Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Background Information on Psionics

Throughout human history there have been people that have claimed to be able to see the future, read minds, and generally apply their minds to tasks beyond the ability of others. Most have been proven to be charlatans and frauds, but there is always that small percentage that no evidence of debunking can be found. These seemingly true seers, mentalists, and psychics were the early building blocks of psionic potential in human beings.

In the mid to late 20th century a mentalist called “The Amazing Kreskin” came into popularity on the entertainment channels of that time period. He wowed crowds with feats of mentalism ranging from predicting the outcomes of sporting events, to bending spoons with his mind. There had been many similar “stage acts” like The Amazing Kreskin before, but no one had performed the wide array of mental feats that Kreskin had. Kreskin was the first human to exhibit the broad scope of psionic potential we see today. Other mentalists were simple mutants with one or maybe two weak mental mutations, but Kreskin was something different altogether. However, after his death in the early 21st century, there was no one else that exhibited the same abilities again until later that century.

When the Fraal made their existence known to the whole of human civilization, they also brought their knowledge in psionics with them. The Fraal had long ago noticed the potential in humans for psionic ability, and knew that the power lied unlocked in many individuals. Once the treaty between the two species was signed, one of the first things they offered their new allies was training in psionics.

As scientists now know, psionic potential is possible in most humans, however only about 10% of the population possesses the right combination of mental fortitude, brain chemistry, and level of concentration to unlock their innate psionic abilities. Even then, only a few are able to achieve mastery over more than two or three distinct powers. Still, once a suitable candidate is discovered, Fraal techniques of mental conditioning have proven to be effective in unlocking and harnessing this ability with 98% effectiveness.

Those with the ability often do not know they have such talents until they reach puberty. Most of the time, the onset of psionic potential is harmless, though sometimes frightening to both the child and those around them. This can manifest in the projection of thoughts, inanimate objects seemingly throwing themselves across a room, and so forth. The Sol Alliance, and many other governments across the known galaxy, has infants tested for the possibility of psionic potential at birth. That way, the child is on record and officials from the Psi Corps can check in on the child’s progress occasionally. These tests accurately predict psionic potential with 90% accuracy. However, not all infants get tested. Some colonies and many ships do not have the ability to run the genetic scans, so there are a lot of infants, especially those born on frontier colonies and in unregistered colonies, and those born during space transit that never get tested. Plus, these tests only show the potential for psionic ability. There are many ways for that potential to stay locked as the child is exposed to different chemicals (via medical treatments, exposure to alien environments, etc.) that can dramatically affect the child’s ability to becoming a psion.

When humans first starting developing and being trained to use their psionic ability, it created another wave of anti-Fraal hysteria among certain subsets of human society. Some religious groups believed that psionic powers were manifestations of evil and that the Fraal were the harbingers of the downfall of man. Some scientists worried about the effects of psionic powers being used too heavily, a danger that was proven to be worthy of worry in psions “burning out” their minds by attempting to push their psychic boundaries too far. “Pro-human” groups, typically anti-Fraal, that eventually became anti-alien, terrorists, saw it as a proof that the Fraal had been experimenting on humans all along. There were acts of violence against Fraal living on Earth and among the colonies on Mars and Europa also. The ramming of the worldship, For’losikia, which killed over 300 fraal nearly ended the alliance between the two species before it was even a decade old. Swift and decisive action by the Terran Council (the ruling body of the various human colonies and Earth at the time) was the only thing that kept the alliance from unraveling.

