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|An idea into genetical engineering. Credit goes to my biology teacher I guess. What if the human race could be perfected? This is the first of three parts.||
Tuesday, 1 April 2016 A.D.
Medical Engineering Ward
St. Timothy Hospital
Dr. Jared Gordon held his breath as he watched the monitors. They were so close. He was so close. Hope fought doubt inside his mind. Everything should work; my calculations are perfect. But if one little thing goes wrong… no! No doubts. Everything must work! I have tried so hard… is this even ethical? It’s only an experiment, for goodness sake! How do we know…wait. It’s time!
Jabbing a blue button, he spoke into the intercom, his tone insistent. “All medical personnel involved in Operation 11A to room thirty-nine immediately. All medical doctors to room thirty-nine.” The culmination of the last ten years of his research was coming; he was taking no chances. Too much money and time had been spent for this project to fail now.
After scanning the assorted medical sensors once more, he rushed from the control room, running until he reached a door emblazoned with gold numbering. Thirty-nine. Pausing to calm himself, he smoothed down his operating gown and took several deep breaths before striding purposefully through the door.
Two nurses stood over a pregnant woman on a hospital bed amid many machines and tubes, her breathing labored. Pulling on latex gloves, Jared checked her vitals, his calming small talk masking his own thumping heart. “Ready for this to be over, Carolyn? Not much longer now. Don’t worry about a thing; the best doctors in the world are in this facility, just for you. The surgery will be painless for you; we’ll put in a spinal block. Nothing will go wrong.” His words served to calm him as well as the woman. “Well, you’re in peak physical condition, disregarding the baby of course.” He smiled. “Everything will be… perfect. I hope.” Despite her growing pain, Carolyn managed to smile back.
A man and a woman entered the room. Jared regarded them gratefully. “Excellent. Dr. Levi, Dr. Samil, please escort our patient to the operating room. Nurses, please wheel Miss Carolyn there now.” They did as he asked. Jared followed confidently. Now that it had begun, there was no more room in his head for uncertainty.
* * *
Jared stood at the head of the table, supervising his colleagues as they executed the Caesarean operation, every once in a while quietly offering a comment. Everything had gone flawlessly, but the result could not yet be foreseen. All his fear and joy had been put behind him; he sat attentively but without emotion. His concentration had to be complete.
The bright operation room light hurt his eyes, but he did not blink. Finally one of the doctors spoke. “We’re ready sir.” Despite his apparent apathy, Jared forgot to breathe. Moving slowly to the end of the table, he pulled the incision on Carolyn’s stomach a bit larger, placed both hands at the top of the opening, and pushed hard. Quickly diving his hands in, he pulled out the baby.
Despite himself, he gasped in wonder. In his arms was the most beautiful baby girl he had ever seen. Neither blemish nor disfigurement marked her radiant skin or marred her body. Fine features seamlessly complimented the rich auburn hair slicked to the top of her head.
Jared handed her reverently to the midwife, and the woman carried her softly to the waiting crib. Jared stared transfixed a few moments more, watching the midwife prepare and inspect the child before he stitched up the incision. In a few minutes she wrapped the baby up and brought her back to Jared. “Miss Carolyn,” he whispered, pulling back the drape, “here is your child. Isn’t she an angel?”
He turned to his assistant with a sigh of relief. “Tell our superiors that it worked.”
* * *
Monday, 31 May, 2113 A.D.
The Backwater Bar
Defluo District, Australia
Jayden sat at the bar, ignoring the stench of spilled beer and cigarette smoke. All that occupied his thoughts was his hatred for Australia. How he wanted to escape… the crowds, the noise, the traffic. The entire continent was a giant suburbia, the result of the residence of the entire human race.
He spent a lot of time at the Backwater Bar, not for the drinks, and certainly not for the uplifting atmosphere. The establishment catered other… services of questionable legality. The only reason he would enter the place.
“Jayden, come on; you’ll be late.”
He slipped off his barstool and followed the older man into the back rooms. Rooms open only to the Underground Alliance.
Jayden picked his way through the people to stand against the back wall. Seats were reserved for elders. He preferred standing anyway; it made him feel like action was being taken.
“Attention! Quiet down! Everybody quiet down. Tonight is important.” The group quickly calmed. Jayden glanced around. It seemed all the regulars were here; mostly teenagers like himself with a spattering of veterans from the war.
