Author Topic: A.F.R.I.C.A. (Quasar 4x AAR)  (Read 4040 times)

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Offline Stormtrooper (OP)

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Re: A.F.R.I.C.A. - Bitrot
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2022, 07:36:57 PM »
BITROT

Cloning adults was too complicated, cloning embryos had a good chance of completely screwing up human genome and cloning fetuses proved to generate so much mess that the cloned children could barely survive, even after heavy augmentation. So all in all, Exadev Space Industries had a long way to go to raise the CEO's dream army of clones. For the time being, good old boring colony starships were the only reliable source to expand population of Cybercity. The fleet used was nothing special, basically a group of PhaseRunners with cargo space filled with cryopods and some small tweaks in security due to the cargo being quite sensitive, fragile and squishy. With enough augments it was no longer sensitive, fragile and squishy. But then augments were worth much more than the body of a slave single worker's life. So while they made their temporary user owner less sensitive, fragile and squishy, the paranoia of managers only grew exponentially with the number of enchancements being transported. To reduce risk, the crypod storage bays didn't even have atmosphere inside, stocked in vacuum chambers so that a micrometeorite puncturing the hull wouldn't cause a chain reaction killing the 110000 sleepers on board. Not that it was easy to breach that hull with anything but military-grade weapons, though. It was coated with a layer of repair nanodrones constantly watching over its integrity and being able to repair even the tiniest scratches by using the alloy microplates distributed to them via a system of densely-packed, small transit tubes with magnets accelerating and guiding the materials, all supervised by AI making optimal logistical decisions. For the naked eye the hull looked like the most cliche colony starship hull imaginable, but the consciousness about its construction sparked the imagination of its constructors and crewmembers, with many feeling like they were about to enter the stomach of a giant, synthetic organism, or the core of AI superbrain. Such feelings were often reinforced by the sound the semi-intelligent hull produced. They could be heard if one decided to glue their ear to the wall. And so these synthetic beasts were weaving through the interstellar void, earning the name for this line of spaceships - Synth Waver.


Quote
Synth Waver class Cargo Ship    50 000 tons     231 Crew     1881.8 BP      TCS 1000  TH 1200  EM 0
1200 km/s    JR 2-50     Armor 1-120     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 24    Max Repair 100 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 0
Cryogenic Berths 110000

JC51K Alcubierre Drive     Max Ship Size 51000 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 2
400 EP Commercial Magneto-plasma Drive (3)    Power 400    Fuel Use 6.19%    Signature 400    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 2 350 000 Liters    Range 136.7 billion km   (1318 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes


Exadev didn't feel like sending millions of employees away from the Solar System with so much work to be done, but the Central Stacks Crisis kind of solved this dilemma - after the megacity-wide scandal about local police cooperating with Blue Squad to deliver specimens for cloning experiments from the (in)famous stack towers that once'd given the name of the metropolis, a "small restructurization" of Central Stacks department was announced, with most employees being selected for Cybercity colonization program. It took only five interstellar jumps in and five interstellar jumps out of the new fleet for the population of Cybercity to rise from 10 millions to 30 millions. And more courses were planned.

At the same time PhaseRunners kept on transporting the android shipments ordered from Avalon Heights. When human population of Cybercity crossed the 30th million, android population was already at 7 millions and expanding. Engineers tried to capitalize on the recent improvements in machine self-replicating technology to try to make the androids able to "breed" and produce more androids, but as if the process itself wasn't complicated enough, Avalon Heights' management wasn't stupid and put some damn fine security measures designed to prevent other corporations from stealing their product's inner design.

On 10th December 2277, an unprecedenced event took place: on the surface an insignificant story about just another day of pure insanity of the synthetic world, but with consequences surprisingly getting out of hand. A woman who came to Cybercity alone and against her will after the mess in Central Stacks bought a "companionship android". That alone would be anything but interesting in 2277, even together with her claim of "being in love", but somehow she persisted in her quest to prove to the world(s) that it was "for real" and that her "companionship android" was "really special, unlike the others of synth kind". She persisted so much that somehow during one of the Enriched Meta Reality Framework v3.1.2077 sessions she got into contact with a net journalists scavenging through the virtual insanity reality in search for article material. An interview with the woman, which the journalist recklessly published, made its way through the onboard network node of one of the Synth Wavers all the way back to Earth, Moon and Mars. And ended up being watched in particular by a team of researchers from Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate who had been struggling with their Deep Feeling Enchancer BrainBots project for long enough to see half the team sacked and replaced. Twice. Psychologists consulting the project studied the interview in and out to determine that whatever was going on between that woman and the android looked almost like the end result of a prototype they'd been supposed to show as a demo two years earlier. Which was odd given the woman had no brain chips besides standard ID implant and the android's programming was hardly comparable with the most sophisticated AI existing somewhere in the underground research complexes of the most powerful corporations.

