Friday, August 21, 2015

Humans Beware! Beware, Humans!

Humans are an odd and diverse breed. In Ghost Drives I have already characterized cultures by their views on NBEs and psionics but within a culture there can be significant disagreements on how to practice psionics and deal with NBE's.

The Dynastic. They're called that because they avoid psionics and NBEs totally. No reactionless drives or FTL for them. They move between worlds in asteroid world ships, some spending the trip in cold sleeps and others raising generations that live and die in the trips  between stars. Considering they nuclear drives and other deadly engines their fear of NBEs is confusing to many.

Spacers are the oldest culture. They decided that they have little use for planets and instead build space stations and colonies, using asteroids and comets to supply their needs. In many ways they are the closest to the original Terran stock. Most spacer cultures are neutral to psi and NBEs. Psionics are citizens with restrictions. NBEs are non-sentient but treated humanely.

 Avatars are uplifted animals that were created to perform a variety of functions. Many have broken away to colonize their own worlds. Avatars are considered equals to humans by most cultures. They have no psionics of their own and make use of human psis for star travel.

The Worthy are humans that use genetic modification and surgery to achieve perfection or some esthetic ideal. They vary widely in appearance and capabilities. Some opt for the popular cat-grrl/guy packages. Others choose more subtle means like pheromones or voices with subsonic tones. Unlike many subcultures the Worthy appear in every known polity.

The Charans are genetically modified for extreme intelligence. It did not work. The concessions humans made in evolving their brains were enormous (physical strength, digestive atrophy among others). Charans are too weak to live in a standard gravity field and require highly processed food. Their intelligence modifications are more towards multiprocessing and speed f calculations. They are excellent at tweaking inventions but not so great at lateral thinking or building new devices.

Cyborg is a way of life. A person who loses an arm and receives a mechanical replacement has a prosthetic. Cyborgs are genetically tweaked to have modifications allowing cyborging from an early age. Some are purposely born missing one or more limbs and receive their mechanical analogs soon after birth. In utero cyborging is in limited use. They live their entire life as man machine hybrids. Many cultures look down on Cyborgs. The Empire does employ them to monitor and discipline psionics.

Demons are the biotech equivalent of Cyborgs. Genetically engineered organs and organisms are grafted onto them, again at an early age. Most Demons regard themselves as far superior to other humans and avoid contact where they can.

Thetans are humans who have nanotech colonies inhabiting their bodies. These colonies keep them in constant contact with wireless services serving as a sort of technological hive mind. Thetans have a weakened immune system to tolerate nanotech and often engineer clean environments for themselves. They make excellent monitors for psionics since any mental intrusion can be noticed and dealt with quickly. The hive mind can also function as a weak psionic shield. Many polities police Thetans as brutally as they do psionics.

You would think psionics would have agreement when they get together considering they often have few friends. That is not the case. While they all seek to increase their mastery of the mind they differ in methods. Most psionics are otherwise plain vanilla humans who seek to increase their mastery through training and usage. Since policing NBEs is excellent practice they are the type most ship captains prefer and hire. The time spent serving in ships and the traveling is regarded as a coming of age rite.

Some humans had their genes tweaked to increase or activate their psionics. These attempts are outlawed in virtually every polity. The results are uneven to say the least. Some ship captains prefer a bunch of NBEs floating around loose to a 'psionogen'.

Implant psionics straddle the line between psionic and cyborg, though few receive their implants at birth. Implant psionics are generally less powerful than other psionics but implant psis have greater endurance. Few have other cybernetics. They often suffer from headaches and certain EM devices can hurt them limiting their effectiveness in dealing with loose NBEs unless stunning devices are dropped in favor of endothermic technology.

Drug enhancement is a common problem among psionics. Any of these types can use chemical enhancement. There's always side effects (NBEs 'talking' to you is a common.) Most polities outlaw all but the most mild drugs and/or restrict their use to emergencies. A common exception is the Ghoul Cults who compile all manner of foul narcotics to keep the psionics working for their bodiless masters.