The Cuckoo's Progeny
09: Intimate Negotiations
CopyrightÂ© 2016 Vincent Berg. All rights reserved.
“I’m not convinced about this ship theory,” Delilah said as they entered the Motel 6. Not knowing how long they’d be traveling, they decided to watch their spending. “I can understand Eli’s fascination. He’s a big geek, so the idea of imaginary spaceships appeals to him, but it’s not terribly practical.”
“I agree,” Gary agreed. “While it makes sense some Navy vet was involved establishing the appropriate ranks and structures, it doesn’t follow there’s an actual ship. If they need a crew, they can get personnel a lot cheaper than modifying our DNA and waiting decades to see whether it worked.”
“We’re not sure there’s any difference in our genes,” Betty said. “Even if there is, I don’t think it’s worth checking. There’s too much risk someone might discover our abilities.”
“Still, we’re all science geeks,” Al added. “Everyone’s first thought was a giant spaceship.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” Delilah said. “If someone had access to such technology, they’d either market it—earning billions—or sail away—never to be seen again. They wouldn’t tweak our genes like this.”
“No, I’m guessing some military vet experimented on unresisting orphans,” Al said. “But it doesn’t change the motive. We need to figure out what they hoped we’d achieve. As far as we know, no one is monitoring us. If someone was experimenting, it’s pointless if can’t track their success.”
“Given the things we’re able to do, it’s possible we’re sending them the information,” Betty said. “They may not need to monitor us directly.”
Al shook his head. “I don’t buy that. Even if they’re recording our vitals and locations, that won’t tell them if we’re compliant. They’d need to keep tabs on us to understand whether we’ll utilize the talents or not. So far, we’ve seen no indication anyone cares how we use these skills. The fact our abilities matured within a couple days speaks volumes about the planning involved.”
Gary stepped away from the common area so they wouldn’t be as easily overheard. “OK, assuming this was some grand government experiment, but all the experimenters died, where does that leave us? We still don’t grasp what they hoped we’d achieve. Each of these abilities is too specialized and too dependent on everyone else’s for them to have been stabbing in the dark. It shouts of an end goal. There’s got to be a bigger mission.”
“The only thing which springs to mind is the old movie canard,” Delilah suggested, “producing super soldiers.”
“Even more reason to take a hand in raising us,” Al argued, “to ensure we’re all-American and enthusiastic about fighting. It also doesn’t explain the pair-bonding. Why would they want us teamed up if we’re expensive cannon fodder? The fact none of us are related implies there’s no genetic link between us, so we didn’t inherit these abilities. While Be and I might be related, Eli and Zita illustrate that in spades. It appears we were randomly selected and left to figure this out on our own. That’s the only reason the skills would all trigger at the same time, to bring us together.”
“It’s not just Be,” Delilah argued. “She’s the one to locate us, but someone planned this out. You’re the commander who ensures we all get onboard. We’re security, so the two of you don’t get yourselves killed, and then there’s Zita, who ties us together telepathically. The entire team falls apart if any one of us gets hit by a bus!”
Al rubbed his chin, staring into space. “You’re right. The chances of failure are astronomical. If this was an experiment, we’d have been raised in a lab rather than being left on our own. There’s no guaranteeing we’d even be in the same region after this many years.”
“Instead of standing here in the lobby, how about we table the discussion until we get to our rooms?” Betty marched off, trusting the others to follow. No one said another word until they entered the elevator.
“With two rooms, what are the arrangements?” Betty asked. “Boy’s and girl’s rooms?”
“The hell with that,” Delilah said, giggling. “In case you didn’t notice, the one thing we’re sure of is that we’re all pair bonded for life. I’m not about to separate from Gary unless there’s absolutely no alternative. You may not be comfortable spending the night with your brother, but it’s clear that was someone’s intent. You ending up as siblings was a complete accident. You can capitalize on it or not, but you know you’re never going to turn your back on him.”
Gary waved his arms, indicating the two of them. “I hate piling on, but she’s got a point. I don’t think any of us would even bother dating anyone else. If you continue to abstain, you can kiss any future romance goodbye.”
“That doesn’t mean we can’t spend the evening together,” Betty argued, pouting.
“Weren’t you paying attention?” Delilah asked. “All day, everyone was constantly touching each other. None of us could get two feet apart for long. After watching Eli and Zita, Gary and I are heading for our room and cuddling for the rest of the night. The two of you can stay up enjoying late-night movies, but I’m going to enjoy my boyfriend. I’m thankful that, in these uncertain times, I can rely on him.”
The elevator chimed it had reached their floor. As the doors opened, Del and Gary waved goodbye and walked to their room arm-in-arm, leaving the siblings together to figure their future out on their own.
“Come on,” Al said, walking forward himself. “I won’t attack you, so you’re safe for the night.”
“I wasn’t casting aspersions, but I’m just not comfortable with this situation yet.”
“Yeah, I got that. You’ve made it painfully obvious,” he said, unlocking the door and holding it open for her.
“Do you think this is an issue?” Betty dropped her bag on the bed closest to the window. “I mean, if we don’t get together, will we ever find other partners?”
“Be, there are billions of people wandering this Earth. You’ll meet someone. It’s only a matter of time.”
“But if this is biological, it won’t be the same. The divorce rate is fifty percent, but I have yet to see any of us argue.”
“Please, we’ve known Del and Gary for two days, and we just met Zita and Eli. Give them time, everyone annoys each other sooner or later.”
She glanced at him a moment before responding. “Not us. Even when we disagree, we’ve never raised our voices. It’s almost like we’re the same person, split in two. Not only don’t we fight, we think alike in most circumstances. I’ve never met any siblings who don’t argue, nor any other couple. I’ve been searching for someone like you, but no one comes close. It’s not just their personality. I feel ... secure with you. I know you’ll always care for me, whatever happens. I realize you’ll be there for me, no matter what else you’re doing. Where else am I going to find that?”
“You’ll always have that, regardless of what you do. I’m not about to run off, and even if I meet someone, I’ll be there for you. You’re my sister, what else would I do?”
“That’s the point. You wouldn’t do the same for Mom or Dad, Aunt Janis or Cousin Fred. What we share isn’t familial, it’s much deeper. I’m not sure we can achieve the same thing with anyone else.”
“So we’ll get matching apartments, or I’ll build a house with an attached gate house. It won’t make any difference if we’re involved romantically or not.”
Betty prepared her things, not saying anything else. She changed into pajamas in the bathroom while Al threw on some jockey shorts and a t-shirt. When she returned, she still didn’t seem satisfied. Approaching her brother, she bit her lip, leaned in and kissed him.