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Posted 7/5/19 (Posting every second and Fourth Sunday of the month)

AUGUST 8, 3152

After spending all night on the rooftop to avoid Sera’s intrusion, I crawled from the metallic tent Dad had fashioned to shield me from the perpetual sunlight. Mother sat on the lawn swing and Cleopatra played in the grass, while I paced back and forth along the garden path between flowerbeds and vegetable patches. When my head cleared, I joined my mother on the swing.
An apparition rising through the trapdoor on the roof of the central pentagon caught my attention. My pulse skyrocketed, until I recognized my father’s face, as he waddled forward wearing a bulky space suit and lugging his machete. Paul followed close behind. He placed the bubble over Dad’s head and attached the dual-purpose lift-umbrella and parachute to the back of his outfit. Dad rose skyward until nothing but a dark speck dotted the brilliant sky, and then disappeared through the revolving door.
A short time later, Dad reappeared. The parachute fluttered, blossomed, and floated. I ran to the edge of our roof, jumped the divider-fence, and joined Paul, our necks craned. Dad’s figure grew larger, still clutching the harvesting tool. He had severed the transmission line between Sera and us. We were again electronically isolated. The static she intended to prevent communication with Mission One had also foiled her chance to reach us by wireless.
When Paul lifted the bubble from Dad’s head, I spit out my most pressing question. “Does the line strung through the pulleys still function?”
He nodded and held out a piece of paper. “The moment I cut the transmission cable, the rope began whizzing through the pulley, delivering this hand written note.”
I read it aloud. “Your decision to isolate your families from those on this side has placed a severe handicap on docking procedures. I suggest Paul reattach the cable immediately.” Had she anticipated my decision or could she continue to read my thoughts?
“Dad, I need you to return and deliver my answer.” I ran to his tool shed to find a pencil, while he replaced his helmet and his suit pressurized. I scribbled a brief note.

From now on, this is how we communicate. My father will check the incoming mail every morning and post my answer the following day.

He placed the note in his pocket and opened the umbrella strapped to his back. Jets of air blasted from around and under him, lifting him to the sky where the revolving door swallowed him. After an hour passed, I panicked, but the door swung open and he appeared, slowly drifting to the rooftop garden.
“What took so long?” I asked, as Paul unfastened the helmet and opened the suit.
“Pulling a mile of rope hand-over-hand takes a lot of time.” He chuckled. “I’ll rig an electric pulling device for tomorrow and the next day and the next day.”
He had read my note. “Thanks, Dad.”
He stepped out of his suit and began to fold it, when a percussion reverberated, as if we were encased inside a gigantic bell. Cleopatra began to cry, and Dad unfolded his suit. As Paul helped him step back into it, Dad said, “I’ll bet Sera has a message for us.” He lifted to the sky, disappeared behind the door, and returned to the rooftop almost immediately.
I scrambled to grab the note he waved at me. While Paul removed the headgear, Dad explained, “Sera attached a trip hammer to the rope that slammed against the dome to announce the arrival of a message.”
I grinned. “Like a door knocker.” He frowned, and I explained, “Early Twentieth Century technology.”
“At least we don’t have to wait until morning.” He glanced at the paper still clasped in my fist. “You got an answer for me to deliver, while I’m still in the delivery mode?” He faced Paul. “Leave my suit fastened. I suspect I’ll be returning shortly.”
I scanned Sera’s message while four curious eyes remained focused on me.

Send over one of Helen’s frozen eggs. I will implant it back into her uterus and trigger it to clone itself, a procedure your mother is not capable of performing without my assistance. As a humanitarian act, I am offering Helen the opportunity to give birth to a daughter who will be fertile.

You seem to have figured out my system for announcing incoming messages. I have a droid waiting outside the dome on this side to receive whatever you choose to send this way.

I faced the two adults who had earned the right to all information passed back and forth, but not this. “I’m sorry, but some of this is personal.”
Dad politely nodded and stepped back, and Paul said, “I expect to be informed of all facts and data pertinent to our situation.” He glared. “Our survival.”
“I’ll give a full report, but first I need to dialogue with Sera.” I glanced toward the radiant sky, and wondered why the light remained continuous, if our habitat was entirely synthetic as Sera had indicated. Not the most important issue at hand. I penned the following note.

Helen will have to take her chances with my mother’s skills when our ten families are reunited. I cannot trust you having control of her egg and Albert’s sperm, a quantity of which I assume you have preserved. He’d never consent to donate more under those circumstances.

When my father returned following a nearly immediate clap of thunder after he disappeared through the revolving door, Paul eyed him conspiratorially. I felt sure he might grab the message from my father’s outstretched hand, but I resisted rushing to receive it. I remained seated, holding Cleopatra. Paul delivered it still folded while Dad stood waiting, suited and hooded.
“Thank you, Paul, for your patience with me.”

Your internal antennae are more receptive than any that technology has to offer. Yes, I intended to create that child with or without Albert’s consent. However, let me clarify my intentions. With the aforementioned combination, I would germinate Helen’s egg, or any other from the women aboard Mission Two, and freeze the embryo for as long as it takes to reach my destination. Only then would I absorb that creature into my identity. You and Albert and Cleopatra would be free to enjoy your short lives together.

My answer was immediate, and Dad dutifully carried it aloft.

An anonymous human sacrifice. You misjudge what it means to be human.

Dad resettled from the roof, sans the gong, waiving Sera’s instant response.

A mother willing to sacrificing herself or her daughter would be more humanitarian?

I pulled Cleopatra tight to my body and carried her down the stairs into our apartment without offering an explanation. By the time I reached my parents’ bedroom, my eyes blurred and my chest convulsed. I plopped onto the chair and sobbed.
Mother entered; drink in hand, eyes wide as saucers. “I exposed the eggs and sperm in my laboratory. We don’t need any more designer children.”
“No, Mother,” I sobbed. “Not Helen’s.”
“Not Helen’s.” She downed the remainder of her drink. “I owe her a child.”
I felt relieved but cautioned, “Keep it away from Sera.”
“It’s safe. Helen will be having her baby girl in nine months.”
“But we’ll be leaving before then. Sera will have control of the incubator.”
“Helen’s cloned embryo is not in the incubator.” Mother pressed her hand to her abdomen.
“Mother! A pregnancy at your age might kill you.”
“A life for a life, if that is what God has in store for me.”

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