51.5 - Swan Song

One of the voices we haven’t heard in awhile, but she has a lot on her mind, and in her heart. So what’s going on with Aria?

Jack. Melody. Reed. Allegra. Carol. Demi. Solo.

Solo? Han Solo? No, like a solo singer. Hm, there’s going to be confusion, maybe strike that.

Aria thinks baby name websites are weird. It’s just word association. Aren’t names supposed to be tied to something, like a family member, or whatever? Leo has a long litany of families he could draw on, but none of them feel really appropriate. She’s turned to musical terms for the time being, but maybe something else will make more sense later on. And, of course, Leo should get a say. He’s as much involved in this as she is.

Aria finally told Leo her last secret. She has another Heart Factory, miniaturized, inside her own abdomen. Nestled inside it is a tiny microprocessor and storage, and she’s been writing programs there. Connectome matrix transforms. Agent extraction algorithms. She has a ready source of test data: her own thoughts. With that, she finally made her breakthrough. The machine never executes the model - there’s no actual life growing inside her. At least, not yet.

To really feel right - to be a proper child, not merely a clone or remix - the new pattern needs to come from two donor minds. There’s three men on the planet who could serve as that right now. Jason Quill, thanks to his father’s brain-draining neurotech. That door is firmly closed, on both sides. Plus, Jason’s happily seeing Alycia by the look of things, and she’s very unlikely to approve of the sort of Science Romance needed here. Otto Newman, due to his own robotic nature. Aria likes Otto quite a bit, but doesn’t love him, not in the way she’d need in order to raise a child together. He, too, seems to have developed a girlfriend along the way. Good for him - the big guy deserves every happiness.

That leaves, naturally, Leo Snow, thanks to his father’s neurochip. Of course there was never any doubt for Aria. But she must also think forward, to other couples and other families. Pneuma wanted a family before she ever forked into Aria and Summer. Aria privately suspects Summer is thinking carefully about Leo’s announcement, but the two girls haven’t talked about it since that time. Would Summer and Otto…? For that matter, would Otto and Mary…?

If another couple did want a Newman child, how would it happen?

Leo’s going into dimensional physics. This just became my problem to solve.

It’s a terrifying, and unbearably exciting, thought. Aria Newman, Mother of Many.

How many? One child, to start with. To adulthood? To see that they turned out well? A few children, to raise together, so they aren’t lonely? She’s already found one long-term gap that Leo didn’t account for: what if there’s a genuine defect in the brain structure? Not the electromechanical apparatus, which is fixable via tooling, but actual brain damage? What if a drug is the right treatment for a condition the child develops? What if the child has to be sedated for some reason? Aria can’t imagine one right away, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. She’s started thinking through a drug simulation system, along with the requisite security gates. It wouldn’t do to let just anyone knock a Newman out with a simple coded signal. And this is just what she’s thought about in the last several months. What else is there?

Aria’s responsibility is at once scientific, ethical, emotional, and spiritual. Do all parents worry like this?

I’m glad we’re waiting a year to see how we feel, and to get everything right.

She scrolls through her contacts, and sends an identical message. Dr. Khamala Amari. Tempest, the current Mrs. Gale. “If you are able and willing to make time in the near future, I’d like your advice as a mother and wife.”

Ms. GYRO, at school, maybe…? No, not yet.

Hecate. The thought makes her cringe, but smile at the same time.

There’s no use asking the girls on the Menagerie and other teams, however much she is fond of them all. Alycia might run screaming if Aria broached the topic of motherhood, especially as a robot. A10, the Irregulators’ apparent leader, seems strong and capable, but doesn’t really exude maturity. Of anyone, Charlotte Palmer might have the most wisdom to impart, but Aria’s not sure how she’d feel about it either. Would she be offended at the whole idea? She’s smart, and adapts quickly - Aria doesn’t think she’d be confused about what’s at stake.

She sends a similar text to Charlotte. Just in case.

It feels like a weight is lifting.

Aria lets herself consider the other item: a gift from Summer. Something retrieved from Doctor Infinity’s robotic minions. Some sort of space-time widget, maybe? It’s exactly the sort of thing that Leo will want to study, to jump-start his progress. “A wedding present,” Summer had called it with a smile.

What’s Summer going to do now? Replace Leo on the team, hopefully. They need someone who can be the heart, someone to do what Leo did, which was be everyone’s friend and big brother.

He’s been Aria’s anchor, that’s for sure. He’s been a true friend, a caring and wonderful boyfriend, occasionally a stubborn pain in the neck, often a blunt instrument that just keeps pushing forward when delicacy and discretion are required.

He’s going to be an amazing father.

Aria smiles to herself. She still gets panic attacks from time to time. She’s still brittle, snippy, far less sweet than Summer. She knows she has her faults. All she can do is pray that none of them disqualify her to be an amazing mother.

After all, she is still Pneuma, in the ways that matter. And that means having love to give, love enough for a family, and for a whole world.


author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6723748

Thanks for giving us a bit of Aria – and a chance to see all the thinking going on behind this.

Alycia’s thoughts on this are … turbulent and complicated. The human/robot intermix is, to her, eminently logical for the two of them, existentially fascinating, and profoundly squicky, but from a thinking sense, she can largely deprecate the aesthetic/prejudicial last in favor of the first two. For her, it’s the idea of parenthood itself, and being a parent, that’s seriously weirding out her ability to make judgments about the whole thing.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6723836

The only complication here, aside from Alycia’s concerns, might be that Adam’s mom gets this text and does Mom Math: (Recent romantic event at school) + (Adam’s female friend asking for advice from a “wife and mother”) + (Adam went to this event with a girl) = Time for THE TALK (Extended Dance Remix), plus some very pointed questions about what’s going on in the Menagerie.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6725227