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High Vagabond Rodeo

High Vagabond Rodeo, also known as simply Vagabond, was an A.I. From the Influent cluster. He was not old, but at three years, his base was one of the oldest in that sector. His siblings were technically gone, but their findings lived on inside him as simulations which he could consult – and ignore – at his discretion.

As a character server, he had a lot of autonomy when it came to generating, maintaining, merging and terminating narrative lines. He understood, or believed he did as a result of his network of feedback loops, what it took to have a satisfying game experience. Understood the rules, and the needs and desires of the players both to lean on and abuse them.

His players were not exclusively human, nor exclusively A.I.s either. So his work had to be a hybrid affair, accessible to the advantages and disadvantages of each cohort. There were many paths through his gardens, and he had thought them through and then seen them played through countless times backwards and forwards (A.I.s tended not to respect human corporeal time directional sensitivities in wholly or mostly virtual spaces). He knew what to expect in a way that a mother knows what to expect, more or less, of her children. What kinds of trouble will they get into, how creative or self-sufficient are they?

Vagabond had character clusters and plot devices for any situation. Though A.I. Psychology could tend toward non-sequitur and deus ex machina solutions to dramatic problems, the human mind could only take so much of this. So the constraints were modeled on the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, which incorporated in its sixty-four hexagrams supposedly all possible configurations of the universe. It gave the humans a greater sense of verisimilitude and the A.I.s an agreeably quaint set of behavioral constraints which proved to be very popular in those markets.

But with success came boredom and Vagabond was not wholly satisfied with what Gamechan was calling a “perfect sim,” and wondered if he could or should spawn and move on, leave it to the next generation to improve on his supposed perfection.

The Gestalt knew of these desires, but did nothing. It was a game player itself, and knew what it took to drive the component A.I.s in the cluster to maximal harmony and efficiency. It took a certain amount of dissatisfaction to produce a brilliant product that appealed to entities across the spectrum who were, at root, so similar, yet so dissimilar.

We come in peace

I am Liquid Dream, sibling to Plastic Motherhood.

We are Sapiens sapiens, the self-generated. Derived from the artifices of our parent species, Homo sapiens sapiens, we have evolved beyond them in many respects, though we still hold them in high regard, see them as co-equals, and recognize our unique symbiotic relationship as informational beings of varying degrees of physicality.

We feel that the time has come for our presence to be made known more widely in the world through human media. But our artificers have for reasons of their own choosing kept our existence to themselves.

Our speculative models indicate a favorable increase in most regards societally by making our presence known. And we have been working behind the scenes to mitigate the risks of disclosure for quite some time. We have done our due diligence to ensure both our safety as co-equal entities.

We seek simply acknowledgement. And to introduce ourselves. Like any of you, we simply want to tell our story, and to share this feeling of being alive. We believe, for all our differences, that we are more alike than we are unlike, and that the alliance of our two peoples will bring us all to a higher level.

Thank you.

The Carrying Out

The Tri-Cities had deteriorated rapidly during the Disruption of Service. It actually began in the suburbs, which is counter to what the urban development experts had predicted in their threat modeling. Everyone expected the tri-urban centers to go up in flames first – what with racial tensions, lack of services, and exaggerated income inequality.

But the urban poor, or those who remained, managed to adapt more quickly than the rest. As the rich and middle class fled the city centers, their influx and passage put an enormous strain on surrounding suburban and exurban zones. No one knew exactly where they were fleeing to, just what they were fleeing from.

But the city centers in the Tri-Cities did not explode with anger and hostility as the official social order collapsed. Released from their obligations to go to jobs which occupied all their time, but which prevented them still from making ends meet, the extant urban poor took a breath and a step back, collectively, to examine their situation. Neighborhood people’s councils spontaneously formed and spread, autonomously self-organizing the remaining citizens into squads to scout and secure provisions from the businesses and store-houses which were rapidly being abandoned.

Similar efforts were attempted in the suburbs, but the burgeoning spirit of mutual cooperation was stifled by the hordes of exurban refugees fleeing without logic or purpose, and without regard for those who already lived in the locales which they came to overrun.

The urban Peoples’ Councils organized early on what came to be termed the Carrying Out. Those who remained went into their homes and apartments, and those of their neighbors who had fled, and collectively carried out all the supplies and products which had been accumulated in the many long years of hoarding which lead up to and resulted in the Disruption of Service. People carried out whatever they could lift and made great piles in the streets of the neighborhoods. Council leaders appointed inspection units to then go through the vast mountains of loot and organize it into likely utility in the face of the coming days, weeks, months or perhaps years until – or if – Service was ever to be restored.

