A technique by certain Hider clades to allow them to remain on life-bearing worlds, sometimes even in the very heart of their sophont community, and yet also to remain undetected.
In all cases the heart of the technique is the use of some kind of symbiotic entity - whether biological or technological - which can run software and software entities in a very efficient fashion. The host is infected with these entities, and they provide energy and shelter for them, allowing them to run and provide computing resources independently of the host. In most cases these systems are true symbiotes, and give back to the host increased resistance to disease and toxins, enhanced healing and general longevity, improved bone strength, and sometimes even immortality.
The exact form of these symbiotes varies. In some cases they are virus-like particles spread through the body of the host. In others they are a single entity which hides in the body of the host, sometimes like a technological tapeworm.
Some symbiote communities are isolated within their host and have no connection to the outside world. In others subtle signalling, often via airborne chemicals, or via message-carrying 'spores', allows communication between the communities within different hosts. Most symbiotes will hibernate in spore form if their host dies, the spore usually sending out a signal of some kind to attract a new host of an appropriate kind, infecting them when one happens by.
Hider symbiotes are normally found within non-sophont wild animals, as they are much less likely to be noticed that way, but it is not unknown for them to be found within domestic animals or even sophonts, though in the latter cases this is much more likely to be in low-technology societies where the infection will not be noticed.
Text by Tony Jones
Initially published on 16 August 2003.