A Golden Bel

By: Brian W. Antoine

August 24, 2007


"That is not a normal pelt color," grumbled Wythdandis with just a bit of an edge to her voice.

"I know it isn't, or at least it isn't these days" I said with the same edge. "It hasn't been seen on Velar in over five millennia thanks to the genetic manipulation that kept your race from killing itself off." Dropping my voice to a whisper, I looked down at my daughter as she shifted slightly in her sleep, trying to get comfortable, but never letting go of the grip she had on my own pelt. I'd fed her earlier, and she'd nodded off even as Wythdantis and I had argued. "Kalindra and I like it so don't suggest trying to hide it to either of us again."

The latest addition to the Family nas Kan gave a tiny burp as if to put in her own word on the subject. Bel, or Bel dal Kan as she would be known when Kalindra finished registering her birth with the Central Library, looked almost like a small Gold Tribble when she curled up in her sleep, and that was the problem. Gold was a very recessive color for Velan's, and the genetic manipulation done to tame their ferocity had occured on a part of their genome that had essentially masked the gene for Gold fur. It still existed in their genetic pool, Bel was proof of that, but since both parents always contributed the gene that shunted their anger into other channels, it couldn't express itself.

The fact that Bel's pelt was Gold upset Wythdantis for any number of reasons, but at the top of the list had to be the fact that my daughter had inherited only one copy of the aggression shunting gene, I'd left it out of my own Velan genetic mix when I'd created the form I now wore. A close second was the fact that except for the Healers, a few scholars and one nosy alien, nobody remembered or cared what they'd asked one of their ArchMages to do to their race five thousand years earlier.

And the Healers wanted it to stay that way.

They were terrified of that change ever becoming undone. One of the secrets they were sworn to when they became Healers was exactly what part of their genome that change resided in, and the most important tenant of their profession was to never manipulate any gene even close to that area. They'd rather a patient died then take the risk that offspring of a healed patient might not pass on the alteration.

And my daughter was just that risk now.

"You have no idea if it takes both copies of the gene to be effective," I said after looking up and seeing how intensely Wythdantis was watching Bel.

"And you have no idea of the risk you're taking," she said in reply.

"Actually," and I paused to adjust the harness that I'd been using to carry Bel around, "I do. You were there, you didn't see Kalindra, untrained and suffering massive blood loss, wipe the floor of that bar with the armed rednecks inside it. I can just imagine what your wars were like when trained soldiers went at each other." It would have been a slaughter actually, if I hadn't managed to keep Kal from killing indiscriminately, via the bond we shared.

"She's going to have to be watched, and closely, especially as she approaches adulthood. If she shows signs of actually being capable of anger towards her own race, you're going to regret your decision."

I snorted in amusement, "Like a member of my family won't be under constant scrutiny by half this universe? Sometime when I've got a few free months I'll have to tell you what living in a glass house is like."

Bel gave a tiny sigh in her sleep and buried her face deeper into my chest fur.

"No, I don't think this universe has anything to fear from my daughter, my small golden Bel."




Author Note’s

Bel dal Kan translates roughly as "Bel, female child born of the Family Kan". Dal, de and das are similar to nal, ne and nas, but they reference the birth family, not the family created by mated adults. Yes, for those paying attention, Family nas Kan actually translates as Family Family Kan, but early on I decided that "Stories of the Family nas Kan" worked as a series title better than "Stories of the nas Kan". I cheated, sue me. :)

Also, the version of Kalindra’s actions at the Bar after "War" is not how I ended up deciding that night should go, the version is Slow Learners won out.