Bionics in the Imperium are mechanical or technological substitutes for biological limbs or organs. Generally the replacement is stronger, more durable or effective than the original, or gives its user completely new abilities.
The use of bionics is widespread in the Imperium. However, bionics are expensive and mostly limited to valuable servants of the Imperium, such as veteran warriors or skilled adepts, high-ranking Imperial officials and Inquisitors, as well as Planetary Governors who possess the required wealth.
Effects and distribution
An individual may have artificial limbs and organs to replace diseased or damaged parts, or simply to improve their abilities. Bionics include partial and full replacements of body parts, brain implants, cybernetic weaponry and other devices. Although bionic parts are mechanical, many of them do use the user's bloodstream, nerve endings, etc., so damage to one may be as debilitating as an injury to the original part, although in general the bionics are much more durable than their organic counterparts.
There is no standard level of bionic technology throughout the Imperium - many bionics are clumsy and inefficient replacements, while the best can replicate or even improve upon the performance of the original limb or organ. Inquisition bionics are among the more sophisticated and can reverse what would otherwise be fatal or crippling injuries.
Personnel in practically all branches of the Imperium use bionics in some capacity. In most Imperial Guard Regiments, only officers will have access to bionic equipment. On the other hand, there are a few regiments where virtually every soldier is bionically enhanced. Also, the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter are infamous for making extensive use of them, almost to the point of removing all flesh in favour of machinery. Even some particularly wealthy members of the Imperial citizenry can afford, and have been known to use, bionics.
Examples of Imperial bionics
For the wealthy or privileged, bionics can replace diseased or aged organs and therefore offer an increased life span. Practically any organ can be replaced, even parts of the brain. The simplest are mere replacements, while the more advanced increase the functionality and performance of the organ beyond its previous capacity.
Such is the level of technology in certain parts of the Imperium that bionic senses can replace eyes, ears, noses, and even touch and taste. More advanced bionic senses can even produce effects of synaesthesia.
Bionic eyes can increase a subject's visual spectrum, allowing the ability to see heat, energies, etc., as well as incorporating targeters and resistance to the effects of blinding flashes. The addition of digi-weapons into bionic eyes is also not unknown for high-ranking individuals.
Bionic hearing can improve normal hearing to the point where the user can hear living creatures breathing, hearts beating, etc.[3b]
Implants come in all shapes and sizes, from memory upgrades for the brain to implant weapons. Some of the more esoteric are listed below. The Tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus are infamous for making use of extensive bionic implants, and some of the more exotic ones they create are used solely by them. This list is by no means exhaustive.
A psi-booster increases activity in the part of the brain responsible for controlling psychic ability. A person with one of these is usually a proficient psyker and has greater control over his powers compared to someone of the same ability without a psi-booster.
Mind Impulse Unit
A Mind Impulse Unit (MIU) is a neural link between a sentient brain and a piece of equipment, allowing an individual to control and monitor a system by thought alone. MIU's are most commonly used in Dreadnought armour[3a] and the gigantic Titans of the Adeptus Mechanicus but are rarely seen elsewhere. The other uses entail the shoulder-mounted weapon which is one of the most practical applications which allows the user to fire a weapon whilst keeping both hands free. In some rare cases the weapon is not shoulder mounted but is carried as normal; the MIU allows the user a greater intimacy with his weapon's internal workings, such as ammunition count or barrel temperature. This is sometimes found amongst the Skitarii tech guard of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Wireless MIUs also exist, although they are exceptionally rare and are used to control mechanical familiars or certain types of servitor. This type of MIU is most common when the user cannot perform a common task himself (perhaps being too large to fit somewhere) or when he prefers to stay out of harm's way.
An implant weapon is one that has been grafted onto an existing limb, replacing a hand or occasionally the entire arm, and is controlled by a simpler MIU than needed for a more sophisticated device. The obvious benefit of finer weapon control is substantially offset by loss of hand or arm functionality outside of combat. This bionic is thus not especially practical, and is usually intended to intimidate, as the surgery used to graft them onto the user is often quite crude, leaving gruesome suture scars frightening above and beyond the "body horror" qualities of the implant itself. Another reason for implantation of bionic weapons is the user not being expected to need his arm for other tasks; this approach is most often seen in the cases of pit slave gladiators or certain types of battlefield servitor.
Mechadendrites are mechanical tendrils used by the Adeptus Mechanicus to aid them in construction, maintenance, and research. These bionics contain small motors and actuators within their armoured shells and wave about the Techpriest almost with a life of their own.
Electoos are metallic strips bonded sub-dermally to enable Tech-priests to channel limited amounts of energy; an extreme example are the renowned Electro-priests, who turn themselves into crackling founts of electricity in battle. Electoos enable the user to directly absorb electricity from equipment or power sources and then expel it, with sometimes devastating results.
Rite of Pure Thought
The Rite is considered an extreme measure even among some Tech-priests. The creative, emotional, illogical right hemisphere of the brain is replaced with a cogitator linked directly to the logical left hemisphere. This frees the recipient of any irrationality and illogic.
- 1: Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 70
- 2: Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition), [Needs Citation]
- 3: Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987)
- 4: Inquisitor Rulebook
- Soul Drinker (Novel)
- Fanatic Magazine No. 5