“Hey, Carmen, you were in veterinary school. Can dogs drink beer?” Marco asked with his head sticking into the fridge.
“They have nothing against beer; it’s the alcohol that’s the problem.” She stated, giving me a peculiar glare as Marco laughed.
“I’d be fine, I’m sure.” I voiced, holding my hands open to catch the beers Marco had just thrown my way. I grabbed both, and set them down on the table. Carmen grabbed one and opened it, and took a few sips. “We need a game plan with this. Forgive me for being a tad concerned about myself here, but we need to find a permanent solution.”
“Dude, you’re so self-absorbed! You can’t be worried about permanent life-shattering changes to yourself!” Marco joked, before raising the seriousness “But yeah. Really, your only options seem to be talking with that Immanuel guy, or just living with it as it is, keep it on the down-low."
"He didn't seem intent on letting me keep it. He wanted it back come hail or high-water." I grabbed the gem in my hand protectively.
Marco considered this for a second, pausing with his beer halfway to his lips. He decided on something to say, and took a drink. As he put the glass back down, he looked me straight in the eyes, and said something I really did not want to hear. "Nicholas, you screwed up."
I started to rebut this accusation, but he gestured for me to be quiet. "No. Nick, you seriously screwed up. This was the only guy on the damn planet that you knew would have information, and do you know what you did? You pissed him off! Either you think you have a handle on the situation, which you don't, or you think that we can figure all of this out ourselves, which we can't!" He took a breath, either trying to calm down, or continue his rant without going blue in the face. I considered his words, and was about to speak up, but before I could get a word in edgewise, he launched himself back into it with new-found vigour. "I mean, out of all possible courses of action, I can't think of one that possibly could have ended worse than that one! All you had to do was say 'Does the word Raiju mean anything to you?' You'd probably be back to your normal self, he'd be heading home with his fancy-assed magic stuff, and we'd all be trying with limited success to drown the memories of this week in booze." He threw his hands up in exasperation. "But no. No, you had to piss him off! You had to-"
His tirade was cut short by the resonating sound of a doorbell.
None of us moved for the next five seconds.
Carmen decided to break the silence, "Who's that?"
"I've got a guess." Marco muttered, shooting me a glare as he stood up and walked over. He got to the door, and, sighing, pulled it open.
"Good evening." An all too familiar voice spoke.
Aw crap! How the hell did he get here? I wondered as I walked over to the door.
"You too." Marco replied as I came up behind him. The man in the door was fairly short, at least to me. His appeared aged, with wrinkles and white hair, but his movements had the quickness of any of my friends'. He was wearing a black suit and a plain white shirt, and a large backpack, which made for a perplexing look.
"Hi." I offered, possibly coming off a bit more icily than I had intended.
"I'm Immanuel Samson, head of Physical Rift Research." He reached to shake Marco's hand, which he reciprocated.
"Marco. Pleasure to meet you." They shook, and Immanuel turned to me, hand extended. Despite my overwhelming distrust of him, I took his hand and shook.
"Nicholas Marquez, CEO Marquez Transport and Logistics." His eyes widened with recognition.
"Oh yes! We spoke on the phone earlier." He paused, drawing a breath, "I would like to apologize for my previous ill behaviour, as I have only recently realized the reason for our... disagreement. May I come inside?"
"Sure." Marco replied, inviting him inside.
"Thank you." He said, warmer than I'd heard him previously. As we approached the table, I felt it necessary to introduce him to Carmen, if only as some sort of assertion.
"Immanuel, this is Carmen."
"Pleasure to meet you, miss."
"Likewise." She responded as they shook hands.
"So, we may as well get down to business. Nicholas, we both want something from one-another." He stated, taking a seat at the kitchen table.
"Before this starts, would you like a drink?" Marco asked. This question seemed to catch him off-guard.
"Yes please. Water would be fine."
"Okay." Marco replied somewhere behind my back.
"Since the pleasantries are out of the way, back to business." He looked at me over his glasses. "You have the gem here, no doubt?"
