TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 17

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Literature Text

The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #17 (Skeletons, Part 2) By Earl S. Wynn

...point oh two variation in the exo-kinetic modulation of the grav-couch which ultimately resulted in an exponential buildup of pressures during super-high velocity, super-high g-force maneuvers. Tracing the problem back, I found traces of a stealthy EV-11 class modular virus that punched a hole in the security barriers and mainframe defense walls of the AI’s hard memory and left a trojan to hold the breech before it tried to wipe itself from the system. Traces of remaining coding looks like Coralate technology...

Izzy slipped off her aviators and rubbed her eyes. Exhaustive was the perfect word to describe the report– it was frightening to read, to consider the ramifications of the Cygnans suddenly being able to hack into Terran fighters and modify systems at will, but it didn’t matter. The report could just as easily have been live footage of the Commonwealth council begging the Cygnan warmongers for leniency on bended knee, ready to cede any and every Terran world to the Coralate, and she might still have been just as detached to the news– her mind was somewhere else entirely, locked in a wicked spincycle. Dammit Tessa, why didn’t you tell me?

The GMO conventions of the twenty-one eighties and twenty-two forties had expanded the rights of clones and engineered species with more than seventy-five percent, and later more than fifty percent human DNA to standards near those enjoyed by normal humans, but fear of a future full of genetically engineered superhumans and the echoes of eugenics still hung on in what was seen as an otherwise enlightened society. The very pinnacle of human evolution, the most culturally advanced form of Homo Sapiens to paste its legacy across the starry fields of the heavens, and still fear managed to sway the votes more easily than bare facts. No matter how small the changes that were made by human tampering, people labeled as GMOs or offspring of GMOs were not allowed to hold taxable jobs within the Terran Commonwealth, couldn’t marry, couldn’t join the ranks of any military division or own firearms, could be legally barred from public areas, and were subject to a dozen other seemingly unjust laws that left them angry and disheartened, ashamed of what they were, the very bodies they had been born into.

But perhaps worst of all the laws and propositions that had come to pass was the length of the sentence that had to be endured–  the stipulations imposed on GMOs held for seven generations, and as long as any NCP signature tags were a part of an individual’s genetic legacy beyond that. In most cases, in cases like Tessa’s, where tags were involved because the original GMO had been designed specifically to be owned, hope for freedom from the label that kept them from living a normal life was negligible at best. After the Centauri police action of 2245, the last official, organized uprising of modified humans, suicide rates had spiked up twenty percent among GMOs– it was a hard fact to live with, knowing that there was no hope for freedom, that even your grandchildren’s grandchildren might still be discriminated against because a speck of coding in their DNA had once belonged to a GMO. It all seemed like a huge price to pay, but perhaps that was all part of God’s greater plan, His divine will. She had to believe it was, had to... The Lord’s sword is swift and terrible. It was the only way to justify it, to justify the persecution, to justify what she’d done, what she believed.

Izzy pushed her fingers into her eyes and swore openly. Back at the papal university on Benedict, Mars, she’d given a series of speeches on the sanctity of the human genetic code and spoken out against the engineering of Genetically Modified Organisms and specialized forms of vatgrown slave-humans. Abominations. That’s what you called them, Izzy, abominations. You called innocent people like Tessa the unholy spawn of the idle hands of otherwise brilliant researchers. You screamed it and shook your fist at the bruised-red martian skies while Pope Vultaggio watched the broadcast and signed the checks for your scholarships. She breathed a shaky sigh. It wasn’t fair. She’d felt so strongly about it, still did, still hated the idea of trying to tinker with something as perfect as God’s own divine artifice. Oh Tessa, why? Why did you have to be one of them?

She pulled in a long, tired breath, feeling the cold grip of guilt and some nameless, painful emotion that bordered on shame, disgust, and remorse settle in across her shoulders like a yoke. It is His will to test us, to guide us... Judge not, lest ye be judged? Do not stray into temptation? What does He want me to do? She forced out a tired sigh. The Lord works in mysterious ways...

The ancient screen of the console glared at her, bathing her skin in pale blue light. She hated feeling weak, hated being put in situations like the one she was fighting to get out of now. One crisis for the Commonwealth, one crisis for our relationship and my faith. Millions, no–  billions of lives could be at stake, and all I can think about is myself, about Tessa. She ground her fingers further into her eyes. Dark colors flared on the insides of her lids.

