The Cohen Loop, Ch 14

Story by comidacomida on SoFurry

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#16 of The Cohen Loop

The continuing story of the Cohen Loop, set in an alternate world where Earth is linked to a sister planet essentially identical to our own, save for the advancement of the world's most dominant species. Yes, here terrestrial humans have ascended in intelligence and control... but what if the mirrored world were actually filled with floating aquatic cities inhabited by intelligent, humanoid sea mammals?

This is a science fiction story set in the near future, and explores what happens when mankind realizes that it isn't the only race to have ascended the evolutionary ladder. As the metaphorical door swings open between two different versions of our world, humanity must come to grips that it is not only not alone in the cosmos-- it isn't even alone on its own planet. As our worlds begin to merge with travelers and settlers crossing the boundary, how will both races learn to coexist?

As our next couple, Andy (now known as Swimmer) and her partner Coaster are going to be the focus of these upcoming chapters. This chapter includes a LOT of background on Andy so readers have a chance to get caught up on some important background along with his/her view of the recent weeks in Water Earth.

Thanks for your continued support, favs, and comments... and a special thank you to patrons on Patreon, especially Rei Loire, who is choosing to sponsor The Cohen Loop specifically!

The Cohen Loop Swimmer (Andy) & Coaster copyright comidacomida 2015

Andy's mom told him at an early age that there was no such thing as a typical childhood but even so he'd always known his was much less 'normal' than that of other kids. Aside from the OBVIOUS fact that his dad was a humanoid Dolphin there were also the long trips when he joined his parents on their field excursions; living in a household with scientists for parents meant that Andy learned about a LOT of EVERYTHING starting at an early age. Although the technical term was 'home schooled', Andy actually spent very little time at home; he was more 'expedition schooled' than anything else.

His Dad was widely known and widely accepted around home. As a scientist with a lengthy work visa nobody thought twice about him living with a Human companion. His parents didn't hide their relationship but they also didn't go out of the way to flaunt it. Most folk in their town simply assumed that Andy was some guy's kid and never really put together the fact that Surfer was his dad. The young man later learned that it was purposeful since very few people knew that a Human and Phin could produce offspring.

There were some obvious drawbacks to growing up in a household where his father was a Phin and his mother was a Human but there were some benefits as well. Andy had the opportunity to learn about both species from both parents; they took special effort to instruct him about his Phinine heritage and about Water Earth right alongside everything he needed to learn about being a resident of Land Earth. Obviously living on the Human side of the Gateway meant that the majority of his firsthand experience was with Land Earth but it didn't stop his Father from teaching him everything that was easily conveyed through storytelling-- and that was almost always in the Phin tongue.

One of the first things Andy learned in Phinine was proper names. His dad, for example was known among Humans as 'Surfer', but his real name was click, click, trill, click, whistle. Written in the Phin alphabet his name was "vilii", which occasionally led some humans to mistake his given name to be pronounced "Villy". As such, his Dad chose to stick with 'Surfer' on all forms he was required to fill out. Later, when Andy learned that the Phin language was read right to left he went through a phase of referring to his father as "Ill-Iv". The humor was met with positive reception the first few dozen times but eventually wore out its welcome.

Andy's lessons in the Phin culture and alphabet didn't end there and by the time he reached eight years old he was fluent in reading both English and Phinine along with Hawaiian and Japanese. As part of his continued education (and because it interested Surfer) the family started learning Tagalog together but that was about the time when the Unity Programme came calling. They had been watching the family from a distance but were well aware that Andy, despite no outward signs, was a half-breed. It was a stressful time for them as the recruiting agent spent a day going over the likelihood of drafting Andy into the program. In the end the decision was to let him stay at home until high school and consider recruiting him at that time.

The years between visits from the Programme representatives were even more chaotic than the rest of his childhood. Surfer's twenty year travel VISA to stay on Land Earth had come to an end and, as an employee of the Unity Programme himself he was required to return to Water Earth. It was strange saying farewell to his father; he was Andy's only real connection to his Phin heritage. That left him alone with his mother, whose time was spent in preparation for when her VISA to travel to Water Earth would be approved. There had been a long-time understanding that the family would eventually go to the Phin world and with Surfer trailblazing the way out of necessity it seemed that the time would finally come.

