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Xing was different, he also had problems. Orphaned, suffering from gender dysphoria and slowly dying he had little hope for the future until he met the alien Khella Phar. She could give him everything he wanted and all it would cost him was his humanity.

 
 

Twice Removed
Prologue
First Contact

By
Amethyst
I turned away from the mirror and closed my eyes tight, trying to push the image of that reflection from my mind. “Easier to adjust!?” I screamed. “I’m a freak! You stripped me of my humanity and changed my gender without my consent! How is that supposed to be easy to adjust to?!”

 


 
Author's Note: I have decided to post the prologue of this story and see what people think. This will be my first foray into Sci-Fi so it's a bit of a different direction for me. Thanks as usual to my readers and of course the Big Closet team who work tirelessly to give us all a great place to post and read TG fiction. ~Amethyst.
 


 
Prologue: First Contact

I was twelve years old on May fifth of 2037 when first contact was made. I remember the excitement from those early days so well. One of the biggest questions mankind faced had suddenly been answered; we were not alone. I wish I could say that it happened when humanity first began to explore beyond our own solar system, but such was not the case. Humanity was stagnant, having made no major leaps in space travel or colonization in decades. It was the Saer’khi had who had come to Earth.

It was all over the news when that first ship entered orbit and hours later sent those first messages all over the world in our most common languages. The Saer’khi were as prepared for contact with humanity as we were unprepared for contact with them. For years they had been listening to our radio and satellite signals from afar, learning and preparing for contact with our species. We were not the first new species they had encountered and we wouldn’t be the last. They knew exactly how to approach us. They came in peace with offers to share their technology and help us repair the damage that we had done to our beleaguered planet.

I probably would have been just as excited as the rest of humanity about the future if I thought that I actually had one. So while my new foster parents watched the news with a mix of awe and excitement and thought about the future of humanity I focussed on trying to get my hands to work well enough to dress myself. The Fosters, ironic I know, seemed like nice people but they were my fifth foster family in as many months so I didn’t think I would be staying with them for long. You might think that going through that many foster homes that I was a problem child, but it was in fact the opposite. I was a child with problems, problems that nobody wanted to have to deal with.

You see my parents both died less than a year before in the Great Quake of August twenty-ninth. The Great Quake rocked most of the west coast of North America with tremors being felt as far as northwest Canada. My home city of San Francisco was at ground zero and hit the hardest with over three hundred thousand deaths and millions of injured. I was trapped with my dead parents in the rubble of our home in Chinatown for two days before I was rescued.

My trauma and emotional problems were only part of the problem though. Soon after the quake the chronic weakness, stiffness and twitching of the muscles in my right arm had spread to my left and, for lack of a better diagnosis, I was officially diagnosed with ALS, hence the problem dressing myself and the many foster homes. Nobody wants a child whose life expectancy is three years, with most of that time being completely dependent on them for everything. Without very expensive gene therapy I would gradually lose conscious control over all of my body functions and then have to live on machines for what little time I had left. Even if I had the money or insurance coverage for gene therapy the odds of them being able to cure me were less than fifteen percent unless they could find the cause of the motor neuron degeneration.

“Dammit!” I cursed in frustration as I dropped the shirt I had been attempting to put on. The shirt in question hurled itself across the room at my closet and I cursed again. “Fuck, not this again.” The frustration with my inability to use my hands and arms properly was bad enough without things flying around the room whenever I felt that frustration. I already disliked my body enough without all this excess baggage that the frustration with my hands and arms brought up. I crossed the room, taking deep and steady breaths to calm myself, and bent over to carefully retrieve the hoodie.

I had given up on anything with hooks, clasps, buttons, or zippers weeks ago and while that may not give me much variety in my wardrobe at least with some effort and time I could still dress myself. I would have tried dressing en femme if I could have managed something more complex or if I knew how my new foster parents would have reacted. I hadn’t let any of my previous new families in on my gender dysphoria either though, since I had enough issues with just the trauma, and ALS for a new foster family to have to face. I had a feeling that bringing my gender confusion into it on top of all my other problems would have only made things worse.

I finally managed to get myself dressed and headed downstairs to the living room where my new foster parents Nick and Lana were watching the morning news on the vid screen. The top story was about the messages that had been broadcast all over earth and discussion with people claiming to be ‘experts’ about what these aliens might look like and just what technology they would share with us. As interesting as the thought of aliens was though I had places to be. I cleared my throat and spoke up. “Lana, I’m ready to go for my check-up now.”

The bubbly blonde twenty-something turned to look me over. Seeing nothing out of place she smiled. “I was about to come and check on you, I heard you cursing a little while ago, is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I lied. Everything was not fine, hadn’t been for months, and was unlikely to ever be again. Sometimes I wondered why I kept going on with the mess I called my life. My suffering would only get exponentially worse for the short time I had left.

The smile on her face promptly flip flopped to a frown. “You’re not a very good liar you know. Have you seen the news? Maybe these aliens have some medical tech that could help you?”

“I’ll believe it when I see it. Somehow I doubt these aliens came all this way to offer us a cure for ALS,” I replied grouchily.

“You really need to be more positive,” Lana offered.

Perfectly healthy people telling me to be more positive about my situation pissed me off more than anything so my response was more than a little caustic. “Okay, I’m positive that aliens have even less reason to give a shit about me than humans do, so why get my hopes up?”

Lana looked like I slapped her, and Nick gave me a sour look as his wife spoke again. “Sorry Xing, I’m just saying that maybe there’s some hope, you never know what medical technology these aliens might be able to offer us. Anything could happen in the next few years.”

