Red, White and Blue
Daniel shaved in his bathroom in his apartment after having taken a shower. He was bored almost to the point of tears. Six months had passed since the actors last contract, a commercial for a software company. Theyíd paid him well enough that even without work; he could afford his upscale apartment for the next two years.
Iím worth ten times that amount. I bet their sales increased five thousand fold after my appearance, I mean, who could say no this face.
He gazed into his green eyes of his reflection. I may not have blue eyes but my contacts leave no one the wiser. I need to shave, so no one knows Iím not a natural blonde but thatís okay.
Finishing shaving, Daniel carefully combed his hair so it was perfect. He flexed his arms and grinned at his washboard stomach. Sure the health club is expensive but itís worth it. I mean, what babe could possibly resist this chest? With his hair combed and face shaved; Daniel removed the white towel covered his waist and below and hung it up to dry. People would pay good money to see what I well, and Penelope can for free. Now if only Karen wanted it, well Iím a generous guy.
Karen and Penelope were the two women Daniel was dating. As far as he knew, neither knew about the other.
He grinned as he pictured Penelope a real fox in bed. Twenty-one years old, her green eyes contrasted with her flowing red hair, which she usually kept in a ponytail. I can teach her all sorts of things about life. Look where I am today, I must be doing something right.
Karen was twenty-eight, heíd met her at a party shortly after his last contract. She just might be able to get me some contracts. How could I deny the world my acting talent? Maybe Iím using her, I donít know but I do like her, so itís not as if she gets nothing out of it.
He strolled into his bedroom and dressed in black slacks and a silk shirt with his acting school logo on the left pocket. He looked at himself in the mirror, deciding to go to a local bar. Thereíre always chicks there. Why limit myself to just two when I can have three?
* * *
Daniel returned at ten PM. He hadnít found anyone willing to date him, which left him feeling a bit down. Heíd taken a limousine home as heíd had a few drinks and was still reeling from the buzz.
Plopping down in his favorite black leather chair, he gazed into the blackness of his plasma screen TV before checking his voice mail service. The automated voice said there were two new messages.
Maybe someone changed her mind. Who can blame them?
He listened to the messages.
Hi Danny, Karen here, I was wondering if youíd be available this Saturday evening? I heard thereís a screening of a hot new movie that I know youíd love. Call me back honey.
Hey Dan. It was his Agent Larryís voice. If Larry was calling, he must have had a potential contract for him. I have a possible contract for you. Thereís a new mini-series in the making based on a video game. Theyíre looking for people to play the various characters and theyíre interested in you. If youíre interested, they want to meet you Saturday evening at 8pm. Iíll be here until eleven so call me if youíre interested.
While it would mean breaking the date with Karen, the prospect of getting a staring role was too much for him! Daniel knew Karen would understand if he declined her date. With a smile on his face, he picked up the telephone to return Larryís call; he had a feeling this could be his big break. Larry answered after four rings.
"Hey Larry, this is Danny returning your call. So, whatís this mini-series you heard about?" Daniel asked.
"Ah yes, itís an adaptation of the Star Fox games. Apparently, this company wants to do a mini series based on them. Ever hear of them?"
"Sure, Iíve played a couple of them. Is this a cartoon or live action? I know I can do better then just the voice of some cartoon animal," Daniel said.
"They didnít say but I assume itís a cartoon or computer graphics type of thing in the same style as the newer games. I wouldnít be choosy, this could be a great opportunity," Larry said.
"Yeah, youíre right. So, do they have a specific character in mind?" Daniel asked.
"No, theyíre just interviewing people. They said itís okay if you donít know a lot about the games; theyíll fill you in as needed."
"Sounds interesting," Daniel said. It may not be Broadway or Hollywood but if someone high up sees what a great job I know Iíll do then this could my big break! "Letís do it!"
"Great, Iíll arrange a limousine to pick you up on Saturday at 7pm," Larry said.
"Thanks," Daniel answered.
"Glad to help," Larry answered.
They hung up and Daniel lay back in his chair beaming.
Not what I had in mind but who knows where this could go. Now, I just need to call Karen to tell her I canít make it. Iím sure sheíll understand.
He picked up the telephone and dialed Karenís number; She answered after two rings.
"Hello?" she asked.
"Hey Karen, itís Dan," he said, trying to keep a cool voice.
"Did you get my message?" Karen asked.
"Yes and unfortunately, I canít make it; I have an interview Saturday evening," he said.
"Oh really, what for? You donít hear of too many interviews on Saturday evenings," Karen asked.
"Itís for a mini series, sounds like an exciting one. Who knows, I just might become the star!" Daniel answered. Might, more like will. Theyíll never find someone better then me.
"Oh really? That sounds great Dan. If youíre not available Saturday then how does Sunday sound. Maybe we could go out someone for dinner and then catch a movie?" Karen asked.
"Um, letís see," Daniel started. He remembered he had a date with Penelope Sunday. He tried to think of an excuse. Of course, Iím worth the wait so thereís no way she can say no. He flipped a few papers on the coffee table to make it sound as though he was looking at his schedule. I know I should know better then to date two women at once. Bah, why limit myself to one? Thatíd be selfish of any one person to expect all of me to just them! "Sorry, looks like Iím taken for Sunday as well. How does Monday sound?"
"You all right Dan, you sound a little panicked," Karen asked.
Okay, she may be onto you Danny boy. Just play it cool; youíre too good to let go, sheíll never suspect a thing.
"Sorry Iím just a little nervous about the interview. You know, jitters and all," Daniel said.
"Well, all right then Dan. Iíll see on Monday and donít forget to let me know if you get the job. Good luck on the interview," Karen said.
"Iíll see you them and thanks. Iíll let you know how it goes."
They said their good-byes and Daniel hung up the telephone.
Eventually theyíre going to catch you. You have to come clean.
Look, if I get the job, Iíll tell them.
Yes, I will, now leave me alone!
Daniel shook his head. He saw talking (or even thinking) to himself as a sign of madness, the last thing he needed. He leaned back and took a deep breath; Saturday couldnít come soon enough.
* * *
Saturday came and Daniel found himself in the back of a limousine with Larry on their way to the interview. Daniel was wearing his black suit and jacket complete with matching slacks and black shoes. Daniel regarded his reflection in the mirror above the bar in the back.
The shoes alone set me back two hundred bucks but it was worth it. Theyíll never be able to resist me now.
