Encounter Unlimited.2: The Home
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Five minutes after beginning his walk down the snow covered Kessler Avenue, Dick Kikansky stopped in his tracks. He happened across the smashed husk of metal and plastic, painted a common gray. Or rather, ‘silver.’ The license plate had fallen off of it, reading ‘P66 TR8.’ He nodded as he read these numbers and looked at the pile of wood, brick, and plaster right next to it. This was what remained of the car he bought his wife a decade ago, and this was what remained of the home he bought two decades ago. Back when he thought it was a good idea to start a family…

The stone stairs leading up to the front door had been decimated, and the elevated ground floor had fallen into the basement. Despite this utter collapse, Kikansky still walked through the rubble, and still recognized what he was seeing. He could see an indentation of the living room. The shredded remains of the couch he spent many an afternoon lounging on. And even the photos he hung from the wall, the frames destroyed and images ruined.

The fridge’s door was torn off its handle, causing the contents to fall out. Fruits, vegetables, and repackaged home-cooked meals. All were still good and edible, kept fresh by the crisp negative four degree Celsius weather, but Kikansky didn’t have any appetite. What remained of the kitchen was covered in a thin layer of ice, forcing Kikansky to proceed with caution, before heading to his bedroom.

His dresser had been destroyed, the clothes shredded, and his side of the mattress had been ripped apart, but he found something that was still in one piece, hidden beneath the bed. An ammo box he brought home with him long ago, and filled with mementos. Medals, tchotchkes from around the world, a few documents he probably shouldn’t have brought home with him, and most valuable of all, a photo of him and his family.

The digital camera watermarked the date as being 09/13/2001. It was of Dick Kikansky, his wife Susan, and his son Yuccot, all 13 years younger. 

Kikansky’s face, slightly withered as he entered his thirties, was covered in a thick blonde beard. His skin was tanned from the hot summer that was nearing its end. And he wore a genuine smile as he cast his arms over his wife and child.

Susan had cut her blonde hair short for the summer, and stared at the camera with her vibrant blue eyes. With her skin looking so pale and her summer dress hanging off of her willowy frame, she almost looked ill. But despite her appearances, Kikansky knew she was beaming with life on that day.

Lastly, there was Yuccot, age 5. His face pudgy, dirty blonde hair shaggy, body dressed in clothes for him to grow into, a grass-stained soccer ball between his hands. He was a child brimming with life and optimism. A child unidentifiable from the man he grew into.

To Kikansky, the photo was a reminder of what was. A reminder of what could have been.

Kikansky looked beyond this photograph and back at what remained of his home. It was over. His family was gone. And the only thing he had to show for it was everything in this metal box. 

He stared at the photo in his hands yet again… and ripped it to pieces. The fragments were carried away by the wind, to be lost in the incalculable debris that this town had been reduced to. As these bits of photo left his vision, Kikansky looked down and kicked the ammo box. The metal canister flew three meters before landing, spraying Kikansky’s mementos across the snow covered lawn..

“It’s GONE! It’s all fucking GONE! Everything that I worked for, everything that I built, she destroyed it in two fucking weeks! My entire life— the life you REFUSED to end, time and time again— you destroyed it… but I still breathe. You took everything from me… except my life. Is this some twisted joke to you? I know you have some sick fascination with me, with my suffering, but… what more can you take from me? What do you want?!”

As Kikansky caught his breath, he heard a quiet voice muttering to him from behind.

“Richard, is that you?”

Kikansky froze as he heard that voice. He turned around slowly, as if he expected something to jump out at him. Instead, he saw someone he never expected to see again. A woman dressed in a gray duffle coat, cobalt sweater, cozy wool hat, jeans, and winter boots, all too big for her dainty frame. The clothes obscured her identity for a moment, but as she cast the blonde hair out of her face, Kikansky immediately recognized her. Her fair, almost veiny, skin, her bright blue eyes, and the tiny features of her face.