Regardless, Andy's mom made certain that he continued to get an education. With so much of her time taken up with work she eventually had to ask her parents for help. They had both retired early and agreed to move out to Hawaii to help look after him. A few weeks later his Mom finally received her approval to head to Water Earth. She received two week notice from the Unity Programme and that meant a rush to figure out how to handle the logistics of Andy, who could not go with her. Per the Programme's request it was determined that Andy would remain on Land Earth and complete schooling there.

Having gone from having a Phin father and a Human mother to just a single parent to two grandparents in the house was quite a progression but Andy weathered it with all in stride. At the start of the school year his grandparents enrolled him in the public school system; he was nine. While he had been the sole student when homeschooled he was suddenly thrust into a situation where he was one of fifty students being looked after by a single teacher. No longer was he able to ask questions whenever he desired and had the educational focus be all about him, Andy was in for a rude awakening, and it only got worse as time went on.

When he first entered high school Andy had tested into his freshman class as a second year college student. The Unity Programme had taken immediate interest in him (again). Rather than have him skip ahead, the Programme encouraged his grandparents to keep him where he was so he would be able to pick an understanding of social cues and learn to interact with peers. It wasn't easy for Andy but, then again, perhaps it wasn't supposed to have been.

In addition to regular class activities the Unity Centre sent additional course work and extra curriculum to make certain he didn't grow bored with the high school classes. By that point it was all-but-certain that he would eventually be recruited, which meant that he would, at some point be able to join his Dad on Water-Earth. What it DIDN'T do, however, was make his time at high school any easier.

While his mom and dad has ALWAYS encouraged him to participate, ask questions, and learn as much as he could, Andy very quickly learned that being 'exceptional' had some major drawbacks when it came to the attitude of the other teens around him. Within a week he had suffered such a culture shock that he convinced his mom to let him stay home for a few days for 'mental health' purposes. When he returned to school it took another two weeks before he managed to figure out how to tune out just enough that the other students would leave him alone.

So it was that Andy's teenage years started off with an understanding of two important things. First: teenagers could be creative and unrelenting in their ridicule. Second: he who tried hard enough gained all the spite. By the time he got into his sophomore year he'd figured it all out: not only had he stopped trying, but he actually managed to fit in. It was a setback in his mother's eyes and as far as the Unity Programme was concerned but, as Andy had already figured out, being a half-breed meant that he was already all-but-assured entry, and he already knew everything REQUIRED to be learned so it wasn't as if he needed to pick up on anything else.

Unlike his mom and dad Andy's grandparents ran a relatively tight household. Between school, chores, and family activities Andy found his day filled with enough to keep him so busy he didn't have time to lounge around. His grandparents filled his evenings with things to do and LOTS of conversation, talking about this, that, and just about everything; he learned during that year with them just where it was his mother got her talkative nature. One of the most common topics for discussion was Hawaii itself; both of his grandparents were originally from Hawaii but had moved to the mainland a short while before he was born. According to them it had changed a LOT.

It made sense, and he knew it; Hawaii had changed a lot in his scant decade and a half of life but the stories his grandparents told him left him mesmerized. Well before the centennial anniversary of statehood, Hawaii had been a major tourist location and agricultural power house. By the time Andy was born ten years later in 2069 a lot of the tourism trade was shelved in favor of extensive scientific and industrial facilities. Other than the national parks a lot of the islands were given over to processing plants and oceanic toxicity neutralization especially along the shorelines where Phin outposts had been placed.

Still, to hear his grandparents talk about what Hawaii had been like when they grew up there in the '20s was nothing short of otherworldly. It was those stories, and their explanations of the Phin's assistance in cleaning up after mankind's oceanic pollution that really got Andy's mind going despite his desire to continue keeping it on autopilot. Andy's grandparents made some major inroads into engaging him and he later learned that they were just as interested in seeing him succeed at entering into the Unity Programme as his parents.

Despite the fact that they lamented how much the islands had changed it turned out that they were still supportive of the alliance between Phin and Human and were the only two people outside of the Unity Programme who knew of Andy's true parentage. It didn't mean that they full accepted his mother's choice to marry a Phin, of course, but it was something. His grandparents were always critical of his mom and her choices though they never let that reflect in any way on him.

