Biofusion: 201.824


The following sci-fi short story is set in the same universe but future timeline of my Implant stories and was written when I was a college junior. By this time, I was heavily influenced by the original Star Wars trilogy, original Battlestar Galactica TV series, original Doctor Who TV series, Isaac Asimov‘s epic Foundation trilogy and Robot series, and the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series.

Random Plasmid Fusion Lapis (by Submicron)

Random Plasmid Fusion Lapis (by Submicron)

201.824

Alone in the brightly-lit laboratory with the hum of intricate machinery enveloping them, the unclothed participants prepare themselves for the unprecedented union that is about to occur. As the self-injected anesthetic gradually acts upon them, the inclined skylights atop the three-story space, restrain the early morning darkness beyond. And within them, their feelings of doubt and anxiety are similarly but more effortfully restrained by their perceived duty to their society and to themselves.

“Honey?” says one to the other.

“Yes, dear.”

“The military… despite their reassurances… and their ample data proving the reliability of their own machines… I’m still afraid.” He turns away from the glittering green eyes that are so calmly, almost motherly, focussed upon him. “Despite everything, the plan may not succeed. We may… die.”

She smiles. Not too broadly to inappropriately imply any humor; just enough to indicate her understanding of his feelings and her confidence in the future. “We may, yes. But must I remind you of the probability of such a–”

“I know, I know. It’s infinitesimal, virtually non-existent… according to them. But how can we be so certain that they’re not distorting the truth? How can we be so certain that we’ll not be frozen forever, or killed right on the spot?”

“I can,” she gently replies.

“What do you mean? How?”

“The military has extremely little reason to kill us. In fact, we’re more valuable to them alive, much more valuable. You’d see this if you weren’t so worried about dying.”

“But I am.” He returns to the tranquil gaze of his loving companion. “I am indeed worried… apprehensive. I am apprehensive about what the military might do if by accident of by design, we fail to return. I am apprehensive about failing to live our new life. But most importantly, I am apprehensive about failing to experience what has been for kilodays the intense subject of my, of our, scientific research. This unique opportunity, to possess the perspective of the object rather than of the observer, is the primary reason for my ultimately deciding to go through with all this.”

“I know, dear.”

“So you see… we’re not doing this only for the sake of society, but for the sake of ourselves. Probably more so, for ourselves.”

“Yes, I see. I have seen this for dekadays.”

“But you are so calm, so confident.”

“And you, dear, are so insecure.” She smiles once again, closing her slender arms around his bare waist. “Just recall their impressive data, their demonstrations. Their technology is just as advanced as ours, if not more so. Their energy resources are much more abundant than ours. And they initiated their research almost five kilodays before we did. Their process is almost routine. It will seem no more different than a mere transmat to the Western Region.

“Besides, when this process succeeds, they’ll have access to our subsequently enhanced intelligence, which will prove extraordinarily helpful in their various research projects. We’ll be extremely valuable. Of this, I have little doubt.”

“Yes, you’ve discussed this before. And my mind agrees with you. But again, my heart… it is divided between my hopes and my fears. And as this moment approached, it somehow grew more sensitive to my fears than it had been at the start.”

He pauses and closes his dark eyes. Slowly reopening them, he says with his own smile, “I am also more drowsy than I was. It appears that the anesthetic is finally taking effect.”

She nods. “I feel it too.”

The two walk over to the assembly that is positioned towards the center of the spacious laboratory. They stand silently between the parallel pair of horizontal human-sized cylinders that will soon contain them. And they kiss passionately in a farewell embrace.

Eventually they part, the gaze unwavering between them. They each turn to open his or her respective transparent cylinder. And they each easily enter  and lie down within the chamber.

“Honey?” he says through the intercom.

“Yes, dear.”

“This may sound strange under these circumstances, but would you mind hearing my latest poem?”

“Now why would I mind?”

“I don’t know… I somehow had the impression that the last milliday lying in silence would be more appropriate.”

“Well, I don’t mind. You know that I love to listen to you, expressing your thoughts. And now, under these circumstances, I would especially love to do so. Please, dear, go ahead.”

He smiles at her through the transparent shielding. “You are so… you.”

“Thanks.”

“Well, here goes.” He patiently recites:

To tumble through the torrent
Torn between two elements
The third one withstands
Resistance and acceleration
To know three forces
In triangular interaction

The third one awakens
Animates the first two
To twine them together
In one realization
To unite three forces
To foster a new direction

“That was beautiful,” is the reply.

“Thanks.”

“Was this the ‘little detail’ you were working on yesterday? The ‘little detail’ you couldn’t reveal to me… until now?”

“Well…”

“It’s all right,” she smiles. “I forgive you.”

He himself returns a broad smile. “Thank you, for acting like my mother.”

Their laughter eases the tension momentarily. But it eventually fades, leaving behind the familiar doubt and anxiety. Nearly a milliday passes before either of the two speaks again.

“Honey, I don’t feel as afraid,” he says through his own increased drowsiness.

“It’s the anesthetic.”

“Is it?”

“Yes, it is.”

A pause, then, “Honey… I don’t want to die.”

“I’ll be with you. Just think of me.”

“I… love… you.”

“I love you, too, dear.”

And finally, amidst the hum of intricate machinery, within the containment of cylindrical chambers, the two unclothed and sleeping human forms glow brilliantly and gradually dematerialize.

* * *

It is an invigorating autumn day. A comfortable breeze blows lightly as the sun shines high in the cloudless sky. The dim crescents of the twin moons appear lower, opposite the solar brightness. And the city skyscrapers glint proudly along the active transportation lines. Quite a nice day for an aimless drive or flight. Unfortunately, I have an appointment for five noon. (I still cannot imagine how humanity could live in the Old Times before the metric New Time system.) Not that I regret attending the appointment. I planned it. I arranged it. I arranged to interview the one remaining survivor of the three key designers of the legendary Biofuser. I arranged to interview Scientor Holton Keer. Quite a feat for a muckraking Investigator, if I do say so myself.

As I proceed in my old black hovercar to the Anshoran Laboratory Complex where Scientor Holton is continuing his temporal research, I sit with my trusty holotext, hoping its recording mode still operates. I certainly wouldn’t want to miss recording the interview of a career. Actually, I should be reviewing my notes concerning the short history of Biofusion. But as usual, I don’t. Reviewing the night before has invariably been sufficient.

The time is 4.89; eleven millidays until the scheduled interview. (Or slightly under 15.8 minutes until the interview, for those of you fascinated by the Old Time system.) After the auto-pilot parks my hovercar, I get out, and holotext in hand, I stride somewhat nervously to the main entrance of the Complex.

