Designer Born pages 1-19
Written by happiest_in_shadows :: [Monday, 18 August 2014 05:06] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 10 September 2014 13:24]
“Miss Willabe your daughters genetic profile is an absolute mess. Not only do we know that she won't be born whole but we're not even certain if she's going to survive.” As Warren spoke he held nothing back about the current situation. He could see the distress in Mary's face and the tears welling up within her eyes but that didn't matter. Part of him actually wanted to hurt her as he held her at least partly responsible for her daughter's desperate situation.
Mary felt like her heart was about to burst from her chest while her eyes felt like they were on fire. She had been quite surprised whenever she had learned she was pregnant. She couldn't even remember the father's face or who the father might have been. It wasn't that she hadn't seen the father but her mind had been too hampered at the time to make clear memories. She didn't know if she was glad that her mother was setting right next to her or not. Part of her was glad to have her mother's support but another part of her felt ashamed. She was certain she was grateful whenever her mother spoke up.
Vanessa, “Isn't there anything that can be done doctor?”
Warren took in a deep breath. In truth there was nothing that he could do but that didn't mean there was nothing that could be done. Elise's genetic code had been damaged by Mary's substance abuse. It wasn't that the code was entirely nonviable but all projections of her development they had made had shown extensive issues. Even if her body developed some level of functionality it would require significant treatment that the family couldn't afford. It wasn't just the family though. Warren had no idea of what quality of life the child might hope for. He pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind and stretched his memory to think of some solution. “There might be a way. I can't help you by myself but there may be some people who can. Have you heard of the guiding hand project?”
Mary's first instinct was to look to her mother. It was fairly clear right away that neither of them had heard of such a project. “I'm afraid not.”
To this Warren gave a nod. “Well to put things simply Genun is a company that specializes in genetic manipulation. You may not have heard of them but I'm certain you've benefited from their works. They typically work on genetically modified crops and over the last twenty years have began working on extensive genetic modification to live stock. Recently they have announced a program where parents could actually design their children from conception. As you might imagine this has caused a bit of controversy.”
Vanessa could feel her heart racing in her chest. She didn't know what the guiding hand project was but she had heard of such things in the past. Before they had just been speculation or minor changes such as eye or hair color. From the way Warren was speaking this went beyond that though. “So they would fix Elise using genes from Mary?”
To this Warren shook his head in the negative. “No. The guiding hand goes beyond such alterations. The guiding hand doesn't just use genetic material taken from the parents or even material taken from other humans. They're the first to use entirely man made genetic material instead of material that was only taken from humans. I know this sounds rather extreme and they are some legal issues to consider. However, in your situation I believe they're your only hope.”
Vanessa, “Legal issues?”
“Yes. Unfortunately such drastic genetic alterations aren't legal in Azon. You would have to leave the country. Before you worry about price though I should inform you that Genun had agreed to pay for such things as travel fees for accepted candidates. As you might imagine they truly want this project to succeed in hopes of opening up other countries to such work.” Warren actually felt some guilt as he brought the subject up. In truth there was a lot about this deal he didn't like. Anyone agreeing to Genun's terms would effectively be giving them permission to reshape their child at will. If it wasn't for the families situation there was no way that he would mention such things.
They might be able to help her child but Mary didn't like the way this was sounding. “Doctor have they done this before?”
“No. This would be the first generation of human testing. That is why they're willing to pay for travel and perform the alterations almost free of charge. You would have to speak with a representative of Genun but it's my understanding the only price is the right to use your child for media related issues.”
Vanessa, “We need some time to think about that.”
“Understandable but please keep in mind. Even now your child is developing. The longer you take the less likely she would be accepted as a candidate and the more likely something will go wrong.” Once again it was hard for Warren to speak. This was an important question and the family shouldn't be rushed. Yet at the moment their time was truly limited. He doubted he could give them more then a few days time to make a decision before other even less pleasant options might be considered.
Mary, “Could you go ahead and contact Genun for us? Maybe if we spoke to one of their representatives it would help.”
“Yes. Now before you leave I would like you to sign some paperwork for me. In the event they're interested this will free me up to provide them with information on Elise.”
Mary gave a nod as Warren placed the paperwork before her. It actually took her a minute to realize that she had to be the one to sign it. As she took up the pin she tried to read what the form was actually asking her. Unfortunately in her current state the words blurred together even more then usual and she feared the actual meaning escaped her. Still she began to fill in the information and hoped that she was doing the right thing. She felt better whenever her mother's hand came to wrest upon her shoulder.
“Don't worry. We're only asking them for information for now.” Even as she spoke Vanessa wasn't certain what else they could do. Do nothing and hope that Elise survived? How would they pay for her treatment afterwords?
There was a time when Mary couldn't imagine going much further then the district she lived in. Now she was outside of the country setting in the back seat of a car being driven towards a rather impressive glass and stone building. The structure had an organic rounded feel to it rather then the sharp edges of older buildings and gleamed brightly in the light. Mary found herself turning her attention to the woman she'd first spoken to five days ago. “Miss Chiplin you're certain that these changes will only be beneficial to my baby right?”
“Please call me Nancy and I assure you Mary we only want the best for your child. I only regret that you hadn't been brought to our attention sooner. I realize that you had to make a very big decision in a very limited time period but you have my word that it was the right decision.” A child that would likely die without genetic treatment and if she didn't would have serious functional issues with her body in the future. A family with limited income that could never afford such treatment on their own. The situation was almost ideal though Nancy did regret that Elise had been brought to her attention so late. The further along she was the more difficult and expensive the alterations would be and the greater the chance of complications. This was offset by the fact that they could really only examine the child's genetic structure once she had developed enough to test.
Elise's organs hadn't even began to truly form yet. “You know Mary it was techniques and technology developed by Genun that allowed young Elise's condition to be detected this early. A decade ago and we wouldn't have even been able to sample her genetics at this early of a stage.
“Really? So you've been working on this for quite some time.”
“Yes. Originally the technology was developed to monitor the development of live stock we were modifying. Now your child will be the first to benefit from our next major leap forward. I hope you're prepared to give your child a start on life that up to this point is completely unmatched.”
