PROGENETER I Immortality: the Quest

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers who may quote brief passages with proper attribution. Cover photo by Gorgev under license from ShutterStock Copyright © 2013 by Summa Publishing and Steve Bareham

ISBN 9780991680627

AVAILABLE ONLY AT AMAZON.COM

PROGENETER I
Immortality: the Quest

Table of Contents
Upfront: About the Book The Author Reviews Preface Chapter 1: The Crystal Spring 1530 A.D. Chapter 2: The March of Death 1540 A.D. Chapter 3: Bacob Embattled 1853 A.D. Chapter 4: The Dead Land 1853 A.D. Chapter 5: Pandora’s Box 2012 A.D. Chapter 6: The Discovery Chapter 7: Capture Chapter 8: Kotaro Chapter 9: Journey to the canyon Chapter 10: Mavas u Ch’an Village Chapter 11: The Bacob Move Chapter 12: PROGENETER Chapter 13: The Gathering Storm Chapter 14: Educating Helen Chapter 15: Science in the Cave Chapter 16: Attack in the Canyon Chapter 17: Aftermath Chapter 18: Operation Prometheus Back Matter Facts about Crystal Skulls and Desert Tortoises Endnotes: From the Author PROGENETER II Immortality: Endgame HR in a Nutshell by Steve Bareham

Upfront: About the Book
ear 1540: The Mavas u Ch’an are an anthropological anomaly, a mysterious, reclusive tribe of Mayans dating back five centuries to Indian bearers forced into slavery by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Coronado as he searched for the Seven Cities of Cibola in the southern U.S. After a daring escape, the Mayans lived in isolation deep within the Grand Canyon. And they protected an incredible secret—a potion that triples life spans. Year 2012: A disaffected tribe member lets the formula fall into the hands of a multi-national drug company. Fearing global catastrophe if the longevity drug reaches market, the Mavas u Ch’an dispatch warrior monks—the Bacob—to retrieve the formula and erase all traces of its existence. But a wonder drug like PROGENETER is worth killing for. Dramatic events are set in motion as powerful forces collide. This saga spans centuries, from Spanish conquests, to wagon train attacks, to modern day—a unique meshing of action twists, intriguing scientific research, romance, Mayan mysticism, and a compelling philosophy about life and living. PROGENETER explores how human life evolved and probes the opportunities and the terrible consequences of extending life on a planet already stressed by over population and impending environmental catastrophe. While the story line of PROGENETER is fictional, the issue of longevity extension is real and will need to be addressed very soon. Will ultra-long life be a blessing or a curse? The answers may surprise you.

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The PROGENETER story is told in two full-length books enhanced with dozens of color photos.

Mekel Mak’ina, leader of the mysterious Mavas u Ch’an and guardian of secrets intended to help the human race but that now threaten not only his people, but perhaps everyone—perhaps everything—on earth. Dr. Helen Murray travels to the land of the Mavas u Ch’an hoping to share the most incredible medical miracle of all time. In an oasis a mile below the Canyon rim, she comes to discover, but she finds much more than she could ever have imagined…
Mekel photo by eldirector 77, Helen Murray by Nataliya Pechnyakova Both under license from ShutterStock

Reviews
“As an avid nonfiction reader, I was surprised at how such thought-provoking information could so skillfully be woven into such a gripping work of fiction. Well researched, well written, and well worth the read! Steve Bareham has succeeded in turning me into a full-fledged fan of this new genre of educational/action fiction.”
— Lorraine W. Edom, Editor

“PROGENETER fills an intellectual fiction vacuum that has long waited to be filled. This is sophisticated, well-written fiction packed with action and adventure, but also replete with information worth knowing about life and living…a book that enriches the reader…”
— Robert J. Thomson, The Box, The Bones, & Mr. Baker