"Yeah." I pulled the necklace out from under my shirt, letting it dangle before me. "Believe me, had I known what this thing would do, I wouldn't be any closer than a kilometre to it."
"Proximity by necessity." He said with a nod. "You had problems with it?"
"Yeah, that'd be the easiest way to put it." I said with a sigh.
"And a harder way to put it?" He asked.
"My feet through my knees are covered in blue and white fur. My ankles are about this-" I gestured a distance with my hands "-high off the ground. Need I continue?"
"I believe that level of detail will suffice," He said with a slow nod.
"So you want the gem back?" I asked.
"Yes. This 'gem' is perhaps the most valuable artifact my company owns that we would ever trust another company to transport. It would seem that we should instead focus our distrust on our own shipping staff."
"What exactly is it?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"I suppose you might call it a mana crystal. At least, that would be the common moniker these days. The technical term is magical-energy-storage-device."
"That's a pretty boring name," I noted.
"You have to be boring to prevent your research getting caught up in fancy nicknames," He stated, shrugging.
"If it was just a, what, magical battery, how did it change me into a were-Raiju?" I asked, trying to get to the meat of the issue.
"Were-Raiju is not the correct term here. Technically, at this point, you are a Raiju for all intents and purposes when not in range of the gem. The gem provides enough magical energy to convert your body back to human form in part. It's through the subtleties of magic that, while the gem is over-charged after being struck with lightning, it automatically changes you when in range. This is presumably because you, at a higher level of thought, want to remain human, and so can focus the magical energy with little effort," He explained.
"That makes sense, I suppose. But why did it change me in the first place?" I reiterated the original question.
"The gem was at an absurd level of energy, having received a semi-direct hit from a natural lightning strike. The history of the gem comes into play at this point."
"Do tell." I said, adjusting my pose to lean on the table.
"That gem was created a decade or so ago by a close friend of mine, my mentor. He has since passed away, but he left me his entire collection of items, including that," He pointed to the gem, "and his notes. The gem was created by capturing the soul of a Raiju."
At these words, my eyes widened and my sphincters clenched.
"It was all agreed upon in advance, bear in mind, so as unethical as it may sound, the victim had no problem with it."
"Okay... I guess that makes sense. So, if you want your gem back, you need to give me an alternative of some sort, right?" I was twiddling the crystal between my fingers. It was frustrating, not having a working knowledge of what we were discussing. This must be how Marco feels when I discuss aircraft with him.
"Oh, yes, well actually it's easier than that." He stated simply. "You just need to learn enough magic to make a conscious change."
"How the hell is that easier?" I asked, confused.
"Because, unless you're volunteering, getting another Raiju soul so that you can charge a gem with electricity would not be a simple task, your race is pretty rare, and very reclusive. That, and they can put up one vicious fight when forced into a corner," He stated bluntly.
"I see your point. Are there any other ways to store energy?"
"Yes. A Raiju soul crystal is only useful because it uses the storage capability of a Raiju."
"So..." I considered this, "What you're saying is that I don't need the gem at all, since I'm a Raiju?"
"Precisely." He reached over and held his hand out for the gem. "It just takes focus and skill to use."
I pulled it back from him, only the few centimetres needed to make a point. "You're gonna need to give me more information than that."
"Fine. That's fair. I'll give you a choice. I can either create a runes that will keep you human off of your energy, but that would need to be a necklace or something of the sort, or I can teach you to cast spells."
"Wait, spells?" I laughed. "That's damn cool, not sure I'd be able to do that though. Care to demonstrate?"
"Sure." He stood up from the table, and closed his eyes for a second.
"What's he doing?" Carmen asked on the other side of the room.
Slowly, Immanuel rose from the floor. He reopened his eyes, and looked at me with a grin. His feet were at my knee height.
"That's sweet!" I remarked, laughing.
"Watch this." He replied, before closing his eyes again. Suddenly, he cartwheeled in the air, sending a blow of wind grazing me. He set himself down, before sitting himself down.
