MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me! Chapter -2-

Danny had spent his life confined to his 'wheels,' a wheelchair. All he had to look forward was wondering just when his body would finally give out for all that he was still a teen. However, his friend Griffin just might was going to change all of that. You see he had a plan!

MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me!

Chapter 2


Urban Hell Acres

The next morning, Saturday or not, he had his alarm set. It wasn't as it if was hard getting up. Even with the lazy months after moving here, he was still used to getting up early from his years with his Grandparents on the farm. It was more the late night than the early hours. There were things to do.

Still his Mom was surprised when he zipped though the kitchen to grab something to eat on his way to Danny's.

“Well you're certainly up early for the weekend.” She observed, fixing breakfast for Chris who was no doubt still upstairs. Griffin's step-father regarded his Saturday golf games as just as important to his construction business and political aspirations as going into work at the office.

To Chris that meant that Mom's job was to support him in these endeavors which, in this case, meant fixing him breakfast.

Popping a waffle in the toaster, Griffin explained. “Going over to Danny's. We're researching a class project.”

“And play some video games?” She asked, with a knowing smile.

“Could be.” He replied, smiling back. It so confused him sometimes. His Mom could be so cool about some things, and he knew she loved him her own way.

But she would never go against anything that Chris wanted. Maybe that was why he disliked her at times. She'd failed to be as strong as he needed and wanted her to be. The lesson that those he looked up to, growing-up, weren't perfect and had feet of clay weren't one he enjoyed learning. However, his Mom was all he had left. No matter how flaky things might get, he loved her.

“Just remember to try and do some of that school work.” She wagged a finger at him.

Hitching his book bag higher on his shoulder, Griffin snagged a soda pop from the fridge and ran by the toaster just in time to snag his waffle as it popped up.

“Sure Mom.” He assured her, heading for the door. Running into Chris would not be a good thing. While his Step-father might be meticulously politically correct in public, Chris had referred to Danny as that 'crippled-kid' more than once.

In Chris's world there were winners and then everyone else. If he couldn't make use of you then you weren't worth his notice. Sure Griffin was big, but besides having no interest in sports, he was also clumsy probably because his body felt so wrong to him. Once his step-father realized that that Griffin would not be a sports hero, that was it as far as he was concerned. Forget that Griffin had always had much better than just good grades. That wasn't anything Chris could use to impress his business clients.

Hearing his step-father come down the stairs, Griffin slipped out the back door not a moment too soon. The teen felt the same way about Chris. Anyone who would treat people that way deserved not one minute of his attention or time. Respect, Grandpa Joe had taught him, had to be earned. Chris had done none of that.

Soon he was biking across Urban Hell Acres. The early spring morning was already more like summer than spring, given this was the south. He enjoyed the effort of pushing himself, flying down the street.

Another advantage of living in an affluent area was the bike lanes which let him concentrate on riding and not on keeping from being run over. Besides, he needed to think and the feeling of gliding, flying, helped.

The things he'd seen the night before were impossible, while others made him want to wash his eyes out with bleach. 'The Perv' and Brian had transformed themselves into a number of different forms. Some of them very disturbing. At least Brian protested and was unwilling over some of them. Even normally the florist was one of those naturally young looking guys. Like Micheal J. Fox and Matthew Brodrick, he looked barely out of his teens instead of nearly 30. The forms last night looked a lot younger than even that. Griffin might never look at Batman and Robin, or Cap and Bucky the same way ever again.

However, that alien machine, wherever it came from, offered once in a lifetime opportunities for both him and Danny. One he could not and would not pass up.


Upton Heights Acres

He'd been up for awhile. His 'burden' wouldn't let him sleep long, but that was okay with him. Not knowing if, when you went to bed, if you would wake-up again made one very happy for every waking moment. It made him want to live life to it fullest with no regrets.

Danny did his best, but it wasn't easy at times. Watching others do the run, jump and play thing, while he was stuck in his 'wheels' was tough. Still he tried to stay as active as his condition would allow which wasn't very. Despite his problems, he'd managed to convince his parents and the school system to let him attend.

Truthfully, he knew he was borderline with his special needs, but Danny was also determined to be as independent as possible. Sometimes he wondered why he bothered, with some of the harassment he got from a few of his fellow students, but the support of the majority of others balanced it out and more.

