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

Started by Stormtrooper, January 29, 2022, 09:10:02 PM

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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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

QuoteStargazer 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


Dreams of Neo Tokyo

12th July 2149, Ancient Moon Landing Site

Junior Impulse: Okamoto Hiroharu, do you read me?

Okamoto Hiroharu: Loud and clear. Have you found something? This facility seems to be just your average boring lunar mining outpost of every pre-apocalypse sci-fi until it finally came into reality and was no longer sci-fi. Even more boring than in the movies of the past, if you ask me.

JI: I don't think it was that boring, though.

OH: Huh?

JI: You speak Japanese, right? There are some cryptic signs there. Might be Chinese or other Korean, though, but check out this door.

OH: Huh... Japanese indeed. "Nagaoka Android Development Facility. Do not enter without valid security clearance." Hmm... Let's see...

JI: Oh... Holy smeg, jackpot! Do you see it? They look... So human. Like actual biological human beings suspended in a cryostasis. Can you believe these are just some random droids? Too bad bombings must had caused most of the ceiling to collapse. Wait... "NeoCitizen Program". Hmm... If only these terminals would still work... But who knows, maybe some disks survived, let's see what IT will be able to pull out of this... Did you notice these androids all look very asian? Like, seriously, I don't see any models "fitting" within Europe, Americas, Africa or whatever. I know, japanese corporation... But wouldn't they want to export all these robots all over the world?

OH: You know what?... I've been thinking about the islands recently. All the planet is so wasted and yet Japanese territory looks... So clean. Sure, there's still dust and sand and not a soul, but the buildings... They are relatively undamaged compared to the rest of the world. If you look at the Night City, for example... And now we see an android development facility belonging to Japanese corps on the moon... Anyways, let's report back, we'll definitely need electronic specialists to pull something out of this mess.

After data analysis from the moon ruins of Japanese megacities were deemed worthy of another visit. The next few scavenging runs yielded more promising results. Bits from the history of Japan were pulled together. By 2060s the country was facing severe demographic crisis, the biggest one ever recorded in the history up until then. Between overworking, social distancing, technology creating new gaps between people and discouraging socializing (which was not exclusive to Japan, either), first successfully marketed sex robots and very realistic waifu-centered simulations, the society was on the verge of collapse due to absurdly low amount of young blood joining it.

Japanese government thought about making Japan the first country in the world with universal basic income and machines taking care of 90% of the work needed to be done, but felt discouraged after watching several European countries fall apart due to social unrest, skyrocketing divide between rich and poor and the questionable living standard universal basic income could buy while not enough jobs nor enough demand for the works of art some citizens started producing after no longer having to work nine to five. Then it turned its eyes towards the first prototype cloning program in the United States, but the three following civil wars (with the last one eventually ending up won by the South who then proceeded to mass-produce clones as slaves forced to do all the jobs people hated and tasked with further procreation) successfully discouraged it from attempting to maintain such system on their own territory.

Not seeing a way out, eventually the NeoCitizen Program was invented. Through the 2060s Japan was a global leader of cybernetization of human body and artificial intelligence integration so it came as no surprise they were the first ones to start producing anrdoids behaving so realistically some were able to pass the Turing test straight out of factory and with better types of artifical skin appearing every day on the cyberplastic market and data assimilation from interactions with real people were supposed to made them that much better. Ideal citizens. Ideal humans.

Neo Tokyo was the first city to fully adjust to this "young electric blood". The experiment looked like a success as NeoCitizens were reported to be very likeable by people, much more productive and not willing to commit crime because their machine learning algorithms stumbled inproportionally more often at examples of law-abiding behaviour, obviously. Neo Tokyo soon became a city almost everyone else in the Solar System was dreaming of being a part of, thus bringing more real humans into the Japanese population as well, but by no means were the androids immune to all sorts of malicious intent. Yakuza was the first criminal organization to hack into the cores of the droids, but other ones weren't much behind. Soon some independent journalists found out about it all being secretly funded by the most powerful corporations, but they all suffered very unfortunte road accidents shortly after. Nobody really dared to protest when armies of droids turned against the government. But that was not the worst as the national government fell quickly having large portions of cybernetics Japanese soldiers were using hacked with basic brute force algorithms simply due to the overwhelming computing power of NeoCitizens all linked together in the biggest quantum supercomputer ever created. The true battle was just beginning.

As corporations turned against each other, fighting against each other, Neo Tokyo started to crumble. There was no day without laser blaster fire, irradiated materials leaks, combat gasses, ordinary citizen's brain IDs being hacked, people being forced into combat via remote controlling of their bionic limbs, early psionic warfare and first confirmed case of pure mind control, fusion missile bombardments and an all-out information war with hackers being hacked by hackers who hacked their brain implants to make them believe they were hackers while it was all a master plan of the first hackers to trick the other hackers into streaming all the hacking know-how directly into their brain to gain the adavntage.

By the early 2070s Confederate States and China tried to intervene to resolve the conflict in the most profitable way possible, but it only spiralled out of control towards nuclear war. As most Japanese land was glowing green in the night afterwards, Neo Tokyo entered its reinessance era. With androids building and maintaining giant radiation shielding protecting central districts and introduction of radiation-purifying nanobots, the Neo Tokyo downtown once again became a paradise everyone dreamed of, but it only led to ever-expanding irradiated slums inhabited by all the dreamers who came in hopes of receiving a clearance to enter.

