‘Live free or die’ is a statement of ideals and preferences. It is not, and never will be, the policy of this corporation.Esémélí Estantel,
syndic of the Riverside Eubiosis Foundation,
in a Corporate Conflux debate over the marketing of life-extension technologies,
beyond the Consensual Cultural Region
Immortality Inducer: It doesn’t look like much, an immortagen.
Most of the time, it looks like a pint of grayish fluid in a bag, a little saline, with a faint rainbow sheen. Intravenous tubing included. Responsible medical supervision not included.
But inject it into your veins – ah, then the magic happens. It splices, it lyses. It unwraps storage plasmids and writes then into your chromosomes, injects nanocytes into your cells, builds nanogenic artificial lymph glands to keep your system stocked with roaming nanocytes, and even tidies up your gross morphology a bit, especially if you were already old. (While you develop a high fever and a really nasty set of aches and pains for a week or two – the more so the more gross work it has to do. Don’t even ask what your excreta look like.)
And then you live forever.
Stronger With Age: Averted. The eldrae, and various other immortal species and immortagen-users, don’t generally get stronger with age, short of grafting in more advanced biomods and other enhancements as technology marches on. (On the other hand, they do generally get more skilled at applying that strength, and remarkably more cunning, devious, and involuted – but like it says, that’s not this trope.)
Precious Puppies: As a guide to just how straight the eldrae play this particular trope, even where their giant wardogs are concerned, it should be noted that under the list of special cases that is the Ungentlemanly Behavior Act (47, As Subsequently Revised), the consequences of literally kicking the dog are legally recognized as a type of suicide in every single Imperial jurisdiction.
(While there are some people who in private would admit that this constitutes Disproportionate Retribution even by the Empire’s, ah, generous standards for such, there is absolutely no-one willing to court the plummeting reputation score that would attach to anyone who suggested removing this provision, the puppy-hating bastard. It’s a mélith thing; dogs give essentially infinite loyalty, so that’s what they get in return.)
((And, of course, this is also pretty much what started people off on the Immortagens For Everyone crusade in the first place…))
No Immortal Inertia: Averted. Biology does not work that way. If you stop taking – or somehow take away – the immortagens that made your cells all youthful, well, your cells are still youthful. You’ve got a full natural lifespan to go find some more.
Unobtainium: Of many kinds. Sophisticated materials science is one of the major areas of advancement in this particular universe. Of particular note: deuterium slush, metastable metallic hydrogen, helium-3 and antimatter (more specifically, antideuterium slush) for power, room-temperature superconductors, sapphiroids (the trade name for the high-grade kind is Adamant™ – not adamantium, because it’s not an element; after all, transparent aluminum has been used, even if accurate), carbon nanotubes, highly refractory cerametals and metallic glasses, muon metals, strangelets, raw tangle – oh, and fun nonbaryonic things like exotic matter (you make stargate frames out of it), gluonic string (held together by the strong force, thus with the best tensile strength available), and so on and so forth. Less elementally, various nanofluids with fascinatingly exotic behavior, nanotech composites, and smart and biomimetic materials (living metal, nanowell-bearing programmable matter, etc.), computronium (okay, that’s not an element either, but…), and again, and so forth.
And medically speaking, of course, immortagens.
Mayfly December Romance: Mostly averted; in two different ways. The happy one is that immortagens are now available for just about every species, thus avoiding the tragedy of death. The less happy one is that… well, while one may well be able to love someone who is doomed to die, inevitably, it’s much harder to go on loving someone who is determined to mortal themselves to death when the price of immortality is a couple of thousand local currency units and a month or so of post-injection fever and chills.
People who prefer suicide to such a relatively low cost of staying with you are not, I submit, very lovable.
Longevity Treatment / Immortality Inducer: Immortagens, which are Exactly What It Says On The Tin, along with mind-state backups. (Previously anagathics, too, but technology marches on, etc., and why settle for a few extra centuries when you can aim for eternity?)
The Empire, or groups within it rather, works hard on selling these to absolutely everyone, on the entirely reasonable grounds that anyone who wants to die and/or doesn’t want to not die is obviously nuts, and anyone who advocates for death in general is even crazier than that. (See also: Immortality Immorality.)
Long Game: Happens quite a lot; of course, since many people (eldrae, galari, immortagen-takers, most postsophonts, AIs, etc.) live for very, very long times. Of course, it’s not so much a Long Game from their point of view, except for the immortagen-users; just a question of having a different natural planning time horizon.
