Sins of The Empire
Humans have known about psi powers for several centuries — the first verifiable Human psis emerged in the late solar exploration period — but they remain somewhat uneasy about psionics and those who use them. Faced with fully- functional psionic civilizations like the Varanyi, Terran society has increased the pace of accepting psionics and integrating them into daily life, but many people wish for even more rapid change. Empress Marissa, recognizing the extent of the potential Varanyi threat, established many policies to help “mainstream” psionic individuals, and wanted to find ways to increase the proportion of psis in the Human species.
By law, all psionics must register with the Imperial Psionics Foundation and obtain a Psionic License, which permits the carrier to use his powers subject to the law. The Mind Police pursue unlicensed psis; if captured, an unlicensed psi faces fines, imprisonment, forced injection of psi- suppression drugs, or even forced conscription into government service.
The basic laws regarding the use of psionics on others resemble the laws governing physical contact between Humans: no use of powers on another person without his consent; no property damage; and so forth. Standard defenses to crimes (like self-defense) apply. Even when a psi can legally use his powers, the law requires him to use the minimum “force” or telepathic contact necessary to accomplish his objective. Commercial Adepts use pocket computers with thumbprint or retina scanners to obtain written authorization to use their powers on someone.
The law forbids telepathic or clairvoyant snooping, but of course the authorities have a hard time proving it happened. Normal Terran laws regarding invasion of privacy apply.
The Imperial and planetary legal systems don’t currently allow the use of psionics (or telepathically-obtained evidence) in court trials, although defendants who really are innocent usually demand a telepathic probe by a licensed Adept, and the results of that test are admissible in court. Imperial security agencies, on the other hand, make lavish use of psi scanning, both consensual and forced. To avoid public outcry, they usually do this only when they have strong additional evidence the subject did something wrong… even if it isn’t the crime he’s accused of.
Organizations that train and employ psionics actively recruit psis of Delta grade or better. Most Mind Police agents (and psis working for other branches of government) are at least Psi- Epsilons.
Psionic powers are rare among Humans and most other species. According to Imperial statistics, the Human population includes approximately one Beta per million people in the Empire, and half as many at each increment above that. So a planet with a population of 6 billion Humans would have no more than 12,000 psionics, half of them low-powered Betas. Some psi powers manifest much more frequently in Humans. Half of all Human psionics are telepaths, with Telepathy, Mind Scan, Mind Control, or similar powers. The remainder divide evenly between those with ESP and those with telekinesis, plus a tiny percentage of wild talents. Psionic talent manifests itself randomly, although scientists believe an hereditary component exists. The Empire does not have a simple genetic test for the psi-gene; instead, psionic organizations must locate and test potential psionics — which means mysterious strangers from different groups may visit a young psi to try to win him over as a new apprentice.
IMPERIAL PSIONIC TECHNOLOGY
Psionic technology remains tricky and unreliable at the Empire’s ATRI 11 (it gets much better at ATRI 12). The Empire has experimental psi-amplifiers, but they’re classified technology not available to the public. Psi-drugs, available only by prescription, can boost, suppress, or alter psionic abilities. They cannot give powers to a non-psionic, or new powers to an existing psi, but rumors of miracle substances that can make anyone an Omega often crop up. Due to fears of telepathic spying, psi-shielding is widespread and publicly available.
The Empire considers psis both potentially dangerous and tremendously useful, so it controls them (or attempts to) but does not exterminate them. Imperial citizens with psi powers must register with the Imperial Psionics Foundation (as must psionic visitors to Imperial space). In addition to maintaining an extensive database on psis and psi powers (which the Mind Police has unrestricted access to), the IPF identifies and trains new psis. The Foundation also conducts research on psionics and psi technology.
The Empire itself employs many psionics above Beta grade, mostly in the Mind Police. The Imperial Security Police has a Psi Division; agents counter psionic threats and use their powers for covert operations. The military intelligence services have their own psi agents. The Foundation employs some high-rated psis, often veterans of Imperial service.
The sheer scale of the Empire means even the IPF can’t spot everyone with psi powers. Some grow up ignorant of their abilities, others hide deliberately. Rogue psionics who don’t want to serve the Empire tend to wind up as rebels or criminals.
THE PSIONIC LEAGUE
A combination social club, political lobbying committee, mutual protection alliance, and counseling service, the Psionic League is an Empire-wide association of psionics, open to anyone of Beta level or higher. It fights prejudice against psis (both by lobbying against unjust laws and by physically protecting members from anti-psionic violence), offers counseling to help psionics and their families adjust to the use of powers, and allows psis to meet one another free of suspicion and concealment.
The IPF and Ministry for Evolution classify psionics by Greek letters depending on how powerful they are:
Psi-Alpha: Persons with no known psionic abilities. The vast majority of Imperial citizens are PsiAlphas.
Psi-Beta: Betas have detectable but low-level powers.
Psi-Delta: Deltas, the most common “professional” psionics.
Psi-Epsilon: Beyond Psi-Epsilon the rating system becomes a little sketchy, since very few psionics of such power exist.
Psi-Omega: Although many psis scoff at the possibility, a few people claim the Empire has PsiOmegas – individuals with unbelievable power. Some rumors say the Empire has a secret team of “Omega Agents” to deal with threats even the Imperial battlefleet can’t handle.