"Forsake the safety of tradition, morality and ethics. These will not save us if the Bacob fail to protect the skull and the PROGENETER formula. Bareham takes us on an epic journey from the ancient past into the near future to confront the confounding possibilities of life near eternal on earth. The best works of fiction compel readers because they are crafted around facts and situations with which people can identify; PROGENETER delivers full value. This is a book for fiction fans who like their fiction real.”
— Steven D. Cannon, The Innovators

“If you are looking for a great read that will have you turning every page to find out what is going to happen next along with a story that is based on factual information, then PROGENETER will be a perfect fit for you.”
— Digital Book Today

“The Progeneter books do a fine job of balancing great storytelling with social and scientific commentary. The story is fast-paced and well-rounded, and the characters and plot are compelling. Mr. Bareham does a commendable job of presenting timely social issues for the reader's contemplation without detracting from what is, in essence, a good old fashioned adventure tale….”
— Riley Roo, Reviews Global.Org

“This is a totally original work written in a sophisticated yet relaxing style that fuses fiction with facts and that also integrates action at an appropriate pace and frequency to keep things lively. By meshing science and fiction with realism, you learn while reading. It's not your average book, and it elevates the calibre of much of today's fiction writing by a couple of notches.” — Isabel Lehmann

Preface

Photo by Triff, licensed by ShutterStock

PROGENETER
Progenetic Enhancement & Entropy Termination
Everyone wants to live forever, but no one wants to grow old.
— Jonathan Swift

o facet of life weighs more heavily than mortality. From the first awareness that death is the only certainty, the extinction of our corporeal bodies becomes something to be denied psychologically and avoided in reality at any cost. This frantic clinging to earthly existence is not new; people have obsessed for millennia about ways to prolong life. And, when confronted with the inescapable—that a physical presence cannot be sustained—we clutch just as desperately to life-afterdeath concepts that promise perpetuation of spirit, if not body. Heaven, reincarnation, and the more contemporary notion that some vague, ethereal energy form endures, are three of the most common beliefs people embrace. Though unproven and unquantifiable, these leap-of-faith alternatives to rotting in graves bring comfort to billions of people terrified at the thought of infinite nothingness. Our dread of death, coupled with a grasping belief in the chimera of eternal life, is a deeply rooted psychological paradox that most are unable to rationalize. So, billions spend their lives in worried torment as the sand drains inexorably from their life glasses. Fear of oblivion obliterates objectivity. Were it otherwise, solace would be found in the fact that people have more time to be less concerned about death than have people at any point in history. Most of the more than seven billion people now on the planet will live longer—much longer—than did their predecessors just two generations ago.

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Due primarily to the influences of better medicine and diet, life expectancy has leapt decades in just 100 years. In the year 1900, the average North American lived to about 50. Today, both men and women who reach 65 can expect to survive into their 80s. And these numbers are extending rapidly. Life expectancy in the developed nations lengthens by about one year every decade. Centenarians will be common by 2050. Medical researchers suggest that the human organism, sustained by appropriate diet, exercise, and pollution-free environments, is capable of existing in a healthy state to the age of 120-plus. And there is promise of adding even further to this remarkable number as 3rd Millennium science searches for ways to dramatically slow our genetic aging clocks. Such revolutionary breakthroughs percolate even now in biochemical and biotechnical laboratories around the globe. It appears certain that mankind is about to get what it has always wanted— greatly increased longevity. PROGENETER is fiction, but much of its information about science, genetics, global environmental trends, limited resources, new diseases, etc. is factual. So, too, is there truth in the astonishing and controversial chapter about anthropoktonos, man the murderer of men. This examination of biological underpinnings to human violence and war is shocking. The heroic people of the book, the Mavas u Ch’an, are part of the fiction, but they could exist. A sub expedition of the Spanish conquistador, Francisco de Coronado, did reach the Grand Canyon in 1540 A.D., and an isolated indigenous tribe—the Havasupai—reside to this day in a remote offshoot of the Canyon, their village accessible only by foot, horse, or helicopter. Although PROGENETER uses imaginary settings to examine the implications of greatly extended life spans, the interweaving of fact and fiction should not diminish the real-world importance of the book’s central premise—that average human life spans of 150+ are possible if only a few medical and biological challenges are surmounted. But, that’s only part of the story. Dramatically longer lives will raise important issues. Will long life be the gift we wish for? What would we do differently if we knew we had twice as long to live? Would double the life span equate with double the productivity, and double the sense of purpose, or would it mean living the same, just for twice as long? A significant lengthening of longevity suggests incalculable implications not only for humans, but also for other species, for vegetation—indeed, for the entire planet. Clearly, overpopulation would rank as a major concern; there are too many people already in many geographic areas. When congestion combines with disproportionate distributions of food, water, and resources, disaster always results. The spread of humans has been an exponential juggernaut that will continue to gather momentum. Consider: 1 billion people inhabited the earth from the first sign of homo-sapiens until 1804 (to reach that number took one million-plus years) 2 billion people by 1927 (only 123 additional years were needed to double) 3 billion people by 1959 (32 additional years) 4 billion people by 1974 (15 additional years) 5 billion people by 1986 (12 additional years), and

