N21 Part 2 Chapter 5

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Part 2 Chapter 5

The next day, I went to the lab. I met Carla there and quietly explained what I suspected. “You know, we can’t have more children, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. That’s why I came to you.” Carla had become a very good friend on the way home – no, not to home, but to Earth – from N21.

We slipped out of her lab, undetected, and made our way to her apartment. Strangely, I had never been inside before, but I saw why. She had kept her sexual preferences quiet, but inside her apartment, they became quite plain. I had never seen some of the items she had, It was rather interesting

Where I had a kitchen, she had a personal laboratory. It was in stark contrast to what was displayed in her living room, but when you closed the lab door, It was just that -- a lab.

“Do you cook in here?” I asked.

“Actually, no. I usually eat at one of the restaurants downstairs.”

I nodded. I had eaten at some of them as well. I had wanted to know if any were better than the food we had that first night in the briefing room. None was. I had not wanted to ‘step on any toes,’ but I knew I would have to make my restaurant rather large. Interestingly, some of the station’s chefs had come to me for instruction. I was flattered, but I wasn’t sure I could teach what I knew instinctively.

I had tried to teach music, but I found writing was the best way for me to do that. I couldn’t get in front of a crowd and speak very well.

“I’m insulted, Carla,” I said “You’re not always in mine.”

She blushed in embarrassment. “I’m sorry, Rose. Your food is so extravagant. Sometimes I need something easy and quick.”

I smiled. “I’ll tell you a secret, Carla.” I looked around her lab, acting like I was checking for someone spying on us. “So do I,” I told her in a stage whisper.

We both giggled, then she had me hold out my arm to get a blood sample.

She examined it under a microscope. “This is interesting,” she said as she looked at it.

She moved out of the way so I could look. I saw blood. “What am I looking for?” I asked.

“Do you see the nanites?”

“Uh…. No?”

“Sorry, Rose. I forget sometimes that you’re not a scientist.”

“I am!” I exclaimed. “I do gastronomy!”

She rolled her eyes, then told me, “I’m really sorry, Rose. To make sure, I’ve got to take this to the biology lab. It’s gonna get to Commander Smythe.”

“It was going to eventually anyway, Carla,” I said to her, resignedly. “May as well get it over with.”

Together, we walked toward the biology lab. On the way, I asked, “Should John be here?”

“It’s up to you, Rose. It might be a good idea, as this might be something that involves all the people on N21.”

I called John and asked that he meet us there. When we arrived, Winston Reese was present as he was in charge of this particular lab. John walked in a moment later.

“What’s up?” he asked.

I motioned for both men to come out into the corridor. They followed, and Carla told them what she had found.

“I think your nanites are still doing something a bit different than what they would do in me. At least they are in Rose. We will need to check a wider range of people to make sure.”

“Any idea what they could be doing?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” Carla told me.

“Do you notice anything different than before you started in ‘Total Fun’?”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

“Why?” she asked.

“I was a man before ‘Total Fun’. I was changed in stage one. I guess I have no idea what a woman without having gone through any of the the stages would feel like.” The idea that I was not a normal woman hit me hard. I glanced at John, and I think he understood what I was feeling. He put his arm around me and pulled me to him. I was grateful for that, as I didn’t feel so alone.

Carla nodded. “We need to test people who were female before ‘Total Fun’ as well. I guess I could check myself, but I won’t see anything like this.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I haven’t gone through…” She paused. “I guess I have, huh?”

I nodded.

“We’ve got to contact Commander Smythe about this,” Winston said, starting to head back into the lab.

“Wait! Please,” I exclaimed.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

“I think I might be pregnant,” I said in a small voice.

Winston stopped and looked at me for a long minute. “I see,” he said. “Did you stop...” His voice trailed off.

“No,” I told him. “I’ve been very careful to take my birth control shot. One each year.”

“Is it not working for women from N21?”

“We haven’t heard anything from anyone else,” John replied. “But if they’re pregnant, they might be afraid to say anything.”

Reese nodded. “I understand. We can’t afford to have a bunch of kids here. If we do have, we’re going to have to come up with a solution. And fast.”

“The resources we have here are it,” Carla said, very little inflection in her voice. “Recycling everything is something that we have to do. I think we could get away with a thousand kids, but that would be stretching things.”

“Can you test that sample for pregnancy?” I asked. "I’d really like to know before we have to tell Rashda.”

“Come on into the lab,” Winston told me. We walked in and he motioned us to follow him into a private room. This was set up very similar to Carla’s kitchen, but it had a few more devices that I had absolutely no idea of their function. Winston had me make a fist, and took some blood from my arm. He put the blood into some device, and in a few minutes, he had a reading.

“Well?” I asked. I was tense, and John was rubbing my back. I suppose he could feel my tension.

“I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Rashda says before I congratulate you,” Winston told me.

I leaned into John. I was so happy, but at the same time, I wasn’t. How could I explain to Commander Smythe that I had not skipped birth control?

I really wanted to give it some time before I told the commander, but Winston took that option away from me when he called him. “What did you do that for?” I demanded.

“If this is something common to all N21 women, then we need to let Rashda know. Also, if that’s the case, it’s not your fault, Rose.”

Carla held out her arm. “Test me, Winston. This may not be a problem with just N21 women.”

“Could you be pregnant?”

“Not that I know of, but I could be if all women have changed because of that little excursion we had into ‘Total Fun’, we need to know.”

