Engineered for Us
Kyren Guardiana often had her own way of doing things. When something frustrated her she threw determination at it until the problem was resolved. She never truly realized that when the solution to a good problem is to do evil, that the problem is not worth committing sin to resolve.
The universe is vast; many travelers have journeyed through the stars who have never found a home to call their own. Such were Asher and his wife Kyren.
Years of wandering the galaxies had split up the followers of Diana and her mouthpiece, the Guardiana. There were rumors that many of the group had retreated to a planet just beyond the edge of known space. They had named their new refuge “Guardiana.” Pockets of followers had settled on the Bolar colonies, in Gamilon space, aboard the great starships of the Gatlanteans – some were rumored to have even boarded the infamous Cometine fortresses themselves. Other Guardiana followers had disappeared to unexplored space to find yet another world that they could inhabit.
No one really knew how many planets had been colonized. Somewhere through history the records of such settlements had been lost – or perhaps they had not even been recorded at all in some cases.
It was for this reason – lack of records – that Kyren and Asher found themselves on the world of Telezart. It was a pleasant world with pleasant people. The culture was unique – a mixture of many different social systems. The technology was superb – especially their forays into genetics. Telezart was a bright light, a beautiful beacon of civilization in the midst of an otherwise uninhabited sector of space. It also happened to possess a wealth of information ranging farther back into history than many of the other inhabited worlds. The treasure trove of knowledge drew many to the world, including many who were seeking particular information that might have been unobtainable elsewhere.
“I believe I’ve found what we’re looking for.” Kyren said triumphantly, holding up a small handheld device that the locals used for searching the planet-wide database. The record that was displayed on the screen showed a picture of a very very old ship resting on Telzarti soil. The picture was descent, but obviously not up to the standards of the modern day.
“How old is that information?” Asher replied.
“It says that it’s…” she paused, scrolling through the article once again to make sure she had not misread the dates, “eighteen hundred years old.”
“Then this is…” his sentence trailed off.
“Yes! It is from the original colonization of Telezart, almost two millennia ago!” Kyren almost squeaked with excitement.
“If it’s genuine, it’s our first breakthrough here – or anywhere in a long time.” Her husband replied. “The information is always buried in a database, encrypted beyond readability, or mysteriously lost. How hard is it to write down what happened? Is it too much to ask people to remember their own history?”
“Apparently it is.” Kyren replied as she began to read carefully through the information that she had found – the first piece of a gigantic puzzle.
“How could the past be forgotten so quickly…? Even my own people have forgotten some of their roots.”
“Your people have been forgetting their past since before they became a nation, Asher.” Kyren quipped.
This comment earned silence from her husband.
“This particular information was supposedly written by several of the first settlers of Telezart.” Kyren scrolled further down, “It says here that the group that settled here was…” she looked at the screen strangely, “Hadassian? What’s a Hadassian?”
“A race?” Asher offered carefully.
“Maybe. Could be a religious group or perhaps some sort of social class distinction too.” She said. “I’m going to try to cross-reference it.”
Kyren searched through the planetary data net until she couldn’t stand to look at the screen anymore.
“There’s nothing else here – absolutely nothing.” She said angrily.
“At least you found something.” Her husband offered, trying to calm her down.
“Yes, I suppose this small find is significant.” She said, then suddenly exploded, “But it is not enough! There must be more to this story than just a few bits of information here and there!” Kyren slumped down into a nearby chair, tears coming to her eyes now.
“The Torah contains much history.”
“I have scoured that old relic over and over!” she shot back. “It tells me nothing about how any of us got where we are today – how we learned to navigate the stars, to travel light-years in a moment, to live in a void absent from solid ground! No one knows how that came to pass!” she sobbed. “I want to know!”
The only sound in the room for a moment was Kyren’s crying, followed by another sorrowful outburst.
“Oh Diana, why have you left the Guardiana without knowledge of the past? Without an heir? Why have you abandoned me in my time of need?”
