Created initially in 1344 CE by the Skrell, it was an incredibly rare and expensive procedure that only revolved around embryonic reproductive cloning. It was almost three centuries later, in 1639 that the Skrell unlocked the ability to begin growing organs, as well as limbs, for those that managed to fall into the “Primary” category of the Skrellian Social Credit System. It became a popular trend among the highest of the Primaries to grow organs and limbs ahead of actually requiring them.
The Era of Synthetic Oppression reigned over by Glorsh-Omega brought with it significant advances into the field of cloning, mostly confined to the archologies across Aliose. Glorsh-Omega had managed to propel the field of cloning and genetics exceptionally during their reign, managing to unlock the secret that prevented the flash growth of organs and limbs. Upon contact with humanity in 2332, Skrell began sharing their research in the field of cloning with Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals — specifically its subsidiary, Yomi Genetics Innovation and Research.
Continued efforts from both races eventually yielded more efficient processes, making cloning organs and limbs easier than before, as well as cutting unnecessary costs that pushed for Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals to franchise on the new lucrative market developing as a result of the cooperation. Today, while other megacorporations have invested in the field, Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals continues to dominate the cloning market. Most if not all cloning operations are performed on corporate assets with branches of its subsidiary - Yomi Genetics. Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals has also managed to advertise the “revival” of the dead through embryonic cloning, where a biological copy of an individual can exist. However, it follows the lifespan of their respective species beginning at infancy.
Limb and Organ Cloning
The ability of humanity to “clone” limbs and organs dates back to the mid-21st century and originates at roughly the same time as Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, which would go on to be the main provider of cloned limbs and organs. These early techniques were slow and could be prohibitively expensive, depending on the organ. Limb cloning only became common in the early 23rd century with the advent of new techniques developed by Jeonshi Biotech Incorporated but— due to its cost— initially existed as an alternative for prosthetics only available to the very wealthy. This changed following first contact with the Skrell in 2332 due to Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals's willingness to cooperate with the more advanced species.
Cooperation between Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals and Skrell helped lower costs and enhance the effectiveness of existing limb and organ cloning techniques. While genetic material from the recipient is still required to clone an organ or limb, modern techniques first developed in this era have made it much more affordable and practical for an average human resident of the Orion Spur - however, in still considerably more expensive than their mechanical counterparts. Despite these improvements and advances, limb and organ cloning remains mostly limited to more developed systems such as Sol, New Ankara, Biesel, and Xanu Prime with few cloning facilities existing outside of these areas. With the most remote facilities existing in the Al-Maqdisi System due to its heavy Zeng-Hu presence.
While much of Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals's research focuses upon the cloning of limbs and organs, the prospect of cloning an entire human being has long fascinated the keiretsu. Although Jeonshi Biotech focused primarily on the more conventional form of cloning, Yomi Genetics I&R, already well-known for being on the bleeding edge of genetic research, opted to pursue a different field: that of embryonic cloning. Long a staple of the Nralakk Federation due to long-standing fertility issues, Yomi Genetics researchers were able to create the first practical method for human embryonic cloning in the early 2410s. Prohibitively expensive and only common in the richest of humanity's systems— particularly Sol— Yomi Genetics' techniques allow those parents that can afford it to make a child that has been genetically altered to be a cut above their peers. Despite many human rights groups decrying this as simply a modern form of eugenics, its popularity has not slowed among the rich of Sol, and Yomi Genetics has quickly become one of the keiretsu's wealthiest members as a result.
Regardless of its immense profits, the corporation has not opted to pursue flash cloning of humans, citing “moral and ethical concerns" alongside the immense investment required to make such a thing practical and the lack of a viable market for adult clones. In spite of this, there have been extranet rumours for decades that the keiretsu uses cloned soldiers as its heavy-duty biohazard response teams. These are, however, simply rumours, and the keiretsu has long denied them as “baseless conspiracies,” with no foundation in reality.
While the vast majority of the Orion Spur relies on genetic manipulation and cloning techniques developed by Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals and their Skrellian business partners, there is one notable exception: the Empire of Dominia and it's “geneboosting” techniques. The exact details of these techniques are a closely-guarded secret of the Empire of Dominia and House Volvalaad, which is responsible for much of geneboosting's development and research. There have been no confirmed leaks of the Empire's geneboosting techniques, despite rumored attempts by Zavodskoi Interstellar to purchase information on them, and this secrecy has kept geneboosting firmly within the Empire's borders. On-and-off talks between Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals and the Empire regarding the sale of Dominian techniques to the keiretsu have not yet produced results.
The history and origins of geneboosting are more well-known: the modern technique dates back to genetic manipulation of crops and fauna brought by Moroz's original settlers, and this foundation was used by House Volvalaad to create modern geneboosting of humans. It is known to be prohibitively expensive and only limited to Imperial Primaries. The effects lead to enhanced attributes and appearances: those geneboosted are stronger, faster, more able, and much longer-lived than their non-geneboosted counterparts. Geneboosted playable species tend to be a foot or so taller than average (upwards of seven to seven and a half feet for humans) and find it very easy to maintain peak fitness. A geneboosted person is obvious at a glance, and geneboosted humans are often held as paragons of Imperial society. Geneboosting carried out after birth, known as gene therapy, is very rare and generally dangerous in addition to also being prohibitively expensive.
Some believe that the “revival” of an individual can occur through embryonic cloning, however, that could not be further from the truth. While they are a biological copy of a deceased individual, memories and personality will not carry over. Despite embryonic cloning of a deceased individual being cheaper than creating “designer children”, the process is still considered rather expensive, even for the wealthy.
While most of the kinks have been worked out with limb and organ cloning, there are complications. Delayed onset muscle degeneration, or DOMD for short, is a painful process where a limb can begin to necrose and can happen even years after being cloned. It is generally regarded as being rare, and impossible to detect until it is too late. The only treatment is amputation. Despite the genetic material of a recipient being used, there have been cases of acute cellular rejection with cloned organs. While dangerous if untreated, most of the time the problematic organ is removed and simply replaced with a different clone - a straightforward procedure that comes with little risk.
