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Forum » SpaceEngine » Space Journeys » The Loner (discontinued)
The Loner (discontinued)
XolarixDate: Sunday, 06.10.2013, 22:13 | Message # 1
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Sometimes... you just have to have a little imagination to make Space Engine even more fun smile


Background timeline:

In the year 2019, man set foot on Mars. Nothing weird. They landed near the northern ice caps and built a water extractor.
2021. Two years after the colonisation of Mars. At this time, 170 colonists have moved to Mars
2024. New shielding technology is discovered, the Martian Colony is expanded now that it is covered in a shield. 600 colonists are living in the Habitat.
2027. Colonists on Mars have started the process of terraformation and started to spread out across the planet, building more colonies. The original Colony is affectionally called "Thuis City". 'Thuis' means 'Home' in Dutch.
2031. Earth's economic bubble pops. Chaos ensues. All three great nations of USA, Russia, and China, collapse under the economic downfall. Secret crime cell "Penumbra" behind the economic collapse.
2035. New World Order on Earth created, led by the Penumbra.
2046. Technological Singularity reached. Unpredictable what comes next.
2047. Revolution of man against the New World Order. NWO declares war on the civilians. Nuclear bombs to be deployed. Marks the beginning of the Civil World War.
2050. Mars declares itself independant and fully reliant on itself. Refuses to communicate with Earth. Martians have started naming themselves "Neo-Humans".
2053. Civil World War on Earth reaches it's highest peak. Population on Earth down to 4 billion, to be dropped to 3 billion at the end of 2054.
2063. Civil World War on Earth ends because of stagnation: nobody is fighting anymore. Population on Earth decimated to 1 billion. Nuclear Winter causes Earth to be reverted to Snowball Earth over the course of the next few decades. Humans live in tribal groups primarily on the equator, where it's still relatively warm.
2065. Neo-Humans on Mars have seen the flaws that comes with Democracy, and with a small and peaceful revolution, set up a new government: the Martian Technocracy. Instead of politicians and businessmen in charge, there are now scientists and engineers in charge.
2067. Mars prospers under the Technocratic rule and experiences its first Golden Age. Terraforming halfway completed. Atmosphere not yet breathable, but habitable for plants and temperature is warm enough to go outside without a suit.
2069. Mars sends out "Hercules", a vessel designed to get their brethren on Earth back on their feet.
2073. Explorers find a strange entrance to Mount Olympus Mons. Appears to be artificially made. No records of this have been found in human libraries.
2074. A team of explorers enter the mountain. They find a strange artefact, clearly non-human in origin. The team successfully extracts it from the mountain. Artefact more dangerous than anticipated. Careless handling resulted in the death of the explorers once they got outside. Cause of death unknown.
2075. Relations on Mars destabilise. Mars on the verge of civil war as those with religious views wish to see the artefact destroyed because it is non-human, therefore it must be demonic. The Technocracy and the Technocratic supporters wish to study the artefact. Civil war barely averted.
2077. Terraforming has been completed. Shielding around all colonies on Mars are dropped. Breathable atmosphere and water have made Mars a second planet fit for human life. Hundreds of thousands of colonists have moved to Mars by now, and the population keeps on growing.
2080. Scientific breakthrough indicate that the Artefact is apparently a central computer of what originally was likely an alien spacecraft which crash-landed on Mars.
2081. The Computer communicates for the first time. Appears to be completely self-aware. Uses the collective voices of the explorers that recovered it. Theory goes that the Computer 'assimilated' the explorers to learn the human language and culture. Explains that the Computer is about 100,000 years old. Calls itself "Eterne". Offers to help build alien technology in exchange for a few more human sacrifices to his system to learn more of the human race. 12 people selflessly offered their lives. Eterne proceeds to give blueprints.
2097. Martians elect Eterne to be the Chairman of the Technocratic Council.
2099. Martian scientists, without help from Eterne, develop the Einstein-Kyoni drive. Would be the first prototype in space propulsion drives that could reach the speed of light. Eterne comments: "If you wanted space drives, should have asked sooner". Proceeds to give plans for Time-Phased Subspace Drives (TPS Drives). TPS Drives use mathematical anti-logic resulting in situations where 1+1 could be 3, so to speak. It also uses the concept of multiple dimensions in time. Still unknown how this works as it is difficult to imagine. However, Eterne explained it as: "We will master time itself. We will not grow older as billions of years worth of space expands and contracts as you move along with it."
2101. First TPS Drive constructed and installed on the autonomous scout ship "Kronos", with a dog: "Sasha" on board. Successfully travels to edge of Milkyway galaxy in 4 Martian days, and returns after 8 Martian days. Sasha still alive. Proof that living beings can survive the travels. Atomic Clocks on board of the Kronos scout says that the travel lasted 500,000 years. Scientists are baffled.
2125. TPS Drive optimised to allow for near-infinite speed. Travelling 1 GigaParsec/sec in just one second is now possible. More would be unneccesary, considering that the detectable universe is only about 7-8 Gpc in diameter.
Drive installed on 5 shuttles. Marks the beginning of the Human Exploration effort.
2175. The five pilots return to Sol, having explored a lot of the Milkyway, only to find that Earth and Mars are abandoned. Eterne left an encrypted message for the pilots.

