The 'hundred handed ones' are a clade of multi-instance bioborgs. That is, each 'individual' is made up of between 30 and 100 (usually around 50) biological and nanotic bodies. Typically the bodies of such sophonts are hominid in appearance and rough functionality, but it is not unusual to have multiple bauplans covered in a single sophonce. It is unusual to find such a sophont without at least a few hominid-style bodies, however, for ease of interface with the rest of the worlds.
The individual bodies are independently self aware at su levels (SI:<1 but approaching 1), but the gestalt is capable of operating at higher levels. The public record to date is approximately SI:1.5, with rumors of higher sophonces based on space-adapted bauplans following the model of Meistersingers, amongst others. The bulk of the Hectonitheres operate at approximately SI:.9, according to those who study such things.
Hectonithere memory is typically spread holographically across the various bodies, allowing a general grasp of the being's capabilities even among bodies which are prevented from communicating with the whole. Of course, such bodies (while incredibly intelligent by our standards) are incapable of handling the full load of the transingular sophonce, and their intellectual capabilities are designed and augmented to handle this disassociative event as and when it happens. (It's still not pleasant for such a body, but it is at least survivable for moderate to long term periods.)
Hectonitheres typically do not add or remove bodies from their cognition except as required by the environment (either due to required functionality or damage). The holographic patterning they rely on for their memory storage designs can be disrupted to some degree (they use the term 'fuzzed') by the inclusion of new bodies. Instead, those which suffer significant reduction to less than (approximately) 30 bodies either 'clone' their surviving bodies up to a survivable number or choose to discorporate. The semi-legendary tale of the Hectonithere Gillain, knocked down to a single body before e absorbed large amounts of environmental mass and repopulated eir bodies prior to gaining eir revenge, is one extreme example of such.
Each body is typically in constant EM communication (radio, ground- conductance radio, laser, etc) with most of the rest if not all of the other bodies in a given hectonithere. Each hectonithere also has one or more rapidly reconfigurable computronium cores which are utilized in various fashions by the syncretic mind. Note that this communication is often not even encrypted except in high-threat situations, with the sophonce relying on the disorientation of multiple simultaneous transmission across multiple bandwidths and media to reduce the likelihood of conceptual interception by external parties.
Interestingly, most Hectonithere transmissions in angelnetted polities appear to be encrypted with quantum-derived one time pads. The hectonitheres are understandably reticent on the details of such encryption.
Hectonitheres are a relatively recent occurrence, branching out of a somewhat cultish aspect of a minor Solarian sect some 450 years ago. This clade, while still on mostly friendly terms with Solarian entities, are apparently working on becoming their own independent clade. Several other (much more unhappy!) subgroups amongst the Solarians are watching the developments with regards to the Hectonithere independence movement with great interest.
The Hectonithere Grezzh is currently being feted as a grand hero across the outer rim of the Solarian sphere due to eir courageous and highly efficient defense of the remote GN-225C station from sporadic attacks. The source of these attacks is not clear, but technical details derived from the attack plans indicate most likely that the attacker(s) include at least one Metasoft Version Tree autowar derived from or surviving since the Version War. Local authorities are in communication with the Version Tree to garner additional information for use in beating off such attacks.
Text by John B
Initially published on 29 January 2004.