The Center: Smells - Part 2

The Center: Smells
Chapter 2

by Jennifer Sue

Copyright  © 2010 Jennifer Sue
All Rights Reserved.


“Children should be seen and not heard,” was the too often used phrase that was physically hammered into his budding consciousness before he even realized he could think. It became the toddler’s mantra.

Chapter 2

“Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner,” Dani apologized as she joined Dr. Lynchburg and Lise as they waited for the newest recruit to awaken. “How’s she doing?”

“Physically she’s fine,” Dr. Lynchburg replied. “Well have to see how she handles the change when she wakes up.”

“At least the ventilation system did it’s job,” Dani sniffed at the lingering remnants of the stench that had been created during the second emergence. Even so, the entire campus had to be locked down and the intake system for the complex shut down until the stench dissipated.

“Her aunt and uncle really did a number on her,” Lise said with a shake of her head. “I still find it hard to believe I’m the first person who ever gave her a hug! That’s simply outrageous!”

“It really is,” Dani agreed. “That’s why we want you here when she wakes up. She knows you care. Rita was stunned when she erased the memories of her aunt and uncle. They actually believed Dave was a child of sin, conceived through Satan’s corruption of his mother. They quite literally pounded the fear of God into him. They actually thought the black ops guys were minions of Satan come to claim his own!”

“That’s sick,” Lise shivered. “But it explains what I felt when he broke down after he wiped out the bad guys. What do his aunt and uncle think happened to Dave?”

“That he gave into Satan and simply ran away,” Dani explained. “I don’t think anyone will doubt that he ran away. The poor guy had absolutely NO friends.”

A suppressed whimper drew their attention to the table where Dave was secured. As he slowly awakened he’d become aware of their conversation.

“It’s okay, Dave,” Lise exclaimed as she quickly moved into the new girl’s line of sight. “We’re here to help you.”

Dave opened his eyes to see the girl who had cradled his head after... he didn’t want to think about what he’d seen... or done.

“And to be your friends,” Dani added as she stepped to the other side of the table into his line of sight. “I’m Dani. I’ll be your guide as you learn about the center.”

“Wh... Where am I... My voice! What’s happening? Why am I tied down?” Dave almost croaked as fear gripped him. He felt much weaker and even smaller. Nothing about him felt normal.

“Relax,” Dani soothed as she used her empath abilities to blunt the burgeoning fear. Tenderly and with great caring she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “We’ll explain everything.”

Dave felt Dani’s consolation wash over him. On some weird level he felt her touch his mind, much like Lise had done. It wasn’t an invasion like that nasty girl had done when she’d raped his mind for information. What he felt was caring and reassurance. This helped him relax a bit. Looking about he saw he was in some sort of room with bare concrete walls and ceiling and his throat felt like a desert. “Can I please have a drink of water?” Something was definitely wrong with his voice. He sounded down right girlish!

“Sure,” Lise smiled at him as she produced a cup with a straw and put it to his lips.

“Thanks,” Dave said after he’d drained the cup. “What’s going on? What’s wrong with my voice? Why am I tied down?”

“Lise,” Dani began. “Would you like to explain what’s happened and where he is while I help Dave stay calm?”

Dave looked at the smiling short, mocha skinned girl and managed a shaky smile as he realized he could trust these people.

“It seems you have the situation well in hand,” Dr. Lynchburg smiled. “I’ll take my leave now.” With that he left the room.

“Dave, this is all going to sound strange and unbelievable but it’s the truth,” Lise began. “Do you remember what happened back at the farm?”

‘Sort of,” Dave whispered as he frowned at the strange voice coming from his mouth. He sounded like a girl! “But it seems like some weird nightmare.”

“Unfortunately it wasn’t,” Lise sighed.

Dave felt terrible if he’d really done that. “So I somehow made it stink so bad everyone puked to death?”

“Yes, except for the one guy who exploded,” Lise shivered at the memory. “But your aunt and uncle survived.”

“That guy was trying to shoot me,” Dave explained as tears flowed from his eyes. “I didn’t mean to do that to them! I just wanted them not to hurt my aunt and uncle.”

“We know,” Lise ruefully smiled. “That’s why we were there to help you. That’s why you’re here now.”

