Earth, 2765


“Daddy?” Bali asked softly. The deeper they went into her daddy’s laboratory the more nervous she became. It was dim down here, sterile. The concrete blocks were unpainted, and there was an odd smell, something that set her short hairs on end.

Something was very wrong.

Rudriv Itara smiled and patted her hand. His white hair fluffed in that adorable way it had and his cheeks were ruddy with health. “Do not be frightened, my child. I promised to show you something wonderful, and so I shall. You’re a very lucky girl.” They stopped before a heavy wooden door and glanced through the tiny bars on top. Whatever he saw made him smile.

His smile warmed her, for Bali knew her daddy loved her. Hadn’t he always taken good care of her? But this was different. Though she was only nine, she was a perceptive and thoughtful child. The moment they’d entered his lab it was as if her daddy had become a different person, a frightening stranger.

He removed a key and opened the massive door. It didn’t squeak, but there was something chilling about the silence. Reluctantly, she preceded him into the cell-like room.

The light level was very low, so the first thing she saw was an elevated, tub-like pool. There were controls on the side and it had a glass cover over the top. A green glow came from inside. Curious, she peered at it. The transparent, viscous liquid warped as fat bubbles slowly rose to the top and popped. The holes left behind slowly filled with glowing goo.

“It’s a genetic pool,” Rudriv said cheerfully. “Ordinary life forms go in and extraordinary beings come out. It’s for you.”

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