There and Back Again
Author's Note: Welcome, my friends… to this, my update to There and Back Again. You will hardly recognize this version from the quiet simplicity of the old version. It seems I have taken on a job larger than I had anticipated… I'm ending up rewriting almost every single paragraph as I come across it. You will find a huge improvement between the two versions, and this one will be broken up into chapters.
If you liked the first version, you will definitely love the rewrite. Read on, my friends! Know that I still remember you, even after these long months without update!
Without further ado, I give you… There and Back Again V2.
Tails's workshop was anything but tidy, what with the random tools strewn about in what little space was not taken by computers and desks covered in sketches. Why, do you ask? Well, it was probably due to the fact that the workshop was owned by one of the busiest people on Mobius. Why did it matter? Because it was very cramped for the two-tailed kitsune. Was the kit going to do anything about it? Not a chance. Tails had an immense storage space in the caves below his workshop, which was basically where he slept. So what was the golden kitsune doing now? Anyone who knew the two tailed vulpine would know, just from the look in his eyes. They burned with the spark of innovation, the flame of creation, the power of inspiration. It was this fire that pushed him to work until his hands cramped, until his bones ached and sweat literally dripped off of his fur. Behind him, his unique tails swished back and forth in perfect rhythm, but he hardly noticed. When he worked, there was only the next part, the next innovation, there was nothing else. Machine oil and grease adorned his golden fur coat, fresh stains cropping up almost spontaneously, and yet the kitsune couldn't have cared less. What could possibly have consumed Tails's mind this time?
"There! Another part finished!" The kitsune breathed a sigh of relief as he dropped his soldering gun into its holster and meticulously examined the silicon in his hand. He had just finished soldering a transistor into place in one of many integrated circuits that made up a sensor array. After deciding that the part couldn't have been made better by god's hand, he rose from his workbench and headed over to his machine. A cursory glance over this particular invention showed that it was near completion, and the kitsune smiled with pride at how simply beautiful it looked. He had painstakingly crafted a cylindrical capsule to fit into a metal base, and spent even more time inserting a thick steel door onto one side. He had synthesized the glass that made up the capsule himself, adding rare crystalline compounds into the silica mixture that made normal glass. His special "glass" had unique properties, one of which being that it could reflect and magnify certain wavelengths of energy. Below the capsule was the base of the machine, which was essentially just a hockey puck of metal into which the glass was inserted. To the right of the base, a metal box half the height of the capsule jutted out, complete with computer readout and several buttons and levers. The top of the cylinder was covered by a rough cone-shaped metal cap of sorts, adorned with various knobs for fine tuning. Below the cap, several rings could be seen circling the top of the cylinder, with wire filaments running along the inside touching the capsule. Tails had specifically designed these rings to glide effortlessly up and down the chamber's walls as the machine ran. Tails had placed a set of stairs leading up to the door in front of the base of the machine, and this was where he was about to place his array of sensors. These were fitted underneath each individual step, just like scales… but not.
"Alright, let's hook up these sensors and see what we got!" The kitsune shouted with immense excitement and adrenaline as he slid the sensory chip into place underneath the steps. He had never worked so hard on any invention other than the X-Tornado before, and he was determined to see this one through to the end. Tails tightened down the array of sensors with several bolts, finally feeding the external wires to the computer. The vulpine took great care into hooking up each connection point with supreme accuracy, for any wrong move could ruin all of his hard work and devotion. In front of his face, he could see beads of sweat drip down from the cowlicks of fur that fell in front of his line of vision. Despite what society might think, he preferred to work without a shirt or pants on, allowing his sweat to just drip off where it fell. It was really too much of a hassle to him to clean off all of his clothes every single time he worked, so he eliminated them from the equation. He simply worked and washed up later. Even if people came to the door, it wasn't as if he would be "exposed" per se… his fur was thick enough to cover even the privates.
Eventually, after connecting the last wire into the back of the CPU, he was finally able to crawl back from under the machine and observe his handiwork. Satisfied, he walked over to the digital monitor, where he had mounted his controls. With a mere flick of a switch, the digital readout flared into life, millions of tiny pixels all bursting with light at the same time. A quick scan of the status screen showed all sensors currently reading zero except temperature, which read three different numbers in three different units: Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin. Keeping an eye on the monitor, Tails stepped towards the sensor-rigged stairs. Gingerly, he lowered a foot onto one of the steps, and immediately checked the monitor, which thankfully confirmed his temperature, his pawprint, his health status, his gender, even his height. Tails had crafted the sensor so perfectly, it even knew that only one foot was on the sensor, and the weight readout was waiting for the other foot before recording the kitsune's weight. Upon standing with both feet upon the sensor, his weight was recorded, and Tails confirmed it to be accurate down to a tenth of a pound. He took one step, and then another up the sensor stairs. The readout then began to confirm his genus and species: Vulpes Vulpes; his walking pattern, even the fact that he had two tails was recorded within the computer… somehow. A surge of pride welled up within the vulpine. He had outdone himself, and he knew it. All there was left to do was to calibrate the device and it would be finished.
