Cybernetics changed the latter half of the 21st century, and have shaped the 22nd century entirely. Cybernetics covers not just prosthetic limbs, but also interface implants and artificial augmentations that have been installed into the body.


Well over 70% of the world sports some degree of cybernetic implantation, at the very least a neuro-link implant in order to access the Mesh. It is the cultural norm, and an accepted fact of life for most people. The most basic implants, including a neuro-link, are so cheap they are practically free, and for some citizens they are included components of their employment and effectively are free. Layers of insurance purchased by most citizens mean that medical cybernetics are plentiful and reliable, and the volume of competitive producers have driven prices down so that even the impoverished often have implants.


With cybernetics so readily available and issues of tissue rejection so easily conquered, there are those who over time convert more and more of their body into machine until eventually only their brains (or even only large segments of their brain) remain organic. These so-called “full converts” are rare, because even with the commonality of cybernetics few are willing to go that far, but it is generally considered a form of eccentricity rather than something truly alien. In some places, like Vostoka, it is far more accepted. Full converts have psychological and sociological risks, some believe, of becoming disconnected from their humanity and finding it difficult to relate to physical life. It is a complex phenomenon, one that academics argue about.


The temptation is always there to go faster, be stronger, become more when a person augments themselves with cybernetics. Eventually they may reach a point where they become dangerous, so powerful they have the ability to inflict serious harm on themselves or others. Weaponization, the term for when cyborgs reach a threshold of power and capability beyond certain accepted parameters, is strictly regulated. You can be licensed for it, and some people are, just as a person can be licensed to have implanted guns or other literal weapons. Some don’t want to be registered and licensed in that way, or can’t be for whatever reason. For them, back alley cyber-docs are happy to take their money and amp them up to weaponized levels discretely. Freelancers are notably exempt from most laws about weaponization, and one of the aspects that makes them a subject of awe and fear is the kind of power they often possess.


Some people in the world have no cybernetics at all, and it’s not because they are adherents to Vitruvianism. A certain percentage of the population, for various medical reasons, cannot utilize cybernetic implants and are Baselines; people who have no augmentations or implants. Baselines sometimes, if they can, get gene mods, but often the kind of medical conditions that prevent cybernetic implants make gene mods impossible too. Aggressive immune system disorders, for example, are a frequent cause of this kind of issue. Baselines form a disadvantaged underclass in many places, because the lack of implants or gene mods severely hampers their ability to acquire gainful employment and compete in the modern world.


Freelancers MattZenith MattZenith