Inside, I recognize the quiet, multi-story atrium, antiseptic in its white-tiled abundance and ozonic aroma. Only the green of several small artificial trees and the intense yellow of the sunlight penetrating the atrium skylights, lend a hint of humanity to the space. On the polished wall to my left, several meters from the entrance doors, the identification panel is situated. I walk over to it. I press my right palm onto the blank ellipse. And I state who I am: “Tass Jarrid, Investigator for the Starstream Times.” Immediately, the panel blinks green and I turn to discover the director of the Complex already meters before me, hand extended in his greeting.

“Welcome back, Investigator,” he says with a smile full of teeth. “Scientor Holton will be with you in a short while. Some things to attend to, I’m afraid. You don’t mind waiting in the main lounge, do you?”

“Oh, uh, I don’t mind,” I utter with a shrug. “It’ll give me a chance to review my notes.”

* * *

The lounge, not geared to impress, is less grand and less harsh in its spatial qualities, and consequently feels more human. There are four simple tube-framed chairs to each of the three round tables. One metalloid shelf, containing holotexts and older electrotexts, sits against one vertically-lined wall. A snack-food dispenser sits against an adjacent wall. Full-length windows fill the other two sides of the rectangular room, framing the yellowing sunlit grass of the Complex grounds and the visible city of Starstream several kilometers distant.

I deftly flip my slim holotext in the air so that it falls keypad-up into my lap. I press the activation button and immediately the bright-green sphere of the holographic field lights up. I press a few more buttons to retrieve a file. Finally, the page of the novel where I was last interrupted, appears.

Hey, you didn’t think I was calling up my interview notes, did you?

As I begin to continue reading the novel, I notice a motion in my peripheral vision. I swivel my head. It is Scientor Holton Keer. And his appearance catches me rather by surprise.

Expecting him to maintain the clean-cut image of the young energetic Scientor that he held so well in his more famous holographs taken almost twenty kilodays (55 years) ago, Scientor Holton instead fulfills the classic stereotypical image of the Old Times “scientist”: long straggly white hair on his head, upper lip, and chin; a stooping posture; and loose, out-of-date clothing. Evidently, his appearance meant less and less against his research as the kilodays passed.

But these are not the features or characteristics that will hold me so absorbed in the interview that is to follow. His sparkling eyes reveal a warm gentle heart and a restless undying intellect beneath his fragile bodily shell. They reveal a spirit that truly desires, not to comprehend humanity, the universe, and everything, but rather to unsettle or disturb the notions that collect about these symbolic terms.

* * *

We agree to hold the interview in the lounge, subsequent to my comment on the beautiful view outside, and to his suggestion that we stay since the original site of his office was “a uniquely cluttered box.” As I set my holotext on recording mode, he notifies someone over the intercom panel to inform the director that Scientor Holton will be interviewed in the lounge. And on 5.10, we begin the interview…

* * *

Tass: Scientor, you are probably best known as one of the key designers of the short-lived Biofuser. At the time of its conception, did you have any idea of what you would be involved in?

Holton [in his slightly-hoarse baritone]: First of all, unless you’d like for me to call you “Investigator,” I think it would be more appropriate if we conversed on a first-name basis; this induces a more comfortable atmosphere. Second… I don’t believe any one of us on the team really knew what was to be. Perhaps we knew what should be, or what could be. But then again, not everything turns out the way you want them to turn out.

Tass: Describe some of the expectations then.

Holton: Well, let me try to remember; that was quite a while back. [He chuckles and then pauses to look out the windows.]

Ah yes, when the Biofusion process was conceived, or perhaps stumbled upon, I do recall an atmosphere of rekindled excitement. Our repeated improvements on transmat efficiency, were losing their appeal. It was getting boring. And it was time for a change. But when the change came with the Biofusion concept, there were no thoughtful, far-reaching expectations or predictions. Merely basking in the blind excitement of the moment. [He chuckles.] No real expectations… at least not yet.

Tass: This initial concept, however, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Holton: Yes, quite.

Tass: But before we continue with that, perhaps, Holton, you should provide a brief description of the Biofusion process, for the many people who grew up after the Biofuser and are use unfamiliar with it.

Holton: Yes, I should. Rather thoughtful of you, Tass. [A pause.]

The Biofusion process, or more technically, the transmat hybridization process, was primarily conceived by the late Scientor Brennerin Dom [Bren], perhaps 25 kilodays [68 years] ago.

Tass: The kiloday of 176 [New Time]?

Holton: Yes, that seems right. It was approximately several kilodays after Jasta and Bren had married, and they married in 173. By the way, Jasta was the late Scientor Jasta Loreno.

[He chuckles.] We were barely in our teens [ten to twenty kilodays, or 27 to 55 years] then. Young, hotshot Scientors of the Complex. Redefining and dominating the field of transmatter physics. Although it may have been a brilliant concept, Biofusion for us then was simply the next logical step in the evolution of the field.

Tass: What do you mean?

Holton: Well, let’s first take the transmat, which is now, I am told, a standard form of long-distance transportation.

Tass: Yes, so it seems.

Holton: The transmat process, to put it basically, (1) converts a material body into energy, (2) transmits the energy and the recorded material pattern to a different location, and (3) reintegrates the object in the original pattern at the new location. For several kilodays, we improved upon the efficiency of the technology. But essentially, the process endured unaltered. As I said, it soon became a boring, rather tedious exercise. And as I said, it was time for a change.

And then on 178.312 at 5.19 [I hold back my smile, amused at how precisely he retrieves the moment], as the three of us, Jasta, Bren, and I, are having lunch, the seed of such a change appeared somewhat magically before our eyes.

You see, Bren had quite a few quirks. One of them was invariably having two small glasses of drink on his tray, whenever we had lunch. One would be a glass of milk; the other, a glass of whatever juice he felt like having that day, but juice nonetheless. On this unique day, however, as Jasta and I are discussing some e-flow modification of the stasis field stabilizer, Bren suddenly leaves. And he returns with a small empty glass to add to his other two.

Jasta and I think nothing of this and we resume our discussion. But then, to our utter surprise, we see Bren, with a glass in each hand, pour the milk and the juice simultaneously into the third and empty glass. [Holton gestures with his own hands accordingly.] And taking the mixture, he drinks it.

Tass [with a disgusted look on my face]: Yuck.

Holton: That was Jasta’s exact reaction. Mine as well. And in response to our reaction, all Bren says is: “I wanted to try something new.”

Once again, Jasta and I proceed to return to our discussion. But this time, Bren bursts out in loud laughter. [Holton himself laughs.] Soon all three of us are absorbed in laughter. As we are laughing, I manage to ask him what is so funny. And without a word, he answers by pouring the mixture from glass to glass to glass, his knowing eyes prompting Jasta and me to figure it out.

