“Friends, esteemed colleagues, doctors, scientists, and all who have come today, welcome. Over a century ago, our people were plagued with a devastating virus that we could not stop. Tens of millions died. It wasn’t until a team of scientists lead by Dr. Hinsdale, used innovative solutions and adapted technology that allowed us to learn about the virus in all new ways. As the one who discovered the virus, Dr. Hinsdale dubbed it, the ‘H-Virus’. The doctor discovered that the virus wasn’t just a random or simple organism. Instead, he discovered that it was a highly complex and advanced group of cells that had evolved into a sentient intelligence. So intelligent, in fact, that it had developed, in essence, its own culture and society; it was ‘evolving’. This provided the vital information, or the ‘missing link’, if you will, in understanding how the virus constantly overcame all of our previous efforts to stop it.
Yet, stop it, we did. After much hard work and an incalculable amount of time, two decades ago, Dr. Hinsdale discovered a way to destroy the virus. But, even more fantastic, Dr. Hinsdale’s work lead to a new discovery. The very nature of the virus that allowed it to overcome our efforts to stop it also gave it a unique quality that could be manipulated and controlled. Dr. Hinsdale discovered that this very same virus could be used as a cure. Not just a cure for any one, specific problem – but a cure for every problem. The virus could be engineered to work as a tiny organism, living within its host, healing, repairing, and helping it to grow. No longer would we be subject to the uprising of another virus. No longer would we be vulnerable. Dr. Hinsdale’s discovery offered new hope, and new promise, for our future. After decades of work, trial and error, successes and failures, Dr. Hinsdale’s research is ready to move onto the next phase. What comes next will be the most vital and important discovery of our time – an evolutionary advancement of a micronic organism to build the future of our society. You’ve read his research, followed his work, and here today, is Dr. Hinsdale himself, to answer your questions. I present to you an esteemed colleague, an amazing scientist, and a dear friend, Dr. Hinsdale.”
[There is a standing applause for some time. Dr. Hinsdale takes his place and smiles at the crowd, waiting for the applause to die down]
– “Thank you, all. Your applause fills me with joy. Many have heralded my work as heroic, but I defy that claim. My work was necessary. It was my gift back to all those whom I love and whom they love. We are one. For me, personally, it has also been more than just work. For me, it has been the greatest discovery of my lifetime. As we move forward, I am filled with anticipation. For the first time, we believe that there will be success. Even if it is a failure, what we learn now, will surely guarantee our success on the next trial. For as much as the H-Virus was a curse, it may also be a blessing. What has been bestowed upon us is an opportunity greater than we could have imagined. Of course, you know all this. What I am here for today, is you. The importance of phase 2 of this project cannot be emphasized enough. And, so, it is important to me, and to my staff, that your questions about what has been, and what will be, are answered. So, without taking up more of your time, I now open the floor and rejoice in sharing what knowledge I can.”
“Doctor, thank you for your work. You said in your second publication that during your time with the H-Virus, its so-called ‘culture’ was unstable and you weren’t sure if it would fail like the others. Although I’ve read your other works, can you tell us, in your own words, what changed?”
– “Of course. As you know, after many other failures, we have now learned that the virus, if left to itself, is far too self-destructive during its infancy to survive. Like a spinning top, if you simply leave it to run, eventually, it crashes. By intervening at different points throughout the virus’ evolution, as we learned to do with its predecessors, the H-Virus adapted. One of the unfortunate benefits of trying to destroy the virus, and I say unfortunate for all those who were lost to the virus, was that we saw it adapt, time and time again. No matter our efforts, each planetary cell that was infected died, one after another, after another. Once we learned of its sentience (and how to stop it), it was the viruses ability to adapt to outside interference that inspired me to see if it would also adapt to our efforts to improve it, rather than just destroy it. And, the results speak clearly for themselves. The virus has evolved and grown along the path we have laid out for it. So, the change that made it possible for the H-Virus to evolve, was us being proactive. Destruction is not our way. Although we eventually learned to stop the virus, going back to who we are, as one, using our knowledge to interfere with the virus’ evolution, is what has brought the greatest achievement.”
