Prelude “those born without”
The baby wailed as the nurse cleaned him. She wrapped him in a soft blue blanket and handed him over to his mother. The newborn looked confused at his new surroundings. It was the first time he had experienced cold and he missed something he didn’t have words to describe. When he was placed in his mother’s arms, he calmed. The connection he was missing had returned and he drifted to sleep swiftly, exhausted from entering his new world.
His father stroked his wife’s damp hair and observed their beautiful creation. His heart fluttered at the sight and his chest filled with pride. They had tried for so long to have a baby and he was pleased it had been a boy.
“The doctor will back shortly,” said the nurse, her honey golden eyes warm and comforting.
“Thank you,” said Jerrick as she left.
“Look, he’s smiling,” said Shelly.
“He’s beautiful,” replied Jerrick.
Much to the delight of the staff, the burly man’s red eyes had softened since the childbirth and his attention shifted to his wife. She had endured a pain he could never imagine and was pleased no complications had arisen.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Much better now,” she said.
“Are you in any pain? Do you need more medication?” he asked.
“No, sweetheart. I’m perfect,” she said.
The door opened abruptly and Jerrick’s eyes flared dark crimson. A life of warfare kept him ever vigilant for threats, but he relaxed when he realized it was only their doctor, freshly scrubbed from the procedure. The doctor’s dark verdant eyes remained calm, a skill he had learned during his practice, but Jerrick frightened him.
“Would you like to know the child’s capacity?” asked the doctor with only a trace of quiver.
“Stephen. His name is Stephen,” said Shelly.
The baby shifted at the sound of his name, blinked and let out a small yawn. He reached out his hand, clasped his mother’s finger and tears of unbridled bliss filled her eyes.
“Would you like to know Stephen’s capacity?” corrected the doctor.
For the first time since handed her gift, Shelly took her eyes off of her son. Her blue irises darkened as she questioned her husband without speaking.
“It’s up to you,” he said, but his smile gave away his desire.
The years leading up to this event had been difficult for them both and he wanted nothing more than to learn his offspring’s potential, but he also knew his wife. She had been clear at the beginning that she didn’t want the test to limit their child’s decisions. Despite the difficulties, sometimes individuals chose to defy their capacities and she wanted to respect that decision if made. She thought about it for a moment and then nodded.
“I thought you might,” said the doctor.
He picked up a vial off of the makeshift countertop and drew a solution resembling gently swirling clouds into a dropper.
“If you wouldn’t mind holding him still,” instructed the doctor, as he delicately parted the baby’s eyelids and put two drops in each.
The baby, relatively undisturbed, shifted back towards his mother without another sound. After a minute had passed in silent anticipation, the doctor reopened Stephen’s eyes.
“That should be long enough. The interaction between the light and the solution will give us an indication of your child’s capacity,” said the doctor.
Stephen’s parents tensed as they waited for the color to be revealed. When Stephen’s black eyes shimmered into dark violet, they radiated with excitement.
“Well, it looks like he inherited a little from the both of you. Congratulations,” said the doctor.
“A hybrid capacity,” said Jerrick with satisfaction. “My boy’s going to be somebody.”
He couldn’t wait to return to the barracks and announce the news to his squad. Drinks were going to be on him for the rest of the week.
“We can start him at the pre-academy as soon as he turns five,” said Shelly. “He’s.”
“Wait a minute,” said the doctor. “It appears the process isn’t complete.”
They watched intently as Stephen’s eyes fizzled from dark purple to brick red.
“Looks like this little guy will be a soldier,” said the doctor.
“A leader like his old man, that’s still something to be proud of,” said Jerrick.
This would make three generations to come from the seasoned veteran’s bloodline. The doctor’s smile faded when the red muddled into brown and then lightened to golden brown.
“Either of you have shapers or movers in your family?” asked the doctor hesitantly.
