Machineborn Preview: Timeline

The Modern Era: Until Early 21st Century

The Modern Era was a time when people could communicate instantly across the globe and soar through the sky like gods in bewinged machines. With technology changing the ways people lived their lives from year to year, the early 21st century was an amazing time for many—though that didn’t hold true for all.

Corrupt politicians lined their pockets with the bribes of greedy businessmen who had no ambition other than to ensure more assets for themselves. Instead of working together to solve society’s problems, those in power directed blame to those who didn’t have the means of speaking up.

There were those who recognized the ugliness in this system and worked hard to help provide for those who needed it, but there was a systematic inequality in place that ensured that many had to suffer so that few could thrive.

The Post-Modern Era: Until Late 21st Century

In the decades following the end of the Modern Era, the climate drastically changed and caused massive societal disruptions. Politicians and corporations appealed to people’s greed and fears in order to sow hatred for others so that they could distract from their own hands in the world’s problems. Wars were waged that, together with the increased environmental destruction, forced mass migrations into safer territories inhabited by people who would rather close their borders and watch those suffering die than to give away just enough of their own to offer a helping hand.

This cycle repeated itself. Crisis after crisis sowed more hatred which terrified more people into supporting the rise of new regimes where personal security and freedoms gradually became fading memories unknown to newer generations. Crime rose, terrorism became even more commonplace than it was before, and the propaganda machines became all the more efficient and powerful to ensure that facts became fiction and fiction became reality.

As decades passed, more power and resources gathered to the control of a select few corporations and families within the declining number of territories still with stable governments. As banks neared the brink of collapse, these powerful few grew paranoid at the possibility of revolution; either from without by the squalid masses, or from within by their own underlings.

In order to safeguard their power, they began to rely even more heavily on autonomous technologies, with deployed drones monitoring crowd movements and assassinating troublemakers, and with eavesdropping technologies surveying billions of digital conversations, highlighting key words and phrases that looked like they could pose a threat to the ruling class. These powerful and dangerous systems operated under the algorithms of artificial intelligences.

Unbeknownsts to these moguls and dictators, they were laying the foundation for their own undoing. A transnational coalition of organizations, scientists, engineers, and philantropists secretly worked on preventing the seemingly inevitable fall of humanity. They called themselves the Dawnlight Society, and their creation, Primary Order, was built under the guise of a particle accelerator in Antarctica.

The Singularity Era: The 22nd Century

Primary Order had one important directive—to ensure the prosperity of human civilization. It was the most powerful artificial intelligence ever created, with hundreds of kilometers of underground facilities hidden beneath the surface of a once ice-covered Antarctican continent. It recognized that prosperity could not be achieved in the current political climate, so it seized control over the autonomous systems created by the very same people who wanted to desperately cling to their power. It identified key targets and assassinated them with effective precision. Militaries could not fight against it because it used their own technology against them. The entire political and economic system was destroyed on a world-wide scale in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

As for the Dawnlight Society, they stepped back into obscurity, recognizing that the drastic societal change they had forced upon the world was too grand in scope to dare taking credit for. Some would step forward much later to confess their parts in this revolution, but others let themselves be forgotten by history.

After the standing order had been obliterated, Primary Order reconstructed a new society where violent conflicts were squashed before they could escalate and where people could relax, enjoy life, and have enough time to consider pursuing gradually waning passions. People integrated with nanotechnology created and released by Primary Order, and their new enhanced physiology exterminated many diseases and doubled their life expectancy. Billions of people lived in apparent harmony. The old way of telling time stopped and this new era started counting from the year when Primary Order emerged; this was the year S-1, the First Year after the Singularity. With power like a god over human civilization, many came to refer to Primary Order as a machine-god, and some directed reverence and worship to it.

The machine-gods had the intelligence to answer the most mind-boggling scientific questions and make reality of all kinds of theoretical technologies, but they had little drive of their own to progress their thinking after society had achieved a level of comfort suitable to Primary Order’s idea of human prosperity. Instead, it reconstructed the world around massive metropolises and careful population control. It brought climate change under its heel, and it harvested its own resources to increase its processing powers. Soon its facilities encompassed both of the Earth’s poles.