Jasta figures it out first and she responds with a giggling “Why not?” Now both husband and wife are playing with the glasses, pouring liquid all around me. Well, all I can do is wait until insight punches my brain. And watch this quite hilarious, quite unique, dance before me.

Finally, in a few more microdays, I do figure it out. I could not believe I missed it the first time. It was so clear.

Tass [with excitement in my voice]: What? What was so clear?

Holton: The analogy, Tass… the analogy for the transmat and Biofusion processes. Essentially, the glass represents the stasis field in which dematerialization or rematerialization must occur, and the liquid represents the energy of the transmatted object. As for the transmat unit itself, that would be represented by the hand.

Tass: I see. Yes, I see. That is indeed clear. No wonder you were so blindly excited.

Holton: However, the creative breakthrough emerged when Bren poured the two separate drinks into one glass. Why not transmat two individual objects such that they reintegrate as a single, somehow improved, entity? Of course, only living objects were considered since the combined result of non-living objects could just as well be constructed directly. But then, how would two living organisms be combined, or “fused” as people used to say? First, they could not be harshly mixed like drinks; some sort of regulating mechanism would be required. Second, two full drinks could not be squeezed into one glass; the excess energy would require proper relocation. Other considerations emerged. The drinks analogy could not solve our problems, but then again, an analogy is not designed to. It serves to clarify and to imply concepts, not to solve problems.

The analogy did provide us with the general process, very similar to that of the standard transmat, upon which to modify and improve. We had: (1) conversion of the two separate organisms into energy, (2) containment of the energies, and the recording of the genetic patterns, and (3) reintegration of a new organism in some new combination of the original patterns. The modifications and improvements included solutions to the two major problems I mentioned earlier [a regulating mechanism and excess energy relocation]. And the most favored solution to each problem, was eventually recognized as an additional step in the Biofusion outline. Thus, the Biofusion process was formally conceived in five fundamental steps: (1) conversion of the two separate organisms into energy, (2) containment of the energies, and the recording of the genetic and memory patterns, (3) selection of half of the genetic pattern, plus the complete memory pattern, from each organism for reconstruction of new complete genetic and memory patterns, (4) reintegration of the new organism in the new genetic pattern, employing the required quantity of energy, and (5) channelling of the excess energy into the superimposition of the second complete memory pattern upon the first. This formalization occurred just one day after the drinks incident, on 178.313 I believe. [He pauses.]

Oh, I am sorry, Tass. You did request a brief description, did you not?

Tass: Well, yes. But there is no need for an apology. You can speak as freely as you wish; you certainly deserve to. Just think of it this way: We took a thoroughly enjoyable scenic route instead of the narrow direct route.

Holton: It would be quite difficult not to think so. [He chuckles.]

Tass: However, your wonderful anecdote does raise one question. You mentioned earlier that Biofusion was just the next logical step after the transmat. [Holton nods.] But with your description of the initial conception, it did not appear to be arrived at through logical means. It involved more of an intuitive flash than some deductive process.

Holton [with thick white eyebrows knitted]: Ah yes, I see what you are getting at. I must say, you are quite perceptive. Yes, I did say “logical”. But perhaps we have slightly different definitions for the term.

I concur with you, Tass, that the drinks analogy appeared in a less than logical manner. At the same time, however, it was not an entirely irrational phenomenon. All three of us, Jasta, Bren, and I, deciphered the puzzle without a single word referring to it. If it were truly irrational or intuitive, if there is such a thing, I doubt Jasta and I would have comprehended, let alone deciphered, Bren’s actions without some verbal clues. Instead, a common mindset, a collective atmosphere, if you will, molded by the general environment and the particular situation, favored the emergence of the conceptual association. Not entirely logical nor entirely intuitive. But somewhere in the middle. A fusion of the two, if you’ll pardon the pathetic pun. [He chuckles.]

So you see, in the instance when I said “logical,” I actually meant “somewhat logical and somewhat intuitive,” something like that. Nevertheless, I avoided the more awkward qualifier, hoping the less accurate one would go unquestioned. But astonishingly, Tass, you did question it. Now, does my explanation make sense?

Tass: Yes, it does.

Holton: Now quickly tell me… why?

Tass: What?

Holton: Why does it make sense?

Tass: Because, uh… it sounded sensible. [Holton smiles.] Because of experience. [He nods, holding his gentle smile, and I realize.] Because of a somewhat logical and somewhat intuitive phenomenon.

Holton: Very good.

Tass: Yes, I understand. However, just because your explanation makes sense, does not necessarily mean I believe it.

Holton [displaying widened eyes to accompany his widened smile]: And why not?

Tass: With that first time, I recall no hesitation in your saying “logical.” No hesitation to betray any adjectival decision process. Perhaps because there was none.

I don’t want to seem harsh, Holton, but I believe your explanation was a very cleverly constructed justification for your little adjectival inaccuracy, which was probably just a consequence of familiar usage. The word “logical” was a comfortable word to use in that context. A comfortable habit obtained through experience.

What is interesting, is that you could have told me this, but did not. I wonder… [Now it is my turn to smile.] Did you plan an extra something? Another little test, that was set up by that first test asking me why your explanation made sense?

Holton: I must say again, Tass, you are very perceptive. I wish I had been as perceptive at your age. [He chuckles again.]

Yes, I did plan a follow-up punch, so to speak. But you beat me to it. I was prepared to tell you what you already figured out. I was hoping to surprise you, to demonstrate that experience or common sense does not always provide accurate judgments or well-rounded concepts. Things that seem to make sense, can be inaccurate or incomplete. Thus, things in which people believe, can be inaccurate or incomplete.

My deception intended to demonstrate that you believed my explanation merely because it made sense. Why must something make sense to be believed? Likewise, why was the drinks analogy believed to be useful? It is because making sense induces a belief that is invariably drenched in relief, a restricting relief.

I intended to tell you all this. Actually, I just did, didn’t I? But you perceived my deception. You cut to the heart of the matter. Yes, as you said, Tass, just because it makes sense, does not mean I believe it. In everyday life, a person cannot afford to question all of his or her own familiar and practical beliefs and assumptions; the person will otherwise go insane. But an ancient Scientor like me, does not live an everyday life. Very little is allowed to make sense, by me as well as by Nature. If something makes sense, that is, fulfills a calculated prediction or generates an elegant relation, I initially do not believe it. I must execute additional experiments and even with a confirmation, I am tentative. Furthermore, such predictions and relations are never isolated; they are interconnected in an endless ocean, such that a change in one condition effects a wave of changes throughout the ocean. A confirmed or an established condition that makes sense, can be transformed at any time. I still wonder at how I manage to endure it all, and to avoid insanity. Not that I claim to be entirely sane. [He chuckled weakly.]