"You nervous?" Larry asked, he wore a tuxedo.
"Iím fine," Daniel replied, fidgeting with his tie. "Donít worry, Iíll do such a great job that Iíll make us both rich!"
"Just remember Danny, confidence is a good thing but there is such a thing as being over-confident. You want to show them youíre the best man for the job," Larry started. Which I am "but, you also need to show them you can work with them and people in general. No one wants to work with an actor thatís always saying how great they are."
"All those people saying Iím great canít be wrong," Daniel replied.
"Danny, remember that youíre famous because of your fans; without them youíre nothing," Larry reminded Daniel.
"I know, but itís hard not to get excited at the prospect of being famous, even if itís just for doing a voice of a video game character," Daniel said.
"Just donít let it go to your head," Larry smiled.
"Donít worry, I wonít."
Half an hour later, they were at the interview location. They climbed out of the stopped limousine. Daniel regarded the large office tower before them. A beautiful garden surrounded a large fountain in front of steps leading to several sets of revolving doors wow. Daniel beamed as he traversed the steps with Larry behind him. At the top, he entered via one of the revolving doors and walked into an expansive lobby. Pleasant music played through the building. Daniel looked up to see potted plants adorning the walls and wondered if they were real. If they are, how do they water the things? The first six floors above the lobby overlooked it, Daniel saw several people walking about, most of them in suits.
A single security guard sat at a large security station in front of the duo. The man smiled when he looked up from watching several monitors to regard Daniel.
"Good evening; weíre here for an interview with a Mr. Tompkins and Berneice," Larry said as he walked to Danielís left.
"Ah yes, excellent, Iíll let them know youíre here; Please sign in," the security guard said, providing a clipboard and placing it on the desk before them.
Daniel and Larry signed their names and the guard smiled as he retrieved the clipboard and picked up a telephone. Moments later, the told the duo to take an elevator just up the lobby to their left to the 25th floor where their interviewers would be waiting for them.
"Thank you," Daniel said.
He and Larry took the elevator up to the 25th floor. They found it opened into an another lobby. This one had chestnut wooden walls, a black marble floor, several large potted plants and black leather sofas lining the area leading towards a desk. They walked through the lobby, their steps echoing as they approached a desk where two secretaries or attendants, (Daniel wasnít sure which) a man and woman around his age and dressed in suits were sitting.
Larry approached the young woman on the right.
"Good evening, my client and I have an appointment for eight," he said.
The young woman looked up from the computer terminal she was operating and smiled at the duo. "Yes, of course, Daniel Rovek right?"
Daniel nodded and smiled. The young woman looked back at him and winked. No doubt sheís impressed, not that I blame her.
"Great, weíve been expecting you. Iíll just page Mr. Tompkins for you Mr. Rovek," she said. Daniel nodded. The young woman then looked at Larry. "Mr. Berneice will be with you in a few minutes."
Daniel turned to Larry and beamed. Looks like I as good as have the job already. Of course, I expected that, I mean who could say resist me?
"Good luck Danny!" Larry said.
Taking Larryís hand, Daniel shook it and thanked the man as he heard the young woman paging his would be interviewer.
"Mr. Tompkins will see now in the office to your right," the young woman said.
Daniel smiled at her before releasing his hold on Larryís right hand, thanking both he and the young woman and walking towards and through the door, closing it behind him.
Before him, Daniel saw an older man looking to be in his sixties wearing much to his surprise a brown tee-shirt and black jeans. He had a salt and pepper beard with short hair and glasses. He smiled when Daniel walked in and approached the young man with his right hand held out.
"Welcome Mr. Rovek, itís a pleasure to meet you. Iíll be discussing the position and work with you to figure out which character would best suit your abilities and personality," he said. I wonder why heís wearing such casual clothes. I feel so overdressed. I mean, I donít need fancy clothes to look good! Daniel took the manís hand and shook it. The man had a surprisingly strong handshake, which impressed Daniel, something that given the young manís confidence and slight arrogance was not an easy task.
"Daniel, Dan or Danny is fine," Daniel said. This surprised him as he normally only allowed close friends or people whose respect heíd earned to refer to him on a first name basis. Although heíd been out of work for some time since doing that commercial, he still respected Larry as Larry had made sure Daniel was well paid.
"All right then, Dan it is. Please have a seat," the man said, motioning towards a leather executive chair to the right of the one heíd been sitting in.
Daniel complied and the man sat down and folded his arms.
"Now, weíve called you for this part for a specific reason Dan. Through your agent, an excellent man I may add, weíve examined your work, both on the commercial you recently did and in your schooling. Weíve come to feel that this series would be ideal for you."
He didnít know what it was but this man had a soothing voice; the type youíd expect for a wise old man. Daniel had a feeling Tompkins was the type of person someone would follow to hell and back without regret. Finally, someone of my caliber.
"In case no one had informed you. This is for our exciting new live action mini series based on the Star Fox games," Tompkins said.
"Live action? I thought it was a cartoon or computer animated show?" Daniel asked.
"Oh no, this is real my friend," Tompkins said with a smile.
"How do you do it, costumes?" Daniel asked.
"No, weíre trying something new but donít concern yourself with that. Right now, Iím interested in your acting talent which is just what we need," Tompkins said.
"All right," Daniel said.
"Excellent. Now, I have a few lines from the script Iíd like you to recite to see which specific part would be best for you. How does that sound?"
"Can I see the script?" Daniel asked.
"At the moment, much of itís confidential. However, we assure you that we the worlds finest authors wrote it," Tompkins answered.
Daniel nodded. "All right, letís see these lines," Daniel said.
Tompkins nodded, stood and walked over to a table behind him. Picking up a suitcase, he opened it and produced a few sheets of paper before walking back and handing them to Daniel. The young man looked over the paper, seeing several dozen lines listed. They appeared to be from a space battle, which given the subject of the part, didnít surprise him.
"Okay, recite the first three lines," Tompkins said.
"All right," Daniel said. He took a deep breath and started. "Get this guy off of me! No problem bro, I have him in my sights! Nice shooting!" Heh, that sounded great.
Looking back up at the man, Daniel saw he was smiling and nodded his head. "Excellent, now recite lines 25 through 27."
Daniel located the lines, took another deep breath and started. "Target destroyed, we got him, great work guys! Good fight um can we go home now? Cute joke bro, weíre just getting warmed up!"