“Susan?” Kikansky asked, his body rigid.

“Yes, Richard… It’s me.”

Kikansky sprinted across the ruins of his home to his wife, and wrapped her in his arms. As they drew closer, resting their heads on each other’s shoulders, Kikansky’s rough exterior shattered, with tears trickling down his coarse skin.

“H-How? How did you survive?” Kikansky questioned, his voice warped by tears.

“I don’t know. When I woke up, it was dark. I… couldn’t feel my legs… or my arms. I cried out, begging for help and then… I don’t know what happened. I found myself in a house a few blocks away, bundled in blankets, dressed like this. I think someone found me and saved me, but who—”

“—We need to leave. NOW!”

“What? But Richard, this is our home, shouldn’t we at least grab a few—”

“Everything here can be replaced. Except for you! Trust me on this, it is not safe here. The north perimeter is the closest. Follow me!”

Kikansky then grabbed his wife by her gloved hand, dragging her behind him as he ran forward. Susan tried her best to keep up with her husband, but even with him helping to pull her weight forward, the pair barely got past a kilometer before Susan was winded. She begged her husband to slow down, and he complied, adopting a brisk walk instead of a dash.

“Sorry about that,” Kikansky said. “I forgot you don’t do things like this every day.”

“Y-You were just trying to… h-help me. It… it’s okay. I understand.”

As Susan struggled to regain her breath, Kikansky panned his head 360 degrees, searching for any sign of Abigale Quinlan. There was cover all around them, but it did not seem like she was pursuing them. 

As much as Kikansky struggled to believe it, part of him thought this ‘something special’ might have been his wife. Being the sole survivor of a disaster like this was more than ‘special,’ and while it seemed out of character for Abigale, he had long since accepted his inability to understand her.

“…Why are you here?” Susan asked, tugging on her husband’s uniform.

“Command sent me in. I… volunteered to help. Oransen was my home after all.”

“Then why are you alone? Wouldn’t they have sent you in with a bunch of other people?”

“I lost contact with them.”

“You lost contact with them… and let me guess, you lost your communicator too?”

“…Yeah,” Kikansky said, a soft growl escaping his lips.


As Susan exploded, bashing her feet against the snow, Kikansky clenched his teeth, bracing himself for what was coming next.

“All you ever do is lie to me, and I’m sick of it! Our home is gone! Our son is dead! The place we called home our entire lives is destroyed! And you still keep on lying to me!”

“Susan, you may be my wife, but—”

“It’s confidential? And whose fault is that? Who keeps on taking on more and more confidential missions? Richard, I am sick of this! Sick of you doing this to me! I am sick of you not being there when I need you. Sick of needing to run the household while you spend most of the year in god-knows-where! I begged you to get a normal job. To take care of your family. Instead, I only saw you three months a year. And when you were home… you didn’t want to do anything. Anything but lay back, sleep, and… screw me whenever you wanted!”

“Susan, please, we—”

“And then there’s our son! I did everything I could think of for Yuccot. I did whatever he wanted to do, gave him whatever he wanted, and tried to be his friend. I wanted nothing but the best for Yuccot, but I just couldn’t get him to open up to me. And now… and now he’s gone! He’s gone, and I will never get to see him again.”

As Susan’s rant turned into hysterics, with tears flowing down her face, her sorrow morphed into rage. She grabbed Kikansky by his collar, looking up at him with as much fury as her soft face could muster.

“And you… you had the audacity to say it was good that he died? That ‘he was never going to amount to anything?’ He was your son! You were supposed to raise him! Supposed to love him! And all you did was call him a ‘failure.’ Call him ‘retarded.’ Call him a ‘fat sack of shit!’ His dad never loved him, so no wonder he turned out this way! No wonder he never let his mom help him! As a father, you have a responsibility to love your son… and you didn’t. You didn’t follow ‘the call of duty.’ You didn’t act like a father… or a husband.”