One could say that I am advancing on transient tightropes, in a sea of shifting shadows, with a single solid shovel, and unearthing shining fishes, with which others will proudly pave, under their comforting clean-cut castles. Or one could say that I am indeed insane. At least I am sufficiently sane to say this: Everything will make sense to me… when I am dead. [Holton sighs and then sits silently for a few moments.]

I guess I took you on another scenic route, Tass, albeit more dreary and perhaps more distressing than the first.

Tass: Perhaps. But this time we, this is, the readers as well as I, caught a glimpse of the unique spirit of Scientor Holton Keer.

Holton: You are too kind, Tass. To be referred to in the third person by the only other person in the room, is quite a distinct honor. [We both laugh.]

Tass: Now I believe or feel, for lack of a better verb, that we should move on.

Holton: I concur.

Tass: Earlier, Holton, you discussed the formalization of the Biofusion process. And I said that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Would you now describe the rest of the iceberg?

Holton: Certainly. Let’s see…

As I said before, the formalization occurred on 178.313. Intriguing how I still retain this item of data. [I hold back another smile, as he also realizes his unexpected precision.] Well, the subsequent research focussed on how the then recently developed transmat could be modified to execute the Biofusion process. And within a kiloday, we were ready for our first major experiment, one that employed actual living organisms.

Tass: Two red-striped murines [rats] native to the Eastern Region.

Holton [with a smile]: My, you are remarkably informed.

Yes, we employed two murines of the same species. But the crucial consideration was that they were indeed of the same species, capable of interbreeding with others of their species. In more technical terms, the two organisms possessed an identical number of chromosomes. This condition was required if the Biofusion was to be successful.

You see, the genetic portion of the third basic step in the process — selecting half of the genetic pattern from each organism — could theoretically be accomplished on several levels. On the cellular, the chromosomal, and the genetic levels. Ultimately, the cellular and the genetic levels were abandoned, because (1) the former would most likely yield excessive tissue instability due to rejection effects; the organism would die within millidays [1 milliday equaling about 86 seconds]. And (2) the latter would entail tedious gene-splicing with four chromosomes, that is, one pair from each organism, for every chromosomal type required in the reproduction of the involved species. However, Biofusion on the chromosomal level would closely mimic and directly link the biological processes of meiosis and conception. We consequently decided to continue along this simplest path, keeping in mind that this was still merely the genetic portion; there was also the memory portion of this step to consider.

Tass: Yes, I was just about to ask you about that. How was the superimposition of the murine memory patterns accomplished?

Holton: It wasn’t.

Tass: Really? Why not?

Holton: Several hectodays after the formalization, it was decided, or rather Bren decided, that memory superimposition or MSI would be inappropriate with the first attempt. But I agreed not because he was the team coordinator or because he was my friend, I agreed because his reasons were quite thoughtful.

When Bren gathered the team together, rather than the usual coordinating instructions, he offered to explain the reasons for his most recent decision. He explained that the memory pattern was not of immediate concern. Our first priority was the genetic pattern. If we attempted a full genetic and memory Biofusion, and the genetic portion failed, we would not be able to determine whether or not the memory portion succeeded anyway. The MSI could fail as well, and we wouldn’t know. Resources would have been needlessly wasted.

“By taking one cautious step at a time, instead of jumping in with both feet,” I recall Bren saying, “we avoid falling through the thin ice that may lie ahead.” A nice little saying. Hmmm. Reminiscent of my own tightrope saying. But that is something else.

Bren further indicated that the murines that would likely be used, could hardly have a memory at all with such poorly-evolved cerebra. He said jokingly that they wouldn’t miss them. But in a more serious tone, he added that such low-level amnesia should not affect the genetic results. The new murine would behave as if it were newly born, yes, but it would possess the body of an adult, a body that could be genetically and physically analyzed, and compared with the original two.

With these two clearly and concisely explained reasons, Bren convinced the team. Yes, Bren eloquently convinced the team. And this took place, as I said, several hectodays after the Biofusion formalization. The first major experiment took place just within a kiloday of formalization, in 179. To be precise, I recall the date was 141. Yes, that’s right… on 141 of 179, or 179.141. [He chuckles.] And this time I know how I recalled the date.

Another quirk Bren had, was composing clever little poems in honor of atypical days. One of those days was the day of our first murine experiment. When the coordinator strode into the laboratory that morning and we gathered around him awaiting our instructions, he surprised us by telling us that he wanted to recite a poem for the occasion. Yes, he surprised us. The poem surprised us as well.

With a rarely revealed profundity in his expression and in his enunciation, Bren recited:

As cascading sunstreams
Trickled through my lids
And irritated my retinae
Like photo-arachnids

I woke with weird wonder
Staring at the ceiling
Something striking yet obscure
A confident tingling

I have this strange feeling
Surrounding my being
We’ll score one for one more
Stretching the strong string

Applause filled the vast room when he finished. An applause that was itself filled with pride and awe. Compliments followed and he gave his thanks. I must tell you, however, that this was the first time Bren had recited a poem to us. So we didn’t know about this particular quirk which would continue for kilodays to come. It might even have begun on that day. Well, with the compliments and all, fading away, the team of young Sub-scientors were now ready for their instructions.

Bren however said, “Before we begin, who found the double-meaning line in my poem?”

At this, the rest of us looked at each other confusedly. Except for Jasta who revealed a telling smile. She apparently knew which line it was. And her silence suggested that she knew it beforehand. The rest of us, however, were caught unprepared.

Bren said, “Let me give you a hint. What time is it?”

Now we were really confused. I, just like anyone else, turned naturally to my timepiece. And the time was ten millidays after three. So. What did 3.10 have to do with the poem? What the frac was Bren talking about?

But then, just as I lower my arm, I catch a glimpse of the date. A momentary glimpse, but a sufficient one. Immediately, the association punches my brain.

The date was, as I said, 179.141. However, the date was and is, popularly and sufficiently referred to by the last three digits, since these digits change more rapidly. Well, here, the last three digits were one, four, one. And in the second to last line of his poem, Bren said: “We’ll score one for one more.” There it was, the double-meaning line, cleverly marking the date of our first major Biofusion experiment. The time itself had nothing to do with it; Bren just wanted us to look at our timepieces and to somehow notice the date.

Tass [with a nod]: Yes, I see. Clever.

Holton: Yes, very clever.

Tass: And you were the only one to find it?

Holton: Oh, no. But I was the first, if that counts for something.

Tass [with my own chuckle]: Perhaps it was another case of your collective atmosphere.

Holton [with a smile]: Perhaps so.

Tass: Now… by the end of 141, you did indeed “score one for one more.”

