How Regenerators work

As I mentioned before, thanks to the Foundation, this setting has access to "Regenerators", enormous machines that can bring thousands of people back to life if necessary. Smaller regenerators also exist, though they're slower and can't resurrect as many at once.

The way this works is that people imprint a "Save State" of their minds into soul gems, which are then uploaded into the Memory Repository, usually before a mission. If the operative dies and their soul gem remains intact, it's possible to extract a more up-to-date version and bring that back.

Then they simply give the Regenerator the brain-pattern imprint and medical records, and it spits out the once deceased person. Well, growing the body takes some time, but it's not that bad.

There is also a pretty infallible system to detect if a person is still alive, and if someone was to get doubled, the system would quickly stop recognizing the double as a double and give it the status "nth childof" with a link to the original person. Though the Foundation tends to avoid making doubles in the first place, they might cave in from enough pressure.

However, in one of my battle scene drafts, Captain McKenna is with a dragon and a gryphon, trying to get to their mission objective. But then they encounter his old "friend". After McKenna quickly sends his squadmates away, we get this line from old friend:

You were never one of us. You are nothing but a usurper, a false idol. My eyes have been opened. Let me help you to see, Captain. And this time, you won't be coming back anytime soon."

The gryphon and dragon finally get to the other captains and tell them what they saw. The other captains go full panic mode and rush to McKenna's aid.

So, there is a way to delay someone's regeneration for long enough to cause serious problems. This time varies but can be as long as 15 years. Furthermore, if someone's regeneration gets delayed, there's nothing the Foundation can do about it.

We know that McKenna's old friend (and anyone else for that matter) can't screw with the Foundation's regenerator, or the Memory Repository that already has an older instance of McKenna on it, and a compromised/hacked soul gem wouldn't go unnoticed during debriefing.

So how could a person's regeneration be delayed (but never completely stopped) reliably without messing with either the Regenerator or the Memory Repository?

  • $\begingroup$ If your regenerators need nothing beyond what's already in the repository and even the soul gems are considered offlimits when it comes to tampering, what is left to stop the Foundation form just churning out a copy? Divine intervention? $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Oct 1 '20 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles a few questions. How many copies of the soul gem do they store? Is it just the one taken before the meeting or also the ones taken from missions past? Are the gems consumed when a double is created? Also, how does the extrapolation of a new personality work? Does it permanently change the soul gem to the new one or is a second gem created with the extrapolated soul? $\endgroup$ – Evelyn Shepard Oct 1 '20 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ If you boiled your own words down, how would they not Answer themselves? Most obviously, "If the operative dies and their soul gem remains intact, it's possible to extract a more up-to-date version and bring that back" seems illogical. "… extract an earlier, less-up-to-date version" by all means and that's opposite. How are Foundation Regenerators bringing thousands back to life and smaller regenerators (have details) really helpful? How is regeneration being delayed, not stopped, necessary? Either way, why would "waiting" not work? $\endgroup$ – Robbie Goodwin Oct 2 '20 at 19:57

Don't kill him.

Rather than killing the Captain, almost kill him and drag him off to your underground base where you keep him alive enough that the regenerator will give an ERROR message whenever you try and respawn him, but not so much alive that he causes any trouble for you. See this case study.

Edit: I have overlooked how the foundation can can create a double regardless of the state of the original. My answer works best if doubles are impossible. It also works if there is a reason the foundation is hesitant to create doubles. For example they are short-lived/evil/bureaucratic nightmare.

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    $\begingroup$ Yup, standard tactics in the D&D realm if you want to prevent someone coming back. (D&D can go farther and trap one's soul in a gem, this means the imprisonment can last forever. There are also a few soul-trapping monsters, if one of them kills you you can't come back until someone kills the monster.) $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Oct 1 '20 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ "Though the Foundation tends to avoid making doubles in the first place, they might cave in from enough pressure." Still upvoted though :) $\endgroup$ – zovits Oct 1 '20 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @zovits I don't have a solution for the Foundation not printing a double. Maybe there is a dark secret behind doubles they don't want to get out? $\endgroup$ – Daron Oct 1 '20 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ One reason, I can think of, why they don't want to create doubles, other than violating international treaty and upsetting pre-existing power dynamics, is the risk of targeted mental attacks. McKenna is probably the strongest captain, if he and his doubles get Yuri-d (hehe, Red Alert 2 reference), Foundation will have a lot to worry about. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Oct 1 '20 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Another option is that the man called McKenna is not the original McKenna from the soul stone. Hence he cannot be regenerated. $\endgroup$ – Daron Oct 1 '20 at 15:21

/You were never one of us. You are nothing but a usurper, a false idol. /

There is a question as to the veracity of his recordings.

