The Denisovan Hybrid

14 Dec

“We have established a century ago that our species of hominins from earliest times interbred with Neanderthals. And then we discovered genetic evidence in our DNA that Homo sapiens also has inherited characteristics from the Denisovans whom they came upon in Siberia and East Asia.”

The speaker, Dr. Paul Trach, paused and looked out at his audience of a hundred or so geneticists and bio-designers who had come to the Leipzig Genetic Institute to hear its director outline his hybridization program for species combination involving their own form of hominin and that of an extinct relative.

“We have reconstructed enough of the genome of Denisovans to permit its transgenic placement within a contemporary human embryo. And we have found a young volunteer who is willing to carry this hybrid. Our program at the Institute will reenact what frequently occurred so many millennia ago with our own ancestors and the now-gone Denisovans.

“The results of our experimentation will give us deeper insight into our own nature as the surviving species.”

Dr. Trach left the rostrum without answering any questions in the minds of his audience of scientists from all regions of the European Union.

Critical attacks upon the project of Denisovan recreation started at once.

Its central figure was the University of Berlin Physical Anthropologist, Dr. Ludwig Weiss. The huge, weighty scholar, a dark-haired, dark-eyed Bavarian, spread and encouraged hatred for the concept of revival of archaic hominin genomes.

The Professor called a media conference and addressed the European public over the electronic webs that covered all regions of the continent.

“I have called you in order to express the views of the majority of anthropologists and evolution geneticists on the program in Leipzig to revive the genome of the archaic Denisovans. My objective is to tell everyone of the serious dangers involved in such wild experimentation.

“There are too many unknown, unpredictable factors at work in such deep and extreme DNA transplanting. Since no one can foresee the end results, there must be severe caution involved in tampering with nature’s evolutionary processes. Hybridization threatens the creation of freaks or monsters. There could be major harm and damage to the future of homo sapiens.

“We call on the European government and all its branches to join together to block what hangs over all of us.”

Dr. Weiss, his face beet-red with irate indignation, stalked off in a preplanned, prearranged state of fury.

The Leipzig project moved forward with surprising haste.

A young, unmarried research assistant named Elsa Krug agreed to be the biological mother of the newly designed embryo. She would be donating her own modern and human DNA. The Institute was to provide the reconstituted genome derived from the limited remains of a young male Denisovan.

Delicate splicing and arrangement of specific genes occurred within the advanced laboratory under the supervision of Paul Trach. His towering, lean figure hovered over every step and phrase of the construction of the genetic content of the human-Denisovan hybrid already talked about and referred to by the moniker “Freddie” in the conversation of the geneticists involved in the pioneering enterprise.

It was near the end of the first six months of the program that Paul was finally able to call Elsa to his office and inform her that the implantation of Freddie was ready for scheduling.

“Are you prepared for the operation to proceed a week from today, my dear?” he asked the prospective volunteer mother.

The little female with blond hair and blue eyes grinned with joy.

“Of course, sir. I can hardly wait to become Freddie’s mother. In nine months I shall be having a very unique son like one never seen alive till now.”

A special antiseptic chamber was provided for the mother-to-be at the Genetic Institute. Paul talked to the young woman lying in bed just before the implantation was set to happen.

“You shall receive the assembled Denisovan genome which, joined to an original egg of yours, will create the hybrid embryo that becomes your child, Elsa.

“In nine months time, our dear Freddie shall be born and come forth into the world of human beings.

“Your name will go down in history, Elsa, for your marvelous contribution to science. We all shall see the result of combining our modern genome with that of a prehistoric, archaic hominin who is our genetic relative.

“You have nothing at all to fear, for you shall receive the finest maternal care possible in 2118 anywhere on our planet. No expense will be spared in order to guarantee the health and safety of both the mother and her child.”

Elsa, her head on a plastene pillow, smiled at him. “I realize the honor bestowed on me and I look forward to taking care of an nurturing my precious Freddie. My love for this child of mine will be without limits. He will be like a close extension of myself.

