In the late 21st century, the human race was at a perilous crossroads. While at its technological zenith, the homo-sapien gene pool had become severely compromised. The reasons mostly fell back to a small number of very preventable factors. There were numerous antibiotic-resistant diseases thriving in the wake of effective treatments. Pollution and deadly carcinogens were rampant in the biosphere. Lastly, there was a long history of failed experimental genetic tampering, to contend with.
All of those serious issues played a significant part in the biological decline and grave threat to the species. Coupled with the inherent risks of homogeneous reproductive trends and a well-meaning but misguided population (who willfully countermanded the ‘survival of the fittest’ maxim), the human race was headed for an irrevocable collapse.
The leader of the international foundation for science and health began a top-secret project. His goal was to squirrel away enough money to start an underground eugenics revolution for the future. Ultimately the mission was to quarantine an entire generation of genetically engineered newborns to be free of the current problems. Phase one was the secure the funds and build an advanced biological facility to grow and protect them.
Phase two would come later when the individuals were conceived and genetically engineered to be free of all known disease and DNA defects. Selected from a stringent list of agreed-upon traits and diverse principles, the ‘first generation’ would represent the finest that man had to offer. There, they would be isolated from the very fragile and flawed creatures that preceded them. They were the future and great effort would be made to avoid contaminating them with current human failures.
It was no small task to hide such an ambitious and controversial project from the public. The risks were great but the director and his small circle of enthusiastic volunteers believed in it. They feared that the growing list of problems would eventually bring about a catastrophic ruin for mankind. ‘The first generation genetic project’ was intended to be an insurance policy, or back-up plan of sorts.
Once the high-tech facility was finished, they formed a committee to discuss the potential issues with making ‘mankind 2.0’. Strict rules and universal bylaws were ironed out. All policies were agreed upon. Infrastructure and long-term plans were set in place. One hundred individuals were created in the lab, from the most genetically perfect DNA available. These biologically diverse children would inherit an advanced set of genes, stripped of all known defects and diseases. Further removing them from the risk of contamination or harm, they were raised in an automated, (otherwise) human-free nursery. They were to be the only living things within their insulated biosphere.
“These ‘first generation’ children will be educated by state-of-the-art computer systems. They will receive four times the personal attention that ordinary children do. They will have a balanced diet of nutritionally sound food and have a mandated exercise regimen to insure they remain physically fit. Our education team have produced an amazing program for them to learn from. They will not have any exposure to viruses or disease. They will not be susceptible to emotional instability. With the positive, bullet-proof world we have made for them, they will be able to focus on building a perfect society for their descendants.”
And so, the first generation grew up in a would-be utopia. They did not want or desire anything. They had no knowledge of the troubled, outside world. Project caretakers observed their progress through one way viewing screens. In the isolated biosphere, the one hundred growing individuals lived, just as they were expected to. Oblivious to the external world and their curious audience.
They did not cry because it did no good to cry. There was no soothing mother to nurture them. They did not suffer the pangs of hunger or fear because all of their physical needs were provided for. They were taught compassion and love by their robotic caregivers. In truth, it wasn’t the same as experiencing true tactile feedback from a human being but it was necessary to ensure purity and independence.
Soon, the one hundred engineered infants grew into toddlers. Then into childhood and early adolescence. Once puberty began however, they possessed no organic frame of reference to study or learn from. They didn’t have any older siblings or grown-ups to imitate. It was a pioneering journey for all of them. One that was experienced with the pure, detached logic of a computer.
For one hundred angsty teenagers with a raging set of hormones and no concept of an outside world, it was a particularly difficult time. The boys felt biologically attracted to their female counterparts but the feelings were largely unreturned. As with normal biological development, girls typically develop faster than boys of the same age. The girls had no older boys on the same maturity plane, to gravitate toward.
Understandably, this caused a great deal of physical and sexual stress. At one point, the caretakers feared they might have to intercede. The cybernetic chaperones could do little against the threat of physical altercations. Fortunately, the issue worked itself out, over time. As they grew older, the teenagers developed normal pair-bond relationships. This brought up another aspect of human biology: jealousy and anger.
Regardless of genetic programming or the isolated environment, the first generation was not immune to those negative emotions. The caretakers observed the same primal, unfiltered behavior in the artificial vacuum of the biosphere. It was identical to what mankind had exhibited for thousands of years. Some of the girls would flirt with one boy, just to make another jealous. Some of the boys would try to secretly maintain two different romantic relationships simultaneously. The same behaviors had manifested themselves since the beginning of time.
There were several individuals of both genders who did not locate a significant other. As in any society, there rose an ‘alpha male’ and ‘alpha female’ leader within the population. They were desired by many inside the commune but instead of settling for an unattached mate of lesser status, the less popular individuals just remained alone. It was another lesson in the stubborn nature of human biology. Everyone wanted a ‘winner’.
As nature has a way of doing, 100 soon became 102, 104, and so on. Parenthood inside a closed society wasn’t ideal but the young pioneers adjusted to the challenge reasonably well. There was a remarkable lack of curiosity among themselves about their own mysterious origins. The human race has a tendency to not ponder certain existential questions.
It was the first time any of them had seen infants since they were infants themselves. Being new teen parents came with a steep learning curve. They were young and still growing emotionally. Patience was in short supply at times. The compound library computer offered parenting tips and insight but in the end, they still had to do the work. Meanwhile outside the first generation bubble, the external world grew increasingly frayed. Wars raged. Disease spread. Famine ravaged the weary survivors. Civility and civilization broke down. Somehow during all the chaos, the international foundation for science and health managed to keep their rogue experiment a secret.
Phase three of the project was supposed to occur after the first generation achieved awareness of the outside world. Once they began to naturally question their existence, their caretakers were going to slowly expose them to the truth. It was meant to be a gradual process. Besides the immense shock of learning that they had spent their entire lives quarantined inside a geodesic dome, they had to be inoculated against all the rampant diseases of the external world. It would take some time for them to acclimate to the old world. There was no specific timetable for phase three of the experiment. It was just planned to occur organically.
With time and nature, more of the original 100 became parents. More mouths to feed meant a faster drain on the resources. The food supply was regulated by the compound’s central computer system. It had been programmed to sustain the nutritional needs of one hundred people for at least twenty years. Once both those parameters were significantly exceeded, it became increasingly obvious that food shortages were going to get worse.
As a knee-jerk reaction to those realities, It was only a matter of time before someone said; “What if there is more to the world than we know?” Once that intellectual hurdle was overcome, it emboldened others to explore. Initial claims of an infinitely larger, external world were chastised as heresy. “There is no world but our own!”; The majority decried angrily.
The testimony of subsequent explorers was merely treated with a heavy dose of skepticism. That in itself, was progress. Only with the passing of time and philosophical advancement was the concept of ‘outside’ slowly considered. One of the later explorers was wise enough to bring back photographs to help validate his fantastic claim.
One by one, the frightened inhabitants of the first, second, and third generations of humanity 2.0 crept outside to see the external world for the first time. The bloody wars which destroyed the Earth were long since over. The people who waged them were also gone. Time had healed the scars of what once was. The Earth was new again. The progressive actions of the international foundation for science and health, had saved humanity to start over.