"Fantastic young man, Iíd say youíve got the part in fact I believe youíd be idea as the lead character, Fox McCloud himself!"
Fox, wow, heís the main character! Of course, itíd be perfect for me!
"Thank you sir, when do I start?" Daniel asked.
"We start filming on Tuesday. Why donít we call your agent in and see how heís worked out things with Mr. Berneice."
He picked up a telephone on the desk. From what Daniel overheard it sounded promising.
"Sounds reasonable. Iím sure heíll love that deal. Why donít you two come in and weíll sign the contract and drink to our new partnership?" the man asked.
Oh boy, this is going to be great.
A few minutes later, Mr. Berneice and Jerry walked in with Jerry holding what Daniel assumed to be a contract. Jerry put the paper on the desk and handed Daniel a pen. Daniel looked over the paper, seeing they were making four episodes, two hours long each. He beamed when he saw they were paying him half a million for each episode, he was going to be rich! Daniel noticed some fine print but shrugged it off. No one ever reads that anyway; Iím sure itís just the usual disclaimer stuff anyway.
Tompkins and Berneice smiled when Daniel signed the paper and Tompkins stood and walked over to a cabinet beside the desk. He opened it and Daniel watched him pour something into one glass and something else into three others. The man soon brought the four small glasses over two trips and handed Daniel the one with the alternate beverage. Daniel thought this strange but chose to ignore it. They have no reason to poison me.
"To a promising partnership," the man said.
"Hear, hear!" the others said.
The man nodded at him and they all drank their drinks. Daniel couldnít quite place what his was and assumed it a type of wine he hadnít tasted before.
"So, do we film here?" Daniel asked as he finished his drink and put the glass down on the table.
"No, we have a studio. Itís on stage six of the new lot at the edge of the city," Tompkins said.
"I hear thatís state of the art," Jerry said.
"Oh yes, top of the line equipment there," Berneice said.
Perfect for my talent. Now the world will know how great I am. Daniel felt dizzy for a second and assumed it was just the effects of the drink kicking in.
"Well, weíll allow you two to be on your way. We look forward to a long an interesting relationship," Tompkins said.
They all shook hands and agreed for a limousine to pick Daniel up Tuesday at 8am at his apartment.
* * *
During the ride home, Daniel was quiet. He was feeling warm and his chest itched. He didnít want to say anything to Jerry as he didnít want to alarm him. The last thing I need is to end up sick right before shooting.
They said their good-byes when they arrived at Danielís apartment and the young man exited the limousine and walked towards his apartment. By now, his chest was itching badly.
Trying to ignore it, Daniel shook his head to as he walked into the apartment and towards the elevator. When the car reached the ground floor, he walked into it and hit his floor number, fourteen. As the lift rose, he experienced what he could only describe as a flash of memory.
In a glass circular lift, Fox stood at attention as it took him to hangar level. He watched the digital readout count down level numbers. He was almost ready to go on another mission. He always felt confidence before any mission but there was also that worry that this would be the time he wouldnít be coming back. As the lift reached its level, Fox stepped out of the lift.
Daniel found himself stepping out of the elevator onto the fourteenth floor. Was that experience real? Was he perhaps getting too excited over this position? Now his face had joined his chest in itching. He dashed into his apartment, threw off his jacket and ran into his bedroom, removing his shirt as fast as he could.
He looked into the full-length mirror on the bathroom door, gasping at the sight of fine white hair on his chest. Whatís going on? Daniel always shaved his chest; mostly because he didnít want anyone that saw it to know he wasnít a natural blonde. Had he gone gray at such a young age? It seemed unlikely yet there it was, white hair. Warmth covered his face and Daniel could only watch as white hair sprouted all over his jaw as through he was growing a thick beard! With horror and fascination, he watched strands of orange hair push through his skin above his jaw.
Itís your imagination, taking a shower will help to cool you down.
Daniel ran into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Stripping as fast as he could, he didnít bother to hang any of his clothes up before stepping into the shower. As the water hit him, he again experienced a flash of memory.
Fox relaxed in the shower after a successful mission. He loved the feeling of the water against his fur, not to mention the shampoo. He always felt a little dirty after an assignment but the water seemed to wash away that sensation.
Gasping as the water flowed on his body, Daniel tried to figure out where these memories were coming from. By now, the white hair on his chest was spreading and thickening. It had reached his legs; he watched his leg hair turn a brilliant orange color as new hair spouted.
Daniel didnít want to see anymore and turned off the water before jumping out of the shower. Looking at himself in the mirror, he saw the white hair on his chest now obscured his skin. It was spreading to rest of his torso where it became the same orange color as on his legs. It was also spreading down his arms, the sparse hairs there twisting as they changed from blonde to orange up to a few centimeters before his wrists where it turned jet black.
With a look to the face of his reflection, Daniel discovered the hair on his face was also a pelt now, white on his jaw and orange everywhere else. His blond human hair was receding into his head, and his jaw was starting to ache.
Oh no, not my face! I need to get the paramedics up here!
He ran for the telephone and stopped just as his tailbone started aching. Without thinking, he started panting when he looked behind him to see something growing from just above his rear end.
Itís bad enough they messed up my face! Now Iím growing a tail!
The room was feeling warm; Daniel ran out onto the living room and onto the balcony to cool off. He chanced a look back at himself to see he now had a sparsely furred tail only a decimeter or so long but it was growing and starting to sway back and forth on its own.
He looked into the star-filled sky, a rare treat given his urban location. Another memory hit him as he closed his eyes.
Fox stared up into the night sky from his house on Corneria. While beautiful, the sight was one of duality for him. Those stars held infinite wonder and excitement but also potential danger. While new discoveries awaited before each one, there were also the hidden potential dangers.
Daniel shook his head as he opened his eyes. He ran back into his apartment, a now bushy orange tail swishing behind him. He ran into his room and sat on his bed, gazing into the mirror at now amber eyes. His human hair was all but gone and he felt a pressure within his jaw.
His confidence gave way to a sense of adventure as he felt energy flow into him. He seemed to lose several years and several centimeters of height. That however wasnít what had his attention; the focus of that was on his expanding jaw and nose, whose texture was turning black.
Daniel cupped his jaw with now black furred hands. He felt it growing, his hands helpless to stop it! His human ears, now strange looking against an animal like head tingled. He watched his reflection as they shrunk until theyíd been absorbed into his skull, taking his ear-holes with them. The loss of his ears only left him deaf for a few short seconds as new ear-holes and pointed orange furred ears grew from atop his head.