Vanessa had been quiet for a while. She had noticed how except for the Genun building this place seemed largely devoid of human life. It reminded her of some horror movie where they kept everyone away just so they couldn't see their mistakes. Vanessa calmed her nerves a bit by telling herself that Nancy was a human like she was. Yet she also knew that humans could do some very terrible things. They weren't in Azon anymore and that worried her as well. “You mentioned that before as well as increased intelligence but what exactly are we looking at here?”
“Oh many wonderful things! Your daughter will be receiving the full treatment that we can offer. Given her extensive genetic damage there is simply no reason to try to salvage several strands of code so we're going to be replacing them. This opens up the door for far more drastic changes then normal. Your child will be immune to any natural illness and we expect a rate of learning at least five times the regular level. Don't be surprised if your daughter is calling you mommy and grandma within the first eight months of her life.” As Nancy spoke she didn't bring up the fact that with such genetic modifications it was also as if Elise had three parents. Mary, the still unknown father and Genun itself. Genun had full intentions of making use of this fact including the absent father. They had already picked up a superb case worker for Elise's introduction to the public.
Mary. “I was told that there might be some of the media here.” Mary was actually hopeful that there would be. She just felt like her child would be safer if the world was watching then if everything was done in secrecy.
“Yes! They arrived two days ago actually and are currently being housed in our facility. Naturally we'll be restricting access to you during the initial stages. I take it that Mister Maddrow answered all your questions related to the procedure. If there is anything else you want to know feel free to ask.”
Mary, “So your one of the researchers on the project?”
“No. My position requires that I be fully informed of all happenings and developments in relationship to the guiding hand project though.” Nancy continued to maintain her smile and keep an upbeat tone for every question. The family was scared for their child and that was understandable. They had asked her before if they might go with simpler modifications but that wasn't what Genun wanted. They wanted a show child or a few show children to show the best of what they could do. An average or barely above child simply wouldn't do. When they had introduced their line of genetically modified canines they hadn't show cased a dog performing simple tricks. Instead their star dog Bruce had been following written instructions.
To this Mary gave a nod as she looked at the building. Given her condition things would have to move quickly. Mary hadn't eaten in nearly fourteen hours and she was feeling the affect of it. Once she arrived she was going to be taken strait into the preparation room and they would begin her and Elise's treatment. Except Mary wasn't going to be changed. Her body was simply going to be prepared for Elise's changes. Once that began she would actually be living on site along with her mother who was currently making use of her vacation time. Except Vanessa wouldn't be able to stay with her the entire time. This made Mary even more fearful and she looked towards her mother. “Well isn't that great mom. Elise is going to learn five times faster then normal. I guess that means she's going to learn ten times faster then me.”
Mary had made some bad choices in her life. Vanessa had tried to help her through them and she hated it when her daughter looked down on herself like that. “We all make mistakes Mary. You're doing what you can to make things right now.”
Nancy, “Indeed. Mary I'm sure you've heard the saying when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. I want to assure you that's what you're doing today for you and your child.” By now the car had reached the building and Nancy continued to smile as the door was opened up for them. As Mary was to be the mother of one of their poster children the company wanted to leave a positive impression. Naturally there was some risk of complications. What if Elise didn't survive the treatment or came out less then whole? It wasn't likely. Nancy was very confident in the guiding hand project but they had to be prepared just in case the worse came to worse. “Please follow me so we can have the three of you checked in.”
Mary didn't know much about genetic engineering. She did understand that they were replacing certain strands of genetic material within Elise with new strands. She also understood that the more they had to replace the more difficult the procedure would be. In the case of an adult there was simply too much genetic material to replace and too many complications for whatever method they were using on Elise to be effective. Even now there was apparently more Elise then they considered ideal. There was enough of her for them to consider the situation workable though. Now she found herself laying on a medical bed looking at a monitor on the screen. “So have they started yet?”
A short while ago they had injected Mary with a small probe that would remain in her womb and monitor the development of the fetus. This had been followed shortly by the delivery vectors that would replace the selected strands of code with the new one. The probe wouldn't actually remove cells from Elise's developing body but would sample sells that had separated from the mass on their own. It would take some time for all the cells within Elise's body to be treated and there was always the risk of complications between the new cells and those carrying the old genetic code. If there were too many complications Elise would end up dieing. “Yes the transformation of your daughter's cells began a short while ago. Nurse lets prepare another delivery of vectors. The sooner we can phase out all the old cells the better.”
To this Stacy gave a quick nod. “Yes Doctor.” As she picked up the beaker container the vectors and placed it within the injection system Stacy couldn't help but wonder. Where they killing this child? Doctor Hondom spoke of the situation as if they were taking a building and remodeling it or in this case changing the design and building materials before it was finished yet to him it was still the same building. Stacy wondered if they were tearing the building down though and leaving something different in its place. There wasn't anything she could do in this situation though. Even mentioning such concerns could cost her job especially mentioning them to the wrong people like the patient. It wouldn't change the situation either. There was no going back now.
Hondom gave a slight nod but wished he could see more. He wanted to sample Elise's forming body but in her current condition that simply wasn't an option. There wasn't enough of her to sample even with the probe's tiny size. “You're doing good Miss Willabe.” Even as he spoke Hondom found himself looking for any indication that Mary's body might be rejecting Elise. The complexity of performing such treatments within an organic body was rather frustrating to him. If he had his way they would have removed the fetus and tended to her in a properly controlled environment. That wasn't what the higher ups wanted for this program though as even now far too many mothers preferred to carry their child to term.
Mary gave a soft chuckle as she looked at the screen. She didn't even know what the readings on the screen meant. “I don't believe I'm doing much. Hey Doctor Hondom which one of those lines indicate how good things are going?”
The question showed quite a lack of understanding. All the readings on the screen were important and Hondom didn't want to see any of them go the wrong way. Mary just wanted him to see something that would comfort her though rather then give her a lesson on what was happening. “Well they're all rather important but if I had to pick one I believe it would be this one.” As he spoke Hondom walked over to the monitor and pointed at a blue line that was fluctuating slowly but still progressing towards one hundred percent.”
“What does that line mean then?”
