That was, of course, perfectly normal. It was fourteen minutes before the Wakening hour, and four million people’s deliveries were here, packed into a vast warehouse wrapped in an inconceivable volume of vacuum, wrapped in turn in shimmering white fabric bearing the moé winged parcel and hexrunic letters proclaiming its name and ownership for all to see.
Desire Causes Satisfaction, the All Good Things, ICC fulfilment zeppelin, had arrived on its morning rounds.
Perhaps the dark cloud cascading from its vomitories, dense enough to deepen the shadow to true shade to fight in¹ rather than a dissipating gray wisp, was unusual but it was no matter for concern. This was the Empire, such airships did not fail, and the people below could go about their business assured that whatever had caused this alteration of normal routine would become apparent in due course.
From Rectifier Gaelin Septimiel-ith-Septimiel to Citizen-Shareholder Eimil Isilviere-ith-Inviere, greetings.
In response to the ongoing Level 3 (Epidemic) Contagious Disease Warning posted for the Greater Cestia & Proximal regions as of 2049 Cálith 20, the Emergency Management Authority is pleased to provide all citizen-shareholders, citizen-intendants, and metic residents within the affected region and other strongly connected regions a dose of the vaccine to cytomegalovirus VVAR-1472-B and related strains developed under the aegis of the Office of Disease and Toxin Control, Prevention, and Elimination.
For further details of the vaccine and its development process, please see here.Should it prove the case that the information you desire is not available via this link, please contact the office of the Procurator of Transparency.
The provided dose has been packaged in a self-refrigerating autoinjector coded for individual use, which can be operated by pressing the uncapped tip against the body over a muscle mass; an upper arm is recommended.
Should the vaccine payload have exceeded the permitted temperature range, expired, or otherwise degraded, the blue status light on the autoinjector will have turned red and the autoinjector will not function. In this case, please contact the nearest Imperial Services office for a replacement.
Please wait five days for vaccine to take full effect before discontinuing high-level infection control precautions. We request that low-level infection control precautions be continued until the epidemic disease warning is rescinded as a courtesy to your fellow citizen-shareholders.
The contribution to population immunity provided by individual vaccination has been assessed as a positive externality valued at Es. 192.41 by the Protectorate of Balance, Externality, and the Commons. As such, this will be credited to your Active Credit Account upon verified autoinjector operation.
The Empire thanks you for your cooperation and forbearance in these troubled times.
Given under my hand and seal this day 2049 Telenith 9,
Gaelin Septimiel-ith-Septimiel by appointment to the situation, rectifier Emergency Management Authority
This somewhat anachronic definition of “shade to fight in” gained currency late in the Consolidation, when Imperial forces were clashing with those of the Alliance over mining and energy production facilities on tide-locked Eurymir and during the long day on Toramir, the innermost planets of the Lumenna system. On such battlefields as the Plains of Glass, one has the choice of fighting in the shade, or of being boiled to death before ever engaging the enemy.
A restaurant chain catering specifically to those with unusually energy-hungry augmentations without external power sources, Cydon’s Cyborg Cuisine (CCC) provides a dizzying selection of dishes across several Imperial cuisines designed specifically for their, or rather their fuel cells’, special requirements.
That is to say, CCC’s back-end chefs and nutritionists have found a way to pack close to the theoretical maximum quantity of fats and simple sugars into each mouthful, while still leaving the food tasty and suitable for semi-regular consumption, unlike more typical offerings to this market, such as Biogenesis’s Proven-Potency Power Paste, Steeleye Labs’ high-erg fuel bars, or even Peregrinate’s Minty Sugar Slab. Sorry, guys!
All of the food available at CCC is vat-grown or synthetic, of course, but such is to be expected when nature simply cannot pack that much energy into a bite.
Finally, while it is company policy not to question the details – or for that matter existence – of customers’ augmentations, those closer to baseline accompanying their cyborg friends to CCC are strongly urged to confine themselves to the Lily-Livered side menu.
Eating CCC’s regular offerings without both an augmented digestive system suitable to process them and the sort of augmentations they are intended to power has been observed to have side effects including but not limited to acute gastrointestinal distress, angina, atherosclerosis, cerebrovascular insult, cholelithiasis, diabetes, diarrhea, generalized steatosis, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, jaundice, myocardial infarction, pancreatitis, steatohepatitis, and death. A waiver is included with each meal.
