A Human Variant is a genetically transformed Human. Traditionally, a Variant is a recognized transformation genotype that retains Human rights and that passes the transformed genome to any subsequent offspring. This definition does not include Human genome based artificially created biological organisms such as some Servant Races and Constructs, which are treated under the category of Artificial Beings. By convention, Variant transformations are conducted only on adult Human candidates, though no biological limitations prevent the transformation of fertilized zygotes, developing fetuses or children.
The Empire of Humanity recognized eighteen legal Human Variant genomes and included two other genetic transformations, Nobilis and Eternals, in special legal categories. Four additional generally recognized Variants have come into being during the Chaotic Era. Human Variants represent a substantial minority of the Human race in Known Space. Within different current societies, Variant status ranges from near religious worship, to caste-based subcultures, to multicultural acceptance, to ostracized ghettoism or to genocidal abhorrence. For instance, while all Variants enjoy full citizenship rights and suffer no discrimination within the Federation of Orion, no Variant may reside outside of closed reservations within the Terran Khalifate.
Variant transformations techniques ranged from the simple genetic replacement transformation required to produce Belters to the advanced Crowlian incremental biomorphic transformations that produced the Tune race. The following sections discuss the technologies required to produce a Variant and describes the accepted or well-known Variants produced by those techniques.
Simple genetic replacement was the first procedure capable of wholesale genetic reprogramming of adult Humans. Using early macrojump or late fusion era nanomed implanted organisms, this two month procedure gradually modified the recipient’s cells, recoding DNA to a transformed structure. This procedure could only generate minor modifications by expressing dormant characteristics or by emphasizing or suppressing existing traits. Where legal, many technologically advanced worlds continue to perform simple genetic replacement transformations in the Chaotic Era.
Using a technique first developed for Constructs on Venus and later adapted for foremen working on Venusian coastal projects and on the Poseidon recolonization venture, the Merman Variant became widespread during the Empire and proliferated to hundreds of worlds with high hydrographic percentages or extensive aquatic development. The Merman transformation produces an amphibian Human with gill slits in the neck and the capacity to extract oxygen from seawater. The Merman has webbed feet and fingers, no body hair. A Merman can survive indefinitely in water depths up to 40 meters at standard gravity and pressure. Merman endurance on land is limited by diminished normal lung capacity and Mermen require a partial pressure of .15 bars oxygen to breath without assistance.
The Belter genetic modification overcomes many Human difficulties with prolonged exposure to low or zero gravity conditions. Belter transformations remain common among planetoid and Drift dwellers and among starship crews. A Belter suffers no bone loss or other physiological deterioration from zero gravity and achieves rapid readaption to normal gravity conditions. Belters do not suffer from motion sickness and have higher physical dexterity and spatial skills than the Human norm. Adaptation to gravities greater than thirty percent above standard is difficult for Belters and persistent problems with “free-running” biological clocks remain.
The Mesomorph transformation is a simple high-gravity high-strength enhancement. Mesomorph modifications for high gravity living or for professional or personal enhancement remain popular and are the most common transformations still performed in Known Space. A Mesomorph has 50% more “quick” muscle cells and a 100% stronger skeletal structure than a Standard Human. Mesomorphs can adapt easily to environments between 1.5 and 2 standard gravities, can functions in up to 3 gravities for extended periods and can remain conscious in acceleration couches at up to 20 sustained gravities. Increased cardiovascular degeneration and arthritis coming in aging Mesomorphs are easily counteracted by mid fusion era nanomed assistance.
The Ion modification was created for surface dwellers of the terraformed Joivan moon Io. Ions spread to marginally habitable hot and arid worlds during the Imperial Era and continue to live in desert regions of many inhabited worlds. The Ion transformation is seldom performed in the current era, and Ion cultures have become clannish and nomadic on many worlds. An Ion can withstand temperatures up to 345K in low (2-5%) humidity for extended periods and are three times as resilient to radiation exposure as a Standard Human. Ions have nictating eye membranes and dark complexions, but are otherwise physically indistinguishable from Standard Humans.
