Enormous dark-grey rocks are floating around us, swirling purposelessly in an infinite, lost journey. For most of the trip, this is the only thing you meet, apart from the occasional light-generation planet that appears on our horizon. The ship is traveling at the speed of 200.000 miles per hour but you would think its floating in space, like the rest of the empty rocks. Space has its way to smug upon everything that might be troubling you as if laughing in front of your face. All matters of people and species lose their importance when you think that eventually, they will result to another speckle of dust floating in nowhere.
The voyager-3000 is a huge curve-ball of luxurious transportation that made its appearance in the last few years and made space-trip available to everyone. It is excruciatingly steady apart from the rare accelerations it may embark on to avoid collisions and offers a top trip-experience in which you can observe the universe through its magnifying windows. The whole upper half is made out of transparent glass, as it unites with the lower part that is covered with a bright white surface unified in its wholeness, without any other shape or color to disrupt it. The whole cubicle is filled with a tense sandalwood scent that is fused within the spacecraft to cover the unpleasant smell that comes as a result of the particles that conflict with each other and produce the sense of hot metal that is erasing from extremely high temperatures.
In front of me, I have a dedicated laptop attached to my seat, which I can use for the whole duration of the 5 days trip, that is gonna take us to reach Ardra. Our destination planet, neighboring the one I came from, has persistently asked for my attendance in order to provide support for their internal issues. Robert Smith, the chief secretary of Ardra, has once again asked for my presence as they intend to enforce a series of new rules under the jurisdiction of the government council per se. This is not the first time I visit them and it’s not the first time I cooperate with the particular government. Ardra was always dependant on us and our planet phoenix for all its well-functioning and economical needs. 20 years ago I had the opportunity to visit this place again and work closely with a few other scientists, in establishing some of the technologies that existed on us for many years already. I guess, as long as they play the role of the expiatory victim that offers natural protection from intergalactic enemies though their location, it is always in our best interest to keep them as close as possible.
«On our right side we can now observe the Lyra star constellation as it connects its 5 bright planets together.» speaks a voice through the speaker. «Our ship will reach its destination in approximately4 hours.»
4 hours and we are finally there. I bet it’s going to take at least a few days before my limbs get used to gravity again and my body starts functioning the way it was before. I tap on the screen and open up the main catalog of my files. Satellites in our route have been established with the capacity to communicate back and forth and allow access to inter-planetary networks for spaceships. A great improvement from the till recently isolated trips where you would be put into obligatory sleep throughout the whole trip out of lack of stimulant.
I open the files that summarise the news for Ardra for the last 2 decades. Newspapers, magazines, and various sources, all show off their path all these years and the major events that took place during this time. Somehow it seems that Ardra drifted off quite often with a series of revolts against the state that targeted high-profile politicians and prominent citizens opposing their plans. Marches, conflicts, and defiance have been a daily occurrence in the capital and I can only guess that this must be one of the main reasons they want the presence of someone outside their realm to add more weight in the government and appease the public. Whatever their plan is I’m afraid it is going to take lots of work to bring down anything good out of it.
«Sir, would you be interesting to have something to drink? We have all kinds of juices and wines available.» a blond robotic servant asks me as she erupts out of nowhere on my left, snapping me off my screen.
«No, that’s fine I would prefer to turn into sleep mode if that’s ok.»
«Excellent choice sir. This trip will be over before you know it,» she responds with a big smile. «Let me arrange the sleeper for you.»
she presses a button on my seat which reveals a huge robotic arm with a liquid injection on my side. With slim-cut movements, it penetrates my arm as it injects all its content inside me.
«You should be into sleep mode within 10 seconds sir. I hope you have a wonderful time.» She says smiling at me as I turn on my side and everything blacks out.
I spend the whole night closed in my hotel room as I plunge into the heaviest sleep I have had for a long time. My body feels clenched and unresponsive in its function making walking a little bit clunkier than usual. I pass the whole morning in the main area of the town walking casually through the beautiful landscapes of Ardra. A truly magnificent place constructed under standards to provide one of the best quality of lives one could fathom in the galaxy. One cannot help but question how can such a place hide so much hared and misconduct on its core. Everything seems quite smooth and peaceful externally for the most part.
The whole city is constructed with mostly 3 basic colors. White for all building surfaces, black for windows and metal surfaces, and green for all the natural components inside it. The buildings expand in huge heights that are mostly useless apart from giving the allure of a lower sky on top of wherever you go. Huge pillars support the rooftops that extend uniformly all the way up with no hint of a line in between and houses can be quite immense, expanding big areas that contain many citizens inside, all at once.
Everything is made so that they minimize the number of different structures while maximizing their utility and purpose. All streets in the main square are decorated with little green plants on their sides as people pass by casually with their uniform clothes of mostly one-color designs, enjoying the socialness of the center market life. So many things have changed since 20 years ago that I had been here, that I can barely recognize the town anymore. What used to be a place of minimal output that could barely sustain itself, developed to be a well-defined city with beautiful infrastructure at its base. As long as it manages its internal affairs everything should fall at place sooner or later.
I take a cab and direct myself in the central offices of the state where the chief secretary lies on. Robert Smith is a 60 years old man that took the initiative of the planet in the last 4 years and has strong incentives to maintain the status-quo if he is to improve his chances of being re-elected. I make the call in my sell-phone and a white barely hovering vehicle makes its way in front of me to collect me for my destination. With no drivers or other people inside it, an electronic voice appears out of nowhere asking me about my destination, after which it raises high in the sky and vanishes for the central offices.
