Cadence looked up, closed the folder, and slid it back across the table. With a stern look she declared, “Not interested.”
A baritone, articulate voice announces, “Welcome to another edition of Good Morning World with your host Dayden March.”
“Good morning, and thank you for joining the show! Dayden March here broadcasting live with Pulitzer Prize winner Doctor Cadence Elizabeth Alkum, for her non-fiction work entitled To Boldly Go, a scientific and philosophical look into space colonization. Good Morning Doctor Alkum!”
“Good Morning Mrs. March.”
“Thank you for being on the show with us today.”
“Thank you for having me.”
“It is our pleasure. Please, introduce the listeners and watchers as to who Doctor Cadence Elizabeth Alkum is.”
“I grew up with a pair of loving scientist for parents. My mom was a biology major, and my dad was a civil engineer. So academia was very important to them while growing up. Early on, they established that love and thirst for learning in me. I graduated High School when I was sixteen and began touring the world to find a college that I wanted to attend. Well, during that time-frame, tragedy struck and I lost my family in a gruesome accident.”
“Oh, how awful! All of them?”
“Yes, all of them. Father, Mother, and two younger brothers. I was crushed.”
“I am so sorry.”
“Can you give us any details?”
“I’d rather not, as I mentioned it was a gruesome accident.”
“I understand Doctor, please continue.”
“Thank you…one moment please…”
“Take your time.”
Cadence reached for a box of tissues that the show’s director had popped in on camera to place them on the turquoise coffee table, and quickly disappeared. She dabbed her eyes and then took a deep, cleansing breath.
“As I was saying, I was crushed, hurt, and lost. It took me some time to get my head right. A friend of my father rescued me and helped me find my footing. He is like a godfather to me. I owe him so much. He encouraged me to enlist in the Armed Forces where I served for six years.”
“May I ask what branch of service?”
“It was the Marines.”
“What did you do for them?”
“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
Both Cadence and Dayden laughed heartily.
Cadence continued, “No, seriously though, I was the first female to become a member of the Marine Raiders, a special forces unit.”
“Wow, so you’re the one. I remember reading about you. When you go stirring in a nest of bees, you really know how to piss them off don’t you? So, why did you quit?”
“Yes, I was that one. You’d be surprised how hard you can push yourself when a bunch of old, crusty, white men sitting behind their desks, pushing pencils, tell you that you can’t do something. In covert ops’ time, I was getting old. I paved the way for other women, so they wanted a newer, fresher face. It was ok, I left my mark. However, I was missing something in my life.”
“Oh? And what was that?”
“That thirst for knowledge that my parents instilled in me. So after my military career ended, I had enough credits accumulated to start looking for a college…again. I decided to stay stateside and so I graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology summa cum laude with a dual doctorate, one in Biological Engineering and the other in Materials Science.”
“Boy Cadence, you don’t like to do anything unless you go all out!”
“It is in my nature, I guess.”
Dayden turned to look at the camera, “We’ll be right back.”
“Two minutes all!” The producer shouts.
“I have got to say Cadence, I admire you. You are an incredibly interesting woman. I would love to do a special segment with you and explore more of your history of when you were in the military. Do you think you’d be available for something like that?
“I’m fairly busy, but I will get with my assistant and have him get with your producer to see what we can come up with.”
“I appreciate that. I think it would make a really great segment.”
“Back from commercial in 5…4…”
“Welcome back to the show. I am Dayden March, and with me here is Doctor Cadence Alkum; scientist, veteran, inventor, and author. If you are just joining the show, Doctor Alkum was giving us a brief overview of who she is. She lost her parents as a teenager, joined the Marine Corps and served with the special ops division, and after that, graduated from MIT with a double doctorate. So please, Doctor, continue.”