“Danny, ” His Mom called on the intercom. “Griffin is here.”

“Send him up, Mom.” He replied, with a grin.

And just sometimes it was worth it in spades.

Danny had plenty of friends online, but although he had several friendly acquaintances at school, none were really friends. They all had more active lives and, for whatever reasons, didn't or couldn't make allowances for his special needs.

That is, except for Griff.

The farm boy was everything he wasn't. Big, redheaded and covered in freckles from spending most of his time outside, Griff always made time for him. They'd only known each other for the four months since the farm boy had transferred in after the death of his grandparents, but it seemed like so much longer.

It was so funny that many of their classmates thought of the redhead as slow as his his heavily accented drawl made him seem. They complained he would drag down their grade point average when the opposite was true. He was actually petty damn smart. If either of them cared they could've been accepted by Mensa.

His friend had a near perfect memory, and it'd been funny when one of their teachers, Mrs. Reynolds, had accused him of cheating. Griff had recited from memory the paragraph and page number, the relevant facts as well as what they meant.

Danny suspected that Griff could've tested out, bypassing graduation at any time he wanted from junior high on. Then again there was that problem with his step-father. It was clear that tuition for college would not be forthcoming from him. You would think the Bastard would be glad to pay to get Griff out of the house, but that wasn't the way his mind worked. Sure his friend could probably rake in some sweet scholarships, but he would still need additional funds to live on. Griff was still only sixteen which limited his options as far as work was concerned. In short, as his friend put it, he was between a rock and a hard place, so he went to high school.

However, by the typical modern high schooler definition, being a teen meant living and breathing on social networks. The farm boy couldn't care less about any of that stuff. Being out in the boondocks with no connectivity ruled out his being familiar with texting and everything else their classmates thought of as important.

Danny had been shocked to learn that Griff had used dial-up because they didn't even have cable out on the farm. With his 'burden' making him so immobile, the internet was his lifeline to the world. Danny couldn't imagine doing without it.

Using the hoist's remote, he swung himself into his wheels. Danny suspected that one day his 'burden' would get its own name once the so-called specialists gave up trying to pin his condition into one pigeon hole or another. It was enough to know it was one of the neurological family of troubles causing his body to fail.

“Hey, what's up!” Griff entered with his phone out, causing Danny to smile.

Most times the big redhead was somber, but when he was happy he kinda glowed, infectious. Danny thought that was why Griff kept to his self so much, because that really wasn't the way guys were supposed to be.

Danny couldn't care less what was accepted and what wasn't. He wasn't sure he even had a sexuality, given the way his 'burden' had stunted his body's development. A saving grace for Griff was that he was so big, not even the Senior class jocks dared push him.

The one time three of them had tried, one had ended up on the floor in an arm-lock so fast the others were left gaping with their mouths open. When Danny asked him about it, Griff simply shrugged and said, “Gramps hadn't always been a farmer. Because I was so big, he taught me to fight the right way so I wouldn't hurt anyone.”

“So what did you do to it this time that I need to fix?” Danny asked, taking the offered smart phone.

Griff's mother was all about keeping up with the Joneses. When he'd arrived, she'd immediately gotten him this smart phone with all the bells and whistles. The farm boy had one heck of a learning curve trying to figure it out. Danny of course had been more than happy to help, if only to get his grubby paws on the latest state of the art toy.

Despite the joke, it hadn't taken Griff long to work out the mysteries of the phone. If he had any problem, it was that he simply under-utilized the smart device. With his perfect memory, he simply didn't need most of them.

“Nothing this time.” Griff's eyes danced with mischief. “But you've got to look at these pictures.”

“You know you could've just sent them to me?” Danny laughed at his friend.

“Not these pictures, I couldn't.” Griff replied, enigmatically. “And no they're not 'that' kind of picture. Okay, mostly. That stuff was entirely coincidental.”

Looking at the pictures, he first shot a glance at Griff wondering why he was taking pics of naked guys, much less these guys, but then he saw the device.

“This can't be for real.” Danny declared, handing the phone back.

“Yes, it is.” Griff argued. “You know me, and you know Steven and Brian. There's no way we could ever work together to prank you like this, and you know I'm no good at that Photoshop stuff.”

