Goo, Khaki

Many novel and advanced species of military nano have appeared over the centuries, a constant test of blue goo defences.

Image from Steve Bowers
The military applications of self-replicating micro- and nanotechnology were realised very early in the Interplanetary Age, especially against soft targets (organic materials and unprotected infrastructure particularly). Such military nanoswarm weapons became popularly known as Khaki Goo. But defence systems against aggressive nanoswarms were quickly developed, and in any case early khaki goo was limited in its usefulness by the amount of stored energy each bot could carry, and in many other ways.

In space warfare for instance an Interplanetary Age nanoswarm weapon did not have enough stored energy to quickly assemble or disassemble iron-hulled craft, for instance. All hull ports and openings could be easily protected by periodic EMP sterilisation, although this would decrease the utility of any data flow through such a port.

Habitats were more vulnerable, however, as so much material must flow in and out of an inhabited structure; all commodities had to therefore be nanoscopically scanned using nanoscouts and other blue goo defences. The logistical problems with such tiny scanning led to the virulent Nano-outbreaks in 540 AT, which were largely attacks on personnel, consumables and data resources. Once a small population of self-replicating Khaki goo had found a toe-hold inside a ship or habitat, it was very difficult to eradicate.

On a planetary surface khaki goo, especially strains using bionanotechnology, could hide among native populations of micro-organisms until ready to attack. Blue goo was helpless against such sneak attacks, until the sophisticated forms of defences developed by GAIA became available.

Since that time defences and preventative measures have improved considerably so that attacks are rare; but many novel and advanced species of nano have appeared over the centuries, a constant test of the blue goo defences. In particular advanced forms of energy storage allow tiny devices to retain very large amounts of energy, enough to attack (or defend) almost any target.

A recent instance of a nanoswarm disaster is the one that occurred at Swallowflight, leading to the establishment of the Vela Immunity.

Nanoswarm weapons remain a constant danger, just as genetically engineered diseases remain a risk, and data viral infections likewise; all such forms of infection must be resisted by immune defences which are constantly upgraded.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 31 December 2007.