Alex had been human his whole life, so he had been told. From birth he had been hidden away and even now at the age of thirteen his world was a cage. He knew every nook of the cavern sunk deep beneath the capital city of the Conglomeration. He had resorted to spending hours at a time wandering the rough-hewn halls blindfolded to experience something new. It was slowly but surely killing him.
He broke into a run, frustration fueling his speed as he blindly fled through the echoing chambers. He screamed as he ran until his voice cracked and tears began to soak the cloth blindfold. He had begun to slow his speed when he crashed into someone and both went flying to the stone floor. Gasping for breath, Alex tore the blindfold away and tried to yell at the offending obstruction, “Didn't you see me?” He struggled to his feet and stood massaging his bruised ego. “Good friend you are.”
The friend in question chortled in response as he, or “it” in this case, brushed its metal body of offending dust, “I was caught in a bit of a day dream I am afraid.” The lanky android turned and shuffled towards a nearby stairway, “You have been called for by the Subversives. Best not be tardy.”
Alex rolled his eyes and groaned. He detested these meetings. “So soon? I was just there yesterday,” he complained even as his feet followed the android up the stairs. The inspections had recently increased in regularity and he was tired of the prodding and measuring. The worst was the scrutiny. The Order’s leaders would gather around him and just look at him for agonizing minutes as if they were judging him outside and in and comparing what they saw to their data banks.
The android merely shrugged and led the way through a narrow hallway that cut deep into the mountainside. They passed the sealed genetic chamber, wisps of coolant leaking from vents in the wall. Alex paused before the chamber’s entrance, just as he did every time he passed this way. He had never seen what was held inside but had been told this was the place of his beginning. Before this chamber, he had not been, and all Alex could picture was being assembled by android scientists on a cold sterile metal table. From time to time he had pushed to know more of his entry to this world but had always come against silence from the Subversives.
Alex sighed and turned to catch up to his companion. The questions that he had had from a young age regarding the differences between him and the androids that inhabited the planet had faded from his mind. It had become normal to be the only one of his kind and there were no emotional attachments to the differences anymore. Without other humans to base his ideas on, he had only the option to believe what he was told about himself and his kind. There were still times late at night when he couldn’t sleep when a feeling of detachment from something more would come over him. It was a feeling that some part of him existed apart from his physical body. Like after an amputation, the ghost of an “appendage” could be felt in the far reaches of his consciousness.
His friend finally stopped before a large door and held it open for Alex to pass into the assembly chamber. The entire Order was there today, a first in Alex’s experience. He shot a quick glance to the android behind him but was only met with a shake of the head and a tight-lipped smile. He took his normal seat at the long table and waited for the Subversives to speak.
The android in the seat of the speaker shifted in his chair, “Human, you are called to us to know. To know that you may become aware of your purpose and pursue it.” The shining metal fingers interlocked on the table and the speaker cut off Alex’s question with a glare. Human, you have often wondered what lay behind the doors of the genetic chambers, this we know well. You were born in that place.” Frowning at Alex’s nod of understanding the android continued, “You were not assembled. Though the concept is out of your understanding, your parents, a full grown human male and a female, are held in a stable but inanimate state to preserve the option to replace you if the need ever arises.”
Alex sunk down into his seat, his mind throbbing with the information. He was not the only one of his kind? His attention was arrested by the next statement from the far side of the table as the Speaker intoned, “Now is the time, though we had wished to wait years more, to proclaim your existence to the Conglomerate.”
Alex froze. Thoughts and emotions howled in his mind. He slowly realized reached through the overwhelming fear and confusion and latched onto a thought. He would be leaving the caverns. The assembled Subversives were surprised at the wide grin that slowly stretched their human’s face.