“But that would mean there really is intelligent life out there somewhere.” Danny said, feeling really slow from the mental shock.

“Well, we always knew the odds favored that outcome.” Griff was reasonable. “It was far less certain that any intelligent life was anywhere nearby, much less able to travel between stars. However,” He tapped his phone. “This proves that, somehow, they do, and they have a very high level of technology.

“This box transformed them in seconds.” The redhead continued. “High level nanotech or perhaps even matter transmutation. Additionally, Steven and Brian altered the display by just touching that crystal. It either read their minds or something so close to it the difference doesn't matter.”

“All that means,” Griff took a deep breath.

“It could heal me.” Danny continued.

“It could heal both of us.” The Farm-boy said, so low it was a whisper.

“Heal you?” Danny asked, looking up at his healthy looking friend.

“I feel like such a hypocrite since you have real serious problems.” Griff answered, hanging his head low. “But you could say I have body and quality of life issues.”

“No problem is little when it's yours.” Danny replied, sincerely. “I've learned that from all my hospital visits. Sure I'm not in a good way, but there were kids younger than me who would never see another year, much less their sixteenth like me.

“So this thing can do the job,” He changed the subject. “But what are we going to do? Roll up to the door and ask to please use their alien machine? You know what Steven is like.”

“No, that wouldn't work any too well.” Griff agreed. “He would either slam the door in our faces, or call the cops saying we were trespassing. Brian might let us in, but he would catch serious hell if his boyfriend ever found out. Besides I wouldn't put it pass 'The Perv' to have cameras hidden in the house.”

“There are security cameras outside the house.” Danny pointed out. “It's not a big leap of logic to say they're inside too. So what did you have in mind?”

“Well if we tried telling anyone about it, we would either get laughed at, or the Box would be confiscated which means we still wouldn't get a chance to use it. That leaves us with two options.”

“Steal it.” Danny answered, uncomfortably.

“That's one option,” Griff nodded. “It would be up to me to get into the place and back out with the Box, that's if I could figure out some way of 'repacking' it back to briefcase size. However, you saw some of the things Steven had transformed himself into. Would you really want Batman, Captain America or Iron-Man coming after us?”

Danny shook his head no. Even just a Batman clone would be bad. Assuming he had any part of the Dark Knight's abilities, him and Griff would be dead meat. He didn't even want to think about Captain America. Bats, for all his prowess, was still an ordinary if extremely well-trained man, but Cap was a super-soldier and just as skilled. That wasn't even counting the Iron-Man armor.

“And the other possibility?” He asked. “You've obviously been thinking about this.”

“Well, I'll still need to sneak inside.” Griff said grinning, “But we won't steal it. Instead we'll use it and get out without him ever knowing we were there. I'm not sure if it would be more practical for me to let you in so you can use the Box yourself or have me make something with it and bring it out to you.”

“Make something? Like what?” Danny asked intrigued.

“I don't know.” The would be burglar answered. “Maybe one of Dr. McCoy's magic pills, or Captain America's super soldier serum, but that's why I'm here. We do what we do best; research the hell out this thing. Find out what is available about these boxes and then come up with the best plan for using it.”

“You really think you can bring back something that will help me?” For the first time in years Danny almost dared hope.

“Yes, I do.” Griff replied enthusiastically. “He made Iron-Man's armor! It wasn't just a prop either. It flew! You and I both know that is well beyond what technology can do today. Is it certain? No,” He answered himself. “but what do we have to lose?” Griff grinned. “Besides we haven't got that far yet in the planning. We might be able to figure out a way for you to use the Box in person.”

“I don't think so.” Danny shook his head. “There are cameras at all the entrances as well as on the neighboring houses, including yours. I would be seen and I can't really wear a disguise either. I think I'll have to play Oracle to your Black Canary.”

“Hey Oracle was cool!” Griff smiled, even if it seemed a little sad for some reason.

“Well, watch and learn.” Danny bragged, as he scooted to his computer desk. “The maestro is about to begin.”

“We'll see about that.” Griff challenged, pulling his own laptop from his bag.

“Morphic Adaptation Unit?” Danny muttered a few minutes later, confused over his search results.

“Where did you find that?” Griff asked. “All I've found is over 5 million pages of conspiracy theories about UFO's and Men in Black.”

