|An attack with psionics.|
|Faction||Empire of the Rising Sun|
|Function||Offensive application of psionic powers.|
|Brief||Uses dormant psionic powers to aggressively eliminate foes quickly and effectively.|
"Psionics is supposedly the hidden powers of the mind, as told by pulp fiction writers and hippy new-agers. Supposedly, the human brain is a wellspring of power, an untapped mine of supernatural abilities allowing the trained psychic to pluck thoughts from the minds of others, throw battle tanks around like toys, and kill with a glance. Of course, this is pure nonsense; to a trained, sceptical scientist, the idea that the mind is anything more than a poorly-organized bundle of chemicals and neurons is completely absurd.
Then a little Japanese girl in a school uniform crushed an Apocalypse tank into a small cube in front of dozens of cameras, and we all had to go back to the drawing board again."
- - Dr. Alden Tate, head of the recently established Allied Paranormal Research Division
Just a few years ago, in most of the world, psionic powers were the stuff of urban legend; it was associated with New Age mysticism and quacks looking to scam tourists with cold reading, and no scientist would give claims of psionic powers the time of day. Peacekeeper humanitarian educators and translators were trained to debunk claims of psionic powers (as well as magic/witchcraft, homeopathy and "natural" medicine, and various conspiracy theories) as part of Allied efforts to educate in underdeveloped countries, while Cherdenko was well known for his disdain for claims of psionic powers and made even mentioning it a criminal offense for reasons unknown.
This was turned on its head when the Empire went to war, and brought with it a well developed division of psychics.
The most immediate indication of paranormal happens was Yuriko Omega, then a sixteen year old girl whose first action involved laying waste to a crack mechanized company, the fortified line they were defending, and about about half of a nearby town with barely controlled bursts of psionic power. Less obvious but equally important were the use of empaths, connected to massive amplifiers, literately pulling troop disposition and tactical information from the brains of commanders and using it to run circles around Soviet forces. This allowed the Japanese to make massive advances despite being seriously outnumbered and outgunned, and the Soviets had no readily available counter; thanks to Cherdenko's policies, they couldn't even discuss the problem for several months.
When Allied spies learned of the Soviets' encounters with Imperial psionic powers, there was a great deal of scrambling as they tried to determine what to do about the phenomenon. The most common reaction was simply denial; admitting the possibility of psionic powers was simply too much for the sceptical Allies. However, as the Allies engaged the Japanese across the Pacific, it became increasingly hard to deny that the Japanese were working with information they had no way of knowing. A few simple tests later, the Allies determined that, indeed, the Japanese were using psionic probes, and began investigating counters.
Soon after, both the Allies and the Soviets struck upon some temporary counters, such as the use of insulating materials in headgear or the walls of command centres. The Soviets in particular became quite adept at fooling empaths using false information or training personnel to deflect psionic infiltration through dissembly. While the Allies had more difficulty, in part due to their hesitance for working with so little data, they helped themselves to whatever Soviet successes their spies could get ahold of.
Since the revelation of psionic powers, there has been a massive explosion of investigation regarding the phenomenon, and people claiming to have psionic abilities. Generally, it has been found that most people claiming psionic powers are still lying or deluded; it is generally accepted that even those most naturally adept for psionic abilities will usually not consciously be aware of the fact due to the minor nature of the powers, and that for any real potential to be unlocked the intervention of training, brain alteration or technology is required.
The exact mechanics to psionic powers is still an unknown; the actual source of the power is unclear, which is particularly disturbing as many psionic phenomenon seem to violate the laws of thermodynamics. Generally, it is accepted that psionic power is drawn from "elsewhere" (a much disparaged variable in any physics equation, to be sure) by certain patterns of activity in the brain.
These patterns are actually not dissimilar from the circuitry patterns used by GAP arrays; there is some speculation that the power is drawn from parallel realities, though this is obviously difficult to verify. These patterns are unlike those the brain normally uses; only a small percentage of the population use these patterns in any real way.
By intense training or surgical modification, these patterns can be set more deeply in the mind of the user, allowing them greater power; technological aids in the form of amplifiers with circuitry patterns imitating these thought patterns can also be used, but it is noted that without an intelligent brain behind it, simply running power through these circuits does nothing (it's not just human brains that count, though; just ask Dolphin Lensman Chuckles MacDougall!)
Thus far, Allied research has narrowed down psionic abilities to a few definite powers, and has mostly eliminated the possibility of others, though obviously it is a young field. Powers are generally divided into two categories; telepathic, which has to do with the using powers on the minds of others, and telekinetic, which has to do with using psionic power to interact with the physical world.
