"How do they expect us to work like this?" Nyx demanded. She -- or rather, he -- waved his sword vaguely. "My muscles are all wrong!"
Dassie sipped her cup of coffee. "Well, the Plot Continuum still needs protecting," she said vaguely. "And Agents still need patching up. They can't really afford to give us a break, especially with so many of our colleagues transformed too."
Nyx wasn't listening. "Didn't we save their hides during the Invasion?" he ranted. "And the Reorganisation. The least they could do, the absolute least..."
Dassie leant back in her chair. This sounded like it would take a while.
Louise & Narto
"... Lou," Narto said in a strangely high voice.
"Why am I a girl?"
Louise looked round at her. "For giggles," he said, grinning. "I was bored."
"You were bored," Narto repeated flatly. "And when you're bored, you..."
"Hop across to a comic I know and steal some cool tech, yes," Lou finished for her. "Isn't it fun?"
"I have curves in all the wrong places," Narto muttered. "And what if someone comes over?"
"We'll just have to be busy," Lou said dismissively, and held out a hand. "Ms. Telyan, will you join me in the hot tub?"
Narto stared at him for a moment, and then laughed. "Certainly I will, sir," she said, and off they went.
Constance & Dafydd
"Dafydd, please put the sword down."
Dafydd swung around to look at Constance. "They can't get away with this!" she exclaimed. "Elves may be girly, but I'm not female!"
"You are now," Constance said, eying her amusedly. "Come on, it's not that bad. I'm not having any trouble."
Dafydd scowled at him. "Says you," she muttered darkly. "But come on, Connie, they can't get away with this."
"Probably not," Constance agreed cheerfully. Reaching into a closet, he pulled out a sword. Dafydd blinked.
"Your... er, your sword is on fire?"
Constance looked at it startledly. "Why, so it is! How clever of you to notice." He beamed.
"... right, then." Dafydd looked around. "Tanfin's asleep?"
"He is," Constance agreed. "Unless it's she by now." He swung his sword experimentally. "So shall we go and knock on the door of HQ?"
Dafydd grinned. "Let's get knocking," she said, and headed for the door.
Ilraen & Nume
At the knock on the door, two things happened. A female voice shouted "No, don't--!", and the door was opened. The opener was a purplish-furred female Andalite.
<Hello,> said she.
"Dammit, Ilraen," grumbled the first voice, which belonged to a tall, thin, angry-looking woman who stood with her arms crossed awkwardly over her breasts. "Well, who is it? What do they want?"
<Please excuse my partner,> said Ilraen. <We are not usually... um... like this. He--she--Agent Supernumerary is not very happy about it.> Beat. <Er, do you know that your sword is on fire?>
"Um. Er." Dafydd looked distinctly nonplussed. Beside her, Constance grinned.
"Yes, it is," he said. "Full marks for observation, fuzzy horse thing." He looked at his... er... husband? Wife? His spouse and muttered, "Come on, elf, say your thing."
"... oh, right." Dafydd brandished her own sword. "Blah blah blah dramatic and threatening speech," she said, "but seriously, either you two tell us who's responsible for genderbending us, or we start breaking things."
"We're very good at that," Constance said, although his sword hardly needed any further comment.
Ilraen suddenly felt very naked without her larger male tail-blade, but she instinctively raised the one she had at the moment. <Um... I do not think that would be productive.>
"We didn't do it," Nume said. "We don't know who did, either."
<Perhaps we could assist you in locating the responsible party as an alternative to pointless violence?>
"Oh, it wouldn't be pointless violence," Constance said with a lethal-looking grin, lifting his sword, but Dafydd nudged him with an elbow.
"Connie," she muttered, "you're acting like... I don't know, like a human male or something."
Constance poked his tongue out at her. "Probably all the testosterone," he admitted. "But come on, they're asking for it."
Dafydd rubbed her temples wearily. "Seriously, guys," she said, "you don't know what this is like. It's insane."
"Tch," scoffed Nume, pushing her way forward to stand by Ilraen's flank. "'Guys,' she says. Look, whatever this is, it got us, too. You think I want to be like this? It's all..." She gestured hopelessly at her modified body. "Things are internal where they should be external and, and protruding where they shouldn't be. I know how insane it is."
Ilraen nodded. <This is my first experience of a female of my species. It is very strange.>
Drake & Naomi
Drake went rushing by the door, in full harem girl outfit, giggling as she dashed by.
She was holding a rubber chicken, which changed to a teddy bear in a tutu as she ran, and was followed by a male agent wielding a backpack. "Come back here, DRAKE! You’ve gone too far!"