Holton: Yes, we did. We employed two female red-striped murines, ensuring that the sex-chromosomal pair of the new genetic pattern would yield a female as well. This was done to facilitate comparisons with data from the original two females, and to establish an unprecedented form of reproduction. A form of reproduction that would involve two non-hermaphroditic organisms of the same sex. And we succeeded. The two sleep-induced murines were each placed in her own transmission chamber. The Biofusion process was activated. And a new female red-striped murine emerged in the reception chamber, alive and sleeping. Yes, we succeeded.

Tass: But you succeeded in secret. The news of this first major success remained contained within the walls of the Anshoran Laboratory Complex for nearly five more kilodays… until the last major experiment when containment was no longer possible. Why the secrecy?

Holton [looking briefly out the windows]: Yes, we kept it secret. Because by this time, we did have expectations, predictions. Both the hopeful and the fearful. But particularly the fearful.

It did not take us long to realize that this biotechnology could eventually be applied to human beings. Not only indirectly through the hopeful advances that Biofusion could bring about in the fields of medicine and agriculture. But directly with human Biofusion reproduction.

If news of our success were to spread, how soon would the general public realize the potential human-reproductive applications of such biotechnology? How would they react? How about the animal rights and environmentalist organizations? Or the military? How would they react? I’ll tell you. Except for perhaps the military, they would react with fear. With fear of the radically new and the scarcely known. With fear that their collectively-constructed comforting clean-cut castles would collapse. And sure enough, when Biofusion was ultimately revealed, they reacted so. Protest groups from every Region of the world, waving their signs and roaring their threats. It was chaos.

Tass: That is, until the Regional military intervened on the behalf of the Complex.

Holton: Well, they intervened, yes. But more accurately, on their own behalf. Sustaining the peace wasn’t the only notions in their brains. Indeed, they eventually dissolved the demonstrations. But when they were through, they weren’t intent on leaving us alone, now were they? And they didn’t, did they?

Tass: Apparently not.

Holton: I’m sorry, Tass. But if you don’t mind, I would appreciate it if we continue along with something else.

Tass: Of course. [I pause to think.]

We discussed the secrecy of the first major Biofusion success. However, this news was not the only major news to be contained in secret. In fact, three more major experiments were conducted in secret, with each experiment surpassing the last in specimen complexity and thus in biotechnological complexity. The fifth and last major experiment held with this pattern, but had been conducted amidst the reactionary chaos you depicted. Would you provide a synopsis for each of these major experiments so that we may lead up to, and discuss, the Biofusion accident of 184.034?

Holton: Certainly…

Our second major experiment attempted the full genetic and memory Biofusion, once again employing two female red-striped murines. To attain this point required quite a bit more time than we expected. Bren had projected seven or eight hectodays. But the modification of the present technology and the incorporation of new technology, required nearly twice the hectodays. Evidently, the complexity of the memory patterns and the process of their superimposition, were underestimated. However, they were not out of reach. The adjustments were eventually completed. And the experiment was prepared. Unfortunately, it failed.

The two original murines had been trained beforehand to accomplish a variety of physical tasks. But each murine was trained in tasks not encountered by the other. A successful MSI would be demonstrated by the completion of all the tasks by the new murine. Simple. However, subsequent to the actual Biofusion, although genetic reintegration was successful, analysis of the new murine’s task performances revealed a rapid deterioration of memory. Although she initially retained the memories contributed by her female progenitors, as demonstrated by her efficient first-trial performances, the murine did not retain them very long. Soon, with additional trial runs in all the involved tasks, she performed with increasing inefficiency until her apparent loss of all memory. She behaved exactly like the newborn adult murine of the first experiment. What was a success then, was a failure now. Total memory deterioration. This occurred on 533 of 180, I believe.

However, within the next kiloday, on 171 of 181, we did succeed with our third major Biofusion experiment. An enormous step forward. Evidently, MSI involved more of a multiplicative than an additive quantity of energy. In more basic terms, if murine X contributed memory with an energy value of, let’s say, three, and murine Y contributed four… then the required energy for successful MSI would lie closer to three times four, or twelve, rather than three plus four, or seven. [He smiles.] I had quite a substantial role in this realization, I am happy to say.

Tass [with my own smile]: It was about time.

Holton [with a chuckle]: Yes, I must say, it was. Finally got a good brain-puncher before Bren. [I laugh.] Then again, it wasn’t a great one. We all knew that a larger quantity of energy was required. I merely defined a striking relation that told us how much.

Tass: You underestimate yourself, Holton. Your energy relation was surprisingly useful in the fourth and fifth major experiments, according to your team’s old reports. It was even referred to as Holton’s Relation.

Holton: Perhaps. But don’t praise it too highly. I merely pointed out the relation in a favorable collective atmosphere. That is, the entire team provided the conceptual resources in which I formalized a remarkably stable relation. Just as the entire team and the particular situation provided the resources in which Bren realized his drinks analogy. Nothing magical or divine about that.

Tass: Which raises another, more personal, question. We will be taking another circuitous route with this question. However, your answer, Holton, should be interesting. [I pause.] Does the Eternal exist?

Holton [smiling]: As in eternal laws or an eternal godlike entity?

Tass: Yes.

Holton [still smiling]: I believe… that you, Tass, already know what I believe.

Tass [with my own smile]: That may be so. As for our less knowledgeable readers, however…

Holton: Ah yes, the readers. Very well. [He chuckles.]

Does the Eternal exist? I have found this to be quite related to another old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In my opinion, both questions are irrelevant. It would be more appropriate to ask: Which tastes better? [I smile.]

Let me explain… Whether or not the Eternal actually exists, my belief will not alter, or obtain a reaction from, that condition. Of course, that the condition is unalterable, in my view, does not contradictorily qualify as an eternal law, since a sharply-defined law cannot be formed from its immaterial lack. However, realizing that the condition is unalterable, did free me to consider the intellectual irrelevance of the question of whether or not the Eternal exists. Indeed, there can be psychological relevance, but this is quite different from the intellectual. And eventually, I convinced myself that the question did lack intellectual relevance.

Well, as you can imagine, this realization did not sit well with my training as a Scientor. On the one hand, the existence of an Eternal reality beyond our own, had no meaning for me. Yet, on the other hand, my scientific career depended upon its assumed existence. It would have been simpler to select one over the other, to choose which came first. Instead, having tasted both, I prepared my own delicious meal including both the chicken and the egg in a unique-tasting soup. I constructed my own belief employing the conceptual resources provided by the society and by my career.

Here it is: I believe that the relevance of the Eternal existence question, does not exist. Consequently, when I refer to Nature, I am referring to the entire collection of directly perceivable entities and experiences. Nature exists, yes, but not independently from my perception. In other words, there is no meaningful Nature beyond my perception. Furthermore, when I process my perceptions of Nature, that is, I abstractly define relations or attribute qualities, I am generating concepts. These concepts are generated from the conceptual resources provided by the society, which are ultimately based upon Nature. They are not incredibly retrieved from an Eternal realm beyond Nature, as many have learned to believe.

