ah,” Jade was suddenly evasive. “It’s Stephen – uh, I mean, Thuban’s birthday present.”
“Okay. But what’s it supposed to do?”
“Oh, well, uh, that’s kind of a secret.”
“Hmmm. And you’re going to give it to him at that meeting, tomorrow night?”
Jade nodded eagerly. “Yeah! So he can use it at the meeting!” Then in a smaller voice. “And, I don’t know, maybe afterward.”
Bunny drummed her fingers on the desk. “So what do you need from me?”
“Well, I need to generate some ultrasonic tones. Whatever you want, just so that I can use them tonight for, uh, training. One tone for up, another for down.”
“Easy enough,” Bunny agreed. “You need it tomorrow, huh? What’s the schedule for those meetings?”
“Usually eight to ten. They start just after dinner, and go until slightly before curfew. But I need the remote finished tonight.”
“And you just need to add an ultrasonic signal?”
“Yeah. Please, Bunny? Pleeeese?”
Bunny smiled. “It shouldn’t be too hard.”
She turned away from Jade to grab some parts from a bin over her desk. If anyone had been there to see, they would have remarked on how nefarious her smile appeared now.
“I can fix you right up.”
Tuesday, December 5, 6:30 PM
Jinn joined them for dinner, which was unusual. Once more she wore her ubiquitous cloak and gloves, along with the full skirt she’d worn to the previous F3 meeting. This time her top was a bandeau, a simple wrap around her upper chest perhaps five inches wide. Everything she wore was crushed velvet, midnight blue, without a speck of lint, so that the folds and drapes caught the light and gave the rich texture of soft fur. Her skin was flesh tone, and her complexion was normal.
Chou looked her up and down, appraising. “So that’s your look for tonight’s meeting?”
“Not quite.” Jinn closed her eyes in concentration, and the life seemed to visibly fade from her. Her healthy complexion faded before their eyes as she became whiter than Sara. Even that faded as you moved farther from her head, so that her forearms and midriff were virtually transparent, showing white bone and plastic tubing.
“Is it okay to appear like that in public?” Nikki wondered. “You aren’t giving away anything, are you?”
“No,” Jinn said with a snort, “aside from giving away tonight’s outfit to Demona, but this is almost what I wore last week, so no big deal. And as for the ghost stuff – I’m public with that. It’s who I am.”
Of course, she wouldn’t have been admitting even that much in the public setting of the cafeteria if she hadn’t had faith in Nikki’s anti-eavesdropping spell.
“Problem,” Sara commented, jabbing a finger in the direction of Jinn’s midriff. “It looks like you’ve got tubes filled with water there.”
“Yeah,” Jade chimed in. “It gives her warmth, so that she can look and feel like a real person to people who touch her or see heat.”
“Ah!” Sara nodded in understanding. “Like the boyfriend.”
“Still looks like plastic tubing.”
“I hate to say it,” Chou added, “but I agree with Sara.”
“Arggg!” Jade ground out. “I worked on this all weekend! What can I do?”
“Forget the see-through skin,” Toni suggested. “Don’t show the bones and tubes and stuff.”
“Not strange enough for Faction Three,” Jinn admitted. “If white skin was enough to let someone in, they’d invite Sara.”
“As if I were interested in attending the Pity Party.”
That was when Jamie proposed the idea. “This might be out of line, but the problem is that it looks like she’s got water in plastic tubes, right?”
“Exactly,” Sara confirmed.
“Well, what if it wasn’t water?” Jamie asked. “What if it was some opaque white fluid? Then the tubes would look more like ligaments or intestines or something gross like that, right?”
There was a collective “hmmm” from around the table.
The next leading question came from Fey. “Where exactly is she going to find an opaque white fluid?”
Jamie just held up a glass of milk.
“Maybe,” Sara mused. “It might work.”
“Excuse me,” Jinn said, rising from the table. “I’ve got to head to the girl’s room. I’ve got just over two gallons of water to dump.”
Ayla snorted at that. “I’d hate to be in the next stall when that hits the pot. That’s gotta be the piss to end all pissing.”
“Does anyone even listen to what happens in the bathroom anymore?” Nikki wondered. “I mean, if you can’t cope with weird bathroom sounds—”
Everyone chimed in for the standard punch line “—you don’t belong at Whateley!”
Jinn left, and Jade looked at the crowd around her. “Okay, time for Operation: Milk-up! Let’s see, these look like about twelve ounce glasses, two gallons, that’s uh, about twenty-two glasses of milk. Let’s go!”
And so, while the students surrounding them could only look on in curiosity, Jinn (who was reasonably well known to be a ghost, and therefore someone who didn’t eat) sat at the table and poured milk down her throat, glass after glass, for twenty-two glasses worth. But no one stopped her and no one asked about it, because after all, if you couldn’t handle something as simple as a dead-girl chug-a-lugging two gallons of milk, you really didn’t belong at Whateley.
“How’s that look?” Jinn asked, once her pumps were working again. She forced her midriff to go transparent once more.
“Hey, not too bad,” Sara decided. “Not quite like the real thing. Maybe if you smeared the tubes with Vaseline or something you could get that glistening that comes with real innards. But that’s not bad!”
Hank just listened to it all, regretting that his dinner tonight was manicotti with clam sauce. He turned to Tennyo. “I keep asking myself why I still try to eat with this crowd. When I sit with Lily and her friends, the conversation hardly ever revolves around death or sex or guts or some sick combination of the three.”
Tennyo met his eyes and nodded. “So,” she asked sympathetically, “you still gonna eat that?”
67: Character growth
The Underground, Faction Three theater
Tuesday, December 5, 8:02 PM
Jinn made her entrance to the F3 meeting beside Demona and two steps behind Thuban, much like the week before. But this week she immediately wrapped her hands (in a friendly fashion) around Stephen’s arm and led him off to one side of the theater. The warmth of her touch seemed to surprise him enough that he allowed himself to be led into a corner. He asked no question, merely looking at her with his gimlet gaze and quirking a brow ridge in inquiry.
Jinn was very aware of the eavesdroppers that might be tuned to them at that very moment.
“Um, well,” she began, more than a little nervous about all of this, “my little sister Jade was doing weird science experiments on me all weekend. And, um, she made this for you.” She quickly handed him a package wrapped in shiny gold, with a red bow. “Happy birthday. She said that, used properly, it might be a present for both of us.”
With that, Jinn released his arm, then stepped back to watch her boyfriend.
“My… birthday? Thank you. Thank you very much. I did hear right, didn’t I? You didn’t say from both of you, but for both of us?”
She just nodded.
It was a treat to watch the emotions running under his skin. There were flickers of so many complex feelings, but it looked good overall. He was surprised, and happy, and so many of the things she hoped for. It took him only a moment to tear the shiny wrapping off, so that he held the remote control in his hand.
“Some sort of controller? For what? Is the drawing at the top supposed to be you?”