Empathy : The most basic sort of telepathic power, and one so subtle that most people don't even notice they have it, is empathic powers; picking up the brain states of others. Because so much of human interaction is based on modelling the behaviour of others, most people don't even notice supernatural assistance in this regard.
At its most basic, empathic powers could simply be picking up emotions off others, something easily obscured by simple observation. Some people who, through practice or (usually accidental) chemical assistance are able to "see" patterns in the moods and thoughts of others as auras. More capable empaths can read surface thoughts or perceive through the senses of others to a limited degree; the most powerful can pluck memories out of a person as easily as reading a book. However, empaths can be fooled by practiced doublethink; simply by imagining oneself as a different person, you can deflect most empathic infiltration.
Emotive Telepathy : Better known as mind control, Emotive Telepathy is influences in the brain-states of others. This is staggeringly difficult to do properly or subtly, which means that at best a modern psychic can do is confuse and disorient with random bombardments of unwilling thought.
Precognition : "Pure precog", as it's called, is impossible; a cursory glance at quantum mechanics eliminates the possibility of a purely deterministic universe and thus makes physical prediction of the future impossible. However, there are a small number of empaths who get a more general overview of a person's brain, which allows them to model their future behaviour with startling accuracy. For example, you could place a precog in a room and roll dice, and they would have no more ability to guess the results before they happened than anyone else.
However, ask him to look at a person and guess the ten numbers he'll be thinking of an hour from now when he is asked to think of them, they'll give you startlingly accurate answers. When a person is picking up brain models from everyone within a hundred feet, they can pick up how everyone will interact with one another in the future; the effect doesn't actually seem to be the brain of the psionic modelling everyone in the room, but instead getting the results from "elsewhere" to be interpreted. Presumably, given a strong enough psychic, they could predict, in broad strokes, world events, simply by modelling all the plots of politics at the time.
Remote Viewing : A specific form of empathy, remote viewing allows a person to "see" an area through the combined sensory imput (usually sight, due to its prominence in human use), creating mental images of whole areas by stitching together a tapestry of images from people who are seeing or who have seen the area. Obviously, this is extremely effective for spying.
Telekinetic power manifests, thus far, exclusively as directional force. More than any empathic powers, telekinesis requires raw power and/or heavy amplification to be of any real use rather than specialized training; though any low-level psychic can push paperclips around with a moment of concentration, larger use is very rare. Outside of Yuriko Omega herself, all significant telekinetic events have required the cooperation of multiple psychics.
Psionic Injuries Edit
During the Allied push into Tokyo, the Allies found many unusual things, some not always apparent. It was not until some weeks after the push that an unusual fact was noticed: hospitals. While hospitals themselves are not unusual, there were dozens of cutting-edge hospitals in the middle of nowhere: the nearby population would not warrant such facilities in any capacity.
A few odd choices may be expected, but looking over the findings, there were dozens of hospitals scattered around Japan, with no readily apparent purpose. Further investigations yielded even stranger information: the locals in the area were not even allowed to enter the hospitals, they were reserved for mysterious patients rushed there from an unknown location.
No records were found in these hospitals: either they did not keep them, or destroyed them as soon as they were finished with them. When the peacekeepers broke in to a hospital, they found the one thing they did not expect: nothing. Not in the sense of the hospital being abandoned, nothing in the sense of it barely being used. Any equipment found was either welded to the floor, or locked in place at specific areas.
The majority of rooms were unused, and those that were used showed signs of equipment being replaced immediately after use. While they did not know it at the time, the peacekeepers had found a psychic hospital.
While psionic abilities are undoubtedly powerful, they carry risks of their own to the user. Long term use of psychic powers takes a toll on the user's psyche: the simple act of having superhuman abilities often causes a severe superiority complex and/or isolates psychics from other 'normal' humans. Every psychological disorder, from depression to megalomania, is more common in psychics.
This can, however, be avoided with counseling and social interaction. It is a sign of the Empire's changing view of psychics that no training occurs on weekends anymore, allowing 'mentally enhanced' individuals to have a more normal social life. On the more physical side, overuse or overexertion of psychic powers can result in 'nerve rot': ie, the degradation of neurons.
Numbness in the extremities is often the first sign. To prevent permanent disability or death, the psychic must cease usage of psychic abilities. The Empire is currently working on a 'cure' for nerve rot, but currently sufferers must simply pull back or stop their usage of psychic abilities. However, these risks come with great reward, and great prestige in Japanese society. For many, it is worth the risk.
