Authors: Zero (v5.0)
is fabulous!” Patrick shouted, venting his glee.
shuffled in a circle around the cracked concrete floor, punching the air,
wanting to laugh aloud but fearing if he ever let himself get started he might
not be able to stop.
and him to a meeting here in the
garage without hinting at what it might be about. Patrick wished he could have
watched Zero’s face, especially his eyes, as he’d laid the news on them about a
made pregnant by a human. He hadn’t been able to
fathom the mystery man’s feelings through the ski mask and shades, but Patrick
knew exactly how he felt. Suddenly his whole world had burst wide open in a
blinding blaze of glory. Lawyers dream about an opportunity like this. Dream,
hell, most of them didn’t even have the capacity to imagine something like
was a home run.
In the bottom of the ninth.
the bases loaded.
On Christmas Day.
With a winning lotto ticket waiting in the dugout.
was good, life was
he turned back to
and Zero. As usual, Zero hung
back in the shadows;
stood by the panel truck;
both were watching him as if he were mad. He glanced up at the square of
darkness in the ceiling above the ladder fastened to the rear wall. No eyes
peering at him this time. But even if there were, it wouldn’t have fazed him.
get a feeling I’ve made Mr. Sullivan’s day,” Zero said, ostensibly to
think you made his year,” she said, her expression troubled.
couldn’t figure that. She should be beaming.
he cried. “This makes my life! A baby with a
mother and a human father! Don’t you see what this means?”
course,” Zero said. “Undeniable proof that humans and
And that means they have to be upgraded into the
same category as humans.”
called ‘genus,’” Zero said, “not category.”
right.” He’d never found science very interesting. No juice.
with the root: the animal kingdom; from there you move to the
phylum, then to the
class. The next divisions are known as ‘orders.’ Humans, apes, monkeys, even
tree shrews are all members of the Primate order. But after that we branch into
different families. Chimps, gorillas, and orangutans are classified as members
family, while humans are the only
existing members of the
said, rolling the unfamiliar words over his tongue. He guessed scientists were
like lawyers, using dead languages to confuse and confute.
were created,” Zero was saying, “there
were movements in the scientific community to shift chimps to the
family, and they might have succeeded if not for
got into the
act, the movement ran out of gas.”
said, “I’ve never understood how one corporation could
wield so much influence.”
brow furrowed. “I can see that working where legislation is involved, but how
can you buy a scientific classification?”
The right amount of money to the right
universities to see the right man as head of the right department, and suddenly
there are more important concerns than to which family Pan
belong. And so chimps stayed
troglodytes,” Patrick said. “That’s the chimp genus and species, right?”
is of the family
,” Patrick said,
shaking his head. “Talk about ego.” Then he grinned. “But no amount of grants
is going to keep them out of
once word gets
out about this baby. We’ll move them up to the Homo genus and get them a brand
new name: Homo
How does that sound?”
sounds like the end of
,” Zero said.
Homo, they become humans. And since owning a human hasn’t been legal since the
Tome and I are going to lead the biggest class action lawsuit this world has
ever seen. The tobacco settlements will look like chump change. Every
will have a Caddy and a condo, and the Sinclair
brothers, when I’m through with them, will be living on the street.”
waited for a reaction—a laugh, a cheer, encouragement, anything—but Zero
remained silent behind his shields, while
frowned and seemed to be miles away.
won’t even take the customary thirty or forty percent,” he added. “I’ll settle
for one point.”
Plus expenses, of course.
handle one percent of a zillion—last him the rest of his life and then some.
Still no reaction from either of them.
He felt like a singer
with a dead mike.
Zero stirred, lacing his gloved fingers and popping the knuckles. “All fine and
good, Patrick, but your scenario is missing one crucial element: You need
arguing with that: no pregnant
, no case.
we can’t offer five million for a tip.”
Patrick said, “but maybe you can intercept that tip.”
do you propose I do that?”
you’ve got a line into the heart of
noticed Zero stiffen into a wary pose.
How else could you come by all this inside
I don’t know if it’s a person or a bug, and I don’t want to know. What I’m
saying is, if we can intercept the crucial tip, or even get it at the same time
does, maybe we can reach this
got a name:
You even know her name. So if we can use the tip to reach her before
does, we’re golden.”
shook his head. “I doubt that’s possible. All tips will be directed to Luca
, and he’s not the type to share information, even
Patrick said slowly, discarding a new idea immediately, but voicing it just to
get a rise out of
. “He does have the
even think about it,” she snapped.
At least she’d been
listening. “Are you okay?”
shook her head. “Not really. Something about this bothers me. How can a
and a human cross-fertilize? Sims
twenty-two chromosome pairs and humans have twenty-three. Somewhere along the
line they’re not going to match up, and a pair of chromosomes is going to be
necessarily,” Zero said. “Look at the mule. Its father is a donkey, which has
thirty-one pairs and its mother is a horse, which has thirty-two, though both
are members of the genus
Mules have been around for ages with no problems from the
dangling chromosomes, other than the fact that they’re usually sterile.”
frown deepened. “Then this baby, if it’s ever born,
will probably be sterile too.”
have to see. We’re in uncharted territory here.”
a mule,” Patrick said, “is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.
What if it’s the other way around?”
a less common combination, but then you get something called a hinny. They look
like mules but tend to be smaller because most donkeys are smaller than
do all these fascinating tidbits of animal husbandry leave us?” Patrick said.
“With the realization that, given a fertile
hybrid is a very real possibility.”
keep thinking about that baby,”
going to happen to it? Who’ll take care of it? And being neither
nor human, what place will it have in the world?”
tone softened. “Until we find
I suggest you put
off worrying about the baby. Given your nature, I know that won’t be easy, but
your own safety should be at the top of your list right now. You won’t be able
to help that baby if anything happens to you.”
felt the muscles between his shoulder blades tighten. “What do you mean,
sighed. “You haven’t heard the whole story yet.”
are you holding back?”
I never had a chance to finish. Your war dance got
us off track.”
eyed Zero. “There’s a poor, frightened
whore out there pregnant by a human degenerate. Isn’t
never mentioned a whore,