The characters and situations of *Space: Above and Beyond* are the creations of Glen Morgan, James Wong, Fox Broadcasting, and Hard Eight productions. They have been used without permission but with love. No copy right infringment is intended.

Attention: This fanfic was written as an excercise for my comparative lit class, "Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and the Western Tradition." It was meant to illustrate the influence of Mary Shelley's *Frankenstein* on modern sci-fi writers. Since it was expressly written for an audience who had never seen Space (i.e. my prof) it might seem very basic to you. I had to get a lot of info in a few pages in order to prove my point yet at the same time not bore the class with too much detail. So here you have it...oh, Krankowski and Ismey are mine.

Comments are most welcome: acressy@indiana.edu

*Special Thanks to Trina and John Mize for their encouragement and objectivity.


Planned Obsolescence

by

Amy S. Cressy

"Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely should I deserve theirs."
-- Victor Frakenstein

"I found myself similar yet at the same time unlike beings concerning whom I read and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathized with and partly understood them, but I was unformed in mind; I was dependant on none and related to none...What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come?
--- His Creation


Let me preface this log by saying that I'm no humanitarian. I'm not in this because I want to right wrongs or mend broken hearts. I've got this job because my father would only shell out for four years at a state college. Well, I'm a born snob and wanted to follow my high-school pals to Princeton. The only way my old man would go for it was if I helped defray the costs in ROTC. I traded my future for four carefree years at a private school. I figured I could weasel out of it somehow. That is just the way I am.

My luck -- a war breaks out just when the Army owns my ass for six years. Now I'm not just Carl, I'm PFC Carl Krankowski. Can't bitch, though, my fancy education got me a desk gig with the Judge Advocate General's Office. Stationed at Ft. Grissom, on the dark side of the Moon, sharing a room roughly the size of a foot locker with four other REMFs isn't my idea of a good time. REMF, that's military slang for Rear Echelon...well, you puzzle the rest out.

Anyway, my honcho is the type you have to worry about short stops with. There's no shame in polishing the apple if it'll get me promoted back somewhere safer. I happen to have my eye on another round of desk jockey at the San Diego office.

Research Co-Ordinator, Lt. Colonel Ismey is interested in the re-emergence of In Vitros in the military. Okay, "interested" is a nice way of saying it. He's a long-gone hard charger who can't stand the idea of Tanks being in the thick while he's stuck behind the lines.

During the A.I. War, Ismey survived a battle that an In Vitro platoon decided to sit out. Natuarally, watching a few good buddies blown apart by the CCs was enough to make him hate the Tanks like the Palastinians hated the Jews.

So here was my plan, I decided the best way to get out of here was to concentrate my time on Ismey's pet project. Off hours were spend at my desk, calling up whatever I could find out about the In Vitro Administration right from its beginings after the plague, through the Artifical Intelligence War, to the current war with the Chigs.

Despite my lack of experience, I at least know an opportunity when one presents itself. Some readings into the first battles of the war turned up a jackpot. In Vitros have been rare in the armed forces for the past fifteen years, since the platoons were such one sided failures. But stationed about the Naval Space Carrier Saratoga, I lucked into finding two in the same unit, a Lt. Colonel T.C. McQueen and a First Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes. Ismey was thrilled. Immediately I had an expense account and travel orders.

It wasn't easy getting clearance for my study. Dealing with the military is always a matter of red tape, but I did not count on the stone walling of Commodore Ross. It took months to secure transport to the Saratoga, and then only a word passed down from one of Ismey's contacts at the State Department got me on board.

Ross informed me that McQueen was willing to do a stretch in the brig rather than talk to me. He was a veteran, having been in for "a dime and a nickel," and had a reputation for having a ramrod up the ass. Around the Officer's Mess, I hear they call him "The Cheerless Cherub." I would have pressed it, but the man had a spotless record, and that would just not suit my report to Ismey. So I tried my luck with Hawkes.

He has an In Vitro's height, well over six feet, and a build that betrays genetic manipulation. Nothing super human, no matter what the propaganda says. As far as I can tell, the only way to distinguish an In Vitro from a normal human being, without genetic mapping, is the navel at the tip of the spinal column where the neural imput is placed during gestation.

Engineered with the best the genome has to offer, without the randomness of natural selection, Tanks have an advantage. That bothers a lot of people. Natural Borns don't like having to compete with the bigger, faster, stronger Tanks. When times are tough, the In Vitros are the first let go. Better that than having your business burnt to the ground by NB supremacists.

Others can get all in an up-roar over the religious angle. Tanks are made with a DNA pinch of this, dash of that. Their 'parents' never actually lived as two human beings. They were composites of chromosomes thrown together in a petri dish. NBs, who were too happy to let the Tanks mine uranium and fight the A.I.s for them, turn squeamish about having to live next door to what their pastor says is an abomination of God's Law. The easiest way to get the ignorant behind you is to tell them you're battling the devil.

In my study, I have found that younger In Vitros, those who are only four or five years out of the tank, are extremely naive. What do you expect? Like little kids, you can read their emotions on their faces. Hawkes was no exception. He was angry, yes, but also embarrassed. Red traveled up his neck, all the way to his ears when he was set apart from his squadron mates. It might be to my advantage to tackle the unexperienced Tank, instead of the hard ass, I thought.

"I'm only here because Boss Ross ordered me to," was his charming greeting.

"That's fine," I told him. "Just so long as we understand each other. This doesn't have to be painful. I'll ask you a few questions and try to get you out of here as fast as I can, okay?" On the table between us was an Optical Disk Recorder. I switched it on. "Let's begin with your In Vitro indentification number."

"My name is Hawkes, Cooper, First Lieutenant. They passed a law, you know. We get to have names and everything."

