The biological secret to sustaining and enhancing growth and life was discovered on August 14th in the year 2603. Nobel Prize winner Ferdinand Polcene presented his creation at the grand opening of Ban-Ken’s first oxygen farm.
“Ladies and gentleman,” he had said, standing at a podium, “our environment is failing. Or rather, we are failing our environment. We are at the point that we have to build farms for trees just so that we can have enough oxygen to breathe. It’s about time that we give back to Mother Earth. I would like to introduce to you my greatest invention and my greatest friend… Ted.”
An odd being approached from behind Polcene. If the large animal ears and the small horns were ignored, he looked like an ordinary man from his waist up. However, his legs were that of a shaggy brown goat. The goat-man waved as he approached the podium with the scientist.
“Hello, I am Ted and I am a faun.”
“I created fauns using advanced biology, genetics and nanotechnology. Fauns are capable of preserving and generating life itself. For example, fauns are able to use nanotechnology engrained into their biological and genetic structure to heal or grow a plant at a single touch. Ted will demonstrate.”
Ted nodded and held out his hand. Professor Polcene held a seed up for spectators to see and then placed it into Ted’s palm. Around the seed, beneath the skin of Ted’s palm a green glow appeared. In seconds, the seed had sprouted.
Faster than the audience could comprehend, a fully-grown sunflower had erected. Ted placed the flower on the stage.
Professor Polcene smiled his approval to Ted as the spectators burst into incomprehensible commentary.
The commentary silenced as one voice was heard above all.
“If this technology works on plant life, does it work on human life?” Lady Elaine Shir inquired, studying the faun. The Shir family owned all of the businesses in Ban-Ken and had done so for generations. They held much power in the city. Most of their wealth came from the tobacco industry. Their plantations took up a third of Ban-Ken, stretching from the right, left and back of their manor right out to the city limits, where a wall was being constructed to keep bandits out. Their manor was in a position that looked out at the whole town.
Professor Polcene frowned at Lady Shir. “The technology is designed to increase the rate of cell division and…”
“Does it work on human life?” Shir repeated.
“Ma’am, that is not its purpose.”
“That does not answer my question, Polcene.”
Polcene swallowed. “Technically speaking, it is possible to use this technology on humans, yes.”
“And what would this technology be capable of doing for humans?”
“It is intended for the environment, ma’am.”
“Answer my question.”
Polcene conceded. “If a human had the abilities of a faun, said human would be capable of eternal life. They would be able to heal rapidly and preserve themselves through controlled cell division. They would also be able to use this energy as the fauns are meant to do; on healing and growing plants and trees.”
Lady Shir seemed not to care at all for Polcene’s words on the environment. Ted uncomfortably mumbled about this to the doctor.
“How much?” Shir asked.
Professor Polcene spluttered, protectively holding Ted behind his back. “Ma’am, I’m afraid fauns aren’t for sale! They are a fully conscious species. Selling a faun would be inhumane. Buying would be slavery!”
“It is an invention.” Shir answered plainly. “How much?”
“Ted is not for sale. Nor are any of the others.” Polcene sniffed. “I believe it is time for us to leave. Welcome to Ban-Ken’s first tree farm, ladies and gentlemen. Perhaps you will see the fauns around. Good day.”
As Professor Polcene ushered Ted off of the stage he threw a glance over his shoulder at Lady Shir. She was watching them through narrowed eyes, as if they were her next meal. Polcene shuddered. “I’m so sorry, Ted. I’m afraid Ban-Ken may not have been the wisest town to introduce you to.”
“I don’t think Lady Shir is too interested in the tree farm, Professor.”
August 15th, 2603
Professor Polcene was afraid of this woman. After she had invited herself into his home laboratory and attempted to press wealth onto him in exchange for his thirty fauns, he had realized that she had no intention of giving him a choice in the matter.
She wanted the fauns, treating them like nothing more than technology that she could purchase and use to her own ends. She also wanted him. She wanted his knowledge and his expertise so that he could give her the secret to eternal life.
“Ma’am, I have told you countless times now that the fauns are not for sale, assuming that I even have the right to sell them. They are living, conscious people.”
“If you work for me and build this technology for my purposes, then I will not have such a need for the fauns, Polcene.”
“These abilities are not meant for humans! What use would you have of them?”
“For what purpose? Is a normal lifespan really not enough?”
“It is not.” Shir’s lip curled. “Five million golden gears for your fauns and half a million for every month you stay in service for me. This is the deal. If you do not take it, then the outcome will be the same; you will simply not receive the pay. The cages will come to collect your inventions in an hour, and you with them. It is up to you whether you travel in the cage or in the coach. Good day.”
Professor Polcene gasped as the woman swaggered towards the door of his laboratory as if she owned the place. “I shall call the police. You cannot do this!”
“Professor…” Lady Shir sighed, pausing briefly at the doorway. “I own the police. I can do whatever I please. This is my city and everyone and everything in it belongs to me, that including you. And do not try to leave. The police will capture you and any of your ’fauns’ if you try.”
Professor Polcene stared as the door closed behind her. He collapsed in a chair, mind buzzing with a strange sensation of panic and resignation. What could he possibly do to protect his fauns? He could picture the Shir family tearing his beloved friends limb from limb, trying to figure out how they worked. The Shirs were known to be hungry for power. Even if Polcene stooped to grant them with eternal life, something he did not believe in for moral reasons, he did not see them stopping there. They would want more. They were dangerous people.
Polcene looked up, fighting tears. All his fauns… they were like children to him. “Ted, I… I don’t know what to do.”
“I was listening.” Ted said. “Professor, you can’t give that woman our abilities. The family is immoral, unjust… they don’t care about the environment…”
“I know, I know…”
“We can leave now and get out of this city.”
“If you were listening, you would have heard that we could not… The Shir family owns everything. It’s likely that every police officer from here all the way to the city limits have orders to arrest me and any fauns.”
Ted put a hand on Polcene’s back. “A few of us can get out, I’m sure. We can disguise ourselves as normal people with your clothes and leave.”
Polcene stood up and pulled open a drawer in his desk. “I wish that you all could go, but a party of thirty might be too noticeable. Me… I can take care of myself. If she wants my knowledge, my research and my discoveries… Well, she won’t be able to have them.” He took a small revolving pistol from the drawer. It was a vintage model from the 2200s, simple but effective and designed to be painless.
Polcene searched in his drawer for a wooden match. “Don’t worry, Ted. Get out of here. Take the youngest ones, disguise yourselves and get as far away from this place as you can. I know it’s a lot to ask, but please… keep your species going.”
Ted hugged Polcene. “We’ll be your legacy, professor. Four of us. A discrete party. We’ll plant trees everywhere, just as you wanted.”
Polcene tightly squeezed his friend before he slipped away. “Godspeed. Take my clothing, gather your group and get as far as you can as fast as you can.” He struck the match against his desk and held the flame over his study notes. He shook his head at Ted, who had not moved. “Now, Ted. Go. I’m burning down the house and you don’t want to be caught here. Get everyone outside, and for pity’s sake tell them I’m sorry. Grab clothing for yourself and a few others.”
Ted hugged him again. “Goodbye, Professor.”
Polcene patted his back and ushered him on his way. “Goodbye, Ted.”
That was the last that Ted heard from the man he regarded as his father. He didn’t look back as the sound of gunshot burst behind him. The heat of the fire was already becoming stronger as more of the professor’s hard work burned. All Ted could do was focus on preserving a future for his kind.