ONE MORE CHAPTER for you!
This is the final chapter in Book One – The False Peace – and seems like a good place to stop.
Before I set you loose, three things:
First, Release Day is 12/20! You can order your copy by clicking the title ABOVE or by clicking HERE.
Second, you can get a copy of THE CASSIDY CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE for free this weekend (12/18-12/20) – just click the gif to the right!
And finally, if you’ve enjoyed this little sneak peek into the newest Cassidy book, drop me a line! I’d love to hear your feedback; it will help me with future books. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pull YOU into the next book!
So, without any further ado, may I present Chapter SIXTEEN of THE MEASURE OF HUMANITY:
Artemis Colony, Ministry of Intelligence
“Are you certain?”
“Yes, Minister.” Daryl Jones might have been the Director of Intelligence within the Ministry, but he still reported to the Minister. Since Minister Dent was under pressure from the Primus to deliver information that would damage the Terran Federation, it meant Jones felt it as well.
“This can’t be another fairy story,” Dent continued. “Not like the last time.”
Jones winced. It wasn’t his fault, and Dent knew it, but it was still his responsibility. Who would have thought there to be two Aiyana Cassidys? But there were, and the fact that one had been convicted of murder in the Northern Imperium and had her mind ‘rehabilitated’ by the NI Justice Department seemed perfect. He’d brought the information, confirmed through the courts and public records, to Dent. Dent brought in Deborah Arnett, Jones’ counterpart on the Operations side, to exploit the opportunity. An entire program had been created to discredit the Federation’s leading scientist…only to have it crumble when a junior staffer discovered that Aiyana Cassidy, rehabilitated murderess, was dead and had been for several years.
“It’s not, Minister,” Jones answered. “We’ve verified the identity, the process, the companies involved, dates, names, everything.”
They had. Jones had first learned of this lead three lunars earlier, but other than vague reports hadn’t mentioned it. If it hadn’t panned out, the lead would have simply disappeared. His operatives and informants had kept digging, each step leading to the next, each solidifying the damning evidence. There was no error this time, no overlooked detail which would blow it all up.
“From the beginning then,” said Dent, settling back. Jones was prepared for the request and started right in.
“Forty years ago, on Earth, a series of minor conflicts, given the grandiose name of ‘The Green Wars’, had wound down, peace brokered between the various nations by the newly-formed United Earth government. Prior to the Wars there had been a thriving industry, centered on the alteration of the human genome. So-called ‘Enhanced Humans’ were created, tailored to their purchaser’s specifications. Some were utterly inhuman in appearance, but most could be mistaken as human. Since they weren’t natural humans, they were treated as property.”
Jones paused, waiting for Dent to acknowledge this point, before continuing.
“It was slavery, a despicable practice, and one of the reasons that Artemis broke away from the colonizers. It was also one of the key provisions of the treaties that ended the war: that all such genetic manipulation would be terminated. A quieter provision was that any currently-living Enhanced Humans would immediately be freed and granted legal status. This was problematic, as there was, and still is, a prejudice against these people. More, there were legal prohibitions against their very humanity: marriage, contracts, property, all highly regulated or forbidden. The non-enhanced generally either saw them as a threat, or an abomination.”
“Especially the ones which didn’t look human, I imagine.”
“Exactly so. The ones who appeared to be unenhanced were given new identities, a crash course in how to be human, some money, and were let go to make their own way. They were surprisingly successful, actually, disappearing into society without much notice. It helped that there was a huge push from the leaders of the UE about eliminating the ‘Enhanced Human problem’.”
“What about the ones that weren’t human-looking?”
Jones’ face wrinkled. “I’m not certain, Minister, but given the prejudices in place I suspect that they were actually eliminated. I can investigate further if you desire?”
“No,” said Dent. “Just curiosity. Continue.”
“The UE leadership realized they had a problem: the various fertilized ova, embryos, or fetuses which were already in existence. Under most of the laws that prevailed they couldn’t simply be destroyed, or terminated, yet nobody wanted to take the responsibility for raising a generation of free Enhanced Humans. A compromise was reached: they would be allowed to develop and, where suitable, placed for adoption with appropriate parents, their nature forever hidden, the children never told. Upon reaching their majority, these children would be recognized as human by the executive of their adopted nations. In that way -”
“They hoped to bury the past,” finished Dent. “A tidy solution, if it worked.”