He grew closer with his Kuku and Kane (names his family used for his Grandmother and Grandfather) in the year they spent with him and they always made sure that he knew where they stood on all of the Phin issues, and that included him. They had no reservations about letting him know that he looked completely Human; they'd always wanted grandchildren and knew their own limitations as to how much love they could give a child that looked more like a fish than a person. It was both at once endearing and a little uncomfortable at how loving they could be while sticking to a slightly racist view of the Phin. It was one of many reasons why he wasn't always completely honest with them.

Yes, Andy LOOKED completely Human except for a few minor traits that went unnoticed by everyone else and he worked hard to keep it that way. His father taught him about the differences at an early age and he tried hard (per Unity Programme request) to make certain his parentage wasn't widely known. Despite his mother being of Hawaiian descent Andy's skin was much lighter than the rest of his family, most likely favoring his father's light (gray) complexion. While that was nothing special the one trait that he DID have to hide came wholly from his Phinine parentage, and that was the way his eyes reacted to light.

Like a dolphin, the pupil of a Phin was shaped like a horseshoe when it was fully dilated. Whenever Andy went outside he was always required to have sun glasses because his pupils would constrict down into two little black points, making him appear as if he had double, side-by-side dots in his eyes rather than a standard human-like singular one. Growing up he only went to Unity Programme approved eye doctors and had special contact lenses that hid his inhuman pupils prepared for 'extenuating circumstances' like field trips or boat rides when sun glasses could be inconveniently lost, misplaced, or dropped.

He wasn't much safer in the dark either because, like Phins, Andy's eyes reflected greenish-blue in low light situations. The Phin referred to the reflective tissue within their eyes as 'Green-Depth Tissue' as opposed to the Human's much more scientific and much less poetic 'temetum lucidum'. Regardless of what it was called, Andy did not spend a lot of time in low-light environments due to the telling-glow of his eyes. Thankfully he never ran into a situation where it became an issue since most buildings were well lit.

Aside from his inconspicuous skin tone and very conspicuous pupils Andy was otherwise identical to a Human... in appearance. He learned from an early age that there was a specific physiological difference between him and a full blooded Human and it had to do with his respiratory and circulatory systems. Andy remembered hearing that the average human was able to hold their breath for about forty seconds while exercising under water while he never thought twice about going three or four minutes at a time.

During one of his Unity Programme check-ups the doctors discovered that he had a retia mirabilia-- a tissue beneath the ribcage that acted like a sponge to help regulate blood pressure. It was another adaptation he had gained from his father's side. It was an interesting trait, of course, and one he was able to easily hide from anyone not-in-the-know. So it was that Andy was able to pass as a regular Human through his childhood and adolesence. With his grandparents' help he manged to get through his final year at Land Earth high school before being visited again by representatives from the Unity Programme.

Andy's time at the Unity Center was a 'coming home' of sorts in that he returned to a learning curriculum focused on both Human and Phin subjects. He had said goodbye to his grandparents and hello to the next step in his life-- a step that would get him closer to reuniting with his mother and father when he made the transition to Water Earth. The first few weeks took some getting used to as he had to re accustom himself to being surrounded by intelligent individuals seeking to learn and he had difficulty shedding off the "couldn't care less" attitude he'd developed in high school.

The enrollment into the Unity Programme was a given for him but the Unity Centre felt nothing like a free ride. For the first portion of his classes Andy almost flunked out until his brain turned back on and he realized that almost everything they were presenting in class was stuff he already knew. Putting forth JUST enough effort to fly in under the radar with a pass he managed to complete his solo time at the Centre on Earth and that was when he met his Phin partner, Coaster.

The Longos reminded Andy a lot of his father: carefree, relaxed, and laid back with an outgoing, open, and friendly attitude. They got along great from day one and quickly became friends. Only when they were alone did Andy bother showing just how much he knew about Phins, surprising Coaster within the first week of their association about how much he really DID know. It created a rift for a time between them but only once Andy received the approval from the Programme to reveal his parentage to Coaster did the Phin really begin to understand him. In fact, Coaster was the only non-administrator on the Land Earth Unity Centre that knew his secret. That changed however when his class finally passed through the Gateway into Water Earth.