"Well, I guess I'll wash up first… I might as well, since I might not get a chance when the guys come and check this out!" Everyone who knew the vulpine inventor knew that he was nothing if not proud of his work. Tails even took time from his inventing to show his friends a new invention or two, every now and then. Sonic had been crazy about the kitsune's jetpack, to the point where he nearly burned down the shop trying to get another test run. Amy nearly killed him to get at his hypnotism machine, only stopping when Tails smashed the offending invention into pieces. Boy, neither were happy with each other for weeks after that. Shadow was interested in everything the kitsune did, perhaps in the hope that if he invented a new firearm the jet black hedgehog would get a free sample. Yet, for every invention the kitsune revealed and demoed for his friends… there were even more that were for his eyes alone. Take the mind reading glasses, for example; a set of spectacles that would reveal what people were thinking around him. Sure, he could have translated them into sound waves or beam them into his own head, but anyone could tell if he wore headphones all the time, and it got too confusing with their thoughts directly competing with his own within his brain. With a sudden start, Tails realized that he had been daydreaming while he walked. Snapping out of it, he headed into his own private bathroom, which was set aside from his workshop. With a mere snap of his fingers, he opened his automated shower door. Stepping inside, he closed it again with another snap, and turned the temperature dial counterclockwise. Almost immediately, water shot up through the pipes deep underground, for he filtered his own water from the ocean. The hot water felt soothing on his greasy fur, for the combined feeling of warmth and cleanliness combined peculiarly into bliss.
"Aaahhhhh… That's the stuff…" He sighed in pleasure. Tails simply stood there with his eyes closed, enjoying every second of his shower. After a few minutes had passed, he finally decided to set to work removing every ounce of grime still clinging to his fur. The vulpine had prepared for just such occasions, developing different soaps and shampoos that targeted every atom of filth and destroyed it. He had even invented his own brand that would make his fur shine like the sun. But that was only for when he needed to impress someone. Particularly the other gender. Tails was not completely vain, believe it or not. Finally, after twenty minutes and thirty nine seconds (he liked to time himself) in the piping hot water, he emerged from the shower cleaner than he had been before he had begun his arduous work. Water dripped constantly from his golden fur, which clung to him like a wetsuit… no pun intended. Any girl would have thought him the cutest thing ever as he looked now. Frowning at this disturbing line of thought, he shook himself dry, not caring that he was spraying the walls of his bathroom as he did so. At least he wouldn't look 'cute' anymore… or at least not as 'cute' as he looked before, thank heavens.
"Now, I just need to finish fine-tuning the rings…" Tails said to himself as he headed back to his machine. Reaching it, he opened the door to the capsule and used it as a sort of ladder to reach the top so he could fine tune the rings. First he placed a foot on the door handle, reaching up to the top of the door for leverage. Suddenly, his foot slipped, and he desperately grabbed the top of the door with his other hand. Down below, his foot grazed something, probably just something sticking out of the door. He shrugged it off, using his tails to bring himself back up to where he was. The vulpine reached the top of the machine, using the door as a platform to stand on as he lubricated, tuned, and tightened the rings before setting them back into their housing. Finished with that task, he set to work fine tuning the knobs and dials on top of the capsule as well. The capsule was perfect now. Tails admired his work from atop the machine, before hopping back down to the floor, careful to avoid any more slips and falls.
Tails's invention was a simple one. To understand the female gender, he had decided to build a kind of omni-sensor. By simply corralling the unsuspecting girl into his capsule, he would be able to learn everything about her there was to know, and he could finally understand why they were so different. These were just his intentions, however… The machine could theoretically work on anyone. In fact, had he shown this machine to hospitals or G.U.N., he might have won himself more than one Nobel Peace Prize, and several fortunes because of its awe-inspiring capabilities. But no… this was to be his own little secret… this was to be his secret weapon. Imagine, a machine that could tell him anything he wanted… G.U.N. would kill to get their hands on it.
On second thought… perhaps he should figure out what he had hit with his foot while he was dangling from the door. It might have been nothing, but one could never be quite sure. Tails took one step after another up his steps, aware but unconcerned that his machine was recording data all the while. The vulpine closed the door for a second, examining the outside for any damage. There was none, curiously. Intrigued, he opened the door fully again, this time checking the inside. Again, there was nothing. Stymied, he turned to the side, seeing if he could have hit anything else with his foot.
Suddenly, the kitsune's foot slipped on a patch of grease, sending him falling back onto his machine. Into his machine. Groaning on the floor inside the capsule of his own design, he realized that the door had closed. Strange, he thought… Why would the door have closed? Unless... Too late did he realize that by not turning the computer off, he had allowed it to do the job it was intended to do. Standing up, he waited for the machine to kick in. Perhaps this would be a good test run, he reasoned… He chose to ignore for the current moment the hundreds of times Amy and Sonic had warned him not to test his inventions on himself. He watched with interest and anticipation as the rings glided down from their positions, flowing smoothly over and under each other as they slid up and down the length of the capsule. Tails was mesmerized by the rings' movements… that is, until his perceptions were shattered as things went wrong. Very wrong.