I let out a sigh, feeling bad for hurting her. Way to start off the relationship on a good foot Xing, I mentally scolded myself. She’s trying to be nice and you’ve done nothing but bitch and moan since you got here last week. Sadly this conversation was going better than our past attempts. I wondered if perhaps I should stop hiding behind the tough boy shell I was creating for myself and let some of the emotions and vulnerability I felt show. The tough boy was all an act anyway and not even I knew who I really was inside. “Sorry Lana, I’ll try to be more positive.”

* * *

I had been right about the Fosters. They held out for almost two months though before I became too much for them. Between my emotional problems, my growing needs due to my increasing inability to use my arms and hands, and my fatalistic attitude, I was just too much for them to handle. After the Fosters, the Burke’s lasted a week before giving up and then the government decided that I would be best served with the constant care I could receive at a hospital. UCLA’s medical staff would be able to study me as part of their research to find causes and a cure for ALS, I would get the care I needed, and Child Services would no longer have a headache named Xing. They saw it as a situation where everyone wins, and so I began my new career as a live-in lab rat at UCLA hospital. It was there, a month before my fifteenth birthday, that I met my first Saer’khi.

The aliens had sent scientists from various fields of study to share their knowledge with their human counterparts and to assist in other tasks. These tasks included the design and construction of devices to purify the air, water, and soil from pollution and ozone generators to be placed in the upper atmosphere to repair the holes in our ozone layer. Three of these scientists were from the medical field and one of those was Khella Phar. As it happened, the head researcher was giving the alien a tour of the facilities at UCLA hospital and explaining what research they were doing and I happened to be part of the tour.

I lay there in my bed, unmoving as Dr. Reeves entered the room with the strange woman. I could hear him talking about the various possible causes for cases of ALS and I was curious who he was talking to, since it sounded less condescending than the lecture he usually gave the medical students. If I could have turned my head I would have, but I was beyond that. “This is Xing,” Dr. Reeves said as they approached my bed. “He’s an orphan and the state was kind enough to let us keep him here for study in exchange for caring for him. He is in the later stages and has lost conscious control of almost his entire body, he has trouble speaking even at a whisper, and he is taking his meals intravenously. It probably won’t be long before he starts having respiratory troubles as well. He’s a bit of an unusual case.”

“How so?” responded a feminine electronic voice.

“When we brought him here and began studying him we ran tests and scans on both his brain and body hoping to find possible causes,” Dr. Reeves explained. “The only unusual thing we found was on fMRI scans. Unlike other cases of ALS, which display a normal amount of brain activity, Xing’s brain has developed strangely and although scans are inconsistent he has often displayed nearly ten times the brain activity of a normal person, even while at rest.”

“Interesting,” the alien voice replied. “Is it possible that the signals that his brain is sending to the motor neurons are too powerful and overloading them, causing the degeneration?”

The doctor stepped up to my bed and looked me over, “I suppose it’s possible but if that’s the case then traditional gene therapy wouldn’t work, the repaired neurons would just degrade again. We thought the spikes of increased brain activity could be due to a tumor but we couldn’t find anything like that. His brain as a whole seems to contain irregularities and increased activity and forebrain in particular shows a lot more activity than normal. From what we’ve seen, we believe that he’s very intelligent and has an excellent memory but it’s been hard to get accurate results.”

“Why is that?” the voice asked as someone else approached the foot of the bed smiled at me. The alien was a very tall humanoid woman, possibly six foot four inches, with dark blue skin, golden hair, and amber eyes. Further inspection showed that she also had four arms and black antennae sprouting from her head just above her hairline. She was wearing a white and gold robe and a small metal device on a choker around her neck.

“Xing doesn’t always cooperate with us,” he replied acidly and looked at his clipboard. “He has an attitude problem.”

“Fuck… you… too… doc,” I managed to get out, my voice barely a whisper. Dr. Reeves had always rubbed me the wrong way. He seemed to think I should be happy to be his lab rat, to have him, his colleagues, and his students watch me slowly waste away. It pissed me off, all of it; those thoughts, his smug sense of superiority, and the fact that my own body conspired against me getting up and punching the asshole. If I could get up I would take that clipboard of his and smack him with it, I thought angrily.

Suddenly the clipboard in his hands jerked and hit him right in the nose. He just stared in confusion for a moment at the clipboard he was still holding. The Saer’khi’s amber eyes narrowed and she looked at me intently. It was then that I felt a sort of pressure in my mind as a rush of confusing images and thoughts rushed through it. Stop it, I thought as I tried to push the images, the thoughts and the pressure out of my brain.

The alien’s eyes widened and the pressure was suddenly gone. As she smiled and I was suddenly struck by how she looked both so human and so alien at the same time. I also noticed that her lips weren’t moving when she spoke; maybe the metal box was some kind of voice box? “You have potential, child. I think that I can make you better, would you like that?”

Was she kidding? I would do anything to be able to walk or use my hands again. “Yes,” I whispered.

“I am Khella Phar and if you come with me I will do everything I can to make you better,” the blue skinned alien vowed before turning to Dr. Reeves. “You said that Xing has no family?”

He took his eyes away from his clipboard to regard her. “Yes, both of his parents died in an earthquake when he was twelve and he has no other surviving relatives. That, and his attitude, was why he was placed in our care. I doubt that there is much that can be done for him at this point. It will take us years to interpret and put to use all the medical knowledge your kind had offered us and he just does not have that long.”

