Ms. Bell was well aware that Suzy and Jeff were not paying as much attention to the class discussion as the rest of the thirteen year-olds she was in charge of. She decided not to notice, after all, it wasn't their fault. All the teachers felt guilty that two of the school's brightest prospects would never achieve their potential. It was the school's fault that they couldn't access The Cloud, so would be sidelined in society for ever.
This was one of the lessons that the teacher always thought went down well, the discussion about how and why the current global community was founded. It had its roots in The Internet of the 1990s, and the replacement that was gradually introduced from the middle of the twenty-first century. This replacement was The Cloud.
The key to The Cloud was the Biocyber implant. This allowed all the information from the global networks to be directed straight into the user's brain. It was soon fitted free to everybody in the world. By the age of five, most children had mastered being able to search for content just by thinking about it.
Users could communicate with each other just by thinking, although this was discouraged in school as it was still policy to practise verbal communication. It also meant that the few students who hadn't mastered the mental communication would not be left behind.
The discussion had turned to the New Age of Rationalism, when the first update of the implant had been introduced. The biggest problem with The Cloud was that when your mind wandered, you could recall all sorts of nonsense. The new implant was able to influence the levels of chemicals the in the brain, reducing the tendency to be distracted, and eventually minimising imagination, this in turn led to an effort to minimise all emotions.
From a rational viewpoint, world leaders could see that human greed and selfishness were not only adversely affecting society, but were on the brink of an environmental point of no-return. Massive investments were made in sustainable housing, mass transit and both fusion and renewable power.
Unhindered by emotion the whole world started to work together and the rate of scientific advancement increased exponentially.
"So what were the causes of most of the wars?" The teacher asked.
"Resources. Everybody wanted more land and more stuff like oil."
"Excellent Enrique. Anybody else?"
"Freedom. People wanted to govern themselves or stop being oppressed, so would fight against their oppressors."
"Yes, that is a good answer Adriana, but isn't that really the same as resources. The people were resources being exploited."
"How can people be resources?"
"When we cover slavery next term, you will see how through history some people felt they had the right to make other people do all their work for them without paying them. Anybody else?"
"Charlie, can you explain what you mean?"
"Well, in the past, people invented stories about how the world worked and why it was there. They invented people called gods who they said controlled the world, and you had to follow sets of rituals in order to get favour with them. People disagreed about what god was right, so they fought wars about it."
"Good, that's another big one."
"So people invented their own imaginary people then thought wars over which one was the best?"
"Yes Morgan, they did. Even more strange, many times it was the same 'god' they just disagreed about that rituals they used to talk to them."
"It may seem so to us, but remember, these were primitive times."
"Miss, how do you know that gods do not exist?" Jeff had chimed up from the back of the class.
The teacher took a few moments to think about the question. Questions from Suzy and Jeff could be confusing for her and the rest of the class; after all, they didn't have the luxury of working implants.
"Because we live in an age of reason, we know they were made up. Science explains the actions that people used to attribute to gods."
"But have you proved they do not exist?"
"You don't need to prove that they don't exist."
"But didn't you say that the way science works is that a theory is treated as valid until it is disproved. If you haven't disproved the existence of gods, then the theory that they exist must be valid."
"You're not a believer, are you Jeff?" The Teacher was nervous.
"No, I think these gods were made up, but until you can prove it one way or the other, I think I'll not commit."
"So you are an agnostic, good for you. Will you be offended if we don't convert to your beliefs?" This was greeted by a vague titter of amusement by the class and a nod of agreement from the boy at the back. Being just in their teens, the students were not given the full effect of the emotion blocking chemicals. In an attempt to engage with the students, the teachers, likewise had a limited, but existent, range of emotions.
Ms. Bell was relived; interactions with Jeff and Suzy had the potential to derail the whole class. Only part of it was that she knew both children were much more intelligent than she was. It wasn't putting herself down, she, like all adults bred to be educators were highly intelligent, but these two had been bred to great leaders. Genetically, Suzy would have been destined for high government, even World Leader. Jeff was bound to end up as one of the leading scientists at one of the Great Universities; it wasn't out of the question that he would end up in charge of the Lunar Research Base, the first British born person to hold the office in four generations.
Then the accident happened. The two children were partnered together investigating electric fields between two conducting plates. It wasn't the student's fault. It wasn't the teacher's fault, although he had felt responsible for them, as they were in his classroom. There was a fault in the high tension power supply unit that they were using, and when they turned it up to maximum power, electricity arced from the supply to the closest things it could find, these happened to be the students' heads.
