Human Nature

CA. 70,000 B.C.E. The Genetic Bottleneck

finalcuteye_2_2“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
– Arthur C. Clarke

“The gods are up there I tell you, living on the mountaintop.”

“Some are cruel. They use men as slaves and throw them away, sometimes broken and lame, when the task is finished. Others are sad and ashamed that we are created by them in their own image. They try to heal their sadness by teaching us useless things and then hold us up with pride when we learn, as if they had remade us. Then they send us back to our village where we are left to feed and shelter ourselves again without their help.”

“I also know that the gods can heal as well as hurt” said Aser, one of the oldest men in the clan. “Once when I was younger and more foolish, I tried to climb the mountain myself. Before I had reached the first summit, the Cherubim caught me and touched me with a burning staff that shimmered like the pool below a waterfall. The pain was so great that I fell to my knees. They dragged me before their shaman women. I know that I would have died from the pain had they not waved their beautiful healing lights over my wounds. Take heed my sons and you others who may want to climb to the mountaintop and see the wonders of the gods. They are great and terrible! So many who try, never return.”

“Why do they never return uncle?” Said Abrim, the youngest son of Aser’s younger sister. “You did! Then it is not impossible.”

Aser looked up and down the rows of children before him. “I suspect that those who do not pay the proper homage are sent to the quicksilver mines. Why take the chance you may never return home? No. It is better to leave the gods to their work, while we attend to ours.”

There was a stir in the crowd gathering behind the children as an older boy crowded in to have his say. “The gods do not keep cowards! My father says it is an honor to be taken by the gods. A reward for strength, courage, and prowess in battle. You would have us all live like old men, gathered together as an easy meal for any tooth-lion or fire-dragon that wanders hungry into the village.” This boy named Padrig was angry. His older brother Nolg had never returned from his trek up the mountain. Aser knew that he and his family was grieved.

“Do not make the mistake of choosing courage over clear thinking boy. The gods do not consider us more than the tooth-lion considers his meal. Better that you face the fury of a fire dragon in battle than the glory of the Annunukai in their distracted attention. You may survive the dragon, but never the sword of Cherubim.”

“And you are but a foolish old man. If I had a weapon, I could be a match. They would admire that and let me live, Just like my brother!”
Padrig swaggered away holding his staff high in the air, expecting a cheer, but none came. The subject was too close for comfort and no one but Padrig dared taunt the gods, let alone the old man.

When Padrig arrived at the family shrine, there was no one there. His mother, father, and sister would return from their gathering soon. He thought about what his brother Nolg had told him a few years ago, while standing in this very spot, that the gods wanted brave hu-men for their armies. Then he never came home.
 
Padrig knew where he went. Nolg had been accepted into Edon and would be a worker and a warrior for the gods. And so, he decided, would he. Packing some dried meat and some cheese into his bag, Padrig left immediately. Maybe he would be tested and taken by morning. Or released if he was not worthy. Either way he would know more about what happened to his brother.
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Nodiel was annoyed by the intrusion into his meditation. “Another one?” he winced, “This is the fifth one this week! None ever seem to be ready. Bring him then and let us see if he is worthy.” He watched as the Cherubim brought the hu-man into the administrative chamber. If any have the curiosity and can overcome their fear of the unknown enough to attempt a visit to the compound, then they must be tested for suitability. This was the law ordained from the beginning of this project to create the new worker class. This process allows the identification of those hu-man with promise, since it is important to perpetuate and strengthen this breed to its fullest extent before beginning the final modification. “The Warrior caste has been stuck in the mines for too long and it is time that they reclaimed the right to be warriors”, Nodiel reminded himself.

Since having discovered this star system many thousands of years ago, the Annunukai have bred various species that were native to this second planet in the system. Most programs had resulted in failure for various reasons. Some lines became weak when their life code was changed. Others that were too quickly bred would revert to an earlier breed after but a few generations. The Annunukai also discovered that these subjects cannot be kept in a corral like mere animals.

This Hu-man subject was holding his arm as if it were wounded and there was a strange smell wafting about. Nodiel reached into the Hu-man’s mind, looking for a spark of autonomy and creativity. “Why are you here?” He asked telepathically. “What do you seek? Speak!” The hu-man looked up then, and for a moment it appeared as if he would answer, then he started struggling and straining at his bonds, babbling and crying out like he was being tortured.

The quick test was finished and this one, though promising, had failed. He may have heard and understood, but his fear was too strong, despite curiosity, for this creature to receive any meaningful training. These are minimum standards according to the council of judges’ decree.
“Take him away…and get his arm fixed. This one has too much fear, he would be marginal breeding stock at best. Are there any more?”
“One other Lord.” Said the guard.

“Then bring him!” The guard skittered away, unnerved by the lord’s anger at having been disturbed. He returned quickly with a boy, not more than fifteen years old, no wounds or chains, with a defiant look on his face.

Again Nodiel reached into this Hu-man’s mind. “Why are you here? What do you seek? Speak!”

