Introduction.   Posted by Entropy.Group: 0
 GM, 1 post
 Nothing happens
 unless I allow it.
Sat 19 Dec 2020
at 11:00
It is hundreds of years in the future.  Humanity has survived, although old cultures have vanished and mutated into entirely new forms.  There is nominal, contentious global governance, a power structure built on a thousand bickering members.  The climate crisis was stabilized, but the hard limits on population expansion remain as implacable as ever.  There was nowhere to go and global birthrates plummeted as poverty increased due to scarcity of resources.  There never was a revolution in energy production like the old pulp novels predicted; the speed of light is a hard limit; the stars were out of reach.

Or were they?

It was a small thing at first, literally.  Teleportation of subatomic particles.  Teleportation of complete atoms.  Of molecules.  Of pure elemental substances.  And finally, of complex objects in their entirety.

An object goes in one end and comes out the other instantaneously, printed from raw atoms by computational programs of nightmarish complexity.  These are not and cannot be replicators; the act of teleportation includes as a necessary prerequisite the destruction of the original at the point of departure in order to have the information of the status of every subatomic particle and field that composed it.  There are occasionally errors on the exit side.  We mourn their loss and salute their bravery.

Thus, the Radiant Web was born.

Faster than light travel is not possible, but fusion generators and immense solar sails can over time build up to an appreciable fraction of it.  Quantum teleporter units are loaded into boxes and shot toward every plausibly inhabitable or exploitable solar system.  Tens, hundreds, or thousands of years later, when they arrive, the automatic systems and robots activate and shuffle the entire structure into place at a pre-chosen stable orbit.  The teleporter, the Node, activates and sends its welcome signal home through its own wormhole.  A new frontier is born, another intersection on the Radiant Web, expanding out into the galaxy.  The older Nodes are floating cities and exoplanetary towns, now, some of them greatly profitable, others serving only as transit points to other Nodes launched from there.

The initial project was literally incalculably expensive.  The resources of an entire planet went into it.  Each use of the Web requires the expenditure of enough energy to forge a new sun.  They are deemed public resources, but under the strictest controls of Global Earth Governance in partnership with Radiance, the company whose scientists made the macro-teleportation discoveries decades ago.  These remain proprietary.

The starter stations on the far side are able to support a small crew, but not comfortably.  Automatic systems can only go so far, both due to practicality of planning for variant outcomes and because of the near-religious proscriptions against true AI, the taboo of computers with self-awareness and self-determinism.  Someone has to turn on the lights, sweep the floors, and start looking around for a place to build bigger and better.  Someone has to read the data from the planetary probes.  Someone has to see if the air is poison or the local proteins folded in a way inimical to Earthlings.  Sometimes, someone has to step into space to replace a loose hex bolt with only a millimeter of fabric between their delicate mucosal membranes and hard vacuum marinated in deadly solar radiation.  This job is not popular, despite generous salaries and frankly exorbitant insurance payments available to your next of kin.  It is occasionally pressed on some as an option for their community service, when their crimes have been such that they otherwise might face permanent removal for the safety and security of the planet.

Welcome to the Radiant Web Exoplanet Exploratory Problem Resolution Specialists (RWEEPRS).  Promo material pronounces it "Reapers" and makes it look cool with jump cuts.  People with better jobs call us "Weepies" or "Sweepers."

We call ourselves the Fruit Flies, because we're stuck in the Web, menaced by its owners, and we tend to die off in an average of roughly thirty days.

Here's your keycard until you can update your hand chip.  Your locker is down the hall.  Get some sleep.  Mission starts at 0400 tomorrow morning.

This message was last edited by the GM at 08:44, Sun 20 Dec 2020.