Plan of the Shusheen

Shifter Worlds

By Vic James

Copyright 2013 by Vic James


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We walked into the library and Mike sat at the computer. He brought up some files and then found the right one. He fast forwarded it until we walked into his parent's yard. He played the footage. The video quality wasn't great, but it showed me change to a Fithar and it showed Mike and his parents leap into the air as wolves and then shift into what I was calling vampires.

"Wow!" Mike said. We quickly moved out of range of that camera, so he brought up another file. It wasn't on that, so he checked some more. He found one where you could clearly Mrs. Lawry.

We were zipping at the time and most videos only showed blurs. He fast forwarded through a lot of files until he found one that showed him attacking me. He wrapped his arms around me and bit into my neck. Mike put his hands over his face when he saw it.

"I don't understand why we shifted into those or why we attacked you."

"Ar-Tan-Bey, will you explain?"

She told him about the Fithar and what they were like. The killing for pleasure and the torturing. Some of that was news to me. The methods of torture they used to prolong the life and suffering of their victims. Evidently when a victim was near death they would sometimes give it medical care to keep it alive and then begin torturing again. She told him the Vin-Ta in that shape would be very difficult or impossible for the Fithar to kill. She never mentioned the mating bond and its possible relevance. She didn't mention Et-Tin-Nar and how it was all his project. I thought about that. I didn't want Mike to resent our mating bond, but did I have the right to keep silent? Ar-Tan-Bey was giving a very slanted explanation that skipped all the implications and ramifications of what was done.

But if the Fithar came to Earth, I might be very glad we had people who could fight them without themselves dying. In that case, it might be a good thing. Maybe it wasn't such a horrible thing. On the other hand, the Vin-Ta didn't have any choice about whether or not they fought them.

"You didn't actually tell him very much, did you?"

"No, I hoped you would understand. I didn't leave so much out to make the Shusheen appear blameless. I did because if Mike made the connection between the mating bond and their battling Fithar, it might adversely affect your relationship. He was already wondering how much influence I had on your mating. Even though I did have an influence, I think it is a good thing. You have told me many times you are happy and he seems to be as well. I knew exactly what you wanted and fortunately you were his type as well.

"I didn't want to be responsible for hurting you, Ben. You are free to give him the whole story, if you wish. It might be better coming from you than from me. Actually, I wish the jerk who is responsible was here to take the blame.

"You mean Et-Tin-Nar?"


"Is 'jerk' a Shusheen term?" She laughed.

"I invented it especially for him." She paused. "He is the first person to ever make me ashamed of being Shusheen."

"If he is insane, he shouldn't make you feel ashamed."

"Thank you, Ben."

"What you were saying about the they always end up killing their victims?"

"Yes. They have no patience and they love blood, so their victims don't survive long."

I decided to bite the bullet.

"Mike you've only heard part of the story from At-Tan-Bey. She wanted me to be the one who decided whether to tell the more troubling parts."

"Why did she want you to tell me?"

"Because it could adversely affect our relationship." He looked skeptical.

"There is a Shusheen named Et-Tin-Bar. Some family members of his were tortured to death by the Fithar. The Shusheen like the Fithar, do not die like we do. When a body they inhabit ceases to function, they take on a new, empty body. Both races give birth to mindless babies that their minds or souls transfer into."

"Is it like reincarnation?"

"No. They retain all their memories."

"Holy shit!"

"Et-Tin-Bar's family members eventually died at the hands of the Fithar, or so we assume. It seems to have given him a permanent obsession with the Fithar. When the very first Vin-Ta Ar-Te-Bon killed the cat, Et-Tin-Bar felt At-Tan-Bey had created another race of Fithar. Beings who killed when it wasn't necessary. Et-Tin-Bar was the head of the Shusheen expedition to Earth.

