Meet the Acoes – Part 1

(Having trouble with the pronouns? Check out this post, and be sure to tune in to the latest episode of the podcast while you’re reading it!)

Sean again. We’ve introduced you to the calerre (part 1 and part 2) and the chiroptim (part 1 and part 2). Now it’s time to meet the acoes!

As always, remember that everything on this blog is subject to frequent and massive change.

Appearance: The thing to remember about acoes is that they are artificial organisms, or rather Artificially Created Organisms. They were developed by humans about 750 years ago as “biological toys” for children and “biological tools” for industry, and thus have a wide variety of appearances. None are larger than 18 inches tall or long.

Toy acoes are designed to be companions, teachers, and medical assistance for children. Acoes for boys look like soldiers, dragons, cowboys, or knights, while acoes for girls look like fairies, mermaids, unicorns, or ponies. There are also dinosaur models popular with both boys and girls.

Tool acoes, on the other hand, have bodies that are designed for specific jobs. Thus, they may have extra limbs or bodies designed for specific environments, like water or poisonous atmospheres. There’s also a market in acoes designed specifically as sex toys.

Reproduction: Generation One or “Gen-1” acoes are asexual. They can only reproduce by being grown from artificial embryos. Gen-1s typically have cybernetics implanted before they are “decanted” or born. These include brain implants programmed with useful skills and indoctrination to increase their loyalty to their purchasers. Gen-1 acoes are still grown, especially outside the Covenant.

Generation Two or “Gen-2” acoes are viviparous and sexually dimorphic. Men and women have some differences, but they’re mostly cultural (especially in feral communities) and insignificant from the perspective of game mechanics. Acoes and aco rightists developed the Gen-2s to give acoes what they consider to be a fundamental right of any sapient species: the ability to reproduce independently.

Biology: All acoes – even scaly models like dragons and dinosaurs – are mammals, much like humans.

Their anatomies have two parts: a “chassis” and a “skin”. The chassis includes the skeleton, internal organs, and muscles, while the skin is mostly just that – the epidermis. A Gen-1 chassis can technically have any configuration the customer wants. A Gen-2 chassis, on the other hand, is confined to two arms and two legs from genetics.

Both Gen-1 and Gen-2 acoes can have wildly different appearances from individual to individual. Gen-1 acoes can have more or less than four limbs, specialized limbs, and even snakelike, fishlike, or mollusk-like bodies. Gen-2s, on the other hand, can have skins with multiple qualities from their parentage, including scales, fur, subdermal plating, enhanced musculatures, prehensile tails, and claws.

Psychology: It’s important to keep in mind that acoes are not robots. They’re flesh and blood, and they’re sapient.

Nevertheless, acoes have no rights outside of the Covenant. They were designed to be disposable – expensive, but disposable – and their owners tend to treat them that way. All giving acoes rights does is increase their short-term cost, and if an aco runs away to escape being mistreated, then hir owner has to buy another aco. Aco rights just don’t make business sense.

For this reason, acoes dream of escaping their owners, either to the Covenant or to one of thousands of underground aco communities scattered throughout the Orion Arm. Those who can’t try to support each other as best they can, then try to sneak off to blow off steam while their owners sleep.

Lifespan: Gen-1s have “suicide genes” that limit their lifespan to about 20 years. If they can get these genes de-activated, they can live for up to 100 years. Gen-2s, on the other hand, have a maximum lifespan of 50 years outside the Covenant or 500 years within the Covenant, due to the Covenant’s better quality-of-life and medical care.

History: Acoes have no history, at least not in the traditional sense. Even the chiroptim can point to the Old World as their homeworld. Acoes, on the other hand, have no homeworld and no shared history or traditions.

They are trying to change that, though. They have their own networks of sharing information and culture, from encrypted communications to messengers and “bards” to literature. Free acoes create their own hidden communities where they can continue to be free. Slave acoes sneak away from their charges to decompress at their own underground clubs and theaters, all while dreaming of the day that they can finally escape to freedom.

Abilities: Acoes have two abilities.

  • Variable Anatomies: Acoes have their own unique body mods. Gen-1 characters can pick from a wide variety of chassis, while Gen-2 characters can choose one or more skins. Gen-1s also receive brain implants that give them advantages to certain bids but increase their vulnerability to electrical attacks. In addition, acoes can have more genetic and cybernetic body mods than other species.
  • Intelligence Network: Acoes can get into places and see things that other species can’t. This information is distributed through an informal web of high and low tech communication that is the largest intelligence network in the Orion Arm. Aco characters can gain species abilities that give them access to information and contacts from this network. Advanced characters can even blackmail opponents into losing fights or attacking their own allies.

Handles: These are single words that I use to try to get a handle on the acoes.

  • Resistance: Acoes will either die for their freedom, die to keep their freedom, or die to give someone else their freedom. They will never stop fighting or resisting.
  • Cute: Acoes are products. They’re made to be appealing, usually to children, so they tend to look cute and adorable. Their smiles might be forced, and they may smell of old cigarettes and cheap whiskey, but they’re at least superficially cute. (This GIF of My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle having a normal day is a fair approximation)
  • Caring: No matter how much their charges hurt them, acoes do care about them, at least on some level. They were designed to care. They might fight it, but they still care. Acoes also see how humans treat their children, and they know how that cruelty can be visited on them in turn.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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