The Children of Prometheus

Prologue

"Candidate! Candidate Lee!"

There was a tiny swishing sound as the long violet robes the man was wearing complied with inertia and brushed a bit farther along the floor after he stopped. He half turned back, looking out of the corner of his eye to see who was calling him. He was young, but artificially so. All wrinkles smoothed, giving his face a fresh, but oddly flat look. Hair expertly colored: not too light, not to dark, not so exciting to be obviously fake but not bland. Teeth straightened, whitened, to give him a smile citizens could trust. Most of the body parts concealed beneath the ceremonial robe were also new, or at least improved.

He was one of the few who could afford leg extenders…freeing him from the stature that had plagued him in his youth. Even the eyes that were now fixed on the man jogging towards him were not originally his. The polls said that the public preferred hazel eyes this year, so he got them altered. Leaving nothing to chance was imperative for a man of high standing in the Parliament. New voters would be impressed with his sleek youthfulness and those who remembered him from last election, who would note that extreme difference in his appearance…well, it was the new voters he needed to ensnare. Who cared about the older ones? Aging was out of vogue, as evidenced by the extreme measures he had taken to prevent, or hide his own.

The man coming toward him was panting and sweating slightly, moisture collecting in a sizeable bald spot on the crown of his head. Lee formed his perfectly sculpted lips into a sneer. Imperfection. How disgusting. This was obviously an underling.

"Candidate Lee," the man repeated his name yet again as he drew even with the official, leaning forward to inhale deeply, trying to restore oxygen to his body. Lee stepped ever-so-slightly to the left. He was not going to risk having the man drip some sweat on his parliamentary robe.

"Yes?"

"Chancellor Monroe sent me. I have news about the Prometheus-"

"Hush!" Lee hissed, cutting him off. "We may be recorded." He spoke without moving his lips, a useful talent for a politician. Lip readers, though horribly low-tech and pedestrian, were still sometimes employed by the media. The underling looked around dumbly, as though expecting to see a man standing calmly in the hall, capturing a scan. Lee rolled his eyes, and beckoned sharply, causing his robe sleeve to flip over his hand. He continued down the hall. After a few moments of looking around the hall, the second man followed.

Lee reached the large doorway. He pressed his hand against the blue door.

"Candidate Lee," the system's default vocal intoned. "What is your destination?"

"My office," he spoke clearly. There was a brief pause, then the door opened with a quiet 'whoosh.' Lee stepped into his office, tailed by the Chancellor's lackey. He did not move quite fast enough; the door clipped his heel as it shut again.

Lee ignored him, and walked over to the clear panel hovering at one end of the room. He tapped a panel on it gently, and selected a thin crystal tube filled with an unidentifiable, violet liquid. The panel shrank back to it's original size, and he began to suck gently on the tube.

"Now. What about the Prometheus Project?" The man took a breath to steady himself.

"Pandora has activated," he said in what he clearly thought was a dramatic whisper. Lee was not impressed with the revelation.

"Brilliant. That's what you stopped me for? A complete waste of my time. I would have to be completely daft to not realize Pandora has been activated. Now if you would be very kind, I am on my way to an appointment-"

"But it's not completed yet!" The man nearly shouted in his rush to finish his words. Lee froze.

"Not completed? There's more?" The man nodded solemnly.

"Chancellor Monroe suggests we deploy some operatives to retrieve her." Lee snorted.

"What does he think we just did? That was an abysmal-"

"Not that kind of operative. One of our operatives." Lee was silent for a few moments, before smiling.

"Of course. That should work nicely. Who does he suggest we send?" The man looked worried. He shuffled his feet slightly.

"He, ah, he didn't say." But to the man's surprise, Lee was still smiling. It was, in truth, a wholly unpleasant smile.

"No, he wouldn't would he? Ah well, I know them best anyway." He walked to his desk again, and tapped a different panel. "Won-Sun? Prep Odysseus and Penelope for deployment." He spun around and clapped his hands together. "It's done." The man nodded uncomfortably, and glanced at the door behind him. The last of the violet liquid vanished from Lee's tube and he removed it from his mouth. He glanced at it, then at the man who was giving him a plaintive look. "Terribly sorry. Did you want one?" The man shook his head quickly. "No? Well, I expected as such. Just tap the door again, it will return you to the hall."

The man did exactly that and was gone in a moment. Lee watched until the door slid closed, sealing him off from the rest of the world again. He took another crystal tube out of the compartment, this time colored red. He licked the tip quickly and smiled.

"You were the jewel of my collection, Pandora." He turned to face the wall, where a single image was mounted. She was pale, her dark hair matted around her head, and her dark eyes burned into him. He felt a pleasant shiver scuttling down his spine and he traced her face, fingers trailing across her features. "You'll be back here soon. Where you belong. With your family."