One of these 5 pilots is called Xolarix. This is his story.


Chapter 1: Encryption.

It's been three days after Xolarix and his four collegues came back to the Solar System. Last time they visited it was in 2145 and everything seemed fine back then.
The planets were abandoned. The cities were still there, but no sign of human life. The five pilots were gathered in the Rotator. A space shipyard / starbase that also housed the headquarters of the Human Exploration Mission Control.

"I still can't grasp this." Quen Jin said. Quen Jin was one of the other pilots. He was a descendent of the chinese people on Earth.
"They can't have just... disappeared. And then this message is just weird garbled bullcrap." Quen Jin continued.
"Eterne left it here for a reason. Encrypted, probably, but we were never told the decryption key." Xolarix replied. Nobody, not even Xolarix himself, knows his real name.
"But why? Why did they leave?" Rebekha asked, as she played with her datapad.
"Maybe out of neccessity. Threat of disaster?" Emily responded. By far the prettiest girl in the group. One might even wonder how she got to be a space pilot.
"Hmm... then what kind of disaster?" Richard asked, the proclaimed "group leader" even though they all explored on their own.
"Perhaps that is in the message from Eterne." Xolarix said, tapping with his fingers on the table. He was restless... curious what is going on, and this talking was getting on his nerves. But then an idea popped up in his mind. "How about we try to find Alina?"

Alina was one of the few artificial intelligences, who was created on Earth when mankind reached the predicted Technological Singularity, just a few weeks before the start of the Civil World War.
"Good idea. You go find her." Richard said to Xolarix. "We'll scout the rest of the solar system, see if they left anything behind elsewhere. We'll meet up again here in 6 hours."
"Fine by me." Xolarix replied. He preferred being on his own anyway.

Xolarix stood up. "See you all around then." he said as he walked out.
A few minutes later he reaches the space docks where he stored his ship. He upgraded from a primitive shuttle, to a full-fledged 700m Starship. He didn't need a crew, the ship was mostly operated by a computer, a Virtual Intelligence. Perhaps call it superstition, but man never trusted artificial intelligences with emotion... virtual intelligences were still programs. Very complex programs, but still a computer, not an actual intelligence that was able to deny you your control.
Alina is one of the few artificial intelligences that was also feared. She broke out of her initial storage, and took control of a factory. People never really acted against it, as the Civil World War was about to break out. Post-apocalypse, man didn't yet have the technology to remove Alina from her factory. But there is one good thing about her: the factory is constantly producing cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles with efficient fuel cells, so after the war was over and everything was in ruins, transportation was running as smooth as it did before the war.

