Regaining her composure, Andera left the common area and headed down an all too familiar hallway. She came this way whenever she had questions that needed answers, though usually she came away with no answers and more questions. Still, it was a common pilgrimage place for not only her, but most of the colony. Something about it always drew them back.
She passed the data banks that contained libraries full of information. They had answers to a lot of questions, but she wasn't sure she really wanted to know them. Rounding a corner, two large double doors stood before her, their windowless faces towering even taller than Scar did. A lump in her throat gave her hesitation, told her she shouldn't keep coming here, that there was nothing left for her. No matter how many times she told herself that, she still found herself drawn here.
Lowering her eyes, she pushed open the doors and stepped into the room, letting them swing closed behind her. They closed with little more than a gust of wind against her back, the hinges oiled to prevent the slightest creaking. The room was warm and humid, it always was. The heat added to the ambiance, like a warm blanket wrapped around her.
Andera dared not lift her eyes just yet. She stood at the entrance, frozen in place as she listened to the noises of the room. The gurgling sound of tubes full of liquid, the quiet hum of electronics and the quiet musical chime of hard objects bumping against glass. A muffled sound, like an infant's cries, came from a distant corner of the room. She tried to ignore it, but couldn't help as it tugged the corner of her mouth into a smile.
Mustering her resolve, she allowed her head to slowly bring her eyes up to take in the room. Large glass tubes full of colored liquids lined the walls of the room, many of them filled with small wriggling shapes. Even among the still developing fetuses, she could make out wings and tails, even the occasional set of bumps that would indicate horns or spikes. Hundreds of tubes filled with every viable genetic combination the machine could find, yet all terminally flawed.
Cautiously walking up to the central dais, her eyes were drawn to the large machinery hanging from the ceiling. Dozens of robotic arms and faces were suspended with hydraulic cables far up in the darkness. A pang of loss touched Andera's heart as she sat in the central chair and waited patiently. The arms moved between tubes, checking for defects or flaws that might have crept in.
Suddenly one of the heads swiveled and went to where a pair of arms far above had found something amiss. Peering into the tube, the head nodded silently to the arms, who unscrewed the tube from the wall and spirited it away up into the blackness. She wondered for a moment what would happen to the child within, if it could be saved, or if it was determined unfit.
Andera's worries fled her mind as several of the machine's arms and faces descended down next to her on the dais. She stood up and the hands gently picked her up, suspending her a dozen feet above the ground in a careful embrace. She reached up to kiss the lifeless face, holding the steely visage close against her own. She cried softly against the cold metal, somewhere deep inside knowing this was wrong, but trying desperately not to care.
She had missed Mother.
Chromosomes are rearranged between species to ensure that interbreeding is discouraged to preserve genetic differences. Best to leave such work to the machines than try to find two compatible humans these days.