Friday, June 30, 2017

Book of the Week: KHYBORS: IN THE BEGINNING

            “You will be seeing the latest generation,” he continued as he led the military representatives into the central lab of the family compound.

            The monitor bracelet on Kerin’s wrist buzzed twice, in the simple code used when unwanted visitors showed up without warning and their scientist family had no time to check on the status of the various projects before dealing with them. She tapped the tiny screen on the bracelet twice, pause, twice more, signaling that all was well. The bio-crystal hadn’t produced any new strange outgrowths or let off any new frequencies suspiciously like brainwaves. That was the goal after another ten generations of growing, programming, and tinkering: mimicry of Human brain activity, so crystal would augment the body’s natural healing ability and bridge the gap where there was nerve damage, to give movement and feeling back to the paralyzed, hearing and sight to the deaf and blind.

            She looked upward, in time to see her father step onto the edge of the clearsteel dome over the pit of the growth lab. What were her chances the visitors would content themselves with staying on the observation level today? Dr. Nicorazon’s voice came through the speakers as he rested his hands protectively on the clear shell that provided the growth lab’s outer defenses.

            “The scanners must clear all of us for entrance.” He smiled and gestured at the spectrum camera directly below him. Behind him, the lights dimmed and took on a faint bluish cast. Kerin went back to her work, satisfied that the lab’s defenses hadn’t been overridden by the military, and the sensors were checking for spying mechanisms, bacterial intrusion, and weapons. “The crystal is presently in the fourth stage,” her father continued, the changing location of his voice indicating he was walking around the dome toward the short flight of stairs down to the growth lab, “transferring to the fifth stage of growth and testing. Thus far, our readings are well beyond our expectations.”

            “What happens in the fourth stage?” Colonel Areyzi asked.

            Kerin flinched at the sound of his voice, and looked up to the monitors. His gaze roved, focusing everywhere and on everything in the room, except for the face of the man he spoke to. That was typical. Colonel Areyzi trusted no one, and scientists least of all. Kerin wanted sometimes to shake him and shout in his face until he listened -- just because the Nicorazon-Leto family were scientists studying the Human body did not mean they supported the extremists who had begun to make themselves heard, advocating total control -- legislated and mandatory -- over the definition of what made someone Human, what gave them value. Bad enough that for the last two generations the government of the Central Allied Worlds required citizens to earn the right to reproduce, either through the contributions they made to society or their genetic perfection and inborn gifts. Her parents had brought her and her brothers up to believe in making full use of all the variations in the Human genetic spectrum, not culling and pruning and taking authority out of Fi’in’s hands, to decide what was truly Human and what should and could be destroyed.

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