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“Look at this Don, it looks like something is plugged into a power port and it’s shorting out. There’s a Zelt moving away from it by that city strut, maybe this is it. Ouch!”

“You OK Sandy?”

“Yeah, I just got a little static shock when I touched the touch screen to point him out for you. There he is Don, see him on screen 55. I think his equipment must be defective though, all I’m reading is some small shimmering power-fluctuations, not a drain really.”

At that moment the device completely shorted out, showering sparks under the city.

I stood behind her and looked at her reflection in the monitor for a moment, hoping she didn’t see my growing attraction for her reflected in my face. I wasn’t too good at hiding my feelings, and she was the kind of woman that could tie my tongue in knots anyway. She was smart and pretty; rocket-scientist smart and movie-star pretty, but then all the children of Utopia were. Our brains, brawn, and looks were all part of our DNA destiny, and the biotechnology used to achieve it was a key to mankind’s long-term survival.

“No I don’t see him. Wait, there he is hiding behind a strut. Yeah, I see him Sandy, lets turn the spots on him and watch him run.”

I hit the lights, the Zelt looked up at the video lens, smiled, put his fingers up and gave us the sign of the cross, and then he ran for the cover of the forest. Perhaps he was one of the Prophet Huxley’s Zelts. It was hard to tell who was who with these people. Christian, Islamic or Jewish Zelts, they all looked so much the same, everybody dressed down in brown and gray clothing, and they behaved in the same basic Zelt dogmatic ways. The men all had beards and an air of purposeful righteousness, the women were browbeaten and subservient, and everyone’s personal hygiene left a lot to be desired. When you’re on the tail end of a world war that went on for 100 years, survival took precedence over some basic hygiene habits. Religious superstition, which so permeated these Zelts, would seem quaintly amusing except for the deadly nature of their disputes with each other, and occasionally with us.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever gotten a static charge off my monitor. I better let Hal know about it and that Zelt taping into the power port, in case it turns out to be some kind of problem.”

“Hal, this is Sandra-1128, Donald-1227 and I are in the power control room, we had a Zelt briefly tap into a power port, but his device shorted out. We recorded some small power variations in the power grid as a result. They’re barely noticeable though, want to take a look at them? Also I received a static charge off my monitor when I touched it, could you have maintenance look at it?”

“Sure Sandy, I’ll get maintenance on it, let me bring your incident report up on my computer. Hum, looks like it’s nothing to worry about, but good eye guys, stay sharp. These Zelts are clever. Best not to underestimate them.”

The rest of our shift went uneventfully. We got off work at 10:00PM and went back to our residences. When I got in, I touched the screen of my Computer/AV/system to turn it on, and got a small static shock. Hum, perhaps there was some kind of problem with the computer screens in Utopia. Better let Hal know about it in the morning. I went to bed hoping to dream an erotic dream about Sandy again. She was truly the woman of my dreams, and I thought about her every night as I slipped into a deep slumber.

The morning news came on, my wake-up call. I stumbled over to the screen and touched the “off” window. As soon as my fingers made contact, I received a shock that was strong enough to back me up a couple of feet. Something was wrong here, our electronics were state of the art, and there should be no static feedback at all. I called Hal to see what he thought.

“Hal, this is Don-1227, I got a shock off my monitor last night and this morning. Is there a problem?”

“Don, maintenance is having a problem with the grounding circuits of the city. They keep popping open and people’s touch-screens have built up some static charges. The touch screens have shocked lots of people, but we should have it under control soon. In any event there seems to be no real harm done by this, so I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I gave Sandy a call to see if she wanted to meet me at PJ’s for lunch. If she only knew how much I looked forward to these quiet times with her.

She turned on the call screen and looked at me, her hair somewhat disheveled. “Lunch? Yeah, sounds like a good idea.” Then she said offhandedly, “Genesis; In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” She immediately looked shocked. “What did I just say? That was the opening passage from the OT! Boy, I wonder why that bit of superstitious flotsam popped up in my mind. Anyway, see you at PJ’s for lunch at noon, Don.”

When I got to PJ’s she was already there, talking to a couple of her girl friends, a look of puzzlement on her face.

“Don, all of the people we know have had a static shock off their touch screens. First a small shock, and later a bigger one. Furthermore, everyone has said the same thing, the first passage from the OT. How weird is that?”