“Well, after I graduated from MIT, I was able to start my own company, BioMed Research Center, here in the Midwest. Things were looking pretty bleak after the first year. We were close to bankruptcy. A lot of money was spent on Research and Development, however we’d not had any major breakthroughs. We were getting by assisting a few pharmaceutical companies with testing of new drugs.”
“How did you pull your company out of the fire, so to speak?”
“The Gossamite Strand.”
“What is that?”
“Well, essentially it is a bio-synthetic derivative of the Darwin’s Bark Spider’s silk. It is one of the Holy Grails of material scientist abroad. It is twice as tough as any other spider silk and ten times tougher than Kevlar. When combined with other natural or artificial fibers, it has a wide range of versatility.”
“That almost sounds too good to be true.”
“At first, there was a huge caveat to the material. We could only produce small microscopic samples. As further development progressed, it became easier to scale. We now supply safety vests to local law enforcement, and full body suites to hospitals, prisons, and more. In fact, starting next year test runs will begin for the automotive and aeronautical fields. I have a team of good men and women exploring a wide variety of markets.”
“Congratulations, I guess are in order for reaching that milestone.”
“So, how does all of this, encourage one, such as yourself, to write a book?”
“Since I was a little girl, I would look up at the night sky. Usually after the family would watch our favorite science fiction shows with space travel, meeting other alien species, and the like. I wanted to travel into space and do those things. However, as I learned more and more about it, the possibility of this happening in my lifetime seemed non-existent. This admiration of outer space inspired me to take a closer look at the challenges, both from an engineering perspective and an ethical perspective. So, i decided to write a book about it.”
“I enjoy those shows too. Sometimes the techno-babble is a little over my head, but I manage.” Dayden let out a bashful snicker, Cadence smiled. “If you can, Doctor Alkum, please share with the rest of us, briefly, some of the hurdles humanity must overcome to make this dream a reality; when we return, right after these commercials.”
“Four minutes, thirty seconds everyone.”
“Please excuse me Doctor Alkum, I need to make use of the restroom.”
Cadence sat there, surprisingly relaxed. She usually didn’t do very well in front of large audiences. Today seemed different, she reasoned, most likely that it was due to the subject matter. A nice looking young man, fit, with sweeping blonde hair, jogged up to her and offered her a bottled water. She thanked him, took the bottle, and he nodded his head and hurried back off the set.
It wasn’t long before Dayden returned from the restroom. They sat there for a few moments, idly chit chatting about non-show related things.
“Ninety seconds, and we’re back on air!”
Several crew members rushed onto the set, re-applying make-up as needed to both host and guest.
“Coming back from commercial in 5…4…”
“Welcome back. I am here with Doctor Alkum, author of To Boldly Go, a journey for humanity into space. Before we went to commercial break, Doctor Alkum was about to give us some brief overviews of the challenges that lie ahead for conquering the final frontier. Doctor, if you please?”
“First of all, the biggest issue mankind faces is that the universe has a lot of space. Take for instance Sol, our sun. It takes light, which travels at roughly 186,000 miles per second, about eight minutes to reach Earth. A space probe, traveling at a comfortable 38,000 miles per hour would take almost four months.”
“Well, that doesn’t seem too bad.”
“It gets worse, really quick. Let’s take our nearest star, Alpha Centari. It is located approximately 4.3 light years, or 25.6 trillion miles away. That means when you look up at the night sky and see that star, you are looking at it four years ago. Now, take that same space probe I mentioned before? Well, it would take about 70,000 years to get there.”
“Wow, I see what you mean now. So, how does humanity conquer this hurdle Doctor Alkum?”
“There are many theories attempting to tackle this issue. Unfortunately, there is no way to even test these ideas just yet. I could go on for hours explaining, but I don’t think you have time for that.”
“No, Doctor Alkum, we certainly don’t. For now then, this is just a big unknown?”
