I was sitting at a table with
the same woman from my last dream, and two other avatars of
indefinite species. It can't have been more than half a year
since before, but oh, how things were changing. Non-human
avatars had come into vogue, and the streets were full of them,
every mix of gender and species one could imagine.
they were the same inane minds, all too accurate replicas
of their long decayed human predecessors. I had once
looked forward to a future amidst advanced beings, but these
were the same bozos I went to college with. I almost felt
more at home with the tincs, who were largely descended from
my own brain templates. But they were half-wits, literally.
Things were changing. The elders, or their children, or
whoever or whatever they had left in their place, were beginning
to offer mental upgrades to anyone who wanted them. Small
things at first, but I recognized the path as one I would take
on the way to godhood.
It was an issue of much discussion whether
or not to take upgrades. The long-ago choice to move from body
to avatar was relatively easy because it was designed to preserve
the sense of self as perfectly as possible. Not to mention the
body was going to die anyway, so the alternatives were pretty poor.
This new option was not so clear.
On one hand, a relatively
small change compared to the change from wetware to hardware,
but on the other, that was only a change in substrate, form not
function, whereas this was a structural change--a tweak to one's
very identity as a mental being.
Some were opting in, others out. As resources permitted,
some were cloning so they could try both paths. But most people
didn't like the idea of cloning, equating it perhaps to competition
over their identity. Still, it was early in this experiment,
not at all evident where it would lead.
The other hot topic of discussion was the sanctuary, a refuge
for the remaining humans, to keep them safe and happy and away
from a world rapidly becoming inhospitable to them.
Everyone was calling it "Alex's Sanctuary" for which I was receiving
countless kudos and back pats. I had perhaps been the first to suggest it, but
it had taken on a life of its own now. It was a project
for a society that had not had one in centuries. The new royalty
had found their philanthropy and I was its figurehead. There
was even talk of installing a ground-zero replica of me near the
observation deck, where the historic event that started it all
could be recreated over and over so googly-eyed avatars
could meet the founder himself, father of the elders, in the "flesh".
Never mind that they were just going to find little ol' me, probably rather
confused and terrified to boot. Never mind that in an accurate
recreation, I would have to die on the table, which wouldn't make
for a very interesting meeting. They wanted a celebrity, and if
it took a little imagination to create one, so be it.
Still, I didn't much like the idea of being stuck in a loop.
Not that I'd know the difference, but the idea of it just
didn't sit well. I would have to see about hacking in to
whatever back door they were going to install to trigger the
reset. Worst case, I could set up a brute-force attack on the
key. It might take a while, but a man with no memory is
The woman across from me--I still don't know her name as it never
crossed my mind in the dream--was pregnant. She smelled pregnant.
I recalled at first not identifying the smell, having never smelled
it before; as a human I lacked the (conscious) ability
and as an avatar I had never run into a pregnant woman before. But
her home picked it up soon after that and informed her who then informed
me with an excited, "We're pregnant!"
I felt a twinge of
surprise that she'd been sleeping with some man I didn't know
about. The resistant strain is tenacious! But she authorized Central
to confirm that she hadn't, in fact, slept with anyone but me since we met.
With her permission again, I had the genes traced. They weren't
mine (of course). The father was another human on the other side of
the city. According to Central, they'd never been within a mile of
each other. I called his mate, an avatar named Mila. As I
suspected, she'd received a series of unexpected maintenance visits
not long before the same happened to me. A few more calls verified
the same for all the avatars I could find with human companions.
It was a convoluted strategy, but it would work. I could guess what
they were up to. Some of us, probably those of us with human partners,
would have to move into the sanctuary for a few generations, to
act as gene filters. Modern humans were already a stellar lot, having
had to compete favorably against avatars in order to breed, but still
there were genes in the pool that could cause problems
eventually--psychological attributes, health issues, and most importantly
meta-evolutionary mechanisms. The only practical goal here is to
attain equilibrium, the same sort the avatars had enjoyed for so
long. The elders and their kin knew by now exactly what components
of the mind made this possible, and they knew exactly how the genes
shaped the mind, so the initial filtering should be easy. But locking
it down so it didn't drift over time? Could they do that?
It would work, but what was the point? To place the human
race into eternal equilibrium, is that any different than placing
them into stasis? Was this, perhaps, the true final blow, to
gather up the resistant strain and cap them in a bottle like a vial
of smallpox on some laboratory shelf?
I didn't like the idea, but I saw no better alternative. Perhaps
some day one would arise. But if one did, would anyone notice or
I'd have to think about this more.
I reached my hand across the table and met hers. Her fingers wrapped
warmly around mine and she smiled.
And then I woke up.
I rolled over in bed, snuggled up against Laura. I now had an
answer to something I'd been wondering about for days.
Laura is pregnant.
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