“When you say, what I know, I am guessing you mean about you? About how we got you out?” the Organic sat down on the edge of the bed. Marsh sat on the chair next to the table and noticed Drick lean against the wall.
Drick had attached a security monitor to the door that was linked to the sensors they had placed coming into the building. Drick would be scanning them, Marsh had his internal screens set to alert.
“Whatever you think is relevant.” Said Marsh. “If I need more I can always be more specific. Start where you want to. How about a name. I am using Marsh, this is Drick.”
They nodded. “Call me Toni. It’s a neutral enough name and I have been using it since we busted you.”
Marsh nodded and waited for Toni to proceed. “I was tanked on this planet. Wealthy parents who both worked in engineering fields. Both identified as male, one was a resource engineer, employed in the Kuiper belt, the other a structural engineer, part of the city planning division. I did well at school, went to college, decided I liked biology and eventually drifted into genetic sequencing towards my doctorate.” They looked at Drick. “Can I get a drink?”
Drick nodded and passed them a glass of water. “After college I did mostly postdoctoral research in the tanking facilities. Wrote a couple of papers on how to better sequence clones. Also did some research into the sequence paradox.”
“What’s the sequence paradox?” Marsh asked.
“It’s a well established paradigm in tanked organics. Ever since the Expansion we have been mostly tanking our organic forms. In fact there are very few births relatively, or there were, but I am getting ahead of myself. There are two issues to think about here. One is that it is incredibly messy to do it the old fashioned way so tank everyone is a great idea, you get the bonus of being perfect every time. However there is the sequence paradox. It is far better to let nature do the randomisation of genes. She’s been doing it for billions of years and it is a good method. Random variations and mutations lead to lifeforms that are suited to their environments or a quick round of extinction. We found a way of replicating nature without introducing variations that wouldn’t be the most efficient. There are enough patterns to create a wide variety of organics, but no compelling reason to throw a random sequence into the mix. Nature is random, she’s bloody good at it, and also horrible and it leads to species becoming a zero sum. So tanking wins as we can introduce a level of random and keep a very good quality of lifeform.”
They took a deep drink from the glass and paused for a short while. “Or so you would think. Enter the real part of the paradox. We’ve known for millennia that in-breeding leads to genetic inferiority. You need a broad spectrum of possibilities or you end up with the monarchies of the past, or backwater breeds of animals that enhance some defect until it wipes out the breed.” A pause and a look away. “Arrogantly we believed we had solved that. After all we can nudge the chromosomes around, and even re-sequence the DNA itself, even after birth. But we were wrong. Not enough random mutation. You see all of the clones, and people tanked after the Expansion, are variations of perfect forms. They are just a subset of random possibilities of constructed life. They had no defects. No variables that would result in too great a mutation. The tanking process refined, so nothing left to real chance, the algorithms that produced the best form of life were too good.”
A deep breath was taken. “As always in our arrogance we ignored the lessons of nature and history. By the time it was discovered that we had started to introduce a degenerative component to our genetics there were no real people left. It took us five hundred years to completely sterilize the human condition into this state. In that time the Expansion Wars had ravaged us and there were few who could trace their ancestry back to real birthing. Maybe some in the far flung colonies. But none since the first great colony ships and they had all started using tanks when they settled. The few birthed ancients that walked among us were so biologically altered they were useless to genetic science.”
“How big an issue was it?” Asked Marsh.
“Humanity would have continued. But we would have had to start adding in elements from other animals. Mostly from the higher order primates. But they would still be genetically altered, tanked. The same issue would probably occur somewhere down the line. We didn’t have the excesses of the DNA, the redundant parts that gave rise to mutations. Replicating them would have just created a different issue. We would maybe survive a few millennia as some organic life that resembled humanity. But after that we would start to lose any semblance of similarity. It might even had been quicker.”
“How did they solve it?” Asked Marsh. “You still tank new people and don’t just have clones.”
“They didn’t solve it.” Toni smiled. “That’s why i studied it for fun. Everyone knows about it and amongst geneticists there is still research into solving it as then we can strive once again towards some notion of perfection. But it was never really going to be solved. Best estimates said humanity had a few thousand generations before we were using synthetic bodies and electronic life simulation.”
“Then what do we do instead?” Asked marsh.
“We used an original source.”
“What? I thought you said that by the time we knew the issue we were past the point of finding an answer?” Said Marsh.
“I did, and we were. No one was able to have enough traditional human, but that was over six hundred years ago. If we move forward to just about five hundred years ago we had an answer.”
“What was that?” Asked Drick speaking for the first time in a few minutes.
“We discovered an original source. I don’t know from where, that’s high level Yee On Kline and above, maybe government. We just suddenly had the ability to clone from source original humans and birth them using traditional methods. We still can. That’s why we have breeding programs on most of the colony worlds. It is why we have the three percent rule, three percent of all organics are from source, not clones or descendents from only tanked lines. You just don’t find many of them at this level. They are always government institutions or speciality programs in the big pharmaceutical companies. Most people don’t even realise there are real people. They still come out of tanks, but they aren’t clones.”
“So how does that lead to me?” Asked Marsh.
“Ah.” Toni laughed with no real mirth. “Now you are a very special case.”