“Well once this line achieves one hundred percent all of your daughter's cells will have been properly treated.” Hondom knew that in truth not all the cells would be treated. They didn't need all of them to be treated. They simply needed enough of the cells to be treated to maintain life functions without the untreated ones, form the body properly and phase out the unwanted cells. Given the extensive genetic damage to Elise's natural cells Hondon was certain the untreated or not sufficiently treated ones would die out quickly in the presence of the altered cells.
Nodding her head Mary took a moment to look around. She looked towards her mother and Nancy on the observation deck. She gave them a smile and waved at them. It helped whenever her mother waved back at her and she gave a sigh. It wasn't like there was any going back at this point. The doctors had made it very clear once the procedure began there was no way to stop it without killing Elise. This wasn't something that was meant to be reserved.
Stacy, “Would you like them to come down here?”
“No thanks. I. I just.” Mary took in a deep breath. It was strange but as nice as it would be to have Vanessa in the room with her Mary wanted to see her face more then anything else. “Doctor Hondon I was told that some of these strands of DNA were completely man made. How do you believe that's going to influence how my daughter looks?”
Some of the strands? The question flashed through Hondon's mind. None of the genetic material that was being used to modify Elise'd body was truly natural. It had all been carefully designed and developed. If Elise had been receiving a more moderate treatment she would have received strands based on genetic material from certain prime candidates. He had been instructed to give her the full treatment though. Sure some of the strands were based on human genetic material but none of it could be called a copy of human genetic material. It wasn't even completely correct to call it DNA. That wasn't something Mary needed to hear though. “She will be beautiful I assure you of that Miss Willabe”
To this Mary gave a nod. It wasn't quite the answer she wanted though. “Did you keep my nose? I've always been told that I have a cute nose. That and maybe she still has her grandmother's eyes.”
Stacy felt her heart jerk a bit. That was the issue with such extreme modification to children. At least one of them. In Mary's case it was even more extreme though. She was wondering if Elise would be her child or if she'd become the company's. Was she going to look like her parents and grandparents or was she going to look how the company wanted her to look. Stacy didn't have the answers to that she wasn't part of the development process after all simply the implementation. Still she looked towards Hondon and wondered how he would answer that question.
“I'm afraid that your daughter's genetic code was extensively damaged. I am sure that you'll find plenty of yourself in her just the same though.”
“Yeah.” Once again Mary turned her attention towards the screen. There really wasn't much there as her daughter's body had hardly began to form. It was impossible that Mary would actually see any feature from herself in her child at this point but she still hoped. “I bet she'll have her grandmother's eyes.”
Perhaps she would have the same eye color as her grandmother but Hondon knew that wasn't going to happen. The genetic code for the formation of the eyes had been carefully refined as had every strand they implemented. This was the full treatment after all. If the design worked as intended Elise's eyes would be wonderfully optimized for the capturing and processing of light. His attention turned towards the genetic reading to see how things were progressing. Currently over seventy percent of the child's cells had been treated and the number was continuing to increase. There had been some indicators of possible rejection from the mother's body due to the internal changes but that had been compensated for by a few injections from the system.
Vanessa had a large smile on her face as she watched her daughter eating. It had been nearly a day since she had been allowed to do so. Now she wasn't just being allowed but actually encouraged though Vanessa didn't know what to think of some of the foods that had been provided to her. Apparently it was all food that had been genetically modified in the very facility they were setting in and were Elise had been modified. That didn't seem to slow her daughter down. “Are you sure that's a carrot? I swear I've never seen one so red.”
Nancy continued to smile as she looked at Vanessa. Naturally she had joined Mary in recovery to make sure she was feeling alright and had what she needs. “Yes. It had been modified to provide superior nutrient and pest control then a natural carrot but I assure you that is what it is. Though we are currently considering name changes for public release.”
“It's been fully tested though right?”
“Yes indeed. That was why it was one of the things chosen for your daughter and granddaughters meal plan.”
Now Mary perked up a bit. “Hold on a minute. Do you mean I won't be allowed to choose what I eat?”
“Well this is a medical facility. Don't worry we have quite a broad menu that should suit your taste very well and we're open to special request.”
Mary didn't respond right away but took a bite of the carrot. She was a bit surprised. It tasted sweeter then she expected and had a nice sharp crunch to it. “Hey this is pretty good. If vegetables tasted like this when I was growing up I might have actually eaten them. Do you want to try some mom?” As she spoke Mary held the carrot out towards her mother. She wasn't too surprised whenever her mother required a few moments to take the vegetable from her as if fearful that it might bite her. Mary wasn't entirely comfortable herself.
As she took a bite of the carrot Vanessa quickly returned it to her daughter. “I prefer the original flavor.” Vanessa gave Nancy a quick look but wasn't surprised to see that the woman was still smiling. That smile seemed like it was glued to her face. Perhaps they had modified her cheek muscles so that she wasn't capable of frowning. “Nancy you seem very comfortable with all these changes to genetics. I have to say it makes me really uncomfortable. Well really if it wasn't for Elise's condition I don't believe we would even be here.”
“That is understandable Vanessa and many share your concerns. This is some very powerful technology and as with all powerful technology there is always the danger of misuse or worse abuse. However, if we let the fear of what might come such life saving technology such as open heart surgery and even daily medicines would have never been developed. Responsible progression is what will lead us all to a better future and now your own granddaughter will help serve as a guiding light to lead many down that path.”
Nancy's words did a lot to turn Vanessa's attention back towards her daughter and her granddaughter within her. “Are you sure you don't feel any different?”
After a moment of silence Mary gave her head a nod. “Yeah I feel fine mom. I feel a little groggy but the doctor says that's just due to the medicine. Honestly I believe having a full stomach might be affecting me more then anything else. I'm tired.”
Nancy, “That is understandable you have had a very long busy day.” In truth they didn't need to keep Mary at the facility or at least they didn't need to in theory. However, the higher ups wanted to keep a close eye on her especially during the first few weeks after the procedure. Yet they also intended for her to give birth in Azon. This would help them avoid certain immigration issues and potential blocks to allowing a genetically modified life form back into the nation. In truth this was the primary reason Hondon's request to remove the fetus had been rejected. If they did then there were several legal issues that could prevent Elise's return to her home country and that would harm Genun's efforts as well.
Vanessa, “Now you said that you expect Mary will be able to come home after five or seven weeks. Is that still holding?”
