“Yes, two separate lines carrying the Pilot complex as a recessive, and neither breeding with another such line and throwing up a Pilot in all the generations since the Meddlers manipulated us seems unlikely,” mused Thornben Rorge.
“I believe it depends very much on how many people carry the Pilot complex,” pointed out Taggery, “but I agree it’s unlikely that you two are the first two Navigators carrying the Pilot complex to get married and have children. There should definitely have been more people like me.”
“Assuming that there were,” asked Tellin, “what happened to them?”
“I assume they took the jobs that nepotism offered them,” answered Taggery, “or simply walked away and never came back. Either way, there’s nothing to talk about from the Navigators’ point of view.”
“You never thought that they might have been – disposed of?” Tellin asked the question delicately. “One hears about how some manipulated communities deal with their aberrants…”
“The Foche warrior caste, you mean?” Taggery asked her counter question brightly. “No, that never occurred to me. The Foche reaction to aberration is coded into their gene complex and it only kicks in when an individual has an aberrant version. It’s triggered because the aberrant individual actually stinks to non-aberrant Foche.” She added off-handedly, “Apparently the Meddlers found it easier to engineer that complex to detect and destroy aberrant versions of itself than to correct the instability that produces the aberrants in the first place.”
“So, you know that by observation, do you?” Her father sounded amused.
“No. They’ve got a massive Meddler archive at Yorli and I started doing a history major before I was identified as a Pilot. Originally I thought I might come back here and teach at the Astrolabe.” She smiled. “Then life happened. I finished my degree by correspondence from on board ship.”
“You get that much downtime?” Her father raised an eyebrow at her.
“I have duties that occupy me for my shifts but piloting doesn’t consume your waking hours the way navigation does and it’s not like I was doing a full course load. Besides, piloting is all about what happens in the wormhole. They think that’s why the Meddlers were trying to make the two gene complexes co-dominant, so one person would do both jobs.”
“Why didn’t they achieve that?” Tellin looked puzzled. “They pulled off everything they set their minds to, or so I was taught.”
Their father looked around before saying, “That’s a bit of an exaggeration, Tellin, despite what the tradionalists tell us.”
“I suspect they would have achieved it, eventually,” acknowledged Taggery, “but the Pilots were still in testing and refinement when the Meddlers were overthrown. Essentially, we’re permanently stuck at beta whilst also being in production. Navigators, on the other hand, are definitely full production models.”
Tellin visibly preened.
“I have no idea how they planned to reconcile the personality differences though,” added Taggery.
“Personality differences?” Her father leaned forward, interested.
“Yes, I mean Navigators are meticulous, studious and, of course and although it’s not a personality trait, good at maths.” Taggery indicated her brother and father with her hands. “Pilots on the other hand, are all risk takers. A good adrenalin rush can make our day. I mean, it turns out the real reason I like terminal velocity cabinets so much is that it’s the closest you can get to the feel of diving through a worm hole without the right sort of ship and while staying in this dimension.”
“Ah,” said her father. “Is that actually about adrenaline or is it something else?”
Voting With Her Feet 3 is here.