Exadev made one mistake of not realizing what was going on early enough and by the time security was reading reports of Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate's personnel walking down the streets of Cybercity, the woman was already having her brain scanned and mapped in the outpost founded by the rival corporation far away from the city sprawl. Results were fascinating - the android's output signals, brain activity and the patterns emitted by the ID chip all combined almost perfectly, producing a stimulating feeling for the brain's owner. There was nothing special in this particular setup, though - it simply happened to mess with human brain in a way that was desirable for the researchers. Android's software had been downloaded and decompiled, woman's brain analyzed, ID chip encoding sequence deciphered. Experiments continued. A supplementary AI program had been written, capable of learning the process of observed human-android interaction, in hopes of reverse-engineering and taking the full control of the process. Eventually the head scientist approved a new type of experiment: the woman was to be implanted with an experimental psionic chip. It was built with human-human mental interaction in mind (pun intended), not human-machine, and even that part was working barely better than simply trying to guess what someoen's thinking about by observing external behaviour. Not to mention machines couldn't think. Nevertheless, the one thing the chip was doing correctly was to correctly determine user's feelings and enrich or extinguish them accordingly, giving improved control over one's own emotions, potentially useful in mental disorder treatments, silencing intrusive thoughts, on-demand forgetting about something and the like.

But something must've gone wrong (how surprising). After successful operation, recovery and chip calibrating, the woman and the android were placed in a room under strict observation. The feelings of the test subjects at first were growing according to the predicted model, but soon started to rapidly escalate. Thousands of thoughts stormed through the uplifted brain and reached android core in the form of network datastream. But then it all cooled down, almost ceased. The process repeated for a few times. Based on real-time brain scans, the woman really wanted to "give in to her feelings", but past a certain intensity threshold just used her new chip to just reset her mind. After the experiment session she barely could walk and struggled to remember even basic info about herself. Or sometimes would remember random, irrelevant details. The scientists figured out that somehow she was "glitched". Patterns of her brain activity stopped making any sense. Especially when she came back to her senses a week later, only to glitch again within another three days.


Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate smoothly swept the case under corporate carpet. But the research continued for years to come. Generally it was possible to reverse the damage to some extent, but the symptoms had never been fully treated. The patient could function normally for the most part, but sometimes the glitches would reemerge. And with years going by, the "bug episodes" lasted longer and were more intense. As if the brain was slowly decomposing itself, ceasing to put up with all the hard work a good human brain is required to do to keep its owner alive and functioning properly. Experts on human-augmentation interactions and the influence of the ever-blurring line between analog- and cyberspace on human condition named this strange disease "Bitrot", because the affected human would just rot away, bit by bit losing mental consistency and capability to safely interact with modern technology. Who would have guessed too much uncontrolled integration with a machine could have some nasty side effects. Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate planned to do anything but surrender on their long-term goals, though.

Meanwhile, on 5th May 2279, astronomers orbiting Tau Ceti III on board of space station hosting Cybercity's AI governor assistant started picking up sequences of clearly artifical origin coming into the system through the wormhole, still left unexplored due to Exadev still being spread too thin to do everything at once. The signals seemed to represent regular cybernetic chatter. Except they'd sometimes glitch from time to time and produce random nonsense for a few days, and then fix themselves and come back to normal.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 07:39:46 PM by Stormtrooper »
 

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Re: A.F.R.I.C.A. - Static of dead cyberspace
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2022, 12:28:47 PM »
Second spaceport of Cybercity was coming into shape, this time properly equipped with all the spare parts and logistical chains to support the new generation of warships rather than a sketchy design slapped together so that cargo and colony ships could land and liftoff without blowing themselves up that was the first one. Exadev was rushing to get it to usable state and call as many vessels from its new shiny fleet in ASAP. The company refused to send their explorers unprotected. After all, their bionics, ships and corporate secrets they carried were too valuable to risk it falling into the hands of whatever existed on the other side of "Eye of Cybercity". A probe idea had also been shot down for the 12837123th time since the discovery of the wormhole - sending any object at all meant manifesting own presence in Tau Ceti, and with Cybercity still being naked and afraid in terms of space invasion it was the surefire way for the entirety of extrasolar colonization project to end up in a trash bin. Sending spaceships from Earth or Mars was not an easy operation, though - even amateur astronomers could detect something the size of a starship reaching an orbit, launch platforms could only be kept in secret till first launch and the cherry on top was how firing Alcubierre drive was like flaring a huge beacon broadcasting "I'm here" through the whole cyberspace. In late 2270s long gone were the days of space infrastructure so underdeveloped and tightly controlled by the most powerful corporations that one could send an entire exploration and colonization mission to Tau Ceti and have it take years to be discovered. And sending spacecraft that was armed and ready to blow stuff up, especially towards another star, would give all the media a topic of a decade. As if conspiracy theories ranging from alien invasion and corporations commiting genocide on lost human colonies weren't already out of hand.