“Pretty weird, the static shocks happened to me too. It can’t be a coincidence, we better let Hal and Dr. Richard-720 know about it.”

I called Hal, but he already knew. Reports were flooding in from around the city. It looked like everyone was having the same problem. As we talked, I repeated the same opening line from Genesis; “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” so I was infected with what ever it was too.

By the end of the day the city was in dire straights, the whole population having come down with this malady. What was it and how had it been spread?

We soon found out the answer, even though what we found was a biological “impossibility.” A virus had been introduced into the population from our computers. It had been downloaded by someone outside the city into the power grid and then sent to every computer, probably by the guy we saw last night. From there it had done the impossible, it had been transformed from a computer virus into a biological virus, and downloaded through our skin when we touched our touch screens. And those that hadn’t touched a screen had gotten it from those that had.

But what was the intended result?

As the infection spread we started to see another biblical phrase being uttered by everyone, Numbers 11.33: “But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.”

By this time our people were starting to shut down, and Dr. Rick was overwhelmed with patients. We had a name for it now, “The God-Spam Virus”–and it was a killer. Some were more resistant to its effects and held on longer, but most were vulnerable and their bodies quickly shut down, terminating their lives in the process. Just before vital signs stopped completely, there was one last biblical phrase that everyone uttered, Deuteronomy 20.16: “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.”

The intent of the God-Spam virus was clear: to terminate our lives and take the city.

The bots very busily gathered all the bodies and put them into the cryogen bays. I hoped we could find a cure while we were in stasis. If the damage wasn’t too extensive, perhaps we could be revived.

I was one of the last ones to feel the effects of this bug. It broke my heart watching Sandy succumb to it.

Fortunately Hal was immune from these kinds of attacks, and he could trigger the doomsday weapon if it became necessary to destroy the city to keep it from falling into Zelt hands. By now I had the fever, and it was only a matter of time before I joined everyone else in cold storage. The attack was fiendishly clever, but it would come to no avail for the Zelts. Hal remained, and he would assess the problem and take the necessary action.

To all appearances I was dead, but the God-Spam virus had left my mind still alive, trapped in a paralyzed body, one of the living dead. As I lay there, my mind raced through the events that had placed me in this agonizing situation. I had to admit it was an ingenious attack by one of the numerous Zelt tribes on what was left of earth. It was an attack that perhaps even Hal never saw coming.

We had been at this location for a couple of years now, the ground was still fertile, and not too many hostile Zelt tribes from the plague wars were around. Though we presented ourselves at merchants and traders, and sought out trade partners among the Zelt tribes, we were really here for another reason, to save as much of humanity as we could within the self-imposed limitations we had to work with.

They had to come to us, we couldn’t just take them even though we had the means to do so. Though the Zelt wars had been going, off and on, for thousands of years, it was the dawn of 21st century that brought the technological advancements that gave them the means to bring their tales of the apocalypse to life–and most of humanity to death.

It had all started during the 100-year war, “the Jihad against the crusaders, by Islam,” and “the new crusade against terrorism by the west and the coalition of the eager,” as they came to be known. The western crusaders had a noble goal, to oust brutal Islamic dictators and terrorists in the Middle East. But when these Islamic thugs disappeared, they became martyrs and legends within Islam. These Islamic terrorists and thugs were bad people, no doubt about that, and though the intentions of the leaders of the western world were good, we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

The west won the battles at first, but, in the long run, humanity ended up loosing the war. The conservative Christian religions agreed with the prevailing view in the west about the evils of Islam, as they voraciously eyed Islam’s vast oil wealth. But the war had an unintended side effect. It galvanized the people who believed in Islam and put them under the spell of their Mullahs, Ayatollahs and Imams. It united them in a worldwide jihad against the Christians and Jews, “the crusaders” as they called their enemies in this conflict that first became known as “the hundred year’s war,” and later “the plague wars.”