"So, the meat of the issue: How do I go about doing that?" I said with a laugh.
"It's quite simple, really. I just imagine the runes, and they run in my mind. I'm using this." He dug through his pocket for a second, before pulling out a small metal object. "I'm merely human, so I have almost no natural capacity for storing magical energy. This is a bimetallic energy store." He handed it to me to look at. I accepted eagerly. "It stores almost no energy, but it's enough to do that a few times. I never like getting caught off guard."
"Yeah, I don't either." The object was three pieces in the shape of a kite. Two of what seemed to be stainless steel and one of acrylic separating the other two down the vertical centre. I flipped it around, and saw the backside of it had a belt clip welded to it. "Pretty utilitarian for a magical implement, don't you think?"
"If it works it works." He admitted with a shrug.
"Mind I see?" Carmen asked. I handed it over to her.
"So, let me get this straight." I began, "I need to learn a whole bunch of glyphs, so that I can visualize them, and transform myself without needing the crystal?"
"Yes. Actually, it's a bit easier than that...." He set his bag down on the table, and pulled out a small book. "This is a glyph reference that my company has been assembling for numerous decades. It's quite thorough, with a page or more per glyph." He handed it to me. I opened it hesitantly as he continued speaking. "Once you know what the glyph you need look like, you can add abstraction, so with time-"
"Abstraction? Like computer programming?" Marco chimed in.
Leave it to the computer science major to find logic in magic. There's no way it's that easy.
But I've been wrong before.
"Once you know how you would want to use, say, the teleport glyph, you could create your own that did it for each article of clothing on you, and only have to use the rune you've made." He was explaining this with the enthusiasm that only someone who appreciated a topic could have, a sort of optimistic tone. I opened the book, and looked at the first page. It was a list of acknowledgements, with Immanuel being near the top. I skipped to the next page, which was page one of five of the table of contents. “Of course, the teleport rune is much easier to use than that, so that was a less than ideal example.” His face was split into a smile when he finished.
"Wow. That's a lot of glyphs." I commented, having ceased to pay attention when his obsessive enthusiasm started. The first few pages, more accurately chapters, were descriptions of how to use magic, the next thirty pages was a grid of the glyphs with labels, all sorted into categories. "Specify, Locate, Name, Action, what do these categories even mean?" I wondered out loud.
"Have you read their descriptions?" He asked me.
"Well, no, but still, that doesn't reduce the legitimacy of the question." I replied, flipping back to the table of contents. "Categories... Where to find...." I muttered while I ran my finger up and down the list. "Here we are." I flipped to the relevant page, where I found a description. "Glyphs are categorized according, primarily, to returned type and side effects.” I read aloud for the benefit of Marco and Carmen.
"So it's really a bunch of functions and procedures?" Marco noted, gaining the same enthusiasm.
"This guy gets it!" Immanuel said with a clap. "It's just like that! Magic isn't some sort of higgledy-piggledy mess. It's all an orderly collection of commands!"
I, meanwhile, was engrossed in my reading. "These returned objects can be passed as parameters to further glyphs by connecting the first glyph's output line to the relevant input line of the other rune. A simple teleportation glyph would simply be a Locate glyph and a Name glyph leading into the Teleport glyph. The Locator would serve to provide a target location, and the Naming glyph would provide the targeted object or person. To trigger the glyphs requires an Invocation glyph to its left. Once an Invocation is added, it becomes a rune instead of a series of glyphs."
Okay, that makes sense. The first two are parameters to the third. I should try this. I grabbed a pen and paper from the middle of the table and set them down. Marco and Immanuel were having some sort of conversation on the other side of the table, with Carmen pitching in occasionally. I flipped through the pages, and found the teleport glyph in the Action category. There was lengthy description of the failsafes included, and of which line was which. There was no line coming off of it, so that meant no output. I carefully drew the glyph onto the paper before me, making it as close as I could to the drawings in the book. It started simply, with just a single glyph on the page. That was the first thirty seconds. And then I looked back at the notes. "I need a Name and Locate glyph..." I whispered, flipping back through the pages to the chapter on locators. "Returns nearest living being..." I muttered, reading through the description. "Seems about right." I started drawing that in, meticulously drawing the figure. While I was doing this, Carmen moved over beside me and started looking down at my work.
