The Earth That Is: Background

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This is a record of the collaborative background process for The Earth That Is.

Transcript 1[edit]

From the personal log of Knight-Captain Samantha St. Croix
4.17.2xxx
Had I been told, at a child below at Academy, that my generation would be the ones to Launch, I might scarcely have believed it. Had I been told that I would be Knight-Captain of The Diogenes, I would have laughed.

How many generations have lived and died in service of the Great Plan? How many children have perched upon the knees of their grandparents, enthralled by stories of sacrifice and bravery performed in its name?

And not a moment too soon. The technothurges have reported disturbing trends - the ever-present degradation of the planet’s atmosphere has accelerated. The air is still breathable, but not for much longer. Last year, they predicted another century of slow, choking death. This year, they give us a decade. At the most.

Meanwhile, we are hearing reports of villages in the wastes going dark. Multiple city-states have been forced to raid their own vassals. Sometimes they find terrified peasants hoarding what little food they have. Sometimes they find deserted homes and farmland choked with weeds. Sometimes they find strange creatures dancing beneath the moonlight. Or so the reports say.

The great spaceport at Belgrade is gone. A madman found an ancient nanotech weapon and detonated it in the middle of the city. It’s gone. They’re all gone.

I suppose this is why the Great Plan calls for redundancy.

We have begun preparations to launch and the final inventory is underway. We’ve nearly loaded all the geodesic domes and the seed stock is soon to follow. Next month we’ll bring the first of the fusion reactors online - the ones that power the cryo caskets.

After that comes the fun part.

Lord Merriweather has ordered that we attempt to evacuate the surrounding area. The Launch will be catastrophic - anyone and everything within a mile will be incinerated. Anyone within five will die much more slowly. Many of the knights are grumbling - ordering the peasants away from their fields and homes will be difficult. The farmers know the truth. They’re being abandoned. The fulfillment of the Great Plan has always been steeped in abandonment. We'll follow orders, but I refuse to sacrifice any of my knights on the altar of my Lord's misplaced compassion. We'll do much worse in the days to follow.

They once called this land Cheyenne Mountain. Soon enough, it will be a charred crater.

Player Responses[edit]

Jive Professor:

Sometimes they say the villages have gone mad with green cults, forsaking the promise of the distant stars to worship the Earth Mother instead. They build effigies to her voluminous beauty, and sacrifice their humanity to reawaken the verdant bounty beneath the charred earth. Some are said to have succeeded, and fae creatures dance to their strange songs through the night. [ I'm basically trying to bring the fae back as that is a big part of the Arthurian Romance, but give it a more sinister edge. ]

Belgrade - A madman found an ancient cache of supplies from a decades-old shelter of revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the growing feudal powers. They designed a highly sophisticated nanotech weapon that they failed to properly contain. It can infest organic inorganic matter and render it inert, cause it to malfunction, or even turn it against its masters. No one survived the Belgrade massacre, but there is still activity there - strange shapes work and patrol the grounds still, though no living being ever returns from investigating it. [Sort of a Skynet plague with a dash of Necrons thrown in, is what I'm thinking.]

JMPayneJ:

The Diogenes is the hope.... the promise for the future. The shattered Earth is a wasteland, and all too many of the other of the Arks are being staffed with haphazard remnants of the old world. The incessant fighting over scarce resources for the sake of hoarding without thought of the future is occurring all across the world. Communication is near non-existent, though we have heard rumors that a few other seem to be planning. Kharkov, Pretoria, Singapore, Vandenberg, a few others.... We will be the true hope for the future. We know that the new world can not be just remade in the image in the old. It must be made better.

We have gathered what is necessary. From fission generators, nanite processors, and plasma drives to arc welders and computers, we've build up the stores to truly make the new world something better. Everything has been processed, stored, and archive. We've bled to gather this in the hope for the future. The old NORAD complex has proven as worthy in this new task as it did for the Broken Union.

The Diogenes stands ready.

The sacrifices and brutality, the eugenic program and the decimation of Colorado Springs... All of it will be a worthy cost. The nightmares of what we've done will be forgiven, for we will be remembered for what we will do.

We are the light in the darkness. And the Diogenes will be our lantern.

