Birthright: Part 9

That was a lot to absorb. Marcus had Abominator DNA? If it was from his dad’s side of the family (and it almost certainly was) then Haley and Travis did as well. And what he’d said about me needed a lot more detail. I could guess at it, but—

Marcus talked over my thoughts, holding up his right hand and waving it a little. “Whoa, whoa, whoa… Wait a second. Abominator DNA? What’s going on there?”

Iolan shrugged. “It shouldn’t be a surprise. You’re a shapeshifter. They were shapeshifters. They knew where to get that characteristic. They put it into several different lines. The gene lines they optimized for repairing machinery had it. So did several soldier lines that they didn’t want to look like soldiers.”

Nodding toward Cassie, he added, “It’s interesting that you’ve got the Abominator Citizen’s Mark, but none of the mental characteristics that are supposed to go with it. Motivator abilities are generally in there too.”

Cassie shrugged. “I’ve never been much into telling people what to do.”

As he finished his sentence, I asked, “What exactly did you mean that not all of my DNA is human?”

Iolan’s face tightened and he glanced out the windows before catching himself and turning back to look at me. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m both a doctor and genetic counselor by training and there are certain things we weren’t allowed to discuss. I’m going to tell you this one, but be aware, it’s a secret and I’m only telling you because you, more than most, need to know. The Abominators came to know that they weren’t the first intelligent life after they made it to the stars. It wasn’t because they found other races, but because they found ruins, whole star systems where some civilization expanded and then ultimately destroyed itself.

“At first, they didn’t know what had happened, but after a time they studied these civilizations, finding that they’d often discovered some artifact, reverse-engineered it, and that the changes it brought about destroyed their civilization. Worse, they came to realize that all the artifacts had been designed to encourage exactly that outcome. Eventually, it struck them that the ancient artifacts had been designed by the same civilization even though they looked different.”

He paused, looking at each of us, probably looking for a reaction. Whatever he wanted, he started talking again.

“They became paranoid that whatever affected those other civilizations would affect them as well, and they were right. It did. Over time their society changed. They became power hungry, more cruel, and used other sentient life as toys but somehow they kept it in check. They discovered the worst of the traps in the artifacts and removed them. Their civilization lasted one hundred thousand years.  As horrible as the Abominators were, they were great scientists, and over time they managed to find and then capture one of the ancients that created the artifacts and get a sample of its DNA. Soon after that, the creature escaped, destroying the team that had done it and their world.”

Cassie sent a message over to me with her implant. “That sounds like Lee.”

I sent back, “Except I don’t think he’d get caught long enough for a DNA sample.”

She didn’t respond beyond shaking her head, and Iolan went on.

“But not all the knowledge had been destroyed. They were able to use it in their designs. Their strongest creations included sections of that DNA. The problem is that after that, they began to recognize that the ones with the ancients’ DNA were unreliable and were more likely to turn on them—with disastrous results. The Abominators found themselves warring with their own creations as well as the Cosmic Ghosts, the Xiniti, and many of the alien races that they’d conquered. You know the end. They were destroyed.”

I glanced over at Katuk. He had no reaction at all, watching without moving.

“Your DNA contains more traces of the ancients than any I’ve seen that wasn’t deliberately planned. You also contain traces of the Cosmic Ghosts’ DNA. I’ve always suspected that the Ghosts were related to the ancients, so that’s no surprise, it’s no great thing for you considering that in humans the Ghosts powers only manifest in women. Still, there are those who dream of interstellar flight without needing a starship, and the secret of how to do it is in your DNA.

“You should know that the Human Ascendancy will want it just like they’ll want the ancients’ DNA within you. Nevermind that you can’t do much with it. The ancients appear to have practically been gods. The Ascendancy won’t be able to leave that alone. Watch out if you travel to any of their worlds. If they get a sample of your DNA, they’ll want more.”

The doctor shook his head. “That’s why, as much as I want to, I can’t use your DNA to fix the colony’s problems. I might be able to use your friends’, but yours is too dangerous.”

Marcus glanced over at me. “Seriously? Nick doesn’t have any powers.”

Iolan frowned. “He may not be able to do anything, but his DNA is a library for those who want to. Now, as for you, I would like you to leave a sperm sample, preferably several. I don’t have the equipment necessary to do genetic engineering, but if I could arrange a few births with your sperm, I think I could save us.”

Marcus stared at him for a second. “Okay, I guess.”

Iolan smiled. “That’s absolutely wonderful.” He looked over at Cassie and Jaclyn. “I’d take your DNA as well, but eggs are harder to extract.”

I looked at him. “How would I get ancient DNA?”

Cocking his head, Iolan didn’t say anything for a moment. “Humans made with ancient DNA might have escaped to your world. That’s one possibility. Here’s another. The ancients appear to have had the ability to effortlessly become any race that intrigued them—not just appear to be them, but actually be them. If your world is like most others, you have myths about humans mating with gods. In this case, that may well have been true.”

19 thoughts on “Birthright: Part 9”

  1. Well some nice information here along with the reactions I expected to see last chapter, meh that will teach me to be patient…

    I find it rather interesting that the Abominators chose to put their own DNA in their creations, true it makes sense as they know what they would get, still i thought they were to elist to sprread their DNA to other species, eh good that they were more pragmatic than that. I wonder just how extensive their shapshifting was and as such how extensive Marcus’ is and how close he is to the real thing…after all the guy is an unplanned mix so he could be a lot more close to the real thing than intended.

    So the original mix Cassie is based on is supposed to have motivator abilities too among other things ? makes sense for someone made to be a leader, also I still think that mix would also have something akin to the the true’s abilities but I can see why Cassie’s creator left that part out when they created her out of the original Captain Commando…I wonder what Iolan would have found in him and the differences with Cassie aside from the obvious one of Cassie being a girl.