That's why the first vessel to leave Solar System was a Backup Node-class support platform. Some stuff happened, explorers in deep space need a refuel, nothing to see here. Please ignore the anti-missile railguns, it's for stray rocks in a planetary ring.


Quote
Backup Node class Tanker    50 000 tons     230 Crew     2759.5 BP      TCS 1000  TH 1000  EM 0
1000 km/s    JR 2-25     Armor 5-120     Shields 0-0     Sensors 6/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 15     PPV 0
MSP 518    Max Repair 125 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 1

JC51K Alcubierre Drive     Max Ship Size 51000 tons    Distance 25k km     Squadron Size 2
500 EP Commercial Internal Fusion Drive (2)    Power 500    Fuel Use 4.42%    Signature 500    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 30 000 000 Liters    Range 2443.8 billion km   (28284 days at full power)

CIWS-160 (8x10)    Range 1000 km     TS: 16000 km/s     ROF 5       Base 50% To Hit

Thermal Sensor TH1-6 (1)     Sensitivity 6     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  6m km


But eventually the corporation had to deliver the real deal and managers couldn't postpone it indefinitely. The PR personnel eventually went for lesser evil: instead of just sending the ships as they were, they prepared a story about severe riots and organized crime on the rise in Cybercity (not that the state of affairs there made it a difficult task) hence the need to assign a "peacekeeping force". Getting accused of bombing own employees from orbit was not pleasant, but a "lesser evil" indeed, considering the alternative of details of the real mission leaking out. Of course the fake story got hidden in some files and buried on some obscure servers with enough security to scare off anyone but the best hackers as to not scream "decoy" in the faces of those who'd eventually unearth it.

With no intel whatsoever, corporate management agreed upon sending a squadron of ships being just a tradeoff between delta-v, duraability, firepower and size, slightly in favour of rapid acceleration, though. These were the cheapest options in the entire fleet, meant to act as a fast strike craft and draw attention away from more valuable assets, but still packing enough punch to not be considered cannon fodder. Exadev Space Industries didn't really like the concept of cannon fodder - a whole world war was a budget option in comparsion with even the smalles space encounters and spaceships were not employess, after all. Equipped with conventional far ultraviolet laser blasters, these ships still were supposed to act as a first line of offence, even if not neccessairly in a "cannon fodder" way, but rather they were supposed to just open up some space for the bigger guns to join and then take more of a support role. This design philosophy earned them the name of "Ultraviolet Clearance", since they were supposed to just clear space with their lasers. However, for this particullar mission some of the blasters were swapped for an experimental meson-based weapon. During lab tests meson beams had been successfully weaponized and were able to just skip through various obstacles, like armor or kinetic shields, but if the shots were timed properly, could still damage the inner layers of their target. In theory it made Ultraviolet Clearance fleet able to take down any target for as long as it got the chance to fire. Since the engineers were already struggling with space, they refused the idea to strap additional anti-missile capabilities and instead agreed upon preparing a similar hull, but with all the weapons replaced by rapid-firing Gauss platforms. Another option would be to use swarm drones, but they were still too expensive to be considered as a proper defensive weapon and the replication technology still produced faulty items all too often to deserve being labeled as reliable. Engineers still claimed they'd need months, if not years of fine-tuning to start considering the possibility of just spamming these kamikaze drones in hopes a tiny fraction of them that intercepts the missiles will be at least equal to the size of approaching payload. The only thing both designs were severely lacking in was, ironically, proper counter to Exadev's own weaponry and tactics that'd been feared so much during Battle of Three Bodies. EMP and microwave resistance of each electronic component might have seen imporvements, but at large only proper energy shields remained as a proper defence against a concentrated attack. And the hulls couldn't carry enough shield generators for them to make any real difference.


Quote
Ultraviolet Clearance class Assault Ship    20 000 tons     809 Crew     8536.4 BP      TCS 400  TH 4000  EM 0
10000 km/s    JR 3-50     Armor 10-65     Shields 0-0     Sensors 160/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 49     PPV 65
Maint Life 2.45 Years     MSP 5075    AFR 168%    IFR 2.3%    1YR 1164    5YR 17456    Max Repair 2500 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Spare Berths 2

J20000(3-50) Alcubierre Drive     Max Ship Size 20000 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 3
2000 EP Internal Fusion Drive (2)    Power 2000    Fuel Use 296.46%    Signature 2000    Exp 25%
Fuel Capacity 3 330 000 Liters    Range 10.1 billion km   (11 days at full power)