Khella looked at Dr. Reeves like he was a prize idiot and I decided that I liked the Saer’khi woman. “That is exactly why I will be taking this child with me to Saer’kah. The first Migration ships leave in three days. I want him on the ship with the other severe medical cases.” I would find out later that the Migration was an agreement between the Saer’khi and the Earth’s governments in which a mass relocation of thousands of the planets ‘non-contributing citizens’ to the Saer’khi’s home world and various colonies to help them find a purpose and homes. These people included the critically ill who needed medical procedures that Earth wasn’t prepared for, voluntary poor and homeless, and those who had little hope of finding employment even as manual labour in Earth’s developing space industry or other new fields.

“Now listen here, the state and the University have placed this brat in my care so we could attempt to find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. You have no authority to take him anywhere,” Dr. Reeves argued.

The alien frowned at the doctor as she responded in that electronic voice. “The President of your country has given us the authority to take any critically ill children and their guardians on the ship to Saer’kah if Earth medicine is unable to help them and we believe that we can. In the case of orphans in the care of the state I am authorized to take custody of them to ensure they get the care they need. You have said that you can do nothing for him, I can make him better if the cause is what I believe it to be.”

“You can’t do this! I…” Dr. Reeves began.

“Yes I can,” she stated, cutting off the rest of what he was going to say. “I have informed my people and they will be here within the hour with a medical capsule to take him to the ship. Now if you will please give us some privacy, I would like to speak with Xing about what I have in mind before my people arrive.”

Dr. Reeves looked furious and I would have screamed out in joy had I been able. He opened his mouth to say something but stopped himself before turning and storming out of the room. The Saer’khi turned to make sure he was leaving and I spotted what looked like translucent insect-like wings folded against the back of her robe. When she was satisfied we were alone and turned back to me I said, “Thank… you.”

She smiled at me as she came closer and stood beside my bed. “You have a rare gift among your kind Xing, but I think that you do not yet know how to control it.” I was wondering what exactly she meant when she elaborated. “You made that clipboard hit Dr. Reeves and when I tried to speak with you mind to mind you responded and tried to push me out. I am not sure what your response was, but you did respond.”

“What?” I croaked out, a bit confused.

“My race does not have a spoken language as you know it, we speak with one another telepathically,” she explained and touched the metal box on her throat. “Once our linguists have a good understanding of a new species’ spoken language we program these devices to translate the thoughts we direct into them to that language so that we can communicate, just as we use translation devices to understand what you are saying to us. I tried speaking telepathically with you, but your response was too confusing to understand. Before this, my kind has never met a member of any alien race who could respond at all.” She took a white rectangular electronic device from a pouch on her belt and displayed it for me. “I am going to calibrate this portable medical scanner to examine your brain and nervous system. Is that alright with you?”

“Okay,” I replied. It was the first time in years that anyone had explained what they were going to do, let alone ask my consent.

She ran the humming device over my head for a few moments before looking at the small screen on it and then ran it slowly over the rest of my body. Once she was finished she looked at the screen once again before directing her gaze back at me. “It is as I thought. It is not just your upper and lower motor neurons that are the problem; your entire nervous system is showing signs of degradation. The electric impulses that your brain is using to send signals to the rest of your body through the nervous system are too strong and are overloading your nervous system bit by bit. Your doctors didn’t notice this because they were focusing on only the problems you were having with the upper and lower motor neurons. To put it simply, your brain is too advanced for the rest of your body.”

“Can…you… fix… it?” I asked nervously.

The Saer’khi sat beside me and took my hand. “You are special Xing, and I will do everything I can to make you better. I have an idea, but you must agree to it. My kind has recently begun using nano-machines in space construction and for other purposes. I would like to confer with one of our nanite experts to program some to be used for medical uses. We would then use these nanites as a delivery system for full body gene replacement therapy and I will alter some of your DNA to use as a vector. It is my hope that the nanites will then slowly regenerate all the cells in your body using the altered DNA as a template.”

I refused to ask if it would work. This was the first time anyone had actually tried anything to actually cure me instead of just studying me and I had to believe that it would work. I asked instead, “How… long?”

“I will begin conferring with the nanite experts once we arrive on Saer’kah,” she replied. “It may take months to construct and program the nanites to do what we need them to and just as long to come up with a workable strain of DNA that will provide you with a compatible nervous system. After that it will take some time to regenerate all your cells. We don’t want to do it too quickly. I must warn you that altering your DNA like this could cause some physical changes and I will need your consent.”

At that moment I couldn’t have cared less what physical changes she was warning me about, I just wanted to be able to get out of that damn bed and live a semi-normal life. “I… consent.”

For the next half hour Khella Phar told me about her home world, her people, and how she hoped that my ‘gift’ might help them understand humans better. Soon her people arrived to collect me with a long silver tube approximately three feet tall, three feet wide, and seven feet long. It had a transparent top with several indicator lights alongside and hovered about a foot off the ground. The two Saer’khi that guided the medical capsule were male with the same alien features as my savior, but were shorter than her, and one had light blue hair while the other’s was a darker blue.

The pair pushed the tube alongside my bed as Khella began to remove the IV tubes, monitors, and other medical devices from me. When that was done and the transparent top slid open, she and the two men removed my hospital gown and began placing tiny metal discs all over my body and a black, plastic-like oxygen mask over my mouth and nose as the alien woman explained what was going to happen. “Once you are in the capsule it will fill with a green liquid. This liquid will be absorbed through your pores and provide most of the nutrients you will require to keep you healthy while you are inside. Any other nutrients that your body requires will be provided intravenously. The oxygen mask will convert the carbon dioxide you breathe out into breathable oxygen and ensure you don’t breathe in any fluid. These discs will monitor your health and occasionally deliver small electric impulses to your muscles to stimulate them and repair the atrophy.”

