Friday, August 19, 2016

A Little Tinkering

A Little Tinkering
by J.K. Miles

Well that most definitely, did not work.

This one thought passed through Meander's mind as he huddled behind his hastily chosen cover. Sizzling bolts of super heated gas whizzed overhead. The sound of discharging rifles was rang in his ears


Four attempts. Four failures to stop this damned war. The Kifari were lumbering, vicious numskulls devoid of any scrap of wisdom, but you had to give it to them: they were enthusiastic warriors and excellent marksmen.

The last three times Meander had materialized on the overlook, the hostilities were escalating but it was still a manageable project. The weapons were bronze swords at first. A century or so later the Kifari graduated to crude slug throwers. Except for that one clumsy attempt at chemical agents, Meander's vantage point had always been safe--well, safe for him. After his latest adjustment to the time stream, he should have seen some decrease in hostility. The rumble of tanks proved otherwise.

Meander closed his eyes and shut out the cries of troops charging the enemy line. He instead imagined atoms swirling in the void. He cracked open one of those atoms. Peeled back the ripe nuclei. The quarks lay inside, buzzing and blinking on and off in Planck time. He brushed the quantum field gently and felt the wanton coupling and uncoupling of bosons and fermion strings vibrating in a rhythm no one, least of all time-travelers, understood. Meander slipped into the stream of quantum entanglement.

He was no longer anywhere.

He was somehow localized and yet impossibly expanded. He felt what time-travelers have felt since the very first time anyone had dared pierce the quanta. He was pulled and then released by some unknown hand. He vibrated like a plucked harp string in the void.

A million years or a millisecond later the pulsating string that had been Meander managed with great effort to form the will to cease the harmonious tremolo. Meander stretched himself into the quantum field and then into the atomic swirl and by stages into himself.

His first sensation was waist-high grass brushing against his fingers. It was the same species of grass in the very same field. Without fission powered tanks to grind it flat, however, the primeval grassland flourished, filling the air with a faint lemon scent.

His research indicated that the species he was looking for was a small, slightly pudgy mammalian creature, less than a meter tall or long with a prominent, but flat nasal cavity, cauliflower ears, and six beady little eyes.

After a short walk he found some milling about and scavenging on the remains of prehistoric reptiles. They scurried when Meander strode among them. At first, their timidity made him think he had erred in his research. How could the thick-headed and bloody minded Kifari evolve from such a timid species? Not wishing to make a mistake and because he literally had all the time in the world, Meander erected a perimeter to pen the little creatures and observe them. After an hour or two there was no doubt.

He had not made a mistake.

Without places to hide, the behavior of the little grass dwellers changed dramatically. The little buggers became crazed and vicious. Some of them threw themselves into Meander's barrier until they lay bloodied and spent. The rest began to fight. It was remarkable.

Over several nights Meander sat by his fire and watched as the things rapidly developed complex social orders. When he observed rudimentary clan formation one morning, he was both startled and mesmerized. Never had he seen such social adaption so quickly in a species. Within a fortnight, some of the clans had united and squared off over limited resources. A very familiar battle field was forming right before his eyes in miniature.

Meander had seen enough. He had been commissioned to stop a genocidal war. He had tried less drastic measures. He had toppled a dynasty here and there. When the fateful battle still happened, he adjusted the development of trade and technology at key points. This had been unfortunate. Something he tinkered with had led to the chemical agent fiasco. He abandoned the strategy immediately but he still bore the scars from chemical burns. Targeted killing of military instigators hadn’t worked either. The bloodthirsty little tactical geniuses just would not take the hint!

With a grunt of determination, Meander stood up and reached down into the pen and picked up one of the Kifari ancestors. She was cowering in a corner seconds from being devoured by several strong males because she wasn't good breeding material. He held her up to his face and squinted at her in the firelight. The wiggling creature shivered in abject fear, its odd shaped nasal organ sniffing left and right just trying to make sense of it all.

Meander closed his eyes, and then he was sorting amino acids and fiddling with mitochondria. He found the hitch in the genetic code fairly easily. A snip here and a tuck there in the chain of nucleic acids and the female was devoid of the aggressive sequence causing all the trouble. He did the same to a hearty but relatively docile male who wouldn't have seen the sunrise if a phalanx of dominant warrior mammals managed to break the enemy line. He placed them in his tent for safe keeping. By the time he had dealt with the rest, his two prototypes had already started mating. After the second litter, he tagged and released them.

It only took a few days to hunt down all of the strays and vaporize them. Meander smiled at the irony. The weapon of choice was a certain super heated gas discharging rifle.

Art Source: "Genetic Engineering" (c)/by cozgames
Story and Characters: (c)/by Jonathan Miles

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #JonathanMiles, #geneticengineering, #Kifari, #Meander


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