“I used the new Collective search engine.” Danny said unsure of the results. “The description triggered a search suggestion, MAU Mk V, but when I clicked on it, I got this really weird error message that wasn't a 'No matches found.' It seemed to be telling me to email the Collective.”

“Well, lets try that on Google.” Griff said, typing in the search. “Hey, that cut it down to a mere 820,000.”

“You take the odd numbered pages, and I'll take the evens?” Danny suggested as he got to the search results page. “Alright Mr. MAU Mk V, just what are you?”

An hour later they didn't have any solid answers to that question.

“What we appear to have is something right out of a bad B-rated Sci-Fi movie.” Danny summarized. “I've run across pleas for help, presumably from people who'd been transformed and can't change back. There are also warnings that kinda look official about messing with it and a 1-800 number to call.”

“That kinda jibes with what I've found.” Griff added. “It seems that, once you open the thing up, it either stops working or is stolen within two to five days at the outside, to the more common three to four days, depending on who you listen to. Government guys, Men in Black, are also often mentioned as showing up and having a strong interest in the Boxes.”

“That makes sense.” Danny reasoned. “We know these things didn't come from around here and, given what they can do, the Feds would be all over these things.”

“It also means,” Griff pointed out, being practical. “That we have our window. We have to make our attempt by no later than Sunday night.”

“Do or do not,” Danny quoted, grinning.”There is no try.”

“No such thing as a sure bet.” Griff shot back with his own smile. “That's why you try and cover every possibility that you can.”

“Okay we have some idea of what it is and of how long we have.” Danny replied, “So what's next?”

“We work out the best ways to help you.” His redheaded friend answered. “I think we might need to be as specific as we can, which means we need to thoroughly research our ideas. We're only getting one shot at this after all. Let's pick three different methods and hopefully one will do the job.”

“I'm all for that.” Danny said with feeling. “We also have to keep in mind we can't transform ourselves too radically or we'll lose our legal status as ourselves.”

“That's a good point.” Griff grinned, “But besides that the sky is the limit. Although I think Superman or Thor is pretty much out or at least greatly powered down. This isn't magic. It's a very advanced machine. Wild ideas are fine, but they have to be grounded in Science!”

“Science!” Danny echoed dramatically, with a smile. He had some ideas to check out.

By lunch they had their outline completed. Idea one was a Venom-like symbiote, but without the evil sentient part. The whole thing with all the teeth and and that gross tongue was edited out too, but its abilities to heal and take care of its host was why he'd picked it. Of course having super-powers like the extra strength wouldn't be bad either.

He and Griff had spent time working out a half-way reasonable way it could work. Whether or not it would was another matter, which was why there were other arrows for their metaphorical bow.

The Farm-boy would carry some of Danny's hair follicles containing his DNA in a ziplock baggie to help formulate a Dr. McCoy pill. This one would slowly rewrite his body's bad 'code' with a healthy one. The mechanism behind this one was viral. It would also provide some low level regeneration as part of keeping him healthy, but wouldn't be able to survive outside of his body. They read over the latest theories and research to build in fail-safes and get an idea of how it would work.

Their third and last arrow was a computerized emergency medical kit that was really a miniaturized nanotechnology hospital in a box.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency.” He and Griff joked.

Again, they didn't want a self-aware intelligence, like the Doctor in Star Trek's Voyager, but wanted something like Jarvis from Iron-Man. 'Just A Rather Very Intelligent System'; helpful, and able to volunteer information, but still just a very smart computer. No Sky-Net, or Ultron for either of them, thank you very much.

Griff met him downstairs, as Danny took his elevator for his wheels down to the kitchen. His Mom had fixed sandwiches for them.

“So that settles most of the what we're going to ask for,” Danny said, between bites.

“I'll still need to bone up on the details to make certain I understand everything, but that's just cramming before the big test.” Griff agreed. “but you're right. We have the what. Now we have to figure out how.”

“Sure.” Danny washed down the last bit of his lunch. “Just hop the fence, dodge the dog, don't be seen by the cameras, and then convince the Alien vending machine to cough up the goods. How could that be hard?'

“That may not be as easy as it seems?” His friend replied with a sigh.

To be continued!

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