“But that’s also why I’m tied down,” Dave reasoned. “Where are we?”

“We’re in The Center,” Lise explained. “You’re tied down for your protection as well as ours. The transition is always uncertain and possibly dangerous.”

Dave was becoming confused. “Transition?”

“Yeah,” Lise nodded. “You’ve just completed your transition. We’ve all been through it. It’s part of what makes us unique. I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as we were when it happened to us. During the transition we change sex.”

“What? That’s impossible,” Dave exclaimed not wanting to believe what he’d heard. The soothing vibes he was now getting from both girls seemed to reveal Lise was telling the truth. It would explain why his voice sounded so girlish... and why he felt so strange. “There’s no way you two could have ever been boys! You’re way too cute. If I’m a girl now, I have to be an ugly one!” Dave imagined himself as a muscled feminine behemoth similar to the steroid enhanced ‘female’ members of the old East German Olympic team.

“We were boys, but the transition changes everything about you,” Lise explained. “Your fingerprints, your body shape, even your DNA. There’s a mirror over by the restroom door. We’ll release you and help you over to see the new you.”

As the girls released Dave, he flexed his arms to relieve the stiffness. As he did so he saw his hands but they certainly weren’t the heavy, calloused hands he’d had! They were slender with longer fingers and his wrists were much thinner and hairless too! Lifting his right elbow he noted his familiar powerful bulging biceps and triceps muscles were now girlishly slender. It seemed as if the girls were telling the truth... somehow he’d changed into a girl! Taking a deep breath he slowly moved a hand to his groin. The familiar shape of his manhood was gone!

“It’s true, somehow you changed me into a girl,” Dave declared in amazement. Without his boy thing he couldn’t sin anymore! He’d been freed! A timid smile snuck onto his face as he looked at the girls. “But why did you change me?”

“We didn’t change you,” Lise patiently replied. “We’ll explain how you changed after you’ve seen yourself. Sit up slowly and swing your legs over the edge. You may feel a bit lightheaded at first but it will pass. Then we’ll help you stand. Your new body will move and feel a lot different but it should only take a few moments until you adapt to the new you.”

A brief wave of vertigo swept Dave’s mind as he sat up so he closed his eyes until the room stopped spinning. The girls held his arms until he regained his balance. When he opened his eyes hair obscured his vision. He’d always worn his blonde hair short, no longer than an inch. Obviously this weird transition thing had made his hair grow. Almost instinctively he reached one hand up to move the hair away from his face. At the same time he could feel the unfamiliar twin weights jiggle slightly as he moved. That could only mean he had breasts! Looking down he could see his new mounds pushing the gown he wore out in an almost provocative way. At the same time he could feel the fabric brush over the teats at the tip of the breasts. A very weird but not at all pleasant sensation seemed to emanate from them causing the teats to swell and make little pinpoints tent out against the gown. What was happening? Then he suddenly realized what was happening and he flushed deeply and brought his hands up to cover his breasts.

“Just relax,” Dani soothed as she sensed his growing confusion and concern. “Your reaction is quite normal for a girl. It happens to us all the time.”

“But that’s a sin,” Dave gasped as his eyes filled with tears. “Aunt Rachel used to have Uncle Adam whip me with his belt whenever my... boy thing... reacted. She checked my bed every morning to see if I’d touched myself. She even threatened to have Uncle Adam castrate me if I couldn’t get it under control. I’d helped him snip the male piglets. They really squealed. I didn’t want him doing that to me! I was hoping now that the thing is gone I’d be able to be a good Christian.”

Dani and Lise exchanged looks of disbelief.

“Having sexual feelings and reactions are normal for boys and girls,” Dani assured Dave. “Sexual arousal is not a sin. Occasionally it might lead someone to sin but it certainly is not a sin on it’s own. I’m sure your aunt and uncle meant well, but their beliefs about Christianity are way out of line with virtually every Christian denomination.”

“I know,” Dave nodded. “We only went to church on Christmas and Easter. Aunt Rachel said all the members had been seduced by Satan into warping the true faith. That’s why we had to stay away from mixing with the misguided heathens.”

Once again Dani and Lise exchanged looks of disbelief.

