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06.23.2017
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Spirit of the Wind

Biotechnology

Acitan biotechnology is their proudest achievement. It is what their culture centers around, what their spirituality centers around. It doesn’t matter if it’s been done dozens of times before. Acitan pass knowledge vertically by an apprentice system, and an apprentice is expected to show their brilliance by making discoveries independently. An acitan isn’t considered worthy of the title of biomancer unless xe is capable not only of following instructions for the creation of a device but figuring out how the device works and making it completely independently, only knowing the end result and maybe a few steps and the supply list. Of course, not all acitan are biomancers, various other scientific disciplines focusing on pure knowledge are rather common among them, but the notion of mass-produced biotechnology is the equivalent of blasphemy among the acitan. There are guilds, and they do not take kindly to any attempts to mass-produce biotechnology.

Aesthetics focus on organic shapes and bioluminescence. The quintessential piece of acitan biotechnology is an amorphous mass of plant matter studded with glowing lights. The vast majority of acitan biotechnology is focused on systems, whether those systems are chemical, biological, memetic, or ecological. Screwing up a system is, of course, always vastly easier than fixing one or creating one, but weapons are a fairly minor application of acitan biotechnology; most of it is sensors (mostly oriented towards rapid DNA scans), ecosystems biotechnologies (a field that ranges from biological pest control agent breeding hives to artificial habitats), and materials synthesis (with the material being synthesized varying from glass, gemstones, and metals); with medical applications (including cloning and genetic modifications for recreational and optimization purposes) and communications (almost entirely limited to applications of the FungusNet) coming in second; followed by transportation (overwhelmingly aerial).

Acitan sensors tend not to be remote, though there’s certainly a place for that. The most popular acitan sensors are derivatives of various carnivorous plants, with the readout being displayed on what is really just a giant leaf (and usually is the only leaf), which changes color and generally acts like a computer screen. The same sort of leaf membrane is used for various other sensor applications, with the genetic code being modified so that the membrane is sensative to anything from different wavelengths of light, sound waves (which the acitan have used to make a sort of sonar), electromagnetic fields, or different chemicals. The plant itself usually doesn’t have roots, instead having the sensor attached by a flexible stem to the leaf-screen. Due to the acitan emphasis on biotechnology and changing genetic coding, DNA sensors are one of the most frequently produced devices. A decent acitan DNA reader is capable of not only reading DNA and matching it to a known species, it can predict fairly reliably what an individual will look like based on DNA and what traits different regions of DNA code for. Many can even be hooked up to a DNA modification device (which works by deploying DNA walkers) to custom-build an organism.

Ecosystems biotechnologies are, understandably, one of the biggest areas of acitan science. Rather amusingly, the acitan have moved from wrecking entire ecosystems accidentally to being one of the most talented species in regards to preserving ecosystems. The majority of acitan ecosystems biotechnology focuses on maintenance, whether that’s artificial pollinator hives or varieties of plants that are especially useful for supporting certain species or preventing erosion. For the most part such biotechnologies are designed to blend into the landscape; the acitan are particularly talented at modifying species of trees to serve their purposes--most acitan buildings are actually living quiver trees.

Materials synthesis is one of the more difficult aspects of acitan biotechnology. Synthesizing drugs and biodegradable resins (and by that I mean actual tree resin; albeit modified) are easy, of course, and paper is very easy ever since the acitan discovered papyrus, but the acitan have a variety of applications that require metal, or minerals, and that requires some of the most complicated coding in acitan biotechnology--forcing tubers to act as factories for the production of materials that often require a great deal of heat without having the tuber burst into flames and die. The tuber itself is usually a modified form of ginger that contains natural fire retardants and is heat resistant (using the genetic code of extremophile bacteria for the purpose), with the inside replaced by whatever’s being synthesized.

The acitan’s medical biotechnologies focus on gene therapy. One of the first things acitan learn is how to make substantial changes to an organism while not altering its gametes; something which is the basis of most actian biotechnology. Acitan also modify their own DNA for practical purposes and for pleasure; acitan frequently sport modifications such as toxic blood, eyes with telescopic lenses, eidetic memories, drastically increased agility, and increased regenerative abilities. Cloning is one of the most heavily researched biotechhnologies due to the recent efforts by the acitan to clone extinct species. Bacterial and viral infections are fought by phage therapy.

The FungusNet is one of the acitan’s proudest achievements: a huge web of mycelium stretching across the whole of the Southern Basin, with giant mushrooms in the center of settlements acting as routers, storage spaces, and terminals. It’s possible to access without a mushroom by hooking up a leaftop (basically an acitan tablet) to one of the main mycelium lines by a specialized electronics stem, but such use is fairly uncommon. Mostly it’s used by members of the shadownet, which is the same as the normal FungusNet but used for things that an acitan might not exactly be comfortable doing in the middle of a settlement. There’s been some experimentation in wireless routers, but so far they’ve not been very powerful.

Acitan transportation is almost always aerial; it’s faster and the acitan are naturally inclined to flying since they used to ride the ky-ya.. Their crafts are generally shaped like stylized manta rays, but made of plant matter stretched across wooden frames. The engines are high-powered chemical rockets and resemble teardrops attached to the bottoms and tops of the wings. To make the craft more agile dozens of tiny thrusters dot the wings, and the main engines can be moved.

Weapons are usually electrolasers made by combining a biological laser with a structure made using the genes of an extinct species of catfish.


-- Citrakayah

Written 2012