Psionics are a type of metaphysical ability enabled by the implantation of special devices known as Psi-Amps which allow seemingly unnatural warping of reality. Reading minds, levitating objects, throwing lightning, and even creating realistic illusions are all possible to the trained Psionic.
This all occurs through use of a special massless subatomic exotic particle called a Psion (W-7), and a neural cell cluster called Flux which manipulates it. They are generally omnipresent but certain areas may be more densely or sparsely populated.
Flux and Psions
Flux is a densely packed neural cell bundle that is naturally occuring in varying degrees of size and density, which, when electrified in the correct ways, will emit a field capable of interacting with psionic particles and coaxing them into various states. Flux is naturally occurring in any organism with a functioning central nervous system but often goes entirely unnoticed without proper testing for Psionic ability, and even those who are aware may only have limited use of these abilities. True Psionic potential can only be achieved through implants, and growth of an individual’s flux if it is insufficient in the individual
Flux, while naturally occuring, is often too small to create noticeable psionic phenomenon in the vast majority of people, and even those with flux large and dense enough to be utilized with an amp may go their whole life without realizing this hidden potential, as flux is almost entirely inert in adulthood when an individual’s nervous system has ceased growing. Modern medicine has enabled advanced civilizations to compensate for this, however, by stimulating growth of flux chemically or with gene therapy, and sometimes flux growth can be unintentionally stimulated.
- Growing flux can be stimulated through gene therapy, or chemically with varying degrees of success. Too much flux growth can cause random psychic events to occur with greater intensity, and with dangerous results
- Repeated and prolonged exposure to psionic events can induce growth of flux enabling a once minimal or nonexistent psionic’s user to become especially effective.
- Rapid growth causes random psionic events, during the growth the stimulated nerves can cause minor telekinesis, and telepathy, with hearing people’s thoughts often mistaken for psychosis on less medically developed planets.
- Catastrophic Psionic Events, or CPE are a rare side effect of excessively rapid flux growth where the stimulation of the nerve bundle causes “full strength” psionic abilities comparable to a user with an amp, but with none of the control. These events can range from anxiety, distress, and psychological breakdowns brought about by unrestrained telepathy, to threatening bodily harm through unmanageable telekinetic events.
- There is a critical mass for flux that any one person can sustain before it inhibits neural functions, putting an effective biological cap for what can be achieved through artificial flux growth..
As Stem Cells are to the human body Psions are to physics, and when given proper instruction are capable of transforming into any number of effects, albeit briefly. They are the fuel that powers a psionics abilities. This instruction comes in the form of waves only Flux seems to emit, and even then only focus seems to maintain the effect. When not fixated upon keeping Psionic effects in place they quickly disperse and revert back to Psions.
Psions are dispersed throughout the known galaxy, allowing most organic civilizations to develop some awareness of their existence, or at least the effects their minds have on it. But despite multi pronged approaches to study from scientific, to philosophical, to spiritual, across cultures and centuries what is known about Psion’s remains remarkably limited. The effects it can have on the universe often fly in the face of conventional knowledge, disobey the laws of physics, and stubbornly adhere to its own rules that baffle rational minds. The discussion of what Psion’s actually are has sparked a number of debates and wild theories, perhaps the most popular being that psion’s aren’t even from this universe at all… Though with little supporting evidence this hypothesis is often dismissed by the more scientifically inclined.
Psionic abilities are performed by a focused use of mental processing to ‘imagine’ the task being performed or an object being created. This often takes a level of practice or understanding of physics to perform correctly, abilities rarely occurring by accident. They are also normally quite obvious in their use, any time Flux electrifies psions will glow visibly and the space around the area being changed with a psionic ability will shimmer. The exact look and color of these effects may vary by user but is quite easily identifiable in all cases of it occurring, excepting those abilities whose intent is to remain unseen such as those disguising an area or confusing the senses.
As an example of how this occurs the Telekinesis ability proves quite useful. First a user will choose the object they wish to move, then they imagine a method that would lift the object such as a hand or scoop picking it up or gravity changing in the area to lift the object, then so long as the object is light enough to be lifted by their psionic power the effect will occur. In the case of a hand or scoop being imagined often the shimmer or glow of the area might resemble that object.
Psi-Amp implants are required to be integrated with a person’s Central Nervous System, normally the spine or brain. This is due to the sheer processing and electrical power required to manipulate Flux in the proper ways to perform Psionic abilities. Implantation of too many Psi-Amps will result in an overstimulation of a user’s mind and subsequently damage them, especially their flux, which can be difficult to heal, or regrow..
While the premise is simple, the device itself is actually quite complex and advanced. An amp is a miniature processor affixed to a neurolink capable of interfacing with the individual’s mind to rapidly and accurately interpret often vague notions thought up by the user to make them into reality in a matter of seconds. At their most basic they’re an impulse generator with a quick access database with useful information necessary to create the desired psionic phenomenon, such as chemical structures to affect the user’s biology, or the physics needed to perform telekinetic feats. At their most advanced they’re a functional “dumb ai” allowed to intervene and interpret user whims for a more reliable and predictable experience regardless of a user’s degree of intelligence, or know how.
