Human is a bit of an odd term. Hum- comes from the same root as Earth, which essentially means ground or soil. The names of most land-based, agriculturally-derived sapient species across the galaxy have effectively this same meaning - 'people of the ground' or 'people of the soil'.
Variations of Humanity
Such pedantry aside, the linear, verbal term humans express to identify themselves is not repeated in cognates elsewhere, so the word is still enough to uniquely identify them. However, given their extensive delving into artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and cybernetics, there is significant debate on who is human, who became human, who never was, and who has drifted. Not everyone even considers the exiles human, since according to many, they rejected the defining trait that separated them from the remaining life on Earth.
- The root strain, should they still exist, are the exiles who chose to reject the alpha strain, the arcologies, and technology altogether. They were not eliminated in the Purge, so their extinction is not certain, though they may have been weeded out by those of homo panacea who exiled after them.
- The alpha strain, the basic version of which is called homo panacea, is by far the most successful version of humanity, as they are not targets of the same genocidal rage that plagues the more advanced variants.
- Homo supernus, or beta strain is the pinnacle version of the organic humaniform design, completed at the dawn of the 23rd century. While more tolerated than the inorganic strains, it still faces discrimination
- The gamma strain is the name given to the project that culminated in homo excelsior, finished shortly before the Purge. This is essentially a body constructed via exomatter, with no concern for most organic needs like reproduction or regeneration like homo superior. Thus, although physically and mentally significantly more capable, it is not considered a truly superior solution.
- The delta strain is responsible for the construct known as astrum parvulus, completed after the Diaspora. Although powerful, few are actually capable of adopting such a form.
- The infested are the collective term for the wracked, corrupted, and possessed. Very few remain, though, if Earth still harbors the exiles, some wraiths have no doubt continued to seek hosts. Only organics can become 'infested', although these are not limited to humanity by any means.
- The cerevates are the 'twin-souled'. They are the striatvari, angels, and pyrrhans. Triate refers to cerevates amongst humankind specifically, excluding those among the Renlai, First, or Shadow (usually collectively referred to as Striate.
It is important to remember that each of these categories holds a wide amount of variation, mixing and matching. The most common such match is to combine an organic body (homo supernus or panacea) with an advanced braincase. However, many alterations are frequently made and even at the 'purest' levels, there is a wide amount of variation. Many of the above are incapable of reproducing with each other, or previous variants, normally. This isn't about the scientific definition of human, but the cultural one.
- Androids and gynoids differ from homo excelsior in origin only - live-born humans who underwent the beta process are called homo excelsior, while artificial sapiences that chose to take an artificial human body are called androids or gynoids, depending on gender chosen. Many simply call these excelsiors, dispensing with the difference in origin.
- Biogenerates, or biogens, are artificial sapient entities who chose to assume an organic human form - typically out of a desire to sire or bear human children. Like their more mechanical relatives, many simply call them supernii.
- Altogenerates are those of different, extant sapient species who have undergone physical and mental transformation in order to become human.
- Chimerae refer to human/animal or other inhuman hybrids and their descendants. Some consider them to be a subgrouping of degenerates, if they retain (by choice or otherwise) significant nonhuman features. Those that are chimerae by birth are generally more tolerated than those who chose change their forms.
Though originally genetically distinct, their variants of the beta, gamma and delta strains are remarkably similar to those developed by mankind, and many more recent versions of both projects have actively merged the lessons learned from each. For this reason, some consider the renlai to be human, or humans to be renlai. This is sometimes only applied to the advanced strains, other times applied to both species entirely.
Still others amongst each race consider the other to be an abomination.
The term 'degenerate' covers an extremely wide variety of cosmetic and deeper modifications, ranging from altered ears and shaped irises, to full-body conversions to what could not even be described as mammalian. The worst of these are sometimes termed abominations, which used to refer to sapiated animals. In certain cases, this begins to inhibit the ability of a being to interface with infusions, or even prohibit the act altogether.
Genetic drift also plays an ever-increasing factor, at least among the organic strains. This is most true outside of the Milky Way, where the lack of patterns prevents the incredible efficiencies that make FTL travel 'easy'.
The idea of corporations and even nations was on shaky terms even before the Martian Conflict. That battle, and the rise of the Solar Consortium, largely sealed their fate, although several such corporations lived on for a few additional decades. The overwhelmingly vast majority of humankind was referred to as the Content, effectively people who just 'lived', exemplars of Nietzsche's 'Last Men'.
Out of these remnants came groups of people intent on making a difference, for good or for ill. Called gerens, they are essentially bands of close-knit friends who pool their talents towards a common goal. Save for the Consortium itself, the first, largest, and most powerful of these was dubbed Ouranos, spawned out of the genocidal reaction the former had towards its emergent cerevates. Most others of note were luddite groups, opposed to the technological progress of mankind, or missions, dedicated to spreading humanity to nearby star systems.
These groups survived the Purge, in various fashions, though their goals are different. In addition, as individual triates grew in power, they have gathered allies and have long since become factions in and of themselves.
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