TITLE: Control Sample
CHAPTER: 1 – Oneshot
AUTHOR: Lythande ( setosgirl0 / neferseti0 / Ankh Ascendant )
COPYRIGHT: I do own Kamikzae and this world. Not to be used without my written consent.
OC WORLD: Nonnen/Gennen/Mod
SUMMARY: A missive on the subject of genetic engineering from the perspective of an expert.
* * *
A perfect human specimen is only a lie sold by clinics to credulous expectant parents.
Thin streams of blood wound their way down his hand, following the path of least resistance to his fingertips. Kamikaze raised his hand over the table and watched the blood collect there, holding for a moment until the pendulous drop became too heavy for the surface tension to contain it and it fell onto the pristine surface. Not so pristine now.
The cut didn’t even really hurt. He looked down at the back of his wrist, right where the edge of the table had caught it. He must have hit it at least twenty minutes ago for there to be this much blood; it was only a thin red line in his ochre skin, a nick that wouldn’t even be worth treating if it weren’t working its way through the first half-liter of his blood.
His eyes went back to the drop, and watched as a second splashed into it before he curled his hand to contain the blood. More blood wouldn’t be any more of an inconvenience – the entire lab would already have to be sterilized – but he didn’t like making a mess. The slopes of his closed fist couldn’t control all of the flow, and another drop hit the white floor on his way to the secondary bench. A third marked the place where he stood and affixed a pale patch over the cut. He didn’t feel anything, but the heat of his body activated the microscopic machines embedded in the material, and they were already at work, repairing the damage from the inside out and consuming the excess blood to prevent any unsightly haematoma or serious complications. A necessary tool in any haemophiliac’s workspace.
He rubbed the patch absently with his other hand and looked back at the bloody spots on the table. “Sterilize in thirty seconds,” he commanded the room in general, already moving toward the door. From hidden speakers somewhere above him, the master computer ‘ding’ed an affirmation. He was out in ten, ducking his head below the door frame and pressing his clean hand on the door at elbow height to lock it before the room was flooded with microscopic destruction. The unsealed section of the experiment he had been tinkering with was a loss, but that couldn’t be helped; once his blood and the nanobots within it had been introduced to the atmosphere, it was a loss anyway. True, contact with the air for more than a few seconds automatically deactivated the bots in a body, but you couldn’t be too safe. You never could tell if they had gotten into an experimental batch, invalidated your results or caused unpredictable issues. It had only been a few hours worth of work anyway.
He peeled off the patch and dropped it into a biohazard bin on his way to wash his hands. It left the skin beneath whole and unmarred, only slightly paler than the surrounding tissue. His hand was still bloody, though. You couldn’t un-bleed, even with nanobots rebuilding the wounded area from the genetic level up.
* * *
The unintiated thought that the process of designing a human was simple, mastered and perfected by scientists hundreds of years ago and refined into a simple series of multiple choice questions. A lawyer or a banker or a politician didn’t need to know anything about genetic engineering; all they needed to know was where the clinics were so that they could choose their progeny. And for those who didn’t want to shoulder the minimal cost or who wanted things left as natural as possible (while still having this child accepted by society, of course) there were even do-it-yourself, at-home kits for gender, disease screening, and a certain number of preset basic appearances. It was, of course, pretty obvious when your red-haired, green-eyed child came out of a box, but to some that didn’t matter.
As far as most people were concerned, it was a simple matter of flipping certain switches, their imaginations inhibited only by cost and basic regulations. You want your child to be brilliant, you can have it. Athletic? Of course. Three meters tall? Certainly. All of the above, as well as blond haired, green eyed, with moderate freckling and a natural D cup? Of course, but the mole beside her nose that lends character will be extra.
As usual, reality was not so simple. If it were a simple flip-switching science, a computer could do it reliably, and still today they couldn’t; computers could lay out the basic schematics, but a human still had to do the polishing. Even then, you could have the daughter described above, but her brilliance and athleticism would be of the run-of-the-mill variety, the three meters might be more like two, and she might be a D cup because she had a genetic predisposition toward being overweight. The truth was that not everything was switches, and even what was a switch tended to not only flip the trait you wanted, but affected other aspects as well. It was a delicate balancing act, occasionally reduced to trial-and-error, and sometimes seemed more like art than science.
Kamikaze had been designed with an eye toward brilliance. That was the only important trait in his blueprint, and it had been well accomplished; every switch that could be flipped and every genetic slider that could be slid to augment his natural brainpower had been flipped and slid, and he was brilliant. He was also nearly two and a half meters tall, had unusually hazel eyes, possessed a weak immune system, and was a fairly severe haemophiliac. The height and the immune system were, at least in part, side effects of his intelligence, and not much could be done about them without losing some of it. The eyes might have been. There was actually no evidence that his haemopilia was connected to his intelligence, but by the time his mental faculties had been finalized they had been too cautious to touch it, lest it screw up what they had been working on so hard.
* * *
“You’re going home early today.”
He glanced down over his shoulder with an absent nod as he hung his coat on the rack to be washed and sterilized with the others. Juliette was an administrator, not a scientist; he could tell because she was two meters tall and well-figured. Academics were stretched or squashed, gaunt or naturally pudgy. In this day and age, to make it intellectually you sacrificed the physical.
“I cut myself,” he told her. “Lab C is contaminated. Locked down until tomorrow.”
She clucked in concern and reached for his hand. It was the wrong hand, but he let her have it anyway. There was just as much wound to look at on one as the other now that the bots had done their job. “You should really be more careful,” she said as she patted the back of his hand, which dwarfed hers but only in length. That was a tone he was used to, the chastisement under the guise of lightedheartedness, that edge of exasperation. Brains, when would they ever learn the things normal humans took for granted, like remembering to eat at mealtimes not hurting themselves when they were in sterile, expensive environments?