“I don’t know! Jade wouldn’t tell me!”
They both knew that was a lie, but since a crowd was beginning to gather Thuban let it pass.
“I guess I’ll have to find out the hard way,” he said, with a hint of a smile. “Let’s try the negative side, first. Perhaps a inversion of polarity, or clothing color? Voice volume? Height off the ground?”
And while the crowd watched, Thuban twisted the dial in the “minus” direction. On the controller, lights spiraled in a counter-clockwise direction, there was a whine reminiscent of a turbine spinning down, and the device visibly shook in his tight grip from the forces unleashed.
Also audible to Jinn was a distinctive ultrasonic chord.
She knew what to expect, but it was startling just the same.
“Oh!” she couldn’t help uttering aloud.
As all eyes turned toward her, she felt herself shrinking, up top. Her breasts had been the size of cupcakes – just a handful – but now they were reduced to being no larger than halves of peaches.
Behind the scenes, of course, there was plenty going on. The pump for the warming fluid diverted some flow, draining reserve fluid from the two bounce-bladders mounted to her white metallic rib cage. The particles of her skin shifted smoothly, covering and reforming to match the new size. And an extra telekinetic “hand” gathered the material of her top, pulling it snug in back, where (concealed by her cloak) a great deal of extra fabric was gathered.
Jinn’s hopes had been realized. None of the complexity penetrated to her conscious mind. She heard the tone she had trained for, the tone she had programmed into her own self-hypnotic state. She heard the tone, and it seemed that things simply changed. With a strange sort of slither and an inexplicable feeling of regret, she faded in front.
It took this long for the crowd to realize what had happened, but when it did, there was a gasp of surprise and delight. Although, scanning the crowd, she saw the colors for delight mostly in the faces of guys. The girls seemed to be scowling, and had the colors of offense. Thuban, though, was delighted. He simply glowed with surprise and glee and curiosity.
“Plus!” one of the boys near Thuban urged, seeing the controller dial. “Do plus!”
The crowd began to take up the chant. “Plus! Plus! Plus! Plus!”
“Now, now,” Thuban cautioned, “it behooves us to discover the limits to this delightful little device.” With a grin, he twisted the dial hard to the left.
“Hey!” Jinn shouted in indignation. “What’s the big idea?”
She stared down at her chest. Now she barely had two small strawberries under her tight top. Her size was more suitable for a young girl in grade school, not a seventeen-year-old like herself.
“The idea,” Thuban said smugly, “isn’t to be big at all.”
“Hey, cut it out!” she demanded.
“Not just yet,” Thuban responded. “We have to plumb the depths of our capabilities here.”
Again, Thuban twisted, and again she felt that indefinable slithering sense of loss, until she had no more than two tiny pats of butter. With another twist, that was gone too, and she was now as flat as a boy, as flat as her physical body, completely without breasts of any kind.
She was less prone to emotions than her physical body, and she’d been prepared for this to happen. Even so, she couldn’t stop her lower lip from quivering as she turned to Thuban. “Give ‘em back!”
By now, the whole meeting had gathered around. Demona pushed her way through the crowd, wondering what the excitement was all about. She noticed Thuban and the controller first, then looked around at Jinn. She turned back in puzzlement toward the crowd before doing an actual double-take and swiveling back to stare at Jinn’s chest.
“Good God! Where’d your tits go?”
“And what happens if we go even further?” Thuban wondered, dialing for ‘minus’ once more.
Jinn’s hands rose to her chest, but there was no further humiliation. She was still flat as a board, with a simple strip of fabric wrapped unnecessarily around her. Her breasts were gone – stolen! It was entirely her own doing, but she had expected it to be like this!
With real fear in her voice, she reached desperately toward Thuban. “Please! Undo it!”
“Of course. I merely needed to discover the limits. Let’s see, I believe we should try the other direction now.” With a twist of his wrist, the device began to shake, as the lights spiraled in a clockwise direction.
Again, Jinn felt that slithering feeling, but this time a fullness entered her, and the slightest weight returned to her chest. Looking down, she saw a bare protrusion, like two small pats of butter. They weren’t much, admittedly, but they were a far cry from having a boy-chest. This meant that she had at least a hint of femininity.
“Plus! Plus! Plus! Plus!” The crowd chanted
A twist of the dial and she felt herself growing and expanding once more. Now, looking down, it was almost like she had tiny strawberries under her bandeau – like a young girl just beginning to develop.
Demona was horrified. “Please tell me that thing doesn’t work on anyone!”
The crowd suddenly blossomed with the colors of fear and alarm. Mostly girls, but more and more guys as they realized the implications. A few of the girls flickered over to curiosity.
“It seemed to have been designed for Jinn’s unique nature,” Thuban reassured everyone. “Come here, Demona.”
Demona sauntered closer, confidently.
“Let’s just find out for sure!” Thuban pointed the control directly toward Demona and dialed “plus.”
Demona shrieked, then, groping herself, discovered that she had grown no larger. “Thank God!”
Jinn, in contrast, also could not help groping herself. The double dose had taken her straight through “peaches” to her normal “cupcake” size, and she heaved a huge sigh of relief. “YES! Thank God! I know one little sister that’s going to get a serious pounding once I get back home!”
“Oh, but we haven’t finished the experiment yet, have we?” Thuban mentioned, with a thread of amusement in his voice that she hadn’t ever noticed before. “As you mentioned, this is where we began. What happens if we try ‘plus’ again?”
“Uh,” Jinn began backing up. “I’m not so sure that’s wise…”
There was a piercing ultrasonic tone, and a slithery feeling, and she now had two large, firm oranges under her top. Or at least, mounds the size of oranges. Large oranges, at that. Jinn felt her bandeau tightening, as her weight pulled her slightly forward. “Oh. Hmmm, that’s not so bad. How do I look, Demona?”
With a sultry look, the gargoyle commented, “Not too bad! Of course, you’ve got a ways to go before you’re throwing around the big guns,” she turned and posed, with her chest thrust out, so there was no doubt what she was talking about, “but still, not bad!”
“Heh heh heh. That sounded like a challenge!” Thuban eagerly dialed toward plus again, and yet again.
“EEEEK!” Helpless under the barrage of the repeated signal, Jinn could only watch in shock as her chest expanded, right in front of her eyes. A few more pulses and she was grapefruit size, and still expanding.
“Plus! Plus! Plus! Plus!”
Jinn was forced to adjust her stance and posture once, and then again. She wasn’t sure if it was the right approach, but with these ever-growing weights on her chest, her back arched more strongly, pushing her shoulders and rear out in counterbalance, and tipping her chest up, more closely positioned over her center of gravity. By the time the signals stopped, she had settled into “cantaloupe.”
“There, Demona,” Thuban purred. An odd sound to hear issuing from a reptile. “Now you don’t have to feel so alone. In fact, I think Jinn may even have you at a slight disadvantage.”