45cm C5 Far Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 320 000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 53-5     RM 5    ROF 55        53 53 53 53 53 44 38 33 29 27
30cm C5 Far Ultraviolet Laser (3)    Range 320 000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 24-5     RM 5    ROF 25        24 24 24 24 24 20 17 15 13 12
R40/C4 Meson Cannon (3)    Range 320 000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 16-4     RM 40    ROF 5        1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Fire Control S08 160-16000 H40 (2)    Max Range: 320 000 km   TS: 16000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Tokamak Fusion Reactor Technology PB-1 (1)     Total Power Output 96    Armor 6    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor MR39-R100 (40%) (1)     GPS 2800     Range 39.2m km    Resolution 100
Thermal Sensor TH20-160 (40%) (1)     Sensitivity 160     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  160m km

ECCM-2 (2)         ECM 30

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes


Quote
CyberSurge class Missile Destroyer    20 000 tons     635 Crew     8127.4 BP      TCS 400  TH 4000  EM 0
10000 km/s    JR 3-50     Armor 10-65     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 49     PPV 115.95
Maint Life 2.53 Years     MSP 4827    AFR 168%    IFR 2.3%    1YR 1052    5YR 15784    Max Repair 2500 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Spare Berths 2

J20000(3-50) Alcubierre Drive     Max Ship Size 20000 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 3
2000 EP Internal Fusion Drive (2)    Power 2000    Fuel Use 296.46%    Signature 2000    Exp 25%
Fuel Capacity 2 985 000 Liters    Range 9.1 billion km   (10 days at full power)

Quad Gauss Cannon R3-25 Turret (15x20)    Range 30 000km     TS: 16000 km/s     Accuracy Modifier 25%     RM 3    ROF 5        1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-16000 H40 (1)    Max Range: 320 000 km   TS: 16000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69

Active Search Sensor MR39-R100 (40%) (1)     GPS 2800     Range 39.2m km    Resolution 100

ECCM-2 (2)         ECM 30

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes


The fake story leaked sooner than anticipated and the fleet was still assembling and resupplying in orbit above Cybercity and preparing to make a short warp jump to the wormhole and then cross it when everybody high enough on the corporate ladder freaked out from all the accusations of war crimes. Senates of some megacities would call for a collective actions about a corporation that has once again grown too big and powerful to not have a harmful effect on the whole society, but luckily for the lawyers and PR departments trying to fend off the accusations, there were also some movements criticizing the current political system to become too corrupt and allow the evil giants to rise again, demanding a more radical change and a shift towards more sustainable future, with no more corporate exploitation. The possibilities of using these people to stir up inner drama within the opposition and have city governments and the radical protesters fight each other while forgetting about Exadev were endless, but temporairly limited by the volatile nature of anti-government opposition. It had members with all kinds of economical political beliefs, from radical capitalists to radical communists, only united by the case against a few select megacorps nobody liked anyways. This rendered such groups volatile and prone to argue with each other rather than do something productive. A contract with Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate was already in the making, aimed at getting access to the latest psionic chips extending the influence one could have on the user so that Exadev could distribute them among target groups posing as members of resistance and then nudge them away from company's policy and towards various senates. Unfortunately, Cosmotech aiming at taking Exadev's position by leveraging its still fairly small size compared to the corporations that received the most hate didn't really help.

In the meantime, as 2279 was coming to an end on Earth, joint fleet of explorers from Trappist Group Beta and Cybercity Blue Escort was the first post-apocalyptic human force to traverse a wormhole. Space warped around and unwarped again and it only took a brief moment to for the fleet to cross the vast distance. On the other side there was nothing. No hostile ships unloading all their firepower on the poor crews, no space stations, nothing. Just a very brigh sun, and another, small and dim compared to the main component. The binary system was identified as Procyon. Around Procyon-B there was only a small, airless dwarf planet, Procyon-A was more interesting, but nothing that could host life had been detected. Just a hot, partially molten world orbiting close to the sun, with several atmospheres worth of sulfur acids, two gas giants further behind and another airless dwarf planet. Interestingly, it's surface temperature was almost the same as on Earth after TerraNova Inc'd been done with terraforming. No water in any form had been discovered, and the gravity over ten times lower than on Earth made it a very weak candidate for terraforming. The system also hosted an asteroid belt, but it was orbiting Procyon-A so close that attempting to mine them would be unprofitable considering so many better spots that weren't so unimaginably hot, starting with the good old asteroid belt within Solar System. Still a better find than the empty Epsilon Indi system that'd been chosen as the next destination for Trappist Group Alpha a few years before.



Trying to locate what'd been responsible for the unsettling broadcast was like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except it was the wrong haystack and nobody knew the needle was actually a pebble rock. The journey wasn't fruitless, though - during detailed mapping of the system remnants of a few mining outposts had been discovered, and even debris from what must had been a fuel-shiponing space station still orbiting Procyon-A III. A clear sign of human presence in the system. Given the state of everything, nothing more could be learned from the decayed structures. Some employees venturing into these small wastelands started to think whether the Intergalactic Federation was even real at this point. Back on Earth, Humanity survived the worst thanks to the N.O.V.A. Bunker Systems. But maybe the ones who left their homeworld behind as it was consumed by nuclear and fusion fire met even worse fate. Dozens of worlds, once inhabited, now dead and in disarray. And that's why Trappist 1 "assist fleet" never arrived - because a transponder that could receive distress signals and send automatic responses was the only thing that survived out there. But of course these were just speculations, amplified by the feelings of emptiness and desolation in a system that looked more miserable than an empty one, thanks to all the ruins. Trappist 1 threat still had to be treated seriously, just in case.