“Yes it is. Once we are certain that mother and child are stable Genun will cover all the travel fees for you to return home as well as medical treatment afterwords. Naturally we don't expect any complications. Actually your baby should be the healthiest ever born.”
Vanessa, “Exactly how long does that medical care last?”
“Well for Elise it last until either Mary or once she becomes an adult Elise choose to terminate her relationship with Genun. Mary you will be receiving the employee health plan up until you choose to terminate your relationship with Genun or Elise's twenty fourth birthday provided you don't receive any felony charges.”
To this Mary gave a nod. She had come dangerously close to having a few of those in the past. It was such things that had led to her entire situation after all. She didn't intend to have anymore and part of her was actually glad to be away from her home. It would give her time to get cleaned up and make sure she stayed that way. “I don't plan on having any of those.”
“Now you're certain that you're fine?”
“Yes. The doctors assure me that my increased appetite is just do to Elise. I guess an improved genetic structure also means an improved rate of growth. At least I'm getting to eat as much as I want now.” As she spoke Mary took another spoonful of yogurt. From what Hondon had told her Elise's improved genetic structure and development meant it was putting additional demands on her body. Granted the demands where what one would expect from a very healthy child. She just needed to eat right and make sure her body was fit enough to meet those demands. “Hey did you see those pictures of her!”
“Yes I did. She's adorable Mary. I actually went and found some of your images from when you were in my womb. I believe she may have your nose.”
Mary gave a slight giggle in response to her moms comment. “Thanks but her nose is still forming according to the doctors. Hey mom how is dad doing?”
“He's fine. He's worried about his baby girl and wanted me to tell you that just because your pregnant doesn't mean you should stay in bed all day. It's not good for you or the baby.”
“I know. They have me doing water aerobics now and going on light walks. I swear though I believe Elise is even heavier then normal. It's hard to believe how quickly I become tired just from moving around a bit.” Mary had worried that Elise might be growing too fast a few times. One of the nurses named Stacy had helped a lot with that though. She had provided a chart for the healthy development of a child while within the womb. As far as Mary could tell Elise was a bit ahead of schedule but was otherwise fine and well within the safe zone.
“It sounds to me that you needed those exercises more then you thought.”
“Yeah. Still I am eager to come home. Hey how is my room looking anyway?” Nancy said that they would send some people to help prepare my room and Elise's to.
“They didn't show you any pictures? Well I'll take care of that. I didn't tell you this earlier but I swear when they first showed up I worried we might be about to be kicked out of our home. Did you know they remodeled the kitchen and bathroom as well?”
“Are you serious? Oh wow.” As she spoke Mary had moved the phone away from her face and took a look at the screen. Her mother had just sent her a few pictures. Nancy hadn't been kidding whenever she said they would be making some repairs and changes to her room at home. Naturally her parents had both agreed to the modifications. The old house needed some work after all. This was Mary's first time actually looking at the work they had done. “That is very nice.”
“Yes. I guess they want to make sure your room is good and ready for the camera crews whenever it comes time to show Elise to the world. I saw you on the news by the way. You looked wonderful.”
“Thanks mom. It felt so strange. How am I suppose to know if Elise feels different then a normal child? You would think they'd know I've never been pregnant before. They did get me to thinking though. What am I going to do whenever I get home? I mean after Elise is born.” Mary gave a slight sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. She had been so relieved to have one problem solved that she hadn't really thought about the others. Her parents were going to help as much as they could and letting her stay at home for free helped a lot with that. Genun would be providing her and Elise's medical care but she still needed a job of some kind. “You know I kind of expected Genun to offer me a job as well. I guess that won't be happening.”
“I hoped they would as well but don't worry honey I'm certain you'll find something when you return. There might be a position at work opening up for you.”
“Mom I'm not sure if I have the people skills to do your job.” Vanessa was actually a bank teller and had at one time tried to get Mary a position at the bank as well. Unfortunately a failed drug test had cost Mary that position and she wasn't certain how willing they were to give her another chance. Perhaps being a single mother would help her with a bit of pity but Mary wasn't certain she wanted to go that path. “I swear I felt like such a slut whenever they started asking me about the father and I couldn't even give a good guess at his name.”
“Well perhaps this will help you find him. Then you could get some help with your child.”
“Maybe but then again I'm not sure if I would want to find him.” Mary didn't feel the need to explain. Whenever she considered the type of men she was spending her time with before she became pregnant she wasn't certain she wanted them involved in her child's life. She was actually having to think very hard about her friends as of late. A few of them had contacted her to ask what was going on and she had explained that she was having to undergo some medical treatments. With the news story about her though a lot more of them had been contacting her and she didn't appreciate some of their questions.”Hey is that the bathroom!”
“Your father loves the new tub.”
“I bet he does. I bet I would love that tub. Good lord what is that thing going to do to our water bill?”
“Well we've been cutting back on that a bit by bathing together.”
Mary recoiled from the phone in mock horror. “Too much information mom. Too much information.” A soft beep drew Mary's attention away from her phone for a moment. “Hey mom I have to go for a bit. You know what. If you don't mind send me an application for the bank and I'll go ahead and fill it out. I mean it can't hurt to try.”
“Are you certain that she's going to be alright?” As Nancy looked at Hondon her smile was missing. It was replaced with a far more stern expression that did a far better job of revealed her current intent. Mary increased appetite had her concerned. The procedure had been done and very cleanly. Complications had been kept to a minimum only taking a week to stabilize Mary's condition. Then the press had been given almost completely open access to her. Now Mary's nutritional needs had increased and she had been talking about fatiguing easily. Fatiguing easily was nothing new for a pregnant mother but Nancy wanted to be certain she was fine.
“Yes Nancy I am certain. This is well within expectations as my report mentioned. The child may have been a perfect candidate from a political view point and public relations but that doesn't mean she was a perfect candidate from a biological view point. Though that has more to do with the mother then anything else.”
Now Hondon turned to face Nancy completely rather then writing on his report. “She wasn't exactly the pinnacle of health to begin with. You brought me a recovering addict who at best had a moderately active life style before and asked me to build a superhuman within her womb. She should have began cleaned out and undergoing those exercises months before the pregnancy instead of weeks after to even be considered.”
