AKA: Neuro-Invasive Emergent-Supported Muscle and Reflex enhancement, Invasive MRE, iMRE)
This extensive (and prohibitively expensive) cybernetic implant involves weaving smart carbon nano-fibers throughout the body’s musculature, and platforming a slave AI to control the contraction and movement of the fibers. In effect this allows a platformed AI to control your movements when the mod is switched on. Although the AI, it must be noted, does not possess communications modules (ie speech, digital comms, tactics etc) as it is usually a narrow AI programmed to enhance reflexes and movement only. It often, however, possesses a very large ‘vocabulary’ of movement, such as deadly Hand to Hand combat techniques, or procedure for rolling away unharmed from a five story fall. Leaving the AI’s learning networks switched on also means that by training yourself in say martial arts or climbing, the AI will also learn the movement and will be able to help you by engaging learnt procedures when needed.
The nanofibers are a standard enhancement component, granting increased strength and resilience, but usually, they are woven locally and controlled by your own nervous system. In the case of the Loverboy system, the fibers are woven through the entire body and have an additional connection to an AI.
platformed AIs are usually connected into the conscious part of the mind only, so that its effects can be consciously controlled. But in the case of the Loverboy, the AI is ALSO connected at the brainstem for reflex enhancement in survival situation when the lower brain bristles with activity.
The actual fibers can be installed in two different ways.
(1)In the first method, often called ‘Standard Loverboy’ or ‘First gen Loverboy’ the fibers are virally grown using smart germs. By injecting the subject with doses of smart constructor virus called virucules (nanites by any other name), the fibers are stranded and woven in situs within the patient’s muscle while the subject is conscious. The fiber bundles are then surgically connected to the AI module (which looks like an inch-wide titanium pebble, located in the lower brain) through a fairly easy micro surgery. The connection between the AI and the fibers is created by adding microwires to each muscle group for fiber activation. The last part of the process involves connecting the AI to the brain, and is always carried out by a professional neuro-cybernetics expert. Once both the conscious and reflexive connections are made, then the upgrade is complete.
The problems with this method are many, however.
Firstly, the fibers will put incredible strain on the bones. It is often the case that the patient may break his own bones if he forces the fibres past their recommended limits. Needless to say, this is rather undesirable.
The control wires are also very problematic. Firstly, movement will bend and flex the wires, and, while threaded through the body, they can cause significant pain besides the existing disconfort of losing control of your own body. Indeed, since your nervous system remains connected to the muscles, the AI’s instruction on the connection cables can directly contradict your own, with jarring effects as the nanofibers force your muscles against their will. Although this is not so bad and would only result in a strain when cycling a bike or jogging, in a relfex situation, most people tear their muscles apart straining against the fibers, even if the fibers keep them going afterwards. (although ironically this feature can be actively used to willingly build up biological muscle mass by having a certain resistance to your movement, in effect carrying workout weights wherever you wish).
Secondly the control wires (which must reach the AI module in the brain) become rather bulky by the time they arrive at the neck, effectively being the size of an additional carotid artery snaking its way in front of the spinal column. This can cause problems in smaller individuals with swallowing, breathing, etc. Although most learn to live with the disconfort (they don’t usually have a choice).
Since this is a cheaper and shorter method than the second one, it is often the case that the AI was not designed with the proper care needed for such an augmentation. This can result in a whole plethora of problems. Muscle twitching being the least of your worries. Since the virucules have attached themselves to all muscles (including cardiac) your life is at the mercy of the AI engineers. If the AI messes up, you’re in really deep.
(2)The second option (called ‘Second Gen Loverboy’ or ‘full Loverboy’) is rarer still, and is so expensive that few corporations, let alone individuals, can actually afford it. However, it does not suffer from the same fallacies as the standard method. It does, however involves possibly the most invasive surgery considered in biomodification technologies.
First, the bones of the body are strengthened by painful (downright excruciating in fact) intra-skeletal injections of virucules over the course of two month. Then, the subject is literally flayed alive, removing the skin over most of his body (while unconscious, of course). The muscle groups of the body including heart/breathing muscles/non-voluntary groups (The face is often done too, as teeth can be an incredible survival weapon) are then surgically removed in an operation which requires several hours with an extremely advanced autosurgeon with microsurgery capacity.
