Lissa held her breath as she looked at the letter in her hand. It was definitely from her mother – it was in Sixan instead of Simlish after all. She opened the envelope carefully and began to read.
(Translated from the original Sixan)
I may be a senior pollination technician, but this is something even I haven’t managed to succeed in. I’ve asked around, and it all points to it being beyond us at the moment.
Lissa felt her throat tighten. She’d been expecting as much, but it was another thing to see it confirmed.
However, I have had the dubious pleasure of seeing a lot more scientists around here since you left. I made an enquiry, and there has been some research into the possibility. It hasn’t been tested on any living beings, so it may be a dead end. If you are really intent on following this path, it would be worth asking them for yourself. I have enclosed a ‘telephone number’ (What is the point in these devices? Surely sims have at least some telepathic ability?) for the scientist that is heading this project. I recommend that you ask for an appointment with her.
The letter was as impersonal as always, but Lissa still smiled. Her mother wasn’t one for social niceties. The fact that she had gone to the effort of tracking this scientist down was enough proof that she cared.
When Morgan returned from work, she was greeted with a massive hug. She was worried for a second, but when she pulled away and saw the smile on Lissa’s face she allowed herself to relax.
“What’s got you so excited, Lissi?”
“I got a letter from my mum.”
“It was good news?” she asked, a note of hope in her voice.
“We have a chance. There’s an experimental treatment that we could volunteer for that may let us conceive. We would be ‘gala pigs’ for the testing stage, but-”
Morgan grinned and drew her back into a hug. “Guinea pigs, love. You mean ‘guinea pigs'”
“What is a gala pig then?”
“Why are you two standing in the middle of the pavement talking about pigs?”
“Mum?! Don’t scare me like that.”
“Alas, you were too busy to notice your dear old mother. I walked over here like a normal person, in plain sight, even waving once or twice. If you didn’t see me, then you deserve to be scared.”
“I was kind of distracted.”
Morgan couldn’t stay mad at her mum, especially with the news she’d just received. She opened her mouth to share it but then paused. Would it be worse to raise Moira’s hopes and have them come to nothing than to simply tell her later?
“Make the call, love, I’m in.” she said, then she led her mother over to the garden to see the new orchids. That should give Lissa enough privacy to make the arrangements, Morgan thought. She smiled again – there was a chance.
“Hello? Professor Goth? It’s Lissa Centauri. Yes, that’s me. You spoke to my mother and she… Yes, I can do that. Tomorrow? Got it. Thank you so much.”
Well… this was a very different place to Newcrest. It was hard to believe it existed on the same planet, let alone within driving distance. She had managed to get a special permit to visit the building, but this was the first time she had been outside of her small town.
It even smelt different. A mix of salt and heat and… smoke?
There was a small kerfuffle in the distance, and then everything died down. Lissa looked around, expecting to see frantic sims running away, but there was nothing. After five minutes, she decided to go inside.
“Hello. I’m here to see-”
“Oh my word. Is this actually happening?”
“Are you really an alien?”
Lissa looked at her, confused. “I am.”
“That’s amazing! I joined this job hoping to explore space and on my first week on the job I get to meet you! This is totally going on my simstagram”
This was a first. The woman was actually excited to meet her. She wasn’t scared at all.
“I’m here to see Professor Cassandra-”
“I saw her just a minute ago, I’ll let her know you’ve arrived.”
With that, the young receptionist bounced out of her chair and ran off. Lissa just stared at the door, bemused. What a strange place this was. She hadn’t even been able to ask about the fire.
“Mrs Centauri?” came a voice from the other side of the door. “Please, come through.”
“My name is Cassandra Goth. You are here for the experiment, is that correct?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Are you sure you understand the risks of this? Does your wife?”
“We know that it might not work, but-”
“Not only might it not work, it could cause you to become hideously mutated! You could turn into an amphibian, or break the laws of physics, or even…” she paused for dramatic effect, “get eternal hiccups.”
