The invention of teleportation heralded a new age of civilization. Within an unassuming British government think-tank, a young intern placed the metaphorical 2 and 2 together and revealed what was felt to be rather obvious afterwards. A process that allowed for the transportation of matter. At least that was how it was billed initially. It revolutionised the world. Commerce and Transportation were rendered obsolete when it was possible to travel anywhere on the planet in seconds.
For several years the world enjoyed the freedom of exploring places that were previously inaccessible. A restaurant was built at the peak of Everest. Space travel exploded once gravity was no longer an enemy. Multiculturalism reached an all-time high, and the concepts of borders had to be redefined. The world entered a Golden Age, and rejoiced that for once it had created a technology that could not be turned on it's fellow man.
Eventually, researchers made a shocking discovery. Attempts were made by the government to suppress the information, but once it was released, the bell could not be unrung. The device was not transporting people. It was using manipulation of quantum probability to create a duplicate. Pat of the process was that the same analysis of the subject resulted in it's destruction, and the duplicate continued on, oblivious to the fact that it had only just been created. It retained all memories, and for all intents and purposes was the same person. At least this is what the advertising screamed as the P.R. departments went into crisis control.
The world did not take this well.
The realisation swept across the globe that more or less everyone was a duplicate, which led to a period of cynicism and depression. There were reports of society breaking down in remote parts and vandalising their teleportation pads. Some secluded themselves, others had full-on existential psychotic breaks in public. It was through the efforts of teams across the world that a solution was formed. Anew form of energy conduction was discovered. Drawing on the previously thought lost documents of Nikolai Tesla. Fresh advances were made in the wireless energy transfer. Eventually the Mark 2.0 was announced. The process was similar with one key difference. The neural energy of the brain was conducted and broadcast to the duplicate, overriding the duplicated personality.
The general consensus was that this was as good as the same person, and the world resumed the Golden Age. It may be noted that there was an air of desperation in how quickly the populace seized this development. Expansion continued, and soon pads were being remotely landed on any surface scientists could find in the solar system. A wealth of knowledge was revealed across the spheres and science responded in kind with leaps and bounds.
Soon a new form of scanner was developed that could analyse the subject down to a molecular level, but did not need to destroy it. This gave rise to a new form of cloning that provided instantaneous results. The energy was distributed evenly between the two individual, and allowed both to retain full memories. A new culture arose as the numbers of duplicates increased.
At first it was a rocky affair with several years spent redefining society once again as the concept of identity was shaken. Numerous cases of identity fraud were reported, of crimes that were impossible to solve to reasonable doubt, of suspicion and doubt. Eventually society learned that if it was to continue its expansion, it needed to accept this new aspect of the population. Once embraced, they thrived.
Sexuality required new labels, and individuals referring to themselves as Narcisexuals arose. Beings who only held a sexual attraction to copies of themselves. The morality of this was held in question for a long time and eventually abandoned as trying to apply the morals of old was becoming increasingly difficult. The last fragments of several religions around the world still sparked and railed against the device, citing it an instrument of destruction, and seductress of the innocent. They boycotted the device, claiming superiority of being 'original' humans.
With the rapid expansion that came with duplication, the government quickly saw the issues that could arise, whilst resources could be duplicated using the same process, energy was trickier. The realms that were being dabbled in still were not fully understood. Energies obtained from this process were unpredictable and difficult to contain. And the process required significant energy in the first place. To this end, the government slipped a small patch into the teleportation subroutines that would slowly render the population sterile. This was revealed some years later, and surprisingly did not cause the controversy expected. In actual fact, the majority of population whilst annoyed at the way that it was implemented understood the reasoning behind it.
Eventually memory storage increase to the point where templates could be saved and utilised. This allowed individuals to scan themselves, and retain the body for later use should anything non-fatal happen to them. A 'save point', if you will. Manipulation of the data allowed the age of the created duplicate to be controlled. Soon the population was raising clones of themselves.
It was at this point that new revelation was announced. Experimentation with subjects had led to the discovery that the duplication process could work both ways. Two subjects could be merged to become one. The amalgamated being was a balance between the two subjects, retaining both sets of memories and significantly improved health and lifespan. In this, the government found the answer to the resource crisis. At first new social cultures were implemented. It became normal that once a couple had lived for a set time together, they would be expected to merge and become a single entity, taking their relationship to the next level. This caused trepidation at first, but was eventually explored out of curiosity. At this point, the individuals of the human race were for all intents and purposes immortal due to the device. It allowed the body to be reset to the beginning of the day, and had removed the need for concepts such as sleeping or eating. Food was still enjoyed for pleasure, but any time someone felt hungry, they would transmit themselves to an earlier version when they weren't.
At first the unions of people were referred to as Amalgams, but as the numbers of people combining themselves grew, a new term was coined. Gestalts. These were beings that were naturally long-lived. Wise far beyond their years, drawing upon the collective insights of dozens, if not hundreds of people. Their natural ability allowed for them to rise to the top of society and governments were replaced with a ruling class that had no concept of self, merely all. Corruption and Bureaucracy was eliminated overnight as society was streamlined. The population started to decrease rapidly as the allure of being one of the gestalt grew stronger.
That was when the catastrophe occurred. A huge solar flare exploded out from the surface of the Sun, and a tsunami of radiation washed across the heliosphere. There was time to prepare, but the only workable solution that could be posited was to merge as much of the remaining population together as possible. This was due to the difficulty in shielding against the radiation. The bunkers were comprised of unstable particles that would not allow any form of matter or energy to pass through, but could not be duplicated. This left limited space in the bunker that was built, and the population rapidly dwindled and unified so that all would fit in.
Surprisingly few stayed behind, as the thought of death was far more terrifying in a world of technologically-supported immortality. Deep within the bunker use of the machines was limited and rations started to dwindle. Eventually the decision was made to continue merging the remaining gestalts so as to extend the resources, and after much soul-searching, only one single being was left. The complete amalgamation of the human race. It knew more or less everything, was infiitely patient and had a lifespan that could be measured in ice-ages. It unfortunately could not do anything as it still remained trapped within the bunker. All possible locations within the solar system were equally deadly, and all that could be done was to sit and think.
It was close to despair, with many decades spent considering all possible options when one was handed to it. Haley's Comet came screaming into the solar system as a part of it's orbital cycle. The being ran the calculations, and discovered a responding signal coming from an archaic base that had been set up of the comet. A still active teleportation pad with a basic survival habitat. After confirming the timing needed, the being managed to teleport to the comet just as it left the toxic grip of the radiation cloud.
Prior to teleportation, the being had passed as much of the remaining resources onto the comet. It now found itself plunging in to the black of deep space. Apply solar sails to the comet, he started to steer it away from its well-beaten path to a new destination. Studies had revealed a planet that could support life, and allow them to flourish. It was working on a new subroutine for the device that would allow for a vast splitting of its personality, for many of the individuals within its mind to be reasserted.
It would start afresh, and repopulate the human race on a new world. It drifted into the darkness with hope in its heart.