Quantum Frontiers, Part 2 [Trinity Continuum: Æon]
Some interesting questions were raised with last week’s Marfisa preview, courtesy of Topher Gerkey. Let’s see how the rest plays out:
Pandorans and Preservers
By 2104 the planet’s population had grown to almost five million, and Endurance had achieved a sort of practical, friendly independence from Endeavor. That was the year that everything changed, when – in one last spasm of uncontrolled power – the warp tunnel opened up one last time and spit out a huge metallic cube into a residential area of Endeavor. The police force discovered an entry into the cube, and exploration quickly revealed what had landed on Marfisa: a giant, quantumtech automated manufactory, capable of consuming raw materials and producing practically any tool or technology the colonists might want. The manufactory was controlled by an artificially intelligent supercomputer, who confirmed that “she” had been created by Babbage to help the colonists in whatever way they required. The computer had been sent immediately after the colonists, but due to the disastrous failure of the warp tunnel, it had somehow arrived sixty years later.
The population of the colony was almost immediately divided. The leadership of Endeavor, convinced that any product of Aberrant power must be evil and harmful, dubbed the new arrival “Pandora” and insisted that she destroyed – or at least sealed up and never used – in order to preserve the good life that the Marfisans now had. Many of the citizens of Endurance, however, saw Pandora as a gift that could make their difficult lives much easier. Why should they suffer and die to create technology when the manufactory could do it almost magically?
The Marfisans were nearly evenly divided in their opinions, with the “Preservers” just barely outnumbering the “Pandorans.” The strength of the Pandoran voice was enough to prevent the Preservers from destroying the manufactory and computer, but the Preservers were powerful enough to prevent anyone from gaining access to Pandora and putting her to use. Over the next year, the population shifted, with most Preservers aligning themselves with Endeavor and most Pandorans basing themselves in Endurance. By 2103, the two cities had begun an armed conflict.
The war was shortlived in its active form, simply because the two populations were so dependent upon each other’s exported goods – the Pandorans needed food, and the Preservers needed fuel, raw materials and tools. The conflict settled into a sort of cold war in which each faction regularly threatened to withhold its vital goods in an attempt to force the other to concede on the issue of Pandora. The occasional border conflicts were officially condemned by both sides.
This state of cold war lasted until 2122, when a group of young, angry Pandorans took it upon themselves to make a strike into Endeavor in an attempt to reach and fully activate Pandora. Most of the small force were killed by the Preserver defense force, and the remainder were captured and held as prisoners of war. The populations of both sides were furious – the Preservers at the raid, and the Pandorans at the deaths – and the cold war is rapidly becoming hot again.
Plans For Recontact
With the initial survey completed, the Æon Trinity and the United Nations are now deliberating on how to proceed with first contact. Because the situation on Marfisa is so delicate, decisions about whom to talk to, what to say to them, and what side to take – if any – may have enormous repercussions. The question of what to do with Pandora also looms large in any attempt to plan first contact.
Personal Log of Horace Guo
I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The tech, the clothes – hell, even the hair – are all like something out of a history vid from, I don’t know, 1985. And everyone is so angry. It hits me like waves every time we go out into the city. All this red, rumbling anger on the verge of exploding into violence. The team over in Endurance says it’s the same there. It’s ugly, and it’s just getting uglier. We have to be very careful here. Any show of psi powers is just going to convince them they have Aberrants in their midst (which as far as we can tell, they don’t), and that might be all it takes to set off the whole powder keg.
I wish we could just blow up the damned box. I don’t trust that tech any more than the Preservers do. But doing that would just start a bloodbath. I don’t even know how we’re supposed to tell them we’re from Earth. I guess that’s Neptune’s problem, though. I just want to get out of here.