In addition to the above problems, there are a set of unique 'psychic injuries' that may be seen. The most common psychic 'injury' is a mental ejection, also referred to as a 'poke in the third eye'. While the effects of a mental ejection are rarely harmful, they are common enough that experiencing one is considered a rite of passage for beginner psychics.
In its simplest form, the mind does not like being intruded upon, and it shows. Any psychic will tell you that everyone has some level of resistance to psionic intrusion, but not everyone has the same resistance. Some people have virtually no resistance, and can be 'read' from miles away. The vast majority of people have some, but not enough to keep an adequate psychic from peeking in.
There are a few, however, that have abnormally strong resistance to intrusion. An attempt to read these people will often 'kick out' an unprepared psychic from their minds, causing some harm to the psychic. Mental ejection does not have serious problems, mostly causing surprise on the part of the psychic. Some stronger ejections, however, can have a measurable physical response.
The sympathetic nervous system (the 'fight or flight' system) can be activated, with all the expected effects. While most problems usually fade, occasionally lasting problems are seen.
The next type of 'injury' seen is psychic burnout. This is caused by the use of psychic abilities creating a 'feedback' effect, damaging the psychic circuit and possibly some nearby neural matter. This can be accomplished by an exceptionally powerful natural resistance or invading a more powerful psychic. As well as this, certain mental techniques can potentially cause these problems if done correctly.
Some of the lower levels are simply delusions, temporary degradation of psionic ability, migraines, and mental ejection. In more serious cases, permanent damage or death can follow: complete loss of psychic ability is the best case scenario in this option. Death can result from cerebral infarct, stroke, or 'grand mal' seizure. Even if they survive, many are left permanently crippled, insane, or braindead.
The most rare, but correspondingly most serious problem is known as a telekinetic fit, or 'psi-chotic episode'. A psychic exhibiting this is a danger to themselves, anyone around them, and anyone within thinking radius of the sufferer. This episode is not described in terms of symptoms: it is impossible to miss. Objects get thrown everywhere, people's minds get invaded by foreign thoughts at random, nearby people are thrown away with great force, and a psychic 'scream' can be heard for miles around.
Even the psychic is not immune to their fit: they will often break their own bones, contort themselves into painful positions, or 'cut' into their flesh uncontrollably. Most people would assume that simply using a lower level psychic would make this less destructive. Most people would be wrong. The psionic circuit overloads, making a psychic's power grow exponentially. If a weak psychic is like a burning match, the same psychic in a telekinetic fit would be like a forest fire.
The threat of a telekinetic fit is such that standard Japanese military procedure has a simple cure for even a suspected episode: a bullet to the brain. But if a commander can stabilize a suffering psychic enough, rapid transport to one of the hospitals found by the Allies can be arranged. Without immediate help, the psychic will almost certainly die, taking a lot of people with them.
Even with help, about 40-50% of psychics will still die, but can be ensured a comfortable, dignified death, with a minimum of collateral damage. The risk is such that it is rumoured that half of the time and two thirds of the money spent developing Yuriko went into putting safeguards just to prevent such a possibility. Were a psychic as powerful as Yuriko to suffer this fate, conservative estimates theorise that the remains of mainland Japan would fit into a shoebox. The worst case scenario has never been repeated by officials.
Psionics Research Across the WorldEdit
During the Allied operations in the Pacific, a great many Japanese facilities were rapidly overrun in the push to Tokyo. One of the most important of these was an empathic station on a small Pacific Island. The Japanese were desperate to escape with their valuable psychics, and did a poor job rigging the facility for destruction; the remote detonator failed to work properly, and the explosives were disabled by a Peacekeeper bomb team before the back-up timer was activated. Even though the base was mostly stripped, the Allies still recovered a large amount of useful technology for analysis, the most important of which was part of a psionic amplifier ring, one of the two five foot across rings used in amplifying an empaths range and power.
From this, and printout of brain scans performed on Japanese empaths, Dr. Tate's research team successfully built a sort of combination amplifier and psionic beacon, which takes the form of a 14 inch ring, a capacitor, and various radio equipment. Made from extremely expensive metamaterials, onto which a subject's brain patterns can be imprinted with electrical signals (a process called attunement) the technology removes many of the hurdles involved in the creation of psychics.
Though considerable mental discipline is still required, a person using such a device doesn't have to spend hours each day engraving his synapses with the specific patterns required for a psionic action; instead, they imprint the device itself just once with the patterns associated with the power, and can then instead practice more general psionic abilities, physical discipline, or other training, as the device would focus the psionic potential and do much of work once an intelligent mind was added.