Psions were also subject to abuse and violence as well. The Martian colony of Armstrong was gripped with fear when a young psion’s powers manifested violently, tearing a hole in the outer shell of a habitat, killing all 78 people inside, including the psion. This led to the director of the colony to have the residents undergo genetic scans for psionic potential. Anyone who registered as psionic was forcefully placed in cryogenic sleep to keep their powers from “going off” and causing the deaths of more citizens. The problem here was threefold. First, genetic scans for psionic ability at the time were crude at best, with only a 55% accuracy rate. Second, the cryogenic equipment at the Armstrong colony has unknowingly been damaged in transit. Several of the suspected psions placed in the pods never reached true cryogenic sleep and therefore simply froze to death. Third was the reaction from those that tested positive and those that supported the suspected psions. Several violent clashes between psions and their friends and family and the local authorities led to 32 additional deaths. It wasn’t until the Terran Council sent an envoy of human and fraal scientists and security forces to both quell the violence and to peacefully re-locate any actual psions, did the violence subside. To this day, the citizens of Armstrong are known for being very discriminatory to psionic individuals.

The riots at Armstrong did set into motion the foundation of the Kreskin Academy and the testing procedures mentioned earlier. It was determined by a joint Human and Fraal committee that human psions must be trained in the proper use of their abilities. Fraal children receive this training from a very young age, but their talents are innate among the whole of the species and manifest very early in life. The foundation of the Kreskin Academy was ratified by the Terran Council based on the recommendation from the joint committee. A space station was built for the sole purpose of training young psions after pushback from many colonies that didn’t want to house the school. The station was put into orbit around the Jovian moon, Ganymede.

Initially, children that exhibited psionic talent were required by law to attend the Academy. As the general attitude towards psions has improved over the years, other satellite schools have been put in place throughout the Sol Alliance and its colonies, and throughout many Concord member planets as well. The Academy is run by a director, always a psion, and has an education board as well generally made up of parents and a liaison from the Psi Corps. Visitation rights by parents are always granted and great care is taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the student body. The station also houses a company of Sol Alliance soldiers for security, both to protect the station and to deal with any rogue psions in the student body or staff. A Sol Alliance capital ship with a full fighter squadron patrols the area as well.

Throughout the history of the Academy, it has been the target of anti-psion and anti-alien terrorist groups. An attack in 2287 killed 18 students and staff. Plus, the dangers of exceptionally powerful or burned out students has led to casualties as well. Plus, the Academy is seen as a high value military target since the onset of the Psi Corps and the militarization of psions into both the Sol Alliance Navy and the Concord Navy (not to mention the militaries of many other stellar nations as well). Still, the Kreskin Academy is seen as a sterling example of inter-species cooperation and is continually rated as one of the best schools in the Concord.

Over the years, the Kreskin Academy has morphed into a school for the gifted, not just the psionically gifted. Early on, it was discovered that even though a child may show signs of psionic talent, not all end up developing the ability to manifest powers, but these children tend to be gifted in other areas like technology, sciences, and so forth. The Academy now trains these savants as well as those with psionic talent. These young people are seen as the best and brightest the Sol Alliance (and even the Concord in general, as many species send their young to be educated at the Kreskin Academy as well) has to offer.

Even though the general attitude in human space towards psions has improved over the years, psions are still often times mistrusted and even hated in some areas. It’s not just humans that harbor such bigotry, there are many other species that fear and hate psions for various reasons. Psions traveling the galaxy must constantly be aware of the laws of different stellar nations, colonies, and space stations regarding the use or even the existence of psionic abilities. There are ways to mask or hide psionic talent, even from genetic scans, but such equipment is usually very expensive and almost always illegal. This fear only gets compounded each time there is a report of a psion causing destruction somewhere in the galaxy.

Shortly before the first class was set to graduate from the Kreskin Academy, the Sol Alliance Navy founded the Psi Corps. The Psi Corps is a special military unit that is comprised of psionic individuals. The duties of the Psi Corps is not only to bolster the wartime assets of the Sol Alliance, but also to police rogue psions, and to ensure that children manifesting their abilities are given the proper education in their use. The Psi Corps has a shadowy reputation, however, and many free psions and even large parts of the public don’t trust them. There have been agents that have gone rogue, and have caused a lot of property damage, death, and chaos, but such instances are rare, and the Psi Corps is ruthless when dealing with one of their own gone rogue. Still, the urban legends surrounding the machinations of the Psi Corps are wide and varied, and believed by many people.

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