“Greetings and salutations! Welcome to the Archives. I am your guide, HA-L235, or simply Hal. I do not get travelers often. Here at the Galactic Archive VIII, we compile all entries and records within the database to create the most accurate historical account possible. This archive is maintained by Appregio.
WARNING! Historical records after Terra Fall are not complete. Other than what was already downloaded into the existing databases, all other information was recorded manually. It may not be completely factual, or consistent, as records were pieced together. Information may be biased based on individual recordings, thus, we can not vouch for the accuracy of the records. For the most accurate records I suggest you access Archive at /*REDACTED*/.”
Terra, once the shining jewel of humanity, is a planet rich in history, and the birthplace for many millenniums of stories and events. Humanity in its inception had not been kind to her, and years of war and pollution took their toll, leaving her scarred and tarnished. To find answers and solutions, humanity had to look to the stars.
Almost two millennia have passed since Terra Fall, when it vanished and was lost to humankind. Humanity was still in their infancy as they spread their influence to the stars to create new opportunities. During that process, and with Terra gone, they lost memory of their origin, and the only remains of humanity's history had to be preserved and pieced together from remnants. Great museums, such as The Record in the Kaelius system and The Census Bureau, hold collections of what is left of Terra's history. Bits and pieces of information have been mended into a story that provides a shell of an existence for humanity.
It is said that things like race and morals are considered social constructs. Nothing tests that theory more than when the history of a whole species vanishes. After Terra Fall, there only existed a few hundred terrabytes of information between the databases in the Orbital Relays, the newer colonies, as well as what was available on the part of the net that survived. Given the circumstances, there were only a couple organizations willing to collect, datamine and archive the information. Historical information was the least of humanity's problems as they struggled to survive.
Cut off from Terra, there was a vacuum of leadership and government for almost every country. A few took this as an opportunity to stake a claim for themselves, while others banded together with other nations to stabilize some of the already established frontier systems. Under the guise of bringing order to chaos, war erupted over control of the best planets. It was swift and deadly, ultimately resulting in the splintering of nations and resources.
"Further information is no longer accessible from this particular archive. We have vlogs, audio records, and images but given their incomplete nature, actual events of the following few hundred years are conjecture.”
ERROR; unauthorized entry.
...humanity must be cleansed.
Holonovel, "Corsair Rising", loaded.”
"He sells his loyalties to the highest bidder. Shouldn’t even a mercenary have morals? That’s the textbook definition of a whore!" - Nadia Scieva
Gethrel City on the planet Zhaan, in the United Republic and Anazi Dynasty Corridor
The air around the streets smelled like poodak, unclean and foul as if it has never rained to wash away the cesspool. That wasn’t too far from the truth since it never did rain on Zhaan. The air was moist and sticky, warm but the atmosphere was still in the early stages of terraforming. Those who grew up or have lived on these types of planets were used to breathing the lower oxygen air which made it easy to spot off worlders or those used to better lives because of the rebreathers they used.
It would be close to 500 years before rain might really fall on this planet. For now, there was the sonic drones which would sani-pulse away the physical dirt but it wasn’t the same as a real shower with soap and water. You could make the place look visibly clean but it did nothing for the acrid stench of unwashed masses.
Things could always be a lot worse, at least that is what Jason Cross constantly tells himself. It was his own way of trying to stay positive no matter how bad the situation was. The problem was he never truly believed it. In reality, he was already planning for everything to go sideways, trying to stay two steps ahead of the eventual bad luck that followed him.
He was now just another merc trying to eke out a living. If he wanted to take some high risk bounty hunter jobs or high end security detail it would be a lot easier. With his experience and ranking as a Corsair, there were even cushy jobs to take as options to work within the core worlds.
Core worlds were the prestigious and wealthy planets within each nation. Each faction had their own core worlds where their ideals were the strongest and they had the military power and force to back it up. They were considered the most secure and lawful parts of the nations although that didn’t mean criminals didn’t exist there. It just was a different breed of crime. The dominant nations controlled the galaxy, each hard their own set of core worlds they protected. They were the cream of the crop, protected by the best security and military personnel that the 51st century could offer.
Around each of the core worlds was an area of space referred to the outer rim notoriously known as code zero, serving as a buffer between the nations. They were also known as corridor worlds because the borders were often shared between multiple factions. This was the wild frontier, planets deemed less important. Some were still in the process of terraforming while others didn’t have any real value except serving as a buffer to protect the core from riff raff.
Some people were starting to wonder if Jason really earned his current rank or somehow played the system since he always seemed to take lower rated jobs. Others were always trying to run towards the core while he seemed to avoid it like the plague.
The Syndicate is a neutral party and broker that manages Corsairs, licensed mercenaries. The Corsair Agreement allowed them to handle testing, licensing, insurance and employment disputes which would in-turn be reflected by a Corsairs CNet ranking. Any nation could refuse to accept the license for multiple reasons and laws, unless someone was an outright terrorist usually bans were temporary. It just meant a Corsair had to move on to someplace else for a time. It was hard to find experienced soldiers and some nations need the import and export of Free Traders so everyone tried to stay legit. That didn’t mean there weren’t other ways to make things tough on a Corsair like taxes or fees for business deals.