Skyfire & Stormsong
A large male stoat, bristling with anger and carrying a rapier with clear intent to use it, stalked around the corner, followed by a small slender weasel jill with a lute strapped to her back.
"I did NOT need this to happen again!" the stoat snarled. "I don't know how you did this, and I don't care! Just turn us back!"
A small fuzzy whirlwind appeared around the other corner and screeched to a halt, revealing itself to be a small ferret. "Hi, New Mama! Hi, Uncle Stormy! The nursery lady started screaming about summink and dropped me ..." He sniffed. "You look funny. Should I call you Daddy now, Mama?"
The mustelids looked at each other. "Well, at least one of us doth seem to be coping," the weasel said wryly.
"She's a Dibbun, you can hardly tell the difference anyway."
Naomi gasped and ran back, then stared.
"Wait, you too?" he asked, totally confused, then looked through the open door, saw the four agents beyond, and gulped.
"Errrrrr, I take it you got gender-bent too? I swear I have no clue what my partner did, but I remember that DORKS. Drake had it on a mission where he came back wearing very funny clothes. Makes Things said something about Sue cooties or something, I don't think he managed to fix it before he died. We got it back, but apparently it still has problems."
Dafydd looked at Constance. "Hmm."
Constance nodded. "Hmm indeed," he said.
Looking at the new arrival, Dafydd raised an eyebrow. "So... it's your partner's doing, then?" she asked. At her side, Constance raised his (still-on-fire) sword and grinned.
Naomi gulped, looking at the sword, clearly guessing the intent. "Errrr, I think so. I have no clue what happened to that DORKS!" He spotted Storm and SKy, or what he assumed were them, and Molly too.
"Say, Storm, Sky? What happened on that mission? What would cause a DORKS to genderbend agents?" he asked, then looked back.
"Please, let's figure out why this could have happened before we declare Open Fox Season on my partner, okay?"
Nume's wrath had now carried her all the way back into the hallway. "I have a better idea. Let's figure out if this can un-happen. If that requires a fox-hunt, I'm all for it."
Ilraen, who was by this time Earth-savvy enough to understand the reference, eyed her partner suspiciously. Coming from three of four eyes, this was nothing to sneeze at. <You are not riding me again,> she said. <That was a very singular occasion, and in any case, I cannot be certain this new body is quite strong enough. It feels more... dainty.>
Nume stared in utter horror. "Ilraen, if you ever use that word again, I'm going to have to hurt you."
Ilraen was the absolute picture of wounded innocence. <You would injure a female?>
Her partner turned in desperation to Dafydd and Constance. "Can we kill the fox now?"
Constance's eyes lit up, possibly because he was holding a burning sword in front of them. "Oh, let's," he said gleefully.
Dafydd rolled her eyes. "All right, so it's tempting," she admitted. "But murder is rarely the answer, Connie. Unless the question is a 'Sue."
"She's kind of Sueish," Constance said reasonably. "I mean, talking animals are pretty unusual, right?"
"They were," Dafydd corrected. "We've been gone long enough that they might be common now." She glanced at the Agents referred to as Storm and Sky meaningfully.
"Nevertheless," Constance said, frowning, "I propose we kill her. Has it crossed your mind that this might have affected Hera and Ilwion?"
His spouse winced at the thought of genderbent fire lizards. "All right, I'm convinced," she said. "Murder it is."
Stormsong ducked forwards and stood in front of Drake, who had wandered back when she realised no one was chasing her any more. "'Twould not be a good idea to slay the one who caused this. After all, if he caused it, he must know how to change it back."
Drake grinned. "Aww, I knew there was a reason I like you."
"The no-touching rule is still in place, Drake."
"A hunt, right? Lux taught me this game, or tried to explain, but meany Naomi interrupted." That said, Drake giggled, then ran off again, giggling and fleeing down the corridor.
Naomi sighed. "Look, can we instead of killing him, just injure him instead? He is my partner, after all..."
Dafydd drummed her fingers on her sword handle. "If we just injure her -- or him, or whatever..." She shook her head. "I'll be so glad to go back to normal. If we just injure her -- sorry, what was your name? -- can you make sure she doesn't do this again?"
"Nooooo," Constance protested, waving his sword around. "Come on, friend of horsey-thing-person, you're with me on this, aren't you? She totally needs killing!"
Naomi sighed. "Look, I'm just worried that if you kill him, my next partner will be LUX!"
He turned back to Stormsong and Skyfire. "You still haven't answered me. What happened on the mission? Any reason why the DORKS would genderbend people? We have to know, please..." he begged.