If they believed in miracles, the doctors would have described the pair's survival as miraculous. The implants took the brunt of the electricity and were totally destroyed. Experts stated they couldn't be repaired and could not be removed. The latest version of the implant, the one that had now been around for one hundred and seventy-five years was designed to be inserted at birth and to grow with its host. It was impossible to implant a new one, so the children were left cut off from The Cloud.
This was worrying for everybody. The last man to cut himself off from The Cloud was the man who called himself The Last Artist. He had a fault in his implant that allowed him to call on his imagination and emotions. In his head, he was able to call up the works of every artist who had ever existed. He could see colours and textures and emotions that nobody else could understand. He painted with a passion not seen for centuries, creating masterpieces that rivalled any in history. He created for an audience that was not capable of appreciating him, paintings that demanded an emotional response from people unable to emote.
His one last act was to shut himself away from the rest of The Cloud, to great images just from his own mind. After travelling the world, he locked himself up deep underground in a nuclear bomb shelter to work; only his associates on the outside could open up the shelter. Three months later, they came looking for him, and found The Last Artist dead, he had hung himself, unable to cope without the twenty billion voices in his head from The Cloud. Without the reassurance of that he wasn't alone and was appreciated, he quickly went mad and took his own life.
The concerns were that this would happen to the children, but they seemed to cope remarkably well. Unable to access The Cloud meant that they would never be accepted into employment, except for manual labour which they were not genetically suited for. Still, they had to be given an education; after all, they were genetically entitled to it.
It was credit to the children, with distractions like imagination and emotions, that they were able to contribute in class at all. They had been given a number of what a technician had called Computers, constructed from sets of parts kept in the Great Store, most of which dated back to the twenty-first century. While it was slower than the implant, had no mind control and couldn't store a fraction of the information of its smaller counterpart, it allowed them some degree of access to The Cloud. The children had learnt to use a keyboard and mouse to input information; they were fascinated by the whole tactile experience of it.
But there was an elephant in the room. One that they didn't seem to care about, but the staff did. What was their future? It was certain that they would go into the breeding program, that was obvious, but then what?
One of the biggest problems the world had faced was overpopulation, and the emotional backlash to anybody who tried to get a handle on it. With the implant controlling emotions, the concepts of love and attraction were out of date. Reproduction came under the eyes of the rationalists, who saw that two things were important. The first was not increasing the population, but also they needed to create babies that were genetically suited to the roles they were needed for.
Embryos were created from eggs and sperm extracted from suitable candidates. These were frozen in banks of future citizens, all genetically strong, yet still from a large gene-pool. When a citizen dies, an embryo is implanted into a surrogate mother, one of the most respected vocations in the society. The babies were raised in nurseries, the cohorts of children that would be kept together in schools and dormitories until they enter the workplace.
Jeff and Suzy had to be moved out of their dormitory, it was suggested that the mixed accommodation was no longer suitable for them. Instead they were assigned a large flat, with their own rooms, computers, and an assigned Guardian, Ms. Corniche.
The adults looked at them with pity, partly pity for them in not fulfilling their potential, and partly pity for society for not being able to utilise these children. What they didn't recognise was that these two were the happiest children in the world, uniting as outsiders against a world that couldn't understand them. Both were inquisitive, energetic children who had quickly come to terms with their new situation.
They had been given access to the Great Library of St Pancras and marvelled at the feel of these old books. Jeff enjoyed reading not only science and maths texts, but old books about the history and philosophy of science. Suzy read countless biographies of past leaders from Genghis Khan to Winston Churchill, she also enjoyed looking at the photographic collections, amused about how different the world looked before the new buildings of the New-Age. They both loved reading classic novels, knowing that they would be, perhaps, the only people capable of appreciating them.
They were given access to all the music that the Library possessed. Strangely, they both became hooked on the sounds of the 1960s, although Suzy would listen to pop music from the 1950s to the 2020s. When able to avoid being teased by Jeff, she loved watching videos of what they called boy-bands.
It was after school on a Friday in April and the pair were using Jeff's computer to research a science project. It was slow work as the computer struggled to handle the complex images they wanted to use. It was then that a little message appeared on their screen.
Want to get off The Cloud? Follow me!
