Cybernetic Subversion Condition in The Sealed Kingdoms | World Anvil

Cybernetic Subversion

Citizens of the Cobalt Protectorate sometimes forget (or try to forget) that, before the advent of the Sephias Method corporate cult among the members of the organization, Aniki Labs was once at the forefront of legitimate cybernetic research. In particular, Aniki Labs developed the very same vehicle interface implants which would later come to define Cobalt Knight and Evermorn Strategic Colony Initiative aerospace operations.   Unfortunately, when Aniki Labs did turn to the worship of Sephias and began working towards the geopolitical interests of the Cinnabar Hegemony, they took their advanced knowledge base and ongoing research with them. This would later come back to bite the Cobalt Protectorate during the ongoing Armoa Conflict, with this technology being used both to steal spacecraft and, most menacingly, to convert captives into unwitting sleeper agents for the Aniki cause. Using special orthoscopically-implanted cybernetic devices, known colloquially as 'subverter implants,' Aniki agents can make victims 'dance to their tune,' turning loyal citizens of the Protectorate into unwilling pawns of the Aniki war effort.

Transmission & Vectors

Subverter implants are typically implanted into victims who have either been captured by Aniki Labs commerce raiders or, alternatively, through the actions of covert agents working within the otherwise legitimate medical establishments of the Protectorate. It is crucial to the Aniki agents that this implant either go unnoticed or be installed in someone too valuable for the Protectorate to simply give up, as otherwise, authorities will seek to neutralize the implant (or the victim) as soon as possible.   In rare cases, victims will be captured and rereleased in an environment where they might not be aware of what happened in the night. Such was the case with the unidentified asteroid mining vessel pilot who assaulted the CKV Mercury Sable, critically injuring Knight-Airman Enzo Salt and killing much of his crew in the process. This pilot was goaded into becoming black-out drunk by Aniki covert agents at a bar, whereupon the drunk was taken to an Aniki safehous, implanted, and dropped at the local drunk tank to sleep off the supposed 'days-long bender' that came after the bar.


Once activated, a subverter implant can cause any number of unusual behaviors in a victim. The most common form of subversion offered by an implant is the ability to cause a victim to suddenly become violent upon certain triggers, inducing paranoia, aggression, and disgust all at once to cause maximum chaos in an organized environment (i.e. aboard a spacecraft). Alternatively, activating an implant might cause the victim to exhibit hyper-vigilance, which, alongside recapture and brain scanning, turns the victim into an unwitting spy. Yet another kind of implant might be used to make a victim extremely gregarious and without moral scruples, turning them into a useful vessel for spreading contaigion or for overburdening the social resources of a settlement (also known among Aniki agents as 'drama bombing'). Other, more diverse activities may be induced in the victim through a subverter implant, but the increased implant size and complexity involved entails a commensurate risk of discovery.


Subverter implants are difficult to detect before activation, deeply rooted in the host brain, any typically wired with extensive and lethal safeguards against tampering. To remove them, a patient first must be sequestered in a field-proof space to prevent remote activation. Usually, the patient must also be incapacitated somehow to also prevent stimuli-based failsafes from being activated. Once done, extensive explorative neurosurgery must be done to locate any neurodes, stentrodes, interface chips, transmitters, or failsafe poison capsules located within the subject. During the course of this surgery, any important tissues damaged by either implantation or diagnosis will be repaired with clonal tissues or prosthesis. Finally, once the patient is fully recovered, the long and arduous process of psychological therapy can begin so that the survivor might hope to return to a normal life.


Victims of subverter implants are typically not discovered until their implants have been activated, leading to a high mortality rate - the actions of a subverted victim and a more traditional double agent can be hard to differentiate. Furthermore, those who are identified as carriers of subverter implants are difficult to capture and treat due to the various failsafes installed by their Aniki 'handlers.' Nevertheless, if all goes according to plan and a victim can be secured, physical recovery is highly likely and, with time and care, so is psychological recovery.

Cultural Reception

Because the concept of subverter implants is both repulsive and terrifying to most people, an attitude of what has been called 'total resistance' has become ingrained into Cobalt Protectorate culture over the course of the Armoa Conflict. Cobalters were already difficult to take captive before the Conflict due to their culture's history in rebellion against servitude and legally-enshrined universal right to bear arms - meaning that would-be captives generally cannot be taken without bloodshed. During the Conflict, however, these elements combined with a social consensus that, since being captured by Aniki especially means death in the worst possible way, one should fight as though one is doomed either way. Similarly, per policy, the Cobalt Knights have forbidden any negotiations with organized kidnappers especially, declaring those who conduct these activities hostis humani generis and, therefore, outside of the protections of the law for any purpose (i.e. summary execution it should be noted that this status is otherwise extremely rare, as the Protectorate provides generous legal and civil protections to its citizens.   While there is a great cultural concern surrounding subverter implants due to their sensational nature, their actual prevalence is incredibly rare even in the war-torn inter-orbital space of the Armoa-Evermorn binary system. Successfully installing a subverter implant without detection by the prospective victim, subsequent body scans, or advanced Cobalter counter-intelligence networks is extremely difficult, making the use of these implants often more difficult and expensive than they are worth. In truth, the psychological warfare value of subverter implants is greater than their actual value as tools of espionage, sabotage, or assassination. Tt only takes a few notable incidents to maintain this psychological warfare advantage - and Cobalter media outlets are unwittingly doing the rest of Aniki Labs' work for them.
Nanite / Mechanical
Chronic, Acquired

Cover image: by Beat Schuler (edited by BCGR_Wurth)


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