Ever since the introduction of the first car, Humanity has always striven to traverse the ground with ever more speed, safety and efficiency. Although spacecraft have and are being considered the primary focus for interstellar and interplanetary and even intercontinental travel, the 25th century bears witness to the bustling car industry. From Mendell City to the empty plains of Vysoka, the endless variety of cars, bikes and other vehicles can only be described as dazzling, with countless more designs, innovations and prototypes being constantly developed.
The beating heart of the galaxy's automotive industry lies undoubtedly in the core worlds of the Solarian Alliance, the place the oldest and most prestigious brands call home. Imported Solarian vehicles of all calibres can be found in virtually every system and world; an authentic (and operational) car from a solarian marque is held in very high regard and as a token of class on a far away Coalition planet. An upcoming Bieselite industry consists mainly of Solarian factories and infrastructure being rapidly taken over and merged by Nanotrasen post-independence, while burgeoning Elyran marques increase their influence and status by the year.
- Petroleum - Once the main means of powering engines, fuel oil has by now fallen into disuse. With rapidly dwindling supplies on Earth, early attempts were made to develop and accommodate for alternative, cheaper and more plentiful fuel options, leading to the wide use of electric cars, followed by the hydrogen engine. Nowadays, only a handful of designs run on diesel, almost always in technologically backwards and distant worlds.
- Electricity - The wide availability of battery-electric cars to the greater human population came in the mid-2000s, virtually and fully replacing the diesel engine by the early 2100s. Cheaper and friendlier to the environment, their use was mandated as part of the Alliance's efforts to avert the upcoming climate catastrophe on Earth. Since then, electric vehicles have received the full attention of designers and engineers, catapulting their performance stats into a new age of faster and safer commotion. The field is still being explored, with miniaturised tesla reactors posing serious promise for self-charging functions.
- Hydrogen - Once considered a lost cause, hydrogen combustion engines have by now come a long way into being accepted as a viable vehicle powering method. A relatively recent breakthrough pioneered by Einstein Engines in partnership with Langenfeld Motors has seen the development of an internal combustion engine, able to accommodate a daring new 1:100 phoron-hydrogen mix. This new "Super Hydrogen" fuel brand, authorised for use after exhaustive testing to guarantee safety and acceptable emissions, proved more powerful than anything before, allowing the vehicle to reach velocities previously unthought-of for commercial, land-based locomotion. That said, the tremendously high price, engine wear and recent phoron scarcity have confined the use of this technology to a select few.
- Others - The vastness of the Orion Spur provides for vast possibilities, individuals from all over the cosmos coming up with new innovations on how to power their automobiles. Biofuels, natural gas, steam, local minerals and many more options exist that can and have at some point been used, often to an explosive and sometimes disastrous conclusion. While the mainstream industry continues to explore new avenues, it is very rare that any such engines achieve any important consumer following.
- Wheels - Most cars and motorbikes in human space still utilise wheels. Embedded firmly into everyday life since ancient times, the wheel still remains one of the greatest inventions, serving billions of people every given hour. While there have been multiple innovations and attempts at change, the four and two-wheel standard for cars and bikes respectively, remains the primary and most used setup. New technologies in elastics have resulted in significant breakthroughs in tyre manufacturing, offering consumers a more secure and efficient experience than ever before.
- Hoverthrusters - The concept of “flying cars” has been fantasised and ingrained in the minds of the public for centuries as the staple mark of a technologically advanced future. It was not until the early 2200s that such an invention would be properly applied to the first prototype, essentially creating the first hovercar, utilising gravity generation technology. Owing to the general instability and turmoil of the time, however, no attempts at an actual commercial release were undertaken, the invention was largely forgotten until as far as the 2400s. While nowhere near the idea of airborne personal vehicles hover thrusters are now rapidly being added to both cars and motorcycles, replacing some or all wheels. They have proven highly moddable, the latest and most expensive thruster models able to project holographic images, lights and particles of all sorts while stationary or on the road.
An EU-directed amalgamation of the various major European automobile marques following the collapse of the economy during the second depression of 2260, Langenfeld has since solidified its position as a world-class producer and supplier of high-quality cars and bikes all over human and known space. A staple in the Solarian vehicle industry, the brand's focus on electric engines has kept them in the lead in their research and design, enabling them to branch out into the more general field of consumer appliances.
- Langenfeld EVO - Langenfeld's Electric Vehicle, nicknamed and marketed as EVO in a play on the word “evolution”, is the most widely sold city car series in Alliance space. Running on a standard electric engine, the EVO has dominated the market as a cheap, effective car for use in urban day to day environments. Famed for its relatively small size, its design accommodates busy 25th-century traffic in both planetary cities and Unity Station. Complaints of a cramped interior and reduced luggage capacity have led to the EVO-Compact, sacrificing the two passenger seats for a more comfortable and spacy experience while also cutting down on the size. While both the EVO and the EVO-Compact have been praised for the conveniences they offer in parking and manoeuvring inside tight spaces, it is a clear urban design, unable to match more powerful vehicles on the open road. Nevertheless, the by now decade-old design remains hugely popular in both Sol and Tau Ceti space.
- Langenfeld Surveyor - A popular SUV, the Surveyor is widely appreciated for its endurance and powerful electric engine. Predominantly found in more rural locations, its robust four-wheel-drive system renders it ideal for family vacations, trips and long-range daily commuting. A comfortable and safe interior, combined with advanced suspension systems, has gained its reputation for being one of the smoothest cars in Sol. The Surveyor has also been selected for experimentation on self-charging engine batteries, Langenfeld's R&D division managing to release a stable model, modifying the engine to great extents. While it is available to the general public, its price and availability place this iteration of the SUV out of reach for all but a select few.
- Langenfeld Vulcan - The hybrid Vulcan coupé is by all accounts, the spearhead of Langenfeld's entry into hydrogen fuel, combining both the certainty of their electric motors with the innovative design of a hydrogen combustion engine. An all in all good quality automobile, the Langenfeld Vulcan is suited for high speeds and is commonly found on the highways across Sol and Tau Ceti space.
A newly established branch of the Shibata shipping conglomerate, the Solarian company has dynamically established itself in the world of motorsports, especially motorcycles. While initially created as a bid for the shipping tycoon's participation in the prestigious Harmony City Grand Prix, it soon developed into a fully-fledged company aimed primarily at commercial sports vehicles. Renowned for its high speeds, sleek designs, but mostly its impressive hoverthruster technology, Shibata Sport is a brand found throughout Sol, Tau Ceti and Elyran space, being a top choice amongst motorcyclists and enthusiasts.