Lissa cringed away. Where had all this anger come from? Was it really that terrible? She considered leaving right now, but stopped when she remembered the look of joy on Morgan’s face, and the despair she had seen on Dominic’s just a week earlier.
“I still want to do this. I will risk it. I won’t consent for my wife, because she has to decide for herself, but I want this. Please.”
The woman’s face changed again, back into the pleasant expression that she had started with.
“Don’t worry, I was just trying to see how serious you were about this. None of the things in the tests are too dangerous to sims or sixans.”
“Oh thank goodness.”
“Come with me, we’ll get started. You need to help with the preparation, so I hope you have a lot of energy. The machine over there will fill you in on the schedule.”
Lissa walked over to the corner indicated. Surely she must have misheard, after all how could a machine tell her-
“Hello. I am an inventor-bot. My name is Steve. How may I help you today?”
“How may I help you today?”
“Professor Goth told me that you would have my schedule for the day. My name is Lissa Centauri.”
“Checking. Yes, have that information. Please go downstairs and get into the scanner. We shall examine your cell structure which shall determine the next step.”
“Downstairs. Got it.”
Well, this was disturbing. Was that a baby Cthulhu in that hydro-pod? Lissa shuddered, and walked through the marked door.
There, in the middle of the room, stood a high tech cubicle. She looked around to make sure that this was indeed the scanner, but there was nothing else in the room that could be it. She read the instructions.
- Take off your clothes
- Remove all jewellery and electronics
- Prepare to be decontaminated
- Stand absolutely still whilst the pod is operating to ensure proper molecular photography.
- You will know when it is safe to move when you hear the following sound.
This last instruction was followed by the word ‘Doot’, which meant absolutely nothing to Lissa, but hopefully it would become clear later. She stripped, got into the cubicle and closed her eyes.
The process wasn’t as traumatic as she had feared. In fact, it was quite relaxing.
She stepped out and rolled her shoulders to loosen them up. It might not have been uncomfortable, but it had been cramped.
“Please return to the surface to receive further instructions.”
“Hello, Mrs Centauri. I have the results of your scan here. I shall now show the results.”
A vast collection of holographic threads and lights formed in front of her. They shifted and changed as the mechanical voice explained it’s findings.
“The next step is to see how these results interact with the ingredients for the serum. If you would proceed to the analysis station to your left, everything you need has been prepared. Once you have your findings, the Professor will decide on how best to move forward.”
“Thank you, Steve.”
“You are welcome.”
“Adding a drop of lemon. Why lemon?”
“Ah well, in it goes.”
It was lucky that the instructions were easy to follow, Lissa thought as she watched the information fly across the screen. She didn’t have the slightest clue how to decipher the words on the screen – if she had had to decide what to do by herself she wouldn’t have stood a chance.
“Yes! It’s done.”
She printed out the results and walked over to the desk where Cassandra was working.
“Ecuse me Professor, Steve said that I had to give these to you.”
“You call him Steve? That’s adorable.”
“Isn’t that his name?”
“Yes, but we mostly just call him ‘inventor’. He’s just a machine after all.”
She handed over the results and waited, thinking this new information over. Was Steve not sentient? He certainly acted like he was.
“Ok! This is good! The results are very promising. Now if I just add this…”
Lissa smiled at the enthusiasm. She might not understand what was going on, but she was getting more excited as the day went by.
“Right, back to the inventor with you. I’ve sent it the details and it’ll clue you in on what to do.”
“It’s like ‘Hello’, but more casual. Is it ok?”
“It is ok. ‘Hey’, Mrs Centauri. I have the information you need. Shall I start it now?”
“… and then you heat it to 95 degrees celsius. Do not be alarmed if it starts to spark. Shall I print it for you?”
“That would be wonderful.”
“It has been done.”
“Do you have a question about the serum?”
“No, it’s not that. I was just wondering, do you mind when other people call you ‘the machine’?”
