Monday, December 9, 2019

Microstory 1251: Asuk Ortega

In the sixth century, by the new calendar, humans were a rare species. They were very important, and well respected by the rest of the vonearthans, however. Revered might be an even better word to describe it. Long ago, their ancestors figured out how to make themselves immortal. With advancements in biomedical science, technological enhancements, and other related fields, death was cured. Not everyone wanted to take the cure, though. There were indeed those who opposed it on moral or religious grounds, but they eventually died out, because of course, they wanted to. Each generation believed in the cause they were born into less and less, until there was almost no one left. Only one faction of purely biological humans remained, and despite the fact that other human subspecies were in various stages of biological development on other planets, these on and around Earth were the most protected. You see, the descendants of humanity realized that their species could not truly procreate. Sure, they could build other lifeforms in their likeness, but they weren’t really their children. They could be as different from their creators as the acorn is to the whale. So they no longer had bloodlines, or even an inorganic analog to them. They had creators, and their creations, which could one day become creators. Collectively, this saddened them, and they determined that they didn’t want to let go of their roots entirely. They didn’t want real humans to become extinct, as was forewarned by many futurists of yesteryear. To combat this prospect, all they did was set aside small pockets of human populations. They were free to do as they wished, but the point was to keep human life, well...alive. But this led to a dilemma. What if these biological humans, who would one day die, decided they wanted to live forever, just like everyone else? Well, they were free to do that as well. The nonbiologicals didn’t want to pose any restrictions on the younglings, as they would sometimes call them affectionately. They asked the people who desired to be upgraded to hold off on doing so until they could propagate the species themselves, but they did not require it. If extinction was inevitable, then that would just have to be the way it was. Fortunately, it would seem not so impossible. Enough humans remained on Earth, and some neighboring worlds, to maintain healthy numbers. Some did decide to eventually become technologically immortal, but others chose to live full lives, and then die.

Asuk Ortega and his family were regular humans. His parents never wanted to be enhanced, but Asuk wasn’t certain. Living forever sounded pretty enticing. To ensure he understood what choice he had to make, his parents enrolled him in a special school. It taught him the extreme of both sides; how to live like a survivalist with almost no resources, and also how to exist as a conscious piece of machinery. It was during the first half of his lessons that he encountered Paige Turner. She was a time traveler from centuries in the past. Though he hadn’t heard of real time travel before, he wasn’t too astonished by it. He grew up with easy access to anything he might have wanted, or anywhere in the galaxy he might have wanted to go. He was just grateful to finally have a friend. The life of a human that far in the timeline was lonely. The people around him didn’t shy away from upgrades completely. They still connected themselves to virtual constructs, and someone doing anything in the real world was harder to find every day. About the only way to lead an interesting life was to travel around, either throughout the solar system, or to the stars. All of the museums and historical locations were gone, unless they were natural wonders. Being a nomad was just how it had to be if one wanted to avoid boredom. But then Asuk got an idea. All his life, he knew he had to make a choice between two paths. He could become immortal, or remain human. Yet here was this other option. Time travel was the ultimate nomadic journey, and he wouldn’t be able to see everything he wanted to if he went with either of the other two choices. Time travelers weren’t allowed too many technological upgrades, but humans didn’t live very long. He had to become an immortal through some other means. And that was when his story began.

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