Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Mar 29 Sep - 22:55 (2009)
The Association of Eternal Life
The replicator is one of the most important inventions of the current era, turning raw materials into finished goods at the touch of a button. Anything can be scanned in, anything produced, with an exceptional degree of accuracy. Living beings — plants, animals, even human beings — can be replicated in this way. Unfortunately, the person being scanned dies in the process, as only a destructive scan can gather enough information to recreate someone exactly.
The Association of Eternal Life, more widely known as the Replicants, believe that an exact duplicate of someone really is the same person. They’ve been duplicating themselves for thousands of years, and their civilization is built around replicators.
Originally somewhat isolationist, the Replicants became aggressively political when it became clear that the rest of the universe wanted to shut them in a corner and ignore the fact that they regularly kill and remake themselves. Their freedom to experiment with their own genetic codes has given them a head start in human biotechnology, and they have become relatively wealthy because of this. While shunned by many, the Replicants have proven themselves to be a reasonable and ethical society, at least when it comes to matters other than replicator use. Many civilizations hope that the Replicants can eventually be reformed, but the promise of eternal life is hard to fight against.
A significant portion of the Association’s wealth is hereditary, and has been retained through good business acumen. Those who originally joined together to create the Association were rich enough to afford high-resolution replicators when they were still relatively new, and since they’re all still alive, the wonders of compound interest have made them quite wealthy indeed. Newer or younger members of the Association can try to prove their worth in existing power structures, but are more likely to expand to new planets and try their luck there. Most Replicant companies and economic groups keep to a single planet, letting others try their luck on new worlds, and then move in and incorporate the failures into their own structures. A spider plant is a good visual analogy for their arrangement.
Replicant society encourages many different types of experimentation and personal exploration. When death is merely a speed bump, and the only real loss is a few days or hours of experience, one views certain activities differently. Mountain climbing? Not dangerous. Stunt flying? Only dangerous to your bank account. Drugs and alcohol? If it gets bad enough, someone can take you in to get scanned and reprinted, sober and healthy. Even mesh viruses can be cleaned out this way, although it might become impossible to convince you that you need to be reprinted. Overall, Replicants are much more reckless than citizens of other civilizations, because they can afford to be. Printing out a new copy costs a pittance.
Replicant children are one of the most interesting elements of their civilization. Very old Replicants, who have worn themselves out and become tired of life, have two options before them. First, they can decide to die, and thus open a spot for a new child. Alternatively, they can choose a relatively new process: reincarnation. Scraps of their memory and personality are kept, but the vast majority is cleaned out, and the remaining mental image is imprinted on an infant only a few days out of the womb. The oldest reincarnates are about fifty years old right now, and show some very interesting effects from it — wisdom beyond their years, coupled with a renewed ability to enjoy life.
Childbirth laws in the Association are carefully enforced, to keep pace with colonization of new worlds and the civilization’s very low death rate. Anti-Replicant rhetoric often points, fallaciously, to an eventual need to completely ban new births. In reality, the universe is truly infinite in extent, and there need be no end to expansion.
< ENCADRE >
Send In The Clones
To have a Replicant character with a large number of duplicates running around, buy the Plot Immunity Theme, with a “Send In The Clones” descriptor. You can spend Twists to have bad things happen to your instances instead of the original you. The original rule stands, however: if you scan in your original self, your character is still dead.
< /ENCADRE >
The Association is somewhat wary of their allies, the Rationalist League. While they share a certain pragmatic viewpoint, the Logicians are just too cold to really get along with. The arrangement is based more on politics and philosophy than on actually liking each other, and the two stand together primarily for political power and safety in numbers. This goes double for the Logicians’ other ally, the Cognitive Union. Many Replicants would prefer not to be lumped into the same group as the Cyberslaves, but politics has pushed them in that direction.
Psychohistorical analysis currently shows an 80% probability that, left to their own devices, the Replicants and Union will — intentionally or not — spawn a splinter group that follows both doctrines, an entire civilization of replicated cyberslaves. Almost every civilization is working against this, including the Replicants themselves, but the attraction is very strong.
The Replicants are a krytocracy, a civilization
ruled by judges and other legal officials.
Common Name: Replicants
Emblem: The full name of the civilization in elegant script, with a golden acorn representing knowledge and potential.
Inspector Status: Observer status only.
