We live in a warehouse in a ghost city in China. The industrial district is abandoned and no one else will rent it, so the owners don’t ask us too many questions what we’re using it for. They know it can’t be quite legal, but they wouldn’t dare to dream just how illegal what we’re doing is: we’re biohackers.
They always thought that we'd turn ourselves into machines, but instead we’re interfacing machines with our bodies to change every molecule in our bodies as if they were. These biocomputers are only allowed to be used by doctors, which is why we have one living with us, and if anyone asks, all the biohacks are done by her. She’d still have to go on the run, because most of her biohacks aren’t approved yet, but the rest of us would be there to cover her tracks.
There have been plenty of casualties in the biohacker community from our experiments, but the rest of us have made up for it by coming out of them with superhuman vitality. But as we pool data on all of our experiments, it keeps getting safer for more people to join us, and once started, they often keep trying new things until they go too far. While we have more than our share of addicts only looking to extract a high from their chemistry until they burn out, most of us just want to become better people. But in the nihilist era, none of us know what that really means, so we experiment, sometimes at random.
She picked us up from the cryonic vats, lost in a new world after having lost our old world. Some of us she sent back into the vats with some modifications, which she claims are to test if we’d adapt faster to the future with them, but I really believe she’s trying to seed different futures with her experiments. She wants to put her mark on the world, not just today but throughout its existence.
In one of those nearer futures, I woke up with my crew to find her still there, never having changed a thing. When she asked us how we were feeling after coming out of our stasis, for just a moment I thought she might have developed a sense of empathy, but I soon realised she was just evaluating the results of her latest experiments. Good, we’re improving — another step closer to her goal of creating a species of superhumans, at least, according to her. At first I never thought she could ever go wrong, as, after all, all she was doing was improving our every abilities — except for one, the ability to pause on the value of one’s abilities. I found this out the hard way one day when I felt urged to act on my abilities before I knew where it would lead. That’s when I decided to pull the plug. I removed all my upgrades and went back into stasis. Without my upgrades, it would take that much longer before I could come back out of it, but all I wanted was for her to not be there when I’d finally wake up again. But she was. And by then, she was backed by an entire movement of mutants, so keen on using the abilities she’d given them that they never questioned what they were for. That’s right, I used the m-word, and why shouldn’t I? It means one who has changed, and that’s what we were, weren’t we?
When I found that nothing would change, I reinstalled my mutations too, because by now life was no longer possible with them. Our bodies had become our new interface, and that’d be neat and all, weren’t it that those interfaces were becoming increasingly standardised until human identity became a product, and it became predictable what kind of abilities someone would have before one even asked: the same lists always kept coming back, and they weren’t for fun anymore, like back in those good old days when we were trying out new things beyond our old human limits: now it was all about competition, and the only thing anyone was focused on was to become the best at this or that sport. When it was so easy to get better at everything so fast, it seemed deceptively within reach to become the best, up to a point that it no longer even mattered what it was that one become the best at or what good it did to anyone.
It was only a matter of time before the disillusionment set in as being the best lost its thrill, and we became a species of superhuman slobs. Without a purpose, it didn’t matter how powerful we were. We could solve the hardest problems we could come up with, but never knew what for, other than because we could.
So I did the only thing I could do. I killed the doctor and cut the strings with which she upheld us. The marionettes came falling down and suddenly we remembered that to live is to experience life, together — so we stopped trying to prove something and just shared our experiences. It was the first time we used telepathy to build something up together instead of just trying to show off to each other.