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Chapter 9 SpaceGene

Waking after his first night in the moon suite, Jason felt surprisingly refreshed and decided to make everyone breakfast. He noticed a few things that were different from an Earth kitchen, no stoves or sinks. He did discovered a small empty refrigerator and a much larger freezer unit that was fully stocked with frozen breakfast items; pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, waffles, etc.

Reading all ingredients on these products, he noticed there was no real ham, bacon or dairy milk products, only tofu and soy substitutes. He didn’t recognize any of the brands either; probably all grown or manufactured here on Luna.
The drinks such as orange juice, coffee and tea were all frozen solid in storage serve containers. In fact everything in the freezer unit came in its own cook and serve recyclable container, including attached utensils. The complex looking trash receptacle was labeled ‘Trash Recycle System’.

He followed the instructions on each container package, inserting products into variously labeled and numbered compartments on the most complicated microwave appliance he had ever seen. Soon a hot breakfast of piping hot pancakes, eggs, coffee and orange juice was ready for three.

He went to wake Nicky and Monica. They had apparently slept separately last night, because of the small size of their VR equipped sleeping quarters, each designed for a single person with very little room to spare.

The smell of breakfast was everywhere. Junkman appeared sitting down in the alcove, with a cup of what looked like black coffee inside an Earth type mug. “Good morning,” he said.

“Thank you Jason for fixing breakfast,” said Monica cheerfully as she woke up. Nicky finally made it to the eating area.

“Yeah thanks Jay,” said Nicky, sipping from his coffee. “Didn’t sleep very well at all,” he explained.

Jason opened a thought channel, connecting Monica, Nicky and Junkman simultaneously. Junkman, If you don’t mind, I would like to know more about this Dr. Zenon and SpaceGene before today’s meeting, which is in an hour and ten from now, thought Jason with some added emphasis to Nicky.

Well, Dr Zenon is an eccentric, but genus lunar scientist, businessman and upstanding citizen of Luna; he holds a formal governmental position as Scientific Advisor to the CEO of the Moon, began Junkman.

SpaceGene is his brainchild. He invented the Moonworms, a living community of robotic creatures designed to mine the Moon for resources. They have advanced the colonization of Luna by decades.

In addition, SpaceGene is responsible for producing Space Pets, an important functional, entertainment, and mental health product for space colonists. He has created all sorts of gene-modified animals, the most popular of these being talking space dogs and space cats. Wealthy investors have financed the construction of joke animals, like flying pigs, miniature pink elephants and even the mythical unicorn. The latest successful product of SpaceGene has been the Space Monkey, which you have seen.

SpaceGene is also responsible for creating most of the genetically engineered plants you saw in the bio-habitats.
Remember, however interesting all this is, we must not lose sight of our primary goal, which is getting Dr. Zenon’s help in repairing and uploading to the real space incubators. Since he knows me from a previous project; I should be able to get him to help us, as long as I can tweak his immense intellect and curiosity.

After breakfast, Junkman guided them through the maze of sub-lunar corridors and airlocks into the Lunar City science business district, crowded with company offices and research labs. Heading down a long steep slope, they entered the main lobby of SpaceGene. The first thing they noticed was an expansive area with a AI holographic projected receptionist. Around the lobby were molded chairs made of large lunar boulders which were glossy polished like Earth agates and inlayed with cushion pads.

There was a high ceiling above with a second floor railing. Sections of the walls and ceiling were luminous. The SpaceGene logo of the company could be seen on the wall, an old stylized V2 shaped rocket with a few stars of DNA visible inside. A slogan read ‘SpaceGene: Making New Space Life”.

Off to one side, a glass display could be seen with an actual Moonworm inside. An inscription plate read, ‘First proto-type Moonworm, June 2052’. The Moonworm was about the size of a bumblebee, with six long mechanical legs, which doubled as manipulators. Everyone went over to get a closer look.

“Welcome to SpaceGene. You must be the field trip students from Earth. You’re early, so I will let Marva know you are here. Please make yourselves comfortable while you wait, and let me know if you need anything,” chimed the receptionist.

“Thank You,” replied Jason, dismissing the AI receptionist.

Junkman opened a channel and broadcast his thoughts. . . Dr. Zenon built the Moonworms by combining the genetically enhance brains of bees with miniature robotic bodies linked into a wireless hive mind. This hive organism is a completely revolutionary cybernetic societal creature. Just short of enough combined brain intelligence to make it sentient.

Each Moonworm is a simple drone body designed for a special work task; some of them dig, others crawl or jump, and a few fly. There are literally millions of these Moonworms mining Shackleton crater, and other dark creators for ice, methane and minerals.