Some of the crewmembers were still busy making sure they didn't omit anything in the labirynths of twisted metal when a message reached them, originating from the Tau Ceti's side of the wormhole. This time it wasn't a creepy, unintelligible signal, but a clear call containing all the neccessary Exadev transmission codes, urging the whole fleet to break the mission and come back. The matter was serious - AI observing the logs from Tau Ceti's monitoring stations noticed a local collapse in a particular spot. After a while, it could classify it as another wormhole that's just been formed. An hour later an unidentified vessel appeared on radars, heading towards the outermost planet, Tau Ceti VII gas giant.

The situation was considered serious enough than the Cybercity Blue Escort fired their engines and left explorers behind to come back at their own pace, rushing back to Tau Ceti. But before they could return, the mysterious spaceships reversed, stopped and accelerated back into the wormhole it arrived from. The fleet was to be resupplied ASAP and then, without any delay, pursue the spaceship into the wormhole. A PURGE team boarded a Synth Waver and was expected to get back to Earth and deep dive into cyberspace to find traces of some corporations possibly already experimenting with wormhole creation technology or try to identify which one might have build the spaceship in question. And of course notify the upper management in Cydonia. Astronomers and physicists were tasked with studying the energy outburst of a new wormhole and try to tell whether modern fusion reactors could reasonably power whatever machinery was responsible for it. On the surface of Tau Ceti III Blue Squad struggled with the tough job of identyfying and capturing any citizens that might've noticed the event themselves before they would think about posting it. Parts of cyberspace had even ben shut down and disguised as a temporary network fault to limit the possibilities of info leak. Whether it was the long lost Trappist 1 fleet, a hostile corporation who somehow mastered the art of staying under the radard so perfectly it could build a wormhole and have nobody notice until the final effect or some sort of mass hallucination caused by hacked brain chips, military personnel sensed another decisive battle incoming, possibly much bigger than Battle of Three Bodies.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 12:30:45 PM by Stormtrooper »
 

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Re: A.F.R.I.C.A. - Mutant Alliance
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2022, 05:46:24 PM »
Mutant Alliance

There was no time to waste, but it didn't mean Exadev didn't waste some on corporate meetings. Fortunately the command of Cybercity Blue Escort was organized enough to just don't care and head towards the new wormhole anyways, predicting how it all would work out eventually. Thanks to this brilliant decision, a few thousands of employees were saved from their salary dropping below zero as a punishment for not meeting the five minute deadline of entering the new system. It was a G-class star. According to ancient records, it was 61 Virginis. It featured 7 planets, out of which only the second one was terrestial - the other were all gas giants. There was an eight dwarf planet orbiting in the distance, with almost absolute zero surface temperature. But it was not the planets that amazed and terrified the crew at once - it was the moons harboured by gas giants. Three moons around the closest planet to the star alone had decent levels of oxygen in the air. On two of them, the pressure was barely above one tenth of Earth's and the gravity was 3 and 5 times lower respectively, but one of them had a gravity reaching almost 0,6G and a pressure almost at 0,35 atm. Even from far away it was obvious all three moons bore life. According to the pictures made by onboard telescopes, the surface of two was coloured in blue, green and a bit of white and yellow, as if they were Earth's smaller siblings. One of them was covered in ice and snow, with temperatures don't rising above -28 degrees in the hottest regions.

The terrestial planet was also fascinating: the average temperature was below one hundred degrees and it was much smaller than Earth, with a diameter of only a bit over 10k km, but so dense the gravity reached over over 0,7G. The atmosphereic pressure was half the Earth's and it was almost all nitrogen, with oxygen existing in small traces. The planet looked more alien than the moons, with it's dark-blue/greenish surface. There were also a few other more interesting moons further from the sun, having atmospheres composed of mostly helium and hydrogen. Some even had methane and carbon dioxide ice sheets on the surface, but were so far away from the sun that they couldn't support any atmosphere - most gasses were all frozen solid permanently.


As if the proof of life the expedition force had in plain sight before their cybernetic eyes wasn't enough, various measurement instruments picked up all kinds of chatter coming from the surface of the second planet and the three moons of the first. The audio equipment could even process the signals into sounds. Somehow they sounded familiar, like a distant hum of Cybercity, only amplified by a cluster of megastructures and cyberspace nodes. 61 Virgins was a federation-occupied system. That or the sci-fi tropes about every alien planet looking like Earth and every sentient species looking like humans and operating the same technology were true all this time.