I finished the rune, and she spoke up as I leaned back to observe it. "I have no idea what any of that is." She remarked.
"I didn't until five minutes ago, so surely you must be able to learn too." I gestured to the book.
"That's imposing. How about you explain this" She pointed to the paper "to me?"
"Okay." I took a deep breath, "So, um, this one here?" I pointed to the right-most rune, "That teleports the object specified by this glyph here" I gestured to the other rune, "to the location specified by the glyphs connected to this line, and it all happens when an Invocation glyph that'll go here is triggered."
"So what you're saying is it's nowhere even close to finished?"
"Um, yeah, pretty much. That, and it isn't going to help at all with the actual problem. I want to try and write a small spell first, just to get my feet wet." I admitted.
She patted me on the back, "I'm sure you can figure it out."
"Yeah? I'm not! Some of this stuff is nuts!" I threw my hands up in exasperation. "But I must admit it is awesome fun!"
Sometime later, on the order of an hour, I put the last few lines onto the sheet, and looked at it carefully. Everything seemed fine, but what I had planned on having as four glyphs had escalated quickly after the first two. Thankfully, I'd made all of the drawings rather small, so the ten or twelve glyphs that were now on the sheet were still on a single page. Everything seemed to look as it should. "Hey, Immanuel, think you could come check my work here?"
"Sure, Nicholas." He walked over from the couch he had relocated himself to. "Lemme see here." He grabbed the sheet. "Hmm. So it supposed to teleport you to wherever you're looking?"
"That's the idea." I confirmed.
"You know, maybe I should have told you that you can do it on a computer..."
"Really? How does that make it simpler?"
"Marco and I were discussing it. Some of my employees wrote a piece of software that allows you to write high-level code and then translate it to these runes. We typically use a laser engraver or such."
"That," I said, pointing a finger, "Would have been really nice to know an hour ago."
"No, doing it by hand is better practice. Let's see what you've done here...." He looked it over. "Right. Okay, that should work. You know how to trigger it, right?"
"Uh.... Not really. I just used the standard Invocation." I admitted.
"Okay. So what you need to do now is actually fill in the Invocation, and when you do that, this entire thing is effectively compiled into a new rune. Then you can cast that in your mind."
"Really?" I grabbed the pen and went back at it, creating a rather simple glyph in the centre of the invocation. I turned to look back at him. "So I can just run this in my mind by-" My question was cut short when I suddenly found myself on the far side of the room, exactly where I had been looking. "Woah." I turned around, and found Immanuel nodding approvingly, Carmen wide-eyed with surprise, and Marco laughing his ass off.
"Nice!" Marco commented, still laughing.
"Yes, it would seem that works perfectly, Nicholas. You may want to be more careful with thinking about the triggers."
"You don't say?" I replied sarcastically as I looked down at the sheet of paper. "But, wait, you said I'm a Raiju for all intents and purposes, right?"
"Yes." He said slowly, clearly not getting what I was thinking.
"Oh. Well then." I closed my eyes, and reappeared in the chair. "That was a useless spending of an hour."
"I would have to agree at this point." He concurred. "I'd forgotten that Raijus could teleport."
"So had I." I admitted with a laugh. "So, are you going to help me with that transformation spell, or whatever you would want to call it?"
"’Transformation spell’ will work just fine." He agreed. "I actually cooked it up before I came here, it's-"
"How'd you find this place anyways?" I asked, remembering the weirdness that was his arrival.
"Oh, it was a bit of a challenge. I tracked the soul-crystal after piecing together the signature of it. It was quite a surprised when I realized the soul was alive again. Once I was within a few kilometres, I just looked for the lightning strikes. They're quite easy to spot magically, leave large blue streaks if you use the right spell," He noted, "As you might know. But I digress. Once I had found this island, it wasn't very hard. There aren't any other lights within perhaps a mile of the strikes, so I came to the only one here."
