There are 15 stories to collect within Resolutiion, each providing exposition on a certain aspect of its universe.
The transhumanists of the early 21st century dreamed of infinite potential, but technology hadn’t progressed satisfactory. Artificial limbs and sensors were clumsy and rejection-rates high among the privileged. This changed dramatically with the discovery of the link fluid: a yellow, viscous substance, mined in few underground-caves around the world. The fluid had a strong, mutagenic effect on most living matter. With the right refining, its effects turned to controlled regeneration, leading to the Cybernetic Renaissance. Those with the necessary means realized the opportunity for competition: the transhumanists improved their bodies and minds, and quickly the link fluid became the most valuable resource on the planet.
The second mechanistic-revolution was followed by a general rejection of religion. While worship was never prohibited by law, the pious were despised by the masses: prayers do not rebuild civilization. However, humanity is weak. It craves subjugation to a higher power. Realizing that religion could never be eradicated from our psychology, the Infinite Empire merged Buddhism and Altruism to create a suitable spiritual refuge for those fools. We came to know these sinners and criminals as the Labor Monks. These outcasts reject social participation in favor of backbreaking drudgery, seeking redemption in their solitude. But do not mistake their self-imposed isolation for weakness. They have willingly confined themselves to the most vicious of environments, scuttling deep within the core of Cloud City and the mines, excavating link fluid for their shrouded masters.
Technology divides humanity. Those with the capability to work bronze outclassed those with stones. The ability to melt iron from rocks was superior still. And refining Link-Fluid - well, that exceeded everything. The advancements in human enhancing technology rapidly progressed into every area of civilized life, and it took its toll. With natural selection and the illusion of fair evolution disintegrating, society began to fall apart. Bankers hit harder. Athletes thought deeper. Bureaucrats ran faster. Those in power never slept. The fear of those who were left behind became known as “The Divide”. “The Divide” was also the line that separated those who ruled from those who were ruled. “The Divide” defined enemies on each of its sides.
Forest of Self
Survival is a sophisticated network of dependencies. Flowers bloom and bees distribute the pollen, fertilized seeds are carried away by the wind. Flora expand into a diverse hierarchy, shading, defending and supporting each other. Life withers, rots, turns to mulch for the next generation. A broken circle, twisting old into new. When the forests fell, we still thought that we could fix everything. We built robotic insects that fertilized our plants, we controlled climate-zones for optimal conditions, we modified plant genes to resist plague and flourish despite the barren soil. For every defect, we invented an artificial solution. But our ecosystem degenerated too quickly. We fell behind, decade after decade until the question of our survival loomed tenaciously before us. Had we come to a threshold? Was this the inevitable end of life and nature as we knew it? Or, could we transcend the earth that had betrayed us, could we spite the nature that failed to adapt to us?
Desert of Giants
Warfare on a global scale knew no boundaries. As long as nobody pushed the red button, every destructive force to harm population, infrastructure and economy would be unleashed. Military anarchy. Massive artificial dams were deployed, draining complete regions of water and flooding others alike. The local flora and fauna had no time to adapt. Ecosystems became unstable and one catastrophe followed the next until the only thing left were barren deserts and toxic seas. Habitats turned to graves. Humanity had poisoned their climate and eradicated their soil. But reaching for the next level of civilization kept pushing the survivors onward. Leaving the ground behind and reaching for the sky seemed like the natural evolution, as the first towers of the Cloud Cities lifted off.
With the installment of the first global government, the idea of any foreign threat evaporated. The military became obsolete as such and merged with the local police-forces. After 45 years of destruction every hand was required to sort through the debris and order society again. Having survived, former soldiers gladly took every opportunity to employ their coordinated strength, endurance and obedience into restoring civilization. Those were called the People’s Power. But power corrupts from the head downwards and as the growing hierarchies tightened, a multitude of regulations and laws were mandated by the Empire’s new citizens, all enforced by the dispossessed soldiers, whose sense of justice was dictated by the merciless terms of warfare. Devoid of external threat, their vindictive natures turned inward upon the populace they were supposed to protect: everybody became the enemy.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, three, two, one, lift-off. The early sky-habitat launches were celebrated like space excursions of the past. But 200,000 plus tons of metal, concrete and fuel were prone to technical failure and many of the structures came crashing back to earth with the force of slow, stupid, asteroids, grinding cities, trees and flesh to dust. But there was no alternative. We didn’t give up. We got better. The next buildings were lighter and technologically smarter. We locked them to tremendous, magnetic pillars, where they circled around, moving up and down like elevators. The Cloud Cities became the marvel of human aspiration. Space, though, was limited. Quickly the quarters, suites, storage and hubs were occupied by the wealthy and powerful. As the floating cities rose higher and higher, those who could not keep up were left behind on the ground, where they dwelt in the abandoned remains, scavenging the Fallen Cities.