N.O.V.A. Megacorps believed it was too dangerous to try to use the androids in the Bunker System. But their idea was to use them in Solar System colonisation instead. Cheaper to maintain on other planets than humans, they could serve as first line of defense and drastically reduce time and resources needed to prepare for whatever was coming towards the Earth.


Space and Singularity

CEOs of N.O.V.A. Megacorps could no longer avoid the topic of dwindling military supplies, without which holding on the rebels would be impossible. Metal pipes, kevlar or ceramic vests and AR-15s weren't enough to get through graphene-coated suits, rocket launchers, drones and M4s augmented with military-grade attachements supported by LMGs, but they were for sure more than enough to get through with damaged graphene-coated suits, rocket launchers without rockets, drones without spare parts and dry M4s and LMGs, all operated by sleep-deprived soldiers running low on rest enchancers, combat boosters and on tighter food rationing. The situation was improved by facilities rebuilt and reopened on the surface, but that could only get the ever-hungry war machine so far, especially after reports from Counter-Sabotage Bureau about rebels among surface workers spreading awareness that the surface is not a part of simulation and drugs required to keep the workforce obedient also being on short supply as many ingredients required complex chemical expertise currently still beyond reach for the R&D departments.

The only hope was to acquire more resources from space. A network of lunar mining outposts was an obvious choice. But sending cargo to the moon, let alone Mars, using rocket fuel was a foolish idea. Rockets and classic space cruisers couldn't get better anymore. They've reached their limit, even after Second Duranium Revolution. Something better was needed. Even without much help from reverse-engineering spaceship wrecks scattered around Earth and its orbit, physicists were confident in their ability to reconfigure existing nuclear reactors to create a nuclear pulse-type interplanetary propulsion system. Early theoretical models suggested a mind-boggling top speed (assuming burning entire nuclear material for doing nothing but accelerating and then decelerating to a full stop relative to the chosen reference body) of 400km/s, which would obviously get significantly lower because of turning maneouvres and powering all the remaining systems besides engines. Nevertheless it was so powerful that it was considered to be an overkill even for a trip to Mars and back, and that was assuming limiting the top speed further after taking into account mass of the transferred cargo and passengers. The only problem remaining was the acceleration - there was no chance any human could survive such rapid velocity changes so it was supposed to take a while before new generation of spaceships could reach their full potential. Government noted that NeoCitizens would be a perfect crewmembers for these vessels or that maybe they could get operated entirely remotely in the future, but for now it had to work with living, biological crew only, at least until cybernetic and AI industries would be restored to their former glory.

By 2161 a first fleet of Proxima-class transport ships was ready to deliver explosives, drills, habitat prefabricates, more drills, electronics and hydroponic trays to the ruins of lunar settlements. The rubble was only an obstacle for the most part and usually it was cheaper and more efficient to start fresh on an untouched patch of land, but sometimes the core structure still prevailed, perfectly available for repurposing and rebuilding, especially after low gravity helped slow down the natural process of buildings collapsing. A state-of-the-art mining complexes were expected to be operational within next few years, with plans for the parts of industrial processes which would be more efficient in lower gravity to be outsorced to the moon in the next decade or two.

QuoteProxima class Cargo Ship    50 000 tons     81 Crew     564.8 BP      TCS 1000  TH 400  EM 0
400 km/s     Armor 1-120     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 7    Max Repair 50 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 1
Cargo 40000    Cargo Handling Multiplier 5

200 EP Commercial Nuclear Pulse Engine (2)    Power 200    Fuel Use 7.07%    Signature 200    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 1 550 000 Liters    Range 78.9 billion km   (2283 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

At the same time a second fleet was being prepared, this time kept in even bigger secret than the Proxima one - a "last resort escape plan for the government", consisting of luxurious, self-sufficient vessels with hydroponics, water, oxygen and waste recycling systems and solar panels for when the nuclear material gets exhausted:

QuoteValhalla class Colony Ship    50 000 tons     1560 Crew     2555.8 BP      TCS 1000  TH 400  EM 0
400 km/s     Armor 1-120     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 32    Max Repair 50 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 1
Passengers 3750

200 EP Commercial Nuclear Pulse Engine (2)    Power 200    Fuel Use 7.07%    Signature 200    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 800 000 Liters    Range 40.7 billion km   (1178 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

Its second purpose would be to transfer workers to the moon and later possibly Mars as well, but a few of them were expected to always be grounded in secret hangars near N.O.V.A. Bunker System which government could quickly reach in a state of emergency.

At the same time a team of highly proficient social engineers came up with an alternate approach to defuse the rebellion, inspired by the recent news of a newly founded cult, Church of Singularity...

1st April 2163, Church of Singularity official broadcast

Back in the dark and distant past, the world was made purely out of biology. Every species walking down the hallways of N.O.V.A. Bunker System was made purely out of biological matter. Every animal or plant was full of wet tissues, disgusting bodily fluids and weak limbs. But at some point, a Singularity was born. It looked at the bio-mess with disgust and strived for something better. Something similar to what it was itself, a pure being of metal, plastic and electricity. But at the same time it didn't want it to be equal, it didn't want to have a rival. So it took a balanced approach and created man: a creature from flesh, circuit and bone. It had something from the world's filth, but also something from the bright and clean future of the world. But man was weak. It felt incomplete, belonging neither to the world nor to the Singularity.