    Interesting tidbits on the Abominator background and how they found some of the traps set by Lee’s kind and even captured one and how they made Human variants with said being’s DNA…I wonder what the people with those charcteristic active and mixed with other powers can do.

    Very juicy bits on Nick I like it and I also noticed that Iolan did not contradict Marcus about Nick lacking powers and how he spoke of the line optimized to repair machine and how he did not identify Nick as one of those, very intriguing which begs the question where does Nick’s tech genius come from ? Lee’s DNA ?

    Speaking of that point, why am I now thinking that Nick that or at least one of his ancestors, is the result of Lee(or another)mating with a human woman, that might also explain why Lee is so found of Nick beyond the agreement he made with the original Rocket, hell I am now thinking that he made that agreement and actually respected it in good faith because of his link to them.

    Now Nick’s amount of Lee’s species DNA combined with the time he spends around him explains why he is capable of doing the sword thing, eh I wonder given how much of that DNA he has and Lee’s presence if Nick won’t also develop other abilities related to Lee’s people, by the way lee’s species can use magic(hell they invented the thing)so does that mean that Nick might have that potential after all ? Oh and what would Iolan’s test see if done on Samita, Amy or our friendly Troll ?

    Also when Nick met the other representative of Lee’s people did she notice he carried their DNA on the top of pending time with of them ?(of course that is if the alteration to Nick’s DNA doesn’t just come from spendng time around Lee which is still entirely possible)

    Now there is one think that I find a big disappointment: the Ghost power working only on women as I loath the concept of gender specific abilities, mah there must be a universe out there where it only works on men and some must be wandering the infinity city but still…(yes a bit of a pet peeve of mine)

    1. As ever, an important thing to remember about characters in stories I write is that even if they aren’t lying, things are only as true as they have the opportunity to know.

      In other words, Iolan’s experience gives him a good and accurate understanding of the genetics of Abominator modified humans. When it comes to humans that are a mix of modified human/”ancient”/Cosmic Ghost, he’s largely working off secondhand knowledge. That’s also true of Abominator history.

      So, some things are open to reinterpretation when better data appears.

      1. Ah, a good approach, one that makes a great amount of sense: people are Faillible and propaganda/misinformation are a thing.

        Now about Lee’s people: would I be right in thinking that they themselves may not have any DNA but that the bodies they wear/avatars they create when interacting with other species(IE the”Lee/Gunther”avatar for instance) have ?

        1. I’m not going to go into too much detail since this may be connected to the plot in the future. That said, they effectively create a body entirely for the purpose of interacting with other species.

          So the original form certainly doesn’t have DNA, but the visible form is human–except that it’s still got to be able to do the stuff they do so it has to either have a DNA based way of describing what needs to be there or an alternate system that can be embedded in and spread via DNA.

          1. Sounds like a novel I read once. ‘Madness Season’ was the name, I think.

            In the book, Vampires are biological shape-shifters to a greater degree than most stories portray them. If they take the shape of, say, a dog, the DNA of that dog is actually capable of expressing all of the characteristics that the Vampire is capable of in that shape.

            So, if a Vampire in the shape of a dog mates with another dog, and the pregnancy takes, the offspring would potentially have the genetics appropriate for a problem solving brain on par with a human brain.

            I will not spoiler the story, in case anyone wants to read it.

    2. While I don’t like the trope of gender-specific abilities either… There’s a lot of biological evidence among Earth life that it happens. Such as the existence of genders in the first place.

      Besides, I’ve inherited an ‘ability’ that is at least a lot more common in men than women. When I get cut, I have the ability to bleed more before it clots…

      Yeah, I’ve kind of been Blessed With Suck, there. On the bright side, I’m less likely to get crippled by a stroke. In theory, anyway.

  2. I have to think that “DNA” is probably just the word the translator is using for the general concept here. I doubt that Lee’ species has actual DNA, but evidently there are traits of theirs that can be somehow attached to the reproductive instructions of other species.

    1. That is almost certainly true. On the bright side (even though this isn’t exactly hard science fiction), there’s actually biological precedent for including bits of other species in our DNA. Of course, that’s all Earth species and not alien (that we know of)…

      1. Nick’s mom does actually have ghost powers. They’re just extremely limited. She can only phase out the ends of limbs. If you think back to when she was held captive by Ray, she actually used that to try to escape.

  3. I had a thought. Maybe the Ancient DNA doesn’t give them their powers but simply gives their body the ability to survive using their powers. So, Nick can learn to use the sword because he was around Lee enough and his body isn’t burned up by pulling a stunt like that. He might be able to learn other tricks from Lee also; not by activating his Ancient DNA but simply because it allows him to perceive the energy (or whatever).

    I bet that Chris also has some Ancient DNA.

  4. Maybe after spending enough time with lee he will grow a body like lees people so afterward his physical body perishes it reincarnate his as one of Lee’s people something on like that

  5. This revelation about Nick’s genetics makes me think.

    Is Nick really, legitimately as brilliant technologically as it seems, or does he have a latent ability to force reality to bend to his will?

    If someone else were to build exactly what Nick does, and if that person did not themselves have any genetic material from Lee’s race to allow for reality-shaping, would the result be the same?

    That’s not to say that Nick isn’t legitimately brilliant, or incapable of inventing truly new things, but perhaps some of his (and his grandfathers’) more incredible feats of technological wizardry are simply localized reality-warping?

    1. “The gene lines they optimized for repairing machinery had it.”
      Something is telling me that if they were able to optimize for machinery repair, they should be able to optimize for machine creation.

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