- Shibata X-406 - The widely known X-406 (or simply 406) electric sports motorcycle offered Shibata the key to the market, becoming their first large commercial success. Found mainly across Sol and Tau Ceti, the 406 is the brand's flagship product, achieving high speeds with great cost-efficiency. Supporting a driver and a passenger, the sporty design and flexible support for hover thrusters in place of the posterior wheel has made it popular with the younger clientele, spawning an enormous variation in paint jobs, attachments, lights and system modifications. This association with youth and experimentation has also resulted in unwanted notoriety, the motorbike regularly also finding itself in the hands of more fringe groups such as bikers and gang members across many worlds.
- Shibata Jie - The Shibata Jie, was the early venture into the luxury sports car market, featuring one of the first hydrogen-powered, over thruster propulsion systems on a commercial car and a driver assistance computer to help control it. Hugely promising, its early release would nonetheless go on to be regarded as a product with mixed results. Initially designed as a four-doored wheeled coupe for VIP passengers, the decision was made to convert it to a hovercar in order to beat competitors. While the car was lauded for its slender look and comfortable ride, the early and experimental propulsion system proved to be prone to overheating, leaving the car stuck, or in some cases, dangerously volatile in a crash. Changes were promptly applied however, new thrusters and more refined electronics having greatly reduced the risks of malfunction or jamming, pushing the Shibata Jie into the forefront as the fastest commercially available vehicle in Sol and Biesel.
Republic of Biesel
Poplar Auto Group
As Biesel gained independence, the nationalisation of Solarian automotive factories on the planet became inevitable after Langenfeld Tau Ceti surrendered its facilities in a large buyout. The result, a new brand managed by NanoTrasen, brought Tau Ceti into the world market as an independent designer and producer. Though shrouded by controversies and budget deficits, Poplar remains a large supplier of cars and motorcycles on the planet, backed by the Conglomerate's much needed monetary investment as more and more shares end up in their hands each year.
- Poplar Excursion - With a price tag that is relatively affordable, the Excursion has become a common sight within the Republic of Biesel. It was originally designed as a four-door hatchback, and it has made rapid strides in its target market - going even further to encourage sales partly through a unique amortization program that previously benefited NanoTrasen and now extends to other organizations within the Stellar Corporate Conglomerate. Despite its compact size, it comes with a unique engine design that pushes additional firepower through the buildup of kinetic energy from its wheels.
- Poplar Inferno - One of the most expensive locally assembled motorcycles on the market, the Poplar Inferno has become somewhat popular in certain groups across the Orion Spur. Advertised as a sleek sports cruiser, it finds the majority of its brawn originating within its hydrogen-based engine that powers its hover thrusters, said to be the first of its kind. NanoTrasen is largely accredited as being the innovator of such a design, with Nathan Trasen as the face of the chopper. It comes in only one colour; maroon red.
- Poplar Classic - Inspired by an era long past, the Poplar Classic aims to commit some necromancy by bringing back an automobile model that has long since gone extinct. Despite its petroleum-based design similar to those of 20th-century designs, the two-door sports coupé houses a miniaturized tesla reactor. It is categorized as being a mix of both Adhomian and Biesellite innovations. A great deal of the interior instrumentation is made of wood.
Started as a minor subsidiary venture by Hephaestus Industries in 2442, Tarrar Automotive Limited (Abbreviated as TAL) is a company that initially handled maintenance or repair of Tajara designed vehicles for the immigrant community of Tau Ceti. By 2450, it grew to also provide importation services, customization, or retrofitting for any and all automobiles from Adhomai. Buyers can purchase any vehicle from its catalogue as long as they can foot the heavy price or pay for its mechanics to modify their prized possessions in whatever way they see fit. Thanks to TAL, Tajara in Little Adhomai are able to gain and drive the same luxury vehicles or workhorse trucks that they had access to back home. Monowheels and motorbikes have become popular purchases thanks to the growth of the Greaser subculture. TAL has also found a niche in providing its products and services to exotic car collectors from around the spur. Rich buyers on planets such as Luna or Moroz sometimes see the sleek TAL-Volgydoh or antique Pryzark-19 as an excellent showpiece. Contrary to a popular extranet rumour, TAL does not produce technicals.
- Nav'twir M-59 - Based on the Adhomian version, the Nav'twir M-59 is Tarrar Automotive's most successful monowheel model. Known for its reliability and cheap price, the vehicle was widely adopted by the Greaser population in D6. However, Adhomai-made monowheels remain as a symbol of status in Little Adhomai.
Empire of Dominia
Jinxiang Automotive Conglomerate
Dominia's largest automotive company by a significant margin, JAC was established in 2189 in the city that bears its name, making it one of the oldest non-Solarian automotive manufacturers in the Orion Spur. The Conglomerate is primarily controlled by House Zhao, as it has been for most of its history, though independent investors hold a minority stake. The JAC produces a wide range of vehicles both for commercial purposes and use by the Dominian government, and its products, while somewhat uncommon outside of the Empire, is said to follow Dominians wherever they go.
- JAC Sunburst - A hybrid four-by-four, the Sunburst is a near-ubiquitous sight on the worlds of the Empire. Capable of handling both the built-up roads of Moroz just as well as the backwaters of Sun Reach, the Sunburst has gained a reputation for reliability and can run in nearly any condition it is likely to find itself in.
- JAC Hansom - Equipped with an electric engine, the Hansom is noted for its luxury, with each vehicle being a bespoke construction built to the specification of its frequently noble clientele. Although marketed in a sleek black colour, it is not uncommon to see Hansoms painted in the colour of the noble houses, often as a way to show support.
Serene Republic of Elyra
New Suez Auto Group
The Serene Republic of Elyra's primary producer of automobiles, the New Suez Auto Group found itself established on the “Persepolian Sapphire” shortly after the officiation of the New Suez Protocol and the creation of the New Suez Free Trade Zone. Considered a subsidiary of Elco, a state-owned enterprise responsible for the extraction and refinement of phoron, much of its success comes from its parent company's investments in phoronic technology. The New Suez Auto Group dominiates the automobile market, and while there does exist competitors, it is by far considered a staple of Elyran life - with most having purchased a car from the company.