Benefit: Replicants who are still part of the Association have serial immortality via replicators, and often have multiple instances of themselves active at once. “Renegade” Replicants lack this advantage. All Replicants receive a leisure Profession (Athlete, Courtesan, or Outdoorsman) at level 4 for free.
Core Values: Life and Safety.
Because the Replicants see life as being easily stored and recreated, they use Life to protect beings other than themselves from danger. They also use it to boost their own attempts to convince others of the benefits of immigrating.
Safety is what really keeps the Association tied to their replicators. Without them, the universe suddenly becomes a much more dangerous and unpredictable place. Citizens use this CV to resist any attempts to convince them to leave the Association, delete a stored image, or take long trips into low-tech areas. Non-citizens (including ex-Replicant PCs) use this CV to resist attempts to convince them to risk their lives unnecessarily, making it quite useful against the more malicious Metatech assaults.
Scene of the Crime
It has been a very, very long time since anyone here has managed to get away with murder, and I’m not about to let it happen now.
I’m my Primus, which means it’s my job to sit back and coordinate. I’d rather be out there scouring the place for clues, but I don’t have much of a choice — that’s my instances’ job right now. With nearly twenty instances active I really need one of me doing this.
One of our citizens, Aquila Valerius, has just met his very permanent end. Someone went through a lot of trouble to do this. Aquila had four instances active on different parts of the planet, three of which were dispatched via microbotic assassins. They were a relatively standard type: keyed to a particular DNA strand, replicating in the blood, latching together to form a clot. It’s an old design with new defenses. Brain aneurisms killed them while they slept. The fourth one had more up-to-date bioech, just upgraded last month. He woke up while it was happening and made it to a replicator — probably stumbled in half-conscious. That would help us a lot if something hadn’t deleted him. Valerius wasn’t reckless, either — he had two backups. One’s deleted, and one’s missing, presumed destroyed.
Right now my #4 through #8 are scouring this crime scene, while #2 and #3 are coordinating at the other scenes. I’ve got an assistant running five instances here. Another officer has the replicator and the backup sites, but I’m not sure the six of her will find much.
If we’re very, very lucky, this will end up being kidnapping rather than murder. The local Chief Justice is pretty pissed off about this. He understands just how bad this is going to be when it gets out, which is why there’s only five of us (counting my boss, Investigaor Fenitus) who know what happened.
My assistant comes up to me and shows me a blank screen. “You wanted a dump from his dermal ‘bots? Here it is. Totally blank. They observed the whole memory log, wrote zeroes, and observed again. It’s dust.” We were using datapads in case there was a trap left behind for our meshes, but apparently it’s not necessary. I thank him and swear under my breath.
Replicator logs in the home are blank. Dermal ‘bots are blank. Cold-storage backup is blank — one reason I think it’s not a Stored job. Outside surveilance shows nothing, but these things could have been hiding in him for days...no, no wait. When was his last dupe?
I check with Fenitus to get a surveillance override ok, and run through the public replicator logs, and the power and processing utility logs for his house. A power surge about the right size a week ago says that the three dupes we found were created then, which means it must have happened after that... unless someone programmed the replicator to add in assassin ‘bots.
One of my instances pulls me aside and I talk to myself for a while. Micro-wear measurements on the floor show a couple of visitors, but there’s no traces of DNA — no skin flakes, no hairs, nothing. Someone scoured the whole place with microbots. We got here only three hours after the crime — for them to have gone through so fast, they’re almost certainly still nearby. Then I look at the replicator and my heart sinks — if this guy can erase logs, he probably just piled the ‘bots in there and deleted them.
The two of us swear. This is going to be hell. This whole investigation is going to have to be face-to-face.
I order a raw elements dump from the replicator, and hope for the best. Then I start asking around about Valerius on the infosphere, and prepare for the worst. The Chief Justice isn’t going to be happy about this.
It’s Complicated (a Replicants story)
A little background: Cassia likes Thracius. Thracius likes Cassia, but has an eye on Valeria, so makes a copy to see how she feels. Valeria is interested in both Thracius and Marinus, so she makes one for each. Marinus just wants to work, but is distracted by Cassia, and so rolls dice with himself to get one of him to go talk to her about it.
As our scene opens, Cassia Secundus and Thracius Primus are sitting in a cafe.
Cassia 2: So I have a question for you.
Thracius 1: Ok...
C2: You’ve been looking at Valeria a lot recently.
C2: I don’t have to worry about that, right?
T1: No, no. Of course not.
C2: Good. I’d hate to think that you’d cheat on me.