The two Saer’khi men carefully lifted me and gently placed me in the tube. After a moment the alien woman arrived beside it holding a curved silver device paper thin and about five inches long and a half inch wide. She gave me a reassuring smile as she explained, “This will place you in a medically induced coma for the duration of your time in the medical capsule. When you next open your eyes you will be better.” She gently placed the cold metal on my forehead and then everything went black.

* * *

I spent well over a year in that tube while they worked on the cure for my condition. The nanites and the modified DNA were successful though and I felt a surge of joy when I opened my eyes and raised my own hand to remove the oxygen mask. As I stood I thought that I must have been in the tube for a long time since I seemed almost as tall as the alien woman now. I remember those first moments after I was brought out of the tube so well; those first tentative steps, moving my own body for the first time in years as Khella Phar held my hand, but most of all I remember that first look in the mirror. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw there. “What have you done?” I whispered in shock as I stared at the mirror. I didn’t even recognize my own voice, much less the body reflected in that mirror.

To be honest I wasn’t sure whether I should be awed or horrified by what I saw in that mirror but horrified won out. There was a pained look on Khella Phar’s face as she saw the horrified look on my own. “I made you better. Variants of your human DNA were not working; your brain has developed beyond a human body’s ability to handle so I tried blending your DNA with my own. The Saer’khi nervous system is much more suitable since we have similar gifts as you and our bodies have evolved to use them. It took a while to create a stable hybrid DNA to work from, especially since I wanted you to keep as many of your human traits as possible. I felt that it would be easier for you to adjust that way.”

I turned away from the mirror and closed my eyes tight, trying to push the image of that reflection from my mind. “Easier to adjust!?” I screamed. “I’m a freak! You stripped me of my humanity and changed my gender without my consent! How is that supposed to be easy to adjust to?!”

“Strictly human DNA was not working,” she repeated. “I vowed to make you better and your body is much improved. You can walk and care for yourself again, is that not what you wanted? I fail to see how I have taken away your humanity, you have retained most of your human appearance and you are still the same person that you were on the inside, only you can ever change that. The hybrid nervous system is handling the signals your brain is sending very well and in making you female I have given you a great honor.”

“How is being changed into a girl without my permission a great honor?” I grumbled. I felt that I might be able to get used to the hybrid thing, after all this alien had tried so hard to help me when humans locked me up in a lab and turned me into some combination lab rat and circus freak. I might look the part now but at least she treated me as a person. She had even warned me there could be physical changes. It wasn’t even the fact that she changed my gender that bothered me, as under other circumstances I may have welcomed the change. What bothered me was that she did it without even asking me. I had been naked when I stepped out of the tube and looked in the floor length mirror in the room so there was no doubt at all in my mind that I was completely female now.

The Saer’khi woman guided me to some sort of gel chair that molded itself to my form as I was seated and began to explain. “Although we Saer’khi are primarily a mammalian race we are descended from the Saer bees and have many of the traits of those ancestors. There are the more obvious physical traits as well as the social ones. Males outnumber females four to one but our society is matriarchal. Here men look to us for leadership and women hold all the leadership roles. I brought you here to heal you and to help our peoples better understand one another and the high council will only take a female seriously when it comes to matters of importance.”

“So you brought me here to become some go between for humans and Saer’khi?”

“No I brought you here so that you can learn to use your natural gifts and to help us understand non-telepathic communication better,” she replied. She looked frustrated as she tried to communicate in a way that I would understand her position. “There are things that we miss when we attempt to communicate that way, subtleties that simply are not needed with telepathy. Mostly I just wanted you to be happy. You were so miserable in that hospital bed and I wanted to help you become more than you were and to realize your potential. I had hoped that you might be happy doing that here with us. It is why I decided to use my own DNA when creating a hybrid DNA sample to work from. It was meant as a gift to you.”

“So surprising me by switching my Y chromosome for an extra X is your way of showing you care?” I said with a roll of my eyes.

“You do not understand Xing,” she replied looking confused by my response and the movement of my eyes, “Half of your DNA now comes from me; by our laws that makes you not only genetically but also legally my daughter. You know what it is to be human but as my daughter you can learn what it is to be Saer’khi as well. Then you can help others of your kind understand us if there are any misunderstandings. The gift I give is not only the offer of a home and a family, but also rank.”

The offer of home and a real family was tempting; I hadn’t had that since I was twelve years old. The rank thing confused me though. “Rank? Are you some sort of nobility or something?”

“I am a Ji’turi, and so are you,” she said.

“What’s a Jeetoory?” I asked in confusion.

“It is a trait we inherited from the Saer bees,” she explained. Over half of our females are not born with fully formed ovaries. They can still bear children, but we need to create those children using artificial means and implant them in their wombs. Ji’turi are females born with fully functioning ovaries and the ability to reproduce naturally. It is a hereditary trait, but all females are checked at birth and those of us who are Ji’turi are fed royal jelly from the Saer bees during our formative years to help us stay healthy and strong; it also makes us quite a bit taller than other Saer’khi females. Even other Saer’khi females must obey a Ji’turi. You would call us queen bees I believe.”

“You just said Ji’turi were born that way, I wasn’t, so how can I be one?”

“When I discovered that your new body would need to be a hybrid I wanted the best for you. You were not going to be a mere worker, you are meant for more than that,” she said with what seemed like sincere concern. “I added royal jelly to the nutrients you were getting intravenously while I worked for months on a stable hybrid DNA sample. I made sure that the DNA strain that I created was for a female with the Ji’turi trait. I checked before waking you and your reproductive system appears to be fully functional.”

“How is that even possible?!” I asked in shock. “Wouldn’t a hybrid be sterile like a mule?”

