Hojo and I are making a person.
This isn't how I'd have preferred to do it. There's no other option -- the technology doesn't exist, and there's no good justification for splitting our attention developing it; even if we were lucky enough to get something that seemed to work, it would introduce too many variables, etc etc etc -- like it or not, the human body is the best-quality incubator available, and by using mine and presenting it as orthogonal to the experiment (under oath, if necessary!), we avoid getting in trouble with the ethics committee. It's amazing what society will let you do to a child, provided it's your own child. People say Hojo's unobservant, but there are some things he understands quite well, I think.
Though I don't think we'll have much trouble with even the most persistent investigators, personally. I suspect we'd have been fine just giving some tough young Nibelheim washerwoman a quick injection of cash in exchange for her quick injection of gametes and Jenova cells; Shinra develops selective deafness when the subject of super-soldiers comes up (yes, I'd put money on that as the goal; they’ve made a lot of soothing noises to the effect that we’re researching boosting immune systems and cognition, but I’m not an idiot; enormous budget == military work). I don't think they'd really care-- but it makes sense not to take chances. If said washerwoman were to kick up a fuss in twenty, thirty years, and Shinra, for whatever reason, couldn't make the problem go away, I'm sure Hojo and Gast would be fine. Me, not so much; if Shinra needs a scapegoat, I'll be looking at incarceration or death or both. I suppose I am the rational choice. The public hates women by default.
So, I've agreed to host this thing, and for the most part it solves the experiment's problems and protects my career. The only person left whinging is Valentine. He says it isn't 'natural'. ('Unnatural' things Valentine does not mind include: trains, clothing, red lipstick. Well, he probably has a bullshit pop-science evolutionary-psychology justification for that last one-- but at this point I will stop, because if I begin the rants on evolutionary psychology, we really will be here all day, and this is supposed to be a quick update to my logs). He was bleating on about this the other evening, about how it all seemed rather cold and sharklike to him, until eventually I lost patience and threatened to bite him ‘til he bled. Natural for a shark.
He has not requested oral since.
But no, you can't use the words 'naturalistic fallacy' with the boys from General Affairs; too many syllables. It puts them on edge. And when that lot get jumpy, they start shooting. Compensating for some sort of childhood trauma, presumably. Shinra is nothing if not efficient; it's very good at finding uses for people who are too fucked up for most professions. (I speak from extensive personal experience)
So, we're making a person. This has an element of randomness that I profoundly dislike. We won't know what's in there until it's in there. It goes against all my instincts; I would much rather pick and choose, selecting the features based on what we think will serve us best, along with the odd aesthetic preference where it doesn't matter much either way. Imagine being able to create whomever you liked! Well, there's some talk of Urban Planning, of all people, starting some work around robotics, so perhaps I should have gone there. But biology is ultimately a lot more interesting to me than metal and a few circuits. Yes I realise these things are degrees, mutable taxonomies, blah blah blah; I did study under Gast. But this is my diary and I maintain that Hojo is right, and organic matter is a lot more interesting than rock, even if 'organic' is a man-made distinction and why am I still justifying myself oh my god
Anyway. Androids have their interesting facets (transforming a bunch of formal logic into inputs and outputs of light, sound and movement; energy-consumption-- these things are obviously analogous to the human brain, and I would bet there some interesting repeating patterns that apply to how we're structured, our gene-sequences, and soforth). And I'm sure a lot of the background would transfer in less immediately obvious ways; I feel like the possibilities for encoding the data of the human organism are probably limited by something mathematical, some necessity of formal logic, and spending a whole lot of time with maths and computers is the best way to be in a position to perceive it. And then I'm always interested in how we seem to default to thinking in binary-- I wonder if it saves time because of how we're structured, or if it's 0s and 1s all the way down, and if so, why? (It all gets rather metaphysical at that point; Hojo has no patience with ternary logics whereas I see absolutely no reason why the universe should be limited by the cognitive preferences of humans, but again, I'm devoting paragraphs to ranting about irritating men where I should be summarising, so I'll leave it at that)
Anyway, I always come at it from the 'this is interesting because of how it relates to living organisms' side, not the 'this is intrinisically interesting because I just love numbers', side, and having met people from the latter camp, I'm certain I'm not one of them. So away goes the soldering iron and out comes the microscope.
Where was I? Oh, yes, so, we're making a person and I don't have as much control over the recipe as I'd like. But then, it doesn't really matter. We're not here to map a genome; this study is about the phenotype, not the genotype. With any luck, it will help another team to do that mapping, in the future, but it's not our priority. So the lack of control shouldn't render the experiment completely worthless; we won't have a perfect frame of reference for the specific combination of genes, but we have average populations to compare against and detect any extreme outlying traits.