A cartoon animal appeared on the screen. It was blue and somewhat spiky. It was obviously meant to be a familiar animal, but neither Suzy nor Jeff could identify it. The creature curled itself into a ball and started to spin, bouncing around the screen for ten seconds before coming to rest at the bottom right corner. The creature uncurled then pointed at an icon.
Jeff clicked on the icon which opened up a box telling them what wireless networks the computer was connected to. They normally ignored the box, since The Cloud was the only network available, but there was something different here. It read OUTCASTZ. With a nod of approval from Suzy, he clicked on it.
The computer disconnected from The Cloud, and connected to this new network. The creature gave then a thumbs-up then vanished. A new message appeared.
Welcome to The Internet! Enjoy your stay. We'll talk soon.
"I thought the Internet was shut down centuries ago?" Suzy said.
"Most of it was, I think, the servers mostly went to The Cloud, but I guess some must still be going. The core was meant to survive a nuclear attack; I guess they couldn't work out how to turn it off."
A new screen popped up, it was blank except for one word and a box.
"What's a Google?" Jeff asked.
"I think it's a number isn't it?"
"Not spelt like that it isn't."
"Well, type something in."
A list of results appeared, and Jeff chose to click on the first link.
The OUTCASTZ were one of the groups of people who objected to The Cloud during the first years of its implementation. They objected to the transfer of servers from The Internet and were suspicious of more corporate influence in the online world. After a few failed attempts to disrupt The Cloud and its associated companies, the group were believed to have disbanded.
Over the next few days the pair looked up everything they could think of using The Internet. They found it novel. The Cloud only gave users the approved information, it was a long time since individual users had their own pages; it had been a long time since they had wanted to. The 'net gave a range of sources, some good, some rubbish.
They laughed at people's opinions, especially on this one site that had loads of videos. It was confusing, since it had a vast library of content, but the comments were almost always made by idiots, it was full of racism and insults about religions. They wanted to know where the site used by intelligent people was.
They went back to school on Monday not having heard any more from the blue creature, or had any other messages. They decided that it was best not to tell the teacher that they had managed to get access to The Internet.
Schoolwork put pay to more explorations of the ancient technology; however they were looking forward to the weekend to have another chance to learn more. Normally students studied seven days at week, but the pair had been given special dispensation because it was recognised that they needed to have time off to relax.
That Friday they went back to The Internet to look around, laughing at countless grammatically incorrect pictures featuring cats and chubby boys dancing at their computer desks.
Suzy was in charge of the mouse and after clicking on a seemingly innocently link, they were suddenly confronted by a page of pictures. It was only after a second or two they realised that these were pictures of a naked man and naked woman.
Suzy tried to click back, embarrassed.
"No leave it on, I want to look. No, click there." Jeff pointed at one of the pictures. When Suzy clicked on it, the photo grew larger, as did their eyes.
"What are they doing?" Jeff asked.
"It says here fucking. What's that?"
"I don't know, but it looks like they are enjoying it. Look it up on that Google thing."
She did, and the pair were amazed by the amount of results that came up, over six hundred million. Clicking on the links revealed lots more photos, a vast amount of videos and some information about a long gone village in Austria.
The photos made the pair feel funny. The videos even more so, especially below the belt. They eventually found that fucking was a slang word for sex. They then read up about sex on an encyclopaedia site. Ever inquisitive, they looked up different types and positions, all from the same site, which had drawings to explain what it was talking about.
They soon realised that they would never be able to find any of this stuff on The Cloud, in fact, anything to do with breading would probably be flagged as a banned search; they certainly didn't want the Search Police visiting them.
It was certainly addictive, every spare moment they had; they were looking up more videos and photos of 'fucking'. The liked the feelings that looking at the sites were giving them. On the Saturday night, they both retired to bed after a session looking at more photos of 'fucking'.
Jeff was well aware of the fact that his penis had grown very hard. As he lay down naked under his sheets, he wanted to touch it, touch it like he had seen the men in the videos touching themselves.
He tried wrapping his young hand around his cock, then moving it up and down, it felt good. He thought of the women in the pictures and that make him move faster. He knew his breathing was getting faster, he knew the feeling was getting better. Somewhere deep inside of him, he could feel something boiling, a new sensation, rising up through his groin, then out, unknown sensations flooding over him as he came for the first time in his life.
The next morning Jeff felt like trying it again, it look him longer starting from soft, but he soon got that same joyous feeling.