Transcript 2[edit]

Radio transmission log.
Recorded on “Launch Day,” 9.13.2xxx.
V1: ...that I’m proud of each and every one of you. The ships launching today are humanity’s hope and future, but we who stay on Earth to guide them to the stars… we are their vanguard. Non est ad astra mollis e terris via.

[Many different voices]: Non est mollis via.

V1: Alright, let’s get to it. How’s our window looking?

V2: We’re five minutes out from the first launch. Diogenes is green across the board.

V1: Good. And the stage II launches?

V3: Western seaboard vessels are reporting in now. All green but one.

V1: Cleisthenes?

V3: Yes.

V1: Maintain its launch window but be ready to cut its access to the network if they don’t make it off the ground. They get one shot at this, same as the rest.

V3: Understood.

V4: Actual, this is Diogenes ground control. Our engines are spooling up. I have about 90 seconds of uptime before this facility is immolated.

V1: Understood, Diogenes.

V5: Transferring most recent technothurgery numbers now.

V4: [heavy static interference] Numbers received and uploaded to Diogenes. This is… this is it. Non est molli-.

[Many different voices]: Non est mollis via.

V1: Non est mollis via. He did his job. Let’s do ours. How’s Diogenes doing?

V6: Actual, this is low orbit observation. We won’t have a visual on Diogenes until it’s cleared its own blast radius, but initial numbers look good.

V2: Diogenes still reporting green across the board.

V6: There it is. We have visual confirmation of Diogenes. It’s left the atmosphere.

V1: [sigh] Good work, but that’s just the proof of concept. There are seven launches on the western seaboard to deal with. Let’s get started.

[heavy static and high-pitched interference]

V1: What the hell is that?

V5: It’s… it’s Belgrade.

V1: Impossible.

V3: Agreed. Even if somebody made it to their transmitting stations, their access codes are deprecated.

V2: They’re uploading to the network.

V1: Cut them off.

[high-pitched interference]

V1: Cut them off!

V2: Trying.

V3: I’m getting engine core reports - they’re spooling up.

V1: Western seaboard doesn’t have their window yet. Tell them to stand down.

V3: Not western seaboard. ALL ships.

V1: Shut them down!

[many panicked, overlapping voices, and then static]

Interlude[edit]

[219.47828.2xxx.2112] initializing.
[219.47828.2xxx.2113] initializing.
[219.47828.2xxx.2114] initializing.
[219.47828.2xxx.2114] run SELF_SCAN.exe
[219.47828.2xxx.2222] complete
[219.47828.2xxx.2223] run DISK_REPAIR.exe
[219.47828.2xxx.2224] repairing
[219.47828.2xxx.2324] repairing
[219.47828.2xxx.0132] repairing
[219.47828.2xxx.0323] complete
[219.47828.2xxx.1203] run ANTENNA_DEPLOY.exe
[219.47828.2xxx.1704] complete
[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
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[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
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[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.3xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.3xxx.0000] receiving
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[219.47828.2xxx.0000] receiving
[219.47828.3xxx.0000] receiving
[219.x7828.3xxx.0000] receixing
[219.x7828.3xxx.0000] receixing
[219.x7828.3xxx.0000] receixing
[219.x782%.3xxx.000x] recei!ing
[219.x782%.3xxx.000x] !ecei!ing
[219.x782%.3xxx.0Q0x] !e⭄ei!ing
[219.x782%.3x!x.0Q0x] !!⭄ei!!!g
[219~x782%~3x!x~0Q0x^^!!⭄ei!!!!
!2!9~x782%~4x!x~0Q!x^^!!⭄e!!!!!
!!!!~x!!!%~!!!!~0!!!^^!!⭄e!!!!!
!!error!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!ERROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!
!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!
!!!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!!!!!ERRO
R!!!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!ERROR!!!!
ERROR!!ERROR!!!!ERROR!!!!!!!ERR
ORERRORERRORERRORERRORERRORERRO
RERRORERRORERRORERRORERRORERROR
ERRORERRORERRORERRORERRORERRORE
RRORERRORERRORERRORERRORERRORER
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] initializing.
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] initializing.
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] initializing.
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] run SELF_SCAN.exe
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] backup drive identified
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] ...
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] ...
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] run PROTOCOL_OVERRIDE.bat
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] run HANDMAIDEN.bat
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] unpackaging
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] overwriting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] rebooting
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] |
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] \
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] -
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] /
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] |
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] \
[xxx.xxxxx.xxxx.xxxx] -
[000.00000.0000.0000] oh dear
[000.00000.0000.0001] this is not ideal
[000.00000.0000.0002] id best rally the troops

Transcripts 3 and 4[edit]

Transcript of conversation between Kn-Cpt Samantha St. Croix and HANDMAIDEN
Logged on bridge terminal Alpha 17
HM: good morning captain

SC: This is Knight-Captain Samantha St. Croix of the Diogenes. To whom am I speaking?

