Vol. 1, Iss. 5
Inspector Pinkerton had asked for the one thing he could not have, his freedom from the most secure quarantine facility in the United States. When he was brought to the “University” twenty years before, Pinkerton was told that he would be genetically modified by having an isolated bit of urodele chromosomes inserted into his genome. He understood that the was a pretty good chance that the procedure would fail, and he would go on being blind and deaf for the rest of his life. So did the researchers.
One of the University scientists tasked with observing Pinkerton had found that, after three years, Pinkerton’s ability to heal had – according to DNA testing and observing brain function scans – begun to quicken. The scientist was fully aware that Pinkerton had regained his sight and hearing, even as J.R. tried to hide it. Nonetheless, when a staff meeting with the Director concluded that the urodele genetics weren’t working, he said nothing of Pinkerton’s functioning abilities. The scientist, along with a couple of his fellow researchers, proposed that they also insert cephalopod genetics. It was unanimously approved, and the Director instructed them to begin work immediately – noting that this project was to remain secret as a matter of National Security.
The University was a project funded by deep intelligence units within the Department of Defense, NSA, and CIA. The Director had a vested interest in the research being done and his eyes lit up at the prospect, as it could make his operatives impervious to torture and most injuries, creating a super agent. This second round of genetic alteration using cephalopod genes might be even better than the initial hopes with urodele genetics, with a rapid healing ability compounded and the added abilities to camouflage and kill its own kind without remorse. A super agent in terms of covert operations.
The Inspector’s stubborn resolve to keep from showing that he was healed had also suppressed his other abilities. The one thing he couldn’t hide was his lack of aging and an ability to nearly stop his heart, slow his breathing and cool his body into a coma-like state for months at a time, going without food, water, or motion. His motionless state, like a hibernating salamander, gave the researchers all the time they needed to study him. These bouts of hibernation are the likely reason he could not recall three-quarters of the time he had been in quarantine. His resolve to hide his abilities had done nearly the opposite for him, it had confirmed that the urodele genes were working. What had stayed hidden through J.R.’s campaign of secrecy was that the fantastic camouflage ability and the darkness of a remorseless killing machine stayed in remission. Until the day came that he lost his battle with physics and smashed his face against the nightstand.
After ‘The Incident’, the trusted Doctor had told Pinkerton something he was not prepared for. That he was not free to leave. He shut down. He didn’t come out of his hibernation for three years. In the meantime, the Director made haste in extracting chromosomes from salamanders, newts, cuttlefish, octopi, and a Humboldt squid named Jim; modifying one operative’s DNA each week, the University was turning out its most prestigious graduating class of all time. Meanwhile, a leak to a website had led to the use of genetic modification in medicine throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Much like the space race of the mid-twentieth century, there was a race to perfect the medical science of curing ailments through the proliferation of genetic modification.
Pinkerton had become an unknowing and unwilling prototype for the future of intelligence, covert operations, and medicine. Soldiers could shake a powder out onto a massive wound and be healed completely within a week. Cancer patients were injected with a synthetic virus that modified their DNA and cured their malignancies. AIDS, malaria and a thousand other diseases were suddenly as dangerous as a pollen allergy. A covert operative could change his skin color at will, providing perfect deep cover for operatives around the world. This double-edged sword changed everything, it led to health and happiness, death and destruction, and everything in between.
It was suddenly a scarier world to live in and people were happier to live in it. Wars were no longer fought in an overt sense, everything that open war once accomplished could be completed with surgical precision and zero collateral damage. Intelligence could be gathered without anyone suspecting the person they were talking to was a foreign operative. Technology boomed, leaps and bounds of advancements were made every day, progress was no longer hindered by secrecy – there were no more secrets, no way to keep them. Statues of Pinkerton stood in the capitals of every nation, he was the hero of Earth.
Earth had ceased to be the only home of humans in the solar system. In three years, humans went from meek inhabitants of Earth to daring colonists throughout the solar system. The ability to hibernate in a coma-like state was one of the keys, another was the loss of secrecy, and the master key was the amazingly rapid pace of technological advancement. A new rocket could carry humans into space on a test-run, have an utter and complete failure, and the astronauts would just sleep it off in their space suits until rescuers arrived.
The biggest statue to Pinkerton stood in New Denmark, which comprised the western shores of the Inspektører Havet on the newly terraformed moon of Jupiter, Europa. It was originally a colony of the United States during terraforming, but a mutiny had been set into action by Libyan operatives that had been undercover in the American program for years. The Danish colony offered the mutineers and the Americans their own estates in exchange for allegiance to the Crown and took a controlling stake in continental Europa.
Pinkerton woke up from his catatonic nap to a different view through his glass wall. The next best thing to freedom was the view from his new quarantine location. He couldn’t believe it, he was in orbit. There was a note from the Doctor and the Director on what was left of his nightstand:
We’re truly sorry that you haven’t had a choice in any of this, but for your mark on the documents to start the first procedure. You are the hero of Earth, and we couldn’t give you freedom. You will soon have a decision to make, and your awakening will trigger a response from your current neighbors. Until then, think of it this way, you are free to travel around the world and see every country.
We couldn’t keep you safe at the University any longer. The idea of secrecy has rapidly become obsolete, and every world leader wanted to have you. Your enclosure was attached to a modified satellite and put into a random orbit.
Your choices, as we know them at the time of writing this note, will consist of either staying where you are now or becoming an operative on Europa. If you choose the latter, you’ll have a bit of catching up to do.
Good luck patient 32317002488.
– Ellie and Mother
He couldn’t stifle his laughter. Pinkerton could clearly see two things, the planet Earth and a blinking red light that had transitioned to solid green in the corner of his enclosure. He finally got to see the world, he just never expected it would be like that.