“Uh huh.” Demona’s voice made it sound like she was mesmerized. There wasn’t the slightest trace of jealousy or regret, only pure admiration.
“Oh my God,” Jinn breathed in alarm. “How am I supposed to walk? I can’t even see my feet!”
“Neither can the rest of us,” Demona said, giving her a skirt flip. “See? Nothing there but an empty pair of panties! Oh, and some hip bones.”
“Demona!” Jinn screeched in alarm. “Stop that!” But she discovered that all her martial arts training, all the movement she’d been learning, all of that applied for a normal body. It was a lot harder to move gracefully with a pair of cantaloupes attached to her chest. Hell, she thought to herself, I’d need reduction surgery to get down to the size of Pamela Anderson!
Fortunately, despite her tremendous bosoms being filled with warm liquid, they were supported telekinetically, so there was only a minimum of sag (and that was provided for effect). She bounced once on her toes, feeling her chest weights echo the motion after a momentary delay.
A handful of the boys around her let loose with “oooo!”s and “aaaahhh!”s.
The girls she knew were headed in the opposite direction, all fuming and displaying colors of humiliation, anger, and of course, jealousy.
It’s a good thing I blamed this whole stunt on Jade, she thought. Then wondered, Oops. I hope none of them come gunning for my physical body!
The physical body in question was studying on the computer when Nikki interrupted. Noticing that Billie was out, Nikki looked around slyly, before dropping down on Jade’s bed. She was holding a set of pages, rolled up in a tube.
“So, ah, Jade…?” she asked, far too casually.
Jade peered suspiciously at the redhead. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing! Nothing!” Nikki waved hand and tube in total denial. “I was just wondering if you remember that conversation we had the other day?”
“I don’t know,” Jade said, suddenly suspicious. “We’ve had a lot of conversations.”
“This one was about me, and simulacrums, and an army of elves…”
Jade frowned. “I don’t recall anything about an army of elves. It was going to be just you and me.”
Nikki began to toy with a loose strand of hair, looking absolutely enchanting, and driving Jade pretty much insane with jealousy. “Uh, did I say army of elves? I meant, fairies. At least, that’s what I said out loud, over with the modeling group.”
“You just happened to mention it? Come on, I’m not as naïve as people seem to think I am!” Jade lied, with utter conviction.
“Well, okay. It’s like this. See, there’s a limited amount of modeling work that us ‘exotics’ can get. I was mumbling something about an army of faeries, and one of our photographers overheard. And he had this vision. ‘Christmas elf!’ Okay, I might have been muttering about that, too. But he had this vision of me and a trio of little pixie types. It’s perfect for the Christmas market! I’m not talking sales here at the academy, like stupid Greasy and Peeper, I’m talking nationwide posters here! A Christmas elf might look exotic, with strange eyes and pointed ears, but that just fits the story, doesn’t it? Only I need three pixies! I figured I could do hobgoblins, so I already told him yes. But hobgoblins won’t work. I can’t get the look, I can’t control them, and they won’t settle down for me. On the set it would be a disaster!”
“Pixies.” Jade forced her voice to be harsh. This was difficult to accomplish. What little girl hasn’t dreamed of being Tinker Bell? But she forced herself to sound upset. “You want me to be a pixie? You want me to be three pixies?”
Nikki just nodded, looking desperate.
“What are we talking about? Tiny?”
“Two inches tall,” Nikki specified.
“Little dragonfly wings?”
“Yeah. Butterfly wings would also be acceptable.”
“Teeny little dress and adorable little slippers?” The glee was beginning to creep into Jade’s voice.
“Yeah. Red, like my dress. Trimmed in teeny-tiny white fur. With itsy-bitsy Santa hats.”
Jade was squealing now. “Tinker Bell?”
Nikki nodded. “Tinker Bell. Well… modified so there’s no actual infringement on the Disney design.” She pulled pages out of the tube and unrolled them. “The photographer even came back with some preliminary sketches.”
Jade’s eyes practically had sparkles in them. She poured over the designs like they were a dream come true.
“What is it,” Nikki wondered, in growing worry.
“The costumes! I’m rotten at sewing!”
Jinn heard a “smack” sound and turned (and kept turning, as her oversized breasts continued the motion). Thuban had just swatted a cat-boy, who was reaching for the controller.
“I’ll hold on to that, thank you!” Thuban said crisply. “Besides, she’s my girlfriend, and it’s my present.”
Having gigantic breasts was an inconvenience, but hardly the terror that losing her breasts had been. Even if it had been bad, hearing that comment made everything, absolutely all of it, worthwhile. Jinn couldn’t help herself. She began to smile, and couldn’t stop.
“Somebody’s pleased with themselves,” Demona commented, from just beside her. “You ready to do a testimonial for Dow’s implant division?”
“Oh, it’s not these!” With a hand under each boob she hefted them momentarily, jiggling by way of illustration. “It’s just that Thuban called me his girlfriend! Out in public and everything!”
“I see your points,” Demona said dryly, “but you might want to cut down on the jiggly. To paraphrase THX, ‘The audience is watching.’”
Jinn looked around, noticing the smitten males that surrounded her, their faces suffused with the metallic lemon tinge of lust. “Oh, no kidding. Still,” she leaned in closer to the other top-heavy girl, “I see what you mean about the whole boob thing. They are kind of fun, aren’t they?”
“A girl’s second-best play toy,” Demona agreed. “They’re as big as grapes.”
“Huh?” Jinn gave a snort. “More like cantaloupes, I’d say.”
Demona gave a wry smile right back at her. “I was talking about the part on the front of the cantaloupes.”
“Oh.” Internally, Jinn was grateful that she couldn’t blush, since she would have surely turned redder than Nikki’s hair.
At that point, Thuban came striding up once more. Jinn was thrilled that for once he was actually chasing her! Then he whipped out the control.
“I’ve gathered a sampling of public opinion, and the consensus is that we want more.” He dialed plus three more times.
“Uh, I don’t mean to complain,” Jinn mentioned, “but I passed ‘Cape Squad Exemplar’ a while back. Heck, I passed Mega-girl quite a few notches back.”
“True,” Thuban conceded. “But those girls are norms! Here in Faction Three, we go beyond what the norms are comfortable with. What do you think, folks? Should we allow entries into Faction Three solely because of genitalia so outlandish that it makes the norms freak out?”
She felt compelled to mention, “You know, if I wasn’t able to levitate, I’d be stuck face-down on the floor at this point.”
It was at this point that She-bot, a girl with shiny chrome arms and legs and a metal hair-do, stepped forward. “I’ve been nominated to speak for the collective females of Faction Three.” She stared at Thuban, then pointed straight at Jinn’s chest. “Cut it out, now. It’s insulting. Quit it immediately, or we walk. All of us.”