7 billion people by 2012 (26 additional years)…and growing by 74 million more per year Based on current birth and mortality rates, the United Nations estimates that the number of people could swell to between 9-10 billion by 2050 and perhaps as high as 15 billion by the year 2100. However, if scientific advances significantly lengthen longevity, the global population number could be even higher and reached sooner. While people would do anything, and pay anything, to live longer, a cut in mortality rates would mean billions more people. That is likely to be catastrophic.

The optimistic perspective
f course, there could be positives. Longer life spans could mean more and potentially fantastic contributions from significant thinkers, inventors, and researchers. We can only speculate what may be achieved if bodies supporting Einsteinian-quality intellects are able to use extra decades invested in intellectual productivity. It’s impossible to predict if we will deal with supercentenarianism constructively and intelligently, but almost certainly, our species will face such critical decisions relatively soon. If we fail to rise to the challenge, we may confront a perverse biological contradiction—longer human life spans could lead to the demise of nearly all life on the planet. Ultra-long life may prove to be a much more complex and difficult issue than many suspect. Will it bring increased happiness, comfort, and prosperity? To make it so, our species must act quickly to change attitudes and behaviour, but given our history, how likely is it that we will cope with these issues in constructive or humanistic manners? Might Aldous Huxley’s pessimistic view hold sway? "A belief in Hell, and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton, have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour."

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Photo by Dmitrijs Bindemanis, under license from ShutterStock

Chapter 1: The Crystal

ts eerie incarnation inspired awe and dread for more than 5,000 years, yet through all that time, it remained a mystery. No one knew who made it, or how, or why. Even 3rd Millennium science lacked answers, able only to suggest that its essence was spawned three billion years ago in the magmatic hell of earth’s womb. In this 7,000-degree caldron, 150 kilometers down, the pristine arrangement of molecules, purged of color and contaminants, was carried by a molten stream that gushed along fissures to spew a mile into the sky from the mouth of the monster volcano. Then, in cooling quiet, trapped in a black lava tomb by the press of time, earth, and gravity, the giant crystal grew. Eons later, the earth convulsed again, this cataclysm borne of immeasurable grinding forces, colliding tectonic plates in subterranean battle fought at glacial speed. Finally, unable to withstand the stalemate, one strata slid atop the other, the loosed rocky subcontinent projecting upward to heights of more than 10,000 feet — a thousand miles of jagged, barren mountains created in scant days. There were no witnesses. People would not inhabit this spot for 200 million years, but the crystal was stirred from the deep. It now lay almost within grasp if hands knew where to chip and dig, but digging would be unnecessary. Relentless monsoons fed freshets into a single torrent that chewed through earth and stone until reaching the cliff. There, 300 feet down, where the water struck with maximum force, a rounded black lava bulge protruded incongruously as the softer soil and slate around it were slowly worn away. The hunter spied the crystal’s sarcophagus by chance as he stopped at the base of the fall to scoop a drink. At any other time, the globular lump would have been unremarkable, just an unattractive rock, its scarred surface nothing more than deeply etched igneous caking. But today, because the light was right, at the valley of each rough groove, subtle hints of pale white shone, and the man’s attention caught. He

