About Transhuman PowersBy Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue
The genetic characteristics of transhuman powers seem to favor people of Asian and African descent, followed closely by Middle Eastern and Latino ethnic populations. Caucasians are least likely to bear transhuman powers, and this has led to a resurgence of racial tensions in many parts of Europe, but most especially in the United States and Canada, as white populations begin to feel their power and privilege may be reduced sharply soon, and perhaps their very future existence may be in jeopardy.
Transhuman powers can manifest at any point in a person’s life, but 85% of the time, they will appear during or shortly after puberty. Some people have latent transhuman potential that will not emerge organically but can be induced accidentally or intentionally with chemical, nanotech or gene-therapy interventions. When transhuman capabilities emerge in the mid 30s or later, there is a significant risk of psychological abnormalities or major personality shifts emerging as well. This risk increases if the powers are manifested artificially and also is higher the older the person is at the time. The number of powers a person has, regardless of age, also increases the chances of psychological shifts.
It is most common for a transhuman to have capabilities in only one area below—and at a very limited level, at that. However, it is not all that odd to have capabilities in two or three areas. Capabilities in four, however, is uncommon, and abilities in five or more areas is exceedingly rare.
These kinds of transhumans can absorb something (usually energy) in a manner that it can be passed through the body harmlessly and sometimes be dissipated and/or used to “recharge” or generate some other kind of power. So, for example, a Transmitter with electrical powers who is also an Absorber might be able to absorb electricity to replenish lost electrical reserves or convert it into microwaves for emission. Sometimes, the ability to absorb may only blunt the effects of what it absorbed (for example, the Absorber might still feel pain from electrical absorption but not be harmed much) rather than render the Absorber immune to effects. While common Absorber abilities tend to revolve around one or more types of electromagnetic energy (radio waves, microwaves, electricity, gamma rays, etc.), it is also possible to find Absorbers who build up or process incoming kinetic energy or who absorb physical substances (such as water, certain elements, gases, etc.). Absorbers who are oriented toward physical substances are distinguished from Vamps in that they absorb freely available substances rather than drawing them out of solutions, living creatures, etc.
Superhuman agility, balance and/or flexibility put one in this category of transhumanity. These are abilities that go far beyond acrobatics or contortionism. A true Acro might be able to run at full speed along a power line high above the ground without falling, or be able to twist his or her neck 180 degrees or more without harm, just as two examples. Acros are also sometimes referred to as “Agiles.”
An Attractor can literally attract certain types of materials to himself or herself. Usually, the type of material is fairly specific (wood, metal, rock, water, oxygen, soil, etc.), though some Attractors may have an affinity for two or three materials. Depending on the individual’s ability to control the power, the material may simply be pulled in at high speed on command, or may be able to be drawn in more slowly, or even suspended around the Attractor’s body (to create a protective shield, for example). In rare cases, Attractors can actually manufacture a body-shaped shell around themselves, creating a sort of exoskeleton and vastly increasing their size and appearance as a result (temporarily becoming, for example, a rock giant or a hulking mass of metal debris).
Any kind of extreme intellectual ability and/or intuitive capability makes one a Brain. It can be difficult though, in some cases, to discern “natural” genius from hyperintelligence of transhuman origin.
Heightened strength and/or ability to resist physical harm makes one a Brute. Possession of both abilities qualifies a person as a “Tank.” Brute capabilities are fairly frequently paired with Morph and/or Primal abilities.
The powers of Charms are still little understood, as this is one of the more recently documented areas of transhuman power. For lack of a better term, Charms can increase or decrease “luck.” This can be through conscious will with some Charms, and simply an autonomic effect in others. Some charms only can affect their own luck, some can only affect that of others, and some can do both. It is possible that Charms are actually manifesting some sort of clairvoyant, telepathic and/or precognitive type of Psionic power rather than directly affecting reality/probabilities, but most theorists believe Charms are a distinct and non-Psionic group of transhumans.
