Three and a half years prior
Professor Stephen Wauldron checked his watch, despite being twenty minutes early. He'd hated these off-campus meetings
with a passion, and ever since Terminus broke out, there had been plenty of them to go to.
They called it Terminus. Or as some of his students would joke, Terra minus. Within a matter of hours after the
initial attacks, birds began dropping like flies, then rodents, then larger animals like cats, dogs, and cattle. Then finally
people. Wherever the wind blew the compounds, life was subtracted from the planet. While larger, more organized and more responsible
governments tried to rationally sort the problem out, some third world countries grew paranoid of others, and resorted to
short range nuclear strikes. Before the U.N. intervened and cooler heads prevailed, forty percent of the world's population
was dead or afflicted with some sort of fallout poisoning from radiation or Terminus.
But like all things, Terminus ushered in a new era of problem-solving and technology, all bore out of necessity. Atmosphere
processing was just scribble on some chemist's chalkboard before Terminus and–afterwards–three functioning plants
existed on the earth, as well as four more on the colonies of the Mars, and the colonies on two of Jupiter's moons Europe
and Io. It even allowed Earth's existing atmosphere to slowly filter out a lot of the toxins and fallout, the whole idea being
that the Earth could better support life some years down the road.
Energy was another issue. With the skies darkened from Terminus, solar power, which had just become more the status quo
than any other kind of energy, was reduced to a quarter of its capacity. Older coal fire plants had to be rebuilt and activated,
which provided power in the mean time, but as the storm winds blew Terminus all over, better designs of windmill generators
were introduced. Wind power quickly caught on, with many cities sprouting windmill "farms" outside of their limits, and individual
fans sprouting up in otherwise wasted space.
There was still yet another issue–food. The saving grace of Terminus was that its compounds could not effectively
operate in water. Ocean life managed to escape unscathed from WWT, and with less people to fish the seas and oceans, fish
populations grew like crazy. It got to the point that when people resumed mass fishing again–it actually helped to control
the fish populations.
Another light at the end of the tunnel–and quite possibly the most important one–was Cloning. It could very
well repopulate the animal life on the planet, or possibly created plant life that would help filter out the Terminus compounds,
or even radiation. Cloning an actual animal, or even a human, was doable, but the drawback was that the cloned animal took
as long to grow as the original. Add that to the second problem, once it is grown, will the post-terminus atmosphere be able
to even support it?
In Wauldron's mind, these problems had to be tackled. A survivor of the New Orleans Katrina disaster, he contended that
when a large mass of people disappears, not only is it a personal tragedy, it causes a functional gap for the society as a
whole. The forty percent of people gone from Terminus would never get the chance to be the policemen, firemen, scientists
that might find cures, factory workers that assemble needed products, business leaders that were capable of running their
factories in bad times, or even just simple taxpayers that could possibly fund the earth back into some kind of usable shape.
Can't work with what isn't there.
Wauldron basically shook these thoughts off as he collected himself. He considered himself lucky to be working with the
FDCA (Food Drug & Cloning Administration) where he had copies of reports sent in, telling him about all sorts of ideas
to solve the earth's population issues. Although he had no authority on what was funded or accepted by the FDCA, it was nice
to see all the ideas that were being generated to make the world a little better place to live. It was like seeing a light
at the end of a tunnel.
Wauldron's field of expertise was "Mechanical Psychology." A field relating mainly to artificial intelligence, which had
been quietly studied by both the government and private corporations for some time. If their experiments got out of hand–and
were shut down–Wauldron was often called to study the data and try to ascertain why the machines did what they did.
After compiling the reports and noticing certain patterns to their behavior, he'd make recommendations for changes in programming,
equipment or procedures.
He sat on the campus bench–wearing a fallout protection raincoat–underneath a propped up umbrella. Marshall
College's dean, Joe Stratton, walked up and sat down beside him looking around at the rain. They both watched as the limo
pulled up, surrounded by an escort of police cruisers and motorcycles.
"I told you that tax shelter thing was a bad idea." Stratton said. He hated to see Wauldron go. Stratton could tell that
Wauldron really didn't want to go either, and really enjoyed teaching.
Wauldron smiled. "Don't be jealous, dear. Not everyone gets to be as beautiful as I am."
They looked at each other and broke out laughing.
As the limo pulled up, they both stood up, and shook hands.
"If you ever need a job..." Stratton extended his hand, and Wauldron shook it.
"I really appreciate all that you've done here, Joe. I'll phone you once I get set up. Not sure when, but I'll be back,"
"Take care of yourself."
Three agents popped out of the limo, wearing suits, dark sunglasses and communication headpieces, got between them both,
as if to hear what they were saying. Wauldron didn't like it. They quietly shoved Stratton aside, and got Wauldron loaded
up in the car. Once inside, one agent sat facing Wauldron in the adjacent seat, with Wauldron sitting between the other two.
"Am I under investigation? A subway token would've worked just fine for me."
The senior agent smiled and spoke up."No, you're not under arrest. We apologize for how this must look, but the FDCA director
felt it would help you get across D.C. a little quicker. The President is very busy these days, and doesn't have much spare
time. We were lucky to get this set up on such short notice."
As the agents directed him to his assigned seat in the library's conference room, Wauldron looked around in amazement at
the security measures. Agents completely blocked off the press, and had already scanned the room several times for recording
devices and other bugs. One agent nodded towards another, and then that one said something into his headset.
The President entered the room with his aides following him, and everyone stood up.
Look at how these past few years has aged him, Wauldron silently noted. The President's hair had gone completely gray.
The President got behind a podium, and began to address the collection of police officials, military officers and scientists
that were in the room.
"Everyone please sit down. I've got a lot to get done this week. So I'll keep this meeting pretty brief. Thank you all
As you are well aware, we've been looking into cloning technology as a way of temporarily replacing critically needed workers
during this time of manpower shortages. All too often I have to turn down needed projects simply because this nation cannot
provide the necessary amounts of people required to get the off-world colonies running with safe environments before the emigration
deadlines in 2017.
Cloning technology was in its infancy before Terminus, and one of its biggest drawbacks were the time it takes to grow
them. Another problem was once they were grown, would they be trainable? Last fall, I gave approval for a military project,
code named "Nexus" to be approved for funding, and some of the leading bio-chemical corporations in America went to work day
and night to advance our abilities to clone to their limits. They have all responded very well, bringing us light years from
where we were before, but one corporation has really stepped into the forefront with a solution that will allow us to meet
our emigration goals."
The President turned to a rather diminutive looking, well-dressed man that wore glasses.
"With that being said–I'd like to now turn this over to Mr. Eldon Tyrell, Founder and CEO of the Tyrell Corporation."