As I arrive, a woman dressed in a fully blue outfit welcomes me and guides me to Robert’s office.
«Mr. Watson, we hope your stay at the hotel was pleasurable after yesterday’s flight.»
«Sure everything was fine,» I respond with a polite node.
«Excellent, Mr. Smith is in his office and waiting for you,» she says with a smile that she keeps throughout the whole route. We enter the elevator and rise up a few floors before we emerge at the top of the building where his office lies. A few steps away, we reach the main door, which as it opens up, a huge area of empty space reveals in front of us with a little desk at the far end of it.
«Mr. Smith is waiting for you Mr. Watson. Hope you have a nice day.» she says as she leaves me alone to walk along to it.
As I reach the office at the end, I see Robert ducked in front of his documents continuing his work without noticing me.
«Mr. Smith?» I say softly grabbing his attention.
«Adrian, finally you are here,» he says as he raises from his chair. He is really tall and his all-white hair is contrasting the black clothes he is wearing.
«Pleasure to meet you, Robert.»
«Please have a seat» he says as he stands in front of his desk. «I bet you are wondering what is the purpose of all this empty space in front of the office.»
«Well, I guess it’s for…security reasons,» I say as I glance a bit around.
«Exactly right Adrian. I can see already you are a smart man. This empty space offers both visibility in case of attack, and the ability to lock down everything with a little press of the button.» he ducks down covering his mouth as if sharing a secret, «or even with me spelling the right keyword,» he winks.
«Smart thinking» I respond.
«You’ll see Ardran has come a long way since your last visit here..» he turns back to face me «..it was 20 years ago, wasn’t it?»
«That is correct,» I say «it’s been 20 full years..»
«And what a magnificent job you did back then. It was a pure miracle..»
He turns his back on me, pouring some drink on his glass.
«You want some?»
«No, I think I’m OK,» I respond as I fold my jacket.
«Remind me if you will. How does CRISPR technology work?»
«It’s a direct edit in the DNA sequence. By altering specific gene sequences it is possible to change key characteristics of an individual and even eradicate genetic diseases. Which I guess makes the point of why I came here back then.»
«Ahh, exactly my dear Adrian, CRISPR technology was used for all kinds of things from the moment you came. Not only to eradicate genetic defects but also to enhance people’s physical being and their abilities. You see it gives so many possibilities to what people can do with it.»
«It does of course, but it seems your people haven’t received these edits so well. From what I saw there is a growing number of them resisting that level of control and oppose all these…government interferences.» I say as I gesture with my hand. Although I only adopt the role of science, ethics and social impact have always been a heating point of discussion in every step we take towards new discoveries.
«The usual conventional powers that exist in every city,» he utters as he raises up from the desk. «They would oppose anything as long as it went against their pre-defined views of the world and they would reject anything new, no matter how beneficial it could get,»
I nod my head as he takes a sip from his drink.
«Why would you think someone could oppose something so positive?» he asks me.
«Well, CRISPR can allow all kinds of discrimination within a society Mr. Smith. There is always a question with those that refuse to endorse into such a technology.»
«Hmm» he buzzes as he wraps his hands in his chest.
«Adrian, let’s have a walk, please. This way please,» he says as he points on the corridor alongside the windows.
«You see Adrian, you are an exceptional biologist yourself. A notable scientist that knows everything about biology and its little intricacies hat may be invisible to the rest of the population.»
«I know as much as the current level of science allows me Mr. Smith.»
«But you can realize the possibilities,» he says as he turns his eyes on me. «Imagine a society where people are born with illnesses, disorders, or even inferior abilities.» he extended his hand towards the windows depicting the whole city beyond us. «Imagine allowing weakness within your realm when you can create something strong and wonderful.» he clenches his fist in front of him. «Yes, there are still those that resist all these advancements, and they try to fight against us as if it is for their own detriment. But they don’t understand anything about what we are trying to achieve.» he takes a pause as he folds his hands behind his back again. «We even had a number of hits on people of the government as you may know already.»
«There is…resistance?» I ask.
«They are revolting against the same thing that sustains them. They are the narrow-minded that can’t tell what is right from what is wrong.»
I keep looking down as we slowly walk down the same path.
«But fear not about any of this Adrian. That is actually not the reason why we asked you to come here at all.»
«What is it then?» I ask as I stop and turn towards him.
«I want to get this to the next level, Adrian. I want the genetic analyzer you’ve been working on, for the last few years.»
«The genetic analyzer? But that is not even finished. It’s only on an ongoing phase that we are still trying to perfect.»
«I know and we are planning to use it with caution, of course. We definitely don’t want to make any sudden moves here.»
«But how are you planning to use this exactly? This is a tool made mostly for scientific research, and we haven’t really utilised even in Phoenix yet.»
«This is only a preliminary plan but we want to give members the ability to operate in the best possible way. You see so many people are struggling to find their strengths and inclinations that most human possibilities are lost before they even get the chance to attain any of it.» We stop walking again. «I want to give them the best they can get in this world by showing them their capabilities from early on.»
«So you are planning to allow them to use it for self-examination?»
«I want them to know from the moment they are born. They will be categorized based on their characteristics and treated accordingly based on their potential. I hope you can see how meritocratic this system will be.»
