Biotechnology, or biotech, is a product of the rise of psionic powers among humanity. The concepts behind the technology derive from the psionic ability to recognize and manipulate the subquantum energy flowing through all living things. By directing these energies, psions can transform living matter into technological tools. Gifted from the Norca and Orgotek, in particular, can use their psionic capabilities to modify and control biotech to a degree even other psions envy.
Such devices can be used unto themselves, but they are often combined with conventional hardtech. However, biotech use is limited mostly to psions; the capability to use biotechnology beyond basic devices requires psi energy that only the Gifted possess and can control. Operating even basic bioware applications can exhaust the mind of a normal human. Trying to use advanced bioware has been known to drive normals insane or even kill them. Noeticists are researching biotechnology intensively in hopes of making all bioware available to everyone.
Bioware (of which individual devices are also known as "bioapps," or biological appliances) originates from enormous cultures of undifferentiated living cells, called matrices. Matrix cells are processed by large organic computers (referred to, simply enough, as "matrix computers"), which stimulate the cells to grow along a programmed template. This growth results in either a living structure that continues to grow and renew itself, or in a quasi-living structure that maintains some functions of life, but is really little more than a shape composed of living matter. The important distinction here, of course, is that bioware is a product of life, as opposed to hardtech, which is a product of mechanical processes.
As with all appliances, weapons, vehicles and other mechanical creations, maintenance and upkeep
are paramount to bioapps' continued function. Unlike hardtech, however, bioapps can require some unusual if not downright bizarre methods of maintenance. The simplest bioapp may require nothing more than occasional cleaning, while intricate devices may require the removal of excess cells, oiling to maintain surface cells, comfortable bedding or periodic immersions in nutrient baths — "feeding," as it were.
Living, self-renewing bioapps used in toxic or highly radioactive environments (unprotected space,
the colonies, or Bahrain) must be scanned regularly, either by a competent noetic technician or by bioware designed for such maintenance. Cellular mutations may develop that interfere with the devices' functions. In fact, It's not unusual for bioapps to develop forms of cancer after exposure to a hostile environment If such afflictions are detected early, the mutations are generally easy to excise or repair.
Each piece of bioware possesses its own psionic field. The bioapp resonates with a low-level psi aura related to its component materials. A psion manipulates this field to activate a device. Bioapps with weak fields can be used by normal people, as everyone resonates with at least some degree of psionic energy, even if it's not enough to possess telekinesis or to read minds.
Bioapps are one of two types: formatted or unformatted. Unformatted bioapps perform only limited functions. Normal people can use these devices without suffering mental burnout.
Formatting a bioapp is usually accomplished by injecting a small amount of a psion's genetic coding into the device. Various enzymes contained in the central matrix break down the gene, absorbing the DNA groups that are instrumental to psi activity. Those groups are then integrated into the bioware's own DNA, which alters the device's psionic field to resonate in sequence with the psion's own emissions. This synergy creates a link between the psion and the bioapp, allowing him to operate it. Some devices can be formatted to be used by multiple psions; each person simply introduces a DNA sample