This may be a major enabler of space development, megastructure engineering, and other things requiring non-mayfly-like thinking.
Improbable Age: Happens both ways, in the Empire. On the one hand, you sometimes get improbably young people doing various jobs, partly because of those very population dynamics we mentioned back under Immortal Procreation Clause making it very useful to get new brains into the useful-production fields as soon as they were competent to do so (and, note, the Imperial concept of “majority” is based entirely on demonstrated competence, not age, so prodigies really can leap ahead); usually in ‘prentice-level positions along with continued education (because those same demographic factors and the production models they favor make grunt labor very much less than useful), and quite possibly still with limitations on their tort-insurance-covered-rights-of-contract, it is true, but nonetheless, out there doing stuff.
Happens at the other end, too, though – given the social requirements of mobility and the personal requirements to keep fresh, there is a longstanding tradition of recurving; namely, for people who’ve stayed for a long time in a single career to retire, take a sabbatical, and then start afresh in some different field (often a very different field) that might interest them. So finding old and highly experienced people doing relatively low-level jobs way outside their field is also hardly unusual, although the generalizable part of their experience does mean they tend to advance relatively fast. (Also, the benefits of intentional or serendipitous cross-pollination between different fields don’t hurt, either.)
And, of course, the immortals do tend to look quite young… so long as you don’t look them in the eyes. Or watch them in action.
Immortal Procreation Clause: Somewhat played straight, but only somewhat. Eldraeic native fertility is considerably, about an order of magnitude, lower than human as a baseline, yes, but that’s not so much lower that they weren’t running a nice healthy population growth curve before discovering technology, space, etc. (and started on a large and very sparsely populated world), and even post-that with the normally-ensuing technical-society decline, the trend is still upwards on net. Fortunately, there’s any amount of space in space, and simply oodles of unused resources, too.
(Demographically, it’s low enough to make non-adults very much the minority in the population – certainly enough that an attempt at, say, mass schooling on our model, were that particular form of collective madness to set in, would require very large catchment areas indeed – and to, economically, put a healthy premium on the cost of labor and encourage capital-intensive models right from the start, but certainly not low enough to produce dwindling-elvish-dying-race effects, even with non-natural deaths included, or anything like that.)
In a more general case, immortagens typically do not affect fertility one way or the other. Sensible species are expected to learn how to manage their own birthrate. Insensible species needn’t come complaining when they have an overpopulation crash because this bit of data is right there on the tin, look. (Insensible and warlike species may discover that having your population managed for you is also an option. If not a good one.)
Immortality Bisexuality: Might look that way (well, not for the galari, who have no concept of sex, or sex, or gender), but it’s actually the result of desire control, etc., as listed under Bi The Way and Everyone Is Bi. The rest of the immortals weren’t inclined this way until the tech came along to make it so.
(And, to be clear, in many civilized areas such outcomes are desirable. Preferences are one thing, but instincts that contradict your conscious desires on this point are inhibiting your freedom of choice, and as such are instincts that need to be told to shut up and sit down.)
Immortality Begins At Twenty: Played mostly straight with the eldrae and eldrae-designed immortagens. Well, late twenties, dignified early thirties, anyway, and it doesn’t take all that much longer after that before the combination of bodily reflections of the experience of age and biological youth to make it very, very hard to pin an actual age on them, anyway.
The Fog of Ages: This didn’t so much happen to the natural immortals of the setting, but then, the natural immortals weren’t all that natural, having been designed into immortality by one particular group of Precursors, and it is generally believed that a few memory upgrades came with the deal. While it probably would have eventually – well, these days, they’re using offloading extra memory and cognitive processing to the cloud and its ultratech nanocomputronium cores, so it’s unlikely to ever come up in the future.
It can, which is relevant where immortalist proselytizing comes into play, affect people who’ve just taken an immortagen and nothing else, but, well, if it bothers you, they also have this nice catalog full of brain upgrades, memory-management techniques and advertisements for memory-redaction and psychedesign services right here, and they’d be happy to sell you some.
Immortality: In a couple of forms. The natural immortality of the eldrae and galari, etc., is Type II Undying, without the disease (or, indeed, starvation) exception – at least where potent illnesses are concerned. This is also the type they’ve developed, named immortagens, and sell on the open market.
Noetic backups, in which one’s mind-state (or, if you like, soul) is recorded in digital storage such that you can conveniently be restored from backup if killed, adds Type IV Resurrective on top of that for those two species, and gives it to everyone else living in a modern and civilized polity, too. And their little dogs, too. Literally.