“We’ll help you adjust and accept real life,” Dani stated. “Almost everyone here is about our age so we all go through the same things and help each other deal with any issues that arise. You are not alone. You’ll have plenty of friends here.”

“I’ve never had friends,” Dave sniffled.

Tears filled the eyes of Dani and Lise as they sensed Dave’s utter loneliness and the despair of his soul. They’d read the dossier that had been gathered about Dave. It had sounded like his life was horrid, but it took empaths to feel the true depth of his pain.

“The past is over,” Dani managed to speak. “You already have two friends, and soon there will be many more.”

They hugged the new girl as she was wracked with heart wrenching sobs.

When the tears finally subsided, Dave looked at Dani and Lise and smiled sheepishly. “I was never allowed to cry before. My aunt and uncle told me boys don’t cry, but now that I’m a girl it’s okay. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Lise smiled. “But it’s all right for boys to cry. Friends provide shoulders for their friends when we need a good cry. Now, do you feel up to seeing the new and improved you?”

“Not really,” Dave whispered. “I’m afraid to see how ugly I am.”

“You are not ugly,” Dani stated firmly. “Now try to stand up while we support you.”

Dave placed his hands on the edge of the table and slid off. Instantly he understood why they insisted on supporting him. His center of gravity was totally skewed. The giggling of his breasts was disconcerting, as was the fact he gown he wore was open in the back.

“First to the mirror, then we’ll get you something to wear,” Dani stated knowing Dave’s concern as she and Lise lead the wobbly new girl to the mirror while insuring her modesty by holding the back of the gown closed.

In the few steps to the mirror it was obvious that Dave was already learning how his new body moved.

Dave was totally unprepared for what he saw. The mirror showed a cute girl between Dani and Lise. At first he was confused that he didn’t see what he’d imagined to be himself as a girl. Then he realized the girl in the middle had to be him... no... her! He was indeed now a she! Standing about five feet seven inches, the girl had straight red chin length hair. There was an almost pout on her cute face. His familiar hirsute suntanned muscular Aryan flesh had been transformed into unblemished, soft, pale and undeniably girlish flesh. Her button nose was cute and slightly upturned. Her petulant lips perfectly fit her emo appearance. But the most visible feature was her piercing sparkling emerald green eyes. She could be a Celtic princess!

Even clad in the skimpy gown he could see the enticing curves of her new body. It was only when he compared his new shape to that of Dani and Lise that he realized they were dressed alike in what looked like a provocative school girl uniform of black, gray, and white plaid skirt, white button down shirt with almost no sleeves, just little poofy things at the shoulders, a really low cut vest that curved under the breasts squishing them together, a black tie with silver stripes, and black knee high nylon socks under what looked like high heeled boots.

Dani and Lise looked quite attractive in the uniforms, too attractive as Dave found himself becoming aroused. But arousal as a girl felt a lot different that it had as a boy... it felt better... but it was still a sin... wasn’t it? Then he wondered if he’d have to wear the uniform. That made him quiver with apprehension. With his new body he’d probably look as alluring as the girls. All his life it had been pounded into him that sexuality was the work of Satan to tear people away from God.

“Being attracted to someone is not a sin,” Dani reinforced their earlier proclamation. She’d never been exposed to someone who was so prudish and repressed. “Here at The Center everyone is free to express their personality and sexuality. Since all the students have transitioned, many of us have mixed attractions. What we found attractive before we changed we still find attractive. But the hormones of our transitioned bodies also draw us to our now opposite sex. Don’t mistake our acceptance of mixed sexuality as hedonistic. We’re not sexually promiscuous but we do have relationships with a significant other. Whether that significant other is male or female is irrelevant.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Dave replied as the repressed sexuality of his upbringing fought to remain it’s mastery. “But God only wants us to have sexual relationships after we marry someone of the opposite sex and then only for the purpose of having children.”

“Dave, you’ve been brainwashed by your aunt and uncle,” Dani sighed. “We’ll work on de-programming you. But understand this, you will see same sex couples and modest shows of affection in public. We need your promise that you won’t use your mental power to hurt them.”

“Mental power,” Dave queried. “What’s that?”

