Character Profile – Pandora Calypso
This is the second of the character profiles from the Exodus series. Meet Pandora Calypso, the second of the two main characters in the series.
Pandora is another of the unknown number of Hephaestus children, a product of their genetic research. She was born to a surrogate mother (a Hephaestus employee) and raised in the care of Hephaestus in a children’s home in Cambridge full of other Hephaestus children.
Until the scandal broke she was totally unaware that she was different from any other child. Being academically excellent and unwilling to simply accept received wisdom she was fast tracked for her citizenship examination. Once declared legally an adult (by passing the citizenship exam) she was left to fend for herself in a shared house in Cambridge. She got involved in Charlie’s group that were smuggling genetically modified people out of the country and away from discrimination.
Pandora’s mother volunteered for an experimental programme to genetically modify embryos. She did this because her family carried a genetic disease and she didn’t want to pass this on to her children. However with only a slightly above average middle-class income genetic treatment was outside her affordability bracket, so she volunteered for the test programme.
Her mother donated 24 eggs to the programme and in return had a fertilised egg modified to ensure that it was free from the range of treatable genetic diseases. Pandora was the first of the other 24 eggs to be carried to full term. Her level of ‘perfection’ went beyond simply replacing genes known to cause certain conditions and predispositions to serious illness.
She was born to a surrogate and placed into the care of the research company. She lived with a group of other children born from the test programmes. The care home was well run and supervised by the research fellows as well as the usual social workers and child care experts. The home was run as a boarding school and the children were mostly schooled within.
Pandora is about average height for a woman, and she hasn’t quite finished growing yet, although she will stop growing soon. Her complexion is pale and she has blonde hair, blue eyes and a willowy figure (but with curves in the appropriate places in proportion). There is no doubt to anyone looking at her that she is a grown woman, looking about 20 to most people. She dresses relatively modestly but in typical feminine clothes for the period. More often than not in trousers, but skirts and dresses are not strange for her.
In the intervening period Pandor grew up in the children’s home, Richard Dawkins House, where she was home schooled. In practice the psychologists had studied environmental factors in addtion to the geneticists looking at the genetic ones. So all the children there got a carefully crafted environment to bring out the desired factors in their genes. Until the council took over she was schooled in critical thinking, scientific methods, philosophy and logic. In addition there was a strong emphasis on sports and games to ensure that her physical skills were honed.
If she’d carried on with this she would have been suitable to be an international class sportswoman in whatever sport she chose to compete in. As it was when she was 8 the council took over. Because of her advanced physical development she looked more like a typical 12 year old, and this was underpinned by her academic achievement which was at a similar level. This meant that she was treated as a 12 year old and sent to secondary school in a class of other 12 year olds.In PE she was one of the better players, and were it not for her genetically modified status she would have been picked to represent the school at one of the sports it took part in. In her first year there she did compete in the girls athletics and won the long distance cross country race. However she was forbidden from competing in subsequent years because it was felt she had an unfair advantage.
Pandora was been born after only 6 months gestation, but at a normal newborn’s size. The doctors in the clinic run by Hephaestus had known about the experimental regime so they falsified the paperwork to show incorrect dates reported by the mother.
Pandora has continued to grow at about 50% faster than expected for a child and reached adult size, along with other physical maturity, at the age of 12. The only part of physical maturity that she hasn’t experienced is that she has never menstruated. This is because the additional bits Hephaestus added make her body more efficient at absorbing nutrients and she re-absorbs all of the womb lining rather than shedding it. So she should never have a period, and although still having a fertility cycle for Pandora the effects are very subtle.
A side effect is that she is always hungry, she eats about 30% more than most people of a similar size and weight. Although her body is better at taking nutrients from food it isn’t that much better that she can grow 50% faster and run faster mental and neural settings without more fuel. Essentially her metabolism has been over-clocked. So she thinks faster, moves faster, digests faster, clears the effects of alcohol and drugs faster and grows/heals faster than normal people.
Hephaestus were aware of all this when they created her, although they were unsure whether or how well it would work. It was for that reason that they implanted the embryos, because only live experiments could validate whether this sort of thing would produce functional humans or some badly disabled ones. Computer modelling can only take you so far.
The test run was kept very small, and only six healthy babies resulted from it. The miscarriage rate was quite high, and further work was required before trying another batch. Before the next batch could be prepared and implanted the scandal broke and Hephaestus was wound up (at least publicly).
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