The ability to interact with electrical connections, electronic devices, computer equipment and the like—either by touch or short-range mental interaction—qualifies one as a Cyber. Some with this power can do little more than turn lights on and off or change channels on the television with their mind, but others can actually hack computer systems mentally or read computer code from a thumb drive by holding it.
Disruptors are very rare, and have the power to (by touch or over a short range, depending on level of power) break apart cellular material, molecular structures or sometimes even atomic bonds. Some Disruptors can affect only organic material, some can only affect inorganic material and some can affect both. Theoretically, a Disruptor with enough power would be capable of total disintegration of a organism or object, but this level of power is highly unlikely. Using disruption powers rarely involves any finesse, as the Disruptor doesn’t have any way of truly “seeing” what he or she is doing on a microscopic level. Thus, the Disruptor will often cause less or more destruction than intended.
An Eco can manipulate the natural world in a direct fashion, but not human or animal matter. Some Ecos can heal plant life, encourage growth or control plants to some degree, or even control to some small degree “elemental” forces like manipulating water, shifting air flow or affecting earth/stone. There have been documented Ecos who were able to influence gravity in a localized area, either making things heavier or lighter—even to the extent of limited levitation of their own bodies. Very few Ecos can do anything dramatic, however, such as create localized tremors, whirlwinds, or anything like that.
The abilities of Ectos revolve around the ability to manifest and manipulate pseudo-matter and/or quasi-matter (as this is still a field of new study, the distinctions between the two are fuzzy and may be non-existent). Such “matter” is extruded extradimensionally, and thus Ectos may be strongly related to Warpsmiths or shift-running Speedsters in terms of their power. Constructs created by Ectos may be visible or invisible depending on the Ecto’s precise powers. Pseudo-matter and quasi-matter do not maintain cohesion very long in our reality before phasing out of existence, and the more rigid or more complex the constructs the Ecto makes, the shorter amount of time they will be able to exist.
The ability to “interface” refers to the ability to directly tap and manipulate the nervous system of another living creature (usually another human or transhuman, but sometimes animals). This is most often through touch but in rare can be short-range without contact, or sometimes through means such as vocalization. The influence over the other person’s nervous inputs could be something as simple as triggering a reflexive jerk or causing them to trip, or it could involve evoking pleasure sensations, pain or other sensory effects. In rare cases, an Interfacer can actually control the actions of another like a puppeteer would a puppet.
The ability to manipulate light or alter the way people see the world (without mind control, as in the case of Psionics, or biochemical means, as may be the case with some Morphs and Primals) makes one a Luminar. That could be the ability to block illumination (create darkness), the ability to create light or make it change color or shape, the ability to bend light around oneself or others (invisibility), the ability to project holograms or make oneself appear to be in a different spot than one occupies, and so on.
The ability to be a Mimic is distinct from being a Morph (see entry below), though the two in tandem can be powerful. A Mimic is able to copy sounds, gestures or movements with uncanny accuracy, and often with only a passing exposure to the original. Thus, a very advanced Mimic could watch a professional ballet dancer do a routine and then copy it precisely (allowing for enough flexibility, endurance and strength) or could imitate a person’s voice with almost unerring precision after hearing that person speak for just a few minutes.
A morphing power is one that allows the individual to change the shape, composition and texture of his or her body and/or alter personal biochemistry (to produce bioluminescence or expel a noxious musk, for example). Not all Morphs are capable of extreme changes (such as taking on animal-like form) and many Morphs are only able to make very specific changes (such as change their color). There has never been a documented case of even the most powerful Morph being able to change his or her mass—although it may be possible to become markedly smaller (though the body will then be more dense, weighing the same as before) or larger (but then the person’s mass will be spread out over a larger area and the tissues of the body will be more fragile). Also, while some Morphs can vastly change their appearance, it is very difficult to precisely copy someone else’s appearance, and morphing does not allow one to copy a person’s voice (unless he or she is already adept at mimcry/impersonations) nor to copy things like DNA structure, fingerprints, etc. A subset of Morphs, called Morphics, do little or nothing to alter their body structure but have extra or modified organs/body parts that serve specialized purposes and are always part of their anatomy. It is possible to be both a Morph and a Morphic.
