“What have we done?

“This question arises foremost in the minds of all great scientific leaders and those who first witness their achievements. Often the results of years of careful experimentation, trial and error, and the incalculable expense of resources manifest in strange and incomprehensible ways. For it is the depths of the unknowable that we plumb, us divers. Us spelunkers.

“The black waters and dark caves of science hold many terrible secrets, and we seek to shine our lights upon them. To know them. To absorb them into the collective consciousness. To use them for our own ends.

“But who placed those secret things there for us to find? Who, or what? Are we merely archeologists, sifting through the sands that have buried knowledge that other species, other minds far greater than our own have left behind for us to discover?

“A pessimist would look you dead in the eye and claim that we are the only minds in existence. That for all the volume of space that surrounds and envelops our little blue planet, we are the only ones with the power of thought. We alone dream and draw conclusions based on what we experience. All else is either dead or insensate.

“But I am not a pessimist. I do not share those bleak views. I hold out the hope that we are in fact children of the cosmos. That we live in a small and protected space. That our world is our laboratory and our workshop, in which we may test ourselves and perhaps prove to anyone watching that we are worthy of acceptance onto a higher plane of being.

“Folly, perhaps. For our own history has shown us to be brutal and merciless in our conquests of land, of each other, and now of space itself. We are a species that seeks dominion over all we survey. Yet again I would argue that we are in our infancy, and we behave as infants. Our very nature forces us to selfishly capture and protect all that we can. We are still, even after all these thousands of years of evolution, children.

“We are learning. We daily become something else. Where once we raised clubs and took what we needed by force, we now seek to exploit for mutual benefit through peace and discussion. Where once we only stole from the environment, we now seek to replace and regenerate.

“We are almost ready for the next stage of our evolution. The journey to this point has been very long, and very hard, but we are very nearly done.

“But the road ahead is not a smoothly paved highway. It is trackless forest; overgrown with roots that would ensnare and delay our progress. And these woods are filled with beasts that would think nothing of consuming us whole.

“So, we must be strong. We must be vigilant.

“And to these ends we have proposed Bill E-1 as a safeguard for our future, and the generations to come. We must fortify ourselves against the coming challenges. We must use whatever means necessary to guarantee our survival. It would be sheer folly to do anything else.

“Support our measures, and you support our continued existence as a species. You give humankind the time it needs to go to the stars and achieve our collective destiny.

“Thank you.”

There was no thunderous applause, no standing ovation. Dr. Eli Lansing sat at an oaken desk, his hands tightly folded over an ancient green felt blotter, a camera pointed straight at him. The room he had made his speech from was closed to all but himself and the crew required to operate the recording equipment. But in his mind, Lansing had imagined people putting their hands together, clapping slowly, and nodding their heads in agreement at the words he had just said. Words he had carefully crafted after months of contemplation.

He had not wanted to come across as a madman, after all. Madmen got locked away in places where they could not affect the daily lives of the sane.

Like many scientists on the verge of a major discovery, Lansing was manic and paranoid. He would often go without sleep for days at a time, subsisting solely on the enthusiasm for his project and whatever chemical stimulants he had on hand. He no longer trusted his subordinates, instead giving blind orders and segregating the different arms of the project until the left hand truly did not know, or even understand, what the right hand was doing. And both hands wondered if the head had lost its mind.

But he was not mad. He was brilliant, a true genius. He had taken the work of others before him, combined and recombined it, and added to it fruits of his own labors, until something wholly new had formed.

Lansing would, in less than seven days, accomplish two things. First, he would kill most of the population of the earth, a figure at that time amounting to some nine billion people. Second, he would make the survivors both immortal and pure breeding gene stock.

Putting it that way, perhaps it would seem like Dr. Lansing was mad. But then we would not be looking at the big picture. And for all his adult life, the doctor had been all about the big picture.

2014.11.30 – 2023.07.02

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