The warning on the box says safety cannot be “guaranteed”. You chuckle as you remember interviews with old, white-haired scientists telling the world this was a bad idea.
There are always those that resist change, like when the aliens made contact. Many doomsayers and haters would howl about how the Wolves–named after the planet that they originate from–had come to take our planet from us. Interviews and adverts all droned endlessly on about the End of the World from this superior alien race. Warmongers arguing how we should attack first. Survivalists hiding out in their basements…
And so on.
But, alas, a decade later, and the Wolven trade with Earth was growing and intergalactic relations had never been as good as this. Or that was what the President said. He was not wrong. Sure, intergalactic relations had never existed in the first place, but the Wolves and Humans were now fantastic cosmic partners.
All of this flashes through your mind in a split second and then is forgotten. You are excited. You feel like a young boy again on a cold Christmas morning. You are holding brand new a personal teleport device in your hands right now.
Humans are superior in a few aspects, for example, we are better at agriculture than them. That was probably a function of the fertile planet we evolved on. That said, Wolven tech is definitely superior to our own. The Wolves have worked out a limited degree of cold fusion to help drive starship drives nearly infinitely, which had helped them reach our planet in the first place.
Also, their short-term logistics was covered by short-range micro-wormhole generators or MWG’s. People instantly named these devices “teleporters”.
And so the first tech-driven intergalactic trade route developed between the Humans and the Wolves: organic produce for teleporters. Seemed like a fair trade to most humans.
The teleporter’s box in your hands has a number of other disclaimers on it, including “Do not operate intoxicated”, “Do not point Exit Portal at solid or liquid state objects”, and “Declare all MWG devices at official checkpoints and in your local registry for tracking” where some of the more colourful ones.
You smile. It is finally time. It really does feel like Christmas.
Your latest smartphone chip–the ones that are installed into your brain–picks up your intention and syncs your thoughts with the teleporter’s interface. Lights flash, your child-like grin widens and the world in your hand comes alive with beautiful colours dancing across your vision.
You focus on the teleporter’s controls. Your link between the smartphone chip in your head and the teleporter merge into a control panel in your mind’s eye.
You select a destination and click the button to teleport…
Suddenly you are standing in thick mist in a strange, surreal landscape. You can make out vague forms looming in the distance, but the mist is too thick to see more than a few feet ahead of you. You stumble forward, but the sound is dull in the thick, cold, wet air. You think you hear faint talking. You start to panic and cry out a feeble “hello”, but the sound falls dead in the mist and replies with absolute silence.
You begin to panic. The last thing you remember is pressing the button for the teleporter, but you are no longer holding it in your hand. Where are you? What is going on? Why are you so cold?
“Do you think they suspect anything?”
The question is being asked by a slim, grey-skinned Wolf standing over your cryogenically-frozen form in a stasis pod on the distant planet, Wolf 1061c. Your eyelids are occasionally flickering. The stasis-induced “Dream of Mist” fills your consciousness. It is an aptly named, but strange and unexplained phenomenon that is a side-effect of Wolven stasis being applied to homo sapien biology.
“No, I don’t,” says a being that looks exactly the same as you in every shape and form, “Now give me a hand downloading and installing this one’s memories into me before I teleport there.”
“Sure thing,” says the amorphic grey-skinned Wolf, reaching for the teleporter in your frozen hand, “Here we go, gonna beam it into your import chip now.”
The replica of you smiles, unerringly similar to how you would smile.
“I know I say this every time I do a Switch, but damn we have a good plan! Befriend a planet, sell them our teleporters that teleport them straight into our Harvesters while stealing their memories. We copy their forms and memories and then teleport back to their planet, thus taking their place in society. And, eventually, we are the society. We not only harvest their entire planet without any violence or unnecessary loss in biomass, we steal their collective knowledge and inherit another planet through the process. Just brilli–aah–there we go, I got the memories.”
“Good. Uh, yes, I know the plan quite well, thanks,” the grey-skinned being says, absentmindedly, fiddling with the teleporter, “but why are you telling me it? Anyway, the teleporter has now been recalibrated to your bio-print and will not bring you back here for Harvest. Time to do the Switch.”
“Yes, I just like saying the plan out loud. How many times have we done this? How many planets has it been now? It is just brilliant, that’s what. OK, is my form stable and do I have all of the creatures memories?”
“Yes and yes. Full bio-data upload completed and stable bio-adaption reached. Now stop talking and do the damn Switch. We got plenty more incoming that I also need to Switch.”
The replica of you smiles again. He clicks the teleporter and disappears instantly. The grey-skinned being shakes his oval, strange head and turns to another stasis pod. An old human woman has just appeared there, instantly cryogenically frozen with a teleporter tightly grasped in her wrinkled hand. Her eyelids are moving as she begins to enter the Dreams of Mist. It will be the last things she remembers before the Harvesters deconstruct her carbon.
He motions for a grey-skinned being hovering behind him to step forward. He clicks a button in the stasis pod and a blue laser scans the woman’s body, taking in both inside and outside bio-structures.
“Right, buddy, step into the Bio-adapter, it’s time to become…whatever this creature’s name is.”
While the second grey-skinned being is being biologically altered into the exact DNA of the old woman in the stasis pod, your replica is greeting your friends at the bar that you had originally intended to teleport to.
“Hey, why you late man? I thought teleporters would help you be on time?”
“Nah, I just popped off to see the pyramids in Egypt first and had a quick cup of tea in Bangkok.”
Your friends all laugh. The replica of you is high fiving your friends and smiling. The drinks are beginning to flow. The replica is then handing your teleporter to one of them and laughing, charmingly about how much fun it is. Your friends are suitably impressed with the expensive tech and your friends are all wanting to try it too.
Only, not all of them are your friends anymore. Some of them had already been Switched. And, by the end of the night, the rest of them will have been Switched too.