However, once in a while, a concept emerges which possesses remarkable stability. That is, it holds for an ample variety of applicable situations. Like the formula for calculating the volume of a sphere. Or the velocity of light. Even my energy relation for MSI. The concept may seem eternal. Of course, subsequent to its magical discovery. But it is much simpler and more direct to view it as a construct which consistently describes an aspect of Nature. And a construct that remains stable so long as the perceptions revolving about that aspect of Nature, remains stable. When perceptions transform, the original conceptual constructs that held so firmly among them, must fall away to allow other constructs to emerge. Thus, the coming and going of facts and theories.

Then there is the emerging concept which is remarkably radical as well as remarkably stable. In this case, it cannot be incorporated into the conceptual ocean without unleashing substantial waves and disturbing other constructs around it. I view myself as an agent of such unsettling change. I believe that my role as a Scientor is to generate those waves or at least ripples, in our society. To occasionally quake the comforting clean-cut castles of our culture. To demonstrate that Nature is not governed by some Eternal realm. And to demonstrate that Nature is not responsible for the somewhat stable, often mundane, and sporadically terrifying, reality that is everyday life for countless people. It is we who are responsible. Not Nature. Not the Eternal. We are. And, corny as it may sound, we can change it, redefine it. Which is why I feel so strongly about my present work. If I can transform everyday societal perceptions, perhaps fewer people will take life so seriously, so narrowly. If I can transform it sufficiently, perhaps most will learn to enjoy the intriguing thrill of tightrope leaping. [He laughs.]

Makes sense?

Tass [smiling]: I won’t answer that. [Holton laughs again.] But I’ll say this: I was correct. Your answer was indeed fascinating.

Holton: Thank you.

Tass: However, now we must return to the less thrilling level of more everyday questions.

Holton: Ah yes.

Tass: We last detoured with the third major Biofusion experiment and your energy relation. Discuss the next major experiment.

Holton: Yes. And you want me to lead up to the accident.

Tass: Precisely.

Holton: Well, the next experiment was the fourth. This was identical with the second and third experiments with the exception of only two things: (1) instead of murines, we employed Northern domestic felines, and (2) the biotechnology was modified to withstand and contain the larger quantity of energy involved in the full Biofusion of more massive and more complex organisms. Again, females were employed. Again, my energy relation was employed. And again, we succeeded. The new feline emerged alive and sleeping. The subsequent analysis of the genetic pattern revealed a complete chromosomal re-pairing. And the analysis of her task performances revealed a stable and doubled memory. Yes, another success. Our third in four major attempts. Oh, and the date: 164 of 182.

However, one itch lingered on from this experiment. In the energy calculations for MSI, I had noticed that for successful superimposition, the felines would require a larger proportion of their excess energy for genetic reintegration or GRI, than the murines required of their own. In terms of the drinks analogy, if we poured the two separate drinks into one glass, there was always extra liquid remaining that equalled no more than one drink. The murines required a small ratio of their extra energy for MSI while the felines required a larger ratio for MSI. In more mathematical terms, the energy ratio of MSI to GRI was larger for the felines than for the murines. Until this experiment, there was no reason to suspect that this ratio could surpass unity, when the energy of superimposition equalled that provided by one organism. But considering that the feline energy ratio already reached 0.88, compared to the murine energy ratio of 0.29, there was no choice but to suspect it. Eventually, the human energy ratio was calculated, and the surpassing of unity was confirmed. This meant that if and when human Biofusion was to be attempted, outside energy would be required to supplement that already provided by the two participating persons. Which was an annoying itch. And which brings me to the fifth and last of the major experiments. The accident.

Now, by the day of the accident, our team was dealing with several serious problems. Serious problems stemming from the conditioned fear of the unfamiliar. First of all, there were the public demonstrations. It was overwhelming. Thousands of them. Engulfing the Complex. But as scientific pioneers, we endured them. Call it pride in our unprecedented achievements, or disgust at the ignorant behavior of these demonstrators, we willfully adhered to our research schedule. And made good use of our personal defense fields. [He chuckles.] Within one meter of my body, they had the opportunity to experience my electrifying aura.

Another problem involved negotiations with the Complex director and his staff of sub-directors, for the acquisition of a larger portion of the experimental energy. You see, calculations for human Biofusion revealed a tremendous energy requirement. Not only is the adult human being several times more massive than the adult feline, but the human energy ratio approaches the double-digit values. And this amounts to a frac of a lot of energy. Modifying only the size of the transmission and reception chambers, we solved the containment problem by sufficiently lengthening the duration of Biofusion. But in order to conduct the experiment, we required the energy. Unfortunately, since we weren’t the only team in the Complex, that meant tedious negotiations. And that we were the team responsible for the demonstrations didn’t make them any less difficult.

It was an intensely stressful situation for everyone. We on the team were being pressured by our scientific convictions, by the Complex directorate, and by the protest groups. I can imagine the directorate being pressured by us, by the protest groups, by their own convictions, and perhaps by the military to grant them access to our research. And the protest groups were being pressured by their own understandable fears. However, I would have to say that Bren was the most affected of all. As team coordinator, he was a principal focus for these pressures. He was a focus that was viewed in many different ways. And he was seen as many different things: A pioneer. A rebel. A radical. A symbol of science. And of anarchy. [Holton pauses.] It couldn’t have been very pleasant.

To top this all off, an experimental problem arose: No volunteers to participate in the human Biofusion. There had been early volunteers about one hectoday before the scheduled test date. But eventually, as the news spread wider and the protest groups grew larger, all of them withdrew. One dekaday from the test date, and we acquired no supplementary experimental energy, we had no volunteers, and on the Complex grounds outside, the protestors had no… they had no tolerance. Just two volunteers might have… I don’t know… they might have prevented the death of the Biofuser. With two volunteers demonstrating their strength of will for a worthy cause, we might have gained enough supporters and enough time to quell the fears of the protesters before they crushed the potential of Biofusion. But none came forth.

That is, until 034 of 184… on 184.034. Yes, on the scheduled test date, despite announcements stating that the experiment had been postponed. But the experiment was indeed postponed; the two came forth without any warning, without anyone’s knowledge. The two secretly conducted the Biofusion experiment themselves. And they destroyed themselves in the process. [He turns to the windows.] Tass, you know who the two secret volunteers were?

Tass [quietly]: Yes.

Holton: Well, I’ll inform the readers then. [He pauses briefly. ] The secret volunteers were Scientors Brennerin Dom and Jasta Loreno. Yes, Bren and Jasta.

