“Okay, I’m going to need to know as much as I can.” He brushed a hand through his hair once again, this time speaking in a calmer tone, “Why this android? Grimrok has been selling SHIAM to corporations for several years now. Hell, the rich and famous are even beginning to buy them. It would have been a lot easier to go after one of those, one that wasn’t in a high security building, although the security didn’t seem to be much of a problem for whoever took it. So, what’s so special about the SHIAM that was taken?”

“Derek - that is his name - was a prototype for a new generation of SHIAM.”

“New generation,” Zak repeated. “New, how?”

Dr. Rose hesitated and then asked, “How much do you know about SHIAM technology?”

“Not much,” he admitted. “What I’ve read on News Net or seen on the comm. Some fancy bit of programming combined with hi-tech materials. You look real, act real, and I assume you are one of the new models that can also mimic emotions because of some gadget called SPERM.”

“Hmm,” Dr. Rose responded in what Zak interpreted as a show of being unimpressed.  “We, Jonas and I, and most of the SHIAM currently on active duty, are fourth generation units. Some of the others are third and even second generation. Our skeletal frames, from one generation to the next, are not that different. Grimrok Corporation developed the special bio-plastic used for the skeletal structure twenty-five years ago and it has remained unchanged for the most part. DermoSynth is a biosynthetic epidermis product that has been developed much more recently. The product actually emulates both the epidermis and dermis layers of Human skin. It was first introduced on third generation SHIAM.”

“DermoSynth is quite realistic,” Jonas suddenly broke in. He leaned forward in his seat, obviously anxious to participate. “It is now widely used on Human patients requiring skin grafts. Did you know that, Mr. Harris?”

“Thank you, Jonas,” Dr. Rose said patiently before continuing. “Derek is fifth generation. We have been able to improve considerably upon the thermosetting polymers used in his bio-plastic frame. Derek’s skeletal structure is much stronger on a molecular level. We have also made significant advancements in our nanotechnology, which has allowed us to develop a new generation DermoSynth. It is now more durable and performs cellular repairs much more efficiently than before.

“Okay, so he’s more durable and has better skin,” Zak said. He found Dr. Rose’s enthusiasm annoying. She reminded him of a proud mother talking about her exceptionally gifted son. Except that she could never be a proud mother.

“Derek is very special in other ways, as well!” she insisted. “As you may know, fourth generation SHIAM run on an internal power supply that requires a minimum of six hours recharging for every thirty hours of activity. Unlike Humans, who can choose to go without nourishment or sleep for extended periods of time, we have no choice but to completely shut down and recharge. We also need to stay within access of the public power grid or travel with a mobile solar unit. Derek no longer has these restrictions.”

“And why’s that?”

“Derek’s regenerative system has been completely modified to mimic the Human digestive system and sleep cycle. We have developed the technology that allows Derek’s digestive system to break down the food he eats into molecules that can then be transformed into fuel for his energy supply system. We have also developed a sleep cycle that supplements...”

“Hang on,” Zak said raising his hand to quiet her. “I thought your kind already had the ability to eat and drink?”

“Fourth generation SHIAM do, in fact, have the ability to consume food and beverages, but without any regenerative benefits. We were given the ability to simulate eating and drinking in order to better fit in at social functions when the need arose.”

“And what...Derek not only fits in at the party, but he also has to use the toilet at the end of the night?”

Dr. Rose studied Zak for a long moment before continuing. Judging by the distasteful look on her face, his sarcasm had not been lost to her. “Derek’s physical structure has been re-engineered to provide improved regenerative and refueling capabilities.”