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“The truth about gender swapping on Heartseed is that it’s a family matter,” says Becka. “I don’t want you getting it in your head that it’s either magical or some kind of plot against you. You see, Grandmother Tamera decided that you would be a cockerelle before you were born. She put a special charm around the base of her root so that her seed would put a root in you when you were conceived. That is how you became a cockerelle, and that is how all cockerelles become cockerelles.”
“Who decides that?” I ask looking at her probably the way she wished I would not interpret her revelation.
“It’s the parent’s choice. Mother Olive wanted three posies and a cockerelle.”
“It’s as elementary as that? Popping a charm on and off your root? Fate gets no say in it?”
“Perhaps long ago, before the higher sciences were discovered by our ancient ancestors. But yes, it is simply the issue of acquiring a unique charm which makes a woman’s seed sprout cockerelles specifically.”
I had known for a long time that a charm is needed on the root’s trunk to cause the produce of children from intercourse, otherwise Heartseed would be overrun with babes. But my thoughts were always wrapped up in wearing one when the time came to plant a family. I never considered there was a way to dictate the gender of a seedling one way or the other.
“So, there are two kinds of charms for making sprouts?”
“And the cockerelle charm is not an easy one to come by.”
“Why is that?” I ask in sincere amazement.
“Because they just are. Think about it. If every child is born a cockerelle, we don’t have mothers for the next generation. On the other hand, if every child is born a posy we don’t have cockerelles to plant seeds in their fields. Either would be disastrous, right?”
I shrug my shoulders, admitting that it all makes perfect sense. “Let me see this charm if you have one on you, I would like to hold it.”
I’m thinking just a bit that Becka might be teasing me. My lips part when she hands me a gorgeous ring of gold that is neither cheap nor silly looking.
“Looks ancient,” I say, taking the piece with delicate fingers.
“It’s not real gold, and yes, it is very old. But the newer ones don’t share the same old-world mystique that this one has.”
I run my fingertips over the inscriptions carved quite accurately around its majestic circumference.
“This makes cockerelles?” I ask.
“It does. About as big as a shower curtain ring, but it adjusts to the root when you put it on. It’s a piece of really old, really smart technology from a bygone era.”
Becka looks at my skirt as if to tempt me to try it on.
“Fine,” I say, releasing the restraints which prevent my skirt from standing out should I get happy around some posies I might find attractive.
My root appreciates the fresh air, but Becka sees right away by its condition that it’s been kept safely stowed away all day without use.
“You didn’t give a single drop to a posy today, did you?”
I shrug my shoulders.
“I thought I’d try tomorrow. Why is it important or something?”
“Actually, it is,” she says, directing me with her eyes and hands to test out the gold band on my shaft. She nearly takes it from me when my fingers don’t cooperate quickly enough for her time schedule.
“I know what I’m doing,” I tell her turning to one side to put it on without her assistance.
She takes a seat on a lab chair watching with the interest of one intent on following the scientific method.
It clamps around the base of my trunk and sends out a bit of a tingle through my abdomen.
Becka bats my bobbing branch away as I bring it back around to invade her personal space in jest.
“Your penis is smaller than I remember it,” she says, raising a device to take measure of the quantum fields or some such phenomena around my organs.
“Don’t trash talk my tree,” I huff in our familiar way of poking fun at each other’s anatomical differences. “Is this going to be a thesis? What’s that you’re holding?”
“Let’s keep this professional,” she insists after a few laughs. “I will be taking measurements, but it is for the sake of science and not your ego or mine.”
“Well, you look so official sitting there,” I joke. “Where’s the white lab coat?”
She taps the end of her round nose which has a habit of becoming a shade more red than the rest of her face depending on her current temperament.
“I’m being serious,” she says, and then she does put on her favorite lab coat. “This device can make all of Josie’s dreams come true if you will just cooperate with us.”
“Us?” I look around for cameras and any other equipment that might be taking measurements of this encounter, and I realize there is too much technology kept in this part of Becka’s quarters for my uninitiated mind to know for certain.
“Look,” she says, waving a finger at me to not get out ahead of myself. “I’m not saying that you have to do any of this. I’m just a messenger. This thing on your root is here to share your blessing if you agree to participate.”