«But this can have huge societal repercussions Mr. Smith and no one can really anticipate what they will be for sure. I’m really hesitant about it..»
«I have already talked with your government Mr. Watson. I’m afraid you have no choice in the matter.» he raises his hand to stop me from responding. «As long as you are still fond of the fundings you receive every month, you will have to follow along with it.»
«Mr. Smith..» I utter in disbelief.
«Please, no need to respond yet Mr. Watson. Why don’t you have a walk to think about all this first. I think it could help.» he says nodding his head. «Now if you excuse me, I have a matter I need to attend,» he says as he leaves in a hurry.
«Tonight from ITV news. New plans from the government to apply genetic analysis in babies. Expert scientists have come directly from phoenix to implement the new initiatives on genetic analysis and prognosis. The government hopes to have a new weapon in its hand by the end of which they will be able to forecast many of the characteristics the fetus will develop later in life..»
«I think that’s enough of that,» I say as I pick up the remote control and snap off the TV with a soothing blast. News channels have been talking about this new scheme all day long for what seems to be an initiative that the government hopes to grand people on its side again. In the full-body mirror right across from me I can see my frowned projection as I sit at the edge of the bed. Although I still hold off my body in good shape, my baggy eyes seem to have lost all appetite for life for quite a while now. Certainly not what it used to be 20 years ago that I found myself in this similar situation.
I snap my head out of it and head over to my little desk as I grab a bit of milk and cereals for breakfast. My schedule is filled already with a number of people I need to meet but this is not what I’m interested in at this point in time. I pick up the laptop and enter the keywords «Evelyn Harris» on which I get a number of results on the page. She is the woman we used to work together on my last visit here and in the whole duration of my trip, we became quite intimate with each other. Our separation at the end was devastating for both of us and even though we kept a bit of touch over the years, I haven’t heard or see anything of her for quite a while. I was always inclined to reach out and call her, only to step back in the last moment. From the last I learned, she came to be one of the greatest scientists on the whole planet with a number of degrees in positive science and the unlimited passion of a person that wants to bring change in the world.
«You are not tired just yet are you Mr. Watson. I can take care of it for you if you can’t keep up with it» she would say teasingly every time we were about to take a break, keeping a working rhythm that would devastate even a robot.
I scan the photos in the result page, as I spot some of the more recent ones. «Keeping well from what I see,» I say as I skip right through them. She eventually managed to open her own medical school that she keeps together with her husband and from what I discern she still keeps her tough attitude and magnificent aura after all these years.
I close the laptop and heading over to the garderobe where I chose my outfit for the day. I have a meeting in the central office in a few minutes and I have the feeling its gonna get quite dreadful.
«Mr. Watson! I’m pleased to introduce to you Mrs. Jessica Carey. A distinct member of the scientific community and a great biologist, who is gonna help you all the way through the program, with everything you might need» says Robert as he points at the young lady that is standing right next to him.
«Mr. Watson, I’m so pleased to finally meet you. I have heard so much about you,» she says to me in excitement. She is a beautiful young woman with straight brown hair and a doctor white suit, and although she seems quite professional she probably hasn’t even finished college yet.
«Adrian, you will be very happy to have someone so capable to help you. Jessica will be your right hand in everything you need from now on and believe me, she will be of great service when the time comes to it.»
I look back and forth on them with a forced smile as I straighten my face. «Robert, please can we have a talk for a second?» I point ahead denoting that I prefer some privacy.
«Sure, Adrian of course,» he says touching my shoulder. «Jessica please excuse us for a second.»
We move a few steps away as we come closer to keep the conversation at undeferred levels.
«Robert, I don’t think this is necessary. I’m sure Jessica is a great scientist but I would prefer to keep this…a bit simpler if possible»
«Please Adrian, don’t be so rigorous. I promise you Jessica is the absolute best we have. She finished first in her class and has taken everyone by surprise with her intelligence and diligence. I think you would be wise to give her a legitimate chance here. What do you say?»
I glance over at her as she scrutinizes the building absorbed in her little world. Her thick glances are covered in the most part from her hair as they drop lazily in front of her face.
«OK, I guess I can give it a try but maybe we’ll have to recommence on this again at some point,» I say as he chuckles and brings all three of us back together.
We spend a few more minutes discussing before Robert leaves the two of us to examine the dedicated lab that is allocated for our research and get accustomed to the new space.
«This way Mr. Watson» says Jessica. «The lab is only 10 minutes away from here.»
We walk down the corridor from which we take the elevator and disperse into an open area that leads down to our destination. Throughout the walk, I can see she is quite reserved and modest as she holds her purse in front of her belly.
«So I hear you are quite passionate about biology and science. Is that the main area of your studies?» I ask trying to break the ice.
«Absolutely Mr. Watson. biology was my dream since I was a little kid. You see my parents were both quite immersed in it themselves and I guess they kind of..» she shrugs her shoulder a but «..passed this virus on me as well.»
«Is that so?» I say as we both chuckle.
«I can only hope that one day I will become as prominent in the field as you are Mr. Watson. You are kind of a legend around here.»
«Please call me Adrian,» I say as I slightly slow my pace. «I’m sure you are on the road of achieving great things,» I say trying to maintain her enthusiasm.
We keep walking along the pavement, as we reach the lab accommodated in an isolated area restricted from the public. The room consists of a series of microscopes and scientific tools all arranged methodologically one after the other together with notebooks and PC screens.
