<- Chapter 8: Deadly Butterfly
"You didn't have to kill them. All we had to do was send them back to the planet."
"They knew how the technology worked. They would've just recreated the device on their own and set it off. Sending them home wouldn't have saved anybody. It would've just delayed them. Besides, how many people do you think died from that volcano you set off? You did the same thing I did, and for the same reasons."
"I guess so. You could've at least done it quickly. You didn't have to give them such pain."
"They deserved it! They were gonna kill everyone! Even their own families! Being burned alive by hot lava is probably a lot worse."
"I was too far away to do anything else. I did the minimum I was able to do. One should only do what's necessary to prevent wrongdoing. Vengeance is stupid."
"You honestly don't think that killers that wind up in prison should have a tough time?"
"Not for their sake no. They only need to be removed from society. But by making it harder on them in prison, others are more likely to want to avoid prison, so they're less likely to commit the same crimes."
"Have you honestly never wanted any sort of revenge? On our first boss, at that hospital, who fired us out of ignorance? On the people who kidnapped me? On Ray, who got you beheaded? On Mark Syda for taking away access to that research facility and later for denying us entry when we were in need of escape? Haven't even held a grudge?"
"No. All of those people were doing what they thought was best. They just didn't have all the information. I have pity for them more than anything. Do you think anyone goes against their own morals?"
"Yes. I think lots of people do, because they're lazy and it's easier."
"I can't believe that."
"Well, why would these scientists have wanted to destroy the planet then? They were going to kill billions of people. They deserved to suffer."
Lunie responds, "Based on their discussion earlier, it seems that they believed that there were too many unresolved conflicts for any true peace. By destroying the Earth, they were hoping to restart humanity and do a better job of it. They believed they could stop the very concept of war."
Feb looks confused, "That's stupid! These are supposed to be intelligent people. There are so many holes in that idea. How were they even going to eat?"
"Regardless," I add, "They thought they were doing what's right. It's all a matter of perspective. If you learn to see things from other people's point of view, I think you'll find that it's hard to get angry at almost anything."
"Well, I can't exactly debate that. I've never been a mind reader."
"It doesn't take mind reading. It just takes understanding what makes you who you are, and thinking of what you'd be like if some of those things were changed."
Lunie interrupts again, "Hey dad, we've just gotten confirmation from the last nation that was hesitant to turn over power to you. You're officially king of the world. What are you going to do now?"
"Well, I have a few options. I can remove the remaining disabled portals and return power to the previous rulers. I can stay in power and create wide sweeping changes, like advancements for the education system, and such, uniting the world in their hatred of me, through their hatred of change. Or I can modify the portalling device to work as a time machine and go back to stop all this nonsense before it started. There's one major problem with that last idea though. If I create a time machine, there will be infinite time afterward for somebody, somewhere, sometime, to be hurt by the machine is such a way that they'd come back in time and stop me from creating it. I believe this is what happened to the people who researched the initial accelerator technology that I built the portals up from. What do you two think?"
To this, Feb responds, "Just take care of the last few portals and get out. We'll need to develop some alternative way to get around for ourselves though. We rely on the portals a lot."
Lunie, on the other hand, explains, "This is monumental. You shouldn't let it go to waste. You're the first person ever to unite the entire planet. You now hold an immense power, and I know you'd use it well. You're one of the few who would, which is precisely why you're so reluctant. You could probably resolve all of those conflicts the other scientists were talking about. The world will hate you for a while, but by the time you retire, you'll surely be revered. Also, I'm hoping for some sort of android rights amendment or something, which, without you in power, would be many years away."
"You're right. I don't want the job. Now that I'm here though, I have a responsibility to do what's in the best interest of the people, and returning their old governments to power is not, at this time at least, in their best interest. I'll do what's right, as usual."
"Well, don't go getting yourself assassinated again," Feb warns, "because you're not liked very much down there."
"Of course, I'll be much more careful. I'll have two bodies instead of one."
I leave the room and head for the study, where I begin writing my first speech. The next few decades are going to be pretty hectic.
Copyright 2007 Sean Breslin