“Doctor Hinsdale, in the time you spent with the virus, how did you communicate with it?”
[The doctor laughs a little]
– “Very, very carefully.”
“Doctor, why didn’t you completely wipe out this virus strain and destroy it like the others? What made this one special?”
– “Thank you. An excellent question. In my publications, I have tried to reserve emotional commentary, so it may seem at times that there is a coldness in my actions. But, this is not true. As you noted, several times, we initiated an apocalyptic event for the virus culture to completely wipe it out. However, after the first event, using nearby cells to collide with the planetary cell, we soon realized that the next strain would take just as long to evolve; and, needless to mention, we did more damage to the planetary cell than we had hoped for. We needed a way to carry forward our work. So, after our use of fires to more centrally focus our efforts without causing destructive harm to the planetary cell, we spent more time with the virus, understanding its culture.
It was a slow progression that I was not happy about, but, as my wife keeps telling me, patience paid off. Soon after, we initiated the floods, the ice, and even the Atlantis project. See, our time with the virus allowed us to be more discerning about the application of destruction, selecting groups of viral cells that had been corrupted or failed to evolve, and deleting only those. We moved from planetary cell wide events to more focused systems, trying new and different ways to be successful. One of the first and foremost factors that made this virus special was that it had an incredible capacity for survival. Like any virus, it was a bane on the host organism. It consumed all the resources of the planetary cell, self replicated beyond capacity, was self destructive, and resisted most efforts to stop it. But, widespread treatment was only good for total annihilation. Instead, we focused our efforts on target destruction and the results have been incredible. Would our new methodology of helping the virus evolve have worked on other strains? Perhaps. But, that’s the purpose of trial and error, isn’t it?”
[The crowd chuckles along with the doctor]
“Doctor, do you have any concerns about the success of phase 2, beyond the success of intervention … or rather clarified, have there been any issues that your team still struggles with?”
– “Ah, yes. In my 16th publication I discussed the culture of the virus, in its current form, in greater detail. On my last visit, I found that even after a decade of work with the H-Virus strain, that it still had one flaw we could not overcome: a lack of empathy. The virus still fed on fear, anger, and hatred. For all our intervention and hard work, the virus’ culture still persists to be self destructive. It wars with itself, consumes resources callously, and treats its own cells just as virulently as it treats planetary cells. The technology we introduced was abused and used by more powerful and destructive cells to encourage the weaker ones to continue to consume and feed on the planetary cell. It even delayed phase 2 to the point we were concerned that it would not happen. A portion of the problem is the physical nature of the virus. It’s design is a unique, carbon and hydrogen based system that, unlike other planetary cells, has a programmatic DNA that governs its behavior in accordance with its physical form. The virus has unique sensory perception that requires it to interact with its environment, making it hyper-sensitive to change. We believe this was the initial reason for the over consumption of resources. Yet, in time, I also found that this could be used to engineer the virus to recognize that it had a dependency on its surrounding for survival. This was the starting point for our work.
Our greatest hope was that the virus could evolve in its culture, learning to heal those cells which were ill, offer forgiveness, and lift them up. Although the virus has shown a propensity to protect the planetary cell on a small scale, it still fails, time and again, to protect its own. When a cell’s DNA, or its behavior fails to be in line with the other cells, they label it, marking it for the life of that cell and exclude it, hate it – and even destroy it. In its culture, the primal, viral destructiveness is quite apparent as cells are constantly segregated from the whole by prejudice based on physical, emotional, and even past-behavioral actions. Perhaps, this is a problem of all virus strains since we’ve seen it happen repeatedly. We couldn’t fathom how any cell, culture, or evolutionary form could develop hatred for one another. One colleague, seeing that this organism had the ability to hate life itself and manipulate one another, how I could ever hope to engineer a cure from an organism that had evolved without the basic capacity for compassion. And, that, is the issue, we still struggle with.”
“So … how does this affect phase 2? Without that inherently culturally-preserving behavior, wouldn’t the virus just eliminate itself?”
