Vitros are bred in large processing facilities, genetically modified so that they reach adulthood in two years. This rapid growth comes at a price -- they begin to age beyond optimal combat service at about age 18 and usually reach mortality at about age 22. (Vitro age is measured starting with separation from the development chamber.) As they do not have parents they bond instead with their instructors, who teach them combat methods and some basic interpersonal skills so that they can cooperate with their in utero fellow soldiers.
Vitros have been bred by the Federation as soldiers for over three centuries but the programme was only put into full effect during the First Pelagic War, due to the dire need for soldiers at the time. Since then the moral implications have been trumped by continuing combat demands, but there is still an active anti-Vitro political movement, particularly at the Federal Core, the outlying systems being more in favour of the military cloning programme.
Vitros are the best infantry in the Federal Army – they have enhanced senses and are physically superior to in uteros, and are trained for combat virtually from the day they separate. They are provided with distinctive armour and weapons to take advantage of their exceptional performance (and to clearly indicate that they are Vitros), the most unusual feature being the multi-lens combat helmet which gives the Vitro warrior a somewhat strange, alien appearance. They are raised to obey and often do, but they are human, and as such have their grievances. Vitros keenly feel their shortened lifespans, and the disdain many in uteros have for them as products rather than people. There are also persistent rumours that Vitro Programme scientists have developed a serum to counteract the accelerated Vitro aging process but do not provide this to Vitros because it decreases combat capabilities. As a result of these factors, and other issues besides, there have been sporadic Vitro uprisings. This is the reason Vitros are no longer organized into formations larger than infantry platoons – the heavier weapons remain under control of in utero units.
Vitros are genetically human but their hair follicles do not grow hair unless artificially stimulated and both genders are sterile although they can be sexually active. Both males and females serve in Vitro platoons in about equal numbers. Occasionally, an especially aggrieved Vitro will escape the facility and go renegade, and these Vitros are especially dangerous – they will sometimes join bands of alien mercenaries, but just as often will attempt to pass as an in utero to infiltrate the Vitro Programme to seek out the rumoured life enhancement serum.
Two infantry squads of Vitros are now available at our webstore – they were sculpted by PF.