The Guardian transformation was developed on Caldera to modify caste-based soldiers and police officers in the Bengali Dominions. The transformation represents the most advanced simple genetic replacement transformation, requiring specialized facilities and twice the transition time of other simple transformations. A Guardian is highly tolerant of the worst disorientation and degenerative effects of macrojump travel and possesses both the strength of a Mesomorph and the low gravity adaptation of a Belter. Guardians have limited regeneration capabilities and can withstand most forms of radiation three times as well as Standard Humans. The natural life span of a Guardian is over twice that of a Standard Human and standard nanomed, regenerative and anagathic procedures will function on Guardians, but beyond the natural age of one hundred standard years, many Guardians suffer from cardiovascular disorders, arthritis and diabetes, all easily treatable by nanomeds in Technological Age societies. The Guardian Variant is physically indistinguishable from Standard Humans, but not generally interfertile with Standards or any other Variant. Though the Guardian transformation procedure remains a closely guarded Bengali state secret, over the centuries, retired Guardian families have emigrated from Bengali Space, and populations of Guardians have settled in many Human Space regions, often specializing in military or space-related fields, like their brethren in the Dominions.
Full genome therapy manipulates the entire Human DNA sequence, performing checks, modifications and gene additions. The nanomed transformers required to perform full genome therapy on living individuals require specialized computing and biogenic technology that is generally unavailable before early microjump technological levels. A full genome therapy requires between ten and twelve months of induced coma treatment, though Crowlian methods did reduce this modification interval to under six weeks during later Imperial times. The Nobilis and Futaris forms have significant political and religious implications that normally prevent the availability of these transformations even in capable facilities. Full genome therapy creates a separate genetic species; unions between Standard or otherwise transformed Humans and specific genomic transformation Variants will not produce offspring. A few select facilities in the Zhantlas Union, Star Kingdoms of Orpheus and Timbuktu and the Bengali Dominions can perform full genome therapy, but they generally require a stringent screening process, specific licenses and large fees to perform the transformation.
The Nobilis Life Therapy procedure was the first licensed transformation in Human history and resulted in the creation of over one hundred million individuals that formed the first generation of the Nobilis ruling race. The Nobilis modification extended life span, provided high resistance to disease and allowed rapid healing and simple regeneration. The Nobilis do not age noticeably and unaided Nobilis life expectancy is approximately 650 years, though the full lifespan can exceed two or three millennia. Improved stabilization techniques ultimately doubled the initial life expectancy and potential lifespan of Nobilis. A Nobilis has no external hairs or nails and maintains moderate levels of body mass under varied dietary conditions. Nobilis side effects include Catastrophic Immune Disorder (CID) and low female fertility. The hyperactive immune system of the Nobilis will eventually enter an aggressive (pre-CID) mode where female fertility ends (the womb will reject any fetus) and various arthritic or hive-like immune conditions occasionally manifest. Once in the pre-CID stage, a secondary immune reaction can trigger full-blown CID, marked by rapid swelling of the brain and liver, often causing death or disability within minutes. Advanced nanomed enhancements can treat pre-CID for a few centuries or until a mutated pre-CID anomaly overcomes the nanomed protections. The long lost Rymar Stabilization transformation technique did permanently provide better CID protection than nanomed enhancements and Rymar-descended Nobilis enjoy twice the life expectancy and lifespan of non-Rymar Nobilis. The Nobilis transformation is inseparably tied to Noble social standing. In the Bengali Dominions, Nobilis remain dominant, but new transformations are impermissible. In the Terran Khalifate and in many other regions, Nobilis are not tolerated and are expelled, at best. The Nobilis race is declining in numbers and most surviving Nobilis are Rymar stabilized members of the ruling class in the Bengali Dominions.