A sort of anti-Regenerator (see entry below), a Necro has the ability to damage living tissues. This could be necrosis/putrifectation, advanced aging of cells, introduction of a diseased state and the like. Often, touch is required, or at least very close proximity, and usually for an extended period of time.
Extremely enhanced ability to tap emotions for a boost to one’s capabilities, or to manipulate them in others through neurochemical or other physical means (such as pheremones) makes one a Primal.
Those transhumans in this category can escape their body in an immaterial state, in a sort of “astral projection” mode. Some maintain control of their body while projecting as well as control of the projection, while others lose all awareness of their physical body and can only control the projection while absent from the body. Sensory powers of the projection vary widely depending on the specific transhuman, though usually some form of “sight” or “hearing” is available (though it may be different, distorted or in some ways possibly enhanced compared to those normal senses). Touch, taste and smell are generally not possible for a projection. The maximum range that a transhuman with this ability can project will vary widely, but the longest known recorded distance from the physical body is two kilometers. Projection was considered to be a Psionic power (see entry below) in the earlier days of the emergence of transhumans, but more recent research has shown that the projections are not psychic manifestations but rather complex energy constructs able to transmit electromagnetic signals back and forth between the body and projection. As such, it is now classified as a separate category. Projections are usually invisible to normal human sight.
The ability to use one’s mind to influence or invade the minds or others, or to make them perceive/experience the world differently by mental manipulation (or to influence inanimate objects in some way with the mind alone, which is far more rare), makes one a Psionic (or a Psi for short). Very few Psionics have yet been discovered that have the ability to affect the world or people in a drastic way, though. So, while a person may be able to read thoughts, they cannot often dig below current surface thoughts. A telekinetic may be able to move small objects but will not generally be able to pick up a person with his or her mind. A Psi may be able to project illusions into a person’s mind as a slight distraction, but will not be able to make a detailed and convincing set of illusions for more than minute or so. A precog may be able to “see” the future, but he or she will not be able to see very far into the future and will only be given the most probable outcome—meaning that they won’t always be right. A pyrokinetic could start a fire if something flammable were near, but couldn’t just cause a person to be incinerated by thought. A cyrokinetic could make a room colder or cause a person’s body temperature to go down noticeably, but couldn’t cause water to freeze instantly. And so on. Telepathy is one form of Psi power, but most who possess it have no idea that they do, as true mental communication and/or reading of minds generally can only be conduced on/with someone else who also possesses telepathy—this fact is known by a handful of researchers working in the field of transhuman research.
There are two types of Reflectors. The first, a Type I Reflector, is either simply immune to a particular transhuman power (or more than one type of power, or even a subset of one particular power) or can actually reflect it back on the originator (typically in a reflexive fashion, though conscious reflection may be possible). Very few such Reflectors even know they have the power (since they’d have to be exposed to the transhuman ability that would trigger it), so it is challenging to get a handle on how common this kind of capability is. So, a Necro who attempted to cause tissue damage on a Type I Reflector of Necro powers might end up harming himself or herself instead at worst, or doing nothing to the Reflector at best. A Type II Reflector, on the other hand, will reflect one or more types of energy (such as electricity), almost always as an uncontrollable autonomic action. As such, they are slightly easier to identify, as various forms of energy are common in daily life. In the case of a Type II Reflector, the energy might not reflect directly back to the source but might simply be bounced randomly away and could, in fact, cause an innocent bystander to be harmed.