“Correct. Plus, it really isn’t my area of expertise. Small steps, Dayden. We must first be able to maneuver around in our own solar system and start mining other planets, asteroids, and such. What is good to note is that technology for space craft engines has developed enough to allow shorter travel times to the objects of the Inner Solar System. In future decades, I am positive those lengths will shorten to include planets of the Outer Solar System as well.”
“We do have a mining colony on the moon!”
“That is a small start. Keep in mind, no humans are there. It is all run by the Joint Unification of Space Agencies or JUSA, with specially built iSABs called RoboNauts. In fact, do you realize that it has been almost 100 years since one of us has set foot on the moon?”
“Actually, no. I hadn’t realized it had been that long. Why?”
“A few reasons. One, the benefit to humanity as a whole was not able to be realized until several decades afterwards, by then, most of the world lost interest. There was a time when astronauts were as famous as any rock star or comic book character. Now, with the world population hanging around 10 billion, we need to look beyond the confines of our home world to continue to survive. Earth’s resources are limited, and if something cataclysmic should happen here on Earth…all of us eggs won’t be in one basket. Two, the human body is just not equipped to handle prolonged living anywhere but where we are now.”
“Because of radiation, micro-gravity causing bone and muscle loss, and other things like that, right?”
“Yes, that is right Mrs. March. The third reason is sheer cost.”
“What do you mean?”
“Currently, for the price of one human to send to the moon, ten RoboNauts instead can go, and end up doing more than forty times the work. Humans need life support systems, radiation protection, water, food, multiple safety back up systems, and the list goes on. Plus, over a relatively short time frame the micro-gravity effects of space, and the moon, it ends up becoming detrimental to the human body.”
“Doctor Alkum, in your book you said, and I quote:
Humanity’s greatest liability is also its greatest asset.
end quote. When we come back from commercial break I would like for you to elaborate a bit on that passage.”
“I would be happy to.”
“We’ll be right back after these messages.”
“Three minutes everyone.” The producer sounded over the set intercom.
Cadence stretched a bit in her orange armchair, stood up and then walked to the restroom. A vibrating sensation buzzed her left hip. It was a text.
Appointment set, tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. with General Blake.
It was just the automated scheduling application. She clicked the “ok” button and returned the phone to it’s holder. She returned to the stage and sat back down. The director announced that they were returning from commercial and the camera man did his countdown.
“Thank you for joining us. Doctor Alkum, when we last left off I’d asked you to elaborate on a passage from your book.”
“Yes you did. The passage you asked about was, humanity’s greatest liability is also its greatest asset.”
“Well Dayden, as you and the viewers may or may not know, Homo sapiens sapiens have been around for a mere blink of an eye; from a geological perspective. I…”
“Pardon me, but what is Homo sapiens sapiens?”
“Oh, that is the scientific name for modern humans. We are the only surviving species of our genus that has been around for less than 200,000 years. Yet, in the last few millennium, our rate of adaptation and increased intelligence has put us on par with mother nature.”
“On par with mother nature?”
“Yes, on par. What other species you know of that can move mountains, change river paths, alter weather patterns, or go to the moon? No other species on this planet has accomplished what we have. Our progenitors have had an upwards of several million years to do something similar…there is just no comparison.”
“So, are you saying that our evolution is our greatest liability and asset?”
“Almost, Dayden, you are very close. I am specifically referring to our DNA. The liability lies in the fact that cosmic radiation, chemicals, and other phenomenon can damage it, giving us cancer and other maladies. The asset comes from our ability to use the brains that nature gave us, evolution perfected, to be able to combat these life ending scenarios. The information is already there, encoded into our genetic make up. I just have to find the right combination and turn it on.”
“I’m not sure I follow, Cadence.”
“What if, the human genome could be rewrote to allow self powered flight?”
“Wait, wait, wait…You mean, humans with wings? Like mythological Angels?”
“No, more like larger versions of bats. What if, the human genome could be rewrote to allow regrowth of lost limbs and nerves, an epidermal mutation that absorbs radiation and then sheds, or even ages in the tens of thousands of years?”
