Autons are the mindless slaves of the Nestenes, robots fabricated from plastic and given crude human features. They look like shop window mannequins, and can pass for humans when they are dressed appropriately and given face masks. Autons have a characteristically jerky, lumbering movement that can betray their true identity. Each one embodies pert of the Nestene Consciousness, a group mind that in parts can control individual Autons and report back to the mental core.

A sophisticated version of the basic Auton, the replicant, can be made using the mind print of a person. Replicant Autons are indistinguishable from the real person and can think for themselves; they have the physical strength of an Auton and the mental powers of their subject.

Built into the right hand of every auton is a blaster. The fingers of the Auton's hand flip downwards to reveal the narrow gun barrel.

If an Auton is deprived of contact with the Nestene Consciousness, it is immobilized.

Nestene Consciousness

Nestenes is the collective name for a disembodied, mutually telepathic Consciousness that takes corporeal form as a cephalopod -- a giant octopus. The Consciousness travels through space, seeking out suitable planets to colonize. When it finds one, it sends a swarm of meteorites -- plastics globes containing part of its being -- to the planet, in the hope that the scientifically curious will study the globes: whoever finds one first is mentally attacked by the Consciousness to provide it with an agent who can prepare for the full materialization of the Nestenes on the planet. Whoever the Consciousness takes over, it imbues with its ability of Hypnotism.

Plastics materials are the Nestenes' tools: they can control molecularly adjusted plastics to create the robot-like Autons or to make ordinary household objects into weapons of terror. Inflatable chairs can be made to suffocate people, plastic dolls or cables animated to strangle them, and plastic flowers made to spray suffocating films in people's faces. The Consciousness needs to destroy any native population in an area so it can materialize in complete safety.

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