“Ah.” Thuban was taken aback for a moment, then seemed to collect himself. “Please convey my most sincere apologies to everyone. Yes, I suppose enough is enough, particularly considering that the inventor isn’t even an F3 member.” He twisted the dial and Jinn felt herself begin to diminish. “But it is my birthday, and this is my only present. Surely it won’t offend anyone if I enjoy it, just a little.”
She-bot tapped her foot, considering. “Well… A lot smaller than this!”
Jinn decided that lizards and alligators (and dragons!) were not meant to pout. Thuban looked absolutely silly as he gave in to the demands. But bit by bit, he dialed the control downward.
“How about now?
Jeez, Jinn thought, for a reptile, he sure has a heck of a breast obsession!
“Oh, come on! She’s no bigger than Demona!”
“Oh, right, like that has anything to do with ‘normal’.” She-bot suddenly looked up into Demona’s scowling face. “Uh… no offense.”
“I’m not sure,” Demona began with a growl.
“You’re right,” She-bot agreed, suddenly capitulating. “That size is fine. Perfect! Gotta go!”
Jinn looked down at her grapefruit-sized bosoms and giggled, bouncing twice on her toes to get a feel for her new self. “Wow. If I hadn’t just made the trip through absurd-ville, I would have thought this size was officially labeled, ‘Gigantically, freakishly huge.’”
“Thanks ever so much,” Demona replied through gritted teeth. “So what would you call it now?”
Jinn bounced again, getting a feel for herself, as well as a feel for how the male eyes followed her. “Really really confident,” she admitted.
Demona’s scowl slowly turned to a smile. “Hey, that was almost like an actual compliment.”
At this point, Thuban spoke up. “Well… so far the meeting seems to be dominated by the topic of … er … mammal issues,” he pointed out.
“Yes,” Jinn agreed wryly. “We’ve been keeping abreast of the issue.”
Thuban continued. “And whenever that topic comes up—”
“It’s not a matter of ‘coming up’ so much as raising good points, or simply being upfront about the issue,” Jinn joked.
“—when that topic comes around, then of course you—”
“Of course Demona is held up as a swell example. Heck, the girls all want her support. And I’m sure she hates to let them down, but I guess her motto must be, ‘Always keep them in suspense!’ ”
Straining somewhat, Thuban plowed through to the finish “—so of course Demona sometimes end up as the butt of the joke.”
One finger raised in the air, Demona stood there for a moment with her mouth open. Then, with visible effort, she closed her mouth. “No,” she said gamely. “I’m not going there. This conversation has already gone too far. Far too far. You two go. Mingle. Jinn, live in my world for an evening. I’m going to go and take the weight off my … feet.” She turned and escaped.
68: Irrational devisor
Feeling large but not too large, Jinn circulated through the crowd. Guys that before had barely given her a nod were now clustering around to ask her opinion on everything. They stared at her avidly, listening intently to her reply.
“Jinn! Jinn! Do you think we ought to move meetings to three times a week?”
She shrugged, an action which seemed to particularly interest the boys. “Well, we are supposed to be students, and…”
She noticed that they weren’t looking at her face, but perhaps twelve inches lower.
“…as students we need to put learning in a large basket, and beat on it with sticks.”
“That’s right!” “Good point!”
She frowned. What was the point of being interesting to people, if your proximity turned them into drooling idiots? Sure, she was beating Demona at her own game, but at what cost? At what terrible cost?
Miffed at the inadequacies of the entire male gender, she went searching for more intelligent life. She spotted a cluster of girls against one of the far walls – Jana, Sted, and another girl, the gadgeteer “Gadget.” Sted was a centaur, Jana was a squirrel-girl, and Gadget was her normal self – half-human, half-squirrel. Unfortunately for Gadget, she wasn’t a cute combination, like Jana was. Jana came out as a furry girl with oversized eyes, big soft paws, and a bushy tail. Gadget wasn’t a shifter, this was her permanent form. She looked like an animal cruelly stretched up to giant size, and then half-mutated with human features. If The Fly had been done as The Squirrel instead, they could have used Gadget as the final shocking revelation. Perhaps that’s why the senior was rumored to spend all her time in her room, except for required classes and things like F3 meetings.
As Jinn approached, the girls all deliberately turned away from her.
“Uh, hi guys,” she offered, tentatively.
“You hear something?” Jana asked, looking toward Gadget.
The mutant squirrel snorted. “Just someone passing gas.”
“Come on, guys! This isn’t my fault. My sister’s the one that did it!”
Sted wouldn’t look at her either, despite the fact that as a centaur, she was already pretty large in the chest area. “Well, someone’s certainly got an overblown opinion of themselves.”
“Can I at least try to apologize?”
“I thought you didn’t have anything to apologize for?” Jana reminded her.
“Hmph,” Gadget hmphed. “Wonderful ‘naïve’ act. It has all the charm of some perky blonde cheerleader cruising for her first date rape.”
“What?” Jinn screeched, trying not to jiggle as she reacted. “That’s pretty harsh! What did I ever do to you?”
“Oh, sorry. You’re so right,” the mutant rapid squirrel responded. “I shouldn’t be offended. Heck, would a guy be offended by another guy, with a four-foot long dick who alternately grew it out and then chopped it off?”
The squirrel was now staring at her with a too-intent look. Jinn wasn’t sure whether Gadget was jealous, or wanted to take a bite out of her.
“Uh…” Jinn was wondering whether it might be better to just give up and leave at this point. “Yeah. Look, is there anything I can do to make it up to you guys?”
Sted thought for a moment. “Here’s an idea. Next time, why don’t you come wearing a g-string, which you then do a strip-tease out of, and then you can do a lap dance for every boy here. That’s a good idea.”
“Second idea,” Jana added. “Just go ahead and take off that stupid top. It’s not concealing much at this point. You can’t wear a freaking micro tube-top when you’ve got double-D tits. And how the hell do you support those things?”
“I, uh, levitate. And I’m sure they’re not that big.”
Sted and Jana looked like they were wavering, perhaps about to say something halfway nice, when Jinn heard an ultrasonic tone again. Before she knew what was up, she’d shrunk down to cupcake size once more. She quickly looked in the direction of the sound and saw Thuban leering at her as he fiddled with his remote control. And a leer on that long dragon face was impressive indeed. Unfortunately, as she turned back to the three girls, they weren’t nearly so amused.
“Uh, maybe I’ll just have to catch up with you later,” she said, before scuttling away as quickly as she could.
Feeling like her luck couldn’t possibly get any worse, she headed for the trio of devil-girls. Although she couldn’t see color as Jinn, she’d spotted them on campus as Jade, and knew that they were distinctively colored. Since she hadn’t really learned their names, she tended to think of them by their colors, even when she saw them in black and white.
“Well girls, looks like we’re being joined by ‘Growing Up Skipper,’” the red-skinned girl said. “What’s the matter, corpse? Get tired of all the brainless boys drooling over your undead inflato-tits?”
