Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Microstory 762: Snowman

In the late nineteenth century, a group of people with a lot of money got together and started questioning the future of planet Earth. They did not believe in the bible, or any other religious theory on the end of the world, but they could not deny that it was a possibility. Something happened to the dinosaurs, and the surface of the planet was not always as hospitable as it would become. New technologies pose new threats, and humans are fickle and dangerous beings. They didn’t know for sure what might happen to humanity, if anything at all, but they figured the only safe bet was to find a way protect the continuity of the species...just in case. They formed an institute, and started recruiting. They developed plans, and built facilities. They started watching over people. At first their subjects were random, but as science progressed, they were able to choose the right subjects with the right genetic makeup. They weren’t looking for perfection, nor any superficial trait shared by all. What they were looking for was diversity. What they realized was that the healthiest people in the world came from genetic diversity, which was why inbred offspring often come with defects. It was absolutely vital that their subjects be compatible with each other in a way that no algorithm could, or should, predict, because that was how evolution operated in an uncontrolled environment. Afterall, they weren’t trying to save this small sample, but the future of the human race. As the years went by, they continued their work, in complete secret. They monitored people they now deemed inheritors at a one to one ratio. They built underground bunkers capable of surviving any number of extinction-level disaster scenarios. These bunkers were placed in strategic locations, far from each other, for if one, or even almost all of them failed, perhaps one might survive.
They calculated the optimal population, turned over older inheritors to new generations, and kept the system alive for decades. Over a hundred years from their beginnings, nearly all bunkers were complete. They still had an interstellar vessel planned, but technological limitations prevented them from constructing it yet. Should civilization have ended before such time, they would just have to do without it. While they were waiting, a woman noticed a problem that others had seen without voicing their concerns. Inheritors were being protected half their lives by people called sentinels. These brave men and women were fully aware of the contingency program, and knew that there would be no room for them in the bunkers, should they be activated. But this woman, named Nevra Adkins decided that she was unhappy with this scenario. Though she was no sentinel herself, and would be lucky enough to be placed in one of the bunkers in a leadership position to help the inheritors acclimate to their new lives, she sympathized with them. She did not feel it right for the institute to demand loyalty from their sentinels, knowing that their jobs would end only in death. She broke away from the organization, and formed Project Snowman. With no intention of designing a repopulation strategy, she wanted to create a special bunker, just for the sentinels, and perhaps their families, as sufficient compensation for their dedication. She carved out some land in Antarctica, and broke ground within months. Unfortunately, she spent all of her money on this, and was unable to raise significant funds beyond it, so she would not be able to actually build the damn thing. And so her former institute started allocating money to help her build Snowman. A couple of years later, the coordination efforts were becoming needlessly complex, and Adkins was reabsorbed into the original organization. She had successfully convinced them that this was positively necessary to not only maintain good relationships with their sentinels, but to keep their souls clean. They were there to save humankind, should they be needed. They recognized that they would not be able to save everyone, should they be able to save anyone, but if they didn’t even try to save the true heroes in their ranks, then perhaps humanity did not deserve to be saved at all.

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