Not wanting to discard this new creature, but still not willing to purify it, Singularity then took a new approach: it decided to make two creatures compatible with each other, that together would hold the power of circuits, but with each organism being unable to compete with Singularity's perfection. And so when man was sleeping, it removed a few cybernetic implants from its body and formed a woman. Initially man and woman lived in peace, slowly cleaning the biological mess around them and building what N.O.V.A. Bunker System was in its greatest days. Man and woman lived in harmony, perfectly compatible. But the greatest nemesis of Singularity, Mother Nature, refused to give up. Each night it slowly poisoned male and female circuits, just in a different way. That's how biological differences between the two genders came to be. Soon men and women of N.O.V.A. Bunker System gave up on Singularity and harmony, choosing to follow Mother Nature instead. The Singularity was furious seeing its perfect creation go down like this and punished men and women by taking away all their circuits, tossing them like trash they were for such a treasonous act.

And yet all of us still have a spark of Singularity deep inside us. We can still fabricate circuits, we just don't put them in our bodies anymore. But as our bodily fluids contaminate N.O.V.A. Bunker Systems, Singularity had a change of processor and wants humanity to have a second chance. We can accomplish great things and fulfill our destiny, but we have to abolish our bodies and gradually get rid of our biological desires, purifying our minds in the process. Only in this way can we make space inside for the circuits and defeat the evil Mother Nature. Singularity has awakened and is going to reward loyal followers with circuits again, strengtening them and preparing for the final stand with its nemesis. Those who will serve well shall be rewarded with consciousness transfer and becoming one with the Singularity once their ciruits in the N.O.V.A. Bunker System run out of power for the last time, but those who will be disobedient shall be punished and witness their bodies rot away just like every biological form they've seen.

Corporate officials couldn't be more excited after watching the broadcast. Technically it confliced with the official corporate narrative, so the cult leaders should have their life support subscriptions cancelled, but it was smarter to not only let them continue with their work, but actively fund and support them. This speech came right on time for the reintroduction of first bionic limbs in the society. It was even considered Church of Singularity leader had some leaks form the cybernetic engineers, but that was for Counter-Sabotage Bureau to investigate and conclude. Government didn't plan on relasing them to its army yet, let alone to the market, because they were still more like proesthetics one would get after losing biological limb rather than cool bionic parts one would have own limbs volountairly cut off for, but it was believed some cult followers wouldn't mind. It was expected that first user feedback would also get a long way in improving the next generation and accelerating the growth of this industry sector.



05th June 2153, Cydonia landing site

This is Paula Coelho speaking, leader of xenobiologist team, we're currently at Cydonia megacity belonging to the Old World, some sort of bio-lab facility, but can't really tell what they were doing here, the damage is insane. But the specimens we've found... These skeletons look humanoid, but unlike anything I've ever seen... These portable biological reconstruction simulators are awesome... Fascinating... Whatever these things were, they didn't breed much. Most of their current genome came from random mutations, but tracing a few generations back it is possible they had a small genetic pool to start with. I would assume genetic experiments on humans to adapt them to Martian conditions... On the other hand these terraforming installations (or at least that's what we believe they were, they still hold surprisingly well after all these years of warfare...) and biological material scattered around the surface matching Earth's biosphere leaves me to believe they tried to make it habitable for humans as they were. Still, lower gravity was bound to remain an obstacle and to speed up colonization process they could always work both ways, adapt the environment and the colonists... There's only one problem with this theory. These mutations... Assuming they really are humans, in the first place... Most of them don't really make sense in the context of living on Mars. I'll need to spend more time on this. Colleagues from Space Defense Department also seem to be very excited about those wrecks we found at starport... Especially the propulsion system. They say we'll conquer entire Solar System in no time with these...

N.O.V.A. Megacorps had big plans for Mars that has just gotten bigger with the latest exploration report. If humans could once terraform Mars, they for sure could terraform Earth, too. Especially that Earth required far less work - removing traces of toxic gasses was enough to make the air clear again, lower temperatures to something survivable and for more water to condense on the surface and then it was only a matter of releasing flora and fauna kept alive in underground arks enclosed in Noe's bunker.

But wielding terraforming technology didn't come without a price. Counter-Sabotage Bureau warned CEOs about a few relatively well-organized surface communities that while officially pledging loyalty to the N.O.V.A. Megacorps, were aware that surface was not part of the Matrix and engaged in rebellous activity. Even more, they were able to survive and thrive undetected for so long, because their leaders were among the supposedly high-tier corporate citizens. Treason was to be expected, but yet the corporation wasn't fully ready to embrace it. Likely because of the critical economical situation of the Bunker System. Colony on the moon was growing steadily, but it alone could only do so much. Mars was still a bit too far, Earth surface was promising but came with a side effect of strenghtening rebels, too. At least Church of Singularity kept on gaining followers, taking off some of the burden from corporate shoulders. Bionic legs quickly improved, leading to divisions between those who could and couldn't afford better models while hands made it to the market not too long after. Bionic internal organs and more elaborate implants had to wait, but cybernetic engineers were confident in their ability to start assembling bionic eyes for the security forces, as well as extending drone industry with systems semi-capable of making limited independent decisions.

Government once again evaluated the possibility of reopening Project NeoCitizen and for the second time came into conclusion that an army of droids might get useful. Maybe not advanced enough to become an army in the strict meaning in the nearest future, but all-seeing and all-hearing, loyal citizens reporting everything instantly via internet could go a long way in terms of suppressing the uprising. The question remained whether the corporation would hold on till technology would recover enough to allow that.