“Hold on Doctor Alkum. What makes you think this is even possible? It sounds like the crazy theme to a science fiction horror movie!”
“More than ninety-eight percent of our DNA is non-coding. Some of that is junk DNA which serves no identifiable use, and the remaining has been found to have minor functions. It is within this junk DNA that we can possibly manipulate it to find a function, or discover a prehistoric use from a distant evolutionary ancestor that could increase our fitness and survivability.”
“An interesting and noble idea. Are there any repercussions from playing with DNA like you are proposing?”
“Of course there are. Within nature, most mutations are either benign or harmful. It is an extremely rare occurrence to have a mutation that turns out beneficial to a given organism. Humans have been manipulating the gene pool for well over five millennia through a process known as artificial selection.”
“Right, that is how we get cows that produce more meat per head, wheat to thrive in the desert, different dog breeds, and et cetera.”
“Correct! As you can probably figure out, that sometimes the artificial process can be flawed, turning out unpleasant or unwanted results. Nature generally takes care of those. They simply die off due to the artificial mutation being harmful to the organism on the whole.”
“Of course, that makes sense. What process are you utilizing to research and manipulate the human DNA?”
“Unfortunately, I cannot share that information as it is proprietary and still in the preliminary stages of development. What I can tell you, is that after several failed attempts, it looks like we are starting to see some promising results!”
“You have a flying baby?”
“Ha ha ha, no. Nothing like that. We are just scraping the tip of the iceberg for modifying animal DNA so far.”
“Well, you certainly have some lofty goals and ideas there. All of this to help humans reach the point where space colonization becomes a reality?”
“Yes. You see, by altering the human DNA, we can select genes that allow humans to better adapt to a wide variety of hazardous environments, including other moons and planets. It also has implications for improved worldwide medical care. Imagine never having to receive implants for defective organs, or accidental amputations…”
“You will be putting a lot of the cybernetic industry out of work if this succeeds.”
“Well Dayden, I guess they will just have to learn how to adapt or go extinct.”
Both Dayden and Cadence laughed.
“Clever, very clever Dayden.”
“Thank you. Well, that is all the time we have for this segment. I want to thank you Doctor Alkum for joining us and telling us a little bit about your book. Hopefully we can have you on again soon.”
“You are welcome, I enjoyed being here with you today.
Theme music plays again, camera zooms in to Dayden.
“When we come back, Intelligent Synthetic Autonomous Beings, can they really become sentient? Or is it all a hoax? Stay tuned.”
“To what would you be referring to Doctor Alkum?” a brassy, monotone voice replied.
“The Moon, Johnny. Just look at it!” Her hands sprang up and outward. “I love it when it gets like this.” She answered placidly.
Soft mechanical noises whispered from Johnny’s limbs as he walked across the office and around the large, wooden, antique desk. His motions were fluid enough, for a machine that is. Johnny was a lot shorter than Dr. Alkum; a humanoid, slender, no bigger than a small adult. His carbon fiber frame was covered in a soft, firm silicone. Johnny stopped at the window and looked up at the night sky.
“How do you know what beauty is, Doctor Alkum?”
“Beauty is the personal attribute of an object or idea that stimulates the senses, eliciting a chemical response that produces endorphins in the brain exciting the pleasure centers.”
“I have sensors. I have a quantum positron matrix. I have synthetic chemical reactions. These appear to be parallel functions. I still do not detect beauty.”
“You are a machine, Johnny. You are limited by your hardware and software. It affects us humans on an emotional level, something which you are incapable of experiencing.”
“I do not understand.”
She turned her body to him and placed her hand on his shoulder.
“In time you will.”
He turned his head and looked at her hand. He then looked up and found her face, his head slightly tilted. She was still looking out at the moon.
“You are beautiful?”
She smiled and turned her eyes to meet Johnny’s featureless face. It was against the law for iSABs to have human faces, with the exception of certain classifications. No eyes, no ears, no nose, and no lips. Most, were just a blank semi-rigid cover.