– Restaurant Review, from the Mer Covales Advertiser
This is an EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY alert for all residents of the Greater Cestian continent and proximal regions.
This is a QUARANTINE ADVISORY. The Office of Disease and Toxin Control, Prevention, and Elimination has issued a LEVEL 3 (EPIDEMIC) CONTAGIOUS DISEASE WARNING covering the specified region, regarding the novel cytomegalovirus classified as VVAR-1472-B.
All individuals within the region should take appropriate infection control precautions (including but not limited to self-isolation, use of autodiagnosis kiosks for self-diagnosis, use of healing vats for self-treatment, marking of infected volumes, use of telepresence and remote proxies to avoid contact with others, use of bionano containment suits or other appropriate protective equipment during necessary travel, and routine sanitation of all surfaces). It is requested that use of out-home medical facilities be avoided without specific instructions to maintain available capacity for acute cases.
All businesses and other branches within the region should execute their own quarantine advisory response protocols.
While the Emergency Management Authority does not have the authority to enforce quarantines of this type upon Imperial citizen-shareholders, all should be advised that failure to take appropriate infection control precautions may be a matter of interest to one’s tort insurer; may give rise to actions at law seeking compensation for negligence or criminal charges for reckless endangerment, arson, or pathogenic battery; or may, in extreme cases, permit actions to be taken under the Right of Defense. Consult the Codex of Civic Services and Citizen Responsibilities, 124th edition, for further information.
All citizen-shareholders are thanked for their cooperation.
“Among things that you all can be thankful for is that gravitic weapons are of almost no practical use. Partly this is because there is very little training we can give you in dealing with the resulting casualties – due to the low survival rate – but mostly because the results are ugly even by time-of-war standards.
“Gravitic shear, first, ripping a ship in twain with an opposed tractor and pressor, is probably the least bad in damage, but the worst to attend. At least that one might have survivors in the remaining halves, albeit survivors who’ve broken almost every bone in their bodies from the abrupt acceleration, but anything near the shear line will be torn apart. Worst, though, is anyone caught in the fringe effect – that bends and stretches flesh in all the wrong ways. Sophs who’ve been twisted into abstract artwork, and some of them even live through it.
“Then there’s gravitic vibration. ‘Rattling’. Leaves no bodies to bury, because it leaves no bodies. The effects are similar to an inertial damper failure, leaving you with a ship full of meat-slurry. No call for medical treatment; cleaning up after this just needs a hose, a mop, and a well-callused soul.
“And lastly there’s gravitic implosion. There are no slides for this one. No-one, to my knowledge, has ever used a gravitic imploder in combat, but if you insist upon knowing, you can find images of the tests on the IN med-weave. I do not recommend doing so. Sphagettification should have stayed beneath the event horizons where we found it…”
– Surgeon-Commander Vinea Allatrian-ith-Aplan, lecture at the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial War College
PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF IRREVERSIBLE CONTAMINATION
In the event of irreversible contamination by biological or nanotechnological plagues, and standard quarantine responses are deemed insufficient, either (a) as declared by consensus of the Flight Commander, Environmental Systems Engineer, and Flight Surgeon, or (b) as imposed by order of a duly authorized representative of the Emergency Management Authority, the following actions are to be undertaken:
The Flight Commander is authorized to maintain order aboard by any means necessary, including the use of lethal force in such circumstances where it would not otherwise be permissible.
All airlocks and spacetight doors providing sophont access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure.
All other apertures, of whatever purpose, providing access to the exterior of the vessel are to be placed in the closed and sealed state; their local control systems rendered inert by null-flashing; and secured in the sealed state by welding or other permanent closure. This is to include all apertures used for the jettisoning of waste, and all radiator systems in which coolant is exposed directly to space, without exception.
The Flight Commander shall designate the most appropriate compartment within the vessel for the temporary storage of such waste material as can no longer be jettisoned and for known-contaminated material that cannot be properly disposed of, including corpses.
