The Zuukai are genetically engineered slaves that are grown, trained, and distributed by an organization calling itself The Factories. Their primary purpose is to be expert escorts and bodyguards. They pride themselves on being perfect, physically and in their duties, and this characteristic has strong implications concerning the laws that allow for their sale and ownership.
Zuukai have been trained and sold for over fifteen hundred years, beginning in 122 DS. The originator of the Factories was Danei Ashagah, a genetic engineer who specialized in creating mutigenic retroviruses for implanting "super-human" genes into people who could afford his fees. Using the technology to enlongate his life, he worked for decades to cover up the fact that the methods he planned to use the create the Zuukai were available to all humans. It wasn't extremely dificult, considering most genetic engineering technology had been lost during a catastrophic event called Poe's Curse. His was the one exception.
Once he began engineering and selling Zuukai, he used his resources to engender a belief that Zuukai couldn't be human because of how perfect they are. This created the century-long argument that humanity is defined by imperfections. Zuukai are perfect, so therefore they are not human.
It takes a little over five years from start to finish to get a Zuukai ready for sale. The process is an extremely well-guarded secret and is very difficult on the constructs. Around 10-20% do not survive the experience, despite the precise control on all conditions.
Zuukai are essentially clones, each one generated from material taken from a centuries-old stem-cell culture originating from the placenta of the original, engineered construct. Custom Zuukai are an exception to this, undergoing a complete genetic engineering process from scratch.
Gestation is accelerated, only taking 6 months, and is done in artificial wombs. The first 6 months of life following birth is a very precise, delicate process of initating the training/education cycle while also providing what human affections are necessary so that the constructs are not too severely emotionally and mentally damaged from the experience.
However, the high stress and lack of familial affection are also essential elements of the training. A measure of asocial disfuction is helpful with conditioning them to be dependent on the training and much less likely to deviate from it.
After that first 6 months, however, training becomes extremely accelerated. Growth does as well, as the constructs being to be given injections of a special serum that accelerates maturity by a factor of three.
This year is spent teaching human behavioral norms and languages. Each construction is taught at least five languages. It is almost entirely because of the intellectual demands of this year that every single Zuukai variant has an extremely high level of intelligence and learning ability engineered in. The strategic and quick-thinking abilities most Zuukai display were considered a welcome side-effect. The rigor of all this training, and the emotinal growth stunting, often leads to Zuukai displaying a lack of creativity, however.
When the constructs appear to be about seven years old, they are put into classes of 20 and sent to the Mansions, where they enter into the primary phase of training. This is the most stressful period of training, where most constructs that don't make it either kill themselves are killed as examples to the others. Only the most experienced and insightful trainers are allowed to oversee training during this period.
At the end of five years, they appear to be fifteen years old and can perform all their duties perfectly.
Laws Regarding ZuukaiEdit
Throughout the centuries there have been various laws made regulating the Zuukai, often to help justify their servitude and trade. During the Emergence Era this begins to shift toward emancipatory measures, however.
Humanity Order (NS 1384)Edit
At the end of a bitter, five-year fight between human rights groups and proponents of the Factories, a Highway-wide law was put into effect that declared Zuukai to not be human, and therefore it was legal to engage in the production, sale, and ownership of them.
Prior to this law, each nation had its own laws that allowed for sale and ownership of Zuukai. This was the first time there was an international mandate protecting the right to treat Zuukai as property. The enacting of this law was extremely demoralizing for advocates of Zuukai emancipation, and for the next couple decades they were much less vocal in international politics.
Perfectly Human Order (NS 1413)Edit
When Emperor Nataka takes over the Natoas Empire, his first order of business is to work on bringing rights to the Zuukai. Being advised to have this transition happen slowly, he orders a stratetic down-grade of all Zuukai operations. The Factories Mansions are converted to rehabilitation centers. All unsold constructs are put into this training to prepare them for normal human life.
The most significant part of this order, however, is that the Natoas government officially declares that all Zuukai are human (hence the name of the law). Schools are ordered to begin integrating this into the cirriculum. All people who own Zuukai are offered government compensation in return for setting their Zuukai free, but doing so is not mandated. All Zuukai on order are sent to the rehabilitation centers and the customers have their money returned.
The two strongest international reactions to this are in the FAS and in the COG. In the FAS, many are either outraged that changes are happening too fast or two slow. Politicians feed off this, rallying the people in opposition to Emperor Nataka. The reaction in the COG is extremely different, resulting in the Absolute Humanity Act.
Absolute Humanity Act/Seven for One (NS 1414)Edit
The Commonwealth of Gold takes the Perfectly Human Order to its terminator. Ownership of Zuukai is declared illegal. Failure to free and facilitation living conditions for a previously owned person of any origin results first in a very high fine and a 90-day worning. Failure to honor the warning results in liquidation of all assets and transfer of that money into a fund for the offended Zuukai.
Seven for One goes a step beyond this. It states that, for every act against a Zuukai, it will be repaid with at least seven times as much severity. Conviction of harassment, when neither physical or sexual, toward a Zuukai results in life in prison. Financial crimes, such as theft of Zuukai property, result in total liquidation of all assets. Any sort of violent act against a Zuukai results in the death sentence.
There are 250 stock variants of Zuukai, 100 male and 150 female, each one essentially a clone of an original engineered, perfected construct. Of these, most are various physical ideals of each ethnicity.
There are a set of these constructs with specific genetic abormalities, unseen or very rare in the normal human genome, most dealing with unnatural eye colors or unusual combinations of eye, hair and skin color. There are very few of these, referred to as Deviations, but they're still considered part of the 250 stocks.
Upwards of ten times as expensive are Customs. Customers can designate any combination of features and, in some cases, personality types. Any time a Custom is ordered, the customer must wait the entire 5 years it takes to train the construct. Part of the reason Customs are so expensive is because, due to the unpredictable nature of creating a new construct, at least one back-up will be grown and trained. If both constructs get through training without trouble, the inferrior of the two may be taken to a clearance seller, where older or "rental" Zuukai are sold. More commonly, however, these are sent for Elendant training.
Illegal, but still constructed, are Custom Imperfects. Because the standing Humanity Order states that Zuukai can only be sold and owned because they are perfect, and therefore not human, engineering a Zuukai with imperfections (as defined by arbitrariy by the law) constitues a violation of human rights. The imperfections can be minor, but the cost to form a Custom Imperfect can still be five times as much as a regular Custom. The primary reason a customer will order a Custome Imperfect is because they do not want people to know they are owning a Zuukai. Their intent is to pass them off as a regular human companion, such as a spouce.
A percentage of all the different variants, and especially "retired" constructs, are pulled aside for Elendant training. Elendants are a step up from regular Zuukai in the area of personal defense. They are not only master bodyguards, but can also be commissioned as assassins. They are extremely effective at the latter, and highly trained in leaving little evidence or framing other enemies in the killings. While no Zuukai are ever fully "owned" by their purchasers, only leased under indefinite contracts, Elendants are always on temporary contract. The fees vary depending on the experience and specialities each Elendant has.
Many Elendants are trained on a very dangerous, deady fighting style that combines Lower Knight and Zuukai weapons.