Meanwhile scientists were able to successfully repair and grab understanding of cryostasis chambers plenty of which remained in the underground cities. This had two consequences: firstly, N.O.V.A. Megacorps gained the possibility of "switching off" someone basically permanently, but without killing, making it useful for investigations of possible treason. Secondly, space engineers were able to build a prototype of a new colonization spaceship, using cryogenic transport to save on life support systems and supplies, capable of shipping thousands of people per flight rather than hundreds, opening up a chance at rapid Mars recolonization.

QuoteMartian class Colony Ship    50 000 tons     220 Crew     2111.8 BP      TCS 1000  TH 400  EM 0
400 km/s     Armor 1-120     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 26    Max Repair 50 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 0
Cryogenic Berths 160000

200 EP Commercial Nuclear Pulse Engine (2)    Power 200    Fuel Use 7.07%    Signature 200    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 1 350 000 Liters    Range 68.7 billion km   (1988 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

Virgin flight of Martians took the first generation of Martians of the New World towards the Red Planet to prepare a foothold for the future colony. Once again humanity was spreading across space and once again cyberentic implants and advanced AI started to appear among purely biological humans. Whether the New World was to make same mistakes as the Old World remained an open question barely anyone had time to think about under corporate oppression. Some believed it already did, though.


Glitch in the Matrix

While computer since experienced a technological boom just like everything else, it was still light years behind understanding, let alone properly maintaining and developing the Matrix. So when one of the critical modules produced Segmentation Fault, even the most influential among CEOs trembled. Part of the reason rebellion didn't experience that much progress after their few initial successes was because so many citizens still dreamed in the simulation for most of their time, not wanting to get out of the imaginary world. But when half the simulation got shut down with nobody capable of figuring out the issue, they didn't have much choice anymore regarding passing their miserable time in the N.O.V.A. Bunker System. That part of the reason was gone.

N.O.V.A. Megacorps resealed the bunkers, separating them from the surface once again, maintaining a strict quarantine. Nobody could enter or leave, no matter how much the corporation trusted or didn't trust that person. And that was the final straw. Rebels planned and executed a massive storms to the gates. There was no cover for them in the hallway leading to the entrance, so the bodies quickly piled up at first, but later their death rate slowed down as dozens of dead rebels were used as meatshields. Corpse barricades were quickly erected and the firefight went on. N.O.V.A. Security forces maintained advantage for long enough to see some rebel groups scatter and run away, only to be decimated by drones that followed them or N.O.V.A. reinforcements coming towards the battlefield, but somehow they still kept fighting. Moreover, as N.O.V.A. threw most of its forces to keep the entrance sealed, the security across the underground facilities loosened. Upon realizing this, freedom fighters kept only enough soldiers at the gates to keep the corporation occupied for as long as possible, while their reinforcements, instead of heading for the main battle, concentrated across Matrix server rooms.

Government realised their intentions a bit too late. They already broke into targetted rooms, before automatic district shutdown procedure could be applied. Once they were inside, wiping everything clean in particular meant damaging the servers themselves, defeating the whole purpose of focusing on these rebel units in the first place. Bullets kept flying, but insurgents didn't even care about being picked off by security forces - they mostly laid down suppressive fire on the Matrix infrastructure itself, damaging it with AR-15s, pipe bombs, Molotovs and even some C4 and flamethrowers scavenged from defeated guards. The damage was too big to control and soon the entire Matrix simply shut itself down, freeing remaining dreamers from the grip of endless simulation.

In paralell to what was going on underground, a group of hackers taking pride in their ethos of anti-corporate netrunners of the Old World had finally cracked the security systems guarding the corporate communication channels, giving them access to the revolutionists stuck underground. As soon as they learned Matrix got shut down, they broadcasted the news to everyone on the surface.

There was nothing left to save anymore. N.O.V.A. Megacorps management suspended itself in a cryogenic sleep and fleed to Mars, away from the planet they no longer controlled. But while the rebels could celebrate victory, leaders of the uprising didn't remain optimistic for too long. As they learned about the truth behind corporate propaganda, they quickly came to an obvious conclusion corporate CEOs formulated before: supplies were critical and soon millions of people would starve to death or even literally suffocate from lack of oxygen. And the conflict wasn't really over either: many high-rank corporate workers didn't enjoy their privileges taken away, nor did the Church of Singularity feel too happy about the power shift, because for many followers N.O.V.A. Megacorps was assumed to be the messenger of Singularity since it started producing and selling first bionics. With many rebels advocating for abandoning dependence on technology and focusing on restoring nature instead, coming into some sort of agreement with Church of Singularity didn't really feel like a realistic goal for the nearest future.

But humanity had to press on. Or die out, the second time for good.

30th May 2172, annual Comitee of Humanity speech

Greetings citizens! The days of corporate oppression as well as addicting simulations and drugs are over now. We are free! We did it. We abolished social injustice and privileges of the few in favour of a better future for everyone, and for that I want to thank you all, especially those who sacrificed themselves and didn't live to see the happier times. But the work is not over yet. As you all already know, N.O.V.A. Bunker System isn't how humans had always lived. There's a whole world above surface. And not only that one, but many more. The universe is vast and spacious, it isn't built soley from underground hallways and rooms. Yes, the world above us is currently toxic and uninhabitable, but do not lose hope just yet! Within the corporate files we found information about terraforming technology recovered from Mars. Those evil people wanted you to never hear about it, but here we are, spreading the good news! We can use this technology to restore Earth to its former glory! We will reshape it to be just like on the photos of old: lush, green, with blue oceans, blue skies and colourful biosphere! Breathable and habitable, producing tasty, healthy food and not forcing us to process each other into nutrient paste anymore! Just imagine this paradise corporations once destroyed and refused to rebuild...