“I casino oyna don’t understand.”
Becka’s nose is truly red now. She bats her eyes and looks away for a moment. When she comes around again, she’s ready to continue her proposition more directly.
“Your piece of poplar there can be shared with other posies, like your sisters, if you are willing to part with a bit of it. And I too could benefit from a study of the process if you would agree to trust me.”
“Of course, I trust you,” I say. “It’s just that I’m afraid.”
“Of what?” she asks.
“Just no cutting, please. That piece of my flesh and blood there, I’ve worked hard to keep it healthy.”
Becka blows air at it derisively.
“That’s your only concern? You have no other qualms whatsoever? Your mind is that set on becoming a posy?”
“What qualms should I have?”
“Well, that you’ll be handing over your heritage to your sister. She’ll be out there running around with a piece of you on her body, giving squirts of your birthright to whom she pleases.”
“She’ll have my blessing if you think that’s required. It’s just a piece of flesh to me. It’s a hinderance to what I want, and a doorway leading to her dreams. If you’re being serious, how could I refuse? In fact, why hasn’t she come to me sooner?”
Becka raises her hands to calm me down.
“Look, it’s just a demonstration,” she says, “but the rules of our universe seem quite clear. If a cockerelle wears this choker on her shaft, she can impregnate posies with cockerelle girls. However, if a cockerelle puts her seed on her kin’s posy, she can pass a piece of her root over to her kin.”
“It is genetics then,” I say.
“How the high sciences relate to the ways of posykind is the mystery which those like me struggle to unwind through the mortal senses. It is the basis of the passion by which I am driven to study creatures such as you. Charms are a thing of mystery not of magic, of this we’re confident as we have managed to untangle some of the technology which goes into creating these devices and reproduce them ourselves in modern times with modern methods. That ring on your root is passed down from the old ones. And I feel certain it was also passed down to them from those who they referred to as ancient if you get my meaning. It would bring me a great deal of fame and prestige if I were able to unlock its mysteries.”
“Not even out of prep school, and you’re already working on your doctorate. My I wish I knew that kind of ambition, Becka.”
“Oh, but you do know that kind of ambition, I think. Here you are, not even a day into Fission, and you’re talking about becoming the first cockerelle in history to become a posy. I think that will give you something to frame come the day your journey is told to the world.”
I smile as though she’s just handed me a stray kitten.
“Do you really think it will gain that much attention?”
“Oh, I think the world will have their eyes on you for quite some time, especially once your tale is sewn into the story of how I was able to produce a siring choker using the data I gather from the event.”
Becka reveals a scientific instrument she’s kept hidden away in the drawer of one of her laboratory tables.
“What is that?” I ask.
“It was taking measurements when you put on the choker. It’s a device I’ve been working on with my colleagues at the Ambergale Institute.”
“Colleagues? How is that even possible at your age? You’re a posy working with cockerelles at that prestigious place? How did you manage such a thing?”
“I’m clever,” she replies. “And this wonderful gift you are offering your sister is a rare event which could help catapult me into the career of my dreams. Posies don’t get access to the cutting edge.”
“Well, it’s not a matter of sexism as much as it is a matter of motivation,” I murmur. “But if this gets you a foot in, then all the better. You are a rare breed yourself Becka.”
She rolls her eyes at me.
“It’s cute how you struggle with the paradoxes,” she says. “I’m flattered that you think I am somehow above and beyond in comparison to what other posies have managed to want for themselves.”
“I was complimenting you.”
“I know,” she says as she sighs. “But you will help me then as I now ask for your assistance in pursuing my ambitions too?”
“Of course,” I say with great insistence.
“Josie will carry your seed and use it to plant her own family someday. That does not concern you?”
“That sounds like an honor, doesn’t it?”
“The devotion of her seedlings will go to her. You will be their aunt.”
“I will love them even more knowing they love Josie more than me. Why shouldn’t I?”
Becka makes certain to write this down on one of her many tablet computers for the sake of posterity.
“So, you understand this procedure doesn’t extinguish the heritage of your seed. It merely gives a percentage of it away to your sister Josie.”
“A percentage? How does that math work?”
