InVitros (Homo sapiens facticius) are a genetically engineered subspecies of humans. Although little genetic and morphological difference separates InVitros from Homo sapiens sapiens, the circumstances of their conception and birth drastically separates them from "baseline" humans.
The name is etymologically derived from the Latin phrase "in vitro", which is used in science to refer to state of being in an artificial environment outside the living organism. Thus, InVitro refers to the race not only being conceived in a laboratory, but also artificially gestated in glass and metal cylinders, to be "born" as young adults.
The InVitros were first farmed by the InVitro Authority to fill the labor force gap after the world's population was decimated by the sterility-causing plagues of the 1980s and early 1990s. The first batch of InVitros were decanted in 1995.
Biongineered with the best the genome has to offer, without the randomness of natural selection, InVitros are conceived from 'parents' that never actually lived as two human beings. They were composites of DNA from many sources assembled together in a petri dish to optimize the chances of getting the best traits possible. The race is a step up from cloning in that no two InVitros are alike; however they can share DNA with another InVitro created from the same batch of constructed chromosomes. Genetically designed to be stronger, faster and less prone to illness, the InVitros were suppose to help bring the decaying human race back to its feet. They were created to be a servant caste, occupying jobs that were too dangerous, demeaning or strenuous for "Natural Born" humans. After they are born they serve a five year period of indentured servitude to reimburse society for expenses associated with their creation.
After being created by gene splicing, InVitros gestate in artificial gestation chambers or tanks (from which the derogatory term "tank" derives), with the natural umbilical cord delivering the nutrients they need as they remain suspended in a sleep state and under an accelerated growth rate and an artificial cord at the base of their skulls (on the back of their necks) that is connected to a neural network that inputs basic education through direct sensory input to the brain. While floating in the neutral-buoyancy tank that is the artificial gestation chamber, a series of sophisticated retroviruses attack the genome of the InVitros, prematurely activating segments of DNA responsible for growth and maturity. By triggering these genes in a closely timed sequence while providing them with a steady flow of nutrient rich protein medium, their bodies are able to reach maturity at a rate far more rapid than naturally. After six years, their physical development is equivalent to a natural-born human at eighteen years of age. Seven percent of the subjects do not survive the gestation process.
In the early years of the War on Terror, Natural Born losses were greater than anticipated and the cost in human life was devastatingly high in the civilian population as well as in the military. Terrorist attacks claimed far too many. Combat and battle claimed even more. Every day the losses mounted. Every NATO country made the decision to increase its numbers with InVitros who could become highly skilled soldiers. Governments and industry worked together to build a multitude of InVitro facilities around the world, facilities where these soldiers could be grown and trained.
After the InVitros were conscripted into the armed forces against their will, they proved to be poor soldiers. With no conventional families to protect, a lack of patriotic fervor toward nations that saw them as expendable slaves, and no vested interest in the war on terrorism's outcome, the majority of the InVitros refused to fight. Out of guilt and dissatisfaction, the InVitro brigades, an abysmal failure, were dissolved. The InVitros returned "home" without familial or community ties to guide their main-streaming and soon became a rebellious race of sociopolitical untouchables. The refusal to fight in the global war against terrorism has led to a stigma that continues to haunt InVitroes everywhere.
Now, persecuted and reviled as disloyal cowards, most are outcasts, living on the outer edges of society. They have gained the reputation for being lazy and shiftless. Some Natural Borns have even reacted with violence to InVitros. The additional artificial "navel" present at the back of their necks (where the artificial umbilical cord/neural implant was attached in the gestation chamber) became their only visible distinguishing feature, making them easily recognizable and an easy target of constant discrimination.
Many casually call them "tanks" in reference to their gestation chambers. Others call them "nipple necks" in reference to the navel at the base of the neck. InVitros are a segment of the population who have finally carved out a small niche for themselves in a society that used and then discarded them as mistakes.