Clarktech seeds which confer super-powered augmentations to users

Image from Steve Bowers
A Supersophont converted by a Clarketech seed is usually very bulky, to increase the cross-section of each of eir Ultimate Muscles, and the massive, ultrahard bones they attach to. Thick bones and muscles allow the power of the user to be increased to a maximum. However many supersophonts choose to have smaller muscles and/or more more efficient muscles, thus retaining a closer resemblance to eir original form at the expense of strength.

In modern Sephirotic societies many citizens possess physical forms which are considerably stronger and more capable than those of a baseline human. In particular, sophonts engaged in law enforcement, military or mercenary activities are often particularly well-augmented and adapted for their tasks. However in some societies not all citizens can acquire such augmentations due to legal, financial or other restrictions and, of course, there are always some who will dedicate themselves to the task of improving their physical forms by any means possible (not all of which are entirely legal or safe). These individuals are generally known as Supersophonts, sometimes shortened to 'Supers', a term often used perjoratively. Othe highly-augmented individuals (who generally lack superstrength) prefer the term powermodders, although the two terms overlap somewhat in practice.

In the tenth millennium a persistent rumour became current among clarketech hunters about the existence of devices which could rapidly augment the strength of any modosophont to an unprecedented degree. Unlike most such rumours this one turned out to have a basis in fact; the so-called Clarkekent seed.

Clarkekent Seeds

Clarkekent seeds are small godtech artifacts found in various obscure systems in the vicinity of the open cluster NGC 6514, apparently scattered by the rogue mobile ISO Genai Memtophaedron during the period from 9201 to 9523. NGC 6514 is located in the Sagittarius sector at a distance of 2650 ly from Sol. Altogether some three hundred clarkekents are known to have been recovered and many have been used for various purposes, although more are believed to be floating in deep space. It is not known whether Genai Memtophaedron constructed the devices emself, or acquired the templates from a higher toposophic mind, although most archailectologists and clarketechnologists lean to the latter explanation.

In appearance the clarkekent device resembles a matt-black semi-fluid globule approximately 30 centimeters in diameter, although it weighs several tonnes. Analysis of specimens indicate all have an identical structure, consisting of a godtech computronium core, a reservoir of self-replicating nanites of extremely advanced design, and a massive but invisibly small quantity of magmatter configured as a power storage loop.

When touched by a modosophont human, vec, provolve or other intelligent being the computer program activates the nanite reservoir. The nanites migrate to various parts of the sophont's body and begin to radically alter their structure, converting its structure into a radically modified version of its original form. Wherever possible this transmogrification will incorporate materials found in the surrounding environment, in particular carbon, boron and nitrogen which allow the construction within the transmogrified sophont's new body of a full set of Ultimate Muscles and a skeleton largely replaced by diamondoid or solidified UM material. The end result of this process is an extremely strong, damage resistant, massive artificial entity known as a supersophont, vaguely resembling the original being. A fully converted supersophont will have an average tissue density of approximately 2 grams per cubic centimeter, plus a 30 kilogram magmatter power storage device. A number of additional processing centres are also constructed within the body of the supersophont, to improve the fine control and reactions of the new body, and a range of additional sensory systems which augment those of the original sophont (whatever they may have been).

Soon after the process is completed, the new supersophont must seek a source of energy to charge the magmatter loop, which has itself migrated from the clarkekent device into a suitable location in the new body. The supersophont can exploit a wide range of energy sources and fuels. The godtech replicators remain within the new body, and will rapidly repair almost any damage incurred. If the supersophont wishes to move rapidly from one location to another e may run very rapidly or leap over obstacles, but the increased weight of the new body may cause considerable damage to its surroundings upon landing.

Such a supersophont is highly resistant to many kinds of weaponry, as well as being able to exist in a wide range of environments, including vacuum, high pressures and corrosive atmospheres, without harm, and is resistant to radiation damage. The being so affected also acquires a craving for energy to power the tremendous strength that the person has acquired, and without it e becomes rigid and immobile, and presumably loses all metabolic and neurochemical functions (like the unfortunate "living statue" of the Free Orbital Billonton-5, originally one Citizen Hansu Tilingghang who won a clarkekent during a card game and now has pride of place in the otherwise unprepossessing Billonton Museum of the Unusual (actually a converted shop front)).

This transformation to superstrong being is permanent, and irreversible without archailect help. While a being thus transformed can live happily and indefinitely in this state, the godtech self-replicating devices are vulnerable to high energy cosmic radiation, as well as to various kinds of transapientech blue goo, and if the devices crash the result is quickly fatal.

Because of the dangers involved, many polities warn against contact with clarkekent devices, should one be fortunate enough to acquire one. If a transapient entity attempts to use a clarkekent seed, the seed will deactivate and denature itself; it appears to scan the user with magnetic resonance sensors before activating. For this reason transapients only seek clarkekent seeds to remove them away from possible contact with modosophonts, presumably for safety reasons.

Although many supersophonts are humanoid in appearance, a significant number take more exotic forms, such as the insect-like hellvecs and the brontopod, both forms of Ultimate Vec; and Skeletoids, entities that appear to be fleshless skeletons of various kinds.

Supersophonts in Society

While there have several cases of clarkekentised sophonts becoming defenders of small lo-tech communities, there have also been cases where they have used their newfound powers for criminal purposes, such as the notorious General Uzzor (originally Stanlei Modesthu of Bells Ascension, nominal Negentropy Alliance) who discovered too late the vulnerability of clarkekent technology to boom bullets when the Negentropist Commissioner Jion Pasthuman used a single 12'' gauge bullet to bring an end to Uzzor's reign of terror.

Clarkekent augmented supersophonts have occasionally competed in the Summer Combat on Perdix, but since they were persistently victorious they have been banned since 10480. Supersophonts are also banned from several other major competitions.

Despite the dangers involved, many ambitious sophonts would like to acquire a clarkekent seed, and the value of the artifact (one recently sold at auction in Merrion for several hundred billion Merrion Dollars) makes it in high demand. Numerous fabulist stories and popular virches tell the story of downtrodden but heroic adventurers who after many dangers acquire a specimen, which is then either used by them to vanquish enemies, or sold to bring lifelong wealth. There are also a number of guides (some with valid advice, others more harmful than beneficial) circulating across the Known Net on the Careful Use of Clarkekent, should one be fortunate to acquire one of these artifacts.

Similar Clarketech Devices

Other powerful clarketech devices which confer different types of supersophont abilities are occasionally found, such as the fabled Blue Mazarin, which allows limited control over the local spacetime metric, allowing the user to fly or lift heavy objects without damaging them, and the Fog Subverter, which can assume control over many types of utility fog, including to a limited degree certain grades of angelnet. Perhaps most remarkable is the Silverseed, which confers all the abilities associated with the matt-black clarkekent, but also includes a set of tiny nested void bubbles which gives the supersophont reactionless flight capacity. In effect the victim becomes a miniature displacement drive vessel.

Note that a sophont who uses a clarkekent seed does not transcend to the next toposophic level, although they are generally augmented mentally to some degree. For this reason clarkekents are regarded as less powerful than godseeds, which do induce transcension (but are just as dangerous in their own way). The power conferred by a clarkekent seed is remarkable, but it is only comparable in quality to that possessed by a typical avatar of an archai, and since the avatar is controlled by a high toposophic being it will prevail in almost any contest with a supersophont. For this reason supersophonts who wish to use clarkekents for criminal purposes almost always avoid areas controlled by high transapients and above.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev, with additions by Steve Bowers, Luke Campbell and Todd Drashner
Suggestions by AI Vin and Terrafamilia
Initially published on 27 May 2010.