“Best we can tell at Ambergale, the choker behaves differently when slot oyna a parent births a cockerelle than it does when a cockerelle shares her heritage with kin. To put it clearly, Grandmother Tamera lost none of her heritage in making you a cockerelle when she planted you in Mother’s fields. Your root is a mix of the genetic information of Mother and her mate in you. It is why you appear as you do, looking like Mother and Grandmother. Likewise, your seed you carry is a mixture of them that you would pass to your offspring were you to plant your seed in someone’s field.”
“Yes, that is the basics of the birds and bees. How’s it concern me?”
“Transferring your heritage to Josie isn’t a singular event. I mean, yes, for Josie it will be. She’ll be posy one day and cockerelle the next as her body is remade through the intervention of the mysterious laws of the higher sciences. These natural events, of course, are what we at the Institute will be secretly studying when the event occurs between the two of you.”
“Well, it’s not so much that we are circumventing the law as it is we are not wanting to ruffle the feathers of the cockerelle elite who might worry our discoveries could undermine the systems which keep Heartseed’s society in a peaceful balance. In other words, my data will be provided to them anonymously. This will protect your identity and mine as well as the dignity of Ambergale. They do have many competitors who would take the opportunity to supplant them if things were done out in the open and a hitch were found by which they could cry foul. It is corporate politics meets politics if you comprehend the model of my thinking.”
“You’re attempting to guarantee freedom to act on my own will be without repercussions? Well, that is sweet of you, sis. But I don’t worry about such things. I trust you, and I know life is not lived without great risk. Otherwise we would never leave the house or drive a car.”
Again, she stops me with her palms like a traffic cop.
“I appreciate your trust in me, especially seeing as I’m your junior. But I still haven’t gotten to the heart of the matter. In your case, the root will still linger on you after the event, though in a lesser degree. And by lesser, I mean there seems to be a ratio by which a root becomes a posy through this method of transfer. This is of utmost interest in my study, as it will win me a high position at Ambergale should my findings prove valuable to unlocking the secrets of this specific choker technology.”
“Say it clearly for me, Becka. You seem worried that I might find something offensive in your methodology.”
“The root diminishes in quarters through transferal. Meaning you can create four cockerelles in your journey to becoming a posy, but only if you find four posy kin willing to accept your gift to them.”
“Ah, I see why this method has become something unheard of,” I say, wrapping my fingers around my branch in thought. “I have to convince you, Mother, and Maddie to accept my heritage as well if I want to achieve my dream in this way. The ancient ones must have seen it as a course to ensure there would always be enough cockerelles to go around.”
“Oh, don’t get me started on the science and politics of breeding, or we’ll be here all night,” she says. “If you’re worried about me, I would be honored to accept your heritage, Margot. I would cherish the event and celebrate the opportunities that open up in my future from such a selfless sacrifice on your part. And I swear I will share the bounty of my winnings that become available to me so that you would always live in confidence and security. You would be like my secret posy mistress in your earnings and upkeep.”
“And Mother?” I ask.
“All the others,” she says. “You will become a branch releasing your seeds to the wind so they may take root in us. You give us the ability to become cockerelles, and we find posy mates. It grows our influence. The Sharps become a dynasty. And you, my sweet Margot, will be the roots that hold our tree steady in the blustery winds of fertility as we make our climb up through society.”
I’m starting to choke up my emotions have clambered so high.
“It would be my honor,” I manage to say as a tear frees itself from each eye to course down my cheeks.
Becka kisses me softly on the lips and lifts her skirt to expose her manicured fields to me.
“We don’t mate,” she says making sure I don’t get the wrong idea. “You just wear the charm and spill the seed on my fields. And by tomorrow, my root will have sprouted.”
“Simple as that? You could have just tricked me into doing this,” I tell her which gets me a sharp rebuke from her eyes.
“No, the choker knows your intentions. If the cockerelle doesn’t want to give their root to their kin, they cannot force it to happen. It has to be something agreed upon for the Gods of Light to answer our supplications. We have to want it, and you have to want to share it with us. You cannot force it on us either.”
“I see,” I say. “You seem to have a good understanding of all of this. Why wasn’t I told?”
“Mother canlı casino siteleri Olive wanted you to have a wonderful time growing up the only cockerelle in the family. That way you could see as many pieces of life’s spectrum as you could. She had the same intention for us. We have been your posies, so you could become a posy if the idea fancied you. Now, yes, we would all like to be your cockerelles.”
