PerilousPennyPine: I had it all worked out in my head, you know?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: That Ishmael is a bad SOB?
PerilousPennyPine: No, I mean, my own future, you know? Work for Wyrd for fifteen years, raise enough money to...do...stuff...
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Travel, buy a house...
PerilousPennyPine: No, leave money for my family, send some nieces and nephews to college, pay for my own "burial..."
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Ah. Promotion. Yeah, doesn't sound so appealing now, does it?
PerilousPennyPine: It still is appealing. It was the one thing that got me out of bed every day. And Ishmael telling me everything I needed to know about transitioning, how to stay private, how to know when you're about to change and how *not* to, at least until you've run off to some place safe...
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I guess.
PerilousPennyPine: Spent the last fifteen years literally hoping I would grow up to become just like him.
PerilousPennyPine: If you get bit by Jay, your wolf form looks like Jay's wolf form, right? Get bitten by Bridget Carnegie, you turn into a fricking hyena-woman every month. But Ishmael? God, have you ever seen him in his other form? You'll be up to your wrist in velvety fur before you poke him.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: That would be a bad idea. I mean, for one thing, think of the shedding. For another, black fur in summer? Not fun. Besides all that, then you've got to deal with biases in Wyrd.
PerilousPennyPine: Didn't seem like a bad idea at the time. He didn't seem so insane until this week. Jeez, what is it with lycanthropes losing their minds this month? Him, Jay, now Angie Burley?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Even if he was sane, it's still a bad idea to go like Ishmael.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Assuming his virus *is* catching, I mean.
PerilousPennyPine: It was a long shot, I know. But I couldn't think of anyone else I liked enough.
PerilousPennyPine: Everyone else is so...vanilla. With the exception of Bridget and Jay, you've got your choice of black wolf, brown wolf, or grey wolf.
PerilousPennyPine: Well, that, and your choice of tail versus no-tail.
PerilousPennyPine: And is it just me, or do tail-less werewolves just look funny?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: It is just you.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I have yet to meet a lycanthrope that hasn't made me crap my pants, tail or no tail.
PerilousPennyPine: Good point.
PerilousPennyPine: Anyhow, Ishmael doesn't have a tail, and he says he always feels a little off balance, unless he's running uphill on all fours.
PerilousPennyPine: Between that and all this nonsense about his criminal activities, I've had to go back to the drawing board and rethink my options.
PerilousPennyPine: Six months, and I've got my seniority enough for promotion.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Still think it's a bad idea.
PerilousPennyPine: I don't. I've had my DNA scanned and I'm a suitable candidate. I've got my experience. And I hear the training up at Varco Lake is great. Smooth transition from human to lycanthrope with practically no memory loss of your life prior to infection.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Another one of Ishmael's inventions.
PerilousPennyPine: Oh yeah?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: He came up with the process after Bridget's whole ordeal.
PerilousPennyPine: What do you mean?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: You don't know about Bridget?
PerilousPennyPine: I know she once bent an Allen key with her teeth.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: He came up with the program after helping Bridget through her first changes.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Back in the late 90s, someone started tearing through women at a park in some suburban town. Five women dead in as many months.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: There's this one woman. She goes out walking her dog at night. Lycanthrope picks her next. Dog attacks, but the werewolf kills it. But, werewolf is injured. Bridget gets scared, but instead of running, she starts fighting too.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: But pretty soon it's clear, she's going to lose. So she turns to run.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: He chases her down. Tears her to pieces. Leaves her for dead.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Next day or so, Jay and Ishmael are in town, still trying to track this rogue down so they can kill him. Both Jay and Ishmael for one guy - that's how sneaky and dangerous this rogue is.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: They go into the hospital to check on her, see if she's going to be a risk to Wyrd and werewolves everywhere.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Jay says, "We should kill her. She's a witness."
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Ishmael says, "We should fake her death, because she's our only witness. Take her back to Varco Lake, let the infection take hold, get a look at the lycanthrope-type she becomes."
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Jay says, "We have to kill her. She's going to turn out like her own attacker. Even her human face is going to change, because of him. How fair is that for her?"
PerilousPennyPine: OMG. Jay actually said something nice? About a woman?!
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Ishmael says, "We should let her decide."
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Jay says, "Ha ha, she's on a respirator and totally drugged up. We have to make the decision for her."
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And legend has it, that's when she reached through the bed railings and grabbed Jay by the junk. Ishmael says, "We let nature take its course, and we train her to be the baddest ass of them all. Give her the power to go after her own attacker and take him down."
PerilousPennyPine: And then they discovered she wasn't a werewolf, but a were-hyena.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And *that* was the one and only time Jay ever said that Ishmael had the better idea. Because in nature, it's the female hyena who trumps over the males. Bigger, stronger.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Nature's ultimate straight-butch.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Hyena versus wolf? Probably a tough battle. Hyena versus cat? Probably the hyena's gonna win, just on bite power alone.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: But male-hyena against female-hyena? He's gonna be dragging his own ass away, if he can move at all.
PerilousPennyPine: And what's that got to do with the transition program?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: That was part of the agreement. Ishmael would find a way to help Bridget keep her memories during the change, so that she would remember why she agreed to become what she is.
PerilousPennyPine: So she'd still feel a need to get revenge.
PerilousPennyPine: Stay motivated and sharp. I get it.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Hell, why not ask her to be your forebear?
PerilousPennyPine: Ha. No.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: No tail?
PerilousPennyPine: Among other things.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Yeah, your better off as an actual werewolf.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: The more classic the shape, the better.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Take it from me. Being one-of-a-kind is not all it's cracked up to be.
