Six weeks after Part 1
Nancy Collins and lady Theridiidae sat across the desk from their Earth Genomics Doctor, a human by the name of Dr. Margaret Kircher. She was currently nose deep in a set of medical reports, the latest in a set on Nancy and Theridiidae’s (potential) children. The children in question were scarcely even eggs, not yet ready for laying by arachinaye standards. Already, there were medical complications.
For one, human hair (arachinaye had none) was being expressed in a most unusual way in the children. The closest medical equivalent from human science would be generalized hypertrichosis, commonly called werewolf syndrome, in which hair grew over the entirety of sufferer’s body.
Dr. Kircher sighed, “ladies, I’m afraid genetic intervention is almost certainly required. The genetic sequencing is simply showing too much hair in too many places for arachinaye-esque chitin plating to form. My team and I have done the needed sequencing work to produce a solution, and have hit upon several possibilities for us to consider. They are, from most to least radical:
“One; to eliminate the hypertrichosis condition. This does cary some risks, as the genetic sequence in question is close to what my team and I believe to be a so-called ‘disease locus’ where a disturbance in the genetic sequence can lead to a host of other conditions, most relating to sexual dimorphism issues. Accordingly, I would advise that this methodology be reserved as an emergency solution.
“Two; to accept the hypertrichosis situation, but limit and localize its extent. The outcome of such a solution is that your children would have human-style hair on their heads, with the attendant grooming and care needs. The remainder of their external dermal layers, their ‘skin’, would be allowed to chitinize along arachinaye lines.
“Three; to modify the genetic sequence for chitin production to allow for the growth of hair over the entirety of the external dermis. This would carry the risk of social interaction impacts for the children, as I’m not exactly qualified to comment of arachinaye or human social norms.”
Nancy tugged on the end of her braid, “is that ‘disease locus’ unstable at the moment? Will our children have problems later on as it is now?”
Dr. Kircher shook her head, “we don’t believe so, but we are on the bleeding edge of science here, even by Earth Genomics’ and Project Hybreed’s standards. We’ll keep monitoring it closely, along with everything else of course, but we don’t foresee any issues at this time.”
Lady Theridiidae tapped two of her feet-claws in a nervous pattern. “The third option reminds me of some of the beasts of burden we have back on my homeworld, so I don’t think that would go over too well with any arachinaye our children might meet.”
Nancy nodded, “That leaves the second option. Dr. Kircher, how…?”
Dr. Kircher stood up, “just follow me to the lab ladies. It’s an outpatient procedure, but I’ll have you secueled for checkups in a few days time, say about a week, to make sure nothing else has changed.”
Three months after Part 1
Lady Theridiidae and Nancy Collins admired the clutch of eight eggs in the incubator unit.
Nancy spoke first, “hard to imagine we made these.”
“Harder still to imagine how much longer they have to sit there.”
“Only another seven, eight months.”
“And then? What happens to us?”
“We’ll have a family. Project Hybreed will probably go public in some manner. Hopefully we can get lost or anonymised in the hype. I’ll probably get moved up and across to a marketing position. Do you have a job?”
“No, I still have a semester of education left, and then probably a position in the arachinaye embassy as some sort of contactor. And then one of us will have to raise the kids. I don’t imagine that they could come with either of us to our jobs?”
“We have time to figure that out.”