Jayden hoped the meeting tonight would be good; he felt angry. More than usual. His attire fit his mood; cut-off khakis and a ragged army t-shirt accompanied by a tied-on red bandanna and short spiky hair. He would be fined for wearing an army shirt if he was caught, but he wasn’t afraid. The Sentinels rarely ventured in this far; he’d never even seen one. Too bad, he thought. He would have liked to pick a fight.
“Tonight,” began Sergeant Robertson, the senior officer present, “we have a guest speaker with some thrilling news. General Daniger, commander in chief and head of the Alliance, has something to tell you.” An uproar of astonishment and excitement cut him off. The sergeant conducted all the local meetings of the Underground Alliance, and though he was an admirable man and well respected by his followers, he was nothing compared to a legend.
General Daniger was the general, leader of the race of men in the Last War. Though in the end his forces had not proved sufficient to win, he was still revered by all. Jayden could scarcely believe his ears. To get to see the general was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Now presenting General Daniger,” Robertson shouted over the tumult. Instantly it became deadly silent, every ear straining for any sound. To Jayden’s generation, the general was God. Jayden had given up belief in a real god long ago. As far as he was concerned, no supposed god of love would let his people be afflicted so.
A dignified man stepped through a doorway into the hushed room. He was tall and proud, far past his prime but not decrepit. Jayden could feel the aura of command. For the first time in a long time, he grinned.
Daniger stood behind the pulpit in his full military regalia, his uniform covered with medals. It meant a lot to Jayden that he would wear it; Daniger would likely be locked away for the rest of his life if he was caught, if not killed on sight. He cleared his throat in a venerable way and began to address them. It was definitely a memorized speech, but it had a wonderfully natural feel which was lacking in so much of the propaganda Jayden was used to.
“My people. You all know of the Last War, how could anyone not? Perhaps, however, you have not heard its origin. I will have you fight,” Jayden’s heart soared at that promise, “but I would not have you do it in blind hate. All Men must know what happened to our world.
“A hundred years ago our great race was at the height of its power. All technology was at our fingertips. Our people had absolute freedom. Then a group of scientists called the Nations’ Genetical Coalition set out to make a perfect human being. Through advanced genetical engineering they perfected the DNA of a human being and created a literally flawless person. A girl, to be precise. Her ‘father’ named her Seraphim.
“Just think! It was a brilliant idea. A person freed from hereditary disease and imperfections, blessed with an advanced immune system, longevity, unrivaled beauty, super-intelligence, matchless athletic ability… the list goes on and on. She was… is … perfect in every way. Slow to anger, quick to forgive, filled with love for life. The human race was ready for the next step. More were quickly created.
“That’s where problems arose. It was clear that for the greater good of all, these ‘angels’ should inherit the earth. Our own race was weak. We constantly fought with each other, hurt the earth, and generally made a mess of things every time we turned around. We were not worthy of our world.
“But how to go about it? Genocide was out of the question; it would never be accomplished without terrible war which would likely destroy the very world they wanted to save. And these people were perfect, filled with compassion and mercy. They would never agree to such a thing.
“So came the Plan of Relocation. We, ‘normal humans’ were given twenty years to move to Australia where we could live out our lives in peace. The water supply was prepared to cause sterility, thus allowing our species to pass quietly from the earth. Some people chose this option at the advisement of various leaders; about thirty percent of the world. But in general mankind is a sturdy and stubborn race; we were outraged at the arrogance of these scientists, their creations, and the weakness of some in our own government.
“Secretly the United Nations met and came up with a plan of resistance. The Alliance was formed. Unfortunately, several countries were heavily influenced by NGC and supported them. The world was divided. In two weeks a strategy was formed and carried out. All civilians were evacuated here to Australia as if in compliance. All the military units stayed behind.
“There was one year left before the deadline. That was fifty years ago. I was chosen as head of the old US forces. I was confident we would win; all reports showed we outnumbered the enemy nine hundred million to maybe ten thousand ‘angels’. Most of us doubted their abilities; none had even been seen in twenty years. Intelligence agents told us that they preferred the use of swords to guns; claimed it was more noble and befitting of a perfect creature. Even their rumored beauty was doubted.
“On the evening of the last day I sat around a fire cheerfully, knowing soon all would be normal again, our inheritance restored. My camp numbered some ten thousand.
“That night, at the stroke of midnight, a voice spoke, amplified around the world somehow. Soft and calm, so melodious was that voice that I myself got lost in its perfect tones. It was the voice of Sera, sweet Seraphim Firehair.” He paused, and Jayden regarded the General searchingly. The fallen leader’s eyes were far away, remembering in undimmed awe that night long ago. Pulling himself back to the present with seeming reluctance, he continued as before.