“That spirit cannot help you.” Asher said bitterly. “Why do you cling to belief in it even after all of these generations of ‘Guardiana’ have passed without so much as a single contact with it? The spirit is gone, Kyren. It’s time you accepted that. The shêd has deserted you.”
“She is more than just a spirit!” Kyren shouted. “She is my protector, the deity of my family line! She is our goddess!”
Asher shook his head. “You are a foolish woman. I should have listened to my father and married a nice Jewish girl.”
“Well, you didn’t.” she spat. “Maybe if you would accept that you might have a son or daughter to present to your parents.”
The rest of the day flew by in a tense silence. Religion and children had always been the two forbidden subjects between the two.
Religion because Asher was a somewhat-devout Jew and Kyren was fanatical about her goddess Diana and the role that she had been chosen for in the worship of that goddess.
Children because they had thus far been unable to bear any and the frustration caused by their childless state drove a wedge between the two that was only widened by time – time that gave Asher opportunity to learn exactly what kind of woman Kyren really was. She was obsessed with two things: finding out how the races had populated the stars… and obtaining a child – specifically a red-haired daughter. She was frighteningly insistent about it.
Kyren’s obsession had resulted in widening the schism between the couple, but after a very animated conversation, Asher had agreed to come with his wife to the best genetic research facility in known space – the Epigenetic Research and Development Center – found in the city of Recijifria on the Northern hemisphere of the planet. The purpose for the trip was twofold: first they would go through the planet’s historical database, then they would go to the ERDC to see if there was something they could do to make Kyren’s obsession with a daughter a reality.
Their information hunt now over, it was time to go to the research center. Asher dreaded the trip. His parents would explode if they knew that he and Kyren had come here to remedy their childless condition. Thankfully, his parents had not asked him where he and his wife were going this time. They would have undoubtedly disapproved.
The trip to the ERDC took the better part of an hour via public transport – a trip that would have taken them less than twenty minutes had they taken their personal shuttle, but Kyren had insisted on “interacting with the locals” during their trip. She said that she had had enough of those dusty libraries and hours of fruitless research.
They arrived at the research center ten minutes before their scheduled appointment. They walked in, uncertain of where they should go.
Asher felt supremely awkward entering a place like this. The thought of an artificially conceived child was entirely against his religious persuasions. Even the possibility that such a thing could be done was offensive to his pious conscience. But if he let his beliefs dictate to him what to do in this situation there would never be peace in his home again. Better to mollify Kyren now than to live with a bitter wife for the rest of his days.
Kyren, on the other hand was excited as she walked into the gorgeous building. The structure was made entirely out of formed multi-layered glass. Even the decorative fountains were clear as polished crystal. Everywhere she looked she saw beauty and elegance. If there was one place in the known universe that could fulfill her need for an heir to her honored position as Guardiana, it was the ERDC.
“Hello!” a friendly-looking young man in white hailed the couple. “You must be Asher and Kyren.” He said when he got a bit closer to them. “I am Holden Krom, but you may call me Holden.” He held out a welcoming hand to Asher who hesitantly clasped the offered forearm in greeting. The young man turned to Kyren and bowed slightly to her in greeting.
“Welcome to the ERDC.” He smiled. “Please, come this way.” He motioned for the couple to follow him down a crystalline corridor.
“When I first heard of your problem and your need for a specific characteristic set for your child I jumped at the chance to take on your case.” Holden said.
“Aren’t you a bit young to be working here?” came the challenge.
“Asher!” Kyren chastised her husband.
“Oh, it’s quite alright.” Holden said, still smiling with all of his annoying charisma. “I often get that question – though not always so straightforwardly.”
Kyren frowned at her husband again.
“My family has always had a hand in one form of science or another. Some found their place in kinetics, some in astro-physics, others in biology or chemistry. I found out early that my skills lay in genetics. When I had discovered my passion I pursued it whole-heartedly which led to early completion of a few degrees and a position here, at the best genetics research center in the known universe.” Holden said. “Well. Now that we’ve discussed my qualifications, let’s talk about what we here at the ERDC can do for you two. You are wanting a daughter, correct?”