“Not as a priori, no. Some have expressed that opinion; others, not so much.”
Johnny’s questions were often that like that of a child; curious, simple, and yet sometimes incredibly deep and complex in the responses required to answer them. The technological advances leading up to 2062 provide iSABs with the ability to function as an expert in the areas to which they were designed, very similar to the industrial robots of old. However, an antique technique recently refined, requires robots, like Johnny, to learn just like any natural animal. Through a mix of trial, error, and sometimes instruction, they acquire knowledge via life’s experiences.
Cadence turned away from the window and returned to her desk. There was a few reports from Research and Development that required an overview and signatures. She removed a small memory cube from its protective case and slipped it into the reader. Johnny turned and began walking back to his terminal.
He paused while passing in front of the desk, “Doctor Alkum?”
“Yes, Johnny.” She answered without taking her eyes off the computer screen.
“Did the Moon lose the beauty it held?”
“No, I just have a few more reports to review before I can call it quits and go to bed.”
“What attribute does the Moon have that makes you consider it beautiful?”
“Well…” she rapped on the keyboard, and clicked her mouse a few times, “you might think that it would be the effect it has on our oceans, the powerful tidal forces pulling and pushing. Or, others would say the Moon’s beauty lies in how it reflects the Sun’s light when it is full. For me though, it is more of a promise to fulfill a dream. Ever since I was a little girl I desired to command a spaceship and visit other astronomical objects, like in those science fiction movies. You’d think, by now, our species would have at least began colonization of the Moon. Humans haven’t been back there for almost a century.”
“Others like me, specialized, have begun to colonize the moon.”
“True, however, it took most of the global economy to work together for several decades to establish a robotic mining and exploration colony on the Moon. I want to go there, to visit the site where Neil Armstrong left his footprints. The biggest problem is Humans. We are quite fragile creatures. Time is not our friend.”
Johnny stood there for a moment calculating, reviewing previous space missions, cost analysis, and human lifespan studies. Cadence continued reviewing the reports. After several minutes of quietness, save for the noises of mouse clicks and button pushing, Johnny spoke up again, “Doctor Alkum, by my analysis, it appears that humans may never go beyond the Sol solar system.”
“If I have anything to do with it, we will.”
He paused to give the automatic rotating door a chance to allow him to step through. He removed his cover as he entered the building. One hand was secured by handcuffs and chain to a small silver briefcase. His shoes, black and highly polished, clicked with determination as he strode across the ceramic tiled floor to the information desk. The receptionist sat there busy with switchboard operations; putting people on hold, transferring others to different departments, and establishing conference calls.
She held up one finger in his direction as her other hand pressed a flashing red button, “BioMed Research Center. How may I direct your call?” She looked up and smiled, in a pained rescue me way. “One moment please while I transfer you.”
“Good morning, sir. Welcome to BioMed Research Center, how may I help you?”
“Good Morning, I have an ap…”
She held her finger up again and huffed, “BioMed Research Center. How may I direct your call?” She shrugged her shoulders, offering the man an apologetic look. “I’m sorry ma’am, but he is in a meeting, I will put you through to his voicemail, thank you.”
“I’m sorry, it has been a crazy morning already. You were saying you had an appointment?”
“Yes, with Doctor Cadence Alkum.”
“Your name sir?”
She held her finger in the air again. He looked around ignoring the interruption. She returned her attention to him.
“General…Blake was it?” He nodded with an impatient glare. She ran her fingers over the keyboard. “Ah, yes sir, here you are. Eight o’clock appointment. If you would care to take a seat in the lounge, there is fresh coffee and fruit in there. I will fetch security and have you escorted to the conference room where Doctor Alkum will meet you.”
