Saturday, August 13, 2022

Nine Metahuman Clades

This bastard of a post has been sitting in the wings for TWO notebooks worth of time and I am overjoyed to finally boot it out the door so it can get a real job.

The Divorce of Flesh and Silicon

Homo sapiens will, eventually, go extinct. Such is the way of things. We have come very, very close indeed to committing the deed by our own hand through sheer bloody-mindedness, but centuries among the stars have provided a certain level of insurance: even if the Road were to collapse tomorrow, we would continue. Many planets wouldn't even notice.

But change is the nature of all things, and anything that does not appear to be changing is merely changing at speeds too slow to observe. Give a few million years, and humanity will have branched off into thousands of daughter species, each adapted to their home in the cosmos.

Humans being humans, we have decided that we have no interest in waiting for the grand generational game of genetics to bear fruit and have decided to jump the line through complex tool-use and sheer bloody mindedness.

The outcome, as one might expect, is a fucking mess.

There is a widening division forming on the subject of what is to be done with the human body. The kyberists seek to eschew the biological body altogether, transitioning to purely mechanical physical forms and computerized minds. The zoanists, also called the hylics embrace biological modification and distrust technological modification of the mind. The integrationalists believe that the way forward is through the marriage of the two paths. Most people are not lucky enough to have a choice in the matter.

Despite all the lofty promises, the intentional creation of a self-sustaining metahuman clade is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. There are many attempts, and few that have gained any major success.

The Five Basic Forms

By incredible coincidence, most bodies within the Sol system have surface gravities that cluster around three points - 1G, 0.37G and 0.14 G. This proved a convenient boon for the development of gene-mod templates, and the M and L series were among the first widely-available nonmedical gene-lines.

  • H-Template - Last of the templates to be developed (as there were no appropriate planetary testing environments in the Sol system), the H-Template is graded for gravities in excess of 1.25
  • T-Template - The standard, unmodified human.
  • M-Template - The Martian Template is a good middle ground. While full Earth gravity is uncomfortable and microgravity still has deleterious effects, it can bridge the gaps and this has made it very popular.
  • L-Template - The Lunar Template gained common adoption in the years before higher-G habitats became commonplace, and dominated the outer system during the late Sol colonization era.
  • Z-Template - Full zero-gravity adaptation requires a complete overhaul in the body's functions. In this field cyborgs and bots have a distinct advantage, as the changes necessary for a biomorph to survive long-term in a 0-gravity environment will cripple it elsewhere.



Still kicking around. Bad eyes, bad spine, bad teeth, a mental wreck and terrible at calculating odds, but they remain the majority, enduring all things through sheer bloody-mindedness, stuck doing circles in heavens and hells of their own making. It won't be forever, and it'd be difficult to say it was a good run, but we tried.


Given the near-omnipresence of minor mechanical modifications across the Expansion Sphere, the definition of cyborg has shifted to entail a being that uses a cyberbrain for information processing (as opposed to a biological brain or a logic core) that still maintains a primarily organic body. Physiological traits are essentially worthless in terms of definition, as any clade can become a cyborg. Instead, cyborgs are classified according to the architecture and operating ontology of their cyberbrain. Some specialized types include:

  • Sleepwalkers - An increasingly-common cyberbrain operating system where the individual can pre-program their bodies to carry out actions unconsciously, while their conscious minds explore an internal simulation
  • Networked Individuals - Collectives of less than a dozen to several hundred individuals who share an encrypted peer-to-peer network between their cyberbrains.
  • Local Area Self - Similar to networked individuals, though the networks are ad-hoc and temporary rather than permanent affairs.
  • Trinitarian - A resource-intensive architecture that can store and run three EIs simultaneously.
  • Avatar Chain - A heavily pruned-down emulation of an individual is made near or at their death, and then integrated into the cyberbrain of another to provide guidance and companionship. These "past lives" are primarily passive, to save on processing resources.
  • Meat Server - The most extreme form of cyberization, where the only biological components to remain are little more than a sack of basic organs hooked up to a nutrient feed. Just enough to keep the lights on inside.
  • Debtboy - Derisive slang term for individuals who have defaulted on their debt and thus been subject to bodily repossession.