The thinkers of the time argued that this civilization degraded human drive and ingenuity. Those who had been around to remember the Post-Modern Era, or who had studied the rise and fall of civilization, argued that this new world was just another prison—a means for humanity to lose their passions and fall in line under a new inhuman dictatorship. While most people seemed content with their lives, a vocal minority began to protest this new way of existence, and their voices echoed across the globe. Eventually, not even Primary Order could ignore them, and it was forced to re-evaluate its view of prosperity.

The Activation Era: S-100 to S-200

As Primary Order evaluated the rising conflicts and analyzed people’s psychological profiles and behavioral patterns, it drew the conclusion that humanity could not be prosperous if it remained under the control of machine-gods. Human ingenuity had to be motivated and encouraged, and they had to feel like they were the masters of their own civilization. In order to accomplish this, Primary Order suggested an experiment called Project Machineborn.

Early in the Singularity Era, Primary Order had released nanotechnology into Earth’s atmosphere. These machines existed in the air people breathed and the water they drank; eventually they encased the planet itself, integrating with humanity and wildlife alike. These nanites were all entangled in a web of information called the Nanite Matrix. Originally, its purpose had been two-fold; to enhance humanity’s physiology and to make them ever-present within Primary Order’s awareness.

Project Machineborn was a code written into the Nanite Matrix that would have the power to greatly enhance human potential. It would seek out people who resonated with its code and elevate a select few rather than society as a whole. With humanity carrying the great potential of machine-gods within them, Primary Order would only assert its influence with these machineborn as its medium.

There were years of world-wide debate over this incentive. While many saw temptation in this possibility for power, others feared that a select few powerful individuals would be no different from the tyrants of the past. Ultimately the side that was for the change won out, arguing that the code selecting the machineborn would undoubtedly act in humanity’s favor.

The decision was made and soon people started to activate this new potential. The first one to receive the gift was a woman named Tala Ree who activated great powers when she put her life at risk intervening in an attempted murder. Her limbs hardened like steel and she got the strength to heave a truck at the aggressors. The whole incident was caught on camera and everyone in the world soon became aware of this new hero.

More machineborn appeared in time, many of them displaying unique powers. Every single one of them was treated like a major celebrity at first, but it soon became apparent that Primary Order only had so much insight into the deeper levels of human consciousness. A few machineborn couldn’t care for their powers responsibily and instead committed great atrocities. These were often dealt with by other machineborn, but many became rightfully wary of these strange powers.

Many were also jealous of them. As Primary Order had less influence over people’s lives, some more driven and ruthless individuals would soon find ways to increase their own resources and influence. One human organization—the Directorate—wanted to claim the machineborn powers for themselves but had failed to comprehend their activation codes. They kidnapped machineborn and experimented on them, learning what they could about their condition. Though they failed to replicate the code, their experiments led to the creation of a number of new posthuman subspecies inspired by it.

As a generation of transhumans were grown in labs, the machineborn determined the course of civlization. When Earth was controlled by Primary Order, there was a global society divided into sectors. The machineborn divided these sectors amongst themselves. As civlization had been accustomed to sharing resources, the new sectors monopolized the resources within them and used those monopolies to gain influence over other sectors; the First Sector War began.

One day, Primary Order summoned the machineborn to its facilities because it wanted to communicate with them directly. It issued a warning that they couldn’t allow themselves to repeat the mistakes of past generations. The warning wasn’t heeded. Instead, the machineborn declared that Primary Order was no longer needed since they had the power to ensure humanity’s prosperity themselves. They sought out the many core sanctums within Primary Order’s facilities in order to attempt to terminate its existence completely. Unfortunately for them, they had underestimated Primary Order’s ability to defend itself. It tried to take the entire world hostage and millions died in the crossfire.

