lady-redshield-writes:

coutelier:

Have a nice but fairly long extract from the current draft of my WIP:

Kaya didn’t know how much further they had to go. The
building they were in was huge, bigger than it had appeared from outside as
several floors were below ground. When they turned the next corner she decided
to try a different strategy and just distract Jen by being silly.

“You think they have GM foods here?” She asked. “Like taking
tomatoes and giving them mouths and making them carnivorous?”

Jennifer looked at her strangely. “Why would anyone do
that?”

“Because they can,” Kaya shrugged, “maybe their plan is to
turn all the poor into rabid tomatoes so they eat each other. That’s what my
mom suspects. She only ever buys organic.”

Jen sighed, rolled her eyes and uttered, “your mom’s an
idiot.”

“Well, yeah,” Kaya conceded. “She’s still my mom, so, you
know…”

It worked though. Tales of Kaya’s mom’s paranoid reactionary
ideas always shocked and amused Jennifer. “Okay, but, even if they did breed
rabid tomatoes you wouldn’t become a tomato by eating them. You don’t take on
the genetic traits of things you eat or through history people eating chicken
would have grown feathers and started laying eggs. You don’t literally become
what you eat.”

“I don’t know. I just licked a toad once and I was hopping
around for hours afterward.”

Jennifer snorted, her lips suddenly becoming very tight and
she struggled to stifle her laugh.

“What’s that?” Kaya nudged. “Is that a giggle trying to
break out there?”

“Shut up,” Jen sniffed. “You’re distracting me. Besides, I
think we’re here.”

Sure enough, before them were double doors over which were
the initials ELF. Once again Jen made short work of the electronic lock and
beyond was a room that at first glance didn’t seem much more impressive than a
science room in any school. There were a few lockers, computers, sinks, little
racks filled with tubes, a refrigerator filled with jars that probably Kaya
shouldn’t pinch no matter how hungry she was. There was one thing that stood
out – a pentagon shaped console in the middle of the floor with a cylinder
extending from it all the way to the ceiling.

“What is it?” Kaya asked as Jen hovered around the console
squinting at all the buttons and data flashing by on little monitors embedded
inside. After a moment she pressed some of the buttons and the cylinder peeled
away, sliding into the console itself to reveal a glass tube filled with water.
And within the water am ethereal purple leaf about the size of one of the women
that just gently swayed as bubbles formed then floated up and disappeared. On
closer inspection the leaf was made up of many fronds branching from a central
stalk, so it was in fact more like a feather. “Okay,” Kaya nodded. “So, what is
it?”

“I don’t know,” Jen admitted. “It’s not a plant. There’s no
photosynthesis happening in there. But it is alive. It’s kind of like a Charnia
– a fractal life-form from the Pre-Cambrian era.”

Kaya understood that meant very old and probably extinct.
“So is it a clone or something?”

“Unlikely. That creature lived hundreds of millions of years
ago,” Jennifer was a moment lost in though and awe of the seemingly impossible
creature. “Maybe this is a replica. An actual, living recreation. That’s
synthetic biology – instead of just modifying an existing organism they made
this one from scratch. It’s fascinating, but I had no idea anyone had gotten
this far with it…”

It was obvious from how she looked that Jen was quite taken
with the thing, but honestly it was just a big purple feather to Kaya seemed
pretty inert. “That’s great and all, but I don’t see what this can have to do
with the invisible stalkers out there.”

“If their bio-engineering is already this advanced then
maybe they’ve taken it further,” Jen nodded to another set of doors opposite
the ones they’d entered. “We should go deeper.” She swept away from the console
to march boldly onwards, wires and tablet ready. Only to stop, dumbfounded.
Kaya asked what was wrong and Jen stammered, “i-it… It’s locked…”

“So unlock it.”

“I mean it’s lock-locked. It needs an actual, physical key.”

Kaya looked. No keypads, no fingerprint or hand or iris
scanners. Just a keyhole and through it maybe the answers they sought. Kaya
laughed, “what was it, years you said studying all the security systems? All
those gadgets and hacking, but you didn’t think you might just need a key?”

Jennifer clearly knew she was being made fun of and
desperately looked for a way to save her beetroot face. “Maybe we can pick it,”
she said, reaching into her coat. “I’m sure I have some pins and a hair-clip
somewhere…”

But Kaya knew that was futile. “You’ll never pick it with
those. If I had my tools,” she sighed. That was on her of course. She should
have thought ahead and been prepared for this eventuality too instead of
leaving it all to Jennifer. Maybe there was something in the lab…

Jennifer stared at her and asked, “so you’re a locksmith
now?”

“Something like that. Sure,” Kaya looked around and wondered
how someone so smart could be so stupid.

Ooh. I love the banter between the characters, it really shows off their relationship. And this world of bioengineering sounds so cool! Rabid tomatoes might just be my new favorite thing. 😀

Thank you! It is of course a slight nod to the – let’s call it ‘classic’ – movie and later cartoon series Attack of the Killer Tomatoes:

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