“A good question,” she said with a look of respect. “Humans and Saer’khi seem to share an abnormally large number of genetic markers. In fact all the humanoid species we have encountered do. We have theorized that all these species come from a common ancestor. Also our external physiology may be different but we share much of the same mammalian traits and organs. The only major differences are that our brains are slightly more advanced than humans, and our lack of vocal chords and an appendix. Humans seem to share a lot more genetic markers with all the humanoid species we’ve discovered than the Saer’khi do or that any of the others share with one another. Humans may be closer to whatever genetic ancestor we share; they could even be the shared ancestor of the other humanoid races. Our genetic research indicates that because of this, humans could probably successfully cross-breed with most other placental humanoids if they were so inclined. That adaptability in humans is why it was possible to create a workable hybrid DNA strain for you.”

“Okay, so what I’m getting from this is that humans are adaptable, Ji’turi are the top of the Saer’khi social food chain, and you thought you were doing me a favor by taking away my Y chromosome. I’m curious though, aren’t you worried that the imposed genome could be unstable or that my body could reject the new genetic template and I could start to revert?” I asked.

Her brows rose in surprise. “I am impressed with your questions Xing. The genome is stable, I made sure of that and so far your body shows no sign of rejection. The nanites we used in the gene replacement are still present in your body and we have them monitoring you for rejection, keeping you healthy, and ensuring that you are not reverting.”

I shrugged at her compliment. “You don’t spend three years living in a hospital and not learn anything, and before my parents died they were always encouraging me to read and learn as much as I could. I’m a lot more intelligent than I let on to Dr. Reeves. I used to want to be a doctor when I grew up, and then I met him. You’re a lot better than he ever was, even with the gender switcharoo.”

“I am confused why you are so upset about that.” She did indeed seem genuinely confused about it as she made her points. “Being Ji’turi is considered an honor among my people. Also, the scans I took of your brain when we first met were more consistent with a female of your species than a male.”

“That’s probably true,” I replied, wishing that I could make her understand. “I was always more feminine than masculine but it’s not being female that is upsetting me; it’s the fact that you made that decision without consulting me. I may not have enjoyed being a guy but I was willing to give it a try. I’m still young and with all the other issues I had with my body and losing my parents I couldn’t even be sure that my increasing discomfort about my gender wasn’t just a result of everything else. I would have liked to discover my gender identity on my own before having a new one forced on me. I like you, but if you expect me to do what you’re asking I need to be able to trust you not to do things behind my back.”

She stepped forward and wrapped me in a hug. “I am sorry Xing. I only wished to make things better for you. This is what I mean about our kind having issues with non-telepathic communication. If we had been able to discuss the treatment options telepathically beforehand you would have known all the possible ways I could make you better and we could have shared our views on them all within moments.”

Realization suddenly hit me. “Oh my God, when you told me you would make me better you meant that you would improve me in every sense of the word. I thought you were talking solely about my medical condition. And of course with my brain being more female than male and your society you would think making me female would be an upgrade. You weren’t kidding about your unfamiliarity with the subtleties of spoken language causing misunderstandings.”

Her expression probably mirrored my own as she realized what I was saying. “I am so sorry about this Xing. Once I had two daughters, my second daughter would have been about your age now. She had a genetic disease that caused problems similar to what you were going through. At the time we had no way to cure her and we weren’t even using nanotechnology back then. I couldn’t save her. When I saw you lying in that bed you reminded me so much of Jhirai. Then when I discovered your gifts I promised myself that I would do everything I could to save you. If it is your wish I will see what I can do to create another DNA strain for a male.”

I shook my head. “That would likely take weeks, if not longer. I might as well at least give this a try before we go twisting my DNA around again. The main reason I was upset about it was because you hadn’t consulted me first and I probably do have a lot to be thankful for. I can move on my own power again, and unlike a lot of transgendered people I can possibly have kids of my own someday if what you told me is true. I would say I can probably be comfortable with my body too, but this whole hybrid thing might take a bit of getting used to. I can’t be Jhirai, you know that, but maybe I can get used to this and learn to be myself.” I took a deep breath and asked, “Could I have a few minutes alone with that big mirror?”

The Saer’khi woman nodded and stood up before leaving me alone in the examination room with the floor length mirror. I took another deep breath before standing, walking over to the mirror, and making myself look at what was reflected there. I decided that with clothes on and the proper accessories I could probably still pass as human, so I tried to catalog my human features first. I was tall for a sixteen year old Chinese girl, probably about six foot one and had wide hips, a waspishly slim waist, breasts that seemed to be on the large side of average, and my legs were long and shapely. My skin tone and facial features still had a distinctively Asian cast to them, though my face was softer with higher cheekbones and slightly pouty lips.

My hair had grown much longer during my time in the hospital and then the medical tube and was about hip length, but now instead of being black it was more of a dark blue. I could probably get away with it when it was dark but if I planned to be around humans much I would need something to hide it and the pair of eight inch long antennae that had sprouted just above my hairline. My eyes would definitely need to be hidden as well around other humans, they had the shape common amongst the Chinese but the bright amber color would pose a problem. At least I still only had two arms, but those wings would need to be hidden under my clothes. As I considered that I felt a strange vibrating sensation between my shoulder blades as the wings in question began to move rapidly, almost as in response to my thoughts. I attempted to mentally command them to be still and the fluttering slowed somewhat. Damn, I looked like some ginormous pixie or something but it could have probably been worse.

Soon Khella Phar returned and asked, “Will you be alright?”