“It’s the other thing that makes those of us who have transitioned special,” Lise explained. “Dani and I are empaths. We can sense other people’s emotions and sometimes their thoughts and memories. We can also use our power to calm people.”

“That’s what you’ve been doing with me,” Dave acknowledged. “I can feel you prodding my mind but you’re not intruding like that girl did back at the farm. She jumped into my head and it really hurt. She must have read my mind because she told the guys she was with you were there. When she tried to get back in the second time, I was able to keep her out. That seemed to surprise her.”

“It surprises us too,” Dani stated. “It’s our policy not to enter another person’s mind unless we have permission. But when we’re out on a mission, sometimes we have to do so although none of us like it. But few people who aren’t empaths or dominators can resist our intrusions. I’d guess your ability to sense mind probes and resist them is a secondary power you have.”

“A secondary power,” Dave shook his head. “What’s my main power?”

“We’re not exactly sure,” Dani replied. “From the reports of what happened at the farm, we think you can control gases or smells. You took the normal smell of the hog manure and intensified it to the point it made the bad guys so nauseous they choked on their vomit. Their leader was strong enough to push through the nausea. The forensic team thinks you made the natural gases in the digestive tract expand so rapidly his intestines simply exploded. We’ve never come across someone able to do what you did at the farm. We think it’s some unique variation of aerokinetic.”

“That’s an absolutely horrible power,” Dave whispered as he realized the implications of what he’d done. “I don’t want to ever do that again.”

“Few of the transitioned like using their powers to kill someone,” a new voice spoke from the door. “Certainly no one at The Center. We try to subdue our enemies but there are situations where killing is necessary. I’m Kristyn Keyes, I’m in overall command.”

Dave looked at the girl and saw a beautiful girl who at best was just a bit older than he was. She wore an Army uniform with Warrant Officer insignia. How could someone his age be a Warrant Officer much less be in charge? Yet the blue haired Asian guy was in charge of the unit he’d seen and that had included regular soldiers. When he met her blue/gray eyes he saw a look of confidence that could only come from hard earned experience although her smile seemed genuine.

“Welcome to The Center,” Kris smiled as she crossed the room to extended her hand in greeting. “We’ll work with you to figure out your power and how to control it.”

“Why would we have enemies.” Dave asked as he shook hands. “We’re just kids.”

“We’re not normal kids, we’re kids with powers,” Kris replied. “Imagine how people would treat you if they knew what you can do. Then there are others who would love to use us as super soldiers or for crime. We’re a part of Homeland Security. Our job is to prevent the misuse of our powers and to protect the country and world. It’s a huge responsibility. You saw our team in action. Our goal is to recruit the transitioned or soon to transition. We work with other government agencies to clean up messes like you unintentionally created so the population doesn’t panic.”

“I’ve got to get back to my duties,” Kris smiled. “I just wanted to welcome you onboard.”

“I’ve got to get back to my classes,” Lise added. “Dani will take you on the grand tour.”

“Thank you,” Dave called out as they two girls left.

They both turned their heads and nodded.

Dave looked at Dani. “School?”

“Of course,” Dani smiled. “None of us finished school before our change so we do it here as well as learn to control our powers.”

That made sense. Dave nodded his head.

“There’s undies, a sweat suit and flip-flops in here,” Dani said as she opened the restroom door. “Do you think you can dress yourself?”

“I guess so,” Dave replied as he stepped inside. Seeing the toilet he realized he had to go but wasn’t sure how girls accomplished that task.

“You just sit down, spread you legs a bit, relax and let loose,” Dani explained through the closed door. “The first time for all of us was a bit disconcerting, but your body knows what to do. Just be sure to wipe yourself after you’re done.”

Dave managed to perform the task without any major issues although it certainly did drive home the fact he was now a girl. After removing his... no... her gown, SHE looked down at HER pert breasts. They were cute and she could feel himself becoming aroused by the sight. That was so totally wrong. Quickly she stepped into the cotton panties. The undershirt seemed weird until she realized it had to be a bra. Blushing, she managed to slip it on before quickly putting on the sweatsuit. After slipping her feet into the flip-flops, she opened the door.

