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The Young Royals left the safety of the Saddle in the morning, and by that afternoon they had arrived at a section of the Catwalk that Bayard called "problematic", for it had been damaged somehow, and for nearly a mile it had become no wider than a toehold. But there were steel pitons already pounded ready for them to snap carabiners and sling rope. Bayard led the way, and by some quirk of fate Victoria was next in line after hym.

They spoke of many things, but Bayard being Bayard, the conversation drift- ed towards sexy things. Victoria knew what hy was up to and decided to keep it impersonal by speaking of the differences between the five genders in purely scientific terms, which was a novelty to a native of the Land.

We've learned a few things over on the Sol side of the house, Baron, she began. We emphasized the study of life rather than death. And we know living things, no matter how small, are far more complicated than we can imagine. All that complexity requires a way to store information so it can be passed down to the next generation. Life uses long molecular chains to store this data, and these chains are carefully packed away in pairs of compact nested coils we call chromosomes. The data that governs the dif- ferences between the sexes is carried in the X and Y chromosomes.

I have heard something of this, Bayard said. Every cell in a woman has two X chromosomes and every cell in a man has both an X and a Y.

Almost every cell, Baron. When the egg cell is formed, it undergoes a final division that separates the two X chromosomes and only contains one X. And men constantly form sperm cells, which also separate, each one car- rying either an X or a Y. So when they come together, the odds are fifty- fifty that the baby will be a boy or a girl. A beautiful arrangement.

Then along comes Belial to mess everything up, Bayard said.

What he did when he created the nephilim was bundle the X and Y together to form a Z chromosome, and this had a curious effect. The infants that resulted from this gene splicing were born with two sex organs apiece. So yeng were YZ, which was like having two Y chromosomes, which also makes you hypermasculine. Yen are ZZ, so they have two Y's of their own buried in there, and if they were left alone they would end up being a lot more butch than human women. But there's an anthropological factor at play as well. The polygamy of Belial's cupel system selects for femininity.

Applause and cheering broke out on the line ahead of them on the Catwalk, Ichor Losna had traversed the broken portion to safety on the other side.

Victoria continued. Here in the Land We Know, and nowhere else, nephilim and humans were thrown together and they found they could interbreed. Some of these offspring were normal human boys and girls, or nephil dirks and dolls, but if an X chromosome ended up being paired with a Z, which normal- ly never happens on Gorpai, the result is a jen hermaphrodite, still a ne- phil, but with one of each kind of sex organs.

In my travels, Bayard said, I have found that I would rather deal with the single dick of a jen if it means I can also have hez single pussy, like a human woman has. Isn't that strange? Yen with their two pussies give me pause, yet my mother is pressuring me to find and marry a yen.

What you are talking about now, Baron, is sexual preferences. Binah created bene elohim to never settle on a single preference. But among hu- mans and nephilim who do, we don't believe it's a matter of choice.

Bayard slipped off the Catwalk just then and screamed. Victoria pushed her nose into the wall of the Sacred Mountain, resisting the urge to fly after hym, since it would be as useless as her attempt to save Aliwe. But Ba- yard's fall was arrested by the ropes, as they were intended to do.

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Strangers In Paradise