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Clatterjacks (Under Review)
“A knife does not feel sad when it is not cutting. What fool would design a tool that feels misery in inaction? Machines are not like people. They are built to have a function but they should not feel about that function. A warjack who loves war is a danger to peace.”
– Isaac Omara, First Rank Mechanist of Selene
Also known as: Comm.-Jacks, Clatterjacks, Clankers, Svert.-Konaet, Lux.-Karetao, Muj.-Kikae, Oss.-Automata
One of the most incredible demonstrations of the advanced nature of the Urul Imperium, Clatterjacks are Helion powered thinking machines housed in indomitable bodies of steel, crystal, and vitrum. These automatons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and capacities; durable labourjacks, deadly battlejacks, ghostly nimblejacks, and wise brainjacks.
The term Clatterjack derives from the generally noisy nature of the most common variants; labour and battlejacks. Clatterjacks are self operating machines, typically humanoid in form and designed for a variety of purposes. At their most basic a Clatterjack is an alloyed skeletal structure (also called a chassis) fitted with a myofibre musculature, a suite of sensory instruments known as a sensorum and powered by fitted Helion carefully aligned in a complex Helion harness. Additional enhancements can range from integrated armaments to advanced toolsets, or decorative shells. Each Clatterjack is controlled by an Artilect or Artificial Intellect also housed in the Helion and the intelligence of a given Artilect can vary significantly. Some special Clatterjack known as Heliar even demonstrate independence of thought and action, though they are rare and the circumstances of their creation remain unclear.
Selenian Artilect Classifications
|Class||Intellect Level||Abbreviation||Notes||Helion Req|
|I||Drudge / Daft||I-0-D||Simple, sub-human, capable of obeying simple and direct commands but lacking personality, empathy and creativity. Akin to a well-trained domestic animal.||1|
|II||Sub-Average / Inept||II-SA||Simple and obedient, but also possessing a personality and memory above Class I. Still requires commands but more adept at fulfilling spirit of command.||2|
|III||Average / Intelligent||III-A||Average human intelligence. Sometimes imbued with personality. Long term memory and modest creativity. Still inclined towards service.||4|
|IV||Genius||IV-G||Genius level intellect, eidetic memory, distinct personality, creative and possessed of full comprehension of known lore. Capable of fully independent action or subservience as required and driven to fulfill fundamental directives instilled during creation. Typically specialized for a single purpose.||8|
|V||Trans-sophont / Singular||V-TS||Posessing an advanced and specialized brilliance. The Helion requirements for this level of intelligence often make this class of Artilect stationary, and always well hidden or guarded. Theoretical limits of intelligence approach Ayr levels. Created by IV Class Artilects.||16|
|X||Heliar||X||Heliar demonstrate ranges of intellect but are fully possessed of their own volition and will, making them independent of human control. This particular class is exceedingly rare and can be considered a modifier of other classes||1|
The bodily template and construction of Clatterjacks can vary significantly and while the majority are humanoid in appearance (though often much larger than a typical human) there are also many examples of non-humanoid designs.
Selenian Clatterjack Chassis Classification
|A – Alpha/Ono||Small chassis, 1.5 meters or smaller, typically non-humanoid in shape. This class of chassis is fragile but dextrous.|
|B – Beta/Human||A medium sized chassis, 1.6 meters to 2.5 meters. A relatively uncommon chassis that offers a good balance between various aspects.|
|G – Gamma/Tollam||A large sized chassis, 2.5 meters to 3.5 meters. A durable and well engineered chassis type commonly used by both labourjacks and battlejacks.|
|D – Delta/Titan||The largest chassis size, 3.5 to 5.5 meters. An exceedingly rare chassis used almost exclusively for warjacks.|
|E – Epsilon/Whisper||An advanced variant of the Class B chassis that builds on the success of that model.|
|Z – Zeta/Aerial||These small chassis are flight capable via a charged zetherium core|
Beyond the southern city of Selene Clatterjacks are rare and highly valued for their durability, strength, inexhaustible supply of superhuman labour, potential defensive use, and the general prestige that comes with controlling one. The rarity of Clatterjacks is driven by two factors; their incredible complexity which requires a particularly gifted tinker or mechanist to replicate, and the rarity of Helion which is used to both to power and control them. Without Helion a Clatterjack is essentially a complex statue. These all contribute to the high valuation of operational units and the tendency for such units to be owned only by the particularly wealthy or powerful.
While Jacks in varying degrees of repair can be found across Aeldos, the greatest density of well maintained and functional Clatterjacks can be found in Selene where they provide significant labour to keep the city running and its inhabitants comfortable. Selenian Clatterjacks have proven to be intrinsically linked to the city itself and any unit taken a significant distance from Selene rapidly looses higher logical functionality.
