Three years later, no longer “persons” under law in the United States, the nearest definition that fit Feran Wolfpaw and his fellow human/animal hybrid Recombinants was “vermin.” Purebred humans who beheld Recombinants with disdain wasted no time in treating them as such, and there was little that the animal hybrids could do to stop them legally. The only humans who came to Recombinant aid were the Christians, thanks to Cardinal Booke’s Theology of Transhumans, but Christians weren’t much better off than Recombinants and could do little more than offer a hot meal and a pillow. So, Feran left the USA in a boat he stole and sank it just off the shore of Gun Cay, Bahamas. From there he managed to beg a lift to Bimini. Bahamians didn’t seem to mind Recombinants in their midst, and he found odd jobs enough to get by. He didn’t need much. Like most Recombinants, after the Court ruling forced him into a kind of socio-economic exile, he discovered his animal genes made wilderness survival almost natural. Even foraging the urban jungle was simple. Maybe the purebred humans had something to fear after all.
Only the wealthy tourists gave him a hard time, but he played dumb and they’d sometimes be sympathetic enough for the “poor senseless brute” to hire him as porter. He had left his pride along with his fight on the Supreme Court steps and had developed a shtick that put even the supercilious snobs in a good tipping mood.
He kept a kayak hidden away on the South Bimini coast and spent most clear nights out under the stars on the uninhabited cays. Locals new his habit, and so when the Recombinant Resettlement Treaty was signed, the Resettlement Authority had no trouble locating him when he failed to report to a Resettlement Facility. Feran Wolfpaw, Recombinant-at-large, had turned his back on the world and simply didn’t know he was supposed to.
Feran kept a bottle of Jim Beam buried on every cay he frequented. The afternoon Recombinant Control, under orders from the Authority, found him, he had dug up the half-full bottle of Beam on the tiny island where he landed his kayak and lay back on a straw mat on the sand watching the sky. The sound of a helicopter thrummed from across the bigger islands, and Feran watched, his ears laying back low with his growing consternation, as it loomed out of the west and began flying a search pattern over the cays. His instinct for trouble was going off again. The copter buzzed steadily closer, zigzagging over the islands. Feran became increasingly uncomfortable the closer it got. He stood and shook the sand out of his fur and then went down to the water and pulled his bright yellow kayak off the beach to the line of low vegetation that marked the edge of the shore. He hid the kayak as best he could in a hurry, but wasn’t convinced it was invisible from the air. The copter was getting close, though, and he still had to hide himself. For all he knew they’d already seen him. He grabbed his mat and his bottle out of the sand, rushed up the beach, and practically dove into the hibiscus, Mangrove, Pigeon Berry, and Hopwood, covering himself with the mat where the foliage was scarce.
The helicopter altered its course, veering from its zigzag search pattern into a straight line toward him.
“Dang,” he cursed.
The copter thrummed low and slow over the island, turned, and then hovered directly above. The island was less than a mile across, so the chopper’s occupants, equipped with decent binoculars, wouldn’t even have to move to take it all in.
After about a minute that seemed like an hour, the chopper slowly maneuvered toward the middle of the island and set down in a clear flat space of solid ground and Feran, flat on his belly in the sea oats, lost sight of it. That it was still there was unquestionable — the blades pounding the air continued to throb in his ears, and the scent of exhaust wafted on the air.
Even over the roar of the helicopter Feran heard the men approaching before he saw them. Flight was impossible, and he was sure to lose a fight, so he stood slowly, paws high above his head, facing the direction of the interlopers’ clumsy, crashing approach.
Three armed men in characteristic black and yellow Recombinant Control uniforms pointed three semi-automatic, high-power rifles at him. They immediately took up assault stances and the air rippled with the tension of the seriously determined aggression in their body language. To Feran, unarmed, tail relaxed, paws up, in brown shorts, a green Hawaiian shirt casually open all the way down his furry torso, and his tattered straw hat, the situation was suddenly immensely humerous.
“Put your hands behind your head, furbag!” the nearest officer shouted above the roar of the copter.
“My what?” Feran shouted back.
“Put your hands behind your head!” the officer repeated.
“That’s what I thought you said!” Feran replied. “But I can’t!”
“Just do it!”
“I can’t! I don’t have hands!” Feran grinned. The officer seemed confused for a moment.
“Turn around and get down on your knees! Keep your hands … uh, arms … ah, legs — Just get on your knees!”
Feran turned slowly, his grin spreading across his muzzle, and tried to keep from laughing. He lowered himself to his knees carefully. He knew the drill. A decade of protest demonstration arrests had taught him the routine well.
The officers approached and one roughly forced his arms down and behind him.
“Easy,” Feran said, irritated. “I won’t fight!”
A second officer wrapped a steel collar around his neck and attached a pole to the hasp. The first officer cuffed his wrists. “Stand up!” he said. Feran stood. The officer frisked him and clumsily removed a flask from his front pocket. Feran glanced at the officer’s inquiring expression.
“Gin,” Feran said. “You’re welcome to a hit.”
“I’m on duty,” the officer said with a tone of disgust.
“Then could I please keep it? It’s my traveling buddy.”
“No. Get moving.”
The officer with the pole steered Feran around toward the helicopter.
“Paws,” Feran said as they made their way to the chopper.
“What?” the first officer asked.
“Paws. I have paws. When you arrest Recombinants, ask them to put their paws behind their heads. We don’t have hands.”
The officer motioned for them all to stop and rammed the butt of his rifle into Feran’s gut. Feran doubled over, but the officer holding the pole attached to his collar yanked back and set him choking as the dull, sickening pain of the rifle thrust spread through his abdomen and into his spine. He coughed.
The officer sneered. “Today they’re hands.”
END PART 2