I am trying quite hard to be at peace with this; can you tell? It feels so messy.
But... Well, it may be messy, but it should still be useful. And either way, I'm guaranteed one hell of a promotion. So, fine, relinquish some control. So that just leaves my aesthetic preference-- but we don't have to like the person we make; it's not a pet. We just need to be able to see what's inside and how it changes. Worst case scenario, I suppose it'll end up in General Affairs in 20 years' time.
20 years... ugh.
When I was a girl, I used to read dramatic novels, and there was always a stock character: the evil old man, scarred and waistcoated, with a villainous heart. You could tell he had a villainous heart because whenever his dogs had a litter of puppies, and he didn't want them, he would put the puppies in a sack, tie it shut, then throw them down a well. And all I could think was, if I ever got forced into having a baby, those puppies would have some company. And if, for whatever reason, I couldn't kill it (eg: I discovered some maternal instincts at the 11th hour), I'd kill myself. I used to spend a lot of time researching suicide methods to find one that wouldn't be too painful, that I could specifically use in the scenario where I was forced to raise a child.
And now look where we are. Funny how life works.
This is my choice, though. The others can't do it; it has to be me. It feels like a practical joke; I haven't made my mind up on whether I want it listed as an official contribution in the research notes-- on the one side, it's a massive contribution, that kind of effort ought to be recognised, and I think my aversion is as much down to internalised misogyny as anything else. Women's work should be acknowledged, and that applies even when it overlaps with stereotypes, especially so that people can't downplay just how gruelling that work actually is. On the other side, there's an argument to be made that I'm putting the progress of women in science back some hundreds of years, and I'm not certain they're wrong. But then I, too, am a Woman In Science, and I wish to know the results of this experiment, and I'm not sure why hypothetical future women are deemed more important than I am. But I will forever be known as 'the woman who gave birth', not 'the scientist who incubated the subject', and that's galling and not really the legacy I want.
And separately from wondering about consequences, I just hate the whole thing. I put my body through quite a bit for my PhD, so it's not just the indignity of being a vessel (I hear the sharpening of knives, from the same bunch who claim periods are empowering and we should all eat placentas after birth. You will never never never convince me that pregnancy is anything other than a miserable and demeaning experience, so don't even try). I'm dreading that, but more than that, I'm dreading all the societal bullshit that goes with it. You're not a person, you're a 'mother': a bland, smiling creature with no interiority. You get to squeal with delight over washing powders and doing the weekly shop. You carry a parasite for 9 months (that steals the literal calcium from your bones!), and your reward is a form of living death, where you exist in the minds of others only as an extension of your child.
But mostly, it's aesthetic. For one, pregnant bodies just repulse me. And then it's also ugly at scale; I get quite angry when I think about it. Why are we still not able to incubate offspring outside a human body?! We can fly! If every human lived in terror of bearing offspring, I guarantee we'd have solved this problem.
(I punch myself in the abdomen every time my period's late, just in case there's something clinging on in there that needs killing. Ineffective, but might as well.)
(One of the nice things about being anorexic (aside from being skinny) was that my periods stopped. I did faint quite a lot but you can't have everything in life)
(Receipt ink is supposedly toxic to foetuses, and incidentally tastes rather bitter. I also used to devour shellfish and sandwich meats, just on the off chance I'd catch listeriosis. Then I learned a bit more about listeria and decided I didn't much want it, but I found the bacteria itself extremely interesting, and now I'm a biologist so go figure)
(This is why I don't do the school circuit. I think Shinra would take issue if I gave young girls my particular motivational speech on how I got into science)
('Pipeline problem' is bollocks anyway)
But enough cheerful reminiscence. When Hojo first proposed all this, I was suspicious. I thought maybe he just wanted to fuck and this was a convoluted excuse. But no! I've been reassured that I will have a syringe. It's still disgusting and I shudder when I think of it, but better than the alternative. Though sex is a one-off. If I had the choice, I'd take the sex and not the pregnancy, any day.
I wish we had another option.
It would all be so much faster, too. Imagine you could clone a sperm and egg, make infinite copies, and then set them off-- multiple hosts, control for different variables-- and then dissect the product at different stages. No more comparing things with completely different genes in order to hypothesise about development. You could see the same organism at 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc. No need to rely on unfortunate byproducts.
I miss Scarlet. She was the only one who ever got it.