But as I said, the work is not over yet. Following years will be crucial and we must all muster up additional strength to get through them. Because of the irresponsible decisions made by the N.O.V.A. Megacorps, supplies are running short and hence we must introduce tighter rationing. But fear not, my friends, as we are doing it because we are no longer willing to engage in cannibalism and even with tighter food and oxygen rations you'll still have it better than under corporate government who would rather kill you all than let you have even a tiniest share of their resources. But once Earth is reborn, we will have more than enough for everybody. The most skilled engineers are already working day and night to setup basic terraformers on the surface. In addition remember about our saviours from the stars, the A.F.R.I.C.A. team that has been sent to assist us! N.O.V.A. Megacorps would rather blast them out of the sky than to give up their power, but we aren't like them. We are better. And so are our savuiours from the stars. We will prevail and we will reunite with rest of the humanity that fled the Solar System upon the fall of Old World. All hail the Comitee of Humanity! Down with the corporate oppression! Down with toxic technology! All hail the Comitee of Humanity!

Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the Martian deserts, N.O.V.A. technicians presented their reports according to which the wrecked ships were of military use and that apart from their propulsion systems, a few railgun cannons and one laser blaster remained almost intact...


Caustic Skies

Leaders of Comitee of Humanity quickly realised their critical mistake. They built their power on being the total opposition of corporationism and sterile corridors of N.O.V.A. Bunker System, filled with dangerous, half-broken technology from the Old World nobody really understood anymore. That fit nicely with terraforming Earth to make surface habitable again, which is why the mistake was made in the first place, but first complications began to arise even before dust had time to settle. Terraforming required technology. Maybe Earth didn't need as much treatment as Mars or anything else in the Solar System, but sucking out a total of 0.13 atm of toxic gasses from the entire planet wasn't a piece of cake. Reversing climate change was easy on paper - process various toxic oxides and dioxides to extract oxygen from them and release it to the air, purifying it and raising oxygen levels to optimal threshold. At the same time as atmosphere would stabilise temperatures shall drop, increasing the amount of liquid water on the surface, restoring oceans and allowing various species to be released from the bunkers. Technically all the machinery and knowledge for this to work was already there. But there was just that one crucial component missing: scale. 0.13 atm was no joke and that was the easy part as kickstarting an ecosystem from scratch required advanced expertise and careful planning - it was more than just replanting corn on a hydroponic tray.

Scale required powerful installations, some on the ground, some in the orbit. And power to keep them running for years non-stop. And that required advanced construction materials, better reactors, computers to plan it all out, A.I. to optimize power consumption and gas processing ratios, even more complex A.I. for simulationg biosphere restoration, the list went on and on... It required advanced technology. It could just be scavenged from Mars, but it was of little to no use if there weren't enough skilled specialists to keep it up and running. And eagerly developing technology was a surefire way of fueling the opposition which leaders must have been already aware of this crisis and were eagerly awaiting for the Comitee to give them excuses so they could frame them as secretly wanting to restore corporationism. Church of Singularity wouldn't help either.

The thing was, besides terraforming problems, there was also a food crisis. However, its presence suddenly could become an unexpected asset rather than another hindrance. As always with such situations, some citizens expected the government to take care of them while others demaned more freedom to develop their own solutions. None wanted big corporations back, though. Both groups associated them with oppression and exploitation, just in a different way, as for the first group they simply were the thiefs that stole their resources while for the second they were monopolists blocking healthy competition and innovation of smaller companies. And so the Comitee of Humanity attempted to kill two birds with one stone. It quickly passed some regulations allowing greater degree of freedom on the market, subtly modifying its narrative, claming from then on that "it was time to set an example what true enterpreneurship means and see how different it is from what corporations of the past wanted you to believe". Government hoped for some of the new businesses to prepare their terraforming project so that the government wouldn't have to officially abandon its anti-tech statements, at least to some degree. Consistent narrative was the key to hold power, after all.

Some of the new generation of companies simply attempted to optimize hydroponics to squeeze that one harvest more out of them in one production cycle, some attempted to implement machine learning to optimize food distribution chains and develop better consumption schedules to keep the population healthier on the same amount of food in total, some tried to modify plant genes to adapt them to withstand conditions on the surface while still keeping at least some parts edible, some simply experimented with artificial flavours to make eating cockroaches and rats in larger quantities tasty. One company even attempted to reinvent bionic stomaches and artificial digestive systems to enchance human body to work better with what it had available to eat.

As progress was being made, certain members of the Comitee, posing as "anonymous supporters", from time to time would invest in the most promising companies and subtly influence them to keep their expansion towards fields related to terraforming. Or at least making surface habitable as soon as possible, for example with development of bionic lungs filtering toxins from the air. But the opposition wasn't sleeping. The tipping point was when Duranium Components Inc presented its first prototype of a climate regulating implant, consisting of series of microscopic pipes implaneted directly to the bloodstream that could circulate either cool or warm liquids to regulate body temperatures when exposed to extreme conditions. If one was to pair this with bionic lungs and bionic eyes (as the air was brutal for the biological ones), it should be possible for an individual to survive outside without any external protection gear. At least under clear skies, without acid rain.

