Perfects – Chapter 1 Charlie
So much for a safe, just and tolerant society. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d woken up in 1984 and everyone was spouting newspeak. From where I sit it is very plain that the tolerance for differences is only lip service. We were supposed to be living in a fair and equal society where we embraced diversity and didn’t discriminate for any reason. But it was just bullshit.
I am one of many innocent victims of an unscrupulous company conducting genetic modification experiments on human embryos. They wanted to make kids ‘perfect’. Free from genetic diseases, susceptibilities; and also, if they could manage it, clever and good looking. They knew they were breaking the law when they did it, but they did it anway to see what the outcomes were.
I was one of those embryos, supposed to have been destroyed after a certain number of cell divisions. Instead I was implanted in a surrogate mother and then put into a care home.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be alive, I hold no malice to the Hephaestus Genetics guys, although I do wish that perhaps they’d left me with the surrogate so I’d have had a real mother. No, my beef is with the authorities, and the people they protect – which isn’t the poor downtrodden minorities. Oh no, I’m discriminated against if people find out I’m one of the GM babies. Mild mannered types can suddenly turn real nasty when they realise. I’ve been kicked out of all sorts of places, sometimes almost literally.
No-one wants to employ an abomination, or insure one. I can’t have a government job because some bigoted bastards made a law against that, and my birth certificate and passport both carry observations that I’ve been Genetically Modified. That puts paid to most legitimate jobs, as you need to prove your status before you start work. Legally I’m somehow sub-human. Legally, but not in any other way.
My education test scores are off the chart, I’m in the top 1% of the population, although I understand that the tests are pretty unreliable for the top 10%. They’re geared for the masses, the lumpen proletariat with their pitchforks and burning brands.
It doesn’t stop at clever though, I’ve got really fast reflexes, good speed and endurance when running and also I’ve never been ill. I can’t catch a cold and all of the normal childhood diseases just passed me by, without even a single innoculation. I don’t know how Hephaestus did it to me, but they did a bloody good job.
Actually that’s not quite true, I have a pretty good idea what they did. With the right equipment I could probably have a go at it myself, but this government doesn’t let people do that sort of thing. In fact any attempt to even find out about it attracts the wrong sort of attention. I just about got away with it because I was one of the victims and could excuse my curiosity as just wanting to know what happened to me. They bought it, but I got some stiff and unambiguous warnings about it.
Since then I’ve self-educated in the dark arts. Finding my way around on computer systems without leaving traces, getting round the physical cams, creating identities and backing them up with the sort of footprint you’d expect. After all, when you can’t get a decent job and need to keep moving around to escape the bigotry you need all the help you can get. And the only person I can rely on to help me, is myself.
I’ve also been into martial arts since I was a small boy, I’m a third dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do, probably higher, because I’ve been practising on my own or under other names in the sort of dojang that doesn’t ask too many questions. I’ve picked up loads of techniques and sometimes do some semi-professional cage fighting for the prize money. You wouldn’t know to look at me, you would probably think I’m too pretty to be a fighter. Only 5 foot 9, and sort of wiry looking, but as I said, I’m fast and have a lot of techniques.
Usually the other guys are bigger and more muscular looking, although occasionally I get another serious martial artist and the fights can be entertaining and prolonged. It works for me, although I don’t do too much of it because I don’t want to attract attention, I just need to earn some of my money legally.
I watch the news, I read the political blogosphere. Being one of the oppressed minority I need to make sure I can stay one step ahead of the bigots. The situation is bad all over the world for the genetically perfect, there are countries that would execute me if they found me within their borders. I’m practically an illegal alien in my own country, I’ve got fewer rights than most foreigners.
Fortunately I’m not alone. There are others out there, and we’ve found each other. One of my germ line found out that there were literally hundreds of Hephaestus babies. She also discovered that Hephaestus weren’t the only ones in the business. Just the only one to get caught publicly. Apparently genetic treatment was a big thing about 25 years ago. Despite being outlawed, it still goes on, just on a much smaller, lower key way.
Ostensibly these days it is wholly about dealing with individual problems where people are known to be carriers of serious genetic defects. Officially these days it is a ‘screening’ service where only those embryos without negative markers are implanted. However dark rumours suggest that the treatment is still actively done by the less scrupulous players. Especially for those that can afford to visit the orbital ‘hotel’ and see the doctor there…
Anyway, we’ve got ourselves organised to look for others and to bring them to a safe place. We’re gathering in Switzerland because the Swiss are known for their neutrality and so far they haven’t passed any of the discriminatory laws themselves. Although it has to be said there is quite a bit of sentiment in their population for those laws, and they may get there soon. I’m not yet in Switzerland myself, I’ve got jobs to do here in the UK beforehand. There are still people to find, acquire new identities and travel tickets for and then get over there.
I can also see that refugees from other places are converging there as well, and that there appears to be a concerted propaganda effort going on to persuade the Swiss to stay even handed in their approach and to consider the evidence before making decisions. How successful this is I’m not sure, one of the key problems with politics is that only the natives get to vote, so the immigrants need to do their best to stay unobtrusive and not look like they’re unduly influencing the culture or stealing jobs, houses or women…
My life started to become interesting when the Europeans banned genetic therapy and refused to issue a visa to anyone who had been treated. This meant that most of our clients couldn’t legally travel through Europe to Switzerland, which meant that I had a whole load of work on creating suitable identities that would get them through the borders. This extra effort meant that corners had to be cut in places, mainly in not leaving the identity bots running for as long as we’d normally do to ensure an active footprint in the recent past.
This attracted the attention of the national organised crime squad, and a few of the guys had been arrested and questioned by them. We’d managed to get them bail, but only just scraped up the money. Getting them out of the country posed a dilemma. If we got them away then we’d lose the bail money and the police suspicions would be confirmed. This would lead to the cops nosing around the known associates of the guys they’d arrested. On the other hand, if we waited until they stood trial there was the chance that they could be convicted, which would mean leaving them behind. We resolved to leave the running away until the last moment, but to insulate ourselves from them by not associating with them or using them for any active operations until either they’d been cleared, or we needed to make them disappear to safety.
A review of our security and operating procedures followed, and some restructuring to reinforce the operational security routines and minimise the impact of people being taken out (and talking). This made me into a cell leader of one of the second tier cells. Basically my cell managed the operations of a group of cells and co-ordinated their actions so that we could deal with larger bits while still limiting the consequences should anyone get arrested. All I knew were the members of my own cell, and my handler in the cell up from me. At most I could betray six people if I were to be caught. Through my five fellow cell members we controlled 15 other cells, and we gave them broad tasks, deadlines and left the detailed operations for them to work out themselves.
It wasn’t as well co-ordinated as we’d been at first, but it began to show real benefits when the police tried to crack down on us. It took about a dozen police raids over a two month period for them to properly roll up two of our cells, and we still managed to smuggle both cell leaders and four others to safety before they were arrested.
Free download of Perfects (Exodus #1) for the impatient