Project Genesis was Director Abigail Fontaine's brainchild. After riots and war had broken out a hundred years ago, destroying almost all of their written historical and scientific records, the country had experienced an unprecedented setback. Of course, the knowledge their living citizens still harbored and clung to allowed them to continue on. But their history was gone, scientific and societal, all the past mistakes and triumphs that had gotten them to where they were today, was forever lost.

People scrambled frantically to re-record everything they knew, but key pieces were still missing. Then, roughly forty years ago, Director Fontaine approached the government with a proposition. What if they were to recreate history—so to speak? Using the criminals still left from the war and their few descendants, as well as any criminals who had been imprisoned over the years, they could create artificial environments where these vagabonds could be "released" to start from scratch, to set up their own society. Unbeknown to them, she and her team would film them, their achievements and failures, and record it as a means of trying to fill in the gaps of history and social construction.

The government, which had been trying to figure out what to with over-crowded prisons, readily agreed to the idea under one condition. The project would have to be kept secret until such a time was reached when it would be appropriate to release its existence. Director Fontaine would be provided scientists, researchers, workers and be allowed to run the project at her own discretion with periodical reports back to the government. And so Project Genesis was born as human history started again from the beginning.

Tela was a second generation Guardian, an elite group of protectors who were responsible for the lives of researchers who had to go into the Divisions as well as the lives of the subjects when genetic experiments ran amok. The Guardians weren't founded until the project had been running for about twenty years, after several researchers had been killed when subjects had felt threatened by their foreignness and when genetic testing was first introduced. Her mother had been among the first protectors, but had retired years ago after she had nearly lost her life on an assignment.

"So what is the protocol when Director Fontaine gives the orders to exterminate the wolves?" asked Martin as he and Tela followed Rome up a tight spiral staircase. Fontaine was something of a hermit, only emerging when a real crisis was in motion. She preferred to keep her office at the very top of the Project Genesis Headquarters, working on the Project, which was the only thing that truly mattered to her.

"Depending on the situation, a number of Guardians will be chosen to be deployed to the Division. First, we'll look at all the available tapes, like the one we were just watching, to get as much information about the problem as we can and come up with a plan," explained Tela. "We usually spend a day or two devising a plan."

"Although, we might get a little less time for this one considering the pace at which it is progressing," said Rome.

Martin didn't seem to hear him as he peered over the railing, his eyes widening.

"Wow," he said softly, taking in the breadth of Headquarters that spiraled out below them in a dizzying plunge.

"Let's go, Rookie," said Tela, grabbing his arm and tugging him upward. "The first rule of being a Guardian is never stop to gawk. Because that's usually the last thing you'll ever do."

Martin swallowed and nodded, continuing to follow them up towards the glass ceiling that was taking on a rosy hue as the sun continued to climb in the sky.

"How much further is it?" he puffed after several more flights of twisting stairs.

"Almost there," said Rome.

"And never take the elevator," warned Tela. "Unless it's an extreme emergency, Guardians always take the stairs."

The stairs finally leveled off just below the ceiling, turning down a dim hallway where a single wooden door lay closed at the end. The thick carpeting dulled their footsteps as they walked towards it. Rome knocked once and barely had time to knock again before someone said, "Come in."

Director Fontaine was seated at her desk, typing rapidly away at a keyboard. She glanced up over her glasses at the three of them as they filed in.

"Ah, good, you're here," she said.

Though she was nearly seventy years old, Fontaine still had the look and energy of a much younger woman. What she lacked in size, she made up for in intelligence and the ability to take charge, something an experiment of this scale needed in order to run smoothly. Although the stress of the job surely should have been wearing her down, Fontaine seemed prepared to run Project Genesis until her death, which would not be for another forty or fifty years save some freak accident.

She swiveled in her chair to face them head on.

"I'm sure you already know why you are here," she began. "But it appears we have a minor problem in Division Two with—" She glanced over at her computer quickly, "—genetically modified wolves, which Stan feels has the potential to threaten the population."

"Stan told me of his worries early this morning," clarified Tela.

Fontaine smiled shrewdly. A few wrinkles bloomed around her blue eyes.

"Yes, he told me that as well. He also seemed to be under the impression that you did not share his concerns," she said. "However, after indulging his many attempts to address me directly about this problem, I feel that he may have a point. The wolves are more of a side project of a young and overly enthusiastic geneticist whereas the population of Division Two is more of a concern. The animals may be eliminated without significant consequences to research."

"If I may ask for planning purposes," said Rome, "What was the original purpose of the wolves?"

"I believe the geneticist was trying to accomplish two things. The idea he pitched to me was to see how the villagers would deal with a species that was more intelligent than them, yet not their own. He said he wanted to see how they would attempt to overcome a threat they could not reason with. However, I believe his true aim was to see what would happen if he tampered with certain intelligence genes in animals. I shall have to have a talk with him."

Surprise, surprise, thought Tela. Maybe she should tell him that next time he fools around he can clean up the mess.

"Now," she said briskly, making to stand up and rifling through a folder of papers. "I know that normally you have a few days to prepare, but I want this dealt with quickly. There are other much more important things to be done, and so, I would like you to leave tonight."

"Tonight?" asked Tela, before she could stop herself. "Forgive me, Director Fontaine, but that doesn't leave us much time to form a plan."

"I'm sure you'll be able to manage," said Fontaine, a slight edge to her voice. She handed out a sheet of paper to both Rome and Tela. "You'll be taking Miles and Olivia with you. I have already sent them their instructions. Rome will be in charge of the assignment."

Tela gritted her teeth, but didn't say anything. Rome was always in charge.

"And I want you to take the new recruit with you," she said, nodding in Martin's direction.

His eyes widened in surprise, but he didn't say anything.

"Wouldn't a less dangerous assignment be better for initiation?" ventured Tela, trying not to seem disrespectful twice in a row. If she was being honest with herself, she didn't really care about the danger involved in the assignment, babysitting just wasn't her thing.

Fontaine narrowed her eyes and Tela realized she had gone too far. Fontaine was fair, but when it came to Project Genesis, there was a limit to how far you could question her decisions.

"He will go with you," she said clearly. "And you will be personally responsible for his training. I expect a progress report on my desk the morning after you return."

"Yes ma'am," said Tela, bowing her head slightly.

Fontaine turned to Rome. "Do you have any more questions?"

Rome shook his head. "We will be ready to leave tonight."

"Excellent, you are dismissed."

The three left the office and began the journey back down the stairs. After they had put several floors in between them and Fontaine, Rome spoke up.

"Do you ever know when to hold your tongue?" he asked Tela.

"You're saying you agreeing with her in throwing him to the wolves?" she asked, jerking her chin towards Martin. "Pun intended," she added.

"Not necessarily," said Rome. "But don't tell me if roles were switched you would want an easier assignment."

Tela glared at him, realizing he was right. She wouldn't have settled for an easier assignment just because she was new. She would have wanted to prove herself.

"Why don't you ask him?" interjected Martin behind them.

Rome and Tela paused on the stairs to look over their shoulders. Martin straightened his shoulders and tried to stare confidently back at them. Rome smiled slightly for the first time all day.

"He has a point," said Rome.

Tela sighed. "It doesn't matter. Fontaine gave the orders, so he comes." She started down the stairs again.

"What did I do to annoy her?" whispered Martin over the sound of their boots on the stairs.

Rome chuckled slightly. "I ask myself that every day."