Humanity is often a reflection on nature. Now nature is reflecting humanity. In Beasts Are Us, the beasts now have voices we can understand. They also have learned our values, but can they fit in? It's not easy being human. It's even tougher when you're a beast with built-in limitations or a hybrid without a real niche in the world other than the one humans created.
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Atk. Butterfly has worked as a Computer Programmer/Systems Analyst, most often as a contractor, for the past eighteen years. Before that, he served in the US Army, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant and gaining combat experience as well.
An avid science fiction reader, he has written a number of science fiction stories. Some have been published in Antipodean SF, Aphelion, Dragon Dreaming, Dream Forge, Electronic Writers Group Presents, Eternity Magazine, Gearheads, Jackhammer, Keen Science Fiction!, The Little Read Writer's Hood, The Orphic Chronicle, McCann's Planet, Nuketown, Papyrus, The Sixth Sense Anthology, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, SpaceWays Weekly, and more than a dozen other print and electronic publication. He also wrote a few technical computer articles and other non-fiction articles that were published.
His other science fiction novels include RUST BUCKET (Boson Books), ATTACK BUTTERFLY (Boson), and WASHOUT (HyperBooks)
"Atk. Butterfly uses an out of the ordinary writing style. Each chapter is similar to a short story. With the ever- approaching reality of genetic manipulation, Beasts Are Us will make you think. It will make you wonder where genetics should begin and end. Butterfly has produced a thought provoking and insightful novel well worth reading."Shari Brennan -- Sime-Gen Reviews
"One of the fascinating things about ATK Butterfly's writing, besides being consistently entertaining, is that he injects thought provoking ideas into his storylines and creates a desire to better understand what he is trying to tell us, the readers. Beasts Are Us is a fast and enjoyable read that will please even the most jaded reader. This is another winner for ATK Butterfly and I can't wait to see more."Barry Hunter -- Baryon Magazine
"Senator, our latest product. Actually, these are just one kind in an entire product line we envision."
Senator Riley stared in awe through the one-way glass at the sight of fifty, luscious, winged women, each clad only in the merest of togas, seated in a classroom. "My god, man! When the rest of the country hears about this, we'll have riots. You can't own people!"
"Senator, despite their appearance, they're not people. They're birds. We created them using genetically enhanced bird DNA to obtain the features we wanted," Jules Metier said softly.
"Birds? Regardless, there's going to be trouble. They look too much like people."
"Which is exactly why we've asked you to intervene in Congress and get a new bill passed guaranteeing our rights as their creator."
"What's wrong with the existing law?"
"Senator, existing law simply doesn't cover what we foresee eventually taking place. It wasn't written with what we're now capable of creating."
"You might be right about that. Still, I would have sworn that those were women with wings and not birds that look like women."
"It goes far beyond that, Senator. We've achieved intelligent speech in our latest creations. We're no longer restricted to creating cute fuzzy creatures that combine traits from several animals."
"You've achieved a breakthrough?"
"Of a sort, yes. One of our researchers happened upon a genetic solution for speech paralysis in some human cases. During our testing, we discovered that we could give human speech abilities to a number of animals by direct DNA manipulation. At the same time, another researcher came up with the DNA schematic for creating angels out of doves."
"You call them angels?"
"Why not? After all, they look like angels."
"Fitting, I guess, but that complicates matters considerably. You're going to be looked upon badly by animal rights people if you ever mistreat them. This could result in an even more serious religious backlash, too."
"I think you can see for yourself that we're not mistreating them. Right now, they're receiving an education entirely at company expense."
"That's what they're doing in there? They're intelligent? What are you teaching them? Angels 101?"
"How to be receptionists. In fact, we plan on staffing each of our offices with at least two of them. They'll meet new customers and...."
"I hope we're not getting into something bad. Already, I get the feeling that there's a lot of unstable legal ground beneath our feet."
"No, Senator. I swear that they're not going to be involved in anything illegal or immoral. They'll simply greet the customers in a public environment, obtain initial interview information, and set up appointments with sales agents. That and they'll also let the customers discover that there's nothing to be afraid of in owning a product from Beasts Are Us. When they're not on duty, they'll be housed in exclusive on-site company apartments where absolutely no one will bother them."
