Chapter XXXII: Capricious

An excerpt from
Diary of the Capricious
Entry 17: 290
Date 73 of 7499 SC


The room was calm. The music was relaxing. I felt sedated, but I knew better. This man wanted to set a mood.

The man named Kranne was looking at me as one looks vainly upon a mirror. His hair was short, like Tender's, but it was a brown so dark it was nearly black, wherever it hadn't grayed. And there was a scar across his scalp. It was subtle.

"If you can regenerate flesh to repair the damage of the process, why do you have that mark upon your head?" I asked.

"A cancerous brain tumour. It was once the size of a large orange, pushing against the rest of my brain. Chemotherapy was only effective in reducing it to the size of an apple. It had to be removed."

"That sounds terrible. What does cancerous mean? What's chemotherapy?"

"Cancer is a malignant growth in the body caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. Chemotherapy is one method of treatment."

"A yes, I remember now," I told him, as I recalled last year's biology lessons. "But I thought it never happened to humans."

"It does not happen to Children. Not anymore."

"Mmm... is that why you want to continue life on my genetics?" I asked.

He nodded and smiled, "It's a small yet vital part of the equation. Humanity has been struggling to cure cancer for millenia. And it is a common side-effect of long-term cryopreservation, if extensive precautions aren't taken."

"What do you need from me?" I asked. "Mother has all our genetic material on file, and you seem to have much of its utilities at your disposal, much to its chagrin."

"Your consent," said Kranne, passing me a paper.

I read it. A legal document of some sort, without Mother's markings. Every clause was concise and precise, there was very little about it open to interpretation.

I wrote three letters on the line. I tried to write it in the same curvy script they had been written in on my medflask.


Then I crossed them out. I had been given a second flask.

"May I touch your scar?"

"Pardon?" he asked.

"I want to touch your scar."

"All right," he said hesitantly, and bowed his head.

I placed my right hand upon his head, and closed my eyes. I tuned out the sound of the neofagottinis and vibrolins playing on the System's stereo.

And there it was. I saw the colours. And I knew he was not deceiving me. It wasn't pink like Tender's. Nor was it an emerald green like mine. And it was not lime green like that of a liar.

My brow converged, and I focused more intensely.

I found it, centimeters below the surface of his brain.

"It has started again," I told him as I signed my name: C A P R I C I O U S.

"What has?" he asked, his voice shaky. I was scaring him.

"The cancer. And not just there," I said gravely. I could tell that he had only weeks to live if I let this continue.

My thoughts probed like needles.

It burst like a bubble.

"Ahh!" he yelled, body jerking, face wincing as I tried to heal the tissue that filled the empty space. "What's happening to me?"

"I'm sorry," I told him. "I should have warned you."

"You did something to me!?" he was baffled. "Are you immune to the Inhibiquel?"

I smiled. "I am one of the Chosen."

"Not according to your profile!" he yelled.

"Calm down, I want to attempt to dissipate the other tumours. Please lie down on the table." It can't be that much more difficult than when I started the healing of Intuitive's burns, can it?

Kranne complied with mild confusion, muttering, "Mother has gone rogue, adjusting her own documentation..."

And then I sensed it in his aura: an omission of pertinent truth.

His right hand was on his taser, and his left hand was in his hair, searching for the scar that wasn't there anymore. Both were shaking.

"You're not telling me something," I intoned threateningly, with my right hand over his groin. I could tell that his real testicles had been removed long ago, probably because of cancer. Nevertheless, I knew I could cause pain there, as I tended to the three cancerous growths in his prostate.

"The others are using a more reliable procedure than I am," he told me. "The lives of their donors are in danger. Your lives and those of your ancestors may be an experiment, but that doesn't justify murder."

"Is that the whole truth, Kranne?" I asked, trying not to let his potential lies disrupt the healing process as I ran my hands down his legs, probing for tumours.

"The truth is subjective," he told me. "Pious believes what he fights for is true. So does Hierto. And so do the Interlopers. Do not confuse truth and fact." He paused, and his stomach grumbled. "I am not deceiving you."

I checked the other leg, both hands moving slowly. A bruised knee healed, and I found another tumour in his left calf. He certainly wasn't kidding, though I doubt the other 'Cold Gods' had it this rough. This man clearly had a genetic disposition to cancer.

"I'm shrinking one in your calf. You should be able to walk, but your body is going to be very hungry imminently."

He nodded. "My dreams are coming to fruition."

"In time, I may be able to regrow your... umm... m-missing pieces," I told him. "That is, if you -"

"No. Thank you, though. It's a kind gesture, my dear, but I am certain of my choice. I want to be a woman."

I tilted my head curiously to one side, "Very well. That is well beyond my capabilities. But I can probably do the regenerative work at the end faster."

"I think you would be more needed in the Hospital," he reminded me.