Eternal Therapy was designed as a non-Nobilis one-time longevity transformation. An Eternal’s effective aging rate is 1% Human normal, though genetic degradations generally limit life expectancy to well under two thousand years; theoretical lifespan exceeds three thousand years and some rare 33rd century Eternals still persist. Eternal immune systems remain resistant to most diseases and can survive over twice the short-term radiation exposure of a Standard Human. Eternal transformation causes sterility and prevents the effective formation of cloned cells, completely limiting Eternal reproductive capability and preventing both regeneration therapy and Mechanist reincarnation. Elderly Eternals are often highly cyborgized and some have chosen to undergo the Heretic transformation to machine intelligence to avoid inevitable death. While some individuals undertook Eternal Therapy at adulthood, Eternal Therapy was often delayed until a Standard Human was past a thousand years in age and the transformation therapy proceeded after successive Restoration regenerations reduced the individual’s effective age to thirty; such individuals hoped to live to an age of three or four thousand years. Eternal Therapy is not publicly available at any known facility. Though Eternals accounted for over 13% of the Human population in 4750CE, current numbers are probably less than ten billion. Eternals, like Nobilis, suffer elimination or expulsion in the Terran Khalifate, but generally elicit less hostility on non-Ibrahimite worlds than the Nobilis or Futaris races.
The Chameleon transformation is a full genomic therapy that produces only cosmetic effects. A Chameleon has conscious control over the hue and patterns of the skin, allowing a near instantaneous (within ten or twenty seconds) changes in hues and a creation of repetitive patterns over some or all of the Chameleon’s body. Changed patterns persist until consciously changed by the Chameleon. The more advanced Chimeratic Chameleon soon supplanted the early popularity of the standard Chameleon transformation, and the numbers of the “SC” declined to two billion, even in the Imperial period. Standard Chameleons remain rare and the transformation therapy is not currently available, though many nanomeds available to interstellar society mimic Chameleon effects.
The Chloro Variant is a Standard Human with chloroplasts and modified mitochondria inserted into skin cells. A Chloro cannot survive indefinitely on sunlight and water, but does enjoy a metabolic advantage and requires less food than a Standard Human under Terran solar conditions. Chloro resistance to solar-type EM radiation is up to four times standard, though the transformation does not provide any added protection from x-ray, gamma or particle radiation. A Chloro is green-skinned but of otherwise normal appearance. The Chloro transformation never gained widespread popularity and was mostly associated with naturalist religious sects. Scattered Chloro communities still exist on some worlds, mostly in the Rimward and Trailing regions.
The Valkyrie transformation was specifically created for Empress Jena’s personal guard and for Imperial Guard units under her direct command. The Valkyrie are exclusively female, reproducing by full parthenogenesis. Over five million female Guards underwent the Valkyrie transformation during the Fourth Federation War and in the three decades that followed, and the few remaining Valkyrie descend from these warriors. A Valkyrie has Mesomorph strength, Belter adaptation, Nobilis regenerative capabilities and three times Standard natural lifespan, supplemental by Extensor but not regeneration therapy. The few remaining Valkyries reside mostly in isolated communities in the Coreward Region. Contrary to myth, the Valkyries are neither winged nor immortal.
The Futaris Variant is directly linked to the Golden Stasis religion. All Initiate members of the Altara Mystery sect and many members of most major Golden Stasis sects are descendants of Futaris or have undergone the transformation in Altaran church-sponsored clinics in the Bengali Dominions. The Futaris form is a hairless golden-skinned humanoid with a high forehead associated with an extended cranium and enlarged frontal lobe. A Futaris Variant does not have intrinsically higher intelligence than a Standard Human, but long-term memory and learning capacity is demonstrably greater, especially for Futaris over the age of three hundred. The Futaris lifespan is five times Human Standard and Extensor treatments function normally, though full regenerations can cause severe mutations and are not recommended. Futaris, like Nobilis, reside almost exclusively in the Bengali Dominions where they form a substantial fraction of the population and remain the main administrative caste of society. Outside of the Dominions or the Federation of Orion, Futaris generally face the same prejudices as Nobilis.
The Maximus transformation was created specifically by the Society for Order in the Bengal Dominions and is an attempt to create an "improved" ruling caste. The Maximus transformation is a Futaris-Guardian hybrid, physically similar to a Futaris, but generally taller. Possessing the improved memory of a Futaris and the physical attributives of a Guardian, the Maximus is a formidable Variant, but burdened by a defunct racist ideology, the transformation is no longer openly performed, and the Maximus Variant remains rare, often ostracized or exiled.
