Jerry found Tectronix via an unexpected source: The Authority’s website. It looked like a good skill-building game that would improve his coordination quickly. He was sick of being beaten by his friends all the time. It downloaded in a minute.

After the Terms and Conditions and Install dialogue boxes, he had the choice of One Player or Two Player. He wondered how the game would work with two players so clicked that first, but then changed his mind and decided to go back to the Menu. The menu was inaccessible though. He was stuck on the Two Player screen.

He had a bright idea. Why not improve both hands’ skills together? There were two remote controls. He could be Player One and Player Two. He was naturally left-handed, but competent with both hands, so would be a good match for himself.

Tectronix was a variation of the classic multi-coloured, block-building game. Blocks advance steadily towards you, and your job is to spin them around until they are in the right position and orientation to slot into a wall. As more blocks fall into place, your wall’s layers become complete.

The Two Player game had blocks coming from both sides. Player One was on the left hand side, and sent red blocks out, heading right. Player Two was on the right hand side, and sent blue blocks to the left. The objective of both was to take control of the blocks heading towards them and use them to build their wall. It was also to launch blocks in tricky ways to destroy their opponent’s wall.

Jerry’s left hand was Player One, playing from the left. His right hand was Player Two, playing from the right. It seemed natural enough.

Player One was good at launching his red blocks, but not skilled at targeting Player Two’s weak points; he quickly caught blue blocks coming towards him, but was poor at orienting them correctly to build his wall. This resulted in a weak wall whose chunks fell away. He was fast but clumsy.

Player Two was slower than Player One. It took him a while to launch his blue blocks, but he targeted them precisely at the opposing wall’s gaps; he missed many red blocks coming towards him, but the ones he caught were carefully turned and fitted into his wall. Player Two was slow but precise.

Player One’s speed won the first level. For the second level, plain blocks were replaced by lego blocks, requiring more attention. Because of their Nobbys, they only fitted together in certain ways. You needed to play more carefully, but once again Player One’s speed carried the day. He smashed Player Two’s wall completely. It seemed that speed always beat care.

The third level had fancy tiles used to build a floor. It was a closer game, but again Player One won, cracking and then smashing Player Two’s tiles to smithereens.

The fourth level featured teeth, used to build up a mouth. Each player had thirty-two teeth, divided into incisors, molars, and pre-molars, which you positioned well to chew. Player Two came into his own here. He lost a few teeth but new ones were placed firmly. Player One’s reckless handling caused most of his teeth to be lost.

The fifth level was bones. Two hundred and six of them. Player One built up his skeleton with care, having good joints, orientation, and rotation. It was resilient enough to take a few hits and not get damaged. Player One’s skeleton was hastily assembled and fell apart quickly.

The sixth level was cells, to be assembled into flesh and organs. Once more Player Two’s care was rewarded. He had a hale and hearty body in rude health. Player One looked somewhat like Frankenstein’s monster.

The seventh level dealt with the brain. Neurons require networking and firing simultaneously. Player One kept rushing things, and creating crazy sparks. Player Two built vital connections and engaged in structured thought.

Player Two’s brain was complete and more stable than that of Player One. Player Two launched a cold, calculated attack on Player One and was triumphant. Jerry’s character was set for good now. His introverted personality. His mean streak. His goals.

The Authority’s Tectronix programme was successful in its purpose. It had created one more right-handed, heartless bureaucrat for the system.


2 Responses to “Tectronix”

  1. I love your last lines. I always think I know where you’re going to go, and then BAM, the world is ending. Damn. You’re good.

    • javedbabar Says:

      Thank you. Life is full of surprises, and I am often surprised at my own lack of insight in situations, so its good to throw in something unexpected!

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