“How long will this body last?”
“That depends on how you treat it and where you go.” The doctor made adjustments on his panel. Synchronization was being fine tuned for the final step.
“They didn’t tell you where I was going?”
“It isn’t my place to ask. I follow orders.”
“Well, space. I’m part of the trans-solar mission. Seeding humanity in the stars.”
“That would explain the full conversion then.”
“So, how long is it going to last?”
“Ah,” The doctor considered a moment, looking over the massive metal frame. “Assuming you do upkeep, avoid anything that might tear you apart and don’t enter an atmosphere, There’s no reason it shouldn’t last indefinitely.”
“Wait, forever?” Russel was shocked at the idea of immortality.
“More or less. In space, as long as you avoid debris and do proper upkeep, there’s really nothing to wear it down. You’re going fully transhuman, so there’s nothing organic other than raw material for the cloning unit in the main segment. That’s going to stay viable due to space temperatures and shielding and even if it fails, that doesn’t affect you directly. It just means you can’t create bodies to imprint.”
“I thought you said you didn’t know about this mission.”
“No, I said it isn’t my place to ask. It’s pretty obvious this is outfitted extended interstellar travel. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what the components inside the body are for. I’m the one who has to load your husk into it after the conversion after all.”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s true.”
“Everything is synced. Are you ready?”
“Is it going to hurt?”
“No. You’ll be under sedation. You’ll simply wake up in a new form, entirely the same person you were before in mind.”
“Okay, go ahead.”
The automated systems woke Russel. Hundreds of thousands of years and he still thought of it as waking. Only one in every dozen people who did full transhuman conversion retained their humanity longer than a hundred years of conscious action. Enough to colonize as many as thirty worlds, but after that they tended to suffer brain death. Data corruption they called it.
Russel was one of only .003 percent who were fully immune to loss of identity and data corruption. He’d held on to his humanity, at least so far anyway. He scanned the area around him slowly.
Eight hundred of his fellow transhumans. Enough to populate a new colony. Further out, a ring of space debris that could be converted into materials to affect repairs on any of those who needed it and construct the basic tools that would allow the colony to become established.
The transmissions of the others came to him, but it was the same inane talk that always happened when they first arrived at a habitable planet. Real conversations wouldn’t start until the first few days of work had settled into routine.
The last step of establishing the colony could begin now that the last of the supply drops had landed on the surface. Every transhuman lined up, pointing their bellies towards the planet. Inside, the mechanisms whirled and the human bodies that had been grown while the work was going on had the minds of each individual copied onto them. All that made him human and every thought up until that moment would now be part of the clone’s own memories. An exact duplicate body to the one worn in human life. Chests opened and the drop canisters were shot towards the planet.
Sometimes Russel wondered what it was like to wake up in a human body again. Some version of himself was about to find out.
The transhumans all clustered together in the empty space. One dim star’s final light faded and the entire sky was dark. A trillion years.
Russel wished he could remember it all, but he’d overwritten so much of the unimportant details to ensure he didn’t suffer from having his memory completely full. A few who’d let that happen has stopped functioning.
So this was the end? Humanity had become an endless number of species living on a galaxy of planets. Faster than light drives had opened things up, but he doubted any of them had survived the end of the visible galaxy to time. Now, without a power source, he would shut down. They were about to die together, the last of humanity. It was profound, but there wasn’t time for further thoughts before his system went into shut down to await more solar radiation.
Russel woke. It took a moment to realize he had been offline. Without power, his system had no way to verify how much time had passed. Others around him were waking as well and all shifted to focus on the source of radiation that had awoken them. A tiny dot of light like a newborn entering the world shone. A new star? A new galaxy? A new universe?
Humanity had somehow made it beyond the death of the stars themselves. Humanity had outlived itself in a way. Russel smiled, though none of the others noticed it on his screen. Maybe enough of them would awaken to actually begin one more colony when they reached that twinkling dot.