"The next important part of the story begins when At-Tan-Bey discovered how to teach shifting to At-Te-Bon and his offspring. The project was long and complex. In order to get Et-Tin-Bar's approval, At-Tan-Bey had to consent to conditions he specified. He designed and implemented the Vin-Ta mating bond. There was no mating bond in the Vin-Ta prior to that. What the mating bond did when it was selecting mates was unknown to anyone but Et-Tin-Bar. At-Tan-Bey herself was not told.

"We don't exactly know what he did, however given what happened just now to you we can assume he did it. None of At-Tan-Bey's work would have resulted in what just happened. The mating bond is part of the implant. The Recollection."

Mike sat there for a bit thinking.

"Could the Fithar travel to Earth?"

At-Tan-Bey said "Yes, Mike. The same way we did."

"The Shusheen assumed they would be returning home, didn't they?"


"So we were altered in order to fight the Fithar if they ever came to Earth."

At-Tan-Bey said "Yes, Mike. I'm sure he intended for you to remain on Earth."

"Ben, why did you think it would affect our relationship?"

"Because the mating bond is what drew us together and it seems to have had an ulterior motive."

"OK. I understand what he did and why he did it. I can't say I'm happy about it, but if they do come visiting, it's nice to know we are prepared.

"But if no one can kill Fithar, what were we doing?"

At-Tan-Bey said "Mike, we don't know for certain, but I believe his plan was for the Vin-Ta to remove enough blood from them to keep them too weak to do any harm.

"So it's OK, Mike. You weren't trying to kill me. I think you were trying to weaken me.

Mike thought for a while. I was very worried when he didn't say anything. He looked thoughtful rather than angry and that seemed like a good sign.

"There's a saying: every gift has a price. I guess this is the price for our gift. If the Fithar do come to Earth, I will be better able to defend Ben and that does make me happy.

"This doesn't affect our relationship. I love you and this seems inconsequential compared with that."

"Thank you, Mike. I love you, too. And I don't think it is the mating bond making me say that."

We smiled at each other. I was, of course, very relieved.

I kissed him. He smiled at me and pulled my hand. I happily followed him to our bedroom.

Between kisses I said "Mike, I was so worried I would lose you!"

"How could you think I would leave you over something you have no control over?"

"I didn't know how you'd react. It's not like anything similar has happened before."

"Well, I can understand that. I won't leave you, Ben. Ever. So now you know."

"Thank you. I would rather die than leave you, Mike."

We kissed and then undressed each other. We made love slowly with a lot of kissing. I fell asleep with him inside me. When I woke, he was still holding me, stroking my hair.

I sighed.

"What should we tell the others about what happened? Your parents..."

"The truth. They deserve to know.

"I've been giving it a lot of thought. The Vin-Ta were given a gift that other humans did not receive. We live much longer and we are healthier. In a way, it's appropriate that we have to do something in return. Why should humans lose part of their already short lives due to the Fithar? What was the Shusheen's name?"


"Right. It's not like Et-Tin-Bar was throwing us defenseless against the Fithar. He enabled us to do the job without dying ourselves. I'll explain it that way to the Vin-Ta."

"Most of the Vin-Ta don't even know they are Vin-Ta. Do you think we should tell them?"

"I've given that a great deal of thought, Ben, and I still don't know. The Vin-Ta have survived by keeping ourselves secret. If we were to make some sort of announcement that enabled them to hear the Recollection, there would be Vin-Ta everywhere. Our secret would not be a secret. While it's possible the new Vin-Ta would be fine, it's also possible the humans will be very unhappy they won't live a thousand years and they'll take out their anger on them."

"I agree. I've been picturing an awful lot of dissections trying to obtain the secret to living a thousand years."

"Yeah. On the other hand, they are being deprived of their birthright."

"Mike, whatever you decide is fine with me. You are a Vin-Ta. I think Vin-Ta should decide what to do about them."

"I'm going to talk it over with my parents and Jack.

