ScifiShort fiction

The Ingenious Genius : a Realworlder story by: GF Willmetts

The company, FloatTek headquarters, was across the other side of the city. SIN had provided different GeneTag identity responses to the police check as they left the precinct where Cheena had killed nine assassins a few hours previously. January took them to a locker in the railtube and filled her rucksack with various items, including a selection of clothes, while Cheena selected a pistol and some ammunition, the latter of which she put in her own rucksack. The pistol she put in her pocket and zipped it closed.

‘No shoulder holster? Will that be enough?’

‘Not unless you’re planning a massacre in your new company? It’ll be quicker to reach from here. If I have to, do an Eastwood and shoot through the pocket. What do you have in mind for me to do?’

‘Protect my back when I plant a few bugs for SIN to hack into the system. They aren’t the first company to keep their computer systems off the Grid in fear of SIN. What it does is makes us want to look at them more seriously because usually they’re hiding something. So many companies take a long time to work our way around. How long before we get to this one, ENSIU?’

‘For this city, January, there would have been three hundred and twenty-three until FloatTek jumped the list with the pollution disclosure…’

‘Which someone had revealed to SIN?’ Cheena interrupted.

‘We get a lot of information that way. When something is going on illegally at any company, there will always be a whistle-blower’s guilty conscience and want a voice to talk to. SIN is there and happy to listen to everyone. A lot of people don’t trust the police or press. SIN will pick it up and pay in some way if valid. We take action while they think about any decision they are going to make.’

‘And if they do?’

‘We offer a better distraction. There’s a lot of crime going on at every level.’

‘That’s not how the governments see it. They’d love to stop SIN.’

‘Since the Genius Factory started to sort out most of the world problems, they’ve wanted to rule the brains and get them working on their projects than their own…as promised. Not all legal or UN approved. They don’t realise just how much of a knife-edge this planet is still on and none of it was an instant cure except Cancenogin.’

‘Sounds like you belonged to them.’

January turned from the helix and looked at Cheena thoughtfully but then, thinking better of it, looked back at the helix. ‘Too much information for now.’

‘Only because you know your way around that.’

‘I had a good teacher.’

‘ENSIU. It looks like they’ve moved beyond the research stage, but not building here. Can you track the factory and I can sort out what they’ve been doing on the move.’

‘I am reading their files. It will take a few moments to complete translating the encrypted files. I am also recording the movements of security guards. Do you wish me to tell them you are the legal owner?’

‘Not yet. We can get them to tighten up security in the morning.’


‘Yes. Cheena?’

‘Record which guards. We didn’t trigger any alarms when we came in so why are so many coming our way?’

‘Noted, Cheena.’

January looked at Cheena again.

‘Just doing my job. You can fire them later. They must have either silent alarms or your file access triggered something. Are these changes important?’

‘You’re that smart?’

January Austin looked up and stared briefly in thought at Cheena Chase from the genetic schismatic, before turning it into a 3D mode.

‘I thought the board hiding that they were just releasing pollutants was too much of a smoke screen for them doing something else.’

The 3D genome rotated under her hand rotation.

‘This is a modified version of the Martha Marhall Cancenogin inoculation. They’ve been experimenting with it, here and here…and here.’

With each gesture different parts of the DNA strand lit up.

‘The basic coding hasn’t been changed. It will still destroy other cancers. The linkage here is what leads to the creation of the GeneTag that enables personal identification when the state wants to identify people and cuts out fraud with banks and so forth. Those areas are something new and this one can trigger immediate identification which Martha never wanted to happen. I’m not sure about some of the other code. ENSIU will have to check on those.’

‘I thought there was an implant that did that.’

‘That’s the myth imposed but, no, the real secret is here. It identifies each genetic code as unique. As a Realworlder, this is the first secret you’ll have to keep.’

‘Do they know this?’

January smiled. ‘I doubt it.’

‘Do we need anything else here? We ought to be gone before the staff get here.’

‘I do own the company now.’

‘Yes but they don’t know that, remember? But you want to know who else is involved.’

January nodded. ‘ENSIU, have you made a copy of the files?’

‘Yes, January’, the AI replied in both their earjacks. ‘There is also a name added to the copyright.’

January moved to another part of the helix and magnified. Proudly showing was ‘Martha Marhall and beneath Peter Begrim. She hissed before closing it down.


