Scion

scion
Image from Steve Bowers

A scion is a full or partial copy of a sophont, specifically designed to go forth and gather experiences or carry out duties on behalf of the original. The term is usually reserved for a copy on the same substrate: a biont's scion is also biological, a vec's scion is also mechanical, and so on. Most commonly the scion is superficially identical to eir original, or is at least recognizably similar in appearance and behaviour, though over periods of long separation the two may diverge. Biological scions who are identical in every significant way to their original are known as bioxoxes. Beings who serve transapients in a similar way but are of a lower toposophic level than their original are not called scions; they are referred to as a proxavs, fragments, or avatars, depending on their purpose and origin.

Scions usually either report back verbally or else upload their memories. They may do this at the conclusion of their mission, or on a scheduled basis if their task is long term. What happens after the scion has accomplished whatever e was sent to do varies quite strongly according to local law, custom, and religion, and according to the desires of the scion's creator. Some scions are designed to have an extremely short lifespan, and will expire after a pre-determined time whether or not eir mission is complete. Others will be merged with their original and "blanked" after memory uploading and sent out once again as a new copy. Still others continue to develop as separate beings, and are regarded as heirs or descendants of their original. Most time-limited copies are designed not to regard themselves as separate beings, and are perfectly content to expire after they have completed their work. This is most commonly the case in some more densely settled regions, in compliance with local reproduction and population control statutes. On the other hand, longer term scions may merely feel some loyalty towards their original, and an impulse to report back periodically. Such compulsions may fade over time as the scion becomes eir own individual, however.

The legal and social status of a scion varies strongly from place to place in the Terragen sphere. In some places a scion can be destroyed (some would say murdered) with only a small penalty, or without any penalty at all. In most civilized regions however a scion has full sophont rights, and in many places it is illegal to create a scion with a slave mentality or with a lifespan shorter than that of the original. In combination with typical reproduction statutes, this means that in many places either the scion is legally no different from a son, daughter, clone, engenerated full copy, or some other descendant of the original. The periphery of the Terragen expanse is much more variable in its treatment of scions, so Sephirotic polities receive a steady trickle of scion refugees, and watchdog organizations such as the Francisclarans have publicized a number of horrific cases of scion abuse in some of the non-Sephirotic civilizations.

The Magellans, especially Magellan IV, XII, and XIX, all famous human nearbaseline explorers and news journalists along the periphery of the Terragen expanse, are a well known instance of scions who are far better known than their original. They are somewhat enhanced copies of an obscure 97th century Inner Sphere zar named John Xiang, who lived an undistinguished life on public support in a series of nanotopias in the Terran Federation and who eventually died without backup in a trivial sports accident. Even the Magellans themselves have largely forgotten him.

The entire population of Balance Wheel, on the Metasoft periphery, still consists of specialized subordinate scions of a single vec named Mainspring. A similar arrangement involving scions of a sybont named Mencius existed until recently in the system (named, rather unimaginatively, after Mencius emself) on the NoCoZo border, but after nearly four centuries of rule Mencius was overthrown in a popular revolution and exiled. The population of the Mencius system still consists primarily of Mencius' copies, but they have diverged over time and the region is evolving into a more typical diverse set of NoCoZo neo-libertarian polities.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 03 December 2005.