"There's another thing I've been wondering. If the Shusheen keep going from body to body, how old is Ar-Tan-Bey?" I realized I had no idea.

"Ar-Tan-Bey, how old are you?"

"What a day. Ben, please change the subject. I'm really not comfortable discussing it with you."

"Ar-Tan-Bey won't say."

Mike asked "Why are you being evasive Ar-Tan-Bey?"

"Guys, I really don't want to talk about it!"

Mike stared at me, waiting.

"Oh, poop! I'm am one point one million years old!" Ar-Tan-Bey said.

"You cursed!" I said.

She laughed through my mouth.

"Were you afraid I wouldn't like an older woman?" I asked her.

"Mike, how do you feel about that?" I asked him.

"I think she's a much older woman. With a potty mouth. I had already assumed you lived very long lives. You were trying to make another species immortal. That certainly implied you knew how to do it."

"That's true! I should have thought of that. Well, there you go, Ar-Tan-Bey. Those are our reactions."

She said "I was afraid you would be angry you live such short lives. Each of our bodies can live at least a million years. Most people die of accidental deaths long before a body wears out, and then we just move into another one.

"I felt guilty that the Vin-Ta only lived a thousand years. I didn't tell you about it because I was afraid you would blame me for their short lives and I am responsible. Ar-Ta-Bon died in my arms. He was only nine hundred and ninety two years old. I felt like such a failure. I felt I had let my own child die."

"Ar-Tan-Bey, you increased their life span by at least ten times. I think we should be grateful."

She asked "Mike, how do you feel?"

"I agree with Ben. So you couldn't make them immortal! That's hardly a reason to be ashamed. You did keep working on it. You did the best you could didn't you?"

"Yes, I did. But it didn't help the Vin-Ta."

Mike said "On behalf of Ar-Ta-Bon and his descendants, I would like to thank you for extending our lives."

"Thank you, Mike."

"At-Tan-Bey, what do you think we should do about all the Vin-Ta who don't know they're Vin-Ta?"

"I would like for them to receive their birthright. Every one of them who dies prematurely is a tragedy. But I don't know what will happen to them if they become known to the other humans either. It's better to help some of them than none of them. Perhaps we could inform small groups slowly. Saving one person's life is much, much better than saving none."

"That is very good idea. We don't have to choose between all or none. I will talk with my family about that. We could start small and see what happens," Mike said.

"At-Tan-Bey, I've been thinking about vampires. Do you think shifted Vin-Ta could have gotten stuck in that shift and that's why they appear in legends?"

"I have no idea. There are vampire bats. They might have been based on those. In the same vein, I have no idea if the mythical Earth angels are based on Shusheen or it's just a coincidence. Humans have wanted to fly for a long time and painting wings on human figures is a kind of obvious way to represent that."

"Mike, Ar-Tan-Bey explained about the birth process. A seal will appear on my belly when the baby is ready. I open the seal, take the baby out, and it closes itself."

"Wow! That sounds easy!"

"Hey, I just thought of something!"

"Ar-Tan-Bey, how does someone who is millions of years old relate to someone who is just born for the first time?"

"The educators take over until the newborns are several hundred years old. By that time they know enough history to be able to relate to much older Shusheen."

"I am so glad I did not have to go to school for hundreds of years. That's the main gift you gave us," I said. She laughed.

"How do you deal with so many memories? That's an awful lot of them."

"We are taught how to discard non-essential or unwanted memories. I don't remember what I ate a million years ago. That's a completely useless bit of information. On the other hand I might want to remember the first time I ate a particular food, if it has significance to me.

"In your case, you do not have any such training. However your brain automatically dumps unaccessed memories after a certain length of time. If you want to always remember the day you and Mike met, keep remembering it and you should be able to keep it a long time."

"Do I actually a million years of your memories in my implant?"

"What you have are all the memories I chose to keep in all that time. My brain isn't capable of storing everything that happened any more than yours is. So you have highlights. The memories I wanted.

