Even felt the hypodermic needle slide out of his arm as the doctor finished injecting the enzyme. She used medical tape to secure a cotton swab over the puncture.
“You’re almost done with your injections now,” the doctor said. She was in her early fifties –a natural born female that had stopped phasing years earlier, and, like all Intermediates, had then reverted to her apparent gender at birth. “
“There should be another patient waiting. Could you have the nurse send it down?” the doctor asked Even as he was leaving the examination room.
Even walked down the long corridor of the medical center, to where a nurse sat behind a desk, working on a computer. A boy about Even’s age sat in a chair awaiting his own enzyme shot.
“The doctor said to send him -.” Even stopped short as a scowl appeared on the nurse’s face. “I mean, the doctor said to send it down,” Even said, correcting himself, then he turned and walked back to class.
The enzyme had originally been taken in a less pure oral form derived from a combination of naturally growing herbs, which required many more doses over a greater period of time. When taken by a pre-breeder, it would activate their extra chromosomes and, after about a month, they would begin to phase genders.
In the early 20th Century, a less adulterated, injectable version had been created by some of their chemists. Even had no idea how it was made, because its formula was kept secret from ordinary members of the Syndicate. There also was no generally accepted explanation for how it was originally discovered, and its origins were the stuff of mythology.
Even crept back to his seat in the classroom, because the teacher’s lecture was already underway.
“From a strictly evolutionary stand-point, a biological analogue might be the butterfly, which some human scientists have speculated is actually two animals in one. We start with a baby caterpillar that lives a full life and then dies and dissolves during chrysalis. A new animal, the butterfly then springs to life, from the same cells, reincarnated. It’s possible that some sort of joining of chromosomes of two separate species went into creating the butterfly/caterpillar lifecycle. Similarly, at some point, our genes were combined with those of a human, creating our unique life-cycle,” the teacher was saying to the class.
“But, how did that begin?” Even heard one of his classmates ask from near the front of the room. “What did the separate organism look like that joined its chromosomes with those of a human to create us?”
“It may not have been a multi-celled organism. It may have been a sort of single-celled organism, or a virus that somehow infected human germ cells, but keep in mind, this is just a theory, and is, by no means, proven,” the teacher said. “Really, we have no definitive explanation for our origins. Perhaps…” he added with a skeptical smirk, “…our ancient ancestors were right when they told the story, later appropriated by human philosophers like Plato, of a people who were both genders that separated to create the human genders.”
As the teacher continued to speak, he walked over next to Even’s desk and looked down. After a moment, the teacher pulled the paper Even had been doodling on off the desktop, then wadded it up and threw it in the garbage can.
“Try to pay attention for once, Even. It’s a wonder you were certified to take the enzyme with your grades.”