After Action Reports > Digital Gaming AARs

A.F.R.I.C.A. (Quasar 4x - Aurora 4x spinoff - AAR)

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Stormtrooper:
So I've been doing AARs for the space strategy game called Aurora 4x (http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php) and posting them in this game's forums, but recently started wondering whether there are some other places in which I can post this and stumbled upon this forum. It looks exactly like Aurora 4x forum, so already feels familiar to me and there was already an Aurora 4x AAR posted here before so might as well try my luck too.

Technically it won't be based on Aurora 4x itself, but rather a "remake" of the old Aurora 4x version called Quasar 4x (http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?board=245.0) which has been made because the new Aurora 4x version (known as C#) has some different mechanics from the old version, but the old version suffered from poor performance so Quasar's author decided to bring the old version up to C# speed. It shouldn't matter from reader's perspective, though, so you're free to forget about Quasar 4x and just treat it as an Aurora 4x AAR for the sake of simplicity, just explaining it here for someone that might find it interesting to try Quasar or something.  ;)

My AARs tend to be based on gameplay only somewhat loosely and instead I prefer to invest heavily into roleplay and worldbuilding to try to create a hopefully interesting and coherent universe and story that goes on within it. I believe heavy roleplay with gameplay serving only as a loose inspirtation for the story is what makes AAR an AAR compared to let's play series, so if you prefer the latter you'll probably be disappointed.

As for the theme, I want this short AAR to be a pure human experience and I'm going to try to explore the philosophy of human nature and condition and whether it's possible to truly change something and whether it is possible to change something and reach "better future" (whatever it really means), all wrapped in a cyberpunk theme (so expect implants, even more implants, genetic modifications, corporate oppression, lots of cool synthwave tracks I'll be linking from time to time and a hail of laser fire).

I'll already post what I have, but future updates will obviously be slower, though, as I have to actually write them. And play the game, that is.

Hope you'll enjoy and I'll be grateful for whatever feedback you might give me for as long as it's constructive.

Stormtrooper:
A.F.R.I.C.A.

Year 2120... Climate change, war, k-pop, century-old lack of toilet paper, release of Cyberpunk 2077 and other disasters have made the Earth uninhabitable. A group of survivors is sending a message to the whole Intergalactic Federation. Project A.F.R.I.C.A. is the last hope for humankind...



N.O.V.A. Bunker System

The Old World was gone. Between withering flora and fauna, atmosphere turning toxic, oil running low, zombie outbreak through the early 2020s and struggling to maintain hygiene after last roll of toilet paper was used that directly followed it, two AI uprisings, three nuclear wars, corporate greed, endless revolutions, fifteen civil wars in the USA, failed universal basic income experiment, decay of anything still resembling some sort of social structure, mental issue outbreaks, surge of k-pop popularity and the still questionable state of cybernetic implants drivers and other related software back in 2077, Humanity was wiped out from the surface of the Earth. But surface only. Most powerful corporations of the Old World established a sprawling network of self-sufficient, fully automated underground cities and facilities ensuring the ongoing survival and never-ending progress of humanity through generations to come till the planet cleanses itself and life will reemerge. But as years went by, humans, driven insane by lack of natural sunlight and fresh air that didn't taste of artificial synthesizers, engulfed in supposedly life-enchancing drugs and almost never plugging out of the simulations, became numb. Less and less people understood the in and outs of the technology making underground life possible and when it started to crack and break, neglected and unmaintained, it could only lead to one outcome.

The few who still understood at least something, who still held some valuable skills, quickly rose into power and founded the N.O.V.A. megacorporation, aiming to reverse-engineer lost technology and restore mankind to its former glory. But many among the ruling caste had dark and selfish intentions, seeking personal gain over anything else. Surprisingly, the fraction of the ones with pure and noble intentions was significant, but power corrupts as it always did and the tough choices, often including even shutting down hydroponics and oxygen recycling facilities in the entire districts of the bunkers for the sake of survival of the humanity as a whole, contributed to the fast erosion of pure spirits among those who governed this new world.