Evie walked out.

"Hi, Evie. What's new with Ernie?" I asked.

"I think he's about to give up fighting and move in. Mike, is it still OK?" Evie asked.

"Absolutely. You're family and he's your mate. That makes him family on my side of the family and he's also related to Ben."

"Ben, he told me about the pregnancy thing."

"I'm pregnant!"


"Yes. It's going to be a boy. We're naming him Michael.

"Mike, we need to tell Mrs. Lawry." I said.

Mike yelled "Mrs. Lawry!"

"Is that how rich people do it?" I asked Mike.

"Only the ultra-rich, Ben."

"What's up Mike," Mrs. Lawry said.

"Believe it or not, Mrs. Lawry, I'm pregnant."

"What? Is that a joke?"

"No, I look like an almost attractive man. But deep down, I have a secret. And deep down, I also have a uterus. I'm a hermaphrodite. It's going to be a boy and we're naming it Michael."

"I'm so happy for both of you!"

She hugged me and then Mike.

"I hope you're having a C-section!"

We laughed and I said "I definitely know it won't be coming out the usual way!"

"We should celebrate! How about some hot apple cobbler and ice cream."

"That sounds fabulous!"

After we ate, I started wiggling my eyebrows at Mike.

"You're twitching again. Do you want your nerve medicine?"

"Is that also known as screwdrivers?"


"I'd prefer a screw."

"They are in the garage."

"I can't wait until Ernie moves in."

"I thought you were after the gardeners!"

"Not after the chinch bug fiasco!"

"It was a chinch bug fiesta!"

I got up. "I'm going to the bedroom. I'm going to shift into you and play with your pretty dick."

"Can I supervise?"

I held out my hand and we ran into the bedroom.

"Have I told you I love you?" Mike asked me before he kissed me. I wrapped my arms around him and the kiss was as good as every kiss we've ever shared.

Nevertheless, I wanted more and I pushed my hand into his pants.

"I found it!"

I reached up and sucked on his earlobe. He pushed his hand into my pants and pushed a finger into my hole.

"I wish that was your dick, Mike!"

"I can do that!"

He pulled his finger out. I pulled my clothes off in a hurry and jumped onto the bed. I laid on my back. He got undressed and crawled up to me on the bed. He took me into his mouth and sucked me. He pushed his finger back into me and began rubbing my prostate.

"Mike!" I cried as I came in his mouth.

Mike pulled off me and smiled. I smiled back. He pushed my legs up and began licking my hole.

"Please Mike! Fuck me!"

"That's a very good idea!"

Mike pressed his cock against me and pushed in slowly. Once he was in, he lowered himself until we could kiss.

"I love you so much, Mike."

He lifted up and slowly began thrusting. He keep changing his angle until I gasped.

He started fucking at that angle, faster and faster. My butt began spasming and that made me come. Mike groaned as he came too. We had learned that slow strokes on his part kept the spasms going. I cried out as I came again. Mike lowered himself and kissed me again. He moaned into the kiss as he came again. We kept that up for a while and we each had another couple of orgasms.

The phone rang. What rotten timing, I thought. Mike reached over and picked up the phone and said "Mike".

He hung up and said "Security says a man is waving a bar code scanner around and making clicking sounds with his mouth. They said he was asking about 'Shoe shine'."

"I wonder if that was Shusheen."

"That's a possibility."

"Ar-Tan-Bey, what do you think?"

"Ben, the Shusheen language has a lot of clicks. It's possible it's a friend. Or an enemy."

"Mike, we need to go see what he has to say."

"I don't want you to go, Ben."

"If he is a Shusheen, you'll need me."

"Ar-Tan-Bey, will Ben be safe?" Mike asked.

The phone rang again. He picked up the phone and said "Mike".

He hung up and said "Security says he said his name is Artaniban."

"Ben, Mike, Ar-Tana-Bin was my mate's name!"