They entered the Complex very early in the morning, before one, when all the protesters were sleeping at home. They passed the security identification panel without incident. And they entered the main laboratory. Inside, they activated the Biofuser, setting the time-delay mechanism. They injected themselves with the anesthetic. And soon unclothed, they each entered and reclined in the horizontal tube that was the transmission chamber. When they both fell asleep, the Biofusion process was activated. And it was at this point when something went extremely wrong. The Biofuser exploded, destroying half of the laboratory and all the equipment within that half.

Tass: Yes, the news at the time reported an explosion that had destroyed two complete sides of a three-story high wing.

Holton: Quite accurate.

Tass: But with such destruction, how was the time of malfunction determined? You did say that something went wrong during the Biofusion process. Not before, not after. But during the process.

Holton: Yes. Well, the strongest evidence, or lack of evidence, supporting this, was the absence of any human remains in the vicinity. The remains of their clothing were found. But no human remains. Furthermore, the emergency scan that was triggered by the explosion, failed to detect anyone else, besides the security personnel, in the rest of the Complex and on the Complex grounds. The lack of evidence all suggested the unfortunate deaths of Bren and Jasta as unreintegrated energy.

Tass: In other words, their own posthumous energy contributed to the destruction of the laboratory?

Holton: Well, no…

The main Biofuser systems — the recorder, transformer, reintegrator, superimposer, and chamber, systems — were situated in one area of the large laboratory, while at a reasonable distance, the control system occupied another area. This arrangement facilitated the safe isolation of the main systems in a containment field, away from the Scientors at the controls, in the event of an experimental emergency. This malfunction, however, triggered explosions in the control area as well as in the containment area. The activated containment field immediately contained the explosion of the main systems, protecting that portion of the laboratory. But the uncontained explosion of the control system destroyed its own portion of the laboratory. So the answer to your question is this: The unreintegrated energy of Bren and Jasta along with the energy of the main systems’ destruction, were restrained and absorbed by the containment field.

Tass [after a pause]: But why did they do it? Despite the pressures surrounding them, why did they choose total memory deterioration? I’m assuming, of course, that the supplementary energy wasn’t obtained.

Holton: The containment field recording did demonstrate a tremendous energy spike. But the value did not satisfy the calculated energy requirement for their full Biofusion. So yes, that’s a correct assumption.

Tass: Then they must have known the consequence of memory deterioration, if not death. But why? They could have waited for a more favorable societal climate. But they didn’t. And now they are joined with the figurative, if not actual, Eternal.

Holton: Now they are martyrs. And although the general public didn’t recognize them as such, it eventually will.

Initially, even I was horrified. Confused. I asked myself the same questions. Why indeed did they welcome the death of their ability to remember? Why welcome a virtual living death? And then I took a different approach. Why not stand by one’s convictions? Why not sacrifice one’s own life to further them? And why not send conceptual tremors throughout the world while doing so? Viewing their deaths in this more positive light gave and still gives me, a certain inspiration. A certain confidence. In myself. And in humanity in general. In all likelihood, here was when my unorthodox chicken-and-egg belief began to coalesce.

And let me tell you something else, Tass. Even now, nearly twenty kilodays [55 years] later, I still wonder about that strange Biofusion malfunction. I wonder if Bren and Jasta themselves deliberately sabotaged the control system to ensure their immaterial deaths. To bestow a mystical aura to the accident. To infuse an unsettling incident into our everyday memories.

Tass: We’ll never know for certain, of course. As the new coordinator of your team, you, Holton, instructed the abandonment of all Biofusion research. One of those instructions involved the confiscation and subsequent disintegration of all Biofuser debris.

Holton: Yes. At the time, I believed it was the appropriate action to take. And I still believe so, now. Yes, they died. But let them rest peacefully. Let the Biofuser rest with them. Let the mystery fly freely, with no evidence to weigh it down. They deserved that much. [He pauses briefly.]

But how did you know that? How did you know about that particular instruction? Tass, you must have done intense research for this interview. Undoubtedly, you must have interviewed some of my colleagues to prepare for this interview. I’ve said that you are very perceptive and very well informed. Well, I’m going to say it again: You are very perceptive and very well informed. [He chuckles.]

Tass [with a smile]: Thank you.

Holton: Perhaps you can join my team.

Tass: Your temporal research team?

Holton: Yes, why not? You do appear more qualified than most of my Sub-scientors. [We laugh.] Besides, it’ll be a refreshing change to have a woman on the team. Since Jasta, not one female Sub-scientor or Scientor has become a member of my team. New faces, new names. But invariably men. One may conjecture that I am secreting some female-repelling substance. [I laugh.]

Not that I abhor working with my fellow men. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s Jasta and not women in general, that I miss. Perhaps I loved her… [He turns to the windows.]

Tass: Really?

Holton [turning back to me]: And then again, perhaps not. But I do know that Jasta loved Bren regardless of whatever I felt for her then. They married each other. They worked together. And they died together. Bren certainly meant a great deal to her. And Jasta to him.

Come to think of it, Tass, I miss something else… Jasta was beautiful. I would naturally look at her eyes during a lunch or a laboratory conversation, just as I am naturally looking at your eyes during this interview. But occasionally, just once in a while, her glittering green eyes… would seem to peer directly into my soul. And I would feel as if I was gazing endlessly at the essence of Nature. It certainly makes little sense to me now. And yet I do recall that feeling vividly. A mystical feeling? [He stares in an apparent momentary trance.]

Oh, I’m sorry. I must apologize for my behavior. It must have been the excess momentum in my memory flood.

Tass: As I said before, there are no need for apologies.

Holton: Thank you. So… will you join my team? [He smiles.]

Tass [smiling]: I’m honored, but…

Holton: Ah yes. You are an Investigator. “Investigators are born, not made,” so the saying goes. And you desire to remain one. [I nod.]

Well, I quite understand. I feel the same way for my own career. But it was worth a try. [He chuckles.]

Are there any further questions you wish to ask?

Tass: Well, no. I believe we’ve sufficiently covered the iceberg of Biofusion. Your present research on temporal stasis fields will be the subject of another interview.

Holton: If my decrepit shell can still dance on tightropes. [He smiles.]

Tass: Thank you, Holton.

Holton: It has been a pleasure.

* * *

The interview concludes about a quarter of a deciday, or 25 millidays (36 minutes), after its start. I have a brief post-interview conversation with Scientor Holton Keer. And eventually, I register my departure on the second identification panel situated on the polished wall, opposite that of the first panel. I then exit the Anshoran Laboratory Complex and inhale a full breath of fresh air.

