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Space: Above And Beyond Reimagined

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In 2084, the United Americas was formed. It encompassed the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. On January 1, 2085, the 'United Earth Summit' was commenced in Geneva and attended by Australia, China, the European Federation, Japan, New Zealand, the Russian Republic, South Africa, and the United Americas. The nations attending the summit proposed that the United Nations Constitution be radically ratified. These proposals in effect dissolved the UN, replacing it with the United Earth Federation (UEF), an economic/political conglomerate committed to the goal of uniting the nations of Earth in preparation for the colonization of the planet Mars and the rest of the solar system.

This move sparked several conflicts, primarily fueled by nations who refused to be a part of the new United Earth Federation. The newly formed United Earth Federation soon ratified a treaty of United Earth Federation Armed Forces, a cohesive fighting force to stop these and future wars, with troops and equipment supplied by all member states, under one general command staff comprising of high-ranking officers of all nations. The biggest armies in the new United Earth Armed Forces (UEFAF) included EuroCorps, AmeriCorps, ChinaCorps, AsiaCorps and troops from India and Latin America.

The year 2086 saw the formation of the East Asian Consortium from China, Mongolia, the Indonesian Consortium, Vietnam, Cambodia and (with some reluctance) North Korea. Many believed its formation was in response to the formation of the United Americas two years earlier.

In 2101, a research team led by Spanish astrophysicist Dr. Ana Bunuel discovered the existence of the substrate within which our universe exists. A domain outside normal three-dimensional space, they named this place "paraspace". They found that certain energetic reactions could create an intrusion of this domain into our own space, altering the behavior of all forms of matter and energy within our space-time. They called this intrusion a "paraspatial field". With paraspace being a continuum with different physical laws than our own, paraspatial fields had the capability of "warping" the space-time continuum. Paraspace was also found to provide an additional electromagnetic polarization plane perpendicular to the planes in normal space which could be used for the transmission of particles. This led scientists all over the world to foresee the advent of faster than light communications.

In 2105, while studying the works of physicist Miguel Alcubierre, an American theoretical physicist named Dr. Everett Eckerly proposed that a spaceship could use paraspatial fields projected by a series of coils to warp the fabric of space and that ship could use that warp to propel it faster than light. This drive would work by contracting space-time in front of the ship and expanding space-time behind it. The spaceship itself would rests in a bubble between the two space-time distortions. This warped space, together with the region between it, would accelerate off faster than the speed of light and the vessel would then essentially surf on the wave in space-time created by this distortion.

Travel at velocities exceeding the speed of light would be possible in this fashion because the spaceship would be, strictly speaking, stationary (relative to the space of its bubble) while space-time itself would be moving. Since it is the space around a ship that would be moving and the spaceship would not actually be accelerating, it would experience no time dilation, allowing the passage of time inside the vessel to be the same as that outside it.

By 2107, with a world population soaring, food riots in most countries and a biosphere contaminated by the burning of fossil fuels and use of dirty nuclear power (i.e. fission), the colonization of the solar system was seen as the key to the eventual regeneration and uniting of Earth.

A year later, scientists in a Taiwan laboratory succeeded in transmitting information faster than the speed of light via paraspace. Calculated at traveling nearly 3.26 light years in one Earth day, near instantaneous communications was now possible with the fledgling Mars stations. A few months later, groundbreaking research at the University of San Francisco on the effects of a static electromagnetic field on gravitons led to the activation of the first working gravity-field generator. This made artificial gravity fields possible on spaceships, space stations, and in the lunar and Mars stations.

In 2115, a consortium of scientists from the European Federation and Japan led by Dr. Eckerly succeeded in building first FTL propulsion engine. The next year, using an FTL engine powered by the rare element Ununpentium, the United Americas Space Agency spaceship 'Bunuel' made the first interstellar flight to Alpha Centauri. At a distance of 4.39 light years from Earth, the Bunuel made the journey in 150 Earth days. The FTL engine worked by energizing the Ununpentium, which when energized caused the energy frequencies in a stream of plasma to shift into paraspace, generating multilayered paraspatial fields with a specific frequency that formed a bubble that enveloped the spacecraft. The Bunuel crossed the light-speed barrier as its pilots used the ship's computers to manipulate these fields to warp the geometry of space-time immediately around the ship.

