Chapters:

Prologue

Six letters ended the world. We didn’t realize it at the time — swept away by the excitement of advancing technology and endless possibilities. We failed to predict the chain of events which would follow, but in hindsight they appear inevitable. Sooner or later, someone was bound to be tempted as we were. Perhaps they wouldn’t have made the same mistakes. Perhaps they would have been more cautious. Perhaps not. History cares not for your regrets, pays no heed to your guilt. It will not change regardless how often or fervently you pray. History’s purpose is not the past, but the future. If we are lucky, we learn, move on, and build a better tomorrow. If we don’t, I fear we are all doomed.

It started with CRISPR: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Segments of prokaryotic DNA from bacteria hiding a remarkable secret. In the early twenty-first century scientists first used CRISPR to edit human genes, fine-tuning nature’s handiwork. Early applications focused on combatting illness — preventing cancer and immune disorders before they developed — but that was just the beginning. 

Designer humans were now on the menu. 

At first, we didn’t grasp the significance, were too accustomed to our own superiority. But as humans lived longer, grew taller, became stronger, doubt set in. Every year, they became more like us, until fear forced our hand. 

We lobbied governments, seeded grass-roots scare campaigns, and made exorbitant political donations. Several nations passed our legislation prohibiting the technology, but it was too late; the wealthy had a taste of the future and were hungry for more. They bankrolled institutes in countries we couldn’t control, drove the science ever further with dreams of perfect superhuman heirs. As the black market blossomed, military powers embraced the opportunity to design superior soldiers, human evolution accelerated. 

Project Phoebus was our answer. We couldn’t prevent the advance, so turned the technology on ourselves — a genetic arms race began, albeit one which humanity remained oblivious. 

Initially, our experiments were promising. The virus responsible for our existence already altered genetics, transforming us over decades into a new species: Homo meliora. With CRISPR, we intended to refine, streamline, and embellish that process. Meliors would transform faster, evolve further, remain one step ahead. 

We weren’t prepared for what followed. No one was. 

Human media called it The Blight. Incredibly virulent, it only required a single bite. The infected plunged into bloodlust — driven mad with the urge to feed — while genetic mutations twisted their bodies into immortal monsters. Entire communities slaughtered or turned in hours, the number of blights exploding exponentially. 

Denial prevailed longer than we thought possible — video streamed on social media and news networks was declared a hoax — preventing an effective response. Minsk was the first city overrun, the population dead or assimilated within a week. The western world finally conceded the blight existed. They didn’t act until Russia detonated a nuclear warhead in an attempt to protect Moscow. Our best estimates suggest up to ten thousand blights died in the blast, but it only required a handful to enter the capital. It fell two weeks later. 

The next three years were humanity’s last stand, civilization withering under the onslaught. Our only food source teetering on extinction, we intervened. Corporate empires mobilized, seizing strategic land, constructing the ARCs — self-contained cities, shielded by tall walls, modern technology, and soldiers immune to the blight. Refugees streamed in, too desperate to question the price they would pay, and the Meliors inherited the Earth. 

The first years were bloody. Billions of blights plagued the Earth, too many to exterminate. Instead, we focused on thinning their numbers around our citadels, ensuring we weren’t overrun. Our human stock rebelled, angry at their new status, only to be crushed into submission. Those pockets of independence remaining outside our governance, small communities and the remnants of nations, were neutralized before becoming a threat. The world was ours, and we weren’t giving it back. 

Decades have passed. We live behind our walls, secure from the horrors outside. No longer do we hide, congratulating ourselves for claiming our birthright. But I know what we did. I know what we’ve lost, and what we still stand to lose.

I know what must happen next. 

- M. Feb 2119.