As usual, they were playing with their perpetual lackey Worm. He was one of the most extreme regenerators on campus, able to heal a stab in moments or regrow an entire limb in minutes. He was also a prime example that the most extreme powers often brought with them a distortion of the normal human form. Worm’s adaptations were superbly functional, but repulsive. He had no bones at all. He stood upright through internal muscle tension and a system of pressure-stiffened hydraulic tubes. Those same abilities allowed him to absorb truly massive amounts of crushing or impact damage, and he could compress his body to slip through spaces only inches in diameter. But his skin was a hairless, moist pink, banded in periodic segments that made him resemble the earthworms he was named after. Even his hairless head was elongated and bonelessly fleshy, with beady black eyes, a round toothless mouth with a ridged, whip-like tongue. Miraculously, his diction and intelligence (such as it was) seemed unaffected. His personality, however, left something to be desired. He was ideally suited to the role of cringing lackey, seeming to almost relish the attention when his dominator of the moment favored him with a brutal punch or a maiming cut.
The red devil girl gave Worm a close-fisted clout that shoved him in Jinn’s direction. “Show the ghost girl what you think of her tits, Worm.”
It was a solid blow, but Worm didn’t blink or flinch from it. Instead, his arms reached toward Jinn and she noticed how disturbing his boneless fingers were.
“Pretty girl. Pretty boobies. Big or little, Worm likes them all! If you let me touch them, I’ll let you hurt me. I don’t mind. Just a little touch?”
She recoiled back. She was beginning to understand why people avoided Worm, even in Faction Three. “Keep your hands to yourself, buster.”
Worm continued to reach out, grabbing her arm with his bloated-looking hand. Jinn reacted by pulling a tube from her bottle of liquid nitrogen, and spraying just a little toward the grasping hand.
“Oh!” The hand was snatched back. “She’s cold! Colder than ice!”
Tisiphone looked down at him with disgust. “Go find something to wallow in, Worm. We need some girl-talk.”
“Yes, Flame Lady.”
As the regenerator slinked away, the brick-red girl looked after him fondly. “Disgusting creature, but a pretty good lackey.”
The coal-black girl nodded. “I just like to cut him with my claws. It feels so good.”
Upon hearing that, the bluish girl actually spat the floor. “He likes it, you know. Doesn’t that ruin things for you?”
The tall, black one shrugged. “Why shouldn’t we both be happy? I wonder how rough I’d have to get before he didn’t like it anymore?”
“Stop that!” Red ordered. “Megaera, how many times have I told you not to spit on our own turf? It’s disgusting! Save it for your enemies’ rooms, or public places.”
“Can I help it if I got stuck with a fluids problem?”
The red one turned back toward Jinn. “So, finally decided to check in?”
Jinn blinked, thoroughly confused. “Excuse me? Check in?”
“Of course. I know you, better than I want to. Shroud, they call you, when you’re hanging around with your pathetic teammates. And I’m sure you know of me, as well: Tisiphone, leader of the Furies—”
“Hey!” the other two girls protested.
“—and soon to be queen of this coven then we’re still calling Faction Three.”
“Uh…” Jinn didn’t know what to say to that.
The red devil girl had scaly skin, and Jinn knew that it was colored a brick red for those who saw with normal vision. Her fingernails were black claws, and she had small, twisty black horns that sprouted from her temples, much like the image of a traditional devil. Her batwings looked like black leather, and she wore a black leather outfit that was mostly a bikini with extra straps. She wasn’t hideous, but she wasn’t exactly a cute devil-girl, either.
Tisiphone turned to her taller companion. This one was black, Jinn thought. It was interesting to realize that as Jade, she’d seen the extreme black of the other girl’s skin and thought her to be rather disturbing looking, particular with her gray eyeballs and red pupils. The girl’s white, pointed teeth had made a disturbing contrast, as had her pointed red-painted fingernails.
But as Jinn, unable to see colors, she thought that “Black” was the cutest of the devil-girls. She was tall and willowy, with the best figure and nice skin, and she basically looked like a feather-winged angel. As Jinn, she saw the girl as completely out of place with the other two devils, but as Jade she’d seen her as a menacing figure, simply because her hair, skin, and feathers were such a disturbing color.
“This is Alecto, the bitter one. Don’t cross her; she likes pain.”
“Charmed,” Jinn replied, wryly.
Tisiphone turned to the one that Jinn recalled being a rather nauseating mottling of blue shades.
“This is Megaera. She makes you ill, doesn’t she? Don’t worry, she has that affect on everyone.”
Megaera’s wings seemed to be half-bat, half bird, as if she’d had bird wings, but most of the feathers had aged and fallen out. Her skin was also peeling, as if from a bad sunburn, and she seemed to be losing her hair in a couple of spots. Her clothes matched her body, being tattered robes.
“H-hi,” Jinn greeted, weakly.
“I liked you better when you were all wrinkly,” Megaera said, pausing to spit once more. “Better clothes, too.”
Alecto looked at Jinn, sneering. “We don’t need another Fury. Three’s enough.”
“We can have as many as we want,” Megaera protested. “Virgil only named three, but there’s room for plenty more. I think we should ask Succubus again, and bring in a better public face.”
“Right,” Alecto sarcastically agreed. “I so want to be the freak, forever standing behind the ‘cute’ hell-babe.”
“I wasn’t really looking to join,” Jinn said. “But since you brought it up – what are the Furies? What are you about?”
Alecto was short and sweet. “We’re about getting those that wronged us. Making them pay. You know: vengeance.”
“I was just looking for some friends,” Megaera admitted. “And, well, there’s the whole devil theme, you know?”
Tisiphone stepped forward. “Plans? You want plans? I’ll tell you. See, I used to be short-listed for the Alphas. They wanted me, bad. But I was too smart for ‘em, thought I’d play coy. Then, I’m just having a little fun, you know, and your friend Ayla,” she stabbed a finger forward, poking Jinn right in the boob “has to go and attack me. Everything would have been just fine, but she deliberately phased through me when I was using my flames. One day, I’m the on the top of the Alpha’s ‘most wanted’ list, and the next day, I start turning into this.”
That sounded almost familiar. Jinn suddenly remembered, “You’re Fireball!”
“Past tense!” The devil-girl hissed it out. “Your vicious little friend had to go and ruin my life for me.”
“Gee… sorry about that.” Jinn tried to sound sincere, but she remembered the incident now. It was the set of attacks that she and the gang had dubbed “The Revenge of the Alphas.” And as she recalled, Fireball had just been looking for attention from the Alphas. As Ayla had described it, the nasty little bimbo had gotten exactly what she deserved.
“Anyway,” Jinn said, brushing past that bit of awkwardness, “my animal friends sort of gave me the boot. They were pretty upset by my recent, uh, developments.” She paused to adjust her top. “So I figured, you guys looked like you were having a good time, and, uh… you know.”
Tisiphone sneered in agreement. “I know very well what it’s like to be hated for your beauty. I don’t supposed you’d be interested in helping me plan a lingering and painful death for your friend.”