- Sahab Brezza - Driven mostly by the most wealthy of Elyrans, the sports-model Sahab Brezza utilizes advanced technology such as the MagPulse Hovertech present within the Republic, as well as hydrogen engines with tweaked schematics to allow enhanced conservation of its primary fuel source - a combination of phoron and hydrogen. It found itself a popular topic of conversation following the Prime Minister having been photographed in an obviously newly-purchased Sahab Brezza attending state business.
- Harab - Economic by design, the Harab is a four-door coupe that has become a common-sight across the civilized planets of the Serene Republic. Similarly to that of the Sahab Brezza, the Harab utilizes MagPulse Hovertech to sour through the skies, however, a noticeable difference is its engine and the Sahab Brezza; it has an electric engine. With charging booths usually integrated in most buildings, the Harab has certainly had a significant impact on the development of the infrastructure within Elyra.
Qerr'Zolvq Motors (QZM), a branch of Qerr'Zolvq Industries, is solely responsible for the production, sale, and maintenance of private vehicles within the Nralakk Federation. QZM is known within the Federation to provide reliable vehicles, but since it's the sole manufacturer within the Federation, they are not known for much else; most of their popular makes do not come with amenities outside of what is considered necessary, and the manufacturer is not known for its aesthetic outside of its catalogue of vehicles intended for Primary Numericals.
- Xarnaq - A Submersible Utility Vehicle (SUV) combining road-going passenger cars with the ability to submerge underwater. The Xarnaq uses a dual electric engine system, with one engine enabling land travel and the other allowing both above and underwater travel. The Xarnaq is popular amongst all Skrell on planets such as Qerrbalak and Aweiji since many population centres are located underwater. A variant known as the QZ-X was released in collaboration with Qel'Zvol Hospitality to provide Primary Numericals with a more aesthetic personal vehicle, which comes with a dual hydrogen engine system instead of the regular Xarnaq's electric engines. Both variants can seat between 5 and 8 passengers.
- Sqraanda - The Sqraanda is a wheeled automobile with a closed trunk separate from the part in which the driver and passengers sit, and is designed solely for above-water driving. The Sqraanda is considered a worker's vehicle because of its spacious trunk and ability to drive off-road. Its characteristics have also made it a common sight on planets such as Aliose where the terrain is rough, as well as on less-developed planets within the Traverse. Because of the association of the Sqraanda with the Traverse, it is mostly driven by Secondary or Tertiary Numericals as a personal vehicle, with Primaries mostly avoiding the vehicle unless their job requires it. To ensure reliability even on newly-founded colonies, the Sqraanda has many models that have different engines depending on what would be readily available. Petroleum or biofuel engines are a common sight within the Traverse, while the core systems utilise electric-fuel hybrid systems that can be manually switched to if more or less power is needed. All variants of the Sqraanda can only seat 2 passengers.
- Qruupq - A submersible-only vehicle, the Qruupq has a streamlined hull intended for constant submerged use. It is considered the sister vehicle of the Xarnaq, being a common sight in regions that are almost entirely covered by ocean. Similarly to the Xarnaq, the Qruupq can seat 5 to 8 passengers and has a variant also designed in conjunction with Qel'Zvol Hospitality called the QZ-Qru, intended for Primary Numericals only. The Qruupq comes with a single electric engine, and just like the QZ-X, the QZ-Qru utilises a hydrogen engine.
- Traqq - Designed to be used mainly by the military and Nralakk Logistics, the Traqq is a large, heavy motor vehicle used for bulk transport of goods, materials, and troops. Both the military and the civilian variant use a heavy-duty electric engine, but the military variant also has a backup biofuel engine for long-distance travel where recharging poses a logistical issue.
Prosthetics, Augments, and Implants
From military-exclusive combat enhancements to crude limb replacement, the field of prosthesis and implants is as wide and varied as the cultures and species who utilize them. There are various ways to acquire, utilize, and perform these mechanical replacements and upgrades, yet they are not without their drawbacks.
Cost and Accessibility
From the depths of the Eridanian underworld to the peak of Lunarian high society, prostheses are found in virtually every echelon of occupied space. There are many ways the average person could acquire their prosthesis, from corporate insurance plans, state-subsidized healthcare, purchasing them from a retailer, or under-the-table methods out of the national eye. A limb or organ replacement roughly equivalent to its organic counterpart is reasonably affordable for the average person: anything costing more than this often involves rent-to-own payment plans. Prosthetic limbs and organs are a common item on corporate insurance plans, but the quality of the prosthetic varies greatly from plan to plan. An expensive premium plan may entitle the worker to a top-of-the-line new Hephaestus model while cheaper plans could see someone forced to use long out of date prosthetics. Some corporations offer exciting sign-on bonuses or rewards for good performance in the form of high-grade modifications that are otherwise unobtainable by legal means. These offers, while seemingly benevolent, hide inherent risk that leads many to refuse them altogether. This form of contract is especially popular in the Eridani Corporate Federation and with Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals where poor job performance could mean forcible reclamation of one's augments.
External modifications are rarely a clean affair, and a prosthetic will require constant upkeep and maintenance. Some prosthetic owners seek to avoid costly technician visits by learning how to perform their own maintenance and repairs within reason, much to the frustration of their corporate producers. It is common practice that corporations will employ methods of restricting the ease of repair through avenues such as DRM-locked proprietary software, specialized tools, and electronic access codes. The market for second-hand prostheses is profitable with many people opting to pick older model prosthetics without advanced anti-repair measures for the sake of easy maintenance.
The market for augmentation is a wide one, and nearly every prominent megacorporation deals in them in one way or another. A major player in the industry is Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, who are responsible for the majority of medical-grade prosthetics through themselves and their subsidiaries. Zeng-Hu prosthetics are popular among medical workers for their stability and precision. Hephaestus Industries is responsible for most industrial prosthetics, and many blue-collar workers swear by the prosthetics' strength and durability. Zavodskoi Interstellar, along with Zeng-Hu subsidiary Jeonshi Biotech, accounts for a majority of combat or otherwise military-affiliated augments. However, corporation-produced prosthetics can be more expensive than others and are often loaded down with prohibitively-restrictive software.