* * *
SENATOR RILEY slept poorly on his flight back to Washington. What few sleeping moments he managed were punctuated with images of chained angels and a volatile public demanding an end to their slavery. As well, he couldn't forget the few moments he was permitted to speak with the angels in their class. Birds or not, they had impressed him with their overall behavior, attitude, and intelligence. So much so, he'd easily forgotten that they were birds instead of women. Much as he wanted to have Beasts Are Us contributing heavily to his Presidential aspirations, he knew with a certainty that those were sunk if he supported a bill such as Beasts Are Us wanted passed. On the other hand, he still saw a way to make use of the knowledge Beasts Are Us had given him about the angels. After all, the company's upcoming public product announcement was on hold until he could introduce a bill on their behalf.
* * *
"SENATOR, THE bill you submitted isn't at all what we asked for," Jules stated firmly over the phone.
"It's what you're going to get in all likelihood. I can't give you what you wanted. There's just no way possible to hold corporate interests above those of individuals under these circumstances."
"This is grossly unfair. We're the ones who stand to lose substantially if any of our creations suddenly demand the citizenship rights that your bill will give them. You're not even spreading the cost around."
"Jules, you're over-reacting. The bill does, too, spread the cost around."
"Not if they demand recognition as a sentient being while still in our care before final payment is made. We'll lose our entire investment in anything new if that happens. You're killing our product before we can even get it to market."
"It's the same kind of risk you take concerning their survival before delivery. The only difference here is that you don't have to dispose of their bodies in a safe, approved manner."
"Will you make that something that the insurance companies have to cover?"
"We'll discuss that here in Washington. I'm sure the insurance industry will want to comment before we react on this. After all, your creations aren't exactly cheap."
"Similarly, we'll have to discuss continued company support for your political ambitions."
"You'll do what you feel is necessary just as I am at present. By the way, don't destroy the angels as a way of defusing this. This bill is going through with or without them."
"You care about them?"
"Actually, I'm just trying to help you save some money. You've got a lot invested in them already. They might not even ask for their rights after this bill becomes law. If that turns out to be the case, they'll still be your company's property."
"You're already certain that your bill is going to pass!" Jules exclaimed.
"Sometimes the different parties know instinctively when to cooperate. Neither of our parties wants to be known as a pro-slavery party."
"That sounds like you blackmailed the other party into supporting you."
"To you, maybe, but not to them. They really didn't need any hardball convincing when I proposed that rights be extended to any sentient being desiring recognition. I didn't even have to discuss this with them behind the scenes. In fact, the discussion televised from our chamber was all it took. They came to their senses on their own in deciding to support my bill when I submitted it."
"Sounds like you'll go down in history as the modern Lincoln whether you make President or not."
"Yes, I've heard that phrase bandied about already. It might even be worth more in an election than all the campaign contributions I've collected so far."
"You're a bastard, Senator Riley."
"Perhaps so, but this bastard is saving your hides from being called the same thing and worse later on. This bill might even keep people from running you out of business when the first genetic disaster takes place."
* * *
"MOMMY!" THE little girl screamed as she ran in terror from the experimental dog that burst out of its cage unexpectedly.
"Oh god, no! Get the rifle!" a researcher shouted.
Amid breaking glass, the lab door suddenly broke through as the mutated dog hit it when the dog tried to pounce on the girl. She shielded her face just in time from the cascading glass as she was knocked through the door.
Gabrielle looked up from her desk at hearing the breaking sound. Instantly, she was concerned with what might be happening. She had been taught as part of her duties to react as quickly as possible to any emergencies that might occur. Now those reactions were being assisted by her super-quick instincts and reflexes. Recognizing that the sound came from the hallway behind her, she turned her head to glance over her right wing.
Almost instantly, Gabrielle leaped from her seat and extended her wings so that her body cleared the desk and chair and turned in the same instant to face the door. Two powerful strokes from her wings gave her the speed to reach the door even as the child in the hall was being jumped upon by a fearsome looking dog. Gabrielle shoved open the door, reached down, and grabbed the child from beneath the attacking dog. Despite receiving a painful gash in her arm, Gabrielle pulled the child away and lifted her up. Even as the dog changed its attack to challenge Gabrielle, Gabrielle was already using her wings once more to lift herself well above the dog so that it couldn't reach the child in her bloodied arms. The dog managed to leap once without success before a rifle shot dropped it onto the hallway floor.
"I've got Cindy here, safe and sound," Gabrielle said as she descended the few feet to the floor.
"Thank you. Thank you. Are you all right, Cindy? Where are you hurt?"