The Pod: Part 1

1.

Prologue

In the early twenty-first century, scientific research turned heavily to minute, molecular machines visible only through electron-microscopes. With them came hopes for everything from micro-manufacturing to bio-regulation. This latter thought alone made the public fearful, and only after the research and development moved into its application phase did the populous began to see its obvious benefits.

The programmable technology, so minute and inexpensive to manufacture, was soon loaded with various directives and deposited into laboratory mice. The mice in turn, were implanted with varying types of cancer cells, and the technology unleashed against the cancer. With a ninety-eight percent success rate in the first clinical trial subjects, the new technology was hailed as the most noble discovery since Penicillin more than a century before.

The technology, hitherto referred as nano-tech, was soon adapted to millions of new uses. It’s applications appeared limitless. Everything from automotive fluids to beauty soaps contained the microscopic robotic contraptions, each type programmed to ease man’s burden or enhance his vanity. The applications were so varied, in fact, that nano-tech soon became an under-thought in the consciousness of man. Much like electricity, it was so abundant and ingrained in the collective consciousness, that the “common man” thought nothing of it in day-to-day life, no matter its risks or widespread benefits.

Bureaucratically speaking, concerns were audible. State-houses heard rising notions and concerns of apocalyptic leanings from both learned and worrisome alike. These notions, said the tech’s inventors, scientists, and manufacturers, were outlandish. Even still, whole scores of compliance parameters were dreamed up and implemented to soothe the naysayers. Beyond any red tape however, people and corporations invested in the nano-tech and its components stood to make vast fortunes. Metaphorically speaking, the local purveyor of electricity could charge rates at thousand of times more for the electrical current and conduit flowing through every facet of the home in the developed world. Only after multiplying such a sum several thousands of times could one begin to grasp the immense, financial gains that lay beyond the tape-line. While many companies did manage to successfully wrestle the red tape, equally as many failed or succumbed to corporate sabotage.

The leader in this new, iconic field, began small but grew exponentially. Over the course of a single, fiscal year, it multiplied in size and profit by a tenfold. By the end of the second year, it had grown a hundredfold, and so on in this vein for nigh-on a decade before it plateaued as an industry leader.

Nano-Particulars, the aforementioned, sought to incorporate nano-technology into every facet of life. In that, they very well might have succeeded. From motor-oils to shampoo, food to medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and everything in between. Nano-Particulars’ manufacturing prowess was second to none. After a time, each new innovation sprinted through approval processes to be released and daunt its competitors. Each product, in turn, incorporated nano-tech to increase its effectiveness.

In the advent of a new golden age, there was little backlash for the exorbitant prices and outrageous claims of the products, that were rather hard to prove or disprove. One such example was the conditioner Nano-Cream, said to contain nanites programmed to eat away weakened strands of hair so that new ones might grow faster, healthier.

Despite the heat Nano-Particulars took from all angles, their first class R-and-D department, reputable PR staff, and lightning-witted, young CEO bounced back with greater impunity. In the midst of this hyped era, the CEO imagined new ways to apply this technology, patented the ideas, then set his company to work– for good or ill. One, particularly controversial idea was the Nano-Mask. The idea was that one would install the software, design a new face within it, and hookup the mask into a computer. In turn, the mask would download the new data, rearrange itself over a period of a few hours, then afterward could conform to the face. The nano-tech bots would attach lightly to the skin, becoming opaque so to appear as though no mask existed. It effectively rendered identity fluid, obsolete.

Of course the novelty to the idea soon gave way to far too many terrifying possibilities. The most glaring example; the ease with which it could be employed to frame others for crimes. The idea was quietly put to rest. Unhindered, the young CEO turned his sights to other projects, the foremost of which began a cataclysm of events whose effects exist to this day, The Pod.

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