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Prerequisites Being descended from someone with the ability
World Detritus
Featured In Skyward, Defending Elysium[1]

Technology is limited. Only the mind is infinite.

Varvax proverb[2]

Cytonics, sometimes called cytonic abilities, a defect or a deviation, are a set of psionic abilities used by numerous sapient beings, among them Jason Write and Spensa Nightshade.[2][3]. In humans, those abilities have lasted centuries and have continued to pass genetically since the time of the Phone Company until the occupation of Detritus by the descendants of the Defiant.[4] All alien races that have contacted mankind possess cytonics, and have, in fact, developed them prior to discovering advanced technology.[2]


The precursor for cytonics was originally developed as an attempt to create cybernetic-based telepathic linking, named cyto. While the original attempts did not work as intended, they were sufficient to attract the attention of the alien Tenasi. More advanced cytonics are studied and developed by the few in the Phone Company over the years.[2]

At some point in the following centuries, during the war between humans and aliens, human cytonics users came under threat from the eyes, strange, extra-dimensional entities that exist in the nowhere space accessible to humans.[3] For this reason, the use of cytonic technology was significantly reduced to avoiding attracting the eyes' attention.[5] By the time of Defiant crashing on Detritus, only engine crews, which required cytonics to move the ship at faster-than-light speeds, utilized it.[6] In the century since, the cytonic ability came to be known as the "defect", as it was poorly understood and exposed the cytonics users to threat from both the Krell and the eyes.[7][8]


Cytonics encompass a number of abilities powered by the living mind. Some of them can be augmented by electronics, and through this shared to populations that don't possess them.[2] In humans, use of cytonics is signified by increased activity in the section of the brain called the writellum.[9] Only a small percentage of the total human populace possesses the capacity for cytonics, although this number is far higher among alien races. Some, like Varvax and Tenasi, are implied to all have the ability.[2]

In order to utilize cytonics, the user needs to meditate, focusing on the impression of moving upwards and letting the world around them fade away.[10] While an beginner needs several moments to enter the appropriate mental state, an experienced user of cytonics can do so instantly, allowing them to actively use the ability in combat.[2] The focus allows the cytonics to utilize the nowhere space, a timeless emptiness outside of normal reality. The nowhere space figures heavily in several cytonic abilities, most notably teleportation and FTL communication.[8] It's also home of the eyes, making using it dangerous for humans.[3]

Cytonic Abilities[edit]


He had been legally blind since he'd turned sixteen. (...) Fortunately, he had other methods of seeing.

The ability to "see" the world with supernatural senses. Jason Write uses it to perceive the light as vibrations, black being calm, white light being a roar in his mind. This allows him to get a clear picture of the world despite his blindness, though it takes a certain level of conscious effort.[2]

FTL Communication[edit]

They used that place between heartbeats to talk to one another, to communicate instantly.

Spensa about the Krell[8]

The original reason cytonics was developed was its ability to connect minds of cytonics users and share verbal information. During the days of the Phone Company, the advanced FTL communication network that connects all mankind is powered by a single operative with developed cytonic abilities, and is mediated by cybernetic equipment.[2]

Cytonic users can communicate without help of the electronic equipment.[8] The range that they can communicate without technological support is unknown, althugh the communication can be overheard over several hundred kilometers.[10] Difference in language or species makes no distinction in FTL communication; however, it seems impossible to encrypt or secure it against cytonics-using eavesdroppers.[8] It is proven that certain technology or matter can block or interfere with it.[8]

Mind Speed Acceleration[edit]

The Krell knew they had to target any of us who flew too well—because they knew about the defect.

Cytonic users are able to react at incredible speed, thinking faster than humanly possible, although this doesn't not allow for increase in physical speed. This mind acceleration allows the cytonic users to excel in tasks that require quick reaction times, such as flight, making them excellent pilots, as well as use their abilities with little advanced warning, allowing them to compete with bullets.[11][2]


He whipped out a dozen invisible mindblades that slashed through the air. The force of his attack slapped the bullets backward as well as sliced each one in two.

Mindblades are pure force, formed by the mind of the user. They can be used to cut through any solid objects, but with practice, it can be Sensed and blocked by other mindblades. They are capable of affecting even materials that are resistant to advanced conventional weaponry, such as Telanium.[2]

FTL Transport[edit]

I did something with my mind. We vanished, leaving a ship-size hole in the expanding blossom of flame and destruction.

An ability possessed by all advanced alien races, and developed but kept secret by the Phone Company operatives. It involves Sensing inwards on yourself and removing yourself from normal space, moving through an timeless emptiness to reappear at a different point in normal space possibly light-years away in seconds. When reappearing, the performer pushes aside matters at the place to create the space for themselves.[2] M-Bot has a cytonic hyperdrive that requires a human to power it.[3]

Mind Swap[edit]

Your dissidents are escaping, and they're hiding among us.

Using advanced cytonics, it is possible for a mind to swap bodies, including cross-species. Among others, Varvax dissidents can utilize this to take human bodies, akin to possession.[2] It would, however, take much time to adjust if the bodies are too different.

Cytonic Suppression[edit]

No! It can't be! Where is my Sense!

There exist devices that allows suppression of cytonic abilities, for the purposes of keeping prisoners or protecting an area from cytonic influence. Varvax use cytonic suppression to keep various civillizations in check, while the Detritus debris shield mutes access to cytonics to an extent.[2][3]

Advanced Processing[edit]

The minds of thinking machines somehow relied upon the same technology to process quickly.

Some advanced processors use cytonic technology to work much faster than normally possible.[5] This is most important to artificial intelligences such as M-Bot, which require cytonics to function at a sapient level.[8]

Mind Hologram[edit]

It should be incapacitated now, and if it's looking at you, it doesn’t see you. We are overwriting its vision.

Krell command[8]

People with cytonic abilities are susceptible to having their vision overwritten by some process, technology or ability, replacing their normal sight with artificial images conjured up by the hologram creators. This is what causes Chaser to turn on his allies during the Battle of Alta.[8][13]

Notable cytonics users[edit]




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