“Everything seems to fit,” Dani smiled. “You need to think of a complete new name. Dave is no longer an appropriate name. You need a girl’s name. See if you can think of one while I take you down to wardrobe to get you outfitted. Let’s go.”

Dave began thinking of a new name as SHE followed Dani out of the room. As he exited he saw the walls of the room he’d been in were quite thick and there was a heavy steel sliding door that could seal the door.

“It’s a safety bunker,” Dani explained. “Some transitions are ugly and dangerous and we’re never sure what might happen. We have to take precautions. Kris is an electokinetic. She can produce and control electricity. When she transitioned, even in a room like this, she blacked out the entire complex.”

“Wow,” Dave replied but at least she now understood the need for the transition room.

As they traveled the halls and stairs to the wardrobe room Dani explained about the internal terrorist attack at a genetics lab, not too far away from a bottled water facility as the cause of their situation. How unbeknownst to the water plant the tainted water was bottled. shipped around the U.S. and any women who were pregnant at the time wound up contaminating themselves when they drank the water. How the mothers all died in childbirth and their babies became the transitioned. That scientists have so far been unable to determine what triggers the change, but do know it is unavoidable. That the transition will happen to those children, it's just a matter of when. How some kids didn't make it until they were ten before they changed although most happen sometime around age sixteen. That the first manifestation is the appearance of the psychic power and then within the day the physical change occurs. How some go rogue and need to be stopped while others simply don’t survive the change. The tale sounded so bizarre it had to be true. It also explained all he’d experienced.

Dave was taken back when they entered the wardrobe room. The cavernous space was a warehouse! Dave was clearly bewildered at the amount of everything that was available. Row upon row of clothes as well as pegboards of packaged goods of socks, underwear, and assorted girlie necessities scattered throughout the room. Since Dave had never been in a mall she had no idea such a variety of clothing could be found in one place.

“The boys have one just like this,” Dani smiled as she sensed Dave’s awe.

True to her assumption, Dani outfitted her in the same school uniform Dani and Lise wore. The daring outfit was the girls’ school uniform. The high heeled boots were daunting, certainly changing the way she moved. Looking at her reflection in the mirror she felt the uniform accentuated her breasts almost too much for Dave to handle. The uniform was much too revealing for her prudish sensibilities.

“I don’t think I can let anyone see me dressed like this,” Dave apologized. “I know it’s the uniform, but... it’s so naughty.”

“It’s not naughty,” Dani patiently reassured Dave. “The uniform is designed to make sure you know you are a girl. The heels force you to stand correctly and not slouch. The skirt makes sure you smooth it before sitting and don’t bend over. The top, well, it certainly reminds of our girlishness. The whole idea is to force you to learn to move and behave like a girl. Unlike girls who were born that way, we new girls have to learn in days what they learned over sixteen years. Don’t worry if you make a few mistakes, we all did. But I talk from experience when I say you’ll adapt quickly.”

“I hope so,” Dave sighed. “I look like an teenage Irish hussy. I was so Aryan before, why do I look so Irish?”

“As far as the scientists can figure, most of us change into something from our lineage,” Dani explained. “You must have had some Irish genes.”

“My dad was half-Irish,” Dave nodded.

“There you go,” Dani smiled. “Have you thought of a name yet? You really should at least have a first name before we start meeting our classmates.”

“I guess I should pick something Irish,” Dave mused. “How does Shamrock sound for a last name?”

“Cute,” Dani giggled. “I’m glad to see you have a sense of humor. With your restricted past, we were concerned that might be an issue.”

“Oh I have a sense of humor,” Dave giggled in response. “I just never had anyone to share it with. Sometimes I think it was the only thing that kept me from going wacko.”

“Well you’ll have a chance to sharpen your wit here,” Dani chuckled. “There’s nothing like having a bunch of teenagers interacting for a few laughs.”

“That’s a bit daunting,” Dave replied solemnly. “I never interacted with anyone my age.”

“Well you’re doing fine so far,” Dani smiled. “We’ll let the others know you were isolated from your peers so they don’t get upset if you don’t respond the way they think you should.”

“That should help,” Dave said then started giggling.

Dani cocked her head and smiled crookedly wondering what caused the giggles.

