(Inception – First Ten Years)
Marie E. Reid
The doors to the operating room whooshed open and Grace Santee, duty pediatric RN, hurried from within carrying the tiny bundle. Looking neither right nor left, she moved along the stark hallway made more so by the glaring overhead lights and the pristine environment. She reached the door at the end of the corridor and stepped out into the sizzling night air. Although close to midnight, the outside temperature hovered at one hundred and twelve degrees. Grace handed the baby and a file folder to the Marine on duty, smiled and nodded, then returned inside.
The Marine moved to the open door of
a limo, stooped and placed the child in the arms of the woman on the
back seat. He handed the folder to the uniformed man beside her,
waited for acknowledgment from his superior, then saluted, closed
the door, and stepped back. The car sped off into the night heading
north for a city on the Colorado River, two hundred miles away.
Lt. Colonel Jackson Ramsey, one of the limo passengers, settled in for the two-hour journey, and for several miles, he used the time to scrutinize the baby’s file. Once they reached their destination and contacted their assigned liaisons, they would only have time to settle into the Research Housing Complex before flying out to Flagstaff to exchange the child. Half-hour into the trip, Jackson sighed and turned to Helene Luzerne, practicing pediatrician with a PhD in molecular biology and psychology. “Let’s have a look.”
Helene lifted the cover to reveal the infant, and gasped. A swift glance in Jackson’s direction preceded her concentrated examination of the sleeping infant, from the tufts of reddish-brown hair with golden highlights, down over its unblemished parchment-toned skin, to its perfect little appendages. Despite the acquired donor DNA coming from designated sperm banks and specific criminal elements being a crapshoot, the multi-ethnic gene manipulation had created a beautiful child. If the predator serous fluid engineering worked as well, their program could succeed where all others had failed.
“What about eye color,” Helene demanded. “Is it recorded?”
“Yes, the signature greenish-hazel that might darken to more of the sherry-gold as a few of the others did, and there’s no birthmark. Our experiments have finally paid off.”
Helene smiled. Jackson had reason to be satisfied.
The institute had been conducting Psi experiments for more years than she’d been on board, and she’d been working there for the last twelve years. Yet all previous efforts to birth a specific type of genetically altered child, based on the controversial version of the primate MAOA gene, referred to as the warrior gene, had failed for one reason or another. The most frequent obstacle to success was a flaw in molecular composition that prevented the mix of enzyme activators to bind and increase enzymatic activity. This led to an inability to trigger crucial augmentation to the primary marker, an essential facet needed to increase Psi prowess.
The macromolecule had been there but recessive, which produced normal interracial kids placed for adoption, with one exception. PsiD-E6, the child the staff had nicknamed Ruthless, a baby from a previous venture, and initially considered their first success. Of course, the problem hadn’t been PsiD-E6, per se, but a lapse in cognitive thinking of staff members swayed by its perfection.
During the early days of research, ten percent of the babies were born with a viper-shaped birthmark at the base of their spine. Of that percentage, eight percent didn’t survive. The other two percent couldn’t tolerate the first round of injections, and released from further trials with the normal babies, they were adopted. PsiD-E6 had been the exception to both percentages, but personnel had been careless and failed to note the birthmark at the base of its spine because it wasn’t viper-shaped. Beginner trials began and progressed on schedule with success.
The teams dismissed the birthmark as trivial, until injections to augment specific nucleotides failed to advance chromosomes key to equalization. Vital trials went awry, generating conjecture about the possible significance of that tiny paw-print birthmark enclosed within an odd-shaped pattern similar to the yin/yang symbol. But it was too late to reverse the processes. Ruthless had escaped its caretakers, four years ago.
Moreover, during preparation for its Psi trials, it had received enzyme activators to boost cognitive capacity, enhancing its shrewdness. Hence, an eleven-year-old with an aptitude for genius, current IQ equivalent to a young adult was on the loose, and quite capable of survival on its own. At one point, when Search and Retrieval Teams found mutilated animal carcasses near the compound, they assumed the skeletal remains were the result of PsiD-E6’s search for food. In a rush to judgment, the teams concluded Ruthless had remained in the vicinity, and they were confident they could recapture it.