If stepping onto the Unity Centre of Land Earth was 'coming home' then setting foot on the semi-submerged Unity Centre base of Water Earth was the welcome embrace of long lost family... literally. By special request Andy's parents managed to get him and Coaster an apartment in the faculty hall just down the way from their own. Coaster had a chance to meet Surfer and JoAnn and everyone got along well until Surfer jokingly asked if the two were 'up to anything' young men often do with one another when they're alone. They hadn't been... but was enough to get the gears turning.

Nothing really came from Surfer's off-beat humor right away, but there were some small differences. Andy and Coster had been close enough as student partners but there were minor changes to their interactions. They spent a little more time together casually and spent a little less time together privately-- as if they both realized for the first time that there COULD be something between them. Having come from a mixed racial household Andy had no taboos about sex... he just hadn't ever considered Coaster in that way.

That all changed once Andy and Coaster joined into a pod with Hunter and Greg. When they had started off the celebration with a Tiff Andy was a little surprised about what wager his partner had made, but the idea of the loser bending over for the winner seemed abnormally appealing; Andy hadn't had sex with anyone but his hand in over a year and just the thought of Coaster splayed out presenting himself for entry was enough to get the Human into a semi rigid state. When he thought he won he was actually looking forward to slipping into the Phin but discovering that he had in fact lost did little to discourage his excitement.

It was the first time they were together sexually and despite all the activity of Greg and Hunter having their own contest in the background it did little to distract Andy from the feeling of being impaled from behind. Per Hunter's suggestion Coaster had worn a cone-shaped condom normal for the Phins because it just sounded like a good idea; neither knew if there were differences in the body chemistry between a Phin and Human 'back-end opening'.

After the third thrust Andy lost track of anything but his partner's movement within him and the feel of his fingers as he stroked himself off. By the time Coaster was up to speed the Phin had slapped the Human's hand away and replaced it with his own, gripping him and working it as they both were driven onward to orgasm. Coaster's bodyweight pinned him to the table as the Phin continued pounding into him with euphoric abandon and then, with a high pitched trill mixed with a groan, the Longos came. And he came hard.

The Human groaned as his feet were picked up off the floor by Coaster's thrust. He felt his partner's member pulse against his prostate and he loosed himself all over the floor. Coaster laid atop him for some time and, when he finally pulled out Andy was able to see that the tip of the condom had ballooned up so that it resembled more of a proper cylinder rather than a cone; Coaster had produced enough semen to inflate it. Truth be told, despite the fact that it was the most he had probably ever ejaculated at one time the Human's meager tablespoons were paled in comparison. His partner hardly seemed to mind, focusing instead of the back of his neck, which he nibbled and bumped softly with the end of his beak. His "I hope you start losing more often." was almost endearing.

As it turned out Coaster didn't have to wait for Andy to lose in the future; they began to spend more and more time together intimately without any pretense. As if an entirely new door had opened up for them into exploring their relationship and their sexuality, the two learned almost as much about their own bodies as one another's. Andy wasn't a virgin; he'd had two girlfriends and a casual fling with a guy before leaving Land Earth but it was nowhere near what he and Coaster were able to share. Likewise, Coaster had only had one relationship before joining the Programme and the few times they'd tried anything intimate ended poorly.

The newfound freedom they found in one another allowed them to try things they'd never considered and they willfully refused any specific styles, roles, or positions when it came to what they were to one another or what they did together. Although the first time they'd had sex Coaster was on top that changed quickly enough as they explored the different things they each liked and learned more about what the other enjoyed. They switched things up as often as the mood struck them and neither seemed to mind whatever way they ended up 'hitting the mark'-- another Phin term Andy had heard his Dad use on occasion without really understanding it... until then.

On some days Coaster would lay on his back with Andy seated in his lap and on other days the Phin'd be on his back with his hips on the edge of a shelf so the Human cound enter him from the rear. They'd make love in the Scrubber with Coaster taking the brunt of the water pressure from the front and the pressure of Andy entering him from behind. Some times Andy would be on his knees with Coaster taking him from behind. Nothing was consistent and everything was open for negotiation including, ultimately, the use of condoms.

