TFOS: Freddy On The Loose, Part 5
Note: This story uses background and concepts from the Teenagers From Outer Space role-playing game, Copyright 2001 R. Talsorian Games, Inc. The characters and story are Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith.
"Ready?" asked Hub.
"As I'll ever be," sighed Freddy, unable to keep from tensing as Karen aimed the Boy/Girl Gun at him.
There was a faint click as she pulled the trigger, and the pendant around his neck made a slight chirping sound. Freddy looked down, and saw that the indicator light on top had changed from green to red. More importantly, the bulges under the fabric of his shirt were pecks, and not breasts.
"Yesss!" hissed Freddy, pumping his fist up and down.
"Now test the discharge," said Hub.
Freddy lifted the amulet and mischievously pointed it at Hub. He shied back, ducking behind Bl'fff. Freddy shifted his aim to Ramet, only to find the smirking alien already female. Aiming at Karen produced a "Don't you dare!" look that made Freddy cringe. Aiming at Hrpblple was a wasted effort.
"Okay," he sighed, pointing the thing at himself and pushing the button.
"Success!" cried Hub, running up to the now-female Freddy.
He grabbed her in a rib-crunching hug and spun around.
"Heeee..." said Freddy. "Put - Gasp! - me down, you heavy-gravity gorilla!"
"Oh, sorry," said the rhino-whale type guy, obeying. "Anyway, it works. Now, you better give it back to me so I can run some checks. And so you can get turned back."
Freddy slipped the amulet off and handed it to Hub, then looked pleadingly at Karen. Fortunately, she obliged, and Freddy was soon a grinning boy again.
"Well, our troubles aren't over by any means," said Hub, from where he worked, "but if we can mass produce and distribute these, gender sniping will fade to nothing more than a bad memory."
"So what do we call 'em?" asked Bl'fff.
"Sex Savers!" cried a joyous Freddy.
"We can't have 'sex' in the name!" exclaimed Karen.
"But we can in the advertising," muttered Hub, pulling the gadget out of his scanner and handing it back to Freddy. "Here. You keep the prototype. My little assembler, here, can produce about one every 68 minutes, if we keep it fed with raw materials. I'll talk to the principal about getting facilities to make more."
"Gender Guard?" suggested Hrpblple.
"Might work," said Hub, nodding.
Freddy put the amulet back around his neck.
"No more boobs," he sighed.
"That's even worse!" snapped Karen, reaching into her hyperspatial handbag. "Not only does it sound disgusting, it ignores the women who might want one!"
"I meant for me!" yelped Freddy, frantically.
"Well, unless they get smart and shoot more than once," said Hub, grinning as Karen relented. "These can only hold one charge. But even if they do, you can use that charge to change back!"
"How many charges does this hold?" asked Karen, holding up the Boy/Girl Gun.
"Oh, it doesn't use charges," said Hub. "It's self-powered. That's one reason they're expensive."
* * *
Freddy was in a good mood for hours after the lunch-period trial. As he followed the stream of boys going towards the locker room door he was even humming. No, sir, nothing could ruin his good cheer. Though the odd cries from inside did penetrate a bit.
Because of some mishaps with the security system, barriers had been placed on either side of the locker room doors, and students instructed to enter one at a time. Freddy obediently awaited his turn, stepping through and letting the door close behind him. He froze as he heard a faint chirping sound, and noticed that everyone in the room was female.
For one panicked moment, Freddy thought he'd accidentally entered the girl's locker. But no; the security system would have fried him, and besides, his Gender Guard had beeped. So someone in here was gender sniping. Which meant Freddy had to find the culprit before he was fired on again.
However, someone else came in right behind Freddy. He reflexively ducked out of the way, turning to call out a warning about the situation. Unfortunately, the following boy - Jim, one of Freddy's semi-regular table mates - had roughly the same experience as Freddy, only he wasn't wearing a Gender Guard. Well, at least Jim made a cuter girl than most of those in here...
"Ahhh!" said Jim.
"Oh, calm down," said Freddy. "All we have to do is find out who's sniping us."
"We tried that!" exclaimed one of the girls who had been there when Freddy walked in.
The door opened again to admit another boy, this one rather unpopular. Those already in the room watched the progression of events silently.
"Y'know, I think this is a - if you'll pardon the expression - booby trap," said another girl.
"Okay, somebody guard the door!" Freddy instructed. "Hold it closed! The rest of us search for a switch, or an electric eye, and the Gun."
The search proved fruitless. As the girls and Freddy milled about, uncertain what to do next, the girl guarding the door became distracted, and failed in her duty. It swung open again, but this time the boy walking in just stood there, looking at the odd scene, mouth slowly dropping open.
