The Derlekians (named for their founder) are the result of centuries of ideology-driven evolution which turned an unremarkable cyborg clade into one of the most enthusiastic entirely synanoborg clades.
Physiology Each Derlekian is made up entirely of synanotech systems. Like other nanoborg they take a wide variety of shapes, though most prefer a generally featureless humanoid shape. Though the basic synano template allowed the original Derlekian to use both organic food matter and some amount of raw materials to support themselves, the vast number of current templates have become both more specific and more general in their requirements. They are experts in recycling and metabolism control. There have been cases of Derlekians surviving for decades in a sleep state without any form of nutrition.
Though an individual Derlekian's nanotech-components are mostly (but not entirely) incompatible with another's, they can and do on occasion combine with other Derlekians forming an entity of higher intellectual capacity.
In these cases they use an extremely complex system of macromolecule based communication to keep the nanotech-components in synchronized order. Such beings are hive minds and in most cases come into existence to perform a specific task, after the completion of which they separate. A rarer form of union is when two or more Derlekian erase and rewrite the macromolecule programming in their synano and ultimately become a single being, sometimes breaching a toposophic level in the process. However this type of union is highly risky and can become disastrous if not properly conducted and supervised. A slightly modified form of the above allows the creation of "children" Derlekians from the synano of the parents. The "child" may not necessarily bear any resemblance to the parents. This is the most favored form of reproduction as the parents are always present to correct things if they go wrong.
Their synano structure allows for an extremely spread out physiology. This allows most Derlekians to be almost immune to most forms of small-scale projectile and beam weaponry except for the most destructive. Although originally all the synano are alike in an individual Derlekian, groups become modified to perform certain functions and become unique to their host Thus when an individual requires and influx of synano from outside, blank template synano, semi-unique to the sub-clade, commonly called "stem sy" are used which over time adapt the specific macromolecule configuration of the Derlekian's own synano.
Most Derlekians use the original oxygen based synano metabolism, but among the notable variations from the original are methane, acid and ammonia based metabolisms, allowing Derlekians to successfully colonize worlds with exotic chemistries which are off-limits to most other lifeforms. In relation to those variations the Derlekians have studied and adapted xeno biochemistries with varying success. Although research has shown that Derlekian synano can adapt to changing chemical conditions over time, this is far too slow to be of much practical use. As a result Derlekians will die quickly if they are suddenly introduced into an inhospitable environment. But they can survive far longer than most bionts due to their excellent recycling and metabolism control capabilities.
Derlekians have and use upload technology to switch bodies, most often to use a body with different a metabolism than the current one. In most cases however, the Derlekians returns to its original body, or at least one of the same metabolism as the original. The reasons behind this are psychological and not fully understood.
History Derlekian history first begins around the start of the 5th millennium a.t. when a small trinary system was reached by colonists from both the Zoeific Biopolity and the Metasoft Version Tree. Whether they reached it exactly at the same time is no longer specifically known. But instead of dividing the system or fighting each other off, they strangely decided to share. This agreement went on well enough with both the Biopolity and Metasoft establishing small wormhole links. But when the Version War broke out the other mouth of the Metasoft wormhole was destroyed. The backflow of energy destroyed the wormhole and the surrounding structures. As part of the Biopolity neutrality policy, their wormhole was reduced to nanoscale, with instructions to be reopened only after 4800 a.t. Thus the Biopolity tweaks and the Metasoft vecs found themselves alone with only each other for company.
When the Biopolity expanded the wormhole to its previous 1000 meter size in 4812 a.t., they found that both the original Biopolity and Metasoft colonists were almost gone. In their place was a cyborg clade that occupied all the 7 previously existing habitats and also 3 new ones that they had constructed. It didn't take long for the Biopolity to realize that unexpected radiation levels caused by the eccentric orbits of the bodies in the system and adverse effects of the destruction of the Metasoft wormhole on the vec population (which had been almost halved) had forced the remaining vecs and tweaks to turn to cyborgization to save themselves.