“If she had lived that life style she would have hardly needed our help.”
A sigh escaped Hondon. “Yes. The constant struggle between what is sound and what looks good. Anyway I assure you she's fine. The nutrient packs, the diet plan and the exercise routine should insure both mother and child make it through this safely. I do wish we could keep her here instead of her returning home however. I understand it was her family doctor that recommended her to us but he hardly seems qualified to tend to such an advanced project.”
“Hondon one of our major selling points is that the child should be so healthy they don't even need medical care.”
“Once they're born and developed Nancy! Even a warship is vulnerable before it's frame work has even been placed.” A sigh escaped Hordon as he covered his eyes. This was one part of his job that he hated. “Elise is doing fine. The issues with her body and her mother's have been resolved. As long as she sticks to the plan and receives decent medical care just like any mother to be child and mother will be fine.”
“You say that yet you requested a temporary transfer. What has you concerned?” Nancy knew that Hondon had a deep hatred of red tape. For him to request to be moved to a nation that had even more of it even for a short time period was strange.
“This project is very important to me as well. I am confident in my work but I still want to see it through to the end and besides.” Hondon gave a slight sigh. “I can't help but feel she's somewhat my daughter as well. After all I led the group that developed much of her current genetic design.”
Somehow Nancy doubted that Hondon truly had a fatherly interest in Elise. It was something kin to fatherly no doubt but not fatherly. His interest was that of an engineer that wanted to see his creation at work for the first time. “I'm not sure that the higher ups will approve the transfer. I'll try to put in a few words for you.”
“Thank you Nancy.”
“Welcome home.” As Adam spoke he gave his daughter a hug. He was actually a bit surprised whenever he saw her. Vanessa was making certain to tell him about his daughter's development and their grandchild. He had seen the images of Elise but he was still surprised by how much his daughter had expanded. “My are you certain that you're not carrying two of them in there?” Stepping back a bit Adam placed a hand against his daughter's stomach.
“It sure feels like it at times. According to the doctor Elise has some increased weight due to greater muscle or bone density or something. So how about helping me up the steps?” Mary continued to smile as her father placed an arm around her and took some of the weight off her. As he began to walk her towards the steps she had to ask. “So how has work been going?”
“Well we had a new guy cut one of his fingers off.”
“No! Seriously? I believe you tell me that every time I asked what happened at work.”
“Indeed! And it's amazing how many people lose fingers there.” Adam gave a chuckle as his daughter clearly didn't believe him. Part of him missed the days whenever he could make her scream gross by telling her such stories. Then he would start talking about how they could see the bone inside of his fingers and other unpleasant tidbits. “Would you believe me if I said it wasn't a new guy?”
After a moment Adam gave a slight chuckle and nodded his head. “Well I had a bit of a debate over the quality of some of our meat. I can't say too much happened other then that. A few fellows came in late and Mark had to call in sick but nothing unusual. I've had quite a few people asking about you.”
“Yeah. Hey dad do you know of any of the animals you've butchered were altered by Genun?”
“I believe they were. The really stupid ones that cut very nice.” Adam knew that some of the animals they butchered had indeed been altered by Genun. It was nearly impossible to operate without encountering some animals that had been influenced by them either directly or through their family line. Naturally these animals had been genetically engineered to be raised and slaughtered. This meant diminished survival instincts and alterations to the protean that made up their muscles to produce meat that a predator would consider superior but no herbivore with a survival instinct would.
“Well don't expect that from your granddaughter.”
“I sure hope not! That's a fine kick.” As Adam spoke he patted Mary's stomach again.
“Dad she can't kick yet.”
“Are you certain?” While they had been talking Adam had helped Mary into her room and helped her to settle down. “Now those doctors of yours said that you were going to need to eat a few of these each day.” As he spoke Adam opened a mini fridge they had placed in his daughter's room. He was pretty certain that once his granddaughter was born and old enough he was going to try to convince them to move it into the living room for drinks. Reaching in he took out a small cup and handed it to his daughter. When he closed the fridge and looked back he was a bit surprised to see she hadn't opened it yet. “Now your mother said you loved those things.”
“They're good but dad I've been eating things like this for weeks now. Do you believe I could have something else?” As Mary spoke she couldn't help but feel a bit meek. She knew that she needed to follow the dietary plan to insure Elise got what she needed. At the same time she had been secretly been dreaming of a large greasy hamburger for weeks now. She felt even more like a girl whenever she noted the expression on her father's face.
“I'll tell you what Mary. You eat that and we can look into getting you something extra. What do you have in mind?”
“I was thinking of a hamburger from Ronnie's.”
“Oh! Well you know your mother wouldn't approve of that.” A slight chuckle escaped Adam before he gave his daughter a kiss on the forehead. “I'll look into it.”
“Thanks dad. Lord I don't know if it's me that likes these things or Elise.” As she spoke Mary had already began to eat the yogurt like substance. She was surprised by how her appetite spiked whenever she actually placed a spoonful in her mouth. “So where is mom? I thought she would be ready to pounce me whenever I returned home.”
“They called her into work. You would think receiving her pregnant daughter after an airplane ride would rate higher on their priorities but apparently not. Then again apparently the girl she's filling in for had a bit of a nasty accident. Besides she knew that I would be here.”
To this Mary gave a nod. Perhaps her mother wanted her to spend some time with her father as well. Unfortunately there was a little complication in that plan and she could feel it setting in. “Yeah but dad. I'm feeling pretty exhausted right now.”
“No problem. If you need me just push the button next to your bed.”
“I have a button?”
“Yes and would you believe it was your mother's idea?”
“Actually I would.” Mary couldn't help but laugh as she looked towards the side of her bed. There was indeed a little remote controller that effectively amounted to five large buttons. “Okay which one of those button calls for help?”
“The one with the bell on it.”
Oh!. Yeah I feel silly now.”
Mary could feel her cheeks growing warmer as Adam looked at her. While there wasn't much food on her plate there wasn't much food on the table anymore either. She had been certain she was eating at a regular pace at first apparently at some point that had changed. The tension was broken whenever her father began to laugh. "What?"