"I don't know, I'm not a technician," Skyfire said, shrugging. "He must have done something pretty impressive to it to make it transform everyone in HQ, and that suggests that he must have enlisted expert help ... Do any of Lux's flings work in the tech department? Strikes me as something she would approve of, and so would anyone demented enough to like her."
Ansela & Risa
"What did you press?" Risa muttered, knowing that his partner wasn't exactly listening to him at that time. "I told you to stay away from the console after last time."
"Didn't press nothing," Ansela grinned and stretched, ignoring the ripping sound as his clothes finally gave up on conforming to his new, larger body shape.
"You must have pressed something. People do not just change gender on a whim."
"Sure they do. I know this guy back in my home continuum who can change your gender if you give him enough money. Hell, sometimes he changes his own gender for shits and giggles."
"I take it you have availed yourself of his services in the past," Risa sighed as Ansela nodded eagerly, rubbing at his forehead to try and stave off the impending migraine. "And this would be why you are so unperturbed by this turn of events."
"Yup. I'm going to the cafeteria, see if there's anyone who knows what's going on," Ansela opened the door and grinned at Risa. "Want me to get you anything?"
"I would appreciate it if you would find some clothing that does not look like it will fall off as soon as you do so much as breathe deeply."
Ansela nodded. "Will do."
"Does anyone own this psycho fox?" Ansela yelled as he came round the corner, dragging Drake behind him. "Crazy bitch ran into me, giggling like a sugar-high Sue and waving a DORKS around like a mad thing. Almost put an arrow through her chest before she yelled that she was an Agent."
Naomi groaned. "He's my partner. And..." He gasped as he noticed something... "WHERE'S THE DORKS!?"
He quickly snapped at the others. "Please, no killing him until we can sort this out, okay?"
"I gave it to some agent, don't know who. Some funny male."
Skyfire shook his head. "Oh no. Please, Drake, tell me you did not potentially give that thing to Lux."
"Okay, I did not give it to Lux, potentially."
Naomi looked at Drake. "Are you telling the truth?"
"Not really, but she did ask me to tell her that..."
Naomi had snapped, and smacked drake with the backpack. "CRAZY FOX!"
"So Lux has got it? All we have to do is ask her, him, for it back, right? It's not that..." Ansela trailed off as the others looked at him incredulously. "What? Lux can be reasonable."
"..." Constance lowered his sword at last and looked across at Dafydd. "Lux is in control of our bodies," he said flatly.
Dafydd looked around at the assembled Agents. "You think they can handle it?" she asked dubiously.
"I certainly hope so," Constance replied, "because I'm not going to. Not against Lux."
"Me either," Dafydd said grimly. "She's -- he's -- too much."
"Time to go, then?" her spouse asked. Dafydd nodded, and looked at the group again.
"Well, it's been fun," she said, "but we'll be going home now. If you decide to burn the place down, do let us know."
"Not that you know where we live, thank goodness," Constance added. He shot a look at Drake. "And if this doesn't get sorted out, we'll be back. With two irate fire lizards in tow."
Dafydd grinned wryly. "Who needs fear of God?" she asked the air above her. "Come on, Connie, let's go home." And with that, the pair walked away. Again.
Drake giggled and squirmed free, then dropped a octopus jar in Stormsong's arms, kissed her, and dashed off. Naomi was about to chase when the jar phrapped and morphed into a doll.
"That sneaky son of a vixen. He had it all along... or else he got it back."
Stormsong fumbled the object and narrowly avoided dropping it. "So, ah, should we take this back to the technicians? I have no idea what to do with the cursed object ..."
"Sure. Let's head to the way. Although, Storm, did you want to just mess with it instead, see if we can fix this without the technicians?"
"Drake, I shall be cruel to be kind," explained the weasel, grinning ominously. "On a scale of bad ideas, the idea of 'messing' with this thing would be somewhere between walking around an OFU with one's sex changed without telling anyone and trying to store a poisonous snake in one's pocket. Thou hast already done the former. Please do not move further along the scale."
Naomi looked oddly at Stormsong, and smacked himself. "Drake's long gone. I asked that. I think that was due to this body. Being male seems to make me want to take odd risks, no offense to your gender Stormie."
"Still. Bad move." Stormsong handed over the device. "We should take this to the technical department."
In the DoSAT, they waited as the machine was examined.
"Bad news," said the tech, looking up from the workbench. "I don't know what you've done to this thing, but basically it's completely screwed up. I can fix it, but it'll take me a while."
"How long?" asked Skyfire.
"... Twenty-four hours, or thereabouts."
"Any idea why it went bloody haywire?" Naomi asked, looking at the tech and idly swinging his backpack. "Also, Storm and Sky, think we should find your friends, Foxglove and Laburnum?"
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