The complexity of Clatterjacks requires highly specialized knowledge, training and tools. Due to their extensive integration into the Selenian economy and military, the need for maintenance of the existing jacks is integral to the defense and operation of the city. For centuries a singular group has been responsible for this activity; the Mechanics. Alternately known as Mechanists, each member of this order undertake years of tutelage at the Academy of Selene and the Library of Cogs before being able to work on the automata of Selene. Gaining entry to this order is no small feat. Not only does it require a keen intellect, steady hands, and demonstrated excellence, students are also expected to devote themselves spiritually to Selene and its wonders. Mechanists live lives that are closer to those of monks and priests than smiths, spending their days studying the luminars and texts of the Library of Cogs, meditating in the temple of the Craftsmen, and performing maintenance rituals and consecrations on the Clatterjacks and machinery of Selene.
- Active mechanics are restricted from marrying or bearing children.
- So valuable is the knowledge of the Mechanics that they cannot leave the city without permission from the Lady and are often accompanied by Sentinels when doing so.
- Master Mechanics are each assigned a singular Clatterjack as their charge and responsibility. Each Master Mechanic may have a half dozen apprentices.
- Apprentice Mechanics are given the more laborious tasks of maintaining integral infrastructure and first age tech within Selene
When dormant or under maintenance most Clatterjacks reside in specially designed arches. These arches are built both to enable synchronization and deconstruction of the Jacks to enable maintenance.
Clatterjacks perceive the world through a unified set of components called a Sensorum which aggregate signals from a variety of sensory subsystems and render them in a format interpretable to the harnessed Helion that drives the machine. The data generated by a Sensorum is then augmented by the active sensing capacity intrinsic to all mounted Helion; an ambient emission of typically short-range and imperceptible energy waves that map the Clatterjack’s body and nearby external environment, granting kinesthestic, proprioceptive, and equilibrioceptive sense. Note that though Clatterjacks do not typically possess a sense of tactition or mechanireception equivalent to humans (their exteriors generally lack such sensors), they are aware of the act of touching, being touched, and damage to self via the active sensing mechanism. Clatterjacks do not experience pain.
Sensorum can vary significantly in quality and capability and are typically classified as either Basic, Standard, Advanced, or Apex, with Basic being the minimum needed for regular operation and each more advanced variant integrating more robust capabilities.
Basic: A combination of one or more vitrum lensed camera that capture a three dimensional representation of the external world (roughly replicating human vision capabilities) paired with an audition system that translates sound and a chemical olfaction array granting a sense of “smell”. The Basic Sensorum allows the Clatterjack to perceive the physical world around them at a level of detail roughly analagous to the average human.
Standard: A Sensorum that enhances the Basic component with additional light ranging components, which can function in both narrow and broad configurations, and thermoceptors augmenting this additional sensory data with higher resolution internal representation, granting a more detailed and robust perception to the Clatterjack. The Standard Sensorum allows the Clatterjack to perceive the physical world around them at a level of detail roughly analagous to the above average human.
Advanced: A Sensorum that refines Standard functionality with arrays of better parfocal Vitrum lenses with variable focal lengths, higher sensitivity audition systems, and additional light ranging emitters, and adds additional electromagnetic ranging and thermography components. The Advanced Sensorum allows the Clatterjack to perceive the physical world around them at an incredible level of detail.
Apex: The most sophisticated set of perceptual mechanisms available to a Clatterjack without direct augmentation of the Helion sensing system, the Apex Sensorum adds a rare array of components that act as a Hyperspectral imaging system granting the Clatterjack perception of the world in perfect detail.
Each Clatterjack is designed for a distinct purpose. Potential purposes include labour, combat, industrial production, entertainment, emergency services. The following are a list of known types of Clatterjack
These jacks are typically tiny, often designed to mimic small animals such as snakes, cats, dogs, etc, and relatively delicate, designed for entertainment more than anything else. The Toyjack harness is too small to house an Artilect above a Class I and most are incapable of anything beyond simple direction. Operational Toyjacks outside of Selene can be found exclusively in the hands of the exceedingly wealthy; the value of the sliver of Helion used to drive such a toy is enough to sustain a family for a lifetime.
Commonly found beyond the walls of Selene, Junkjacks are typically labour or battle jacks that have been rebuilt using salvage or cruder materials such as Iron or Wood. Junkjacks are rarely fully operational due to the many repairs, replaced parts, and work-around’s that are necessity to keep them operational. Most Junkjack harnesses are crude or damaged enough that units are limited to Class II Intellect.
