MAU: Can't Take the Sky From Me! Chapter -8-

“I can't believe I did all those things today!” Danny's eyes shined with happiness in spite of the heavy gray clouds that had hung overhead all day long.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. None of the characters, places, or anything else is meant to be represented by anything in reality. Duh! Fiction, get it? I the author reserve the rights, so please don't go posting this anyplace else without my permission. A very special thanks goes out to Cathy who spent the time to make this story readable. Another round of thanks goes out to all the others out there in BCTS land who have encouraged and inspired me to write and keep writing. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me!

by
Grover

Chapter 8
Steven

Upton Heights Acres

Despite the extremely adequate makeup sex, he was still peeved. No, not angry or frustrated, because that meant a loss of control, but not happy. Brian had come to him looking for a promise not to repeat the previous night's little game of tag with the US Air Force.

It was also a test of the new changes he'd made to himself, but they had failed to work.

As a robotics engineer, he knew the human body was just another machine, only biological instead of mechanical. That went for the human brain as well. It was an amazing organ, but still, in the end, only a computer that like any other could be programmed.

Great strides had been made in understanding just how those biological systems worked which aided duplicating their functions in constructing robots and other machines. After all, evolution had done all the design work, so why reinvent the wheel?

Coming up with a way to control others with other means besides his usual charm and manipulation was an engineering problem Steven believed he could solve. However, every one of his approaches had failed thus far. Only the pheromone angle seemed to have worked at all, but while it had his Little Florist as hot as a live coal, it fell short of what he'd hoped to achieve.

Steven hadn't forgotten that Brian had turned himself into a bitch, which still made him shudder. That was just disgusting! Still he had added to his collection of Iron-Man suits. The suitcase model would be handy and unlike Tony Stark in the movie he didn't have to painfully inject himself with computer chips to control the remote control Mark 42 armor. Having a suit that would literally jump onto him at a second's notice was beyond cool. He reveled in the power.

His plan had originally been to simply withhold the MAU's time-limitation from Brian while pushing his lover into assuming a more 'pleasing' form. However, the secret his lover had kept from him, as well as that intruder, made him alter his plan. Both events revealed that Steven didn't have as much control and power as he'd believed.

Sighing, he'd had setbacks before. There was still all night and tomorrow to work out why his mind control alterations failed, and then to come up with a solution. Besides, he'd deduced who that intruder had to be.

Certainly the figure in gray had been clever, using the roof to gain access and avoiding the majority of the security cameras. However, whoever had broken-in, could only have done so from one of two houses. The Chenoweths were staid bankers with about as much imagination as rocks.

Ah, but the other neighbor, Christopher the construction magnate, had a step-son, Griffin who fit the description perfectly. Although young, the boy looked years older, which was a shame. Yet what really bothered Steven was the teen's immunity to his charisma.

Even shyly playing the gay card, calling the young man a bigot fell flat. Because of that, Steven had patiently waited to put the youngster in his place, preferably on his hands and knees.

Now, he had a real reason, but his plans depended on the mind control protocols he couldn't get to function.

Steven shrugged, He was no stranger to hard work. After his working class parents had turned their backs on him, he'd put his own self though college. Graduating at the head of his class he'd built his fledgling robotics company the old fashioned way, with dedication and long hours.

In time he'd forgiven his parents because he'd learned a very important lesson from them. They had promised to always love and care for him, but they had lied. No one kept promises unless it was convenient or breaking them had very unwanted consequences.

Using the increasingly unpleasant weather as an excuse, tonight he would appear to putter around with the machine, indulging in his engineering interests, while really building up his stash of armor suits and exploring why the mental domination thing wasn't working. That would keep Brian happy and unsuspecting until Steven was ready to move.

All that was left to do was the doing. Even if it took all night he would beat this. So, focused on his task, he missed seeing the purple script tracking across the screen.

<><><><><>
MAU Mark Five xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxx-0101

Internal events log

Received customer order
Analyzing customer requests
Processing customer order
Scanning for quality control
FAILED fail-safe protocols

Customer service message delivered:

There has been a problem with completing your order due to possible violations of local moral imperatives. If you believe this message in error please contact your nearest Gamalfi Customer Service Center.

Thank you and have a zorful Febvul!

<><><><><>

Griffin

Urban Hell Acres

“I can't believe I did all those things today!” Danny's eyes shined with happiness in spite of the heavy gray clouds that had hung overhead all day long.

They had gotten back just in time for dinner and barely avoided being caught by Danny's always alert Mom.

“But you did.” Griffin hadn't been able to stop grinning the whole day. Sneaking out and helping his once wheelchair bound friend really live for the first time had been one of the best times of his life.

“I walked, ran, Hell, I even climbed a tree!” He sat on the bed tired despite the Suit having done most of the work today.

“It's the only way out of your room that we can avoid your parents.” Griffin made light of the accomplishment. “Of course you climbed a tree, twice, up and down.”

“Yes I did!” Danny said proudly. “However, I think that when 'Doc' advised me to take it easy, that it was a good idea. I'm tired, and hungry. I don't think I've ever been that hungry before. I was starving.”

