Exiles and Gods is the second book, chronologically, in the "Wine of the Gods" Universe. It tells about the Exile of the genetically engineered people to a parallel world from a new POV, a sixteen year old boy suddenly alone, and learning how to use the odd abilities his artificial genes have gifted him with.
It was a bit short, so I included two other stories.
Here's the start:
About half the school bullies were standing around the exit to the bus loading area. Quite the unwelcoming committee. Chris decided that this would be a good day to walk home. After all, it hadn't snowed since Sunday, all the sidewalks would be shoveled and clear.
Why didn't my parents tell me?
The results of his routine physical prior to trying out for the football team last summer had come as a shock. Back in California they'd never tested DNA; he hadn't realized they did it here. Not that knowing would have changed anything. He hadn't realized he had anything to hide.
They just said I was "special" and "talented."
There were kids around the front entrance too, but he didn't recognize them, and they were mostly short. Freshmen and sophomores. Waiting to be picked up by their loving parents.
Chris eeled through the crush and angled down the steps. Ignored the whispers behind him.
"That's him. The monster."
The freak. Part animal. The boy with the genetic engineering.
A car drove by, window dropping down as it passed. "Hey Frankenstein, catch this!"
Chris dodged what he diagnosed as the dregs of a latte. He'd had a lot worse thrown at him since he'd plummeted from a sought-after junior varsity star to a not-legal-to-compete genetic abomination. Next year he could drive himself. Only Seniors were given parking tags for the school lot. Chris already had his license, all he needed was to earn enough money for a car. And gas. And insurance. Even his parents where showing signs of fighting down prejudice; they weren't immune to relentless propaganda. People shunned them because they'd had their first child engineered. He was strong, healthy, good looking, smart, athletic . . . monstrous. His two younger siblings hadn't gotten any engineering at all, as the parents bent to the public switch in opinion about genetic engineering.
They've started looking at me like I might murder them all in their beds some night. Like I'm the kid gone bad, on drugs, or in a gang.
He crossed the main street, ignoring the honking and rude comments from the cars waiting at the red light. The light changed, and they all honked and yelled again as they passed him. One car swerved and splashed slush from the gutter. He dodged and they all laughed. The high tones of girls. He didn't look to see who it was. It hardly mattered.
At home, the TV was on, some girly show his sisters loved. "I'm home." They ignored him. Old enough to catch the flack about the unacceptable older brother, too young to really think it through. Desperate to separate themselves from him, to be accepted by their peers as normal.
I understand wanting to be normal.
He tossed his backpack into his room, and raided the fridge for food. Peanut butter and jelly, glass of milk. Everything else was fresh veggies and tofu. And Mom had complained about having to buy him cow’s milk. She wouldn't even buy the new vat grown meat. Maybe he ought to forget the car and just use his money to buy himself real food. Maybe if it snowed more, he'd earn enough money shoveling walks around the neighborhood to do both. He whipped through his homework and then pulled out his last library book.
Have to go to the library again tomorrow. Maybe Mom will drop me off when she takes the girls to ballet.
He managed to lose himself in a space opera until his door crashed open.
"There you are!" Sibyl Dunmeyer was dressed for success in a red suit. Tense and obviously unhappy.
He sat up straighter and closed the book. What's wrong this time? "Hi Mom. How was work, today?"
"Great until someone told me the news." She hunched her shoulders.
"What news?" His stomach flopped over.
"The vote. The Congress got the genetic engineering bill out of committee and voted on it today."
Chris sagged back in disbelief. "They didn't pass it!"
"Of course they did. And the Senate will pass it as well. No one wants to be on the record as supporting . . . dangerous . . . people." She blinked suddenly. A tear broke loose and tracked down her cheek.
Crying? Mother crying? It must be anger, or shame. "So they're actually going to exile us?" Then he swallowed, tried to think. He felt like he was floating on a cloud of denial.
"I mean, me."
Then he scrambled to soften the offence. "I mean, anyone with engineering. Good thing I'm plenty old to be on my own. I'll be seventeen, maybe eighteen, before anything actually happens."
Mom shook her head, helpless, not denying. "I can't live in a howling wilderness. And what would your father do? He's a stock broker. And the girls?"
"Brook and Pet would hate roughing it. I, on the other hand, will enjoy every minute of it." Chris fought down his gorge, fought back tears.
"We'll help you, help get you . . . things. Supplies." She wiped an angry hand across her cheek, smearing makeup. "You'll be fine." She clutched the door. "We do love you . . ."
"It's just that you custom ordered your perfect baby boy. And then they changed the definition of perfect." Chris looked beyond her, and spotted his father. "I know you can't take the girls there, frontiers are no place for little girls."
His dad's hand tightened on Mom's shoulder. "They say they'll be opening gates once a month. So after the first month, send us a list of things you need. We'll bring it to you, have a family vacation for a month. It's not like we'll never see you again."
Chris nodded, unable to force more reassurances from his mouth.
"I picked up dinner, let’s go eat." Dad led Mom away.
Chris closed his door quietly. And concentrated on not getting sick. Tears didn't count, when there was no one to see. After a few minutes he forced himself to wipe his face and go sit with his family. He didn't have much of an appetite.