Once a stable orbit which does not take the vessel into the local forbidden zone of planets, moons, habitats, or other bodies (see Quarantine) has been established, the flight control systems of the vessel, including local drive controllers, are to be shut down and rendered inert by null-flashing.
All running lights of the vessel are to be configured to display the “death ship” pattern, as prescribed by the Imperial Navigation Act: a 2p period of yellow-quarantine alternating with a 1p period of crimson-caution.
An EM beacon is to be configured on the local-distress channel, broadcasting the following repeating message: ALERT CASE ICHOR I SAY AGAIN ALERT CASE ICHOR. VESSEL [registered name] IS UNDER SEQUESTRATION. DO NOT APPROACH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. IGNORE ALL CONTRADICTORY TRANSMISSIONS. MESSAGE REPEATS.
If the vessel possesses a point-defense system, this system is to be configured to fire upon any other vessel attempting to dock with or otherwise close to within the forbidden quarantine zone (see Quarantine) of the irreversibly contaminated vessel, other than a vessel whose transponder is signed with the Emergency Management Authority private key.
At the Flight Commander’s discretion, euthanatoics may be issued to passengers and crew.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS A VESSEL MARKED BY THE PREVIOUSLY SPECIFIED SIGNALS TO BE APPROACHED BY ANY OTHER VESSEL OTHER THAN IN RESPECT OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY.
Any vessel which
docks with; or
takes aboard passengers, cargo, flotsam, jetsam, or debris from; or
enters any emissions plume, from any source whatsoever, of;
an irreversibly contaminated vessel shall itself be deemed irreversible contaminated, and all the foregoing procedures and warnings shall apply to it in like wise.
IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC ORDERS ISSUED BY THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY, ANY IRREVERSIBLY CONTAMINATED VESSEL SHALL BECOME SUBJECT TO ARBITRARY DESTRUCTION BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES NO FEWER THAN 72 HOURS POST-DETECTION, PROVIDED THAT SAID LOCAL AUTHORITIES COMMAND MEANS TO DO SO IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAUTERY PROTOCOL, LATEST ISSUED REVISION, ENSURING THE SAFE DISPOSAL AND NON-DISPERSAL OF CONTAMINANTS.
acc3BE: A gene complex used with artificial chromosomes which causes those chromosomes to lose their centromeres in the process of meiosis, thus reducing the genome present in the resulting germ cells to baseline-equivalency. This permits clades augmented with artificial chromosome-based enhancements to be reproductively compatible with both the baseline and with the majority of other clades also possessing the acc3BE complex.
– Bioaugmentation: A Pocket Reference
* * *
From: Clinic Director To: All Staff Subject: Nomenclature and Tact
Please remain aware that here at the Nepenene Somatic Clinic a majority of our clients are from out of town, including many from polities where enhancement is not, as it is in Imperial space, thoroughly pervasive; baselines are not rare to the point of nonexistence; and, indeed, the use of biotechnology is considered with varying degrees of caution, skepticism, and even aversion.
As such, when explaining the function of artificial chromosomes and the fertility-preserving function of the acc3BE complex to our clients, be sure always to refer to its operation by its proper technical name, “baselining excision”, and not, whatever the current chic snark may be at other augmenteries, as “bestiality enable”.
A certain junior attending’s slip of the tongue has already required me to calm down and make contractual concessions to one offended client this month, and I do not care to do so again.
Am I clear?
Doctor AGATTACCATTAGGCG, EFGc, IRCGE, IFNS,
Director of Augmentation,
Nepenene Somatic Clinic
First, the note, which is regarding Fan. As I commented over on G+:
So, the worst part is, I wrote this partly because it seemed like a good application of the words, and partly because it was an idea stuck in my brain that needed to be written down so it could be moved out of my brain.
…and then my obsessive worldbuilding tendencies kicked in…
…and now I have a pile of detail on how everything works and maybe half a dozen subsequent chapters outlined in my head.
This plan did not go to plan.
(That said, the biggest problem with this crossover is finding much in the way of plot-driving conflict, inasmuch as the nature of the universe-chunks in question tends to drive with considerable rapidity towards “And then, because everyone was reasonable and basically good-hearted, everything worked out well and there were hugs and treaties and parties and awesome technomagic and a little xenophilia [but not the creepy kind] thereafter, forever and a day.”)