“Uh, not really.”
“Pity. Well, let her know that her nemesis is lying in wait for her, and that one day I shall strike!”
“Yeah, I’ll give her a heads-up.”
“Beware, though,” Tisiphone cautioned. “Being here with us is not without its dangers.”
“Really? Even during a meeting?”
“Especially during a meeting!”
At that moment, a pair of arms snaked around Tisiphone’s waist, winding their way upward toward the full globes of her breasts. Jinn couldn’t see the man standing behind the girl, but the boneless limbs and the banded stripes on the flesh made it clear whose arms they were. Tisiphone ignored the hands, reaching calmly for the dagger sheathed at her side. While the hands grasped and then began kneading at her breasts, Tisiphone carefully plucked off one finger and quickly sliced through it, severing it completely. Nearly as quickly, she sliced through three more.
“No!” Worm cried out in anguish. “You never let Worm keep the fingers that have reached paradise!”
Releasing her, the disgusting little man chased after his writhing fingers, grabbing them off the floor in his other hand and then popping them into his mouth as quickly as he caught them.
“You begin to see the dangers of associating with this crew,” dark Alecto said.
“Is Worm going to be okay?” Jinn wondered.
“It’s a game they both like,” Alecto admitted reluctantly. “Ti enjoys the attention and gets off on the violence and control. Worm gets a few seconds to feel her up. He tried it with me,” her face hardened “but I cut him a lot more. Until I started getting tired. Now he keeps his hands to himself.”
“I wouldn’t mind so much,” Megaera admitted, “but I think he’s allergic to me.”
“Get lost Worm!” Tisiphone emphasized this with a hard kick to the pervert’s rear. “We’re still doing girl stuff.”
“Yes, oh swollen one!”
“He’s filthy and disgusting,” Tisiphone admitted, “but he has his amusements. I hope Thuban doesn’t mind. I’m going to insist that we keep him, once we move in together.”
Jinn had been uncomfortably laughing and following the exchange right up to the point when Tisiphone dropped her little bombshell. “Uh – I beg your pardon? When you and Thuban what?”
“Well, it won’t be official. Whateley doesn’t allow that, do they? I’ll have to fix that eventually, if I decide it’s worth the trouble. Maybe the two of us will move in to Poe. That’s co-ed, isn’t it? Then no one needs to know, and we can cohabitate right there in the cottage.”
Jinn was now feeling several steps behind at this point. She suspected that Tisiphone wasn’t qualified to move into Poe (although she might be qualified for the official explanation, since Poe was supposed to be the cottage for “head cases”). And there had been a comment in there about “taking things over.” She ignored both of those distractions to focus on the main issue.
“What was this about you and Thuban?”
“Well, surely you’ve noticed how he can’t keep his eyes off me.” The demon-girl preened under her own praise. “And I’ve decided that maybe I should reward his attention. Before my … improvements … I didn’t even notice his obsession. But since coming to Faction Three, I’ve decided that maybe I should reconsider. After all, he is rich… powerful… we both have scales. And we have so much in common.”
Jinn narrowed her eyes. “Like what?”
“Well, we both like money. Power. We both like scales. We both like me.”
“Uh huh.” Jinn was beginning to get the picture. “And what about the competition?”
Tisiphone turned to smile indulgently. “Well, clearly you’re no threat. It’s nice that darling Thuban has taken the trouble to compensate for your obvious disadvantages, but you know, the whole artificial thing isn’t that appealing, is it? And frankly, he needs the attention a live girl can give him.” She gave a nasty stage whisper. “I don’t think he’s into necrophilia.”
“Right,” Jinn agreed, dryly. “And what about Demona?”
“Demona is a … distraction.” Tisiphone’s face began to cloud up, showing a darker and darker scowl as she spoke. “She’s been demanding far too much of sweet Thuban’s attention lately. I think she’ll probably have to die. I’m sure it will be painful and horrible and lingering. She’ll probably beg me for help, but sometimes I have problems with my hearing, you know?”
Jinn decided that the insecure-looking Megaera was probably the most reasonable of the trio. Leaning closer to the girl, she whispered, “Is she taking her medications?” It was just a guess, but it seemed to fit.
“She’s supposed to,” the girl whispered back, “but she keeps forgetting.”
“Since I hate Demona,” Tisiphone announced over the whispered conference, “I’ve decided that we won’t speak of her any more. I’ll burn anyone who says her name.”
“Nice crew,” Jinn whispered. “Is she really your friend?”
“Well… I have to hang out with them,” the meek girl replied in her own whisper. “We’re all devils.”
That was when Worm returned, showing his presence through the hands that reached out to clutch Tisiphone around the chest. “Guess who!” He got in three full squeezed before Tisiphone overcame her shock enough to react.
“Woooorm!” Tisiphone grabbed the hand then lit up her flames. The flames didn’t touch her, but raced down Worm’s arm and engulfed his body.
“That was going way too far! Maybe this will teach you!”
“Ow! Ow! Owowowowow!”
The commotion and indoor flames (which are not generally recommended by either fire marshals or maintenance personnel) quickly drew the attention of everyone in the meeting as Worm danced briefly like a rat on a barbecue.
“What made you think you could get away with that?”
Another boy stepped forward, reaching out toward Worm and sliding his hand onto Worm’s hand. Immediately, a thin film of water flowed over the burning regenerator, extinguishing the flames.
Jinn recognized the new arrival. His code name was “Aqueous,” and his muscles, bones, and skin were composed entirely of water. Near any source of water he could swell and grow to nearly twenty feet tall. Unfortunately, his internal organs were still human, and quite visible through his clear liquid exterior.
“Worm and I dared each other,” the liquid boy explained, his transparent face taking on the liquid contours of his expression. “He would fulfill his fantasy, if I would fulfill the fantasy of every other male in here tonight.”
With that, he reached both hands forward to Jinn’s chest and cupped her breasts. Then he gave her a soft squeeze.
Nikki slipped back into the room, slamming the door behind her. She held out her hand. Contained in the palm of one hand were three perfect, tiny dresses. Each was a duplicate of Nikki’s own “Christmas Elf” outfit, bare on the shoulder, with a low-cut back, and with matching gloves and Santa hat. They also had little red panties and tiny little slippers with a nearly microscopic white pom-pom over the toes.
Jade saw them and squealed. “Can I have them? Can I? Can I?”
“First, show me a pixy!”
“Yes, ma’am! Let’s see, powder, what color hair? I need wings?”
While Jade was rooting through the trash for cellophane, Nikki said, “The pixies are all supposed to be identical except for hair color. One blonde, one with raven hair, and one redhead, like me.”
“Black hair’s easiest for now,” Jade said. “And I can’t do the design yet, but I can do Jinn. Only… tiny. With wings.”
She grabbed bags of powder from her supplies. She took a dress, and her crude cellophane cut-outs, and one tiny outfit. “Okay, let’s do it!” And she touched the supplies.
