Scientist Daniel Brüks is what everyone sneeringly calls a baseline, a human being with so few augments that even the drugs he uses to make himself smarter (drugs required so he can qualify for tenure at his university job) are taken in pill form rather than via the clever synthesizer and pump arrangement all the cool kids use. He accesses the Internet much as we do, looking at displays rather than dumping the information right into his brain.
This outmoded and retro approach to technology gets him branded ‘old school’ by people who really mean technophobic, wimpy, and downright eccentric. But Dan has bigger PR problems than mere Luddism. Some of his research has been used to kill people, and guilt has driven him out to the desert. There he camps, hides, and commits research, sampling the local wildlife to see whether any of them might be baselines in their own right, or if all of their DNA has been overridden by humanity’s various runaway biotech projects.