At Spin Two Swords
Psionics in the Third Empire
Current attitudes towards psionics in the Third Empire are based off current prejudices and previous conflicts within the empire resulting from a psionically charged minor rebellion against a group of psions known as the Mind’s Eye, or Minders for short.
Psionics are controlled by the Third Empire through registration: all psionic humans or humans suspected of being psionic by a testing organization are required to register the human officially. Not registering one’s psionic powers is a criminal offense and is dealt with stiffly, as is allowing a psionic human to escape registration, either by not reporting the psionic human or by helping them to escape registration.
The reason for these stringent regulations have to do with a three century old quashed Minder’s rebellion. The war marked the nearly successful attempt by psionic humans, backed by alien empires and five decades of planning, to control human fate in an uplift war for mankind. The rogue Psions were put down but not before the threat they posed to non-psionic humanity became obvious to imperial authorities and policy makers. To prevent further rebellions, the Third Imperium instituted practices to control psionics.
They could not, however, wipe out the psionic strain in humanity altogether for diplomatic reasons and for obvious logistical reasons. First, whatever action the Third Imperium attempted, they could not control the use of psions outside their borders, or inside their borders regarding races for whom psionics were common or even ubiquitous. One could not persecute psions within the realm of Imperial space and continue friendly relations with the Zhodani, for instance. Moreover, if alien races had their Psions, it behooved the Imperium to have their own in order to counter psychic influence. Psions were needed, but specifically in the realm of diplomatic service.
Secondly, as no one is as adept as Psions at finding other Psions, the continued existence of Psions became necessary to help insure that another rebellion would not come to fruition. Thus, the Third Imperium put into place edicts which allowed Psions working in Imperial service to continue their use of psionic powers. Institutions were set up for their training (though they are very few), and agencies were created directly related to psionic indoctrination. These colleges and agencies are suffused with Imperial propaganda. Their goal is to create conservative and loyal psionic attaches.
The exception to this conservative approach seems to be in the Alienist service. Psions dealing with other alien empires and cultures tend to do poorly if they follow party line too stringently. Unfortunately, Psions in the foreign services do not tend to do well when reintegrated into Imperial society.
Probably because of political indoctrination, the Third Imperium has the highest rate of insanity and suicide amongst its active psion population. The rates for mental disease are through the roof for controlled psions and are probably even higher among its unregistered psions.
For those humans who develop psionics and who are either rejected for psionic service or who do not wish to pursue psionic service, the options are few. At the extreme is psionic amputation which is akin to a chemical lobotomy. The capacity for psionic power is removed. Side effects of the process vary widely. Many Psionic amputees lead well-adjusted successful lives thereafter. Most suffer a personality shift as part of who they are is suddenly missing from them. A minority suffer severe mental degradation or even catatonia.
Option B is to take psion inhibiting drugs that prevent the buildup of psionic energy. The drugs are generally safe and are subsidized by the Third Imperium itself. The Psi-off shot has a three month effect and is available at all Imperial Hospitals. A form of the drug is also used in anti-Psion dart guns by law enforcement.
The life of a controlled Psion is one of constant monitoring. A record of his or her existence is kept by local law enforcement and is, generally, made available to the public. Either through directories or through an internet search on planets with appropriate TL levels. A Controlled Psion can be stopped, at any time, by local law enforcement and asked for proof of amputation or for schedule of Psi-off treatment. If law enforcement has any reason to believe that the Psion is off his or her meds, they can administer an on-site blood test or take the Psion down to the station for a urine analysis. A controlled Psion will be tested as part of customs when entering or leaving the planet.
These laws and governances are specifically for anomalous Psion species and not native psion species. The former category includes humaniti, the second category is composed of every other alien which can develop psionics. Philosophically, when a Hiver becomes a Psion, the Imperium assumes that it is a natural evolutionary progression. When humans become Psions, it’s a mutation, a fluke of nature, and something that should be treated with caution.
The Reach of the Imperium
Surveillance is only as good as the monitors, and none of the empires has any time watching every location within the realm. The stronger the presence of the Imperium, the less chance a Psion has of leading a normal uninterrupted life. Local prejudices may interfere still, but a Psion on some dustbowl planet out off the rim isn’t likely to find a place that will administer the Psi-off shot much less the enforcers that will make sure he takes his medicine.
Unbeknownst to the Imperium, a number of monastic orders have actually accepted the premise that human beings are evolving into a psionic species. Many of these orders train psions in the use of their power, and also in techniques of escaping imperial notice. Some require proof of conversion to their cause, others consider it a sacred duty to train all-comers. Because of the pressure put on them by the Imperium, these orders can be difficult to approach for this service, and some may be controlled by foreign empires (especially the Zhodani).
Strangely, because of the crossover in their beliefs. Psion monastic orders are often aided by Robot religious orders—both believe themselves to be the natural progression of human evolution and both have reason to want to keep hidden from the imperium. This is odd because it was the introduction of this religion that allowed robots to help turn the tide in the Minder’s Rebellion. What was once a great tool of the Imperium has, after three centuries, given its oppressed a reason to band up.
The Mind’s Eye did not incite rebellion simply as an attempt to overthrow the Third Imperium. Most of its leaders had prominent positions within the central government. The group was attempting to enlighten the human race.
Many believe that this attempt had a purpose. The Minders, using their precognition, saw disaster looming on the horizon and sought diversion from the current path of humanity. What this disaster entailed died with the rebellion. According to imperial precogs, no such disaster is imminent any longer (if it ever really was).
When the Minders were still in operation, however, this disaster was their driving goal, and its search and prevention has lived on beyond the lifespan of the rebellion in secret Psion societies who cast not only through space but in time and across the dimensions, seeking out threats which might, ultimately, take their toll on all of the human race.