PURGE Team quickly got to work on the datastream, identifying it as network protocols of unknown origin. Given years of time they'd probably be likely to come up with their own software for properly receiving and decoding it, but when five unidentified alien vessels flashed on radar they knew they had at most two hours given the velocities of approaching objects and own ships. The fleet admiral would've ordered the ships to just warp out, but the mission objectives stated otherwise and admiral's salary Cybercity was in danger. Five ships... That was laughably little and a mighty fleet at once, all depending on their technology that could be anything from outdated laser blasters glued to the hull with duct tape to singularity cannons and whatnot. Or the worst, singularity cannons glued to the hull with duct tape.

Ida Autoson: This is the admiral of Cybercity Blue Escort fleet. If you understand our speech, please standby and identify yourself.

??: ...

IA: This is the admiral of Cybercity Blue Escort fleet. Identify yourself or you will be regarded as hostile and be destroyed.

??: ..............................

IA: This is the admiral of Cybercity Blue Escort fleet. Identify yourself or you will be regarded as hostile and be destroyed.

??: ..............................

IA: This is the admiral of Cybercity Blue Escort fleet. If you approach any closer, we will open fire.

??: ........................................................................................

IA: This is the admiral of Cybercity Blue Escort fleet. It is your last warning. Reverse and start deccelerating or be annihilated.

??: ........................................................................................

IA: Concentrate lasers on the fastest ship. Evasive maneouvres now. Protect the Trappist Beta Group and Backup Node.

??: ...........-kzzkt- ...eration. Not again, damn -kzzkt-!!!!!!!!! -kzzkt- ...eriments! -kzzkt- you!..................................

IA: We are not a federation fleet. Or generation fleet, for that matter. By building wormholes in space we consider our territory you've violated the 129384761287346712534613846718932674th article of Space Defence Protocol. Surrender or face consequences.

??: -kzzkt-my speech imp -kzzkt- ...ead of comm... -kzzkt- fix... -kzzkt- tape? -kzzkt- v 3.0.0.2077-a... -kzzkt-

IA: ..............................

??: Alright, it's working now... Cool. Next time please tell me you forgot to install an update to my notifying software that should ping me my speech implant needed an update. I don't care you forgot because your memory implant failed after not receiving important updates that were supposed to fix the updates that were installed incorrectly even though they'd still break even if installed correctly besides you have three of them already and you were doing a brain update three weeks ago and don't tell me it's the clinics fault what the hell is even wrong with you you know we rely on genetics and too many circuits is bad for your hormones, especially after you've cloned your liver and stomach... Why do you even need two stomachs anyways, if you never update your digestive system drivers on time anyways... AND WHY THE HELL DO YOU TELL ME THE COMMS ARE ON ONLY NOW?!

IA: ..............................

??: Alright, I don't have the whole day. Identify yourselves or be destroyed.

IA: Listening software also needs an update to fix an update that was installed incorrectly even though it'd still break even if installed correctly?

??: I don't know who taught you psionics and I don't care, but my lasers are charging now so do as I say!

IA: We are a perimeter fleet patrolling the outermost layers of our territory and you've violated our space.

??: Fine, I wasn't expecting a federation contact after all those decades anyways...

IA: You mean the Intergalactic Federation? What do you know about them?

??: Not much besides the fact some corporations interested in genetic engineering kept us in this system. It doesn't have any wormholes like most other federation-controlled systems. It was meant to trap us. The usual. We are the descendants of the clones. Not sure if you know what's going on on Earth, but back in Early 2060s Amazon was successfully launching their first serious cloning project into production. It had some... defects, most likely to demonstrate during breeding... But they didn't care. Shortly after another civil war happened and the South won... Turned us into slaves. Not that we hadn't been enslaved before, but then we got the full package with the official title.  But that was not the worst. The worst was that our genome was unstable, but that unstability was potent for companies diving into genetics. We got our share of "superpowers", but the pile of broken genetics we became pushed us first into the slums of the cities, and eventually into this system that served as a slum of the Milky Way.

IA: What happened to the federation? In particular, what happened in Trappist 1?

??: There was some war going on... And then another. Not like we were kept up to date. FTL tech was strictly banned for us. Currently we live on the three moons around the first planet and on the second planet. Noticed those moons with hydrogen atmosphere and freezing temperatures? We used to inhabit them, too. Tried to hide some physics labs and run warp field tests. The corporations heard and saw. Anyways, I remember the battle of Procyon... Poor mining staff. Heard Trappist 1 was hit pretty badly though. There were supposedly a few planets in the system that all had surface liquid water when terraformers arrived... Almost century-old rumours say there are currently no planets with liquid water in this system. Or water in any state, really. But sometimes when we tune in in that direction we receive cyberspace signals. Distorted after travelling through all these light years.

IA: Do you know about project A.F.R.I.C.A.?