Each drone returns to the central hive with their bounty in tow. They receive refueling and nourishment. They are self-autonomous but receive direction at the highest level from Dr. Zenon, who has had a control interface chip implanted in his brain. He is basically the analog of the hives Queen Bee, minus reproduction responsibility. Replacement Moonworms are built in a SpaceGene automated factory facility.

“Hey, up here!” Jason looked up to see Marva smiling with Tiki on her shoulder, grasping the handrail on the second floor level.

“Come on up and I’ll give you all a tour. Afterwards we’ll meet my father,” she said. They all climbed the stairs, including Junkman, to the second floor level above.

“In the interests of friendship and good faith, SpaceGene has decided to dispense with the formalities of a nondisclosure agreement,” Said Marva smiling. Before they could respond, she added. “However, I must inform Junkman that I know of his virtual presence and that he is still bound by the 2041 Space Intellectual Property Law,” she said this looking directly where Junkman was standing.

“Of course I am,” said a surprised Junkman. “I’m curious how you can see and hear me?”

“Tiki picks up your VR transmissions and decodes them for me.” She revealed. “At first your image was like interference, a foggy blur, garbled sounds, but now it is very clear. This includes your metal transmissions.”

They were all surprised to hear her speak this,” Although, I’m limited in that I can only transmit thought-images through my interface to Tiki.”

“I should have guessed. I worked on early R&D with your father, it went into the Space Monkey product,” Said Junkman.

“I’m sorry we have been so secretive,” said Jason, worried he had made such a bad impression on the lovely Marva. “You must think us very untrustworthy.”

“Not at all, my father explained you are evading mental enslavement and your friends are all risking their own involvement to help,” she stated matter of fact.

“Thank you for your kind understanding,” Jason said honestly.

She smiled, “Not a problem at all. Please follow me to the plant labs.”


. . .


Dr. Zenon took readings and adjusted settings on the artificial womb. There was no control panel to be seen, he did this by gesturing with his hands and fingers quit strangely, like some wild mix between pantomime and sign language. Much like he was casting a technological spell. Above, in a transparent tank could be seen a full size developing human body; horizontally suspended in a murky fluid and attached by an adult size umbilical cord.

“Transmitting a DNA signal of a serially encode human being is no trivial matter. It would be a very long message, approximately 6 billion pieces of genetic information, maybe even more. That message would have to be redundant to allow for any errors in transmission. If it isn’t received perfectly by the artificial womb, it would spell death or worse,” informed the doctor.

After finishing his fine tuning adjustments of the womb, he looked seriously at Junkman and then to each of them in turn. His wiry salt and pepper beard hung down over his white lab coat, which contrast with his dark black skin. “Not only genetics, you would need to send neural patterns of stored knowledge and experience. These patterns would direct the growing connections of new brain cells, ultimately giving the exact experiences and memories of the transmitted individual. What you are asking here would require immense pre-computational resources even before the signal was sent,” concluded the doctor.

Junkman had just finished explaining to the doctor what the alien message had explained to them. “Doctor, would you at least look at the engineering designs from the damaged archive facility? We need your help to reboot humanity!” pressed Junkman.

“Transmit everything to my secure server and I’ll go over it later. Now as you can see, I’m very busy!” He said, rudely dismissing them all.

They left the doctor to his work. Once out of earshot, Marva said,” You’ll have to excuse my father, he has been very upset lately.”

“Really, I just hadn’t noticed,” replied Junkman sarcastically. “We received word that Project M has been canceled,” she explained.

“Project M? What’s that?” asked Junkman.

“Please keep what I’m going to tell you quite, since it could very seriously damage SpaceGene and my father’s reputation,” Marva said cautiously. “The secret among some of the atheist scientists in the lab is that the M actually stands for ‘Messiah’.

You see, a while back a very wealth and private religious group approached my father. They asked him to gene engineer a special kind of human; normal looking, like a genetically natural human in all respects, even to sophisticated genetic tests. The only difference would be the designed in ability to perform minor miracles.

Of course my father he knew what they wanted to use this Genemod for, but SpaceGene needed the cash infusion, and I suppose he couldn’t resist the technical challenge of the project. Now, SpaceGene is in serious financial trouble because of the enormous investment made in research which won’t even produce a marketable product. This puts our company in a vulnerable takeover position. If that happens, it will be very hard for my father to let go of a company he built up from nothing,” Marva explained.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” replied Jason honestly. “Maybe, some of the Project M’s research could help us with the reality upload problem,” he said thoughtfully.

“It might at that. We certainly could reuse most of the genetic template,” said Marva, slightly amazed by his brilliant insight.

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