‘He was a junior member of Marhall’s team. Most of them got promoted in the wake of Marhall vanishing.’

‘His name?’

‘To keep within the law, anyone creating or tampering with existing DNA helix has to add their name for copyright identification by law. Begrim is staying within the law but this might also be government blessed.’

‘I also now have full access to the security systems and monitors, January,’ ENSIU announced in their earjacks. ‘Cheena is quite correct, it would be advised to leave. They have drawn their firearms.’

‘Where do you want to go, January?’ Cheena asked.

‘The airport. This is only the design house. We need to find the factory.’

‘ENSIU?’ January addressed the AI. ‘I doubt if Begrim will use anything related to this company, so locate where he currently worked and fuel a jet.’

‘Yes, January.’

‘But I need a lab first.’

‘We could do it here?’ Cheena offered. ‘I doubt if the security will think we’ll stick around if we go somewhere else.’

‘No, it’s more a matter of collecting something for this eventuality. Marhall warned them that if they ever tried to break individual privacy she would do something. As she’s not here, I’ve got my orders to follow.’

‘That sounds like something I would be ordered to stop.’

‘You couldn’t perform your…assassinations if you could be easily tracked. Do you want no more espionage agencies? Would your NSA bosses want that? That would change their minds.’

‘SIN would let us walk freely.’

‘If they knew about it. The current system works find. Except SIN doesn’t work for them, only us. Call this a Realworld trade. We would provide enough information for you to give some sort of explanation but make it easier for your normal espionage trade.’

Cheena fingered her large earring.

‘Their tinkering with the Cancenogin helix causes other problems as well. You have to trust me, Cheena.’

‘Where do we have to go?’

‘It looks like they’ve got the information into the Helix Factory if its government approved.’

‘Won’t making these changes stand out?’

‘We’ll find a distraction along the way.’

‘You seem pretty confident.’

‘I’m January Austin. It’s what I do.’




Below them was the Helix Factory. It’s original name long forgotten. Its entire purpose was to create Cancenogin for the world’s population or what remained of it. Thirty years ago, the imminent ecological disaster was no longer imminent but happened all at once. The damage to the ozone layer increased the damage to the Antarctic had only been the first step. The ultraviolet damage was severe but so was the damage with the absence of rain forests. Getting them to regrow and restore the fresh water reserves even more so. The price of one crop had destroyed so many others. Limiting food supplies but with technology keeping everything going. With some countries contemplating genocide so some could survive, the United Nations offered a potential solution. Bring all the smartest people in the world together, unlimited funds and resources and find solutions and get them done quickly. There was even several junior units, smart children who would not be paralysed by crazy decisions. So was born the Genius Factory and two main orders: Save Mankind at all costs. Save as much of the world if you can. Outside of the Factory, there was a crackdown on illegal ecological activity but the effects of the Earth meltdown was already killing people from too much ultraviolet exposure and the ozone was increasing and that was only the tip of the melting iceberg of what was happening.

The solution to the wide-spread cancers came from one super-genius girl, the teen Martha Marhall, quickly promoted to the adult section. She rationalised that one could treat one cancer with another. It ultimately proved to be a panacea as it turned out to be a cure-all for most cancers. It would lock onto any cancer radical and neutralise it. Uniquely, a certain manipulation called GeneTab was unique to everyone inoculated and a scan gave positive individual identification to everyone in the world. Even with the world falling apart, privacy laws world-wide became a concern and Marhall refused to go on without some limiting scans to policing and law only with the individual having to pass through a scan-monitor, often wrist-size. The main crime it did stop was identity scams and masquerades. There could only be one of everyone. You could only be one person on the Grid. The gene helix was needed and the world population was assured…until now.

Within the year, Marhall was legendary and was wandering the various other projects late at night leaving notes with whatever she looked at. Eventually, it was recognised who was doing this. There were complaints but her reputation made everyone look and agree she was right with whatever she touched. She gained the nickname as the ‘Ingenious Genius’. Even so, many said she was unqualified in their disciplines. In short order, proving she was the true genius she was, Marhall handed in doctorate projects in all and had more letters than in the alphabet after her name. Marhall was seen as the saviour of mankind but skilfully avoided the celebrity limelight saying she was far too busy, only leaving the comment she was needed to save the world. That was until it was discovered she had been working on an Artificial Intelligence and some alarm bells rang about letting it loose on the Grid. But it was too late, Secular INtelligence or SIN had been released and no sign of Marhall who had suddenly vanished. The world governments kept quiet about that and announced Marhall was missing feared died instead. Although it was noted that SIN was benevolent, aiding everyone who asked for advice, the world governments had no control of it and weren’t happy. They wanted control. New factories and places were built that were deliberately kept off the Grid although there was a suspicion that some weren’t. They didn’t want to risk SIN getting into their computer systems.

