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Time and Setting

The happenings of this fictional universe take place within the Milky Way galaxy, in a time period roughly 100,000 years in the future. The exact timeframe is unknown. Synths were created in the Outer Rim, by ancestors of the same multi-species civilization they inhabit today (with "today" being this far point in the future). Time within the Outer Rim civilization is measured in standard years, which, despite the Sol system not being part of the Outer Rim territory, is the amount of time it takes Earth to orbit around its sun. It is unknown to the inhabitants of the Outer Rim whether Earth still exists, or if it was destroyed during The Great Reset, but Earth's theoretical rotation and position around its sun are still used in form of a standardized unit in which the passage of time is measured. The calendar used is based on The Great Reset, using the time of the Reset as year 0. Years before the Reset are referred to as BR (Before Reset), while years after are referred to as AR (After Reset). 1000 years after the Great Reset would therefore be written as "1000 AR".

Every following section of this page is from the point of view of historians living in the Outer Rim during the Pioneering Period, ca. 2440 AR.

Before Reset

Only fragments of knowledge are left about the times before the Great Reset, due to large parts of the galaxy remaining unexplored after the collapse of civilization. The mysteries of the past are only slowly becoming unraveled, as more of the galaxy is re-explored and lost ground is examined for clues. What is known is that the majority of the galaxy had been colonized by a pan-galactic civilization originating from the Sol System. This civilization is referred to as the Sol civilization. It did not have a singular name for itself, since it consisted of a multitude of powerful factions, nations, empires and groups of interest, each of them with their own identities and names. The exact relationships between these factions and their nature are lost to time. It is to be assumed that the civilization went through times of war, times of peace and various shades of strife inbetween until the Great Reset ended it all, leading to the extinction of the vast majority of all species and much knowledge being lost forever. It is assumed that the galaxy before the Reset was a technologically highly advanced place with many trillions of sapient lifeforms inhabiting planets and even space itself. The galaxy was dotted with megastructures that dwarfed continents. Many stars were darkened from the dyson swarms that surrounded them, using the energy they emitted to the fullest. What the Sol civiliztion was capable of can only be imagined, as their many efforts were forever lost when the Great Reset struck to end it all.

The Great Reset - Year 0

The Great Reset refers to a cataclysmic event that almost led to the extinction of all life in the galaxy. The exact cause of the event is unknown, as well as its exact nature. The event's epicenter was calculated to have been the Sol system. Since the strength of its destructive force seems to have tapered off around the edges of a circular zone that encompassed almost the entire galaxy. The only systems not affected were the systems on the outermost edge of the galactic disc, furthest away from the epicenter. All signs point towards an event that lasted for 2 to 3 hours. Records from the time of the Reset are scarce, due to the lack of archeological inquiry over the centuries to come and the small number of survivors of the event. Not much is known about the nature of the Great Reset, aside from that it affected biological life only and seems to have been highly infectious. It is speculated that it may have been an infectious disease, although it is unknown how any disease could spread across the entire galaxy within a few hours. One hypothesis suggests that a variation of a gray goo event may be to blame. The only survivors were either located on underdeveloped colonies in the outer rim of the galaxy or within colony ships on their way there. The only reason these colonies were unaffected was their distance from the epicenter, lying just outside of the circular radius within which the event unfolded.

The Great Reset is a topic of great controversy and disagreement among historians and scientists, due to the mysterious nature of the event and the lack of any evidence to justify either of the many theories. Among the many hypotheses, there are a few that appear more likely to be true than others, even if speculation is involved.

Galactic pandemic hypothesis

The hypothesis that the Great Reset was a viral pandemic potent enough to kill all life within hours. A pandemic seems like a good explanation for the death of large populations, but leaves unexplained how this pandemic could have spread over almost the entire galaxy in a circular radius over the course of hours. Proponents of this hypothesis argue that it should be possible to generate viruses remotely through the use of biological replicators, like bio-3D-printers. The Sol civilization had the technology of FTL communication, letting them communicate over distances spanning the entire galaxy instantly. This could theoretically allow for the control of biological replicators across the galaxy in real-time. If all of them are given instructions to print viruses all at the same time, this could theoretically lead to the spread of viral infection among the population.

The fear that the pandemic hypothesis may be the correct one is one of the reasons why so few expeditions to ruined planets have been undertaken thus far. There is a fear that archeologists who dig around Sol civilization ruins could bring back dangerous biological material that could cause the same extinction event to happen all over again.