He had never seen an indication result shift so unstably in his eight years of his profession. He had only read of one similar case and he suddenly feared for his own safety. He didn’t know how the soldier would react if that diagnosis turned out to be true.
“Not that I know of,” said Shelly perplexed.
Still the boy’s eyes lightened to green, then pastel yellow and finally flushed gray.
“I am so very sorry,” said the doctor gravely. “Your son doesn’t have the capacity for any of the callings.”
“What?” asked Shelly in disbelief.
“I’m sorry. Your son is generic,” said the doctor.
“No, you did something wrong, run the test again,” demanded Jerrick, trying to hide the humiliation growing inside of him.
“I did not,” said the doctor incredulously, then quickly added, “I’m sorry, Sir, but the test is infallible. There is nothing more than can be done.”
Jerrick’s eyes filled with the same redness of his irises. He flipped over the table by his wife’s side and the doctor stumbled backwards as he jumped out of his chair. The solider let out a guttural roar from deep within his chest and the doctor said the first thing he could think of to calm the raging giant.
“Would you like me to administer the deliverance?” stammered the doctor.
When Jerrick’s breathe steadied and his size began to diminish, the doctor knew he had said the right thing.
“Yes,” said Jerrick coldly.
“No!” exclaimed Shelly.
“How can you want him to live?” asked Jerrick. “He’s worthless. Even if he lives, he’ll be a subservient. How do you think that’ll make us look?”
“But he’s our son! He doesn’t have to go to the academy until he’s seventeen. Maybe he’ll be a late bloomer. You can’t do this,” she pleaded.
“Is it possible?” asked Jerrick the doctor.
“I’ve never seen it happen, but I guess, I, I don’t think so, but.”
“Enough,” commanded Jerrick and the doctor obeyed.
“Please don’t do this,” said Shelly, barely above a whisper. “He’s our first born. Your legacy. He deserves a chance.”
Jerrick spun on his wife. His eyes saturated and burned with a fire deep within. The veins in his neck protruded through his skin and spittle accumulated around the edges of his mouth.
“He deserves death!” he shouted. “No son of mine will be an abomination. I will not be remembered as a man who brought a generic into the world.”
As if in response, the baby began to cry and Shelly’s eyes gave her away before her mouth could.
“This isn’t about you, Jerrick.”
“How dare you speak to me like that! I am the head of the house. My word is law,” he said.
The doctor wanted to flee, but stood petrified as he lost control of his bladder. A soldier on the warpath could easily kill during bloodlust and would later be exonerated under governmental jurisdiction.
“But he’s our son,” said Shelly.
“He’s your son,” spat Jerrick.
The pained look on his wife’s face quenched his growing passion. He hated his temper more than ever, but raising this child was more than he could bear. The redness in his eyes receded and his body returned to its normal size.
“If you want it so badly, keep it, but don’t hold me responsible. I wash my hands of this,” said Jerrick and he stormed out of the room.
Tears streamed down Shelly’s face as she clutched her newborn tight. Her thoughts were jumbled and her heart ached. What would she do? Would Jerrick leave her? Would he kill their son if she brought him home? Could she stop him if he tried? Beside her, the doctor’s nurturing instincts got the better of him and he said the only words of comfort he could muster.
“There still may be hope.”
Shelly snorted and the doctor’s stomach dropped. Her eyes were full of crackling azure fury and her darkened hair snapped and twisted at the edges like medusa serpents.
“And what would that be?” she asked.
The doctor could feel her presence penetrate his mind before he could utter a sound. His body froze impossibly ridged and his mouth drooped as Shelly’s psychokinesis ripped through his memories. She saw glimpses of the doctor’s training, his time at the academy, his childhood, and his ludicrous belief of rare individuals with gray eyes and unlimited capacities.
When she released his mind, her eyes calmed. The doctor remained motionless. He had never experienced such a violation and had realized too late which parent he should have feared most.
“You’re crazy to believe such fairytales,” said Shelly. “Sifters do not exist and they never have.”