“Yes,” I answer. “Yes, yes, yes. One ‘yes’ for each of you.”
Next morning downstairs everything is happier. Becka’s got a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top of it. She’s eating it off the plate held up to her face so she can breathe in the sweet scent as she tastes its white fluff.
Becka nods to indicate that she has indeed sprouted a root on her posy field. We exchange delighted squeals meant only for us to hear. I indicate that a quarter of my root has also been taken from me by the golden choker.
“What’s all the commotion this morning?” Olive asks, coming into the room.
“Celebrating,” I whisper to Mother who straight away pulls me off to her bedroom to share the details of the night before in private.
As I’m whisked past Josie, who’s enjoying her morning coffee and news with her usual sultry stares, I snatch a long French pastry from the table to scarf down. I want its white creamy center spilling down my hungry throat, who cares what damage it might do to my tawny figure.
“Good luck,” says Josie, as I am dragged away like a child’s balloon into Mother’s bedroom for an intimate chat behind sealed doors.
“Maddie was out early, wasn’t she?” I ask Mother as we settle down on a pair of wooden chairs she has set up for guests whenever they come by for a chat or for her little afternoon quilting group.
“She’ll be back around before you leave for Fission today. She needed to pick up some books to share with you after hearing me tell her last night about your plans to look into fashion design.”
I cross my hands on my knees and look all excited to spill the news about Becka. But before I can get a word out, Mother is shooing my hands away from where I’ve rested them on my skirt.
“I want to see it,” she says. “Are you wearing the choker still?”
I pretend she’s surprised me with a scandalous question about the special place betwixt my legs.
“Shame on you,” I say, twisting my mouth into what is my best attempt at coy. Although it probably looks more like I am imitating the effect of my sour buds being pushed too close to lemon.
“You are lovely, my dear,” says Mother, “but open up before I dive in myself and ruin our good rapport.”
I give her what she wants, unbuttoning my skirt’s handy quick release so I don’t have to hold onto the garment while I present my giving tree.
“Oh, it’s lost a bit of its girth,” she says surprised after the straps come off to show the fullness of what remains. “Even your seed sack has drawn in a bit, like they’ve felt some cold air, and they’re packing in for the night.”
“Yes, that is what Becka said would happen,” I say with a not-concerned-at-all grin on my face. “But it’s all good, because now Becka has sprouted her own. Will aid her career.” I lean as though I’m unveiling a secret. “I scattered a lot of seed on her fields last night if you get my meaning.”
Mother leans in to kiss me on my forehead with her plump red lips. “She tells me it was quite the experience you two had last night. You were very nice to her.”
“She was quite pleased with the gift,” I say, my eyes nervously bobbing up and down between Mother’s emerald greens to her private posy place.
Mother pops up straight in her seat. Her smile elevates to one of exceeding excitement. This fills my chest with every kind of lovely butterfly feeling as I witness the surfacing of her anticipation of this special moment between us.
“I do,” I say, taking her hand and kissing her finger as one would accept another’s request to bear their seedlings.
Mother gulps down whatever feelings rise in her chest so she can speak again.
“You’re still wearing it, I see,” she says, giving the golden ring fastened to the base of my shaft a discerning look. “Did you wear it all night?”
“No. I had to have a long talk with it before I could fall asleep.”
Her mother’s concern comes out in a flash as if maybe we’ve gone too far in our plans to rearrange the ladies of the house. She hands me another ring right away she says is a gift from Grandmother Tamera just before she left to start another family across the sea.
“Listen,” she says. “If you put this one on, there’s a way you can go about getting back all you’ve lost down there. And in fact, you can get a bit more than you had before if you know what I mean.”
The two of us are embracing to keep each other from falling off their chair with giddiness at hearing this imagery.
“No, I’m not thinking that way,” I tell her as we calm enough to continue. “The fact is I don’t much care to have all that weight between my legs when I go about my day. I was considering having it reduced down anyway as it would help with my competitiveness at sports. What would all that size and weight really matter to a posy who fell for me? Seems silly to think a girl would want to be all filled out when the lovemaking is underway.”
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