The art of cloning a human or animal has its roots in the experimentation of scientists in the mid to late 20th century; from host cells being implanted into eggs, embryos grown in artificial wombs and more esoteric solutions there had always been a drive towards recreating a human being. In 1998 Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals managed it, with the creation of Leona.
Their solution to the problem of cloning was novel, and more than a little ethically questionable. Rather than growing an entire clone in a womb through a natural gestation and growth cycle, they used a combination of cutting edge techniques. Through an implant that would go on to be the precursor to the DNI (and, in turn, to the complant), they were able to snatch a "snapshot" of the unnamed test subject's consciousness. They then used the DNA gleaned from a blood sample to engineer a retrovirus that could essentially re-write a host body's DNA.
The body that became Leona was that of a brain dead woman of about the same age and size as the test subject. The retrovirus was introduced, and the brain snapshot was "flashed" to her brain via the same implant. "Leona" opened her eyes to a round of applause, and a changed world.
Cloning in the Modern Age
Whilst a lot has changed in the intervening years, the initial technique is still the root of modern cloning; the difference is in the provenance of the cloned bodies.
Industries have sprung up solely dealing with the creation of living carbon shells, creating custom tailored flesh with corporate maker's marks stamped onto the very bones. Industry leaders like Myotech have perfected the art of pouring stored citizens into new bodies, customised to match their original bodies so much as to be indistinguishable to all but the closest of inspection.
As empty, soulless bodies can now be bought off the shelf many corporations have started to produce specialised frames, such as the combat chassis made popular by Gunshin, or the more recreational offerings produced by Toltec and others.
Many of these consumer grade clones are sterile, either in an attempt to prevent an undying population from growing beyond its limits or just as a happy accident, depending on the political leanings of the whomever you ask. The more expensive clone providers can certainly produce models capable of reproduction (and indeed, some even market their clones specifically as such), but the mass market clones available on the street are generally incapable.
The Cloning Process
The modern cloning process has been streamlined, with most providers being able to fully customise and download a clone body within ten minutes. Still, there are a number of processes that the clone must go through before it is ready:
- The customer, in virtuality, chooses a clone body to download into.
- The customer's physical records are checked; whilst the viral re-writing handles the DNA side of things, the clone needs to be matched as closely as possible physically.
- An appropriate physical body is selected from those available in the bank. At this stage, it is a naked, hairless, bland-featured thing.
- The viral re-writer is introduced to the clone's bloodstream and begins its work. This is the longest part of the process, and continues on outside of the clone vat - but by the time the clone is decanted, it will already be 60% complete.
- The body undergoes rapid plastic surgery. Muscle mass and layers of subcutaneous fat are added or removed as required by specialized tools.
- Bones may be lengthened at this point. Modern clones are built without fused plates in their bones, allowing for fine adjustment before a final fusion.
- The face is peeled, and the underlying bone reconstructed before being fused.
- Hair plugs of the appropriate color are stabbed into the scalp, face, and pubic areas before being trimmed to length. Other body hair will grow naturally outside of the vat.
- Other vanity alterations are made, such as tattoos and cosmetic scars.
- The virtual instance of the customer is flashed to the new brain. Simultaneously, the virtuality is turned off, ending the virtual instance.
- The clone is awakened in its vat, ready to decant.+
NOTE: Standard 'off the shelf' grade bodies do not support a major variance in height and build. While the psyche can adapt to major changes in a persons physical characteristics, the more simplified cloning processes are unable to handle the long term genetic conflicts between the original host and their new body if such characteristics are outside tolerances. Improvements in cloning technology made it possible for users to switch to custom, purpose designed clone bodies without encountering such issues, but due to the increased costs driven by complexity and licensing issues they have not been back-ported to standard bodies.
Your clone is a warm, soft safety net in a harsh world where death lurks not just down dark alleyways but can come from high in a glittering skyscraper just as easily.
If your character has a clone, when they die they will "wake up" in their clone provider's virtuality as soon as the clone provider is notified of death. The virtuality will have a terminal, with which you will be able to change your clone details, buy a different body, or start the decanting process.
Without a clone, if your character dies they're gone, permanently dead.
Thankfully there are many clone providers scattered around the city. Myotech are perhaps the most well known provider through their Clone Arrangers outlet, though others -- such as Parallel Resurrection are available at higher premiums.