Officially, they were still looking for Martha Marhall and to rescue the saviour of the human race as a priority. Behind the scenes, the revived governments wanted her imprisoned for releasing an AI into the world which they couldn’t control. The world had been brought back from the brink of ecological disaster and slowly recovering. It was also deemed that the Genius Factory was getting out of control as it tackled the problems humanity had put itself into and might be better working them apart as it was in the past. It also meant they could control the products better. The dream wasn’t so much broken but definitely reorganised.

Marhall was brown haired, extended teeth with glasses and looked a real geek. January Austin was blonde and pretty, very energetic but seemed awfully knowledgeable in genetics. But a Realworlder? Geniuses were getting pretty rife in the reduced world population and not all got into the Genius Factory. Even that was a ghost of itself as the immediate threat was gone and all countries had their geniuses back.

Cheena focused back on her altitude and pulled the ripcord and saw January had done the same thing. Their airmasks absorbing the ozone still in the air. She had been determined to land that night, pointing out that across the country it would still be dark and parachuting in would save a lot of distance. There was still a matter of how they got out afterwards but the blonde genius seemed to be ahead on everything else. The determined glide path had them both landing on the roof rather than in the grounds.

As Cheena started to roll her chute up she saw January do something and her chute had suddenly compacted. She ran over and pointed at the string on Cheena’s chute. Pulling it, her chute also compacted, saving rolling it up. Doffing her helmet and carrying both items, she followed January to the door and down into the stairwell.

January touched her ear and Cheena felt the click in her own earjack.

‘MemoreX in the fabric. Just like your earrings. It should be widespread next year this time. As long as you keep to a whisper, we can talk.’

‘What now?’

‘Get out of the travel togs and into lab coats.’

‘The…travel togs?’

‘We’ll find a ventilator if nothing else turns up.’

‘Do you know where you’re going?’

‘Two places. I’ve been holding off getting SIN in here so the manufacture wouldn’t be questioned but now it needs to be here watching as a matter of urgency. The other is a lot trickier. Need to go to the key vat and adjust the helix code back to what it was and modify so this can’t happen again.’

They continued down a corridor.

‘Nothing hard then? What do I do? Still watch your back? You seem capable to looking after yourself.’

January gave a wry grin. ‘Tell me if you think we’re rumbled, otherwise we bluff it.’

‘You do this a lot?’

‘Usually alone. ENSIU thinks I need better protection which is why you’re here. She doesn’t like the odds against me if the shit hits the fan.’

‘You disagree with SIN?’

‘It’s in her interest to protect me.’ January paused and looked at Cheena. ‘What I do is somewhat specialised.’

‘You’re also Serendipity Wildcard. The ultimate in good luck.’

‘ENSIU doesn’t think my luck will last. Look at last night. She deems me too valuable.’

Cheena shrugged. ‘I’m under contract. Let’s get your job done and you can explain more later.’

They walked on.

‘The rooms aren’t labelled.’

‘I know where I’m going. This one.’

January tried the door. It was locked.

‘Allow me.’

Cheena pulled off a second attachment on her ear-ring and picked the lock.

‘No electronic locks?’

‘Would need too much computer tech. The best room to hide a computer junction…’

‘…is one that doesn’t lock by computer.’

The lights went on automatically when they went inside. January took one look at the computer terminal and then looked to its wiring before flicking on the screen. She pulled out the keyboard from the USB socket and plugged in the unit she bought with her.

‘Always the mistake. They think that by not having any USB ports, this won’t happen and forget what connects to the terminal. On the screen came a download notation and they watched it reach 100%.

‘Hello January. Hello Cheena.’ The SIN voice came through their earjacks. ‘As aspect of me is now in their computer system. I am commencing analysis of the files.’

January disconnected the module and replacement the keyboard.

‘Are we detected?’


She turned the monitor off.

‘Is everything as it was?’

‘Yes, January.’

‘Including where the vats are?’