Winston nodded and took a blood sample from Carla. “We need to test everyone, he said after a bit.”

A moment later we saw that he really did mean everyone as he pulled a blood sample from his own body. “It’s a bit different from you two’s blood, but its still not normal.”

“What’s not normal,” I turned my head and saw Rashda standing in the doorway.

Rather than answer, Winston held out a syringe to Smythe. “Commander, may I have a sample of your blood?”

The commander didn’t say anything, he just held out his arm. His expression was not pleased.

“Same as mine,” Reese said. “John?”

Winston checked a sample from John with the same results. “Commander, could we please meet in the briefing room, along with Marc Dodson. I’ll explain what I’ve found there.”

In the briefing room, we had a couple of extra people that Winston had asked to come with us. I was not happy to be there, as I had a feeling what Smythe would say.

“I’ve done some blood samples, on John and Rose, Carla and Myself, and also Commander Smythe,” Winston told the others.

“Alright Winston,” said Smythe. “What did you find?”

“Mrs. Carlson had a bit of a problem, so she asked Carla to see what was wrong,” Reese told him.

“What did you find, Reese?”

“I’m getting there, Commander.”

Rashda looked like he was about ready to lose his patience. I understood. This affected him as well. Not that he could get pregnant. At least, I didn’t think he could. Winston hadn’t told any of us what he found.

“Okay, Reese, what did Rose find?”

“She suspected that she might be pregnant.”

The commander didn’t say a word. He just looked at me. I felt like I was shrinking into the floor.

Smythe finally asked me, “And are you?”

I couldn’t speak. I just nodded my head.

“Have you been taking...”

“She hasn’t missed one at all, Rashda,” John defended me.

Rashda nodded, then looked back at Reese. “I’m assuming that Rose being pregnant has something to do with what you found?”

“Yes, I believe it does. Carla found something...”

At this point, Smythe sighed heavily. “Winston, I assume that at some point you will tell me what you found. Is that a valid assumption?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Carry on.”

“Okay,” Winston said with a smile. He hated to miss details when he was giving a report, so he always did it his way. It always worked better for him, but he drove others crazy. “Carla found something in Rose’s blood that she couldn’t explain, so she brought it to me. I took another sample, and saw it as well. I then checked Carla and found the same thing. You, John and I have the something similar.”

I could see that Rashda wanted to hurry Winston along, and it was taking all his effort to refrain from exploding.

“It appears that we still have a different job that the nanites are doing in our bodies. As a matter of fact, now that I know the effects, I can testify to this myself.”

He took a deep breath and finally gave the facts to Smythe. “Men have testosterone in their bodies, women have estrogen. There’s some crossover there, but in general, that’s how it is. In men, I found that the nanites have receptors for carrying testosterone. I can only guess that this is heading to the brain. There, it would increase the male libido. In essence, men will want more sex. I can testify that I wanted it way more when in one of the stages. Any of them, actually. In stage one, the only thing keeping me from jumping every woman I saw….”

“Must you put it like that?” asked his wife, Ruby. She was one of the two people who came up with him to the briefing room.

“I understand what you mean, Hon, but honestly, that’s how it felt at the time.”

Marc and John both nodded their agreement.

“Yes,” John said, “but I wonder if a good or special friendship with one person focuses your attention toward her.”

Hearing him say that, I squeezed his hand.

“It could be,” Reese said. “I know the married couples generally bonded with their spouses when we reached stage two. In fact, in certain cases, they didn’t have to be anywhere near each other for the bond to take place.”

“So what happens in women?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know.

“Women’s nanites seem to have specialized for them as well. They have been designed to carry estrogen in the same way men’s nanites carry testosterone.”

“Wait a minute Reese,” Vern Smith had come up from the lab as well as Ruby. He was the brother of Colleen Smith. “I thought hormones are simply secreted into the blood stream.”

“Generally they are. However, the brain has chemical receptors to bond with it. What the nanites do, is pick it up with their own receptors, but it doesn’t bond with the nanites. They don’t allow that. Instead, they carry the majority of the chemicals to the brain.”

“Where it bonds and makes the sex drive.” Vern finished.

“Right, only it creates the sex drive in spades.” Reese explained. “Now, this is just supposition from what I saw in a very limited group, so we need to scan several people and verify this. Also, I want to see inside people’s brains and make sure what’s happening there.”

“I’ll volunteer for that,” John offered.

“So will I,” I told him.

“So why the pregnancy?” Rashda wanted to know.

“That, I’m not sure of,” Winston told him. “For that, I’d rather someone who isn’t pregnant. Actually, I know that some of the medical equipment from when they needed it could effect a developing baby, so I appreciate the offer Rose, but I’d rather not take that risk.”

“Alright,” I said nodding. I agreed wholeheartedly. I was rather protective of the child that was developing inside me.

Suddenly,we received a message from Colleen. “Rashda, we have something up here that you need to see.”

Smythe looked around at us all. “John and Rose, will you come with me? Winston, figure this out please.” Then he touched a button that put his voice through every intercom on the ship. “Mr Dodson, would you please come to the command center?”

Then we were off.

Author's note.
This story is not over yet, but I need to focus on "After Caesar" for a bit.
My sincerest apologies, however to go on here will give away too much of the story. I am planning on eventually making a file that will put "N21" and "After Caesar" in chronological order for reading. Hopefully it will make things a bit less confusing. Then again, it may make things more confusing. Who knows?

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