Marian watched as the doctor – one of her husband’s colleagues, a woman terribly overqualified for such a simple thing as delivering a child, but they didn’t want to take any risks – hefted the baby in her arms.
Marian’s breathing was ragged from exhaustion, and her mind was foggy from the pain medication her IV fed into her bloodstream, but her happiness at her daughter’s birth overrode even that. There had been some complications during the pregnancy, and for a time, she and Aaron had even feared they might lose the child.
Now, however, everything seemed to have ended on a good note. Marian could see her daughter, a small clump of unruly black hair already crowning her head, wave her arms and legs, as if trying to escape the grasp of the doctor who held her. Aaron was at Marian’s side, holding onto her hand, and smiling at her with that warm smile she loved so much, and she felt her whole body relax.
Soon, however, she noticed something was wrong.
The baby was not crying.
Did something go wrong? Did something happen to my daughter? No! No, no, that can’t be true! That can’t possibly be true!
Marian’s heart started hammering in her chest, pounding loudly in her temples. Her breathing grew even more disordered as she watched the doctor frown in concern. The woman pinched the baby’s skin and flicked the soles of her feet.
Marian tried to speak, to ask if she could do anything to help, but her mouth was too dry for that. Her throat locked up. From the corner of her eyes, she could see Aaron release her hand and rush to the doctor’s side, doing what she could not.
After a few seconds, the doctor gently pressed her hand against the baby’s chest, then brought a finger up underneath her nose, checking for a breath, before her face finally relaxed a little. The woman raised her head and glanced at Aaron, nodding in comfort.
Then, she turned to Marian, still lying down atop her high-tech birthing bed. “Marian, don’t worry, the child is breathing fine. It’ll be a good idea to make a few exams for safety, later on, but her lungs appear to have properly expanded, and she doesn’t seem to be in any pain. Your daughter is fine.”
All at once, Marian released the breath she hadn’t noticed she’d been holding and let herself fall back onto the pile of pillows stacked up behind her back.
“I want to see her,” she said in a hushed voice.
The doctor approached, her gait smooth and fluid so as to not jostle the baby in her arms, then leaned forward and slowly handed Marian her new treasure, before quietly exiting the room, leaving the family to their privacy.
“Hello, there,” Marian cooed, carefully embracing her precious daughter.
The girl still didn’t make a sound. She was neither smiling nor scowling. She only silently looked up at her mother with curious eyes, their irises of a green so rich and bright it almost didn’t seem like a natural color.
The tips of Marian’s lips couldn’t help but curl upward in sheer joy as she gently rubbed the back of a finger against her daughter’s soft cheek. When she noticed the gesture of affection, the baby opened her mouth but no sound came out – perhaps, she was just gaping at something she’d never experienced before – then reached out with a tiny, clumsy hand to take hold of Marian’s finger with a surprisingly strong grip and direct it right into her own mouth.
A chuckle rose unbidden in Marian’s throat as the cuteness levels overloaded every measuring gauge ever invented by man.
She quickly looked at Aaron at her side, who she noticed shared her look of almost manic happiness. “Look, she’s trying to eat me.”
Aaron too had to hold himself back from laughing as he watched his young daughter suck on Marian’s finger, still with that impassive look on her face, as if she didn’t even realize she was doing something funny. He extended a hand and softly rubbed the top of her forehead with the ball of his thumb. Her striking green eyes flicked up to him.
He let out a satisfied sigh. “She’s a beautiful child.”
“She is,” Marian agreed.
“And very quiet. That’s good. After our experience with her sister, I could do with a quiet child. That’ll be a welcome change of pace.”
Marian was about to laugh at her husband’s complaints when she noticed the girl in her arms slowly close her eyes. Barely a second later, her breathing had evened out into the calm of sleep. Even then, Marian slowly rocked her back and forth to help her along.
“Come, give her here,” Aaron said quietly. “You should also get some rest. The children are already asleep, as well. They’ll meet their new little sister tomorrow.”
As Aaron took the child in his arms, Marian remembered another matter they needed to quickly settle. “What about her name? Are we going with what we decided?”
Aaron nodded decisively. “I don’t see why not. It’s a good name. I’m sure she’ll like it.”
Marian smiled in satisfaction. She’d been the one to come up with that name. “Then, welcome to the family, little Nova.” She lightly ruffled her daughter’s hair, taking care not to wake her up, before lying back down on her own bed and closing her eyes.
As she heard Aaron’s footsteps leave the room in the private clinic, sleep took hold of her quickly.
# # #
Phew. That sure was something.
Dozing in her father’s arms as he walked down the immaculate hospital hallway, she couldn’t help but reflect that birth from the point of the view of the baby was not fun. She had no idea if it was worse for the mother – and would never find out, in accordance with the trait she’d chosen – but it was still pretty bad.
Perhaps, it was the sudden sensory overload that was the worst. The terrible pressure attempting to crush her body from all directions, then the bright lights and the loud noises and the heavy smells and the weight of the air against her skin abruptly assaulting her. It was quite uncomfortable, and it had taken her a bit of time to adjust. Perhaps it was the fault of her heightened senses. Although they probably had yet to develop completely, they were already sharp and clear and precise.
