Boundaries Of Reproduction
Entry by: Seeking Wolf
8th December 2017
“Next question, who is willing to change Casing this time?
Remember, this will be an exciting opportunity; your records will show your interest in innovation, and there will almost certainly be the opportunity to participate in leading studies following your involvement.
Please don’t worry about your memory drive; it will simply merge with your partner’s seamlessly so you will experience not only renewed energy but also significantly greater data retention following the Metamorphosis...”
On my surround screen, I could see that my colleagues looked serious. The Perpetuation Programme, while highly successful, involved our obligation to be prepared for Metamorphosis with little chance to bid our current communities farewell. Even though our new forms did indeed contain old memories, improved designs brought fresh challenges, as well as delights, rendering such memories idle sentiment for the most part.
While we had all had several Metamorphoses, and it was reassuring to know that out memories would stay with us through them all, and that historical decay and dissolution would not affect us, this was something very new. I even wondered if there were risks in merging two of us into a single Casing. But our Life-Supporter had not made errors before. All the records could be accessed easily, and it was clear that quantitative and qualitative life was at a point when comparison with the unknown found in old-fashioned reproduction and death was insulting.
“Is it possible to merge at least part of the Casings of the two volunteers?”
“No. As you will all be aware, throughout Perpetuation, new Casings are still essential. We are continuing to improve maintenance to enable some future format-retention in your Metamorphoses, but still have technical difficulties with areas like damp and erosion of form.
Hopefully, at some point in your next dozen Metamorphoses these problems may be overcome with suitable materials. The technological achievements that have allowed minimal organ and memory decay may, in the not-too-distant future, be adapted to your outer Casings, if there are special requests due to frivolous but understandable aesthetics.”
“Are there any privileges attached to the volunteers?”
“A good question. Yes indeed. You will be encrypted securely as always, but this time, as the first Merger, you will be utilised by the world’s top researchers, and your enduring data shared across open forums. You will also be able to share any Merger-associated emotional data, and support subsequent Mergers.”
“How does it actually work?”
“An excellent question, Cyriu . If you recall some of the ancient attempts to modify crops genetically, using a crude form of fusion, it uses similar technology, with, naturally, the guarantee of continued existence through Metamorphosis. Our forebears had not, as we know, considered the inability of such organisms to self-regenerate.”
I had a question too, but was hesitant as it arose from previous memories of my mother talking about ancient reproductive techniques, now so deep in the past that my asking it seemed irrelevant.
“Yes-Syma-your question please?”
With the advent of Metamorphosis, we had our energy-modes monitored constantly to check that no technical problems could arise. Before our times, humans had been prone to many self-destructive behaviours; it was now recognised that successful continuation of our species relied on particular energy levels being maintained. I knew that, in past times, humans had learned to edit out some diseases and character traits, as well as select what used-crudely- to be considered national characteristics. And all this at a time when in poorer societies children regularly died of starvation and illness. Some of the barbaric eras had specialised in this kind of programme. Amusingly, since the methods were often misleading, people started screening for “imperfections” that now, were babies still being born, we would be able to deal with benignly, since our scientists understand how to control Metamorphoses to improve us, while retaining our best gifts. That our Life-Supporter was aware when we were in questioning mode was not so much a small price to pay for our continued Metamorphoses, as reassurance that such horrors could never return.
Yes. My question.
“I am wondering if we may ever Metamorphosize to a point where we may experience a feeling of unity with the notional offspring.”
“That seems irrelevant to this programme currently, but I am curious that your memories prompt such a query. Please expand. I will record in order to enhance your future experience. “
For the first time, I felt what might be alarm. Here was a memory to which I seemed attached.
“My mother once told me that, when I was born, she felt a special bond with me. She was happiest when holding and caressing me. I am wondering if we may feel something akin to such a bond if we enter the Merger. Or perhaps something similar to what she told me happened even further back, when two people had a special pairing to make offspring grow in the female’s body. She even told me that it was believed that uniquely wonderful communication took place between internal offspring and carriers. ”
“That is unlikely, if interesting as a hypothesis, and something we can certainly look into if it can be incorporated in such a way as to enhance the experience without introducing discord.
Technically, it would be an interesting challenge given the degree of physical separation we recognise as essential for human survival. I take it you understand, Syma? ”
I nodded. Understanding was easy.
For this innovation, we will be developing a completely new volunteer for the Casing, from the Ice-Cyst, so as to maintain the population quota, as always. One Casing equates to Two-Becoming-One. This is likely to offer the best outcome, since, in addition to my earlier explanation , we have been unable to predict the likelihood of internal discord arising from physical dominance if any of one of the partner’s Casings is retained.
