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Kick-starting the brain

I've just read Planetary 1-26, in an attempt to kick-start the story-generating engine in my mind.

I don't know what's weirder: reading the stories, or seeing an advert for the four-year-old video game J's playing (that I got on budget about a year ago) which rated it as "eagerly anticipated". All this will be lost in time.

Care and Feeding of your Infomagus
—An underground text discovered in the possessions of Artifex Gallion, assassinated for membership in the Ordo Informatica

We're not born. We're made. The Ordo Informatica offers free aptitude testing in the less well-off areas, giving any kid under the age of 12 who tests positive for multiprocessing aptitude a chance to be an infomagus. Sure, the process is illegal throughout the known worlds, but these kids have parents who want something better for them. If only they knew...

The kids have to be under 12. After that point, the brain can still take most of the modifications, but the kid can't acclimatise to the changes in time. They end up developmentally crippled, suffering constant information overload. It's a bad way to be. First step is invasive brain surgery. Five percent of the kids die, another five suffer brain damage. The surgery adds itek to the sensory cortex, and a drug gland that synthesises an LSD derivative designed to send the brain's pattern-matching subsystem into overdrive.

The next six years consist of more surgery, and a hell of a lot of learning. The kid's senses are enhanced—he can smell and taste the chemical composition of a substance. His eyes see in infrared and ultraviolet with perfect detail up to a mile away. He can hear five times further than a normal person, and discriminate between sounds. He can feel texture to a sub-visible level and knows temperature down to point one of a Kelvin. This, the Chirurgeon-Masters provide. The trainee learns how to process and understand his incredible sensory suite without going mad, and more importantly how to synthesise all the information coming through his senses. He builds a world in his head, populated with every scrap of data he knows. He comes out of it with the full capacity to understand and relate what he can sense. The Chirurgeon-Masters even harden him, preventing sensory overload in any circumstance.

Only once he has graduated, at the age of sixteen, does he become an Apprentice Infomagus. At that point, he must decide what path he walks. There's a range of extra senses, especially in the radio spectrum. Some have the ability to interrogate and control electronic devices within ten yards with less than a glance. Others can access information though a HiveNet, wherever one is available. Some can record their every experience. Others agregate an infosphere, an ability to find supplemental information on people and things around them. A rare few develop the extrasensory martial arts, an extension of Zen combat that relies on pressure differntials and observed muscular tension to read what an opponent is going to do.

Journeyman Infomagi are explorers, recorders, investigators, and warriors, but not one of them is accepted. Whether we're an embarrasing necessity or just one more kind of scum depends on who among the Hierarchs you talk to. They're fine with ripping off an arm and bolting on an itek replacement with integral claws and a plasma discharger, but messing with the brain? That's the seat of the soul, and something they refuse to touch. It's offensive—they need us, and we make more discoveries in itek than they ever will, but they claim we don't even have souls because we've fucked with our brains. The artificial nerves strung from their itek arms through to their spinal cords aren't enough to make them soulless, of course. There's one big difference—we're made to process information, to find patterns. It's our reason to be. If any one of us knew enough, we could understand and plot holes through any of their machinations. Better for them if we're an ignorant underclass, spat on by everyone who recognises us.

It won't be that way forever. There's one thing the Hierarchs have forgotten: Change is the one natural force in the universe. The only constant pattern is one that always changes. They're stuck in their ways, the Known Worlds locked down tighter than a benclone's nonesixtent arsehole. Their time is coming.

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