Then reports of coyote sightings redirected focus and the SRT realized their perception of PsiD-E6 had been erroneous. At its current stage of growth and level of intelligence, if hungry, Ruthless would have a foolproof system for acquiring food, before resorting to hunting in the wild. Moreover, it forced to hunt, it would be adept at camouflaging its trail, and kills. Careless wouldn’t have a place in its programming.
Without knowing the effects of the psychological indoctrination and criminology visual aids on its mentality, and lacking controlled guidance, doctors feared a psychotic killer had escaped into the general populace. A type of menace capable of forms of deviant conduct the scientists had designed behavioral analysis platforms to predict. The program’s conditional success is what had prompted them to proceed with the engineering of specimens like PsiD-E6. Kids predisposed to retro-cognitive viewing became prime subjects for a venture to replicate the alleged Psi trials, decades earlier. Except this time, the evolution of medicine and science, in conjunction with the institute’s innovative methodology, they believed they would succeed where previous research had failed.
Helene acknowledged they should be grateful Ruthless no longer had access to additional enzyme injections. The lack of those treatments should defuse the progression of lethal skills as it matured. Conversely, she refused to let her guard down, since it occurred to her that PsiD-E6 had premeditated its escape. Following that train of thought, with dawning apprehension, she considered PsiD-E6 would have a pre-planned scheme to maintain its growth process according to schedule. Conditioned to achieve, it would endeavor to attain its projected goals regardless of obstacles. What a waste. Protocol dictated the SRT bring it in for termination, but how to achieve that objective remained debatable.
Ruthless had the advantage.
Helene sighed, replaced the cover around the infant on her lap and smiled. This child could be their salvation. Of all the births scheduled for that night, she had predetermined this child would have the most potential because of her interaction with its mother. Recruited after leaving a foster home, Sharone had been exceptional with IQ scores off the charts for her age. She’d had a natural poise, social etiquette, and a mystique that gave her a hypnotic influence over the other women, and quite a few staff members.
Sharone Martell had claimed to be a mixture of Creole and Native American heritage, with her long jet-black hair and piercing hazel eyes framed by thick black lashes. Helene had made copious notes about the woman’s proven kinetic energy, and the knowing look in her eyes that reflected a wealth of wisdom for one so young. If her child had comparable inherent traits, it would possess the perfect genetic makeup needed for their—uh, damn.
Brow furrowing, nibbling her bottom lip, Helene’s mind jetted off into the past, ten years ago. Hadn’t she made similar observations about PsiD-E6’s mother? With the exception of its mother Leila Delvecchio claiming Romani/Gypsy ancestry, with her long jet-black hair and piercing blues eyes, she had the look. Eye color aside, the two women had been alike in looks and idyllic demeanors. They seemed to exist in another dimension of reality, and acted as if they knew things the scientists didn’t know, even sensed their deaths, both accepting, even embracing their fates. Hmm, intriguing—but should it concern her.
Goosebumps sidled up her arms, but the pragmatic side of her mind gaffed it off and her thoughts returned to the infant in her arms.
In keeping with current societal trends, they could foster this baby within any ethnic group. When PsiD-E16—Redemption as Helene referred to the child—came of age, the combined genetics, enzyme activators, and training should make it superior to prior specimens, exceeding all expectations. On the other hand, if PsiD-E16 turned out as planned, the genetic and chemical modifications could have a down side.
Once integrated into society, Redemption might eliminate anyone with conduct it considered aberrant. Possibly the influence of obligatory ethics programming might have an effect on its judgment, but since the experiments didn’t alter free will, the ultimate decision remained at the discretion of each engineered specimen. And its nurturing environment could have considerable influence on its choices.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Jackson stated, intruding on Helene’s disturbing musings. “This will be our blueprint for the future.”