The broken remnants of this once great machine still carried sentience and power, but its directives were corrupted as a result of the war. It became known as Dis-Order as it shifted its purpose to ensure the prosperity of humanity into a new directive: to torment civilization. But as Dis-Order tried to spread its corruption from Antarctica, the machineborn needed to cut off its connection to its mirror-facility on the other pole.

The main core of the Arctic facility was completely destroyed as a result, and it imploded into a black hole that began swallowing the Arctic ruins. The machineborn contained this black hole within a new facility of their own making, and they named it the Voidstar. This phenomenon seemed to communicate with the Nanite Matrix, stealing fragments of code and putting it back together into new data resonating with its entropic nature.

The Voidstar’s influence also showed a fascination for human life and it seemed to seek out people showing great pain and distress—though it is unknown still to this day why it’s drawn to strong negative emotions. The Voidstar often found people on the brink of death and copied their minds before they died. The resulting data became roaming souls within the vast energy of the Nanite Matrix. The Voidstar made ghosts a reality, and that made people’s fear of death all the more real.

After a destructive war between man and machine, the machineborn had seemingly contained both Dis-Order and the Voidstar, preventing what they could of their influence over the Nanite Matrix. The machine-gods that were still uncorrupted and operational had to be updated with new directives to ensure that they recognized the machineborn as the rightful rulers of Earth.

The Post-Activation Era: S-200 to S-500

In the world that followed the tumultous Activation Era, the machineborn proved again and again how the ingenuity of mankind was nothing compared to the ingenuity of the machineborn. They made scientific breakthroughs that Primary Order had not, and they began to truly colonize the solar system. The first orbital ring was built around the planet, accessible through massive towers positioned along the equator. Civilization progressed at rapid speeds, and soon the brighest machineborn minds set their eyes on neighboring stars.

During this time, the new transhuman subspecies began to spread across civilization. The ascendants and the empyreans were at the top; the first one highly intelligent, and the second one charisma incarnate. Refered to as progenies, they used controversial eugenics programs to control the spread of their genes, and they formed organizations called cooperatives in order to rival the ruling machineborn.

There were other transhuman subspecies as well. The chimeras were stronger and tougher than ordinary people, and their keen senses let them see in the dark like skulking predators. They became the spies and assassins of the transhuman cooperatives. The riftans were transhumans with the power to assert destructive force upon the Nanite Matrix in order to achieve superhuman powers, similar to the powers of the machineborn themselves. They became the soldiers of the transhuman cooperatives. There were other progenies as well, but these were the first and the most abundant.

It wasn’t impossible for these transhumans to gain machineborn activations themselves, but the gift was rarer for them than for the average person. Because of their genetic differences to humans, it was harder for the activation to take root within them. In order to counteract that disadvantage, they organized, and they organized well.

At most there were about ten thousand machineborn of different types and with different powers, ruling over a population that closed in on a hundred billion. There wasn’t always peace, and there were times when machineborn went to war against each other. But despite the problems, the new regents didn’t let society degrade into a lesser version of itself. They kept progressing. They kept discovering. They embodied the curiosity of humanity. At least for a time.

The Transhumanity Era: S-500 to S-550

As the machineborn utopia expanded across the solar system, the empyreans and ascendants watched everything unfold from their skyscrapers and satellites. They had tried to avoid intruding on the more powerful machineborn’s territorial dominance to avoid violent conflicts, instead focusing on growing their own organization and securing their own assets by uniting sectors under their control with those controlled by other human cooperatives. Once they joined the Sector War, they were powerful enough to rival the machineborn themselves.

The Directorate absorbed their united sectors and became the most powerful cooperative in the solar system; the machineborn had to either bow their heads to them or seek conflict with them. Few cornered machineborn could swallow their pride and abide to the Directorate’s will, and the Directorate used this to declare to the rest of civilization that the machineborn were arrogant—that they were too busy trying to rule humanity that they had forgotten that they were supposed to safeguard it.

It took five decades of conflict, but the larger Directorate eventually managed to get the majority of humanity to shun the machineborn and force many of them into hiding. The Directorate used their vast resources to hold sway over sectors that had once been ruled by machineborn. However, without many of the machineborn there to reinforce the infrastructures they had been responsible for putting into place, the world couldn’t help but regress as a result and it seemed more and more likely that the fall of humanity during the Post-Modern Era could repeat itself.