Tails felt as if he had been sucker punched in the chest, coughing as the air around him turned into a fine pink mist. It was peculiar how the air suddenly tasted sweet, and his nose began to pick up the scent of flowers all around him. Roses, lilacs, lilies, lavenders, any type of flower imaginable, the vulpine could smell it around him. He felt every hair of his fur stand on end, as if he were some superconductor of static electricity. Tails clutched onto his head with both hands, screaming silently as he felt some invasive presence take hold. He suddenly felt an intense desire to go shopping, and an acute sense of romance and love… Tails tried to think through the fog surrounding his body and mind, tried to make sense of it all, but nothing felt the same anymore. He was actually starting to consider dancing, of all things! If only that was the worst of it… Tails's eyes opened with shock as his manhood went numb below, and fell to his knees. It was too much for him to take. The pain in his chest intensified, as if the same person who sucker punched him before had come back for round two. His arms shuddered before suddenly giving way on him, and he fell to the floor of the capsule. Somehow, he knew that any muscle he had begun to accumulate was rapidly fading. If he were not still feeling immense pain in his chest, he would have watched in fascination as his rough golden fur was rapidly replaced by elongated, sleek golden fur. He felt his two tails go through the same transformation, as they shuddered just like the rest of his body. Just when he thought the torture might be over, new agony erupted from his voice box, only to fade away not two seconds later. Tails rolled on his back as his vision flared pink, his sense of smell overloaded with perfume, and he could hear a girl moaning somewhere nearby. Finally, he shuddered one last time as the pain finally faded away, and opened his eyes to find that the pink mist had cleared.
Tails rolled over slowly, still aching slightly all over. The kitsune moaned quietly on the floor of the capsule, intrigued as to why some girl was moaning at the same time… The reality hit harshly a second later.
Tails… had somehow turned into a vixen.
Tails was now panting heavily, suddenly afraid of her own, new body. She pushed up weakly from the floor, glad that she had somehow lost a few pounds… probably muscle. Nevertheless, it was a struggle to lift herself to her knees, and then to her feet. Tails had to support herself on the side of the capsule to stop from falling over, and one glance into the glass walls offered a surprising shock. Her irises had become pink. Curious as to what other changes had occurred with her body, she checked herself over. Her fur was long and sleek now, nothing like the rough collection of hairs it had been before. On a whim, she took one of her tails and rubbed it against her arm. It was soft and immensely comfortable to boot. Looking over the rest of her body, she confirmed that there were no traces of manhood below… they had been replaced completely by her womanhood. The vixen decided to take a longer look into the glass mirror, to see her complete reflection. If someone had said that he had looked cute as a boy, they would have described the way she looked now as stunning. Tails could even believe that she had found her long lost sister, if she didn't already know whose reflection it was.
Tails reached over to the door handle and opened it, hands shaking heavily. Nothing could have prepared her for what had just happened. The now female kitsune was visibly shaken, even fearful. She didn't know this new body and the urges that accompanied it. She suddenly felt an irresistible urge to brush her new fur, and call one of her girlfriends to chatter about anything and everything. Oh no!, she thought. I'm going to be like Amy!!! That train of thought alone would have scared her silly, even without the added shock of it now suddenly being a very real possibility.
"What in the world… happened?" She wondered aloud, finally getting over the shock enough to start thinking normally again. Semi-normally at least… She stepped slowly out of the chamber, making sure that she didn't fall down again. After what happened last time, she didn't want to take any chances. Looking to the left, she realized finally what she had touched when she was hanging from the door. A rather large dent was visible on the side of the delicate computer that controlled the machine. Tails hopped down from the stairs and cracked open the case to check the damage. The vixen identified two of the reading inputs from the central processing unit that were now connected to the power source. She had also apparently jarred the specially crafted electromagnetic wave generators, which were very sensitive. Replacing the door on the case, she concluded that this was the only damage to the computer, and there was no danger to the machine or its new state by leaving it the way it was.
It occurred to her that the alterations to the device meant that she could reverse the process. By jarring the CPU with her foot, she had accidentally connected the sensory input of gender to the power source that fed the wave generator. The computer's gender input was scrambled slightly, so that instead of giving the gender readout to the screen, it sent it instead to the electromagnetic generator, which seemed to be producing a type of radiation that he had never encountered before. A cursory glance suggested that the waves caused minute particles in the air to convert to a pure hormonal mist that covered the entire capsule. Instead of an omni-sensor… she had created a gender-switching device. Tails could switch genders with a flick of the switch now. A moment later, she realized that she had picked up her cell phone from her workbench and had dialed Amy's number before she even knew what she was doing. The vixen hoped she would figure out her new body soon… it was scaring her more and more with every passing second.