“Yes, Minister. Surprisingly, it did work. If you were to ask virtually anyone on Earth, the last Enhanced Humans were destroyed forty years ago. The companies which were behind this reprehensible trade were given three years to wind down their operations and finalize adoptions.”
“Why so long? Gestation is only nine months.”
“Yes, but there were fertilized ova which had been cryofrozen shortly after cell division had begun; the companies argued that, given the limitations, they would need time to ensure that all viable ova were given a chance to develop.”
“One of those final ova, designated MGL 29 dash 5, was implanted in a host mother February 29, 2080.”
“Mendel Genetic Laboratory.”
“We have confirmation of the date?”
“We do, Minister. Confirmation of the date in electronic records and hard copy, along with witness testimony from a technician working at the time.”
“The host mother, a woman named Tam Jordan, was paid handsomely by MGL, and the UE, to carry this baby. It was her third host job, having carried another for MGL and one for a rival. She was no stranger to the process, sir, and knew exactly what would happen and how it worked.”
“On October 14, 2080, this woman was involved in an aircar accident, a horrible one, which nearly killed her on the spot. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, which was in the newly-formed Big Sky Country, after her baby was delivered by emergency Caesarian section.”
“She wasn’t from Big Sky?”
“No, she lived in the Northern Imperium. But the borders were new at that time, and still open, and the nearest Imperium hospital was quite a distance away. I read the report the medical services provider issued, justifying her decision to perform the c-section and then cross the border, and she judged that Ms. Jordan’s injuries would have killed her, and the baby, before they reached it.”
“Here’s where the trail gets muddy. The baby, a girl, was whisked off to be cared for, having been delivered six weeks early. Meanwhile, their emergency staff worked to stabilize the mother, which they did. After several days, with the baby doing well, and the mother still unresponsive, a concerted effort was made to find some family. That was a problem, though, as the usual means of identification no longer applied to Ms. Jordan.”
“Her face was essentially gone: no eyes, so no retinas; her mouth had been shattered, so no dental impressions; and the burns had effectively erased her fingerprints.”
“None that was found.”
James shook his head. “The laws of Big Sky prohibited invasive procedures without consent, and genetic testing, even a cheek swab, was deemed invasive. She was a cipher, an unknown.”
“How do we know her name then?”
“I’m getting there, Minister. The baby was more puzzling. Since she was an infant, those in care of her were presumed to be able to give consent, so she was genetically tested for identification.”
“No matches. At least, no matches on the parental or sibling levels; there were literally hundreds of matches for more distant relatives, but that would be true for anyone on that teeming ball.”
“This continued for weeks. The mother was healing, but there were no signs that she was going to wake up. The baby was doing well, though, and had come to the attention of the state. The Imperium Child Services came in –”
“Imperium? I thought the hospital was in Big Sky. And didn’t the UE have anything to say?”
“It was, but the baby had been delivered in the Imperium. That made her an Imperium citizen by location of birth, no matter what her mother’s nationality might be, and they laid claim to her. Not only that, but neither Big Sky nor the Imperium were signatories to the UE Charter; if they had known, they might have asserted a claim, but even that would have been problematic and in the courts for years.”
Jones stopped to get his train of thought before continuing. “She was put into foster care, briefly, while a more permanent home was found for her. Eventually one was found, a diplomat and his wife, who agreed to care for her as their own.”
“What about the mother?”
“She never woke from her coma, so the issue never arose. She finally died last year, after nearly forty years. At that time, the authorities were able to test her and determine her identity.”
“A very pretty story, Jones, but how does this damage the Federation?”
“The child was eventually adopted after the courts deemed the mother ‘abandoned’ her child.”
“’Abandoned’? How could they say she abandoned her? She was comatose!”
“The laws of Earth nations are irrational and almost incomprehensible, which is the key,” Jones answered. “In this case, the facts were irrelevant in the eyes of the law. After Baby Girl Doe turned 7, she was adopted, all legal and proper, by the only parents she had ever known: Jane Foster and Harold ‘Hal’ Briggs. When she married in 2113, she adopted her wife’s name and dropped her previous surname, Foster-Briggs.”
“Kendra Cassidy is an Enhanced Human.”
“Exactly. And the laws against her kind are still in existence, in many nations, including both her birth nation, and her adopted home. The person behind the Terran Federation is, in the eyes of the law, not human.”