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  • majoki

drift and shift

*Influence of the stars,* Breezy Hicks answered her daughter.

The teenager looked at her curiously. *The stars? Why would anyone think the flu originated there?*

Breezy smiled. *They were literally medieval. Plagues. Pestilence. Why not blame the heavens? In an astrological sense, that is. Kind of miasma theory on a cosmological scale. It fit the logic of the time--and the poetry.*

*Well, I’d feel better knowing this pandemic was some space import rather than our own monumental stupidity.*

*How do you know it’s not?*

*From space? How could it be?*

*Meteorite. Asteroid, comet, moon, or Mars samples that probes have brought back here. Lots of possibilities for viral contamination. Always possibilities.*

Her daughter’s eyes narrowed. *You know something, mama?*

*Lots of things, my girl. I know lots of things.*

*Well, what are we gonna do? This bug is messing things up fast.*

*Drift and shift, baby. We’re gonna drift and shift. Just like this virus.*

Her daughter cocked her head and scrunched her lips and waited for the explanation.

*Antigenic drift is when a virus undergoes small incremental changes. Tiny mutations of the surface proteins to prevent an immune response from the host. Antigenic shift is a major change in the virus producing new proteins capable of infecting a wider variety of hosts. Nudges and leaps. Nudges and leaps.*

*So, what does that mean for us?*

Breezy Hicks’ eyes twinkled. *Adjustments.*

*Upgrades?* Her daughter pressed.

*If we can get to the lab. I can’t kludge this.*

*You’re the queen of biomech. Since when can’t Breezy Hicks just macgyver her way out of any mess?*

*When the stars send us a viral double whammy, attacking both our bio and mech systems, making our augs a liability. So we’ve got to start adapting. As in right now.*

Her daughter cleared her throat, the words coming out thick and croaky, “You mean like this?”

For the first time in weeks, Breezy Hicks answered her daughter out loud. “Good girl. Feels a bit clunky after subvocalization. But our implants are susceptible. Better to go old school. Besides, you have a sweet voice, my girl.”

“I sound like a frog.”

“You’ll turn into a princess. Give it time.”

“Aren’t we racing time, mama?”

“Always. Always. But that doesn’t mean we don’t ever slow down. Like the tide, like the wind. Drift and shift.”

“Well, mama, I guess I’ll have to be a lot more Breezy.”

“Thatta girl. Let’s blow.”

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