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The cheetah is hungry.

The cheetah is always hungry.

The cheetah can remember not-hungry… but that was long-long-ago, and it hurts to remember long-long-ago, so the cheetah doesn't do that.

The cheetah is hungry.

Jay Xavier. Jubatus. The two names were interchangeable by now; he answered to either one, no matter what garments he happened to be wearing at the time. A lot had changed since that long-past morning when he awoke to discover that he'd unwittingly traded up from his human body, and in his opinion, the most significant change was that he was at peace with himself and his once-alien body. That change had taken no small amount of time to accomplish, but Jay had all the time in the world -- and not just because he was a speedster. His high-speed metabolism operated six times faster than normal; considering the lifespan of natural-born cheetahs, he ought to have died of old age well before the third anniversary of his new life. But when that anniversary came and went, what actually did happen was… nothing at all.

In the strict technical sense, Jay wasn't immune to aging -- it's just that his turbochanged metabolism repaired all damage and injuries, including those associated with the passage of time, almost before they happened. True immortality it might not be, but Jay figured it'd do until the real thing came along.

In the meantime, he had a permanent ticket to see the future: All he had to do was wait for it to happen!

And he'd seen so very much of that future as it became the present, then receded into the past. Not bad for a California boy who'd celebrated his first birthday before Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Jay's memories of that event were kind of fuzzy, but he clearly remembered Sputnik, Gagarin, and Apollo 11. He remembered the massive headlines which greeted the final victory over smallpox, and then the smaller ones announcing the extinction of rinderpest. The first Clarke space elevator… the first wholly synthetic life-form… the first target-specific antimatter… the first economically viable powersats… the first child born in orbit… the first practical negative-refraction 'invisibility cloak'…

It hadn't all been nice, of course. For every advance in medical gene-splicing, there were some well-educated morons who insisted on twisting that advance for evil ends; for each novel application of metallurgical science, an imbecile who built an armored suit of the new alloy so they could ruin somebody else's day. No, it definitely hadn't been all nice. But the statistical trend was clear, to any eyes that assembled and collated the necessary data: The idiots were losing. As the years went by, the percentage of the populace that took up that kind of anti-social hobby grew smaller and smaller yet. The idiots were losing! And assuming the current trend continued, Jay estimated that the final victory over vicious idiocy would occur sometime between 75 and 120 years from now.

Life was good.

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