Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission




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The reason why Shiro might be nervous about Kryslin being hungry was obvious when one realized Shiro was a mouse morph, with all the nervous twitching in the presence of large felines that came with it. However, the small white mouse morph could quite easily hold his own if he needed to, and was one of the brightest researcher minds Kryslin had ever seen. He had assembled the crew that had reverse engineered the precursor drives and shield units they'd been saddled with, and made them production items. His list of accomplishments was long, indeed.


He cut quite the figure, a white mouse, in a white lab coat, a little less than two-thirds Kryslin's height. His whiskers twitched as he stood before the desk. Kryslin got to her feet and came around front so he could see exactly what had happened. “Thanks for running my data, Shiro,” said Kryslin.


“A mere trifle,” the mouse stated. “My crew was between projects at the time, and we were bored. The results came in faster than we thought they would, and proved to be interesting...”


“I suggest,” commented Amelia as she joined them, “that we make ourselves comfortable for the lecture.” A hidden door slid open to reveal a darkened room. “Shall we?” She let Kryslin and Shiro lead the way in, and privacy sealed the office before going in herself.


“As your physician noted,” Lectured the mouse,” genetically speaking, you are as close to being a chakat as you possibly can without actually being one.” The holodisplay sprang to life, showing a generic chakat, along with Kryslin, the differences being noted in the display. “Modifications for Diamant's environment; mainly the heavier skeletal structure and dense musculature, only partly account for your increased size. Chakats rarely exceed 170cm in height, and 250kg in mass. You're nearly 50% more massive than the norm and definitely taller than the norm as well. We've yet to solve this puzzle, though we're leaning towards whatever Dr. Hakubi used to initiate, and then accelerate, this metamorphosis in you, and the unique nature of your DNA. And, 98% of your genes are baseline for your species; the remaining 2% are non-inheritable by design. Sasha, when she finally achieves physical maturity, will be larger than the norm, but not by the same extent, and will be at the 99.997% baseline mark for your original species. The same numbers hold true against the chakat genetic baseline as well.”


The display changed, showing the double helix of a DNA strand. “I have here your baseline, from both Reseune Labs project and Industria's reconstruction. If left unperturbed, a biped cub will be born, with a gestation period of twenty weeks. If certain genes are perturbed in the fetus, usually as a result of a hormonal imbalance, the fetus develops as a chakat fetus would. A birth at twenty weeks for a chakat has a 100% mortality rate. The reason this can even happen is quite simple; 75% of your genetic information is common between the two forms. Depending on the level of five specific hormone/enzyme combinations, the remaining 25% can cause the body to be bipedal, or a 'taur form. It appears your species were originally designed as 'taurs, as Sasha had conjectured. The bipedal genes appear to be later cut-ins, along with the genes that suppress those parts of the chakat genome that do not apply to bipeds.”


“I've a question,” asked Amelia as Shiro paused. “Why go through all this trouble? Designed one way, then a sudden change the opposite way, without undoing the original work? Definitely wasteful, in my opinion.”


“I concur,” agreed the mouse. “There was no information encoded into the genome that gives a hint to the reason. A greater waste would have been scrapping everything, and starting over from scratch. You'll have to ask the lab that did the work, if they still exist, for the reasons behind the changes.”


The rest of the presentation went on, confirming in minute detail what Spirit had told her earlier in the week. If three of those hormone-enzyme combinations went below a certain level, the bipedal portion of the genes essentially shut down, and the taur side started up. Without extensive medical support, the transformation is likely to be fatal. “During our investigations, we noticed the complete absence of a chakat specific hormone, chakafertizine, or CKF, in the first blood panels done on both you and Sasha, with levels slowly coming up and stabilizing during the final part of your metamorphosis. It is nowhere near the level of a normal, adult chakat, if the samples Spirit provided us are any indication, though. Four of the hormone-enzyme combinations bind the precursors to CKF before it can be formed. The fifth combination differs between males and females, and locks in a single sex selection, and is one of those super-dominant genes, at least in the bipedal form.”


“So, if I were to have a cub like this,” asked Kryslin, “what would the outcome be? Bipedal or taur form? The normal twins or a single birth?”


“Unknown at this time,” answered the mouse, shaking his head. “The high prevalence of twins and quad births amongst your species could be the result of the genetic alterations mentioned previously. One cub develops into the female gender, the other into the male gender. With the lack of the inhibitors, I suspect, but cannot be certain, that your hypothetical cub could be born either way, either as a chakat or single-sexed, with chakat characteristics.” The mouse was beginning to come to the end of his notes.


“According to our research and simulations, we discovered numerous ways to trigger the changes. The simplest is taking a good, long drink of chakat breast milk. Not the milkwater they produce when not nursing, but a nursing mother's milk. The levels of CKF in there are enough to overwhelm the inhibitors. A week's worth of milk essentially takes the first four out of the picture, and the recipient begins producing their own.” Shiro gave a short chuckle. “It's the simplest way, but it's not likely to happen.”


“Never known a nursing chakat to give up milk shi would give to hir cubs instead...” commented Kryslin, taking a drink of water from a glass in front of her. “And any I had pumped while I was nursing went to the cubs I had.”


“Another way...” And so the presentation went on and on, with various ways the transformation could be started, stopped if needed (though it would be hard on the one going through it, and some conjecture on how it could be reversed, though not without some serious drawbacks - medical, moral and ethical – to the process.


“...And I've come to the end of my findings. Any more questions? If there aren't, I've got the latest results from the Mk. III drive units to go over.”


“No more questions on my end of things,” said Kryslin, rising to her feet. “Thanks, Shiro.”


“No need to, Ma'am,” replied the mouse, with a grin. “It's why you pay me, and give me all those neat toys to play with.”


Kryslin and Amelia could only laugh as they left the room.


After Shiro left, Amelia asked, “So, should I call Reseune, or do you want to?”


“I'll place the call,” replied Kryslin, beginning the process of dialing a very private phone number. “It's my question, after all.”

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