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Specimen Numbers

Karolina Phillips


The scientist whirled, pacing for a few feet, before regaining his sense of dignity. He should not show so much superfluous excitement. It was immature and unbecoming. Still, after years of effort, the results of his experimentation were satisfactory. More than satisfactory, he had succeeded. After many failures, the second stage was complete.

He glanced in regret at the stored waste matter. The flawed specimens would need to be removed for they had no remaining purpose, rationally. Irrationally, emotionally, they were trophies, the evidence of his battles and victory. They represented tireless planning, strategic manipulations, motion and counter-motion. If he was less civilized, he would skin and mount them on his laboratory wall, but times had changed since his youth.

Much of that change had been his work.

He strode gracefully past the waste capsules, careful not to collide with protruding furniture and equipment. Habit moved him as he pulled aside his white lab coat with the same gesture he would have used on a flapping cape. Already, his mind was inspecting the future: Did he have enough bio-nutrients for the failures that inevitably proceeded a successful creation? Would there be any loose ends to tie up, unpleasant side effects? How to disguise his work from his 'dear friend'? For that matter, were his servants restless?

He paused, wondering what time it was. That was not for himself, as evidenced by the lack of time telling devices in his laboratory, but for his employees. They knew full well to await his presence, but the young and genetically mal-formed were often lacking in cognitive ability. They lacked patience and forethought and might have decided to pursue more pleasurable activity while he was engrossed. If that were the case, he would need to fix the situation, permanently. But, that was pure speculation and low on his list of priorities. At worst, new employees could be found or created.

He smiled thinly. From destruction came construction. That was the value of the waste matter, the used specimens. Even the flawed ones. It was his skill and ability that allowed him to change flaws into virtues, to seek the best from the worst, even if that meant culling specimens.

A tinge of pride delayed him. He had been in this room for days. A few more minutes would make no difference. He stepped back towards the waste storage area, removing his lab coat and folding it over his arm.

The first specimen was the least flawed. Its genetic material harbored great power, or more accurately, the ability to generate directed energy. The raw strength it had wielded was linked to its Y chromosome, insuring continuation of the race in the case of his own unfortunate demise, not that he intended that to occur soon.

The second one had possessed great mental abilities to balance the physical. He dipped his head in a brief moment of dismay and clasped his hands behind his back. The second had intrigued him as a female and near equal. It was no matter. He straightened and passed the capsule.

The third was more an oddity. While it had great strength, perhaps equaling the first specimen's, that power was unwieldy and kept in check through strength of will. He did not like the lack of an absolute control mechanism. Power was only useful if mastered. Otherwise, it was an irritation.

Next was another pseudo-loss. The truth was, he never lost, and in a certain light, he had re-gained what he valued most in this specimen: the ability to channel potential energy into kinetic. In life, this one had been trying but inert.... Yes, there was a discomforting sense of disappointment that accompanied the end of an invigorating hunt. Odd, he had never enjoyed the hunts in his youth.

Beside that one was the fifth, a polar match in abilities, channeling kinetic into potential. He uttered his first sound, a faint snort. Ice was such a narrow view of power.

That was not the case with the sixth, a truly weak specimen. It had possessed to great power, no versatility, but a mere curiosity. He kept the sixth for its symbolic value. It too represented a past victory. His employees would appreciate his consideration with improved service, especially after he had denied them the recreational use of the seventh.

If he understood the genetics of intelligence and cognitive thought, he would have found a way to incorporate the seventh's intellectual abilities. As it was, he settled on the defensive and infiltration advantage it contributed with its physical intangibility. One must not neglect self-defense.

That was the only significant contribution from the eight and ninth specimens. The former had been little more than an animal but, with enhanced reconstructive and sensory abilities; it would keep his own creation healthy and aware. Knowledge was the first defense but the chance for recuperation was contingency. The latter added a second line of immediate defense: sheer physical endurance. Beyond that, both specimens could rot, to put it bluntly.

Concerning foul play, the tenth was entirely useless. In fact, its capsule was currently empty. It had been redundant and captured more out of fit of pique than need or interest. He disliked unsanctioned experiments. His smile grew. The tenth specimen was being delivered, in delightfully exact pieces, to a former ally. The irony would surely be appreciated.

The eleventh was another oddity. The trans-spatial abilities it had imparted would be priceless in eliminating his presence for the purpose of teleports. He was not quite sure yet how they would recombine with intangibility, but felt sure that any complications could be resolved.

Arriving on the matter of irritating complications, he frowned at the twelfth. In all honesty, that specimen was still viable. He was debating whether to continue testing in the face of its highly unstable genetic structure and mental deficiencies. If he could discretion the structural aberrations, he could alter them to suit his needs. A perpetually adaptive mutant could be unstoppable. He rested his chin in the crook of his thumb, and after a time, shook his head. The specimen was flawed.

No matter. Passing the last capsule, he reached his main scientific console. Absently, he terminated life-support functions for the twelfth capsule. Within the accompanying mainframe were the schematics for his Creation. He found descriptors like 'ultimate' and 'greatest' tawdry. All creations were equal within themselves. It was whether they were effective in their respective purposes that determined their value.

As he reviewed the charts, diagrams and notes, having returned to his point of origin, his smile took on a fierce quality and his eyes reflected back at him from the console. He drew a giddy breath, reminding himself of the work ahead but failing to suppress his growing exhalation over this past-due victory. There was no rush, not now.