Takis (Wild Cards)

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Takis is a fictional planet in the Wild Cards book series. It is the homeworld of Dr. Tachyon and the source of the Wild Card virus. The culture of Takis has been alluded to in many Wild Cards stories, but was fleshed out more fully in the Wild Cards novel Double Solitaire by Melinda M. Snodgrass.

According to Double Solitaire, Takis is a planet some twenty-five light years from Earth. It has large polar ice caps, and slightly lower gravity than Earth (Tachyon often refers to Earth as a "hot, heavy planet"). The inhabitants of Takis are genetically identical to humans, with the exceptions that they are bred for longer lifespans, and that the Takisian ruling class possess telepathy and other, more limited psionic powers.

The rulers of Takis, known as the Psi Lords, are divided into Houses of greater and lesser status. These houses are highly competitive and often in conflict with each other; various complex rituals and social behaviors have evolved to minimize violence and collateral damage from these events. This society has similarities to that of Renaissance Italy, although Jay Ackroyd has cynically compared it to the "Families" of the Mafia.

Since breeding is of vital importance to Takisian society, adult females and children of the upper classes are kept closely confined and under constant guard. Psi Lord society is very structured, yet among the (male) aristocracy life is considered a constant hunt for virtu (status), which can occasionally lead to reckless behavior in pursuit of glory.

The most important relationship the Takisians have is with a species of living, sentient starships, a bond formed centuries ago. As with most of Takisian culture, the winning of a ship is seen as a test of personal worth and virtu. A young Psi Lord is placed on board a feral Ship, and must conquer it telepathically. Those with the will to break a Ship return as heroes. Those who do not don't return at all.

The Takisians are highly advanced in biotechnology and genetics, being responsible for the Wild Card virus, which was developed by House Ilkazam as The Enhancer, a means of increasing their innate psi abilities. Due to its high failure rate, it was deemed unsuitable to test on highborn Psi Lords, while testing it on rival Houses or lowborn "groundlings" might give super-powers to unsuitable individuals. Fortunately for them, the planet Earth was located, with billions of disposable people genetically identical to Takisians. A Ship is sent there to test the virus, but an idealistic maverick named Tisianne brant Ts'ara is determined to make trouble...