Warning! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
It is NOT necessary to read this page in order to follow the comic. However, if you want to understand more about the world of Infected Blood, it will be a really cool and informative read.
What's in name?
AIMS are a military-engineered, all-female species from Kemet-Ra. Their name derives from a study by a small team led by bioengineer Mafdet Accorsi entitled Artificial Intelligence in Mutated Species. The main goal of the study was to provide a host organism with specific traits from a guest organism's DNA that would give it evolutionary advantages over its non-mutated peers. Synthetic, AI-powered DNA (simulating that all added DNA looked like the original one) was injected along with guest DNA to fool the host organisms into "thinking" that no replacement had occurred. The host organism would then pass on its modified genes to its offspring. The study used Monarch butterflies as hosts and earthworms as guests: compared to original Monarch butterflies, the AIMS butterflies had the ability of wrapping their wings around their bodies and eyes and dig holes in the dirt to escape predators or to rest safely. This line of research shifted soon to mammals and the methodology varied, too. Although significant progress was made only for a tiny number of species, it enjoyed huge support for a few decades, until it was outlawed under the strong pressure of religious groups (mostly, the Sacred Eye), who believed these creatures to be abominations.
AIMS biology can be summarized as follows:
- They have the same number of chromosomes as humans (46), but of these:
- 38 are from big cats (either tigers or lionesses)
- 8 are synthetic
- improved strength and speed
- faster healing (which includes being unable to get drunk or drugged, unless an individual chooses to)
- accelerated reaction to unknown viruses and diseases and, thanks to a dedicated quantum storage that records medical information, the ability to never get sick from the same virus or disease again
- short sleep (about 4 hours per night - this was a boost to counter felines' need for naps and longer sleeping hours)
- switching between human and AIMS appearance at will
- preventing any probe from identifying their DNA
- reproduction via parthenogenesis
- SECRET FUNCTION 1, NOT INCLUDED TO AVOID SPOILERS - SEE CHAPTER 3
- SECRET FUNCTION 2, NOT INCLUDED TO AVOID SPOILERS - SEE CHAPTER 3
The AI controls the functions above via nanobots, which are created by the AI itself as replacements of white cells in AIMS immune system. The brain releases a hormone, called syntrigger, to which nanobots react, setting the function in motion. Nanobots, for example, destroy any tissue or blood sample the very moment these are taken from an AIMS, essentially blocking any attempts at studying her DNA.
The military wanted AIMS to look like humans for the very practical reason of not requiring any special equipment or uniforms. However, AIMS can be spotted by paying close attention to the following:
- their eyes have a rather artificial, very metallic color
- they are extremely tall (shortest individuals are 1.85 m or 5' 9") and muscular, which is not very common for women
- their facial expressions are few and seem almost robotic
AIMS reproduce by parthenogenesis (or without a partner). They can choose at will whether to make a perfect clone of themselves or mix their chromosomes (by splitting and recomposing both chromosomes and/or their tips repeatedly) to create a different individual. To prevent them from multiplying uncontrollably and taking over Kemet-Ra, AIMS were programmed to successfully reproduce only once in their lifetimes. AIMS menstruate roughly every 28 days, just like women.
The military chose parthenogenesis for a number of reasons. First off, certain procedures unique to creating AIMS in a lab proved to be extremely expensive. Another problem was taking care of young AIMS until they would be ready to fight: having mothers rearing their own children, at least for some time, seemed the best solution. Third issue: AIMS growing up without any contact with their mothers turned insane. The very first AIMS created in the lab would kill anything standing in their way, friend or foe. Finally, parthenogenesis was obviously better than sexual reproduction, as it would ensure strong individuals without the complications of finding partners.
The military selected which AIMS should reproduce and when. The selection was in favor of the most loyal and violent individuals, who were taken out of war and into a special nursery (that looked more like a prison) without any forewarning. They would then be clocked: if an AIMS was not pregnant within a month, she would be suppressed. An AIMS deciding to have a child of her own would be killed and so would her child. The military demanded individuals who proved to be particularly loyal* to create clones, and less loyal ones to mix up their chromosomes. Most AIMS chose to make their daughters look like them. AIMS created in the labs would be given to mothers who just had babies, so some mothers would raise more than one child at the same time. Mothers were sent back to war as soon as their children would no longer need to lactate (normally, anywhere between 6 months and 2 years of age). From then on, children were raised nearly as orphans by military carers and trainers. They would start training at 4 years of age and would be ready to fight by age 10.