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puzzled at the faint glow within the stone, at the odd translucence where light should not have been. He poked and prodded with a stick, but it was embedded too tightly to be so easily dislodged. Back at his village, the hunter told of his find, and he felt important when a priest overheard and said he wanted to see the glowing stone. So they journeyed back, and after much rubbing, and washing, and looking, the priest said it should be dug out so other priests could see it, too. It was not easy freeing the rock, and even harder carrying 100 pounds of weight through miles of jungle. Many times, his hands rubbed raw and bleeding, and his back aching, the hunter wished he’d never seen the rock, but one did not refuse a priest. Other priests came to the village and they found the glowing rock fascinating as well, but no one knew what to do with it. Finally, one priest suggested making an offering to Itzamná, the god of gods, so they carried the heavy stone for six days to the mountain alter, the place visited by the lord of the heavens. There they left it. Three months later, when the priests returned for spring rituals, the coarse black oblong had disappeared. In its place, like a butterfly burst from its chrysalis, was something that glowed like water in sunlight, a liquid visage hardened to stone in the shape of a skeleton’s head. In its sockets were blood red orbs, dodecahedron jewels that changed sunlight to ruby lances that blinded anyone looking into them. At the sight of the glowing skull with burning eyes, the priests prostrated themselves. For two days they held a terrified vigil, fearing disaster, and praying until their mouths no longer worked. Nothing happened. The priests reasoned that their prayers had worked. The skull was a good omen, so they made sacrifices to Itzamná and the four lesser gods whose immense strength held up the corners of the sky, red god in the east, white in the north, black in the west, and yellow in the south. In homage, the Osario, the Mayan priest of highest rank, ordered a stelae erected. Into the stone was carved a likeness of the skull, the date, 3114 B.C. From its mystery-shrouded beginning, supernatural powers were ascribed to the skull, powers so great it must be guarded. For this task, a new order of monks was formed—the Bacobs. Selected from the strongest and most committed, the Bacobs accepted a new dualism. They observed religious tradition, but they also swore to protect, and from this role evolved martial knowledge that enabled the warrior priests to defend the skull to the death. For several millennia the Bacob prayed and trained, but the skull was never threatened. Then, in 1519 A.D., strange people arrived in huge boats that flew on the water with clouds trapped to towering trees stripped of branches. Soon after the ships came, the killings began. “God, gold, and glory!” was the rallying cry of the Spaniards as they pursued conquests in the New World, though the second-place ranking of gold after God was pure semantics to placate an insecure Vatican. The hemorrhage of plunder swelled to a flood. Fleets sailed to and from Málaga, each ship wallowing under tons of gold, silver, jewels, fabrics, and animals—all stolen to curry favor with Carlos I. But theft was not Spain’s only legacy. In scant decades, conquistadors murdered more than one million new-world inhabitants, naïve people powerless before the

onslaught of guns and unseen microbial enemies—tuberculosis, measles, and smallpox—that bathed their bodies in sweat-wracked fever until they were consumed. Through all this, the priest class of the Mayans prayed fervently, but their gods did nothing as the invaders scoured city after city, the heavy-horse cavalry barely slowing to crush those armed only with obsidian-tipped spears and leather shields. In less than a decade, the once-rich Mayan empire lay in ruins, its shattered people dead, ill, starving, and in hiding.

The March of Death 1540 A.D.