Augments come in many varied shapes, sizes, and installations; from nearly transparent eye lenses from the Eridani Corporate Federation, to robotic exodigits that are worn like a glove by some surgeons, to cyberweave that changes color and length and cyberink that are permanently fluctuating tattoos, there are augments for every person in mind. They can typically be split up into three distinct categories, despite their range of differences. The first one is internal, sometimes called installed augments. These are ones that must be permanently affixed to the body until a similar procedure removes them. Removal is not guaranteed and is often much more costly, so it can be considered to be a big decision by anyone that isn't a high-ranking corporate shill. These can be eye lenses that are installed over the pupil and iris to create displays and holo-info, such as ads, analysis, and other useful tools, to mere joint replacements. The second category is known as external or worn augments. These are ones that can be slipped in and out of, either with the ease of putting on a glove or the difficulty of slipping into a tight jumpsuit. They are not permanent, but typically much more expensive as a result. They might be items that can be worn to increase hand-eye coordination, glasses or contacts that eliminate color blindness and other seeing impairments or an exoskeleton that increases speed and stamina. Finally, last but not least, there are decorative augments. These augments are rarely expensive, commercialized for the average worker to buy into, and remain a fun alternative to traditional tattoos, hair dye, and other things. They are similarly installed like internal augments, but their key difference is that they can become inert or inactive and cause no inconvenience if so. Their installations are often more painful than their traditional counterparts, but otherwise provide a level of glam and style that can be swapped with the seasons, ensuring you never regret spending your money on Idris ElectrInk™ products.
Many poorer citizens opt to produce their own haphazard prosthetics, and there are plenty of underground workshops that manufacture their own work to select from. Often called augmenters or ‘augurs,' these shops typically shy clear of legal routes in order to avoid the monopolies megacorporations have on these markets. People purchasing from these stores avoid legal ramifications due to the sheer variety of augments and prosthetics available on the market— this does not even include all the decalization, decoration, and modifications that people do to their own prosthetics to make them their own. As a result, unless someone is caught in the act of getting these illegal installations or is otherwise ratted out by someone else and reported, these crimes are considered about as harmless as jaywalking.
Military augments and prosthetics that enhance combat ability are closely guarded by their respective corporations or governments and are almost always out of reach for the average worker. There are often civilian models of these augments produced, and corporate security may receive augments like heads-up displays or threat analyzers.
Mechanized implants, as a whole, provide a unique way to treat or assuage challenges that come with illness, disease, and disability. If someone is born with a joint in their leg that does not bend correctly and causes pain, an augment or mechanical implant can be installed to ensure the limb is working as intended. Similarly, with the studies conducted on the human brain, sometimes personality AI chips are added that can help someone overcome the challenges of certain mental illnesses. These types of minor augments and prostheses are very common, and as a result, replacing minor body parts like fingers and repairing specific portions of the body is hardly an expensive endeavour.
Vat-Grown Prostheses and Organs
Something of an oddity in the realm of prosthetics, vat-grown organs have captivated scientists for decades. These prosthetics are entirely identical to regular cellular limbs and organs, and indistinguishable except for a faint scarred seam around external prosthetics where the limb was attached. In a feat of simultaneous discovery, two groups are known for their production of vat-grown organs. House Volvalaad of the Empire of Dominia, and Zeng-Hu subsidiary Yomi Genetics in association with Nralakk Federation scientists. However, these prostheses are prohibitively expensive for the normal person due to the skill needed to attach one, and the lab work required to grow a limb that is compatible and with the same skin tone as its recipient. Of the former, only the wealthy nobility can access these prosthetics, along with very favoured secondaries. The Nralakk Federation often subsidizes vat-grown prosthetics for their citizens of primary and upper secondary numerical social credit score.
Vat-grown prostheses can be found elsewhere in human space, but they are often at a high cost. Only people that climb the corporate ladder of various megacorporations can afford them due to the costs associated with making and attaching them.
Effects on Health
When it comes to mental health, the power of mental implants is almost entirely unmatched. While they remain unable to cure any mental illness, especially common ones like anxiety and depression, they are often an empowering tool for those that receive them in overcoming them. Personality AIs provide someone to talk to, often able to keep someone grounded in reality amidst flashbacks, delusions, and hallucinations. They do this by giving direct thoughts to someone's head, sounding as if the person could hear this AI talking aloud. With somewhat pricier models hooked up to augmented eyes, a person can even see these AIs manifest nearby in the real world. These implants are typically found in those suffering from PTSD and schizophrenia but are not unheard of outside of that. Implants such as these typically are affected in the same way as the host is, resulting in temporary impairment in the face of drugs, trauma, and other situations. They have roughly the same electrical signals as the human brain does in order to interface with them properly, and as a result, they do not malfunction when under the effects of an EMP. While they remain commonplace, a diagnosis and “prescription” of one from a doctor is almost always required before someone can receive one.
For nearly as long as prostheses have been around, sentient-kind has been attempting to press the boundaries of technological and ethical safety. There is a physical and mental limit to which an individual can be safely augmented, which varies from person to person. ‘Augmentation Dysfunction Syndrome', or simply ‘augment sickness,' refers to the wide variety of illnesses and conditions that can arise from excessive modification. ADS is not a violent illness, and not everyone with augments grows ill with it. Symptoms can include sensory issues and phantom limb pain in milder cases, with particularly severe examples including psychotic and dissociative disorders that require regular visits with a mental health expert. The rate of psychological illness of augmented individuals is often higher than their mundane counterparts, and those who can afford it often receive therapy for a short time when acquiring a new augment to ensure a healthy transition. It is encouraged by mental health professionals for patients with more than a few augments to visit a doctor every so often for a mental health check-up, but many people live happy and normal lives without this.