Grey goo event hypothesis

The hypothesis that the Great Reset was caused by a grey goo event. A grey goo event is a hypothetical event in which nanomachines keep replicating themselves infinitely and consume all matter around them, ultimately resulting in all matter being transformed into nanomachines. It is hypothesised that the Sol civilization was easily advanced enough to routinely use nanomachines in their day-to-day affairs. This makes it a possibility that they developed nanites with self-replicating capabilities, which were programmed to consume biological matter such as food waste and other materials to turn them into compost. A programming error could possibly result in nanites targeting living biological matter instead. They could also be generated through the use of replicators, allowing the spread of these nanites throughout the galaxy. This event could have happened either as an accident or through malicious actions.

The Dark Ages - 0 AR to ca. 600 AR

The Dark Ages refer to the centuries after the Great Reset and describe a period of struggle for survival by those who survived the events of the Great Reset and the loss of knowledge, technology and culture over this period of time. The planets within the Outer Rim are the only ones known to have been unaffected by this disaster, but since most planets in the Outer Rim were very young colonies of the Sol civilization, survival on these planets was very difficult.

Many of these colonies were underdeveloped, as they were still in the process of being colonized when the Great Reset took place. Many survivors were engineers and technicians, meaning to establish rudimentary infrastructure to allow for the arrival of more colonists. Some were farmers and labourers, meant to prepare colonies so they could later be used and inhabitated by wealthier people of higher classes or castes. A few colonists were still in transit to their colonies and had just made it outside of the radius of the Great Reset inside their colony ships, allowing them to survive and travel onwards to their destination colonies. Since these colonies were meant to receive more resources and colonists over the course of time, most of them ended up underequipped to deal with the suddenly dire situation of having to survive on a recently colonized, barely inhabitable planet that hadn't even finished the process of terraforming yet. Some colonies were luckier than others, having advanced further in their development before the event took places. These colonies would later on develop into the population centers of the Outer Rim.

The colonies remained in contact with each other, since their communication equipment and the pre-established communication networks remained intact, even though contact with the center of the galaxy had broken off. Neither of the colonies were able to get in contact with any of the developed worlds further towards the center of the galaxy, leading them to believe that something must have happened and that they were now on their own. Even though many of the colonies belonged to different factions of the Sol civilization, most of them tried to cooperate in their communications with each other. Some colonies chose not to cooperate with the others, due to ideological differences and broke off all contact. These colonies were later on found not to have survived this time period.

Many colonies never made it through this period and succumbed to starvation, political turmoil, in-fighting or the inhospitability of their planets. Hundreds of colonies died out over the course of several centuries. Less developed colonies had to find ways of generating the resources they needed for survival, or else they would simply die out and not respond to communication requests anymore. Colonies could not send resources to each other, due to the lack of spacetravel capabilities between them. Each colony had to work for their own survival. It soon turned out that those colonies who were in active communication with each other and who were willing to exchange information were the ones who did best. Information on how to find resources, generate energy, build structures and other knowledge was exchanged over these communication channels. Over time this shared survival knowledge led to a shared identity among the surviving colonies. While much knowledge about the previous world was lost with the great number of lives lost on the way, the surviving colonies aimed to preserve as much knowledge as possible, especially knowledge that was seen as essential for survival. Ideologies of the past, if they were not helpful in survival, were dropped in favour of beliefs and behaviour that increased the survivability of each colony. This group of colonies, even though they were spread many thousands of lighyears apart, slowly began to identify as one group, which led to the concept of the Outer Rim as a civilization of its own.

The cultural impact of this period of survival was immense. Ideologies that led to lack of cooperation quickly died out with the colonies that adhered to such beliefs. The cooperation between the surviving colonies fostered a culture of cooperation and exchange of knowledge, with the understanding that, if you help a friend on the other end of the line, they will also help you at the end of the day. Skills became very important for this society, as every colonist who had skills in agriculture, medicine, engineering or one of many other fields was seen as an important, irreplaceable asset to the society around them. Money had become useless very early on, since it helps little when you are stranded on a planet where you have to worry about generating enough oxygen to survive before anything else. Society transformed into a System where the entire colony gets to enjoy the fruit of everyone's labour, or noone did. A large part of the modern, cooperative culture of the Outer Rim can be led back to this cultural shift. A lot of the old knowledge and culture was lost in exchange of new ideals and a chance to re-build a culture from the ground up.

Building Period - ca. 600 AR to 998 AR

The Building Period is characterized through a culture of expansion and improvement of the quality of life throughout the Outer Rim. During this time period physical labour became more automated. The colonies strived towards space travel to finally physically connect their colonies through travel and trade. The time period is also known as the birth hour of Synths.

