Title: Cradle and All: Chapter 1
Author: Phoenix Cubed
Warnings: A small bit of language, a few characters I had to pull out of my orifices to
keep the plot line going, err things to come.
Feedback: Yes, please. All food goes back to firstname.lastname@example.org
Other: Standard Disclaimers apply. Maybe I should try a different type of bird
Rock a by, baby
On the tree tops
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
And if the bow breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all
She was dead; there was no denying it. She had no money, no home, and no support since that bastard Martin ran out on her during the second trimester. With a heavy sigh, the woman leaned against the wall of a building and slowly slid to the ground, supporting her swollen belly as she met the pavement. Unshed tears threatened to create runnels down her dirty cheeks. She was going to die, along with the unborn child that slept beneath her heart.
A sudden ripple blossomed through the woman, sending a wave of pain and realization through her. "No," she whispered, "not now. Please, God, not now."
The woman staggered to her feet. This would not happen on the street. No child deserved that. Especially not hers. Hand bracing the wall, she stumbled as far as she could, making her dirty feet move swiftly along the battered pavement. She was too far away from any medical facility, but maybe she could find a house, an empty building. Anything. Pain shot through her in an intense movement followed closely by a wet sensation that flooded through her and down her legs.
Dear Lord, no. Her water had broken, and in the barest district of the colony. There could be no worse place to die. She ran faster, but another contraction came and she tripped. Her unbalanced body worked against her and sent her sprawling into the rotted door of a rundown warehouse. The door cracked and fell from its hinges slightly, giving her access to the building. For a moment, she merely lay there, recovering her breath from the two bouts of pain that had caught her. Then, without warning, the door gave completely way and tumbled her into the building.
Jonathon paced up and down the white hospital room. It had been eight hours and twenty-six minutes. Too long, something should have happened by now. Jonathon reached the end of the waiting room. He stopped for a moment to gaze at the creamy walls and floral print. Meant to be relaxing, soothing. The man turned paced to the other side of the room. He didn't want to be soothed; he wanted to know what was happening.
Jonathon stopped his pacing at a pair of double doors that held large signs declaring no entrance but authorized personnel. The same set of double doors that his beloved Annette had gone through eight hours and-he checked his watch-twenty-nine minutes ago. What was happening behind those doors? How was his wife? Why wouldn't the doctors let him see her? Jonathon growled and turned from the doors to pace. If anything happened to her-
The doors swung open, and a nurse came out. The nervous husband pounced on her--it was the same nurse who had taken his wife through the doors. "What news?" Jonathon bombarded the unsuspecting woman with questions. "How is she? Has it happened yet? Tell me!"
The nurse blinked and fixed her starched hat back into place. "Mr. Dommer! If you please! Your wife is in perfectly capable hands." Speaking of hands, her strong fingers pried the man off her and sat him in a near by chair. "One should not hurry nature, it's a very foolish act, even for you, Mr. Dommer."
Jonathon grumbled but stayed in the chair. The nurse was right, of course. Doctors and the like were often too damned smart for their own good. But then, if they were wrong, God help us all. He didn't want to go in for an appendectomy and end up getting a lobotomy, or worse, a vasectomy. The nurse continued on her way, picking up a few files at the desk, and then went back through the double doors. But not before turning to the expectant husband and glaring, "Stay." She commanded.
Under that look, who would disobey? He sat in his chair, and waited.
"I assure you, Master Winner, this process is completely safe." The white-coated scientist looked over to the head of the greatest family space had ever seen. "With your cells and your mate's, you should get a healthy baby boy, as you've always wanted."
"You're sure." The master couldn't help but be nervous. A boy--a son.
"The success rate is over ninety percent."
"Well then, Doctor H, my wife and I shall come by tomorrow at three. How long will it take?"
Dr. H got up from his chair and shuffled past the tall Arabian. "Extracting the cells shall take no more than fifteen minutes each. The procedure will take the normal length of gestation, starting from cell extraction." He opened the door and looked up to smile at Master Winner's face. "Fear not, Mr. Winner. Very little can go wrong in this day and age."
