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07 June 2016 @ 07:48 am
_Aliens and Shifters_ part 11  
 

"Of course." He pointed his control pad at them and flipped the nanos into reverse mode. He read off Uma's nano's state. They were indeed reversing the changes they'd kept for the last twenty one years. He made sure they had stored the pattern and could eventually return her to her human appearance, but left them alone. Changing course part way through a project could get things jammed up and messy.

Besides, he wanted to see what she looked like.

Besides tired. She leaned back and closed her eyes. He whipped up a blanket and cushion pad. Maybe she'd sleep on her own. "We need to feed the dogs. And me." she mumbled.

Erob tapped out some commands and got the dogs some high protein cubes, and Uma a survival drink. She looked like she needed every kind of nutrient possible.

Sir Trent was looking from the dogs to Uma to Erob.

"Oh, _I_ don't really look like this." Erob answered Sir Trent's implied question, "Scales and tail, just like the other stereotype. Uma, Uma shouldn't have happened. Her mother is human."

Uma sagged over on the cushion, and Sir Trent stooped and tucked the blanket over her.

Erob marshaled his thoughts. This was information he'd always thought humans should know, but had never been in a position to tell anyone influential. Well, then. "There is a virus that lives in space. It just floats along on chunks of rock and ice, doing very little, until it comes into the close proximity of a star. Then it warms up, and multiplies. Some times it gets ejected from a planetary system and drifts until it encounters yet another star. That's how the plague spreads. Because sometimes it encounters a planet with life on it. It is a horrible plague, killing everything from bacteria to plants to animals. It attacks their basic, err, do you know what a chromosome is?" At Sir Trent's nod he continued, "it cuts up the chromosomes and mixes them around and recombines with them, trying out new combinations, to become stronger. What few life forms can survive that attack are immune. That happened hundreds of millions of years go, here on Earth." He climbed back into the front of the truck.

"Is that what killed the Dinosaurs?" Sir Trent followed him.

"No, this was a long time before that. Everything on Earth is now immune to it . . . except that it seems to have become a chronic disease in some few people. I was studying it. Uma's mother's chromosomes had quite a lot of the space virus spliced in. I'd seen lesser amounts in other people, and sometimes some pieces of other animals' chromosomes had been carried along as well. The virus in her mother's cells grabbed some of _my_ chromosomes and spliced them into Alma's cells and," he glanced back at Uma, "very much to my surprise, I was a daddy."

"So this virus carries animal chromosomes into human cells and adds them in?"

Erob nodded.

"Hmm, I wonder if that explains shifters? Shape changers, werewolves and whatever."

Erob sat up at that. "But, the physical changing is _not_ normal, no matter what animal genes have been added. I suppose that could be caused by something in the original virus."

They flew on, thinking.

Erob glanced at the small screen he had in front. "My dust trail is at an end. There. Those trucks."

Sir Trent reached back for his rifle. "Let's see if I can hit their tires. If we stop them . . ."

The first blow spun the truck and dropped it nearly half way to the ground. A clawed hand, more than twice the size of a man's reached down and pried at the door.

"Mark seems to have found us." Sir Trent said.

"What was that?" Uma spotted the dragon hand feeling around the edges of the door. "Oh."

"Sorry, My Dear, I should have mentioned earlier that Mark is a weredragon." Sir Trent looked perfectly urbane.

"I know, we had a bit of an encounter a short while ago." she flinched as a tail whipped around and slapped at the wind screen.

"He really does change into a dragon!" Erob leaned forward and studied the dragon hand with delight. Elongated fingers, thin and sinewy. The claws scrapped across the window, leaving thin scratches. "I'd love to study the genetic basis for this." He checked how much power he'd added to the lifters. "He's not nearly as heavy as I'd have thought."

"Excuse me, my dear, I think I need to be in the back." Sir Trent squeezed past her, and explained. "Dragons have hollow bones, any weight we pick up is in water, mostly straight out of the air we breathe. Well, sometimes some dust as well, especially metals, you can tell from how shiny he is that there was quite a bit available when he was changing. Hmm, that rust maker of yours may have had an unfortunate side effect."