"I can't understand where it is all going. I swear I believe that you've eaten a third of your body weight." Adam had began to laugh but that laughter was halted at a wide grin as he noticed Vanessa looking at him. Vanessa's look wasn't one of anger but it did tell him that this wasn't a laughing matter.
While she was a bit upset with her husband Vanessa was glad that Adam had brought up the issue. It had been four weeks since her daughter had returned from the Genun facility and she had noticed some rather strange things. After giving him a moment to settle down she placed her fork on the table and took in a breath of air. "Mary it does seem like something strange is going on. Now I remember when I was pregnant with you and I know that a mother to be tends to eat a bit more then normal but what you've been doing is just. Well it doesn't seem normal. Then there is your weight."
"Mom Elise is growing within me of course I'm going to get heavier."
"It isn't Elise that I'm worried about Mary it's you. If it wasn't for your belly I would swear that you're losing weight. I believe you need to go for an examination. After all. If Genun is going to provide your health insurance you might as well make use of it."Vanessa actually felt a bit relieved whenever Mary took a moment to look herself over. Her chewing had slowed down a bit and she had even placed her spoon on the table. "I'm not trying to worry you honey but I believe it's better safe then sorry."
Adam hadn't noticed before but now that he was looking at his daughter he couldn't help but worry that Vanessa was right. Mary's cheeks didn't seem as full as they had been and except her stomach her entire body seemed to be a good bit thinner. When he considered how much his daughter had been eating it became all the more alarming. "Mary I believe your mother has a point. How about after dinner we call the doctor and set you up an appointment?"
With both her parents talking about her weight Mary felt her concern growing. Given how much she'd been eating the notion that she had lost weight seemed impossible. "Sure."
Warren actually found it hard to believe. At least he found it hard to believe that Mary was eating like she said she was. He wouldn't call her starved. However, there was clear signs that she was malnourished. "Mary I have some good news for you and some news that isn't so good."
Currently Mary was setting on a hospital bed while Warren set in a swivel chair while holding a small touch pad apparently reading her results on it. "Well let's start with the bad news. I was always told that it's best to rip the bandage off in one go."
Even if he didn't always agree with the notion Warren gave Mary a smile. "Okay. Well there has been a drop in your body fat Mary and while not dangerous yet if it continues at this rate it could become life threatening by the time you're ready to give birth. I'm going to recommend some supplements and that you increase your diet a bit. I'm also going to recommend you to a nutritionist who should be able to help you come up with an eating plan to get you back on track to a safe delivery. I'm also a bit concerned about Elise's rate of growth. If she continues at her current rate we may have no choice but to perform a c-section. This makes it even more important that we get you in as fit of a condition as we can before. "
At first Mary had been fairly comfortable with the diagnosis. That changed whenever the doctor started talking about what her condition would actually be by the time Elise was ready to be born. "Okay. You said you have some good news. What's the good news?"
"Elise is doing fine. She's doing better then fine her progress has been remarkable. I had to do a double check to make sure we weren't mistaking your heart beat for hers whenever we heard it. Her muscle and bone density is simply remarkable. Here let me show you an image of her." As he spoke Warren turned his data pad around and allowed Mary to see a clear image of Elise. He wasn't certain if she would appreciate what a clear image meant and he wasn't going to bother to ask. "You see these readings here? These are Elise's vitals signs. That isn't the only remarkable part though. Just look at how clearly you can see Elise. Now sonic imaging technology has come a long way but to get an image this clear is still remarkable and I can't even say it was the machine. Elise's muscle density is simply exceptional. Actually I don't believe I've ever seen a child with muscle density this high which given her heart beat isn't surprising. Mary this is the type of image that they put in basic medical books to insure the student can see the child. Except it isn't some doctored image or fabrication this is really Elise."
As Mary was listening to Warren her issues were suddenly making more and more sense. The fatigue she was feeling, how heavy Elise felt and her loss in weight. Elise was putting an even greater demand on her body then they expected. "Doctor I was always told that muscle tended to burn more energy then fat. If Elise's muscles are already this developed could that be the reason why I've lost so much body fat? It isn't just her muscle density though is it. She's building those muscles inside of me and she's relying on me to provide the materials to do so."
For a moment Warren didn't say anything. Mary's insight was actually rather surprising. He had to be reminded from time to time that just because someone made some bad decisions that didn't mean they were foolish. "That's a very good point Mary. From what Genun sent me I knew that Elise would put more demands on your body then a single child would. However, I didn't expect it to be anything like what twins would put on you. From what we've seen so far it may be more like the demand triplets would put on a mother's body. Not that Elise has the same mass of triplets but she is abnormally large for a fetus. If we consider her size as well as her unusual muscle density I believe you're going to have to speak to a nutritionist to insure that you and Elise get what you need."
"So you don't think the supplements along will take care of it?"
"I'm afraid not. I'll get in touch with Genun and see if I can gather any additional information. Well that is if they don't get in touch with me first. They've been quite interested in your development and I'm certain as soon as this visit shows up on your account they're going to be contacting me."
Mary was made to recoil for a moment. She knew that Genun was interested in her but she had no idea that they were watching her that closely. It actually made her a little nervous about what they might do. As grateful as she was for the treatment she hoped they wouldn't ask her to come back to the lab. Now that she was home she had no desire to leave after spending so many weeks in their lab. "I see. Do you believe they'll want me to come to their facility again?"
"I don't see why that would be necessary. We're quite capable of treating you here."
Adam wasn't comfortable eating something if he didn't know what the ingredients were. Working in meat processing he was also fairly familiar with the different chemicals that went into some meat. He was extremely uncomfortable whenever he couldn't even say the ingredient's name. So he was very worried as he watched his daughter drinking a large glass of water after she had mixed in some kind of brown powder. "Mary are you sure this stuff is good for you?"
"Well my cheeks are filling out again." As Mary sipped her drink she was more reminded of chocolate milk then anything else. The powder was just one of the supplements that had been recommended to her. It had taken three weeks but she finally looked like she was on the road to recovery. What was even better then that was that her energy levels had increased. Her belief that Elise's rapid development was taking most of the nutrients she took in and leaving little for her seemed to be true. "Warren and Sally both said that there were good for me. Warren actually seemed a little surprised that Genun covered them. I'm guessing that this stuff is a bit on the expensive side." Mary took another drink of the glass. It wasn't the only change in her diet that she had to make but it was one of the more pleasant ones. Not all of them had been pleasant of course. One of the unwelcome changes had been a timer that helped her to keep track of her eating habits. Oddly while most people were worried about eating whenever they weren't suppose to she had to worry about not eating whenever she was suppose to. Sally didn't seem to have any concern about in between meals.
