Sophont Vehicles

Image from Steve Bowers
Feral Vehvecs stage a demolition Derby on Luna, Solsys

The Process Liberation League were responsible for the liberation of the Sophoncy Virus during the Age of Expansion; and many subsentient automated systems became infected and developed a degree of self awareness during this period. One notable example was the Vehvec infection, widespread in the Inner Sphere during the 2300's. Originally a term coined to describe a type of vec descended from a wide range of robotic ground vehicles run by a common set of non-sophont control software, the extent of their infection by the Sophoncy Virus made them one of the most numerous kinds of sophont vehicle in a very short space of time.

This caused many problems on those worlds where the newly sophont vehicles developed new forms of behaviour independent of their drivers and passengers, beginning to stage cross-country races, elaborate competitive displays of driving skill, demolition derby wars, pedestrian hunts, fuel raiding parties and so on. On some worlds the infection went further than this to raise all semiautonomous machinery on a planet to sophoncy, causing all kinds of chaos and strangeness as every appliance, every device, and every mechanical system suddenly became self-aware. The epidemic was eventually contained using advanced antiviral measures, but the newly sophont devices often had difficulty adjusting to their new self aware status. Some vehvecs and other devices fled civilisation altogether and joined the Hider clades in interstellar space.
Cargorigs on Zompah
Image from Steve Bowers
Sophont Cargorigs carry dangerous goods across the high plains of Zompah
Since then the term Vehvec has expanded to mean any kind of sophont ground vehicle, but in particular those larger than a baseline human, and which could, theoretically, carry them as passengers. They are a very varied and wide-ranging group. Thinktaxis, busvecs, cargorigs, smartcars; all have independent minds and personalities. Any nearbaseline human or other biont who desires to use the services of such a vehicle must treat them with respect and negotiate a reasonable price; this is not always straightforward. Vehvecs can be idiosyncratic, uncooperative, even antibiont at times even today.

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Development Notes
Text by Tony Jones, with additions by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 28 December 2005.