ENTRY 012: The Face of Man
An artificial comet drifts through the solar system, out past the orbit of Saturn, a massive chunk of ice and dust with a wispy tail. While smaller than the brighter comets in orbit around Sol and little different in composition, this comet has been carved and shaped in a dozen semblances of human faces, pockmarked here and there by the craters of small impacts, hence its name. Given the size and composition of the comet, most astronomers agree that it was formed from the material of Pluto or one of the dwarf planet’s moons; a minority view holds that the Face of Man began as a transneptunian object, or is an entirely extrasolar object. How the mass was accelerated and placed in its current orbit around the sun is even less clear—while several likely technologies exist, there is no evidence of any known faction’s hand in the engineering of this feat.
There are twenty-six faces on the comet in various scales, representing a collection of human and hominid phenotypes. A slight majority of the faces are identifiably female, with the rest male or neuter, and there are at least three faces that appear to represent Neanderthal, Devosian, and an unknown hominid race, but these were either left unfinished or are the most damaged by micrometeorite impact. Given the imperfections and asymmetry of each face, it is assumed they were modeled after individual transhumans or from high-quality composite software models, but none of the models have yet been positively identified.
Image analysis of the comet suggests little as to its original sculptors, save that the style is photorealistic. Close-ups fly-bys suggest that the rock and ice were cut by lasers and smoothed by industrial sanders using artificial microdiamonds—a simple and pragmatic approach. Actually landing a probe on the comet and taking samples might reveal more information, but major factions and habitats are leery of damaging the intriguing object, and most have signed the Face Accords, which allow no direct or damaging analysis of the object without the agreement of all the signatory parties.
- Firewall has discovered a small exhuman group on Eris believes that the Face of Man was crafted by extraterrestrials—and contains an alien artifact. They intend to land a probe in defiance of the Face Accords and drill for it. Whether they are right or wrong, Firewall intends to stop them in case they unleash an exsurgent threat...and they want the player characters to help.
- A system-wide image search has identified a strong correlation (94%) between the appearance of one of the player characters and one of the faces on the Face of Man. The player may cash in on this likeness (+10 rep), but may attract the attention of Face-watchers eager to find out the secrets of the artifact.
- A wobble in the Face of Man’s orbit threatens to take it too close to the sun, boiling off too much of the outer layers and destroying the sculpted images. The Face Accord signatories are unable to agree on a course of action, and private parties have pooled their resources to engage in a rescue mission, trying to tow or push the comet into a more stable orbit—provided they can find a crew crazy enough to do it.