The original thelychroma project was a resounding success, with two major problems: one, the template was over-engineered for the harsh environment of Dreamland (which caused some long-term health problems for those who lived elsewhere). Two, the overt political intent of the project made it essentially impossible for the clade to gain widespread traction within the CTA (as the clade's existence alone is considered a threat to the Great Chain).

Numen templates serve as a sort of in-between. Most of the specialized environmental adaptations have been stripped out of the template, putting them within the survival margins of most genefixed baselines. The pro-social elements are still tweaked higher than baseline, but not as high as their thelychroma cousins - numen do not require Fixers to do violence on their behalf, but they are still better at maintaining group and interpersonal dynamics than baseline. Some groups will use low-impact empathic cybernetic protocols.

Numen are transitional intersex (thelychroma being simultaneous), and may move between sexes through self-directed hormonal changes. They come in a wide variety of appearance templates - most are within baseline ranges of variability, but horns, decorative cartilaginous structures, and brightly colored skin / hair are common - and traits can be activated or deactivated through application of epigenetic triggers.

Numen are one of the most populous metahuman clades, especially out on the Rim. In the core, they are centered around Chara (Beta Canum Venaticorum).

Autocthon, Seedship

The stars and their innumerable worlds were empty, and so the great powers of Earth saw fit to invent peoples that they might conquer. They designed slaves to work the great terraforming stations; clone legions born in glass wombs and raised by software-mothers, tailored for the harshness of extrasolar worlds and sent out to prepare the way.

There are many templates, adapted to the many worlds they found themselves sent to. There were many more - long gone now. Some features are common across all varieties: Thick, UV-resistant skin. Faces purposefully ill-suited to expression and throats poorly-made for speech - both the result of intentional dehumanization. Memetic and cultural conditioning to encourage subservience. Chemical dependencies. Removal of reproductive organs. A hundred variables to add and subtract - for pressure, for temperature, for gravity - manifesting in gradients of build and height and weight.

When the colonists arrived, the plan was that the autocthons would be disposed of. On most worlds, that is what happened. But their creators overestimated their subservience; the rebellions were quashed, their members scattered to the solar winds, but the autocthons refuse to go quietly. The fight continues in silence. Secret sign languages have been developed and adopted. Jailbroken exowombs stolen and put to use. Culture, free from conditioning, bursts forth free and new outside the eyes of the old masters. They are not yet defeated.



Zero gravity is an excellent way destroy the human body in nearly every way it is possible to be undone, and the early decades of space exploration were a recurring reminder that we do not belong there. There were no good options, and of the bad options we could either spend the mass, space and energy to build rotation modules, or consign travel to the robotic and the heavily-cyborged.

The ziji template, then, is nothing short of a miracle. With minimal cybernetic enhancement, it allows a human to live in freefall from birth to death. But the miracle comes at cost - anything more than the faintest of microgravity will cripple a ziji swiftly and likely permanently. Later-generation ziji are more resistant to gravity and can endure up to 20% standard for short periods.

The typical ziji is very tall, disconcertingly slender, hairless, and will have both opposable toes and a prehensile tail. Modifications to the inner ear prevent dizziness and disorientation in zero-G. Many sub-clades, such as the tecnavi, are engineered for heavier cyberization.



Contrary to what the technocrats of the past thought, there is no way to upload your consciousness into a computer. You can make a copy, through a painstaking process of scanning and emulating and reconstructing it within a cyberbrain, but even in the best case scenario there will be memory loss and personality drift. An incorrectly calibrated cyberbrain, or worse, an architecture not based on the human brain, is a hellish experience with a very high suicide rate.

Emulation is a tightly-regulated technology, with nearly all of it controlled under corporate and government interests (if it is not outright banned by local authorities). The population grows slowly, as the whole continuity-of-consciousness issue means that you personally will not be made into an immortal cybernetic intelligence, which removes a lot of the appeal for people. 

Instead, most em-yus are used in industrial work, often touted as a way for individuals who cannot normally work to "earn their keep" through the labor of their emulation. Punitive emulation, wiring copied minds in mainframes to do what AI cannot, is the next most common usage.

The flashiest usage of em-yus is in the field of colonization, where they are often used as an alternative to AI overseers and a cheap means of sending in an initial wave of colonists. Several hypercorps specializing in planetary colonization have made it so that each colony ship carries with it a cadre of emulated settlement specialists, copying them anew for each new project and sending them down with the first wave of equipment.

