Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
Maybe it was all the time he’d spent feeding the fish, but Gregor decided to join the workers at the Farm. Park had given him a long look, then nodded agreement.
The Family Farm was located in the western section of the Duadenora compound and was protected by solid plasticrete walls and armed guards. The Farm provided nearly all of the food for the whole Family, which would have made it the perfect target of assassins looking to thin the number of Duadenora.
There was something peaceful about tending the raised beds of leafy greens and picking the ripe tomatoes in the hot house. And always there was the cheery gurgle of the aquaponics flushing water through the pipes and into the plant beds. There was the reassurance that there was and would be enough food for everyone no matter what other tragedy struck the world.
During their breaks, he sat with the other Farm workers and shared delicious food: Sliced fresh tomatoes with goat cheese. A hotpot of spicy fish broth, Napa cabbage, bean sprouts, slivers of carrot and zucchini, fat udon noodles, and fresh tofu. Zucchini bread with scoops of hand-churned strawberry ice cream. Each break was another experience in culinary delight, the cooks proudly or humbly or shyly bringing forth their offerings. He didn’t hesitate to give his enthusiastic praises.
Demo, the androgynous maker of the flavorful hotpot blushed all the way up to zie’s eyebrows before laughing. “Now you know why everyone loves their Farm service days. There’s always something good to eat and the company is always the best.”
Gregor nodded. “I see it. I’ve had a lot of fun today.”
He looked at Park, comfortably squatting next to him with a bowl in his hands, unselfconscious in his Farm coverall, his work gloves peeking out of his breast pocket. There was something oddly illicit about the sight of those pale hands, naked against the white ceramic of the bowl. As he watched, Park lifted the bowl and drank the soup directly from it, spoon held in the curl of his fingers.
Gregor smiled at Demo. “Maybe I’ll ask that all my service days be on the Farm. I’ve always liked growing things.” His smile turned teasing. “And maybe if I’m lucky the cook of this delicious soup will make me lots of tasty food.”
“Maybe the cook will,” Demo said with a smile.
After their third break, half of the group broke off to deal with the piscene portion of the Farm. Gregor and Park followed them into the fishery, which was a long room lined with chest high tubs of temperature controlled water.
“The warm temperature fish are on the right, the colder temperature ones are on the left,” Park said. “The more aggressive fish are kept separated by this netting.”
Gregor couldn’t resist touching the netting; it felt like fine mesh, the pinholes big enough for water to pass through. The water had to be a good eighty degrees, and he laughed when a fingerling tried to nip at his skin. He swished his hand around and the fish fled.
“Over there are our ground feeders. We have crabs, shrimp, lobster, and eels in the salination tanks. come on, our job today is to check PH levels and the temperature controls. We’re also supposed to change the filters to keep the saltwater from contaminating the fresh.”
“I’ve done Farm work before,” Gregor said.
“Good,” Park said. He raised his hand toward a man wearing a wide brimmed hat. “Come on. We’re supposed to be helping Franco today.”
Gregor trotted after him, his eyes examining how the fishery was set up. He was duly impressed by the water reservoirs, the egg screens, and the larger holed netting that protected the smaller fish from the larger.
“You do crabs here too? I love crab,” he said.
Park slanted him a smile. “We’ll be feeding them today too. They seem to have a fondness for vat chicken. And I’ll ask the kitchen if they can prepare some crab legs for you. Just don’t tell anyone else. They might get jealous of special treatment.” He winked to show he was joking.
Working on the Farm was reassuring to Gregor. The Duadenora were truly self-sustaining, and if another disaster struck they were ready to withstand it. He and his baby would be protected.
It was momentarily jarring to realize that the microscopic bit of life within him had come to mean something. The chemicals in his brain must be changing faster than he thought.
He forced himself to think of fish. Hungry fish that gobbled the food he scooped into their tubs and excreted the nutrients that made the plants grow so healthy. Garbage in, garbage out, and something beautiful at the end of it.
And I guess I’m the garbage. It wasn’t as painful a thought as he figured it should be. It was more wistful than anything else. Because when had he ever made anything beautiful?