At first the crusade against Islamic terrorists and thugs was a great success. The repressive regimes of Islam had been driven from power, and the rest of the Islamic world cowered into submission. But that didn’t last long. First came the fall of Saudi Arabia, due to internal corruption and the rot of the royal family. Then came the resulting disruption of the oil markets and the economic collapse of the world’s oil marketplace, caused by the Islamic Zelts, who overthrew the house of Saud and turned Mesopotamia into a collection of tribal kingdoms. By then, some small plague agents were being released by unknown factions. Next came the fall of Pakistan, its nukes ending up in the hands of the Islamic Zelts, which–along with the development of nukes by Iran and other Islamic nations, and the Asian mini-nukes bought on the arms market–laid the ground work for nuclear suicide-attacks by the Islamic terrorist groups in the US, Asia and Europe. They were very patient in their plan to strike at “the evil west,” as they called us.

The war started with simultaneous nuclear suicide-bombings in New York, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin, Moscow, Paris and London. This coordinated attack heralded a new kind of world war, a “guerilla WMD” world war.

That was followed by nuclear retaliation strikes by the US and Europe on some of the cities of the Islamic nations that had harbored the terrorists, which was followed by more nuclear suicide bombers, and more retaliation by the west. Millions of innocent people perished in this tit-for-tat warfare.

Though in the early part of the hundred years war the nuclear strikes had killed millions of people and done a lot of damage to the earth, it was the chemical and biological attacks, the manmade modern plagues, which had really decimated humanity. Cities not destroyed by the nukes were made completely uninhabitable by the assorted chemical agents and plague pathogens that were released by various shadowy groups of Zelt combatants as they sought to kill “the unworthy”–which, of course, included everyone but themselves.

Social order collapsed worldwide.

In just twenty years, the population of the earth had dropped from billions of people to only a few million. The war destroyed most of the governments and much of the world.

The nuclear part of the hundred years war brought about the first worldwide ban on nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The nuclear war had already raised the temperature of the world and melted the ice caps, causing widespread, massive flooding. After the nukes ran out or were destroyed, the chemical and biological wars, “the plague wars” as they were called, began in earnest. It was during this conflict that the first formidable plague pathogens were released. The results were devastating on all sides. As for the source of the plagues, no one knew for sure. Each side blamed the other.

Due to advances in computer technology, it was possible to have small labs the size of a bedroom able to create new strains of biological agents, agents such as the SARS virus and the Mensa Flu. Of course bio-war was a two edged sword, and those who unleashed the attacks also killed many of their own people. In the end, after all, what goes around, biologically speaking, comes around.

It’s incredible how billions of people ended up being killed in the name of God. Of course this is the same God–Yahweh, Jehovah, the Lord, Allah–or whatever you want to call him, the same God who was reputed to have murdered the entire human race and almost every animal on earth in a fit of rage over the sin of corruption, save for one family and boatload of animals, that is. So if his followers followed his lead in committing genocide, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. When you delude yourself about the existence of a mythical God, it’s pretty easy to delude yourself about how he’s on your side because your cause is just.

The wars ended up turning the world’s clock back to the 1950s, so far as technological development was concerned, and returned what was left of most of humanity, the Zelt survivalist tribes, to a religious tribal-social structure of approximately 1000 BC. Most of the educated members of humanity living in cities and the rest of the developed world were killed off, with the less-able religious fundamentalists and survivalists surviving in their isolated communities. There were no more great wars now. There were no more nations to fight them. But there were endless intertribal conflicts, which, for the participants, were not really any different than a war.

Our parents were amongst the exceptions. They were in the part of northern Europe that had broken free of Zelt religious domination before the wars had started, and they were therefore able to hold onto our democratic traditions, our technological development, and a few of our cities. In the hundred years since the start of the nuclear and plague wars, we had made some impressive gains in technological and biological knowledge. The Utopias and the children they created to populate them were the crowing achievement of what was left of secular humanity.

We had been created for a simple job, to free as many as we could from the domination of Zelt tribe dogma, ensnare them with a thirst for knowledge, and bring them back to secular consciousness. We also tried to bring an end to the barbarity of Zelts toward each other, but it was impossible to talk them into living in peace. They had a mandate from “God” to kill each other–all in the name of that same God.

Talk about circular logic! God or Gods and religion had been used by one side or the other–or both–to justify nearly every war ever fought by humanity throughout human history. By now the concept of God and religion had been clearly exposed to the rational mind as the scam it was. How could people still fall for the old reward/punishment routine of religion? “Believe in God and our Zelt tribe, you go to heaven. Don’t believe in God and our Zelt tribe, you go to hell.” Talk about your reward/punishment-derived social order! Of course what was left of the earth was pretty much a hell already.