The ability to initiate healing at will (in oneself or in others) or the possession of heightened immune system and/or tissue regeneration on an autonomic basis—and related powers—makes one a Regenerator. Some Regenerators may be able to change a person’s physiology slightly, but this is a rare power, and usually quite limited (such as being able to change skin pigment or slightly increase a person’s immune system response). A Regenerator who possesses medical training and/or has claivoyant-style Psi powers can sometimes conduct very advanced healing on a person, including tending to internal injuries or tumors; such transhumans, rare though they are, are eagerly sought by the best hospitals. Some regenerators can affect non-humans (i.e. animals) as well, but this is not always the case.
This class of powers operates the same way as Attractor powers (see above), but in reverse, allowing the transhuman to push away the material in question.
Heightened ability to use one or more senses makes one a Sensor. In rare cases, a Sensor may have access to an additional sense not possessed by humans, such as the ability to generate radio or sonic emanations and get “radar” views of the world without using their eyes.
As the name implies, a Speedster is faster than even the most athletic baseline human could move. Speed, however, does not automatically impart agility (though Acro/Speedster combos do exist), and coming to a halt at high speed is a difficult thing, so this can be a dangerous power for the person possessing it, if that person isn’t cautious. There have been documented cases of Speedsters who could accelerate to supersonic speeds, but mach 2.1 is the highest such speed witnessed so far—maintained for only five seconds—and it took the Speedster 136 seconds to achieve that speed (also, he spent eight days in the hospital recovering afterward, 18 hours of which was in the intensive care unit). A more typical top speed for a Speedster is around 60 or 70 miles per hour. Most speedsters fuel their speed solely through burning of calories, which means they have to eat a great deal to keep from harming (or even killing) themselves if they run for long periods at high speed. Others are able to achieve their speeds by shifting slightly outside this physical dimension, so that they actually shorten the distances they run—in other words, they run no faster than anyone else, but appear to us to be moving quickly because they take thousands of continuous tiny shortcuts through the space-time continuum when they use their power. That version of the power is referred to as shift-running. It is very rare to possess both versions of the Speedster capability.
The ability to sharply increase one’s body temperature or decrease it (or both) and/or to do so to another person, qualifies one as a Thermal. This is distinct from pyrokinesis or cryokinesis (see Psionics, above) as Thermals manipulate biochemical functions. A Thermal is almost always resistant (or even sometimes virtually immune) to harm from the thermal forces they control (whether heat, cold or both). Usually, the thermal effects are not extreme, but there are cases of Thermals who could burn a person’s skin or cause frostbite or hypothermia in a victim.
A Transmitter has the power to generate and direct energy. It is rare that such energy generation will be anything damaging, though some electrical Transmitters can generate one or two taser-like bursts to stun an opponent. More often, though, a Transmitter can only generate low-level electrical bursts, radio waves, modest magnetic forces or things of that nature.
These transhumans were originally labeled “Leeches” and some still call them that, but it is considered an epithet by most transhumans now. Vamps are notable for “draining” from another person or animal (or sometimes even plant). A common Vamp power (and largely useless for most who possess it) is the ability to absorb water from another living entity. As few Vamps are going to be so parched or dehydrated that they need to take water from someone (or something) else, this is more of a curiosity (though it can be used fatally if the Vamp is willing to undergo very visible and uncomfortable [even agonizing] bloating). A small subset of Vamps have more significant powers, such as the ability to bleed off body heat, electrical impulses (such as brainwaves) or even an entity’s “energy” or “vitality.” In some cases, the Vamps need to drain such things for their own sustenance, or sometimes simply because it provides a drug-like “rush.”
The powers of a Warpsmith may be closely related to those of a “shift runner” Speedster, as they involve interdimensional manipulations. A Warpsmith may be able to shift in and out of our dimension for extremely short periods of time (seconds at most) to avoid a blow (or reduce its effect), but more often, it simply involves an ability to twist space-time in a very localized area to distract people (distorting their senses, particularly sight and hearing), to cause physical discomfort (sometimes agony), or to break inanimate objects (living tissue seems resistant to such effects), among other potential powers. Warpsmiths can bend or shift themselves in space, but not generally move though it with their powers nor completely remove themselves, so this is distinct from things like teleportation or intangibility.
