Mutants are the most common 'species' found in SaganCity and its surrounding area. Characterized by their extremely varied powers, they seem like something from a comic book more than anything else. They are also incredibly varied, and can range from looking like an anthropomorphic dog to being able to read minds and wield lightning. There are two 'types' of mutants out there, True and Natural mutants. Mutants currently outnumber other species that live in the city, but the majority tend to not even know they ARE mutants for most of their lives. Mutants are still technically human, and can have children with normal humans, as well as other base humanoids. Mutants are regularly discriminated against, and most tend to live in the Project section of town, though some are able to effectively live along humans virtually undetected. Due to the difficulty of getting jobs, many mutants have had to turn to crime in order to survive, but a few have taken up vigilante work.
Natural Mutants of course, are mutants that were born Mutants naturally. These types of mutants greatly outnumber 'true' mutants, and are the most widely varied in terms of genetic makeup and ability. However, the majority of this group categorized as low degree mutants, and most natural mutants of this type can be distinguished from normal humans only though an examination of their DNA. Most low degree mutants from this group tend have mutations such as higher resistances to colds/illnesses, slightly better than average reflexes/senses, and perhaps oddly colored hair or eyes.
Moderate and high degree natural mutants are often born with powers or physical makeups that set them apart from their lower degree brethren. These powers are extremely varied, and they can range from anything from telepathy to shape-shifting. Physical makeup is extremely varied as well, and they can range from simply being born with oddly colored eyes to things resembling creatures of myth. Natural mutants have a leg up over true mutants, as many tend to gain near perfect control over their abilities over their lives. Some are even born with instinctual inhibitors, that allow them to ease into their abilities.
It's important to note that usually, a mutant power doesn't manifest unless under dire situations. Obviously, a mutant born with the ability to breathe underwater will always have this ability, but for example, a shape-shifter, a person could go their entire life without even knowing they are a mutant if they don't experience the appropriate trigger. If a shape-shifter goes through life never wishing to fly like a bird or to run like a horse, they could essentially never even know they are a mutant unless they were to be tested genetically. The same goes for other natural mutants, and for this reason, poorer and mutants from dangerous cities are more likely to discover they are mutants more so than a mutant born to a cozy, loving, family. Natural mutants tend to come into their powers at around the age of 13-18, though some can come into their powers much earlier.
True mutants are not born with their abilities like a Natural mutant, but instead will suddenly get them at some point of their lives as a result of a catalyst. True mutants are the result of an outside force that results in the mutation of a person's genetic code. This can involve things such as being exposed to high levels of radiation, exposure to toxic chemicals or a virus, gene therapy, and even the odd 'freak' accident. Mutants of this type as a result, usually have difficulty controlling and using their powers at first (assuming they gain superpowers), but through practice and training they can get some control over it. Very rarely though, will they be able to have as much control as a Natural mutant.
Because true mutants were mutated as a result of an outside force, they sometimes suffer from crippling genetic injury. Mutants of this type are highly susceptible to diseases such as cancer, and sometimes tend to have shorter lifespans than a natural mutant. It also depends on what was the catalyst to trigger the mutation. A mutant that was mutated due to radiation exposure will also have to deal with the problems of radiation poisoning. Degrees of mutation usually range from moderate to high, and physical mutations tend to look very jarring and random compared to a natural mutant.
Unlike natural mutants, true mutants often lack necessary secondary mutations. When a natural mutant is born, along with their abilities they also gain 'secondary' ones to help them survive. For example, a natural mutant born with the ability to make and control fire will also have at least an immunity to their own generated fire, or even an immunity to fire in general. True mutants more often than not, do not gain these vital secondary abilities and tend to suffer a bit from it. For example, a true mutant may get poisonous quills all over their body, but won't have an immunity to their own poison. Another example might be a true mutant that gained the ability to fly, but not the mutated lung capacity or eye protection to survive flying at high altitudes. This is not always the case though, but in general true mutants are usually less powerful or adjusted than their natural mutant counterparts.
