Captain’s Log, Intergalactic date 67689.02
We’re back on our side of the galaxy, and the Impulsive’s systems are being restored. We’re running a complete security sweep for any other “surprises,” but with JR in a forced coma, we’ve not had further issues. The Lone Star is still undergoing a system reboot – the updates are taking forever! – and its drives are down thanks to our torpedo, so we are towing it home. Just like a family reunion, I’m telling ya. Speaking of, there’s nothing wrong with life support on the Lone Star, so they’re throwing a rip-roaring Homecoming party and cotillion. With all the work to be done, we’re partying in shifts. Of course, the command crews of both ships have a pressing issue to deal with: What to do with my cousin.
The primary officers of the Impulsive sat in the large table in the main conference room. With them were several of the main crew of the Lone Star: Bobby, Ellie Sue, Billy Seip, Donna Bel, their navigator, their general practitioner and their geneticist. The navigator wasn’t there for any official reason; he was JR and Bobby’s younger brother. J.R.’s mother, Donna Bel, sat in the chair Lt. LaFuentes normally occupied. She wrung her hands. Enigo leaned against the wall, trying not to move in any way that caused his arm to touch the fabric of the shirt the Captain had insisted he wear. Across from Donna Bel, Loreli cast him the occasional glance, alternately concerned and befuddled, and skillfully looked away whenever it seemed he might catch her gaze.
At the head of the table, the doctor was pointing to an image of J.R.’s DNA. The usual twisted ladder structure looked oddly overfull in the middle, where nuceliobases split at the hydrogen bonds to make base triples instead of base pairs. He flipped to another slide – this one a series of images with different timestamps, marked in months and years.
“So, the same thing that’s happening with J.R.’s DNA is what happens to the Evolved Paleos. And as you can see, it increases over time. This one is from someone who was ‘chosen’ only a few months ago – see how these splits are few and far between? While this one is Chi Nikki Chawa’s, which is much more fragmented.”
“I concur,” the geneticist said from her spot at the table. “We were seeing the same thing. We’re certain that’s why the Evolved Paleos die so much younger than their peers. They can only take so much fragmentation before their DNA becomes unviable.”
Dr. Pasteur flipped slides. “But look at J.R.’s. His is continuing to split and at a far faster rate than the Paleo’s. That’s why we’re seeing these bizarre manifestations of abilities, like the psychic manipulation of Nurse Bradshaw. He’s fine, incidentally, though a little embarrassed at the trouble he caused, particularly in his fight with Minion O’Tin. I think he still has Gel between his teeth.”
“How long does my boy have?” Donna Bel asked.
The geneticist sighed and reached out to take her hand. “That’s the good news and the bad news.”
Dr. Pasteur said, “The good news is his body is adapting to the changes. We’re not seeing any cellular decay; far from it. He seems to be enjoying the excellent health and regenerative abilities the Paleos first exhibit, but his are only getting stronger. The bad news is he’s only getting stronger. If we don’t find a way to return him genetically to his old self, he’ll evolve beyond humanness. And given the level of arrogance he’s already displayed…”
“Uhyanno,” LaFuentes cut in. “Sorry, Captain, I know he’s family and all, but we’re not letting him cross the Mitchell line.”
Almost every race that has traveled the galaxy has run into something at one point or another that gives them, bizarre, godlike powers. In fact, the Fermi paradox was refined to include the number of alien races that were wiped out by one of their own kind so “gifted.” There was even one race where the Supreme One got addicted to cutting the population in half until there was only himself. The only evidence of his existence were legends, half a gauntlet, and the words, “just once more.”
Enigo had strict orders and even stricter conditioning to never let anything like that happen to humans. He would disintegrate the evolving man if he had to take the entire ship and himself with them – and if he failed, every security officer on the Impulsive would move in to complete the mission.