And so another cycle of never-changing history began, but between omnipresent oppression, surveillance and wide gaps between different classes of society, some said enough was enough. They all might be enslaved to drugs and enslaved to corporate masters just like everyone else, but urban legends say some gained access to the forbidden knowledge. While government strictly controlled access to all the data regarding history, culture and technology of the Old World, it could not predict one thing: the global matrix, the ultimate simulation connecting pretty much everyone, in some metaphorical sense started "living its own life". The software responsible for running it still had all the input from its users stored somewhere, after all, including the ones who still remembered the Old World and early days of N.O.V.A. Bunker System.

It's not like the government didn't do a good job methodically purging all these fragments from the matrix and gradually reprogramming the simulation to brainwash citizens into believing there was never any other world in the first place and never ever will be. But even just one human mind is complex, as complex as the entire universe, as psionic researchers from the early days of this branch of science liked to claim. The connections between various thoughts, concepts and memories could be so bizarre and unique for every person, making tracking it all down to the last neuron practically impossible. One can only imagine how this performed at a scale of not one, but millions of minds regularly using the simulation for most of the day. And so bits and scraps of the old data survived, buried somewhere deep within the matrix, just like humanity survived the apocalypse buried deep within Earth's crust.

Various resistance groups learned some cryptic information about the world above and even about worlds beyond. Dozens of worlds, once seen by human eyes, light years away from the Solar System. They realised humanity didn't always live like this. One of such groups, soon-to-be-famous Velociraptors, even discovered seemingly one of the biggest government secrets. A secret about life out there, alongside with a code sequence for broadcasting a distress signal to be heard by all the alien worlds far beyond the Earth.

Battle of the communication array was obviously lost to the rebels, but for a brief moment government forgot they weren't just rebels, they were drugged rebels, furious in their narcotic delirium, each being like an overloaded nuclear reactor. They couldn't break through the elite forces of the N.O.V.A. megacorporation, but they still could wreak havoc elsewhere. In a mad fury they kept blowing up food production facilities, life support systems, computers overseeing the production and distribution of goods, support structure of the entire bunker. Fortunately for everyone else, they obviously lacked the power to just destroy everything and were massacred one by one, all fried in a barrage of laser fire.

But all the mayhem was just enough to allow another group of survivors to sneak in. Of course surveillance immediately notified the authorities about their unauthorised entry, but with an all-out-battle going on and military forces already dispatched, nobody could paid any attention. The alarms would keep ringing anyways, after all. They successfully entered the correct code sequence and before anyone else realised what was going on, the signal propagated towards the surface where it got amplified and emitted in all directions towards the long lost worlds.

Decades passed, filled with radio silence and never ending oppression. In the meantime, history was completely rewritten at last and rebellion was crushed mercilessly. But some day, a faint signal has reached the hallways of the N.O.V.A. Bunker System. Someone out there was still listening to the tales from the long dead homeworld of mankind.

Stormtrooper:






Stormtrooper:
To every survivor still Out There

N.O.V.A. Megacorps had to act fast. The signal was weak and unintelligible, but the undamaged, translatable bits were able to easily get past every telecomm protocol of the entire N.O.V.A. Bunker System. Its message and purpose remained unknown, but its nature contradicted standard messages broadcasted by the corporate representatives. Rumours about a new rebellion assembling reached the government. To make matters worse, despite best efforts of engineers trying to maintain the madness of complex technology vital for keeping the underground megacity running it was failing. Spare parts were running low, in some other cases there were plenty but they were too complicated to be figured out by anyone or missed documentation due to database corruption errors or sabotages from the past uprising. But the worst was yet to happen.

2081th N.O.V.A. Subscription Payment Cycle

It was an ordinary day for Citizen 123-D3F-M. As with the beginning of every Subscription Payment Cycle, he was tasked with maintaining the order among the ones who had their subscription cancelled for whatever reason and were supposed to be redirected to food processing facilities. According to annual reports, food production was skyrocketing, but at the same time tighter rationing was neccessary for maintaining high spirit among citizens, because officers from the Counter-Sabotage Bureau had discovered that a diet consisting of more than 300g of mashed insects and two portions of N.O.V.A. Nutrient Paste per day could result in a 26,4% increase in likehood of commiting a crime against N.O.V.A. Megacorps. Rumours said that N.O.V.A. Nutrient Paste was supposed to be limited further in the foreseeable future, but as the population of the Bunker System dwindled steadily, it just didn't make sense. Some felt there should be more of this food for everyone else, not less, given the population was steadily diwndling and the hydroponics worked flawlessly ever since CEOs of Life Support Department nearly died while bravely fixing the assembly line with their bare hands.