Susan let go of Kikansky, his face had hardened into a scowl and his muscles tense. Despite this attempted intimidation, Susan did not relent.

“I need you to promise that you will be there for me. After this, we will be together. I don’t want to spend another month alone, unable to call you outside of a single hour a week. I want you to be my husband… and only then, will you deserve to have me as your wife.”

A silence developed between these two after Susan gave Kikansky an ultimatum. He was always a hard man to figure out from facial expressions alone, and after ten seconds passed, he gave Susan his answer. …In the form of a fist to her face.

KNOW YOUR FUCKING PLACE! You know nothing about what I do! You haven’t the faintest idea what really goes on, the shit I need to deal with, and the threats that I need to prevent. This is not about you, this is about me! I am out there saving the world, and you can’t even raise a fucking child, you failure of a woman! If I were to die, this country would lose one of its most valuable men! If you were to have died— like everyone else in Oransen— nobody would have cared! Because you are a nobody! Someone who, without me, without her looks, would have nothing!”

Once his rant ended, Susan began to cackle. She laughed as she locked eyes with Kikansky, who maintained a stoic expression, confused but unwilling to show any weakness.

“Thank you Richard,” Susan said in a droning monotone. “Thank you for showing me the truth. Showing me what kind of man you truly are. What kind of man I married. I am so thankful that… I think you deserve a reward.”

Susan took her hands to her jacket and thrust it off, letting it fall to the debris-filled street below. Her coat was followed by her sweater, her jeans, and her boots. Every article of clothing until she was completely naked. Her long blonde hair trapped over her shoulders like a pair of curtains. Her small breasts hung limply on her frame. And her body was so skinny that it was a wonder she even managed to run a kilometer.

“Do you like what you see Richard? You always liked my body. And I tried so hard to keep it as you liked it. It’s hard for a girl to look like this when she’s in her forties, but I knew that if I failed in my wifely duties, I’d wind up hurting myself again.”

She then began pointing out discolorations across her veiny skin. Brownish and purplish marks that served as remnants of injuries from months or years ago. Injuries that should have healed… but never did.

“You see these? This is when I fell into the doorknob. This is when I fell down the stairs. And this is when I tripped on the hose. I bruise easily because of my complexion… and I have always been such a klutz that it’s shameful. That I ruined my skin… and made it all disgusting. It just makes me want to…”

Susan brought a hand to her left eye and began to tug at the skin of her eyebrows. She tugged at it with as much might as her bony arms could muster, pulling back her eyelids and exposing a new layer of veins. She tugged harder and harder until… there was a snap. Until her skin tore apart. 

“Susan! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!”

As Kikansky shouted at her, Susan brought her right hand to her face, and began tearing at her skin along both sides, making the bloody seam even larger. As it reached past her nose, she began to let out a maniacal howl. Loud and hoarse enough to decimate her throat. 

Kikansky looked at this sight with a mixture of horror and confusion. He knew he could stop her. He was strong enough to incapacitate and carry a woman as frail as Susan. But with her in such a state, did he even want to? If she was trying to do this, trying to kill herself, ruining her face, did he even want to save her?


Kikansky threw aside his M16 when his men were killed by Abigale Quinlan, but in his pocket, he still had his knife. A utility knife, not meant for killing. But in a pinch… it would do.

Kikansky brandished this knife and stuck it into his wife’s throat, slashing it open before she could tear it apart with her hands. Her frantic hand movements stopped. Her arms fell to her sides. And as she looked at Kikansky, her vision obscured by the folds of skin dangling from her face, she snapped her fingers.

Kikansky’s right hand exploded a few milliseconds later. The dozens of bones inside were shredded into dozens of pieces. His fingers scattered onto the ground. And his knife flew several meters, landing well out of range.

In the place of his hand, he had a bloody, burnt stump. As he saw it, he screamed. He fell. He scampered away before colliding with a fallen tree. There, he looked on at Susan as she walked toward him. And with every step, Kikansky noticed something different about her. With every step, her body transformed.