«I took the initiative to put everything in order if you don’t mind. I wanted to have everything set for maximum convenience.» she says catching me by surprise as she continues to depict the various tools in the lab.
«Here we have a number of accomodating robotic equipment to apply the actual operations. Everything is controlled by the super-computers in our side that can direct their movements in nano-level accuracy.»
«Excellent,» I say as I hand down my suitcase in the chair.
«And these here are the microscopes that can give us incredible depth with extreme clarity and ease. They are some of the best tools in the market at the moment, and I made sure they would provide us with at least two of them.»
«Great, that is really a fantastic job,» I say as she sparks a big smile on her face.
We continue getting acquintained with the equipment for the rest of the day arranging our stuff and setting everything in our preferred order. Her work is diligent and precise and I can only admire her high energy attitude and disciplined work.
«Maybe we should take a break for a while,» I say casually as I rub my eyes in front of the screen.
«What? don’t tell me you are tired already Mr. Watson,»
she keeps her face straight before blasting a little laugh.
«I’m only teasing, of course, we should. I know a great place that can be of service for this,»
We grab our stuff and march along the seaside a few minutes away, where we find a beautiful stone-paved walkway on the side of the beach. The whole place is minimally composed with scarce little palm trees arranged along the way and a beautiful golden sand expanding on our right side. The windy air is ballooning our clothes and hair, as they are haphazardly move aimlessly in all directions.
«I hope this ice-cream wasn’t too bad for you. They certainly do a better job most of the time.»
«Oh sure, it was fine. Don’t worry about it,» I say casually as I dismiss the thought with my hand.
«I’m pretty sure Phoneix offers much better standards in food and choices in comparison to Ardra. Many things here are quite..» she looks up as she searches for the right word, «..inferior»
«Well…I wouldn’t be so sure about that,» I joke.
«Oh come on Adrian. Phoenix has so many more things to offer than this little rock in space. Not to mention the stardom level popularity you enjoy for every little discovery you make there. It’s like a place that is made for scientists..»
«Popularity? That’s an overstatement by huge account» I respond.
«Adrian Watson! The greatest scientist hits again with a superb discovery on the human genome..» She presents the words with her hands as if appearing on TV.
«Could you please stop, now?» I say trying to eradicate the smile from my face as she quickly glances back at me.
«Is it true that you still exercise the prophecy custom?»
Her question cuts off my relaxed attitude as I gather myself up. «Unfortunately, it is..» I nod.
«What was yours about? I’m sure it would be something great and glorious,» she says in a romantic tone of voice.
«Oh trust me you don’t want to know,»
«You got to tell me,»
«It’s not the best prophecy you could hear, I’m telling you,» I respond trying to divert the subject.
«So what? Come on, we know most of them are not true. This is just for fun, what was it?» she turns on me as we face each other.
«Well..» I murmur as I hesitate,
«They predicted that someone is gonna kill me at some point in my life.»
«What?» she says in full surprise.
«Unfortunate..» I say shrugging my shoulders.
«They said that for real?»
«Yeah, they did…» I respond. «And that person is not a random guy actually.» I continue as I look down at the pavement. «They predicted it is gonna be me.»
«You? What is that mean?» she asks me with her mouth open.
«I don’t know. I guess they suggest that I’m gonna put an end on my life myself. You see, I told you, not the happiest prophecy…»
We continued the rest of our walk silently before heading back to the lab.
«Tonight in ITV news. We have with us the exceptional biologist and gene scientist, Adrian Watson. Mr. Watson arrived explicitly in request to help the government implement the new measures in genetic analysis that is planned to be put in place early next season. He is here with us tonight to help us understand what are the consistencies of the matter. Mr. Watson?»
«Good evening, James,» I respond succinctly. Lights are filling the room with a strong tensity that almosts blinds everything around me. There are a number of cameras focused on our dialog, that are bound to capture and replay the slightest wrong expression and the host is famous for putting pressure on all of his guests and has a history of heated debates on the show. He is over 60 with a supercritical attitude and sits right across me as he looks straight in the camera.
«Profesor, a few years back we got introduced to Crispr technology with all its therapeutics abilities and now we see a new advancement in the field with the new buzzword of genetic analysis. Can you explain what this technology is exactly?»
«CRISPR is the first step of an amazing evolution in science as you already have seen here in Ardra. It allows us to capture and heal damaged DNA sequences and eliminate diseases that would have erupted in the population otherwise.»
«But still there are those people that cannot afford such modifications in their DNA. Wouldn’t such an advancement bring the issue of the social injustice for them?»
«The plan of the government is to make this technology cheaper with time at a level that anyone would be able to afford it.»
«And what about the people that are using Crispr to advance their capacities above the human average level. Do you consider this a transgression of its real use?»
«The main focus of the technology should always be therapeutic, fixing diseases that trouble the human genome. Other uses can be considered as well but it needs to be in accordance with the government and the people it serves.»
I can see the interview is already at risk of drifting away into territories I should avoid. Although it was supposed to be an informative talk about science it is taking its toll on its repercussion on society.
«And what about genetic analysis. Isn’t this gonna make things even worse by categorizing individuals based on their projected potentials?»
«James, as always with any new-coming technology there is always fear about the fact that it may be over-used to the detriment of the people. That is a healthy reaction but it is mostly coming out of angst.»