T1: Of course not. There will always be one of me for you.
C2: Just one of you?
T1: Hold on a second; here comes one of me. Hey Tertius, how’s it going?
T3: Not bad. Hey Cassia. Primus, I need to borrow you for a minute so we can recombine.
T1: Sorry, hon. Back in a second.
The two of them walk off to find a public replicator. Cassia drinks her tea and worries. She gets a mental flag from Marinus Quintus, asking if he can come and visit, and she agrees, glad for a distraction. He appears about a minute later.
C2: You must have been close by. Have a seat.
Marinus 5: Yeah. Thanks.
C2: Is this about the transformer blocks? I think there’s a gap in them somewhere...
M5: No, actually this isn’t business. Uh... how do I say this...
C2: Isn’t that your Quartus coming this way?
Mariunus 4: Quintus! Stop! You don’t want to do this!
M5: Oh, come on. I just... I mean... I’ve been trying to say this for so long...
M4: Look just come back and we’ll take care of it. Hi Cassia.
C2: Marinus, what’s going on?
M5: I really like you.
M4: I can’t believe I just said that.
M5: Oh, shut up. Cassia, I’ve been working up the courage to say it all day-
M4: (sigh) Oh god...
C2: Uh... Marinus, I had no idea... Look we can talk about this but this isn’t really the time- oh shit here he comes.
T1: Hey guys! How’s it going?
C2: Well you’re looking happy.
T1: Yeah, so?
M5: You know, maybe we did come at a bad time.
C2: Your tertius just went and talked to Valeria, didn’t he!
T1: (sigh) Yes, and? I said there will always be one of me for you, don’t be such an instance-hog.
M4: Wait, Valeria? She came and talked to me today!
M5: She did?
M4: Yes, not long after you split off.
T1: She didn’t say anything to me about that.
C2: You know, I can’t really feel sorry for you there.
T1: I’m not complaining, just saying. There’s enough of all of us to go around, you know.
C2: Well not everybody feels that way.
Everyone sits down and slouches unhappily. M4 looks at M5, who looks sadly at C2, who glares at T1, who stares off into space.
C2: That girl just needs to diverge and be done with it.
< ENCADRE >
Author’s Note for It’s Complicated
I think this particular item works much better as part of a play that someone outside the Replicants wrote about them, rather than a true story about them.
< /ENCADRE >
“You really think death gives life meaning?”
“...Who are you?”
“My name’s Caesar. I’m from the Association of Eternal Life.”
“Oh. Go away, man. This isn’t the time.”
“This is the only time. People say that death makes life precious, that without it there would be no meaning to what we do. You don’t really believe that, do you?”
“I don’t know. But you guys don’t really live forever anyway. You die, like, once a week.”
“Do you believe in a soul?”
“If there is such a thing as a soul, I don’t think that just because we switch bodies means it goes away. I think I have a soul, and it’s with all my bodies.”
“Don’t you ever get sick of it, though? Sick of seeing all the same stuff year after year, sick of not having anything new to do? Sick of losing all your friends?”
“Not all of them. And seriously, sick of life? How could I? Look out there — you think all that stuff has been here forever? There are new things every day. I’m lucky enough to be around for all of them.”
“She won’t be, though.”
“No. No, she won’t. She’s dead, and her soul is gone. I’m sorry for your loss. I have friends outside the Association, and I’ve been sad to see them go.”
“Look, here’s my contact info. I have to run, but give me a buzz sometime, ok? Things don’t have to be this way. Your loss is tragic and horrible, and no fault of your own... but there’s no meaning here but what you make of it.”
“If... if death doesn’t give life meaning, what does?”
“...I lost my husband once. No, no, wait until I’m done. I don’t mean he died; I mean he left. I had been just sitting around, resting on the family money for fifty years, and he couldn’t stand to see how I was wasting my life, so he left. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t just have to sit and watch him go. So I went through all of it — begging, pleading, bargaining, trying to buy his heart back, stalking... I was a wreck. I eventually rationalized my way out of it, thinking that if I could make myself into the kind of person he wanted, I could have him back. So I worked on myself, and I got better, but I changed too. By the time I was, in fact, good enough — long before then, really — I realized that there were better things in this world. I lost him because of me, and I needed that. I needed to learn that. Just because I live forever doesn’t mean I get what I want, no matter how long I wait. So I make the world a better place, and I make myself a better person. That’s what gives me meaning.”