“Her words were neither angry nor filled with hatred. If anything, a tinge of sadness could be detected. ‘You were warned. Change course now, before defeat surrounds you. Retain your dignity, and live out your days in peace. We will not fight those who leave all weapons and retire to the nearest major port. There you will embark for Australia to live in harmony. To those that don’t: You have been warned.’
“From those quiet words came the first weapon of our enemy: love. Many men buried their guns and left in peace; a good third of my camp began a march to the California. Only sadness filled their hearts.
“But many stayed. We challenged the power of the Solars, as they then became known. We were attacked unexpectedly that very night by two Solars. That battle was… indescribable.”
Jayden felt utterly confused. The man he had expected to hate the enemy the most sounded… sorrowful.
Daniger paused in his tale once more to steady himself. “You cannot understand until you fight them. Which happens to be why I am here.” Jayden stood up straight. “Understand why I tell you this. You must be prepared for them when the time comes, or you will not be able to face them. But I ramble. On to my point.
“My fellow Men, I come before you tonight with a mission in the name of freedom and the Underground Alliance.” Jayden’s confusion was swept away; pushed aside before the tide of exhilaration that flooded through him. A chance to fight. “We have managed to secure firearms and explosives. Six capable volunteers will be selected to form a portion of a group sent to fulfill one of the most important missions of the human race. You will kill a Sentinel, one of the Solars who guards our borders, and escape to the outside world.”
Despite Daniger’s presence, a turmoil of noise swept through the room. He didn’t care; the reaction had been the same at every meeting he had attended the past few weeks.
Jayden shouted in elation. His father had died in the war; Jayden would avenge him. He would escape Australia. He would slay a Solar.
* * *
Jayden felt as if he would walk on clouds for the rest of his life. It had been easy for him to be selected as one of the six. He was in excellent shape, young, energetic, and filled with a burning desire to serve the UA.
He packed and left his apartment the next morning to meet in old Sydney. He was only nineteen, but leaving was no problem. He lived on his own; he was no longer on speaking terms with his mother. She believed he should stay away from the UA and all it did. He had been five when the United Nations surrendered, and had wanted to leave Australia ever since that choice had been taken away. He had been six when he was recruited into the Underground Alliance.
All expenses had been paid for this trip, even the metro. The UA had good connections.
Once he arrived at the designated address, he was discreetly ushered inside by an old butler. “Downstairs, lad,” he had said.
“Thank you sir.” The house that appeared to be just another apartment complex was in reality an expansive mansion, and the extensive basement was prepared for war. He came down the stairs and almost ran into an attendant. He dodged aside. “Sorry sir.”
“Quite alright, boy.” The old man smiled. “If you show me your I.D. I’ll get you all squared away.
* * *
That night Jayden sat in a comfortable chair around a long table laden with food. He couldn’t help feeling slightly over-indulgent; most people lived in tiny apartments and lived off plain food. He couldn’t recognize any of the dishes set out in front of him.
Seeing his uncomfortable stance, one of the waiters leaned close to him. “All Old World food,” he whispered, “still available on today’s market, but rather pricey. The general wants you to ‘taste’ the glory of the Old World, if you pardon the pun.”
He moved off, chuckling to himself, and Jayden eyed him bemusedly. How can you be so happy in the midst of such oppression?
After the General greeted them and bade them eat, Jayden took the time to analyze the other guests.
Sixty-some people sat around the table; the rest of the people chosen for the mission. Jayden noted in surprise that there were nearly as many women present as men. He had expected more men; their anger would get them further in battle.
He ate in silence; so did most of the others. No one really knew each other, and everyone respected the general. Jayden was pleased to see that everyone seemed in exceptional physical condition. Knowing he was among the best, he smiled.
When everyone had finished, the general stood again. “Please, don’t be shy. I invited you here because you had all the qualities I believed you needed, and timidity was not one of them.” The older man let slip a rare smile. “These next two weeks you will be given as thorough training as we can provide. You will learn combat skills such as strategy, and perhaps most importantly, how to wield a weapon effectively. I doubt any of you have ever even seen a gun before.” Another small smile. “How the world has changed.
“You probably noticed that your rooms are arranged in groups of six. Those people in the adjacent rooms are your squad. They are your family now; get to know them well.