Uma turned around to speak to him, " Sir Trent! What are you doing?"

"I'm going to have to fight him in the air, my dear, and clothing just . . . "

"Oh, I see." She averted her eyes.

"Erob, give me a moment, then when he's got his head up front, would you please open the back?"

"Got it." The truck was back under control, but the Dragon was rocking it back and forth, and then front to rear. "I think he wants us to land."

An odd crackling came from the back, like cracking bones, or stretching tendons.

Uma twitched, and did not look. Erob did. "Now that is impressive!"

A big red head swung down and looked in the window. It looked a deal like the Dragons in story books, and clearly wanted to kidnap a maiden. Erob triggered the back door for a fast opening.

The head disappeared, and the truck bobbled as the dragon leaped off the top to chase a silver dragon climbing for the clouds. As the gibbous Moon shown between clouds a red glint reflected from the larger dragon, then they disappeared into the clouds. A yellowish light glowed in the clouds for a moment. Could they actually breath fire?

Uma climbed into the front and plastered herself to the window, to follow the flight. Or fight.

The dark dragon swooped from the clouds and coasted, head tilted upward. The silver dragon dropped out of the cloud behind him with folded wings and pounced onto the back of the larger red. In the darkness, the squirming mass of dragon dropped very fast.

"Can you ram them? Preferably the red one?" Uma said.

"I can't catch them." The ball of dragons burst apart, the dragons soaring away from each other, then circling back. The red was twice the size of the silver, but the silver was turning and dodging, more agile than the larger dragon.

Erob tried to turn the truck, to keep both dragons in sight, but they passed directly below them and he lost track. The truck jolted and spun, a red tail whipping past the window, then they spun the opposite direction, catching a brief glimpse of the red hard on the tail of the silver, who was diving for the ground.

The dragons were down in the trees now, and Erob slowed the truck. "I don't want to become a hinderance . . . "

He spotted the red dragon, just a dark gleam in this light, flying just below tree top level. Erob floored it and the truck hit the dragon, and then the dragon hit the top of one of the tallest trees. The tree broke and the dragon leapt away with a snarl. Erob raised the truck higher and circled. "I don't see Sir Trent. Where are we?"

"I think we're over those the trucks with the new guns." Uma pointed.

"Yes." Erob hesitated. "We really ought to make sure of them, but with that red dragon about . . ."

A streak of silver shot by in the night, heading down. Erob turned in time to see it crash into the red dragon and drive it between two trees. The silver's wings were furled tight, the red's were not. The impact with the trees looked very painful.

Uma had her hands to her mouth and was crying. Erob couldn't think of anything to say. I know you love him, but he's not really human would be a bit . . . silly. Instead he lifted the truck over the trees and dropped it across the road in front of the truck convoy.

"Let's introduce the drivers to stunners, shall we."

"Yes!" Uma hopped through to the back and took two of the weapons as Erob pulled them, for once, from one of the footlockers, instead of thin air. She looked a bit blood thirsty, and Erob wondered for a minute if this would be therapeutic, or a really bad idea.

He created windows on the side facing the trucks, and then firing slits. They picked off all the men in sight, then rolled up the back door and jumped out - - into the middle of a group of soldiers led by von Gruenewald. He started pulling the trigger as fast as he could, but went down under an avalanche of warm bodies.

***

Uma fired wildly, with both hands, trying to get the nearest, but aware that letting any of them get far enough away to start shooting back was a bad idea. The dog-men joined the fight, but were so mixed in with the soldiers she didn't even try to not shoot them. With a last shriek, she found herself the only person on her feet. "Dad? Daddy?" she shoved one gun under the waist band of her pants, and threw the other back into the truck. She grabbed a soldier and pulled him off of the pile. Someone in the pile moved deliberately, and she grabbed another soldier and pulled. The dead weight rolled over and von Gruenewald surged out of the pile. He slapped the gun out of her hand as she drew it, and as she backpedaled, he changed. He pulled his coat and shirt off as his face pushed forward into a muzzle and hair sprouted, stepped out of his boots and shed his pants to get down onto four legs.