His jaw was now without a doubt a muzzle. He stood up and looked at his reflection, that of a humanoid fox, none other then a real life version of Fox McCloud himself, albeit one without clothes.
I donít remember this as being part of the contract!
He stared at his reflection, smiling at the sight of what he somehow knew was a twenty-one year old fox man. A rather handsome one at that! He someone knew the flashes of memories heíd had were part of this body, a way to facilitate his playing the role.
Oh no, Penelope! Remembering his date with her the next day, Now Daniel was her age, which if anything would help him to relate to her better. Karen on the other hand was now seven years older then he!
Penelopeís going to think Iím a freak!
What are you talking about, you said sheís foxy, now you are too. I mean look at you man, sheíd have to be insane to say reject you.
Daniel grinned at his reflection. Even he had to admit he was handsome, not to mention cute. Of course, this wasnít exactly what he had in mind when heíd signed up for the role of Fox McCloud.
The telephone rang, which startled him. Oddly, his state of alarm only lasted a scant few seconds. He noticed the ringer sounded louder did I turn it up or something? When it rang again, he brought his hands to the sides of his head, only to remember his ears werenít there anymore. He ran to the telephone, seeing the call display listed Penelope as the caller.
He thought of picking the receiver up but had no idea how heíd use it with fox ears so decided on the speaker option.
"Hello?" he said, hoping against all odds that Penelope wouldnít say anything about his voice. His voice sounded like a younger version of itself; it was as if a stranger was talking.
"Danny is that you?" Penelope asked. Her voice sounded different. Is she feeling okay?
"Yes, itís me. Iíve just been," Daniel grasped his right collar with his right hand as he thought up an excuse "working out." He stopped and looked back at his reflection.
"Oh okay well, Iím just a little Ö busy. Could we postpone our date for tomorrow until later?" Penelope asked.
Thank you Penelope!
The last thing Daniel needed was for anyone to see him like this. He may have looked handsome in his eyes but he didnít need animal control trying to arrest him.
"Um, sure, no problem. Get well soon."
"Thanks Danny. Iíll talk to you soon," Penelope said before hanging up. Daniel did the same before walking over to and lying back on his bed, staring up at his reflection on the ceiling via the mirror he had there with his hands behind his head. He stared at his form, his naked form. He didnít feel naked, despite his lack of clothing. His fur kept him warm enough although heíd need to wear clothes even if only in public for modesty sake. It was oddly relaxing lying there like that, although, he felt alone without someone to share the bed with.
However, no matter how he felt or whom he longed to be with, there was still the fact he wasnít human anymore.
Okay, so Iím a freak and why did they have to mess up my face?
Yes but a damn handsome freak.
Of course Iím handsome, how could I not be handsome? But of all things to change why my face? Wait a second, Karen wanted me to call her to say how the interview went. What am I going to say to her?
He turned and looked at the telephone. Karen would call eventually, worrying why he wasnít calling. Sitting up in bed, Daniel reached for the telephone, again using the speakerphone. His hands quivered a bit, causing him to hit the wrong keys. He hung up to steady himself.
Calm down Danny, sheíll understand. So, youíre covered in fur, have a tail and a muzzle, youíre still the same lovable and talented young man. Anyway, just think of all the money youíll get once you sue these guys; thereís a court case thatíll make national TV, just imagine how famous youíll be.
With a little more confidence, Daniel turned the speakerphone back on and dialed Karenís number. She picked up after four rings.
"Hello?" she said.
"Hey Karen," Daniel answered.
"Who is this?" Karen asked.
Okay, I sound different and she has no idea whatís happened but I'm still the Danny she knows and loves.
"Danny, thatís you? You sound different, are you feeling all right? Oh yes, how did the interview today go?" Karen asked.
"Iím," Daniel started, looking down at his body. Well, Iím not fine; theyíve turned me into a freak! On the other hand, itís not as though Iím in pain or anything; I just look weird. "Well, this one youíre going to have to see for yourself," he answered.
"Er okay. Well, did you get the part?" Karen asked.
"Yes, I did," Daniel answered. He looked into the mirror to his left at his reflection; it was like looking at a stranger, even hearing his voice was like hearing another stranger speak. "Say, can you come over tonight? I know itís late and all but thereís something you need to see."
"All right Danny, Iíll be over there in twenty minutes. Iíll see you soon," Karen said.
They both hung up and Daniel lay on his back looking up at his reflection.
Karen is going to freak when she sees me like this.
* * *
Why did Dannyís voice sound younger? I never knew his voice acting skills were this good. Is this some sort of trick heís got up his sleeve? Why does he want me at his apartment at this time of night?
These were two of the many questions on Karenís mind as she drove towards Dannyís apartment.
Is he sick somehow? What could be wrong with him?
After what was probably one of the longest twenty minutes of her life, Karen arrived at Dannyís apartment. She parked and walked into the lobby. Taking a deep breath, she prepared for the worst (but hoped for the best) as she hit the button to call his apartment. He picked up a few moments later.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Okay Danny, I'm here."
"Just a sec, Iíll buzz you up," he said before hanging up.
A few seconds later, the buzzer sounded and the door unlocked. Karen walked up to it, opened it and approached the elevators. She took the first one that arrived at the ground floor to Dannyís floor and walked up to his apartment, knocking on the door.
"Danny, you in there?" she asked.
"Yes I Ö itís not locked," Danny said.
Why does he sound so worried? Whatís wrong with him?
Opening the door, Karen walked into Dannyís apartment. It was cool inside, as though heíd turned the air conditioning up.
I thought Danny hated the cold.
"Danny?" Karen asked as she walked through the apartment looking for him.
She heard something by his bedroom and approached it with caution. The door was ajar and Karen pushed the door open and peered inside to find the room dark. Someone was sitting on Dannyís bed but she couldnít tell who it was. She approached the figure, putting a cautious hand on its left shoulder before recoiling with fear. Sheíd touched fur!
Thereís an animal loose in here!
"Danny where are you?" she yelled as she stumbled back, nearly falling onto her rear end.
"Please, donít yell, it hurts my ears!" Danny said.
Did that thing talk? Why does it sound like Danny? Whatís going on?
"Who Ö what are you? Whereís Danny?" Karen asked as she stepped towards the creature.
