Escaping Towards Destiny
Chapter 1- Scene 1
Peter awoke to the sound of Bianca wailing at the top of her lungs. Every living thing in the apartment could hear her screaming, from the tiniest dust mite to the fichus in the living room, whether they had ears or not. He glanced at the time display on the media wall, 4:15 am. It wouldn’t be so bad if she’d just stick to a schedule. Peter glanced at his wife, Grace, who was trying to smother herself with her own pillow. Silently, in his mind, he heard her voice, “It’s your damn turn!” Peter shrugged out of bed and tried not to telepathically swear at his wife, unsuccessfully. She threw her pillow at him hearing it.
“Okay, okay,” Peter both said and thought. He was trudging down the hall, when silence fell. Slowing down, he knew what he would find; an impeccably clean six month old baby girl sitting naked in one corner of the crib and a soiled diaper wadded inside of a soiled sleeper in the farthest corner of the crib. When he got there he started out surprised but quickly sidestepped through amused to terrified; the baby wasn’t in the room. He searched the room manually and with his mind, Bianca was nowhere to be found. He tried to calm himself. She was kisan, at some point she would be able to teleport. Perhaps she had gone to Grace.
Peter ran back to their bedroom and found Grace snoring and alone. “Gracie, wake up! Bianca’s gone!”
Grace sat bolt upright in bed, “Call the pediatrician! Bianca needs to be placed on some kind of suppressors when she comes back.”
Peter was torn between, “Isn’t that overreacting?” and, “Are you sure she’ll be back?” He went with the latter.
“She’s always come back before,” Grace said pushing out of bed and pulling on her robe.
“She’s done this before? And you didn’t feel the need to tell me?” Peter broke.
“I've been worried about it. How did you think she’d gotten out of her soiled things?” Grace answered him while tapping the pediatrician’s link on the media wall.
Peter hesitated, searching the nursery remotely once more with his mind. “Some kind of clever kisan trick…”
“Yeah, it’s called teleportation why else would she leave the diapers inside the clothes. This is serious. Bianca could be anywhere in the multiverse, with anyone,” The media screen lit up with an old man’s face, “Doctor Meyer this is Grace Stone, Bianca’s gone missing we need you to come put her on suppressors as soon as she returns.”
Peter felt sorry for Doctor Meyer; Grace was a force of nature that’s why Peter had fallen in love with her, but Doctor Meyer was a tired old man, and it was 4:23 in the morning. “Mrs. Stone? Ah uhm, suppressors, when she comes back? Mrs. Stone are you aware it is 4:24 in the morning? Can’t this wait until office hours? What’s she doing anyway playing fly daddy through the air?”
“She’s teleported away!”
“Then I can’t exactly treat her. Can I, if she’s not even here?” Meyer sounded and looked miffed at having been prematurely woken. Peter agreed silently and under heavy shielding.
Then suddenly inwardly Peter felt a central absence filled. He rushed into Bianca’s room and found her in her crib. He slapped on the room’s lights and looked her over from top to bottom. She seemed bigger and was definitely deeply tanned. Her soft brown curls had golden streaks. Overnight she’d seen months if not years of sun. Impossible, she’d never been exposed to anything but artificial sun here in Refuge. It was, after all just an artificial world carved inside a planetoid, held inside a tightly woven knot of space-time. Peter scooped Bianca up and ran back to Grace with her. Grace was still arguing with Doctor Meyer. “She’s back,” Peter announced slapping on the room’s lights, “and she’s tanned.”
Grace spun angrily on him, “What do you mean tanned? Oh god it’s really happening. Doctor Meyer?”
“I’ll be right there.” It seemed he’d seen enough. Grace stole Bianca from Peter’s grasp, and began fingering every inch of her. Within minutes their doorbell chimed. Peter quickly answered it and dragged the doctor into the bedroom. Meyer ran a handful of scanners over Bianca. “She’s healthy if a bit big for a kisan her age.” He produced a necklace with a silver tag, denoting a mid level telempathic\ psychokinetic suppressor, and placed it on the baby.
“That’s it. That is all you’re going to do? That’s not enough! It won’t keep her here!” Grace wailed.
Doctor Meyer shrugged and turned to leave, over his shoulder he mumbled, “Are you sure, she’s just a baby?” He gathered up his scanners and left. Grace whined argued and whimpered, shoving Bianca in the doctor’s face even as the door closed behind him. Grace collapsed onto the living room couch bouncing Bianca on her lap; then patting her gently on the back until Bianca fell asleep.