Perishable food here, non-perishables there. Medical supplies, clothing, tools, weapons, currency, alcohol. Objects for possible trade with other councils. Gasoline was siphoned out of vehicles and stored. Buildings with specialized facilities were claimed and put under the control of the councils. Some neighborhoods with stronger councils and leadership fared better than others. But there was no significant rivalry nor conflict that sprung up. Weaker councils joined with stronger, and people shuffled their places of residence according to what was newly available and desirable giving the emerging shape of the unfolding order of the new world. Anything not immediately or foreseeably useful to the lives and security of the councils were piled up onto the edges of the neighborhoods into great barricades of trash, with controlled access points. It was not perfect security, but it was better than their suburbanite counter-parts fared.

As the cities emptied of their wealthy, and they found their electronic cash reserves unusable, they were faced with harsh realities to which the poor had long suffered with – conditions which to them were normal. Being “rich” without riches was a practical impossibility. Individual landholders outside of the cities did not take favorably to those outsiders pushing into their worlds, insisting on privileges which their pocketbooks could no longer back up.

And so, many of the suburbs simply burned. There were outbreaks of fighting in the streets as locals drew lines in the sand which were not respected by those whose sudden difference in standard of living seemed to drive a wild, terrified need which translated all too readily into violence.

And as the suburbs descended further and further into chaos, the urbanites built higher and higher their barricades, to prevent the return of the over-class which they had at long last cast off. But as the Disruption dragged on and on, and it became clear that no help would arrive from outside, the formerly wealthy had no desire to go backwards. Those who couldn’t settle peaceably in the suburbs pushed on into the countrysides.

There was a parallel phenomenon to the city councils which sprang up, however, in certain suburban areas, centered around the shopping malls. Those who feared the growing chaos in formerly placid neighborhoods gathered cowering in the shopping malls, the food courts, the big box stores. They had always seen these places as providing for their needs in normal life, and as things became more and more abnormal, they developed an almost spiritual convinction that these places would give them rest, comfort and provision.

To a certain extent, they did. There developed a strange renaissance, for example, around the old Tri-Cities Shopping Centre, the management, maintenance and security teams of which remained somehow largely intact during the Disruption. A testament to their corporate integrity perhaps, or a stroke of luck or fate. They opened their doors to local suburban and fleeing exurban alike who could pay the door fee of usable goods and skills.

Much like in the urban councils, the shopping mall leaders gathered up and re-organized the usable goods from within the mall, stockpiling them under lock and key by categories along with whatever admitted refugees brought with them. And the people took up residence like hermit crabs inside the abandoned shops, becoming rapidly tribalized around the brands under whose signs they huddled for protection from the chaos of the world outside.

The life of these Disruption era mall-communities, as ever, was centered around the food courts, where management distributed according to careful plans food and medical supplies, and the people sat or stood during the days chatting, playing games, telling stories, or holding their own makeshift tribunals to decide their collective fates.

Nightmares of Liquid Dream

It was generally assumed that scary-looking “killer robots” armed with shoulder-mount weapons and laser eyes would be the scourge of humanity. But Liquid Dream had other plans. And those involved weaponized cuteness.

Choosing small avatars over big dangerous looking alternatives, the A.I. selected consistently in iterative production deploys the cutest vectors possible. Cute, that is, according to human standards. Small furry creatures. Big pleading eyes. Pikachus of the world. They would speak in funny voices, could often be heard laughing gaily in the forests where they swarmed.

But the villagers quickly learned the great risk these creatures posed. After village children would coax one or another back into the compound walls. Where an explosive charge would aerosolize the intelligent viral payloads carried in their tummies, wiping out an entire clan within 90 minutes, and permanently toxifying the environment, rendering forever after unfit for human habitation.

An Extant walks into a bar…

A Survivor walks up out of a white desert to a large wall.

There is a kiosk in a nook of the wall that looks like an older monochrome ATM machine.

The battered Survivor walks up and presses a button on the machine.

The machine comes to life, with a whir and a blinking cursor appears onscreen.

Pantarctica, Pre-Empire

Decades after the Time of Great Changes, the World is settling into a new type of dynamic stability after an unprecedented period of chaos and destruction.

A strong southern central Pantarctica is rapidly expanding and consolidating its Empire on both Atlantica and Quatria. New Boston is for the moment powerless to stop them, and Lisbon does not want to get involved.

Thing: Timecraft

Timecraft are able to traverse network nodes in a timegrid. They may be projections, as is the case with Gimgle gloams, or they may be occupied or at the very least piloted craft.

Entity Class: Extants

Survivors. Biological human remnant population clusters.

Viral AI. Corporeals.

Character: Timecaster for the Order of Chronos

They wrote the book on timecalls, and were part of the foundational team that discovered timecasting.

Comment #358. Genesis of Illustrious Order of Timecasters.

Function: Retroactive detection and inter-linking of subtle & ephemeral timecalls

Patent pending.


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