I graduated college in ’67, near the top of my class. I knew judo, aikido, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. I could speak Spanish, French, Korean, and Russian. I joined special forces after that, trained hard, worked hard. I was one of the first soldiers to train with the M3 drone setup, and one of the few able to work through the pain and upgrade to the Mel76. So don’t discount me. Don’t look at this broken old body and think I couldn’t have been the type of person to take out Dr. Kim, that I couldn’t have been the unnamed soldier who found and destroyed the Pyongyang labs.
Because I did, see. I ended the war, even if you didn’t know it was me.
In 2073, I got a mysterious summons I couldn’t ignore. It was from the government, and it seemed urgent but odd. I remember meeting my first boss, in a sitting room in Seattle. It was cold, damp, unhooked from any electronic surveillance. He went through my records – the secret, paper ones, not the electronic stuff everyone has access to. “You know why you’re here, don’t you?”
I nodded. “Yes, sir. My country needs me, sir.”
He opened the manilla folder and drew out a picture. “We have a problem, though.” He dropped the printed photo on the ground.
Moisture from the damp room soaked into the shiny paper, but I could make out the image of my sister on it. She was in bed, happy but tired. It was the picture from when she’d almost had a stroke caused by her sickle cell disease. I held my breath.
“You didn’t report this on your paperwork.”
I clenched my hands tight. My nails bit into my palms, and I bled.
“Regardless of what you choose to do after we leave this room, I can’t overlook your sister’s disease. Your former superior officer couldn’t overlook this. You lied.”
“Because I don’t carry the gene,” I said. “I don’t have the symptoms associated with being a carrier.”
“Then why didn’t you just get a genetic test and prove it?”
“I can’t afford an NIH verification. Not on a soldier’s stipend, sir.” I held myself still, straight. “I am one of the most fit individuals to come through my class. My scores prove it – I have a 3. A high, unchallengeable 3.”
The man picked up the picture and waved it in the air to dry it. “But you have a sister with sickle cell anemia. That puts you on the do not breed list, you understand?”
“I understand,” I said, “But I do not agree. I’m saving the money for NIH Gene Approval and gamete cleansing, and I’ve refrained from reproducing while I focus on my work. My genes are superior, and I should be allowed to reproduce for the future of our nation.”
The man sighed. “The problem isn’t that your genes are good or not, not anymore. The problem is you lied on all your applications for the past decade, and we can’t just let that go.” He handed me a slip of paper and a lighter with precious flammable fluid in it.
I read the preamble, gasped when I saw it was from the CIA. I’m not supposed to let that slip – not now, not ever – but the world is falling to crap now. As it damn well deserves.
I sparked the lighter’s flame and burned the sheet as it instructed. “I’m not going to let you cut out my ovaries.”
“If you don’t accept the position,” the man said, “You will lose your food rations and spend all your savings on paying for the rations you’ve already cheated from the government. This is a bad situation to be in.”
The ashes fell to the damp floor, and I handed the lighter back, empty. I scratched the place where my M3 drone connectivity suite interfaced with my brain. “The Mel76 isn’t well tested.”
“Look,” the man said, “Everyone’s seen your record. You’re fantastic, unbeatable. But you lied, and we can’t just sweep that under the rug. The CIA stepped in because we can’t afford to lose you.” He held out a hand to shake, to seal the deal. I wasn’t aware at the time, but a lot of deals with the shadowy side of governments aren’t made on paper. “Take the Mel76 and hormone therapy. A job like this isn’t given to just anyone, and you don’t have a better option.”
I nodded and took his hand. “I want some of my eggs frozen. I will have children later, you understand?”
“Yes. We can do that for you.”
And so I accepted. They took a part of my body, a part of me, and replaced it with injections of chemicals and hormones. It took a while to get used to, but in the end I can’t complain about my performance. I can complain that they never froze my eggs, but what the hell – I never married. I never had time.
And, now, the world is going to end. I won’t have to die with the knowledge I created someone just to watch them suffer.