Tuesday, 6 January 2015



What is the difference between a mortuary and a cloning facility?
Gotcha! It’s a trick question. In that last couple of decades, the process of cloning has had to be optimised significantly in order to serve the richest, most prolific and most demanding customers - Capsuleers.

Observe the loading bay, there is a collection of bodies being delivered now. Some of them are going to be given formal burials or cremations, the families will be awarded a certain amount of currency (for the better quality biomass, that currency may even be ISK), and once they’ve departed the veneer of civilisation will be rolled back like any theatre set. At that point the body will be subject to various procedures intended to deform, reshape and re-person the biomass.
This male corpse has about enough remaining biomass to produce a clone for an average Minmatar female. The bones from the missing arm aren’t a concern — the material will simply be resumed from some other less suitable donor.
So here’s the body entering the processing chamber now. The remassing procedure is something akin to the manufacture of sandwich meat. The existing flesh is subjected to nanite treatment to remove the cells that are decayed beyond recovery, alter the existing DNA sequences, reset the various aging clocks, and most importantly rewire the brain to accept the burn-in process when the Capsuleer’s consciousness is mapped into place during the clone revival.
Over the next day or so, this clone will be subject to skin reprogramming, old hair follicles will be elided and new ones grown in their place (the work here is done by stem cells, repurposed from their original host and programmed with the buyer’s own DNA). Once the body’s reengineering is completed, it doesn’t end there. Capsuleers are a picky lot. This body for example needs to have various tattoos reapplied, the hair needs to be grown to exactly two feet, and then plaited into cornrows.
The tattoos are a particular concern. As we can see, this is a minmatar female being cloned. The tattoos on the face indicate family lineage, those marks on the shoulder indicate rank and service (the relative dearth of them on this clone speaks volumes of this particular capsuleer’s history). Then there’s the Voluval mark. Minmatar society is rather peculiar in that at a certain age (it’s not a fixed chronological age, so much as a range of emotional ages) the Minmatar youth will partake in a ceremony through which a tattoo is chemically formed into their skin based on an unspecified reaction with their neurological processes. This one tattoo will determine the attitude of other Minmatar towards the individual more than any other tattoo they wear.
Capsuleers do not fit into any society particularly well — except perhaps Gallente society where body-modding is commonplace. The Amarr frown on cloning at all, much less the perceived attempt to ascend into godhood. The Khanid are the exception here, of course, with their philosophy being that God was only necessarily greater than humanity until humanity was capable of taking over the role of God. In some circles of Minmatar society, there is some taboo associated with capsuleers and their tattoos: the voluval mark was created on their original flesh, where the facsimile on clones is considered a fraud. Who’s to say that you didn’t pay the cloning facility to forget that your voluval mark was a Pale Eye, and accidentally give you a Ray of Matar for example?
But enough about tattoos. This clone is ready. Let’s follow as this clone is whisked in its vat from the cloning facility, through the delivery conduits to the capsuleer suites. Now it is anchored in place in the waiting room, the body’s metabolism is slowed down to the point that it can be comfortably stored in suspended animation, awaiting the arrival of its consciousness, for an indefinite period of time.
And we’re in luck! That flashing amber light above the containment unit indicates that the Capsuleer has requested a clone jump. Talk about timely delivery! Watch carefully now, this all happens so quickly. A cloning technician enters to provide any assistance the capsuleer may require: usually a couple of towels and verbal reassurance that the Capsuleer has been reanimated correctly. The imprinting facility enters the containment, the clone’s metabolism is kicked into gear, and … did you hear that? The faint popping sound as the imprinting facility discharged its energy into the clone’s brain to implant the consciousness of the Capsuleer, who is now waking up.
So there we have the entire process from beginning to end. At some point in the future, no doubt following some spectacular space battle, this capsuleer’s body will end up back in the cloning facility waiting to be remassed into someone else’s clone. Possibly her own, possibly a friend’s, maybe an enemy’s.
They’re a weird bunch, capsuleers. It is said that they don’t even feel that attached to their bodies, calling themselves “infomorphs” and viewing bodies as simply another fashion accessory. Quite bizarre.
Well, that is the end of this tour. We will meet at the hangar control office in an hour, so grab yourself a drink and perhaps try to wash the smell of reprocessed human flesh from your mind, yes?

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