"Your In Vitro identity is inception date March 6, 2040, batch number 16A Alpha 3439. Isn't that correct, Lieutenant?"

Hawkes jerked his chin and shrugged sullenly, "I guess."

Flipping through my notes, I continued. "Your In Vitro Association record abruptly ends in January of 2058 and doesn't pick up again until your induction into the Marine Corps in April of 2063. I can't find registration in any In Vitro Community in Pennsylvania or anywhere else."

"Don't you mean, 'Tank Section?'"

That didn't sound good. "What?"

"You said, 'In Vitro Community,' but you meant 'Tank Section.'"

"I mean, where were you for five years?"

He forced a grim laugh, "Whatever you say."

I reached across the table and switched off the ODR. "Look, I'm a pencil pusher. I didn't make the world the way it is. I just record it and get on with my job. Here's the deal, if I'm wasting my time, tell me to go to hell. I'll file a report with your C.O. and be on an ISSTV to Grissom before dinner. It's your call. Either way, I get paid."

Now whether Hawkes saw the logic of my argument or he didn't want the reprimand, I don't know. All I know is he started talking, maybe to get me off his back, or maybe because he realised neither of us could care less one way or another. It was an apathetic meeting of the minds.

"So what do you want to know?" he said as I thumbed the recorder back to life.

It seemed my best bet to find out where he'd been for those five years. In Vitros fall through the cracks every once in a while -- that's where you dig up the dirt. "What happened on January 21, 2058?"

Hawkes eyed the ODR. He didn't trust me, so I can't feel like a scum bag for deceiving an innocent In Vitro. When he opened his mouth, he did it knowing that someone, somewhere, was supposed to get a copy of that disk. "I took off from the Educational Facility."

"How?" I asked. "You hadn't completed your training nor had you been given your indentured servitude assignment."

"Indentured servitude, " he replied. "Well, whatever lets you sleep at night. I didn't have much choice. The high-high ups in The Program decided I was defective and had to be erased. So I bolted. It was either him or me."

This was better than I'd hoped. He was on record admiting to killing a Monitor, facility employees who were charged with instructing and providing basic care for newly decanted Tanks.

Most of them were glorified bullies, but they were still Natural Borns. Mere assault of an NB is a capital offence. Something didn't gel, though. There had been no reports of an escaped subject from the Philadelphia Facility, let alone murder -- no report I had access to anyway.

"It was him or me, " he repeated.

"What's 'The Program?'" That phrase hadn't come up in any of my searches.

Hawkes' broad face registered his every thought. What memories he was pulling up were unpleasant and, strange as it sounds, lonely. He had the total life experience of a seven year old, and it showed. Decanted at eighteen, In Vitros were at times overgrown children. "The Program was military training for In Vitros, nothing new."

"Wait, the In Vitro platoons were dissolved while you were still in gestation. Training for In Vitros consisted of labor skills only. Anything else could not be sanctioned by the Earth Government according to the U.N. Resolutions." He had to be mistaken.

Hawkes shook his head defiantly. "I don't know about no United Nations stuff, but I do know there are 687 ways to kill a human being. I know points that can be used as natural weapons are found on the arms and hands. I know that to be Monitored is to be free. Spared the agony of decision, released from the burden of choice. In Vitros need only react the way America wants us to react. America loves us. One day, we will return her love and defeat those trying to harm her. Terrorists. Silicates. Subversives."

By route, in the same manner any child can recite his ABCs, Hawkes rattled off In Vitro indoctrination dating back to the A.I. Rebellion. Information outdated before he was born. For once, I didn't know what to say.

"You wanna know where I was for those five years?" he continued, more sad now than angry. "I couldn't exactly pop into the IVA and register. So I passed. I grew my hair long enough to cover my navel and tired to keep ahead of NB punks who would have lynched me in a second.

"It was just a matter of time. I got a construction job at the wrong place, but I guess I wasn't as easy a mark as those bastards thought. A lynching ain't so funny when the noose is around the other neck. I went to jail for stepping out of line, and a judge thought it would be cute to sentence a Tank to the Marines. So now I'm a grunt. That answer your question?"

For a minute I forgot why I was doing this in the first place. I forgot that getting some dirt on this guy would buy me a ticket home. "Why do you risk your life for people who have treated you this way?" Here he was, mucking through mud and blood, being shot at by over grown insects 12.5 lightyears from Earth, and I couldn't find it in myself to help my fellow man if there wasn't something in it for me.

"I dunno. It ain't so bad all the time. Once, back in Philly, I had a job as a night shift security guard. Just as the sun was going down, I'd wake up and see the kids in my building coming home from school. Sometimes they would have one last game of touch football before their Moms called them in for dinner. I think about that, and I figure, it ain't such a bad way to live. Just because I didn't get to have a Mom doesn't mean that nobody should ever get the chance again.

"The Brass made me take a loyalty test. Not every pongo, just me. I know what loyalty is and I didn't learn it from no Monitor. I've got friends here. I'm not alone all the time anymore. I'm somebody. You can't be a Marine and be a Tank. I'm a Marine." Hawkes turned away from me, switched off the ODR, and walked out of the room.

That was the end of my interview with Lieutenant Hawkes. Nine hours into this flight, and I'm just sitting here, looking at this transcript. It's ludicrous, but I think I'm going to flush that disk in the garbage recycler and watch it float out into the stars.

I could keep it, turn it in to Ismey and be drinking Margueritas by the sea, but I won't. I tell myself it's because the implications of the Program would be detrimental to national security, and during war time there would be nothing for me to gain. I hope that's not it. I'm a scum bag. I'm a low kind of guy, but I hope I'm not that low.

The End

Amy Cresser 1996

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