Except from The Upgrade

They all sat quietly, none of them interacting. With flawless skin and immaculate hair, Angelica could tell that they were all upgraded. She switched on her enhanced vision and scanned them for heat signatures. Of the five sitting across from her, one had heat coming off of her chest and head. Only has a fleshy heart and brain left. And another showed heat in the skull and in the spot just under the sternum where the nuclear fuel cell resided. That one’s like me. The other three only showed heat coming from the fuel cell under the sternum. Otherwise, they appeared a cool blue to Angelica’s enhanced vision. Fully upgraded, she thought. Immortals.

She switched off her enhanced vision, although she really hadn’t needed it in the first place. With a cursory glance she could tell that the other two were partials. It was subtle, yet evident in the way they carried themselves. Their eyes couldn’t settle on one thing for more than a few seconds before needing to move to the next—a vestige of the primordial need to survey your surroundings for danger and a reminder of their link to their less evolved ancestors. The partials also occasionally shifted in their seats. Even though their bodies were almost entirely mechanical and didn’t need the adjustment to be comfortable, their mushy unadaptable brains were rooted in their flesh-and-bone past, unable to give up this formerly necessary habit. Angelica felt sympathy for them. She had always been uneasy at the thought of upgrading her brain, but it had now become a necessity.

In contrast to the partials, the three immortals stared straight ahead, neither breathing nor moving. Angelica figured they must be processing the day’s work, or possibly even working on the next day’s projects. Once your brain is no longer bound by the inevitable rot of flesh, you’re free to think at the speed of light. But her days of grappling with that disability were coming to an end.

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