She’s still the same Tessa, she reminded herself suddenly, swallowing against a knot rising in her throat. So what if she’s got some abnormal coding in her genes, so what if she’s the very thing you crusaded so passionately against back on Mars? Fact is, she’s still the same woman. She’s still the same woman I fell in love with, still the same woman I used to spend my Earthside academy leave with. Face it– I’m not the kind of person who would ever normally go bowling on a Friday morning in New Orleans, but it was places like that I remember most, little family-owned bowling alleys and crack-in-the-wall restaurants in the French Quarter. Those were the kinds of places Tessa showed me, places I never would have found on my own, would never have set foot in alone, not in a million years. Those were the kinds of places we enjoyed together, enjoyed being in together, just being, just holding hands...

Memories of Tessa standing on a stretch of Louisiana bayou, staring out over the coast and into the sparkling depths of the gulf of Mexico came flooding back. She’d been wilder then, thinner, hair cut short and whipped into spiky fronds by highway wind. Memories of getting drunk at a little no-name bar and using a wire hangar to steal an old beater parked in the lot of a nearby Dollar General slipped through her mind, painted in swirling pastel. It had been a convertible, nano-lock roof engaged, but even that couldn’t keep Tessa out. She was too handy with a hangar, too good with her hands.

They hadn’t talked about a destination, hadn’t made any plans. They just drove, pushed the car on into the depths of the night, Izzy laying across the smooth, age-yellowed synthleather seat with her head cradled in Tessa’s lap. Twice they stopped, just to stare, just to take in the beauty of the gulf as it spread away from them in the night, Tessa’s hair stirring into serpentine spikes, stark black against the electric flashes of a massive storm brewing in the clouds over the sea. And when the sun finally did rise, it cast its golden rays across the green wetness of the everglades, the gentle sounds of morning waking Izzy gently, easily.

The car was wrecked. The engine had blown, and the stains of oily black smoke fogged the windshield. Beyond the tainted glass, Tessa sat on the hood, shoulders shrugged into her worn, black leather riding jacket, back turned away with the old German flag and the old name Deutschland emblazoned across it. Orange sunrise glittered across the dark glass of her favorite pair of raybans. A soft, casual smile played across her lips as they shared a soft kiss.

They had been a perfect contrast in those days, Izzy always in loose, casual whites and shimmering designer pastels with white-frame sunglasses propped up in her long, luxurious red-brown hair, and Tessa all in black with hard sharp edges on everything she wore, from her glossy-black sunglasses to her dark, worn-out jeans and steel-toed boots. Damn, you looked good with short hair. Black lances, smooth and dark as midnight– punked out, untamed, and undeniably sexy over painfully aware cobalt eyes.

If I’d known... If I’d known what you were then... would I have ever... would we... The thought wouldn’t come, refused to finish itself.

We all have our dark secrets, our skeletons.

“I have to see her.” Izzy’s hands dropped away from her eyes, collapsed against the console’s keyboard like dead fish. “I have to talk to her.”
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #17 (Skeletons, part 2)

Author Blurb: This has got to be another of my favorite installments for The Cygnus War that I’ve written thus far– it’s got so much in it that’s meaty and good (I think!) and... it’s got some neato hidden stuff. Kudos to the person who figures out the two main surprises hidden in the storyline first! (There might be more than two, so guess away!)

Progress report: Damn! Crazy! I’ve gotten about 80% of my major schoolwork out of the way, riding out the proverbial shockwave of crap, as it were, and now I’m pretty much sailing in the clear. Just a few bumps here and there, bumps like reports on performances and reviews of educational films and whatnot.

...which means there’s that much more time to focus on TTC! So far, I’m almost done with 21, and plan to finish it before the end of the week, but beyond that... well, I’ve got ideas, but nothing solid. My cushion of completed stuff is waning!

Anyway, this is the seventeenth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode, “Faith” is done and scheduled to be released first thing next Wednesday (November 8th, Pacific time.)
© 2006 - 2022 Durkee341
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M4dLeprechaun's avatar
Oh, monkies, I'm behind again. Happy belated Halloween!

The GMO and the very advocate of its opposition. Ahh, the contrast! I love it! Lots of depth to the characters in this one, it's interesting and makes you want to read the next installment as soon as possible just so you can watch it move forward again.

Hidden storylines? Aww, I wasn't looking for anything hidden! What, Mexico? Punked out Tessa? Love of the forbidden kind?