July 20, 2016 by Lyn
If you open your mind for me
You won’t rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumbling down
And a new world will begin
The first Wednesday of April
“… and he seems to think it’s completely normal to be part of a breeding project,” Jaya concluded with a sigh. “Pass the chicken wings?”
“Breeding project.” Shahin pursed her lips. “Well, that makes a sort of sense, doesn’t it? I thought she was trying to create an army.”
“Why would she need an army?” Kai looked between the two of them. “I guess, ever since I found out about the graduation requirements, I thought she was trying to find out something about the Ellehemaei genome. I couldn’t think of any other reason to force pregnancy so early,” she admitted shyly. “I mean, shorter generations means you get your results that much faster.”
“That’s… a little bit horrible,” Shahin admitted. “And,” she twitched, “it makes a sort of horrible sense. Why they didn’t want Emrys and I knowing we were brother and sister. Why they don’t place any value on long-term relationships.”
Kai nodded, a little relieved that Shahin agreed with her. “You thought she was building an army?”
“I still think she might be. There’s something coming, and I don’t know if she knows about it, but knowing the way this school works, I’d bet she does.”
That, Kai thought unkindly, was so vague as to be entirely unhelpful. “Ty thought she might be trying to breed in things like Frodleikr,” Jaya offered, far more usefully. “He said, too, that she told him to… make himself available to me.”
“After Ty had already had three children? Didn’t he mind?” As the others looked at her strangely, she blanched. “I mean… not that he’d mind being with you…”
“Ty didn’t want to carry another kid,” Jaya answered. Her tail was curled up tightly around her legs. “I don’t think he really cares when it’s someone else carrying – you know, Anise, Shiva, doing all the heavy lifting. DJ and I have to push to get him to spend time with the kids he has. But I wanted us to do this together. And this way… I’ve got my two taken care of.”
“And you only have to carry one. Clever.” Shahin leaned in and patted Jaya’s shoulder. “How did you talk him into it?”
“I…” She couldn’t curl up any tighter, but she was certainly trying. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay,” Kai inserted. “Do you want to drop the subject of breeding projects altogether, or…?” That was tactful, Kai.
“No, it’s fine. You seem to be taking the whole idea in stride.”
“It makes a lot of sense with things I’ve heard and seen over the year,” Kai admitted. “Granted, I’d like to know more, and I’d like to know why. This seems a bit extreme for scientific curiosity.”
“The Nazis did worse.” Shahin had a good sepulcher voice. “Watch out for…” She fell quiet, her eyes closing, her tattoos flaring blue through her clothes. “Oh…”
“Shahin, are you okay? Are you… are you ill?”
“Is it the baby?” Jaya added, looking a bit twitchy.
“It’s not him,” Shahin assured them. She looked pale, even for her, especially in the blue glow of her tattoos. “I’ve been having more visions lately, in the last couple weeks. Professor Pelletier thinks that my power is finally asserting itself, and she’s teaching me how to control it, but in the meantime… well, in the meantime, sometimes I still get hit with these things at the most inconvenient times.”
“It must be nice to have a power,” Kai mused. “It’s strange to think that Dr. Regine’s breeding program, if that’s what it is, failed with me.” She caught the other two looking at her and blushed, looking down at her knees. “I mean, it doesn’t sound like your power is that nice right now, but if you get it under control. I don’t have anything at all.”
“You still haven’t Changed, then?” Shahin asked. “I thought that perhaps you were hiding it.”
“Nothing,” Kai frowned. “Nothing at all. I’m surprised she hasn’t kicked me out.” She was feeling sorry for herself and knew it, but it just didn’t seem fair!
“She can’t afford to,” Shahin offered with a smile. “It would lower the GPA.”
“That’s what Conrad said.” Kai bit her lip. “Do you suppose she’s breeding for things other than just the Changes?” I don’t have any special Words or anything…”
“Neither do I.” Shahin didn’t sound upset by that, as far as Kai could tell. “Neither does – well, anyone else that I’ve encountered, except Jamian. Of course, Jamian’s the only pure-blooded what-have-you, too.”
Jaya squirmed a bit. “I’m nothing special.”
“Of course you are!” Kai frowned at her. “You’re a pureblooded Daeva, born from parents who weren’t. Ah.” She fell quiet. “I’ve seen some of Regine’s paperwork,” she explained. “Not yours, Shahin… and not mine. And nothing directly about the breeding project.” She didn’t want to talk about Regine’s notes. That hadn’t been a clever thing to say. “Do you think it’s something they tell people about at the end of the year, in with the mind control?”
“‘Have a nice summer, oh, by the way, here’s what’s really going on and you can’t tell anyone?'” Jaya frowned. “That seems harsh. But maybe we could ask the upperclassmen in our crews… or our partners’ crews?” The last was with a glance at Shahin.
Kai frowned. “Or our Mentors?” she offered. “It might be that we can get honest answers out of them if we ask directly. I wouldn’t trust my Crew to tell me anything that might rock the boat.” Or Emrys’ crew, but that seemed rude to point out. “Or… I could ask the Thorne Girls. They’ve been pretty forthcoming.”
“That might work, too. If you think you can trust what they tell you.”
“They’ve never lied to me.” She knew she was bristling, but really, it was silly. The Thornes weren’t like Agatha or Ardell. They were her friends.
“Not that you’ve caught them at.” , Shahin smirked
Kailani was still seething over that a day later, after class, when she had her scheduled meeting with Regine. Why did everyone think she shouldn’t trust the Thornes? Why did everyone keep trusting people that were clearly just trying to maintain the status quo?
Regine, of course, was oblivious to her distress. “How are your studies going, Kailani?” It was the same question she asked every week.
“I’m doing quite well, thank you. Since you talked to Professor Solomon, he’s been giving me more challenging material, and so has Professor Pelletier.” It was the one part of her life here at Addergoole that was still going the way she had imagined it would. “My independent studies with Professors Valerian and Pelletier on the applied uses of Kaana and Yaku are going quite well, too. We’re beginning to plot out my thesis paper.”
“Very good, Kailani.” Regine’s tight smile wasn’t very encouraging, but it never was. “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”
“Well,” she began, feeling hesitant and guilty. “A couple people have mentioned that they believe that the school is a breeding project. And others think you’re building an army. The first one makes a lot more sense, but I’m confused about the desired results. I think I must be missing something in the methodology, if this is a breeding project?”
Regine frowned. “Those are interesting theories that you mention. Of course, with the required two children per student as part of the graduation requirements, both theories were likely to pop up among the brighter students, which, of course, you are. Which do you believe?”
“If it were an army,” she offered hesitantly, “the combat training would be less haphazard, the healing training, the more aggressive Workings. If it were a just a school to train us in being Ellehemaei, there would be more focus on the Law, and not have it left to independent study and personal whim. There’s a lot left to whim here, actually, including, for the most part, with whom you have your two required children.” She frowned, trying to figure out the puzzle. “There’s got to be a piece I’m missing. Several pieces, since you don’t seem to be weeding out undesirable traits, such as, well, my inability to Change.”
“Very apt observations. There are, of course, pieces you are missing, although some of that is simply that you have not yet learned to think in the long term. However, you are one of my best students, and the only Student I have chosen to Mentor. There is more information I could give you, but I would have to swear you to secrecy.”
Kai paused. “I couldn’t tell anyone at all?”
“Well, of course you could tell Conrad. But beyond your Kept, no.”
Kai nodded slowly. “I could do that. All right. I promise to tell no-one except my Kept what you reveal to me today.”