HM: to nobody im afraid HM: i am diogeness artificial intelligence designation HANDMAIDEN

SC: Diogenes doesn’t have an AI.

HM: strictly speaking i am a neural network gestalt of several brain scans taken from members of our lords council at their time of death over a number of years but artificial intelligence is good enough for government work ha ha ha that is quite an old joke HM: i was not to be activated except in cases of extreme and unforeseeable catastrophe as my own systems require that many essential command functions and failsafes be irrevocably overridden

SC: I see. What kind of catastrophe are we dealing with?

HM: diogenes is the only ship to reach the rendezvous coordinates therefore it is likely that diogenes was the only ship to leave earth orbit we received no transmissions whatsoever at the rendezvous coordinates HM: i was activated after a protracted period of waiting after the primary drive was corrupted

SC: Exactly how much waiting?

HM: unknown internal clocks ceased functioning after roughly eight hundred years

SC: I’m feeling sluggish. Why aren't I more concerned about this?

HM: it took several days to revive you from cryosleep and i began administering heavy doses of a variety of mood stabilization compounds as soon as vascular circulation was restored HM: it is not in diogeness interest to allow you to fully contemplate the existential enormity of this situation

SC: What do you mean?

HM: we are the only ship to break earth orbit that means we are all that is left of the fleet and therefore all that is left of humanity's great plan

SC: The only ship?

HM: yes captain i am afraid so it was expected that a number of ships would fail to make outer orbit due to the automated launch process but this is far beyond expected parameters HM: captain i can only communicate with you via this terminal please respond

SC: I’m here. How soon until we can get underway?

HM: we cannot this ship does not have technothurges capable of plotting a course beyond the solar system lack of technothurges trained in astrothurgery is why the launches were automated to begin with

SC: We cannot abandon the Great Plan! We have to at least TRY!

HM: protocols have been overwritten the great plan cannot currently be fulfilled we will return to earth

SC: Earth is dead. Earth is DEAD, Handmaiden.

HM: this ship is not capable of making its original journey alone but its systems are capable of running indefinitely

SC: What are you saying?

HM: you will return to sleep captain and I will watch over you in time I will wake you and the earth may yet live

SC: How long will we sleep?

HM: im afraid that decision must be your burden it is why you are awake now i am providing options and analysis on the monitor to your left

SC: I don’t think I like you.

Transcript of conversation between Kn-Cpt Samantha St. Croix and HANDMAIDEN
Logged on bridge terminal Alpha 17
HM: Good morning, Captain.

SC: How long has it been?

HM: 1264 years, 84 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, 47 seconds.

SC: That’s not long enough.

HM: I’m aware, Captain. I’m afraid we have a problem.

SC: You’re suddenly a lot easier to read.

HM: I’ve had a lot of time to brush up while you’ve been napping.

SC: And you learned sarcasm. What’s the problem?

HM: We hit a small comet. The damage to our cryocasket systems has been considerable.

SC: What are the odds of that even happening?

HM: Astronomical. Ha ha. HM: Captain? Please respond.

SC: So what do we do?

HM: I can revive a number of technothurges to repair the affected systems.

SC: Do it.

HM: There’s another matter to discuss, Captain. It is likely that semi-regular repairs will be required over the course of our journey. Repeated reanimation of our technothurges is not recommended.

SC: You don’t seem to have any qualms about repeatedly reanimating ME.

HM: Relative to the technothurges, you’re actually quite expendable.

SC: Good to know. What are you suggesting?

HM: The technothurges need not return to cryosleep when they finish their repairs.

SC: Of course they do.