The two had been exceedingly careful the first times they'd had sex; Hunter had suggested as much and considering the differences in physiologies it only made sense that they have some concern over diseases that could be spread if they didn't take precautions. As the two became more and more adventurous they spent time studying more in their off-hours about differences in their respective anatomies and physiologies, learning that there was no more danger in a Human topping a Phin than a Human topping a Human. Likewise, the differences in a Phin sliding his penis into a Human's rectum or a Phin's genital slit was minimal.

With the concern of any major diseases out of the way they had no trouble making the transition to bareback; they never once thought about pregnancy and that finally caught up to them. As he would later learn, Humans (both male and female) were capable of being impregnated by Phins. In the case of male Humans a Phin's spermatazoa were capable of penetrating the tissue of the prostate. From there they would make their way up the male reproductive system to merge with the Human's semen.

Although it was the Human who became impregnated it was the Phin sperm that technically became the ovum since the Human sperm was unable to change receptivity. In the only two documented cases of Human male impregnation both of them lost the developing zygote due to their body's inability to create the proper environment. In Andy's case, however, his body WAS able to be altered to accommodate. More than that however was just HOW Andy's body responded to being with child; it was no subtle change.

The transformation began shortly after the Spearcast with the Tikk. It was a time of general chaos around the Unity Center due to the loss of two students and the near-death of Max Snyder. Hunter had placed the blame solely on Carver, Max's partner since the big Amplus chose to take part in the Spearcast; Max had slipped overboard on the choppy seas during the event itself. Although the specifics are unclear the general understanding was that the Spearcast was called to an end so Max's welfare could be addressed. Thankfully he survived.

Andy had been going through some health issues himself; even though there wasn't class the day following the Spearcast he ended up missing the two after that. It was a general unpleasant sensation to begin... feeling feverish with a deep-seated ache in his body, almost like he was going through growth spurts again. His bones were sore, especially at the joints, and his entire face hurt like after the time he'd had his wisdom teeth removed. It was hard to understand what was going on but by the fourth day when his hair began to fall out and his lower back hurt like someone was trying to force a metal pole up his spine things became really frightening.

Barely able to walk, Andy had to be helped to the sick bay by both his parents and Coaster. Having never encountered anything of the sort, the medics there had him stay for observation and sent everyone else home; JoAnn and Surfer had their jobs to attend to and Coaster had the responsibility of going to class and reporting back with homework and lecture materials. That left Andy alone except for the medics, and that meant he had a lot of time to think... and probably would have if he hadn't been feeling so exhausted all the time.

Andy's skin had become sensitive to the wet suit and so he spent most of his time out of it, floating in a carefully combined mix of saline and water so he wouldn't develop a rash from the more traditional sea water. Completely naked, the Human was monitored around the clock by the medical team. The next two days were spent in a blur of half-awake activity and lots and lots of sleep... but it was during one late-afternoon period of activity that everything finally became clear.

The test that finally identified his issue was not part of the battery of examinations they would normally run on a Human but it was a routine step for any Phins. The first technician seemed surprised by the results and sent the findings over to his colleagues for review. By that time Andy was more relieved than worried because nothing else had generated any noteworthy results. When he asked the Longos what was going on the Phin replied in a casual click-trill. "It appears that you are pregnant."

It was news to Andy; even though he himself was the child of a Phin/Human union he never actually expected that a male Human could be impregnated-- it just wasn't supposed to work that way! Although it seemed cliché, the only explanation he ever received sounded as though it was from one of the old time movies that left nature sounding mysterious and unexplainable: life finds a way. More than that, however, not only did he discover his own pregnancy but he learned that he was not alone; two other young men from his class level had also been impregnated. Unlike those two however, Andy was going through far more changes than carrying growing life inside him.

The following days continued to grow more and more uncomfortable. Andy awoke with aches and went to sleep with pain. What began as gradual discomfort graduated to out and out agony while his body went through far more changes than it should have been able to accommodate. He spent every one of the next two days naked so the changes were all the more obvious; the most frightening was when he watched his skin peel as if he had a horrible sunburn, followed by his penis and testicles disappearing completely over the course of two hours.