The muscle groups are then replaced by customized, pre-prepared, pre-packaged artificial muscle, constructed out of the carbon nanofibers. This is difficult indeed, as the fake muscles need to be reattached correctly to the strengthened bones, as well as to the circulatory system. The patient’s own nerves are then re-attached to the fully artificial muscles. The second most delicate part of the operation is then carried out, which is to inject virucules at the base of the neck into the spinal cord. These virucules will then spread along the natural nerve fibers going to each muscle in the body, reinforcing them mechanically against damage, while improving their speed and reaction times (the treatment can be carried out on its own and yield very effective results). The risk involved with this treatment, however, is corrupted virucules, which can lead to extensive brain stem damage, and is the most expensive process in the surgery after the development of the AI, since the virucules need to be manufactured to the highest standard as well as being manufactured to be compatible with the host’s body.
(muscle and bone reinforcement virucules used above do not need this attention, and a standard virucule pattern can be used for all individuals. if a virucule is corrupted, then a small amount of the muscle tissue is either ineffective, or scarred, which does not affect the effectiveness of the muscle group as a whole, but if this happens in your spinal cord, you risk immobility)
while the virucules are taking effect (the process takes a couple of days) the skin is reconnected to the body.
Once the skin is healed and the virucules have taken effect, the patient is awakened to evaluate his mental faculties and check for any sign of brain stem damage through a long series of tests. This part of the procedure often lasts as long as a month, during which the AI is refined outside the body to work in conjunction with the patient’s particular neural network and existing neural implants, as well as his particular brain chemistry.
Once the patient is given the all-clear, the final and most complicated part of the procedure is then carried out. The AI, physically located in a similar pebble to the first procedure, is inserted inside the skull and interfaced with the brain stem and the higher cognitive areas. The difference with the previous procedure is that the AI module is now not an external module, but a tightly integrated part of the brain, such as Broca’s or Wernicke’s areas. The signals from the AI now travel through the body’s own nerves (suitably modified) rather than through a peripheral network, as previously. Once this is complete, the patient is then in possession of what is colloquially known as a "full loverboy".
As can be expected, most often this procedure is not carried out on its own. The individual will often have sub-dermal armour and force field projectors grafted while the skin is removed, as well as various other augmentations. Since the fibers can be designed to be chemically driven using the patient’s circulatory system (ie Blood) OR to be powercell driven, One could envisage a drastic redesign of the internal body, removing the blood vessels to the majority of the body and replacing them instead with connections to an implanted long life powercell (perhaps recharged chemically through digestion?) so that an enormous burst of energy can be supplied to the fibers in a very short time rather than using the trickling supply of blood. This has many benefits, since the rate work done by the augmentation is no longer limited by the speed of circulation, although as of today, such an extensive procedure has never been carried out.
As can be imagined, the enormous cost of this procedure compared to the ‘standard Loverboy’ results in this augmentation regimen not suffering from the drawbacks of the cheaper version, as well as resulting in a much greater control over the augmentation. The added benefit of replacing ALL the muscle tissue is that the fiber density is much greater, so forces and speed can be achieved wich would have been impossible with the previous regimen.
BENEFITS OF THE ‘LOVERBOY’
The first thing which will come to mind with the Loverboy is the incredible strength it grants to its host. This can allow the individual to wear extremely heavy subdermal armour with impunity, as well as support heavy modifications and still move normally.
However, what most people don’t realise is that the strength could be easily (and far more cheaply!) granted with simple muscle augmentation. The beauty of the Loverboy is the platformed AI. This allows a separate entity to control muscle micro management. In effect, the user can delegate its movement to the AI. In a combat situation, this allows the user to use simple intuitive thoughts regarding movement. For example, by simply willing your gun to track a target accurately, it does! This improves accuracy twenty or thirty-fold. Another example is when being fired upon. The brain can simply recognize the sources of fire and let the Loverboy deal with evasive action, while the mind concentrates on the tactical strategy ahead. this leads to gargantuan casualty reduction in combat situation.
The effects of having a narrow AI handle movement rather than a complex program can be overlooked quite easily. Particularly, since the AI is housed in a nearly indestructible casing, few things would stop it controlling the host body. This means that a soldier could die from a bullet in the head and still be capable of killing you hand-to-hand from learned reflexes. (breathing and heartbeat is co-controlled by the AI, remember), and although the AI cannot think for itself, anything the host could do reflexively is possible. (which is how this modification gathered its nickname, but more on that later). This means that if the host defines a program of action before falling unconscious, then the AI can carry it out to the letter. This program can be defined explicitly:"if I fall unconscious during the brawl, run to window and jump through", or can be the result of an intention only:"I’m falling off this cliff. Oooops. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could grab something on the way down so that I don’t get crushed to death when I get to the bottom.".
