The Debate

Two Years Ago…

Director Leddow looked up from his PDA and closed the cover. He looked around the long, black polished table at the gathered scientists and security specialists. There were ten research scientists that worked on the report he’d just referenced, though only the most important scientists had been invited to meet with him today. It would do. The non-research present scientists included teachers, psychologists, and trainers — all people that worked directly with the test subjects.

Leddow glared at the geneticist. “Dr. Reynolds, after all this time, you still have no rational explanation why Subject One continues to inherit her memories.”

“Ah, well, I wouldn’t say that precisely. Sir. It seems that Storm Witch — ah, Miss Harmon — must have a mutant gene that encodes her memories. Each time we manufacture a new clone template we of course write the latest personality version to the template. But it seems her original memories eventually … overrule what we put in place. Doctor Fitzroy has therefore engaged in psychotherapy instead in an attempt to work —“

“Must have a mutant gene?” Director Leddow interrupted. “You’ve mapped the DNA of every one of the test subjects. ‘Must have’ implies you haven’t identified it.”

“Ah… no sir.”

“The report your peers put together indicates Miss Harmon has an ability to alter reality. An ability you have yet to explain. Have you considered the possibility of a non-scientific explanation?”

Dr. Reynolds looked completely baffled, so Dr. Veronica Fields stepped in. Enjoying the discomfort of the scientists in the room, the training facilitator smiled. “He means, doctor, magic.”

Dr. Luke Fitzroy chuckled. “Seriously, Veronica. Magic. The concept has never been proven scientifically. Magic is merely misunderstood technology — or natural processes.”

Dr. Reynolds added, “It’s important to note that Miss Harmon was born with her … unique abilities. The other four subjects were normal, albeit exceptional soldiers that gave their lives in service to this country. The difference, then, must be genetics.”

Veronica Fields snorted. “Yet even after mapping her DNA, you cannot prove your own assertion.”

“Enough!” Director Leddow interjected. “We have more important issues to consider at the moment.”

Fields blinked and gave the director her full attention. Subject One was the only natural meta-human they had. The scientists were now able to derive mutations from technology uncovered elsewhere in the other four subjects.

The fact they had no trouble with resurgent memories in any of the four clones only underscored the problems with Miss Harmon’s re-education programming. Granted, this provided an opportunity for the scientists to perfect their methods used on the others, but this had long been a key problem for the research. Subject One was the only test subject they had that was not former military — had not been a corpse before she arrived. They had just recently successfully used the technology on the four test subjects. Miss Harmon’s strange ability always manifested on its own. Like magic.

Director Leddow was a thin man, good looking to the point of almost being pretty, a fact that Veronica could appreciate, despite the gap of rank and power between them. He had dark hair and eyes to match. When he walked into a room, he had a presence that commanded, that belied his apparent youth. Even the base commander, Captain Abbott wasn’t so imposing. And the director had the room’s attention now.

“We’re taking the project online,” the Director announced simply. Silence followed.

Finally, Dr. Fitzroy spoke up. “Sir, we’re not ready. Something could go wrong.”

Leddow looked at Fitzroy. “Luke, your report goes into great detail describing the powers, the expected capabilities of the test subjects. It appears you already have 80% assurance of what the team will do and what they have the potential to do.”

“Yes, sir. But the 20% uncertainty is not acceptable. It’s Betty.”

“Subject One. Yes, I understand that. Handle it.” Leddow held up a hand to stave off argument. “I’m not going to divert another 100 billion dollars of federal money just to create another five corpses. You’ve used the meta-tech successfully and mapped their minds to the templates. You have two years to complete initial training, at which time Project Nova becomes entirely Captain Abbott’s responsibility.”

He looked around the table, meeting the eyes of each of the shocked scientists so there was no misunderstanding him. Project Nova would proceed or there would be more than just five corpses at the end of two years.

“No more holding back,” Director Leddow stated. “Give these future superhumans as complete a mind and psychological framework as possible. I don’t want superhumans cracking and going nuclear on us. Guide them, but make certain they understand where home is. If there is a critical flaw in a subject, retire it and replace it with a corrected template if you must.”

The Veronica Fields paled. These kids had minds, memories, personalities, healthy bodies. They were real people. Leddow had just given the order to murder them and start again all because it took too long to work with them. A lump stuck in her throat. Every time one of those kids was… retired she felt like a piece of her soul died with them.

Leddow glanced at his watch. “I have a plane to catch. Get it done people. Dismissed.”

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