Challenge #01529-D068: Crisis in the Wee Small HourssteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction4 years ago


You'd be surprised who you find in your family tree. -- Knitnan

Rael had not expected his genes to turn up in any of the current series of released Faiize infants. The one currently in its relaxation tank was, according to the gene scan, twenty-five percent his. Kint, the primary genetic contributor, had a whopping sixty-three percent of his personal genome involved.

There was a small community of sudden parentals, lost without a manual, working out how to parent a Faiize without inherent mental programming. Thus, the infant's tank had all kinds of medical equipment attached to it so the anxious genetic donors could monitor everything they needed to monitor. Shayde had hung a clockwork mobile over it that played Brahm's Lullabye.

She had also managed to graft herself onto this tiny variant of a family tree. Much like a sometimes-symbiotic parasite.

The good news was that the infant Faiize, like all Faiize, didn't waste an atom of potential nutrition. So there was no need for any kind of waste disposal. The bad news, as far as Rael was concerned, was that this young one spent a great deal of hir time sound asleep. Shayde, the only co-guardian who could tell everything about the baby by just looking at hir, insisted that everything was fine.

"Babbies spend a lot of time sleepin'. They need tae grow, ye ken," she assured.

Meanwhile, Rael was twitching every time the baby gained even the slightest silvery sheen. He was convinced that Wave of the Future had sent the first infant in his direction in an effort to set things up for deliberate failure. He set up his tank by the infant's so he would be able to perceive any kind of difference in hir health levels.

And, despite both Shayde and Kint's efforts to convince him, Rael refused to call the baby 'Mull', despite that being hir official name. Rael called hir "little one" or "beloved" and, if he knew Shayde wasn't listening, "kitling". Mull was a joke of a name. A bad pun from Shayde that Kint actually took seriously and found it supremely amenable.

Shayde, as an unrelated individual, was not allowed to share the accomodations, but she was on call and could literally arrive in the blink of an eye if necessary.

Such as now. Three in the morning and the infant was showing signs of distress despite there being nothing medically wrong with hir. Rael had adjusted every feed, and ze was still distressed. He had exhausted all possibilities of unregistered medical distress, and now he had to call Shayde.

She answered on the second ring with a yawning, "Aye?"

"Our little one's in distress and I've tried everything," he babbled. He would later realise that he babbled it in B'Dauss Biotechie, a language dialect he usually avoided for all its implications. It was true. People panicked in their home tongue, regardless of how they felt about it.

"On me way," she mumbled.

Knowing that Shayde insisted on shadow-hopping whilst standing, Rael turned on a nearby lamp as he closed the comms. It still seemed to take way too long for her to coalesce out of the shadows. She was still wearing her night attire, a garment that fit only across her shoulders, and fell like a gossamer waterfall from there. "Hey, there, babby," she cooed. "Let's have a look at ye." She finished scrubbing her eyes and sighed. "Awreet... ze needs tae be picked oop."

"How?" demanded Rael. "Ze's not inclined to be cohesive, just yet..."

Shayde was already rummaging in the large container that Wave of the Future had been legally obligated to send. Products designed for infant Faiize care. Some of which were still mysterious. There were textured gloves, and a sort of pouch with an adjustable harness arrangement. "Here, this lot'll help."

Rael remembered those gloves. They came in some of his more interesting nightmares. He noted that these ones were adjusted with the baby's comfort in mind. He rubbed them together to be sure they were at least a little warm before helping Shayde move the little one into the pouch.

"There's no medical monitors on this," Rael complained.

Shayde moved the pouch up to near a shoulder so she could juggle the infant as if ze were a humanoid inside the pouch. "There we are, there we are," she cooed, massaging what would have been a humanoid's back with her other hand as her arm supported the bottom of the pouch. "Ye jus' needed a change o' scene, aye? Puir wee bairn... Here we are Pripa..." Shayde transferred the infant over, manipulating Rael's arms into the correct grip. "Time fer some good ole-fashioned pacin' the floor."

"You called me Pripa," he murmured. "I'm not the primary parental. Kint is the majority genetic contributor."

"Pripa's the one doin' all the messy work an' checkin tae see if the babby's still breathin'," said Shayde. "Congrats. You're Pripa. Kint does all th' sleepin' so he's Secpa."

"That's hardly fair," murmured Rael, following Shayde's example of how to do the 'grumpy bubba two-step' as Shayde called it. "Kint's work is far more scheduled than mine. I can afford to... nap... between jobs."

"I keep tellin' ye, ye've both got parental leave. Ye have all the time y' want with wee Mull." She reacted to the baby's movement. "Aye, that's you. We're talkin' about you. Ooza clevah babby? Ooza clevah babby? You is! Essooiz."

Rael sighed. He'd been through this before. "Ambassador... Our child does not need any of your 'baby talk'. Ze can learn just as quickly without confusing the syllables as you so often do."

Shayde's ultimate response was a raspberry.

The baby dipped a depression inside hirself, made a pocket of air, and expelled it with a similar sound.

Mull's first replicated noise. And it was a rude one. "I knew you'd be a bad influence on hir," Rael growled.

"Pfft. Farty noises're universal. Babbies love 'em." She exchanged raspberries with the infant with all evident glee.

Kint stumbled into the nursery room. He, too, was wearing his Wave of the Future warming suit. Tsunami emblem and all. "What is going on?" he queried. He hadn't bothered to make a nose.

"Baby's first noise," said Rael as the raspberries continued to fly. "I told you Shayde would be a bad influence."

Kint was far more enthusiastic, adding into the chorus of rude sounds. He took over carrying Mull and invented a kind of massage that made the baby squirm in hir holding pouch. Soon enough, though, Shayde pronounced the infant to be 'tired' and helped return the nursery to an environment more conducive to sleep before all three poured the reluctant infant back into hir tank.

Ze still managed to produce a few raspberries, but the effort soon became too much and hir surface settled into ripples of slumber.

One crisis averted. And a use for some of the clearly baffling equipment that had, so far, been lying idle in a box in the corner. Now all he needed to fret about was the next crisis.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / sattva]

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