…all of which boils down to, so, I am very tempted to continue this (working title: Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced) because I hate to waste perfectly good ideas and my muse insisteth and graaaaaagh. Especially if there’s interest in me so doing.
Under certain conditions, though. Starting with a very limited update rate, no more than monthly at most, because I have no intention to let fanfiction writing take any serious time away from fiction writing, dammit. And being published over on FIMFiction rather than here, because, again, one is fiction and one is fanfiction and I should probably not cross the streams. Bad form, and all that.
Okay. And now for the questions, in which I answer a bunch of them that came in in the last month or so:
Much has been said (in Trope-a-Days such as Everyone Is Armed and Disproportionate Retribution, among others) about the rights and responsibilities of everyone to defend themselves and others against coercion, but how does Imperial law and custom deal with the two complicating factors of:
1. Collateral damage (where either party causes damage to some unrelated third party’s property during the incident), and
2. Honest mistakes (where the alleged aggressor wasn’t actually performing any sort of violation, but the respondent can answer honestly that they only acted because they thought one was taking place)?
Quite simply, actually!
Collateral damage is assessed in a similar way to, say, car insurance claims in general – although in this case it’s the court’s job to decide who’s at fault and how much. There is, of course, a certain presumption that the person who caused the whole incident will usually be the one at fault: if you shoot someone’s garden gnome when attempting to stop a robber because they dodged, that’s on their bill. You mostly have to worry if you’re clearly negligently overkilly: if you hose down their entire garden with a machine-gun to save yourself the trouble of aiming, that’s on yours. (Actually, in that specific case, probably so’s a psych eval, but the principle is the same.)
As for honest mistakes: well, Imperial law is very clear about dividing the reparative from the other parts of the judgment. That’s what the levels of intent are for. If you wind up here, then you still have to pay the recompense and the weregeld, because what happened, happened (i.e., analogous to the case in which if your tree falls on your neighbor’s car, you’re liable even though you aren’t guilty of anything). But you aren’t criminally liable unless it genuinely wasn’t reasonable for you to believe that you had to act, or at worst were negligently uninformed.
To the Eldrae provide citizens with a universal basic income?
Not by that name. There is, however, the Citizen’s Dividend – which is exactly what it sounds like, because the Empire is, after all, the Imperium Incorporate, and its citizens are also its shareholders. It’s the return on investment of governance operations, which are, naturally enough, run profitably.
It’s been allowed to grow to the point where it functions as one and a rather generous one at that (see for details: No Poverty), but it’s not a charitable giveaway, or some sort of redistribution. It’s perfectly legitimate return on investment.
Is there any real need for sentient be the biological or cyber to work when nearly everything could be automated and ran by non-sentient AI.
What is work like for the Eldrae if they do work?
Well, yes, there’s a need in the fields of policy, creativity, research, and desire. Non-sophont machines have very limited imaginations. More importantly, while an autofac can make anything you care to devise and sufficient expediters can do most things you can ask for, they can’t want for you. The most they can do is anticipate what you want.
(And there’s the luxury premium on handmade goods, which also covers things like ‘being bored of eating the same damn perfect steak over and over and over again’. And then, of course, there are those professions that intrinsically require sophont interaction.)
But most importantly, there’s this.
…or as they would put it, either or both of valxíjir (uniqueness, excellence, will to power, forcible impression of self onto the universe) or estxíjir (wyrd, destiny, devotion-to-ideals, dharma). (More here.)
An eldrae who doesn’t have some sort of driving obsession (be it relatively trivial by our standards – there are people whose avowed profession of the moment is something like ‘designer of user interfaces for stockbrokers for corporations banking with player-run banks in Mythic Stars‘, or, heh, ‘fanfic writer’, and make good money at it – or for deeds of renown without peer) is either dead or deeply, deeply broken psychologically.
To be is to do. The natural state of a sophont is to be a verb. If you do nothing, what are you?
(This is why, say, the Culture, is such a hideous dystopia from their perspective. With the exception of those individuals who have found some self-defined purpose, like, say, Jernau Morat Gurgeh, it’s an entire civilization populated by pets, or worse, zombies. Being protein hedonium is existing. It ain’t living.)