"How did you get here, though? The dock isn't exactly easy to find, and..." Marco stopped talking when he realized that Immanuel was hovering again. "Oh, right, you can fly. That must've been convenient."
"Truly, it was. Learning it was a real pain, though." He admitted, setting himself back down. "I already have the spell prepared for you, Nicholas. You just need to memorize it." He pulled a sheet of metal from his backpack. "It's on this anodized plate right here." He set it down on the table. It was about the size of my palm, with roughly two dozen runes etched onto the surface.
"Yikes. Memorize it?" I looked it over. "How does this even work? These runes aren't in a straight line!"
"Those are the iterators and such. I'll run you through it."
"This one on the bottom is going from human to Raiju. This is the Invocation. You'll notice it has a line off of it. That pulls a reference to the caster, which it passes to some Control runes that find everything you are wearing and, basically, blip it out of existence temporarily."
"Everything?" I asked, shocked. "Where does it go?"
"Yeah. It stores it, essentially, and then brings it back when you cast the other one. Anyways, then it gets a reference to human form, and calls transform on it. Turning to human from Raiju requires markedly more effort and energy. The reasons are three-fold. First, there's resistance from your body. Second, you need to recreate the objects you were holding. The spell is not much the same. It's really a universal disguise thing, if you make a few changes."
"Right..." I noted. "So it's triggered the same way?"
"Yeah. Just make sure you think about yourself as you cast it.
"Why?" I asked as I pulled the necklace off.
"You could accidentally transform someone else into your Raiju form." He said with a grin and a wink.
“What?” Carmen squealed from across the room, instantly taking a new-found interest in our discussion.
"You could change them back just as easily, though."
"Okay." I said with the last few second of humanity I had left. At the last moment, I realized I needed to ditch my shirt. "Oops!" I shouted as I tried to pull it off. My timing was poor, though, as rapidly my mouth stretched forth to the point of impossibility for removing my shirt. The crackling noises elicited a retching from Carmen on the other side of the room, and I would have followed suit could I have made a sound at the time. The hair on my head disappeared almost instantly, but was replaced promptly with the blue and white hair that I remembered. As the last parts of the changes worked themselves out, things like my palms hardening into leather and nose melting into shape, I stood up and looked at the other spells on the sheet, head easily reaching the surface of the table.
“Okay! You’re half way there Nicholas. Just need to cast the next one!” Immanuel assured me.
Easy for him to say, I thought as I focused, realizing the changes were starting already. Hastily, the changes reverted themselves, and slowly I rose to my own two feet. Much to my relief, human feet this time, though removing my shoes hadn't been a priority. "It works." I said through my mostly morphed face. "It works!" Carmen and Marco had both stood up and were walking over, looking nervous and ecstatic, respectively. Marco reached over and grabbed my hand, and we gave shared an intense single-armed bro-hug.
“Glad you solved the problem,” He whispered.
“Me too, man. Me too.” I replied, laughing a little. Carmen forced herself between the two of us, a little hug-hijack. My thoughts of keeping the spell alive dwindled a little.
“Nick!” She cried out. “You did it!” She stretched upwards, and I bent downwards a bit to kiss her.
After a few seconds, Immanuel cleared his throat, “Nicholas, as much as I appreciate your enjoyment of your success, I should probably remind you that maintaining the transformation requires constant concentration, and you are currently growing a tail and pointed ears, among other things, not the least of which is muzzle, which will make your current action a significant bit more difficult.” He said towards me. I wasn’t listening, though, and continued our embrace for a long while, only stopping when Carmen started to pull back a little.
“What?” I asked her, curious. She clearly was realizing something about my appearance, although she was smiling this time. I looked beside us, and realized that Immanuel and Marco were sharing “Should I tell him?” looks.
“You did hear Immanuel, right?” Marco asked, grinning.
