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Chapter 2
Alternate Technology

The Tall and The Short Of It

by LAURIE NEIDERGAARDEN, Alternate Reality News Service Medical Writer

After Arnold Tsing-Tao lost his legs when the Strategic Defense Initiative mistook his hang gliding form for an incoming Cruise missile, he did what any normal person would do: sued Halliburton, the private company that runs the SDI. Then, he asked his doctor to apply the surgical nanobots programmed with his DNA to regrow his legs.

Only, this time, the nanobots, which have helped millions regrow lost limbs in the last decade, made him grow seal flippers instead.

"Well, that's awkward," Tsing-Tao dryly commented. "Looks like my lawyer will be taking on some extra temps to deal with this."

According to representatives of Chairman Mao's Little Red Hospital, the medical nanobots had been reprogrammed with seal DNA. One person who works at the hospital, but asked not to be identified out of fear of a confrontation with Arnold Tsing-Tao's lawyer, commented: "The flippers looked cute, in a Frankenstein run amok kind of way?"

Since people try to hide their non-human mutations with heavy makeup, bulky clothes and threats of getting Arnold Tsing-Tao's lawyer to sue you if you so much as breath a word of this to anybody, it's hard to tell just how widespread tampering with regeneration nanobot is. However, anecdotal evidence of everything from missing arms being replaced by tree trunks in Toronto (should those people be vaccinated for Dutch Elm disease, and, if so, will OHIP cover it?) to elephant trunks growing where noses should be in Mumbai (and the resulting confusion about whether or not to consider such people sacred) suggests that the problem is getting worse.

Sources within the office of the President have suggested that people remain calm. Sources within the department of Homeland Defense, on the other hand, argued that reprogramming regeneration nanobots is a form of terrorism, and people should take every opportunity to panic. Granted, Homeland Defense has been getting a little hysterical lately, in the last week alone labeling everything from an outbreak of Chicken Pox in Montana to the renewal of Southpark for a 67th season as the work of terrorists. However, this time it may have a point.

"This is clearly an attack on the Egalitarianism Matrix," Secretary of Homeland Defense Pauly Shore stated.

[Obviousness Warning: the following paragraphs contain information everybody in this society knows. We only include it in this news report in order to...well...we're not really sure what, but we're sure it's important.]

"The Egalitarianism Matrix, first developed by social scientist and Dora the Explorer memorabilia entrepreneur Max Egalitarian, suggests that the best way to remove prejudice from society is to boil bodies down to three basic types: Cary, Russell and Arnold for males and Marilyn, Gwyneth and Demi for females. Each of these could be developed in one of three colours: coral white, canary yellow or coffee brown. Thus, all of humanity would fit into 18 fundamental physical forms.

"The EM was first imposed on the avatars of virtual worlds on the Internet. In truth, it wasn't much of an imposition, since the number of body types online had already been severely limited by the imaginations of game designers and the desires of people who spent a lot of time there. The original EM consisted of 22 different types, but this number was found to be confusing to a lot of people, so, in the interest of not getting too up people's noses, it was reduced to 18.

?When body modification using nanotechnology became possible in the real world, governments thought that, by imposing the EM on their populations, they could duplicate the success they had with it online. Here, again, though, the imposition wasn't great. Most people were thrilled to have their imperfect real bodies reflect their ideal virtual bodies. Plato would have wept (if he wasn't too busy eating Nachos)." [Wiwipedia]

[/Obviousness]

Both online and in the real world (however defined), there has always been a small but significant minority of people who refused to conform to the Egalitarian Matrix. They don't have a name, so we will call them "The Outcasts." The Outcasts - no, The Others sounds cooler, let's go with that - The Others rejected nanotechnology, preferring to live with their natural bodies, warts and all. Literally.

Arturo Sonnenschein, North African leader of The Others, commented: "We're not a movement. We don't have any leaders. Speaking for myself, I don't think any of us know enough about nanobot technology to do this. I certainly don't. Completely oblivious. I would guess that Feeblish Industries has somehow allowed their nanobots to become contaminated with the DNA of animals."

"That's a lie!" Ned Feeblish, President of Feeblish Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of MultiNatCorp, blared (literally, as his lips had somehow morphed into a megaphone). "The workers in our Uttar Pradesh contained programming facility have had the best training anybody could possibly get in a week?end. Nobody in our company could possibly be responsible for this!"

White House spokesweasel Dana Perino assured Americans that the government was doing everything in its power to find out who was responsible for the contaminated nanobots and punish them to the fullest extent outside of the law. But, what, she was asked, should you do in the meantime if you find your limbs have turned into flippers?

"Have a nice swim," Perino chirped.

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