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By Jonathan St. Ives
(All Rights Reserved)
The Eugenics wars were over. They had lasted for the better part of the last two centuries. Joseph Bane stood at the window of Eugenics Central and stared down to the fountains and the passing crowds 200 stories below in the plaza. He was a tall man; square jawed and square shouldered, with a close-cut head of black hair that belied his advancing age. It had been a long uphill battle, and one that had nearly destroyed humanity, but there had been no other choice. He sighed softly, content with the knowledge that the war for self-preservation was finally over. The latest reports confirmed it. Humanity was safe. Unfortunately, Joseph couldn’t say the same thing for himself. He thought about his position while he remembered the past two centuries.
In the year 2214, the population of the Earth had hit 70 billion. It had been apparent for many decades that something would have to be done, something drastic. The oceans were dead, and the land needed to feed the massive population was dying. All of the public services were completely overwhelmed. The Earth Council had all but collapsed and mankind stared straight into the face famine and destruction.
The Earth Council, in its desperation, consulted the powerful Artificial Intelligences that had made possible the production of food at a level to sustain the current population. They had the solution. As usual, it was anything but simple. Mankind could control its population, but it would have to be done forcibly.
The entire existing population of the planet was combed through to find the needed savior. No job like this had ever existed, nor had the stakes ever been higher in the history of mankind. Finally, one man was found. One man who had the vision and the fortitude, and some said, the lack of a conscience or a soul, to do the job. Richard Bane became the head of Eugenics Control for the Earth Council. He had been Joseph’s Great Grandfather.
In the beginning, it was chaos. The military ruthlessly crushed the massive riots that waged out of control throughout the planet when the announcement was made that no one could have a child without permission from Eugenics Central. After untold millions had died in the fighting and violence, the Eugenics Central began the forced sterilizations. Everyone on the planet was required to be tested for genetics that would advance humanity. One good trait was all that you needed in those early days, a long life span, resistance to diseases, high intelligence, any quality that would make your offspring a benefit to mankind and not a burden.
At the same time, any kind of flaw would bring the Eugenics Squad and their radi-sticks. It only took seconds for the focused burst of particle beams to render the unfortunate “degenner” sterile for life. Untold billions of women learned that the dream of childbearing would never be theirs during that dark century. As a consequence, the suicide rate skyrocketed in the early years and stayed high for many decades.
Yes, it had been a long and difficult metamorphosis for the human race. Cities had been destroyed and at one point it had looked as if civilization itself would collapse into anarchy. But that had not proved true. “Perhaps,” Joseph reflected, “the instinct for survival was not as absent from humanity as some believed.”
His family had born the brunt of the pain and backlash. They had made the decisions that granted happiness to millions and tragedy to billions. To some, they were saviors and angels, to others, the deliverers of tragedy and the final proof of evil in the universe. His father and his father’s father had followed the decisions of the Artificial Intelligences, with faith in the final result to steel their resolve and justify a detestable and heinous means.
It had been a desperate gamble, made by desperate men, but they had won. Here, at the end of the “Holocaust of Broken Dreams,” the end was at hand. The total population of Earth was stable at 10 billion. The birth and death rate was almost perfectly balanced. Intelligence quotients were greatly increased and propensities for cancer and other genetic diseases were almost nonexistent. Average life expectancy had reached 95, with those reaching that age experiencing remarkable levels of fitness and health compared to their ancestors.
Joseph turned away from the window. He glanced down at the papers he held loosely in his hand. “So there’s no chance of a mistake?” He asked, already knowing the answer.
“No sir,” replied the tall man standing at attention near the door. Travis Ray was a tall thin man with a black, shoulder-length haircut and a grim expression. He was Eugenics Central’s Chief of Security. “The element is a high-tech conglomerate. It’s near the end of the periodic table. Our scientists estimate that it will take us twenty years to duplicate it and another twenty to find a neutralizing agent. That’s pretty good considering our sources tell us it took the Freebirthers close to a century to invent it.”
He looked at the floor, embarrassed, realizing that he had just sounded optimistic to a man that was holding his own death warrant. Then he looked up and went on, “We’ve found out that they introduced it to your air through a long-range dart fired into your roof. You’ve been breathing it for at least 14 hours, and by now it’s completely absorbed into your system and protoplasm.”
“What about Mandy?” Mandy Bane was a stunningly beautiful raven-haired woman. Even though she knew the risk of marrying into the most reviled family in history, her love for Joseph allowed her no choice. Mandy had used her considerable charm, wit and personality to mollify, and lend a gentle side to Eugenics Central’s image and actions. She was steadfast and loyal, despite the repeated attempts over the years on both her life and Joseph’s.
“The catalyst was introduced into her food at a restaurant over a year ago. Since it’s benign until it reacts with the element, we never suspected anything. It doesn’t show up on any of the normal yearly blood tests. We went back and scanned her with everything we have after we found out about you. That’s when we found it.”
Joseph looked again at the reports. The first one was a blood test scan clearly showing the foreign element in his bloodstream and the catalyst in Mandy’s. The second report was a survey of the damaged test area where the two drops of their blood had been combined to ascertain the resulting reaction. The test area was a mile-wide crater. From the photos attached, Steve could see that the sand around the test area had been melted into black, scorched glass. Two of his best men had been lost when their bunker had been destroyed.
Travis looked steadily at Joseph through narrowed eyes. “What do you plan for retaliation? We’ve known where their main base is for almost a year now. We could easily wipe them out.”
Joseph sighed quietly. “What good would that do anyone?” He asked, and put the reports down on the desk. “Their power is broken. They have only few followers now, and those are only most rabid zealots. There’s no reason anymore for revolution, the crisis is passed and the millions who used to follow them would rather forget it and go on with their lives. Soon they will fade in history. They are mortally wounded, and they’ve made their last thrust. We killed their movement with our successes, but they’ve killed me in their death throes. Let’s let it all end here. It’s been a long war.”
“Well, then, what next?” asked Travis.
“What next?” Joseph smiled a sardonic half smile. Well, retirement of course! I’m not needed here anymore and even if I was, I can’t work here in this state. E.C. is in your hands now, Travis. The population is stable and so is the political situation. The population is hard at work on new frontiers. There may even be a day when you will have to undo all my hard work if that ionic hyper-drive works out.”
“No, I meant what about you and Mandy? You understand that you two can never see each other again, how are you going to break it to her?”
Joseph’s face took on a sad and wistful look. “The only way I can, Travis, honestly.”
to be continued...