“Thank you.” The General’s shoes clicked again as he walked over to the lounge area. He grabbed a seat and waited. The large screen TV cycled a series of slides and short commercial like clips with information about the company, the research going on, and testimonials from people that have been helped.
Finally, a tall lanky middle-aged black man, clean-shaven, with a well groomed flat top in a pinstripe suit with a seven pointed silver star pinned to the left lapel, entered the lounge and walked up to the General. He extended his right hand, which was covered in a thick white glove, and dawned on a huge smile.
“Good Morning, General Blake. I am Agent White, one of the internal security managers.”
The general stood up and grabbed the agent’s hand firmly and shook it hard. “Thank you Agent White, good morning to you.”
“If you please sir, follow me and I’ll get you to your meeting. Doctor Alkum is already in route and should be waiting for you when you get there.”
The General let out a big smile, “Excellent! Lead the way.”
Agent White lead the General out of the lounge and over to a service elevator. There were no buttons along the wall like usual. Instead, above the door was a black dome with a yellow spot in the center. A voice came from the elevator, “This is a restricted area, please identify yourself and provide your authorization access code.”
“Agent White, with guest, General Blake. Authorization code Lambda – Delta – Pi – Seven – Five – Alpha.”
“Access confirmed, Escort General Blake to the third floor, conference room A. Welcome to BioMed, General.”
The General looked up, then around, with a perplexed look, he finally muttered, “Uh…Thank you.”
They both stepped inside the elevator, Agent White pushed the “3” button and the doors closed. The ride was extremely smooth, almost as if there was no motion at all. Even the usual breaking action to indicate that the elevator had reached the desired floor was absent. The doors opened and Agent White led General Blake down a large hallway. He stopped at a door marked with an “A“ and rapped on the door. A muffled ‘Enter!” could be heard. Agent White opened the door.
“Doctor Alkum, General Blake is here for your eight o’clock.”
“Send him in.”
Agent White held the door open for the General and motioned for him to step inside. The General took his cue and walked in. Agent White nodded at them both, smiled, and then closed the door.
“Please, General, have a seat.”
It was a meager sized conference room, simple in its layout. Four yellow fabric covered chairs surrounded a small round oak table. A few cabinets towards the back wall surrounding a sink. There were no windows or other doors. A single vent, centered over the table, moaned as it exhaled. A modest row of cabinetry sat behind Dr. Alkum. The countertop held a sink in the middle, a short refrigerator on one end, and an appropriately sized microwave oven.
“Thank you, Cadence.” He smiled and pulled out a chair across from her. He sat down and scooched himself closer, back straight, head held high. He laid his cover on the seat next to him and placed his hands in his lap interlacing his fingers. The briefcase sat on the floor next to his chair.
“It has been a while, Sir. You are looking good. To what do I owe thee for this visit?”
“What’s it been, Sergeant? Eight…nine years? I see you’ve kept up yourself in tip-top shape. You still train I take it?”
“It has been nine years and three months since you signed my release orders. And yes, three hours a day, seven days a week.” She smiled hard.
“Do you remember Operation Ontario?”
“Yes, Sir. I do. We lost a lot of good soldiers during that terrorist act.”
“True, we did. We would’ve lost more if it hadn’t been for you.”
“Thank you Sir, I was just doing my duty. Any other soldier…”
“Horseshit! Any other soldier would’ve died! You infiltrated that warehouse and single handed took out six snipers in hand to hand combat. I still watch the video feed from time to time. You set the standard for individual assassination training and methodology. I wish I had several more of you.”
Cadence sat there in silence for a few moments. When it came to business, she hated the small talk, the reliving of the past, the inability of the General to get to the fucking point of why he was there. Finally, she countered, “I’m sorry General, but human cloning is still outlawed.”
The General let out a hearty laugh. She looked surprised. She wasn't trying to be funny; she was serious. Human cloning is still illegal .
“So tell me, General. Why are you here? Certainly not to continue this small talk and relive the past?”