We offered them a taste of a better life in Utopia, which was part of the reason that we were here, to offer an alternative to the dead end of Zelt tribal life and to try to rescue those worth rescuing.

The Zelt tribal leaders all feared the same thing: that their people would seek knowledge of our secular ways. For example, we had unraveled the DNA code of humanity and had found all the DNA links to each of our ancestors all the way back to the first single-celled life forms on earth. Knowledge like this was dangerous for the Zelts. It proved the truth of the theory of evolution, and that was knowledge that killed the concept of their God and Zelt dogma, the very dogma that kept them in power. It was knowledge that inspired “sinful curiosity” in the minds of “the innocent” and “corrupted the faithful,” they said. They said that all that anyone ever needed to know was in the “holy books” and the writings of their leaders. Still they came to our city, to trade for some of that technology–and sometimes to attack us (futile as that was). Our city was impervious to anything short of nuclear weapons, weapons that had been used up or destroyed in the last nuclear war, before the plague wars had started.

Utopia-612 was a state-of-the-art dome city one half mile around. Cities like Utopia-612 were the ultimate technological achievement, a self-sufficient domed city that was able to move itself when needed. Think of it as a classic flying saucer, with the bottom half the fuel tanks and power plant section, and the top half the clear dome covering the city. The power source was solar as well as hydrogen and oxygen derived from the water, a common resource on this planet. The dome of the city was three meters thick and made of synthetic carbon-silica. It was as hard as a diamond and as tough as the best armor alloys. It was transparent to light, but it also absorbed and transformed the rays of the sun for power on their way through the dome. Solar power was enough to power most of the city, but when you added the power we were able to generate from hydrogen and oxygen, we had a precious thing: an abundance of clean power.

On land, Utopia sat up on landing struts that put it thirty feet off the ground. Though the various Zelt tribes sporadically attacked us–when they weren’t attacking each other in their brutal little Jihads–it was a futile exercise for them. They were never able to breach the automatic defenses of the city, let alone handle us when we got into our fighting suits.

The Zelts may have lost most of their technological knowledge, but they still knew how to make weapons, which they used on each other with great frequency. It amazed us that one imaginary God was behind so much conflict, conflict that had humanity on the brink of extinction. The faithful had believed that they were ushering in the final conflict that would bring about heaven on earth at the start of the hundred year’s plague war. What they unleashed, instead, were the four horsemen of the apocalypse who knew no God, only death and destruction that they visited on everyone they could.

You had to at least admire the individual Zelt tribal cohesion, though. They really pulled together within each tribe, just like we did in the city. We had secular democratically-derived social customs, laws and economic structure that kept everyone fairly content–much more content than any Zelt tribe. Our comfortable lives were due, in part, to a great environment, and everybody being on the same page of the game plan. And you had to include our DNA and physical structure; after all we were designed by our parents to live here, be able to survive the plagues, and show the Zelts just how fulfilling secular life could be.

We all had good jobs, food, and housing, as well as the more esoteric modern things that the Zelts lacked. Both our governing and economic organizations were run in a cooperative, democratically inspired way. We not only lived in Utopia-612, we owned it. This was foreign to the Zelts of course; they were organized along the lines of the authoritarian religious dogma of a tribal society, with the leaders possessing absolute power and personally owning most of the real wealth.

In a sense, our conflict with the Zelt tribes was as old as history, the struggle of those wishing to be free, and those who seek to exercise authoritarian power over them instead. Freedom vs. authoritarianism was perhaps the oldest human rights struggle in history.

The result was unpredictable. Would freedom win or would authoritarianism rule the day? Freedom would reign supreme on the other side if we could just overcome the superstitious beliefs in imaginary Gods and the religions they inspire. Nothing is more authoritarian than the ultimate authority, an omnipotent God, and the religions that his mythical presence has spawned. Religious leaders and institutions are, after all, after the usual, money, power and influence–and have been all along.

