My ‘magnum opus’ probably won’t amount to much. Especially seeing as I’ve had to split it into three parts now. So, here is part one of my story; Alpha Fluffy. Please give suggestions for where to take the story next. I have an outline, but would like to see your suggestions. Following I will post two pictures I’ve done for this story.
Alpha and Beta Part 1
Have you ever had a stray thought that changed your whole day? What about an impulse buy that actually had consequences? Worse yet, have you ever suffered a lawsuit from a multi-million dollar corporation? If not, this story will be very strange to you, but I think it might be worth sharing. My name is Jack. I’m a retired veterinarian. I’m also a very bitter and jaded individual. And I was that way well before I even began my practice. I was that way well before the introduction of the bio-toys fluffies, and the subsequent devastation they played throughout ecosystems. I was in the King’s Road Mall. You ever notice that every city has the new nice mall, and the old neglected mall with half the stores empty and the other half little local things you never understand how they make money? Well, I wasn’t in the nice mall. Entering the food court, six of the food stalls were closed, leaving an independent restaurant that was once a Panda Express and now a ‘Ted’s Chicken’. The other was a Sbarro with it’s gate half-way down and a teenage boy playing on his cell-phone. After getting a soda at Ted’s, and you’re right if you guessed it came in a Styrofoam cup filled to the brim of ice, I came to my destination. Mark’s Rare Books. Bookstores are a rarity anymore, another thing I’m bitter over, as are print magazines. I’d been coming to Mark’s Rare Books since the 80’s, when I’d buy X-men comics from the old spinner racks. It was the bookstore that had that smell of smoke and old paper, old glass displays, and the ambiance of getting lost in the stacks. Mark and I became friends in college, as he’d help me find a few expensive reference books at a good price. “I got your pull man, Morbidity and Mortality Monthly, Gen-u-tech, and your comics.” Mark smiled as I entered. He was one of the few dealers in paper left. I flipped through MMM and saw a new study on drug resistant clostridium, and a new gene therapy in experimental trials for Tay Sachs Disease. We chatted for a few more moments, and he reminded me as always ‘No Food or drink’. But that article stuck with me, and Mark was the only one to talk with. “Damn. It makes me mad. Hasbio has access to the most advanced gene splicing and editing equipment on the globe, and has for decades. The could cure cancer and revolutionize pharmacology with it. And what do they do? I make genetically engineered retarded horses!” I spat. “Then their ‘toys’ get loose and destroy local areas and evade any responsibility.” I continued, as Mark had to calm me down. We discussed a few other topics, like how retirement was treating me, as well as when we thought this mall could close down. I finally said my goodbyes and headed out of the mall. Near the exit the lights were dim, due to being in the shadows of the escalators. I saw a flickering Coke machine and a very old vending machine that caught my eye. Walking over I was expecting a snack machine, but it was an old Foal in a Can vendor. It was sketchy as hell. It didn’t seem like a legitimate vendor, it used coordinate selection like on a snack machine for row A number 3. Looking at it through the glass partition there were eight shelves to store cans, each five cans wide. Only a couple of slots were full beyond 1 can. Counting, five by eight would be forty cans, three deep….this junk could hold one hundred and twenty foals! Peering in, most of the slots were empty, with maybe twenty five cans in the incubated interior. Most of the foals seemed lethargic, if they were moving at all. A couple were certainly dead, as evidenced by their bloated bodies and fog in their cans. This was nuts. Try doing this to one kitten and not only animal rights activists, but the general public would be screaming for blood. But these bio toys? Lost in thought, and searching for life, I found a few glimmers of hope. There was a pink unicorn curled up tightly and shivering next to the nipple in the can. She was the only one I thought might be healthy, till my eyes fell on a blue unicorn. I almost missed the little blue unicorn, he was rolling on his back, and his small legs were kicking or running, tapping the side of his can. His can was behind another can, one housing a fat green foal who looked like a lump of melting mint chip ice cream. That fat little earth pony seemed to be barely breathing. With a sigh, I dug some bills out of my wallet and fed the machine. I ended up leaving the mall with three canned foals. As I drove home I was curious about what I was taking on. The trio barely made any noise, just one or two peeps, and a small screech when I hit a pothole and jostled them. Once back, I walked in the side door on my garage. I had converted it to both a workspace as well as a little clinic from all my old left overs from when I was still practicing as a vet. I’d occasionally help splint an injured leg on my neighbor’s dog, or cage and give flea baths to stray cats so they could be adopted. Flicking on the lights, there was the momentary pause before the fluorescents hummed to life. I set my magazines and foals on my work bench and turned on the desk lamp. I walked into the kitchen to hang up my jacket and my tiger stripped cat, Alice, hopped up on the counter to greet me. “Hey Alice.” I smiled as I scratched under her chin and looked to make sure her water bowl was full. After pouring myself a tall glass of water I went back out to my work bench. Looking at the foals, I thought I’d better prepare. From the corner I pulled out a medium sized guinea pig cage and set it up. I placed a few towels in the corner as well as filling a water bottle for them and attaching it to the side of the cage. Sitting at my bench, I thought it was time to free these small guys. I began with the blue unicorn that I felt was the healthiest. I smiled as he comically slid out of his tube and flopped around trying to find his legs and stand. I began to think of appropriate names, but stopped myself. I didn’t want to get attached, to maintain my distance for the experiment I had in mind. I caught sight of it’s genetalia and determined that the unicorn was a male. “Alright little guy, you’re just gonna be Alpha.” Next