"Hey," said Freddy, noticing something. "There's at least two people standing in the spot where the changes happen, but neither of them changed!"
The boy at the door slowly backed away, letting the door close. And one of the girls in the spot was suddenly male again.
"Nobody move!" yelled Freddy.
He stood between the boy who had just been zapped and the disappointed girl who hadn't. Frowning, he looked all around, even standing on tip toe to get a look on top of nearby lockers. And that brought another thought. Freddy looked up.
The beam from a Boy/Girl Gun was weird in more ways than one. For instance, it would not penetrate most materials. Peering at the ceiling acoustic tiles, Freddy saw a small, neat hole above the door, and had a thought. He hurriedly fetched a chair, and put it down in front of the door. Standing on it, he lifted the tile and looked through. There, in the dimness, he spotted a Boy/Girl Gun, connected to some sort or mechanical gadget which was also connected to the door closer. The device obviously cocked when the door was opened, then pulled the trigger when it closed.
Carefully, mindful that his Gender Guard was full, he disconnected the Gun and brought it down.
"Okay," said a grinning Freddy, "line up."
Minutes later everyone was back to their original gender. Freddy cradled the Boy/Girl Gun like a prized possession.
"Mine, all mine," he chortled. "This one I'm keeping!"
* * *
"You can't keep it," said Principal Tolliver, after examining the Boy/Girl Gun. "It's stolen property."
"Awwww," sighed Freddy.
"A few days ago the police gave us a list of items stolen from an alien goods shipment," Principal Tolliver explained, indicating a thick sheaf of papers. "We were supposed to keep an eye out in case the thieves tried to use them on or sell them to students."
"How many were taken?"
"A baker's dozen," Principal Tolliver explained. "Only three have been recovered, including yours and the one from the girls' locker room. The other one was also found in this area, by the way. And there were a lot of potentially much more dangerous items taken, too."
"Ewww..." said Freddy.
He'd actually seen some of the girls turned into boys running into the gymnasium when he'd gone out to tell Coach about the problem. Unfortunately, flight was the wrong reaction because the door security didn't distinguish between normal gender and current gender, and entering or leaving. Which resulted in several smoldering piles of temporary boy and even more panic. A few of those in the boys' room had made the same mistake. Freddy had been about to use the charge in his pendant and go into the locker room to get the Gun which he realized must be in there, when the panic suddenly quieted. Karen, it seemed, had done much as Freddy before her, and now was changing the stricken non-girls back.
Oh, there'd been some confusion, with the occasional person being "corrected" who didn't need it. But, altogether, the situation had been resolved pretty quickly and competently. Freddy had even remembered to use the charge in his pendant, in case of more sniping later. Coach and Miz Klupper had, unfortunately, decided to cancel class. Students were asked to remain in the gym - and stay out of the locker rooms - while the matter was investigated. A few of the students - like Freddy - had been invited to the principal's office to make a more detailed statement. The police were on their way, and wanted to speak to a few of the students, as well.
"I just know my aunt is gonna find some way to claim I'm now in trouble with the police, when I tell her why I stayed late."
"We'll give you a note, explaining everything," Principal Tolliver assured Freddy.
"Doesn't matter," said Freddy, shaking his head. "Neither she nor my uncle like me. I think they're a bit afraid of me."
Considering how much Freddy could bench press, Principal Tolliver could understand that.
"Well, they are your legal guardians while you're living away from your parents," said Principal Tolliver. "I could recommend we all have a counseling session."
"Thanks, but it's not that bad," Freddy assured him. "I mean, they don't abuse me or anything. They just don't get along with me."
"If you're sure..."
"Yeah," sighed Freddy.
* * *
Karen was waiting for him, which was nice.
"You're going to be late for your job," he reminded her.
"I would've been, anyway," she sighed. "I called and explained, and he told me to just take the evening off."
"Y'know, for a giant, orange lizard, Sooltong is all right."
"He says his offer to you still stands," Karen told him, as she mounted her bike. "He says we make a good pair, and he could use another product demonstrator. Oh, and when I told him about how you were protected by Hub's invention, he was very interested in it. I just wish I'd picked mine up before gym class, instead of after."
"Hey, it's all right," grinned Freddy. "You make a handsome guy."
"Ooh! I just had a thought!" announced Karen, as they peddled away. "For the costume dance week after next, we could go as each other!"
"No," said Freddy, flatly. "No way. You're the one who said I shouldn't be a girl any more!"
"C'mon, it'll be fun!"
And thus, into the night...
End Part Five
This story is Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reprint or repost it must have permission from the author, who can be reached at: email@example.com.
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