Although in the past, psychic ability was confined to works of fiction and a few crackpots claiming psychic ability, the Exsurgent virus changed everything. Analysis of the effect this virus had on transhumans revealed that the subjects’ altered synapses generated a modulated brainwave pattern that was extremely difficult to detect. Those “in-the-know” have come to refer to these asynchronous brainwaves as “psi waves,” fitting with the Greek letter designation of other brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta, gamma, theta). These individuals affected by the Watts-MacLeod strain of the Exsurgent virus came to be known as “asyncs.”
The initiation and use of psi talents is generally understood to take place on a subconscious level, meaning that the async is not actively aware of the fundamental processes that fuel the psi-waves. Training in certain skills, however, allows an async to focus on certain tasks and psi abilities. These are called “sleights”; mnemonic or cognitive algorithms of psi use rooted in the async’s ego.
The percentage of the transhuman population believed to have contracted the Watts-MacLeod strain remains statistically insignificant — less than .001% of the population. The vast number of asyncs have been recruited by various agencies, “disappeared” for study, or simply eliminated as a potential threat.
Asyncs require a biological brain to draw on their abilities (the brains of uplifted animals count). An async whose ego is downloaded into an infomorph or fully computerized brain (synthmorphs) has no access to their abilities as long they remain in that morph. Asyncs inhabiting a pod morph may use psi, but their abilities are restricted as pod brains are only partly biological.
The “Lost Generation” were a group of test subjects utilized by joint hypercorps interests in the wake of The Fall. After the sample was selected, all subjects were sleeved into fast-growth Futura biomorph bodies and inducted into customized simulspace accelerated learning environments. The project made extensive use of emergent technologies and techniques culled from recaptured TITAN facilities, including neogenetic traits for the Futura morphs and time distortion applications for captive simulspace populations. The program’s test subjects were often discovered to be mentally unstable, the reason becoming clear much too late. All of the subjects of this testing had been infected with the Watts-MacLeod strain of the Exsurgent virus. Public disclosure of the testing forced the hypercorps involved to release their test subjects. Some few of these “Lost” still survive today, scattered across the solar system.