Gethrel City was like any other corridor world, filled with hard working people trying to survive surrounded by pirates, rogues and thieves with no real law enforcement around. There hadn’t been a large scale conflict since the 2nd Galactic War but that didn’t stop skirmishes or invasions from happening, resulting in these corridor worlds changing hands almost yearly.
Like most outer rim worlds, there were military outposts that had local Sheriffs and Marshals. The problem was there was never enough manpower or weaponry to deal with everything, and the best was dedicated to protecting the 1st class citizens and core worlds. The military were only about protecting their own, bullying others out of the way.
Jason took another sip of his Zen cooler, trying to look like an average citizen down on his luck and drowning his sorrows of another workday away. He was slouched over the table, resting almost all his weight on it, shoulders sore and aching from a long 12 hour shift. He would scrape his foot against the ground, rotating his ankles trying to stretch the stiffness from them. When someone worked 12 hours on their feet the whole time, every pressure point would be tingly and cause pain.
That was of course all an act, he wasn’t a worker and he hasn’t worked a 12 hour shift in quite a few years. Not to mention he didn’t have normal muscles like humans, he was technically classified as a military grade full body cyborg. The only organic part of him was probably just his brain, he couldn’t remember anymore. No one looking at him would be able to tell him visually apart from a normal human. Even his skin was synthetic but simulated warmth, color and a heartbeat like everyone else. Being a cyborg however wasn’t cheap, maintenance, parts, and fine tuning all required credits.
A female voiced quietly into his comm, sounding electrical and synthetic like it was fed through a voicebox said, “He’s late. Are you sure he didn’t take the money and run?”
He brought the bottle to his lips, pretending to take another drink while quietly saying, “I doubt it. He was skeevy but according to the Dark-Net, he delivers. You’re supposed to be on standby, not watching me.” Jason took a real drink now, then sighed loudly like he just lost his job today.
“I can do both, be on standby and watch, besides who do you think you are talking to,” she said.
Ayame Izumi, one of the galaxies best hackers although not completely because of her skill and talent. She was a Cyberoid but unlike her counterparts in the Shingen Empire, she wasn’t part of the collective. Cyberoids were technically humans, not robots or artificial intelligences or constructs but the next step in human evolution according to Shingen. Most of the nation shed their frail bodies to be reborn as a Cyberoid. They were very similar to cyborgs like him, but with a few key differences.
Citizens of the Shingen Empire are birthed in essentially test tubes called birthing chambers. While in the birthing chamber their growth is accelerated, sending electrical impulses into the body downloading data to the brain and preparing the body for processing.
One year later they emerge from the birthing chambers in a mature eighteen year old body. The side effect of the process is that their human body is more frail than the average person. If they don’t undergo processing, which is a personal choice and not everyone does it, then they might live until they are forty. Otherwise they spend a couple years in classes, preparing and training them how to integrate into the collective.
When they go through processing, their anima, a person's soul, along with their intelligence gets downloaded into a Cyberoid shell. They spend another two years in school before their are assigned a role within the Empire. Joining the collective does have its benefits, they share things with each other through a net. Their purpose is for the sole purpose of the Shingen Empire.
Many would consider Ayame defective in need of conditioning. They might have even purged her to protect the secret that Cyberoids were just like humans, flawed in their own way. Express individuality was frowned upon since it created ebbs against the society they were trying to create. She should have been able to be part of and hear the collective but it was something she was always able to block out. When they suppressed key emotions, instead of loyalty to the Shingen Empire being heightened her survival instincts and loyalty to herself kicked in. She knew she would always choose herself first and that was why she originally ran. It wasn’t until she met Jason she stopped running.
Jason said, “I don’t want this Op blown because we really need the creds. I want enough to at least afford a real bath.”
She laughed again, it sounded electronic, almost forced like she knew she was supposed to laugh but didn’t actually feel the need to expend the energy to express it. “If anyone gets caught it is always you. Besides you are a Cyborg with synthflesh which means bacteria doesn’t even grow on you.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that I love how I feel floating in the water, I can still feel the water.” Even more quietly under his breath he muttered, “Besides I like how the soap smells.”
The last comment seemed to silence Ayame for a bit. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what something smelled like, it just didn’t trigger certain memories and feelings like it does with most humans. Sometimes food to others reminds them of comfort, home and growing up but for her it was just food. She wondered to herself, if that was a human trait then did it mean she truly wasn’t human afterall.
“Don’t go there. You are human. Don’t think every human is the same copy of another, we’re all unique in our own ways just like you,” he said in a solemn whisper before taking another drink.
“I… do not know what you are talking about. I am observing and trying to find the target.” Was this agitation? She didn’t understand what exactly these emotions were, the cyber circuits were trying to make sense of them. Most of all she didn’t understand why Jason treated her like a human, instead of a machine which is what most people outside of Shingen do. It was like that the first time they met.
"I apologize, I am not sure what happened. There appears to be some database corruption. I am attempting to make corrections to compensate.”