– “Yes, perhaps. This is a concern, but not the primary concern. Right now, our goal is to utilize the virus’ ability to grow and expand to other planetary cells in order to spread the cure and begin healing. In the beginning, if you’ll recall, we destroyed a much larger planetary cell to create smaller ones. Two of those smaller planetary cells were initially set up to support the growth of the virus. One of them died. The planetary cell that fostered the growth of the H-Virus continued to cultivate it to this day. We took advantage of the dead planetary cell, leaving it in place, engineering the virus to focus on that as its point of expansion. When the virus expands to the nearby planetary cell, this will be the most sensitive and most important part of our project. At no other time has any other ‘engineered‘ virus strain expanded to a nearby planetary cell like the original, overly aggressive and solely destructive strains.
What the virus does with that planetary cell is of key importance. If, we can engineer the virus to continue to protect planetary cells, it should, over time, begin to rejuvenate and rehabilitate that nearby planetary cell. Then, we can watch it grow to other cells. If this works, we can eventually use this exact, same strain, injected into live, infected bodies, and watch the healing begin. However, if the virus continues to revert to its primordial, genetic coding and continues to be self destructive, it may wipe itself out before healing begins. Fortunately, the project has reached the point of success so that we can easily reproduce phase 1 again, and in an even shorter amount of time.”
“Doctor, you claim that the H-Virus developed a sort of ‘culture’ or ‘society’; is there anything from their society that could be beneficial or contribute in some small way to ours?”
[The audience chuckles]
“Doctor Hinsdale, I’m a huge fan of your work. Why is it so difficult to engineer the virus to function the way we want? Can’t you simply alter the DNA?”
– “Ah, yes – an excellent question. DNA mutations at that small of a level continue to be a tricky challenge. In the beginning, most of our mutations died. Even the ones that survived, when we started interacting with them, we found them in only a very primal state. Our initial engineering was to take the strongest features of the viruses and create a more powerful strain that could survive the mutations. Other strains of the virus did survive, but the genetic, virulent primal code that governed their behavior, continued to be a problem. We rebooted the strain on this one, planetary cell more than 5 times, each with catastrophic consequences. With the H-Virus, we abandoned the idea of rapid DNA mutations and decided on a more, long-term cultural engineering to more gradually alter the DNA. And, as you know, even the H-Virus has been a problem for us. Even after slow mutation of their DNA, what did we encounter? Their destructive behavior initially became extremely dangerous to the host planetary cell. Even after the introduction of technological advances, from mass radiation exposure to warfare and even over-consumption of resources, the H-Virus continued to suffer every challenge the other viruses did, and more. When I was with the H-Virus cells though, I noticed something different about them versus the other strains. For example, just before the flood event, we saw that only a portion of the H-Virus cells had resorted to cannibalistic type behavior, having exhausted their resources and failing to evolve. The few who did overcome were our target focus group moving forward. We wiped out the destructive cells and allowed the healthy ones to continue on. While some good came out of it, leaving the cells on their own once again left us with less than pleasing results.
War, famine, and other problems were continuing to be an issue. At one point, we were going to wipe out the H-Virus using the anti-virus-virus through small rodent-like creatures on the planetary cell, causing a plague of epic scale proportions. This was, as you may know, the solution we found in the beginning to completely wipe out the virus. Yet, as we watched the cells die, many of the remaining virus cells struggled to find ways to survive and help one another. So, we stopped what we were doing and watched to see how they reacted. In the face of extinction, the virus found new ways to survive and become stronger. Soon, the virus learned that in order to survive, it must heal its own environment. By doing so, the H-Virus showed the greatest promise we could have hoped for in becoming a solution! And, so, we quickly moved to interject more than just advances in culture, but we also brought science and technology into the virus’ life cycle for the sixth time. Incorporating these elements, the virus quickly progressed toward expansion and is now set for phase 2.
Could we have force manipulated their DNA? No, I don’t think so. Only when we gave the virus time to adapt to the changes over long periods, and actively engineered its evolution along the way, did it begin to show real promise.”
“Doctor, do you think the virus can ever become more empathetic toward its own and develop that kind of healing relationship with the planetary cells that will create a real effect any time soon?”