One of the other benefits of the device is that it allows the user a large amount of flexibility. Though they have not managed to manifest telekentic powers yet, the testing team, a handpicked group of Peacekeepers with genius-level IQs learning to use the devices have attuned them for a variety of psionic abilities, as well as promising initial tests with a dolphin. Simply by rotating the ring portion of the machine to reverse the power gradient, a user can go from empathic to emotively telepathic, a useful ability on the field.
The moment a scientist was careless enough to described the machine as a magnifying glass for psionic powers, of course, some smartalec in the testing team dubbed the machine an Arisian Lens and themselves the Lensmen, terms which, to the infinite annoyance of the science team, stuck like glue. Fortunately, few members of Allied Command have read EE Doc Smith's work, so the nomenclature has slipped through unnoticed. The "Lensmen" are expected to begin field trials within the next six months if everything goes as planned.
Though there are some indications that a psionic program may have existed under Stalin before being purged by Cherdenko, the Soviets have placed little importance on psionic powers and instead mostly researched countermeasures, such as insulated metal foil brain coverings and dissembly training. In particular, commissars have been receiving special training on countering psionic influence; there is an oft-repeated story that a political officer on the Siberian front has managed to drive at least two Japanese empaths insane by flooding their brain with a combination of mental propaganda and specially prepared tautologies.
Empire of the Rising SunEdit
After the disastrous incidents in the training and augmentation of Yuriko Omega, the Japanese decided to settle for less extreme results. Yoshiro also banned women from further psionic experimentation, in part due to his traditional values, and also out of fear that they would all turn out like Yuriko. Thus, serving alongside Yuriko in WW3 were a corp of all-male empaths whose skills gave the Japanese the strategic advantage they needed.
At age 15, all Japanese youth go through a screening test to find any traces of psionic potential. Those few deemed worth improving on then receive additional training throughout high school, combined with the surgery that provides the majority of their psionic enhancement. After they graduate, they were immediately conscripted into the Imperial military to maximize their utility, though this practice has ended with the end of the war.
To avoid risking their valuable psychics on the front lines, empaths were instead deployed to various amplifier stations scattered throughout areas that the Japanese occupied. From these stations, technological aids would be used to give the empaths the strategic range they needed to observe and effect the war.
These stations were very carefully hidden; over the course of the war, only three were ever positively identified, and two of these were immediately dismantled once the empaths within realized they were being observed. The third was approached too quickly to be fully dismantled, but was still partially destroyed by the time the Allies captured it.
Since the end of the war, the new Emperor has allowed empaths to resign from the military if they wish, though less than a quarter have done so. Most of these empaths have gone on to work for major corporations, who pay handsomely for a peek into the brains of their competitors. Conversely, the Emperor has once again sanctioned the recruitment of female potential psychics, to be trained in combat telekinesis in order to supplement Yuriko and minimize the need for the Empire to call on the unstable but powerful young woman.
Since the comfirmation that psionic powers had been encountered on the Pacific Front, there was a massive explosion of interest in psionic powers amoung the population, particularly in terms of the "New Age" spiritualism common to many in the hippy subculture. At the same time, a great many of these young people were experimenting with lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD.
During an LSD trip, a person's perception can become a riotous affair of spectacular colours and bizarre, otherworldly imagery. Many people report feeling as though they have access to great stores of information or powers they had no idea existed.
Of course, they would, considering LSD makes you a psychic.
It's not easy to tell the difference under the influence; most people coming out of a telekinetic trip blame their rearranged furniture on a particularly intense game of "The Floor is Made of Lava"; indeed, Dr. Albert Hofmann had no idea, though this is mostly due to the difficulty doing objective study while self-experimenting. However, as most members of the counterculture using this drug do so in groups, it quickly became apparent what was going on.
Many of those exploring rudimentary psionic powers found a sudden awakening of some of their psionic potential a fascinating experience, but very few bother to develop it beyond that. A dedicated few, however, had developed their skills beyond this, allowing themselves to access some of this power while sober, though it still has a tendency to manifest in slightly psychedelic fashion.
The most common of these powers is the ability to read auras as colourful halos of light or smoke around a person; other psychics turn up as indigo, for example. Many others have learned a degree of emotive telepathy that lets them piggyback off the brains of others to boost their telekinetic potential.
Of course, there is no organized method of investigating these phenomenon; it's all about self-discovery, man.