With such profound, life-altering developments taking place, the human race divided into two basic camps. Those who nervously accepted changes they had no control over, and those who were sure ‘the end’ was near. The chaos and panic of the second group caused them to react violently to each new event. They desperately sought to correlate ‘the Lebab phenomenon’ with Armageddon underway. As echoed from past failures, they used hazy, unprovable interpretations of sacred texts to justify their actions. Meanwhile the first group tried to remain calm amid riots and doomsday cults turning every development into ‘proof of the end-times’.
“What do you think the next phase will be?”
That was the prevailing question on the minds of those discussing world events. Eric’s network of researchers were right along with the general population in wondering. For all their scientific acumen, they knew little more than the average person. As soon as new information was uncovered, they dutifully ‘leaked’ it to trustworthy sources but their underground research was always in danger of being compromised. It was only a matter of time before one of their confidential news contacts was coerced into revealing their identity.
In a radical policy shift, the team decided to form an ‘open door’ campaign to end the difficult secrecy. Through transparency, they wanted to dispel the growing rumors of a massive scientific control conspiracy and work in the open. The sad fact was, they could only assure people they were not personally behind any of the global changes. Everything else they theorized about the origins of Lebab was just conjecture. There was a certain subset of the population who were positive it was a ‘divine prophesy being fulfilled’. Supernatural influence on mankind was impossible to prove or dispel. Especially to those who already had their minds made up. Their concern was uncovering the truth, wherever that uncertain path led them.
Because of the newly visible status of their independent research organization, there were many active efforts to interfere. Through subtle pressure or outright intimidation, the opposition tried to force them to unlock the condition. Science had been misused many times in the past out of fear, or for unethical reasons. Eric’s team was determined to not be pawns in reversing the world’s first sustained peace.
In desperation, the various anti-Lebab factions sought to gain control of the situation by any means possible. The NSA employed residential and office bugging, and around-the-clock surveillance. When the covert spying also failed to achieve what they wanted, the government reluctantly reversed tactics.
A voice on other end of Dr. Barnes’ unlisted cell phone startled him. It was General Westcott. His new tactic was to appeal to Eric’s sense of logic. “How the Hell did you get this number?”; Eric demand. “We were assured they were secure and untraceable.”
“Oh come now, Doctor!”; The General laughed at Eric’s naive assumption. “Surely you realize we can crack any cellular encryption or private network. We are the most powerful nation on Earth and have an awesome arsenal of technology at our disposal. Did you really believe we’d just twiddle our thumbs since you switched to disposable phones? We actually make those ‘untraceable’ phones because anyone wanting to cover their tracks would naturally gravitate to them! Already having a ‘back door’ inside a locked device is a lot easier that trying to hack the encryption.”; He explained cleverly. There was more than a modest hint of pride in his voice.
“You HAD to know we were observing you, right? Come on! We aren’t that stupid, Eric. The lack of public interest you’ve displayed about the recent developments is even LESS than that of a layman. That level of disinterest is very telling and insincere. It’s hardly the actions of a scientist who first isolated the phenomenon, named it, and then headed the pioneering research into learning about it. We KNEW you were still working on it; even before you ‘came out of the underground research closet’ last month. We just decided to let you continue with your ‘secret’ studies while we observed quietly from a distance.”
“Observing, or SPYING?”; He retorted angrily. “We haven’t seen one iota of evidence that it could be reversed; and we are not about to try. You might as well give up your misguided efforts to enlist my organization in undoing the worldwide peace it has brought!”
Once again, General Westcott laughed in his condescending way. “Worldwide peace? What peace? There’s more conflict now that when this whole thing began. It’s just different groups at war now. If anything, it has unified ‘the believers’ of the world versus all the ‘non believers’. That’s hardly peace. It’s exactly the sort of scenario we were afraid of, and have been trying to avoid. The doomsday cults are planning on making ‘Armageddon’ a self fulfilling prophesy with mass suicides and attacks against non believers. As a man of science, I KNOW you can see the harm in that.”
Eric was dumbstruck by his stinging words. As much as he hated to admit it, the analogy of a different kind of ideological war, rang absolutely true. While he still distrusted the General’s probable agenda, he completely agreed with what Westcott spelled out. The great divide between people on Earth was both universal and polarizing. Having the endless number of racial and social conflicts eradicated, had the unlikely side effect of unifying the population into two distinct groups. Two great fires destroying peace in the world was worse than many tiny ones that could be snuffed out.
“What exactly as you proposing, General? I know you didn’t call to chat.”