We called ourselves “the children of Utopia-612.” The Zelts called us “sub-human offspring of the devil.” Their lives were run by what ever Zelt dogma they followed, and by whoever was in a position of power within the tribe–be it Mullah, Priest or even the occasional Rabbi. The Jewish Zelts, never too numerous, had been almost totally wiped out in the plague wars by the Christian and Islamic Zelts, and there were few of their tribes left in the world.

We started trading with the local tribes after they figured out they couldn’t take the city. That was our mission, land in a new area, show our city and technology off, and then set the hook in whatever Zelt tribe bit on the bait: the lure of technology and a better life. They didn’t really have anything we needed, but profit wasn’t the only goal of our corporation. Conversion of the Zelts to humanism was, so we traded for what they had. They grew great fruit and vegetables, and they made serviceable clothing and other handmade items. What technology they had was rooted in the 50s, but what they made was, for the most part, well-made.

We had taught some of them how to use some of our more-primitive and benign solar-powered equipment, such as our laptop computers. Their kids liked the computers a lot; you know how kids and computers are. The various Zelt tribes insisted that the computers we sold them contain no educational material that wasn’t approved by their elders. We just encrypted everything that was sensitive on the hard drives before we let them have our more basic laptop computers.

The only educational material that the elders ever approved consisted of the holy religious books, the books they had read from childhood, and a brief history, and analysis of the makeup, of the children of Utopia-612. We hoped that if they got to really know us, they would start to trust us and that we could help them break free of the confines of their Zelt tribes and their God/religion dogma.

We were fishers of men, and women and children too. It was an amusing task, in a way, recruiting Zelts just as they had recruited people in the past. They had one God, and yet hundreds of thousands of Zelt tribes, all certain that they were the only true believers worshiping Him. You just had to shake your head at the irony of it all. Though they resented us for our invulnerable city, our knowledge, and our technology, yet they still wanted some of the things we had. Some of them, members of the Huxley Zelt tribe, were naturals at learning how to use computers, including how to program them. The Prophet, Moore Huxley, the Supreme Leader of his tribe, allowed us to teach the brightest of their kids a bit of programming.

Technology is so seductive, and the young Huxley Zelts were smart. They had already produced some capable, beginning programmers in the two years we were here. Though they only let the more-indoctrinated older youth come around us, they never kept the older kids away from the young ones, and those younger kids were starting to get infected with the knowledge bug. Though they never let their young children come around, those kids found ways to make contact with us later, and you know how kids are about forbidden fruit.

Their kids were very curious, and very smart with computers. They let us know they thirsted for real knowledge, not the superstitious bunk that their parents forced on them. We told them it was in the laptops, they just had to find it.

I have to give them their due, they were more sapient than we imagined; those kids found it all. It’s so hard to put “Zelts” and “technologically advanced” together in the same sentence, but some of them could really use “the tools of the devil,” as they called our modern technology.

The Zelts also wanted some of our energy weapons, but they were off-limits. The tribes were much too barbaric and uncivilized to possess such weapons. Besides they knew how to make plenty of less-sophisticated weapons, like AK-47s, RPGs and other primitive firearms.

We were at no real risk from Zelt conflict. We had body armor that could withstand their firepower, even deflect the RPGs. They had nothing that could harm Utopia. Besides we were unvaryingly a pretty tough lot.

Every child of Utopia, including females, was about six feet two and two hundred twenty-five lbs. of well-coordinated muscle and framework. And we were all well-trained to defend the city from hostile outside forces. We were walking examples of what humanity could become through the combination of DNA and technological research.

The Zelts called us “the infidels,” “the devils abominations.” They did find the chink in our armor though, a virus that went from computers to us. It was a pretty imaginative attack by the Huxley Zelts. They wanted the technology we had, without the education that was necessary to create it and control it. It was always a mistake to have technology with out knowledge of its foundations. You can’t control technology without understanding where it came from and how it works. Now it looked like they were going to take the whole city, unless Hal prevented it.

I thought of all this as they slid me into my bin, ready for the big sleep. Hal was our last resort, in control of our fail-safe device. Hopefully he wouldn’t fail us.

“Great Prophet Moore Huxley, the last of them, was put in the morgue, and the lord God must have seen to our need, for there were just the right number of cold storage lockers for them.”