Perhaps 'disappear' was too extreme a term as it implied that they went away in a puff of smoke while in actuality they withdrew, retreating completely into his pelvis. By the end of day two his groin was completely smooth as all traces of pubic hair and genitals had flaked off or inverted respectively. By that point the doctors had provided him something to minimize the discomfort, leaving him with just a dull, throbbing pain in his skull and a deep-seated ache in his lower back. By the time he awoke the following morning the pain had begun to subside... but that was only because the greatest of the changes had already taken place.

Andy had awoken that morning with a strange sense of vertigo. His head felt as though it was stuffed with cotton and the moment he rolled over to sit up he had a striking pain in his tail. The realization that the pain was in his TAIL actually caused him to fall off of the sleeping platform where he had been lounging. He rubbed his face as he stood up and that was when the second surprise manifested in the form of his hand coming into contact with a beak. His exclamation of surprise was drowned out by a powerful barrage of sensory data as the sound he made reflected off of every surface in the room and gave him intimate knowledge of everything around him. Several doctors swam into the room in time to hoist him out of the water before he passed out.

After another two days things finally started becoming easier. The majority of the transformation had taken place, leaving Andy well enough to be released to his parents. It may have been the end to the beginning but something wholly new was just starting. The first order of business per his father's proud opinion was to find an alternate name since Andy was no longer Human nor male.

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Swimmer awoke with a stretch and a yawn, sending out a sonic pulse from her melon to take in the impression of her room before even bothering to open her eyes. Her mom and dad had been all too happy to get clearance to move her in with them on a full time basis so they could help care for her during her pregnancy. While less than a week previously Swimmer the female Phin had been Andy the male Human she had managed to make the transition with ease once the worst of the pain had subsided. Her body wasn't completely finished changing but the final stages of a sex and species shift was much more bearable than what she'd first experienced.

Sitting up on her sleeping platform the Longos kept her tail at the right angle to avoid back pain; it was one of the first techniques for modified life that her dad taught her. It was probably the easiest way for such a huge life change to happen... especially since the living arrangements were already a mix of Human and Phin. Swimmer imagined that most parents probably would have freaked out at their son suddenly becoming their daughter but JoAnn and Surfer took it in stride as if it were just another one of life's events.

Granted, Swimmer's Mom was visibly taken aback at her child suddenly being a Phin but she managed well enough that she could even joke that Surfer used to be the lone Phin in a household of Humans; suddenly SHE was the out-of-place parent in a household of Phins... but she also very quickly picked on Surfer by acknowledging that he was now the only man in a household of women! Surfer was great at appearing terrified but it was obvious that he was elated at the thought of being a grandfather and was more than content to have Andy become Swimmer-- he was even the one who suggested the Phin-Human name considering how great Andy had been at Dive Ball.

A day after things settled down Swimmer learned that she was not going to be taking part in standard classes any longer. At first she was concerned that she was being expelled from the Unity Centre but when Dark Ring Astute Overseer High Director came to visit it was made very apparent that she would be continuing on in the Unity Programme along with Coaster. It was at that meeting when Swimmer learned about the previously anonymous male pregnancies. She also learned that she was not going to be joining F-3 as her parents had suspected... no... she was scheduled for something else. All of that had been just one day prior.

Swimmer stretched again and finally got up, moving into the hallway as she made her way to the bathroom. THAT had also been quite an experience-- learning how to 'do your business' when your body had changed so much was more than a little novel. After a few days it had lost its mystique and she finished her morning ritual easily enough; Swimmer could tell that her mother was preparing food in the kitchen even if she couldn't smell it; her sense of smell was so dulled as to be nonexistent that it always made her want to sniffle at stuffed nose-- but she didn't have a nose.

Even though she lost her sense of smell her sense of taste became even more acute, which provided some amazing first experiences when she tried certain foods again for the first time. A knock on the front door startled Swimmer out of her meandering thoughts and sent her racing right back to her bedroom. She knew that some of the other students would be coming to pick her up today but she still felt skittish; would she know them? Had they been in class with her back when she had been regular old Human Andy? As it turned out: yes.

Listening from her room it didn't take Swimmer very long to identify her visitors and the realization blew her mind; Max and Carver were going to be in the enigmatic 'Tier 6' class with her and Coaster? She remembered Dark Ring Astute Overseer High Director explaining that the four students who had their established partners had been the two previously pregnant Humans and their Phins but realizing that Snyder himself had apparently been rutted by an Amplus made her shudder; had it been consensual or had Max been raped?