Griffin took a recently created apple out of his insulated lunch bag/Nano-medical unit. “Have your Doc formulate a snack for your needs like this.” He took a bite of the nano-tech rendered fruit, which tasted just as good as the one he'd scanned into the memory this morning.

“Hey! Thanks a good idea.” Danny was soon munching on his own apple. “That's good!”

“We'll have to go by a grocery and scan everything we can to give us a nice assortment of choices.” Griffin said, taking another bite.

“So this can make food for us too?” The once ill boy asked.

“Yeah,” Griffin replied. “As well as medicines. It can even purify water or even produce it from water vapor. The unit can go further and make breathable air by recycling like a re-breather does, but even better. You can plug it into your suit and make it a spacesuit or add the survival unit to upgrade it to economy powered armor.

“You can't make a Gundam suit, but smaller, closer to man-sized should be doable.” He explained. “It's really just a heavier version of your exoskeleton function with extras.”

“Extras?” Danny asked disbelievingly. “You come up with powered armor and you just call it extras?”

“Yes.” The redhead replied. “Compared to the Iron-Man armor, yeah, just extras. My selections are much more versatile than Steven's, and you can hide our stuff while that armor of his is anything but easy to conceal.

“However,” Griff pointed out the other side of the coin. “His suits are purpose-built, deliberately specialized and therefore more effective in their given roles.”

“That does makes sense.” Danny grudgingly admitted. “Our stuff is good for lots of different things, but he has to change his suit each time to get the most from them.”

“Speaking of which.” Griffin asked, “Just how many has he made now?”

Danny sat back in his hated 'wheels' because it was the only chair that fit at his computer desk. Accessing the surveillance cameras his friend had put up yesterday, he whistled, “Wow. The total, including the ones he later dismissed in the MAU and the one he made for Brian?”

“Just the ones he has stacked in his house some wheres.” The redhead replied, laughing.

“I make it five or six if that briefcase had the portable number inside.” Danny counted. “Could be as many as seven, with Brian's suit.”

Maybe he is trying to become Tony Stark.” Griffin joined his friend whistling his amazement.

“Or maybe he knows about the time limit.” Danny pointed out. “Look how he's making them and storing them.

“Perhaps, he's trying a change and it's not working?” The boy at the keyboard made a guess. “But if he knows, why isn't Brian taking a turn? It's almost as if he doesn't know.”

“I wouldn't lay down money that Steven told him.” Griffin replied, angry at the 'The Perv.' “It would be just like him to talk Brian into something he really doesn't want and wait for the damn thing to stop working.”

“You think he's really that bad?” Danny asked, looking a little green. After all he'd been trapped in a dying body all his life. To deliberately trap someone else, even if the body wasn't about to self-destruct, made him sick. “I know we talk about how Steven is a Perv, but this?

“Yes,” Griffin stated. “This. I think he would. We have to tell Brian.”

“Okay,” Danny nodded. “I'll go along with that, but we need to be careful we don't reveal ourselves to Steven. Anyone who would do such a thing to someone is dangerous.”

“You got that right.” Griffin agreed. “I'll have to dive into my savings and buy a throwaway phone.”

“Can't we just use our tricorders, that look like phones, as phones?” Danny asked, humorously.

“We could, but the JARVIS's are still learning.” Griffin explained. “Give it a few days and I'm sure the quantum computer that it is will have the whole keeping our location thing all figured out, but until then I wouldn't want to chance it. Remember Steven has a JARVIS too built into his suits.

“I'll use my disguise power and pay cash.” He laid out his plan. “To make double sure I'll text him at the mall and 'lose' the phone there.” Griffin made ditto marks in the air.

“You don't have time tonight.” His friend incline his head at the time displayed at the bottom of the screen. “It'll have to be tomorrow after school. You'll be cutting it awfully close for him. He'll only have a few hours at the most to respond.”

Griffin sighed heavily. His friend was right, but they couldn't chance Steven finding out about them. The best information they had was the MAU stayed active from three to four days, but they didn't know just how much of that fourth day they had to work with. He was still a bit irritated at Brian keeping his distance, if not ending their friendship, but he did get why. Friends were hard to come by, and it hurt when even one was lost. However, he wouldn't, couldn't, allow Steven to trap his friend in some body that looked perpetually under-age.

“I have this really crazy suggestion.” Danny said, after a moment.

“Okay,” The redhead gestured. “Let have it.”

“You're not using your equipment to its potential again.” The boy at the keyboard held up his tricorder again. “All you want is the anonymity of the throw-away-phone's SIM card. However, with these 'replicators' of ours we should be able to modify that phone to act like it's on a timer and call when we both have an iron tight alibi.”

“Like sitting in class.” Griffin smiled broadly. “I like it! Plus we can get and modify the phone tonight. We just have to work a place to hide it so it can made it's single call tomorrow.”

“Wish I could sneak out and join you,” Danny sighed, “But Mom is due in to shoo you out any minute now for my evening checkup. Hopefully she won't see any changes yet and freak out.”

“Nah,” Griffin reassured him. “Just check your Doc if you have a problem. Besides, I'm guessing it's going to take time for your body to heal and grow the way it should be.”