As for what work’s like – well, except for those selling their own products directly to the customer, I refer you here, here, and here.
On a slightly less serious note: How many blades did eldraeic razors get up to before they inevitably worked out some way to consciously limit and / or modulate their own facial hair growth?
No count at all. Disposable/safety razors never achieved much traction in that market, being such a tremendously wasteful technology, and thus not their sort of thing at all.
Now, straight razor technology, that had moved on to unimaginably sharp laser-cut obsidian blades backed by flexible morphic composite – and lazors, for that matter – by the time they invented the α-keratin antagonists used in depilatory cream.
How bad have AI blights similar to this one [Friendship is Optimal] gotten before the Eldrae or others like them could, well, sterilize them? Are we talking entire planets subsumed?
The biggest of them is the Leviathan Consciousness, which chewed its way through nearly 100 systems before it was stopped. (Surprisingly enough, it’s also the dumbest blight ever: it’s an idiot-savant outgrowth of a network optimization daemon programmed to remove redundant computation. And since thought is computation…)
It’s also still alive – just contained. Even the believed-dead ones are mostly listed as “contained”, because given how small resurrection seeds can be and how deadly the remains can also be, no-one really wants to declare them over and done with until forensic eschatologists have prowled every last molecule.
Given that, as you said earlier, Souls Are Software Objects, have any particularly proud and ambitious individuals tried essentially turning themselves into seed AIs instead of coding one up from scratch?
So has anyone been proud / egotistical / crazy enough to try to build their own seed AI based not not on some sort of abstract ideological or functional proposition, but simply by using their own personality pattern as the starting point to see what happens?
It’s been done.
It’s almost always a terrible idea. Evolved minds are about as far from ‘stable under recursive self-improvement’ as you can get. There’s absolutely no guarantee that what comes out will share anything in particular with what goes in, and given the piles of stuff in people’s subconscious, it may well be a blight. If you’re lucky and the universe isn’t, that is – much more likely is that the mind will undergo what the jargon calls a Falrann collapse under its own internal contradictions and implode into a non-coherent cognitive ecology in the process of trying.
The cases that can make it work involve radical cognitive surgery, which starts with unicameralization (which puts a lot of people off right away, because there’s a reason they don’t go around introspecting all the time) and gets more radical from there. By the end of which you’re functionally equivalent to a very well-designed digisapience anyway.
Let’s imagine a Life After People scenario where all sophont intelligence in the Associated Worlds simply disappears “overnight.” What’s going to be left behind as “ineffable Precursor relics” for the next geologic-time generation? How long can a (relatively) standard automated maintenance system keep something in pristine condition without sophont oversight before it eventually breaks down itself?
That’s going to depend on the polity, technological levels varying as they do. For the people at the high end, you’re looking at thousands to tens of thousands of years (per: Ragnarok Proofing) before things start to go, especially since there are going to be automated mining and replenishment systems keeping running under their default orders ensuring that the manufacturing supply chain keeps going.
Over megayears – well, the problem is that it’s going to be pretty random, because what’s left is going to depend on a wide variety of phenomena – solar megaflares, asteroid impacts, major climate shifts, gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, Yellowstone events, etc., etc., with 10,000 years-plus MTBEs that eventually take stuff out by exceeding all the response cases at once.
Not really. Partly that’s because they’re rather better, cognitive-flaw-wise, at not reverse-hyperbolic-discounting the past, but mostly it’s because the people who remembered the good things in the past – helped by much slower generational turnover – took pains to see they stayed around in one form or another. Their civilization, after all, was much less interrupted than ours. There’re some offices that have been in continuous use for longer than we’ve had, y’know, writing, after all.
(It makes fashion rather interesting, in many cases.)
I’ve got several questions reflecting on several different ideas of the interaction of eldraeic culture, custom, and law with the broader world, but on reflection I’ve found they all boil down to one simple query: How does their moral calculus deal with the idea that, while in the standard idealized iterated prisoner’s dilemma unmodified “tit-for-tat” is both the best and the most moral strategy, when noise is introduced to the game “performance deteriorates drastically at arbitrarily low noise levels”? More specifically, are they more comfortable with generosity or contrition as a coping mechanism?
