Chitoi (Kigh-Toy) are organic chitin-based robotic entities with several thousand variant-forms available from the Public Domain databases. They are fast-growing, incredibly easy to program, and extremely useful for the most basic tasks. Many colonists use them for cheap labor, others use them for patrolling low-risk areas. Chitoi can be implanted with a wide array of skills, prepacked skill-sets, or behavior-patterns at the time they are extruded from their matrix-slurry.
Chitoi are usually vaguely humanoid, almost stick-figure-like creatures who are often mistaken for insects due to their chitinous exoskeletons. They are Synthoi Constructs with a calcium-based biostructure and a vast array of optional freeware templates and Public Domain modifications available that can give them hyper-corrosive blood, nanosilk-extrusion spinnerettes, enhancements to their exoskeletal matrix such as polycarbonate honeycombing or rigidmesh overlays. Whole secondary carapaces can be extruded, wings, swimfins, and all manner of melee-style contact weapons can be selected, altered to suit the situation and plugged into the egg of a prototype Chitoi that will then either form one or a hundred of the things according to the availability of appropriate feedstocks.
Soldiers, Myrmidons, and Wardrones were developed from a similar if not the exact same process.
Chitoi are capable of being used militarily, or in security configurations, but they are most commonly used as cheap labor and they really come into their own amongst colonies and settlements where they have been instilled with various skills that they can then perform on behalf of their communities.
It is possible, even common practice to have a selection of Chitoi programmed into one of the myriads of womb-pods, egg-panels, creche-pools or flat-vats available for the production of Chitoi and keeping the Chitoi paused until reaching a particular destination, certain conditions are met, or whatever other criteria are plugged into the mechanism. The Chitoi are often used as preliminary scouts, sent out to survey a particular region, set up a landing site, analyze the immediate vicinity, and perform similar such tasks for settlers, explorers or even teams of Dezhu entering into uncharted territories.
Chitoi can be programmed for just about any basic task, and with suitable upgrading of their central nervous systems they can be instilled with almost any sort of conventional skill. Unlike certain other forms of Autoi, the Chitoi can learn and adapt and they can improve their abilities and skills through training and experience. The Chitoi improve with age and activity, and thus improve in value over the course of their service, allowing them to be re-sold for substantial profits—a practice that is fairly common amongst many colonies and settlements. No Chitoi has acquired true sentience and despite their capacity to learn and to develop crude personalities, they lack the means to develop into truly sentient beings without direct, deep-level intervention on the part of their owners and masters. Chitoi are reputed to develop highly developed instincts and there have been documented cases of exceptionally intuitive and even empathic Chitoi.
This ability to be programmed with a particular skill was originally a hotly contested matter that drew a great deal of disapproval from the Trade Unionists, Craftsfamilies and Guilds. This is why a Chitoi that is given a particular skill is now imprinted as an apprentice in their skill-set under the aegis of one of the Unions, Guilds or more powerful Families. The Chitoi have no legal status within these bodies other than receptacle for designated skills and as probationally recognized conveyers and operators within these skill-areas. Yes, the Chitoi are not only unionized, they are under a form of eternal probation, unless or until something remarkable happens.
While they are organic and capable of learning, the Chitoi are not sentient nor are they considered anything more than property or live-objects unless or until they are granted autonomy and their higher faculties are activated. They have no real standing and are not considered a true genoculture because each batch is designed, programmed and customized to be unique from all other batches, plus the fact that they were developed as laborer drones and never intended to be rendered autonomous—though they do possess the capacity to have their internal systems suitably upgraded so that they can acquire sentience and thus gain legal status as free individuals.
Those Chitoi who have been granted autonomy often opt to become condottierri, janissaries, or other forms of mercenary-adepts in order to accumulate enough wealth so as to pursue aims and ambitions that they refuse to disclose to their former masters. It is also important to note that awakening a Chitoi to sentience causes them to develop a form of consciousness that encapsulates their previously raw and unformed psyches, precipitating their acting out of various integration dramas as they undergo the individuation process, rebel against conformity, and ultimately seek to belong to something greater than themselves. They also develop emotions through this process and can become incredibly unstable, even going insane. This is why most Chitoi that have already been through this process watch over their fellows and tend to guide them into occupations, tasks and service that will keep them busy and give them time to integrate their psyches meaningfully and independently.
But not all are so lucky. Unscrupulous cultists have been known to raise Chitoi as Immaculate Exemplars, idealized servitors and worse.
There are a rumored to be small bands of free-Chitoi who travel about the Known Worlds seeking out cultically enslaved Chitoi in order to either liberate them or destroy them.