came the pink Pegasus that turned out to be a female. She was easily named Beta. “Meow?” Alice startled me as she jumped up on bookcase, seemingly looking over my shoulder. I gave her a look to make sure she wasn’t going to treat these fluffies as toys. The third and final fluffy was a chubby, flabby green earth pony. He made a sickening plop as he slid from his tube. His eyes were closed and he was heaving heavily as he wheezed. Carefully I scooped up the first two foals where were sniffing around and nudging each other, and placed them safely in their new cage. I turned and pulled a stethoscope from a cabinet just in time to see Alice sniffing that green foal and hissing. “Alice, NO!” I barked, rushing over and picking her up by the scruff of her neck. She gave me a good scratch, that would be fatal to that little fluffy. I stuck her through the door into the kitchen, and latched it. Moving over to my bench I sat down. “Sorry little…” I picked him up to check “Fella. I guess you are gamma.” I mused. Using the scope I could easily hear wheezing and fluid in the lungs. He was struggling. I went to rummage in my drawer past feeding tubes and intubation tubes… then finally, a tiny rat naso enteric tube. Peeling the protective wrap off of the tiny tiny straw I guided it to the little foal’s nose and slowly fed it up into the nasal cavity. The little lump struggled weakly as the tube slowly edged down, and I was so careful to aim for the lungs, and not to puncture anything. The little guy was getting distressed, so I eased up the tube. Once I was sure it was in the bronchial tubes I put my finger over the end of the tube, and mouth pipetted just a tiny amount of air out, which drew fluids from it’s small lungs. I let go of everything, and soon the little fella was coughing out all that fluid. Slowly the tube was removed, and I set the little guy among his two ‘siblings’. Petting the foals, I grabbed a corner of towel, and gently covered them up. I would do a little research, and check on them before bed.
As time would pass, I integrated these foals into my daily routine. After breakfast and feeding Alice, I would feed the fluffies, clean their litter box and let them out to play while I did a little research. Either on my laptop or sifting through old magazines. I was curious about their genetics. Now I don’t want you to think that I was some nut case obsessing over the secret of the fluffy genome. I had a life outside of this house and didn’t become a recluse. I’d spend maybe a good hour a day playing with and reading up on them. There was little on the internet about their inner workings, seeing as nearly everything was a protected trade secret of Hasbio. I tried very hard not to get attached, but it was difficult. Alpha was rambunctious chasing his ball while Beta would stay to herself and enjoy blocks or looking around the room. Then there was Gamma. This little sweet guy, didn’t grow as large or as fast as the other two, and had his perpetual wheeze. I suspected lung damage. He would waddle over and climb into my lap and just be happy to be there. He’d roll and ask for pets, and loved his tummy rubbed. Finally, one morning I was going through a box of old magazines, and found something printed in 1999. In SCIENCE! there was an interview with Hasbio Marketing AND one of their technologists on their upcoming bio toy aimed at the popularity of the old FURBY toys. The article covered how they would be intelligent interactive pets, that were almost ‘alive’, and rely on genetics for development. The technologist let slip two key facts. The first that the base dna sequence was based off of ponies. So I already knew horses had 64 chromosomes, 32 pairs. But even more important he let slip that “four physical variants will be determined by just two genes”. That was the key. Two genes would determine whether an earth pony, Pegasus, Unicorn or Alicorn was created at birth. Which meant, all the traits were probably in the dna, but that these two genes would activate what was needed to produce it’s phenotype. I was getting excited, and determined my first course of action. I set down Gamma and went over to my cabinet for some supplies. I pulled out some long swabs and knelt down to the ground. “Hey guys, come here, I need your help.” I said. Alpha quit playing with his ball and trotted up to me and Beta slowly followed. Gamma plopped down in front of me and looked up. “I need a little swab from you. I PROMISE it won’t hurt.” I truthfully said. Explaining the procedure, Alpha stepped forward and opened his mouth saying ‘ahhh’. I swabbed his cheek hoping for some large epithelial cells. He later licked and moved his mouth. “Mouth itchies…..” he trailed off. I looked at my bench, and saw my left over snack, a pack of five oreo cookies. I reached up and grabbed a cookie, breaking it in half. “I’ll make you a deal. Each time I give you mouth itchies, I’ll give you a cookie!” They all trotted over for the sweets I had. Once all had been swabbed, I sat on my stool at my workbench and turned on my microscope. This was a treasured tool of mine. It was an old 1979 light microscope, but my favorite for the hand crafted lenses, and one of the best I’ve worked with. IF the cells were undergoing mitosis, this should be able to pick them up. My first day sitting down at the microscope yielded nothing. But I pulled out some paper and started doodling out some of my ideas. Over the course of two and a half weeks, I would obtain a swab at the cost of ‘mouth itchies’ and some oreo cookies. I would look through the scope and make a more detailed diagram of my first possible ‘posit’ of fluffy genetic code. By week three I had finally found a cell of Alpha’s that was undergoing mitotic reproduction. With the small pointer on my lens I was able to count…thirty two pairs of chromosomes, so that checked out. I looked at my laminated first posit and thought into how to disprove it. An unfounded wave of paranoia rolled over me, and I decided to scan all of my drawings and copy them both to the cloud and to a hard drive along with all of my notes. Just in case. Just in case of what I didn’t know. I looked at the playing fluffies, and then back to my diagram. And I figured it out. Posit 1 as I was calling it, would be incorrect if a mating of a unicorn and Pegasus yielded an earth type pony. This raised a few questions of how, the ethics, and my own principles as I looked at both Alpha and Beta. More decisions would need to be made