«So in what way is this gonna be implemented to promote social bonds instead of bringing chaos in the established norms?»
«Genetic analysis is a magnificent tool that can empower people. It can allow them to see a perspective of themselves that they could miss otherwise and based on that view they have a better chance to reach their full potential.»
«But you must have heard about all the reactions from people that are routing against the implementation of these analysis. What can you say to those people to appease their worries?»
«Genetic analysis is not about restricting people and putting them in a box. It’s about freeing them into the prospects they could get and showing them a way they might not had considered before. They shouldn’t fear it. It’s a positive measure and it is about helping them.»
We continue our discussion for the next half an hour where he is bantering me with one question after the other on every component that could be potentially problematic. Issues could arise only if such a tool was to be used as an oppressive tool and unfortunately judging from the government in place I can understand where that fear is coming from.
The interview finishes after a while releasing me from the tough spot I’ve been hanging on all this time. As I remove the microphone cables around me they feel more like chains than TV equipment for the interview. I stand up and start waking my way out where I will be able to breathe a little bit deeper, but as I reach the final corridor I hear a female voice calling my name.
«Adrian? Is that you?»
I turn around and I see Evelyn coming towards me with a big excited smile. She has the same short dark hair as in the pictures I saw and her brisk personality is transmuting to me just by being in front of her. Her eyes have deepened since the last time I saw her and their expression is giving me some sort of uneasiness as they gaze into me.
«You haven’t changed much,» she says but I’m not sure if she means it in a good or a bad way. «I heard you came to continue what we started so long ago.»
«It’s more like a government show than anything. You know how these things go.»
«I wouldn’t be so sure about that,» she says decisively. «Would you be able to have a talk in private at some point? There are some things I would like to discuss with you.»
I agree with her proposal but I get the sense she has more to say than a simple catch up. After exchanging numbers I open the door out heading back to the hotel. Finally, a place I can relax for a while.
The following period continues at a normal pace where every day follows the previous in a monotone routine. Starting early in the morning I visit the lab where Jessica will be already working on, I grab a cup of coffee, sit on top of the microscope, and run analysis tests for the whole day. The conditions are tough but luckily Jessica offers a great amount of assistance in it. Although there is general anxiety in accordance with the project and many people opposing it heavily on TV we are both trying to ignore them and keep up with our job.
«You never told me what got you into biology,» she asks me one day. «There must have been a reason that drove you in it in the first place.»
Her question catches me by surprise as she often does. I stand back and look up as I recall a long-forgotten memory. «Well, there was a time that as a child I was responsible for our house harden. It would have a number of plants, of various kinds and colors in it, and they would all grow in order every spring, one after the other. I would sit around looking at them as they would open up their leaves as if opening up to the world.» She takes a seat right across from me as she leans in. «And I would make sure they would get the right amount of water at all appropriate times. It became my favorite hobby, kind of an obsession for a teenage boy.» I take a pause as I bring back the garden in my mind. «And then one day I came back from school and I saw the whole garden demolished. Every plant, every seed, every little tree was rooted out of the ground and thrown into a pile together with the rest. My father wanted to build a storage room in that place and had to eradicate everything from the garden first.»
«That was so cruel,» she says in disbelief.
«It was. I wouldn’t talk to him for a month afterward.» I chuckle. «But it made me stubborn and obsessed at the same time. I swore I would learn more about them and grow up to protect them together with every other living thing on the planet.»
«I can’t believe you never told me anything about this.»
«Well, it wasn’t that important. I mean it was so long ago.»
«If it got your attention to become the best biologist that exists today..» she touched my hand with her as she glanced at me, «..I guess it was that important..»
The telephone starts ringing in the office, cutting us off the conversation as I raise up to answer it.
«Mr. Watson, please lock the lab and make sure you stay inside till someone from my team comes to you. There was a terrorist attack from the resistance.» there is a pause. «Mr. Watson, do you copy?» he says in a strict voice. «Yes, yes I do» I responded timidly as I slowly put the phone down.
Jessica looks at me with full surprise as her smile gives way to a serious expression. «Adrian what happened you look so serious.»
«There was a hit,» I respond as we spend the next few minutes searching on the internet to see what happened, but no news or any other information went public all this time. It was only after the police arrived that we learned that certain people had attacked the offices of the main health minister sending the message that the new government plans were not acceptable. With an explosive equipment, they managed to deliver a blow in the main office killing the minister and injuring a number of others that happened to be there at the same time.
After the incident, it was like the whole city was under strict surveillance. Specialized teams surpassed the roads eliminating many of the resistance members. Many suspects were brought in for interrogation and eventually, they managed to spot many of the participants of the revolt and put them into maximum security prisons. The situation was quite shaky while we would barely get outside out for fear of being attacked.
«You know we shouldn’t let that incident affect us,» says Jessica one afternoon that we have gathered in my hotel room. «I mean these people may be opposed to the government plans but they should know that we are just scientists that are trying to do our jobs, right?» she asks me as she sits right next to me while I analyze some of the DNA reports we experimented on, this morning.
«Well I wouldn’t be so sure about that, these people can get quite radical at times, you know how they are,» I say absent-minded as I continue to scrutinise the papers. «Hey look at these results it seems like they are absolutely impeccable.» I say as I raise some tissue Xray-scans in the air.
«Ohh come on enough with the experiments. Let’s have a break you’ve been working all day,» she says eagerly.
