Psionic individuals exist throughout explored space. Almost every sentient species demonstrates some ability, though that potential isn’t always realized within the species’ civilization. Psionic power was first conclusively demonstrated in the second decade of the 21st century, ending a century of debate over the possibility of extrasensory perception (ESP). The governments of the era were remarkably unwilling to accept the possibility, but documents uncovered long after the period indicate that certain administrations and agencies knew more than they ever admitted. They simply had no desire to share their research or acknowledge the success of others.

After ESP gained acceptance, three other mindwalking disciplines were acknowledged. The first was Telepathy, not only the ability to sense emotions and thoughts, but also to introduce thoughts into another’s mind. Next came the recognition of Telekinesis – the ability to move or alter objects from a distance. Finally, Biokinesis uses psionic control over the body to regulate its function and alter its chemistry and metabolism. Each use of a mental power weakens the user, so even an extremely powerful Fraal mindwalker has limits. With each use of mental abilities, a person becomes more fatigued, until eventually he is too exhausted to perform psionic feats.

Mindwalkers are fewer than .01% of the population. They have aptitude in all four of the major psionic disciplines. Talents, on the other hand, demonstrate proficiency with only one. Talents are 10 times more common than true mindwalkers. Mindwalkers are much more common among the Fraal (up to 20% of the population, by some estimates), and many humans attend Fraal sanctuaries in order to harness or focus their mental faculties. Even those Fraal who are not full mindwalkers have some psionic talent.

Psionics in Society

Ever since the Fraal joined humankind, the discipline of mindwalking has been accepted as a part of reality, even though its relative rarity prevents it from becoming completely mainstream. The initial Fraal knowledge of mental powers far exceeded that of humanity’s in 2124, so it’s no surprise that Fraal nomenclature and training became the standard. While the initial years were tense as religious and other objections to mindwalking were voiced, in the end mindwalking became an accepted career.

To most people, psionics are great gifts that can easily be abused. So, while mindwalkers and talents are tolerated, they are also treated cautiously. Holo programs have instilled an image of mindwalkers as normal men, women, and sentients with extraordinary abilities. Mindwalking families – psionics run in bloodlines, though the genetics have never been properly understood – want to live, love, and thrive just as much as any others.

Nevertheless, the rarity of mindwalking ability means that a mindwalker’s life is never like that of the nonpsionic majority. Each stellar nation has adopted its own laws and customs regarding mindwalkers. Certain laws regulating psionics have become almost universal. All stellar nations require that mindwalkers register themselves. For most citizens, this is a matter of course. Psionic testing during primary and secondary education reveals 99% of those with the ability. Aptitude testing helps governments recruit mindwalkers, but it also helps protect the population in general, since experience has shown that an untrained mindwalker is the most dangerous kind, prone to lash out with his powers when threatened or upset. Governments and private interest groups set up mindwalking academies to train young mindwalkers and prepare them for a life in society.

The law provides strict penalties for psionic malfeasance. Most crimes committed by mindwalking are prosecuted normally. That is, homicide by electrokinesis is no different from homicide by laser pistol. Laws governing privacy are uncommon in the stellar nations, but the negative public reaction to mindwalkers has led most stellar nations to legislate against mind probes, clairvoyance, and other invasive techniques, even though those laws proved difficult to enforce.

Licensed use of mindwalkers exists in every industry. Law enforcement and court officials commonly employ expert witnesses: typically psychometrists or mystics with postcognitive abilities. One of the results has been the lowest rate of unsolved crimes in modern history. In more rigidly controlled stellar nations, such as VoidCorp and the Thuldan Empire, direct mind-reading is permitted to ascertain guilt. In the private sector, mindwalkers work in communications, espionage, medicine, and human resources. Whatever their specific job, mindwalkers benefit from a labor-friendly environment. Scarcity and high demand combine to produce high pay and excellent benefits.

Most of the thirteen stellar nations demonstrate noteworthy attitudes toward mindwalking and mindwalkers. Both religiously oriented nations – the Orlamu Theocracy and the Hatire Community – understand mindwalking as a miracle of a greater power. Mindwalkers are prized and revered, typically encouraged to take up orders as members of the clergy. The Hatire are especially noted for their biokineticists and their telepaths. VoidCorp uses its mindwalker employees as it does all its assets. The Orion League and the Union of Sol allow their mindwalkers almost unchecked freedom, while the Nariac Domain requires that its mindwalkers live with psi-restraint implants, allowing the state to control them. The Concord leaves mindwalking alone, though many Concord Administrators are said to be mindwalkers. The Borealis Republic has had some limited success with cloning mindwalkers; the Hoffmann line demonstrates mindwalking ability in almost 4% of its clones.

Psionics & Technology

As the scientific understanding of psionic energy has grown, so have the tools to detect psionic activity and the ways to shield people from psionic manipulation. Hand-held psi-detectors now detect psionic activity within 100 meters, and psi-restraints can inhibit use of psionics.

More recently, hand-held psi-spectrometers have demonstrated the ability to record psionic energy signatures. Psi-spectrometers can detect a mindwalker’s psionic print about an hour after the psionic activity – the exact length of time depends on the amount of psionic energy expended. The unit can recognize the mindwalker whose psionic print matches the one recorded, but it has a range of only 10 meters and can store no more than 100 psionic prints at a time. Thanks in large part to this technology, the regulation of psionics has become an accepted part of forensic science.

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