“I pledge myself to being one with the beloved little boy, Doctor.”

“I know that these shall always be extraordinary bonds between the two of you,” declared the geneticist with a sincere, radiant grin.

The surgical operation was long but successful. Nine months of restful development within the Institute’s walls followed for Elsa and the fetus she carried. Every few hours, examinations occurred. Tele-electronic monitoring became a part of life for the expectant mother. Paul Trach had constant contact with her, measuring her mood continually as the moment of birth came nearer.

Her delivery was quick and easy, the pain diminished through advanced psychosomatic analgesics.

As soon as the mother grew conscious, she asked to see the baby.

Paul was present at that specific moment, observing the behavior of Elsa with her small, quiet, brown-skinned new-born.

The mother appeared rhapsodic with maternal emotion.

She clung to peaceful, close-eyed Freddie with evident possessiveness, noticed the geneticist.

In a short while, her boy would come under unlimited scientific scrutiny by his team of physicians, geneticists, and anthropologists.

How would the hybrid develop? How much of his existence and personality be human, and how much of him would remain Denisovan?

This was an important historical moment, Paul realized.

Elsa held an experiment of colossal importance in her arms.

What had Dr. Ludwig Weiss been up to in the period prior to the birth of the human-Denisovan hybrid?

He had not stood idly by, but carrying out what he believed might result in the failure and ending of the Leipzig Institute program that was creating what he believed was going to be a danger to humanity’s biological future.

One of Ludwig’s oldest friends was a famous, influential lawyer named Hans Radner. His Berlin law firm dealt with the most difficult, complex cases that arose in the German regional provinces of the European Union. Ludwig had complete trust in the expertise and skills of this crafty, resourceful legal operator and consulted with him frequently about the problem arising from the Leipzig geneticists.

The Professor often visited his friend for informal advice at the latter’s luxurious mansion out in the town of Potsdam. The pair would sit and talk in the latter’s enormous, book-filled study.

“I am at my wit’s end about how to halt the monstrous development down there in Leipzig,” declared Ludwig days after the reported birth of the baby called Freddie. “There must be some instrument, some weapon of the law that can be directed against this immoral abomination. I refuse to admit defeat at the hands of a charlatan like Paul Trach. I know the man from years ago, because we studied at the same time up here at the University of Berlin.

“That man hopes that this Denisovan hybrid will bring him the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Biology, and all the gains that go with that recognition. He, of course, does not deserve anything beyond harsh condemnation for what he has been engaged in.

“A demonic freak, that is what his experimentation has produced. With no positive aspects at all involved.” He gazed in desperation at his old chum sitting behind a grand mahogany desk. “What is left that can be done against this genetic misstep”?

The thin, wiry attorney with a small, totally bald head had an impressive presence, in spite of his diminutive body. He spoke slowly, with the clarity of a courtroom veteran who had exactness and complete self-control and consciousness.

“There are provisions in our laws that cover public health and safety, Ludwig. I have studied certain obscure, rarely applied regulatory statutes. It may be wise to talk with the official bureaucrats in charge of medical experiments and ask about the need for placing guardianship of this Baby Freddie in the hands of the government department charged with providing for public safety and protection from unknown illnesses and communicable diseases?

“Who can guarantee the public of Greater Europe that this one unusual child in Leipzig will not infect its generation with unforeseen, unidentified diseases and dangers to health? Even if nothing specific has yet appeared or been identified, the mere possibility of general contagion is always present. Such terrible harm to others must be avoided by placing Freddie under direct governmental control. There is no other way to be safe, I shall argue.”

“When shall you begin this?” anxiously inquired Ludwig, suddenly growing excited with new hope.

Hans Radner grinned like a little cat. “I have already begun my consultations within the Berlin bureaucracy,” he muttered confidently. “Rest assured, these efforts of mine will not be in vain.”

