Stacks are small discs that fit inside the human body at the base of the skull, taking the place of a single cervical vertebra.

Every Protectorate citizen has a stack surgically implanted when they are 1 year old. The spinal column and bone grow around the stack and it becomes part of the body.

A stack stays with the sleeve (i.e. the human body) it is implanted into. The stack is the equivalent of a computer hard drive. It can be wiped, and new DHF downloaded into it. But the stack remains in the body into which it was installed.

If a person’s sleeve (i.e. body) is killed, unless the stack is destroyed as well, the person’s mind is still intact. After sleeve death, the stack can be removed.

Stacks are composed of a xenoalloy exoform built around a gel substrate containing nanoparticulate xenoalloy in liquid suspension, which gives off a faint light, similar in look to phosphorescence, more visible in low light. This glow is due to the electrical charges moving between the nanoparticulates. When the personality downloaded into a stack dies, the glow is extinguished, as all electrical activity ceases.


Digital human freight is the term for digitized human mind. DHF is a complete download of the human mind.  It contains the memories, personality, “soul” of a person, “everything that makes you, you.” DHF can be uploaded or downloaded, stored in a stack or in a larger server.

When a DHF is imprisoned or stored, this is referred to as “being on ice” or “being in the store.”

Once the DHF is loaded into a stack, that stack contains what we think of as the “brain” or “mind” of that person.

Only one DHF, i.e. person, can occupy any given stack at a time.

By using DHF Data anybody can alter his brain.

It is illegal to copy the DHF of one person and download it into more than one stack at a time. This is called “double sleeving” and is punishable by “erasure,” which is complete personality deletion. If someone is erased, their DHF is destroyed and the person ceases to exist.


Meth is short for the Biblical character Methuselah, who supposedly lived 969 years. The ultra wealthy in this future world can afford to live forever.


Human bodies are now referred to as “sleeves.” This is because they can be taken on and off, like clothes or a car. The mind is no longer fixed to the body, because the stack contains the human mind. The mind (the DHF) can be transferred via “needlecasting” to any other stack in any other sleeve, provided that the stack is wiped before the transfer.

The sleeve you are born into is called your “birth sleeve.”

When a sleeve dies, but the stack is still intact, this is called “sleeve death.” It is not fatal to the mind, only the body.

The human mind is biologically evolved to stay within the body into which it was born. If a person is resleeved too many times, the mind will rebel, and the personality starts to fragment. In short, resleeve into too many different bodies, too many times, and you go insane.

If a person resleeves into their own biological body over and over, however, there is no personality frag. This is why Meths grow clones to resleeve into;  they can live forever without any personality degradation or fragmentation.


If the stack is destroyed with the DHF in it, the personality contained in that DHF is permanently dead. This is called Real Death, or “RD.”

If there’s no backup, the person is completely destroyed, gone forever.


A DHF, i.e. a person, can be backed up like any other data program, the only issue being price point. The Protectorate has made it prohibitively expensive to be backed up.  The very wealthy -- Meths ­­-- can afford satellite backups that preserve their last version of “self,” in the event that their stack should be destroyed.

If a Meth is RD’d , then that mind is destroyed, and their most recent backup will be automatically needlecast into a waiting cloned sleeve. A version of that person will return, but minus any memories or experiences that happened after the last backup.

The technology is the same as any other backup of stored data;  you can only retrieve whatever the last version of the data is that you saved.  Anything that was not backed up is lost.


Synthetic humans, or “synths,” are biorobotic androids that provide a cheaper alternative to resleeving in a human body. If you can’t afford a new sleeve, you can download your DHF into a synth.  Synths are also used by sex workers and other people looking for a disposable sleeve.

Sleeving into a synth is physically jarring, as the nerve responses are only approximations of human sensation, and things like taste and smell are severely blunted or entirely absent.

Sleeving too many times in different synths will also result ultimately in insanity.


To “spin someone up” is to reload their DHF, usually into a virtual environment, after their sleeve has died.

People are spun up into virtual for a variety of reasons. One of the most common is if they are the victim of a violent crime. Spinning someone up after their sleeve has been killed gives that person a chance to testify about who killed their sleeve.


“Virtual” refers to any environment created by means of computer simulation. Virtual reality is an extrapolation of existing tech from today (as in the Oculus Rift and similar immersive VR environments.)

A person’s DHF can be spun up for many different reasons ­­ pleasure, work, police questioning, etc.

Virtual can be used by someone with or without a sleeve. It only requires a DHF to be loaded into the simulation.

Virtual used when someone is sleeved is accessed through electrodes placed on the surface of the temples and on the stack at the back of the neck. These are called “trodes.”

Virtual exists in a variety of looks and environments, from completely photoreal to more stylized (pixelated, black and white, grainy, etc.) Virtual can be a fairy tale forest or a 1940’s filing office, indoor or outdoor, etc. etc.


Slang for something that happens in the real world, i.e. not in virtual.


Neurachem is a chemical-­physical augmentation to the sleeve’s nervous system, often referred to as being ‘wired’ or ‘carved’. Neurachem accelerates reflexes, extends your eyesight, and increases overall speed and strength, as well as reducing sensitivity to pain. Activation can be triggered by an instinctive reaction to incoming threat or by conscious choice. Neurachem is visible on activation as a faint glow, spreading nearly instantaneously through the hair­like nerves across the human body.


Damage done to a sleeve that doesn’t destroy the stack is called Organic Damage, even if it results in sleeve death.  The police have an Organic Damage Division that deals with these crimes, in addition to the traditional familiar divisions we know (Homicide, Vice, etc.


For non-Meths which is almost everyone ­­ if you can’t afford to resleeve, your DHF will be stored by the State in a storage facility.

Families will save up for months or years to afford resleeving a loved one for a few hours for things like holidays or birthdays. Over time, as people become more removed from the people and events of the current world, they are more and more disoriented when they are resleeved.


Neo­Catholics, or “Neo-­Cs,” are a religious sect with roots in the Catholicism we know today. The Church opposes resleeving and spinning up of any DHF; they allow stacking because it’s the law, but after the birth sleeve dies the Church forbids the DHF to be resleeved or spun up in virtual in any way.

This has made Neo-­Cs easy targets for murder, because even if they’re only sleeve-­killed they can’t be spun back up to testify who killed them. Public sentiment is unsympathetic toward people who refuse for spiritual reasons to use the existing technology, so more often than not Neo­C sleeve death cases are treated as Organic Damage cases, not homicides, and are unsolved.


R653 is a proposed law that has just been defeated. 653, if it had passed into law, would have required that any victim of a violent crime whose stack was intact would be spun back up for questioning, regardless of religious affiliation.

The passions on both sides of R653 run high. A subset of Neo­Cs calling themselves “Spirit Savers” are opposed to R653, because they believe if a person is spun back up after sleeve­-death their soul is condemned to Hell.

A coalition of people calling themselves Afterlifers are in favor of R653 because they believe that justice cannot be served unless the dead are allowed to testify on their own behalf, regardless of religious affiliation.

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