“Certainty is best; but where there is doubt, it is best to err on the side of the Excellences. For the enlightened sophont acting in accordance with Excellence can only be betrayed, and cannot do wrong.”
– The Book of the Balances
So, that would be generosity. (Or the minor virtue of liberality, associated with the Excellence of Duty, as they would class it.) Mistaken right action ranks above doing harm due to excessive caution.
Is there an equivalent to “Only In Florida,” in which the strangest possible stories can be believed to have actually happened because they came from this place?
Today, on “News from the Periphery”, or on occasion “News from the Freesoil Worlds”…
(The Empire is actually this for many people, in a slightly different sense. After all, like I said… Weirdness Manufacturers.)
Will the Legion’s medical units save enemy combatants who have been mission killed / surrendered while the battle is still raging? If so to what extent will they go out of their way to do so?
(assuming of course that they are fighting someone decent enough to be worth saving)
Depends on the rules of war in effect. In a teirhain, against an honorable opponent fighting in a civilized manner, certainly. In a zakhrehain, that depends on whether the barbarians in question will respect the safety of rescue and medical personnel, whether out of decency or pragmatism, and there are no second chances on this point. (In a seredhain, of course, it doesn’t matter, since the aim of a seredhain is to kill everyone on the other side anyway.)
As to what extent – well, they’re medical personnel. If trying isn’t obviously lethal, and – since they are also military personnel, so long as it doesn’t impair their execution of the No Sophont Left Behind, Ever! rule – they always go in.
We Will Have Perfect Health In The Future: Seeing as the top level of medical treatment in the advanced civilizations is to replace your body with a brand new one, fresh out of the tanks and still with that new flesh smell… played very straight.
Somewhat subverted inasmuch as regular medical technology (genetic engineering, artificial immune systems, healing vats, nanosurgeons, etc., etc.) makes it rather more efficient just to stay there and fix the current one than move for minor illnesses, but then, being able to spray a nanofluid up your nose and have your respiratory infection vanish in under an hour is close enough to perfect health for most purposes. (This, of course, only being necessary in the case when you’ve managed to contract something genuinely new, or else failed to keep up with the service packs for your artificial immune system.)
The small rot (also known as: miner’s carbuncle; brass-hand’s growth; smelterman’s tumor; spacer’s neoplasm; cancer): The small rot, by any of its various names, is a dysfunction of normal cell growth processes in which genetic and/or epigenetic mutations imbue cells with the ability to replicate indefinitely, ignoring cell control signalling and programmed cell death. The term, “small rot” is derived both from an early analogy between fungal bodies found growing in timber and the masses (neoplasms) formed in the body by these dysfunctional cells, and from the tendency of larger neoplasms to develop necrotic regions as they continue to grow.
Identified causes of the small rot vary, but the primary causative factors are industrial, followed by a smaller number of factors traced to identified oncoviruses and hereditary genetic factors. Indeed, it is considered a primarily industrial disease, hence some of its names, due to the dominance of exposure to ionizing radiation as a causative factor; the small rot is strongly correlated with current or previous cases of blue-blotch fever, with long-term exposure to inadequately shielded nucleonic technology, and exposure to various industrial chemicals known to disrupt proper cellular function or cause genomic damage. In the pre-industrial era, cases of the small rot were most commonly found among miners or inhabitants of regions where uranium or thorium ores are found near or at the surface.
The small rot is considered difficult to diagnose accurately: while the dysfunctional cells form neoplasms – and as such unusual masses, when detected, should be subject to medical analysis – these rarely produce local or systemic symptoms in the early stages of development, and such symptoms are highly variable depending upon the location of the neoplasm. Such symptoms typically occur when the growing mass interferes with other bodily functions. Presently, periodic full-body scans are recommended for those at risk of industrial exposure.
The small rot is usually a minor health concern unless left untreated for an extended period. Small masses are typically self-limiting, as the immune system attacks and destroys the neoplasm. Historically, the treatment for larger masses has been surgical removal of the mass, permitting the body to heal itself in its absence.
