Authors: Jupiter's Daughter
ALSO BY TOM HYMAN Prussian Blue Seven Days to Petrograd Rices and Honor The Russian Woman Giant Killer VIKING Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Books USA Inc 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 STZ, England Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England First published in 1994 by Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. Copyright (c) Vernon Tom Hyman, 1994
All rights reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hyman, Vernon Tom.
Jupiter’s daughter / Tom Hyman.
1. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 2. Twenty-first century-Fiction.
3. Genetic engineering—Fiction. I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America Set in Sabon Designed by Katy Riegel Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photo copying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
To Nona and Bill My special thanks go to molecular biologist ack Greiner. for his generous advice and help on all matters scientific, especially the dauntingly complex subject of genetics.
l New Year’s Day, 1999
I: Millennium 5
II: Valley of the Lost Genes 165
III: Homo Sapiens Rex 341
It had snowed all night, and the acres of fields and woods around the big house were covered with a thick, perfect blanket of white.
The sun’s light, low in the southern sky, reflected off the snow with a blinding brightness, but there was no heat in it. The departed storm had left the air clear and bitterly cold.
Anne Stewart practiced the piano all day.
She played to dispel a slight hangover from the previous night’s champagne, and a deep, inexplicable melancholy that accompanied it.
She had started practice at nine o’clock in the morning.
It was now past three in the afternoon, and she remained intent at the keyboard, striving to induce her fingers to reproduce the difficult chords demanded of Mozart’s Sonata No. 5 in G Major.
The room she practiced in, located in the south wing of the forty-eight-room Stewart mansion on Long Island’s North Shore, was large and sunny, with tall windows on three sides.
Anne Stewart was twenty-six years old and a woman of exceptional beauty and grace. Her husband, Dalton Stewart, was away on business in the Caribbean. In the two years and three months that they had been married, he had been away much of the time.
Anne was left alone on the estate, with twelve full-time servants and little to do.
Despite her youth and the enviable circumstances of her surroundings, she considered her life to be at a virtual dead end. Her depressions, at first fleeting, had in recent months come to cloud the entire day, making sleep difficult and the rounds of social duties her marriage required next to unbearable. Lately she had begun to wonder if she might be slipping into madness.
Only her music still had the power to lift her spirits. She could still enter into it with her whole being, place herself into an almost trancelike state of bliss that momentarily dissolved the reality around her.
But the hours of practice were taking a physical toll. Her back ached, and her wrists and fingers were stiff and sore from the thousands of times they had pressed the keys. She dropped her hands down at her sides and gently flexed her wrists to relax the muscles.
She gazed absently across the room in the direction of the big glass door that separated the music room from a larger, rarely used sitting room, cluttered with ornate, overstuffed Victorian pieces that had been in the house since the day it was built, a hundred years ago.
A girl of three or four years of age was standing on the other side of the door, with one hand pressed against the glass. The lateafternoon winter sun, slanting through the big windows of the music room, reflected off the glass of the door and partially obscured the girl’s features, but there was no mistaking her presence. She was smiling at Anne with an expression of the most intense delight. Her blond curls had a blue ribbon tied in them, and she was wearing a perfectly pressed white cotton summer dress with a blue satin ribbon around the waist.
Her smile was loving and completely familiar, with a hint of mischief in it, as if she were about to say something she knew Anne would think funny. Yet Anne was quite certain she had never seen her before. The girl’s luminous eyes glowed with intelligence and pleasure. Anne supposed that she had been attracted by the sound of her piano playing.
The sudden, inexplicable presence of the child filled Anne with an almost giddy sensation of joy. It was as if someone she loved tremendously had just returned after a long absence. Anne laughed, then stood up and hurried to the door, to invite the girl in.
Jupiter’s Daughter ù 3
But the moment she turned the doorknob, the girl vanished.
Anne stood motionless, her hand gripping the knob. She was afraid to breathe.
After an uncertain passage of time, she stepped back from the door.
She began trembling violently. Her sense of elation evaporated into confusion. She moved slowly across the room, studying the glass in the door from different angles, but the image of the girl did not reappear.
She had imagined it.
It didn’t seem possible. In her mind’s eye she could still picture the child perfectly, could still feel that oddly familiar smile. If it was an hallucination, its effect was overwhelmingly real.
Anne closed her eyes and shook her head. What could account for such a powerful illusion? Was it just some peculiarity in the light, combined with her fatigued mental state? Perhaps she had stayed too long at the piano, she thought. It had put her in an impressionable mood. She knew that such things could happen.
Minds played tricks sometimes.
She sat a few minutes longer, watching the now pale, watery sun sink behind the bare branches of the trees that lined the fields on the southwest side of the house. The daylight faded and the room grew gray and chilly. She closed the cover on the keyboard and left.
The image of the beautiful child lingered with her for weeks, magnifying her frustration and her unhappiness. She began to think of the incident as some kind of premonition, and the thought haunted her.
She knew she could never have any children with her husband.
And yet she felt absolutely certain that the child she had seen-or imagined she had seen—was her own.
The Road of the Mountain Guns curled up the steep hill behind the Caribbean city of Coronado in a series of four hairpin turns.
At the top of the hill stood the ruins of an old Spanish fort, whose gun emplacements had once guarded the harbor below.
