“We’ve studied one million samples.”  Professor Georges was very solemn.  It didn’t keep Professor Osborne from scoffing at him.

“There aren’t a million people in this part of the world anymore.”

“We have been studying for a long time.  At approximately fifty thousand people a year for the first one hundred fifty years, and then a much reduced rate.  The last five years, we took samples from merely a thousand people.”

“So your rate of testing decreased over time.”

“The population decreased over time, and the methods became, by necessity, more circumspect: we could no longer use blood tests overtly.  Also, our own population was badly hit by the Disaster.”

“Yes, of course it was.  What did you determine?”

“We’ve found the X factor.  We’ve found it in 10% of the population, and we’ve found it in its dominant form in five percent.”

“You’ve found – what?  What, exactly, is this magical ‘x-factor,” Professor?  One million samples, one million tests, fifty years after the disaster, continuing to test people.  It had damn well be important.”

“Of course it’s important.  You don’t start a study like this and have the results not be important. We can now isolate the gene, pick out people who have it, and target a disease specifically at that gene, either expressed, non-expressed, or both.”

“You spent two hundred years to figure out how to eliminate people with a specific gene?”

“It’s certainly been done before, and I’m sure it will be done later.  Besides, in this case, I’d say it’s justifiable homicide more than genocide.”

“And what about your assistants?  You have more than a hundred people on your team, don’t you?  Certainly a portion of them-”

“I’ve tested my techniques.  I can show you video of my results.”

“You still have video?  Professor, most of the world is struggling to find enough to eat.  The soil is sterile.  The habitats are crowded to the point of riots.  And you still have video?”

“Our project had very good funding, as you know.  And I planned ahead, knowing how long it would take to complete the project.”

“And you used this project and this funding to kill some of your assistants?  Were you working within the University mandates for human testing?”

“I’m sorry, what?”  Professor Georges stared.  “The University is a pile of rubble!”

“Not entirely, no.  And what was it our Founder said, three hundred seven years ago? ‘The University is not a building.  Wherever bright minds gather in search of knowledge, there is the University.’  So, again: were you working within University Mandates?”

“Human testing!”  Professor Georges now had been reduced to hollering.  “You can’t honestly say that the creatures that brought about the Disaster are human!”

“Are they invertebrates?”

“What?  No, no, of course not.  They look human.  They pass as human-”

“Then did you follow the procedures for animal testing?  Otherwise, we risk losing funding.  The funding which paid for your video, for your assistants, for all of our survival through the Disaster and afterwards. Shut it down.”

“But I solved the problem!  I found a way to get rid of the creatures!”

“But you did not follow the rules.  Shut the project down and report to the board for censure.  I’m sorry, but your ‘X-factor’ is far less important than maintaining our funding.”


Written to Jan 4th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt

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