Each new generation was made an apprentice to the previous generation and one of Shay’s new apprentices happened to be my roommate, Noah Ball. A thin, lightweight, stereotypically stiff androne constructed by the surrogates to resemble the epitomic ideal of non-intrusiveness. By the time graduation rolled around our classmates had voted Noah as ‘most likely to work for Little Brother’. Big Brother didn’t pay as well – besides, it was a corporation that actually pulled the strings at the academy.
Noah wasn’t that popular, but his hawkish features were generally seen standing over a small group of two or three younger andrones. When I say standing over I mean by a few inches, generally we were all the same height – five feet ten inches – not so tall as to be threatening, but tall enough to seem capable.
Other andrones would flock to Noah primarily for the sake of wanting to know what it was like to be an apprentice of Shay’s. When asked what Shay did, Noah eventually resigned to reiterating the same glossy eyed narrative approximating the unpredictable and irresponsible antics of Shay. As a result, I was able to befriend a roommate who otherwise seemed so alone with people.
The obsessive and single-minded focus of Noah’s concentration on academic telemetrics was made all the more noticeable by it being the polar opposite of Shay’s erratic diversions. Telemetrics is a term used for the sake of simplicity – it’s easier to say than ‘bio-computational-tele-interfacing’. A global data network exists, omnisciently, for the conveying of information, thus – andrones tie it all together in a kind of ‘symbiomechanics’. We andrones can, subsequently, be in such demand because of our capacity to read and understand the essence of the programming code. Not only are we capable of doing this on a computer network, but also whenever we interact with computerized appliances in general.
Implanted in utero, and then enduring twenty years of intensive tutoring, telemetric instruments are as natural to an androne as are the pigmented fingers on your natural-born hand. Whenever a first, or second-generation androne connects to a telepath, coded signals are felt along the skull, and then processed through implanted dynamic clamps – ‘nodes’ which translate the neural signal to and from the brain. Unlike neurotrophic electrodes, our dynamic clamps were a two way feed. The occipital lobe transformed the data into visual imagery drawn upon the memories of those intensive kinetic training exercises that Shay had a thing about disrupting.
Chromosome 22q11.2 enhancements allowed us the spatial skills to visualize our work with a greater clarity than what was natural. Computer enhanced telesensory perception was our employable skill, but it was also our social doom, so the contrasting lip service provided by Shay captured our admiration, and yet, what our surrogates failed to realize was that Noah’s lack of admiration (for Shay) was a growing rift between the apprentice and his mentor.
Shay’s dormitory, accessible to anyone brave enough to risk being the brunt of a practical joke, was located inside the Beltane Assembly, which lay on the pathway to Noah’s classes. Wedged between security and administration, the assembly building housed the senior mentors and overhung the walkway like a dark, brooding, and malevolent burden – effectively making Shay’s practical jokes seem even more heroic. Nevertheless, I was thankful that the overhang didn’t include any windows for Shay to drop anything onto unwary passersby. Noah’s stiff shoulders seemed to grow heavier each time he passed underneath that dark imperious building – home of his mentor. A change that took place so gradually nobody seemed to notice. The red architecture was such a domineering eyesore compared to the greenery surrounding it – hybrid greenery that produced a septic chemical smell.
The plants were self-fumigating and genetically engineered to produce their own toxins to ward off bugs and fungus. Sometimes I think the plants were also made that way to ward off any prying natives that didn’t need to be there.
The very entrance to our biological beginning started with one asymmetrical ledge, which facilitated a second story walkway, which Noah also detested. The rustic brick architectural layout of the entire academy took on every androne as if we were someone’s future award winning employee, and coached us to use our telepaths during the term like an Olympic tribunal impaling us with a trillion javelins of synthetic data – blasted from corporate sponsored educational canons twelve hours a day, regimented, and methodical. There was always a schedule to follow. Yet, all of our training was done with an enthusiasm that our guardians took upon themselves by following the example of the first generation’s biological mother, Dr. Dunhill.
She was the only scientist at the time that could extract DNA from a cell without damaging the complex molecules that held together the cellular fibers – in a method so secretive that even andrones didn’t know the chemical process used to dissolve the plasma membrane. It was rumored that a micro-vacuum was used in combination with a substitute cell wall that captured the nuclei without the direct contact that normally tainted other attempts at cloning – a method she thought of while observing a robo-maid cooking a holiday turkey in an oven bag. Eventually she came to the conclusion that peddling specially trained clones would be more profitable than drawing royalties from a Nobel winning patent, something she hadn’t thought of until she saw the governmental controls that dictated the price of patented medications.
Dunhill’s academy andrones, trained and implanted from birth, were given a choice – sign a five-year corporate contract when you reach the age of eighteen and keep the implants you’re addicted too, get two more years to finish your education, or go freely about your nut-less, mindless, semi-employable, and impoverished way. I don’t have to tell you the choice we all made when coming of age.
However, not all the andrones were making the grade – especially in the first and second generation. The coursework was still so experimental. On the factory floor, our surrogate’s manufacturing technique didn’t fully mature until version 3.0.