The 'hundred handed ones' are a civilization of multi-instance cyborgs. That is, each 'individual' hectonithere is made up of between 30 and 100 (usually around 50) cyborg bodies and remotes. Typically the bodies and remotes are human appearing, or at least humanoid in appearance and rough functionality. But it is not unusual to have multiple body plans covered in a single hectonithere. It is unusual to find such a hectonithere without at least a few human-style bodies or remotes, however, for ease of interface with the rest of the worlds.
The individual bodies are independently self aware, but the gestalt is capable of operating at higher levels. Hectonithere memory is typically spread holographically across the various bodies, allowing a general grasp of the being's capabilities even among bodies which are prevented from communicating with the whole. Of course, such bodies intellectual apabilities are designed and augmented to handle this disassociative event as and when it happens. (It's still not pleasant for such a body, but it is at least survivable for moderate to long term periods). The basis for these independent capabilities include a neural mesh and lenses to handle the interplay and enhance their ability to process the potentially gargantuan amounts of data they will be handling. This also includes the reinforcing the memories of the individual hectonithere group.
Hectonitheres typically do not add or remove bodies from their cognition except as required by the environment (either due to required functionality or damage). The holographic patterning they rely on for their memory storage designs can be disrupted to some degree (they use the term 'fuzzed') by the inclusion of new bodies. Instead, those which suffer significant reduction to less than (approximately) 10 bio-component bodies either 'clone' their surviving bodies up to a survivable number or choose to discorporate. The semi-legendary tale of the hectonithere Gillain, knocked down to a single body before e adsorbed large amounts of environmental mass and repopulated eir bodies prior to gaining eir revenge, is one extreme example of such.
Each body is typically in constant EM communication (radio, ground-conductance radio, laser, etc) with most of the rest if not all of the other bodies in a given hectonithere. Each hectonithere also has one or more rapidly reconfigurable computronium cores which are utilized in various fashions by the group mind. These communications are extremely well encrypted even in low-threat situations. Signal intelligence by the curious and hostile groups indicate that the encryption is based on quantum-derived one time pads. The hectonitheres are understandably reticent on the details of such encryption.
Hectonitheres use a combination of cellular reconfiguration, group-mind technology, and holographic paracognitive semiotic processing, similar, but not identical to the Replicant techniques to create humanoid auxon armies. Especially in their use of mesh and lenses to reinforce the group-mind. Unlike the results of this technique, the Hectonitheres deliberately limit their growth. Still the potential is there, and as such their movements and activities are restricted in many civilisations.
Hectonitheres are a relatively recent occurrence, branching out of a somewhat cultish organization of Group-Minds some 450 years ago. As such, many are still feeling out their relationships with them. The Mechanicans and Stardwellers get along well with them.
Common Name: Hectonitheres, Hundred handed ones
Benefits: As one might expect, Hectonitheres are able to coordinate their members extraordinarily well. They also have more “processing power” than the average person, with more thought pathways available. They also have multiple bodies that they can coordinate independently and simultaneously, which can be as much a hindrance as a benefit. All this applies as long as the group remains physically compact. Hectonitheres who stretch themselves across an entire planet will find that coordination becomes more and more difficult, and their thoughts become slower and less sensible as the transmission time delay grows. Decryption is a danger as well — Hectonitheres who fail to update their mesh’s security software, or who fail to take advantage of the best encryption available, will find themselves taken over as their mental impulses are altered en route. Most Hectonitheres are paranoid about the Aia (see page 63) using them as “appendages”, though in reality the risk is very small as the Aia simply don’t seem to care about humanity.
Inspector Status: Equivalent to FBI, Customs Inspector or RCMP.
Core Values: Unity and Continuity.
Unity: Hectonitheres know the strength that comes from working together.
Continuity: The way the Hectonitheres designed themselves allows for continuity between members of the group identity, albeit at the expense of that component's individuality.