Peter took Bianca back to the nursery. As he laid her down in the crib he marveled at her tiny features, a tiny copy of her mother. That idea brought the mildest twinge of regret, Bianca was basically that. Kisans were near clones of their mothers, and always female. After intercourse most of the male DNA is discarded and gestation progresses. For a moment Peter regretted they would never have a son but one more look at Bianca melted him. That’s what they do.
Kisans tend to be quite beautiful, with nearly the perfect ideal hominin form. The race has the advantage of genes gleaned from the best available to any race. The mother provides her daughter with the richest known breast milk, and a continuous flow of pure energy while nursing. If all goes properly kisans grow quickly from the smallest hominids at birth to on par with human development by age one. If the mother dies in childbirth and is unable to provide for the child, the girl has an amazing resilience and will survive on whatever sustenance is provided. In that case the growth is much slower and the girl may have the appearance of being sickly even though she is completely immune to nearly all illnesses and would most likely never be sick.
Bianca never had been sick or a problem, a little fussy at night but no real problem. She was large though, the size of a one year old human, not a six month old kisan. Peter tucked her favorite teddy bear in the crook of her sleeping arm. Purposefully he walked out to his wife on the couch. “What do I need to do?”
“I don’t know what we can do. My parents weren’t able to keep me here when I did this as a child. All they could do for me was to see to it I had a suit to protect me.” She meant an intelligent molecular-morphic super survival suit; basically an artificial intelligence supported by a network of individual nano cellular robots which could work together to take the appearance of clothing and protect their owner from everything short of a supernova. “What does that man know about kisan babies anyway? He’s just a human!”
Peter tried to look hurt, “Hey, I’m human!”
“No, you’re a mutant freak!” Grace replied gently. He’d had this discussion before, every time anyone had been in the least bit derogatory towards a human; though it usually wasn’t Grace making the slur.
“I’m human enough.”
“Baby, you look human, you smell human, you taste human, but you’re so much more. You’re a genetically altered human with the power to absorb and replicate the abilities of others. Besides you married me. That shows you have better judgment than that quack,” Grace smoothed.
“So we get a second opinion and a suit for her,” Peter nodded to himself. He sat on the couch next to his wife and put a comforting arm around her.
Grace nuzzled into his arm, “Okay but a mark seven not a mark five, otherwise she’ll manage to teleport through a Tanerian minefield and they’ll both be so messed up we won’t hear from either of them for years,” Grace had reason to worry, that’s what had happened to her.
Although, it did turn out right in the end, and if it hadn’t happened she never would have crossed Peter’s path. That was a meeting he was sure he didn’t want her to miss. He was about to be stoned for being an alt-human by a bunch of anti-techno Luddites, on a post environmentally crashed earth variant. At the time his powers weren’t the most reliable thing he was just out of puberty and hormones were raging worse than the crowd. That’s when his fawn haired, green eyed goddess had arrived. She stepped up to the front of the crowd and “persuaded” them to leave. Without a please or thank you she unchained him and led him off into a whole universe of new worlds, a universe of possible universes.
Eventually they found their way here, to Refuge a hollowed out planetoid held safe within an interwoven pocket of space-time, the home base of the factors. Factors were multiversal trans-temporal fix it men and women. The equivalent of US marshals for all of creation. The factors were the builders of Refuge and ultimately controlled its resources but there was a separate civil authority. That civil authority would do Bianca no good. Grace would have to ply her influences as an independent factor to get a mark seven suit. They didn’t just give them out as party favors.
Mark seven suits represented the heights of factor tech, more than an entire planet’s worth of resources went into their production and provision, and only the very best artificial intelligences bred were capable of handling the sheer scope of processing. Presentation of a mark seven suit placed a factor among the highest echelon of the exclusive ranks of independent factors, factors which ran their own operations out of mini Refuges called Shelters, which were included as part of all molecular-morphic survival suits.
Peter turned to tell Grace all he’d been thinking of but she was asleep. He couldn’t blame her; taking care of Bianca took a lot out of her physically from the nursing. Now with this new hitch he shook his head, gently so as not to wake Grace. This was going to take a lot out of both of them. “But,” he yawned to himself, “it could start taking in the morning.”
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The first book in this universe. Available in kindle and paperback editions.
Factors in Sanctuary
- The Sanctuary, books of Pamela Foland
The skinny on the first three books in the series.