Friday, December 20, 2013

354: Bioreactor 12

ENTRY 354: Bioreactor 12

"I'm calling it, give the order to pull back."

"Ma'am - you can't do that."

"I just did. We're closing the Zone, lieutenant. No one in, nothing out."

"But ma'am, this technology..."

"Is going to be buried under dust. If I had my way I'd throw asteroids at it for a thousand years. Now you will obey my order, or else."

"Or else wha-"

<blaster crackle>

"Anyone else want to be a statistic?"

- excerpt from When Gods Quake, Mesh dramatization of the Final Battle of the Zone (AF 7)

TITANs technology was advanced and often ugly, but not inscrutable. During the Fall the transhuman forces did capture, utilize, and reverse-engineer pieces of it, and most morphs and spacecraft today incorporate design elements, material science, or software that ultimately have their origin in the conflict. Other technology was placed under unofficial interdict, a pact of tacit agreements and bizarre cooperation between different authorities to impede and impound any research involving certain categories of TITANs tech; while no one authority or group of interests could police all transhuman research to make sure no-one would develop those terrible weapons again, they could at least bury what remained in the Zone on Mars where no one could get it. Still, every now and again someone would dig something up, or an area of research would veer a little too close to a forbidden topic, and then the offending corp or researcher would find their budget slashed, their resources re-aligned, their research archived and the archives lost...

Bioreactor 12 (codename: WAR WOMB) was, according to Firewall intelligence, the last such device the TITANs brought online in the Zone, though there are no records of it being operational during the final conflict. Believed to be initially developed from colony ship designs from old Earth, the bioreactor spliced together limited sets of DNA from asyncs and force-grew the resulting clones, installing low-sapience AGIs in their cyberbrains to create a disposable army of supersoldiers with a selection of sleights. When the artillery barrages gave way to corridor-by-corridor fighting, these proto-exsurgents pumped out by the bioreactors were a nasty surprise that delayed final victory by weeks; only the lack of raw materials kept the TITAN's from pumping out enough async puppet-soldiers to overwhelm the front line and make an effective counterattack, but one by one the bioreactors fell - all except for Bioreactor 12, kept miraculously intact after the final siege.

The basics of the bioreactor technology are rather well-known - there are few habitats that don't have the technology for cloning and resleeving, it is the experience of the brutal async close combat that brought about the mutual decision by the Jovian Republic, Lunar-LaGrange Alliance, and Planetary Consortium to not develop equivalent technology - partially because it would mean tampering with the Exsurgent Virus, and partially because if any single group developed the technology, the others would be locked into a race to develop their own bioreactor capability, spurring military brinkmanship that transhumanity can ill afford. So Bioreactor 12 sits in the Zone, by its very existence possessing the deadly potential to spark yet another conflict. The shadow of the TITANs still falls over transhumanity's future.


To function, a bioreactor needs to be equipped with a sufficient power source and a steady supply of raw hydrocarbons, which nanite stacks break down into acceptable organic compounds for the cloning process. The asyncs are equivalent to Ultimate Mercs (see Eclipse Phase) with Psi (Level 2), Psi Assault 50, Sense 50, and typically 4-5 sleights of the gamemaster's choosing.

Using Bioreactor 12

Bioreactor 12 isn't your typical MacGuffin, because by itself the technology is not unique, irreplaceable, or irreducible - while current transhuman tech might struggle to achieve the ability to selectively create asyncs and chose the sleights they'll have at the moment, the underlying principles of genetic manipulation, forced growth cloning, augmentation, and resleeving are all fairly well understood. The danger of Bioreactor 12 is not that the tech exists, but that it might be used - the powers that be in the Solar system are afraid of a cold war developing where each side attempts to create armies of async assassins and commandos, and if such research ever hits the production stage then it's only a matter of time before the really nasty TITANs tech starts coming in to play. So preventing the spread of bioreactor research amounts to an elaborate gentleman's game, where none of the major players want that particular option to come into play - but because it's secret, not everybody has gotten the memo, and Firewall and the other agencies are constantly at work to keep it under control. Some far-thinking transhumans worry that transhumanity is stunting its own growth by not pursuing these technologies, but so far the censors have won out, stifling the research before it leads to additional conflict.


  • Strange heat signatures have been recorded in the Zone, and silent alarms are going off: every sign is that Bioreactor 12 has just gone online, and production could start at any moment. No one outside the Zone knows if this is a timed delay, a resurgence of the TITANs, an espionage mission into bioreactor tech that went wrong, or just some nutter that broke through the perimeter and managed to turn it on. Whatever the case, military forces are quietly aligning around the Zone and tensions are running high; the PCs are asked to sneak into the Zone and ascertain the situation before the powers-that-be declare it time for a full military strike. As a mark of trust, the PCs are given a sat-beacon that can call down a tungsten rod from an orbital weapons platform on its own position - of course, with a radius of destruction of 500 meters, the PCs had better be ready to run or resleeve if they have to use it.

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