Sometime in the past, his identity has been corrupted. It is not clear when or even how. It may be that recent recordings and then reincarnations have not been the individual who it is supposed to be.

The imposter, if it is an imposter, is subtle. It may have laid in changes over time.

Before bringing this possible imposter back to life, it will require a check of the code - a check against prior archived recordings of this code. The imposter, if there is an imposter, knew that this was a possibility and made its changes intending for the check to be difficult. It will be a process like checking accounts and financial records of a company looking for fraud. It will be laborious. There are not very many people qualified to do it. It will take a long time.

And until it is done he will not be restored.

  • $\begingroup$ It will probably take a long time to do a bit-by-bit integrity check of a person’s soul. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 1 '20 at 12:10

Report the Captain as MIA (missing in action), when he is actually dead, and hide the soul stone where it won't be found promptly, or destroy it (which would also destroy the memory of the events leading up to the Captain's betrayal, reducing the likelihood that the perpetrators will be caught and punished).

Cases of MIA soldiers in the U.S. Korean and Vietnam Wars are often left open for decades until there is some confirmation and because there is a strong desire to repatriate the remains even at "unreasonable" expense. If repatriating a soul stone could actually add positive benefit in a respawned life, the incentive to keep cases open would be even stronger.

If there is a desire not to have doubles, creating reasonable doubt regarding whether someone is dead and thus ready to be respawned (ideally with a recovered soul stone), or alive and just out of contact, would delay the Foundation from taking action to respawn that person.

The Foundation may have a policy that is firmly established that someone can't be presumed death until ten or fifteen years have elapsed, perhaps based upon historical statistics on how often someone who is MIA (or their soul stone) is recovered, rather than immediately, as would happen if colleagues could make a convincing report that he is actually dead.

Perhaps once death is presumed after ten years, there is another five years set aside to search for the dead person's soul stone (which might or might not conveniently turn up somewhere it could have been overlooked at the time of the disappearance, with the helpful hints of the survivors that they "suddenly" remember).

This takes only a little lie quickly almost forgotten (since they haven't actually killed the Captain for good anyway), not any technical prowess or tinkering of any great degree.

Even people who knowingly lie or create false identities about something that persists for long periods of time almost forget the truth themselves on a day to day basis and functionally start to think of the lie as the truth even if they know better in much the same way that someone who changes their name when they get married gets used to their new name being "true" in some sense even though they know they weren't born with it. Edgar Allen Poe and Leo Tolstoy were wrong in thinking that guilt about past wrongs weighs people down until they can't bear it. In real life, faking it until something is second nature is a very natural process.

There is also a pretty infallible system to detect if a person is still alive

If soul stones normally transmit a signal that someone is still alive that the perpetrators know wouldn't be present since the Captain is really dead, invent some way that enemy captors could suppress that signal in their prisoners of war.

For example, maybe the signal can't escape deep mines and there is a widely credited rumor that POWs (prisoners of war) are often sent to the mines deep in the Earth to labor or to deep dungeons (and on rare occasions escape or are liberated, for example, when the war ends between the prisoner's home people and the people holding him) that would make a living MIA POW seem like they were dead based upon a lack of a soul stone signal.

If this myth or half-truth is widely enough believed, no one would even bother to check if there was or wasn't a signal anymore, because that information wouldn't tell the Foundation what it needed to know.

Another different myth that could foil the system for reliably determining that someone is still alive that is magical in nature could be some creature or spell caster who could cast a curse on someone that would "silence" their soul stone even though they were still living. A credible rumor that even one such person existed could bog up the respawning process when someone is MIA (even if they are not a POW).


Unleash a scavenger on his developing body.

