“Doggie!” My daughter cried as we entered the final wing of the pound. It was noisy, full of the sounds of clicking, whirring, and the occasional grinding of gears as the various cyberpets tried everything to get our attention.
“Actually, that one was originally a monkey / raptor hybrid.” The attendant seemed a little bit embarrassed. “He’s always been responsive, never harmed a staff member or another ‘pet, but…”
“But what?” I asked, as my daughter knelt in front of the creature’s cage. “Keep your hand flat,” I reminded her. “No poking fingers.”
“I know,” she said, with all the impatience a four-year-old could muster.
“You’d probably be better off with one of the actual dogs from alpha wing,” the attendant suggested.
But something about this poor creature, primate head, exposed skull, cybernetic attachments as well as prosthetic limbs, reptilian (well, almost avian) claws and a furry, wagging tail, pulled at the heart strings. Made you feel sorry for it.
“The truth, please?” I asked softly. “Why is he still here. Hybrids have been forbidden since – “
“That’s part of it. He’s licensed. You don’t have to worry about that, but his skull reads ‘human’ to some. It’s why primate hybrids were the first to be banned.”
“I remember,” I said. After the alien attack, life on earth had changed. Not just our way of living, but life itself. Something about nanites in the water and soil recoding our DNA.
Animals, humans, all had begun being born with cybernetic parts. It had taken a decade to restore the original gene sequences. Meanwhile, adoption agencies were full of these Adapted children, some of whom would never find loving homes.
And the animal shelters were just as bad. It used to be that big black dogs were the ones to languish. Now it was the cyberpets.
But the hybrids… those were the most pitiful of all. They were the results of lab tests gone wrong, and most were put out of their misery on sight. Too bad, really. They were good pets, even if they were disturbing to look at.
“He was originally a service ‘pet for a politician’s little girl, if that helps,” the attendant said. “She went to college and couldn’t take him, and he missed her so much… he would climb up on the roof and gargoyle for days. Rain, snow, heat. It was really sad. Rehoming him was the humane choice.”
“Those claws though…”
“We’ve had him in the staff lounge lots of times. He’s never harmed the furniture.”
“Katie? Wouldn’t you rather have the retriever we saw earlier?” I was pretty certain my daughter had already chosen, but I had to ask.
My daughter shook her head, her hair swinging to reveal the cybernetic reinforcements in her neck. They reinforced her whole spine, but you couldn’t tell when she was wearing clothes. “Doggie,” she said firmly.
I sighed. “I guess we’ll take him. Does he have a name?”
“Pierre,” the attendant said. “Previous owner was certain all monkeys were French. Even hybrids. I’ll fetch a leash, and she can bond with him while we do the paperwork.
“No need,” I said.
The attendant released Pierre from his cage and the creature went right to my daughter’s left side. She extended her hand, hovering it over the ‘pet’s back, and a cable snaked out of her palm, connecting to Pierre’s linkport.
I smiled looking at the two of them. Just a little girl and her monkey/raptor/thing.
Just as it should be.