Did you hear what happened???…
Chapter 1 – Qbit has just reached the bottom of the stairway leading to the professors lab. On the stairway wall is a carved mural depicting the sad demise of the planet’s inhabitants.
Back to the story……..
Qbit sighed. That last step always got to him. He stared ahead, at nothing in particular. Thoughts and images running through his mind. What must it had been like to go through something like that?
The weight of the tray, still raised in the air, forced him out of his thoughts and back to the reason he was here. He turned right into a long hallway. It was lit by the same type of glow stones lining the walls of the stairway. The saliva inducing smell of the food and the pleasant thoughts of seeing the professor again, after such a long time, helped lift his spirits. He hated to admit it, but he was glad that there was nothing written on these walls to change that.
When he reached the door to the lab he noticed it was half way open. He paused before going in. Glancing up he noticed the word laboratory written elegantly on a piece of stained wood above the door, he wondered if the name was accurate. It wasn’t just a room for experiments it was also her study, reading room, research room, kitchen and, sometimes, her bedroom. She probably spent more time in here than anywhere else. One final thought crept into his head before he stuck it in past the door; if she was the only one here, why did the room need to be identified with a name on a plaque?
He slowly leaned into the room and whispered, “Professor? You in here?” Not wanting to disturb her in case she was sleeping, he looked around as much as he could without going in any further. “Hello?” Not seeing or hearing anything, he stepped inside. The room was dimly lit, making it difficult to see all the way to the back wall.
Moving in even further, he still couldn’t tell if she was in there in or not, there was so much stuff everywhere! “Professor?” For all he knew that pile of clothing over there could be her! He walked over to check, carefully patting the pile to make sure there wasn’t someone still wearing them. “Nope, not her.”
He turned, looking around again. Even though she lived alone it looked like an army of people called this place home. “How could one person create such a mess?” There were books everywhere. Open books, closed books. Stacks of books on shelves, tables, and chairs. “Books! Who uses books anymore? And where does she get them all?” And not just books. There were beakers, jars, and test tubes. They were all covered with thick layers of dust and webs. If it wasn’t for all the computers, he would have thought that he had come through the wrong gate and was in an alternate universe. For a quick second he had to stop and think if maybe he had done just that.
“Nah, no way”, he said to himself with a little bit too much doubt lingering around the thought.
He went further into the room, setting the tray down on the only bit of empty desk he could find. Just to ease the nagging thought, he went to the nearest computer and removed a stray piece of paper from the projector unit attached to the screen. A holographic image of an animal was suddenly projected onto a stack of plates in front of the computer. A three-dimensional representation of an animal slowly rotated. He recognized the animal as one of the professor’s creations and knew no one else could have this file.
“See, I knew I was in the right dimension!” he whispered out loud.
Now that he firmly believed he was where he was supposed to be, he looked around the entire room once again. Just like the mural, it brought on a sense of sadness. It wasn’t always like this. He remembered standing in another room, just like this one, during much happier times.
The professor was a young graduate from a prestigious biomedical school on Yaris. She was the top student with a degree in genetic engineering. All the top companies wanted her in their labs. However, she was especially interested in a company that had begun work on custom designed animals. Altering DNA chains, the carriers of genetic information, was common place in both plants and animals used for food production, but, creating new animals strictly for profit was something new. The challenge of overcoming the many difficulties associated with this brand-new field was what drew her to them. Here’s how it worked:
The Company had discovered a way to remove specific DNA chains from certain host animals and then link them with the DNA of other sacrificial “add on” animals. The altered DNA chains were inserted back into the host animal. Next, the bodies of the host animal were surgically altered using the desired parts from the add-ons. With the proper DNA chain already in place, the animal instinctively knew how to use the new parts. If a client desired a flying dog to better protect their cattle from predators, then all you needed to do was alter the DNA in the dog, add a pair of wings and there you go, a flying dog. New muscle growth, spurred on by the altered DNA, allowed the animal to make use of the attachment in a relatively short time.
One of The Company’s original brochures compared the process to a child’s toy called Mr. Potato Head. If you wanted a different set of ears on your Mr. Potato Head, you pulled a set off Mrs. Potato Head and put them on him. Want a different set of arms? Look in the parts bin for a desired replacement, pull out his other one’s and snap the new ones in. This was a rather simplified and cruel sounding description but then again, The Company was never known for its touchy feely, tree hugging goodness. The brochure was soon pulled due to pressure from animal rights organizations. Of course, the process was fraught with problems. Even with the modified DNA some host animal’s bodies rejected the new attachments. Also, the new muscle growth caused some animals to be horribly disfigured, but the company had an endless supply of host and add-on animals at their disposal, so the animal designs that went wrong were just disposed of and the process repeated until they had a “working” animal.
The professor’s interests lay in the original DNA linking. In a lab she rented from the university, she developed custom-made DNA links that eliminated the rejection and disfigurement problems. New science can be very expensive, so, to fund her new process, she went to The Company with her ideas.
They immediately recognized the potential of her new process and agreed to hire her. They paid her well and supplied her with everything she needed. The beasts developed from her new method were healthier and much less likely to suffer from any bad side effects. The demand for her animals was high and the company made a hefty profit selling them. As an added benefit to the company, since they didn’t need as many host and add-on animals, instead of releasing them, they found that they could sell them to the competition at a ridiculously high cost. Nobody else had the professor’s new methods so why worry about the competition!
As time went on, however, more and more her animals were purchased by the competition and reverse engineered to figure out how she did it. She had to keep upgrading her designs to stay ahead of everyone else. Because of the complexity of her work she soon found that she quickly used up the storage space of the server farms she had at her disposal. She needed something different. Something that would be capable of storing all her work. Plus, it needed to have artificial intelligence, so it would be more like an assistant, something she could bounce ideas off. Nothing like that existed so she had to create her own.
Qbit was born.
Qbit was remarkable. A quantum computer based on quantum mechanics. It was made from neutrinos, the smallest and most abundant particle she could find. She developed a way to harness tiny groups of them each with their own intelligence. They can connect to one another, sharing information and working together. Larger groups could alter how they reflected light, so they could appear to be anything they wanted to be or completely disappear into their surroundings. The storage capability is unlimited. Not only would it be able to store all the DNA information for each beast, it could keep track of each them in real-time. It runs off the power it creates in its dark matter core making it completely mobile. It could travel at the speed of light and easily cross dimensions. Plus, it had a great sense of humor and could cook.
With his help they were able to cut the time needed to create a beast in half. Instead of needing a donor egg from a close species their newest design made use of a “designer” egg. She could genetically modify her designer eggs with more precision. Instead of relying on a host animal and add-on beasts, she could develop an animal inside an egg. If a client needed a flying dragon with the head and claws of a bird she could get it to you, fully functional, in eight months, not the year and half other companies were doing. A horse with wings, eight weeks. In three weeks you could have a large, hairy, and powerful hominid hybrid able to cope with various environments above and below the ground. It would be smart but not too smart. The perfect labor source for the mines on Polaris.
These were the good times for both. The professor got the assistant that could keep up with her and Qbit was like a child absorbing everything around him. The times they shared together were priceless.
Her new animals were a great success. They were in huge demand and nobody else could match the quality. But, she was always searching for a way to tweak her designs trying to make them even better. The one thing she hadn’t looked at was where the source DNA was coming from. The Company supplied her with it and she had never had any problems with it. But maybe there was something about how they harvested it that could be improved. She decided they needed to go see the animals. Maybe if she saw for herself she could identify something that would be beneficial.
She contacted the company and they were more than happy to oblige. They would arrange everything.