Galen's mind hits a wall of spikes. The numan2 DNA upgrade is not ready. I need another month for dissection analyses and simulations. And now the numan2 population has become emotionally unstable worldwide. The World Council and the military halfwits expect me to solve the problem with a DNA infusion to reestablish control before we can begin an orderly cull of their numbers. If I can upgrade myself to numan6, it should be possible. But time is against me. It is against all of us!

Another problem is keeping the political intentions secret from Ali. He has difficulty calling her Ali, her cover name at the Center. She has always been "Balen" to him. And now, outside the Center, she is known by her human name, Alice.

She agrees that human extinction is inevitable but she will never accept billions of numan2s being culled. She is brilliant; she matches me, of course, in every way except she does not have the genes that power my higher intellect and ambition. I need to add a touch more aggression to her DNA. Then she will enjoy helping me destroy the numan2s.

Galen hears a car stop by his private door, the Director's Door that he and Ali use to avoid the security formalities.

"I apologize for being late," Ali says as she bursts in and dumps herself on her seat by his left hand. "I have no excuse."

"Perhaps we can start," says Galen, surveying the six pairs of eyes fixed on him and Ali. He scrutinizes the faces, willing their obedience and utter concentration.

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