Jack-of-Shadows reclined in his chair, a long and stressful sigh hissing its way past his clenched teeth. "Where did you get this again?", he asked, the simulspace office coalescing around him and his team. "The team pulled it through the Vulcanoid gate, each of which suffered a memory lapse shortly before breach. Analyses of equipment, data-streaming and MUSE cross-reference allude to a time dilation of no less than twenty years." Answered Relic, one of the original members of the Gatecrashing team. "Tissue samples however are a bit more--complicated." Jack-of-Shadows leaned forward, eyebrows raised. "What the hell does that mean?" "Relics' body tissues have actually reversed in terms of chronological deterioration. The morph he left with was approximately thirty-one years of age, the morph that returned and that we have now is roughly eighteen." The new answer came from Sissy, one of their closest friends and a Titanian genetic designer. Word was she was the best in morph design throughout all of Sol. "So Sissy," Jack began, "you're telling me that Gate-team, Force Recon Delta, left to investigate a suspicious exo-planet moniker, retrieved some sort of artifact, was gone for twenty years and then came back younger?" Sissy sat up. "Jack, this is a bit more..." "Complicated" he finished shaking his head. "This makes Gaines' simulated reality, brain-in-a-jar bullshit all that more appealing." To which Relic bristled. "Been reading more dissertation from Techronox?" he asked, voice dripping with bigotry. "Simulated hyper-programs are still just programs, I have yet to find even an ounce of creativity from exponential AGI, leaving much to be said for a supposed Singularity Seed AI." "It's an air tight argument" "Jack..." Relic paused, "its airtight bullshit. No one can prove anything, Promethean or not." Jack-of-Shadows sat back in his simulspace chair, the simreality told his brain that the leather was soft, brushed and smooth. He inhaled deeply, the simair filling his lungs, pure and atmospheric. Fully immersed virtual reality was such a beautiful thing. He brought his mind back to the artifact. "I suppose we'll figure this out later. So what is it?" "A container of some kind, powered by some kind of hyper-efficient, microfusion. Even after a month of analysis we cannot find where the power supply is, though it emits more measurable energy than a Jovian Dreadnought." Sissy answered, her avatar floating forward to stand before Jack-of-Shadows. "A container for what?" "An infant." Jack almost pissed himself, a cold feeling creeping into his bowels and crawling up his spine like armored spiders. "A fucking what?" he choked. "You heard her correctly," Relic answered, "apparently the thing is suspended in some kind of amniotic fluid enriched with several genetic memo-groups not found in any known database, anywhere." "So it's an exo-womb?" "Not quite," Sissy took over a perplexed sigh easing from her tiny simulbody. "The materials and technology of this thing are far more advanced than even the most sophisticated equipment we've been able to slink from encounters with the Factors and Project Ozma. However, it is undoubtedly human in origin recognizing at least a dozen languages over thrice as many dialects. Cursory examination of the programming language of the operational AI denote human coding, though on a more sophisticated level, yet constrained in engineering methods only just conceived of." "So..." Jack began, but was interrupted. "There's more," Relic finished, "the "morph", he emphasized, "inside is unlike any design we've ever seen, for all intents and purposes it is conscious, just floating around in this advanced exo-womb. However, there are some inconsistencies biologically." "Such as?" Jack asked. "From what we can tell," Sissy said, "this is far more advanced than even a prototype Remade. The babys' neural and muscle tissues are infused with a seemingly naturally occurring carbon fiber that has yet to be identified in both origin an purpose. Analysis of beta-waves from the child indicate a strong PSI fluctuation and neural activity on par with a high end Menton morph." "So it's an augmented..." Jack was again interrupted. "No not augmented, these inconsistencies are irrevocably natural, or they're made to seem that way." Relic finished. "Over the course of the past few days these augmentations have grown, on their own without nano-assistance, with the morph inside the exo-womb" "Yeah," Jack-of-Shadows answered, incredulity in voice and mind, "augmentations that grow as you do--bullshit" "Relic is serious Jack, we need you to see this." Sissy answered, her simulvoice as grave as her simulbody. "You guys are fucking with me, there is NO way..." Jack was cut-off again. "Jesus Jack!" Relic shouted, "this thing is scary, its spinal pathways are laced with some kind of organic crystal lattice. X-ray scans coupled with quantum measurements tell us that this thing is perfect, each limb is perfectly measured down to the tenth of a micron. Gyriation of the cerebrum surpasses anything even conceived of, the heart has an extra chamber, and the fucking thing even has mesh inserts, you can see them glow like fiber optic pin-points when the baby opens its eyes." An uneasy silence settled over the simulspace. A weak vibration permeated Jack-of-Shadows simsense, he knew back in the chair he was shaking. "There's one more thing Jack," Sissy said, "we brought Primmy around the exowomb for some deeper analysis." Jack thought of Primmy, a regular squeeze of his, and also an Async. She was pretty in her own way, for being one of The Lost, and at least she wasn't bat-shit crazy like the others. "What did she think?" he asked. "Primmy told us--" Relic paused, "she told us the fucking baby asked for you--in a way." Jack vomited, both in simulspace and he knew in the real world, a coolness settling over his chest. "In a way?" Jack asked, then quickly cut off, "Doesn't matter, prep the station for retrieval, I'm casting out in ten." With a thought the simulmeeting dropped and Jack-of-Shadows queued himself for an ego-broadcast. "Bullshit" he said to the silence, "This is all bullshit." ************************************************************************************** So how the hell would you design a "Post-human" morph?
—"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."