The boy spoke. “I will be a warrior like my brother”

“And why did you come here with that request? Do you not know that I am your god and can rip the bones from your flesh as you stand for these assumptions?” Then a pause to watch realization creep into the boy’s eyes that a grave mistake had been made. Then Nodiel spoke aloud, “What do you have to offer that I could possibly want from you?”

photo“If you will not take me, then you will have to kill me because I will not return to my village ashamed!”The boy lunged for the sword in the guard’s scabbard and pulled it with one stroke. The guard was taken completely unaware, yet managed to activate his halo to envelop both he and the boy before the sword could strike Lord Nodiel. There was no need, since Nodiel had read the boy’s intentions and had already drawn his own sword to parry the blow. The boy yelled a battle cry and struck at the halo’s force field with a fury of a rat flailing against its cage, then realizing the futility, dropped the sword and fell silent. The guard, ashen and shaking, de-activated the halo and immediately set to binding the boy’s hands behind his back. Padrig bowed his head to die.
Nodiel replaced his sword. “Punish him for his impertinence. If he lives, train him as a warrior. Find any brothers and sisters he may have and bring them to me as well. Now leave me!”

Was that a smile on the god’s face as Padrig was dragged out of the chamber?
Nodiel considered how precious few of this breeding cycle have taken on the necessary attributes to justify the program. This one would be shipped east to the Edon captive breeding center to test, train, and breed. females were much more difficult to choose, since life strands from the female of the species persist much longer without mutation than that of the males. In fact, sometimes more than a hundred generations. The process must be conducted carefully lest the whole breeding chain come apart in as little as 8 or 10 generations, requiring a new foundation subject with which to start over. Once proven, the life strands of the subject can be modified and combined with those taken from the Annunukai to fit the needs of the program and then perpetuated in all subsequent females, assuring standardization.photo
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In the beginning, the official purpose of this program was to breed intelligient slaves to work in the mines and supervise the lower forms. This effort would free the warrior caste from having to perform worker caste duties and allow them to concentrate on defending the colony from the Zshal. There was a consensus when the council last met that the program should be continued until successful. However, there was no longer agreement as to the final purpose of the program.

A thousand years ago, a lifeship of fellow Annunukai had arrived in this star system after losing their nearby colony to a race of insectoid marauders called the Zshal. These beings have no individuality, and therefore no reason but to devour a star system of every usable element of life. No one has been able to communicate with them or determine where, if any, their home planet may be. They are equally at home in any atmosphere or even in the vacuum of deep space. Though their bodies are easily destroyed, they are able to reanimate them over time. Scatter a Zshal to the four winds and within a hundred years, remaining particles will drift together, recreating its physical body, returning it to its former self.

There was a rift in the thinking of the council. The Warrior caste suggested that in addition to replacing the worker caste, these newly created beings would also make good warriors against the Zshal. To this end, they proposed to introduce variant code into the life code of at least 2 breeding strains of Hu-men. These could be bred as battlefield pawns to defend the system if the Zshal should arrive. The Warrior caste’s plan was to give them the capacity to effectively destroy as well as to create. Give them a lust for power and greed for gain so that they could be manipulated and sent to their deaths against the Zshal.

The Judges caste was against this idea on grounds that there is a moral responsibility to avoid introducing negative strands into the life code of any being, no matter how much lesser evolved they may seem now. One day they may become a race to ally or rival the Annunukai. Who are we gods, that we should pervert the work of the Archons for the advantage of our race alone? Secondly, that these new creations should have the same personal rights as any other Annunukai citizen so that they may one day replace the dwindling ranks of the Worker caste. Life code strands may come only from existing Annunukai lines and not be reprogrammed for uses counter to the continual progression of the race.
The Igigi Engineer caste, as usual, had no desire either way. They were to provide the technology for this project and desired to stay neutral in case it could be made a scapegoat for one side or the other.

The Workers caste had lost all of it’s members to the Warrior caste, therefore it had no vote but to go along with the will of the council.
Both points of view were considered too extreme by some and nothing was actually decided by the greater council. Meanwhile, both sides began working their technology to modify this being to their own image, seemingly aware that the other was also doing the same.

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The council has thus far approved four of the seven female subjects necessary to assure a successful resolution of the project. When the other three are approved, modified genetic material can be introduced to the makeup of all seven, then the council will start to release ten percent of the offspring to be trained as mine supervisors. Another ten percent will be used to test the new genetic modifications that are planned, while the remainder will be kept on the preserve in Edon for twenty generations, safe from predators and trained in good hygiene and breeding practices.

After that time, when they start to show the spark of morality and loyalty, they are to be trained in survival techniques, released in male and female pairs, and given infrequent guidance while they raise their families into nations of new, intelligient, and self-aware souls. These will be the chosen people.

Nodiel wondered, “Should he be more passionately against tampering with nature? They had been just beasts; intelligient, but only because of their position in the ecology of this planet. In a billion years, natural selection will have either quietly destroyed them or turned them into a race to rival the Annunukai. Now they learn to mine, Soon they may be designed to fight and die.”

“The Archons are really the only beings with a right to decide how to treat these hu-mans.” Nodiel thought. “Unfortunately, no Annunukai has communicated with the Archons in many millennia, since long before the Annunukai had left the home system Anuk to explore and discover new worlds. Some of the Judges say that the real reason to colonize the stars was to acquire then enslave other species. And that is, they say, why the Archons have withdrawn contact.”

“If that is so, then we are truly on our own. We are but gods to these hu-men. That is the way of things. We must play this role convincingly or one day they may rule us.”

Posted on March 20, 2008 on 10:23 pm | In Stories | No Comments
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