Photo by Frederick Remington

Nothing but songs of sorrow remain, where once lived warriors and wise men. We know we must perish, for we are mortal; you, the Giver of Life, have ordained it. We wander in desolate poverty amid bloodshed where once was beauty and valour. We are crushed to ruins, nothing but grief and suffering. Have you grown weary of your servants? Are you angry with your servants, O Giver of Life?
— Post conquest poet, Yucatan

o Francisco Vasquéz de Coronado, governor of New Galicia, this day was like any of hundreds that preceded it, hot, dirty, and miserable. Even Rogelio, his spirited Andalusian, plodded, the black sheen of the stallion’s coat masked beneath grime, his proud head bent to the ground, nostrils flared, seeking air but instead sucking dust that seared his lungs. At the head of a loose caravan that snaked for more than a mile behind, de Coronado sought to ease the tedium, thinking of his former life of easy circumstance, wild rides across green rangelands, of reckless cavorts with sons of noblemen. He longed for the cool foothills of Salamanca, the tannin bite of a strong red rioja, and for a soft, passionate harlot in a comfortable bed. Was it just five years ago? His reverie was dashed by incessant rivulets of sweat, scurrying ants tickling down his ribs. Irritated, he clamped his arms to his sides, soaking the sudor in the fabric of his linen blouse. How much longer must he bear disappointment? But what choice was there? He could not, he would not, return without treasure. To do so would infuriate Viceroy Mendoza and doubtless destroy his dream of returning to Spain to sit at the

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hand of King Carlos. To find fame and earn a seat at the palace in Madrid, he needed riches. He must go on. de Coronado could not know, but his wish for a place in history would be granted. He is forever remembered as one of Spain’s most embarrassing failures, leader of the March of Death that searched in vain for Eldorado—the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, a legend that began in Antilia, islands that would become the Caribbean. But when gold and silver were not found there, the geographical location of the cities was conveniently rewritten to North America. By 1539, conquistadors pressed as far north as the Zuñi pueblos in western New Mexico. From one expedition came reports that the cities had been found, the smallest larger than Mexico City and home to mountains of gold. This was the lure that drove the 30-year-old de Coronado farther north than any other Spaniard. His expedition began in grand style in February, 1540, from Cortez’s beach city of Vera Cruz, the train of people, wagons, and animals flanked by a colour guard of splendidly mounted cavalry, banners flapping brightly atop pikes. Once on the trail, though, with the pomp and ceremony behind, de Coronado set an inhuman pace. In little more than a year, he force-marched a contingent of 400 Spaniards, 2,000 Tlaxcalan Indians, Mayans, and black slaves, and 1,500 horses, mules, and oxen, an impossible 2,000 miles to the northwest corner of modern-day Arizona. Many died from exhaustion, disease, and injury—almost all of the dead were slaves. Not to be discouraged by the loss of lives, de Coronado’s force found time to battle numerous Indian tribes. Due to superior weaponry, the skirmishes were always one sided and bloody, but they allowed the restocking of larders with stolen foodstuffs. But nowhere did they find riches, just poor villages dotting the Rio Grande River, the mud huts galling to conquerors hungry for palaces and storerooms bulging with bullion. The train of thousands of men and beasts bore on, frustration feeding arrogance, guns confronting arrows, and hundreds of Zuni and Pueblo Indians adding to the mounting death toll. This day, de Coronado was especially tired, mentally drained from the effort of controlling hard men who increasingly doubted his claims that the famed golden city lay always “just ahead.” As is the desert’s wont, shimmering visions of fabulous wealth repeatedly disappeared, stretching away again and again to the next horizon. His depression wallowed in these thoughts as he heard hoofs and the chafing squeak of saddlery. He turned to see Captain Fuentes, a squat, hairy man with bad complexion, a barrel chest, and knobbly sausage fingers tipped with dirty black nails. Today, as every other day, the captain was covered in red ochre smears, his sweat mixed with the iron oxide desert clay that filled every crease of his skin and tunic. God, the man stank! “Governor,” Fuentes said overly loudly, snapping a sharp salute that he hoped would hide the state of his roiling gut. “The scouts have returned.” In his mind, though, were curses that he was the one to bring this terrible news. But he’d lost the draw, and his fellow officers were glad it was he and not they. de Coronado turned his head and held his breath, disgusted. “Report Captain, but do me the courtesy of moving off a few feet.” He doubted the foul-smelling oaf would know to be offended.

