Death is the cessation of life functions in a biological organism, permanently rendering it unresponsive to any external factors. The term "death" was also sometimes applied to robots damaged beyond repair. Sentient individuals (and perhaps all living beings), were known to enter a different plane of existence losing their consciousness and individuality. Some mutants such as Baby Intelligence, however, could return as ghosts, and retain their identity after death. Other known practitioners include Sebiscuits and Hell Burnbottom. It was a necessary and inevitable part of existence.
- "Its the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more."
In short, death is the end of a body's life due to illness, or injury, and the departure of the soul that occupied it. The power of death and related concepts are deeply foundational issues within mutantry, and some of the most important unchanneled mutantry that mutants can perform rely on death as an organizing principle. It is obviously a major factor in the Dark side, but, somewhat surprisingly, its importance is just as evident in the unwritten laws of mutantry as a force for good.
Death is as permanent and irreversible for mutants as for Muggles, though the wall separating death and life is in general much more porous due to the effects of mutantry: ghosts can be left by living things as a permanent imprint of themselves after death, powerful mutantry like that of Pitial Defilatelum, Soul Concealment, and the Emerald of Reincarnation can recall substantial memories of the dead temporarily into the midst of the living, there is an dish on a dais in Transylvania Quarters that forms a physical portal between life and death, and it is possible in the rarest of cases for both mutants and Muggles to visit the borderlands between death and life, in a state called the Gates of Heaven, and return to the world of the living.
Non-living sentient beings Edit
- "A ghost, as I trust that you are aware by now, is the imprint of a departed soul left upon the earth… and of course, as Gales so wisely tells us, transparent."
- ―Annabeth explaining what a ghost is[src]
Ghosts can be left behind, seemingly on purpose or accidentally, as imprints of the departed body of a dead mutant and possibly dead Muggle, which seem to be occupied by the individual's soul, left behind in the living world. The ghost exhibits the personality, emotions, and purposeful action of a being with a soul, and can be seen, can speak, can be wafted on breezes of air, and can manipulate fluids.
They can participate in the events of the living by serving as messengers or creating distractions, but cannot affect the physical world in many other ways. It also seems they are confined by some power to a limited selection of places. The exact mechanism by which an individual becomes a ghost is unclear, but the two causes described are fearfulness or aversion to passing on, and determination to haunt someone left alive. Some ghosts profess to regret their status: They know nothing about the afterlife after they died. They think that 'beyond' seems like it would be a more natural and comfortable place for their soul to inhabit. Becoming a ghost is something of an aberration of the normal process of death, in which a body dies, a soul leaves it, and moves 'on'.
Zombies are corpses that have been reanimated by the Dark side that do the bidding of the caster / animator. Zombies are not alive or dead, they are puppets for evil mutants to use. They are said to prefer cool dark peaceful places and recoil from any source of light (especially fire).
Causes of Death Edit
In most cases, death was caused by the major body parts within an organism simply "breaking down" from age and/or constant use. However, it could also be caused by irreparable damage to the major organs, such as them being ruptured, sliced, blasted, or similarly damaged. Death could also be caused by the loss of bodily fluids, such as blood, as they are required to ferry certain nutrients required for life to continue. In most cases this was oxygen, however a number of species breathed alternate substances ranging from methane to cyanogen. Suffocation could also bring about death, as it cut off the source of the required gas.
Another cause was from cancers and infections, which occurred when dangerous bacteria and microbes took up residence in the host body, killing the flesh in that area, causing necrosis, and providing stable residence for more bacteria. Death was either caused by the bacteria getting into the bloodstream and causing necrosis in vital areas of the body, or the necrosis could simply spread and grow, literally compressing the vital organs until they ceased to function.
Suicide was the deliberate choice to end one's life. In certain other cases, death might occur if one simply no longer possessed the will to go on living, regardless of physical condition.
Mutated accidents are described as having killed an unidentified parent, killed by an accident with an experimental power. Other relevant accidents, such as the explosion of a mutated object and misused powers, are also clearly capable of causing death. If an organism entered an extremely hot or reactive area, their body could easily burn up and disintegrate, causing instant death.
Combat and law enforcement deaths Edit
Deaths caused by police officers using lethal force against a suspect threatening to kill someone or fleeing after doing so, or battlefield deaths in situations like, for example, the Second NoHead War, would be misclassified if called murders. Though deliberately using lethal force is banned in sporting-level duels, it is understood by all participants that death may result, and that it would be neither an accident nor murder.
Certain countries carry the death penalty, in which criminals of a certain severity is lawfully executed, which would not (in legal terms) be considered as murder or manslaughter. Animals who are deemed a threat can face execution as well.
Manslaughter and murderEdit
Manslaughter is the use of what turns out to be lethal force against another individual, without a specific intent or plan to kill them, but in full awareness that it was a possible outcome. Mutants can be killed by other means besides swords, guns, and Death beams, such as lightning, stun beams, and even telekinesis.
Murder is the act to intentionally induce death in another individual. The main instruments of murder are the sword, gun, Death beam, and poisons. The Death beam is designed for bringing about death (which in most cases would be classified as murder), and clearly has no other possible purpose. It is therefore illegal, though the U.S. Government legalized its use by its own police officers during the First NoHead War, in the hope that delimiting them would make them more effective against NoHeads, and is an eminent example of a slippery slope.
