Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Penitents


They often call themselves “Penitents,” though the rest of the Strange Stars know them as Deodands—if not some other slur. By whatever name, they are a people viewed as cursed and bringers bad luck. They’re marked by their peculiar coloration: white on one side and black on the other, with a sharp division in between. A few try to hide it, but most accept it as a sign of their crimes as a people.

Deodands are believed to have been a prosperous people at the time of the Great Collapse. They were kept safe through the years of crisis that followed by a godlike posthuman mind. At some point, the people that would be the deodands commited some great crime against their god. They were punished with their unusual appearance, but also with a peculiar form of immortality. Any time a deodand dies, a nanomod in their bodies sends a signal via quantum entanglement to some hidden body bank. A copy of the dead person’s mind is downloaded into a new body, which is delivered back to the deodands' home station via a casket-like, adamantine, life support pod falling from a small hyperspace node. Whatever a deodand may accomplish in life, death causes him or her to start over as a naked beggar on streets of their decaying habitat. They remember only that they have lived previously, but only the barest details of their past lives.

While a few may come to view this immortality in a positive light, most do not. A few have tried to find a way to cheat resurrection, but things only seem to prolong the time to resurrection rather than preventing it. Attempts to remove the nanomods only lead to the deodands death. Deodands are incapable of having biological children, and few try any other method.

Each deodand handles their curse differently. Some become extremely repentant and join ascetic or flagellate cults. Others revel in debauchery (the better to show their sinfulness and guilt) and become sybarites or criminals. Most live marginal lives of poverty and substance abuse in their native habitat or elsewhere. None of these groups contribute anything positive to the reputation of their people among other culture.

The few wealthy deodands would pay almost anything to someone willing to end their curse buy finding the source of their unwanted resurrection and shutting it down.

6 comments:

Jack said...

Reminds me a bit of Paranoia.

Trey said...

In Paranoia, the Computer is "merciful" enough to only give you a limited number of do-overs. ;) But then agian, the Computer is quite willing to kill you, too.

Francis Lee said...

Like pikeys moving in to an area!

Trey said...

@Fran - You're always down on the pikeys! ;)

Jayson said...

Oh, these poor sots must be a goldmine for any remaining anti-transhumanist factions in the universe.

Trey said...

Yep. I would imagine that only adds another reason to dislike.