"You mean the original's mate."


"Do you think it's safe?"

"Please, Ben! I have to know. I will definitely owe you a favor!"

"Mike, let's go down there. If you have a stunner, take it. If it's a Fithar...what am I saying! You'll be able to handle a Fithar!"

"Ar-Tan-Bey, you didn't answer me. Will Ben be safe?"

"Mike, I think I can make Ben move fast enough, shift quickly enough to keep him out of harm. That's all I can say without more information. I think Ben will be safer than you will be."

"Fair enough."

"Ben, are you sure?"

"Absolutely. You have no idea how much money you are saving!"

"Are you talking about the cost of drones to scan the planet?"

"Yeah. Or us travelling around the world scanning."

Mike pulled a gun out of a drawer and handed it to me. I thought about telling him I'd never shot one, but I didn't.

We walked to the gate. As soon as we sighted him, he held up a scanner and started clicking at us.

"It's him! Ben! It's him! Do I have permission to speak to him from your mouth?"

"Of course!"

My throat constricted and then clicking began. I clicked at him, he clicked at me, followed by clicks and more clicks.

"Am I going to have a sore throat?"

"No, don't worry about it."

"What is he saying?"

"He thinks I am Ar-Tan-Bey."

"Well, you have her mind."

"No, he thinks I'm the real Ar-Tan-Bey."

The clicking between them resumed. He kept showing me something on one of his scanners. Followed by clicking, of course.

"Can you tell me what's going on?"

"Yes. He detected my devices when I was scanning for Shusheen and tracked us here from that."

"Ben, he says his scanner would not detect an active implant. A copy in other words."

"If you are the real Ar-Tan-Bey, wouldn't you have memories of things that occurred after the scan?"

"Very good, Ben! I'm impressed. I asked him that very thing. He said my body was destroyed right after the copy was made."

"Would you have memories of being a fish or an elephant or something?"

"Yes. Which is why I'm still trying to convince him he's wrong."

"How could you have entered my body with me already in residence?"

"I couldn't. I mentioned that as well."

There was a lot more clicking. There were intense clicks.

"If you were the real Ar-Tan-Bey, wouldn't I have two of you in my mind? The real one and the implant?"

"Not if the implant was inoperative."

"I'm not going to say it."

"Say what?"

"I'm pregnant, my feet hurt." She laughed.

"It is silly doing all this outside. See if Mike will let us take him into the house, please."

"Mike, can we continue this in the house?"

He looked at me. "I suppose."

He told the security guards to let him through and we all went inside.

When we were in the house, Ar-Tan-Bey said "He wants to insert a detector of some sort into your body."

"Is it safe?"


"Mike, he's going to run a test on me. Please don't worry."

Ar-Tan-Bey clicked at him and something extruded from his hand. It touched me, but I couldn't feel it.

He started clicking again.

"Ben, he's almost convinced me."

"I don't really understand how this is possible, but I trust you."

"Thank you."

"What do we do about it?"

"He wants you to give birth to a Shusheen Null for me. It will be the final test. If I really am Ar-Tan-Bey, I will transfer into it?"

"Explain this to Mike, please. He's completely in the dark."

"Mike, this is my mate, or my original's mate, Ar-Tana-Bin. He believes that I am the original Ar-Tan-Bey, and not an implant copy. He has scans to back up what he is saying. He is requesting that Ben give birth to a Shusheen Null to see if I can transfer into it."

"Ben, how do you feel about this?"

"Scared. If she leaves, I won't be able to shift."

"We don't know that, Ben. I won't leave you unable to shift. I promise you that. That would condemn you to a shorter life, which wouldn't do to anyone, but especially not you."

"OK. I believe you.

"Are the other Shusheen still on Earth?"

"No, he said their bodies died from accidents or violence one by one and he hasn't located any of them in animals."

"Once you are in a baby Null, will you be able to speak and think clearly?"