The Genderless transformation was developed by designer Hushark Phaeton to create a Human Variant beyond the limitations of gender. The Genderless transformation creates a Human Variant devoid of body hair and genitalia. Reproduction occurs by full parthenogenesis, with birth occurring though a dilated urethra. The genderless have marginal chameleon abilities, limited to a slow alteration of skin hue. The Genderless lifespan is twice Standard, with normal augmentation possible via standard life extension and regeneration therapies. The Genderless tend to be slim and adapt poorly to high gravity environments. Genderless remain rare and the transformation, while still available, is not currently fashionable.
The Metamorph transformation is the newest full genome transformation available and creates a highly malleable Variant Human. A Metamorph Variant can consciously alter its internal organs and glands over a time period, ranging from days to months, to adapt to a variety of environments and even to change its gender. A Metamorph is external indistinguishable from a Standard Human in its default state. A Metamorph can express gill slits and adapt to aquatic environments similar to a standard Merman. A Metamorph has a Guardian's range of adaptation to low and high gravity environments, but requires a few days to reach full adaptation to a particular gravity grade. A Metamorph can adapt to low oxygen environments with as little as .05 bars partial pressure and can survive high concentrations of carbon dioxide or pollutants. Metamorphs can absorb five times more radiation damage than a Standard Human, at all wavelengths. Metamorphs can alter skin pigmentation from albino pale to jet black, but lack Chameleon or Chimeratic capabilities. Metamorphs can also secrete hormones and neurotransmitters from specialized glands, allowing temporary feats of strength or agility and imbuing immunity from many poisons and mind altering substances, though often with a significant metabolic penalty for the effort. Transformation of gender requires two to three months, and all Metamorphs are able to father or mother Metamorph children. The Metamorph transformation is only available at licensed clinics within the Federation of Orion, and remains controversial, especially regarding its gender-altering capabilities.
Nestor Crowl developed incremental cellular biomorphisis in the early 37th century. This technique used repeatedly applied biological cellular manipulators to allowed drastic additions and changes to the Human genetic code. The Crowlian technique required two or three months (six months for the Tune Variant or for combination Majestic Flyers) of induced biological hibernation. Extensor treatments and full regenerations proved incompatible with all Crowlian transformations, but all forms except the Tunes have lifespans of up to eight hundred years, potentially doubled by continual application of advanced nanomed treatments. The Tune lifespan is approximately five hundred years without nanomed supplementation. All Crowlian transformations represent unique Human species, though combination Majestic Flyers may often remain interfertile with their original Variant species. The Crowlian process is beyond current technologies and the templates for the Crowlian Variant genomes are believed lost.
The Flyer was the first true Crowlian transformation generally available and the form enjoyed a brief popularity before the introduction of the Majestic Flyer Variant just seventeen years later. A Flyer has a set of pterodactyl-like wings spanning four to five meters and has a 40% reduced body mass. Under normal atmospheric conditions, Flyers can take off from worlds with gravities below twenty percent of standard and can soar, from cliffs or buildings, on worlds with gravities up to half standard. Effectively, this limited their normal flight to the terraformed moons of the Solar system, to Dorian Minor and to low gravity habitat areas. While the standard Flyer form remained popular on Luna and the Jovian moons, some earlier Variants undertook the painful process and risks of retransforming to the Majestic Flyer form, once it became available. Flyers never numbered more than several hundred million, mostly in the Solar system. After the Ibrahimite takeover of Sol, surviving Flyers fled to the Bengal Dominions or to the Dorian system. The current Flyer population is about half a billion and is limited to the few Bengali or FOO worlds and habitats that support their flight or soaring capabilities.