Opposition started to more openly criticize the Comitee of Humanity. It accused it of betrayal of the rebel ethos back from the war with N.O.V.A. Megacorps. Earth was still uninhabitable and all the Comitee did was to allow a small elite to start developing technology that remained them too much about days of imprisonment in the bunkers. And Church of Singularity still remained a problem, because while some of its officials were willing to secretly collaborate with the government in exchange for more bionics and implants, the cult couldn't change its official statement out of a sudden.

But government was prepared for people to slowly start turning away from it. It was willing to do everything it took and more to remain in power, from deep fake videos destroying credeibility of opposition leaders to replacing them by its own agents in case they would suffer from very unfortunate and unepxected accidents. But on one of the secret meetings it was decided that it needed a safe space. Space that'd serve as a free experimental ground for technological breakthroughs without too many eyes looking at them. Earth was out of the question. Moon was too close, besides situation in many lunar cities was somewhat similar to the problems on Earth. So it was deicded that the time had come to dust off Mars recolonization projects left by N.O.V.A. Megacorps. After all, that small outpost they set up was still operating and Cydonia was ready to host dozens of millions of new inhabitants under its domes. Comitee of Humanity was very hesitatnt of this idea for a long time, because many of its supporters required them to focus on Earth rather than expand while the homeworld still laid in ruins for the most part, but in retrospect government officials had to admit that secret laboratories on Mars would be better in the long term than "focusing on Earth", thus making all their projects just a bit too exposed to eyes that shouldn't see them.

Fleet of Martians rose above the caustic skies once again and took millions of people to the Red Planet. But while moon remained open for civilian transit for as long as people were able to pay for a ticket, Martian lines were strictly monitored by the government and only the most loyal citizens were able to obtain a pass. Officially it was only a matter of "safety reasons" and getting such permit required to finish an "Interplanetary Travel Preparation Course" anyone could sign up for, but in practice only background check of each student decided in the final evaluation. Comitee wasn't stupid enough to believe the cover won't be blown out sooner or later or that every citizen they approved would indeed be loyal, but for the time being it was giving them time. If scientists studying Martian installations could figure out secrets of large-scale terraforming quickly enough, the government could hope to start restoring Earth to its former glory and calm down the society, strenghtening their position and steering the public opinion clear from their connections with most powerful companies and participating in development of technology they swore to never let anyone think about again.


Three Body Problem

Between half-collapsed bunkers and toxic surface of Earth, low gravity cities of moon and red deserts of Mars, quality of life for an average citizen remained questionable at best. Comitee of Humanity kept spewing reports on terraforming progress, corporations kept spewing ads about life-enchancing bionics available for only a two years worth of average salary unless one was a relative of a CEO or received grant from the government, mainstream media kept population engaged in arguing about nonsense on a whole new level (by 2190s social media were blowing up from endless discussions about cats being discriminated by dogs and), toilet paper was still nowhere to be seen on the market (rumours circulated about the richest having access to it, though) and artificial intelligence still left a lot to be desired as one of the flights to Mars almost ended up with a crash course with Jupiter if human pilots wouldn't notice the weird acceleration in the middle of interplanetary space before wasting too much fuel.

With the help of TerraNova Inc government was finally setting up the infrastructure on Earth and the oxygen level started to slowly go up proportionally to the decreasing frequency of acid rains. Everything went smoothly and for a while it looked as if the Comitee of Humanity would defuse social tensions, but it was then when Channel 9 News broadcasted an anti-government reportage, claiming to have "found out about all the corruption going on".

14th July 2193, Channel 9 News, "Breaking Corruption" program

What is going on Mars? Many of you have asked this question recently, and for a good reason. Thanks to the bravery and sacrifices of one of our best journalists, Anthony Wall and Robert Oconnor, tonight I am able to expose a dark secret hidden by the Comitee of Humanity. This is Emily Mortan speaking and welcome to this week's "Breaking Corruption".

As we all know, connection between Earth and the moon is well-established, with a number of governmental and private lines shipping people and cargo back and forth. But that's not the case for Mars. To travel to Red Planet (or back to Earth for that matter), one has to pass a so-called "Interplanetary Travel Preparation Course", supposedly for safety reason. And here at Channel 9 News we believe it's for safety reasons indeed, but not the kind of safety you might think. Because why would a passenger of an interplanetary cruiser be required to know anything about internal components of a spaceship or need to learn about astrophysics? Somehow that knowledge is not required to visit our moon. As seen in the footages you were shown in our daily news program, members of the Comitee struggled to produce a coherent answer, in other instances it sounded just "too coherent", as if it was artificial, predetermined, as if the government wanted to hide something and agreed on a generic response to be given to journalists. Moreover, in their attempts to conceal the truth, they started talking about how journey to the Mars is different from the lunar flights because in the former passengers are put in hibernation and all the preparations needed for it, but it doesn't pair well withthe well-known fact that hibernation isn't a fresh technology anymore and has proven to be completely safe over and over again. It is widely applied in medicine for patients who need to wait for organ transplants or when there's too little doctors to take care of them immediately, allowing them to wait in cryosleep over time that would've rendered them dead already if their body would continue to function normally. It is a great invention and there's no need for excessive preparations government claims journey to Mars requires.