"Karen," it said as it stood up. It knows my name, itís talking and itís walking on two feet. Whatís going on here? This is a dream; it has to be a dream! It started walking closer to her. Karen reached into her purse, pulled out a can of mace and pointed it at the thing.
"Stay back! What have you done with Danny?" Karen asked.
"I am Danny!" the creature said, motioning towards itself.
Now at the door, Karen turned and ran into the living room, constantly looking back to see if the thing was chancing her.
Before she got to the door, it called her name. She turned, now able to see the creature from the light in the room; it looked like a humanoid fox!
"Nice costume Danny," Karen said with her hands on her hips. She lowered the mace and stared at the creature, as she looked it over. "Rather detailed as well I see."
The creature looked at itself; at first making a half-hearted attempt to cover its groin before just shrugging its shoulders.
"Karen Ö itís not a costume," the creature said. It approached her. Karen still felt nervous and wasnít ready to put down her mace. "You know Iíd never do anything to harm you!"
"If youíre really Danny then tell me where we went for dinner last week," Karen said.
Of course, that information is available anywhere but itís worth a try.
The fox sighed. "Last week I jokingly suggested McDonalds and you suggested Chez Pierreís on 5th and Buckingwood. We agreed to Orlandoís on Main Street. You ordered the crab bisque and I ordered the salmon. I found their fish sauce a little too spicy, but what can do you right?"
"No, that was just lucky guess," Karen said, feeling panic and fear starting to overtake her.
The fox approached her, Karen ready in case he tried something. Itíd been years since sheíd taken that self-defense class but the instinctive tactics sheíd learned were still with her. He caressed her hair as he gazed into her eyes.
"You always love it when I do that. You have an all white male cat named Frosty. How did you put it; Oh yes, he has cattitude. Your favorite color is purple, you like bran muffins but prefer apple cinnamon ones," he said.
"Danny? Oh God, it really is you isnít it?" she asked, looking into his eyes as tears welled up in hers. With the grace of a kitten he wiped a tear from her left eye; his claw not making as much as a scratch on her face. He nodded and she couldnít help but hug him. "How Ö why?"
"We signed the contract and then we drank to it. Mine was different but I thought nothing of it. I mean, why would they poison me?"
She released the hug and they walked to couch. Karen sat down on it and Danny leapt onto it, lying on his back with his head in her lap. Karen returned the mace back and put her purse on the couch.
"What part was this exactly?" Karen asked, looking down at Danny.
Danny looked into her eyes and chuckled. "Ironically, the part of Fox McCloud himself. Of course, I donít remember them saying anything about playing the character for real!"
"You did read the fine print didnít you?" Karen teased.
"Well, I umÖ"
"Danny, I think we have a bit of a problem now. Youíre obviously younger; youíre like a teenager!" she said.
"Twenty-one Ö thatís an adult!" Danny corrected.
"I know but," Karen started, stroking Dannyís chest fur. "Weíre technically seven years apart now and weíre not even the same species. I donít think this is going to work out any more." Dannyís eyes went wide and he looked like he was about to cry. "I didnít say we canít still be friends," oh boy, bad choice of words. Never say that Karen, what were you thinking? "Anyway, now you can be with her exclusively."
Danny recoiled into his chair, his expression that of a child whose parents had caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.
"How did you know?" he asked, his voice meek and demure.
I donít think Iíve ever seen that expression on him before.
"Come on Danny, Iíve dated for some time now and I can tell when someone is hiding something. Neither of us said we were going steady. So, how old is she?"
"Twenty one," Danny answered.
"Well, there you go, you two are better suited for each other now. Even if it doesnít work out with her either, you can always find someone else," Karen said.
"Yeah youíre right, I guess I am a bit too young for you know. We can still be friends right?" Danny said.
"Of course. Does she know about this?" Karen asked.
"Well, I called her but she was busy. You donít think sheís seeing someone else do you?"
"Only you can find that out for sure Danny. I suggest you give her a few days. Maybe call her after the first day of shooting," Karen said.
"Thatís Tuesday," Danny answered.
"Well then, call her after youíre done for the day. Itíll probably be an orientation day," Karen said.
"I wonder if they changed anyone else? I can just imagine some of the characters that could be there!" Danny said.
"Only one way to find out," Karen said. Danny sat up and Karen stood up and picked up her purse. "Good luck on the project Danny. Itís been fun and donít worry, Iíll call you now and again to see how things are going." Danny showed her to the door, opening it for her. She noted he made sure to stay behind the door so no one outside could see him. Looking outside, Karen walked over to Dan, put her arms around him and kissed him on the muzzle. When she released the hug, she smiled at him. That wasnít bad. A shame heís so young; it could have been interesting. "It was fun Danny. I know things will work out for you. Youíre a talented actor and you deserve someone you can relate to. Who knows, maybe someone on set will catch your eye."
"Maybe they will," Danny said with a sly grin.
Karen realized the hug and walked out the apartment, Danny closing the door behind her. She regretted having to end the relationship, but knew it wouldnít work now.
Turning men into fox people; what is the world coming to?
She would definitely come to the premier of the series once it was ready. They'd probably change him back once they'd completed filming. Then perhaps, things could get going again. Although, she knew heíd be happier with someone close to his age (and species) if they didnít.
Pressing the button to call an elevator, Karen took one last look at the apartment Godspeed Danny.
* * *
Daniel paced around his room wearing a bathrobe. Heíd managed to tuck his tail in the back, not an easy task but it worked well enough. Wandering into his kitchen to get something to drink, he pondered how his family would react to him.
Gabrielís going to think God has judged me for my sins. Why judge me by keeping me handsome? Now that heís nine years older then heíll try to say Iíll understand when Iím older.
Laura will probably think Iím cute and want to ask all sorts of questions about how this feels. Now that Iím just three years older then her I guess weíll be able to relate better though
Dad was against me going to acting school in the first place. Heís finally accepted it but now, this could set back years of relationship growth
If Laura accepts it, I bet Mom will as well. She always one to accept my decisions. Even if I made the wrong ones, sheíd let me learn from the mistakes. Like that time Billy and I skipped class and we got two weeks detention for it. She didnít yell at me. She just said that we had our fun and the detention and having the catch up on missed work was the cost of that fun. We had to decide whether it was worth it in the future.
Hopefully Penelope will available better tomorrow; Iíll call her then, not to mention Jerry.
