The most important military invention of my career? War socks.
Do I sound like I’m joking? Not having them is what brought the first push into Moraneth to a grungy stalemate. Those jungles highlighted the eternal problem of keeping your feet happy on campaign, and they did it with blisters and stench and more varieties of fungal rot than we could count. I had three centuries with me on the march to Chenasét and more than half of them were out with one foot-related condition or another.
After that debacle, the chaps at OMRD put their heads together and came up with something useful for a change. Behold the U-ILE47/2 Combat Utility Sock. It comes with a gel layer that shapes itself to your foot and keeps it comfortable inside your armor. It repels, eats, and expels sweat, excess skin oils, and intruding water, keeping your feet dry come desert, jungle, swamp, or river crossing. And its antibiologic lining is very effective at killing any nasty fungi, bacteria, parasites, or others of nature’s little joys.
War socks kept us going through the next Moraneth campaign, and through southern Ochale, and the Dominions, and even the Sweetshallow. None of the flashy toys you’re probably thinking of matter a damn if someone can’t get them where they’re needed and stand up to use them.
But it’s hardly unique to them. All primitive species are: because it’s a consequence of advanced species (and especially those who take their cue from our friendly local aesthetes) investing in both much improved senses of smell plus excellent personal hygiene via biotechnology and nanotechnology. By the time you have skin that dirt literally won’t stick to, sweat that smells of roses and avoids supporting bacterial growth, and even shit that literally doesn’t stink… well, everyone not comparably enhanced is a stinky ape.
Or stinky lizard, stinky slime mold, stinky bunch of tentacles, whatever.
It is, however, considered polite not to point this out. It’s no sin to be primitive. Now, if it’s by choice, on the other hand…
The primary hygiene component of a standard shipboard ‘fresher is a cylindrical translucent compartment, resembling a drug capsule set on its end, with a watertight sealing door. At top and bottom, gratings conceal powerful counter-rotating fan/turbine units.
In dynamic mode, these fan/turbines are engaged to blow (at the nominal “top”) and suck (at the nominal “bottom”) a water/air colloid past and over the bather at configurable velocities ranging from strong breeze to hurricane-strength wind, providing the water with a functional simulation of gravitic flow – a “shower”. To conserve water where necessary, many ‘freshers recirculate filtered water while in operation, requiring fresh water input only for the initial fill and the final rinse cycle.
In static mode, the gratings close and the capsule itself fills entirely with water – a microgravity “bath”.
In the former mode, breathing while bathing is, at best, difficult; in the latter, it is downright impossible. Early-model ‘freshers included a built-in breathing mask connected to ship’s life support to ameliorate this problem; in these days of respiratory hemocules which enable the modal transsoph to hold their breath for over an hour, ‘fresher designers tend to assume that this will not be a problem. Those without such hemocules must, therefore, remember to take a portable breather with them when bathing.