The skin-colored powder swirled out in a small tornado. It snatched up the dress. First a naked figure formed at Barbie-doll size. Then the powder collapsed in on itself and formed a naked outline that was six inches tall. But the floating dress was still too small. Finally the figure formed, at two inches tall. This time the dress and gloves and everything swirled into the mix.
When the air cleared, a tiny pixie-sized version of Jinn, just two inches tall, wore a tiny red dress and sported two wings that looked like crude imitations of dragonfly wings.
With a look of concentration, the tiny figure began to flap, and rose into the air.
“How’s this?” the miniature voice squeaked.
To the devil girls around her, it must have seemed that Jinn had simply ceased to function, like she’d short-circuited or something That was far from the truth. She had been startled enough that she couldn’t react for a moment. Then, she was in furious activity. She spent a moment trying to stop the pump that supplied her breast with heat. The controls were automatic deep within her mind, and she didn’t have time right now to figure out how to manually seize control. Instead, she grabbed the waiting bottle of liquid nitrogen and the attached vent hose. In an eye blink, her stylish “fade to transparent” look was gone, replaced by opaque white skin everywhere. Her eyes suddenly glowed a solid red (she’d actually flipped them backward and turned on the light inside, but that had happened faster than anyone could notice). Her upper and lower canine teeth each grew nearly an inch longer. And the temperature suddenly dropped in the vicinity around her by roughly thirty degrees.
“Mmmm, warm” Aqueous said, holding her chest. Then he squeezed again.
Apparently, he hadn’t noticed the chill mist that now surrounded the two of them, or the gathering fog. Everyone else noticed though. As one, the surrounding girls took a step back.
“Get … your … hand … off me!” Jinn said, her voice carrying overtones of a growl. Where she breathed out, frost formed in the air, to fall as icy flakes to the ground.
“Whatcha gonna do to me?” he taunted. “My body automatically adjusts to any attack, forming a cushioning, high-pressure barrier. Give it up! I wanna feel ‘em grow!”
Jinn reared back and stared him straight in the face. Then she hissed at him, expelling a cloud of noxious breath. Aqueous was surprised to feel the front of his face freeze solid, his expression stuck in a look of wide-eyed surprise. His eyeballs themselves (visible through the watery exterior) withdrew like a slug encountering a line of salt. Aqueous raised his hands to tug and claw at his frozen face, unable to do more than howl inarticulately through the motionless open lips of his frozen mouth.
Jinn took that opportunity to try a new move she’d been working on. It was more than a little cartoony (having been inspired by Popeye, in particular). She stuck her right arm straight out, then bent her elbow 90 degrees. Now, her forearm and fist began to windmill around and around, spinning up like a propeller. At the last moment, she stepped forward, and her fist (now spinning so fast that it was a blur) swung up to clout Aqueous solidly under the chin – a resounding uppercut.
There was a momentary scream from the boy in question, then he toppled over onto his back with a splat. As they watched, the water began to pool back in on the front of his head, as a face slowly reformed. As for the frozen front of his head, amazingly it had come away in a single piece. That sailed over the crowd and landed (face up) in the “sparkling berry brew” provided as a beverage.
The crowd stepped over to look at Aqueous’ frozen expression of surprise, as it bobbed in the red drink.
“That’s it. I’m not thirsty anymore.”
“Is he going to be okay?”
“Oh, sure. Aqueous gets his arms and legs ripped off all the time. They just flow back, once he’s in the showers. Same thing here.”
“Nice shot, Jinn!”
Of course, the aim had been pure chance, but she wasn’t above claiming credit for it. “It figures,” she answered. “It landed in the … punch bowl.”
One of the girls stepped up and poured herself a cup. She sipped it, then announced, “Well, I don’t think ‘Aqueous Surprise’ will ever become popular as a drink combination.” Everyone waited for the rest of the line. “It turns out that he doesn’t have very good taste.”
Oddly enough, after a line like that, several people had to come forward to try it on their own. Or maybe it wasn’t so surprising, considering the crowd.
“Goes to show you that there’s a downside to looking like that.”
“Nobody better try anything like that with me!” Demona announced from the far side of the room. “I’ll claw his face off.”
“I think they know that,” one of the quieter girls answered. “They must have thought Jinn was more easy going.”
“They won’t make that mistake again!”
“Yeah, not unless they want another face-off!”
There were groans all around at that.
“Come back with that!” Thuban thundered.
A boy came up to Aqueous and tried to rouse him by shaking his gelatinous shoulder. “Wake up, buddy. Fun time! Your distraction worked.”
Jinn spun in alarm to see Thuban gathering speed against a mosquito-boy, who was clinging to the ceiling. Bug-boy had the remote control in his suction-cup fingers, and he was beyond Thuban’s reach so long as he clung to the ceiling.
That wasn’t a problem for her! She glided upward, to retrieve her boyfriend’s birthday present.
“Here, catch!” Mosquito-boy prepared to chuck the control to another boy. But first, he dialed it upward.
Jinn paused in her flight, feeling again the disconcerting delight of having her breasts writhing in front of her, as they grew slightly larger, moving from grapefruit-sized to “small cabbage.”
I’ve got to stop using these food metaphors, she promised herself. They’re making me feel like the entré at a brick buffet!
“Hey,” she shouted, “quit it! We promised not to do this!”
Another boy stretched a hand up out of the crowd, snagging the remote and dialing it upward again, before tossing it on.
She planted her hands on her hips, glaring at the crowd. Unfortunately, the force of her glare was lost completely by the quivering activity as her front expanded, yet again, to coconut size.
Another boy, with a bald and bulging skull put hands to his forehead. The remote paused in mid-air, dialed upward again, then shot off in another direction.
There was another seismic rumble in her chest and Jinn’s chest got even larger. She was now larger than any of the girls on campus. And since her nipples and areola expanded in sync with her breasts, she would soon be exposing naughty bits.
The dial was twisted again, and with a jolt, her boobs expanded yet again, reaching full cantaloupe size.
“Stop it!” she shouted, but the boys were in a frenzy now.
She realized that she was just exposing herself more by floating up in the air. She dropped to the ground in the middle of a group of girls.
“Help me cover up!” she begged them.
Demona was the first to come to her help, rushing forward to cover her nipples with her taloned hands.
“Maybe,” Demona said, with a gleam in her eye, “we can push them back in!” And suiting action to words, she began to squeeze and press against Jinn’s tits.
“It’s not working,” another girl said. “We have to get the controller!”
There was a high-pitched ultrasonic tone, and Jinn felt herself grow once more. This was now several sizes larger than Thuban had attempted. She was past “cantaloupe” and heading rapidly toward “watermelon.” Even if the other girls hadn’t been in the way, she wouldn’t be able to cross her arms in front of herself. With a ripping sound, her bandeau broke, and her top fluttered to the ground. She was still hidden from sight behind the open palms of a half-dozen girls trying to help her.