Daniel was tired, so he decided to call it a night. He elected to sleep unclothed as clothing was for modesty only and since he lived alone, that wasnít a concern. Walking into his room, he pulled his bed sheets down, threw off his bathrobe and climbed into bed. Turning onto his left side, he realized the bed felt a little empty. He wished he had Penelope to share his bed with tonight as now he needed her companionship more then ever. I doubt sheíd want to sleep with a fox.
Closing his eyes and trying his best to relax, Daniel pondered where his new form would lead before falling asleep.
That night, he experienced some of the most intense dreams heíd ever had.
An explosion rocked his Arwing, sending it spiraling out of control as alarms blared in his ears. He cursed as he lost the lock on the cruiser they were fighting. He managed to regain control as a shot sent showers of sparks flying around him. Sweat dripping down his forehead, he steadied his hands as he gripped the controller and fired a torpedo through a breach in the cruisers shields. His weapons coupled with his wingmates shots damaged the cruiser engines, sending it listing to the right as smoke poured from its port engine.
He and his wingmates flew in, all firing at the engines to finish the cruiser off in a massive fireball.
"Got them!" he yelled.
But itís far from over.
Theyíd won the battle but the war was far from over. Sensors indicated his ArWing had sustained minor damage, nothing to worry about.
Lying with his back to a tree, Fox look up into the night sky. It was a cool night, for once a peaceful reprieve from the chaos of battle. He longed for these peaceful moments. Logic said the trials heíd been through were worth serene moments like this. The sacrifices he, his friends, family and countless others had made was worth repose and freedom from those who hated everything they were fighting for.
But, what of he, Didnít he deserve the same peace that heíd fought so hard for?
Under a torrential downpour, Fox stood before Krystal. Her soaking wet blue and white hair pouring down onto her face. Fox always felt shy around her, yet after all sheíd been through, he knew she needed his friendship. He gently brushed the hair out of her face and gazed into her green eyes.
He grasped her shoulders, moving close enough to feel her breath on his face.
Reaching forward, they embraced each other as the water trickled down their faces. It was a wonderful feeling; she was warm, beautiful, and strong yet at the same time so fragile. He allowed himself to let go as they hugged after releasing their kiss. He knew his strength and love would augment her own.
Daniel bolted up in bed in a cold sweat. Light poured into his room, feeling warm on his fur. Fur? Then it was real! A quick check of his reflection confirmed it.
The dreams heíd experienced felt more like memories then the fantastic images of slumber. He touched the empty side of his bed. Where before heíd pictured Penelope, he now pictured Krystal. Images of the white-bellied blue fox sent shivers down his spine.
A check of the clock showed it was 9:30 am. He remembered his life and who he was; it wasnít as though this characters memories were replacing his own. Was this some sort of plot to facilitate his role? The only real change seemed to be his perception of Penelope. No longer did he see her as his human girlfriend but as his blue vulpine comrade fighting alongside him. He remembered her human self but the image seemed illogical as though it was outdated. More so, he found himself attracted to her, yet shy of showing that affection.
She said she was busyl. What if somehow, someway, sheís gotten a part in the series and thatís the part? Jerry, he knew about her, he must have arranged this somehow. Speaking of whichÖ
Daniel climbed out of bed and turned on the speakerphone before dialing Jerryís number. Jerry picked up a few seconds later.
"Hey Daniel how are you doing?" the man asked.
"Iím fine except for one little problem," Daniel responded.
"Whatís that?" Jerry asked.
"They turned me into a fox-man and now I remember some of Foxís life and I remember Penelope as being Krystal! Whatís going on?" Daniel asked.
"Um, Daniel Ö did you read the fine print?" Jerry asked. Of course, he hadnít of read it. He looked at his reflection, realizing what heíd gotten himself into. Daniel shrugged rubbed his left collar with his right hand. He still needed time to get used to feeling fur there. "I kinda skipped over it. Oh boy, what have I agreed to?"
He heard the sound of a drawer opening and then paper rustling. "Letís see, youíve agreed to physically become twenty-one year old version of Fox McCloud for the duration of the mini series. It will cover the various games. While the character of Krystal doesnít appear until later, they wanted you to have companionship, so agreed to provide her."
Oh boy, Iíve really gotten myself in it this time.
"Man Jerry, I donít want a consort! Sure I donít want to deny myself to the ladies but I also have an image to protect," Daniel protested.
"Daniel Ö baby, they donít mean it like that. They want you to have someone of your new species to be around. When I talked to her, Penelope was the one to suggest it. You should see her now; sheís damn cute looking, Jerry asked. He could have asked me! "Look Daniel, if this is upsetting you, we might be able to find an out but then youíll both lose out of the contract and the stardom that comes with it!"
Daniel didnít want that; there was that positive aspect in all of this. He was going to be a star, as was Penelope.
"No, I donít want out. I just need to adjust to this. So, what am I going to wear and how am I supposed to keep others from knowing about this?" Daniel asked.
"Donít worry, weíre taking care of that and we know we wonít be able to keep this secret for long. I say go with the flow and enjoy whatís coming," Jerry said.
"All right Jerry but next time Ö make sure I read the fine print," Daniel said.
"You got it," Jerry said.
They hung up and Daniel found his bathrobe, put it on and walked into the living room.
Knowing he was going to a star and have a foxy lady to be with had him realizing being a fox man wasnít so bad. He knew he needed to tell his family about it. Picking up the telephone in the living room, Daniel again used the speakerphone. He called his parentís house and his mother picked up.
"Hello?" she asked.
"Hi, Mom, guess what, I just got a part in a new mini series!" Daniel announced.
"Thatís wonderful son but why do you sound different?" his mother asked.
"Well, it seems thereís a little catch to the part," Daniel said.
"What sort of catch?" his mother asked.
"This, youíd better see for yourself," Daniel said.
Two hours later, Daniel stood in his living room before his parents and Gabriel. Laura was due to arriving later in the day, as she had to work.
His father paced back and forth with his arms folded as he shook his head.
"This is what I meant," the man said, gesturing towards Daniel. "This is why I didnít want you to go into acting in the first place. I mean, what were you thinking. Accepting a contract is one thing, but something like this?"
Danielís mother walked between the two and put her hands on his fatherís shoulders. "Ethan will you please calm down, yelling isnít going to do anything to fix this!"