“I do not mind. It is what I am.”
“Do you prefer it when they use your name, though?”
“I… I find that I react differently when people use my name. It makes me-” he paused, as if unsure of how to express the notion in his mind “happy. It makes my circuitry more efficient. I do not know if I can feel happiness, but that is what I imagine it to be.”
“Thank you, Steve.”
“You are welcome.”
She kept her mind focused as she mixed, following the instructions to the letter.
“Ok, and heat to 95…”
“Ah!!” she jumped back. They weren’t kidding with the sparks. She heard a stifled giggle from behind her and turned to look, but all the scientists were at their stations looking as innocent as can be. She could have read their minds, but to be quite honest, it had been funny.
She waited with bated breath for the results of the scan. This was the moment of truth.
“Blah blah blah spline-reticulation blah blah…”
She could hardly wait. The machine beeped happily and she punched her fist into the air.
She got home at around seven pm, exhausted but contented.
“How’s my star girl? Did you have fun?”
“I did, actually. It was strange seeing where scientists come from.”
Morgan giggled at the image. Just a building that created scientists fully formed and ready to experiment.
“I know you’re dying to ask, so I’ll just say it. The serum has been created, and now all we need to do is test it.”
“So how does this work?”
“Ok, so it was made to work with both sim and sixan DNA. Whoever will be carrying the child needs to ingest the potion, and then, well…” she blushed as she remembered the rest of the instructions.
“I see” Morgan said, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
Lissa cleared her throat and fanned herself in an attempt to cool her blood. “The experiment could have side effects, but none of them are too serious or long lasting. This isn’t an invasive surgery or anything, and the ingredients aren’t toxic.”
“That’s good to know.”
“So, how should we do this? If you would like, I can take it. I don’t have a job, so the pregnancy wouldn’t interfere with my schedule too much.”
“I’m not sure. I hate to say this, but we don’t know what a sixan/sim hybrid child will look like. My family love you, but if the child turned out looking very little like me and you were the one who gave birth, they may have a harder time accepting him or her. If I am pregnant, then even if our child looks fully alien then they still have that visible link to them. Does that make sense? Is that ok?”
“I understand. Don’t worry, I’m not offended. That makes a lot of sense actually. Would you be safe at work, though?”
“I can get a desk job for the duration, they won’t send pregnant sims on field missions. It’s a rule they have.”
“Are you ok with being office bound for nine months?”
“I am. I know we don’t know if this will even work, but I want to do this. I want to carry our child. Even when I’m at work I’ll have a bit of you with me.”
Lissa melted at that last part. Morgan’s mind was made up.
Her eyes lost focus for a second and she stumbled.
“Whoops, where did my legs go.”
“Are you ok?”
“Don’t worry, I’m good. Just lost balance for a second.”
Lissa took Morgan’s hand, and the pout on her wife’s face went away to be replaced by mischief and desire.
“So, what did you say the next step was?”
“Come here, love.”
“I know. Wow~” Morgan said, snuggling closer to her wife. “Maybe we should do it again, just to be sure.”
“You read my mind.”
Hours later, they managed to tear themselves away from each other and out of the bed. They were dazed and happy, but Morgan felt a strange tingling in her stomach. Could it be?
“I’m going to go and make us some food, ok?” Lissa said, bringing Morgan out of her reverie.
“Sounds like a plan. I need the loo, but I’ll be right out after.”
Her stomach was definitely feeling strange. It couldn’t be taking effect already, could it? She forced herself to calm down, after all it could simply be a side effect. There was a way she could find out, however.
Lissa had, much to her embarrassment, brought a pregnancy test back from the labs along with the potion. It was a very hi tech one, so it was detect pregnancy almost at the moment of conception. It had been about five hours since she had taken the potion. Was it too soon?
She had to know.
“Oh. My. Word.”
“Lissi, guess what?”
Lissa saw the smile on Morgan’s face, and felt an answering glow surround her. It had worked.