Clones

Description

Regeneration is survival in Tau Station, and with the technology of Anima Foundation, your incubating clone is just one misstep away from waking. Buying and gestating a clone can ensure that even your most dangerous choices don’t have to be final. In fact, you could be growing a whole new you, with your choice of genotype, if your credits are good. But be forewarned, a clone can only wake on a station outfitted with a clone vat and only with the physical stats you had when ordering it. Physical stats are stamina, agility, and strength. Choices of 3D Printed, Vat Grown, and Premium clones await your purchase. With a clone gestating you can step into the darkness on a path of adventure and confidently chart your own path. Some mutation may occur.

Clones – Don’t Leave Home Without One

You’re walking through the space station, minding your own business, when you’re suddenly attacked by a stranger. You fight back, but they’re tough and they manage to kill you before the guards can arrive to break things up. Usually, you wouldn’t be too worried about this. Most sick bays have a grim shared mantra: “If we can scrape you off the pavement, we’ll get you back on your feet.” There aren’t too many wounds they can’t fix. There’s a problem, though: you’re on Bordeaux Station and it doesn’t have a sick bay. Those fatal wounds all over your body are, for once, actually fatal.

Luckily, in Tau Station, death is not necessarily the end.

Technology

Clones are one of the most mysterious technologies that pre-Catastrophe humanity mastered. We still do not understand this technology. While our medical technology is sufficiently advanced that you can be revived at any station with a sick bay, mortal injury at a station without a sick bay is serious and will automatically reactivate your latest clone. Though the research in this area is ongoing, we still do not know how this activation is done both automatically and instantaneously, much less how the new clone retains your memories.

There are obvious genetic modifications in humans which, bizarrely, cause an apparently non-organic chip to be created in the brain, near the amygdala. This chip appears to activate on death and is hypothesized to be the mechanism by which the clones are activated. Some researchers claim other functions for the "amygchip", as it's known, but this is merely speculation.

Every human has a basic clone template stored in the cloning vats of Tau Station. If you have never gestated a new clone, your body will be recreated at the cloning vats of Tau Station, minus, of course, whatever you were carrying.

However, if you have gestated a new clone, your body will be recreated at whichever station's cloning vat you last gestated a clone. Once spawned, that clone is gone and further spawns will use your basic template at Tau Station unless you have a new clone gestated. In fact, even newly gestated clones must start from your basic template and the further you diverge from the template, the more work is required to gestate the clone. Unfortunately, that does increase the costs.

Cloning Licenses

For most people in Tau Station, death occurs much in the same way that it does now. You have one shot at life, and you’d better do your best to get it right. A luckier few have access to cloning technology and can afford to be a little less careful. Cloning requires a license, though, and those licenses are generally reserved for highly skilled workers and others who are deemed invaluable to society for one reason or another. If you were a highly placed government official, or even someone very rich, you might be granted one – but a normal citizen? No way. Fortunately, there are ways for an average person like yourself to get your hands on a license of your own, if you don’t mind breaking a few laws in the process.

Once you’ve got the license, you’ll have an amygchip implanted in your brain. The chip itself is something of a mystery; the cloning center staff know enough to make and install them, but any understanding of how they actually work was lost to the Catastrophe. The chip scans your brain and begins broadcasting the encrypted information via the “mesh,” a massive information network tied to the galaxy’s jump gates. When you die, your amygchip stops transmitting and your most recent clone spawns with all your memories.

Amygchips

Over the centuries, humanity has been genetically engineered to produce an inorganic "amygchip" in the brain. The construction of the amygchip is not well-understood, but its behavior is.

When a clone is purchased, a reference scan of the brain is performed and the data stored at a clonevat. This data is encrypted with a cryptographic system known as the "Obi homomorphic lattice", or "Obi lattice" for short. Little is known about it other than an African mathematician developed a lattice cryptographic system which is theoretically unbreakable except by brute force, even with quantum computers. After the reference scan, the amygchip is constantly broadcasting to the "Mesh", a Galactic wide mesh network that runs through jump gates. Periodically the amygchip broadcasts an encrypted key frame and constantly streams encrypted diffs of said frame until the next keyframe broadcast. This stream is distributed to all clones matching the amygchip signature.

When a person with an amygchip dies, a "dead man's switch" is triggered causing their latest clone to be decanted. If that clone is in another star system, there may be a significant delay in decanting.

An Imperfect Process

It would be a mistake to think that cloning is a cheat to avoid death, as there are serious limits to what the technology can do. Clones always grow to match their progenitor’s age at death, so you can’t create one and then die ten years later hoping to come back as a younger version of yourself. If you have a disease or a pre-existing genetic disorder when you make a clone, it will still be there waiting for you when your current body dies. Lastly, the cheapest clones are also prone to mutations that can land you in a body that’s not quite identical to the one you left behind.

Another restriction is that the amygchip usually only saves the contents of your mind. Your memories, the skills you’ve learned, your experiences; these will all be transferred to your clone when you die. But if you’ve been working out at the gym a lot, or had some genemods installed since the last time you were cloned, those physical changes will be lost.

It is possible to create clones that adapt to your changing physique, but they’re expensive to grow and maintain. Most people only have the credits for the cheaper clones which cost less in the moment but need to be replaced frequently to stay current. It’s kind of the universe’s way of saying “save early, save often.”

Mindless Meat, or Humans Beings?

Clones have been a fixture in the Tau Station universe since long before the Catastrophe, and a range of attitudes have developed toward them. Most people see them as disposable; just mindless meat that exists to guarantee their owner’s survival. While this attitude is the norm, and some argue that having a clone is a fundamental human right which should be available to everyone, others view the casual killing of clones as tantamount to murder. Clone rights advocates exist on nearly every space station, and in a few cases have even organized into groups to attack cloning centers and “liberate” the clones inside.

Life is dangerous in the Tau Station, and attempting to make your way through without the safety net of a clone can easily result in your permanent death. Without a clone, there are no do-overs. The decision of whether to buy a one, and which type to use, is entirely yours to make. Just don’t be surprised when you meet people along the way who will do their best to sway you to their point of view on the subject.

The People Against Clone Abuse (PACA) activist group also lobbies heavily against the practice of "clone disposal" when a progenitor decides to update a clone. PACA is generally not taken seriously.

Legal Implications

While it's been settled that a newly spawned cloned has the same legal status as its progenitor, many people are uncomfortable with this. Making the situation worse is a legal case which transpired approximately 175 years after the catastrophe. A newly spawned clone claimed one "Boris Bojinov", resident of the Julia Kristeva Station, murdered him. However, Bojinov denied the allegations and the progenitor's body was also not found. A suit was brought against the station administrators for not maintaining their monitors. The suit was dismissed, but this ultimately led to driving the Julia Kristeva Station to independent affiliation.

Almost four decades later, in 213, another case arose when the clone spawn malfunctioned and two clones from a single progenitor spawned at the same time. This is the only occurrence of this and both clones swiftly disappeared, leading many to suspect foul play.

Clone Types

When you’re ready to buy a clone, you’ll have three options: 3D printed, vat grown, and premium.

Not all clone types are available at every station.

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