"Dadís got a point Mom," Gabriel started before looking at Daniel. "Sorry bro but accepting a contract for low pay or one youíre stuck in for years is one thing but this is crazy! I mean, they turned you into a beast! What kind of evil company would do such a thing?"
Okay, I have to stabilize this situation.
"Before you all start judge me, remember that this is my life," Daniel said, pointing to himself. "I am a grown man," his father and brother glared at him with that remark. "Okay, I may be half animal, but Iím still a person and an adult. I am capable of making my own decisions."
Danielís father shook his head and sat down with his head in his hands. He stayed that way for a short while before Daniel walked over to him and touched his right shoulder. "We need to call our lawyer, there must be a way out of this. I mean, they canít expect you to honestly go through life as a fox man."
"Dad, I signed the contract, Iím not a kid that doesnít know what heís doing. These people arenít evil, they didnít force me to sign this thing, I did it of my own free will!"
"They brainwashed you, theyíre making you think you like being this way so you wonít fight it!" Gabriel said.
"Gabriel, Ethan enough!" Danielís mother yelled, stamping her left foot for emphasis. She walked over to Daniel, lightly touching his right shoulder. Daniel turned to her, looking down into her blue eyes. "Daniel, do you want to stay this way? Are you happy with this form? Did you accept this knowing what it would entail?"
At least Mom understands.
Daniel took her hands into his and smiled at her. "Well, I was so excited about the offer that I sort of didnít read the fine print," he answered.
His mother shook her head and much to his surprise started to laugh to herself. "Nice one Danny," she said her voice riddled with sarcasm.
"I need to accept responsibility for this," Daniel said, before turning to look his father in the eye and doing the same to Gabriel. "If I just get a lawyer to find some loophole to get me out, then what will I learn from it? Besides, Iím going to be a TV star." Daniel put his hands in a thumb up motion, pointing his thumbs to himself. "Not only that but Iím still good looking, so itís not so bad."
"You do need to accept responsibility for your actions," Danielís father started as he stood up and touched Danielís shoulders. He sighed before walking hallway across the room rubbing his eyes. Folding his arms, he stood and looked at the trio. "If this is what you truly want son, then I know youíre not one to change direction once youíve set a course. I guess Iíll just have to accept it. You are a grown man and old enough to make decisions for yourself. If theyíre the wrong decision youíre also old enough to accept responsibility for your actions."
"Dad, this is crazy, you have to make him get changed back somehow!" Gabriel protested.
"Gabe, not now. Please let me finish."
"You also need to accept that if this is the wrong decision that we canít just bail you out of it," Ethan said. Daniel nodded. I know heís right, any trouble this causes is my trouble alone. Ethan looked at Danielís mother before looking back at him. "However, that doesnít mean we wonít support you at all. I guess if I can accept you becoming an actor, I can eventually accept you being a fox man. I still disagree with it but I wonít stop you from seeing it through if thatís what you want."
Daniel nodded his head and smiled. Good, Iím getting through to him. He noticed Gabriel glaring at his father.
"Dad, youíre crazy. Dannyís a beast; heís become the form of temptation. Look at the look in his face, he has that sly and crazed grin a fox has!" Gabriel said.
"Look, what we think doesnít matter. He is still my son and your brother, whether you like it or not. No matter what heís become or what career decision he makes, once again whether we like it or not, we donít have the right to tell him how to live his life," Ethan said.
"No, this is crazy, youíre all crazy!" Gabriel said.
Daniel jumped in front of him as Gabriel started towards the front door. "Gabe Ö bro, please, try to listen to it from my point of view!"
Gabriel stopped and folded his arms with a frown on his face. "Iím listening."
"I wanted to become an actor. I wanted this part. I donít know if I would have accepted it had I know it entailed becoming a real life fox man. This is just as messed up for me as it is for you. I mean, Iíve become an animal hybrid thing, I mean duh itís messed up!" Daniel said.
"Yeah and how long until you start fucking so called normal foxes?" Gabriel said.
"Gabriel that is enough. I will not tolerate such language!" Danielís mother asked.
Daniel looked at his mother. "Itís okay Mom, I know where heís going with this. I want to answer it." He looked back at Gabriel. "I donít lust after animals if thatís what you mean. I still like human women, maybe I do like fox women now but just because Iím half animal doesnít mean Iím about to go and start acting like one!"
"Letís just hope you keep your word on that one Dan. Now, I have to get going. Iíll talk to you later," Gabriel said before maneuvering around Daniel and walking out the door.
Danielís mother walked over to him, putting comforting hands on his shoulders. "I know heís harsh but heís just worried about you. He loves you like a brother and I think heís just having trouble with what is best for you and what he thinks is best for you. Heíll cool down eventually."
"I know. I mean, even I need time to get used to this, I know heíll need ample time himself," Daniel responded.
"As will we, but if this is what you want then we will support you in it."
Daniel hugged his mother before shaking hands with his father. The trio had some coffee and snacks before Danielís parents had to go. As he closed the door after theyíd left, he walked back to the couch, sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.
Iím glad that's over.
Now there was the matter of seeing Penelope. Daniel wondered how she was taking this rather interesting change. Given the character sheíd become, he was interested in seeing her and wondered how Penelope's beauty would intermix with Krystals. He knew he had to invite her over.
* * *
Penelope drove to Dannyís house. Sheíd waited until it was dark so no one would see her. She looked at her reflection in the rear view mirror and smiled back at the white furred face looking at her. Sitting was uncomfortable with her tail, (something sheíd chosen not to tie up as the character sheíd become usually did) but she decided to endure the discomfort. Somehow, they had given her the characters telepathic abilities. She knew how to use her telepathy; it was just as much a part of her now as any of her other senses. The previous night, she dreamt of various events in Krystalís life. It wasnít the happiest of existences, but one element that kept the character happy and made her life worth living beyond combat was Fox.
Remember Pen, youíre not a freak. You made the right decision in agreeing to become this way. Danny is going to love you like this. If he thought I was a foxy lady before, just waitíll he sees me now.
Arriving at Dannyís apartment, she parked and walked into the night. She wore a long trench coat over herself, to conceal her figure. Given its above average assets, she couldnít risk anyone seeing her body in case of the obvious reaction some might have. She heard the crickets chirping louder then usual, she expected that, ever since changing her hearing was better. She walked towards the front entrance, more aware of her surroundings then ever before.
