|“||I've brought death and suffering in such magnitude. It's only right that I spent the balance of my life bringing life.||”|
Protoculture was a unique and powerful energy source, derived from semi-sentient plantlife called the Flower of Life. It has numerous practical applications, and was the basis for a new branch of science known as Robotech. Its broad capabilities have often times led to confusion as to its true nature.
When humanity first discovered the technological applications of protoculture, very few beyond those in the upper echelons of the United Earth Government or the Robotech Research Group knew of the term's existence. Many assumed "Protoculture" as simply a fuel source to power advanced Robotech mecha. Terran bio-engineers coined the term Stabilized Liquid Metallic Hydrogen, or SLMH. It was only during the Reconstruction Era did humanity start using the term 'Protoculture'.
The Rise of the Robotech EmpireEdit
For eons, the Robotech Masters have dominated the universe. Details on where they came from, how they rose to power, and what motivated them could be traced back to the Tirolian scientist Zor's discovery of the Flower of Life and Protoculture, which led to the creation of a new science known as "Robotech". Ultimately, it was the Robotech Masters' dependancy and misuse of protoculture that forced Zor to turn against his people. This would start a chain of events that would eventually lead to the First Robotech War on Earth.
Cells and Energy GenerationEdit
Cells can be utilized in multiple ways; energy can be stored within the matrix itself, energy can be harnessed from restrained protoculture cellular division contained by the matrix, or pumped into compatible systems. Protoculture Furnaces, Reactors, Generators and Producers harness energy by converting or destroying the alien substance, while some circuits and mechanisms are energized simply by direct contact. Systems utilizing protoculture often exhibit instinctive reaction, improved integration and greatly increased performance. Over time protoculture decays or mutates, at an even more rapid rate outside of the cell (matrix), and must be replaced or supplemented by fresh stock, a new cell.
Zentraedi Warships used massive cells (aka Storage Matrix) while those for Zentraedi mecha were much more compact, thanks to automated mass production they were considered expendable. Lower cost and ease of production came at an even greater price to the Zentraedi as they became dependent on the Robotech Masters for a continuous flow of protoculture to fuel their massive armada - and with dependence came security from rebellion. Indeed, a similar situation would be a major concern for the Disciples of Zor, a splinter group of Robotech Masters and Zentraedi, who military forces executed small lightning raids on protoculture production facilities and storage depots.
Humanity would itself became reliant on these cells, especially during the Second and Third Robotech Wars. Once the reconstructed Zor's Battlefortress was destroyed, there was concern that Earth's supply of protoculture would eventually run out, some believed Humanity now controlled most of the remaining protoculture in the universe. A program was quickly established to harvest active protoculture, especially cells, from Zentreadi wrecks and their debris on Earth and in orbit.
The Invid had developed a process to produce protoculture without a Factory Matrix, unfortunately they were largely bereft of the Flower of Life, also consumed by these protoplamic parasites as a foodstuff. The Masters with the aid of the Zentraedi had stolen most of these plants from the Invid's homeworld of Optera, and left it in ruins. The Invid were forced to relocate their civilization to another world, not once but twice, meanwhile most of their species would remain dormant for many centuries.
When the Invid occupied Earth during the Third Robotech War, they stockpiled a substantial supply of protoculture cells, many of these were used as bargaining chips with human collaborators.
Genetic Manipulation and ImmortalityEditAs important in the reshaping of Tirolian culture as the discovery of near-unlimited, clean, efficient, and light power supplies from an alien plant, was the discovery of the myriad of uses for ambitious biological applications.
The first applications for these substances, which could be easily extracted from the fabricator of a Protoculture Matrix, was their use in life-extension treatments. It could effectively repair damage at the cellular level, preventing not only degenerative diseases and cancers, but could stop the aging process itself. Because the body's immune system would eventually break down the foreign enzymes, treatments would have to be repeated to maintain the anti-geriatric effect.
On early Imperial Tirol, homeworld of the Robotech Masters, one's access to these treatments depended entirely on one's status. The poorest of the poor, the rural and urban workers, were denied the treatment in all but the most serious of medical cases - and were never used to prolong life beyond natural limits, only to keep people relatively healthy until death. Only the Robotech Elders, Masters, and the most essential of those in artificial societies they created for themselves on their mother-ships, were allowed effective immortality. This exclusivity was in part because of social castes, but was also as much a matter of economics - the zylonases were only present in small quantities in Protoculture Matrices, were extremely expensive, and were needed for more strategic applications, leaving only the richest and most powerful with access to them.
CloningEditRobotech Elders and Clone Masters were able to create a society of clones that fit their rigid ideological standards, and surrounded themselves with these individuals, made in groups of three, the Triumverate, who possessed a limited empathic sense between members of the triad. True triplicates, three identical formed from one and now rare, were especially empathic.
Creation of LifeEdit
But the triumph of the Protoculture-cloning techniques was the race of giant warriors that would later be known as the Zentraedi. Constructed and programmed by the hundreds of billions during the Empire's history, the Zentraedi were not only built on modified scaffolding, but were built upon modified DNA, with sequences specialized for their giant size spliced into what are 'junk DNA' sequences for humans. Not only was it feasibly possible for the construction of these artificial Goliaths, it permitted a process known as 'micronization' that could in a matter of hours create a new body for Zentraedi individual, of either human or giant size, and hard-wire into the new brain the neural connections of the original body. Indeed, it is likely that the Regess used this technique, if in a dramatically more advanced fashion, to create the humanoid Solugi.
- The term "Protoculture" first came up during pre-production story development for The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Japanese TV series (Big West/Studio Nue, 1982), when the creators were researching cultural studies to develop concepts to be used in the plot. Robotech bastardized the term to refer to a high energy source.
- In the Macross animated series Protoculture serves both to refer to the first extraterrestrial humanoid civilization itself ("Proto Culture" or Puroto Kerlchuun, which means "Old Culture" or "Ancient Culture" in the fictional Zentradi language) and Earthling culture itself.
- Flower of Life
- Protoculture Chamber
- Protoculture Storage Matrix
- Protoculture Factory Matrix
- Reflex Cannon
- Stabilized Liquid Metallic Hydrogen
- Historical Essay: Protoculture, the Invid, and the Flower of Life by Peter Walker with Aubry Thonon, Pieter Thomassen, and Robert Morgenstern