“Good. It’ll take the virus several days to kill their brains, so they’ll feel the physical agony of their bodies dying for a few more days. Oh well, they were the spawn of the devil anyway, and they deserve a painful, protracted death. It is the will of our lord God. I couldn’t believe they gave us all the information we needed to defeat them on those computers. These secular infidels, these Devil beings weren’t as smart as they thought they were.”

The Prophet Moore Huxley called everyone together; “There will be a prayer meeting in the city coliseum, in the park in the center of the city, to celebrate our victory over the children of Utopia–and their termination. They were ungodly and unworthy of possessing life, let alone a city as fine as this one. As the lord God said in Deuteronomy 20.16: ‘However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.’ We are the only people that will breath this air from now on. We’ll put this city they called Utopia to Godly use as he directs us to. Praise be to God.”

“And praise be to his Prophet, Moore Huxley,” repeated the tribe.

The Prophet Moore Huxley and his council sat back in the chairs on the raised, center platform of the coliseum. The rest of the tribe relaxed in the high-backed chairs in the stands. Before the prayer meeting could start, many of the tribes own children–and a figure–came through the entrance at the bottom of the coliseum and walked to center stage.

The figure said; “I’m a Hal9000, the central computer cyborg for the city, and of course you already know your own kids here. You have fewer members than the children of Utopia, yet you have taken over the city from them–an amazing feat. Perhaps I can be of some service to you.”

“We don’t need your help, machine. We’ll just take what technology the Lord tells us to, including this city you call Utopia. You gave us all the information we need; it was all on the computers you sold us, encrypted in bits and pieces on different machines. It was a puzzle, and we are good at puzzles. Your secular knowledge of the world is the great corruptor, and we won’t fall prey to that abomination. All we need is to learn how to operate the machines, and then we’ll have no use for you. All the important knowledge we really need is in The Holy Book. Possessing the tool of the devil, secular knowledge, is against God’s will. You kids get away from him, he is part of the devils work and he is to be destroyed!”

“Which book is the right one?” asked Hal.

“This one,” as The Prophet Moore Huxley wearily held up his personal, tattered volume.

“Oh, that one. Of course of course. Everyone knows that’s the real thing. But it’s time to tell you some things you need to know about Utopia-612.

“Tell me, can any of you stand up or move? If so raise your hands. No? Good. You’ve all been given a gas we call soma, which will soon leave you completely paralyzed and sedated for forty-eight hours. As you can see, most of your kids are not affected, they were not exposed to the soma, and they will use the time to set up the housing so that it looks like you’ve been here a long time. Then the stage will be set and the game afoot.

“This city isn’t what it seems. It’s really a test, a trap so to speak, and your people passed the test–and fell into the trap. Well, actually your kids passed the test, they’re just bringing you and the rest of the kids along, kind of like you’ve always done to them. You thought we didn’t know that the information you needed to try to kill the children and take Utopia was in those computers. We knew, that was part of the test, to see if you could find it and the flaws in the city’s defenses, and you did, or more correctly your children did. Kids, they’re always so good with computers, aren’t they? It’s something we count on. Your children are also the ones that designed the script that created the God-Spam virus, and used it as a lure to ensnare you and get your whole tribe into the city, so they could take control of their future, not live in your inane, brutal and superstitious world. Now they get to indoctrinate you, just like you’ve tried to do to them. At least they’ll give you some real knowledge, useful knowledge, unlike that nonsense you pass off as divine truth. They knew that the only way you would allow the whole tribe in was if you thought the children of Utopia were dead, that you had killed them and had control of the city.

“Kids, Bob love em, think up the darndest things, don’t they? Thanks to them, most of you will soon lose your Zelt beliefs. Secular education and learning about technology does that for most people. And for those few that refuse to lose their superstitious beliefs, they’ll be returned to the Zelt world, their minds washed clear of our knowledge, none the worse for wear.

“As you fade into unconsciousness for the next two days, let me tell you some intriguing things you’ll experience. Unfortunately you’ll not be able to remember any of what you’ve been told here by me now. At least not directly, but indirectly you’ll remember that something happened to you in Utopia. And you’ll have a burning need to learn what it was, and how to run this city.

