Atrophic Obsolescence Condition in Night City | World Anvil
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Atrophic Obsolescence

In the time of the Red, when planned obsolescence goes wrong, it could prove deadly.

  So. You're the proud owner of two shiny Cyberlegs. You've got a new optic installed, and sprung for some cosmetic chroming for good measure. Obviously, you want to keep your parts functioning for as long as possible. That chrome ain't cheap after all, and having all your body parts in good working condition is not just ideal, it's essential. Maintenance is so inconvenient, though! It takes time, eddies, and your Ripperdoc probably smells weird.

  Well, don't worry choomba, your manufacturer has you covered!

  Introduced two build generations ago, nanomachines now handle all the heavy lifting automatically, no user-action required. Programmed to automatically detect when even the smallest maintenance is needed, these little fellas are hard at work on your system around the clock, and they're so efficient, you'll never even know they're there!*

  Is it magic? Not at all. Nanomachines have very little capacity for instructions and run on what is actually very basic code. In layman's terms, there's the prime directive, ie. repairs, that is built to run checks against an installed template, that is, what any given Cyberpart should look like in pristine condition. What the manual won't tell you, is that they are hard-coded to shut down after roughly 1,000,000 deployments, no matter the magnitude of repairs performed. This is their secondary directive. When the limit is reached, rather than installing a killswitch, their template gets overwritten meaning they will no longer recognize the system they're working in and cease functioning automatically. Your part won't shut down straight away, but it will need replacing, and soon. As luck would have it, a new model in your line has definitely just been released. What a great coincidence!

  One of the dirtiest tricks of capitalism, planned obsolescence is a known quantity, and people have accepted it. However, when applied to Cyberlimbs, things could get... glitchy. There is a 1.42% chance that, instead of shutting down as per directive, the nanomachines will (if some rare and unknown conditions are met) cycle back to prime directive but now without the correct template. At which point, they start aiming for the closest thing that matches, meaning the organic parts around the limb - and seeing how human tissue is indeed technically not functioning Cyberware, the machines will get right to work patching you up. This means a steady conversion of organic matter to inorganic. Don't think that this is an easy shortcut to "borg'ing up" - if allowed to spread, this will kill you.

This has never been caught in QA testing, so low are the odds, but the first cases have started appearing on the streets.

  Due to the mindlessly aggressive nature of single/mono-directive nanomachines, this atrophy can spread to others under the right conditions. Infections can happen across either brand or type of limb, essentially anything that shares the same base code, as faulty machines will overwrite non-faulty ones. The mechanism behind it is not at all understood, no conclusive triggers have been found, and no one has managed to link this to a manufacturing issue yet. All that's known for sure right now, is the potential for a full-on Cyber-plague. One ballsy Ripperdoc took a chance on a case, amputating well beyond just the affected tissue. He was the first to actually save a patient, and until more is figured out, this is the only known way to not end up as an inorganic flatliner. Catching it in time is sadly a challenge, as everything happens on an imperceivable nano-scale. Look out for signs of dull-looking, metal-like single skin cells in perfectly symmetrical patterns, and if you are unlucky enough to catch this, be prepared for everyone to treat you like the leper you are until you can get your parts back in order.
*Not included in budget models.

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