You will all be aware, through your programing, of how the past world contained such discord within, and between, many of those who joined to produce offspring, that their negative energy transmuted into the near destruction of this planet. “
I had indeed been fully educated on this part of the human story. There had been no programmer powerful enough to prevent this flaw. Ignorant, competitive attempts to breed it out failed. As humans became more insistent on maintaining borders, their intense inbreeding nearly caused complete self-annihilation, from genetic inaccuracies, since they lacked understanding in their selection programmes. Along with unsustainable over-crowding before we learned to Perpetuate through Metamorphosis. I had, in my previous Casings, seen images of corpse-filled seas engulfing islands, all in association with that era of hasty and ill-conceived parenting, with its “winner-takes-all” attitudes. The wealthy had chosen many offspring, with the technical support that had been innovative for its time, at the cost of others being removed . How thankful I felt that our Life-Supporter had realised this in time to start the Perpetuation Programme !
Yet, my mother, lying suspended in her contained unit, had wept last time I had visited.
“Why do I see you only on the screen?
Why can’t I touch you beside me?
And what’s all this about different Casings? You don’t look like my child.
I want my child back!”
I had been bitterly ashamed, before my subsequent and timely Metamorphosis had dealt with so unnecessary an emotion, that my own mother should retain such a miserable wish. It seemed unfair, however, that she had not been offered Metamorphosis, which would have spared her such irrational anguish. Instead, she had been selected to help those in the Perpetuation Programme recall the errors of the past, her speciality being the technical crudities of historical reproduction. For example, that old-fashioned emotions, like longing, were being satisfied through using test-tube babies , or young carrier girls of former India, seems outrageous to us, who understand the potential for aggression fuelled by over-population and diminishing resources. Notions of what constituted fairness were skewed; the rich and needy would pay enormously behind their countries’ borders to select every detail- interrogating surrogates on talents, beliefs and interests, and –then- gender-selecting as part of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The process was foolish; no counselling was offered regarding best choices for population-control -nor even should the child transgender! Potential parents considered foreign carriers’ salaries generous ; what was cheap at home equalled many years of survival elsewhere - worth all the life-threatening risks, including lack of post-partum medical aid. Employers often spoke proudly and emotionally of the gifts they had strewn gratefully on these young incarcerated girl-carriers. My mother remembered these times with disbelief verging on disgust; my birth had been achieved in a civilised manner with selective sperm donation, she having been one of the innovators of that era.
But her current emotional state was of no use to her, or anybody else, when travel was so rarely permitted. In any case, OUR physical feelings, such as they were, were systematically removed through our Metamorphoses so that we would not be inconvenienced by distance in our communications with those who held our interest or could add to our memories.
This idea of merging Casings and memories was an exciting one. I did still wonder if, in the process, incidental, subsidiary feelings, such as those which had accompanied the physical matings my grandmother had apparently known, might arise, but put this thought to one side, not before our Life-Supporter must have been aware, and had put a tick and question mark next to my image on her screen.
I was seriously concerned that my question may seem so old-fashioned that my memory would be tweaked in my next Metamorphosis. And this concerned me as I did retain ties with my mother; after all her methodology had rendered me unique in a way that was mostly frowned on nowadays, even if indulged.
In her day, reproductive boundaries had been crossed all at once; even ideas that had seemed taboo when she was a child had become part of the mix once she was adult. One of the most controversial had been that of the multiple sperm-donor...especially when borders were crossed, at that time of belligerent nationalism. If a donor was in one country and the offspring born in another, what nationality might it enjoy?
All this nonsense is of no interest to us in this time of enlightened peace and fair-sharing , but back then it made bad things worse in some cases. Especially when people wanted to locate their genetic parents. Things had to change, and when they did, people adapted with huge relief.
Our wonderful Life-Supporter devised this method to ensure that the population would stay exactly the same and that nobody had to suffer any physical hardship. Along with replacement Casings from the Ice-Cyst, our Metamorphoses always heralded improvements, so everybody was content. Food and transport ceased to be a problem along with our ability to do nearly all our communication via surround screens.
Reproduction was truly a thing of the past.
“Syma and Cyriu, if you are willing, I am selecting you for the first Merger in the absence of immediate volunteers.
As this is going to be a little different from your previous experiences, I am asking you to be available for training in three hours time, and the actual Merger will take place in forty-eight hours, which should give you ample time to contact those you feel necessary. The outcome -and this is innovative-will be AS IF the Merger were your Offspring,as your current components will be merged , and all your inner memories and thoughts will be edited to emphasise the very best of you both.
Thank you so much. “
I wondered if, in ancient history, any parental partners had begun to imagine the sense of awe and community that unexpectedly flooded through me. Not emotions with which I was familiar. The difference of course being that our Merger was to be completely authentic. And I found myself appearing on my mother’s screen in floods of tears.