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said evenly, and took his hand back to grab his street coat.
She nodded and slid her hands into pockets at her sculpted waist. “Just make sure to watch your time.” Silly brains, don’t even remember they get paid to be here. They won’t even remember they’re contracted to be here at least forty hours a week if they aren’t reminded. So absent-minded, they’re like big children.
“I will,” he promised, and left her. By the time he passed through the door and the building logged his exit he had put in sixty-three point seven hours. His job wasn’t exactly in danger.
He caught the 16:43 train out of of the city, and took one of the seats despite the full car. He would have taken less room standing than sitting, but it was easier to inspect people from below than above.
Twenty-odd other people in the compartment. When he slid his arms into his pockets and stretched his legs out in front of him he parted them; he got a handful of irritated glances as they moved aside, but they bounced right off. When they glanced at him he could get a good look at their faces.
The first person who caught his eyes was a felix – nekomimi as they were called back home: cat-person. Male. Males were slightly less common than females, but not rare enough to arouse real interest. 6.1 meters in height, probably 75 kilograms. Solid but lithe, probably lither than he had been before the procedure. His eyes were a vague green-gold, not clearly either color. The pupils were contracted to gently bulging slits. Otherwise his face was human, with understated whiskers alongside a normal sculpted nose. No doubt he prefered meat in his diet. A glance at his hand on the pole showed no visible fingernails: claws, retracted. Pointed cat ears pushed out of his hair atop his head, a tail hung over the back of his pants to nearly touch the floor. His feet were normal enough to wear regular shoes.
The work was substandard, in his opinion. The grey fur coating the ears didn’t mix gracefully with the natural brown hair, and he had grown it out longer to try to cover the patchy areas. If the whiskers had been intentional, they would have been full, so they shouldn’t have been there at all. The eyes should have been a clear color, not a murky hazel-reminiscent mixture. For as relatively little feline DNA as had been crafted into him, the work could have been much better.
He considered giving him a business card, but decided against it. He had enough work already.
He had probably been an athletic type, even before his felinization. Runner? Yes, likely a runner. Not Olympic, but a good marathoner. Maybe a tennis player. He wouldn’t be allowed in normal leagues now, of course. With substandard work like that, he wouldn’t stand a chance in the mod leagues, either.
The woman beside him was a different story. In her mid-thirties, shoulder length blonde hair, tan skin that seemed to be natural. She had an easy gregarious smile and perfect teeth, and she talked with her hands in a comfortable, endearing manner. You might have taken her for a television personality, but for her eyes. Brown, and always in motion. Perceptive, quick-witted. She was a lawyer, and he would bet his year’s salary she was a sociopath. Lawyers had to be intelligent and beautiful and charming, and that left only two places for the negative effects to surface: their health, and their mental health. He saw no sign of physical weakness or disease, she didn’t seem conscious of her body in the way of someone with a disorder, such as he was.
A lot of lawyers and public officials tended to be mentally unstable. Sociopathy was even a boon to them in their careers. As far as many of them were concerned, they got the best end of the deal in every way.
Never trust a healthy lawyer, a beautiful doctor, or a brilliant actress. There’s always something wrong with them that you can’t see.
There was a couple sitting across from him, younger than the lawyer. One female, clearly above average in intelligence. She was tall and bony, with faint curves: stretched, if not to his extent. Her facial expressions were mild. Intelligent, but not, he thought, a ‘brain’. She was facing her partner and he could see that her ear was exquisitely crafted. Her hand on the seat’s edge beside her was long-fingered and thin. She leaned forward with an absent grace, unaware of her posing. She would be a musician, doubtless with perfect pitch, and a live performer if she followed the path that suited her best.
Her partner was apparently physically sexless, although they hadn’t been born that way; it was considered cruel and was illegal in civilized areas to force such a radical change on a child, so any gender reassignments must be performed after the onset of puberty. Xe was, however, beautiful. A lot of time had been put into the facial features, which were perfectly androgynous. Hir head was completely bald, at the moment – probably the entire body, if the hairless exposed arms were an indication – and the shoulder to hip ratio appeared to be equal, with only a slight curve at the waist. That was work he could commend. The imposed hormonal regulation and touch of inhuman, possibly amphibian, DNA would lead to anything from mood swings to an emotionally stunted individual, of course, but that couldn’t be helped.
There were two Nonnen in the back corner of the car. One turned away from his gaze, ducking his head meekly, and the other stared back sullenly. They were probably in their late teens, and looked almost as old as the lawyer; rather, she looked as young, but that was normal. He was approaching fifty himself and appeared in his thirties. Both of the never-engineered young men had brown hair, one significantly darker than the other, and he could see a familial resemblance in the very natural and therefor unlovely shape of the nose. Not brothers, though. He thought cousins. What else could he see in them? Disparate alleles in the metabolism; one was beginning to be overweight, the other was clearly underweight, and with similar ages and backgrounds, as was clear by how close they seemed, it would have made sense for their environmental factors to lead them both the same way. Genetics impeded it. But other than that? Nothing, really. Nonnen genetics were hard to judge on sight; the patterns weren’t set, and nature didn’t focus on one set of characteristics over another. Their lifestyles rarely encouraged any talents, not the way normal parenting did. Even if nature made you brilliant, if you weren’t raised that way it almost didn’t matter. Who knew how many Nonnen intellects were being wasted because of poor living situations and bad influences?
The train glided to a stop and settled at the platform, and he was already on his feet, headed for the door with a few of the others. All was as it should be…
Ten billion human beings and not a perfect specimen in sight.