A combined team of uniformed police and public health officials together invaded the premises of the Leipzig Institute and seized control of the small genetic innovation. Before any reaction could be mounted, Freddie was far away at an unknown location, under the supervision of the continental government’s own scientists. Paul Trach and his staff appeared helpless to change the new situation. Elsa Krug was left a crying mother bereft of her one and only child.

What possible remedy is available under family or public health law? Paul asked the half dozen lawyers quickly hired by the Leipzig Institute.

No one had a useable answer for the harried geneticist. He had to come up with a strategy of action on his own.

“We will sue the European state,” he announced to his top staff and the lawyers. “I will not allow Freddie to be taken away from his mother and those of us who gave her this wonder for all the ages. We must fight for the rights of future hominin hybrids who will be born in times to come.”

Paul started to formulate a legal attack on those who had seized the little baby.

Suing in the name of mother Elsa Krug, the legal team drew a verbal scenario of official abduction without any evidence of danger to the general population of Europe or planet Earth. Unjustified kidnapping from the sole parent was the charge made. Invalid defenses without fact or logic had no valid at all, argued the Institute’s team of lawyers. The return of Freddie to Elsa and her guardians-employers would alone bring about a just conclusion to the pain resulting from government actions.

But the slowness of court action tried the patience of the complaining party. Time passed on, week after week, month after month. There was no date set for oral arguments in front of a judge. The suit festered in torturous inaction.

Meantime, Freddie grew bigger and developed into a two-year old boy. He was displaying surprisingly unusual characteristics in the orphan institution where he had been assigned. His nurses and care-takers were unable to keep secret what they saw happening to the child day-by-day.

But unofficial gossip, at last, reached the staff of the Leipsig Institute and its director, Dr. Paul Trach.

The latter called in the entire legal team and set forth what he had come to belief was the greatest weakness in the government’s and Ludwig Weiss’s case for their seizure of the child.

“There can be no question that the growth and development of our Freddie is something phenomenal. Word of his unusual, above normal capacities can no longer be concealed. Most importantly, we must make the court aware of the fact that this boy has unbounded future potential, therefore he must return to his mother’s and the Institute’s care and guidance. Only we who gave life to him are competent to bring out what resides in his tiny body. We have proven that our supervision has become necessary, since no one understands the baby better than we and his parent do.”

The senior attorney made a proposal. “I think that we must at once as the judge to be given the full records on the child, so that we have proof of how above normal he happens to be.”

Paul at once gave approval to this and authorized the lawyers to act on it at once.

The courtroom was packed with news-people and the curious when the judge announced that he had made an important decision he wanted to make public.

From his elevated position, looking down at the two groups of advocates and the large assembled audience, the white-haired old man in black robe uttered a surprising, unexpected message to those focused upon him.

“I have made a decision on the question of access to the medical records of the child named Freddie, but I have also made a final judgment on the important, general subject concerning the future custody of this hybrid human-Denisovan being. There is no need for further consideration of arguments about who shall hold and raise the extraordinary child.

“I am astounded that Freddie, not yet two years old, is able to speak and walk like a much older child. His growth and physical development has been phenomenal, according to all the available medical reports. Even more importantly, the young child appears to have the mind and thinking ability of a human being several years older than his chronological age. I venture to apply the word genius to Freddie. As he matures and develops, there is no doubt that he shall be setting world records.

“It appears that the Leipzig Institute has created a hybrid that shall be able to outperform either of its constituent genetic elements. Freddie will be ahead of typical, average humans of his age. His Denisovan genes are perhaps the source of these advantages that he possesses.

“For these reasons, I order the child in question returned to the custody of his mother and the Leipzig Genetic Institute immediately.

“The case of Freddie Krug is herewith decided and settled.”

The judge banged his gavel three times and quickly departed from the bench.

Pandemonium reigned in the courtroom.

Dr. Trach, a radiant smile on his face, exchanged confident, hopeful looks with Elsa Krug, sitting beside him.

“We have an historical wonder to raise,” he told her in a delirium of joy. “We are going to see miracles and marvels in the life of little Freddie.”

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