The year is 2280, roughly 70 years after the Necro-Pelagicia Phage wreaked havoc on humanity, also known as the The Great Phage Era. The Great Phage bottlenecked the human population to around 3 billion people. Amongst the sadness those who remained alive were left with an of abundance of resources and space. Further, since the deluge of death left not one person unaffected, humanity's empathy and appreciation of life reached a level unseen in recorded history. This heightened empathy and understanding was later referred to as the "Organic Singularity".
Within the 30 years after the "Organic Singularity", breakthroughs in science led to the mapping of the human brain. It was this discovery which gave way to the digitization of human consciousness. This accomplishment was officially heralded as "The Singularity”. Needless to say, such a breakthrough raised a great number of ethical issues. However, thanks to the paradigm shift caused by the Organic Singularity, humanity dealt and continues to deal with these complex issues responsibly. Some of the more complex issues are typically dealt with by a committee aided by the A.I., Nyame.
Despite the many recreational advances digitized consciousness provides, it has been primarily used for what has driven humanity ever since it climbed down from the trees and set foot on the African Savanna, exploration. Humans now explore the depths of the ocean, the deepest caverns, and of course the final frontier, space. On March 30th, 2280 during an expedition to Jupiter's moon Europa, an ancient yet advanced "alien artifact" was discovered. However, to humanity's surprise, it wasn't "ancient" or "alien" at all but actually from the distant future and a rather bleak one at that.
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During the latter half of the 2100s deep-sea oil mining became the main source of energy. Unfortunately, within this ancient biomass, a super-virus laid dormant. The Necro-Pelagicia Phage more commonly referred to as "The Great Phage", brought humankind to its knees. With a 90% fatality rate, it wiped out over 50% of the human population, roughly 5 billion people, in the span of 7 years. To make matters worse many of the survivors were unable to reproduce due to a side effect of the vaccination.
The Organic Singularity began in 2211, the year the last deaths caused by The Great Phage were recorded. Humankind was brought to the precipice of extinction leaving most of the planet devoid of people. This pressured the vast majority of individuals to migrate to specially designated areas on each continent, eventually becoming megacities.
Society quickly realized that to maintain the quality of life in which law, order, and technology brings, they had to cooperate, at all costs. In just one generation concepts of nations, culture, race, class, religion and other dividing factors were nothing more than terminologies to understand the humanities' past. The unification of all people instantly birthed an almost religious fervor towards the exploration of the unknown.
By this time virtually all menial and complex tasks alike could be automated and managed by a few presses of buttons and swipes on a screen. The concept of work changed from "a labor" to "a civil duty", meaning a person's task was done to maintain a level of comfort and stability. This concept resulted in the disassociation between work and monetary gain. With the virtual elimination of scarcity and capital, wealth no longer existed as it once did. Fame, prestige, and influence were rewards given to those who made great discoveries and broadened the understanding of the universe.
During The Great Phage, the entire planet was in a mad dash for a cure or vaccine, which in turn lead to groundbreaking research in all fields. And in less than a decade vaccine was not only synthesized but a synthesis of all fields of science ranging from sociology to neurobiology was realized. One of the major breakthroughs was what paved the way for The Singularity. In short, a plan to upload minds into a database, let The Great Phage run its course, and then download the minds into healthy cloned bodies. This plan later became a reality in 2242 and the marriage of man and machine unlocked a new chapter in humankind's journey.
––Landing of the Galilei-1 on Europa––
The year is 2280. Europa Team 1 has landed on Europa after a 6 month Journey. The Europa Team Captain, Cptn. M. Bulla and Science Officer, Dr. D. Fey are on the surface running samples when they happen upon the Artifact:
Europa Team Captain
"I still can't believe we made it."
Europa Team Science Officer
"...I knew what to expect but...it's beautiful."
"I know, it's amazing... how much farther?"
"It should be just a few more meters around the bend of that rockface."
"...what the fuck...?!"
"E-Excuse me-?! Oh my... I can't believe what I'm seeing."
"This changes everything."
Found on Jupiter's moon Europa in its Conamara Chaos region. Studies show the Artifact is a tesseract-mechanism which is possibly "locked" in 3D space while moving along in lockstep with our present. What we do know for sure is that it streams information from hundreds–possibly even billions–of years in the future. Currently, the information decoded by QCing (quantum computing) can only be observed in audio. Although some AI systems are reporting a likelihood of vetting visual information as well. These audio streams are mostly just passing thoughts. Still, as benign as these thoughts may be in their present time, even the most basic information from the future describing life throughout the Milky Way Galaxy is invaluable to us today.
Unfortunately, general consensus indicates that despite the rather utopian state of humanity in 2280, we eventually will return to our "old ways" of exploitation, greed, and varying levels of manufactured strife.
The first piece of audio from the artifact is of a space-debris management (SDM) officer. Unfortunately, wherever humankind goes their waste follows. It appears that rogue waste in space is a significant threat to space travel. Based on our analysis SDM varies in quality from star system to star system, some are manned operations while others are fully automated:
Another day, another credit.
Never got used to the smell of space... burnt-blood. Metallic.
Lazy rotation around XO5b. Nothing quite like gas giants.
Spherical kaleidoscopes among an infinite landscape. Black. Acrylic.
Were we meant for all this? Metal, right-angles, artificial lights... a sun, a spec in a night sky. Less natural, more numeric.
Credits. Stacking up for that new sleeve.
Immortality, what a blessing for some but to most horrific.