"Not at first. After about a month, I'll be able to control the body well enough to shift and then I can shift into a small adult Shusheen."

"Very small, I would think. How tall will you be?"

"Maybe fifteen inches tall."

"You'll be a leprechaun!"

"Without any gold!" she said.

"I'm willing to give birth to the Null. Do we need to wait until I have my baby to start on it?"

"Yes. You can bear multiple young at a time, but they have to be the same species since they would share the same sub circulatory system."

"What will your mate do until the Null is born?"

"Ben, do think Mike would be willing to let him live here with us? Are you willing?"

"You will owe me two after this!"

"Definitely, Ben!"

"Mike, would it be possible to allow Ar-Tana-Bin to live with us until they can leave?"

"Is that what you want, Ben?"


"How long would that be?"

Ar-Tan-Bey said "Mike, we have to wait until your baby is born before we can start on a Shusheen body. That will be about four months."

"Only four?" he asked.

"Yes. That is the gestation time in Ben's species."

"After your baby is born, I will cause Ben to become pregnant with a Shusheen."

"Hey, it will be like a virgin birth, but without a virgin!" Mike and I laughed.

That will take another four months. Then I will have to settle into the body before I am mobile. That will probably be another month."

"I will not allow Ben have sex with your mate."

Ar-Tan-Bey said "What a disgusting thought! No, there will definitely not be any sex. He's lived without me for forty eight thousand years; the time he will have to wait from now will be negligible."

"How does your mate feel about us? I don't want someone who doesn't like us living with us."

I clicked at Ar-Tana-Bin again.

"Mike and Ben Chuffawa. I am eternally in your debt for the help you have already given my mate and myself. You have truly shown me that all the work Ar-Tan-Bey put into your development was not wasted. I have met many humans over the years. Some were great and some were terrible.

"Ben, you have never resented my mate's presence in your mind. Despite her sin of taking over your body without your consent before you became aware of her presence. To me, that makes you one of the great.

"Mike, you spent your money on the detectors Ar-Tan-Bey constructed when they were of absolutely no use to you. You also overlooked my mate's presence during times of intimacy with your mate. I am not sure I could do that. And I truly thank you.

"I have no wish to impose on you, but the Null is the only way I can get Ar-Tan-Bey into a Shusheen body. If we were somehow able to transfer her into an animal body, she would not be able to shift to the deep space form to return home. I have insisted there is no need to have me live here with you. I've lived by myself on Earth for a very, very long time. But she is sentimental and I cannot blame her.

"I am not certain whether my mate has explained one of my concerns. The Shusheen never sent a launching machine to Earth. After forty-eight thousand years, I think it is safe to assume it is not coming. That is cause for great concern. There are an enormous number of Shusheen who are aware we came to Earth. Our leaving was a major event as ours was the first and probably only expedition to your planet. The only known inhabitable planets at the time we left were Shilleen, Fithome which is the Fithar world, and Earth. Ours was the first interstellar expedition. Also, my mate and I have several offspring who would never forget we were trapped here.

"And yet they did not send a launching machine. I say that, because if they had and we didn't return, they would assume it was damaged and send another, and another until we returned.

"There is no comforting reason why it was never sent. I fear something has gone drastically wrong on Shilleen. It is vital to my mate and myself to go there and discover what happened."

I asked "How will you get there without a launching machine?"

"I own an aerospace company and I have already built it."

"Wow!" I said.

"The machine was completed about thirty years ago. Every time I thought I was ready to leave, a sense of unease caused me to delay. Now I feel I know why."

"To show you my gratitude as well as having no further use for it, once we leave to return home, I will transfer to you the wealth I have accumulated over the millennia. It is scattered around the globe and is currently worth about one point two trillion dollars."

"Wow! I definitely want to fly first class, Mike!"

"Ben, it's your decision," Mike said.

"It's OK with me."