“No.” I noticed some slight discomfort all around. “Oh.” Sure enough, my concentration was well passed slipping, going as far as disintegrating. I refocused, and felt my hair recede and extend, my face reform, and all other manners of transformation. “Okay.”
“That’s better.” She said, and reached back in.
"Nicholas, before I go to bed, I need to run over a few things with you." Immanuel said as I walked back to my room.
"Oh, sure. What's up?" I stopped and turned around.
"You read the part in the manual about transformations?"
"Yeah, I skimmed it. Why?"
"You know that you are using a continual transformation, right?"
"Yeah." I said, not knowing why he was grilling me.
"You know that means you'll need to recast it every morning?"
"Yeah." I replied, probably coming off a little sarcastically.
"Okay. Just checking." He said. "Tomorrow, if you guys don't have anything else planned, I should show you how to write runes on a computer. It's a hell of a lot easier." He said, clearly implying that it was something that must happen.
"Sure. Marco? What's up for tomorrow?"
"I was thinking just pissing around, but yeah, that's seems important. When do you have to leave, Immanuel?"
"As soon as you're all comfortable with the situation." He stated. He looked over his shoulder, surveying the room. "Of course, judging from Carmen's reaction, that might be a while."
"She's not doing too badly," Marco stated. "I'm still in shock, and Nick, well, I don't know. How are you holding up?"
"Uh, I am uncomfortably well. It's like I don't see anything wrong with the situation, save for turning back. When I'm human, everything feels... bland. I'd never noticed just how hard walking on two feet was, how bad my hearing was, how crappy cooked meat tasted, until this week," I sighed, throwing my hands up in exasperation, "It's as if being human is the weird transformation now, not being a dog."
"Oh, yeah, that can happen." Immanuel stated. Marco and I both turned to look at him, curious. "You see, your mind is completely separate from your soul, as is your body. It's all very weird, but you need to remember that you are a Raiju now, not a human. You're body is human, but you aren't. You may still think like a human, but, oh, you get the point."
"Right then," I said with a nod, "So, it's just that I'm expecting everything to feel weird, but it's not."
"Something like that, yes," He agreed.
"Magic is too damn confusing," Marco said with a shake of his head and a laugh, "But this programming magic thing sounds cool. I could probably give that a shot."
"Actually Marco, you could easily cast simple spells through practice. I can give you a small storage device that I'm not using, and you could have Nicholas recharge it every so often."
"Wait. I could do magic?" Marco exclaimed with unmistakable enthusiasm.
"Yes. Anyone can." He confirmed with a smile. "Actually, I think I brought a spare charge device." He walked over to his bag and started rooting around, looking for something. "Here it is!" He pulled out a small object, almost identical to the one he had shown earlier, but painted blue. "Here you go, yours to keep."
"Really? Thanks." Marco took it from him, holding it daintily. He spun it over in his hands, looking over the blue and clear object. "This is pretty solid looking. What's it made of?" He asked, genuinely curious, and seemingly unaware of how stupid that question was.
"Both sides are made of dyed anodized aluminum, and the separator is made from polycarbonate, I believe. If I recall correctly, there is a rune on a hidden edge of the plastic that makes it glow when in use."
"That's cool." Marco remarked, before finding another question, "Why?"
"You said it yourself; It's cool." He replied with a shrug. "Regardless, it's yours to keep. Try not to break it, they're expensive to make, although it'd be a challenge to damage."
"You've tried?" I asked, looking at the cool object that Marco was holding.
"Something like that. I have RuneMaker on a flash drive here, so you guys can figure that out if you would like." He tossed the small black object over to me, which I caught quickly. Marco and I both looked at and revelled in the power that we knew I had just been trusted with. "Please do try not to injure yourselves. I'll give you a tutorial tomorrow, but for now, I am going to sleep in one of the guest rooms."