In the lobby, she pressed the call button for Dannyís place; he answered seconds later and buzzed her up. Penelope walked into the main lobby and took an elevator up to Dannyís floor. She knocked on his door and waited for him to answer.
Gosh, itís warm in here. Then again, I doubt they designed this place for a humanoid fox.
Danny opened the door a minute later and Penelope beamed at him. Before her stood the image of Fox McCloud himself; He was wearing a more casual outfit of a vest over a black tee shirt and brown pants.
He took several steps back and she followed him in before removing her trench coat. She felt his emotional reaction to her. She couldnít help but smile at it. His happiness only added to her own. She new she was beautiful and feeling his more then obvious attraction to her did wonders for her self-confidence. She noticed the temperature in his apartment was nice and chilly, quite comfortable for them. She watched Danny look her over and smiled coyly at him as he gulped.
"Not too bad Danny," Penelope said as she stepped forward and ran her right index finger down his muzzle. She leaned in closer, close enough to take in his scent and look him directly in the eye. "Not bad at all."
Putting her arms around him, she kissed him.
Daniel gulped as he beheld the sight before him. Penelope now the image of Krystal herself stood before him clad in a bottom that barley hid her midsection and a top that covered her breasts, exposing ample cleavage. Her white belly stood between the garments, almost beckoning him. Wild pearl and blue hair poured over a white face. Daniel looked her over, her green eyes staring into his. She was the vision of beauty itself.
He felt a twinge of shyness around her, but his confidence had him staying his ground as she approached and ran her right index finger down the underside of his muzzle before leaning in and kissing him. The kiss lasted for what felt like an eternity, she was warm, soft and gentle. He could have sworn he felt emotion from her. When she released it, she walked around him.
"Whereíd you get the clothes from?" Penelope asked.
"They sent me several outfits via courier," Daniel answered.
"Whoís at the door Dan?" a voice from the kitchen said. It was Lauraís voice. Daniel had temporarily forgotten she was there when heíd seen Penelope.
Penelope put her hands on her hips and stared Daniel down. "I thought I sensed someone else!" Daniel just looked at her. Thatís right, Krystal is telepathic. "Yes I am Danny. So, are you going to introduce us?"
They walked into his apartment with Daniel leading the way. Laura walked out of the Kitchen carrying a couple steaming mugs of coffee. She stopped and put them on the coffee table when she saw the duo.
"Wow Dan, whoís the babe?" she say.
"Oh this Ö is," Daniel started, stammering, suddenly feeling shy and awkward around Penelope.
Penelope gently pushed him aside and walked over to Laura with her right hand stretched out.
"Hi, Iím Penelope and I guess Iím Krystal too. You must be the Laura Iíve heard so much about," Penelope said.
Daniel looked at Laura and shrugged his shoulders. Heíd told Penelope about his family but nothing major.
Wait, Krystal is telepathic, of course, sheís sensing stuff from Laura. Of course, if sheís telepathic, I'll have to watch what I think.
With that thought, Penelope turned and winked at Daniel with a devious grin on her face.
"So, heís told you all about me has he?" Laura said.
The two walked into the kitchen and Daniel sat down and turned the TV on, figuring heíd let the two of them catch up while he had his coffee.
Over the next twenty minutes, he heard them giggling like schoolgirls as they no doubt talked about him and all the silly things heíd done over the years. They both walked out and over to him beaming. Penelope sat on the couch beside Daniel with Laura sitting beside her.
"Your sisters told me so much about you Dan, who wouldíve known you took two ballet classes when you were six. I can just imagine you dressed like that; you must have been cute. Oh and, donít worry about her, I understand completely," Penelope said.
Dan looked right into her eyes, his going wide. "Come on Dan, did you really think you could hide it from me now?"
"I Ö well I uh," Dan stammered.
"Itís okay Dan, I know how you feel and wonít hold it against you," she said, climbing off of the couch and onto his lap, putting her arms around his back as she looked right into his eyes. "Besides, youíre all mine now."
Both looked at Laura, who blushed. "Well, um Ö itís been a fun visit Danny. I still say you look cute this way. Good luck on the series. Iíll call you," she said.
Standing up, Laura retrieved her coat and purse from the closet before heading out the door. When she closed it behind her, Daniel looked into Penelopeís eyes. He felt nervous this close to her, an odd contrast to his usually being more then happy to get close to Penelope (in more ways then one).
"Well Danny, this is an interesting situation youíve gotten us into," she said.
"Really, I shouldíve read the fine print. Iím sorry Ö I didnít mean to drag you into this!" Daniel said.
"Oh Danny, no reason to apologize, youíre cute like this, both how you look and being shy around me," she said, kissing him. She jumped off him and looked him over. "You know Danny; there are other things besides acting out these parts that we can do in these forms."
"I dunno Pen, maybe we should hold back for now. I donít want to ruin this. What if the fine print also said we canít do anything other then act?" Daniel said.
Penelope leaned forward, using Danielís arms for support.
"Donít worry, your agent and I looked over the contract. It says nothing about we not being able to have a little Ö fun like this," she said, licking her lips.
Iíve never seen her this affectionate before.
"Oh sure you have honey, youíre just being shy around me like youíre namesake," she said.
"How did you?" Daniel asked.
Oh right the telepathy.
"Thatís right," Penelope said with a wink.
"Okay, I admit it, youíre hot," Daniel said.
"And perhaps your feelings are influencing mine?" Penelope asked with a grin.
"Well," Daniel said.
"Letís enjoy it while it lasts!" Penelope said.
Daniel shrugged his shoulders and smiled back at her. "Sure, why not?"
* * *
Tuesday evening came and Dan found himself in the back of a limousine arriving at the lot where filming was due to start. Penelope sat across from him. Both were dressed in the more traditional garb of their characters rather then the causal look theyíd both worn on Sunday.
As the limousine stopped and they filed out holding hands, they walked into the studio where several reporters were waiting along with other cast members whoíd been changed into their prospective characters as Daniel and Penelope had.
Daniel felt stardom before him. Finally, his dreams were being realized. His felt Penelope tug at his right hand and turned to face her.
"I agree with you!" she said.
"What about?" Daniel asked.
"If this is even half as much fun as well," she giggled. "Weíre in the opportunity of a lifetime," she said.
With a smile, Daniel grinned and agreed with her before walking to meet his fellow cast mates. Despite the strangeness of this experience, he was finally going to be a star.