*These were very rare cases.
Past and present
A group of military scientists created AIMS about 400 years before the beginning of Infected Blood with the intent of replacing human soldiers with artificial ones. Their creation was useful to sell war to the general population: if no Kemetian soldier died in war, most Kemetians would be more inclined to accept the aggressive foreign policy of their country. This worked (to some extent) for a while, until AIMS were replaced with robotic units.
There are two strands of AIMS: tigers and lionesses. Tigers were created first: being the strongest cats in nature, they lend themselves to being powerful, ruthless warriors. They were used primarily as infantry soldiers, doing the dirtiest job of fighting in the front line. However, they were very hard to control: they would often go AWOL (and required being hunted down and killed on the spot), fight each other and disobey orders. So, the military created lionesses. Although less strong than tigers, they were still vastly physically superior to humans. They formed small groups (usually, two families of three grandmother-mother-daughter individuals) that tended to stay away from one another. They tended to display little aggression toward tigers and even less to humans, so they made for better soldiers. With time, tamer and tamer lionesses were created, in an effort to further keep AIMS under control. The number of tigers dropped, as the military progressively stopped creating new individuals and existing tigers continued dying in war, killing each other or going AWOL (then being hunted down and killed on the spot, as the military feared AIMS fighting on the enemy's side). As robotic units began to replace AIMS, lionesses of the less tame strand organized a movement to liberate AIMS from their military duties and to preserve their lives in the civilian society. This began over 150 years before Infected Blood's inception, as AIMS representatives (almost all lionesses) were able to lobby the government to pass a non-disclosure law that would allow them to conceal their species to institutions and individuals alike, and prohibit outing AIMS. All AIMS' records were changed and no trace of their belonging to that species remained.
Over the years, the AIMS lobby shrank and pretty much vanished, allowing humans to change the non-disclosure law to the point that it is now possible to out an AIMS for security reasons. Further, it is not always mandatory to protect an AIMS' identity if she is outed: for example, an AIMS' species may be disclosed if she lives in an environment that is deemed to be not overtly hostile to her. This is why Sekhmet, outed as soon as she was born, has never been protected by law: she lived in a part of Waset that was considered to be less threatening to AIMS than other locations in Kemet-Ra.
It is rumored that small, undetected groups of AIMS are conspiring to destroy humans, although, being basically cats (albeit with AI-powered brains and bodies), they can't get along and enough to get organized.
In general, violence against women and AIMS has grown ever since AIMS have been able to join Kemet-Ra's civilian population. Any group of women (even sports teams!) is seen as suspicious, and often harassed. Several incidents have been recorded of girls and women being attacked or even killed out of fear they might be AIMS. The number of violent incidents involving actual AIMS perpetrators has however been relatively low in the past few decades and often proven to be acts of self-defense. Still, many AIMS were sentenced to death, which further contributed to the dwindling of their population.
As AIMS mixed with civilians, some of them formed partnerships with men and others with women. While all AIMS struggle to reveal their own species to human partners, it is straight AIMS who have it the worst, as there have been many recorded incidents of men either reacting violently or outing their AIMS partner, causing an often fatal witch hunt tolerated or even hidden by local authorities. Straight AIMS who establish a good relationship with men and reveal their identity to them seem nowadays to be rare.
Lesbian AIMS face less problems with their human partners, in some cases even forming very good relationships with them, but still largely not disclosing their species to anyone outside their very close circle of family and friends. To avoid outings, many interspecies lesbian couples who want children tend to have more than one child, either by adoption, or by having the human partner deliver at least two more children of either sex or at least a boy via artificial insemination.
AIMS who partner with each other are a little rare and they are often lionesses partnering with other lionesses. They tend to have three female children: one born from a partner, the second born from the other partner, and a third, adopted human female child. Tigers partnering with lionesses are the rarest kind.
Tigers are the most vilified strand of AIMS. Because of their size and strength, they can be spotted by humans rather easily, so some of them try to pass as athletes or body builders, while staying away from professional competitions to avoid DNA tests. Being solitary, they tend to not look for a stable partner.
Since AIMS were created from animals, most people believe they are dirty and will pass all sorts of diseases to humans, especially through body fluids and sexual intercourse. It is from this rumor that the slur "infected blood" originated. Many humans see any interaction with AIMS as odd at best and plain wrong at worse (some equate having sex with AIMS to bestiality).