Monday, September 7, 2015

Microstory 141: Setsuko Kawaguchi

When Setsuko Kawaguchi was a child, she was diagnosed with a medical condition known as congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. CIPA is an inherited disorder caused by a genetic mutation that prevents the nervous system of the individual from detecting pain and extreme temperatures. In Setsuko’s case, however, this was an erroneous diagnosis. She would go on to be the herald of an extremely useful and common trait referred to later as evolution out of pain. Documentation regarding her was used to develop gene therapy that resulted in a new class of humans who were born with similar symptoms to CIPA, but with Setsuko’s one major advantage. Pain is not an arbitrary component of the living organism experience. It serves a vital purpose; to alert the brain to injury and other physiological dangers. If the brain is incapable of knowing that an injury has occurred, then it will likewise be incapable of solving the problem by clotting blood, mending bone, regulating body temperature, or doing whatever else needs to be done to keep the organism alive. Fortunately, Setsuko—and later derivative humans—needn’t feel pain in order to know of an injury. Her pain receptors had evolved to send complex messages to the brain without actually causing the pain normally associated with such issues. Instead of the stove burner hurting when being touched, Setsuko’s body would simply tell her to let go. A group of scientists who were looking for ways to replicate or otherwise manipulate anomaly abilities kidnapped Setsuko, along with a handful of others, for unethical experimentation. She ultimately lost her ability as a result of it being transferred to Phaedra Wirth. Once the organization involved was shut down, she became angry, and joined a major opposing force to Bellevue. Her new leader provided her and her friends with a new ability, and she used this to threaten the survival of the entire planet.

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