Vatborn

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Human Genetic Template 24-75-D is the official title for a subset of genetically engineered humans designed for accelerated growth, as well as other minor modifications. These individuals are grown artificially from "stock" donor DNA in a process similar to cloning, in specialized tubes hence the popular moniker "Vatborn". While the Five Points prohibit more extreme modification, their various interpretations do allow for some minor changes. The most common Vatborn Template has only a few distinct differences from the baseline human, the most obvious being a lower amount of melanin. Less obvious is the lack of an appendix, and an accelerated metabolism, which is an unforeseen side effect of the changes made to allow vat-growth and rapid maturation. Though the aging process slows once the vatborn reaches adulthood, many do suffer from health concerns resulting from rapid tissue growth, and can expect a somewhat shorter lifespan to 'natural' humans.

Demographics

Vatborn are present throughout SolGov space in a variety of roles and communities. Catalog Babies, vat-grown children made to order by rich families and corporate executives, live throughout the galaxy, especially in humanity's core systems. Aside from these, most concentrated Vatborn population centers are space habitats populated entirely by Vatborn, most of which eschew traditional reproduction in favor of the vats. These habitats tend to be culturally insular, sometimes religiously or philosophically zealous, and as self-sufficient as possible. One prominent, large-scale example of these Vatborn communes is Angessa's Pearl in the Almach Rim, where "community children" are produced at industrial rates and indoctrinated in the planet's unique philosophy. Since the colony's seccession, this has extended to the illegal mass-production of "adult" Vatborn from a variety of custom-engineered genetic and neural templates beyond the limits of ordinary human constraints.

Vatborn are reproductively interfertile with baseline humans, albeit at lower than average rates. Recent demography estimate that as much as 8% of SolGov's baseline human population contains some Vatborn DNA, causing occasional expression of Vatborn traits such as a lack of appendix or an accelerated growth rate in otherwise "normal" individuals.

Genetics

"Natural" Vatborn

The most common form of Vatborn are grown only as infants and "born" in a similar state to standard human babies; this allows the individuals to 'naturally' learn basic human abilities such as body coordination and speech skills as any other child as the brain develops. With the exception of "designer babies" ordered by wealthy parents seeking an artificial surrogate, most are engineered to undergo rapid maturation, reaching the equivalent of sixteen years of growth in just five. Rapidly aging Vatborn are typically subject to a rigorous schooling programme to ensure their mental maturity and aptitude to function in society, though it is common for young Vatborn to have difficulty with the intricacies of human social mores. Some find themselves drawn to Positronics, whose "childhood" experience bares marked similarities in some regards.

"Expedited" Vatborn

Fully-grown "Expedited" or "Adult" Vatborn are produced in a process typically reserved for cloning, wherein a braindead body is grown for the purpose of "overwriting" it with a donor brain belonging to a deceased individual. However, illegal clone farm operations in violation of the Five Points have been recorded producing adult Vatborn for sale or use in mass labour projects. These farms either use illegally copied donor brains, or edited-down "basic survival" templates that give the Vatborn the bare mental necessities to survive and work independently. While the production of Vatborn by this process is highly illegal, the individuals produced are considered human and are allowed to exist freely under Sol law - usually after being liberated from their creators. While socially stunted, these individuals are by no means deficient and are often capable of living as normal lives as any other Vatborn.

Legality

Vat-growing humans is legal in SolGov space and Vatborn are considered de facto free and equal citizens on par with any other human. Some argue that the practices of Angessa's Pearl and other Vatborn communes demean the value of the individual and should be banned on moral grounds, but because of the close connections between corporations, politicians, and Catalog Babies, none of these legal measures have come to pass. There does exist a lingering undercurrent of resent and apprehension towards the practice because of its relationship with illegal human modification programs, and because the most high-profile Vatborn are Catalog Babies associated with wealth and excess. Nonetheless, Vatborn are a fairly readily accepted element of humanity and most regard their existence as just a fact of life. Prior to the implementation of laws explicitly protecting Vatborn as equal to humans, the primary purpose of their production was for large-scale industrial use. Some corporate enterprises were willing to make a five-year investment in the growth and education of a so-called "on-site workforce" without the hassle and cost of tight regulations on drone intelligences. This practice continues to this day on a smaller scale, though the SCG has made great effort to ensure these Vatborn are treated - and paid - on the same terms as any other sapient under their jurisdiction.


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