Octogen, Clade
Octogen
Image from Steve Bowers
A clade noted for its nano-dependent physiology and for its resulting skill in nanotech design and construction.

The Clade Octogen is rumoured to be another of Dimimimon4's creations, though in fact no clues to the clade Octogen has been found in Dimimimon4's notes. As consul Alsury Ponstack of the Delta V Virtual University has noted "People are all too ready to attribute the strange clades of the universe to Dimimimon4. The people of the Solar Dominion should really begin to realize that Dimimimon4 isn't the only biontogenist in the galaxy."

The Octogen themselves look like human baselines except for a very noticeable feature: their necks and arms have been lengthened by between one to two meters, and show extreme flexibility. These portions of their body possess no bones in the usual biological sense. Instead they rely entirely on implanted nanobots which respond to nerve signals from the Octogens' brain: a variant of standard nanobone technology, without the computational capability. The lengthened appendages are so extremely flexible that the owner can literally tie eir arms into a knot. At the other extreme the Octogen can also "lock their joints", making all or part of the nanobone completely rigid and capable of withstanding great forces.

Other than the arms and neck, the remaining parts of the Octogen body have been modified as little from the original human form as possible. Most of the head, body, legs and the hands and shoulder-bones of the Octogen are almost indistinguishable from that of a human baseline, though the chest musculature has been discretely modified to make up for the fact that the Octogen have no shoulders or upper arms. This also means that while the members of the Clade Octogen might be able to make an arm rigid, and use it to parry a blow, the flesh and skin on the arm would still take damage appropriate to the attack. A strong enough blow might simply rip the arm from its socket. This minimalism, and the fact that the clade gains no abilities from its improvements that couldn't be achieved much better with other genemods, leads some people to believe that the Octogen aren't really a finished clade, but rather were a prototype used to test the capabilities of their nanobones.

If the nanobones are somehow rendered inoperative an Octogen cannot move eir arms and neck. The muscles associated with these portions of the body are too weak, and not properly configured to allow movement. The default mode of the nanobones is rubbery, so while e might still be able to walk, or wriggle eir fingers, but e would have no control of eir arms, and eir head would be hanging somewhere between eir waist and the ground due to lack of control of the neck, and e would be in danger of suffocation.

Octogen implants begin at a very young age. A few weeks after conception the foetus is injected with nanobots, and it receives several more injections during the pregnancy, slowly building its nanobones, which grow with the body. When the baby is born, the bones are ready to take up their role in control of the baby's arms and neck, which will already have the same proportion to the rest of the body that they will have when the child grows up. The exact proportions seem more or less random, and octogen researchers believe them to be a result of a combination of the child's genome, external stimuli and the mother's condition during the pregnancy.

It is no surprise that the Clade Octogen places great importance on nanotechnology, given its member's physical nature. Members of the clade are considered the best baseline-equivalent designers of nanomachinery in their sector, and given the prices that may be demanded by Su or higher toposophics the entire clade is able to live on this specialty.

The clade has experimented much with the nanobones that they possess and has through time found many ways to increase their efficiency. This has lead to better pumping techniques, lower energy use, stronger limbs and different nanocyborg applications. A subclade of the octogen, calling themselves the Octogenni, experiment with further exchange of nanobones instead of normal bones. In some cases they have shorted the original limbs to give them a more human baseline appearance, but mostly they stick to their Octogen legacy.

The Octogen aren't a very large clade. There are some 6 million basic Octogen and a further 2.5 million Octogenni. Most live on a single world near the frontier-ward border of the NoCoZo.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Thorbjørn Steen

Initially published on 10 November 2004.