«Yeah I know, but it’s quite remarkable how much progress we have made with this. A bit more progress like that and we ll have the most efficient method of gene analysis and editing ever invented.»
«These are great results. But I really believe we should just set them aside for a while,» she says as she gently puts her hand on top of them and steadily pushes them on top of the table as I still hold them. «We can’t let them dictate our lives forever, right?» she says with a warm voice as she momentarily raises her left eyebrow.
«No I guess, we can’t» I respond.
«You are a man like everyone else,» she whispers closely to me. «And you deserve some time off.» she leans in and kisses me caching me off guard. I back up a bit in my seat trying to stop her.
«Jessica, I don’t think this is right,» I hold her shoulders tightly on my hands trying to resist the urge.
«But I think it is,» she says pushing us right back into it as we immerse into a swirl of passion. She stays in my hotel room for the night sleeping together under the same bed when I suddenly wake up in a haze feeling a slight pressure on my side. I see Jessica holding an injection in her hand as she tries to push it right into me. I hold her off with my two hands as she throws her whole weight at me.
«Jessica, what are you doing stop it,» I utter pleading for her to come back to her mind but she continues pushing the needle towards me with sheer strength.
«Someone needs to put an end on this,» she says as she pushes the injection even closer to my neck, when using my feet I manage to push her body away from me getting on top of her. Whatever thing she was trying to inject me with is now pointing towards her as she tries to avert it with all the strength she has. My weight falls on top of it, putting an extra amount of pressure she cannot hold as the needle inserts into her chest.
«No please I can explain» she says but the liquid moves inside her body as her eyes doze off almost instantly stopping her heart within seconds. I back off immediately and run towards the phone calling the police about the incident. Whatever might have happened is still a complete mystery to me.
The police arrive within a few minutes marching into the room as they take me to the police station. I detail to them what happened and they keep me in custody till they investigate the incident. I find myself within a 4×4 little room with no window or other captives. It feels as if my world shrunk into a little cubicle that I can barely move my body in. Within a few hours, an officer comes along and takes me back into the chief officer as he unlocks my handcuffs.
«Mr. Watson, I’m afraid you’ve been a victim of a very unlucky conspiracy,» he says as he sits right across me.
«What do you mean officer?» I ask.
«Jessica Casey was a member of the resistance. Somehow she managed to hide the fact from us, by being a person of very low suspicion.»
«A member of the resistance? How can that be?»
«Don’t be surprised Mr. Watson. They exist everywhere right now. They could even work for the government without anyone batting an eye on them, as they transmit valuable information back to their contacts.»
«This is almost unbelievable, I would never have thought that Jessica could be working against me.»
«She wasn’t working against you, Mr. Watson. She was working against the government and the state. These matters are always non-personal. I hope you can understand.»
«I see,» I say as I try to comprehend how I never realized anything.
«Unfortunately within the last day it so happened to put her mother under arrest which meant that given the time we would have tracked her down within a matter of hours. Probably that is the reason she had to harry with her..» he takes a small pause thinking for the right word, «..mission».
«Her mother? She is under arrest as well?»
«That is correct Mr. Watson. Evelyn Harris, I think she was an acquaintance of yours if I’m not mistaken.»
«Evelyn? But she has a different…» at that moment I just realize that Jessica’s last name was probably her father’s which draw my attention away from the fact.
«Yes, she was, we used to work together on my last visit here,» I say unable to believe what I hear.
«Mr. Watson I know you’ve been through a lot and you probably need some rest. I think it would be wise for you to move along now to your designated room. Rest assure that it is gonna be fully armed and watched 24–7 for as long as it takes to re-establish the order.» he raises up in his desk as he raises his hand with the palm up.
«Please follow me this way, Mr. Watson. We ‘ll be there in just a few minutes. I promise.»
For the next few days, I keep out of the lab till things stabilize again. Many members of the resistance are getting caught almost daily while at the same time there are a series of blows against the government using explosive mechanisms and handmade weapons. The war intensifies at a fast pace and with time there are more and more revolt movements that depict the general anger that exists in Ardra.
«Having seen the chief secretary and talked to him, I can’t really blame them» I whisper as I put some coffee in my cup. I move along towards the couch where I hear my phone buzzing with a new message.
«You have been lied to about everything. Things are not what they seem to be».
It is extremely dangerous to get into any kind of talk with resistance members, without notifying the police first, but I decide to indulge in it.
«Who is this?»
«You can call me Mark. I need to speak to you in person.»
«How do I know this is not a trap.»
«Meet me in the central mall. Come alone.»
We arrange the time and place and I start to get ready for it. Although dangerous, the meeting is in a public place, which offers enough protection and coverage if anything happens. Even so, though something is telling me that I’ve been on the wrong side of this battle since all along.
The central mall is one of the busiest places in the whole city. There are a number of shops in a sequence, where myriads of people are passing from, every single minute. I enter inside, with my hands in my jacket, and I walk towards the other side of the mall as I locate the particular point we have arranged to meet. I scan around the area but I can’t identify any person that could be the person that talked to me.
«Probably I should just wait for him to come to me» I whisper to myself as I realize he will want to make sure first, I came alone as he requested.
I sit on a little bench inside the mall as I pretend to be scanning on my phone while waiting. It takes several minutes before he makes his move, as he approaches me from my back sitting on the bench right beside me on my right. He is wearing a full-on, blue jacket and his head is covered with his hood hiding most of his features.
