Canto Thirty-Eight – The Bio Dome Cloning Facility
Alden tenderly rubbed Gracie’s naked back and shoulders. He loved his wife desperately and wanted to make love to her again… but she inhabited a child’s body and that just felt wrong. Of Course, he was living in a child’s body as well, his physical age reduced to childhood by the de-evolution machine that Commander Biznap maintained in his space ship (along with at least a hundred other machines on Telleron space ships or aboard Xiar’s mother ship). They were both physically children again, though their minds were filled with a combined seventy-eight years of life experience, something no actual children had. Gracie purred like a kitten and grinned at Alden with her ten-year-old’s face. What a strange life they now had together.
“Will you allow me to take skin and tissue samples for DNA?” asked Sizzahl, also naked, but not so noticeably because she was covered in skin that looked like a soft version of alligator-skin.
“You can only take them from me?” asked Alden.
“I can’t use Gracie’s DNA. She is now a simuloid, made of artificial flesh. Her DNA bears highly technical artificial helixes that don’t smoothly mesh will real DNA. Besides, you both claim to want offspring of your own… and this is the only way you will ever do that.”
“What?” said Gracie. “We can’t grow up and make babies of our own? The natural way, I mean?” Gracie looked shocked and shaken.
“I thought you knew. The child-sized simuloid you used to stay alive was only ever programmed to be child-sized. Its tissue regenerates like a child’s. So now that the termination program is removed from your artificial system, you are effectively immortal… but will always be child-sized.”
It was Alden’s turn to be shaken. “We will never grow up?”
“Well, you can, if you choose. But you can also keep using the Telleron machine to stay the same size as your wife. That probably will make you immortal too.”
Sizzahl’s yellow lizard-eyes with the snake-like pupils were dead serious. No way was Sizzahl joking… not that Alden had ever even seen her laugh.
“But what if we don’t want to be children forever?” asked Alden.
“As long as you don’t get killed on this horrible planet,” said Sizzahl, “you will have to choose to die and terminate yourselves. You will not die of old age. At least, Gracie won’t, and you don’t have to age either if you don’t want to. The Tellerons’ technology allows that.”
It was a lot to take in all at once. Children forever? Alden couldn’t get his mind around such a thing. Did he want to live forever if he had to do it in a child-sized body?
“Tell me more about these babies you plan to make,” said Gracie.
“I was going to use the cloning vats that I have used for animals to make two sets of five, one set male and the other one female. I will accelerate their growth to a teachable age, because I will need them to work for me as soon as they possibly can.”
“And Alden and I could be their parents?” asked Gracie.
“Well… genetically they would be surrogate children, owing their genetic heritage half to me and half to Alden. They would be Galtorrian/human fusions. But you would certainly be welcome to think of them as your own. Alden is technically their father.”
Gracie draped her arm around Alden’s naked shoulders. “I want to be their mother, Alden. We will have ten kids. That’s as many as anyone on my side of the family ever had.”
“Do we really want to bring babies into a horrible world like this?” Alden was horrified at the thought.
“Yes, we certainly do. You have to admit, repopulating this dying world is a noble reason to have so many kids. And you know how much we would both love them.”
“But we are doomed to stay child-sized, Gracie. We would be midget parents. And, Sizzahl? Would they look like lizard-people or humans?”
“I don’t really know, of course, but I like to think they would look more like humans… maybe with scales or a tail.”
Alden shook his head sadly. He could not do this.
“Will you let me scrape the skin on your arm, Alden?” asked Sizzahl, “and swab the inside of your mouth with a special cloth?”
“Of course he will!” said beautiful, child-like Gracie with adult certainty.
Alden nodded agreement and held out his bare arm. Women always decided these things anyway… didn’t they?