The ancient fort and the corroded, moss-covered remains of the great bronze cannons had not so long ago been tourist attractions; but a decade of neglect had undermined large stretches of the road’s surface, and bandits were said to lurk in the heavy roadside undergrowth, ready to pounce on the unwary traveler. Few people used the road these days, and those who did climbed it only for the most compelling reasons.
A man named Joseph Cooper had just such a reason. And as he made his precarious way around the giant potholes and deep, boulder-strewn washouts, he kept that strong sense of purpose foremost in his mind.
Cooper’s skin was the darkest ebony. Everything else about him was as white as the midday Caribbean sun: his hair, his beard, his tennis sneakers, and the bleached, baggy shorts and voluminous shirt that flapped about his skinny trunk like a flag around its pole on a windy day. His bosses in Washington called him Mr. Stare, for the habitual dreamy, far-off expression in his sad eyes.
Half an hour before dark he reached the walls of the old Spanish fort at the top and paused to wait for the cover of nightfall.
He watched the sun touch the western rim of the Caribbean. The ocean darkened to a deep purple and lights began winking on in the city below. They sparkled against the carpet of land like diamonds on black velvet. For these few minutes of tropical twilight, Coronado hid its destitute circumstance beneath an enchanted glow.
Cooper climbed down from the fort parapet and hurried through the encroaching darkness. The road continued a short distance beyond the ruins to a cluster of one-story brick buildings spread out on a wide, grassy hilltop plateau. The place had once been the campus of the Antilles Medical School. Abandoned by its American owners fifteen years earlier, the school had sat empty until five years ago, when the American doctor took up residence there.
Everything of value had long since been stripped from the premises.
What remained had been left to the birds, the insects, and a profusion of tropical plants and vines that grew over the brick and tile surfaces and crept through the broken windows like green mold spreading across old bread. The once tended lawns, flower gardens, and brick walkways had deteriorated into a jumble of vacant lots, choked with tall weeds, broken glass, and rubbish.
Lights burned in the building the doctor used for his laboratory.
Cooper peeked in a window. The doctor was sitting at a bench on the far side of the room, pouring some liquid into a test tube.
For several minutes Cooper crouched by the window, watching.
Then, from his shirt pocket, he removed an electronic eavesdropping device the size and shape of a tenpenny nail and wedged it deep into the soft, rotting wood at the bottom of the window’s frame. He installed a second bug in another window, then pulled a miniature transmitter-receiver from another pocket and tested the bugs. The lab was so quiet Cooper could not tell for several minutes if they were working. Then the doctor dropped something. Cooper heard it perfectly.
He hid the transmitter-receiver under the eaves of the roof. It would relay the sounds of the lab directly to a satellite in high earth orbit, which in turn would relay them to a recording device in a small, locked room at the sprawling thousand-acre complex of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Dr. Harold Goth held the test tube up to the light and examined the contents.
The tube was warm—exactly blood temperature. A few ounces of a thin, cloudy broth swirled against the glass walls. The mysterious soup was a rich mix of nutrient chemicals and bacteria cells.
The cells, some billion of them, were multiplying rapidly, doubling in number every twenty-four hours.
The doctor picked up a rotor lying on the bench, locked the test tube into one of the four slots on the arm, then slipped the rotor into place on the shaft of a small centrifuge. He set the timer on the machine and turned it on. With a low, intense hum the apparatus began whirling the tube faster and faster, until the cloudy liquid was being rotated at five thousand revolutions per minute.
Dr. Goth permitted himself a quick little smile. Despite the strain and fatigue of the past several months, he still felt that familiar excitement he had for so long associated with the handson practice of scientific routine.
After thirty minutes the centrifuge shut itself off. Goth retrieved the rotor and removed the test tube from its slot. Its contents had undergone a visible transformation. Centrifugal force had driven the cells to the rounded bottom of the tube, where they formed a compacted, gray-yellow mass. Goth poured off the now clear nutrient liquid from the top, added a small amount of fresh nutrient, and attached the tube to a mechanical shaker. The shaker broke up the pellet of cells at the bottom and caused it to mix with the new nutrient. A cloudy broth formed once again, thicker than before.
Goth removed the tube from the shaker, set it in a holding frame, and pulled the stopper from the top. Using a thin, hollow plastic rod called a pipette, he added to the soup carefully measured amounts of two chemicals—ethylenediamine tetra-acetate, or EDTA, and sodium dodecyl sulphate, or SDS. The EDTA would weaken the membrane walls of the cells in the solution by removing their calcium and magnesium ions.
The SDS would dissolve the molecules of fat from those same cell walls, causing them to collapse and spill the cells’ innards into the broth.
He shut the test tube in an incubator preset at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and glanced up at the clock on the far wall. Twenty minutes past nine.
It would take forty-five minutes for the chemicals to do their work.
Dr. Goth removed his wire-rimmed spectacles and wiped them with the bottom edge of his lab jacket. He had worked so very hard these last few months—sixteen to eighteen hours a day, every day, with barely a break. The effort had taken its toll. His eyes ached persistently, and he had trouble focusing. Periods of faintness and exhaustion were becoming more frequent and more prolonged. Even now, as he slipped his glasses back over his ears, his hands shook from the effort. When he stood, his legs trembled beneath him.