Systematic Destiny (Part 4)

This story is part of our series inspired by our conversation with Dr. Joel Green of the Space Telescope Science Institute and set in the sci-fi universe of Civilization: Beyond Earth. For part 3 of the story, click here, and return next week as we continue!

I’m not sure if it is because of, or in spite of being chosen and synthesized, that I feel like I have a true purpose. I am more than those who were simply born. I am a perfect human-being.

And so is he.

“Dad,” he calls from outside where his tiny thin legs carry him through the grass. “Watch me!”

I glance up from my desk and out the open window to see my boy carrying on through the yard. It’s like looking into a mirror. I pick up a small mug and take a sip of the lukewarm Earl Grey and lose myself in the present for a brief moment. But time is a precious commodity, and I cannot waste it. After all, time is why I’m here.

It was my father, the third generation copied from an original, who discovered the first planet with the possibility of sustaining our species. Despite the excitement that brought, we had to continue to remind ourselves that the new planet was only a prospect, not a certainty. Work had to continue here. And despite the most unknown of unknowns, our glorious leader announced that a private vessel would be leaving in just a few years with a carefully chosen few to begin a new chapter in humanity’s story on a new world.

I had to be a part of it. Somehow.

And the time has come.

The front door slams shut, rattling the windows of the tiny house, and I look up from the low dim of my computer screen to see my son. My clone. He grins wide up at me and I place a firm hand on his head and tousle his hair. “Go get ready for supper,” I say.

He runs up the crooked wooden staircase and I can hear him banging around upstairs. Water rushes through the exposed pipes above my head as he turns on a faucet. I resign from my work for the night and pull foil wrapped dishes from the fridge. The front door creaks open again.

“You’ve got to stop living like this,” a husky voice murmurs from behind me. It’s my old friend and colleague, Rayner, a revered member of the scientific community. He is one of two people on the planet that I would trust with my life.

We joke about old times, and how much things have changed - how much I have changed – and silence only falls between us after the 8 year old boy appears at the top of the staircase.

We sit down at the table together and I can see that Rayner is still unused to children – clones or otherwise. He stares awkwardly at the little boy playing with his spaghetti.

It was going to be hard for each of them.

“Rayner,” I say. “This is my son,” a very slight twitch of his mouth betrays his knowledge, “and I think it’s very important that you get to know each other.”

“Why, dad?” My son looks at me, the corners of his mouth red with pasta sauce.

“Rayner is going to take you on a trip.” I lean forward and put on my most excited smile for the boy. “Into the stars.”

“Are you coming, too?”

The Corporation would never allow a known clone on their ship, and just the thought of it could put me in prison.

“Daddy has a lot to do here. But one day,” I lie, “I’ll join you.”

He slurps a noodle. Rayner shifts uneasily; I’m not sure if its discomfort with the wooden chair or the conversation. He was taking the biggest risk of all of us.

“We’ve fought for generations to try to find somewhere to start over. We’ve lost so much in such a short period of time. Cattle. Wheat. Even our physical space is dwindling.” I watch my son carefully, to make sure that he understands me. “If we had planned better in the beginning - rationed our resources and protected the animals we cared for – we wouldn’t need to leave. We wouldn’t need to take this risk.”

“But if it’s bad here, you should come, too,” my son says.

I smile, and hope he can’t sense my doubt. “But there’s hope for earth. I’m going to continue to fight for it with every day that I have left. But you’re the future, my son. On this new world, you will be a part of the foundation. Adapt to what it has to offer. Never forget what happened here.”

I saw a gleam of understanding in my son’s eyes. “I’ll miss you.”

Rayner put his hand on the young boy’s shoulder. “It’s going to be a beautiful world,” he said. “And it’s going to be ours.”