“I love you. You’re mine. I’ll kill any bastard who tries to take you from me.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
I am done! Never again! Gasping, I hold the little bundle in my arms, pressing her to my chest. “Hereby I swear. That's the first and only child I have in this lifetime!” The whole sped up pregnancy made me forget about the final stage of having a child. I was so happy about the fact that I would be able to avoid nine months of feeling like a whale, that I forgot that actually giving birth is the real nastiness of having a child.
“You can't! I want at least one son!” Marcus complains to my astonishment. “Which doesn't mean that I am not happy about a daughter!” He quickly corrects himself, saving his neck. “And it doesn't have to be immediately. A break of a few years is okay.”
I sizzle and pop his bubble with a smile. “More like a few hundred years. I've to forget about the pain.”
Mom approaches me with a scanner and inspects her first grandchild with a bright smile. That’s the least of what has to be expected. This is the result of her machinations after all. “I am on Marcus's side. More children count for more fun. Besides, I am glad that you finally graduated to motherhood. It's an important stage in life and helps to steel your character.” She takes the readings from her instrument and nods. Everything seems to be okay.
I was brought to Mom's laboratory when my waters broke. She is adamant about using her own equipment when treating someone. Public clinics are horrifying to her. She always keeps complaining about the poor hygiene with so many people in one place. Having a lot of sick people in one place is a sign of bad medical support in her opinion.
I suppose she has a point, taking her knowledge into account. Someone has to be in a pretty bad shape, combined with a really exotic illness to stay under Mom's care for an extended amount of time. Otherwise the patient is fixed up and sent on his way within hours. Then there is also the little detail that our bodies are very resilient and not prone to illness.
“That's it. I've healed everything. You are as good as new.” Her eyes twinkle at a sudden thought. “And if you two go at it right away, I could help with the next one. Seria, give me the little one, so that you and Marcus can-”
“Nanana! Don't wanna know!” I interrupt her quickly and hurry to get out of the bed, protecting Illia in my arms. I certainly won't do it in front of my mother. There is a line that’s not to be crossed. Then I stroll towards to the door, thanking the gods that Illia seems to be a silent child. There are still a lot of things to do for her sake, like organizing the attack on our enemies. And to show off my daughter in front of everyone.
“W- Wait! Shouldn't we name her!?” Marcus stops me by clinging onto my arm. “And what did your mother mean by helping?”
I turn towards him. “What are you talking about? Her name is Illia.”
Marcus raises and eyebrow. “You chose without me?” The corners of his lips curl downwards in displeasure and I anticipate a fight, but he backtracks just in time. “Fine. As long as I get to name the boy, we can go with Illia.”
We’ll see about that when we get there. I tried to involve him in finding a name, but his suggestions weren’t acceptable.
Mom interrupts, “I meant that I could help with the next child by artificial means. You could choose gender, height, looks... anything. As long as I get to work with the raw materials, there should be no limits. If you give me some time, we could include some more interesting features. Shade would surely be more interested in his grandchildren if we add a cat-tail.”
Surely enough, my daughter starts crying. On some deep level she must have understood her fate with grandparents like that. I pat Illia's head and look away. “I think we can do without such things. This world's biology is fucked up enough without you adding to it.”
“Aw...” Mom deflates a little, but isn't beaten. “But choosing the gender is fine, isn't it?”
To my horror, Marcus seems to be taken by the idea. He scratches his cheek. “I admit that the possibility always intrigued me. At least it solves all the insecurities about becoming a parent.”
I tug at his arm and hiss. “Come, let's get out of here. You have no idea what you are dealing with! Giving her free reign over your DNA is like sealing a contract in blood with the devil! Not to mention her preferred way to acquire the mentioned raw materials.”
He grunts. “Oh, at least I know now why you and your siblings look so perfect. I've always wondered why you are such a strange hybrid. I've invested a lot of time into researching the various spirit forms. From what I gathered, children either inherit one of their parents' spirit forms, or they get one that at least shows up somewhere in their line of ancestors. Your form isn't documented.”
Marcus waves his hand in front of me. “Seria? Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Realizing that I must have frozen up, I slowly angle my head to look at my mother. I've never actually thought about my monstrous spirit form, which always divided me from the other children. My mother isn't someone who has qualms about in vitro fertilization. I know that.
Admittedly, I happen to know that my being here was a sort of an accident. But my mother has the skill to manipulate an embryo. It would be child’s play for her to experiment on me while I was still in her womb. And she is inventive when it comes to such things. She surely needs no hi-tech lab to achieve some awe inspiring results.
She whistles and looks away. “Dedessia was a harsh world back then and we couldn't be sure that we will always be there for you. So I... made sure that you have the strengths of both of your parents. Biologically speaking at least. Just let me clean up my equipment. The others are surely waiting desperately to see the little Illia.” Then she hurries to collect her instruments.
Shaking my head, I turn away and head through the door. If I allow this to rattle my brain, then I'll be trying to strangle her without second thoughts. “Mom is just... Mom. There is no point in being angry at the weather. Is there?
Feeling a little better, I greet the people who are waiting on the other side of the door. Quite a crowd had gathered and now that I get to see them all in one place... I have a really big family. Clarity is the first to swoop in and somehow, without me even realizing how she did it, she has Illia out of my arms and is swooning over her. “That's my little granddaughter.”
She even manages to cause Illia to giggle, which makes my daughter’s betrayal perfect. I force my expression into a tight smile and decide to play for time. At some point Illia will get hungry and then it's my moment to shine as the mother... or milk machine. However someone decides to look at it. There is no way that some shrivelled, old hag can take my daughter's love from me.
“Mom, why don't you give Illia back? I've a feeling that we might have to deal with some unforeseen reincarnations if Seria has to share our daughter with you,” Marcus whispers to his mother. That causes Clarity to look up and cringe at my glare. She hands Illia back as if the baby is a bomb that's about to off with the slightest mistake in handling it. Once she is back in my arms I certainly feel better.
Was my expression really that dangerous? I won't complain about getting my daughter back. “Thank you.”
In the course of introducing Illia to everyone I still have to endure handing her over to one person after another. At first I thought that showing her off would be cool, but now I realize that I really don't want to have someone else holding her. What a bummer. I can’t be. Am I an overprotective mother?
When the introduction to the family is finished, I decide to entertain my brain with more earnest matters. There is still a danger to Illia out there in the multiverse. “So, have you guys already thought about a plan on how deal with that enemy base? Shouldn't our scouts have returned by now?”