Friday, August 21, 2020

The Jupiter System and the Engels


Jupiter and its attendant moons have long been a staging area for both research and further colonisation. Never quite as populous as the inner worlds, they became a haven for those who desired privacy and sought to take personal modification to new levels. By the years just before the Fall, this had coalesced into a loose alliance based on the four Galilean moons and several orbital stations. Posthuman entities, their minds grander than almost anything else that human history had seen, spread out through advanced infrastructure built and designed by them to hold their expansive consciousness. Each still had a physical body, either a carefully crafted clone or their much altered original, but they functioned as nodes in something greater. The body was built to be an interchange, to house a density of processing ability in order to give the posthuman supermind a firm connection to base reality. They were tall, slender, beautiful, and filled with more technology than even their contemporaries in-system could imagine. 

Then the Fall happened. While much of its exact nature is unknown, this much is. It destroyed technology, overloading and rending the rude constructs of metal and plastic, and corrupting smart matter godtech into destructive monstrosity. By the time the Fall ended, not only was all active tech gone, it had taken most of its surroundings with it.

The Jupiter system was hit hard too, but through some quirk of design or posthuman ingenuity, it wasn’t completely ruined. Technology was lost, but habitats and people survived, if diminished. The years after the Fall are a blur to the survivors. They lost all their memories, and worse, the greater part of their own minds, their consciousness now a limited fragment housed in a body that was never meant to function by itself. They sought a solution, and they found two.

One group severed their capacity for god-thought, rendered themselves merely mortal, if superior to any human. They left Jupiter for its sister-system of Saturn, driven out by their brethren for their blasphemy. 

The ones who stayed became the engels, and they found a different way. They learnt how to emulate their higher selves, running ascendent consciousness in slices. Like a jumping spider, or virtual memory, they turned their entire processing ability towards running their higher minds one step at a time. This was slow, and required a meditative trance, but it worked. At least, partially.

For the posthumans were dead. Their lost biological shells could not call them back from nothing. But they had once been the seeds from which gods grew, and they could be again. 

An engel’s godmind lives a strange life. It drifts in a barely-remembered fugue, only pertinent details clear. Then, it briefly stirs to full life, the ferocious power of its intellect analysing data and planning. It knows that is engel-self is meditating, that hours blur by outside to give it mere minutes of god-thought. So it plans, and plots, and carves its last thoughts into diamond.

When the engel stirs from its trance, it cannot recall what it thought. It is beyond it, too complex and advanced for its comprehension. But it has Tasks, and there is a Plan. 

Have faith, and the gods will come again.

Engels work both together and separately to fulfil the ultimate goal of their godminds: to become permanent. To once more open their eyes and walk the world, never again to slip back into the waking dream of the engel-self. The engels know this, and work tirelessly. Engels have names only when among non-engels, and discard them after. They think of themselves as an “it”, a non-person rising towards personhood.

Engels do not breed. It is possible they could, but without the godtech of their origin, their progeny would be merely mortal. Rumours exist of such children, lost nephalem with advanced genetics but no ability to form a godmind, and no implanted technology. The engels deny them.

Every engel alive was alive at the Fall. Their numbers dwindle slowly however, as the remnant technology within them can keep them alive in extreme situations. Even an engel long thought dead is often merely healing, its body never decaying as its internal nanoware pieces it back together. Dismemberment and immolation kill engels. Very little else does.

Their remnant nanoware is perhaps the most impressive tool in an engel’s repertoire. With the loss of the posthuman mind and the relevant cyberware, they are not able to control it fully. It usually remains in its default state, healing the engel and attempting to protect it from environmental hazards. As a result of this, an engel can survive anything up to and including vacuum for several minutes before being rendered inert.

However, the godminds have managed to construct control scripts from first principles. These awkward bioware workarounds are too complex for engels to comprehend, but they are capable of triggering them. As a result, each engel usually ends its emulation session with several abilities and the knowledge of how to use them. As long as they have sufficient internal foglets, they can run the limited number of scripts to manifest them in various forms. The foglets regenerate slowly, and are stable unless manifested. When manifested, the foglet swarms resemble mist or faint light, and are the source of the assumption that engels have divine power.

Engel abilities include but are not limited to:

  • Flight. The engel extrudes foglet wings from its back. While usually only allowing gliding or slowing a descent, they can be overclocked to allow brief actual flight.

  • Healing. The engel can emit a small amount of foglets to knit wounds and even cure some diseases.This can be used either to boost their own healing, or apply it to others.

  • Shield. The foglets can form a defensive barrier, either a thicker coating directly over the skin that protects against melee attacks, or a larger dome that slows and stops subsonic missiles.

  • Enhance weapons. Engels prefer not to fight, avoiding direct conflict where possible. They do often carry small, well-crafted weapons just in case, such as rapiers or daggers. They can briefly wrap a field of disassembler foglets around the blade, rendering it capable of slicing through most matter. Engels do not hack with their weapons, they swish, and stone, steel and flesh fall apart like gossamer.

All engels work together for a common purpose, but not all godminds agree on the path needed. Over time, this has coalesced into several different Synods located on the four Galilean moons of Ganymede, Io, Europa, and Callisto. There is also a loose confederation of smaller cloisters both in orbital locations and on the smaller moons such as Amalthea.

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