The Rest of the Story
Octopodes aren’t the only things that are great at camouflage.
No, I wasn’t mad at him!
Well okay, maybe a little. But not like that!
See, there’s something you have to understand about Danny: When he tells a story, he only tells the parts he thinks are important. I’ll let you figure out which parts those are, if you haven’t already. He couldn’t be better at camouflage if we modded him with an octopus.
Yes, an octopus. Chameleons aren’t actually all that great at it unless they’re in their native environment. Or in a cartoon, take your pick. Octopodes, though…
Why yes, I did consider becoming a marine biologist, thank you for noticing. I ended up minoring in it instead, but recently I went back to it for a second degree. Two more classes and I can declare my thesis – which I already have half-written – and add a couple more letters to the end of my name. Pete says I’m just jealous of him because he’s a Master of Science and I’m not. I told him I wasn’t going to be jealous unless he became a Master of the Universe, and then I was going to steal his cat. So he had Hana make everyone a stuffed one, and for some reason mine has pink and yellow stripes and is wearing a flower crown. It’s also grinning in a really strange way, so every chance I get I move it so that when Pete comes in his cat is being mounted by my weirdly grinning, flower-crown wearing cat. And then later I’ll come back to my area and their positions will be reversed.
Or at least we were doing that, until Danny got tired of it and I came in one morning to find my cat and Pete’s wearing tiny little ball gags made out of rubber bands and cereal and Danny’s cat – which is black and yellow, like a bee – apparently taking both of them from behind while Dave’s cat hid behind his monitor.
Yes, this is what life in our lab is like. And it’s great, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I digress.
Anyway, you have to understand that Danny doesn’t always tell his stories…in full, I guess you’d say. So yeah, you know we were mad because Agent Ben got kind of nasty with us about the work we do while we were in Norway, and I got a little upset with Danny for agreeing that we’d take responsibility for euthanizing the hulder. But what you don’t know is that Agent Ben wasn’t exactly friendly to begin with, and he was all but up in Danny’s face during that incident, trying to use his height advantage to be intimidating – something that never fails to piss Danny off, and I’m pretty sure the guy was hoping it would. I do realize that Danny shut him down the only way he thought he could at the time, because we were in a really precarious situation right then and pissing off Interpol would not have gone well for us…but it still made me mad. We aren’t murderers, and those monkeys didn’t deserve what had been done to them. Especially not for the reason it had been done, either.
Oh right, that’s the other part you didn’t know: The cultists hadn’t just trained their human-modded monkeys to proposition men and mug them, they’d trained them to do the service, too. All of it, sometimes without an invitation if you know what I mean. We not only warned those zoos about what could happen, we made them sign papers that said they were completely aware of why strict precautions had to be taken to keep the monkeys at arms length, literally. And one of them still had a keeper almost get a somewhat forceful introduction to the monkeys’ training the very first week his zoo had them because he didn’t believe us. Because people can be really fucking stupid sometimes…either that or he’d been working around monkeys a little too long and thought he was about to realize a secret dream.
Yeah, I know – off track again, sort of. But really not, because I was never so glad in my life not to get credit for a mod as I was when that zoo nicknamed their Ateles capuchinus ‘hore-aper’ – literally ‘whore monkeys’ – and the other two zoos picked it up and ran with it. Danny wasn’t complaining either, even though he had to do a whole bunch of work over again for our paper once we got home because we couldn’t directly claim the overmodded monkeys. Because supposedly we hadn’t actually been in Norway.
I’m kind of glad about that, too. And I’m really glad we’d already gotten our samples and gone back to Canada when the Norwegian government decided to burn the whole thing down and kill all the creatures except for the already out-of-the-picture hore-aper. I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that, none of us would. Not that we didn’t understand why they made that decision instead of going with a preserve, because we totally did and we even respected their desire not to venture into movie dinosaur-park territory. Every single one of the remaining creatures was a man-eater, you see, especially the nökken. No, not just because two of the cultists had gotten pulled into their pond. Guess what the cultists had been feeding them all? That caused a completely different huge stink over there – the revelation that there really had been trolls in the mountains had caused a pretty big one on its own – because the decrease in the transient population within that area had been publicly attributed to the government’s actions and nobody had listened when charitable organizations that worked with the homeless had tried to let someone know they thought the ‘relocated’ people were actually missing.
That was actually the first thing I did when we got back, I called Detective Angelo – he’s ‘our’ detective, as in anything to do with GenoMod or mods in general goes to him now – and told him someone might want to quietly spread the word just in case homeless people started mysteriously ‘relocating’ in our country. You know, like the kids Doc modded into selkies did. Even though that was their choice, the fact that no one noticed all of those homeless kids missing scares the hell out of me – and out of Angela, too, even moreso because she lives there where it happened.
Yes, that’s Dr. Marshall. Yes, I’ve been dating her. She’s awesome. No, it’s not hard to have a long distance relationship, because we’re both busy anyway so we’re not getting to see each other any less than we would if I lived in the area. Not to mention, I’m part-owner of a really successful if much-maligned company, and I make a shit-ton of money: I can fly to San Francisco any time I want. And often do anyway, for research purposes, because my masters thesis is about the adaptive capacity of pinnipeds.
I really love pinnipeds. And so does Angela, obviously. Match made in heaven.
Thank goodness I can still fly domestic. Oh, you thought there wasn’t fallout from our ‘secret’ trip to Norway? There was. See, usually if another country wants a face-to-face consult with GenoMod, they get their embassy to greenlight our travel documents, sometimes they even arrange the flights for us. Yeah, we get harassed by airport security all the time regardless of where the flight is going, but that’s because we’re on a list, not because there’s anything wrong with our paperwork. Norway was the first time we’d ever been snuck into and back out of a country sans passport stamps and visas, and technically even that was on the up-and-up because Interpol was doing the sneaking…but you know, people still knew we’d been there, regardless of the cover story. Three frozen passports were the result. Leaving only one member of the GenoMod team who could go on international consults any way but over the phone.
Yeah, that would be Danny. Don’t get me wrong here, we all knew that was a bad thing – sometimes the consults end up with us walking into situations we shouldn’t be alone in, even if it’s just for legal reasons. But so far as the agents went, we thought it was just a petty annoyance play. Danny went on trip after trip by himself after that, all over the world, and nothing happened – or at least, nothing happened that he thought was important enough to share, anyway. If someone had tried to kill him again he would have shared that, I know he would have, because that would have been a threat to all of us, not just him, and he takes the welfare of our little GenoMod family a lot more seriously than he takes people being shitty toward him personally. But nothing serious ever happened, and we…well, I wouldn’t say we got complacent, because we aren’t, but we started feeling like all the noise that got made in the press after the Project Chaney agent tried to kill him and Hana had made the Project Chaney guys back off. Not to mention, aside from everybody knowing about that incident, now everybody also knows about Ancient Fire skulking around trying to be all terroristy and everything, so our clients now tend to be really conscientious about the security of their projects. And we figured, it’s not like rogue American agents would be able to do anything in another country anyway, right?
No, you don’t have to tell me how wrong we were. We already know.