A more severe and rare form of augmenting sickness in recent years has been identified with some care. With the full name being ‘Malignant Mechanized Paralysis Disorder,' it is shortened to ‘pulsing out' due to the movements and behaviour of prostheses to behave abnormally. MMPD is defined as the characteristic of temporarily losing the functionality of mechanical limbs, augments, brain implants, and similar body modifications. after a majority of a person's body has been replaced by these parts. Due to chemical imbalances in the brain, theorized as originating from the heavy altercations to the nervous system, some typical late-stage symptoms include physical and mental fatigue, extreme apathy, narcolepsy, narcissism, shifts in personality, and other traits. One thing is for certain, and that pulsing out is a broad shift in behaviour. It is paired with symptoms that can vary extremely between those afflicted, such as migraines and shortness of breath, so it can often be difficult to identify at earlier stages (outside of the occasional discriminatory guess from an attending doctor). The main symptom that outs this disorder among others is the trait where all of the prostheses begin behaving irrationally, sporadically, and stop obeying the patient's commands via the nervous system. While this can be relatively harmless for many, the flailing limbs of someone pulsing out can cause injury to bystanders or the wearer. Some episodes of pulsing out may also interrupt critical functions in a workplace, like affixing down plating, operating machinery, and so forth. Although it is much more common during waking hours, there is still a slight chance of this occurring while asleep. More disturbingly yet is the fact that these appendages may act of their own accord for a few minutes— this has not been verified by Zeng-Hu or any other accredited medical science source outside of rumors and news bites. It is not a simple transition like flicking a switch, thankfully; getting to a point of fully pulsing out is as slow as the transition to becoming mechanized is.
Pulsing out is treatable with regular therapy and sometimes even with uninstalling augments or replacing prosthetics with vat-grown alternatives. One clinical trial in particular, done through the work of Zeng-Hu, is testing out personality AI implants in the brain to combat the symptoms of this affliction. Not everyone who has a majority of their body comes under the effect of pulsing out; however, for some unlucky few, they are permanently condemned when they collected these mechanical upgrades or were unlucky enough to receive from a tragic accident.
Regardless of one's ability to adapt to augmentation or the presence of a robust health network, the absolute limit of augmentation work seems to have been found with ‘Full Body Prosthetics', or FBPs. FBPs were once a project of Zeng-Hu that attempted to convert a human into a fully synthetic individual. A ridiculous sum had been invested into the project, only for each test subject to wind up in a catatonic state that they would never recover from. Yet, Zeng-Hu's resolve was unbroken, and they publicly vowed their intent on successfully creating the impossible. This effort culminated in the very early 2400s with Sven Karlsson. Karlsson, a wildly-famous trillionaire from Earth, publicly announced his intent to partner with Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals. His goal? Unprecedented scientific advancement. He vowed to become Zeng-Hu's next subject, and that by partnering their collective intelligence and resources, he would be the first successful FBP in an act of peerless technological superiority. Human society as a whole waited with bated breath to see the fate of Sven Karlsson, the man who could usher in an era of scientific greatness. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Despite the incredible amount of resources spent upon the project and the presence of some of Earth's greatest minds, Karlsson sadly died in the attempt. The public relations disaster that followed ensured that no corporation would ever dare to attempt to create an FBP again, and the practice is near-universally regarded as both ethically and scientifically ridiculous, even by the standards of megacorporations.
Prosthetics Outside Human Space
An innovation by the People's Republic of Adhomai's Hadii Institute has created a new kind of prosthesis specifically suited to Tajaran anatomy. These prostheses use proprietary tesla technology in the form of a Tesla Spine grafted to the back of the wearer to power the wearer's prosthetics. While previously only for the military, these prosthetics were soon distributed to all of the PRA's in-need citizens at no cost, and are popular among People's Republic veterans. Only Tajara from the People's Republic of Adhomai may use this kind of prosthetic.
On Moghes, the Aut'akh religious movement has led to the creation of various decentralized communes across the Unathi homeland and abroad. Aut'akh adherents seek self-actualization through ritualistic implementation of various self-produced prosthetics, often made with stolen or repurposed parts from Hephaestus. Aut'akh exist at the fringes of Unathi society and face heavy discrimination from the mainstream populace. Almost to the shock of many outsiders, Aut'akh on occasion revere some episodes of pulsing out, especially when prosthetics seem to act with a mind of their own. Besides this, they universally loathe when prosthetics flail about, citing that demons are inhabiting the host and trying to kill their spirit before it can be liberated. Regardless of their beliefs, pulsing out remains one reason of skepticism against this religion and trans-speciesism as a whole, despite the claim from the communes that pulsing out remains rare among their number.
Ouerea houses one of the biggest underground markets for augurs in the Spur. Largely due to the criminal and off-the-books shops and industries there, it is one of the trending places to collect and receive augmentation, prosthetic installation, and implant implementation. Military-grade equipment, typically ad hoc, expensive, and used to dangerous ends, can be found in the darkest corners of city underbellies. Ostensibly, though, these upgrades will forever bar someone from joining a megacorp for as long as they have them. Various neon art styles are utilized to decorate otherwise lifeless metal parts, giving them a sense of uniqueness and self-expression that remains common to every sentient creature in the galaxy. This form of art is popularized on Ouerea, but different styles and takes on it can be found among the underbellies of the Eridani Corporate Federation, Konyang, and other places abroad.
A true oddity among most denizens of the spur, some Unathi and Skrell have been seen using Diona nymphs as replacements for missing limbs. Forming a symbiotic relationship by allowing the nymph to attach themselves at the stump of the missing body part, the nymph shifts their biomass to replace the limb while receiving blood, memories, and a host in exchange.
The Nralakk Federation utilizes Loyalty Implants to ensure someone acts in the best interests of the Federation. The most common form the implant takes is as a ‘tag' that can be seen attached to the end of a Skrell's head-tail, or if worn by a non-Skrell, it can be attached to the earlobe or tail. The use of these loyalty implants on non-Federation citizens has been made illegal by all other nations in the Orion Spur, with many such as the Republic of Biesel going further and denouncing them as unethical. Recently, these implants have been utilized by the Federation's Nlomkala and Qukala, attaching them to Vaurca warriors that have been assigned to the respective organizations.
Vaurca prostheses were developed long before their Orion Spur counterparts. Due to their open circulatory system and ergonomic, insect-like design, Vaurcae are more prone to lose limbs, and rudimentary prosthetics were already commonplace since before the Agricultural revolution. The modern prosthesis predates the Era of Augments, with the introduction of the neural socket only revolutionizing their control and link to the rest of their system. While some prostheses exist that include tools and weaponry, most of the common prosthesis are utilitarian and sometimes the very same limb has been used for over centuries, inherited by different generations of Vaurcae. As their other biomechanical augments, prostheses are removed and recycled after death. Although limbs are most common, metal plates and mechanical thoraxes are also a reality, especially within the Bound that remain close to the Hive. The so-called ‘maintenance' Vaurcae undergo in the later stages of their lives refers to the replacement of the flesh with metallic limbs. For a Vaurcae, there is little difference between the two, and many of the Zo'ra Hive had and still have a hard time understanding why IPCs and other human robots are not considered human.