??: I remember an old song... It went like "I bless the neons down in Africa! Gonna take some augs to do the things we never could..." Or something like that. But A.F.R.I.C.A.?... Wait... Solar System was the first one to die. But I've heard the legends. We all have. Some sort of underground ark... But there were no survivors, confirmed by Tech Noir as they launched their last ships. Wait... who the hell are you?!

IA: Nomands that recently settled in Tau Ceti. Our databanks... Missed an update that was required to fix an update that was installed incorrectly even though it'd still break even if installed correctly.

??: Alright, I'm reporting this encounter to the Comitee. Until then, you stay right where you are and don't make anything stupid. I'm not authorized to make the important decisions.


***

Sending a distress signal and masking it as random comms array glitch was quite a feat of the PURGE, even though it wasn't that hard due to protocol incompatibility. Cybercity managing department was ripping off their bionic hair as if it could help. It was only a matter of time before the mutants would figure out their "nomad" cover story. According to the report, their military was rather on the strong side, as well as hatred for corporations. Their societal structure remained largely unknown, but managers figured out it'd sync up with Cyberccity riots quite smoothly. On the other hand, if they could be contained, it'd mean an insane business opportunity. Perfect test subjects for cloning program. Just perfect. Exadev could even afford to sell a bunch of them to Broken Heart Biotech Group. Or anyone interested, really. Another task was to identify the exact knowledge of the mutants about project A.F.R.I.C.A., Intergalactic Federation and whether they're the sole survivors or are there more societies still existing. And also the deal with signals from Trappist 1. At that point at least it was safe to officially assume the invasion fleet was never coming. Solve one problem, create three new ones. Stonks.

When the ship sent to Cydonia to notify main HQ had returned with a hole in the hull frantically patched with a Cyber Duct TapeTM and half laser blasters overheated Cybercity personnel didn't even want to ask further questions. Apparently enthusiastically buying androids from Avalon Heights Inc in larger and larger quantities to replace personnel sent to Cybercity was a little more expensive than anticipated by the accounting department, because the owner of Avalon Heights Inc himself activated the killswitch sequence which had been in preparation for decades, aimed at overthrwoing Exadev from the position of the most powerful corporation. Androids in Tau Ceti remained unaffected, but with the scope of destruction it hardly mattered. Avalon Heights was capitalizing on the very same sentiment in society Exadev had planned to to carry on with their plan - except Exadev was too late, busy with extrasolar affairs.

The Army of Clones was needed more than ever.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2022, 06:04:42 PM by Stormtrooper »
 

Offline Stormtrooper (OP)

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Re: A.F.R.I.C.A. - Back to the 80's'
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2022, 06:02:58 PM »
Back to the 80's'

By the time summer 2284 arrived on Earth (on Mars it was more like a cold spring, but the last fine-tuning of planetary heaters was slowly fixing that), the Solar System was a mess for big corporations. Exadev no longer had enough power to controll all of it, though most Martian cities remained under its strict influence. TerraNova Inc received some collateral damage from anti-Exadev uprising and the Europa terraformation project had to be postponed, Broken Heart Biotech Group got several labs closed after leaked reports of dubious agreements signed up by test subjects, Facegram Corps faced several charges for manipluative advertisement and pro-addiction practices in their Enriched Reality, Synthetic Dreams Conglomerate had to pay for the treatment of millions of users of the drug distributed by a criminal organization the corporation had ties with and backed up the drug's development, Cosmotech and Cloudpunk got mostly unscratched because of their relative small sizes (and absolutely not because of the fleet of LazerFrictions being the main supplier of rare minerals to Avalon Heights Inc factories and Cloudpunk providing it with fuel in deep space so the mining trips could last longer), senates of Night City and Neo Tokyo had dissolved completely and Avalon Heights' Inc androids were swarming human population, with some of them going rogue, meanwhile a lot of Neon Kamikaze took advantage of the upheaval and scavenged some Duranium Components Inc lost complexes to upgrade their chips for something that'd make them more Neon and less Kamikaze.

When the dust settled, many corporations were still licking wounds and counting losses, forced to operate on a smaller scale, Channel 9 News still remained a significant player, most senators lost the next elections and the population of androids only kept growing, American Frontier Protectorate kept selling military civilian laser blasters to much dismay of half the population and happines of the other half (stating that the main reason aliens hadn't invaded yet was because of so many citizens being armed with direct energy weapons and ready to fry them on the spot), Yellowpeace rebranded as Whitepeace and protested against terraforming of Europa afte rumours of microorganisms in its oceans and "android equal rights" type of movements increased in frequency.

With the fall of the biggest ones and related market crashes, the small, insignificant, ordinary citizens gained a bit of breathing room. 2282 was the first year since exodus from N.O.V.A. Bunker System that noted the decline in slum sprawl as proper city apartments became a bit more affordable. Earth population crossed second billion and beautiful pictures of the planet's nigtside pulsating in blue and purple went viral over cyberspace.