“Brose,” Dave smiled. “Short for Ambrosia. Ambrosia is the taste or perfume of the gods. Since I apparently can control smells, I think it’ll be quite appropriate.”

“It certainly will,” Dani chuckled. “Come on, Brose, let’s go to the cafeteria. I’ll bet you’re really hungry about now. We should be able to get our food and be seated just as the other’s come in for lunch. Then I can introduce you!”

“I really am hungry,” Brose replied. “Lead on!”

Of course it wasn’t quite that easy. Brose almost fell several times until she was able to get the hang of walking in heels. With the remnants of her physical prowess and coordination of her previous life, she was walking surprisingly well by the time they reached the cafeteria.

“Brose, if you adapt to being a girl as quickly as you have walking in heels, you won’t have any problems,” Dani smiled as they took trays and headed down the line.

Brose was surprised by the wide variety of selections available. It all looked quite appetizing.

“Take as much as you like,” Dani reassured her. “After transition, nearly everyone is ravenous. We’re also hungry after using our powers. We need to replenish ourselves. Everyone is accustomed to seeing others eating humongous portions and meals. Or you can come back for seconds, thirds, fourths, whatever.”

“If I want more, I’ll come back,” Brose smiled as she filled her tray with numerous normal portions of a wide variety of choices.

As she savored the delicious food Brose decided she needed a signature perfume to go with her Irish appearance and surname of Shamrock. The only truly appropriate fragrance would be clover in bloom. She had always loved the sweet scent of the clover fields when they were in bloom as it was a welcome respite from the stench of the hogs. That brought back memories of her farming expertise. Clover was used on the farm since it puts nitrogen into the soil and was used in rotations between corn, wheat, oats, barley, or rye crops. It also provided forage for the few beef steers they raised an served as silage for winter feed.

Wondering if she’d ever again need that knowledge, a feeling of mischievousness grew. Being mischievous was something that had been strictly verboten in her previous existence, but here being a bit whimsical seemed somehow appropriate. Closing her eyes she retrieved the fragrance from her memory and concentrated on gently summoning it from the air in the cafeteria. As she concentrated on the sweet aroma of clover the nasal memory became so vivid she swore she could smell it.

“Wow, that’s fantastic,” Dani enthused.

Brose snapped out of her engrossment. “What?” Instantly she realized the delightful scent of sweet blooming clover filled her nostrils. “Oh, it worked,” she gasped in pleased surprise.

“I’ll say,” Dani smiled. “It’s very relaxing, like aroma-therapy! You got it just right too, not too strong, just elegantly moderate.”

“That’s what I was going for,” Brose smiled. “I didn’t know if I could do it but apparently I can!”

“You go, girl,” Dani praised. “I think this means you’ll be a quite powerful odourkinetic.”

The sounds of people talking and walking grew louder and closer as students began entering the cafeteria from various halls. Most stopped talking and sniffed the air as they encountered the fragrance of clover. Wondering where it was coming from they looked around and most conversations resumed with that as their main topic.

As she exited the serving line, Lise waved and headed for their table followed by the Native American girl who had been at the farm. “Dave, this is Liz,” Lise introduced as the pair joined them at their table.

“Hi Liz, I remember you from the farm,” Brose smiled. “But my name is now Ambrosia Shamrock but you can just call me Brose.”

“Ambrosia Shamrock,” Liz smiled. “Quite appropriate. I like Brose too. I’m glad to met you. Do we have you to thank for the clover?”

“Yeah,” Brose blushed. “I was just trying out my talent and I felt it would be an suitable scent.”

“It’s a LOT better than what we encountered at the farm,” Lise chuckled.

“Brose is an odourkinetic,” Dani explained.

“That’s a new talent,” Liz smiled. “I’m a reikikinetic, a healer.”

“That’s impressive,” Brose smiled.

Two other girls joined them at the table. “This is Brose,” Lise introduced. “We can thank her for the clover scent. She’s an odourkinetic.”

Brose smiled at the two girls. The taller had stark white hair styled in a becoming coiffure. The other girl had black hair and briefly looked up from the book she was reading to smile and nod.