“You will also be taught wilderness survival skills.” The silence managed to register surprise. “What did you think your purpose was?” Daniger asked sardonically. “Just to kill a Solar?” A level stare slowly looked each person in the eye. “You are far more important than that.”
* * *
Monday, 6 June, 2113 A.D.
2637 s 18th
Old Sydney, Australia
Jayden raced down the track, heart and feet pounding. He leapt over the first short wall, then reached up and vaulted over the second higher one. Hitting the ground running, he jumped up to grasp a net. Fast as he could he scaled it and hurled himself off the top, diving into a roll to break his fall. He stood up and a stopwatch clicked. “Point seven seconds faster than yesterday. You’re incredible.”
It was a week after they had arrived, and Jayden was in bliss.
Jayden nodded in appreciation to the fellow holding the timer. His name was Jesse, and he was fun to be around, a welcome change. Jayden liked him.
Jesse took charge most of the time, and Jayden was happy to let him do it. The other guy was named Gabriel, and though he was more reserved than Jesse, he was still more talkative than Jayden. Three girls offset the guys, Ariel, Katriel, and Seanna, at first somewhat surprising Jayden. It had taken less than a day for them to prove to him that being female did not restrict them in the least. He’d found that out the hard way; a roundhouse kick to the head from Katriel in a sparring match convinced him quickly.
They were all strong people, physically and mentally, and Jayden admired them; he was pleased with the selection. Their devotion to the cause was as strong as his, and he knew they would gladly die in the name of freedom.
He was learning so much about everything, it astounded him. For the first time in his life, he had friends.
Everyday Jayden worked hard to best himself. The mission would not fail because of his weakness. I must have no weakness.
* * *
Tomorrow is the day. I will kill a Sentinel, a Solar, and escape. Ever since he was a boy, the UA had taught him to resent the captors of the human race; though Jayden had never even known their name until Daniger had explained. Not that it mattered, really, what he called them. Tomorrow he would fight one of them, and prove that Homo sapiens was the superior species. He would redeem his people from hell.
He waited with scarce breath for Daniger to address them after their last supper. After what seemed like an age, the general stood.
“Tomorrow. I do not need to explain it; you all know in the core of your souls what it entails. These past two weeks you have proved yourselves beyond my hope.” Jayden swelled with pride. “You have learned how to fight, to hunt, to make weapons and create fire. You have learned all that we can teach you of how to survive in the world. In our world. Once the breach is opened, you must leave Australia and never return. The human race must start over.”
Katriel caught Jayden’s eye, winking with a look that clearly said, ready?
Of course, he mouthed back with a grin. I was born ready. She was suddenly overcome by a quiet but violent fit of coughing. His smile turned to indignation, and she tried not to laugh.
The solemn speech continued unimpeded, returning their focus to the seriousness of their task. “Farewell, my people. On the morrow you will be transported to the coast. You will fight. A boat will be waiting.” General Daniger spoke softly. “Go with the will of all men.”
* * *
After the fighters had left for what little rest they could obtain, Daniger sat alone in the hall save for a few servants. As they cleaned, one whispered to him. “Sir?”
The General glanced his way half-heartedly. “Yes?”
“Think it will work?”
The General stared at him, then slowly shook his head.
* * *
Jayden stepped off the metro as inconspicuously as he could. He succeeded; no one noticed the gun-shaped bulges in his heavy coat, or the clink of ammunition belts.
He slowly meandered down a side street. He walked alone; the others in his unit had their own routes to the site. He knew the way almost by heart; digital 3D maps had let him learn the entire area.
As he approached the coast the buildings became more and more run down. Few people were comfortable close to the Sentinels.
Nonetheless, there was enough traffic for Jayden not to attract too much attention. He slid into an abandoned building and peered down from the roof to a scene beyond description.
To the east as far as his eye could see was deep blue. Sunlight reflected upon the water, causing him to shade his eyes, but there was nothing else. This is only the beginning of our world, he though wonderingly.
His attention was quickly diverted to the black wall that rose from the beach. His wonderment turned to anger. Here was the symbol of their imprisonment. His eye caught movement. There was the cause of captivity.
Hatred bred by years of propaganda coursed through him, and he raised a pair of binoculars to view the enemy walking alone along the wall.
She took his breath away.
* * *
Back at headquarters General Daniger watched the clock. Only ten till eleven. Ten units around the continent should be poised and ready. Ten more minutes, and they would strike. The general watched the clock.
