Canto Forty-Four – In the Bio-Dome
Alden and Gracie stood before the row of cloning jars, staring at the gently floating and twitching forms. Sizzahl gently adjusted the nutrient feeds to the artificial placentas.
“They look so… so human,” said Gracie. “Their little bodies are so perfect, and so big!”
“We will have them developed to birth size by morning,” said Sizzahl. “The cloning jars use electro-magnetic chronol-enhancement to make the gestation occur in a fraction of the time.”
“Really?” Alden was aghast, “We will have ten babies to take care of by morning?”
“Oh, yes. They will grow fast for a while. They will be toddlers in less than a week. And about your other comment, Gracie… they are precisely fifty per cent human. Half me, half Alden… half Galtorrian…”
“…Half human,” said Alden. It was stunning. He and Gracie had talked about having kids, in fact, tried hard to have kids for years… and now, suddenly, they would have a family of ten children and three parents who, no matter how mentally old and wise they might be, were physically only between ten and twelve.
“I want to be a mother so badly it hurts,” said Gracie. “But why so many? How will we manage ten babies all at once?”
Sizzahl put a hand on Gracie’s bare shoulder. “There is very little romance in what we have to do. We have to raise up a workforce of these new fusion-race babies, possibly even an army. We really don’t have a choice if we are not going to simply let this entire planet die.”
Suddenly a black-clad figure appeared above the tanks. It was humanoid in form, but had a tail like a Galtorrian. It wore a black mask like a ninja.
“Ah! Scabby!” cried Alden, pointing.
“He moves too much like a lizard with no diseases,” said Sizzahl, a firm hand on the shoulder of each of the Morrells. “In fact… he seems awfully familiar.”
“Sizzahl! I thought Gohmurt had killed the whole family!”
“Senator Makkhain?” asked Sizzahl.
The lizard-man pulled off the mask. “Yes, little one, I have survived. The Cooperative managed to kill Emperor Rekhpahree in the last battle over Spidercrawl Fortress. I came to tell your father and recruit him to our cause… um, forgetting that Gohmurt killed him, I guess… but it seems the Bio-Dome is wrecked and everyone else is dead.”
“I am not dead,” said Sizzahl, mistress of the obvious. “And the Bio-Dome is not wrecked. I have the atmosphere scrubbers working at full capacity, and I am trying to solve the blighted food supply problem.”
“Clever girl. How did you survive the scabbies with nothing more than your little naked self?” Makkhain pulled off his mask. For a lizard-man, he had a very gentle face with wise bluish snake eyes.
“I’m not alone here. Father’s robots are set to kill anything wearing clothes or carrying equipment. How is it that you survived them?”
“I’m sorry. Three of your father’s toys attacked me, and I had to break them quietly with this…” He brandished a silver blade weapon with a hook on the end that was smeared with oil.
“Erm… I guess I will have to fix them, then. They have been protecting us very effectively.”
“Who is this man, Makkhain?” asked Gracie. “Should we be trusting him?”
“Oh,” said Makkhain, “your naked Skoog Monkeys talk?”
“We are not Skoog Monkeys,” said Alden. “We are humans from Earth.”
“Of course you are,” said Makkhain. “But apparently really scrawny ones.”
Alden was boiling at the insult. Still, the lizard-man had a sword and Alden was naked and trapped in a mere boy’s body.
“Makkhain is my uncle,” said Sizzahl at last, “my mother’s brother. He is one of the good guys.”
“That is good,” said Gracie. “We need more good guys.”
“What are you doing cooking tailless Skoog Monkeys in the cloning pots?”
“These are fusions,” said Sizzahl proudly. “They are half Earther and half Galtorrian. They will be our new work force, hopefully with the best qualities of each race combined into one being.”
“Ah, girl, you always were the smart one in the family… a real dreamer. But do you really need these things now that I am here?”
“Yes, uncle. They are superior to the lizard-people who have destroyed this planet. They will be a more worthy successor race than we were as an original race.”
Makkhain dropped down onto the floor of the cloning chamber and lowered the sword. He quietly put an arm around his naked niece. She hugged him fiercely and began to cry.
Alden felt awkward. He was glad that Sizzahl had a family again. He was also glad for an adult-sized ally. But something about Makkhain rubbed him the wrong way. Things just didn’t feel right in Alden’s farmer weather-bones.