It was a good thing Mike had a big house. Ernie was moving in, Ar-Tana-Bin was as well. There were kids on the way too.

You'd think having an alien in your house would be a little odd, but he spent a lot of his time in his room. He seemed able to shut himself down for long periods. When he was awake, he was friendly and he liked to sit in the sun eating grapes. He was crazy about grapes.

I gave Ar-Tan-Bey permission to visit him at night while I was asleep so they could talk in privacy. She told me they had little to discuss other than his time here on Earth and he didn't want to discuss it. She told me that he had seen a great many extremely disturbing things and wished to avoid remembering them. I asked her if she missed sex with him and she started laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"After forty two million years, sex starts to seem a bit repetitive. Like eating, except pointless."

"I think it's fun and wonderful!"

"I know and it was for the first million years. After that, there were more interesting things to do."

"I guess I can see that. I wonder if I'll be having sex with Mike for a million years. Oh, I won't. I forgot.

"I don't suppose we could ask your mate to whip up immortality for the Vin-Ta while he's waiting for the Null."

"It will take a lot longer than nine months!"

"Yeah." I sighed. "I keep picturing him dying in my arms. But maybe I'll go first."

"Ben, you are right! This is my chance to give the Vin-Ta the really long life I'd hoped to give them!"

"Do you think your mate will go along?"

"I'll tell him we aren't leaving until it's done! Plus I owe you lots of favors!"

"Thank you. You don't know how much it means to me. Or maybe you do."

"Let's go tell him!"

Ar-Tana-Bin groaned when Ar-Tan-Bey told him. While she was convincing him, he shivered and he shook but he didn't say no. He pointed out it would go quicker if he had a lab. I mentioned Mike's lab. With Mike's permission, he began working there. When he realized Mike had already been working on longevity research, he convinced him to assist him.

I missed Mike, but he seemed really happy to get back into research and that made me happy. Mike would come home and bubble about how impossible it was and how much fun he was having.

He would tell me how much he liked Ar-Tana-Bin.

"You should hear some of his stories, Ben. He has seen so much!"

I wondered why he didn't want to reminisce with Ar-Tan-Bey but he did with Mike. I wondered if maybe he'd done things over the millennia that he wasn't proud of. Maybe he could admit things to Mike that he couldn't admit to another Shusheen. In that amount of time, it would be difficult not to do something you weren't proud of. When you add mankind's violent past into the picture, it seems inevitable.

Ernie had eventually realized he needed our help with his divorce. Money had become completely irrelevant now that we would be receiving Ar-Tana-Bin's wealth when they left for Shilleen.

Mike's private investigators were able to dig up evidence of an affair his wife had had with a former boss. Ernie quit his job and sued her for alimony. We didn't think he would get it, but his wife decided she wanted him out of her life. He gave her their house and that was all.

Ernie moved into our house with Evie. Evie insisted on remaining a maid even though Mike told her it wasn't necessary. She pointed out that the fewer people who knew about the kind of shifter Ernie and I were, the better. We couldn't really argue with that. None of us were messy anyway and with Mike out of the house, I had free time to help with some of it. Evie didn't like me helping, but Ernie sure did. He would whisk her off to their bedroom. I kept telling them both I was bored.

When I was especially bored, I would have Ar-Tan-Bey shift me into famous people. I got to masturbate as Abraham Lincoln, which I can't really recommend. I was Queen Victoria and tried to lift up my dress, but couldn't because it was skin. I was John Wayne and Meryl Streep. I was Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Then one day I shifted into someone I didn't recognize. He was really hairy and the nicest description of him would be homely, but he had a sweet smile. I wasn't smiling, so that came from Ar-Tan-Bey's memory.

"It's Ar-Ta-Bon, Ben."

I tried to see Mike in him, but too much time was passed. Mike's blood was too different. I was just very, very glad he hadn't died in my arms. That made me think about all the people I would see die. I wondered how many of my own children would die before me. How would I cope with that when thinking about Ar-Ta-Bon made me cry? Immortality sounded like it could hurt a lot.