She mentally berated herself over the thought; if Carver had raped Max then the Amplus would have been VERY quickly ejected from the Centre. No... Snyder must have been willing. Considering what Swimmer remembered of being with an amorous Longos it was almost frightening to think of what an Amplus could have done in the way of damage. That thought was joined with a great amount of respect when she realized just how much restraint Carver must have had to avoid causing injury. Her thoughts came to an end when she felt her father's clicks vibrating from down the hall; he was looking for her.

Swimmer didn't leave her room, choosing to wait for her father to find her. The moment the Longos entered she held up a hand and explained the situation to him in Phinine. "I know them. We were in classes together on Land Earth."

As usual Surfer started by correcting some slight errors in Swimmer's pronunciation; she was still learning how to use all of her vocalizations. He then followed immediately thereafter by responding in kind. "They are going to find out about your change eventually. It's good that they get to meet the new you now."

The young Longos hesitated, feeling the itchy sensation of a blush. "I... I'm a little embarrassed, Dad."

Surfer stepped right up to her and placed his arms around her, giving her a strong hug the likes of which she remembered from her childhood. His next words were in English, only adding to the nostalgia of the moment. "Da cute, Swimmah. Easy foa say, hahd foa do... You plenny akamai... You godda kno dere no reason ta be scared... sure, ya be hapai, but ya still you. An' you my daughta. Try join us, yea?"

Giving her father a huge hug Swimmer nodded. "Kay. I'll be out in a minute."

Surfer smiled. "Dat mah girl."

Swimmer waited until her Dad stepped out before she began to prepare herself. Contemplating the difference between presentable as-is versus being in a wetsuit she ended up choosing the latter because she was already self-conscious enough as is. Once she was fully dressed she stepped out into the hallway and made her way toward the living room. Swimmer cast a light echoing click ahead of herself as much to herald her entrance as to get an impression of what she was walking into.

Max and Carver were seated at a table. Swimmer's mother was in the kitchen while her father was standing half-way between the table and the hallway. It was Surfer who looked to her first; he waved her over. "Ey, Swimmah. Dey kno u hapai.. Com'mon'in."

She couldn't bare to look right at Max or Carver, keeping her head turned slightly as she felt the itching sensation again of a new blush; this one was far worse than what she'd experienced when talking to her dad and she could imagine her grayish skin practically turning human-colored again. When she finally did look up she saw a degree of confusion on Max's face but no real recognition. Before she thought things through the greeting came out. "Hey, Snyder."

That simple acknowledgement of familiarity and the way she chose to do it was immediately enough for the smart Human teen. "ANDY!?!?!"

Swimmer realized her mistake right away but was in a way relieved that the worst of it was over. Grinning sheepishly the Longos shrugged. "So... funny story..."

Carver's large mouth dropped open and Max very nearly fell out of his seat. As if that wasn't enough reason for their guests to be struck dumb the door to the apartment opened up and Coaster entered. Swimmer's partner paused, looking around at everyone. The newcomer slowed to a stop as well before speaking up. "YOU guys are coming to take us to Tier 6?"

Max nodded numbly but it was Carver who managed to speak, albeit in Phinine. It was funny in a way because the Amplus knew more about the situation than the mute Human thanks to sonar. "Yes... and you're BOTH pregnant??!"

Coaster's hands went to her stomach and she nodded, moving over to join Swimmer. "Yea... funny story..."

Max's response was completely numb. "Swimmer already said that."

Swimmer shrugged helplessly. "Okay... um... Funny-ER story?"

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The Lead Crown: Ch 9.3b, Shock and Awe

Tranquil Waters: The Lead Crown Ch 9.3, Shock and Awe The fight against the Church's men had been a tough one. The group was outnumbered by almost two to one and while the soldiers who fought against them were all battle-ready a good portion of...

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The Lead Crown: Ch 9.3a, Accountability

Tranquil Waters: The Lead Crown Ch 9.3, Accountability Theo looked sorrowfully down at the nearly-empty vial that he had repurposed from its original job as a specimen container into a tooth pick case. It had once been stuffed full of tooth picks but...

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