Degrees of Mutations
Mutations are grouped into three large groups, depending on the severity of the mutation. The only people to really use this system regularly are Scientists, Doctors, and Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement are the ones who most use this classification system, as it is an effective way to convey how big a threat a mutant is with little words as possible. A Swat team called in to apprehend a Low Degree mutant can expect nothing more than maybe a human with enhanced reflexes, but when called in to take down a High Degree mutant, they can expect the fight to potentially get deadly fairly fast, and prepare themselves accordingly. Doctors will also use this system to classify mutant patients, as well as Scientists studying the mutant phenomenon.
Other mutants will sometimes use this system to refer to each other (particularly the ones that banded together in colonies or gangs), but slurred the terminology down to 'Lowdie', 'Middie', and 'Hiddie'. They, like law enforcement, use this class system to determine the potential power of an ally or foe.
The Classifications are as follows:
- Low Degree: People with low degree mutations often enough, do not even know they are mutants without genetic testing. Mutations tend to be passive abilities, such as being able to sense emotion or slightly enhanced senses. Mutations such as resistances to disease/toxins are also fairly common. Physical mutations are extremely rare in this group, and do not get much more severe then oddly colored eyes or hair. Low Degree mutations are the most common mutation group.
- Moderate/Mid Degree: Moderately mutated people are able to actively use a 'superpower' as well as passive ones. They have a wide range of ability, that can be anything from being able to teleport to even super-strength. However, they rarely gain very deadly abilities (such as being able to produce radiation or being able to ignite people on fire at will). Physical mutations are more noticeable, and it rarely gets worse than gaining odd ears or a tail, or even strangely colored skin or perhaps gaining 'natural' armor. Moderately mutated people still remain relatively humanoid, but most can still blend in with the general populace if they take the necessary precautions.
- High Degree: High Degree mutants are the rarest and most extreme forms of mutations seen in the group. Physically mutated people barely resemble humans, and can range from looking like complete animals or monsters to even something stranger, such as a sentient mobile pile of goo or even even a golem made entirely of plant life. Due to their extreme appearance, many high degree mutants with physical mutations are unable to effectively blend in with the populations, and many tend to either live in the Projects or Underground away from sight and persecution. There are humanoid high degree mutants though, and they are particularly classified in the high degree category for having extreme or deadly powers. Having complete control over the weather, being able to manipulate the fabric of reality/jump back and forth through time, any ability that has the potential to cause massive death on a large scale (such as control over deadly gasses, radiation, or being able to suck the life out of living beings), and immortality/invulnerability are all examples of high degree mutant ability. High Degree mutants are able to cause large scale death and destruction with little effort, and as such are classified in the High Degree category due to their potential threat.
High Degree mutants are the rarest mutant category mostly for the fact that the human body can rarely survive such extreme mutations. Natural high degree mutants rarely survive infancy (as some are outright murdered shortly after birth, while others are mutated to the point where they cannot cope with their environment and subsequently die.) and even a smaller amount ever reach adulthood. It's usually by luck that one will survive to grow up, but it usually depends on the mutation. A humanoid mutant has a higher survival rate than one that is not. High degree true mutants also can rarely survive the shock of their mutation, and the survival rate for them is extremely low after mutation. That being said, it's good advice to respect or at least tread carefully around an adult living high degree mutant, as they are most likely very dangerous and tough.
Mutants and the Law
Because Mutants are still technically human, they are suppose to be protected under the same laws that protect pure humans. Obviously due to the stigmatization and public fear of mutants, most often than not these laws are disregarded.
A couple laws are as followed:
- No doctor or hospital may turn away a mutant for treatment.
- Employers are not allowed to force mandatory genetic testing on employees, nor may they gain access to an employee's medical records to see if they are a mutant.
- Subsequently, an employer may not fire an employee specifically for being a mutant after they have already been hired.