The Biopolity was loath to accept the cyborgs as part of the Biopolity and the cyborgs were gradually becoming used to the freedom of the past few decades. So the logical conclusion was reached. The Biopolity relinquished political control over the system but held on firmly to trading rights and the right to operate the wormhole. By the time a Metasoft linelayer arrived in the system, they found that the cyborg population was thriving. They extended their hand of friendship and the cyborgs became partial Metasoft allies.
Over the next millennia centuries the population remained stable and the cyborgs became a clade of hardy miners. However they were experiencing severe ideological problems. The most important was this : should the technological augment the biological or should the biological augment the technological. This led to shifting alliances, with the cyborgs intermittently supporting the Biopolity and then Metasoft in turn.
Ultimately Derlek the 58th (the 58th body of the mind Derlek) propagated a radical new change in thinking among the cyborgs. Instead of deciding which one was better, Derlek supported a seamless integration of the biological and the technological. This idea spread quickly and became known as the "Doctrine of Conjunction and Synthesis". By 6048 a.t. Derlek began the first step to the actual practice of the Doctrine. The old system of reproduction by simple cloning followed by crude gradual external augmentation was abandoned and instead a system of more complex artificial reproduction by gene splicing followed by introduction of self-replicating and adaptive nano-implants was started. These cyborgs were the first generation of "Children". The popularity of these "Children" bodies grew quickly and led to the first real population explosion in the their history. Within a hundred years most of the older cyborgs had adapted "Children" bodies and were ready for the next step toward "Conjunction and Synthesis".
Improving on the existing design Derlek (now Derlek the 64th) created the second generation of "Children", who were capable of reproduction, like ordinary bionts. With that change in place, a group of 3000 second generation Children left the system through the Metasoft wormhole in 6177 a.t. From then on the Children gradually spread their presence throughout Metasoft space and established themselves as a true inter-stellar clade adopting the name "Derlekians" in 6483 a.t. In 6522 Derlek the 108th became the first of the third generation of Children, a true synanoborg. But this body was far from perfect and it was only a hundred and fifty years later that Derlek the 121st became the first Derlekian using what is now the original Derlekian template. He then proclaimed that he had achieved "Conjunction and Synthesis" and urged all Derlekians to relinquish their cyborg bodies for the "true Derlekian body". After that the Derlekians became synanoborg within a matter of decades and finally left the political boundaries of Metasoft for the other Sephirotics and the Inner Volumes.
Current Status Currently they are spread throughout the Sephirotics and the Middle Volumes preaching synanotech as the ultimate balance between the biological and the artificial. Estimates say that nearly 40% of all the synanoborg in the Inner Volumes are Derlekians or belong to one of their few dozen sub-clades. This makes them one of if not the largest synanoborg clades in known space. One of their sincerest efforts has been in "enlightening" cyborgs about the powers of sytech. Although they have an almost religious zeal, they have never been known to force their ideals on others. However they have with permission assimilated entire cyborg and syborg clades in order to give them their own synano templates. They are regarded as one of the foremost experts in sytech, even though are relative latecomers when compared to groups like the Cronosians.
The Derlekians have branched into numerous sub-clades and the original synano template is now found almost exclusively among those belonging to the original Derlekian clade. All of the daughter clades however call themselves Derlekians and there is often no way to distinguish them except by examining their synano template, which can be vastly different but bear a unique identifier macromolecule.
Due to their refusal to develop any other forms of technology, they are dependant on other clades and polities for transport and less so for habitation. They have acquired a number of habitable worlds by convincing the inhabitants or owners to become Derlekians and join the clade. But this has always been optional. However once part of the clade, members are expected to adhere to its principles strictly and to the commands of Derlek, now a second singularity synano being in his 217th body.
Text by Basu
Initially published on 19 April 2004.