1.4: Art Of Genetics

Mighty exhalations married to the whistle and clanging of gym machinery does little to distract Rum and Pan as they exercise together. Well, Rum is exercising, performing quick reps on a pull-up bar. Pan goes at a sluggish pace as she fires off a plethora of questions.

     “Was that really lightning back there? When did you learn to do that? How did you learn to do that? Did you mom teach you that? Can she do it, too?”

     Rum half lifts himself up, the top of his head just beneath the bar, then he turns to Pan. The excitement across her face evokes a sigh, then he drops to his feet. He grabs the towel beside his jacket and dabs his face dry. He gestures for Pan to take a seat across from him on the floor.

     “Yes, it was really lightning back there. It’s my Sulublei talent. I’ve been able to use it for about five years now. I experienced the Sudita for it when my sister and I were wrestling.”

     “You wrestle with your sister?”

     “You try having fun with only a sister to hang out with,” he replies bitterly.

     “Sorry, sorry. Continue.”

     “Anyway, our mom wasn’t at home, so we decided to do it inside. I was about to pin her down when she did one of her stupid backflips. I fell against the little stand by the couch and the lamp bumped into my shoulder. It didn’t break or anything, but when it touched me, it glowed blue for an instant before it just went out. We stopped there because we didn’t want to risk actually breaking anything. A week later, when we were brave enough to admit our mistake, I told her about the blue light.”

     “And she helped you learn how to perfect it, didn’t she?” Pan beams.

     “Actually, no. She was pretty shaken by the news, I think. She didn’t really want me to use it at all. So, I kind of kept it a secret from her. She doesn’t know that I can do what I do. Although, I haven’t made many breakthroughs. What you saw me do earlier, I can only do that once a day,” Rum explains.

     “Okay, but how do you build up the charge so quickly?”

     “To be honest, I don’t really know. I just know I have access to it once a day. It’s just always been ready when I want to use it.”

     “And here am I busting my butt to do what I do.”

     “I’m assuming you can fire more than once a day, though.”

     Pan’s smile widens. “Upwards of a dozen.”

     Rum starts to deliver a scathing insult, but he sees the genuine pride shining in her eyes, and softens, smiling himself. “How’d you learn to do that?”

     “I’m what you might call a legacy child. Inherited the powers of both my parents. My father’s an archer, and my mother can craft lances out of the same energy as I do my arrows. Once they taught me the basics, I told them to stop the lessons. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to use my talents for on my own.

     “Didn’t stop my father though. He wanted me so badly to be an archer like him and took me to I can’t tell you how many armory stores to find a bow. I tried to appease him by relying on my energy crafting to make ammunition instead of using actual arrows. It barely worked. I was still his little trophy daughter to show off to his buddies.”

     “Where did you get your bow?”

     “Oh, it was a small shop on the very edge of Sanlow City. My father was appalled we were even there, but options were scarce in our city for archer Ohaida. But we finally hit pay dirt. My Bond of the Blade came with this beauty right here.” Pan reaches around behind her and lay her bow across her lap. The wood is painted a dark shade of silver with a bright nylon drawstring.

     “What about you? When was your Bond of the Blade Sudita? Actually, that’s a bit redundant, isn’t it?”

     “What do you mean?”

     “I mean, Sudita is when an Avinian gains access to their powers. It’s my understanding that Bond of the Blade initiates when an Ohaida finds their weapon, the one they pair with for life. My recurve bow, your, umm- what exactly is that?”

     “It’s a buster sword. It was a present from my mom. She gave it to me the same year I discovered my lightning powers. Said she would train me to use it.”

     “I’ll say,” Pan agrees. “So, you inherit both your abilities from her then?”

     “Actually, only the Ohaida half of me. She’s never turned a light bulb blue.”

     “Oh, I see,” Pan says with no veil on her uncertainty.

     “What?” Rum asks with a flush.

     “It’s just, your family tree is very…interesting.”


     “I mean, I remember the light show your “sister” put on during orientation,” she states with air quotes. “You say your mother is only Ohaida, but you have Sulublei blood, same as your sister.”

     The space in Rum’s head, a vibrant mash-up of thoughts and ideas beautifully mingling as swirling colors comes to a halt.

     “However, powers are assigned to genes like hair and eye color. You don’t just receive a random elemental ability because you’re Sulublei. You and your sister, well, unless your father was some bizarre painting of races, the two of you can’t actually be related.”

     Shades of blues and greens and purples are the first to disappear from Rum’s mind, with the blues first to vanish, leaving unbalanced seas of reds and oranges and yellows.

     “I mean, isn’t she in Vanusi house? That would mean your father would have to have access to three different powers.”

     Instead of the warm colors harmoniously mixing together, the crimson hues spread out like a virus, eradicating the other two colors entirely. When only they exist, the hues merge into a mass of blood-tinted paint.

     “Or, your mother could be lying about the electricity.”

Rum’s soft gaze hardens in an instant, flaying Pan with degrees of pain and anger. He grabs his jacket, towel, and buster sword before rising and storming off.

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