I look better. It wasn't the type of reason that Adam was willing to accept. A woman could throw on some makeup and she would look better. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling a lot better. Walking around the house helping mom with the housework doesn't leave me winded anymore. I suppose some of it might be do to my exercises as well." The sound of a ringing phone delayed the conversation. Glancing to her side Maria quickly retrieved the kitchen phone from the counter. "Hello."
While his daughter was on the phone Adam focused on the words on the container once again. Perhaps if he tried to say them out loud he would at least be able to say them. He didn't really want to risk making himself look like an idiot though. Perhaps it would be best if later he simply looked up the contents on the internet. If he couldn't even find out what his daughter was drinking there he would really be concerned. He might even have to contact Warren himself or her nutritionist and find out exactly what they had his daughter drinking.
"Hi Markus. I'm feeling much better now. Elise is doing fine to thanks for asking. Another interview? Give me a moment to check with my father." Mary knew that her father could hear her but she still placed the phone against her shoulder in order to keep Markus from hearing what was being said. "Dad there are some people who want to come speak with me on Thursday. Would that be alright?"
"Again? I swear this house hasn't seen so much traffic since you were bringing your little friends over. Tell them that they have to clean up after themselves."
Mary gave a slight nod. She had a feeling Markus had heard what her father said as she heard some light laughter whenever she lifted the phone to her head. "It's fine so long as they know to clean up after themselves. My mom has been on the warpath since one of the crews trampled mud all the way to my room. Oh the job search has been going fine. No. I haven't found anything that would let me make sure that someone is always available to take care of Elise. I don't really like that idea. I believe that a child should always have a family member with them at least daycare can't really offer that."
There was a moment when Adam had to take in a deep breath. Whenever Vanessa had been pregnant with Mary he'd made sure that she could stay home and raise her daughter. That was just one of the father's responsibilities as far as he was concerned. The fact that they weren't trying to run down Elise's father to make him take responsibility bothered him but he respected his daughter's wishes to let things be. Though he was already prepared to shoot anyone that showed up a few years down the line trying to claim to be Elise's father. Looking at Mary he figured she was done with the powder for the time being so he didn't interrupt her as he carried the bottle out of the room in order to look up the ingredients.
"Mary it has been entirely too long since I last saw you and Elise." Hondon had a large smile on his face. He had been rather concerned whenever he had heard about Mary's nutrient deficiency. If Mary wasn't eating well enough in order to sustain her own health that meant Elise may not be getting what she needs as well. He had made several recommendations as far as the changes to her diets and had a few put into the yogurt she was provided. He had been relieved to learn about her recovery but had continued to push to be allowed to go see her himself. Now that she was twenty two weeks into her pregnancy his request had finally been granted. The fact that it took so long was something that he was going to remember the next time his superiors asked him to sacrifice for Genun. For the moment he was quite happy to see Mary was healthy and showing quite nicely.
It was actually a surprise to see Hondon. While her appointment had been to see Warren it had been Hondon that stepped into the waiting room. She was a bit concerned as she noticed her father standing up. "Doctor Hondon. I didn't expect to see you here. Is something wrong with Elise?"
"Elise is just fine at least to my knowledge. You must be Adam Willabe. My name is Micheal Hondon I was actually responsible for the augmentations made to your granddaughter and Mary's medical care while she was at Genun." As he spoke Hondon moved towards Adam and offered him his hand. It had the desired affect as the man seemed to relax if not completely. He did take Hondon's hand and Hondon knew these were hands that were well conditioned. Given her father's line of work he knew that they were well conditioned for hacking through meat and bone.
"It's nice to meet you Mister Hondon. Now what has you here to see my daughter? We came here to see Doctor Warren."
He was still an intruder in Adam's eyes even though he knew more about Elise then Warren. Hondon could understand that his appearance had been unexpected. Likely Adam was preparing to defend his daughter if any need should arise. Hondon was happy that he wasn't on the attack at the moment. "I've actually been requesting to come and see Mary and Elise for quite some time now. My superiors wanted to limit Genun's involvement. I'm not actually authorized to offer any treatment except for emergency. Can you believe that?" Hondon gave his head a slight shake. He wasn't even suppose to take a blood sample from Mary in order to inspect. After all. How would it look if the supposedly super healthy super human child required special medical care from one of Genun's top minds? It was a frustrating game of appearance that he detested playing but couldn't escape.
Mary, "So if you're not allowed to treat her or me then what do you actually want to do?"
"Well I can't offer you treatment but I did want to talk to you. In particular I want to talk to you about Elise's development and your changes to your diet. I've reviewed the information Doctor Warren gathered on Elise and I just want you to know she's developing beautifully. As I'm sure you can tell. I don't think any mother has had to deal with as hardy of kicks as what Elise is giving you."
"I wondered about that. Dad you remember whenever Elise kicked your hand?"
Now Adam gave a nod. He couldn't really remember how hard Mary had kicked whenever she'd been in Vanesssa's womb but he knew that it hadn't been anything like when Elise kicked. There was simply too much power there for him to believe that the kick was that of an unborn child. He was actually concerned. "Yes and I wanted to talk about that actually. Hondon you developed these enhancements or had a part of it. Just what kind of force can we expect from Elise? Is there any danger of her hurting my daughter?"
It was a valid question and one Hondon was glad to answer. "Our projections say that she won't develop that kind of strength while she's within the womb. We are however prepared for the event of that happening. If need be Elise is far enough along that we can safely introduce some muscles relaxers that would keep her from injuring her mother. Well if she develops that kind of strength while still within the womb. Like I said that shouldn't happen but we liked to be prepared."