According to official guidelines, service in a food processing facility required a clean body, free of anything not on the list of officially allowed food drugs. And yet every once in a while a citizen would come intoxicated and required to be recycled accordingly, prolonging the wait of all the others eagerly awaiting their new assignment. But when a 6th citizen in a row was like this, 123-D3F-M started feeling something was not right. Not right, but left instead, as it was left hand that pulled that kinetic pistol first. 123-D3F-M was fast enough to enter correct sequence into nearby terminal and dispatch modular cover and mustard gas turrets separating him from the queue and incoming bullets.

ATTENTION LOYAL CITIZENS. DROP TO THE GROUND NOW AND AWAIT FOR THE SECURITY PERSONNEL TO ASSIST YOU. MUSTARD GAS WILL BE DEPLOYED AS A STANDARD PROCEDURE TO ENSURE COOPERATION. ATTENTION INCOOPERATIVE CITIZENS. MUSTARD GAS WILL BE USED TO PURGE YOUR CORRUPTED MINDS FROM REBELLIOUS THOUGHTS.

Six scumbags who pulled out their guns out of a sudden quickly perished in the toxin, as did all the other citizens awaiting for processing. Food production will definitely suffer, 123-D3F-M thought, as mustard gas was not on the list of officially allowed food drugs. But as security forces arrived to decontaminate the area and dispatch affected citizens, another message was broadcasted.

GREETINGS HUMAN SURVIVORS ON EARTH. WE ARE GLAD TO HEAR YOU ARE ALIVE. INTERGALACTIC FEDERATION HAS RECEIVED YOUR DISTRESS SIGNAL. EMERGENCY FLEET HAS BEEN DISPATCHED FROM TRAPPIST SYSTEM TO ASSIST YOU. PLEASE AWAIT YOUR RESCUE BY THE NEAREST A.F.R.I.C.A. TEAM. THERE IS HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE.

Before citizen 123-D3F-M could wrap his drugged head around what the hell was going on, nearest standing security officer quickly put a bullet through his head, just before entire N.O.V.A. Bunker Systems entered Emergency Operational Mode.

ATTENTION LOYAL CITIZENS. AN UNKNOWN ENEMY HAS BREACHED THE INTERIORS OF THE N.O.V.A. BUNKER SYSTEMS AND SEEMS TO BE CAPABLE OF SPITTING CONFUSING PROPAGANDA TO ENDANGER YOU. IF YOU HEARD THE PREVIOUS COMMUNICATE, PLEASE REPORT TO THE NEAREST FOOD PROCESSING FACILITY IMMEDIATELY. OTHERWISE AWAIT FOR THE SECURITY TO ASSIST YOU. MUSTARD GAS WILL BE DEPLOYED THROUGH DISTRICTS 256-1024 TO ENCOURAGE COOPERATION. REMEMBER, ONLY UNITED CAN WE CRUSH THE REBELLION.

Hell let loose wasn't enough to describe the chaos that ensued. Citizens were firing away in combat frenzy at each other, confused as to who was their enemy and who was not. Even elite security forces had troubles identifying the sides of this conflict. Moreover, the strange message didn't reach only the main broadcasting system. It went through the matrix controlling software as well. And seemed to trigger some events in a code nobody really understood anymore. Citizens currently dreaming in deep simulations were exposed to some images and information they were not supposed to every discover, hidden on some backup server deep below the surface beneath a door nobody even knew were there. Tales from the Old World once again began to live in hearts and minds and security could fry only so many brains of current matrix users before some managed to unplug themselves in time.