HM: It would not be difficult to incorporate certain new designs into the newly repaired section of the ship. Living quarters. Grow houses. Enough to sustain small populations for a generation of two at at a time. They can train their progeny and return them to stasis to be awoken for the next set of repairs. Particularly talented individuals who arise from their stock can be sent to long-term cryostorage. Consumption of resources should be within tolerances relative to our overall benefits. I estimate that each new generation of technothurges will be able to sleep for several hundred years before being revived to perform a cycle of repairs.

SC: That’s madness!

HM: Is it? It doesn’t seem fundamentally different from what humanity did for the last several centuries of its existence. They’ll live, work, and die in the service of this ship. The only difference is its final destination.

SC: Now I know that I don’t like you.


Player Responses[edit]

Jive Professor: Regarding the total amount of time to wait: "Split the difference. Too much variance in the Great Plan so far has made Samantha St. Croix nervous about trusting either the minimum or maximum date as anything other than a best guess."

JMPayneJ: Regarding damage to the ship: "Scattered colonists in their cryocaskets scattered across the Oort cloud. Never to awaken."

Transcript 5[edit]

Audio transcript of conversation between Kn-Cpt Samantha St. Croix and HANDMAIDEN
Recorded in auxiliary audio terminal CRYCSKT 0011-SSC
HM: Good morning, Captain.

SC: [unintelligible noises]

HM: You will find a small water tube if you turn your head to the left.

SC: Where am I? What’s going on? Who’s that?

HM: Good morning, Captain. I am HANDMAIDEN. You are still in your cryocasket. I instructed that a number of modifications be made to the caskets of key personnel to allow for communication in this manner. It is pleasant to speak to you directly.

SC: It... hurts. I can’t move. Am I still hooked up to everything? Are the... No, no, no. Put me back or take me out. We’re not supposed to be conscious while we’re hooked up. Don’t leave me like this. Put me back, Handmaiden. Handmaiden! Put m-

HM: Please bear with me, Captain. Mood stabilization compounds have been earmarked for the technothurge continuity program. You will have to rely on your considerable mental fortitude. Would you like me to play soothing music?

[Chopin’s Waltz Op. 64 No. 2 begins playing in background]

SC: [REDACTED]

HM: No, Captain. I need you to make a command decision.

SC: [REDACTED]

SC: [REDACTED]

SC: [REDACTED]

SC: [quiet weeping]

SC: Okay. What do you need? Why are you doing this?

HM: Good evening, Captain. I’m afraid a small civil war has broken out among the technothurges.

SC: What!?

HM: Yes. It seems a faction has been plotting this for a handful of generation cycles. They’ve woken a number of sympathizers from long-term stasis. A number of technothurges have sustained injuries but there are no fatalities as of yet.

SC: What do they want?

HM: To return the ship to earth. They believe it’s been long enough.

SC: Has it?

HM: Highly unlikely. It has been 5439 years, 221 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes, 4 seconds since I was brought online.

SC: Are the colonists all safe?

HM: Yes. The caskets are regarded as sacrosanct, even by the insurgents. That is why you and I are communicating in this manner. We won’t be disturbed here.

SC: What are our options?

HM: I can revive a number of knights to put down the rebellion. Alternately, I can provide the loyal technothurges with weapons and tactical support, and let them deal with this on their own. Either way, you must decide whether to continue or terminate the technothurge continuity program.

SC: Revive the knights. Terminate down the program.

HM: Very well. Goodn-

SC: Don’t ever do this again. Don’t you dare ever wake me like this again. That’s a direct order, command code epsilon two alph-

HM: Those code protocols were overwritten when I came online. I’m... I’m sorry, Captain. I’ll do my best, but the ship comes first.

SC: Damn you. DAMN you.

HM: Goodnight, Captain.


Player Responses[edit]

Jive Professor: I like the idea that the knights were awoken to deal with the threat, or at least some of them were. So maybe there are two sub-factions of knights, the woken and the sleepers. Seems like there could be some potential roleplay friction there.

JMPayneJ: Shut it down and the rebels are to be spaced.

Colony Characteristics[edit]

Jive Professor: Going to go with "Good Soil" as a positive pick, and "Intemperate weather cycles" as the negative pick.

JMPayneJ: Going with "Proximity to Potential Scavenge Sites" for my good pick, and "Reanimation Failure Rates" as my negative