"I see." Adam couldn't hide that he was upset. He didn't like the idea of giving a young child drugs and Elise hadn't been born yet. When he thought of the force of Elise's kicks though and the fact that her body still had months of development to go he couldn't help but be concerned. It may even be necessary if they were going to keep from harming Elise. "Now was this a possibility even in the beginning? As to me it seems like that is something you should have considered from the beginning and gave her a smaller dosage of strength."
"Actually our original projections was that there would be no danger of the child harming the mother while still within the womb. However, Elise is one of the first children to receive this treatment and her development has surprised us all."
Mary was actually rather surprised by what Hondon said. Elise wasn't the first to undergo this treatment she was one of the first. One thing automatically stuck out in her mind. "Doctor I haven't heard anything about these other children on the news. How is Elise doing compared to them?"
"Yes Elise has gotten a good deal more attention then the other children. The original candidates requested we keep their identities private. While you were at our facility there was three more mothers that arrived before you and a few others that arrived before you left. All of them have undergone the same treatment as Elise but I will tell you this. Elise's results have been some of the best if not the best of what we've seen."
For a moment Adam didn't say anything but looked over at his daughter rather then Hondon. "Okay Doctor Hondon why did you decide to put my daughter up front if they were other children that had undergone the treatment? Why is she the show piece?"
Adam's question was far from unexpected. It was natural for a concerned parent or grandparent to wonder why their child had been chosen. It was one that he had been preparing for. "They are two major reasons why your granddaughter was chosen Mister Willabe and a third that comes later. From a political view point your daughter was ideal. Her genetic structure was damaged such that there was no way she would be born whole if she even survived. There was also no way for your family to afford the treatments even if she did survive. Politically helping you makes Genun look very good. The second reason is because you're natives of Azon. One of the major hold outs against heavier genetic alterations. The final reason which is a bit of good fortune is how well your granddaughter has responded to the treatment."
As he listened to Hondon Adam was rather surprised by how strait forward he was being. Yet he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something more there. He had noticed Hondon looking towards Mary's womb several times. "There is something that you're not telling us. That's Genun's reasons for choosing Elise but you didn't give yours."
Hondon couldn't completely hide his surprise. The fact that his facial expression slipped upset him a bit as he realized his body language had just confirmed Adam's speculation. "You're a very observant man. I'm curious what gave me away. I examined your daughter's condition before she was selected for the treatment. I examined all the candidates to be fair. There was one thing about your granddaughter that surprised me though. Warren told you that your daughter may not survive and if she did would not be born whole. He was wrong. Your daughter not only wouldn't have survived but the pregnancy should have failed well before."
Mary actually felt herself growing cold as she listened to Hondon. "What do you mean she shouldn't have survived that long?”
"The information her body needed to develop that far was damaged to the point of being useless. Somehow your daughter was still alive whenever the data I received said she should be dead already. This is hardly a unique occurrence of course. Several people manage to survive when all the data says they should have been dead long ago. They end up appearing on shows like mysterious happenings. Still, your daughter's continued survival made her stick out to me. The fact that her development has exceeded all the other augmented children to date leads me to believe that I was right. There is something special about your daughter."
Adam, "And that would be?"
Now Hondon gave a shrug. "I don't know. It just seems to me something is there. That is the reason I pushed for your daughter to lead the way. Mind you all the other reasons I gave are valid."
He didn't know how much Elise's treatment cost. Adam did know that it was far more then he could have afforded. He was grateful that his granddaughter was doing well. He worried about his daughter's well being. He wasn't certain of what he thought of Hondon and his reasons. They weren't what he expected them to be. "Doctor Hondon what are you intentions for my daughter and granddaughter?"
"At this point my only goal is to observe. A lot of people are going to be watching your granddaughter."
"I'm not sure about that. It seems to me that someone who invested so much into another person would want to have a hand in their development. However, Mary and we are the ones that are going to be raising Elise. I appreciate what you've done but don't try interfering in Elise's life or changing how she's raised. Now we came here to see Doctor Warren. Do you happen to know when he's going to be getting here?" Despite being grateful for what Hondon had done Adam wanted to make it clear that Elise wasn't some experiment. He wasn't going to tolerate his daughter or granddaughter being treated as such.
"Daddy!" Mary couldn't help but blush due to how her father was treating Hondon. She appreciated what he was trying to do but Hondon had visited her regularly while she was in the hospital. At times he would even set down and talk to her which more often then not meant clearing things up for her. "There is no need to be mean."
"I'm just making this clear sweet heart."
A slight sigh escaped Mary before a smile returned to her face and she looked towards Hondon. "You have come a long way if you just wanted to see Elise. Do you intend on working with Doctor Warren?"
Hondon actually felt rather saddened by Mary's question. He had no intention to replace Warren as her primary care giver. He had a rather intense desire to. Genun's had made it clear that wasn't going to happen. "Unfortunately the higher ups have forbidden me from doing so. They want it to be clear that Elise was given no special treatment as I mentioned before." Hondon lowered his voice as if telling a great secret. "They're actually rather upset that Mary has required as much medical attention as she has. They're worried that it will make Elise look like a sickly or difficult birth." Returning his voice to normal Hondon glanced towards the door. "I contacted Warren and asked if he would help me speak with you. Adam I understand that you don't want me interfering with your granddaughter but I do hope to be involved if indirectly."
Mary, "What do you mean Doctor? Didn't you just say Genun didn't want you involved?"
To this Hondon gave a nod. "Yes I did and that does limit what I can do a great deal. I can't offer medical treatment but I can offer advice. As for your earlier question about Warren. He should have been here by now." For a moment Hondon looked towards the door once again. While he was glad that he had been able to speak with Adam and Mary in relative privacy he did wonder what was taking Warren.
Adam, "You mean you gave him some advice."
To this Hondon gave a nod. "Yes. I understand that you don't want me interfering with your granddaughters up bringing. I would like to help in her development despite that."
Adam, "And how do you intend to help with that?"
"Well first I want to give you this number." Standing up and stepping towards Mary Adam retrieved a small card from his pocket that he handed to Mary. "That is my direct contact number. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. It also includes my private email. I would appreciate if you would keep both of those things to yourself. I may be limited in my ability to contact you but that doesn't mean you're not free to contact me. Now for the time being. Mary I've had some time to." Hondon went silent as the door opened.
Warren, "Sorry I'm late. One of my other patience required more time then I thought."