Wednesday, December 25, 2013

359: Frontier

ENTRY 359: Frontier

"The truth has always been out there. We just have to go find it."
- William Scully

There is a rumor in the Firewall network, passed from ego to ego, the stories sometimes growing in the telling. The ultimate failsafe, if all else goes wrong - a colony on an exoplanet, a final refuge where transhumanity can retreat, should the inconceivable happen again. Not to make a final stand, but to walk through and bury the gates behind them, to close the door on the solar system for good - because transhumanity is bigger than Earth, more important than sentimental attachment to the sun that birthed it. Survival, at any cost.

There is a truth to the rumor, though it is stranger than any of the stories make it out to be. When gatecrashing began in earnest, Firewall stumbled upon a single set of coordinates that all of the known gates had in common. They found there a near-Earth compatible world with over two dozen active gate devices, a hub in the gate network. The first gatecrashers dubbed the exoplanet Frontier. If not for what else they found there, perhaps Firewall would have let it become the new home for transhumanity.

Frontier is an uninhabited world - but it was not always so. The gate complex stands in the midst of a vast prairie-type landscape, a broad sea of grass on a continent the size of Australia. Massive, far-separated pylons dominate the landscape surrounding the gate complex, geothermal-powered terraforming stations that spew out nanites to shape the land, water, and air to something else. Estimates suggest they have been running at least two hundred Earth years. Yet there are no signs of habitation, no structures at all besides the gates and the pylons - except overhead.

Hanging above the planet are the remains of a stellar empire built by an extraterrestrial race. Broken rings, cracked cylinders, and dying satellites circle the world in a belt of space trash, and every night is marked by the burning debris as decaying orbits bring the detritus falling back to the surface. Samples recovered are, relative to Earth technology, primitive - spacecraft and habitats built by a society with four arms and four-fingered hands that counted in hexidecimal and had barely mastered the transistor, but in such profusion that they represent hundreds of years of sustained exploration and colonization of space...using technology equivalent to the first Earth astronauts.

Cleary, these alien astronauts did not build the gates. Equally obvious, whatever race did build the gate complex and terraformers on Frontier, they never moved in. Some Firewall xenoarchaeologists suggest that there was a glitch in the terraform software, and that the nanoswarms removed or cannibalized any structures for raw materials. Others suggest that the terraforming was abandoned when it became clear that the planet was inhabitated...or they simply hadn't moved in yet. Until the mystery is resolved, Firewall has kept a low-impact presence on Frontier. There are still protocols in place for transhumanity to retreat here in the event of an extinction event, and storehouses of raw materials, information, and technology have been established in preparation of such an event, but until such time as the mystery of what happened is resolved, Frontier is not acceptable as a colony site...not yet.

Using Frontier

A mystery, wrapped in an engima, through an artificial wormhole. Frontier may represent the great hope of transhumanity - or the most direct threat to its existence. Even if answers to what happened to the two races whose technological remains have been found on the planet can be found, there is no guarantee that transhumanity will like the them. There's a strong possibility, though few even at Firewall will admit this, that the sudden intrusion of the gate complex led more or less directly to the downfall or disappearance of a race that had obviously been space-capable for longer than transhumanity. If this is the case, Firewall needs to know. The only question is - are the player characters game to explore this Frontier?


  • Firewall has manufactured an emergency shutdown test at Extropia, which will leave the Pandora Gate "sealed" for several hours - long enough for them to run an evacuation drill and see if their current protocols are sufficient for moving a substantial population of transhumans and associated equipment through the gate to Frontier. The PCs are assigned roles to assist, and move through the gate with the others as part of the mock-evacuation. However, something goes wrong - the sudden appearance of so many transhumans on Frontier appears to have activated several of the pylons on the other side, and caused the gates to temporarily lock. Cut off from home and with no obvious chain of command and potential immenient threat, what will the PCs do?

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