Provided that the Regenerator doesn't make the new body instantly, you can just put a scavenger next to him. Thinking him dead, it will start eating him. It doesn't affect the regeneration process, it just eats the new tissue as soon as it is created.

Build a spawn prison.

If your villain knows where the replacement body will spawn, he can build an inescapable trap around that spot.


Soul Gems aren't copies, but conduits

Note: this answer is probably way out of line with the setting of the question, but as noted in my comment, very few options are left by the infallibility of the Regenerators.

It turns out the Regenerators don't work at all in the way people have assumed all this time (or have been led to believe by the Foundation). The Soul gems don't contain minds, they contain the imprint needed to connect to the actual soul at a certain point in its hyperdimensional existence (including personality and memories that belong to that moment). The Soul Gem replaces a part of the brain's role, becoming the interface between the higher dimension where the soul resides and the physical world. This connection used to be severed on brain death, but now can be tenuously kept intact and restored by the Memory Repository and the Regenerators.

McKenna's old friend and compatriots have "seen the light" and found out this most secret of secrets: All souls linked by Soul Gems are prevented from moving on to whatever afterlife there is. They have learned to "free" the soul, breaking the link between soul and Soul Gem in a (fatal) ascension ceremony.

What they haven't learned yet is that the process only weakens the link and while it will break completely if left alone, it can be re-established over many years of activating the Soul Gem within the Memory Repository. Until that time however, any regrown body remains in a vegetative state.


Funny thing about old friends: they know stuff about you.

All the old friend has to do is bring to light Mckenna's past, like that time he got so high on magic mushrooms that he predicted the world would end in 2012. Or something else just as shocking.

If McKenna's employers suspect he's been playing both sides, or that he can defer to the other side if given motive and opportunity, they might want to wait before bringing McKenna back. They will put that respawn on hold until they can be sure of McKenna's loyalty, or at least wait until they can find some means to ensure his loyalty.

Depending on how things go, they might even postpone that respawn until Kingdom come.

By the way, the old friend's tale does not have to be true. It just has to be believable to whomever is in charge of respawns.

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    $\begingroup$ I dunno, but Blue kinda sus... $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Oct 1 '20 at 15:51

Already existing copy

The villain managed to copy the data of McKenna and have a clone ready. When he kills the real McKenna, he triggers the birth of a new McKenna but with altered memories.

The official regenerator will detect that McKenna is alive and when he comes back to the base, everyone will see that he is alive and well (and won't force a copy). What they don't know is that they just accepted a traitor back in their ranks.


Poison Pill

Kill the Captain, leave his body, and flee just as the Captain's friends return while monologuing villainously.

They collect the body, return it to the Regenerator, and the Captain is reborn, ready to fight again.


The enemy has tampered with the soul gem - replacing it, overwriting it, or corrupting it.

Replacing: The Captain is an imposter in the Captain's body, and will turn on his 'allies' at the worst possible moment.

Overwriting: The soul gem has been tampered with, and new memories have been added, and/or true memories have been deleted. The Captain no longer knows who are friends and who are enemies, with predictable results - he attacks allies and enables enemy actions.

Corrupting: The Captain comes back as normal, but subtly changed. Each death / copy causes him to drift further from his original personality and his memories fade as the corruption takes deeper hold. Perhaps this is a slow version of replacing, and the Captain realizes with horror that his is a plant, destined to destroy his friends after the transformation is complete.

In any cause, the damage is predicated on the idea that the soul gem appears to have worked properly, and the Regenerator presumably purges the old "copies" of a person following a successful re-birth.


Remote alteration of the stored mind(s).

This does break your "cant mess with the memory repository" rule, but I think that limitation is there because you assumed messing with the pre-mission repository would require direct access to the repository.

When you create a memory in a repository and/or soul stone you create a link between that repository and you that remains in effect after the copying. This could be the explanation of how they can determine you being alive or dead, as that link will be gone if you are dead.

While you are outside of the range of making a solid copy of yourself, you are still in range enough for a very weak and faulty copy, messing with the existing one. The old friend will use this to create errors when the soulstone/repository is fed to the regenerator. You can clean it up ofcourse, but it could take up to 15 years if that person is dead and the repository is sufficiently scrambled.


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