The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles 1) - Page 10

‘Didn’t think so. I don’t think they’d want you to know about that. The problem is, some people think they’re above the law. There are plenty of good reasons why we have so much regulation.’


She seems almost amused by the tone of my challenge, surprised, maybe, that I would even question her. I watch her draw up, becoming larger than the Lily I have seen, looking like she is prepared to take me on and a dozen others, too, if necessary.

‘Engineering corn to resist pests wiped the original species from the face of the planet. Laws are too late for that,’ she says, her eyes drilling into me. ‘And a simple thing like overusing antibiotics created a strain of bacteria so deadly it killed my husband and a quarter of the world’s population. So that is—’

‘Were you?’ I see the circular thought she meant to hide from me.


‘Above the law. When you were a doctor. Did you ever—’

‘Yes.’ I watch the stiffness of her muscles drain away. ‘And I live with that every day of my life.’ She turns to leave.

‘Lily,’ I say to stop her, ‘did my grandfather—Did you—Was I baptized?’

‘When she was two weeks old,’ she says as she walks out the door. ‘We were her godparents.’ She is gone and never looks back to see if I followed.

Father Rico and Li

ly sit in the shade of a pepper tree and swap stories. We have already toured the remnants of the ancient mission garden, where the two of them excitedly examined gnarled roots, weeds, and what appeared to be anemic orange trees that were bearing the tiniest of pale fruit. Father Rico proudly proclaimed it the first nursery in California, but the treasure for both of them lies in the seeds and DNA that are left behind.

Their voices rise and some words drift across the expanse of the courtyard.



‘Original seed.’

‘Untouched DNA.’

If I strained I could hear it all, but I don’t really need more details than what Father Rico has already given me. He and Lily are both members of the World Seed Preservation Organization, a group committed to preserving original species of plants. Apparently there are few pure species left, due to bioengineering and cross-pollination. The wind, it seems, isn’t discriminatory in which kind of plant pollen it blows. Engineered pollen blows just as easily as the original kind and infects all traditional plants in its path. Now I know the deeper meaning to Lily’s greenhouse. She and Father Rico seem to see bioengineered plants as a time bomb, much like the Aureus epidemic. Their network of seed enthusiasts are out to save the world. Saviors. Lily saved me once. I wonder how often she thinks about that.

Lily regularly glances my way to make sure I haven’t wandered away or started a conversation with anyone. Occasionally someone passes through the courtyard, mostly other priests, but I remain quiet. Lily told me to. ‘Your mother would want it that way,’ she says.

I see a boy, taller than Father Rico, across the courtyard. He approaches them. His hands are dirty, and he swipes away long cords of black hair spilling in front of his eyes with his forearm. He is … pleasant-looking. I think that’s the word. He talks to Father Rico, nods his head, and then glances over at me. I see Lily’s face. She has noticed and sits up straighter like she is ready to spring. I think he is going to walk over to me and I look away to discourage him. It works. He says a few more words to Father Rico and goes back the way he came, and I am immediately angry with myself for being so quick to please Lily and Mother. It won’t happen again.

Go to Your Room

Mother sips orange juice at the counter, looking over a list of tasks for the day. Lily grates cheese over a bowl of eggs. I sip my nutrients, which are tasteless. I swig down the last of them in a quick gulp and ask, ‘Was I a history buff?’

Mother barely looks up from her list. ‘A what?’

I decide to rephrase Mr Bender’s question. ‘Did I like history? Was it my favorite subject?’

Mother smiles and looks back at her list, making a few changes. ‘Hardly,’ she answers. ‘I’m afraid history—and math for that matter—were tutorworthy for you.’ She is absorbed again in her planning. Tutorworthy? I must have had an excellent tutor.

I push my empty glass away and announce, ‘I’m going to school today.’

Mother drops her pencil and stares at me. Lily stops beating her eggs.

‘I assume I didn’t graduate during the year I was in a coma, so I still need to finish, right?’

Mother hasn’t spoken. Her mouth is open and her head shakes slightly, like my words are ricocheting around inside. Somehow, I find it amusing.

‘There are two village charters within walking distance—I checked the directory on the Net—and the Central Academy is just a short drive.’

Tags: Mary E. Pearson Jenna Fox Chronicles Science Fiction
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