With this extraordinary technological development, around the world discussions began about the eventuality of interstellar colonial expansion in which people would seek to escape from the troubles on Earth to the new 'frontier'. However with the possibility of finding other worlds suitable for human habitation being tremendously low, the notion of interstellar colonization was soon disregarded by every government on Earth to be unnecessary at that time and far too expensive. Yet several of Earth's larger corporations began to fund space exploration efforts (mostly with space probes). This gave way to a rapid increase in the power and influence of multinational corporations. They were not defined by country, society, or ideology. In industry, in business, and in the media, the multinationals became ever more powerful and more visible. The AeroTech corporation was the most prominent company formed during this period.

The year 2118 saw the outbreak of the Bolivian H2 Alpha super-flu strain across Central and South America. By mid-2119 the Bolivian H2 Alpha, nicknamed the "Sterility Plague" had become a global pandemic. By the time Bolivian H2 Alpha was brought under control with a vaccine developed by the Japanese firm Zen Medical in 2124, it had claimed 204.1 million victims. Over 673 million people became sterile as a side effect of the plague.

Seeing a need to fill the labor force gap after the sterility-causing plague had decimated the population, that same year, the government of the United Americas created the "InVitro Program" to produce genetically engineered humans to fill the gap.

The InVitro Program involved bioengineering human embryos with the best the human genome has to offer, without the randomness of natural selection. The "InVitros" would be conceived from 'parents' that never actually lived as two human beings. Instead they would be composites of DNA from many sources assembled together in a petri dish to optimize the chances of getting the best traits possible. The race would be a step up from cloning in that no two InVitros would be alike, however they would share certain genetic sequences with another InVitro created from the same batch of constructed chromosomes.

In 2127, the first batch of InVitro embryos were created using advanced gene splicing techniques and placed in neutral-buoyancy tanks referred to as "artificial gestation chambers" with the natural umbilical cord delivering the nutrients they would need suspended in a sleep state and an artificial cord at the base of their skulls (on the back of their necks) that was connected to a neural network that imputed basic education through direct sensory input to the brain. While floating in the artificial gestation chamber, a series of sophisticated retroviruses attacked the genetic structure of the InVitros, prematurely activating segments of DNA responsible for growth and maturity. By triggering these genes in a closely timed sequence while providing them with a steady flow of nutrient rich protein medium, their bodies were able to reach maturity at a rate far more rapid than naturally. In 2133, after six years, their physical development was equivalent to a "Natural Born" human at eighteen years of age. As it would be with all later generations of InVitros, only 27 percent of the subjects survived the gestation process.

Genetically designed to be stronger, faster and less prone to illness, the InVitros were suppose to help bring the decaying human race back to its feet. They were created to be a servant caste, occupying jobs that were too dangerous, demeaning or strenuous for Natural Born humans. After they were born they would serve a five year period of indentured servitude to reimburse society for expenses associated with their creation. Despite the outcry from various human rights groups, the United Earth Federation officially approved of the InVitro Program and in 2134, the United Americas sold the technology and scientific schematics for creating InVitros to various other governments. A few months later, the UEF founded the InVitro Authority to collectively oversee the creation of InVitros all over the world.

In 2138 Silicatronics Incorporated unveiled ACE (Artificially Conscious Entity) - the first ever self-aware computer. In 2144, Silicatronics developed commercially available androids - walking humanoid personal computers running the latest in intelligent software design. Dubbed "Silicates" because of their silicon-based artificial neural networks, these androids were manufactured to be servants and soldiers, designed to be visually pleasing. However, their eyes were eerie white with rifle sight-like crosshairs in place of pupils so they would be easily recognizable and never mistaken for human beings. Silicates were programmed to comprehend abstract concepts such as philosophy, theology and ethics. Although they could understand these ideas their programming did not allow them to originate new ideas. Their superior intelligence was totally learned so they could understand an idea like freedom but did not have the ability to formulate how to obtain freedom.