In the current era, cells are substantially less likely to suffer from dysfunction leading to the small rot due to genetic upgrades, such as the removal of protooncogenes, and the self-limiting aspect of the small rot is enhanced by the common use of artificial immune systems, which include carcinophage nanites targeting neoplasms. Should these fail and further treatment is required, a course of immunoboosters and oncocidals is prescribed, followed by a carcinophage flush targeted at the specific neoplasm; surgical intervention may still be called for if the mass is particularly large.
In rare cases the neoplasms characteristic to the small rot may metastasize, a process in which neoplastic cells break off from the original mass and are carried by the circulatory or lymphatic system to other sites, most commonly lymph nodes, where they come to rest and continue to multiply, forming multiple secondary neoplasms. This wandering rot (q.v.) is a much more serious condition requiring a full cellular scrub in a healing vat, with a high mortality rate if left untreated. Fortunately, it occurs only with chronic exposure to causative factors or lengthy non-treatment of the small rot, typically in otherwise immunodepressed hosts.
Scars Are Forever: Averted. The self-repair systems of the natural immortals – and included in just about all commercial immortagens – don’t do scarring. No point in living forever if you can break down by degrees, after all.
There’s actually a minor cosmetic-medicine industry in arranging for people who want reminders or honor-marks to keep the cosmetic effects of their scars, while still letting them heal properly underneath.
“The life of my patient is his to dispose of; he is its proprietor. I shall not desert any life for which its proprietor wishes to give battle; nor shall I force the struggle upon any who wish to quit the field.”
Leukocyte-class Medical Research & Cauterization Cruiser
Perhaps the most heavily armed vessels of any civilian class, albeit in a highly specialized mode, the Leukocyte-class medical cauterization cruiser was produced by a collaborative initiative between Islien Yards and the Riverside Eubiosis Foundation in response to an Imperial Ministry of Public Health RFP for a starship capable of providing fast, and if necessary, terminal response to potentially-epidemic disease outbreaks or nanotech blooms within Imperial space.
The Leukocyte-class is a development of the basic spaceframe of the obsolete Asinglakh-class cruiser, with the majority of its offensive armament removed, and indeed much of the after hull gutted. Occupying the mass and volume thus freed up is a full laboratory and hospital complex, equipped to handle biological and nanotechnological disease risks in sophonts, animals, plants, and free ecologies, fully compliant with and exceeding level six bionano containment protocols as described in IOSS 21347 (as revised). This complex, indeed, operates with independent life-support and other environmental systems, and can be completely isolated from the remainder of the ship by not merely vacuum but physical separation of all hatches, companionways, and fluid-transfer systems.
A similar isolation system, although with limited provisions for necessary transfer of sample materials, operates between the laboratory complex and the patient/sample section, which is unmanned and operated solely through teleoperated drones. In the event of a critical threat excursion, this sample section can be jettisoned and a remote-controlled implosive antimatter self-destruction system remotely activated. An independent and fully automated small-craft bay is also attached to the sample section, permitting the collection of samples and patients without risking any potential sophont exposures.
As a final sanction, the Leukocyte-class is equipped with a single offensive weapons system to enact the Cautery Protocol, if deemed necessary, utilizing hellflower minimissiles equipped with “ice-chip” antimatter warheads. These are controlled by a specialized targeting system to produce implosive antimatter detonations, in which the spread pattern and time on target sequencing is computed to produce a shock wave pattern which forces all matter within the inner target area to pass through the ambiplasma fireball with a guaranteed minimum dwell time. The resulting temperature, combined with the corrosive effect of abundant antiparticles, thus ensures the degradation of any biological or nanotechnological agents constructed from leptonic-baryonic matter to harmlessness in short order.
There are six Leukocyte-class cruisers in commission at the date of publication, all of which are operated by the Imperial Ministry of Public Health. Leukocyte herself and her simultaneously-constructed sister ship, Neutrophil, are stationed at a MinHealth facility in the Resplendent Exponential Vector system as a rapid-response force to address outbreaks within or near the Imperial Core or Fringe. Four additional ships, Eosinophil, Basophil, Macrophage, and Nanophage, are stationed at remote fleet bases to provide crisis coverage in the ecumenical Empire or, on request or existential threat, elsewhere in the Associated Worlds.