He dressed and made his way for breakfast, feeling extremely relaxed. He thought about what he had done and how it made him feel, and wondered if the other things they had found felt better. Ms. Corniche had been called to visit another building and had left them breakfast. It was soon after that the pair headed to Suzy's room to use her computer.
Having been brought up in a world where sex is unheard of, Jeff wasn't embarrassed talking to Suzy about these photos or what he had go up to the previous evening.
"I tried it last night." He said.
"Really? How did it feel?"
"Really good, I did it again this morning."
"Snap?" He asked.
"Last night I to bed and tried fingering myself. Like those girls in the videos. It was incredible. I've never felt anything like it. I tried it again this morning, it wasn't as good, but it still felt wonderful."
"Did you think about anything?"
"Yeah, I imagined I was one of those women, being fucked."
"I just though of those women."
"Was this how they reproduced in the old days?" She asked.
"Kind of, I think. Except I think that the sperm had to end up inside that woman's vagina, not on her face."
"They were primitive times."
"Looked fun though. There are so many pages about it, it must have been an important part of everybody life. I suppose that explains the overpopulation." Jeff was aware that this subject wasn't talked about in school, but he was sure, like Suzy, it was because society had moved beyond sex. "Suzy, Do you think that you could show me how you masturbate?"
"I guess so, but only if you show me too."
Jeff nodded his agreement. He had seen Suzy naked a lot. Nudity was commonplace in the dorm and at school, where the cohorts changed and showered in mixed sex groups. It was more convenient and since desires were blocked out by the implants, it was safe and entirely innocent. After the accident Jeff and Suzy had been made to use private rooms, and had been moved out of the dorm. The staff were unable to understand how their emotions would work without the implant, they were unable to understand how any strong emotions worked. Since both children had on-suite bathrooms at home, Jeff hadn't seen Suzy naked since the accident over a year ago and he was well aware that she had grown towards being a woman in that time.
Suzy smiled and reached down to the hem of her top. She had found a picture of a girl on an old website and liked the look of what she was wearing so much, she had programmed the Electrotaylor to make the whole outfit. It looked like a short dress, coming down to just below her waist. She liked that it was held up by shoulder straps, meaning that her shoulders and the top of her chest could feel the sun on them when she was out. It was brown with an embroidered design on it; she also liked how it tucked in under her breasts, accentuating them. In a swift movement, she had lifted it off revealing a flat stomach and budding A-cup breasts. She felt excited showing Jeff her assets, and seeing his intense gaze she pushed her tits together and pouted, like the women in the pictures.
She brushed her straight brown hair back over her shoulders, and looked straight into Jeff's eyes; her own small dark eyes sparkled in the light that peeked through the curtains.
She lifted her butt up slightly from the chair and pulled off her cut-off jeans, shaking them down her long slender legs. Her skin was pale and blemish free.
There had been a long standing policy of making sure that when matching up genes for girls who would enter the political track, beauty was a high priority. Even with the effects of the implant, studies still showed that people were more willing to trust a physically attractive woman. Men especially were more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and it also was easier to inspire younger girls to follow in their footsteps. The last Feature Analysis check-up Suzy had attended had computed her to be around two-hundred milihelens (a helen is the amount of beauty it takes to launch a fleet of a thousand ships.
She opened her legs slightly to reveal her snatch to Jeff. As she had been advised to do in health class she had started to shave the little downy hairs that had started to grown above it, meaning she was as smooth as the day she was born. She motioned to Jeff to join her naked.
While there was no official policy regarding the appearance of scientists, there had been a long tradition of making good-looking scientists. Jeff was following in that tradition. He had darker skin from his Semitic ancestors, along with dark hair and piecing blue eyes. His face had a rugged handsomeness to it, looking older than his years. Like Suzy he had a slim build.
He started top first, pulling off his plain orange t-shirt.
He got up from the chair and moved over to Suzy's large bed and sat at the foot of it, beckoning Suzy to sit opposite him. As she walked over, Jeff got to see the slight way her bottom wiggled as she walked; enjoying the glimpse he got of her bubble butt.
As it was an inside day, he was only wearing his loose shorts, they came off quickly to be greeted with a smile from his friend. She was confronted by her first ever live erect penis. The young boy's tool was only three inches long and rather thin, something of a letdown compared to the pictures they had seen, but she was aware he was still young. She had seen lots of adverts for enhancements and growing techniques for men, perhaps this is what those men in the pictures had used.