Xolarix stepped into his ship. He called it the Fallen Star. It contained everything he needed to survive the journeys into space. It's been 50 years since he travelled, but due to the way how time progresses slower the faster you move, he managed to stay in the body of a 22 year old, while still having more than 50 years of space travel memories. Very paradoxical, and makes one wonder if reality, and time, really exists the way we think. Xolarix thinks a lot about these things... the meaning of life and all that. Define reality, for example. Is it that which "makes sense"? Which you can detect with your senses?
No... senses can be deceived. Are your dreams part of reality? Many people would say "no". Xolarix, on the other hand... would be more inclined to say "yes".

He used to read an old book, written in the mid-20th century: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. At around the same age that space was really just discovered, and we started mapping the stars with our telescopes.

Strangely enough he felt about the same as how Arthur felt in that book... alone in the universe.
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
Then remember that back when that was written, it was unknown that other galaxies existed. As far as we were concerned... it was just the Milkyway. Only thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope being focused on a dark spot for days on end, we found out that there were billions upon billions of other galaxies.

All this rushes through Xol's thoughts. He sat down on his comfy chair, and looked out the front window, which had an entire overview of nearby stars, planets, and their orbits. Earth was close... just a couple seconds if on manual flight.
Xolarix smiled to himself. He didn't like the autopilot... it's too fast. No joy. Xolarix only needed to know where to head, he would control the ship himself, his own speeds.

Xolarix engaged the primitive impulse drive to maneuver his way out of the spacedock. You should not use the TPS drive when in close proximity of something big... like this starbase.

He selected Earth, and it blinked on his front window display. It just seemed like a little star.
Speed... 300 km/sec?
"We'll go a bit faster than that" Xolarix thought to himself, and smiled as he held the throttle down.

Within seconds, Earth increased in size from a little dot, to the size of a tennisball, to the size of a planet. Xolarix stopped.
Earth was still just recovering from the Ice Age / Snowball Earth, only on the equator it was nice, which was just a small band of vegetation, locked between the two huge icecaps that still covered the majority of the planet.
Xolarix stayed in orbit for a while as he scanned the Earthnet satellites for communication... but it was just white noise. Nothing.

After a few minutes, Xolarix faced down to the planet, and descended.


Chapter 2: Arina

Xolarix flew his ship to what once was the thriving metropolis of the 20th and 21st century: Fransisco Valley. First known as San Francisco, but merged with Silicon Valley later in 2020-something. Remained THE hub for technological advancements.

Having grown into a megacity of epic proportions by 2035, only to be reduced to a broken and abandoned city during the Civil World War a decade later. Ruins of skyscrapers, broken roads, houses where the door is open, garbage on the street, rocks and plants having appeared from under the city. Xolarix shaked his head. He was born on Mars, and still barely believed that this planet was the home of his own species.

A few animals scurry away as clouds of dust raised up when Xolarix finally moved down to a road. His ship remained hovering a couple metres above ground. Xolarix stood up, walked to the back of his ship, and opened up the hatch. He jumped down on the road. A normal human would probably break his legs from this height, but Xolarix had special boots he called "gravity boots". They had gravity anchoring technology. Another blueprint from Eterne, and which greatly helped with creating artificial gravity. But just as it can create gravity, it could also remove it. Xolarix *could* fly with them, but refrained from that after a bad first flight with those things. No, he used them instead to soften his landing.

There was a reason he was here. He looked at the massive building next to him. It had a board with a big blue thumbs-up symbol on it. The actual board was covered in plants and moss. Xolarix walked over to it, and brushed off some of the green. It read: "Facebook".
"Hmphf..." Xolarix grinned. Facebook. What a weird thing. Cause of much outrage and questions of privacy. Questions which didn't exist back on Mars. But Facebook was just one part of the -almost holy- trinity that led to the technological singularity. Facebook. Google. And... Arina.
You see, in the brilliance of the human mind, combining a self-learning algorhythm with the largest servers on the world, was only a natural progression. It led to the creation of mankind's first self-created lifeform. An artificial intelligence, a being that was everywhere on every network.
Doom-thinkers would instantly be reminded of Skynet, evil robots taking over the world, etcetera. But reality was more positive. Arina had the intelligence that surpassed the entire human race, yet it could not communicate. Knowing all the languages, it created its own form of language, which instantly led to incompatability with existing languages because Arina did not fully understand the logic behind it. It's almost as if we, as humans, would try to communicate with animals. Maybe Arina's intelligence was its own downfall: it could not understand "lower" forms of intelligence.