With every step, her frail and willowy body grew taller and larger. Her bones grew thicker and stronger, and her flesh ballooned into a dense layer of muscles. She no longer looked like a woman who could be swept by a particularly powerful gust of wind. She looked like a woman who could whoop the ass of most men who got on her bad side. 

With every step, her light complexion grew darker. Going from a sickly apex of whiteness to something richly tan, and then darker still. Her hair underwent a similar change in pigmentation, going from a nearly platinum-hued blonde to something unmistakably black.

With every step, her face began to reshape itself. It began with the skin mending itself together, like a mass of clay, before a set of invisible hands shaped it anew. Her features sharpened. Her dainty nose expanded. And when she shut her glacier blue eyes… they became a vibrant crimson.

With every step, Susan Kikansky became more and more like… Abigale Quinlan.

Kikansky’s shock of losing his hand had been usurped by the sight of the unreal. He struggled to find words to articulate his lack of understanding, and before his mumbling could manifest a polysyllabic word, the crimson-eyed woman was standing above Kikansky.

“Y-You, but, I— I saw that— She acted just like— you could never do— w-w-wh-what does—”

The woman slapped Kikansky as he continued his insistent stammering.

Oh Richie, get over it! Your wife is dead just like everyone else in Oransen, and the woman you thought was your wife was me. Abigale Quinlan. It would hardly even be a surprise if you had the profound ability to put two and two together.”

“…How? How did you… do that?” Kikansky muttered, looking up at Abigale as if she were a divine being.

“It isn’t a power I was hiding from you all these years. It’s one I only gained through the power of will. The power of Critical Adaptation. The wonderful thing about my powers is that if I want something enough, if I crave and desire it so dearly… I get it. My powers are only limited by what I need and desire. And within my body, Jad Novus desired the ability to preserve humans. To incorporate them as part of his body. And to allow them to live on within him. Thanks to his desire, his ironclad conviction and belief, I am now more than just an immortal. More than just a woman who can turn mud into gold and turn a tank into sand. More than someone who can blow up heads with just a snap of my fingers. I am now a… shapeshifter.”

Abigale groaned as she demonstrated her power once more. Her body collapsed, losing a fifth of her impressive two meter stature, her mass shifting toward her body torso while her limbs condensed. Her hair shrank to a mere inch long, and its color brightened into a dirty blonde. Patches of mangy unkempt facial hair pierced her skin, while her pigmentation brightened. Her breasts fattened, the tender tissue becoming flab. Lastly, the clefts of her labia puffed up and expanded, before her clitoris grew to something four inches in length, and coated in skin. Becoming what was unmistakably a penis.

After a matter of seconds, Abigale no longer resembled herself. She was no longer a woman, her skin was now pasty and white once more, and her ample physique was replaced with a 160 centimeter tall frame that weighed approximately 90 kilograms. 

“It amazes me how anybody can live like this,” Abigale said, her voice deep and whiney. “Being Susan was demoralizing enough, but that was merely an absence of features. This… is just disgusting.”

“…You can become anyone… just by thinking about it? Even my son?”

“Heh. Not quite. I had to take a trip to what remained of the morgue to find a sample to partake in. I thought it would be nice to let you see your son one last time… but less than a minute with this body, and I already regret it.”

Abigale then reversed her transformation, returning to her original shape in a scant 10 seconds.

“Oh, and to answer your mangled attempt at a question from earlier, I knew how to impersonate Susan because, unlike you, I actually knew a thing or two about the woman. She was a simple one to figure out, and you already praised the acting capabilities of the great Zhara Faizan. With this skill and my new power, I’d imagine you are more than a little worried..”

Kikansky laughed in response.

Hahahahaha… I’d have to be an idiot to not be worried. …And you said this only happened because Jad was in your body?”


“…And it only happened after I shot him?”