The most common form of jack in general, Labourjacks are robust, durable, and designed for easy maintenance and modification. This allows them to serve a variety of roles, from general drudgery and haulage to construction, manufacturing, and fire suppression. Labourjack harnesses are complex enough to house classes I-IV or X Artilect.
Designed to protect and support humans in combat, Battlejacks are built to be durable, adaptive, and deadly. Because they are intended to operate alongside human troops they are often much smaller than Warjacks and wield close quarters rather than ranged tactical or strategic weapons. All Battlejacks require a class II-IV Artilect to be effective in combat. There are only a handful of Battlejacks operating beyond Selene.
Also known as Whisperjacks or Shadowjacks, these units are almost entirely vanished in the fourth age. They were designed for speed, grace, and silent operation, to act as assassins, spies, and messengers. Some stories speak of advanced models equipped with lightcasting or cloaking units that further enhanced their capacity for stealth, while other stories suggest smaller designs, built to emulate stealthy creatures such as cats, weasels, and ravens. Unfortunately the same design decisions that made them adept at these roles made them far more complex and far less robust than their brethren. The rarity of their components and the difficulty of their manufacture makes their maintenance costly.
Equipped with enormous and devastating ranged weaponry, prodigious strength, nigh impenetrable defenses, and advanced tactical awareness, a single Warjack can reduce an army of humans to their constituent parts within minutes. Warjacks are not designed to operate alongside humans, they are designed to replace them. There are only three known and operational Warjacks in Aeldos; the Three Sisters of Selene who have guarded the Silent City against its enemies for millennia. The last time they awoke it was to destroy two full Ossandrian Legions in the course of an afternoon. The Sisters each possess class IV Artilects. Warjacks represent the pinnacle of fourth era martial technology and most rulers dream of the recovery of even a non-operational unit.
The rarest of all fourth age automatons, Brainjacks are almost entirely represented by the stationary units built into structures such as those found in Selene. Three examples are Intos the Librarian, Aceso the Surgeon, and Ifanthis the Weaver, all found in service to Selene. Historical documents refer to mobile Brainjacks whose bodies were large tripeds and who acted as advisors, walking libraries and lorekeepers but there are no examples that have survived to the fourth age. Brainjacks are always equipped with class IV or V Artilects, hence the name.
Jacks capable of flight using charged zetherium, there appear to be have been two fundamental design philosophies behind such creations; mimicry of organic avians or geometrically aerodynamic abstract shapes. Regardless of construction, their purpose was common; to act as scouts, surveyors, interceptors and attack units. As with the Nimblejacks, this type of Jack has vanished almost entirely.
The immense power of the Clatterjack enables them to bear extremely heavy armour and wield a variety of large or powered weapons or tools beyond the reach of Humans and even most Tollam. The following are a list of examples.
|Piston||A pneumatic piston which is capable of pounding rock into dust, or people into paste.|
|Grinder||A tool composed of multiple rotating surfaces with spikes, typically used to grind rock and ore but even more effective on bone.|
|Drill||A driving tool for drilling holes in wood, metal, rock, or unfortunate enemies.|
|Discblade||A circular saw. Typically used for processing lumber but modified versions can survive sustained use in combat.|
|Claws||Heavy steel blades built into the hands or knuckles.|
|Chains||A heavy metal chain used for attaching the Clatterjack to loads for hauling. These can be turned into deadly sweeping weapons.|
|Meteor Fist||The Clatterjack’s clench fist extends from the arm on a heavy chain and can be wielded like a wrecking ball.|
|Melter||A device for melting ores and mending metals that produces a gout of intense flame. Sustained use can melt heavy plate armour in less than a minute.|
|Flamethower||A modified melter which produces a lower heat but can operate for longer periods of time and with less collateral damage.|
|Mag Arc||A device for manipulating Orick which allows the Clatterjack to produce a powerful surge of electricity. Deadly when used against people.|
|Folding Weapon – Blade||A built in blade which extends from the forearm or palm of the clatterjack|
|Mass Shield||A collapsing or standard shield built from extremely dense and heavy materials. Typically between 2-3m tall and capable of absorbing or deflecting most attacks.|
|Longonn||The barrel of this weapon produces a powerful magnetic charge which propels specially alloyed ammunition at hypersonic speeds.|
|Thunderer||A deadly heavy firearm that launches 2-8kg bullets capable of bringing down walls and shattering shield formations. Capable of indirect fire.|
|Mighty Thunderer||A massive thunderer capable of launching 15kg explosive shells. Some variants are rumoured to be able to track targets after firing.|
|Hailfire Thunderer||The Hailfire Thunderer is capable of firing a sustained barrages of multiple projectiles.|