“I’ve got it!” a girl shouted from the crowd. “Back to normal.”
And that’s when the real disaster struck.
With practice, the little pixie was soon buzzing around like an insect.
Nikki held out her hand and the tiny pixie came in for a landing. “This is great! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!”
Nikki pretended to gently stroke the tiny creature with an index finger.
“Don’t bother to be careful. It’s not like you could hurt me, you know.”
“What’s your name, little one?” the vastly larger elf asked.
“Dixie!” The tiny girl giggled. “And my sisters are Trixie and … uh … Brunhilda!”
Nikki made a face. “Brunhilda?”
There was a knock on the door and Bunny came in. “You in here? I had to see…” She saw the pixie and gave her own squeal. “It did work!”
“You sewed those tiny dresses?” Jade asked.
“Well, I had to use the waldoes in the micro-lab… but yeah.”
Jade was puzzled. “Well… thanks. I was worried that you were still mad at me.”
Bunny shook her head, her twin pony tails alternately smacking her in the forehead. “No way. I calmed down right after adjusting your controller to self-destruct. I hope that didn’t cause too much trouble.”
Jade gaped at her like a goldfish, silently moving her mouth up and down. “You… what?”
Bunny glanced at her watch. “Oops, did I miss my cue again? What time is it?”
Everyone in the huge theater heard the terrible sound. The controller began to beep in the audible range. It was the rapid strobe sound you hear in the movies, when the bomb is about to explode. Jinn got a glimpse of the remote control, and smoke was rising up from it.
“What’s happening?” the girl shouted, dropping the controller to the floor.
It began to beep wildly, each time issuing another ultrasonic ping. And each ping signaled her, “larger!”
At that point, Jinn’s internal pump ran out of fluid. The entire supply of body-temperature milk had been pumped into her two over-strained breasts – over a gallon in each side. As the pump ran dry, it began to suck in air, churning that into a rapidly expanding froth. Jinn was now expanding faster than ever, as the fluid was transformed into superheated foam like cream in a Starbucks.
“We’re losing her!” Demona shouted. “Push!”
A dozen feminine hands on each side grabbed each bare breast, squeezing, pushing, pressing them back down. Like a baker punching down bread dough, it seemed to be having some effect.
Jinn was straining with all her might just to hold still against the pressures and hands grappling with her swollen delicates. In the midst of the chaos, she had a moment for one thought of surprise and wonder. Wow, she thought, those balloons are holding over a gallon each. I had no idea they were so durable!
“Push!” Demona shouted again. She valiantly strained to cover the huge nipples. And then…
Demona grasped just a little too hard, gripping a nipple the size of a small apple. Her razor-sharp talons pierced the over-stretched membrane under the surface of Jinn’s “flesh”. For a moment, two high pressure streams of hot milk sprayed out and over the surrounding crowd of girls.
“Oh, shit!” Demona breathed. “Hit the deck!”
As one, the girls dove for the floor. Beyond that protective ring, the surrounding males pressed inward, gaining one heavenly glimpse of the largest breasts that any of them had ever seen, or ever were likely to see. Large as they were, the tremendous juggs were still completely self-supporting. It was unusual to see the spray of white issuing from the nipples on each side, and the boys leaned forward to further investigate this intriguing mystery.
-- KA-BOOM! --
Jinn felt actual pain, as portions of her telekinetic body exploded out beyond the six-foot range of her control. As the “brick condoms” finally gave way, the tremendous pressure was released explosively forward, and the reaction threw Jinn violently backward. The mental strain of having parts of her torn away hammered her mind in an instant migraine.
As for the boys rushing forward – each and every one of them was coated, head to belt, with a fine, atomized mist of hot milk. For just an instant, they look like they’d been sprayed with white paint. Or perhaps whipped cream would be closer to the mark.
The girls, by and large, had escaped the disaster, cowering sensibly on the floor.
“Owwwww,” Jinn said. Looking down, she saw the white bones of her ribcage exposed. She quickly wrapped her cloak around herself and floated back to her feet.
One of the boys licked his lips. “Huh? Tastes like milk.”
“It’s not bad!”
The girls, one and all, made horrified sounds of disgust.
“You okay?” Demona asked, rising and draping her arm around Jinn’s shoulder.
“I… I think so. I don’t feel pain. I mean, I can’t feel pain. Even so, that hurt like you wouldn’t believe!”
“Thanks, but I’d just as soon not try to imagine.” The gargoyle shivered. “Uggg. I’m traumatized, just thinking about it. You gonna be okay?”
“I think so,” Jinn reassured her. “But I’m not unwrapping my cloak until I get back home.”
“Good idea!” a host of girls chimed in.
An angry Gadget the mutant squirrel turned to glare at the surrounding, white-faced males. She chattered at them as only an enraged squirrel can. “Let this be a lesson to you! There are some things that MAN was never meant to tamper with!”
With that, the meeting came to a close. Boys wiped their faces clean, girls shook the spray from their outfits. One and all, they headed home.
And so ended the incident that would later be referred to as (depending upon the speaker) “The Great Humiliation,” the “Bombastic boob-allons,” the “Titanic Tits of Terror,” or the “Magnificent Milk Missiles.” But the incident would forever loom large in the minds of those Faction Three members who were there on that legendary night. Though it scarcely seems possible, the story even grew in the retelling.
And the students learned their lesson well, and resolved, one and all, never again to pull such a perverse or embarrassing stunt on any student.
And if you believe that whopper, you really didn’t belong at Whateley.
The tiny pixie flapped her transparent wings delicately, hovering in the air before her friends. Her miniscule breasts were no larger than peppercorns. “I actually measured myself,” she admitted, “and by my calculations, I’m dodectuple-A. But you know what? I’m satisfied with that now. Because that’s big enough! Well, for someone my size, I mean.”
“And we aren’t going to have any more size-changing boobs, ARE WE?” Toni demanded.
“Eep!” the pixie let out. “No ma’am! We learned our lesson! Yes indeed! Never again!” She probably shouldn’t have added the whisper, “at least not in public.”
“You better not!” Ayla thundered. “I’m already enough of a freak-job! If I hear one word of you giving people ideas like that again, ONE WORD, and I’m gonna get me a pixie in a bottle and KEEP HER THERE! Got it?”
“Got it! Got it!” the tiny pixie squeaked.
Elsewhere on campus, a devisor worked feverishly. A remote control was completely the wrong design! It could only control a single person. But a ray gun, a ray gun could be used on anyone! Plenty of people would pay for such a blessing! Yes, they’d pay dearly! The precise theory and application were difficult, but those minor problems had been washed away in a torrent of inspiration. Glorious, rounded inspiration. With just a little more work, the Mammo-maximizer would be ready!
And then… then a test would be required!
Down in a dark lab, a devisor laughed with mad delight.
The end of Jade 7, which was definitely OVER THE TOP