‘Yes, January.’

‘Time to go.’

‘No. Let me hide the chutes and helmets.’

Using a table, Cheena moved a panel in the ceiling and push the items in before closing it again.

‘I doubt if we’d be parachuting out.’

They left the room and January waited for Cheena to relock the door.

‘I take it SIN has control of the cams and the elevator?’

As if on command, the lift doors opened and they stepped inside.

‘I am assessing the systems, Cheena. My key priority is to get you both where you need to go.’

‘Makes life a lot easier,’ January added. ‘If you’re seen, your visage will be white. No sense have any authorities looking for a pair of differing coloured women. Is that all right?’

‘I could be oriental?’

‘There’s a matter of height and weight that could give that away.’

‘You really do think of everything.’

‘Gives me time to think of other things.’

‘Such as?’

‘I need to read the helix. ENSIU is scanning it right now.’

‘And the sample?’

‘That’s for synthesis. We always thought that this might come up one day. This should correct the problems. Begrim has done some clever coding. Like he was also leaving a message.’

The elevator stopped below ground. There was an auto-golf cart waiting for them.

‘I didn’t realise this place was so big underground.’ Cheena looked at January’s raised eyebrow before continuing. ‘Certain key installations were part of the training.

‘Above is administration mostly and a fake set-up in case of sabotage. Martha thought it would be safer in a sub-level that could be protected against bombs as well.’

‘You’ll be telling me next there’s another hidden installation. Cancenogin is the saviour of the world. Why would anyone want to destroy or change it?’

‘Some don’t like the idea that they can be identified even if it’s not automatic.’

‘And what do you do?’

‘SIN watches them.’

‘Doesn’t that beat the objective?’

‘We do a lot of things non-obtrusively.’

‘Bet they would love the way you…we get around.’

January smiled as the cart stopped.

‘There’s no one down here.’


‘There are fifteen people on this level but not in this section, January. Three are taking a break. There is no evidence of Begrim’s presence here.’

‘Probably thinks his work is done.’

The door automatically opened and they walked inside.

‘This is the synthesiser chamber. I can look at the helix here as anywhere.’

As January slipped a container into a tube in a waiting machine, the helix came up in 3D in the middle of the room, followed by a similar version next to it. This was followed by a stream of data in mid-air.

‘Can you make sense of this?’ Cheena looked over at January.

‘I had a good teacher. I’ll need a little silence while I do this and talk to ENSIU. Technical talk.’

‘Not a word.’ Cheena placed her chair by the door but watched as January worked. This time, she was not part of the earjack conversation link to ENSIU as it clicked off.

A monitor came on near Cheena, showing the corridor. It was as deserted as when they arrived. It flicked through various locations around the factory and the odd map showing where everyone was before showing a trickle of people coming through the entrance.

The patterns of both helixes were changing as different permutations were shown. January frequently pointed at different parts of the text and that streamed rapidly as well. This went on for nearly two hours. Cheena watched but slowly chewed some gum throughout. It was tempting to take a nap but that wasn’t professional. She should have brought a book. She a few paper book but they were locked in a bank deposit box. Since the crisis, to get trees back to the levels needed, no more printing. All paper books went up in value and very expensive. Even on her pay, she only had a dozen. Not that she’d read them but they were going to be better than a pension.

‘It’s gone daybreak,’ she finally said. ‘Have you got a plan to get out in a number count?’

January turned. ‘Really? Sorry. Nearly done. Repair job.’

Even so, that took nearly another hour.

‘Opening time.’


‘I can do the rest by flash, January.’ ENSIU clicked on also in Cheena’s earjack.

‘OK. Is the message ready?’

‘Yes. The car will be waiting for you.’

‘All planned?’

‘Not quite. Begrim had other re-writes here, later than what I read at FloatTek. Some of it was actually quite clever but some not needed. Begrim seems to have left a love note but that can be read later. The message is in DNA code and I’ll need more time for that. I’ve bonded the new coding synthesis and this will be Cancenogin Mk 1a that should stop tampering in future.’

‘You were taught well.’

January gave a curt bow. ‘I’m ready.’

‘We can’t get out in lab coats. Too suspicious.’

‘We’ll change in the lift.’

The cart drove them back to the lift, leaving January to rummage in her rucksack along the way.

In the lift, January presented Cheena with a security uniform as she put on a business suit and then a brown wig and glasses.