“Thank you, it was a pleasant surprise,” the first girl smiled. “I’m Heather, a photokinetic. This bookworm is Debbie, my girlfriend, and she’s an omni linguist. She can read ANY and ALL languages, even extinct ones! She’s not much of a talker though.”

“That’s because you never let her get a word in,” Dani teased good naturedly as everyone giggled and Heather stuck out her tongue.

Just then the blue haired Asian boy stopped at their table. Unlike the other boys in the male version of the school uniform, he wore an Army Uniform with Warrant officer insignia. “You must be our new recruit,” he smiled at Brose. “I’m Max Stevenson. I’m base commander and my talent is hydrokinetics. I like the clover smell and I think everyone else does too. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Brose blushed a bit as she wondered how he became base commander. But wasn’t that what Kris had said too?”

“She’s selected a name,” Dani smiled. “Ambrosia Shamrock, but we’ll call her Brose.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Brose,” Max smiled. I’ll see you around The Center.”

“I’m confused,” Brose said. “I thought Kris said she was in charge.”

“We have two bases with a third opening soon,” Liz replied. “Max is in command of this site but he reports to Mom. She’s is in overall command.”

“It’s complicated,” Dani smiled as she sensed Brose’s growing confusion. “When Lis transitioned, she did so in Kris’ arms as she was comforting her. As near as we can figure out, they somehow imprinted each other. Since Kris was ‘caring’ for Liz, she became the mom and Liz the daughter. It’s a very real emotional link.”

Brose nodded her head. The explanation sounded bizarre but reasonable. At least as reasonable as the whole idea of transitioning. “But how can Kris and Max be Warrant Officers at our age and how can they be in command?”

“We’re a part of Homeland Security,” Dani said. “Colonel Harris is the head of our branch. He personally selected Kris as commander of The Center. As the Beta Site came on line it was her job to select one of us to be it’s commander and she chose Daniel Davidson. When he was given the rank of Warrant Officer to be the Beta site field and team leader, Kris was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer as Company Commander. Then she selected Max to take over this site so now he’s our field and team leader.”

Brose was still digesting the info when another thought occurred. “Since they’re holding rank in the Army, have they had basic training?”

“No, with us it’s all in house training and on the job experience,” Dani explained. “Most of us have no rank and are not officially on the Army roles. All those who do hold rank are on the Army roles with what’s considered field commissions.”

Brose nodded. “So I take it Kris, Max and Daniel have seen some sort of combat?”

“You saw what we face,” Lise solemnly declared. “They can make instant decisions, even if it means killing others. They do all they can to protect us, save pre-transitioned, and protect the public and country. Most of us don’t want their jobs and couldn’t handle them if we did. They have what it takes to get things done quickly and to not let it haunt them.”

Another girl came up to the table. She was a really cute blonde and took the open seat on the other side of Dani, promptly kissing her on the cheek. Then she smiled at Brose. “I’m Tina, I’m an empath like Lise and Dani.”

“I’m Brose,” Brose replied a bit stiffly. “I’m an ordourkinetic.”

“Cool,” Tina enthused. “Thanks for the fragrance. It’s simply scrumptious!”

As Brose ate she listened to the conversation about the table and jovial voices throughout the cafeteria. There seemed to be a few cliques, but there was none of the posturing she'd seen in her school. Everyone seemed to respect each other. Not being a conversationalist, she'd politely answer when someone spoke to her, but didn't initiate conversation.

On another level she watched the students and assimilated what she heard and learned in her short time as a transitioned. This place was quite amazing. Not only did they provide a warm environment for the transitioned, they selected their leaders from the ranks of students. That they apparently went out on missions and sometimes fought skirmishes seemed unreal. But Brose knew they'd have engaged in battle at the farm if she hadn't taken out the bad guys first. Now that she'd had a bit of time to think about what she'd done, she realized she had been in a fire-fight with the enemy. She'd single-handedly killed thirteen people, twelve apparently well trained experienced soldiers and one enemy transitioned. Their deaths were still unsettling, but by now she understood it had been necessary. She'd probably saved some of the Recovery Team too since they had not had to openly engage the enemy. In fact, now that she'd come to terms with it, the killing was only a bit more upsetting than slaughtering hogs on the farm. That concerned her and required more thought.

> pew!

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