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A return to Strassenburg from a session at Reseune already had the feeling of coming home. Ari smiled at the guards on duty at the main door. Jace GJ 422 and Efa GE 3211, she thought. They each gave her a little bow, quite proper and stiff. Jace was brunet and ruddy; Efa had cropped black hair and skin almost as dark. Just another competent pair from Reseune Security, thoroughly vetted by Catlin and Florian, born of known gene types proven over decades, in Resune's birthlabs. Predictable, known factors, comfortingly familiar.

Just before she passed through the inner doors, Floran and Catlin on her heels, she happened to look back. Jace was once more in complete security azi mode, his attention on the outer doors. But Efa was looking at Ari, her expression momentarily curious. Their eyes met, and Ari suddenly thought of a dozen other things that Efa might be able to do, given her genetic profile: an athlete, a planetary explorer, a builder, a mechanic, a legal clerk, a data system technician, a hospital nurse, a shopkeeper ... .

Will you, would you, could you...?

There was no need to ask. Efa's gaze was calm, content, focused. She knew who she was and what she was doing. Ari nodded to her, approvingly, and turned away.

Efa would not, could not take those paths, and Ari could not afford regrets.