The Majestic Flyer was a progressive improvement on the Flyer transformation and incorporated complex genetic compatibility sequences. A Majestic Flyer has a five to six meter wingspan, greatly enhanced flying muscles and half the mass of a comparable Human. The mass reduction requires honeycombed bones, streamlined organs and improved musculature. A Majestic Flyer can take flight from a normal atmosphere world of up to forty percent standard gravity and can soar in standard atmospheric environments up to ten percent above standard gravity. Unlike most Crowlian transformations, the Majestic Flyer process could apply over some other Variant transformations, resulting in such combinations as Triphibians -flying Mermen- and Nobilis Majestic Flyers, such as Prince Cleon Farrar in his later days. The Majestic Flyer transformation process was designed to allow for the “upgrade” of standard Flyers, but it also allowed the transformation of Mermen, Belters and Nobilis, and later, Ions and Futaris. The combination Majestic Flyer transformation involved greater cost in risk, time and discomfort than a straightforward Standard Human to Majestic Flyer process. It also resulted in an expressed recessive Crowlian trait that often cause irregularities or degraded health in mixed offspring; for instance, Melana Farrar did not inherit her father’s wings, and she only passed on the Majestic Flyer genes to one of her sons, Emperor Olav II, who did not exhibit any Majestic Flyer traits but exhibited poor health for a Nobilis and died early. After Olav II’s death in 4136CE, adverse publicity severely curtailed the number of combination transformations. Over two billion Majestic Flyers graced the skies of Imperial worlds by 4750CE and more than twice that number now thrive on mostly lower gravity worlds, but also in enclaves on standard gravity worlds throughout recontacted non-Khalifate space.
The Tunes represent the most extreme transformation of the Human form that was accepted under Imperial science and policy. The Tunes are adapted to J3 jovian environments, initially residing in the atmosphere of Neptune, and later Uranus, in the Solar system. The Tune form is a bloated three meter humanoid with normal arms and two sets of steering flippers. Tunes are best adapted to temperature bands between 250 and 320K and pressures between .5 and 5 bar. The Tune form was a collaborative effort between Nestor Crowl’s best design team and a sect of Human mystics who sought a unique environment from which to experience the Universe. Nearly considered a complete failure, the Tunes eventually rebounded from early psychological and physiological difficulties, and an offshoot sect called the Ani settled in Uranus’s atmosphere in the early 44th century. Descendants of the Ani colonized at least two dozen other J3 gas giants in the last two centuries of the Empire and the final Census enumerated more than a million of these extreme Variants. Tunes and Ani still inhabit the Solar system in special reservations. At least eight scattered Ani colonies still survive.
The Deep Merman is a progressive enhancement of the Merman transformation. The Deep Merman has advanced underwater breathing capability, improved deep sea senses, Chameleon-derived photo-luminous skin and can thrive down to 500 meters depth at standard gravity and pressure. Deep Mermen do not suffer from diminished capacity in a low atmospheric environment. Both Standard Humans and simple Mermen could undergo Deep Merman transformation. The Merman to Deep Merman transformation does not result in individuals interfertile with standard Mermen, but the Deep form became popular among the Merman community, where it eventually accounted for almost half the population. Deep Mermen survived the Chaotic Era better than their simpler brethren and they now outnumber basic Mermen by almost three to one. Relations between Deep Merman and standard Merman can range from active community cooperation to outright warfare.
The Vacule Variant is adapted for vacuum or other non-Terran environments. A Vacule has a hardened non-permeable skin, hard lensed eyes, and internal energy storage organs in place of lungs. Vacule energy production is based on the consumption of organic material, supplemented by skin absorbed EM radiation, similar to later Solar capabilities. Communication in a vacuum environment requires internal cybernetic hardware, and many Vacules were once and remain today highly cyborgized individuals. The Vacule typically has webbed or vestigial toes and does not adapted well to environments over one standard gravity. Standard Humans and Belters could undergo a Vacule transformation, and all Vacules have the zero gravity adaptations of the Belter, though the “free-running” clock problem was solved by this transformation. Vacules, combination or otherwise, and Belters are not interfertile. Vacules can withstand most non-corrosive atmospheres up to two bars, temperatures ranging from 120 to 400K and twenty times the radiation damage of Standard Humans without significant protection. Vacules represent an extreme variation from the Human norm and numbered just over one and a half billion by the fall of the Empire. Reliance on cybernetics caused a considerable die-back during the early Plague years, but in many remote asteroid belts and inhospitable outposts, only Vacules survived the Fall. Vacules communities still exist in hundreds of Known Space systems.