“Hey, let’s not get our hopes up until we complete the tests.”
“Yeah, yeah…but I have a good feeling about this one.” Jackson picked up the folder. “With the right direction, this one will dominate and we’ll accomplish our goals. As soon as it starts walking and talking, we’ll begin the physical trials.” He grinned. “If everything works out, we can breed this one.”
“True, but there is no guarantee the genetics will be passed along to its progeny.” She turned to look at Jackson. “What about the other four births?”
He shrugged. “If they don’t have the birthmark, we’ll have them for backup, or put them up for adoption with no expectations of chemical therapy.”
“Whoa, Jackson…you’re not thinking straight. We have to do the first stage of inoculations and follow-up tests to categorize them before they’re released.” She stared down at the infant in her arms. “You realize the serous fluids contain enriched proteins excreted through their sweat glands, and that makes them susceptible to detection. Ruthless might go after them.”
“Doubtful. It…damn, I hate referring to these children as it.” He held up his hand when she started to speak. “I know we keep it neutral so the staff doesn’t give preference to one gender or the other.” He sighed. “As I was saying, Ruthless escaped long before we implanted the embryos for this group and we hadn’t completed its Psi trials. Not having any contact with these babies, or their mothers, it shouldn’t be able to view them.” He closed the folder.
“Jackson, keep in mind the program’s purpose, the viewing. If we’ve done our jobs right, it would need very little to pick up a sense of this group of children. Furthermore, just because it has escaped, doesn’t mean Ruthless has left the area,” she asserted. “We’d advanced far enough with its programming to make it a dedicated, anal retentive hunter. A few coaches experienced its unintentional callousness. Imagine the possibilities if it means to do harm.”
“Yeah, you’re right, we can’t underestimate it. The staff aptly named the kid, and without boundaries, who knows what it will do.” Jackson leaned over, lifted the blanket and peeked at the infant again.
“Also, keep in mind these are our first viable specimens. We’re talking speculation,” Helene stated. “No one has gone this far with mind tampering. We don’t know what is or isn’t possible overall.”
“Well, if everything works with this one, we won’t have a use for the others, and we won’t give them any injections.”
“Wait a minute. All the babies have to have preliminary injections their first three months,” she reiterated.
“Okay! But without recurring treatments, the other four should drop off Ruthless’ radar. Stop worrying. This child will defeat Ruthless, and that’s the beauty of the third effusion fluid we’ve added.”
Helene’s head jerked around, her startled gaze locked with his placid one. “What do you mean, another serous—what kind, what dosages, and at what stages? It makes a difference,” she declared. “Why wasn’t I consulted?”
“You’re not our only resident specialist, and it’s not something I’m at liberty to divulge at this time. It’s in the experimental stage, so let’s wait and see how it affects this child.” He shrugged. “It might not work, then it’ll be a question of the strongest surviving a confrontation.”
“I should have been consulted,” she grumbled and turned away to stare out the window. “In a worse-case scenario, can we stop Ruthless if it defeats this child?”
“If we catch it unaware, and that isn’t likely.”
“Damn.” She sighed. “Do we have a family ready for this one?”
“Yes, in Flagstaff. As we did with Ruthless, and a few other hopefuls, a woman related to a staff member delivered fraternal twins today. We’ll switch this baby for one of hers,” he replied. “Her child will go into our PsiD-NB program with the other switched newborns and no one will be the wiser. There’s a plane waiting, we'll switch the babies tonight.”
“Good. All lead staff members know what to do when the time comes, and they’re capable of monitoring its progress.”
“Yes, but until then, they’re on a need-to-know only.” Jackson turned out the lights, leaned back, and closed his eyes.
Helene inched forward, settled the infant in the bassinet strapped onto the side bench seat, then she laid back against the cool leather upholstery, but didn’t relax. The discussion with Jackson recalled her earlier reflections about the similarities between the two mothers, but why.
Too tired to think anymore, she sighed and closed her eyes. The first chance she had, she intended to revisit the files on both women.
© Marie E. Reid