In effect, the loverboy mod can act as a sort of dumb auto-pilot for the body, in case the mind cannot or does not wish to take active control. This, however, remains a formidable force to be reckoned with, especially if the ‘dumb’ autopilot has accurately recorded 10378 ways to kill a man with the host’s bare hands, and can move the body fast enough to get out of the line of fire during the time in between trigger pull and round impact.
The relationship between the Host and the AI can only be described as symbiotic. Even if the language of the AI is instinct, reflexes and brain chemicals, it remains a highly complex addition, which has often been described as "seeing an unknown color", or having a new limb. The module allows the host to define new movement subroutine, called engraving. This is done either by consciously activating a record function (two to three reps is enough to engrave), or by carrying out a particular action again and again, which will engage the AI’s learning circuits. (about 100 reps should do it). This is why recently wired individual can often be seen practising what would be considered basic drills for their trade. For example, combat operative will practise weapon drills or marching step of different armies for a while to reproduce it later on with perfection so that they can infiltrate the enemy unnoticed. Astronauts will drill themselves underwater for evacuation procedures, while critical system engineers will train with mockups so that they can instinctively repair all machinery under any condition.
The complexity of this system allows the host to create subroutines of actions (eg: move hand up+down to brush teeth/move hand side to side) and combine them to create veritable action programs (eg: move hand up+down AND side2side FOR two minutes THEN rotate brush 90 degrees, THEN move hand back and forth FOR one minute, etc…)which allows them to minimise thinking time in a critical situation, for example a complex weapon system which needs a given procedure to load/unload/clean.
Interestingly, the AI could be loaded externally with these procedures, giving an instantaneous ‘skill download’, but Modifications engineers almost never connect it to any external system other than the brain, fearing risks of corruption through virus or incompetent programming.
DRAWBACKS OF THE ‘LOVERBOY’
As any such augmentation, the Loverboy is not perfect and has many general drawbacks.
Firstly, like all such augmentation, the addition of a such a large foreign body inside the skull inevitably leads to chronic headaches and migraine, sometimes to the point where they become debilitating. This is why prospective candidates are very carefully screened for pain resistance and genetic predisposition to substance addiction, since if the host needs painkillers to deal with the pain, he would very quickly develop an addiction. This is however a practical matter only, and can be remedied rather well by conditioning and focused meditation.
A tragic side effect of the Loverboy is that a lot of the early patients developed sleepwalking after being augmented. This is because the AI is still tapped to the brain while the host is unconscious, and, because it is DESIGNED to take control in case of loss of consciousness, it will react to the dreams of the host and take appropriate action. In a terrible tragedy, while the second generation was only being tested, a recently augmented operative stood up in the middle of the night in a training facility, picked up his bayonet, and proceeded to slaughter an entire platoon of his comrades while asleep and suffering from a nightmare. Upon waking up alive and realising what had happened, he turned his sidearm upon himself and took his own life. Since then, the Modification carries an internal buffer which prevents imagined or dreamt events from being taken at face value, and it has proved completely reliable since.
A more mundane drawback is the telltale dull silver glimmer present in all tendons and ligaments which lay close to the skin. In bright light, the neck muscles, for example, can be seen to be modified if one looks carefully. This, as can be imagined, is a much greater problem with the full Loverboy, and has recently resulted in the surgeon wrapping the artificial muscles in skin colored membranes.
The name was then forever linked with this suite of biomodification by the request of Marine lance-corporal Sacha ‘Horny’ Barbaux. A model special operative, veteran of a numerous, but classified, number of campaign, an scheduled for the augmentation, he quietly asked his surgeon for a small but private augmentation. The exact wording was not recorded for prosperity, but the gist of his request was wether the nanofilaments could be grafted into his…hum…private parts. The surgeon found this quite amusing and saw no reason not to check with the chain of command if this would be OK, and so he did. After much deliberations regarding "resources well spent", the command grudgingly agreed to grant his request on the grounds that he was possibly one of their best operatives, and that these untold hours risking his life were worth this small but significant reward. He (and his many partners) reports being extremely pleased with with the results. To anybody’s knowledge, this is a unique case, but, considering the speed at which rumours spread in these tight circles (especially rumors such as that) its uniqueness may not remain for long.
When the Liberty special forces medical research and development teams needed to rebuild man, they didn’t do it by halves. The result? A suite of augmentation so pervasive, that most modified operatives are more effective on their own than half of the Liberty marines put together.
AKA: Neuro-Invasive Emergent-Supported Muscle and Reflex enhancement, Invasive MRE, iMRE)