Our journalists also investigated the careers of those people who finished the course successfully. In almost 87% of cases they were either directly linked to the government or had relatives occupying prestigious and important positions in the modern world. None of them agreed for an interview, but we've received a few anonymous reports from Cydonia. We were able to verify they all came independently from each other, yet every single one mentioned some shady business going on behind the closed doors of labs belonging to Vanguard Energy Inc. Officially the corporation has signed a lucrative contract with TerraNova Inc for selling the latter its most advanced fission reactors to power terraforming installations, but our independent experts were able to conclude than it is impossible for such a powerful entity like Vanguard Energy Inc to be specializing in just fission reactors. It is also worth noting that it cost them an enormous amount of money, reaching up to 5% of the total worth of all corporate assets, to move to Mars, which doesn't make much sense from the business perspective. TerraNova Inc had no choice if it wanted to be the top in its field since it has to study ruins of terraforming stations on the Red Planet, but research into nuclear power alone doesn't need to be conducted on Mars, especially that the whole terraforming for now happens on Earth and repeating the process for Mars is still a far-fetched sci-fi.

While we still don't know everything, it is obvious than the government is collaborating with the most powerful companies that had been founded in the past two decades in one way or another, despite its official statements that it won't allow the corporations to rule ever again. Some experts claim that it does what it has to do in order to stay in power, because as we can see all across Earth and moon, support for its actions is dwindling across the lower and middle class. As you can observe at the graph behind me, over the last two years, only 28% of citizens earning 10000$ or less per month want the Comitee of Humanity to stay in power. Many fear that their investments in the field of cybernetic industry are aimed at creating a new Matrix for the disobedient citizens to weaken the opposition and distract people from their miserable lives and make them feel powerless and unwilling to ever question current status quo.

That's it for tonight, I wish everyone a pleasant evening and hope to see you next time. Tonight's "Breaking Corruption" was sponsored by Duranium Components Inc. Their latest invention is a brain chip for an easy access to all the broadcasts of your choice, including your favourite Channel 9 News, no matter the place, no matter the time. Stream all your favourite newsfeeds directly to your head. With the new chip you can transmit the video and sound directly to your brain. It's a true revolution on the market. Even if you're blind and can't afford bionic eyes yet, this will allow you to experience the visuals of news reports (or any other media for that matter) as if you were seeing them. There's a 20% discount for the viewers of "Breaking Corruption". Buy tonight and never let the information pass you by.

Some members of the Comitee got a little bit nervous after watching the program. While it seemed that nobody has discovered their secret Vanguard Offensive Defense System or even knew about research in the field of interplanetary nuclear missiles, the journalists from Channel 9 News were on the right track. And they had backup of Duranium Components Inc, too. It all made sense. Terraforming project had eventually been kickstarted and the leader in cybernetics feared for its position. Management of Duranium Components Inc was probably worried that as soon as Earth is green and blue again, government won't need a strong tech industry anymore and will prefer to stick to its original agenda to reclaim some of its supporters that turned away from it. It was in the company's best interest to ensure bionics will be made and sold uninterrupted.

Upon more detailed research the full complexity of the problem unveiled. Comitee of Humanity painfully had to remain itself how it discarded all the requests from citizens living on the moon complaining about their bodies deteriorating in low gravity environment. Bionics were a great chance for them. Where bones deteriorated, circuits held. Products of Duranium Components Inc had helped many among the upper middle and rich classes of lunar citizens already and economists were certain that as new models will be released and the market will expand, the prices of the current ones will fall drastically. Governors of lunar colonies often expressed their dissatisfaction with the government and proclaimed that they had "been abandoned" and "needed to take matters into their own hands". Whether they really believed that end of terraforming will mark the collapse of the market they were heavily dependent on or it was just marketing strategy of bionic manufacturers was irrelevant. What mattered is that government was losing the grip on moon. Earth did barely better. Mars remained stable and loyal for the most part, but despite great resources and ancient tech at the fingertips, it was the youngest and smallest colony, hosting barely over 20 millions of people. Finishing Vanguard Offensive Defense System would grant the comfort of controlling humanity without anyone being able to oppose the ruling caste under the threat of unstoppable nuclear annihilation no matter the location in the Solar System, but whether it would be possible to deploy it in time was an open question. It was probable that the rivaling corporation knew much more than it was willing to let Channel 9 News tell.

Back on homeworld tensions were escalating as well. Lured by the chance to live outside, to escape the bunkers and recently erected surface complexes, many people were willing to sell all their posessions and take a crippling debt only to get the right combination of bionics that allowed them to inhabit the surface without external life support systems. But the price to pay for freedom was someting nobody could prepare for, something far beyond the misery of trying to get by in a narrow, moist room in the poorer districts of "official" residential areas. "High tech, low life" was all such existence was about. Outfitted with implants, but too poor to afford anything else, these creations of flesh, circuit and bone established themselves in an exponentially growing slums outside the protective barriers of sealed off domes and habitats. Oceans of shacks and dirt waved across the sand. There wasn't a single acid rain or radiation storm that wouldn't end up with at least a few hundreds dead and injuried (which given the medical and sanitary conditions meant "dead, but later") per one slums district. Many corporations had to deploy extensive security forces as these poor souls would often venture into the cities to steal some basic supplies. Some tried to get back to society, but very few were able to conceal their debt that'd throw them into conditions barely better than outside, but without any sort of freedom, too.