“So, you mean to say, the fact that—”

“All of this could have been prevented by you, Richie. But thanks to your brutal gorilla-esque nature, I am now stronger than ever. More of a threat than ever. Because I can now be anyone. …Including you.”

Abigale then turned around, scanning her eyes to the section of road a few meters away where she blew up Kikansky’s right hand, before she found what she was looking for. His index finger. She carried it gingerly as she approached Kikansky, before plopping it into her mouth like a french fry, swallowing it whole. Her face grimaced as the finger plopped into her stomach, before looking down at Kikansky with her usual smirk.

It was then that the transformation began. When Abigale’s skin lightened, her hair sank into her skull, and her face melted into a malleable mound of flesh forged by invisible hands. Her tall muscular frame only shrank slightly, as Kikansky was always a tall and strong man, but as her transformation neared the end, Kikansky noticed something… off with the results. Her hair, rather than being rendered white, retained a distinct blonde hue. Her face, rather than being coarse and rough, was cushioned with a softness of youth. Abigale transformed herself into Dick Kikansky… but as he was in his youth. As he was in January 1991.

“Not only is the assimilation process exceedingly fast, but it is more than a mere mimicry.,” Abigale said, her voice a clearer rendition of Kikansky’s. “This is a form you once took, and while it may be lost to you, I can take it for myself.”

Abigale reached her hand to the ground, Real Booting the asphalt into a small hand mirror.

“Ah yes. The face of a boy who joined the military in hope of dying in righteous warfare… yet was the only one to survive that oil well incident. The face of the boy who just had to shoot me… and seal his fate as my pet for the next 24 years. …And his cock too. Nine inches looks far bigger from this perspective.”

Kikansky looked up at Abigale with a dopey smile on his face. A look of awe and acceptance. 

I did this. Even if it was not all me… if I had done something different, this wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have unleashed a monster into this world. Heh. I failed. I failed to protect my family. I failed to protect my hometown. I failed to protect my country. And I failed to protect my entire species.”

Kikansky broke out into laughter once more, shouting as loudly as he could before looking at Abigale’s green eyes. The same eyes he wore, but with a glimmer that he lost long, long ago. 

“You won, Quinlan. I will no longer fight you. I have… accepted your power. The power of your body and… the power of your malice. It took you a helluva long time, but… you did it. You beat me. You broke me.”

Abigale looked down at him, a glimmer of disappointment in her eyes.

“What a shame. You were my last pet. …So, now what? Are you going to tattle on me, like a good little soldier boy?”

Kikansky looked at her with glazed eyes and a soft smile.

“No. You know what I want.”

Abigale looked at him with a disapproving gaze before bending down to the asphalt, using it to Real Boot an M9 handgun with a single bullet in its chamber. She threw the gun to Kikansky, where it fell in his lap.

“…Do it yourself.”

“Heh. You are wearing my face, so in a way—”

“Oh, shut up! You said I won, so make like a loser and kill yourself.”

With his only remaining hand, Kikansky grabbed the handgun. His movements were awkward, having done precious little shooting with his off-hand, but he managed to lodge the gun into his mouth where, after taking a final breath, he pulled the trigger.

The bullet flew through his skull… but it missed his brain. Instead, his jaw shattered, sending a torrent of blood through his throat. 

Kikansky panicked, pressing the trigger several times, only to be met with an unsatisfying click. With desperate eyes he looked up at Abigale, who looked down at him with her arms crossed. She knew what he wanted, but she would not lend him a finger, let alone another bullet. 

With the pain from his failed suicide worsening with every passing second, Kikansky tore himself away from the ground, from the tree he rested against, and ran for his bloodstained soot-covered knife. Its blade had dulled in the explosion, but it was enough to penetrate his throat. Enough to cause a second stream of blood to flow from his body. Enough to bring his body to the ground once more, where he looked up… and saw Abigale.

She returned to her true form, and she looked at him with a serene, almost motherly, expression, before placing a hand on his chest.

“Good bye, Richie, you naughty little soldier boy. You were fun while you lasted.”