Things hadn’t improved when that mad scientist in the white coat suddenly decided to pinch her body everywhere she could reach, as if testing the limits of her skin’s tensile strength.
Now, that had hurt like hell.
Not to the point of letting out tears, but definitely to the point of crying out. It had been at that moment that she’d realized she couldn’t – once more, all according to her traits. The only thing that went through her throat and out her mouth was something like a sigh, voiceless and silent. And even as she felt pain, her brows hadn’t scrunched up, her eyes hadn’t squinted, her mouth hadn’t pouted. She’d been able to – or been forced to, more accurately – maintain the same blank expression all the while. She’d tried to make a conscious effort to move past that limitation, but she had failed. It wasn’t as if her muscles resisted her attempts and she strained against that resistance; it was simply that they didn’t respond in the first place, like the nerves that were supposed to transmit the electrical impulses from her brain to her muscles didn’t exist at all. There was nothing to strain against in the first place.
At least, it looked like her parents had yet to notice the issue.
The word felt strange in her mind. In her past life, her parents had been long dead, along with every other member of her family.
Her past family.
She had a new one, now.
They seemed like good people. Certainly, they seemed to love her, as parents should. It was unlikely, then, that she would be mistreated – though she still had to be careful about cultural differences. Physical punishment or arranged marriage were pitfalls that might very well try to trip up her feet, in this strange new world. Depending on the situation, she might have to act to correct her situation.
Both her parents looked caucasian. Her mother had pitch black hair and pitch black eyes to contrast with her pale skin, while her father was a bit more colorful. His hair was a golden blond that seemed like it would shine in the sun. His eyes were a piercing blue, and he had the kind of strong jaw of justice that would make comics’ superheroes proud. In fact, not only his jaw was reminiscent of a blond Clark Kent. The man was built like a brick shithouse and probably in the habit of bench-pressing a tank or two in the mornings.
They had both spoken a strange language, which rolled off the tongue quite musically, even when her father was speaking it with his strong baritone, that she couldn’t recognize in the least. When she’d looked around the room as her mother had been holding her, she’d noticed texts written here and there with ideograms instead of more recognizable alphabet letters. And none of those ideograms rang any bells. Definitely not chinese, japanese, or korean. Neither were they thai or hindi or any other script of the sort.
But anyway, her family seemed like good people.
Their apparent kindness made her feel a bit guilty, actually. Random chance had made her into their child, but they couldn’t have known that the dumbass behind that impassive face had deliberately chosen to become mute and expressionless – pretty much incapable of displaying affection in an easy way. When she’d been rolling her character sheet, she had never actually stopped to consider what her new parents would feel about these traits of hers. Sure, those traits had given her points and a solid base of growth potentials, but what parent would want their child to be forever incapable of speech, forever incapable of displaying a single emotion on her face, forever incapable of bearing children?
She had seen their worried faces when they’d thought that something bad had happened to their little girl.
And so, she’d tried to show affection in another way and reassure them as best she could by acting cute and playfully biting on her mother’s finger – though she didn’t have teeth, yet.
Some may be disturbed at the idea of someone with the mind of 53-year-old computer scientist with two different doctorates in artificial intelligence and machine learning trying to act cute.
But not her.
What was there to be embarrassed about? Daughters should show their love toward their parents, and children should act like children. She had absolutely no intention at all to start behaving all brooding and mature and all-knowing until the appropriate age for this sort of thing. Being seen as a freak of nature – or maybe even some kind of demon-haunted monster to be burned at the stake, if the local culture leaned more in this direction – most definitely wasn’t on her schedule.
Certainly, neither did she have any intention of curtailing or hampering her own abilities just for the sake of anonymity. She hadn’t forgotten that her mysterious trials were only a few years down the road, and she intended to be ready to meet them.
There was a lot of work to be done, and she had just the right tools. Even now, just a few minutes after her own birth, she could feel her brain going into overdrive, firing thoughts at lightspeed, while the memories of her past life became sharper and sharper with each passing second, as if her trait ‘perfect memory’ was dredging them up and polishing them with forgotten details.
It seems my improved memory also applies to my old life. Are they being gradually converted to the new standard? Is this some kind of free HD remaster of my old life?
Apparently, no memory was ever forgotten. Her mind was filled with image after image of her old life, gradually reaching further and further into the past.
Though, there was still 53 years of such memories. It would probably take a while, yet.
It doesn’t look like I need to be awake for this.
Since she was already so tired so soon after her arrival, she might as well take this opportunity to get some sleep. She’d examine her reconstructed memories after awaking.
In any case, with Clark Kent here to protect her, she likely wouldn’t be in any danger. The man could probably destroy any kind of threat by flexing his biceps in its general direction.
As her consciousness grew murky, the last thought she could properly form was that she still didn’t know her own name. She hoped it would be a good one.