As the collateral damage from battles that followed accelerated the deterioration of N.O.V.A. Bunker System, government successfully entrenched itself within emergency districts with life support systems separated from the rest of the complex alongside with the rich and elite citizens who could still use unique names instead of serial numbers and were allowed to eat the products of what was left from failing agriculture systems. But N.O.V.A. Megacorps was threatened more than ever. The backup server was eventually tracked down remotely and its content discovered.

A.F.R.I.C.A. Protocol. The least important of the projects that accompanied the humanity's exodus from the solar system, or at least that's what everyone believed back in 2097. When colonies of Moon, Mars, Europa and Titan were evacuated as well as the last survivors from the Night City on Earth, officials were certain there was literally nobody left behind as all life on the surface besides few well-adapted microorganisms perished. But in case there was someone out there still left behind, some rescue teams insisted on creating a special emergency communication protocol that could be used for the survivors to communicate with the extrasolar colonies and reunite with the rest of mankind. And so the project A.F.R.I.C.A. started, never expected to be of any use to anybody.

And so the government eventually got a full picture of the signal which sending it tried so hard to prevent. But it had been sent nevertheless and the fleet from a system 39 light years away had been dispatched, its arrival obviously threatening the uncontested ruling power of the corporation and the status quo they tried so hard to maintain, with estimated time of arrival unknown, probably lost to the damaged bits of the Intergalactic Federation response. Running out of ideas, supplies and working pieces of technology, government had no choice but to unseal the Outer Gates for the first time and send teams of scavengers to explore the surface and relearn everything humanity has achieved before the collapse of the Solar System.

Stormtrooper:
Project Stargazer

Sandstorms blazed upon endless wastelands and the space suits of old could work only for so long in the extremely corrosive atmosphere and constant acid rains, but research teams slowly carved paths between the ruined megacities of the Old World. Government was shutting down more districts than ever, desperately trying to get yet another pile of scraps to keep the whole undertaking alive, which started paying off. First small achievement of any magnitude was successfully powering up fuel recycling facility, capable of sucking toxic gasses from the air and processing it straight into fresh fuel ready to be used in mechanical vehicles. As mechanics struggled with the fusion-powered vehicles N.O.V.A. Bunker System was stocked with, the ability to produce fuel capable of keeping conventional engines running was invaluable. Transit between megacities became possible and convenient. By the beginning of 2137, entire planet laid at corporate feet, once more ready for exploitation. Many safe zones were established in different parts of the globe and more people got trained to handle the hazards of degrading megacities they were supposed to enter to help keep the systems online.

As manpower was short and work was plentiful, corporate officials began considering to use some of the loyal citizens still surviving in the underground metropolis, but the evaluation of loyalty of each citizen was a great risk, especially with rebels still controling entire districts and the unstable political situation. And even if loyal citizens could be located without letting any saboteur through, whether they remained loyal would be another story. Scavengers were bringing more Cyberpunk 2077 copies and k-pop albums each run and CEOs of N.O.V.A. Megacorps knew better than to carelessly mess with materials directly responsible for the fall of the Old World. Some teams have even successfully breached into various underground zombie shelters dated back to 2020 that, surprisingly, still contained well-preserved toilet paper rolls.

And the last discovery was exactly that corporate managers needed to figure out a solution for the problem with lack of workers reverse-engineering surface technology.

ATTENTION LOYAL CITIZENS. DESPITE ONGOING REBELLION AND TERRORISM THAT IS EASILY HANDLED BY YOUR NEAREST SECURITY UNIT, N.O.V.A. MEGACORPS HAS RECENTLY DEVELOPED A NEW ASSEMBLY LINE OUTPUTTING THE MIGHTY, LEGENDARY TOILET PAPER. HOWEVER, IT WILL BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE MOST LOYAL AMONG THE LOYAL ONLY. CITIZENS WILLING TO EARN THEIR SUBSCRIPTION FOR THE PRODUCT WILL BE PUT INTO A FRESHLY DEPLOYED MATRIX MODULE SIMULATING THE BEGINNING OF AN INVASION WE ARE ALL EXPECTING TO COME FROM THE OUTSIDE DIMENSION. IT WILL FEATURE WHAT WE EXPECT THE INVADER'S TECHNOLOGY TO BE. ANY CITIZEN WHO WILL DISPLAY LOYAL SERVICE AND GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRESENTED DEVICES AND DATA WILL BE REWARDED BY ONE TOILET PAPER ROLL PER 1327461827345616827435 SUBSCRIPTION PAYMENT CYCLES. LIMITED TIME OFFER ONLY.