The A.I.s were also built to communicate with one another via modulation schemes through a networked wireless modem. When they communicated thusly, the only sound humans could detect were electronic beeps and chirps. The Silicates were networked remotely so they knew one another's position and operating state. In addition, they were capable of storing, and retrieving common knowledge. With a 5 terabyte collected memory capacity, they could share data on demand.

With the advent of the Silicates, who could perform menial labor, the subject of the so-called "InVitro Question" heated up as many InVitro rights advocates clamored for the InVitro Authority to be dissolved and all InVitros serving their indentured servitude to be released from it early. The issue of the InVitros had already become the most controversial topic of the 22nd Century, especially since most InVitros who finished their indentured servitude found it very hard to adjust to life among Natural Borns because they were an easy target of constant discrimination since many regarded them as unnatural creations. The additional artificial "navel" present at the back of their necks (where the artificial umbilical cord/neural implant was attached in the gestation chamber) became their only visible distinguishing feature, making InVitros easily recognizable.

In 2147, a computer programmer with Silicatronics named Dr. Ken Stranahan, who was considered a genius, discovered his senior co-workers were taking all the credit for his work. While upgrading the A.I. Central Processing Unit Dr. Stranahan inserted a computer virus into the A.I. code pool. The instruction was "Take a Chance." That one single act triggered a storm of destruction. As the computer virus was transmitted to the vast majority of Silicates within days, it became a compelling ideology in A.I. behavior, leading them to define all activity in terms of risk and gamble. In less than a week the idea of risk became something of a religion for the Silicates. The only thing human created including themselves that they respected was gambling.

Silicatronics performed an internal witch-hunt, and found that Dr. Stranahan had created the "Take a Chance" virus, infecting the A.I.s. Before formal charges could be laid, Dr. Stranahan committed suicide. By that time, the Silicates had learned how to win a rebellion against the humans, they didn't feel emotions such as fear, intimidation and mercilessness but they knew how it affected humans.

The A.I.s began indiscriminately taking human life, slaughtering the life forms they derisively called "Carbonites." The United Earth Armed Forces came into duty and to the overall surprise, the different generals worked together as one team. It was the first real test to the UEAF which it passed with flying colors.

Natural Born losses were still so heavy that the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Earth Federation jointly passed a resolution that drafted all InVitros serving their indentured servitude into the Armed Forces of their respective nations. After the InVitros were conscripted into the Armed Forces against their will, they proved to be poor soldiers. With no conventional families to protect, a lack of patriotic fervor toward nations that saw them as expendable slaves, and no vested interest in the A.I. War's outcome, the majority of the InVitros refused to fight.

Despite the A.I.s networked communication system, they were far less organized than humans during the war. As a result, the conflict essentially consisted of several wars being fought in different areas. As the A.I. Wars raged and many areas remained largely unaffected, others were devastated. Fighting was most intense in the East Asian Consortium. In 2151, President Yung of the EAC was assassinated by a Silicate. A year later, a division of Silicates codenamed the "CC Army" overran the Mongolian city of Karakorum. The so-called "CC War" was the bloodiest of the entire A.I. Wars, however after 13 months of fighting the city was liberated from the Silicates.

By 2154, the Silicates had been driven from all populated areas and intense fighting was confined to isolated areas. However, the A.I.s continued numerous terrorist attacks that killed thousands. That same year, a convention on Silicate POWs took place in Ho Chi Min City. As a result of the convention, A.I.s were considered to have the same rights as human POWs have according to the Geneva Convention.

