"Prior art" is just a fancy term for "too slow lawyering up"

They used to send a legal ultimatum before it happened. Now you just wake up one day and everything green is dead, because the plants are biotech and counter-hacking is a legal response to intellectual property theft, even if the genes in question are older than the country that granted the patent.

My daughter isn't looking at the rotting remains of her flower garden. Her eyes are locked into mine, with the intensity of a child too young not to take the world seriously. Are we going to jail?

No, I say, and smile. They only go personally after the big ones; for small people like us this destruction suffices.

She nods. Am I going to die?

I kneel and hug her. No, of course not, I say, with every bit of certainty I can muster. There's nothing patented in you, I want to add, but she's old enough to know that'd be a lie.

I feel her chest move and I realize she had been holding her breath. We stay together, just breathing. The air is filled with legal pathogens looking for illegal things to kill.

.finis.