Portable Communications Devices
Communication devices are prolific in the 25th century, with innumerable types, brands, and models on offer to the average person. Smartphones, PDAs, laptop and desktop computers, and even certain augments are available if you are able to afford them. The most common portable device available is the Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, an information management device that sees extensive use by megacorporations; they are robust, inexpensive to make, and due to how limited these devices are in terms of applications and connectivity, not considered a major security risk compared to smartphones or laptops. Most people living in Tau Ceti will at least own a simple PDA for work purposes, provided by their employer as part of their job. Corporate PDAs typically allow for intranet access within assigned corporate facilities, internal messaging services, file transfer systems, and applications designed to assist with the user's role.
The extranet is a galactic collection of satellite relays and server farms that allows users to share information and communicate over long distances. While most planets will have their own intranet, the extranet allows users to access most online services within the Orion Spur. The extranet has evolved into a critical infrastructure of modern society, with almost all online traffic going through it, to the point that the distinction between the intranet and extranet is rarely made. The main distinction between the two is that websites and other online platforms that provide their services Spur-wide are hosted directly on extranet servers, while planetary intranet networks are mostly used for local services such as government or business websites.
There are a variety of factors that impact the speed of interstellar transmissions. Infrastructure plays a significant role with more isolated areas of the Orion Spur able to expect their communications to take significantly longer than if they were in a heavily populated region such as those surrounding Sol or Tau Ceti. Distance also impacts the speed of communication, the greater the distance between the sender and receiver results in a delay of several hours or even days.
Megacorporations are mostly responsible for hosting the satellite relays and server farms that allow for extranet access, except within the Empire of Dominia, Nralakk Federation, and the Serene Republic of Elyra due to their more autocratic tendencies regarding information oversight and economic management. Einstein Engines has long dominated the interstellar communications market with their subsidiary Taipei Engineering Industrial and is the sole provider of extranet services within the Solarian Alliance. While the megacorporations that make the Stellar Corporate Conglomerate don't have as much influence within the sector, they have recently begun undertaking opportunities to expand through working alongside government contractors within both Dominia and Elyra.
Solarian Standard Credit
The Solarian Standard Credit (民/SSC) is essentially the Orion Spur's standard currency due to the prevalence of the Solarian Alliance prior to its collapse in 2462. Outside of the Alliance, use of the SSC is common throughout certain parts of the Coalition of Colonies, the Empire of Dominia, and the Corporate Reconstruction Zone of the Republic of Biesel. Within Sol's collapsed warlord states, it has lost much of its value due to the lack of central authority. The SSC is available in electronic, bankcard and traditional notes forms. Responsibility for the currency falls to the Solarian Central Bank, which is located on Unity Station in the Sol System. The Central Bank manages monetary policy and the supply of the Solarian Standard Credit for the Alliance and greater Spur, and this management of supply and interest rates ensures that the Solarian Credit is able to function as a fiat currency. The SSC is worth less than the Biesel Standard Credit.
Biesel Standard Credit
Biesel Standard Credit (电/CR) is one of the dominating currencies that exist within the Orion Spur and was created shortly after the Republic of Biesel's declaration of independence in 2452. It sees usage outside of the Republic, within the Izweski Hegemony, who adopted it as their official currency following the collapse of the Solarian Alliance, and some sections of the Coalition of Colonies near the shared border, as well as the People's Republic of Adhomai. The BSC is available in electronic, bankcard and traditional notes forms that have the symbol of a lit torch on them. Responsibility for the currency falls to the Central Biesel Banking Authority, which is located in District One of Mendell City, the capital of the Republic of Biesel. It oversees monetary policy and the supply of the Biesel Standard Credit, with assistance from Idris Incorporated. Similarly to the Solarian Standard Credit, the BSC is able to function as a fiat currency.
The Imperial Pound (Ф) is the standard currency of the Empire of Dominia, and predates the modern Empire by several decades – it was originally the primary currency of the Imperial Alliance, the nations that would go on to found the Empire by force. The Imperial Pound does not see much use outside of the borders of the Empire but is occasionally sought after by collectors due to the intricate design of its coins and bills, which generally depict historical figures such as Emperor Godwin Keeser I or religious symbols such as the Moroz Holy Tribunal's iconography. Like most currencies, in the Spur, the Imperial Pound is available in physical and electronic formats, with electronic currency being more popular in the Imperial Core and physical currency being more popular in the Imperial Frontier. Responsibility for the currency falls to the Imperial Central Bank, which is located in Nova Luxembourg on Moroz. The Imperial Pound is a fiat currency, and control over it via the Imperial Central Bank has long been dominated by House Caladius. The Imperial Pound is worth less than the Biesel Standard Credit.
Dating back to the early 2300s, the Elyran Pound (پوند) was created by the Serene Republic of Elyra as a domestic replacement for the Solarian Standard Credit following the Republic's secession from the Alliance. The Elyran Pound does not see much use outside of the Republic, but is occasionally used in the Coalition of Colonies due to its value. It is available in both electronic and physical formats, but physical currency has become increasingly rare in Elyra due to the growth of the Republic's economy and the rapid pace of technological progress fueled by its phoron boom. Physical Elyran Pounds are most commonly seen in the hands of Elyran Non-Citizen Persons, which lack access to many of the luxuries and services that their citizen counterparts enjoy. The fiat currency is managed by the Ministry of Economics, Revenue, and Commerce, which has worked to ensure that the Elyran Pound is one of the Spur's more valuable currencies and it is worth more than the Biesel Standard Credit.