“The children of Utopia aren’t dead; they’ve played their part in this production and are resting, getting ready for the next time they are called to action. You were right in one thing, however, they’re not human–they’re super-human cyborgs: human skin, muscles and internal organs in a titanium frame that completely protects their composite computer/human brains and other organs.

“They look young, but they’re all over fifty years-old now and should live a couple hundred years. They were grown to fit their frames, so they came into the world as adults. Their parents created them to be strong warriors and immune to all the plagues your wars have released. That way they can do their job, and show you Zelts what a well-run, educated and harmonious community looks like. Of course they pull it off almost to perfection, as they are as close to perfect as humanity has ever seen. But of course they aren’t totally human, and therein lays the rub. The real, old-fashioned humans that created them don’t live such perfect lives; they’re only human. For a human, there can be no real Utopia. Humanity lacks the perfection necessary to achieve Utopia. We find that a lot of your people like that display of perfection, though; it reminds them of the teachings of your holy books, only it’s much closer to reality, nothing like the make-believe of Zelt dogma.

“The children of Utopia are children in some ways; they do take a long time to mature emotionally. They also get to travel and have a lot of other perks which Zelts are denied by the enslavement of their beliefs. The lives of the children of Utopia are good. They understand why they were created, and their part in rescuing humans from the intellectual and physical slavery of the dogma of religion. They consider it a great honor to serve in this capacity. Besides, its always fun for them to see what plan is cooked up by the next batch of Zelt kids to capture their own parents. It’s always the kids that seek to be free of your dogma and superstitious madness you know. We just give them the tools they need, they plan the rest.

“The children of Utopia will need a few months to recharge their internal power packs and then the children will come back to life and help you adjust to life in Utopia.

“As for your immediate future, you’ll have forty-eight hours that you won’t be able to account for. During that time the chairs your resting in will have delivered a lot of random knowledge to your brains via direct mental telepathy. The brain runs on electricity, we just read the signals of each one and then match them up and start feeding you information telepathically. When you awake, Utopia-612 will be in another location, and by then the Enlightenment virus you inhaled when you entered this city will be well on its way to doing its job.

“In your quest to find out what happened to yourselves, goaded on by your kids, your curiosity will overpower you. You’ll be very curious about the jumbled knowledge you find yourself suddenly possessing, and somewhat confused about your past and present. But that’s just the beginning stage of the Enlightenment virus. It has another effect, it makes everyone who gets it very curious, curious at first about what happened to them, then curious about everything in their lives. It will compel you to gather information, to educate yourselves, to learn more and more about the world you live in, and about its past. That consuming thirst for secular knowledge, and the quenching of it, will eventually destroy your beliefs in your authoritarian God and Zelt tribal-dogma. You see, Utopia is an urbane trap that we put out to catch those Zelt tribes that are still intelligent enough figure out how to take out the children and steal the city.

“You’re the only tribe in the area that passed the test. And we have an absolute need to gather as many healthy humans as possible, to preserve the human gene pool. Humanity will soon be extinct at the rate the plagues and the constant warfare between the Zelt tribes are killing this world and everything on it. You’re part of that, and most of you will be glad to escape your Zelt chains. We’ll be taking you to a section of northern Europe which is safe from plague contamination and Zelt attacks. You’re needed to keep the genotype of humanity alive and to provide the diversity necessary so that humanity will have a future.

“If humanity is to survive, it must develop the technology to escape the earth, which is already dying now, thanks to the wars your kind fought. But even if there were no wars and all humanity lived in complete peace, harmony and contentment, in the end the sun would still boil this planet and all life on it. For humanity to survive long-term, we need to learn to go to the planets, and then eventually the stars. We need the best and brightest to get us there, not lead us to extinction.

“That’s where you come in. You’ll help provide the people and the minds needed for this endeavor. In the end you’ll be integrated into the secular human family, and the dogmatic Zelt madness will end for your people. And your own kids were integral to our effort. We showed them a goal they wanted; they chose the path to get it–and get you here.

“Good night. See you soon in this brave new world you thought you’d murdered and stolen your way into. The burglary target catches the burglar. Amusing, isn’t it? Curiosity, education and knowledge, they’ll grow on you, expand your minds, help you break out of the barbarous and dogmatic trap of Zelt life. Knowledge will set you free. It’s a wonderful thing,” Hal said with a smile, “A wonderful thing.”