The Solar Variant was an adaptation of the Vacule biological energy system into a less extreme humanoid form. The Solar, normally extremely dark skinned, can absorb radiation from the near-infrared to the extreme x-ray. A Solar require no additional energy sources when living unclothed in energy environments richer than 2kW/m2. The Solar form is extremely radiation resistant, thriving in environments up to twenty times the tolerance of Standard Humans. The Solar Variant remained a fringe transformation until its adoption by certain HyperGothic groups during the 44th century. Though the HyperGoth movement faded, larger numbers of Solars continued to spread, especially among worlds with F type stars. The Solar population was approximately one billion in 4750CE and remains considerable on worlds with established enclaves.
The Chimeratic Chameleon Variant is an improvement of the Standard Chameleon that also modifies facial musculature to permit conscious control of basic facial appearance, allowing morphing and shaping of the head into various Human-ranged features. A Chimeratic Chameleon can also alter eye color to any natural or unnatural hue and can significantly change voice pitch. While color pattern and eye hue changes persist until changed, facial morphing requires low-level concentration and will not persist through sleep or unconsciousness. Standard Humans or Chameleons could undergo Chimeratic transformation, though Chameleon combinations suffered from recessive inheritance of the Chimeratic genes. Chimeratic Chameleon transformation was popular in the Decadent Era and over eight billion Chimeras existed at the end of the Empire. Despite the fact that Late Macrojump Era nanomeds can mimic many Chimeratic Chameleon capabilities, prejudice and fear have impacted Chimeratic Chameleon populations on many worlds.
The Titan transformation was the first straightforward Human Variant created for alternate atmosphere worlds. The Titan was specifically designed for the cold nitrogen/methane Class N2 atmosphere of the Solar moon Titan, but is viable on most Iceworm worlds. A Titan thrives in a N2 class atmosphere at temperature ranges of 70-120K and can consume N2-type DNA I lifeforms found in Iceworm ecologies. Completely humanoid in appearance, but of orange hue and possessing a thick, rough skin (though more supple than the Vacule's), the Titans acted mostly as intermediaries to the Iceworm race and to other cold nitrogen species. Definitely a fringe Variant, only sixteen million individuals existed at the end of the Empire and the surviving members of the Variant live on a few Coreward Iceworm worlds, mostly within the Zhantlas Union.
The Methane Variant was designed to live on the thousands of U1 Class ecology worlds within Imperial space. Externally identical to the Standard Human, but utilizing a methane-based rather than oxygen-based metabolism, the nearly four hundred million Imperial Methanes settled over one hundred Class U worlds before the fall of the Empire and many of these colonizes still persist.
The Subjovian Variant was designed for the Alimeen (S1) subjovian ecosystem. Unlike the Tunes, Subjovians retain basic human form, and they are unable to float free in the dense subjovian atmosphere, requiring surfaces or structures for support. Adaptable to up to three standard gravities and most pressure/temperature gradients compatible with liquid water, the Subjoivans can only effectively live on Alimeen inhabited civilized worlds. The Subjovian transformation was never widespread, with less than three million recorded in the last Imperial Census. Small Subjovian Variant populations persist on some Alimeen Confederacy worlds.
Full Biomorphisis was developed under Calderan government sponsorship in the 45th century to provide Rymar Stabilization, a progressive repair of the Nobilis genome. Technically, a full biomorphic process can rewrite, add or delete any genomic DNA sequence within a few days. This process was less painful than Crowlian biomorphisis and inherently more flexible, allowing any number of radical genetic transformations. The established Crowlian infrastructure and socio-political sensitivity over Rymar Stabilization prevented the use of Full Biomorphisis in existing Variant transformations, with the exception of Futaris conversions conducted on the Calderan worlds. These Calderan Futaris have twice the intrinsic life span of the Crowlian Futaris and possessed the advantages, but not the side effects, of Belter transformations; they are normally interfertile with Crowlian Futaris, producing offspring of intermediary lifespan and recessive Belter adaptation. Full Biomorphisis required constant monitoring and feedback by advanced biomedical orchestrator artificial sentients, and this complex process did not survive the Mech Plague.
All pages and images ©1999 - 2005
by Geir Lanesskog, All Right Reserved