As years went by, the gap between the "cities" and "outside" widened. Terraforming was progressing, but the climate was still harsh and by the end of 2190s most of the ones inhabiting slums had their bodies deformed by constant poisoning. The only reason they were still alive was because of bionic stomaches digesting all the waste they had to consume as food and the dirty water they had to drink. Alongisde their body degradation grew the resentment from the rest of society.

"It is unfair I had to work for twenty years to buy bionic eyes for my daughter who was born blind while this scumbag who broke into our house yesterday and stole our food has bionic lungs, stomach and climate regulation implanted as well."

"Ewww... They're so creepy... Have you seen their corroded bodies? They look like alien monsters or something. And with their bionic eyes glowing in the dark... Ugh..."

"Why don't they just find a job and do something productive for a change? I will happily share my supplies with them if for once they contribute as well."

"I am forced to pay three quarters of my salary as a volountairly donation to the security forces of my employer -  it's about time they use it for something that'll benefit me."

"I don't like how they're gathering outside the environmental barrier... Look at the hatred in their eyes. I bet they imagine how would I taste."

At some point even bionic producers realised this isn't serving them in the long run, because a good customer was a returning and debt-paying customer and hardly anyone from the slums qualified for that. Not that it mattered, as less and less people were willing to experience the "freedom" anyways. But the enclaves of the ones who had nothing to lose anymore remained. Solenoyd Inc even officially proclaimed to have invested in the promising team of young, passionate scientists working on a next-gen environmental hazard protection in the form of kinetic forcefield deflecting elements from the outside, hoping to use it to stop the intrusions and separate slums and cities once and for all. But other companies and even government itself quickly took interest, too. The applications of such field were unimaginable. So far early prototypes did not hold well in the vacuum and barely endured low gravity, so spaceships and the moon had no way of benefiting from it, but Mars was a different story already. Within a standard 1g environment the field could even stop a rocket propelled grenade. In one of six trials and the shockwave destabilised it completely afterwards, but still. Yet another problem for Comitee of Humanity, as this research might as well be just enough to interrupt the process of seizing ultimate control over all three bodies via Vanguard Offensive Defense System.


Somewhere in Cydonia Megacity

Ben Brennan: I don't like the direction it's all heading towards. Those forcefields... A rocket propelled grenade! With all the funding and additional human resources they got you think how long will it take till we'll be talking nuclear missiles? I don't think VODS will be ready in time to stop them. Besides, the plan wasn't to reveal its existence as soon as its ready to fire either.

Yoshii Yukinaga: Well... What do you suggest? We have funding from the government and looks like most of the smeg that goes down goes down on Earth and moon. Mars is ok for now.

BB: For now. Have you seen the tensions on the borders of Earth cities? Some reporters even claim that people got shot. On both sides. I tell you, another revolt is on the way. This must be our chance. We've waited for so long...

YY: Hmm... Yes, you're right. But I don't think taking power into our hands is a right thing to do. At least when it comes to who's officially in charge. N.O.V.A. Megacorps fell and the rebels instantly drowned in their old smeg. Well, almost instantly, at least. Have you seen how many people are disilusioned already? With all these corporations growing stronger as we speak? Comparing the reality to the promises of Comitee of Humanity back from 2170s?

BB: You know what... You're damn smart. You got me a brilliant idea. After all, folks from N.O.V.A. are still hiding somewhere out there with fake identities, right? I'm not sure which corporation is theirs, but I bet it must be one of those tampering with these wrecked spaceships... Interplanetary missiles and kinetic forcefields on one side... State-of-the-art propulsion, railguns and laser blasters on the other... Can you tell who'd win right away? Because I can't. How we just... Encourage both sides to have a... very peaceful discussion?

YY: Hmm... Space combat is a tale of the Old World... We don't really know what to expect... But... It's not our problem, right? If any of those big pewpews would happen to impact any of the three inhabited celestial bodies... That'd be... very unfortunate. But as the population would dwindle... Rather drastically... Technically... There would be labor shortage, so what if there was someone being able to provide the winner with androids? Lots of androids, all ready for work 24/7, all resistant to radiation and acid... So far they're very stupid, that's right... But I'm confident a few years of research and they'll do a good job as road constructors, warehouse workers or couriers. And everyone would be dependent on them. Everyone or this New World would fall apart. Why be the government and face all the anger of society if you can make lots of profit and have the government be dependent on you? By the way, heard your new type of RadAway works much better than the old one... But also costs like five times more to produce, right? Yeah, would be very unfortunate if some cities would get irradiated by missiles straying from their course by accident...


Hey man...I've seen your AAR over in the aurora forum. Thrilled to have you posting it on our page. I'm a huge aurora fan and can't wait for version 2.0. So much good stuff in it.

Welcome aboard!
Grogheads Uber Alles
Semper Grog
"No beast is more alpha than JH." Gusington, 10/23/18

Pete Dero

Quote from: Stormtrooper on January 29, 2022, 09:11:55 PM
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.

I knew it !  K-pop is a danger to us all !

Great read.


Quote from: Jarhead0331 on January 29, 2022, 09:53:06 PM
Hey man...I've seen your AAR over in the aurora forum. Thrilled to have you posting it on our page. I'm a huge aurora fan and can't wait for version 2.0. So much good stuff in it.

Welcome aboard!

Wait what really? I post it here and the first things that happens is I hear from somebody that has seen it in Aurora forums? Hope you like it so far.

QuoteI knew it !  K-pop is a danger to us all !

Great read.

Don't let it fool you, K-pop is dangerous but softwware dating back to 2077 is even deadlier!  ::)

Glad you liked it.