«Sorry for the delay Mr. Watson» he says with a heavy voice. «I hope you didn’ have to wait for too long.»
I know he is lying as he was probably watching me this whole time but I go along with it.
«Hey Mark,» I say as if I know him for a long time. He is sitting in his chair with his back leaning against his seat, as he faces the opposite direction of me to avert any suspicion. We are speaking in a tone, low enough to be discernible by us while it wouldn’t draw any unwelcomed attention by anyone else.
«I think we have lots to discuss, Adrian. What you’ve led to believe so far, has been nothing but lies,» he says getting his point right from the get-go.
«Well if I’m not mistaken you tried to put me out of the equation already though»
«Not the official order from us. I’m afraid Jessica decided to act on her own before she got put away from the government.»
«Why should I believe you?»
«If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here Adrian, would you?» he says calmly. «Ardra is in great danger. And unless we do something it is going to be in great trouble for many of the following years.»
«How do you know this?»
«This is something I would like you to see or yourself, Adrian. If you do trust me, follow me along in some distance till we get out of vision and we can talk normally.»
I keep watching on my phone as I wait for him to make his move. After a few seconds, he raises up and starts walking among the crowd on which case I follow along around 15 meters behind. We walk for the next 10 minutes till we get into the train and reach another part of the town, where we move out and start walking into the city again. A few minutes away and I miss the sight of him as he takes a quick turn and vanishes. I look around me but I see no one at all when suddenly another guy with a yellow jacket passes right by my side as he calls out on me to follow him. A few squares away he enters inside a building and moves down the stairs as I follow along. At the end of the stairs, there is a closed-door that I face as I contemplate whether I should knock on it or leave while I have the chance. But within a few seconds, the door opens up as a woman is pulling my hand dragging me inside with force.
«Welcome to the resistance,» she says as she closes the door behind her.
The woman is slim and skinny wearing a tight sleeveless shirt and shorts with sports shoes. Her hair is laid on her back in a long tie that would fall in the middle of her grey shirt.
«Follow me,» she says in a strict manner as she starts walking ahead of me.
The place is a spacious long unified hall, that expands in a straight line ahead, as various members are gathered at various points across it, on the two sides of it. Scattered groups in a vast area that resemble more random occupants in a street, rather than the core part of an organized resistance. The whole area is unified in a way to eradicate any sign of differentiation across the members. No special rooms or prominent offices apart from random little chairs and desks that are dispersed for people to sit and gather around them. It feels as if everything is fluid and versatile, prone to change any minute if the situation requires them to find a different place to stay. As we keep walking eyes are drawn to us like we are violators that infringed in their private space when they shouldn’t. I keep my eyes straight ahead as we make our way right passed them, avoiding any direct confrontation before we reach a little recess where a person is sitting in a little desk.
He has long hair and is diligently working on some documents that stand right before him as he leans over to them in very close proximity.
«Mark, this is your guy,» she says as she quickly glances at me with a raised upper lip. «I guess, I can leave you up to it now,» she says as she leaves.
«Adrian, I’m so glad you could make it,» he says as he raises from his desk and greets me with his hand. «I bet this place doesn’t fulfill the best conditions for a proper resistance, but at the moment it is…all we got..» he says as he glances a little bit all around.
«I guess you must have been the guy that texted me,»
«That is correct Adrian,»
«But how did you find me? Why did you want me to come here to this place?»
«Please Adrian, relax, I know this must all be very confusing to you,» he says as he raises his hand in a gesture to calm me down. «I assure you we want nothing from you apart from the opportunity to speak.»
I nod to him as I glance around the area.
«The reason we allowed you to even be here is because we know you have no affiliations with the government apart from the particular cooperation you happened to be in at the moment. In our minds, you are just a victim of the circumstances like everyone else around you.»
«But how did you know I would even agree to come here, or that I would even align with your purpose,»
«That my friend, you can leave it up to us,» he says smiling. «We have our ways to know who is a real member of the government and who is just a victim of oppressing powers. I promise you we made our due diligence before we reach out to you at all,»
He starts walking ahead in the inner part of the area as he extends his hand. «Please follow me this way, I want to show you something.»
His pace is slow and casual with his two hands tied behind his back as we march along the main corridor. People walk back and forth alongside us, as they fastidiously move along the room. In our right end, there are a number of people gathered around a table, with tattoos imprinted all over their bodies. Their faces are covered with ink as if they tried to pass a revolting message with their skin, making their characteristics barely distinguishable.
«These are the outcasts of Smith’s society,» Mark says as he stops walking. «At some point, the government decided to implement a regulation to distinguish people that had violated laws, with an identifiable mark on their bodies. Anybody that was caught by the police would get an imprint, right here on the neck.» he points at the right side of his neck. «Many people decided to oppose the measures even without having the mark by drawing tattoos all over their bodies.»
We continue to walk as we pass right across the group.
«Secretary Smith has a very strong inclination to distinguish people according to their performances, their preferences, or even their alliance to the government. You may have known already that many formidable citizens are in jail at this moment just because of the aversion to the government laws. Most of them never actually did anything against the government other than speaking their mind freely and articulating their opinions.»
We reach a little table where two books are standing on top of it. They are handmade and huge in size, with a handcrafted cover page that has a drawn sun on top of them.