‘The cameras could change our appearance us but we’re going past people so they need to tie together. Who remembers security people?’

‘But you’re not.’

‘They’ll need to remember a face. This face this time. When they see the message, we just walk out. You can watch it on the news later.’

Cheena tucked her afro into the security cap and put on the sunglasses and put on a smile.

‘As you say, people will remember a smile not the face behind it. Are you sure you want to look like that? You look like Martha Marhall.’

‘It’ll give meaning. This face has to be remembered. It’s due a resurrection.’ January slipped a teethgrip into her mouth changing the shape of her face.

The lift opened and they walked towards the security gate. A stream of people was growing of people going back and forwards, delayed only by the security gate and the people watching it as people put their hands in the wrist-scan.

Suddenly, all the monitors changed from the standard ads and flickered and then the picture changed to that of Martha Marhall. Brown hair, glasses and somewhat goofy teeth.

‘My name is Martha Marhall. I have discovered that there has been some tampering with my drug helix Cancenogin. I always promised that it would only be tracked if it was through required places and not allowed to monitor you all the time. Some individuals under the order of the government have tried to change that. Rather than go after them, I have revised the code and made sure it cannot be tampered with. Cancenogin is the best protection from cancers past, current and future. Anything else is incidental. Please remember I am not dead and I am watching. Thank you.’

While everyone was watching, Cheena followed January past the security gate and she winked at the guard and then at the camera watching them.

The Catprowl car slowly moved into place and was waiting at the bottom of the steps by the time they got there. They got in and it moved off. The windows darkened and the compartment lit up.

‘So you’re Martha Marhall after all?’

January took off the wig, teethgrip and glasses and shook her head. ‘There never was a Martha Marhall. It was only a disguise to get into Genius Factory to get things done. I was in the process of rebuilding the world when they objected to my work in Artificial Intelligence so I left. SIN was already good at distraction but had to be let out through the Grid. I take advantage of any situation I can. Nature of being a problem-solver. It’s what I do.’

‘They thought there was some arrogance in what you were doing according to the NSA report I read. Remaking the world in your image.’

‘Someone had to take charge. My image was the only one that was working. There was a lot of work to be done very quickly. They actually wanted to sort the world problems out. I saved mankind but they were less sure of what else I had got involved in which was most of the other projects I ended up sorting out. The other scientists would have worked it out eventually but I saved them years of problems and got them operational. After that, the first thing they did was close the Genius Factory and try to do things on their own.’

Cheena took off her cap and sunglasses and shook her afro out. ‘You realise until now that even the security agencies have thought Martha Marhall was dead will be looking for you again.’

‘Including you? This is why SIN wanted someone guarding my back.’

‘As I told SIN…ENSIU, you haven’t done anything crazy…yet. You’ve just saved the Agency a lot of paper…digitalwork.’

‘ENSIU also wants you to watch that I never step over that mark. The news media did think the world was being made in Martha Marhall’s image with every invention and discovery I came up with. Don’t forget, the world had to be saved and I was doing it until I could no longer do it openly. It hasn’t stopped yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done. That is why we decided to employ you. Are you on our…my side still, aren’t you?’

The car drove on in silence until finally, ‘It’s the world that January Austin is building then. So far, you’ve done a lot of good work. Why should you stop?’

‘And your loyalty to the Agency?’

‘As you said with the contract. The NSA wants me for a job, then I go and do it except…’


‘You might well be the target.’

‘I think we can deal with that. They’re only looking for Martha not me. You only met her briefly.’

‘Nothing is ever going to be as easy as this again.’

‘This was easy only in your eyes. We could have been caught out anywhere at any time.’

‘Welcome to my world.’

‘One question.’


‘What do you do for fun?’




January Austin, Serendipity Wildcard

Cheena Chase, Cherub Fruitcake, Emily Orange

© GF Willmetts 2018


Back in the 1980s in my APA days, I was working on a serialised novel with my two lead characters, January Austin and Cheena Chase, the Ladies Of SIN. Back then, no one had a forename of January. Lately, there have been a number of actresses popping up with the forename of ‘January’ and it seemed prudent to revise the reality and do an updated version as a short story so I can at least copyright her full name. The above is nothing like the original story, which I only got about 5 or 6 chapters in. The reality of a saved world from ecological disaster is pretty much the same. I’ve come a long way in my writing since then.


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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