– “I am sorry to say that, no, I don’t know. The H-Virus is particularly unique in how it responds to different situations. We gave it fire, and it stared at wood waiting for it to spark on its own, so we engineered it to create its own fire. Yet, conversely, we gave it science, and it misused it, creating its own, unique and yet highly corrupted culture where a few virus cells began poisoning others through food and medicine. We gave it warnings when it began inhaling carcinogens, to which we have yet to fully understand why, but what we do know, fascinating enough, is that it ignored the warnings, further destroying itself. We gave it technology and it constructed weapons. In other words, the primitive side of the virus continues to persist through all of our efforts. After all, it is, just a virus. We can’t expect miracles overnight.”
“Doctor, that brings up a very good point. If the virus is sentient, at what point is our interference, destruction of, our manipulation of it a morally or ethically questionable act?
– “Hmm… I have spent many, many years contemplating this. Even from the very beginning, when I was brought in to destroy the virus, I wondered if we should – when we didn’t even understand where it came from. When I found the virus to be sentient, I again, wondered if we should, not sure of just how advanced it was. And, even now, I contemplate those issues. What I have to remind myself, everyday, is that my work here is vital to the continued existence of our people. These are not sentient beings like you and I. These are primitive, animal-like creatures with an overwhelming propensity for destruction. They may exhibit basic behaviors that we can readily recognize and work with – but they are nothing more than animals; less than that, even. They don’t think like us, feel like us, or even learn like us. They slaughter and consume without thought. And, as I said before, if left to their own, after murdering more of our innocent people, they would eventually destroy themselves. No, young lady, I don’t think there is a single, ethical question to be had. These cells can only serve one purpose moving forward and what we can do to them to improve our life-cycle and health, is too valuable to ignore. Yes – there are consequences for everything we do – but again – these are just cells.”
“Doctor, in your eighth publication, you dubbed this particular strain the ‘H-Virus’. I thought at first it was named after you, but the other strains didn’t follow the same pattern. I was just wondering if you could share with us how you came to that name?”
[The doctor chuckled]
– “Oh, how many times I get asked this question. If I were rewarded for each, I would be a wealthy person. No, you see, the name, ‘H-Virus’, is sort of an inside joke. The virus, named itself. I believe the short name they call themselves is, “human.” We had named the other virus strains by number or sequence. Since the H-Virus became our most important project based on the hope it would begin to make its own, positive decisions, we decided to go with the name the virus gave itself, as if it were somehow qualified. In fact, the project name for phase 2 is ‘Project Mars’, as ‘Mars’, is the name the H-Virus gave to the dead planetary cell. Even though these cells aren’t sentient or aware like us, we are amused by the small amount of intelligence it shows when it is outside its natural, destructive cycle.”
“Doctor, if the H-Virus doesn’t change, whether or not phase 2 is successful as far as populating and beginning healing on another planetary cell, would there be a reason to destroy it completely, or, if there were a reason to wipe it out, would you do the same as before, and segregate a portion of the cells?”
– “So, this is the dilemma, isn’t it? Here we are, after only 10 years, ready to take the biggest step into the next phase of this project, and yet, uncertainty is still our mistress. The answer is perhaps yes, or … perhaps no? After all the energy we’ve put into evolving this virus strain, we mustn’t lose ourselves emotionally … remembering this is only a viral cell … not a living. thinking, advanced species like us. Political interjection, science, and the oft apocalyptic event – each of which took painstaking years of calculation and planning, have all been focused on the sole exercise of evolving the virus’ DNA. We have considered engineering a new virus strain along an identical path and with the current DNA, just to see how fast we can evolve it, but first, we must ensure the success of Phase 2. On a personal level, I want to emphasize, that this virus has been an integral part of my own growth and exploration as a scientist. It has been difficult spending time with the H-Virus cells, trying to understand why and how they think and behave the way they do and in some small part, I’m sure there is a personal attachment.