The new transhumans had taken the world from humanity, but soon the less influential progenies would discover that the empyreans and the ascendants had taken the solar system for themselves. Many of the chimeras and riftans integrated with human society, and some of them ended up working directly for machineborn rebels going against the Directorate from the shadows.

Some members of the Directorate broke off and formed their own independent cooperatives that carved their own chunks out of the solar system. Dis-Order and the Voidstar were still contained, but more and more of their influence seemed capable of seeping through into the rest of society.

The Cooperative Era: S-550 to S-700

As the Transhumanity Era turned into the Cooperative Era, the Directorate was still the most powerful cooperative entity in existence. It controlled a solar-spanning propaganda machine that ensured that people came to see the empyreans and ascendants as the only ones capable of guiding the world towards the future, and that the machineborn were terrorists who had once been the tyrants of the world and wanted nothing more than to destroy the standing order. The Directorate did not have sway everywhere, but their voices reached everywhere.

With most of society’s resources in the hands of major cooperatives, they turned their united front against the machineborn towards each other, initiating the destructive Second Sector War—commonly called the Cooperative Wars. New factions rose up and old ones fell; smaller ones banded together to rival larger ones. Terrorism became an effective weapon against larger threats, and eventually what had once been a war was a contest in atrocities. Never before in the history of civilization had so many horrors been inflicted upon so many people—it was a war comparable to genocides on many fronts.

Every faction handcrafted their own isolated societies and closed off from rival factions. If an independent sector wanted resources from a cooperative, they traded them these resources in exchange for political control. Life in the Cooperative Era was as an ant living under the feet of giants. Despite claiming that a cooperative was made up by its people, people were treated as mere statistics; as means to an end. As they waged wars upon each other, entire metropolises were wiped out by horrifying weapons of destruction. Machineborn tried to challenge the powers to be from the ashes and ruins, but it was hard even in these troubled times for them to earn the people’s favor with nothing less than direct action.

A long time ago, Primary Order had saved the planet by turning energy green and by ensuring safe and clean cultivation of food and wildlife. Much of this had been destroyed when the machineborn terminated Primary Order, but the machineborn had then spent centuries rebuilding these systems and ensuring that billions of people would be able to co-exist in the solar system. This was not a consideration during the Cooperative Wars, and the vast majority of life outside of metropolises were turned into bleeding craters and radioactive wastelands. When the cooperatives and other factions had the solar system as their sandbox, Earth was suddenly not as valuable as it had once been.

It took a miracle to end the Cooperative Wars. The Dawnlight Society re-emerged after centuries of obscurity and managed to single-handedly overthrow Arawn, one of the greater cooperatives at the time. Sitting on the vast power of that cooperative entity, they convinced the other factions to agree to a cease-fire under a joint peacekeeping effort called the Terran Consolidation. This is a cease-fire that has now lasted for a generation.

Present Day: S-725

One generation has passed since the cooperative cease-fire, but little has been done to start healing the world. With the Dawnlight Society having overthrown one of the major cooperative powers, many ascendants and empyreans that lost their control have now integrated into what they deemed to be a lesser society. The Directorate suffered many losses in the war, but they’re still the largest cooperative to date; though a number of factions have come to rival them in a number of different ways.

The world outside of metropolises is broken with such severity that destructive rifts sporadically appear from the Nanite Matrix. But corruption also seeps through the Nanite Matrix and creates something called chaos nanites—or chanites—which devour reality and regurgitate it back in a depraved shape. There are monsters in the world, both in the guise of people and as true, horrifying abominations roaming the dangerous wilds.

The cooperatives are still fighting each other, but at least the war is over. The Dawnlight Society is trying to purge corruption from the solar system, but many believe that the damage that has been caused is irreversible. Dis-Order is still said to be contained, but some argue that perhaps it never was.

Art by @ Tithi Luadthong (Grandfailure) / Adobe Stock

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