Gestalts: Enigmas of Combination Species in Ikwento & The Determinate Saga | World Anvil

Gestalts: Enigmas of Combination

"Forge with good measure and you will receive the same. Place love in that which you craft and it will be put into your lap."
— Excerpt from the Book of Barossa
  A species of sapient machinery, gestalts were invented by Aelish engineers sometime in the 18th Century. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and functions, but are distinct from creatures such as the golems of Pelaflor City due to their artificial nature and are unified by the possession of an atomheart. Gestalts are produced by a variety of sources such as independent atomheart mothers and fathers or corporations such as Carter Engineering Industries.   There are around twenty-five million gestalts in use by Aelayeron, with the rest of the world's nations not reaching a tenth of that even when combined. This is largely due to the isolationist nature of the country and its refusal to distribute key elements of their manufacturing process.  
Heavy tilted his head, staring at the two carts. They moved with a motion all their own, and a quick pulse of aura to his eyes confirmed that magic was indeed at work, yet the energy seemed to come from within. For minutes the steel man looked for any sort of conduit or magi, to no avail; by the time he gave up the larger of the carts had used its arm to scoop all of the rubble into the smaller one and rolled away from its partner.
With no options left, Heavy walked up to the lone cart. "Excuse me," he said from behind it.
The cart jerked at his words, letting out a sharp trill. It shuddered and sent its load of debris flying in a big cloud. All at once it seemed to separate, metal folding in on itself until what was a box on wheels had in seconds turned into a pair of legs almost as tall as Heavy. They turned and ran across the street with loud, clanging steps.
"How odd."
Namesake/Leitmotif: "Atom Heart Mother" by Pink Floyd     Namesake/Leitmotif: "New Look" by Gerhard Trede    
Milestone Gestalts
New Look: The first true gestalt, built in 1779 by Enga Padakis.   Powder Snow: The first transforming gestalt, produced by "Garfunkel & Sons" which would later be absorbed into Carter Engineering Industries.   Fox Boogie & Sports Boogie: The first transforming combiners, taking the forms of an eepos and snake which would merge to form a cart.   The Gentle Guys Combiners which were the first group containing more than two members. They would come together and form a large humanoid. Built by Tranquillo Simon, they were named "Fashion Fox," "Jazz Fast," and "City Heat."

History

  The first magically-powered autonomous machine was designed 1679 by Pelham Gillaniss, a Chionite artificer who sought to recreate the the steel men of Aelayeron. It was a copper doll around seventy-six centimeters, or thirty inches, in height and could only walk forward. Unlike conventional puppetry using aura, this doll could move without any external input from a mage. It would remain little more than an amusement due to a lack of practical use.   The late 18th Century would reignite interest in Gilaniss's moving doll as studies on the bodies of steel men would yield the creation of the first complex magical engine. Enga Padakis, a physicist studying the properties of aura, took one such engine and sought to compact the design. After five years of refinement, she succeeded. Her creation could walk, could understand, and most importantly: could think. Padakis dubbed the living machine a "gesalt," due to how a pile of metal was suddenly far more valuable when moving all together.  
The first true gestalt, like all others, held an innate sense of self. They would declare their name as "New Look," and possessed an intelligence akin to a young child. The machine would live a long and happy life, traveling across Aelayeron as a testament to humanity's ingenuity; a modern marvel that did not compare to things such as the wheel or gun, for here was a new form of life. However, upon reaching their 100th birthday, New Look immediately fell into a state of what could only be described as "fatigue" before powering down for the last time. No attempt to revive the machine succeeded and they were declared dead after half a year. New Look was entombed with their maker and rests in Konforo, Erentrille to this day.
   

Mass Production

  When Padakis created New Look, a patent system within Aelayeron had yet to be established, thus rendering the atomheart as a design free to the public. Within years hundreds of atomheart mothers and fathers would open up businesses to forge gestalts. This would lead to an industrial expansion the likes of which had never been seen. Aelayeron went from relying on hand production to mechanical production in less than twenty years.    

The Atomheart & Remergence Frame

 
 
The atomheart is the most crucial aspect of a gestalt. Acting as a sort of "programmable organ," it is what determines both intelligence and size. No matter how big, small, simple or complex a gestalt is built, its atomheart will measure between 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches). Likewise, the Remergence Frame prevents a gestalt from having any more than two physical forms.   An atomheart limits gestalts to be no smaller than 50 centimeters (about 19 inches) and no larger than 120 centimeters (about 47 inches). Likewise, intelligence is dictated by the size of the atomheart; larger gestalts being able to understand more complex tasks and concepts. There is a large misconception that the smallest of gestalts are no smarter than animals, but that is simply not the case; they can understand basic commands and communicate in simple words or phrases, much like a human child between one to three years in age. Larger models are likened to children betwen the ages of six or eight, with a small number reported as exhibiting the ability to communicate in full sentences and understand more abstract concepts such as the value of artistry or economic inflation. And combined gestalts display a level of intelligence beyond even that.   Gestalt intelligence has been the subject of endless debate in both the scientific and religious communities. A newly made gestalt has basic understanding of itself and the world around it, going so far as to name itself. One does not have to teach a gestalt how to transform nor how to communicate as it understands anything it hears. Many have argued this as proof there is an inherent force aside from "arcane energy" which denotes gestalts as living beings.   Opposingly, others rebuke these claims, instead saying that any personalities a gestalt might have are merely echoes of the creation process by an atomheart mother/father. Gestalts created by the same person tend to behave in similar ways, however subtle, and although a gestalt understands anything it hears, it still needs to learn how to communicate in other ways such as reading or writing; the common theory being that however a gestalt perceives its surroundings, it is not in the same way people or animals do.
 