"Ah. A werewolf. How, how traditional." Uma was backing around in a circle, trying to get back into the truck when a silver ghost dropped from nowhere.

But the wolf dodged out from under, then leaped back in as the dragon touched down. The long sinuous neck was his target, and his teeth locked on even as the dragon wings swept down to lift them both from the ground. Briefly. With the weight on his front Sir Trent was anchored, and blood was streaming from the wolf's jaws.

Uma ran for the truck, and the other stunner. How could she stun just the wolf?

The dragon was down on the ground, now, using his fore claws to rake at the wolf, but the huge wolf was twisting and squirming away from the claws and never letting go his death grip on the dragon's jugular.

Uma threw herself into the truck and grabbed the stunner. Leaping down, she saw the red dragon crawling out of the trees, wings dragging painfully. It swayed for a moment, then threw itself onto the wolf.

The wolf's neck was unable to resist those teeth, and its jaws released Sir Trent a long moment after the wolf body had thudded to the ground.

The dragons both collapsed, and Uma snatched von Gruenewald's ripped shirt from the ground on her way to Sir Trent. The arterial blood was pumping out and she wadded the shirt, hugged the neck trying to slow the flow. Turning her wrist to get the little machines on the job. The silver dragon's eyes blinked, and he seemed to be trying to say some thing, but the dragon's mouth produced only hissing.

A naked body joined her. She flinched, then tightened her hold.

"I'll tell 'er, Sir Trent, don't you fret." he whispered as the light went out in the dragon's eyes, and the blood stopped flowing beneath her hands.

He looked at her for a long moment, eyes changing, gleaming, finally settling into human brown. Sad human brown eyes. "Uma, when we change it takes a while before we get our 'uman thoughts back in order. To not act on instinct and bodily impulses. It's worse when we're angry or tired or 'ungry or scared. I wouldn't, if I'd . . . I wouldn't 'ave." Mark floundered to a stop, and leaned his head against the silver dragon. "You listen to me. Shifters are 'ard to kill. Unless you've pulverized the brain, chopped off the 'ead or cut the 'eart aht, we're still alive. Sir Trent, 'e's going to start returnin' to 'uman right quick, and then 'e'll look like 'e's dead for maybe a week. Don't let anyone find 'im. They'll bury 'im, or autopsy 'im, or something. Gawd knows what formaldehyde might do. Do you 'ear me, Ultima Thule? 'E's not dead."

She nodded, and didn't flinch when he reached out and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"You take care of 'im, cause I 'ave to leave." He indicated the wolf . . . no, the human body of his brother. "'E's thoroughly dead, and so am I if they catch me. Me Mum, they have me Mum, and, and . . . maybe if I just scarper, they won't kill 'er. But if they think I'm attackin' them, she's as good as dead."

"You saved Sir Trent." Uma winced, looking at the limp form, alive? "Maybe we should try to rescue your Mother?"

He blinked at her. "After what I did to yer?"

"Err, you didn't actually, although I certainly thought you were going to." She frowned. "Don't you remember?"

"No, it gets all confused." He took a deep breath. "I didn't actually rape you?"

"No. Not that you weren't about to, but then you stopped."

The brown eyes closed in relief, and he took another deep shaky breath. He leaned forward and ran a thumb along her cheek bone. "The dragon wanted you, and I didn't control 'im. I'm sorry, I never wanted to scare you. You are beautiful, you know. I don't know what you are, but I love you."

He hesitated, then leaned further and kissed her, tenderly. Then he staggered to his feet and off to the German trucks. Sir Trent shifted under her hands, shrinking, drawing back into a spindly shanked old man. With a ripped throat, and no pulse.

She returned to the pile of bodies, and found her father, peacefully stunned. She dragged first him, and then Sir Trent to the truck. And then the dogs, that stunned or not were looking much more dog-like by the minute. She had to use the sled to lift them, one at a time, into the truck.

Mark was dressing in clothing scavenged from one of the trucks, and she walked around him to check the contents of the back. Boxes of rust. There had been no need to try and stop them. She hunted until she'd found the three other stunners, then closed the back door of the truck.

Mark sighed. "Trying to rescue Mum would be daft."