PerilousPennyPine: Well, not so one-of-a-kind now, huh? Not with those eight other kitties out there somewhere.
PerilousPennyPine: What about you? I know you're still a couple of years away, but have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I'm on the DNP list.
PerilousPennyPine: Do Not Promote?
PerilousPennyPine: Why, because you've got a pre-existing condition?
PerilousPennyPine: Ah, like those people in quarantine. If you're genetically prone to Cystic Fibrosis, even if you've never had a single symptom before, you die of CF before your first change.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: No. There's "technically" nothing wrong with my DNA.
PerilousPennyPine: Oh...is it because of your religion?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: What, atheism? No.
PerilousPennyPine: I don't get it then.
PerilousPennyPine: Never mind, I'm prying.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Let's put it this way.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: If you're a werewolf and you get shot, what happens to the bullet hole when you change back to human form?
PerilousPennyPine: You heal.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: If you get a tattoo when you're a human and then you get promoted, what happens to the tattoo?
PerilousPennyPine: It goes away and it heals over.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And scars?
PerilousPennyPine: They go away.
PerilousPennyPine: Uh...I've never heard about it happening, but I guess the limb grows back?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Basically, your body is going to default back to its genetic blueprint, right?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: So, what happens if your genetic blueprint says "You have lousy eyesight", but you've had laser eye surgery?
PerilousPennyPine: Ooh...you go back to having lousy eyesight.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And you go back in for more surgery, and a month later, you wolf-out again.
PerilousPennyPine: Back to being blind as a bat.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Take it a step further.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Does that mean a Jewish werewolf has to be circumcized every twenty-eight days?
PerilousPennyPine: I'm so going to hell. I can't stop laughing right now.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: You get the idea?
PerilousPennyPine: And you said you were Muslim by heritage.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I am.
PerilousPennyPine: So you don't want to be promoted because you don't want to get your wiener nipped every month.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Take a look at my screen name, Pine.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Figure it out.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Take your time.
PerilousPennyPine: Wait, so...all this time I thought...
PerilousPennyPine: Like...cross-dressing or post-op?
PerilousPennyPine: See, this is one more reason why I like chatting virtually.
PerilousPennyPine: I probably would have had a completely different opinion of you, if I had known you weren't born male. Now that I know...<shrug> It totally doesn't seem to matter. Guess I've still got my own hangups too.
PerilousPennyPine: Thank you.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: For what?
PerilousPennyPine: Trusting me enough to tell me.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Yeah, my secret-agent instincts are cursing me right now for having divulged personal info, but I dunno. Didn't see any reason why I should keep it quiet from you anymore.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: So yeah, when I say being unique isn't all its cracked up to be?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I mean it.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: It's no fun being the only Arabic, lapsed Muslim, transgender accordion player in town.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I mean, you don't even have to be a different kind of shapeshifter to get the snot kicked out of you. All you have to do is show up wearing comfortable shoes and a plaid shirt. Undergo HRT and start growing facial hair, and you qualify for a free ride to the emergency room. If they go easy on you.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And when they're not in animal form, Wyrd agents are still the same human beings you run into on the street. Most of them don't care. But some of them...?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Whatever. At any rate, on the books, I've already been "promoted".
A_Boy_Named_Sue: On the books, it says I died of my injuries.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: On the books, it says I died when my family dumped gasoline on me and set me on fire. The second time.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: That old me, the one who was a dishonour to her in-laws? That person is officially in her grave and finally at peace. I have a picture of the gravemarker on my desk, as a reminder.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: A promotion would exhume her. Over, and over, and over.
PerilousPennyPine: So you're saying...even if a promotion was the only way to save your life after an attack...then you would rather die?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I guess yeah, that's what I'm saying.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I would rather die as the person I *am* than go back to being the person everyone says I'm supposed to be.
PerilousPennyPine: You work with lycanthropes all the time. There's always a risk that someone could snap and attack you.
PerilousPennyPine: So why would you take that risk, day after day?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: So I can do whatever it takes to prevent any involuntary infection.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Even if that means destroying the carrier through forensic accounting.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Even if that means taking down Ishmael, himself.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And after everything he's done for Bridget, for Wyrd...
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I never told you, did I...About the fire, about my faked death?
PerilousPennyPine: I never bothered to ask, either.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Three guesses who literally pulled me out of the fire.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And who faked my death.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And later set fire to the entire village?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Hint: no one died in that fire, even though every building and crop was destroyed.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Right in one.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: And that's why this investigation is killing me.
PerilousPennyPine: What if he's innocent?
PerilousPennyPine: If he is as good a Wyrd agent as we thought he was?
PerilousPennyPine: If maybe he did like Jay claimed, and kept all those Moldovans alive, if he's been embezzling money to keep them safe...?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: I don't know.
PerilousPennyPine: What if we combined our powers to try and prove him innocent?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: The two of us, against the entire Wyrd Council?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: You and me, against the likes of people like Jay, and Bridget, and Haberman, and all the other werewolves who disagree with us?
PerilousPennyPine: We should do it?
A_Boy_Named_Sue: It's better than feeling like I've shot the man who saved my life. So yeah. Why not. I've already been dead once. You get used to it after a while.
PerilousPennyPine: Okay, then. Let's do it.
PerilousPennyPine: Hang on a sec. Phone.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: Okay that was weird.
A_Boy_Named_Sue: My phone rang at the exact same time.
A_Boy_Named_Sue is typing...