Function & Body Styles

  Most gestalts are designed with the broader requirements of their industry and will simply be modified at an owner's discretion. For example, the field of infrastructure tends to require the largest and therefore most intelligent of the machines; a common sight being a team of gestalts supervised by one or two humans for the brunt of a building's construction. As of 1865, more than 70% of all gestalt models use a humanoid design for one of their body styles; not only is it versatile, but easy for an owner to understand and direct.   Depending on the profession, gestalts have been known to take a myriad of body styles. Those in the service industry such as personal or medical assistants will transform into objects such as wheeled chairs. Similarily, military models turn into barricades or carts to transport equipment or personnel.  

Combiners

 
In 1851, inventor Chalmers Flroakis would design a pair of gestalts with the express purpose to merge with one-another. Differing from simple mechanical attachments, this form of gestalt would link its consciousness to another, producing a being perfectly in sync with its new physical form. Going by many names, including "gestalt" funnily enough, this classification of the living machines would be coined as "combiners" by Mayor Judy Longwaters of Potancho, the name cementing itself into popular culture.   Combiners are a particularly useful model of gestalt as you essentially aquire a third or even fifth body style depending on how clever the atomheart mother/father is when designing them. Buyers will often commission gestalts to combine into a single vehicle rather than a humanoid as the power of a merged combiner is normally better-suited to simpler tasks such as hauling a great deal of material. Additionally, combiners tend to have an innate connection to one-another and can not only sense the general location of one-another, but stay combined whenever allowed.   Previously, it was believed that due to the mental strain to merge three minds, combiners could only be formed in pairs. However, Tranquillo Simon would later disprove this theory after producing the trio he dubbed the "Gentle Guys."   When combiners merge together, it is not a matter as simple as one of the individual gestalts assuming control of the main body, but the creation of a new consciousness entirely. The new personality has its own behavioural quirks and will even name itself. Its intelligence also grows to the point where many have been compared to adolescent or even adult humans.
 

Safety & Legislation

  Due to their need of greater supervision than the average human adult, business owners are required to register and obtain liscensing for any gestalts used at their place of work. Gestalts are meant to be inspected and checked to see if they're being treated ethically by their owners, although the latter varies between provinces.   Gestalts are one of the top ten largest cause of injury-related death in Aelayeron. Tom Summers became one of the first documented fatalities in 1801 in Pelaflor, Ouratki. There are now standard tests for safety in all Remergence Frame designs such as the "New Gestalt Assessment Program" founded in Tosenza.  

Costs & Benefits

  The costs of gestalt usage, which may include the cost of: aquiring the machine, repairs and maitenance, fuel, depreciation, work time, registration fees, taxes, and insurance, are weighed against alternatives such as hiring humans or more traditional machinery.   Similarly the costs to society of gestalt use may include; maintaining roads, land use, air pollution, noise pollution, road congestion, public health, health care, and of disposing of the machine at the end of its life. Societal benefits may include: economy benefits, such as job and wealth creation, of gestalt production and maintenance, transportation provision, societal wellbeing derived from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the tax opportunities.   Additionally, gestalts can be trusted not to steal, not to harm their employers or fellow workers; they will not shirk their assignments nor take their leisure to complete a task. To have a tool that will work both efficiently and with minimal supervision is something few will pass up on.  

Environmental Effects & Social Issues

  Gestalts are a major cause of urban air pollution, and to a lesser extent noise pollution, producing dust from both body and road wear. While there have been attempts to mitigate this such as the requirement of padded soles, these too eventually deteriorate with use. Various smaller branches of the Aelish Government use fiscal policies, such as atomheart tax, to discourage the purchase and use of more polluting gestalts; and many cities are doing the same with outright banning their usage in specified zones.   The lifetime of a gestalt, should it be properly maintained, is always at-maximum of 100 years to the minute of its activation. This is a hard limitation that has yet to be passed and has left atomheart mothers and fathers perplexed as to why it happens.   Mass production of personal and commercial gestalts in Aelayeron has had the consequence of removing a significant number of jobs across many skill levels in the economy. Coupled with the machines' lifespans being on-par or greater than the average human, this has left many to cry out for stricter regulations on gestalt usage. It's predicted that by the year 1900 the number of gestalts in-use will decrease to twenty-million should such restrictions increase.


Cover image: by Nincho | Ayonerra

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Author's Notes

Never forget that "Transformers: Armada" had the best theme song. Also, Mini Cons were probably the best idea the series ever had.


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