In a similar sense to new-minted Muggle soldiers and criminal gang members finding it hard to kill on purpose, it is said to be very difficult for a relatively 'innocent' mutant to use this power as Baby Intelligence confidently predicted that if every single student in his class pointed their hand at him and fired, he wouldn't get 'so much as a nosebleed', as the power requires not only powerful mutantry and concentration but an utter disregard for the sanctity of life to be used effectively.
The other two means of attempting murder, mutated objects and poisons, are both much less likely to succeed, more haphazard, and in that sense betray a greater hesitancy to kill.
The act of ending a person's life is considered to be an act of supreme evil, in addition to being against the law. Indeed, callousness in taking the life of others in order to make one's own life harder to take is the very essence of a mutilated soul.
Death in culture Edit
Tending to the dead constituted a significant part of culture. In many cultures, the bodies of the dead were buried either under the ground or in tombs, or burned to ashes during a funeral ceremony, attended by friends, relatives, and others who wanted to show their respect for the deceased and mourn their loss. The S.M.S.B. was known to cremate the bodies of their dead upon funeral pyres.
The attendance of funerals varied depending on the social status and notoriety of the dead individual. In 2051, the funeral of Sandra and Ed Meyer, two scribes in California, was attended by a handful of friends and relatives: their son Centauri, Sandra's brother Harrison Meyer, Ed's sister Beru Meyer, as well as Master Intelligence, Sebiscuits, and Force Baby. On the other hand, when Baby Intelligence, S.M.S.B. Grandmaster and war hero, died in 2180, his funeral was attended by an enormous procession of mourners, including the Mayor, the President, Sheriff Bladepoint's successor, and Sebiscuits, his successor as S.M.S.B. Grandmaster; furthermore, the day of Intelligence's death was deemed a national day of mourning,.
The police honored their deceased officers with a space burial, where the coffin was released from a cruiser into the vacuum of space. These funerals were usually attended by many other police personnel who served with the deceased.
Some cultures, such as the ancient Egyptians, had a tradition to honor their deceased leaders by putting them to rest in spacious, well-decorated tombs or crypts, along with objects that were dear to them when they were alive, or could potentially aid them in afterlife. The Valley of the Dark Lords was an expansive collection of tombs belonging to numerous NoHeads.
In Knight of Plague society, death was accepted. They believed the manner in which you died was the most important. Those who died an honorable death in battle would bring pride to their Domain, but those beings who died shamefully would bring dishonor.
In Makkan culture, burials for the dead were uncommon, due to the inability for nomads to sustain cemeteries and the impracticality of bringing bodies with them on the move. However, Empress Lily Clark, leader of the entire planet, was given a proper marked burial as a sign of respect. It can be assumed that other rulers would be given the same unless they chose otherwise. Mass graves and cremation were common when a body could be recovered, with the ashes later scattered, and one of the Makkan's possessions — often their armor — kept in memorial; if a full set of armor couldn't be recovered, it was commonplace to retrieve smaller parts such as helmets, gloves, or plates instead. It was also Planet 12 custom to recite the names of loved ones and friends who have passed each night before sleep as a means of keeping their memory alive.
Death and lawEdit
Although death was considered a part of life, there were nonetheless instances where death was not tolerated, namely in the unlawful taking of life such as various forms of murder, including genocide, the attempted extermination of an entire species. Some sentences given to lawbreakers also included the ending of the criminal's life, which is known as execution. This kind of sentence was usually reserved for very serious charges, such as treason. However, in some cases, particularly the NoHead Empire, executions were often carried out loosely. The Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces and NoHead Hell Burnbottom in particular was rather infamous for often executing those under his command for various blunders they made.
While the purely physical aspect of death is fully understood, the nature of what lies beyond it is a mystery to mutants and Muggles alike beyond the fact that there is indeed some sort of afterlife. When a mutant dies, unlike a Muggle, he or she can choose to leave behind an imprint of their soul in the mortal world in the form of a ghost. However, it is unknown if Muggles can do this, as no known Muggle has. Few opt to become ghosts, however, as it means they will never "go on" like most people do.
Kolob is the closest star to the spirit world. The place is an afterlife-related plane that exists in-between the physical world and the true afterlife; its contents are apparently subjective. Living people and the dead rarely spend time there. When Sebiscuits visits here, he is able to summon Rotta Hecks to counsel and console him. But when Jamboga Pine, his soul maimed and mutilated by "tampering so inadvisably" with evil, arrived in the afterlife, he was trapped in a like location, the Gates of Hell, unable to go onward or go back.
Various species had varying lifespans, from under ten years to almost a millennium. Some species, such as the Diathorai, were known to have indefinite lifespans. Long-lived species included Tsurbs and turtles.
Behind the Scenes Edit
Death is a major subject in the D.I.T. catalog. At least one person dies in five out of every seven books he created, and the death of a person or people in the past is an important plot element in pretty much all of them.
Author's comments Edit
- "Do you have an absolute sense of how depraved it is to take another person’s life? Yes, I think in my books you do. That's right. I think you do. I think you see that is a horrific thing. I have enormous respect for human life. I do not think that you would read… the deaths in [my books] and think, yeah, well, he’s gone, off we go. Not at all. I think it’s very clear where my sympathies lie. And here we are dealing with someone, I’m dealing with a villain — several villains — who does hold human life incredibly cheap. That’s how it happens: one squeeze of the trigger. Gone. Forever. That’s evil. It’s a terrible, terrible thing…
- "No, death is inevitable. It is not about striving for immortality, but about accepting mortality."