Alyce, a young Standard in a 'modified' world, must donate her body in service to a tyrannical government upon reaching fifteen years of age.
Alyce plucked at her bootlaces, shifting uncomfortably as she sunk further down into a drab armchair. The room was painted with the color of disinfectant, a dreary monochromatic bland that prevents one’s eyes from lingering too long in one place. The décor, or lack thereof, was coordinated too methodically to be pleasing; generic informational screens declaring the importance of regular mech suit maintenance and advertisements for chip cleaning and laser skin grafting were placed equidistant from each other on the dingy walls. When inspected, the waxy plant in the corner proved to be only a holographic image—too uninteresting for real physical presence.
“For God’s sake, Alyce, sit up straight. You look so… fleshy.”Alyce’s tutor, Wox, lifted a finger to the frame of her mech glasses and paused from her episode of The Daily Racket long enough to raise a disapproving eyebrow—that is, if she had eyebrows—most of her face had been so meticulously pinched, cut, and grafted that such features were rendered unrecognizable. She turned to the pink-haired woman seated next to her and offered an apologetic look that said, She’s not programmed yet. You know how they can be. The woman answered with an all-knowing smile and nudged her own pupil, a dark-haired boy restlessly pulling at the starched collar of his shirt. Standards, huh? Remember that age?
You could always spot a Standard: last season fashions in disarray, feeble limbs fumbling like a newborn calf, always coming down with a cold or some other unpleasant sickness. In comparison to the sleek-bodied, fully upgraded Mod, a Standard was dull, weak, and unbearably common. Most didn’t even wait the recommended fifteen developmental years to receive their first programming, which could sometimes lead to nasty defects and repeat debugging and repair later on—but Alyce couldn’t imagine enduring the diseased life of the unprogrammed and ignoring the Installation. Anyway, it was against the law to remain a gawky and graceless Standard.