Our great sin was borne by a young man’s brilliance and the loneliness of space.
I first bent the human genome when I was seventeen. Humanity desperately needed a way to combat the diseases that would get caught in the Air Recyclers aboard the great ships. Purifiers and antibiotics were band-aids. We needed a way to quickly adapt to disease and to life in deep space. The fate of the species rested on it. I delivered. For a time I was loved for my discovery.
Diseases and harmful genes could be targeted and ‘Bent’ into something benign. The most extraordinary Bend was the manipulation of alloys. I Bent the molecules of steel so that it could be grown in star light rather than searched for and mined. Deprived of light for long enough the new alloy became irreversibly hardened and indestructible. When the alloy was ‘drinking’ in light, it could be programed into any shape desired. This virtually eliminated the need to make things. They could be grown. Everything from eating utensils to star ships size of cities.
Inhospitable planets could be tamed under interlocking domes, thousands of miles wide, under which new Earths grew. We have littered the stars with a million such geraniums.
What we did to ourselves was much more invasive. People could be Bent into denser mass, to allow for less energy exertion in gravity manipulation. Bent to allow us to drink energy from stars. Bent to adjust destructive behavioral anomalies. Bent to design humans to specific tasks. It is the latter that sent us into depravity.
Bending allowed people to specialize themselves. But practicality soon gave way to pervasion.
We were so alone out here in space. For seven hundred years we crawled through the heavens, without a single sign of life. We traveled faster than the speed of light, had explored tens of thousands of worlds, and nothing. Nothing. The theory of carrying capacity had been developed on Earth 1. It was a measurement of the population size of a species that an ecosystem can sustain. Exceed the capacity and destruction of the ecosystem was eminent.Two billion people left earth in the first Exodus to escape this horror.
For a time this gave humankind patience. We looked back at our days on Earth 1 knowing that it was but a corner of our place in the universe. We broke the carrying capacity of one planet. Would two be enough? How many light years would comprise our backyard? 700 years of travel and our solar system had indeed become peopled. With us. We colonized every rock we found, built space stations, and tera formed planets. We grew like weeds everywhere we went. Trillions of us desperately trying to prove we are not alone.
The first perverse Bend came thirty seven years after my discovery. A group of intrepid explorers wanted a way to travel unimpeded by the limitations of a star ship. The answer was to Bend the likeness of humanity out of them altogether. They Bent themselves into jellyfish like creatures that could swim through space feeding on star light and recording their travels organically.
It then cascaded into Bending whatever humans could imagine into existence. Usefulness and purpose became obsolete. Fairy tale and fantasy were Bent into life. No other sentient life could be found so we invented it. Bent other species into existence. Bent ourselves into Gods. Life became nothing more than an ingredient for insane chefs.
But the stores are low. The stuff of life is scarce. Those few that never Bent now fight for their lives. Hunted by the Myriad. A collective of a hundred bizarre species that covet the pure genes of the Unbent. The Myriad has degraded their own pool of genes so much they can no longer Bend. Once again they are lonely.
I look back on my youth and wonder, would it have been genocide to not pursue an answer for my people? Would it be wrong even if it was? I have an eternity to ponder it. I was the last Bend among what is now known as humanity.
Bent and folded into the molecules of a mother ship, I now stand guard against the Myriad. I have wrapped my arms around my children, protecting them from the mistakes of my youth.
Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years. How does perspective change with age?
I want this to be a collaborative piece of fiction. Please contribute to the story in any way you want. Any prose, narratives, history of the Myriad, flash fiction inspired by this introduction is welcome. Leave your contribution in the comments or email me. I want this to be a story told by as many voices as possible.