Asher opened his mouth to say something smart, but Kyren spoke up too quickly.
“Yes, we are.” She said.
“Alright…” the geneticist fished a piece of paper out of the small mountain of sheets he was carrying. “If I remember right…” he scanned the front of the page then flipped it over. “Ah, yes. You specifically requested a pre-determined hair color. Was there anything else you would prefer? Eye color? Height? Skin tone? Anything?”
“Hmm…” Kyren said thoughtfully, “Now that I think about it, yes.”
Asher almost groaned. Choosing one thing about a child was enough, but going beyond that... it was too much like playing God. He would have spoken up, but he feared Kyren’s wrath too much.
“Her eyes should be…” she thought for a moment, “blue. She must be tall – at least two heads taller than I am – and fair-skinned, much like the Telzarti people.”
“Alright.” Holden said, scribbling down the last of Kyren’s requests before looking back up at the couple. “The only step left for this visit will be to get the appropriate genetic material from the two of you.” He looked at Kyren, “I assume that your husband is to be the father of your daughter.”
“Very well then, please wait here and the resident doctor and his staff will be with you shortly.”
“I should have asked him if he knew anything about the ‘Hadassians’.” Kyren said to herself as she and her husband left the ERDC to head back to their ship.
Asher didn’t say anything.
“Why are you so quiet?” his wife prodded him in the ribs with her elbow.
Asher sighed, “I just don’t understand how you can just choose things like what your child looks like without a second thought about it – like it’s akin to choosing the color of your ship, or the layout of your house.” He sounded frustrated.
“It’s harmless, Asher.” Kyren chided. “She’ll fit right in with the local population.”
“You intend to stay here?!” he exclaimed.
Kyren shrugged in mock innocence – a look he had learned never to believe, “Maybe.”
“You do, don’t you. Well, what if I don’t want to stay here?” his gaze bored into her.
“Then you can leave.” She said simply. “Once I have my daughter I will have no need of you anymore.”
The blow hurt. Until now Asher had thought there might have been at least some twisted sort of love between him and his wife. That conception had just been incinerated like so much garbage.
The two were silent the rest of the way back to their ship.
A few days later they received a call from Holden Krom.
“You’ve what?!” Kyren’s angry voice rang through the small ship.
This made Asher smile. At least something wasn’t going exactly like his wife had planned.
“I want that buffoon fired!”
“There went that lab assistant’s job.” Thought Asher.
“Alright.” Kyren sighed in exaggerated annoyance. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” The communication ended.
“Asher!” Kyren called out to him from the front of the ship.
“Yes?” he pretended not to know what was going on.
“I’m going out. I’ll be back a few hours.”
“Alright.” He called back. “Don’t get lost.”
He could hear his wife muttering as she boarded the small shuttle that was stored in the miniature hangar located in the back of their ship. He heard the boarding ramp open and the shuttle leave.
Just as Kyren had promised, a few hours later she returned, but now she had a triumphant smile on her face. She walked straight up on Asher and announced, “We’re having a daughter.”
“So that little… misunderstanding was… what?” he asked, referring to the call his wife had received earlier.
Kyren laughed. “Krom got two projects mixed up. Nothing is wrong with the embryo he engineered for us.”
Asher didn’t respond.
“Aren’t you going to say something?” she tested.
“Umm…” he shifted around on his feet nervously, “Good?” he offered, hoping it was the right answer.
“Yes, it’s very good.” she said. “And in case you’re worried, your parents won’t suspect a thing. She’ll be born just like any other child, in nine months – give or take a day or two.” She smirked.
“Have you chosen her name?” he asked, and then added under his breath, “Since you seem to have chosen everything else already.”
Kyren either didn’t hear, or chose to ignore the last part.
“Her name will be Trelaina.”