"Go right ahead." Marco called over his shoulder as he walked into his cottage-office. I followed behind him, giddy with excitement. Without hesitation, he slipped the flash drive into his computer and booted the machine. I watched as a wall of white-on-black text flashed past, and before I could make a sarcastic comment, he was opening the software on the flash drive. "This makes sense..." He mumbled as he flicked through menus at a record-setting pace. I was thoroughly confused as I watched him work his own personal form of magic.
"How can you understand anything while doing that?" The movement on screen paused, and he turned to look at me.
"Easily." He turned back to the monitor, and the motions resumed for another twenty seconds. "Okay, I think I've got this. Let's just go hit new, and... We're good to go." He announced. I walked over from where I had been leaning against the far wall, book in hand. "What should we do first?" He asked.
"I don't know. Another transformation thing?" I suggested, more comfortable with that concept than many of the other things. Marco gave me a sideways glare. "I mean, we're less likely to hurt ourselves that way than if we were to, say, create a magical flamethrower, which is really the only other thing that occurs to me."
"Sounds good. What should we use as the target form?" He asked.
"Well, uh, I'm pretty sure we need a reference point for that, so unless you want to go kidnap a squirrel or something, the answer is pretty obvious."
"You want me to try and turn myself into a Raiju, using you as a reference?" He asked with a hint of trepidation.
"Yeah, that's more or less what I had in mind. You have a better idea?"
"That sounds completely badass. I'm in." He said, turning back to the screen. "How do we go about that?"
"Well, I have this piece of a rune that lets us get the location of your gaze. You could use that with one..." I flipped through the book, looking for the glyph I had in mind, "here, to get the being you're looking at, and then get the reference to their form."
"Right. Okay. Let's see if I can do this." He murmured, bearing down at the computer. I sat down in the couch on the other side of the room, and just kept flipping through the book, looking at various glyphs and examples. Thankfully, none of them had the activators in front, making the likelihood of me setting the object I was thinking of on fire markedly lower.
"Right, okay, wanna check this for me?" Marco asked. I walked over and looked at what I expected to be glyphs. It was actually a wall of computer code.
"Uh... I'm not sure I can. Can you print it into glyphs?" I asked, ashamed of my inability to check his work.
"Yeah, sure." He hit a few buttons, and stopped. "What does 'enable type inference' mean in this context?"
"No idea" I assured, and a number of second later, the printer on the desk spat out a single sheet of paper with the black and white glyphs on it, accompanied by notes. I kept my thumb over the activator, and looked it over. "Okay. I see how you did this. So you have the start, then you find the result through the gaze, and then you take that and the reference passed from your activator and loop over the transform glyph."
"I think so. Everything looks right?" He asked, sounding optimistic.
"Yeah. Wanna try it out?" I asked, equally eager.
"Sure! Lemme just grab the energy store." He said, darting off into the other room. He was back in record time. "Okay. Let's try this." He looked down at the sheet of paper, and then looked up at me, drawing in a breath. "Let's do it."
"What are you guys doing?" Carmen shouted from the other room. Marco's eyes flickered for a second, before he took on a look of, well, sheer terror might be a good description. "Guys? What are- oh my god. Guys?! Help!" Marco darted out of the office, and I looked down at the energy store on the desk. Sure enough, it was glowing in the centre. Upon realizing what this meant, I, too, sprinted out into the living room, where Carmen was on the ground, crying into her not-very hand-like hands. As seemed to be the nature of these changes, things progressed quickly. Her pants bulged out from her rear as a white tail grew in place, finding its way above her waistline.
She caught herself on her forepaws as she realized she could no longer sit properly with her legs crossed, and her face quickly crept forwards, quickly becoming swaddled in blue and white hairs. She heard me enter the room, probably not a challenge with her new ears, and she managed to get out one last growling word before her throat stopped doing pronouncing properly, "You..."
"Carmen!" Marco said in a loud whisper. "I'm so sorry!" He said, sniffling and almost crying. I was standing there, getting my first good look at what a Raiju was, and she was glaring back at me, growling.
I was about to say something in my defence, when I noticed the sparks of electricity flying off of her, igniting her clothing in a bright flash.
"Oh no," I muttered as I stepped backwards.