«These are the audit books. It contains any citizen that was caught and eliminated by the government, even if it wasn’t part of the resistance.» He opens the left book on a random page. «People jailed for having democratic ideas. People killed for opposing the words of the government. Political prisoners and activists that protested against the government to give more rights to people.» He looks up to me. «These books say a truth you won’t hear from the government, Adrian. They hold real information that we try to maintain as diligently as we can, to keep in memory all those that suffered from the injustices of this government.»
He leans his hand on top of the book as he closes it up. «The reason you have been called on this planet goes beyond simple science. Smith is trying to extend his plans for full domination by categorizing people and marking everyone who dares to go against him. His plan is to become the undisputed leader of a nation that he can handle as he pleases with no room for opposition.»
He looks up to me as he releases the grip from his hand. «Do you understand Adrian why your role is so important? You can’t keep fighting on the wrong side. You are actually the last hope to keep the resistance going,» he says as he ducks his head downward, «otherwise our cause is lost for good.»
«Mark, I’m on your side on this,» I say as I press on his shoulder. «You can count on this and you have my word that I will try my best to help you any way I can.» I continue.
We spend the next few hours going through the current situation and the plan we are about to put forward. Based on a series of revelations we resort on exposing the actual deeds of the government to the people and let anyone know about their real intentions. We set a contact number I can safely reach out on and I march my way out as any long delay from my part could prove suspicious. As I am about to leave, there is a remark from Mark that catches my attention.
«Adrian, you should know Evelyn always thought very highly of you. I’m sure she will eventually forgive you for Jessica.»
I nod my head back as I think of everything she must have been through. «Is the father part of this as well?», I ask.
«You mean John Casey? Well, he used to be but he is not the actual biological father of Jessica. He only got together with Evelyn after she had the baby,»
«But If he is not the father then who is the real one?» I ask surprised.
«No one knows the answer to that one yet. Evelyn is probably the only person that knows it,» he grins his face as we greet each other and I make my way out.
It’s only a few hours later that my door is bust open from a number of police officers that plow into my room and grab me by force. They cover my head with a mask and drive me to the police station as they put me inside an isolated jail room for the whole night. The next day in the morning I receive a visitor as I lie down in my bed.
«Adrian, I hope I’m not interrupting you from your sleep,» he says as I hear the door unlocking.
«Robert Smith, I wasn’t expecting to see you over here,»
He comes in and sits right across from me as he ties his legs one on top of each other.
«Adrian, I know that this whole situation must be very disturbing to you. You probably wanted nothing to do with any of it, other than simply doing your job.»
I chuckle a little bit with the over-simplification of the statement.
«As you probably have guessed by now all members of the resistance have been caught and been eliminated. There is no other major opposition that we currently know of or that may have enough members to cause any real disturbance.»
I nod in the though that everyone I just saw the last day is probably jailed if not dead already.
«After your visit to their base, we managed to penetrate into their center and get all the information we needed to take back the control in our hands. I hope you can forgive the fact that you had been wired all this time but we had to make sure nothing unexpected happened to you.»
I keep looking straight ahead avoiding any eye contact with him.
«I know you probably think that we are planning to keep you here forever but I want to assure you we have nothing against you. You were simply the victim of an unwelcome attention from them that lead you to paths without your own will. The government is willing to forget the incident and grand you access to your previous project ASAP.»
He says as he raises from the desk.
«Adrian I want you to get back to your work at the soonest possible. If you have any objection to this, now is the time to speak your mind,» he says as he keeps staring at me but I give no response back.
«That’s what I thought,»
He moves towards the door as he turns slightly back at me.
«You can consider this an unlucky incident that we are willing to forget. Next time won’t be the same though. I hope you understand..»
He folds his suit and makes his way out.
There is a place in the northern part of the city where a big mountain rises in a high altitude making the whole city visible from what is supposed to be the tallest possible point in the area. Many mornings I will come here and contemplate on all the latest events that took place this period. I know eyes are constantly watching me but I’ve managed to persuade them on the fact that it is purely recreational. Throughout, I continue working on the lab, the same as before, following on all the previous research that was done. And all signs of opposition have been stopped around the city giving the impression that most of the resistance was indeed eradicated. All except one last member, that is.
For the last few days, I’ve been gathering all the material I could get my hands on, about the government actions and their plans, and managed to accumulate enough of them to make a coherent story. I also wrote a number of documents manifesting the actual intentions of the government and I even made a video where I explain everything I had seen and came to my hands this whole time. I pick up my phone as I observe the beautiful sunset that is extending beyond me as the sun is reaching the final level before vanishing completely on the other side of the earth. The wind is hitting my face with fury as I close my eyes and bring back to mind the face of Jessica. A brilliant scientist and biologist that just happened to be drifted away by the unlucky circumstances. An exemplementry student and mind that was disciplined and thirsty for knowledge like no one else in the field. A 20 years old woman that happened to be raised up without ever knowing who her real father was. Or rather that her father was living on a completely different planet far far away without ever knowing anything about her existence.
I raise up my head as my eyes fill with cries that drop on my face. I look into my screen and hit the button that is going to send all the accumulated documents to a number of distinctive journalists in both Ardra and Phoenix. As long as people know there is always gonna be hope and prospects for the future. I raise my hands wide open as I feel the last blow of air hitting my skin with a soft touch. I can already feel the lightness inside me as I let my body lean forward towards freedom…0