I thought about it for a moment and nodded. “I can handle this if it means being able to move on my own again. I might need to hide some of my more distinctive features though, humans aren’t exactly known for embracing those that are different. I’m actually surprised our governments didn’t try to nuke your first ship that arrived in orbit.”

“Perhaps we should see how your roommate adjusts Xing; we have you in the same room as a human woman named Sarah. We are at a research facility in the city of Torah and are studying how nanites can be used to help long term medical cases such as you,” she explained as she placed a soft white robe with an open back on me and gently helped me to extract my new wings.

“Maybe you should call me Xia,” I suggested after a bit of thought as she showed me out of the examination room into a hallway. “Xing is a male name.”

Soon we arrived at the room I would be staying in while I was adjusting to my new body and under observation. Sarah was a short and slightly plump blonde woman in her mid-thirties and was wearing a patient’s robe like mine. As I was ushered inside she turned from where she was sitting at a table and walked over to greet me. I towered over the woman and it was a strange feeling, since I was so used to looking up at people. I tried to shrug it off as she smiled at me, “Oh, it is so good to see another human!” She had a slight Southern accent and when she got a better look at me she quickly corrected herself. “Well… sort of human anyway.” She didn’t seem all that concerned over my differences though. “Hi, I’m Sarah.”

“I’m… uhh… Xia,” I replied as she extended her hand and we shook. “So, what are you in for?” I joked.

“I was in a car accident about five years ago,” she explained. “I ended up going blind and needed transplants for several of my internal organs. That Saer’khi you came in with found me in the hospital and offered to bring me here for medical treatment so I could be useful again. I haven’t seen another human since my accident.” Then she looked me over again and shook her head, chuckling. “How about you? I’ll bet your story is a doozy.”

I considered how to phrase it for a long while before finally answering. “From what I gather I am supposed to have mental gifts like the Saer’khi but the human nervous system isn’t wired for the way my brain was developed. The doctors at UCLA thought I had ALS because my nervous system was degrading and I was losing all control over my body. I spent three years there and when she found me seeing was pretty much the only thing I could do. The Saer’khi couldn’t find a way to make a human nervous system work properly with my brain so when they did the gene therapy they decided on a hybrid nervous system since my brain development was so similar to their own. This is the result.”

“It could be worse,” she offered. “How do you feel about it?”

“I was pretty pissed at first that she didn’t ask my consent for certain alterations, but it’s better than what I was before. I’m not going to complain too much while I can walk, eat, hold a pencil, and go to the bathroom under my own power.” Then I added, “I’m a bit worried about how other humans will react but you don’t seem to be handling it too bad.”

“I think you’re probably wise to be cautious around other people from Earth,” she replied. “When you go blind you learn pretty quickly that appearances just aren’t as important as what is inside. Not all of our kind seems to realize that though.”

I found myself liking Sarah immensely during our three months together in the research lab. It turned out that she had been a five star chef before her accident and like me; she had been brought to Saer’kah on one of the first ships. The Saer’khi replaced her damaged organs and eyes with cloned ones but when they were treating her they had learned that she has a genetic predisposition toward Cancer and in fact had a small tumor in one of her lungs. They had given her a similar nanite treatment to mine to cure her Cancer and keep any future growths from happening.

I didn’t know any of them personally except for Sarah, but in all there were twenty of us who had the nanotech treatments for a variety of reasons: a dozen humans, seven people from the other alien species and one Saer’khi man. The nanites had a primary purpose that varied among all of us, but their secondary purpose was the same: They were to keep us healthy and assure that the changes made in our bodies stayed in place. The big problem that they discovered with that was that to do this the nanites were constantly refreshing our DNA and regenerating cells using the new template they had been programmed with.

As a result of this we all healed extremely quickly and it was soon discovered through the constant medical scans that none of us seemed to be aging since receiving our nanites. The researchers were sure that we could still die from wounds that would be fatal to others of our species or through accidents and such but it was likely that barring those we could live a very long time. I asked once, near the end of those three months, whether the nanites could be shut down. Khella claimed that they could be if given the proper codes and a programming node but she and the other researchers feared that the result would be death since our immune systems seemed to have become dependent on the nanites to keep us healthy. She also said that extra commands could also be given by the same process so long as they don’t counteract the primary or secondary programming. Although the nanites seemed to do everything they were designed to do the project was floored until they could determine possible mental issues from halting the aging process and how the nanites might be tweaked in the future.

 © 2013 Amethyst Gibbs
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Comments

I like!

Go write some more! :-)

Janice

lol

Amethyst's picture

I will and I've got six chapters ready to release on a weekly schedule, I might even release the first chapter today or tomorrw just to give my readers a little something extra since people seem to be enjoying it.

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

New road.

I'm liking the landscape already and you've only just turned off at the junction. I can't wait to see what's around the next bend.

Excellent!

Top quality story and top notch writing! No one would know this is your first attempt at writing sci-fi, this seems well thought out and consistant. I'll have to reread it when I can slow down and savor the writing, right now I'm stuck in bed and admittedly rushed the reading a bit. I can't do that with a poorly-written story, the mistakes would keep knocking me out of the story.

More please!?!?!?

Karen


"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
George Carlin

A really, really good start!

D. Eden's picture

I would love to see you develop this story further. I think you've got a wonderful concept here, and enough plot twists already built in to make it very interesting. Hopefully you will decide to take that journey, and I'll get to tag along.

Dallas

D. Eden

Dum Vivimus, Vivamus

Great Start

Avatar meets the creature from the black lagoon!

Not really of course, but I like the cross connection of two species - makes a great prospect of the hybrid being better than the originals

I eagerly anticipate reading

I eagerly anticipate reading of Xia's future interactions with the Saer'khi, humans and other humanoid races. Really strong beginning. It sure got my attention.