It appears that government-corporation hybrids(g-corps)are the most efficient method to colonize moons, planets, and asteroids for mining resources. Employment functions rather similarly to indentured servitude. The most recent analysis suggests these g-corps also monopolize the production of new bodies. These new bodies, referred to as shifts, typically take a lifetime to pay off. Thus, many fall into debt with these g-corps that span more than the lifetime of their shift. Although one always has the right to opt-out and upload to Strata, many choose not to and rather live indebted. Further analysis is needed to distinguish the reason for this choice.
Sold to the highest bidder one to own them all.
No need for the illusion of capital.
They are the currency.
The value of their life is what rises and falls.
Their bodies no longer their own just another asset to lose or gain.
Even though their minds are eternal they stay bound to the mundane.
Bound to instincts natural selection keeps them in their cells.
Given the gift of an unnatural heaven they choose time and time again a natural hell.
Down on their knees they praise those who oppress
and in their diligent subservience they kiss the hand
It's apparent that no matter where or when humans will never escape their primal urges.
The busy sky littered with satellites.
Too expensive to properly decommission.
They meander across the night sky.
Like lackadaisical shooting stars.
These city streets crowded with bodies. Too numerous for any form of consideration. They drone on from start to finish back to start again, three dimensional clocks locked in an orbicular rotation.
At the precipice.
A misstep away from the event horizon. Living on the edge of three dimensional space.
The loss of mortality breeds recklessness. This inheritance breeds arrogance.
Decadence is a virtue when there’s nothing at stake.
On these gamble streets...
Where can an ancient get some kicks? After centuries of experience.
Still itching for that fix.
The writhing bodies. Temperature rising. Tonight it all boils down to this. Forget contemplating the secrets of the cosmos. We’re just prisoners to primordial licks.
Now that the mind can be digitized the death of the body doesn't necessarily mean the end of the individual. At any time one can choose to have themselves uploaded onto the massive network of servers called "Strata". As of 2280 Strata is fairly a new concept still in its infancy. Many choose to spend much of their lives in and out of Strata. It's treated in a similar fashion to the way the Internet had been. Primarily, Strata is an insurance policy protecting a person from permanent death–as long as their uplink device (ULD) isn't too badly damaged. Despite its dire importance, it's also used as a form of entertainment. The main issue with Strata and digitized consciousness, in general, is having more than one copy of an individual. To prevent this from happening all Strata uploads are managed by a series of AI protocols. Also, if anyone within the Strata network cannot be directly traced back to a connected uplink ID they will be quarantined and possibly erased.
Based on the information gathered from the Artifact it seems that in the future Strata is seen as an afterlife. Namely a place for those to go when they can no longer afford a new body. Analysis also suggets that aside from the unified Strata of the 2200's, there are number of "Privatized Strata Networks" (PSNs).
Currently inputting a mind into a machine for an extended amount of time is a highly controversial topic. Experiencing a physical form that does not require the basic biological functions as lifeforms exhibit an array of effects on a person's psyche. Based on this stream that's probably not too controversial in the future. Moreover, based on this stream, it's apparent that long term exposure can lead to some odd effects on the ego.
Body no longer a body
Not even synthetic flesh
Hydraulic pumps and gears
nothing is left
Vices for hands
Emissions for breath
Is this immortality
Is this death?
Though there is a consciousness being detected its language patterns are nothing akin to what we know of and therefore can not be deciphered.
It seems that in this era the mainstream culture—at least in this particular star system—is for humans to highly augment their physical form. Based on this stream the current star system wasn't as profitable as projected for a myriad of reasons. Nevertheless, settlers who either decided to settledown or were stranded due to a bad investment, now have to etch out a living. It appears this "Gaea" is the child of such circumstance or it just might be she prefers her natural form:
An un-augmented beauty, such a rarity since the singularity.
Most younger than a couple of centuries are ignorant to what “natural characteristics“ even are. Blues, pinks, reds, varying levels of opacity, hell even ultraviolet 3 and Infrared 7, colors outside of the naturally
viewed color spectrum. Crowds’ colors akin to an oil spill, gone are blushes and tones of humanity.
But not her. Once called a “brunette” with skin the tone of the Earth’s soil… born perfect by the lucky roll of the genetic dice…
Yet on a distant moon orbiting a hot jupiter in some shitty-unprofitable star system towards the center of the milky way.
I sip my generic alcohol rehydrate and watch her work behind the bar.
As she toils away for one tenth of a credit after another.
The reddish light catches droplets of sweat running down her neck to her chest.
Working hard serving patrons who resemble machines more than they do men.
Her mundane characteristics leave her all but unnoticed except for an old-timer like me.
She says her parents named her, Gaea.
Truly, she is a goddess…
A goddess… but a goddess lost in the stars.
This stream's unusual readings lead us to believe it's coming from the past, present, and future.
People all over the world are truly one.
Kanako & Mei - Bulla Fey (Adam and Dominique) - My Family - TT Celine - Jeff, Kai - & Adam - the 宇チューJINS(Brian & Johnny) - Matt J. - Steve Mueske - Micheal N. - Bret T. - Deadly Troubadour - Frank C. - Correspondents - DARC / Nayalan M. - Phil Y. - Orestis - Michelle DIYDS - Nick K. - Li A. - Lee I. - Chris N. - Duncan M. - Rob M. (rip) - Joey S. - Jeff B. - Nate W. - Mauro Z. - BĀSSSUKA - Jamie J. - Paul M. - Shinobu S. - Stan W. - Paul L. - Shaun W. - Richard K Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs book series - /r/gameaudio - and you!