Frank lay prone on the peaked roof of the teahouse in San Francisco's Chinatown, impatiently awaiting the first client he'd had in years. At 3:00 am, the narrow, fog-shrouded alleys below him were deserted. He hadn't wanted to meet in Chinatown, knowing his sense of smell would be dulled by pervasive, exotic aromas, his sight defeated by the deceptive curtain of mist. But, desperate for money, he'd had no true choice.
Frank's enhanced hearing, a gift of dolphin DNA, alerted him to approaching footsteps. Quickly, he slid to the edge of the roof and descended the two-story wall of the teahouse head first. The same chameleon genetic material which now caused his skin cells to rapidly change color as he moved in and out of the shadows, allowed him to defy gravity and cling to the damp bricks of the wall.
A man broke through the moist tendrils of fog and gasped in amazement. "It's true ... you really are a GMO!"
Frank dropped to the pavement and approached him. "Yes, Mr. Ford. I'm also the best detective your money can buy." Frank took in the other's appearance which spoke of wealth and power and he was relieved - this man would be more than able to meet his price. "Tell me about the case."
As Ford began to describe his daughter's kidnapping, Frank relaxed and let part of his mind drift. A GMO - a genetically modified organism. He hadn't heard that expression in years. On the streets, he and those like him were called FrankenDicks. They'd been disavowed in 2060 and hunted almost to extinction but before that they'd been a slave race, created to serve a specific purpose. They began life as undifferentiated human clones and were then "gifted" with the traits of certain animal species, using viruses as vectors.
The genes chosen for GMOs created the perfect PI - one with superior visual acuity, hearing, sense of smell and camouflage ability. The result was mediated transformation for a fraction of the cost of manufacturing an android. But the heyday of GMOs had ended when America became a theocracy in 2060 and all clones ordered put down.
"Are you listening?" barked Ford.
Frank blinked his too-large avian eyes. "Yes, sir. Did you bring an article of your daughter's clothing?"
As the man held out a blood-flecked scarf, Frank whirled, his specialized hearing detecting the advance of a number of individuals - a clone termination squad!
About to flee, he was stopped by Ford's hand on his arm. "Please take it," the man begged, pushing the scarf into Frank's hand. "You're her best chance."
Frank hesitated a moment as the sounds of pursuit grew closer. He stared into Ford's all too human eyes and what he saw there made him close his fingers over the scarf, nod to the other man. Then he turned and ran.