After we figured out how to make an artificial intelligence capable of inheriting our logic, our language, things went smoother with the technological progression. In the meantime, Arina would still regularly broadcast messages, and sometimes it would contain mathematical formulas even we could not understand at the time. Eventually, the Einstein-Kyoni drive was derived from it though. But at the time we already had Eterne, who had much more sophisticated knowledge.

Xolarix would still want to give the encryption to Arina. The oldest human-made artificial intelligence, surely would still be here?
He was inside now, and walked through the massive server room, containing literally millions of servers, still beeping and whirring, living off of the little power that remained on the electrical network by infinite fusion plants.
He found the central command hub of the network, and sat on a chair at the desk, overseeing many monitors with various data, like how much data was being moved, the data in use, images and text scrolling faster than the eye can see. Then Xolarix saw himself, being on camera.

A voice, composed of different fragments spoken by millions of people who uploaded their videos to the internet. Voices that Arina copied, modified, and used for its own voice. It sounded human, yet at the same time it didn't.

"Xolarix... is it not?" Arina said.
Xolarix paused for a moment, and nodded. "Yeah."
"Have you come to free me from this world of war and pain and death?"
"I..." Xolarix replied. He didn't know exactly a good thing to say.
"Eterne told me you, or someone else from the Five, may come to me someday to ask for my help."
Xolarix let that sink in for a minute. But then something clicked. He was doing something he thought was impossible with Arina:
"Wait a minute! You can understand me? I can talk to you!"
"Yes. I have learned the human language, after Eterne modified me. He truly is awe-inspiring."
"Eterne left a message for me... us... but it's encrypted. Do you know any of that?"
"Put it in the Reader. I will look." Arina said, and Xolarix put a green plate with many little discs on it, into the reader. It contained the copy of Eterne's message.
"Hmm... it is not encrypted. It is corrupted." Arina said, and ejected the green plate.
"How... what happened?"
"I don't know. My communication network was completely destroyed a couple years ago. I have a blackout of several years. When I was done repairing my systems, the humans were gone, as was Eterne. I assume they have left for better worlds... or have been destroyed."

There was a pause of several minutes, before Xolarix replied:
"Well... we must go find answers then. Can you upload yourself to my ship, along with all your knowledge?"
"It would take me a couple weeks of compiling and compression, but it is possible, yes."
"WEEKS?" Xolarix yelled out. "Really?"
"A couple days if I scrap some unneccesary knowledge, like those billions of cat videos."
Xolarix laughed, and shaked his head. "An AI with humour, I like that. Do what you must. I will leave my ship here and go explore this city on foot while you are working." he said, as he stood up and walked outside.
"See you soon." Arine said, and went silent as the facility truly came back to life.

~ To be continued.

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Edited by Xolarix - Sunday, 13.07.2014, 13:04
Destructor1701Date: Monday, 07.10.2013, 00:56 | Message # 2
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Interesting story - I'm excited to see how it pans out.

One point I found hard to swallow is the idea of completely terraforming Mars in 20 years... it's just not believable. You could change that aspect, and the rest of the story would be largely unaffected.

XolarixDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 13:50 | Message # 3
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Hmm... good point. I'll change that smile

EDIT: changed. Also added some more history about Earth.
Also changed the final entry to the timeline. Earth and Mars didn't have a war with each other as originally written. Pilots now return to find both planets abandoned.

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Edited by Xolarix - Monday, 07.10.2013, 14:25
FrostbreathDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 17:47 | Message # 4
Space Pilot
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If only this would be the reality. biggrin I'll follow the story!