“Yeah,” You're right.” Danny admitted after a moment of checking his JARVIS Doctor program. It says nothing should be noticeable yet. I should start to put on weight, but it's important I use the suit as much as I can to help build my muscles and tone. Seems like you had the right idea when you made certain all my cures would work together.”

“Of course I did!” Griffin grinned. “But I need to be going if I'm going to make it to the store in time. See 'ya!”

<><><><><>

Danny
Upton Heights Acres

He watched Griff leave even as he wondered if he should've asked or not. Today had been one of the most awesome days of his life. It'd been possible only because of his friend risking breaking his neck and trespassing on property that was owned by someone unfriendly to them both.

'Body issues' Griff had gruffly put off going into detail why he would take such chances with his life. Then there was that whole thing about Brian and the Daisy Duke thing. That reminded him of the search string he'd saved regarding that 'Tee' Griff had mentioned.

While he'd been flying high on pure wonder, Danny couldn't keep from noticing that his friend was, well, moving differently. He'd become accustomed to his large, rather lumbering friend. Elephants, rhinoceros, and other very large powerful animals that you really don't want to upset came to mind.

However, today his friend was moving … gracefully? What came to mind wasn't the least ponderous, but on the other hand, Griff hadn't lost any of his over six foot height either, which meant there was still this feeling ... of what Danny didn’t quite know. Perhaps imposing was the best word.

Going back to the Collective web browser, he typed in the clues Griff had dropped about where his ideas for some of the gadgets he'd made had originated. The strange part was Danny was as much a fan of science-fiction as his friend, but he'd never heard of shape-changers quite like what Griff had described nor anything exactly like these Universal Survival Kits either.

Sure the Sonic Screwdriver, Tricorder, and Mr. Fusion stuff were well known fictional gadgets from science-fiction fandom, but although Griff had applied a practical spin to the devices, it wasn't a mystery where they came from.

Despite how the Collective browser had made him uneasy with that odd search return for the MAU, you still couldn't beat it for pie-in-the-sky searches like this one. Shapers it seemed were from the story Green Rain and the science fiction version of the USK was from one named 'A Bodysuit Story Sorta Kinda.'

What they had in common was, both were found on a transgender fiction site. Together, with that previous search string about the Tee in LGBT, Danny thought he had more of a clue to Griff's body issues.

The next question of how to handle this revelation was a hard one. It was the blogs at that TG fiction web site that gave him the answer. Unlike some fiction sites he'd visited in his relentless search for half-way decent reading material, these authors and readers poured their hearts and souls out. Another difference was that, while it was a 'fiction' site, all too many of the experiences of the characters were based on bad things that really happened, often to the author.

Technically he was a minor, but he'd never let that stop him before. Danny had long ago decided that he would be more than likely dead before any moral corruption could strain his immortal soul. Accessing one of his proxies, he signed up for an account so he could post a blog of his own.

I'm your average guy, but I have a friend who I'm about ninety percent certain has gender difficulties of some sort. I think he's preparing to make changes some time in the near future, but I don't know for certain. He could be dropping clues to prepare me, but I think it's really because he trusts me and is not as careful with his facade as with others.

My question is, what do I do? Should I just ignore my suspicions until he is ready to tell me, or should I let him know? Perhaps quietly supportive is best?

Please let me what you all think! I really don't get this gender thing, but he's my friend and I want to be there for him, just like he was always there for me during some very difficult times in my life.

Signed,
A friend wondering what to do.

He looked at few of the stories and was surprised when he got a reply to his blog almost at once.

Dear “Friend wondering what to do.”

I think your best bet here is to let your friend set the pace. You can't be certain what, exactly, he might be planning, and if you assume something... well, we all know what assume does, right?

In the meantime, do some research on your own. Find out what possibilities there are and what transition means. When and if your friend does “come out” to you, BE a friend. One of the worst things a transitioner can have happen is to lose those he or she trusts as a result of transitioning.

Be supportive and maintain an open mind. “There are,” said the Bard, “ more things under heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy Horatio.”

From what you wrote, I feel like your friend is a male, transitioning to a female gender presentation. This can be a very positive and exciting experience for you if you allow it to be. Just accept that your friend will not be lost to you. It will still be the person you always knew and befriended, just decorated better. He may be very shy when he begins. Be his, now her, friend. Let him talk things out with you. Treat him just the same way you always have and help him make this change a positive thing for both of you.

I hope this helps.

Signed,
Been there, done that.

Hearing his Mom's knock at the door, Danny sighed, knowing he wouldn't have a chance to read any of the other replies tonight.

“Come in.” He answered, as he closed the browser. It just wouldn't do for her to start asking questions he couldn't and didn't know how to answer.

Danny couldn't keep himself from smiling. It'd been such a day like he'd never had before. He could go to sleep tonight and have faith he would wake up in the morning.

“My you're in a good mood tonight.” She said, gesturing him to wheel himself to his bed where they could begin his nightly hygiene routine.

“Yes, I am.” Danny beamed up at her, as he moved the hoist to help him up.

To be continued


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