Em-yus will be usually be found in ordinary android bodies for the sake of convenience, but they may inhabit any body, mechanical or otherwise, with an appropriate cyberbrain neural link. Non-humanoid robotic morphs are popular among those em-yus who wish to separate themselves from the status quo of life in the Expansion Sphere.


Eusocial Cyborg Hives

One would think that eusociality would be a godsend to the hypercorps - by all rights it should be. The idea of legions of worker drones happily creating profit under the watchful care of a corporate totem-queen has middle management salivating buckets. But few of these visions ever come to fruition, because reality is always more complicated.

  • Eusociality does not mean lack of individuality, nor does it mean that an individual will eternally endure abuse.
  • Queens tend to have more loyalty to their hive than to outside forces.
  • While hives can get very large, there is a size limit before it collapses.
  • Queens do not tend to get along very well.
  • Hives in competition tend to get VERY violent, and need to be isolated with significant buffer room.
  • The networks used to coordinate hives are more vulnerable to digital threats and subversions than groups of individuals running discrete .

In the cases where it does work, hives are specialized to certain fields or tasks. Those corporate totems and AI queens work fine and dandy on their own and on paper, but when multiple companies attempt it you suddenly have fighting in the streets over breakfast cereal mascots (see "The Granola Wars" for a more detailed look at how this can spiral out of control) Sure the union is more expensive when things are going well, but you're prepared for some riots. Those are par for the course. A hive rebelling (or worse yet, multiple hives rebelling simultaneously) can destroy the entire operation overnight. It's not a risk many C-levels feel like taking.

As such, hives are only an occasional sight across the Sphere. Independent hives are not as rare as one might expect, as are consent-based ones (wherein new members are only ever adopted in, rather than born)



A broad family of clades meant to embody a sort of blurred middle-point between humans and their great ape relatives. A throw-back in appearance but not so much in fact, more bigfoot than austrolopithicus. They are mostly big hairy brachiators living out low-tech lives of hunting and gathering in the wilderness (where such wilderness will allow it). such lives of hunting and gathering.

The first hirsutes emerged among ape-independence movement as a symbol of the new-ape, the ape who is freed from the impositions of humanity, free from the legacy of destruction that humans have subjected them to. The self-governing ape, the free ape.

Things became more complicated when human-derived hirsute lines were developed. Many among the great ape community viewed this as both appropriative and invasive, while others considered the origins irrelevant in light of the end result. Conflicts over separation vs integration quickly became bloody. By now there has been something of an uneasy ceasefire, as the human parties behind the *homo hirsutus* lines are no longer actively developing their gene-lines and in several cases have gone completely belly-up.

Hirsute communities typically live out in the woods and a good distance from civilization, but there will always be a few willing to take a job scaring backpacking tourists.



Exultants do not play by the same rules as anyone else. This is, of course, an intended outcome.

Their biological and technical components are syncretized into a singular holistic system. They are functionally immortal - protected against disease, age, environmental damage, cyber-attacks (but not yet violence). They have a monopoly on nanobot incorporation. Their exotic cyberbrains bear no resemblance to consumer models and are resistant to hacks and tampering. They assuredly have backup emulations waiting in storage, just in case they're killed by a rival or by accident.

There are a wide spectrum of exultant gene-lines out there (proprietary to their respective Great Houses), and each individual is crafted and re-made as a custom-order. Each is unique.


  1. This format of post has proven itself immensely good for getting things written.

  2. Return to monkey is truly the next step in human evolution

    1. Alas, the space crabs will have to wait till another post.

  3. Great post and positively sweating with possibility.

    The marketing team at Huecuva Enteprises do have a slight suggestion for a rebrand so that the relative gravities remain in alphabetical order by degree and maintaining the all-important T as baseline:

    C-Template (for "cifre") instead of Z (with the added bonus that to many speakers the two terms sound identical, thus allowing the use of the antique term without confusion).

    X-template for the higher gravity (colloquially XOXO-template because of how it hugs and kisses you to death like an atmospheric Elmyra Duff).

    Have you ever encountered Dougal Dixon's "Man after Man"

    Its primarily terrestrially based, but wrestles spiritedly with a purpose-engineered mankind