With the help of a new drug causing users to mistake multiple-digit numbers for single-digit numbers, it didn't take long for first citizens to start reporting readiness for the service. Still believing it was just a simulation, they crossed Outer Gates and stepped onto the surface world, believing the yellow sky was just poison deployed by the enemy and megacities being giant weapon platforms breached through the defensive layers of N.O.V.A. Bunker System. The simulation was quite unrealistic because according to official reports exterior defences where impenetrable by any substance in the universe, but blinded with the vision of getting absurdly rich, fresh recruits bravely let themselves to be buried alive in the sands, crushed by the falling buildings, cut to pieces by powering ancient machinery they did not understand, melted by extreme radiation, going insane after stumbling upon one of the forbidden materials responsible for the apocalypse or starving to death.

But the progress was being made. While technology used to build underground metropolis was still beyond reach, it became possible to gradually replace its failing systems with less advanced counterparts. While still nobody fully uderstood how a quantum computer operated under the hood, at least it was possible for programmers and electronic specialists to acquire detailed knowledge about conventional silicon-based electronic devices and reprogram many subroutines governing the bunkers that made them less efficient, but at least working more or less correctly. Greenhouses with artificial lamps imitating sunlight and crude hydroponic trays might not be the same as intelligent autonomous agriculture ecosystems, but at least it was a temporary solution for the more and more severe N.O.V.A. Nutrient Paste shortages correlated with less and less citizens being able to work in food processing facilities. Fuel factories were growing on the surface and even some simple nuclear reactors were successfully restarted without irradiating too many people.

Obviously the A.F.R.I.C.A. Team was supposed to arrive from outer space, though. And nobody from the government wanted to wait for the unknown to come down on Earth and would rather beat it at a safe distance from the N.O.V.A. Bunker System. First space program started small, with only a couple of surveillance satellites being placed in orbit, but it picked up pace quickly. Physicists and engineers quickly got some simple space cruisers up and running, bringing first generation of post-apocalypse astronauts into orbit and back. The moon became within the reach of corporate hands, but moon wasn't the only destination. N.O.V.A. Megacorps wanted a design that could take a crew of highly trained professionals into all the celestial bodies supposedly colonised by humans back in the day: moon, Mars, Europa and Titan. And as 2140s were coming to an end, material experts cracked the formula for ultra-light yet durable titanium-plastic alloy referenced by the Old World as "Duranium", which quickly caused a revolution in space exploration in early 2040s sending humanity flying all across the Solar System compared to previous struggles of barely reaching Mars in a two-way trip.

While first created prototype could in theory fly all across the Solar System, voyages beyond Uranus were highly discouraged by the team standing behind it. That was enough to reach all the four crucial places, though, and that's what the corporation cared about when authorising its comission. A first proper spaceship of a New World, reintroducing humanity back into space was getting ready for launch sequence. And while elites were gazing into the stars, millions oppressed citizens underground, among red neons advertising various subscriptions offered by N.O.V.A. Megacorps, were still dreaming of a better future.


--- Quote ---Stargazer class Survey Ship    5 000 tons     104 Crew     491 BP      TCS 100  TH 10  EM 0
100 km/s     Armor 1-26     Shields 0-0     Sensors 6/6/0/2     Damage Control Rating 5     PPV 0
Maint Life 9.89 Years     MSP 307    AFR 39%    IFR 0.5%    1YR 6    5YR 85    Max Repair 100 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 0

10 EP Conventional Engine (1)    Power 10    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 10    Exp 10%
Fuel Capacity 700 000 Liters    Range 50.4 billion km   (5833 days at full power)

Thermal Sensor TH1-6 (1)     Sensitivity 6     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  6m km
EM Detection Sensor EM1-6 (1)     Sensitivity 6     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  6m km
Geological Survey Sensors (2)   2 Survey Points Per Hour

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes
--- End quote ---

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