"Ar-Tan-Bey, is it possible to scan our minds, Mike's and mine, I mean?"

"Yes. What for?"

"Would it be possible to transfer the scan into a clone?"

"Do you mean as a backup if one of you died?"


"You realize it would be a copy, right?"

"Wouldn't that be better than nothing?"

"There are several problems with the idea. First, how would you test it? Scan your mind and implant it? What if it is a success? There would be two of you. One real and one copy. Then there is the issue of the clone. If it doesn't work, would we just kill it? Would you be able to do that to something that looked identical to you? I certainly couldn't and just thinking about it is painful for me."

"Is it possible to scan us, but not implant us?"


"Would you say there is a chance that Ar-Tana-Bin is wrong about you being the original?"

"Yes, a slight chance."

"Do you want to be transferred or be implanted into the Null anyway?"

Ar-Tan-Bey paused before saying "I don't know, Ben. That is a very good question. I very much want to be with my mate and return to Shilleen. But if I'm a copy, will he want me? Is there any advantage to transferring me from you Ben, than the copy of my mind that is in Ernie? What will happen when the real Ar-Tan-Bey reappears? The correct answer is no, but I don't know if I would be able to say no if he asked me to do it."

That evening when Ar-Tana-Bin and Mike got home, I clicked at him for a bit.

"Are you sure this is what you want, Ben?"

"I asked him to scan your minds."

"Yes, it is."

"Mike, I have requested that our minds be scanned as a backup if anything should happen to one of us. Will you please allow it?"

"Sure, Ben. I think it's a very good idea!" Mike looked really excited.

Ar-Tana-Bin walked up to me and his hands became something that looked like steel mesh. He wrapped them around my head.

"Try to empty your mind, Ben while I perform the scan."

I tried and hoped I succeeded. After three or four minutes, he finished.

He stood there with his eyes closed for about fifteen minutes.

"What is he doing?"

"He's storing the scan."

"Mike, he's scoring the scan of my mind right now."

"Storing, Ben, not scoring." I laughed.

"Sorry, I meant he's storing it."

Ar-Tana-Bin walked up to Mike and repeated the process.

"It's done," he said.

"Thank you, Ar-Tana-Bin."

"You are welcome, Ben."

That night, in our bedroom Mike pulled me to him and kissed me for about five minutes. I almost came!

"Thank you, Ben! Thank you for coming up with that idea. If something were to happen to you, I could still have you. And vice-versa."

"My memories may not be current when I get dumped into a clone, but at least I'll remember the important things, like how big your cock is." We both laughed.

"We can have the scans updated periodically. Ar-Tana-Bin thinks we will be working on Vin-Ta immortality for a long time."

"Hey, Ar-Tan-Bey!"

"You don't need to shout."

"Would it be possible to transfer Mike's mind into the body of one of my species? Wouldn't that be quicker than the approach they are using?"

"It would be a copy, Ben. The original would still be around and would still die."

"Oh, yeah."

"Do you know if a mind could be transferred instead of moved?"

"And who would kill the original Mike?"

"Maybe Mike!

"What about a brain transplant?"

"Well there would be fewer ethical issues with that approach. Let's go talk to Ar-Tana-Bin."

"Mike, I just asked Ar-Tan-Bey if your mind or brain could be transferred into a body of my species. That way you would get immortality without changing every cell in your body."

Mike thought for a minute. "Ben, I was hoping to help all the Vin-Ta, not just me."

"Good point!" I hadn't thought of that.

"It was a good idea, though!"

"It was, Ben. But he's right. I want to help all of them."

"Thanks. I do too."

"It can be our fallback plan if it's the only way to give Mike immortality,"

"Now, that is a very good idea!"

"All that science fiction you read is coming in handy."