I felt my eyes widen. “What?”
Kals shook her head. “If we’re going to talk about this, we should find someplace where we won’t be heard.” Then she pointed to the door outside.
“Sure,” I said, and we stepped out into the dark. The council building rose above us, the cluster egg-shaped sections shining in the streetlights.
Kals looked up and down the street. “I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but you could destroy all of human civilization.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Um… That does sound overly dramatic.”
She sighed. “Check with your implant later, but listen to me. The Abominators took us from wherever humans come from and molded us to their whims. They set up different gene lines, decided who could mate with whom and set up systems to keep us under their control. The Human Ascendancy and the other human empires took over when they were destroyed. The system that makes infertility and the rash between different human gene lines work? It’s complicated and fragile. It’ll fall apart if normal genes get added to the mix.”
Nodding, I said, “And if everyone can mate with everyone, the differences between gene lines collapse and if humans here are more suggestible, maybe that ends too…”
Frowning, she said, “We are. If you people pass on your genes, our colony will live. We’ll be a place of mixed gene lines, a stew of everything, but if we expand outward or our children travel back home… It would take time, but the whole structure of interstellar civilization would collapse.”
I could imagine it—fallen governments, wars, refugees and ransacked planets all because we had unprotected sex.
Then she shook her head. “That’s how the Human Ascendancy will see it. They might ignore us if we were just a colony of exiles, but if they knew we’d shattered the way they control society, they’d throw everything at us.”
Unsure if I wanted to hear the answer, I asked, “How would people here see it?”
She laughed, but it seemed more nervous than happy to me. Then she looked into my eyes. “It would be a mess. Most of the people here are what the Ascendancy would classify as breeders—people who hold the genes for powers, but they’re not active. If their number came up, they’d be required to mate with someone with active powers and produce a child—who would then be taken away and raised to be loyal to the government. So imagine a third person entering a relationship you’re in, making a kid with your spouse and taking the child away—lots of bad memories.”
“Huh,” I leaned against the curved wall behind me.
“It gets worse,” she said. “We’re refugees from the rebellion. We’re terrorists and anarchists. Most of the people here hate the Human Ascendancy so much that they were willing to kill to fight it. Sure, we’re all colonists now, but everyone here is wanted by the government. If the opportunity came to make it end in fire, they’d take it. I don’t know what people will actually do, but nothing would surprise me. For all I know, they might offer you the chance to stay or stay long enough to get a few people pregnant or for Jaclyn or Cassie to give birth.”
I snorted. “That’s not going to happen.”
She gave another look up and down the street. “Good because I’m sure half or more of our people came here with the intention of never letting that happen again—either to themselves or their kids. What’s worse, I’m sure some of them would volunteer themselves and maybe even their kids, but they’ll be hating you the whole time.”
“Not me,” I said. “My girlfriend definitely wouldn’t be okay with that. Is there any chance we could donate sperm and your doctor could inseminate people or, I don’t know, find some way to splice in my genes in for an embryo’s ‘make a rash’ genes? It seems faster than having Marcus and I knock up the colony and we wouldn’t have to hurt anyone’s feelings.”
“Maybe.” She’d laughed as I suggested we’d have to “knock up” the colony and appeared to be ready to say something else when my implant informed me that Jaclyn wanted to talk to me.
I took the call. Jaclyn’s voice filled my head. “I hope you’re not doing what Marcus is doing.”
“No! I mean, I’m assuming Marcus and Tikki are making out. Kals and I are talking just outside the front door.”
Jaclyn sighed. “Good. Cassie and I had no idea where you went and Kals’ friends didn’t know where she went. They started making jokes about ‘second skin’. I have no idea what they’re talking about.”
“We probably ought to get back then. I’ve learned a lot. I’ll figure out how to explain, but don’t touch anybody. It’ll be a huge mess.”
Jaclyn snorted. “Awesome. Marcus’ implant isn’t taking any calls, so I’m assuming it’s too late for that warning.”