Chapter 3

To Speak of Dying…

‘Earth-born’ was a vulgar phrase meant to show disdain for those whose ancestors had not been ‘deemed worthy’ for the genetic adjustment discovered long before interplanetary colonisation was possible.  A few of the newest colonists were Earth-born but not many and they had been tragically misinformed about the quality of life this colony would offer them.   Socially, the longevity development was a disaster.  It was an expensive procedure which resulted in vastly reduced aging and higher resistance to disease beginning at the onset of puberty.   Not everyone could afford it, even if they wanted it but after a while it became almost compulsory for ‘healthy’ adults to have their unborn children genetically altered.  This was in order to ease the burden on hospitals treating what, by then, were considered to be the easily avoidable diseases of an increasing population before it was eventually ‘discontinued’ for reasons of practicality.

The adjustment was banned after it became clear that the birth-rate had not dropped but there were other reasons behind the ban.   Firstly, it bred true and secondly, insurance forms included a section for the longevity gene with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer as an option.  No reason or explanation was requested for this.  If the adjustment was not made it was generally thought to be because they had some sort of hereditary flaw that they were trying to wipe out rather than put the work in to cure it now that there was an umbrella cure.   The premiums would be far more expensive, especially in countries with no government-funded health service.   A ‘yes’ had to be proven and a false claim would result in prosecution.  Soon after, employment application forms took up the same line of questioning.  This had a huge impact on the number of people out of work as employers began to favour those with the adjustment over those without it for the single reason that they were less likely to take time off sick.  Employment law thankfully made it illegal to replace an able employee in favour of an applicant with the alteration but it didn’t stop some trying.

Breeding true meant there was only need for one generation of any family to have the procedure carried out.  Those who hadn’t had the gene therapy found themselves side-lined in both education and work.  They were being pushed out for reasons entirely beyond their control.  Eventually the top jobs had all been filled with this new breed of human who were believed to be all but perfect.

Unfortunately, as people do, most failed to realise or chose to ignore the fact that some just did not want their genetic make-up to be adjusted in any way and believed that it was unnatural.  It had created an entire social underclass of people but the social-cultural conditioning had not been efficient enough to persuade the ‘mere mortals’ that they were any less worthy of existence.  They tended to discreetly not mention that they had not had the adjustment if this was the case while others, who had been or had their unborn children adjusted, began to boast of it and became increasingly more arrogant as the generations went on.  They believed that their families were worthy of privilege and authority.

When the earth became so overcrowded due to the mixture of nonadjusted ‘mortals’ and the ‘genetically improved’ competing for space the need for spaceflight to carry out colonisation of other planets was thought to be of the highest importance and prioritised across the world.  Vast amounts of public funds were pumped into research programs looking into efficient space flight.   People with the adjustment were having even larger families than before and, in a race to keep up, the non-adjusted were doing the same so there would be at least some hope for their own survival.  There had been petitions from some activist groups to the Earth governments for non- adjusted individuals to be forcibly sterilized.   No news sells faster to the masses than bad news or fear-feeding essays.  Thankfully these groups were ignored and propaganda from the groups was banned despite huge court battles citing breach of ‘freedom of speech’.  Those who cited a breach of ‘freedom of religion’ were a little more successful in their claims that one God or another gave human kind a gift to use and therefore they were essentially commanded to use it.  This did not last long.  Complaints were made when teachers started ignoring certain children, and Doctors refused to treat particular patients on the grounds that teaching them was against their religion.  They were banned from teaching along with publishing of ‘speciesist propaganda’ and the ‘policies of preference’ were made illegal.

There were still some on Earth that agreed with the pro-adjustment activists but they were not readily open with the expression of this opinion.   After a time it was clear that the two ‘species’ never mixed, each believing the other to be less than human: natural selection on a grand scale.   It was no less violent on either side they each battled for supremacy and finally socially segregated themselves from each other.  Humans being natural competitors were gradually –whether consciously or not, trying to wipe the other out and in some cases the newly separate nurseries and schools were being bombed by fanatics who thought themselves protectors of the human race.  Their definitions of what and what was not human, however, often lacked any basis of logic or science and was, more often than not, based around religion.

Teraforming of planets was still a theory and due to the mix of religions and social values, it was under huge public debate as to whether it was wise or right to adjust a planet the way humans had changed themselves for their own benefit.  They decided against it and when the first planet with the correct atmosphere and gravity was discovered it was offered in earnest to the people who had been subject to the adjustment.  Reasons for this were varied.  Some, jokingly at first, said it was because those who had been adjusted for long life were so unbearably smug and impossible to live with that the World Union was kicking them out.  In actual fact it was due to the fact that the people with the authority to offer places on the colony ships had been adjusted themselves; after they had reserved places for themselves.  They believed they had the right to first refusal of a place on a new world to shape as they saw fit.  The planet was larger than earth and would comfortably hold all those who wanted to move there and, as their life spans were so much longer, the long voyage would have little impact on their lives.  Unsurprisingly they all elected to move off world and claim a planet of their own.  The ship that carried all the genetically adjusted humans to a planet far outside the solar system was sarcastically named The Prometheus by the press and media.

The colony of Olympe was founded.

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