Rebel, Rebel
Rebel Scenario Four:
Escape of the Penguins

Katniss Everdeen
In a dystopian future, most of the wild penguins that once populated Antarctica have fallen victim to a famine caused by human exploitation and the resulting destruction of natural food sources. With the situation reaching crisis proportions for the survival of the species, the environment is finally beginning to show some spontaneous and encouraging signs of renewal. But medical researchers have also recently discovered that a substance naturally occurring in the blood of wild penguins is the miracle cure for all forms of cancer. Unfortunately, the researchers have not succeeded in duplicating the substance (dubbed Penacea) in the laboratory. What’s more, Penacea is impossible to produce in captive penguins because its production apparently depends upon complex ecological factors unique to the wild. The situation has created a life-and-death crisis for the wild penguins, because shortsighted government officials are bent on capturing the last remaining wild penguins and using them for medical research.

A team of specialists has been sent by the Establishment to capture the last remaining wild penguins. Opposing their actions is a cadre of dedicated Rebels committed to protecting the lives of these defenseless creatures at any cost. Establishment forces are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, to overcome any resistance and capture the birds. As the USS Mercy, a specially designed penguin transport vessel, prepares to enter port in Antarctica, the Rebels have already implemented a desperate bid for freedom. Having already blown up and burned all facilities at Penguin Station that might be used to house the arriving forces, the Rebels have herded the last remaining wild penguins to a remote Antarctic island and destroyed the tiny ice bridge that separates it from the mainland. As the Rebels return to confront the incoming forces at Penguin Station, they remove all tracks and traces of their recent expedition behind them. With a little luck, they believe, the penguins will flourish once again in their emergency refuge — an island so remote and inaccessible that it may well be decades before any other human beings can find them.

The fate of the penguins, and the future of cancer treatment, depends on whether the Establishment or Rebels prevail. In your mind, take on the role of any or all of the characters described below (or any others you create yourself) and put that person through the paces in the context of this future world.

The Characters

The Establishment

Admiral B.J. Privvet, director of Project Mercy Penguin, a renowned military leader of great skill and vision, on a last field assignment before retiring from the service and running for President on a platform of civil rights, a strong military, a free market, and a sound ecology.

Captain Jackie Dark, Captain of the U.S.S. Mercy, an ambitious, rigidly disciplined, career military officer who “plays it by the book,” and believes that burying emotions and following orders without question are the keys to advancement.

Commander Lonnie Park, a former Rhodes Scholar and professional wrestler turned naval officer, who enjoys poetry and needlepoint at sea, and deer hunting and rock climbing on land.

Ensign Leslie Mather, a promising junior officer and ship’s cook, whose fondest childhood memories include escaping an abusive father by hiding out at the Bronx Zoo; placed in charge of penguin maintenance operations for this particular mission.

Senator Step Watercress, a freshman Senator from the legendary Watercress political dynasty, and member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Medical Research.

The Rebels

Joe Sondow, a brilliant young journalist and animal-rights activist, whose affection for other species dates back to a loving childhood filled with stray kittens and an eccentric pet parrot. Sondow is prepared to take any and all steps necessary to protect the last wild penguins, even if it means risking death in the process.

Dr. Toby Glass, the veterinary researcher who stumbled upon Penacea by accidentally splattering penguin blood on a troubling spot of melanoma brought on by overexposure to the Antarctic sun. When the tiny tumor disappeared within hours, Glass began the formal research that led to the cancer cure. Glass stood to make millions after patenting Penacea as a drug, but instead opted to contribute all profits to the creation of an Antarctic wildlife refuge that has remained bogged down in red tape.

Angel Inglesias, graduate assistant (and lover) to Dr. Toby Glass, who plans to use this research experience as the basis of a dissertation in serology.

Dr. Kim Snow, drug-addict-turned-research- scientist, who hopes to manage the Antarctic Wildlife Refuge envisioned by Dr. Glass.

Andy Stark, a wild-eyed and dramatic iconoclast turned ecoterrorist, who fantasizes about becoming a celebrity by committing a violent act of “retribution against the system.”

Further Developments
OK, you’ve chosen a character. You’ve thought about the attitudes they hold, the things that are important to them, their temperament, etc. And you’ve tried to imagine how you — as the character — would handle the Escape of the Penguins scenario. Now we’ll throw you a little curve. Here’s the most recent status of the conflict. How will your character handle it?
While returning to Penguin Station via a deliberate detour, the Rebels encounter a startling discovery: a toxic waste dump left by an early Antarctic expedition. Examination of the available evidence makes it clear that the penguins have been feeding off the local fish, and strongly suggests that the toxic effects of this process are directly implicated in the production of Penacea in their bloodstream. The unexpected discovery could lead to the production of Penacea in captive penguins, but it may also lead to intensified efforts to track down and capture the last Antarctic penguins — not to mention creating a distorted public perception that environmental pollution can actually be beneficial. At the same time, Project Penguin forces have arrived at the remains of Penguin Station with a compromise offer and an ultimatum: show them the way to the penguin refuge and only a handful of animals will be transported for medical research. Otherwise, the Rebels will be arrested for treason and the penguins will relentlessly be hunted down, even if that means bringing in a battalion of marines to do it. How would you respond to this dilemma if you were the character or characters you've chosen?

Think you know now if you’re a Rebel at heart or a defender of the Establishment? Maybe it’s not so simple. This was just one possible future. You might respond differently under other circumstances.

This article copyright © 2016 by Alpha Cygni, Inc. and Keith Harary. All rights reserved.