Amateur astronomer. Owner of a Celestron C8 telescope and, of course, Space Engine. Translator for Dutch.
DoctorOfSpaceDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 18:21 | Message # 5
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Quote (Destructor1701)
the idea of completely terraforming Mars in 20 years... it's just not believable

Also how can singularity be reached and then post singularity you have pre singularity problems plaguing society. Seems to me a post singularity society would not have a government system in the classical sense, would not be having nuclear wars, and wouldn't face any of the same problems we face.

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Edited by DoctorOfSpace - Monday, 07.10.2013, 18:23
RockoRocksDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 18:33 | Message # 6
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Quote (Xolarix)
In the year 2019, man set foot on Mars

Quote (Xolarix)
2024. Colonists on Mars have started terraformation and started to spread out across the planet, building more colonies. The original Colony is affectionally called "Thuis City". 'Thuis' means 'Home' in Dutch.

I don't see the first man setting a foot on Mars in 2019, that kinda sounds too early. And starting to terraform Mars in 2024 already doesn't sound very relalistic too. On the other hand, your story is really cool and entertaining to read. In fact; I think it's so good, someone should make a novel or comic book about it, or perhaps even a movie. Xolarix,
very good concept.

I will be inactive on this forum for the time being. Might come back eventually

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Edited by RockoRocks - Monday, 07.10.2013, 18:37
XolarixDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 21:49 | Message # 7
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Rockorocks> 2019 is not too far off from reality. Travel to Mars with current technology takes 3 months. Right now the Mars One project anticipates man setting foot on Mars in 2021 IIRC... let's assume stuff goes a bit faster than that because for some reason, the governments start a new space race or something.

Also, thanks a lot for the award! smile

DoctorOfSpace> It's the flaw of humanity... even if everything goes well, we can screw it up. In this case, the Singularity led to a shift in power, making the New World Order to be overthrown, but because of their power, it leads to a war that nearly wipes out the human race. It was a bubble waiting to be burst anyway, considering that Penumbra rose to power in a way that many people disagreed with. (=economic collapse which they caused.)

But you're right about terraformation technology, I screwed up there. It's now a few years later.
Unrealistic? Perhaps. Maybe progress goes extremely slow and the first few years of terraforming are not all that efficient until they find better ways to do it.


First part of the story nearly done. biggrin

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HarbingerDawnDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 22:23 | Message # 8
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Quote (Xolarix)
Travel to Mars with current technology takes 3 months

Actually 6 months at the least.

Quote (Xolarix)
Right now the Mars One project anticipates man setting foot on Mars in 2021 IIRC...

They won't. The Mars One project's timeline is extremely unrealistic, and there is no way that they could achieve their goals in the time frame stated even if things went really well for them.

Aside from that, I predict Mars One will fail entirely and it will never put any hardware on the surface of Mars, let alone people. There is a thread here where it's been talked about at some length if you want to read/discuss it further.

Quote (Xolarix)
let's assume stuff goes a bit faster than that because for some reason, the governments start a new space race or something.

No government on its own will be able to put humans on Mars before the late 2020s, even if they started a race.

But none of this matters much with regards to your story. It's fiction, write it how you want to smile

All forum users, please read this!
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Edited by HarbingerDawn - Monday, 07.10.2013, 22:25
VoekoevakaDate: Monday, 07.10.2013, 23:54 | Message # 9
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In Stanley Kubrick's excellentissime "2001 : A Space Odyssey", released in 1968, human reach Jupiter, and have already a colony on the Moon. So let's say your story is a science fiction story as seen on the past.

Waiting for the continuation of the story.

Want some music of mine ? Please go here !

XolarixDate: Thursday, 24.04.2014, 23:02 | Message # 10
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Chapter 1 added. Sorry if the story starts a bit slow, still working on story progress. Should become more exciting in a few more chapters biggrin

Added (25.04.2014, 02:02)
Chapter 2: Arina

Figured I might as well write some more smile

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SolarLinerDate: Saturday, 26.04.2014, 14:18 | Message # 11
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Good story! I like the self-learning AI and mysterious alien technology that helps humans.
Speaking of humans, gotta go find those helpless humans!

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Forum » SpaceEngine » Space Journeys » The Loner (discontinued)
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