(They are, however, still working on A Means To Avoid The Heat Death Of The Universe.)
<Yellow-Starred Amethyne Motet in E Flat Minor>, Staff Writer
“A sinister syndicate of crime and corruption, whose deeply-buried tentacles cast a grim shadow across the Associated Worlds.”
– Mach Journalist-I’qar, Vonikar Times
My Voniensan colleague’s taste for assorted alliteration and colorful metaphors aside, it must be admitted that certain of his allegations are true, as are those made more quietly by various other news providers within the Worlds themselves.
From my perspective, of course, as an Imperial citizen-shareholder and resident, the Eldinimieuthunimis is merely a perfectly legitimate trading house. Their public office tower in Mer Covales is visible from my desk as I write this. Their openly published corporate accounts and other records are unimpeachable. (Although the list of outworlders holding 38% of their public nonvoting stock under the shield of Seranth’s labyrinthine banking privacy laws would doubtless make fascinating reading, given the sources of much of the foreign criticism of the organization.) And no executive or employee of the core organization has ever been indicted, much less convicted, on any issue relating to their corporate operations.
Some of this discrepancy is a matter of location, of course. The Eldinimieuthunimis locates very few of its operations inside the Empire; as their affable estrev-i-ráyestrev (“overboss”) Calin Sargas-ith-Sarathos Methunimis is happy to explain, there’s very little point in trying to run a syndicate inside the Empire, whose notoriously libertist politics and freewheeling attitude make it reluctant to make most of the traditional money-makers for this type of operation illegal; and thus, makes them unprofitable when the competition is made up of more standard commercial organizations.
Outside the Empire, however, the Eldinimieuthunimis operates very successfully through a number of arms-length sub-syndicates in the fields of smuggling, gray marketeering, arms dealing, information brokerage, and trading in locally illegal technology, immortagens, and hedonic pharmaceuticals, with occasional sidelines in black clinics, gambling, negotiable affection, and snakeheading to freesoil worlds.
The notable thing, of course, about this list of operations – as certain of my colleagues have pointed out – would be the virtual impossibility of convicting someone of any of them in front of a Curial court, given the Charter’s restrictions. And indeed, the politics and attitude of the Imperial mainstream are such that it is most unlikely that the governments whom they do offend – by treading on their ability to restrict their citizens’ access to weapons, biotechnology (especially immortagens), information and hedonics, or to inject tariffs into private contracts – will find much sympathy in the Court of Public Opinion, either. The rare occasions on which an attempt has been made to extradite an identified thunimidár (“faded person”; lowest-level employee of the core business, overseeing a particular outworld operation) would appear to bear this out.
Of course one does occasionally see some of their agents from the sub-syndicates hauled up in front of a Curial court and either extradited, or subjected to severe censure; usually in cases where they have been involved in something the Eldinimieuthunimis would consider going too far, such as selling arms to terrorist or violent criminal groups, resorting to sophont trafficking, taking up more traditional organized crime activities such as extortion, or some other such. It would be the purest paranoia to suggest that the Eldinimieuthunimis has a tacit arrangement with the Watch Constabulary to burn its rogue operations in exchange for providing something for the diplomats to point at by way of action against the Sinister Imperial Mafia.
The same sort of paranoia that might lead this journalist to suggest that the operations of the Eldinimieuthunimis are broadly tolerated by a plurality of Accord governments in order to reduce the market share of much less scrupulous crime syndicates, in fact.
– published in a recent edition of the Accord Infoclast
As requested, I collected the package from the courier at Jerrad’s party. No problems – the usual watchers were there, but there were no signs that anyone suspected an op in progress. And with the transfer spread out over two dances and three conversations out of dozens, the statistical alibi should be solid.
I have reintegrated package HALO with packages CRAVAT and BOOZEHOUND previously collected by third-level operatives, and confirm successful reassembly and authentication. The recipe is ready to deploy to second-level manufacturing on your instruction, and immortagen shipments should be go for street-level distribution within the week following.
Finally, I would note that in addition to the clean transfer, the courier positioned herself at the center of attention to avert suspicion of covert intent without, in my opinion, displaying the memetic tells of intentionally doing so. In light of this excellent tradecraft, I would suggest that we recommend to the estrev paying this courier the highest level of performance bonus and adding her to the preferred external contractor list.
Awaiting further instructions,
– archived from the Falish Traverse Eldinimieuthunimis darknet