* * *
The woman was beyond anything Jayden had ever imagined. ‘Woman’ was too small a term. Solar. Maiden of the Sun. Jayden couldn’t believe it. This is what I’ve come to slay?
She stood nearly seven feet tall, by his estimation, and her skin almost glowed a luminous gold color. Long flowing auburn hair hung freely down her back. She was lean, strong, confident. Her face was literally that of an angel.
She wore loose khakis and a tight pink shirt that said, “Ninety-nine percent angel, one percent devil!” Jayden couldn’t find the one percent. She jauntily blew a pink bubble as she patrolled the wall. Strangely, a beautiful sword hung easily in her hand. She was awe-inspiring… beautiful beyond description. She paused her slow walk along the perimeter to speak into a radio. She waited for a reply, then threw back her head and laughed.
For the first time in his life, Jayden felt not fury, but despair.
* * *
The second hand crawled along, and Daniger hid his face in his hands.
The clock struck eleven.
* * *
Lost in doubt, Jayden stared down at her. She was perfect. So clearly human and so clearly something else entirely. She was beyond mortal comprehension, yet she was chewing gum, calm and relaxed.
Jayden’s watch buzzed. Startled, he broke his gaze. It was time. He pushed all thought of right or wrong from his mind and denied her perfection. He pulled the pin and a grenade landed at the base of the wall.
Jayden rushed down the stairs, not seeing her turn with amazing reflexes and leap the twenty feet to the ground.
A chunk of wall disappeared in a blaze of ruin.
Jayden drew a gun in each hand and hurtled out the door toward the blast. His company darted from filthy alleys and shadowed doorways. The six of them fell into practiced formation and charged. Time was short.
Jesse was breathless, but not from running. “Not what I expected dude. Not at all.”
Jayden’s heart agreed, his mind snarled. “It doesn’t matter. We’re almost free.”
The party slowed as they neared the hole. Now that the moment of action was here, insecurity hit them. Their caution was well advised. From the smoke stepped the Solar.
Jayden almost lost his mind. She was even more striking up close, despite the soot on her fine face.
She leveled her sword at them, and Jayden realized just how tall she was. Seven feet was a good guess.
“Why have you done this?” her voice had little anger, just sadness. So melodic were the soft rolling tones of her voice, Jayden barely paid attention the meaning. “You were sworn to live in peace. Surrender now, and death will not be the penalty.”
Her eyes softened as she looked at them. “We are not so different as you would like to think.” She lowered her sword. “My name is Firien.”
Jayden almost dropped his weapon. “No!” He was shaken from his trance as Gabriel darted past him gun raised.
Jayden watched in shock as Firien spun aside with lightning speed. His gaze moved slowly from the sword protruding from Gabriel’s back to the deep green eyes of this perfect enemy.
As if time had slowed, he watched a single tear slide down a lovely cheek.
* * *
Daniger spoke to the air. “How long can I do this? How long can I fight for a cause I don’t believe to be just? How many more must I sacrifice in the name of freedom?”
He pulled out a picture of a home long destroyed. “Is humanity broken? Or will these children somehow succeed and serve their purpose?”
His heart heavy, he said a prayer for the dead.
* * *
Instinctively Jayden fired. Time after time again the remaining soldiers pulled their triggers. Firien dodged and ducked, charging forwards, but even an angel can’t evade every bullet.
Slowly the barrage stopped, and the angel sank to the ground, dark spots of blood staining her casual clothes. She turned her head to look at Jayden. Even on her knees she was nearly as tall as he was. Red lips parted to whisper once more. “I’m sorry.”
The sword dropped to the pavement.
* * *
Half a world away, someone cried into the radio. “Firien!” No reply. Grabbing his friend, he shouted in his face. “Summon Sera!” With one arm he threw him to the door. Smashing his fist into the table, he screamed into the radio once more. “Firien!”
* * *
Jayden stared in disconnected horror. Even in death she is more majestic than anything on this land.
It was Katriel who broke the silence. “What have we done?”
Jesse took charge, giving orders desperately. “Come on! We have to hijack one of their boats! We’ll be killed if we don’t!”
Everyone just stared.
Jesse grabbed Jayden and shook him. “For the general!”
“For the general,” Jayden whispered.
“Everybody move out!”
Hesitantly they followed Jesse through the debris of the wall. Tentatively stepping off the stones onto the sand, they moved farther than any human had set foot in a decade.
In a daze Jayden stepped into the outside world. He was free. Man had another chance for the world.
But an angel was dead.
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