As I proceed to my hovercar, holotext in hand, I glance back at the enormous Complex. The huge surface of one-way mirror windows is regularly interrupted by bright white horizontal strips. The two colossal columns of a similar white rise proudly to the complete five-story height of the structure. And, in between them, lie the three concentric disks, whose edges compose the steps on either side of the entrance plane they penetrate. The majestic sight still impresses me. Yet it isn’t the sight I remember, and am familiar with, from earlier days.

I reach the smooth shiny form of my black hovercar. Like my reliable holotext, it is one of my few constant companions. As I enter, I instruct the auto-pilot to transport me back to Starstream, and to the apartment complex in which I live. The vehicle rises. The stabilizers extend to full length. And the yellowing grass of the Complex grounds accelerates backward as a more active transportation line approaches. Slowly I am absorbed in thought. I reflexively activate my holotext and set it on recording mode. I say…

* * *

It was difficult conducting the interview. It was probably… no, not probably… it was certainly my most difficult interview. It was difficult not to reveal my secret. It was difficult not to reveal my past identity, or rather, identities. And most of all, it was difficult to hide them from a former friend… and a former colleague.

Holton looked so old. Yet he is so articulate and animated. He is witty and passionate and profound. I never knew he could be so. However, despite his present appearance, his present beliefs, his present career, I will probably remember Holton most strongly as the Scientor who would serve as my liaison to the Sub-scientors, as the lunch partner who listened so intently, and especially as the bright-eyed grey-goateed sidekick who would always be one of the first to get my jokes. But how could I tell him all this? The answer is: I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell him during the interview… or after the interview. I couldn’t violate my agreement with the military… even for a dear friend.

The military offered so much. They had offered me the freedom to fully explore my next identity, whether I continued with a scientific career or not. They had offered to pay for all of my expenses for the first five kilodays, to help readjust my life with my new identity. And they had offered me to join their own secret research in Biofusion and Time-transmat technology, whenever I was interested. The offer was irresistible. But there were the inescapable conditions.

First, of course, my former selves had to undergo the Biofusion process. But this wasn’t really a condition; this decision was freely and willingly chosen. What we needed was the supplementary energy that the Complex directorate so stubbornly withheld. And the military provided it.

Second, my own Biofusion research at the Complex had to be drastically delayed, if not altogether abandoned. And this delay could be best achieved by the apparent deaths of my former selves. The military believed that society had enough of the shockingly unfamiliar; they believed that the conceptual inoculation had been completed. In fact, my research had been allowed to emerge so that society may be better prepared for the reintroduction of Biofusion in the future.

Third, upon my successful Biofusion, I would be contained in a temporal stasis field, where I would remain asleep and unaging for the next fifteen kilodays (41 years). Apparently, I would be the subject of one of their own experiments… the Scientor turned subject.

The last, and most important condition of all, I could not, under any circumstances reveal outside the involved military circle, my true past, nor my secret dealings with that circle.

There they were, four conditions. These were the four conditions that I weighed against the opportunity for a new life. I was given the opportunity to begin a new life at the age of seventeen kilodays (47 years), with the memories and experiences of twice that. I was given that option. And I took it. That is, Bren and Jasta took it.

But to realize that option, a plan was necessary. And the military had it already prepared. I looked at the holograms. I listened to the descriptions and explanations. I was impressed. They impressed me not only with their technology, but with their ingenuity. The planned “accident” was ingenious.

All that the plan required of my former selves to do, was to anesthetize and unclothe ourselves, and to enter the transmission chambers. Everything else would be done remotely: (1) the transmat of our sleeping selves from our transmission chambers to those of the military’s Biofuser, where the actual Biofusion would secretly occur; and (2) the subsequent removal by transmat, of two key sections of my Biofuser, one from the control system and another from the main systems, whose absence would trigger explosions. Quite an ingenious plan. Quite an illusion.

But I could not reveal any of this to Holton. I did slip a couple of times by demonstrating my knowledge of the type of murines used, and by saying that I read old Biofusion reports which he supposedly destroyed along with the Biofuser remains. Furthermore, Holton noticed my resemblance to Jasta, if only subconsciously or intuitively. Fortunately, nothing came of these. Yet I wonder. Holton also considered the possibility of sabotage, if only lightly. Is it possible he knows the truth?

Well, nevertheless, I am safe. I am content. I am content with my career of already over four kilodays. I am content with my new life as Investigator Tass Jarrid, the progeny of Scientors Brennerin Dom and Jasta Loreno.

* * *

I deactivate my holotext. I have nothing more to say. But as the sun shines less high in the cloudless sky, and the dim crescents of the twin moons appear lower and closer together, I begin to compose, in Holton’s words, a “clever little poem in honor of this atypical day.” As the city skyscrapers glint less proudly, words and phrases, notions and emotions, flutter around in my mind. And as slowly as the city approaches, I gather certain words, certain phrases. The poem coalesces. Its form clarifies. It becomes more formalized…

* * *

It is an enchanting autumn night. I sit down at my desk by the full-length window. I gaze outside. I gaze beyond the semi-reflection of a seated female with long dark hair. I gaze with green eyes at a night dominated by the city lights below, and by the twin moons above. The crescents are now bright and ever so slightly overlap. And once more I consider how far apart my being a “born” Investigator is from my being the scientific martyr in Holton’s mind. I feigned death to contribute to the grand societal scheme of the apparently benevolent military. But primarily to experience the process itself that was the subject of my consuming research. And to live the new life that would result. Quite selfish for a trained Scientor.

I swivel my chair away from the mystical view to face the comforting normality of the desk surface and of my holotext upon it. I finally type…

Buoyant in my burnished shell
Like the embryo in its oblong capsule
Like the iceberg in the billowing blue
Like beliefs in my bustling brain

Riding towards the intricate structures
Like mirrored elements of the portal of the Eternal
That reflect the bright rays of Truth, of Death
That radiate to forge the tranquil chain

Entranced in its eventual pull
That draws my essence through the ether
That excites my exhausting existence
That eases my eccentric pain

Nearer and nearer to my intended destination
Then soon within its consoling environment
I finally attain a unique contentment
Like twin moons united in their heavenly domain

I smile contentedly at the poem and its double-meaning line, not unlike my bright new world and my double-edged life. Yet I cry quietly at the hidden name, knowing that I’ll never see my dear again.

* * *

Notes

[1] I added and edited a few lines to smooth out the rough patches in the original version.

[2] In May 1996, about 5 years after I wrote 201.824, the Star Trek: Voyager TV series aired “Tuvix” (Season 2, Episode 24), in which a transporter accident causes Tuvok and Neelix to fuse into one alien humanoid known as “Tuvix.” Quite an interesting Biofusion interpretation!

[3] Thank you, Submicron, for your amazing Random Plasmid Fusion Lapis artwork!

[4] Finally, the tales of Biofusion continue with the short-story sequel Biofusion: Madman.

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