Chapter Eight


You Can’t Go Back


To my surprise, South Sudan stayed in the news for weeks. Apparently this unrest was the start of a social revolution, not just another coup d'etat that would change ruler names but little else.

Before class started I asked Ben what he felt about what was happening there.

"It's big, all right," he said, "And it's making a big difference. The people who are now making this happen have a lot of creation backing. This is a first for South Sudan." he paused and frowned a bit.

"That's not good?" I asked.

"Oh it's good," he said, "But it's making such a difference and so fast!

"Before now, when the government was mostly human, it was also quite corrupt and quite tribal. The government played favorites and took cheap shots all the time. And that's why we NGO's were so important. We provided some rationality instead of superstition, some fairness instead of favoritism, and we got close to the people. We could really help.

"Now, according to my friends, the government really is shaping up. They are using a lot of creation help. With that, they are making the government work effectively for the first time."

"What about the imprinting? Wasn't that making the creations help the locals? That's what you said when you came back." asked Jaina.

"Then it was. But they're changing the imprinting. You may not be able to change a leopard's spots, but you can certainly reprogram a cyber! And apparently they have done a lot of drastic changing in the local cyber programming. Plus they have brought in new ones, a lot of those, and the old ones, those that have kept their old programming, are now pretty clearly obsolete.

"How did they afford this?" asked Ruby.

"South Sudan has resources. They couldn't afford new stuff before because the corruption was so horrendous. Now they are at the beginning of a virtuous circle, a believable one, and it's clear to foreign investors that they can afford a lot more. The change is amazing. It's now so clear that they are getting this massive cyber upgrade to government. Most impressive. I congratulate these new rulers on that."

"Sounds great! What's the problem?"

"The problem is the NGO's are now obsolete. The government is doing, or close to doing, all the stuff the NGO's did for the people." he looked around, "It's great for the people of South Sudan, but Janet and I are now out of a job, and our NGO is closing down."

"Ouch!" said Ruby.

"Umm..." agreed Ben, "and Janet and I don't reprogram as fast as a cyber. And there aren't that many primitive places left on Earth. We're going to have to do some serious retraining now."

"Could you work for the new government?" asked Rubyzin.

"Perhaps... but we aren't South Sudanese, and don't want to be," he laughed, "And it's not clear what advantage we could offer that their new cybers can't."



The Great Fruit Fly Raid

Adrian was not happy either when he came to class. His smile was turned upside down.

All through class he was quiet and distracted rather than engaging -- something was up. I texted him as class broke up, "What's up?"

"Meet me for coffee." was the terse reply. I wrapped up my post-class work pushed through the zombie pack in the corridor and headed to the Starscents. Adrian already at a table, with coffee for both of us, and off in the ozone making contacts. He waved me over and motioned for me to sit. This was not the usual engaging Adrian. I was patient.

It wasn't long before he got to me, still with no smile.

"They have raided my workshop."


"The DEA with an attached media circus." he sighed, "According to my lawyer there's a fifty-fifty they will come for me and let me do my premier performance of The Perp Walk. He's keeping me posted," then he grinned a gallows grin, "I'm dusting off my old soft shoe routine."

I think my jaw dropped, I know my eyes widened, "What's this all about."

"Word of my fruit fly flea circus got to some alarmists -- some alarmists with serious teeth. They convinced the DEA that 'there was a serious possibility that I was developing dangerous drugs without proper review, and what I was doing could be imminently hazardous to the community.' as their investigator put it to me in the warrant. I passed that on. That part is now at the lawyer-lawyer stage."

"They are there now?"

"See for yourself," He was near tears as he brought up the news channel doing a real-time report on the search. George-776 was standing immobilized in a corner of the office while DEA people searched the cluttered tables. They weren't being delicate. Meanwhile other DEA people in bunny suits and hazmat creations where swarming around the workshop area spraying stuff, probably sterilizers, and hauling stuff out. Probably as evidence.

I looked up. Adrian's face was a mask -- the sort of look one sees on people hauling bodies out of a newly discovered mass grave. He said quietly, "Fuck. The years of work. Fuck. All they had to do was ask politely. Fuck."

I put my hand on his arm in sympathy.

He looked at me, and somehow the look got even scarier. "What's even worse is that Homeby, my partner, is likely the chief squealer."


"He thinks I'm being the mad scientist -- exploring where man was not meant to explore.

"We've had our creative differences on this for a while... I guess he got sincerely scared and decided to call in the cavalry. ...FUCK!"

Adrian got up and walked around in frustration. He came back and sat down.

"The years this is going to take to work out! The years of distraction. Plus, it's not going to help Gene Editors one bit! Who's going to invest in a mad scientist who's half a step from getting thrown in the slammer for a crime against humanity?" he added, "This is killing Homeby as well as me. What was he thinking!" Adrian rolled his eyes again.

"If he had just talked to me! ...Well, I guess he did. He warned me. I just didn't believe he'd go this far. It's insane."

"What will you do now?"

Adrian looked into his hands, "I don't know. I'll survive. I'll adapt... somehow." he looked up, "It's too early to tell," he smiled at me like something funny just came to mind, "But I think the Geisha is out of the picture now."

I laughed with him at that. I still liked him. I held his hand, "I'm still with you."

He held it back and looked deep into my eyes, "You should know: That's very important to me, and has been for some time now."

Then he looked distracted again, "Excuse me. It's my lawyer-bot."

He wandered off into the ozone, and so did I.