I will tell you this. I’m not going to give up on this project knowing that out there, somewhere, is another viral strain that could strike at any time. I will continue to push forward this project until I know that we have successfully engineered a cure that will stop any future virus while simultaneously healing old, dying planetary and other cells within. I believe there’s a possibility that the H-Virus may one day become more. But, until we can find a way to teach it to grow, heal one another, end its prejudices, abandon its fears, and learn to evolve into something greater than a destructive organism, then I will reserve the right to wipe it out and start anew. Maybe a time will come when I have to once again, select a few cells for preservation and let the rest go.
Yet, considering that in only a short period of time we are pushing the next phase where we can further engineer the virus to heal surrounding planetary cells, I am confident that this project will be successful and the H-Virus, whether the final strain or not, will have been the most significant and important contribution to this entire project. I am proud of my team and the work they have done.”
[There is tremendous clapping that takes several moments to die down when a single hand raises up]
“Doctor Hinsdale … I’ve read your work and while I understand it, without knowing fully what gave raise to the first appearance of these viruses, should we continue to engineer it, or start with something less dangerous? I mean, if there’s even the remotest possibility that evolving it could make it too powerful to stop … is it not arrogant of us to continue?”
– “Good sir, that is the perfect question. Do we continue to work on whether or not we ‘can‘ without first considering whether or not … we ‘should‘? These viruses … they have an interesting culture. When they reproduce, the good ones that is, they protect the younger versions until they’re strong enough to go out on their own. Some of the viruses have even developed a sort of, well, spiritual aspect to their being that further fosters and nurtures this healing and positive type of behavior. The majority are more arrogant, self centered, and absorbed in their own, destructive power than anything you could possibly comprehend. First off, let me assure you, that as long as they’re isolated and can’t survive outside of the planetary cells, that in a simulated environment, they pose no threat to anyone. Their ancestor cells became airborne within days and rapidly spread. That’s another reason for our slow progression. We may not know where they came from, but we know the course to follow.
Second, as a virus, these cells are really no different than non-viral cells except that non-viral cells have a set, finite purpose. That’s not to say that non-viral cells are also not destructive, creating, breaking down, and building back up again. The difference is that non-viral cells have a limited programming and limited structure that’s not prone to grow, so it remains somewhat permanently confined in its evolution. The viruses that hit our people possess an increased capacity for intelligence. Again, I use the word “intelligence” loosely in comparison to what we understand it to be. But, when this virus evolved, not only did its destructive nature evolve, but so did its ability to be non-destructive. As much as its primal destructive programming exists, we have witnessed enough to see that we can manipulate and encourage the non-destructive programming to take its place.
I may not have been successful in yet figuring out how to engineer it to stop fighting, stop hating, and stop acting against itself, but I have been successful, thus far, in getting it to recognize the importance of its relationship to other cells. The next step, which I think we will see during phase 2, is getting the virus to recognize the value in overcoming its destructive, controlling, manipulative, and harmful nature. Once it does that, it will become a healer on a scale so epic that I think the small, lengthy steps we take now, will be well worth it.
But, yes, I have considered whether or not we ‘should‘. The only answer I’ve come up with, thus far, is understanding that this virus came to us for a reason, and whatever that reason may be, simply ignoring it, is not in our best interest.”
[There is a roar of thunderous clapping. Then, the orator rises up and stands next to the Doctor]
“We have time for just one more question.”
“Doctor, you’ve described this virus as both fascinating and deadly. In your books, you continuously emphasize its destructive nature and danger, yet you were able to spend time with it, learn about it, and study it in a way no one else can. And, you’ve said here today that you saw enough to make you believe that the current direction this experiment is taking is the correct one because there’s a chance the H-Virus can somehow evolve into something greater. What would be the most important or valuable event you witnessed to make you believe that?”
[The Doctor smiles and nods at the image…]
“That in the darkness of its existence, it can find compassion enough to set aside what ails it, forget about its agenda to control, stop frivolously and violently consuming its resources, abandon destroying one another, forgive all, and in the most unexpected moments, find a reason … and the right way … to live.”
[The audience rises to its feet in a deafening applause as the Doctor waves and leaves]
Thanks for reading. Sorry – I’m not a good “writer”, but hopefully, the point of this came across well enough …
“All that ever was, or ever will be, has been, and will be once more …” – me.