Confused, but not really caring to understand why the Governor made this strange request, Fuentes did as he was asked. He’d long ago stopped smelling the stench of sour sweat. Everyone on this trail smelled except de Coronado, and this because he was the only person with a bathing vessel, the only one stupid enough to waste water on vanity. The captain didn’t like the governor; he feared him, and in this he wasn’t alone. Many times de Coronado had demonstrated the qualities most dreaded in a commander of men—volatility and viciousness. It was fitting that he should be the one to govern the new world state of Galicia, a hellish land that drew its name from the poor and miserable province of Spain that sired only thieves and liars. Fuentes fantasized that he would one day meet this arrogant nobleman in a darkened alley, but at this time, and in this place, he had to protect his position near the front of the caravan. At the rear, the dirt ground fine under hundreds of wheel tracks and thousands of feet and hoofs. His countrymen there could scarcely breathe, their hacking coughs now chronic and their eyes permanently bloodshot. No, he must retain his position as a courier with the lead guard. But he wondered, after this, if he would. He looked straight ahead and spoke matter of factly, as though his news should be expected. “I am sorry sir, but they report an obstruction.” Something in the man’s voice was odd. Normally de Coronado didn’t deign to engage his officers with eye contact, but now he stared. It took Fuentes a few seconds to realize he was in the governor’s glare, and he withered at the terse question: “What do you mean ‘an obstruction?’” “They say it’s a canyon, sir…a very large canyon…the largest canyon they have ever seen.” Fuentes was a career soldier who understood the risk of delivering imprecise information. In fact, he’d pressed the scouts for answers that meant something. He was surprised that experienced point men, always the first into danger, seemed themselves in shock. “Puto! Mierda!” spat de Coronado angrily, but with a note of resignation. “How long around?” He’d become accustomed to delays over the past year. This seemed just one more to endure. Fuentes, though, was anything but calm. He knew the worst was yet to come. “They say there is no way around. They say it looks like the earth has been torn in two.” The words sounded ridiculous even to his ears. de Coronado’s temper rose. “Have you lost your senses! What kind of report is this? Are your scouts drunk? How far to this canyon?” His eyes swept ahead as far as he could see, but the desert disappeared into white haze. “Not far, sir, less than five miles.” de Coronado seethed at the incompetence. Again he fixed his glare on Fuentes. “For delivering a report with such clarity, captain, you may have the pleasure of riding with the scouts to find a path through.” Fuentes ducked his head, humbly accepting the dismissal and thankful to be away from those dead eyes. If riding with the scouts was his only punishment, he’d gotten off easily. His half salute was lost on de Coronado as he wheeled his horse and galloped back to his position.

Two hours later, at mid-morning of an already sweltering September day, the haze evaporated, and the caravan came to an abrupt halt as word passed quickly down the line to “STOP!”

At de Coronado’s feet opened the enormous gaping maw of the Grand Canyon, instantly a loathsome mouth from hell capable of consuming every earthly thing. In its enormity, he saw his dreams dashed. For a full hour, the Spaniard sat his horse as near the edge as he dared, staring dumbly from side to side, and then forward, often seeing nothing at all. But his rage built. Then, he dismounted and stood on the canyon’s rim screaming curses at this chasm so endless and hateful that it crushed his ego and magnified his human impotence.

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The Author

Steve Bareham has written 12 books (10 nonfiction and two fiction), through publishers such as Harper Collins, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, and EduServ. His background is as a reporter and editor for Canadian daily newspapers, then as a public and media relations manager with Canadian corporations and institutions. He joined the teaching staff at Selkirk College in the '90s and now instructs human resources, marketing, business communication, critical thinking, and cross cultural communication courses to management students.

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