Created after the formation of the First Nralakk Federation, the Sqiip (℘) has existed for thousands of years, beginning shortly after the Skrell discovered the ability to traverse the stars. It sees practically zero use outside the Nralakk Federation besides being paid to those in the Work Initiative Programme and is available in both electronic and physical formats. Its physical format are minted coins and paper bills, with the minted coins capable of being stacked and locked due to special magnetic properties for easy transportation, while the higher-valued paper bills are printed on different types of water-safe seaweed. Symbols on the physical formats are often aquatic life such as shells, molluscans, Buurgis and Vro'qos. It is managed by the Grand Council, more specifically, the Grand Advisor of Economic Development - currently, Ormish Jrolk. Through careful planning, with further advisement from educated citizens of the Federation, the Grand Advisor of Economic Development is responsible for managing the monetary policy for the Sqiip - and enjoys operation as a fiat currency due to this oversight. Despite its relative isolative nature, The Sqiip is worth significantly more than the Biesel Standard Credit. It is unknown whether the Sqiip will continue to remain the most valuable currency within the Spur.
The Adhomian Knuckle (თ), also known as the Sharnyr, is the currency used by all Tajaran nations. Prior to first contact, it was a piece of fur framed with precious metals decorated with the coat of arms of whatever kingdom made them. After the First Revolution, the Adhomian Knuckle is only issued in banknote format. Since the Second Revolution, there is a great variety of designs on the notes between the factions. The Knuckle is only accepted in Adhomai, the Tajaran colonies, and Little Adhomai; traders and smugglers will usually carry a supply of Biesel Standard Credits to deal with non-Tajara customers. All versions of the Adhomian Knuckle are worth significantly less than the Biesel Standard Credit. The PRA version is the most valuable, followed by the NKA one and with the DPRA's being the least valuable.
Nuclear Fusion Energy
Discovered by Skrell in 1561 CE, and humanity in 2027 CE, fusion energy utilizes isotopes of deuterium, helium-3, or tritium to generate nuclear energy via fusion reaction. Safe, fuel-efficient, and nearly emission-free, it is a staple of developed interstellar civilizations across the spur. Until recent years, however, improvements in fusion energy had plateaued. Research into increasing efficiency, reducing cost, and miniaturization has been slow with little to no major breakthroughs. Fusion reactors require advanced, rare mineral alloy compositions, and many of the parts are so large and difficult to transport that they must be lathed onsite. Fusion reactors become less common the further one moves away from highly developed space, due to the high initial start-up costs and maintenance.
Ships under a certain tonnage generally have limitations when it comes to the speed or availability of their jump drives and the output of their subsystems, due to them being unable to mount fusion reactors. It is typically impractical to mount ships under a destroyer weight class with a fusion reactor, as the size of it would disproportionately overtake and dwarf the rest of the vessel. Nanotransen, and by association, the Stellar Corporate Conglomerate, has compensated for this through the development of the Tesla and Supermatter engines: these are much more compact than fusion reactors, but they allow smaller vessels and installations to punch far above their weight class in terms of power generation with virtually no fuel cost. Perfect for remote installations or exploratory vessels. The SCCV Horizon would not be possible without these engines, and the bulk of the energy they generate is used to charge her bluespace drive's capacitors between jumps.
Phoron fusion serves as a potent alternative to conventional fusion. By substituting phoron for tritium, it generates a fusion reaction that is much more energy-dense and easier to sustain than what's typical for fusion reactors. There are tradeoffs for this, however. Phoron fusion reactors consume fuel at a rate twice as fast as their tritium counterparts. Unlike other fusion reactions, Phoron is much more volatile and harder to stop. As a consequence, containment chambers that run phoron require additional reinforcement to handle the strain of the reaction, and additional fail-safes or subsystems must be built in to prevent meltdowns. The fuel cost and expense of building and maintaining these reactors are immense, it is normally only practical for them to be mounted in important infrastructure projects such as bluespace gates, cities, or naval capital ships.
Unique to the Nralakk Federation, a workable model of cold fusion was discovered. Using a rare species of electrokinetic, bioluminescent plankton, cold fusion reactors are capable of generating power far above what a regular fusion reactor can achieve in a similar size class. Cold fusion reactors using this model, however, are much more volatile. The first and largest of its kind, The Weilshi Cold Fusion Plant, was activated in 1890 CE. More can be read about it here. Due to its dark past with the Weilshi Sea Crisis, cold fusion in the Federation only sees limited use on small-scale planetary installations.
Fusion technology across the Spur
Prior to their collapse, and even after, the Solarian Alliance had the most fusion reactors per capita of any interstellar nation. This comes from an original pledge made by the nascent Solarian Alliance in 2128, to make every colony energy independent and "put a reactor in every settlement." As one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken by humanity, The Alliance had achieved this goal in all of their major systems and 65% throughout the entire alliance by the time of the collapse. Fusion reactors remain the pride of the alliance, often touted as a symbol of its might and universalism. Phoron fusion, however, is a different matter. Between reliance on foreign exports to operate them and the outcome of the Red Dawn, these reactors are shunned by the public for their perceived volatility and are frugally constructed by officials due to their fuel demands.
In the Coalition of Colonies, however, fusion technology and planetary energy dependence are sporadic and variable throughout the nation. All of the major population and economic hubs in the Coalition have regular access to fusion technology, but it grows extremely infrequent the further one travels from these locations. How energy needs are met in the greater coalition are highly variable, from more conventional solar panels and battery reserves to obscure or archaic methods such as fossil fuel burning. Phoron fusion reactors are almost non-existent in the coalition, with two exceptions: thanks to their proximity to Tau Ceti via jump-gate, Konyang is beginning to dabble more into this technology, as well as Xanu Prime who has engaged in its very own phoron fusion projects.
The Republic of Elyra and Republic of Biesel are in similar circumstances, having received much of their fusion infrastructure when they were still part of the Solarian Alliance, and continued to expand as they advanced as independent nations. Everything changed with phoron, however. In 2420, Nanotransen scientists in Tau Ceti substituted phoron for tritium in what would become the first Phoron fusion source, triggering an energy technology race between Elyra, Biesel, later on, the Stellar Corporate Conglomerate. Five years after the creation of this fusion source, Elyra created a functional reactor. Nanotransen produced its first commercially viable phoron fusion reactor designs in 2425, and Elyra began to create its own infrastructurally viable designs just one year after. Today, the race continues, as these powers surge forwards trying to outdo each other in pushing past the obstacles of fusion technology, alongside the Coalition of Colonies which has dipped a proverbial toe in the water that is phoron fusion.