The doctor shut the door behind the man and shuffled back to his computer. The smile hadn't left his face. "A pilot, at last."
A cold breeze ruffled the collar of his coat. The man shivered and brought his dirty hands up to sweep his collar over his neck. With his luck, he'd catch a cold due to the stupid, malfunctioning climate control generators. That was all he needed, a cold. The viral filters weren't working either, all sorts of alien bacteria was getting into the colony now.
L3 was going to hell in a shit barrel.
The man checked his watch, Morgan was late. How long did it take to get a kid anyway? That orphanage should have just handed one over like they did every other time. They had too many to keep track of anyway. Those stupid social workers should be grateful that Tony was generous enough to take a few.
The sound of crunching shoes turned his head. Morgan was coming up the path with a backpack slung over her shoulders and an infant tucked sleeping in her arms. The man stared, something was wrong with this picture.
"Oi, Morgan! What do you think you're doing?" The man hissed, "we need kids. Tony doesn't want to raise a whelp that hasn't been weaned yet."
"Shut up Lucas," the woman shifted her cargo. "This was all they had left that wasn't dead or near to."
Lucas growled, "fine. But if Tony yells, it ain't gonna be at me."
Morgan's eyes flashed, "we'll see who yells. I got him a kid, didn't I? He's a nice enough brat, quiet too." She stopped to coo at the child, "they found him six months ago, parents were the first hit from that virus. No name to him yet."
Lucas turned and began walking, wanting to get out of the cold. "Wonderful, a nanashi. Won't that just save our asses. How old is he, anyway."
The woman shrugged, "I'm thinkin' not quite a year. One more and he can start training."
His trench coat whipped in the wind, "whatever. Let's go see Tony."
Loud wailing pierced the night air; happy cries went up from every side of town. A child was born! And not just any child, the village leader had his first son. The Chang Dynasty would not die yet. It had survived wars, famine, and trips to outer space. Now, in its new home, in the colonies of the cold depths space, the Chang Dynasty would continue. The babe would be all their hopes and dreams.
Chang Kyho walked from the midwife's hut and lifted the wailing child high. "Our next generation is safe! To the future!"
"Our loyalties to the next generation!" A dozen dozen voices called out from the darkness, lifting high their pride and honor. Traditions changed slowly over time, but ideals seldom died.
Kyho carried the new babe around the crowd letting all see the prize he and his wife had hoped for. There were shouts of congratulations along with deep bows of respect. The village head walked until he came to a tall, slender Chinese man. He bowed slightly, "Faung Ho."
"Revered Chang." The man bowed back, though it was controlled and shallow. A gesture not missed by Chang.
"Good Lord Faung, you will come to my hut, we shall talk."
"Yes, Revered Chang."
Kyho handed his son to a midwife, and gestured for Ho to follow him.
What the Chinese village called huts were not really. And that which was a village was no more than an all-Chinese colony that had immigrated from the earth when their native lands had been destroyed by land dweller's devastation. Though surrounded by only the latest of technology, the village heads had decided to keep their lives simple, and stay away from the evils that new ideas brought. What could be done without, was. What couldn't was compensated.
Where Kyho led Faung was his own version of a house. Well lit and made beautiful by his wife, strong and made safe by his own hands. Such was the tradition of his family. Such would be kept. Because it was late, and because he wanted to return to his family, Kyho went straight on with business.
"The midwives say that your wife will bare a girl, Faung. True?"
Ho nodded, "they say so, yes."
Kyho thought on this a while, "we are two respected houses that lay on far sides of a chasm. Perhaps it is time we lay the foundation for a bridge."
"Peace is always an honorable concept."
Kyho nodded. "It is. Then what's say we continue that. If your child is female, then our houses will join. Accepted?"
Ho nodded and bowed, this time slightly deeper. "A wise decision from a wise leader. I accept. Come then, Kyho. There are celebrations about. Tell a future family member. What will you name your son?"
Kyho escorted Ho out. "Our family has settled on one. He shall be named Wufei."
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