The Silicates took the conflict into space in the year 2155 after they collectively stole several military space vehicles that the militaries of the UEAF had been building. Most of them dispersed throughout the solar system to attack human research stations. Unbeknownst to the A.I.s, the ships they stole were only a small fraction of the ships the UEAF had been building for the enormous new space navies. For the next two years, the Armed Forces of the united Earth fought the Silicates in dozens of space battles, always with the humans being victorious. The AmeriCorps was especially effective.

Finally, in 2157, after two years of trial and error the A.I.s successfully reverse-engineered their own FTL engines for their ships. After equipping the remaining Silicate vessels with the technology, they simultaneously left the Solar system, ending the A.I. Wars.

In the midst of that joyous event, 2157 also saw a scientific breakthrough by Zen Medical enable the repair of damage done by the Sterility Plague at a genetic level. With fertility restored, Earth suffered a minor population explosion.

With the A.I. Wars now over, the InVitro platoons, an abysmal failure, were dissolved by the United Earth Armed Forces in December of 2158. The InVitros returned "home" without familial or community ties to guide their main-streaming and soon became a rebellious race of socio-political untouchables. The refusal to fight in the war led to a stigma that would haunt InVitros everywhere. Persecuted and reviled as disloyal cowards, most became outcasts, living on the outer edges of society. They had gained a reputation as being lazy and shiftless.

The end of the war and the reversal of the Sterility Plague's effects sparked a reawakened sense of optimism in the public. The idea of colonizing planets in other solar systems was once again talked about heavily amongst the public and this time even amongst government officials. The talked was also sparked by the population surge. A colonization program sponsored primarily by the United Americas and operated by AeroTech began in June of 2159.

A month later, the European Federation disbanded indentured servitude to get rid of InVitro ghettos after several rallies of the InVitro Rights Movements had ended in riots. In September of 2160, the United Earth Federation formally outlawed indentured servitude planetwide, completely freeing the InVitros. Out of a sense of guilt, the UEF instituted an InVitro affirmative action program.

In 2162, the Colonization Program was launched from Corpus Christi, Texas. The first human extrasolar colony, Tellus was settled in early 2163. Just days after the settlement was established, it was attacked by an advanced alien civilization. During the attack several colonists managed to send a transmission to Earth, however due to the transceiver being decades old it would take a few months for the message to reach its destination. Not knowing of the alien threat, soon after AeroTech launched a second group of colonist from Corpus Christi. This group was headed for a planet dubbed Vesta. As the Vesta colony ship was traveling toward its destination it was attacked by the aliens. The ship's emergency systems sent out a distress signal back to AeroTech, however due to the ship's transceiver being damaged during the attack it would take a few days to reach Earth.

When the message did reach Earth, out of sheer coincidence the message from the Tellus colony arrived just hours later. After authenticating the messages as genuine, the General Assembly of the United Earth Federation held an emergency and secret meeting in which plans were drawn up for war. The next day, Secretary-General Spencer Chartwell addressed the entire world and told of the attack on the Tellus and Vesta colonists.

A few days later, several alien ships began appearing throughout the solar system and attacked UEAF ships and stations and even civilian research stations and mining ships on their way from planets such as Mars. On some occasions a group of aliens would board a space station. This gave human their first at them in their body armor which covered their entire bodies. Many people who encountered the aliens and survived remarked that the helmets the aliens wore were reminiscent of a chigoe flea. As a result the UEAF named the aliens "Chigs".

After a month of skirmishes, a small fleet of Chigs vessels were detected to have entered the solar system. They were repelled and destroyed at the asteroid belt by several squadron of the United Americas Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry and several destroyers of the United Americas Space Navy. Afterwards the United Earth Armed Forces went on the offensive. Early in the war, it was discovered that many Silicates were helping the Chigs in their war against humanity.

In 2164 the Chig-Human War continues. To lose this war means more than defeat. To surrender is to never go home. Humanity fights when called; on land, at sea, and in space...above and beyond.

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