“Right, right. You always did like to get right to the point. Very well.” He reached down and grabbed the briefcase and laid it on the table. He pressed his thumbs to the security strips on the front. A soft snap, and the lid slowly opened. He reached in and pulled out a thin file folder. “I was sent here by the Committee for Soldier Safety to inquire about your safety suits.” With a light shove the folder slid across the table. “Inside you will find an official DOD requisition form along with the relevant mil-specs and potential variations.”
Cadence opened the folder and began to peruse the contents. The first variant, code named Sentry, desired a full body cover, similar in construction to the wet suits used for scuba diving . Military specifications required survivability from sniper fire from one hundred yards and improvised explosive devices from minimum of three yards.
Her brain began to run ballistic and material deformation simulations, as well as three dimensional models of what would need to be changed, enhanced, or modified. She mentally broke down her company’s standard carbon nanotube wrapped synthetic gossamer thread, called Gossamite. As it was constructed currently, it already protected against bites, slashing attacks, and small arms fire from a seventeen yard distance.
She quickly calculated that she could re-engineer the nanotubes with a complex matrix of triple walled, interlocking buds, wrapped around a quadruple helix mesh, and then, for added durability and protection, it could be placed inside a thin Kevlar pocket. She turned to the second set of mil-specs when she her thoughts were interrupted by a thumping noise.
“Cadence. Cadence. Have you been listening to me? Hello?” The General was looking right at her bouncing his index finger off of the table. “So, when do you think I can let my superiors know when to expect the first prototypes for testing?”
Cadence looked up, closed the folder, and slid it back across the table. With a stern look she declared, “Not interested.”
General Blake looked at her in disbelief. He sat there, shocked. “I-I-I don’t understand. Is your company incapable of…”
Cadence gave the General a look of contempt, “No, Sir. These specifications could be met and exceeded. I just don’t want my company to be responsible for these things falling into the wrong hands. You know as well as I do, the black market is seething with military grade equipment. Remember the Augments?”
“The Augments? I thought that was before your time? That happened almost forty years ago! I don’t see how that is pertinent to this discussion.”
“Your military thought it would be a grand idea to hybridize humans and machines for the sole purpose of creating superior…”
“YEAH!? And it would've worked if it hadn't been…”
“HADN'T been for the lack of security, accountability from the top down, and a thorough system of civil reintegration. Once your techniques and creations escaped to the black market, the destruction was…”
“MANAGEABLE! WE TOOK CARE OF THE…”
“YOU ARE AN OLD FOOL! Just because NATO stepped in and convinced the world that restrictions had to be made, limiting any bio-mechanical enhancements to strictly human normal parameters, doesn't mean you can sit there and ignore the fact that there is STILL a huge amount of illegal enhancements going on.”
“IT IS YOUR PATRIOTIC DUTY to see to it that the brave men and women, that you yourself stood side by side with to defend this country and the liberties of its citizens, are given the best equipment there is out there!
“Who gives you the right to come in here and begin to question my loyalty to our country? I am no longer the government’s property. I no longer take orders from you or them. I am not about to provide the US Armed Services with the equivalent of Übermensch. I designed the Gossamite Strand for civilian use only. I refuse to accept the potential irresponsibility of what you are proposing. You are dismissed, we are done here.”
Cadence stood up. The General’s face was red. He fumbled a bit with the file as he was putting it back in the briefcase. After he closed the lid, he stood up and looked her right in the eyes.
“Doctor Alkum, I will give you thirty days to reconsider our proposal. Uncle Sam, does not like to be told no.”
“Are you threatening me, General Blake?”
“Miss…National Security doesn't make threats; we deal with them.”
General Blake turned and stormed out of the conference room and made his way down the hall to the elevators. There he saw Agent White, waiting patiently. Agent White smiled and ceremoniously escorted the General back out to the main lobby. As he watched the General get into his car he put his hand up to his ear.
“Affirmative Director, the package has been delivered.”