_Bev_

Xia's future

Amethyst's picture

Funny you should phrase it that way because there is a bit of a time jump between the prologue and when the story really starts in chapter one. The Prologue was mainly just to help readers get familiar with Xia and her changing situation before the story takes off.

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I like!

I've always seen the various genre's of fantasy, and science fiction as belonging in the same toy box. In each you're stepping beyond the ordinary, mundane world into .... somewhere else.

This world is consistant and well reasoned which is the most important part of world building. I'm so looking forward to more of this one!

Hugs
Grover

Not Really

Fantasy doesn't have the restraints that sci-fi has. In fantasy, if you need a particular setting or creature, you just add it. It doesn't even have to be consistant with what has already happened, you're just making things up as you go. Real sci-fi requires things be internally consistant. ST-TOS had this problem a lot. Every time a new whiz-bang gadget was introduced, the writers had to be able to justify why it wouldn't be around to save Kirk's ass the following week. That's why the transporter was such a tempermental piece of machinery. If it had been 100% reliable, then Kirk could beam out of trouble, and the episodes would have been about 10 minutes long, including commercials.*

Fantasy is not bound by those restrictions. Need something, the magician can just wave a wand, mumble some words, and ZAP! you have a left-handed waffle-nut crusher that can be stored in your bottomless bag of holding, along with a complete 4-piece place setting, kitchen ware, and a haunch of walking beast kept in stasis until needed. Potterland is a good (bad?) example of that sort of thing.

It really is annoying that somewhere in the mists of time somebody decided to dump two differing story types into one catagory. They just don't belong under the same tent.

*Example situation from the book "The Making Of StarTrek".


"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
George Carlin

Actually...

Actually, they both come under the tent of 'Speculative Fiction.' Some stories have elements of both. There is much contention among fandom. If you don't believe me, express your opinion of whether the Dragonriders of Pern books are science fiction or fantasy. Believe me, you'll end up with a loooooong thread.

As far as the example of why this whizbang device couldn't have saved Kirk's butt last week, that goes double for magic.

So, where does the superhero genre belong? Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Clarke tells us that any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic. We all know that our smart phones work via standard science, but I defy someone like Newton or Voltair or Da Vinci to figure one out. If you took one back a thousand years, you would be burned at the stake for talking to your pet demons in that little box. (Ignoring the fact that there were no cell towers back then.)

Niven wrote an article about the difficulties of writing a science fiction mystery story. If you have a locked room murder, who's to say that the victim wasn't zapped by an x-ray laser?

Among speculative fiction writers, we have to do a certain amount of world building to make it work out right. We can write in someone else's universe -- like MORFS, Whateley, Dark Realms, or whatever, or we can make our own. Some authors meticulously lay out the rules before they start writing, while others wing it.

If you write a store about Chicago in the 1920s, or gas-lit London, the reader probably has a decent picture of the setting. If not, he can always get out the encyclopedia or google it. On the other hand, the author has to build the world from scratch and skillfully feed the information to the reader if the world happens to be Antares 3, the mystic realm of Narnigon, or the space station at the Earth-Moon L5 point.

Still, with science fiction, there are some rules. If you're the size of a human and you can fly, you need something more than feathers and muscles to do it, for instance. In fantasy, it's just magic.

Spec Fic

The term/catagory "Speculative Fiction" is a relatively new term. Just a catch all that doesn't really mean a whole lot.

"Superheros" are comics, not much literature at all. Dragonriders can be explained with science. Although most Paranormal events are cons or wish-illusions, I suspect once it is properly researched, with independant researchers able to repeat and verify the results, that some activity will be human based. We just don't have either the tools or the repeatability/reliability of the test subjects to do any meaningful research. My personal opinion is that there are abilities hidden in areas of the brain that just haven't matured yet in H. Sapiens. In some situations people are able to reach into that area, and we get things we aren't equipped to understand or explain. We are not at the pinnacle of all knowledge, we have barely gotten out of kindergarten.

But waving wands around or invoking gods or devils, that is fantasy, fantasy and superstition. The existence of such beings lacks any proof at all. Nothing scientific about them at all. They can make good story fodder though.

Personal note: I've been through some of the currently favored tests, like the shapes on the cards. I consistantly score around 15% right, 85% wrong. Proves nothing except the law of averages predicts that using a bell curve some people will fall at either end. Why I don't gamble. ;-)


"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
George Carlin

No obligation Science Fiction

I don't feel obligated to obey anyone's rules in writing my stories, so I suppose that either makes me a bandit or a brat. :) I don't know what people would call my "Lt Katia in Afghanistan" story, but I had lots of fun with it.

Actually...

TheCropredyKid's picture

...by strict definition, SF is a subset of fantasy...

 
 
 
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Cool

A very interesting and unique start. I like the hybrid angle and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Xia has 8" antennas and wings, but I'm having trouble visualizing the wings. Shape? Dragon Fly, Bee, Butterfly, etc? How large are they and can she fly?

-- Sleethr

Flying

If her telekinesis is strong enough, she can fly without the wings.

wings

Amethyst's picture

Since the Saer'khi are descended from bee like creatures the wings are bee shaped with each wing about four feet long and able to fold up against the body when not in use. The also give a surprising amount of lift and power when in use like with real bees. Theoretically bees should not be able to fly yet somehow they can. The Saer'khi and by extension Xia fan fly using their wings and telekinesis to steady themselves if need be.

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Zero Gee

And while humans blunder around in low and zero gee, they zoom about like, like, BEES! :)
Hugs
Grover

rofl

Amethyst's picture

Now you've got me mixing the two new genres I've tried in my mind. The adventures of Bee-girl. She could have honey blasters lol

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Actually {encore} ...

