Introduction

One of the defining traits of humanity is our relationship with tools. Be it a knife, a bow, a pen, a book, or a computer, humans have possessed an ability unparalleled by any other species on the planet to invent and use a wide array of tools. After minimal use, they become extensions of ourselves, expanding our capabilities beyond our five senses and four limbs. With the advent of the silicon age, some began to speculate that it was only a matter of time before the line that divided human and machine would become blurred, if not completely nonexistent. This hypothetical event, referred to by futurists as The Singularity, was the anticipated day in which the definition of what it meant to be human would be forever changed. Ironically, the futurists of the early 21st century were far too limited in their imaginations of how humanity would transform over the next 50 years.

While humanity had experimented with replacing lost limbs and organs with artificial ones for decades, the real merging of human and machine began in the 2030s with the advent of prosthetics and cybernetic enhancements capable of interfacing directly with the brain. However, the body would not be so easily tamed and a cocktail of drugs were required to prevent rejection of these synthetic additions. This last act of rebellion by the flesh drove unprecedented progress in the areas of genetic therapy and, by the early 2040s, humanity was augmenting itself at the nucleotide as well as silicon level. The body would be made not just to accept the synthetic, but to sprout fur, see in the dark, and even breathe underwater. The Singularity had arrived, but the homo sapien identity crisis it brought with it was only just beginning.

On April 7th, 2047, fantastic supernatural events took place in the skies above San Francisco. Flying figures which could throw bolts of lightning, fiery explosions with no obvious fuel source, and at least one honest-to-goodness dragon were seen by everyone in the city. They were also captured on thousands of recording devices and instantly shared across the entire internet. From that day forward, undeniable reports and videos of the bizarre phenomenon that came to be known, for lack of a better word, as ‘magic became increasingly common. Soon, people were coming forward who could perform modest demonstrations of magic. Humanity was undergoing yet another change, but this one defied all explanation. Further complicating matters, ancient items of power and decaying scraps of parchment with bits of arcane knowledge began to surface and caused many to wonder how such old things could be related to such a new development. Rumors began to swirl in the new magical communities of so-called ‘Mystics’ that somewhere in the world was a hidden and ancient enclave of magic-capable people sitting atop a storehouse of magical knowledge and power.

The year is now 2065. Humanity, forever looking for its place in the universe and the nature of its existence, is no closer to answering that question. In an age when a person may pass someone with listening to music with cat ears, another using their chrome skin for performance art, and a third conjuring fire out of their hand to light an artisanal cigarette, constructing one single definition of ‘human’ has only become more difficult. Every day seems to bring with it some new amazing complication. Governments have passed desperate laws seeking to gain control the situation, including acts limiting the reproduction of the genetically modified, corporations continue to develop new and amazing ways for humanity to change and augment itself, and the powers that be are continually scrambling to maintain their advantages in a game where the rules appear to be changing every day.

And meanwhile, people everywhere are trying to define in their own minds what it really means to be human, when perhaps that definition is only fated to change and expand until it collapses under its own existential weight.

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