The following categories are considered theoretically possible but highly unlikely to ever manifest in any transhuman. Or, if the power were to manifest, it might be unknown to the person (or unusable) for reasons noted below.
This would entail the ability to create something from nothing—to actually produce matter that didn’t previously exist, either in a raw form or in some sort of organized construct. The arguments against this kind of power largely revolve around the question: Where would such matter be produced from? Even assuming that the matter was “created” from molecules or atoms available nearby, how would the Creator have any way of sensing what he or she was doing on a microscopic or subatomic level and how would that person know how to organize atoms or molecules in the proper manner?
A theoretical subset of Creators would be Densitors, who would have the power to increase their mass by adding material to their own body to increase density. Again, where would such material come from, and how would the person be able to maneuver all those molecules to just the right places and remain functional and unharmed? (Note that it is possible for some transhumans to increase their mass [or the mass of others] if they are Ecos with influence over gravity. But those transhumans don’t actually add material to their body or anyone else’s but rather increase the effect of gravity locally to make the target feel heavier to themselves or others.)
The ability to fly unassisted, as a distinct power, is considered improbable for a number of reasons, including the problem of how the transhuman body would produce propulsion as well as overcome the effect of gravity (airplanes are aerodynamic and have great thrust and birds have hollow bones and feathers—a transhuman body would almost have to have “magic” powers to overcome such challenges). This is not to say that transhuman-powered flight is not possible; only that a power of flight itself is unlikely. A transhuman with Eco powers over gravity could levitate for brief periods, and perhaps propel himself or herself if there were Morph powers to create wings or more aerodynamic body shape…or perhaps shift-running Speedster powers that could propel the levitating body through space. But such flight would be very short-term, very slow, or both. Also, a transhuman with Morph powers might be capable of making a metamorphosis that allows for long-range gliding, but again, that wouldn’t be actual “flight.”
A Null would represent a sort of anti-Creator. As such, many of the same arguments against the existence of Creators apply here. Also, the current laws of physics say that actual total “destruction” of matter or energy is not possible.
A theoretical subset of Nulls would be Wraiths. In theory, a Wraith would be able to lower his or her own molecular density, perhaps to the level of becoming ghost-like and possibly do things like pass through walls. But where would that bodily material go, how would the transhuman get it back, and how could the individual’s body still function organically with less density or with near-intangibility?
Theoretically, a Transmuter would be able to turn one form of matter into another form of matter. Much like with arguments against Creators, someone who even was a Transmuter (if that is possible) might not know about or be able to properly use his or her power in any useful way because that would require both the ability to perceive things at an atomic or molecular level and also know what the atomic and molecular arrangements are of the material that you want to change another material into. Some theorists have noted that transmutation would be possible as long as the transhuman possessed some sort of extreme sensor and/or psionic (clairvoyance perhaps) powers as well as being a Brain with sufficient ability to memorize atomic and molecular structures.
Most other theorists, though, point out the unlikelihood of such a combination. A small group of researchers at an organization called AllChem-e note that it’s a pointless argument either way given that no one even knows if a transmutation gene (or set of genes) exists. What AllChem-e is working on, though, is to potentially create a Transmuter (with the aid of AIs once they become powerful enough, and once genetic engineering makes additional advances). They are currently laying the theoretical foundation for such an engineered transhuman, who would be an uber-Brain (to hold knowledge of atomic and molecular structures), an uber-Sensor (able to perceive and visualize at the atomic or subatomic level), a Disruptor (to break molecular and/or atomic bonds at will), and an uber-Psi (with both some kind of clairvoyance to bolster the Sensor powers and very finely controlled telekinesis to move molecules and/or atoms into new configurations).