In the days after the war, the newly established government and its bureaucrats tried to escape the scorched earth. They raised their towers higher and higher, eventually lifting them completely off the ground. While early prototypes crashed back to the ground, technologies evolved and more habitats were lifted into the sky. Smaller isles of building float around The Core: a tall structure, distributing resources that are supplied from the ground. The Cloud Cities form the economic capitals of the Infinite Empire. They are home to the privileged and the People’s Power, who enforce the law in each respective district.
As the planners, regulators and technologists of humanity built their new homes in the sky, the farmers and builders on the ground were left with nothing but dying soil and toxic water. Accepting the challenge, they slowly reclaimed the rivers and underwater farms, filtering, recycling and rebuilding the wasteland. The residents of Cloud City needed the natural resources this land provided. In return, they offered logistics and heavy machinery, and the proletariat took any help they could get. Autonomous submarines and mobile purification plants roamed the shores, and with them came the autocrats: independent administrators of energy, consumption and shares. As the ecosystem stabilised, corruption took over. The machines obeyed their masters. Violence, tax increases and distribution of property emerged, thinning the line between cooperation and slavery. And once again the farmers revolted against their robot overlords, with forks and stones on the shaky ground of the oceans.
The mystery of the Cradles divide humanity: giving hope to some, terror to others. Cloaked in religious conspiracy, the Cradles spark rebellion against the empire, who deny their existence. Built before the War of the Five, the megalithic machines promise immortality for a single human. It is said that the architect of the prototype imprisoned his own daughter within as a test subject, trapping her in eternal life. Such an immortal martyr has bred an infectious faith within outcasts and the weak, but none share the zealotry of the Tribes: superstitious militia cults who worship the Cradles and guard them with their lives. It seems, that this is just another story to console the hopeless. But deep under the surface, the Cradles could as well evoke the singularity, that makes our society not as infinite as we want it to be.
If the gigantic Cradles are the icons the Tribes pray to, the Red Code is their religion. This protocol connects the Cradles, forming a metaphysical plain where an entire world of memory, history and culture is generated by Dreamers sleeping in its cells. Set loose in a limitless space, these entities are free to explore infinite possibilities. One must admit that such unfettered exploration will inevitably lead to dangerous ideas. Ideas that are incompatible with the essential narrative of the Infinite Empire. Fearing any alteration of public perception, the Empire classified the Red Code as “terrorist activity.” Given the various failed attempts to undermine or manipulate the Code, it is presumed that the Red Code is private-key encrypted with the DNA of a living being: probably the first Dreamer.
Access to advanced augmentation and link fluid was reserved for The Empire’s elite, further widening the gulf between those machine-humans and lesser fortunate mortals. This increasing disparity advanced so quickly, and so naturally, that a counterweight soon emerged in the global society. The Tribes: clusters of state, and technology defying pariahs. In search of alternative means of being, these groups adopted various philosophies and lifestyles excavated from the fragments of history that endured. Spiritual practices, cults, and old Gods were mixed in a melting pot of existential anarchy. As more and more abandoned the struggle to reach technological Elysium, everyone could find welcome in one tribal manifestation or another. Without exception, the Tribes regarded laissez-faire principles, and harmony with nature, as the answer to humanity’s crisis. In a final attempt to break free from the Infinite Empire’s agenda of the greater good, many Tribes turned to the worship of the Red Code. In doing so, they became the disciples and protectors of the Gods in the Cradles.
Naamah & Noah
He was standing in the ocean, feeling the tide push and pull on his legs. The water was cold. The old man was freezing. Not in a bad way. “I have trained many heroes in my life,” he said. “But it seems all become monsters in the end.” Survival of the individual. A soft, wrinkled hand took his. Warm mixed with his cold body. “People live beyond the Line in the lost zones,” she whispered in his ear. “You can redeem your guilt there.” Survival of the species. His sight wandered across the flat horizon. Ruins of sunken towers peaked above the sea level. He focused by adjusting the cog of his eye. Then smiled. “Are you coming, or what?”
The Fallen King
Once there were two brothers. One strong and courageous, the other mindful and creative. They played and laughed and fought and got older. But the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. One joined the People’s Power and rose in rank and reputation. The other stayed with his family, and fell in resolve and relevance. One cared for the other. But the other cared for a girl. A girl with foreign thoughts and blue boots. So the strong brother raised his sword and cut the corruption from the weak brother, and banished the girl to a dark place. And all was good. Until it wasn’t.
Dear best friend. Dear love. My days here in the mines are getting darker. The monks are not what they seem. They preach peace and harmony, and act out their most primitive instincts. Their greedy sights follow me, framed by a fake smile. I feel shame, guilt. I can’t bear the hypocrisy anymore. Trying to retreat further away from the main shafts, the bugs, worms and roaches have become my friends. They are good listeners. Whispering to them keeps me sane. The fluid makes them bigger, but its toxic haze lies heavy on my lungs. My survival instincts never kicked in. I was always hoping you would come for me. But now I understand why you can’t. You need to be the King of your own realm, not mine. I’m afraid. I wish upon a monster to swallow the world. And me with it.