- Mutants are still considered people, and any act committed against one, such as murder or rape, should still have the same consequences as if the same acts were committed against a pure human.
- Mutants may not be denied housing if they are able to pay for it.
- Mutants may not be barred from essential services, nor may prices be raised for goods/services specifically for a mutant customer.
- Mutants have the same right of legal representation and jury by peers as regular humans.
Mutants however, are very prone to profiling, and due to the fear and misunderstanding of the general public, many mutants often find themselves arrested simply for being mutants. Mutants are also highly discriminated against in the justice system, and even though they have legal right to a proper trial, they most likely will be found guilty of whatever they are accused of regardless. Due to an obvious loophole in the laws regarding employment, an employer upon discovering an employee is a mutant, will most often find some other reason to fire them, and it is very difficult to find a job if someone is a mutant. Obviously if a person is a low degree mutant, or even a humanoid middle degree mutant, they have a better chance of being treated like a normal person more so then other mutants as they can blend in and not draw attention to themselves.
As for businesses, it is up to the particular owner. There are some shops in SaganCity that will outright ban mutants from even coming into their shops, some that will allow them in if they promise to behave (but are still closely watched regardless), and some that welcome mutants with open arms. Most mutant friendly business are well known to the mutant community, and as a result those businesses are rarely targeted for theft or robbery by mutants.
Because of the difficulties in earning an honest living if one is a mutant, many have been forced into a life of crime in order to survive, and such only deepens the stigmatization and distrust for mutants, making it a vicious cycle that will probably only worsen with time. However, some mutants have turned to vigilante work, and work sometimes with the Sagan Police Department (SPD), though they are often met with a measure of distrust as well, despite the lives they save.
There has also been several recent issues that has cropped up in the mutant community. The biggest being the exposure of illegal medical and military experimentation on mutants, which has only flared up the animosity between humans and mutants.
Mutants have their own inner society, much like werebeasts and other species living in the city.
Mutants that are Low and Mid degree are most often able to completely blend in with the general population, remaining undetected until they are forced to be tested genetically, or a situation forces them to use their powers in public. If they do not know they are mutants (due to an extremely passive ability or never encountered a trigger to come into their powers), it is possible for them to live complete lives as people, and none would be the wiser.
For mutants on the other side of the scale, they usually cannot blend in with the population, and thus many band together to survive. Some mutants will group together into gangs or colonies, mostly found in the Underground or the Projects. There the more humanoid ones will attempt to either find jobs (or turn to a life of crime), and even scavenge in order to support the rest of the gang/colony. Mutants also have their own inner network of communication, and thus will learn things such as the location of a new mutant friendly business or if another mutant needs a place to lie low for a while. Mutants will also tend to support and offer aid to each other, though rivalries do exist between certain groups and individuals. There are rumors of an entire underground city under SaganCity itself populated entirely by mutants and other 'creatures', but the active Mayor insists that those are just rumors.
Mutants are one of the groups that respect and uphold the strict 'neutral' zone territory in the Central part of Sagan, as the majority of mutant friendly services and businesses are there. As a rule, Mutants that turned to crime out of desperation will usually avoid knocking over mutant friendly businesses, and mutants may even offer a measure of protection to them to repay their kindness. There are however, mutants that have turned to crime for kicks, greed, or just to cause as much misery as they can for humans, so these types tend to disregard the previously mentioned unspoken rules.
In general, there is a level of hate between mutants that take up vigilante work and ones that have turned to crime. The criminal mutants tend to hate the vigilante mutants because they view them as traitors to their species by helping out humans (Which discriminate against mutants and made it hard for them to survive in the first place) as well their ability to blend in with the human population and thus don't have to turn to desperate crime to support themselves. As a result, other mutants will tend to shun or avoid vigilantes at the least, and be outright hostile to them at the worst.
The usual mindset for mutants is 'safety in numbers', so if you spot a mutant, one or more will not be very far behind them.