"You may be right, if things continue to escalate," I told him through clenched teeth. I had almost finished bursting the cancerous cells in his calf, more carefully than when I had disposed of the cancer in his brain.

"Pious has been short-circuiting Mother's eyes," he told me.

"That explains the globs of melted plasmetal and circuitry I've seen in her eye sockets. There's quite a lot of them. At this rate, she'll be completely blind."

"Have you heard anything about Father's restoration?" Kranne asked me, with great concern.

"All I know is that they're reviving him from Day 60's back-up. I don't know how long that will take. Primary manifestations must take a while to remake."

"I hope they fix him up before it's too late."

"Mother told us yesterday that the Union had to convert Brother to military duty. She fears that Sister will not be sufficient alone in harvesting raw materials."

"That is a temporary solution," Kranne said. "And there are stockpiles of emergency rations. You won't starve."


"Go hungry," he said, issuing a grumble from his own stomach.

"Ah," I said, dreading the thought.


We both turned to the door.


Two fist dents in the plasmetal door.


The gray chunk of plasmetal that had been the door went flying off its hinges and landed on the table.

I had already moved out of the way, but it landed on the Professor's arm, crushing it. He cried out in pain as Tender made his entrance.

He had stopped at the end of his kick, and still had one foot high up in the air. Slowly, he moved it down, and his muscular torso became upright. There was a warm smile on his face when he saw me, and he rushed forward.

Then he noticed the look on my face, and realized that Professor Krane did not deserve a crushed arm. The older man was using words I had never heard, probably cursing obscenities from an age long passed.

"Sacred shivers, I'm sorry!" said Tender. "I'm not sure of my own strength anymore. I'm terribly sorry, sir."

And then he turned to me, "Are you hurt?"

"No, but you could have killed me just there!" I shrieked as I wrapped my arms around his broad shoulders and kissed his neck.

His sweat filled the room with pheromones. They went straight to my head, and I struggled to get unnecessary thoughts out of my head.

As I began to tend to Kranne's wounds, I smiled, "I didn't need saving. But the other missing Children do."

"Is this man foe or friend?" Tender asked, as he turned his head away from the bone sticking out of Krane's forearm.

First, I focused on blocking the nerve receptors, then I hammered the bone back into place with my arm. I had never healed bones before. "Ugh..."

"Friend," said Kranne, also looking away.

I nodded.

"Did you do this to your boyfriend?" he asked me.

"To my what?" I exclaimed.

"To your mate. Did you accentuate his musculature so intensely?"

"Yes," I said, remembering that night we broke into the Kitchen. We stayed up for six hours after curfew. He was cooking and eating and eating some more, as we cuddled. I had focused so well upon him, with more concentration than I had ever used. Where my hands met his body, I felt power.

Kranne's stomach was complaining immensely.

"Hold my hand," I instructed Tender, as I took his right hand in my left.

"Is he Chosen too?" Kranne pondered aloud, as he fixed his gaze upon the portrait of a strange green and blue globe that lay against a twilight background.

"Chosen?" asked Tender.

"No, Kranne," I told Kranne. "I gave him immunity to the... umm..."

"Inhibiquel," said Kranne.

"I respected Mother's wishes to some extent. I will tell him the full story when it is no longer secret." I smiled at Tender. His body was brimming with vitality, yet his face was still the same. His face had always been full of life.

Tender returned the smile. He trusted me, just as I trusted him. He was the warmth in my life, in a cold world of secrecy. "My abilities have yet to manifest, Mr. Kranne."

"Please, you may both call me Dani," said Kranne. "I am no sir, mister, professor or God. Not here and not to you Children."

It was then that a woman's voice yelled something incoherent and a searing red laser shot into the room. The warning shot left a smoking hole in the wall.

I screamed.

Kranne sat up, his face a conflict of emotion as he moved his arm that I hadn't finished healing. I hadn't even finished checking him for tumours!

Tender charged out the doorway, the door in one hand at his side like a giant shield.

I saw more flashes of red, burning holes in the door and leaving raw marks upon Tender's chest.

The gun clattered to the floor with a beep. My beau held her against the wall by her arms as she tried to kick him in the gut. Her boots hardly left a mark against his abdomen. I hadn't noticed the trail of curly light brown hairs there before, a line below Tender's navel.

And now that we weren't in danger, I felt a flood of foreign thoughts.

I was in love. I was infatuated. Emotionally. Intellectually. Physically. Spiritually?

And innocent.

Both of us.

And as I watched him stare the Cold Goddess down protectively, I fought the urge to keep it that way.

Clever called it 'slowmance'.

Bold called it foolish.

Two metal prongs touched the upper back of my neck.

"Either you let my colleague go," said Dani Kranne. "Or I will zap your precious girl here. And there won't be anyone around to heal the brain damage."

Not that I could. I have a minimal effect on myself. And this man didn't know that.

The End

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