TheCropredyKid's picture

...the "bees can't fly" thing turns out to be an error made by a bunch of engineers at Lockheed or Boeing around the time of World War 2.

They were eating their lunch at an outside table, and there was a dead bumblebee. Because they were bored {a bored engineer isn't quite as scary a concept as a ferret on crack, but it'll do}, they weighed it, measure its wing area and cranked that data into the formulae they used in designing bombers and fighters - and, indeed, the amswer they got said "Nope"

Unfortunately, they used the formulae for fixed-wing aircraft. Using the formulae for helicopters* - the bee is quite well able to fly.

=====================

* "If your wings are moving faster than your fuselage, you're in trouble unless you're in a helicopter."

 
 
 
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More please!

Extremely well written, I'm curious to see where this story goes.

Thank you

Amethyst's picture

I always try to make sure my work is the best quality possible for my readers and that the story is interesting and enjoyable. I said if people were enjoying it I would put out the first chapter today or tomorrow so since I've gotten such a great reaction to the prologue I will post chapter 1 sometime tomorrow and make Mondays the day when I will post new chapters of this story. :)

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

More please!

Yes!

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

Please please write more! This prologue was so good...

I definitely like this. This

I definitely like this. This is fascinating.

Thank you for writing this captivating story, I can't wait for the next chapter,
Beyogi

Now you don't have to, I just

Amethyst's picture

Now you don't have to, I just posted it :D

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I Concur

With the above comments for "more please"
Joanna

Very Well Written, Excellent Sci-Fi

(from the middle of ch 0 :) "Release your bitterness, young Ji'turi; such negativity attracts the dark side of the Force."

Thank the Goddess for a story where a novel M2F transformation does not result in a new fem being who is small and weak, I really get tired of that ! A matriarchal society is just icing on the cake.

Thank you, thank you, Amethyst.... [some Tgals are soooo talented]. It's as good as I expected.

Hugs and Bright Blessings,
Renee

lol thanks Renee

Amethyst's picture

The trope about the newly minted girl being small and weak gets pretty old after a while and I prefer to write about strong and intelligent women who can be good role models. I chose bees as their ancestral species for several reasons. It would give them and Xia a slightly more alien look, the cooperative and female dominated hive society, and they have a number of interesting genetic quirks.

I'm glad you're enjoying this one so much as I've really enjoyed forming the world and society of the Saer'khi as well as the technology they use.

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I agree with Renne

I so hate to compare one story or style with another. Often it is intended as a compliment, but maybe not so much when the author is trying so hard for something unique. So I'll simply say that this would fit right into the genre of SF I grew up loving. This would fit perfectly on the shelf with Andre Norton, Anne McCaffery, Tanith Lee, and Jo Clayton.

The TG angle would alienate some mainstream readers, but really it is perfection! Our heroine is right in the middle of so many things. Not completely human, but not alien either. However, she is also female, but was once male. To carry the in-the-middle thing further she is one of the 'overseers' but one of the workers too.

The Moses thing one of the other commentors bought up was brilliant!
Hugs
Grover

Now I'm blushing

Amethyst's picture

I'm glad you're enjoying it so much and those were some of my favorite authors you mentioned so I am deeply flattered. I wanted Xia to have a lot of conflict about her situation at the beginning and to be pushed into the position where she needs to do something and take on a leadership role that she doesn't really want.

She is also a child and yet an adult which is one of her bigger problems. She just doesn't believe that other adults would take her seriously as an apparent sixteen year old. Jared even rubs that in her face a little which was starting to get on her nerves.

I also loved the Moses comment, it was very astute :)

*hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Wow! Interesting concept.......

I guess altering Earth's technological and medical advancement doesn't come into play in this universe. Still it's interesting and some day may not be so far fetched. Amethyst hon, I think I might just like this universe sweetie, nice! Loving Hugs Talia

Thanks Talia

Amethyst's picture

It's been interesting writing this. I've been heavily studying genetics. biology, time/space theory, physics, and quantum mechanics just to make the tech theoretically possible in this story. Some of my late night discussions with Martin have been interesting. lol

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Gwen was correct ! This is a

Gwen was correct ! This is a wonderful sci-fi story.
Your studies have paid off nicely.

Karen

Aww heck!

Jamie Lee's picture

This is another story that grabbed me by the throat and won't let go. Guess the only way to get it to let go is to keep reading.

Others have feelings too.

I'm such a bad influence

Amethyst's picture

I've seen so much rampant binge-reading since I got back. I'm glad that you're enjoying what I'm writing though ;)

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Really Nice Sci Fi

This was a really fun series that lasted 20 chapters.

Maybe they could fix the likely reason we didn't find them

TheCropredyKid's picture

The aliens had sent scientists from various fields of study to share their knowledge with their human counterparts and to assist in other tasks. These tasks included the design and construction of devices to purify the air, water, and soil from pollution and ozone generators to be placed in the upper atmosphere to repair the holes in our ozone layer.

With all the junk we've left scattered in orbit around the Earth {and we're adding to it pretty much daily} before too long {well, maybe not by 2037, but unless we stop adding to it and figure out how to get rid of it}, it is very likely that it will eventually become too dangerous to attempt to leave the Earth at all.

Already the International Space Station has had to have its orbit shifted fifteen times in its history to avoid debris, and Space Shuttle missions took actual damage from hits {including a pitted windshield, but, to be fair, that was a micrometeoroid.}

There have been at least two collisions between actual {no longer in service} satellites that i know of.

Scary stuff

 
 
 
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