Where exactly the Psi-Amp is located depends entirely upon the category of ability, normal procedure is as follows:
- Manipulation- Brain
- Offense- Cervical Nerves (Arms/Shoulders)
- Defense- Lumbar Nerves (Legs/Thighs)
- Support- Thoracic Nerves (Chest)
- Disruption- Sacral Nerves (Abdomen)
The act of manipulating psions is not a subtle one, with a number of notable tells that vary slightly from user to user, and upon the intensity of the psionic feat.
- Visual cues are some of the most obvious and easily identifiable as manipulating psion’s causes them to become luminescent. The greater the feat, the brighter the glow, often appearing as a swirling mass of shimmering motes, or a misty haze, the color of which varies wildly upon the user, and the ability in question.
- Somatic tells are also very common, with many psionic users gesturing with their hands as a way to help guide the amp. A very well practiced and experienced psychic can aim and direct through visual pinpointing almost exclusively, but hand gestures are common for the overwhelming majority.
- Electronic disruption is common in the presence of manipulated psion’s, usually manifesting in the form of “static” or “artifacts” degrading the quality of feedback. Unless a psionic ability is deliberately targeting an electronic device this disruption is usually insufficient to inhibit the use of such devices, and simple or analog electronics are almost entirely unaffected.
- There are a slew of other side effects for being in the presence of a psionic phenomenon that varies from species to species, and the density and presence of flux. Most of these “side effects” are very ephemeral, lasting only as long as the psionic ability lasts and are almost entirely harmless, a generalized feeling of unease, goosebumps, or slight dizziness being the most common.
Drawbacks and limitations
Psionic’s have some limiting factors that prevent most ordinary people from achieving overwhelmingly powerful feats, with the easiest to understand being a condition known as “neurolink bottlenecking”.
Neurolinks with “dumb” ai’s (the most common available neurolink), are only able to interpret signals from and link to so many advanced devices before bottlenecking occurs. Too many commands from too many devices that don't perform a basic, native function (like walking or talking) can overload an onboard AI and inhibit or cease function for psi-amps and augments. This limitation is mostly one of resources, as ever more advanced AI can be installed in lieu of a dumb AI, but the average person isn’t going to have access to the necessary wealth or resources to acquire these upgrades.
Beyond technological limitations there are also biological ones. Because flux is part of the central nervous system there is only so much growth, and so much stimulation a single person can have before it interferes with its normal function. Just like how neurolink bottlenecking can be overcome, flux limitations can be alleviated using extensive, preparatory gene modding. This process, reportedly only developed in the past century, can take years, even with the assistance of the star empire's best labs.
Lastly, and perhaps the most curious, is a limitation that whilst reproducible, is not well understood. Stimulated flux that is not part of a person doesn’t appear to be able to deliver psionic effect. In essence a person can enhance their flux by installing an amp, but they can not create a portable psionic device by implanting flux onto an amp that doesn’t have an organic host. Though research is ever ongoing and a breakthrough in the understanding of psion’s is not impossible, for now only those born (or grown in the case of vatborn) with a compatible nervous system are able to perform psionic feats. AI can assist organic’s with enhancing their abilities, but are unable to perform these feats on their own.
This particular limitation for AI has created some interesting divergence in theological opinion. A devoutly religious Visran might tell you that of course AI can not be psionic, they’re hollow shells and soulless, cheap imitations of people. Though of course a Directorate scientist would dismiss that as ridiculous; of course AI are people, and there must be a rational explanation. Though as time stretches on without a definitive answer, people are ever more inclined to fill in the blank with their own beliefs and hypotheses.
Since its discovery the idea of group-led psionic use has been a consistent point of research among interested organizations. However in practice this approach has often met failure as individual minds have difficulty meshing together enough to perform coordinated tasks. Research on this point remains ongoing however, especially with sufficiently advanced AI coordinating the psiamps on effective psychics.
For the overwhelming majority of people their flux won’t reach a capacity to perform psionic feats, for even more still they may have the infrastructure so to speak, but never manifest any obvious signs that might prompt the necessary screening to find out if they could. For a lucky few, though, psionic potential displays in an overt fashion that is difficult to miss.
Latent psionics are psychic abilities at their most basic, the manifestation of an individual’s potential before an amp ever even enters the equation. Regular activity in the brain and nervous system is sometimes sufficient to stimulate minor psychic events, people who become aware of these events can even learn what sort of activity causes them and reproduce them. However, what a person can do organically is significantly limited, and even the most well trained and experienced psychic will never throw someone with their mind, or read someone’s thoughts without assistance.
They can, however, scratch the surface with interesting results. In essence, a psionics user can in theory manifest their abilities through will power and concentration alone, but in minor, mostly inconsequential ways. Empaths, people with the ability to “feel” someone’s emotions are a popular occurrence of minor telepathy, while the famous act of bending spoons is known to be a telekinetic manifestation. Energy attacks that an amplified user can create is often known as pyrokinesis to someone without an amp as prolonged concentration on a flammable material like a candle wick can cause it to ignite. These minor abilities lack a practical application in most instances, but as an indicator for greater potential their importance can not be understated.