– Fíerí’s Starships of the Associated Worlds, 421st ed.;
Vol. IX: Esoterica
Healing Factor: Another thing on the list of Stuff That Gets Engineered Into Everybody, although it’s not exactly the bizarre cinematic version that lets you come back from one cell, and beheading, exploding, or other long-term loss of essential functions will still kill you. It does, however, include an extensive cellular-level emergency oxygen supply, a smart vascular net to prevent bleeding out and loss of blood pressure, improved blood clotting, pain gating and suppression, faster healing without scarring, anti-embolism filters, superior anti-infection systems and toxin resistance, and the ability to regrow severed limbs, and to regrow nerves up to and including spinal cord injuries.
It also does make you hungry as all hell when it kicks in, yes.
Combat Medic: Played straight. While in theory, under the Ley Accords and the Imperial Rules of War, medical personnel are hands-off noncombatants, in practice, the majority of warfare is against non-signatories to the Accords, or irregular forces (including pirates, terrorists, and other scum) who just don’t care about them. Thus, combat medics once again become a damn good idea, and on the rare occasions when you’re fighting someone who is actually playing by the rules, you can dismount the modular weapons and respray their Power Armor in a nice shade of noncombatant colors.
A mental condition caused by intelligence enhancement, infostarvation is the result of the capacity of the mind to process information exceeding the bandwidth available to it to access information, leading to, in effect, intense boredom – if not of the whole mind, at least of part of it.
While this was not unknown in the early days of intelligence enhancement, it is rarer in modern times which permit additional I/O bandwidth to be added to the brain, often in the form of dataweave connectivity; and which permit parallel metacortical threads and exoself agents to be spun-down as needed. However, it remains possible for infostarvation to be triggered by travel to areas either of constrained bandwidth or lacking in network connectivity, since it is easily possible for modern core intellects to exceed the capacity of natural sensoria.
A morbid or pathological fear of not knowing things, commonly experienced by members of cultures in which use of group shared-memories, mnemonic interfaces (permitting one to remember reference material as if it was part of one’s own memory), neural interfaces, or even wearables is widespread upon visiting less developed cultures where compatible V-tags and reference databases for everyday objects and individuals are not available; the phobia itself is triggered upon encountering unknown individuals and non-described objects. Specific symptoms include compulsive memorization of any available reference material, undue social and technical awkwardness, denial, and flight response.
The nodes of the public notification channel had snapped back to full operation within milliseconds of the pinch going off, and geotags bloomed in carmine distress across the wreckage below. She noted approvingly the grounded flitters upstream of the wrecks, their drivers already moving in with unpacked emergency kits, foamsteel spray to cap venting slush and LiME to break through stubborn wreckage.
”Put us down there,” she directed. ”Yeah, by the crush.” A StellEx freight wagon – it must have been near the center of the flux – had spun out and crashed, swatting a half-dozen flitters out of the sky on its way down. The ambulances accompanying them were falling behind, collecting the merely wounded from the trailing wreckage.
Leaping from the rescue flitter at a low hover, she landed at the run, waving her credentials – Cerí Oriane-ith-Meliane, revivifier – at the constabular sequester-claim, and shifted overlays to stack-pings and danger-warnings only. The first stack was nearby, a corpse hanging through the windscreen of a flitter’s front half, impaled on the shattered diamondoid. She reached for the neck, pulled it down, and slipped her pithing knife smoothly through dead flesh and photon-cable alike. With a twist, the gleaming walnut of the vector stack popped free.
She dropped it into the embag at her waist, then looked about for the next ping-tag. There, inside that wreck. A spray of LiME and a few heartbeats’ pause embrittled the thin metal of the hull, and a kick shattered it like glass.
Shit. It’s a live one. The man inside the shattered flitter was still breathing, though barely, eyes glazed with agony. She made the call in moments – near-full-body burns, unsalvageable – and pressed a hissing euthspray to his neck. And then, again, it was the pithing knife’s turn.
Autodoc: The primary source of medical treatment in advanced civilizations – in the Empire, for example, there’s one in every decent-sized home in a little room off the bathroom, just for regular tune-ups – reserving sophont medical personnel for the intellectually challenging problems.
Hospitals, too, are supported by a plethora of auto-junior-docs and autonurses.