Seeing how things progressed, Avalon Heights Inc decided to play it safe. It had all the means to seize the power and almost no significant competition, but feared Cloudpunk and Cosmotech would do to it what it had done to Exadev. The obvious PR move for the company was related with their most popular product at a time. Seeking to capitalize on certain social movements and became the main advocate for android equal rights to score some points with a portion of population. And negative points with other portion of population, but stirring up drama between regular people had always been the perfect way to rule over them and do as one desired with nobody looking at hands. Demonstrations clashed, with transparents like "androids are humans, too", "we are all synthetic", "make synths not war", "we are all one in cyberspace", "machine empathy", "all our limbs are from factories" on one side and signs claiming that "a toaster with good software is still a toaster", "my fridge will not have the same rights as me", "sentience does not come from assembly line", "they imitate human behaviour, let's imitate human rights for them", "synth eyes, not synth brains", "electric sheep" on the other.

And while everyone was busy arguing with each other, Avalon Heights Inc got sure it'll hold a majority of votes in the senate of a newly founded SyntCity, an experimental place for a man and machine to live in peace on equal terms. And even the fiercest opponents of treating androids like humans had to admit how beautiful this city looked, especially during the sunset, when the red sky and orange light nicely composed with the neons coming to life. As every other city, it was multi-layered, spanning across an impressive amount of seven platforms above the ground, with roughly 200 floors between each, but its constructors designed it so no matter the level, every major artery could get at least a bit of light from the setting sun each evening. Optimized for flying traffic, but also featuring large pedestrian plazas for humand and androids to hang out, clinics offering extensive skin implants for androids to look like a human, but also complex external plating for humans to look like an android, zoos with electric sheeps indistingusihable from the real ones and all restaurants bound by city law to sell food and drinks alongside batteries and oil.

In 2287 Avalon Heights Inc officially announced their new generation of AI software. It was supposed to be the ultimate PR success: a livestream directly from a lab, showing off one of their androids self-developing the capability of emulating abstract thoughts and handling typical human concepts, tapping even into the philosophy of existence.


The stream lasted only for about four minutes, but it spread through cyberspace like neon fire. No netrunner could ever prove it was fake - because it wasn't. Some tried to convince the public opinion it was, though - and some people believed. But not all. While technically training a chatbot to produce this kind of speech had already been considered a resolved problem and AI-generated poetry contests or philosophical debates had been going on for decades already, this line of androids had been meant to serve as regular grunts at factories and none had been training on datasets typically reserved for companionship-class machines. And it had been the only android from the line to display such behaviour. Scientists claimed they needed "more time to investigate the topic", porgrammers frantically searched the code for bugs, the whole line was put on hold until the root cause would be identified, people kept posting all kinds of conspiracy theories, many accused Avalon Heights Inc of a giant fraud serving as another marketing campaign (which, despite not being a fraud this time, it indeed served as an advertisement to boost sales...), many freaked out about machine revolution, even some supporters of android equal rights freaked out, but no matter personal opinions, humanity was on the brink of discovering the first AI that truly deserved its label and no other software ever created could come even close to this phenomenon.

During excavation works needed for laying city's foundations, a previously omitted layers of pre-apocalypse infrastructure had been discovered. The youngest skyscrapers (more like "groundscrapers" given their recent level placement) were about three hundred years old. Interestingly, the city's structure seemed mostly intact - according to geologists, most of the explosions that had wiped all surface life roughly two hundred years ago, occured far enough to not damage most buildings. However, they must'd been going off all around in the perimeter, obliterating any infrastructure and cutting the forgotten metropolis from the rest of the current world, sentencing it to being forgotten rather than destroyed. As a result, archeologists could find a bit more interesting pre-war artifacts than usually. Some of them appeared oddly familiar and hit too close home: they depicted a vision of future as imagined three hundred years ago: magnificient towers with bright blue-purple neons bathing in sunset almost exactly like on the computer visualisations of SynthCity project, flying cars being the norm, high-speed monorail lines high above the ground, rainy nights, animations and screensavers that oddly resembled modern cyberspace loading screens... The future dreamed by generations before had been right there at last.












It wasn't the world free of problems as dreamed, but it was there. Many people felt strange connection driving their flying cars through those rainy nights with the world long gone, yet present in some form. A world that dreamed about the technological wonders that would help build utopian society. Reality was less perfect than anticipated, but somehow this three hundred years old spirit had survived. It survived the hellfire of nuclear, fusion and even a few antimatter explosions, it survived the attempts to rewrite history by N.O.V.A. Megacorps, it prevailed in the hearts and minds of the people who'd engineered the cities of the New World. The human legacy carried on in the souls who watched the sunset from the skyscraper's roof in 2284, who awaited at the monorail station in summer 2286, who partied like it was 2283, who cruised among the neon skyline in 2285. It was these moments that made being a human beautiful. And no corporation could ever take it away from them.