At roughly around 600 AR the situation of the surviving colonies had stabilized for the most part. At this point in time the majority of the basic needs of most colonists had been secured to a reasonable extent. The colonies of the Outer Rim began thinking about expanding their colonies to use more of their planets' resources and expand their populations. Raising the quality of life on each planet was a huge concern, due to many colonists living in cramped, functional conditions with few luxuries for centuries. Some basic needs were still an important concern, due to the population on most colonies beginning to grow rapidly. To cover these needs, multiple steps were taken.

Automation of Labour

At the beginning of the 7th century it was still common for large numbers of agricultural workers to farm and process food themselves. Automation was a well known thing, but was only available in form of large food processing machines that had to be managed and controlled by workers. This meant that food production took up a large part of the workforse, all to feed the population each colony had at the time. As population numbers kept increasing, the number of people that needed feeding quickly outgrew food production capacities. Robotics were introduced to tackle this problem, boosting the food output of farms and hydroponics centers. Service robots had to be maintained, developed and built, which led to a shift of the workforce away from agricultural labour to the production and maintenance of robots. The need for food kept rising however and the food production was not able to keep up with the rising population numbers. Eventually this led to a food crisis, which was difficult to solve through the means of simply throwing more automation at it. If you want to grow more food, you need more robots, which need more maintenance, which needs more workers. There were more jobs than there were workers, which, at first thought, leads to the conclusion that more workers are required. More workers however also means that more food is needed. This conundrum led to an interesting development.

The Creation of Synths

With the need for more helping hands in food production came the thought to use robots to fulfill the tasks at hand. Robots however can only be programmed to do a certain set of tasks. A robot can not, for example, think creatively. A robot can not design other robots, unless it has a mind of its own, which is able to make creative design decisions. The colonies were lacking in food, but there were resources they had in spades, due to the pristine nature of the planets they were situated on. Carbon, precious metals and minerals were abundant resources. Thanks to the beginning of mass production of power generation equipment, energy was also available in abundance. The engineers of the Outer Rim congregated where they could, exchanged ideas and plans between the colonies and came to the conclusion that the best way of solving the issues at hand was to create androids, who were equipped with a mind of their own, able to make independent decisions, learn, gather experiences and that way becoming more and more useful to society. A workforce of thinking machines would be useful, since they can contribute to society without draining its food supplies. Machines with minds that can learn could also be used in many different fields, not only food production. A thinking mind allows for flexibility.

Artificial intelligence was one of the technologies that had survived the Great Reset. Specialized AI had been used in production and management roles on all colonies. None of these specialized AIs had a mind of their own however. They were complex neural neworks that fulfilled certain tasks, but nothing more. The scientists of the Outer Rim now had the task to take this technology and to refine it into know-how on how to develop a general AI that could think, learn, remember, have experiences and feel emotions. After years of development this task was successful. The first synthetic brains were developed alongside synthetic bodies for them to inhabit.

The engineers and scientists of the Outer Rim were well aware of all the things that could go wrong. Some sceptics warned of the possibility of a machine rebellion, during which these superior robots could take over and "destroy all organic lifeforms". Others claimed that it was immoral to create a thinking mind with emotions and to "simply stick it into a tin box". All these concerns had to be taken into account during the development of the first prototypes.

The result of these developments were the first Synths. The colonies were more successful than they could ever hope for, as it turned out that the life they had created had not only the potential to be helpful to them, but that they may have created something that could almost be called a species of its own. Synths would grow up with organics, form emotional bonds, work with them and became useful. It was then, when the people of the Outer Rim realized that they had created lifeforms that could be fully integrated into their existing society and accepted as yet just another, only slightly different species amongst them. Synths would help organics with their survival and, in return, Synths would get to experience life and get the same help for survival in return. You could not own a Synth, like you could with other machines, but instead Synths were first considered to be owned by society as a whole. As time went on this point of view became antiquated and was replaced by the point of view that every Synth owns themself.

The first Synth prototypes were completed in 688 AR. The first mass produced models went into production by 698 AR. Colonies produced Synths independently from each other, with each of them sharing their know-how on how to build them and integrate them into society. The first models were not modular, meaning that the first Synths could not exchange any modules and could not adapt their bodies in any way. Over the centuries ahead, throughout the Building Period, Synths were developed further and further, with every generation becoming closer to the Synths we know today. The first Synths, including the prototypes, were originally immortal and theoretically did not have a set lifespan. The majority of them deteriorated over time and eventually requested to die, after having lived long, fulfilling lives, many of them over several centuries. At this point none of the prototype Synths are still alive. There are, however, 2 Synths of the first production run still alive to this day.

The introduction of Synths into the workforce, and into society, was a huge success and transformed the culture of the Outer Rim even further from what it may have been before the Great Reset. Synths helped with the initial food shortage and soon found use in many other fields, developing a culture of their own that became fully integrated into the society around them.

Reclamation of the Stars

With the addition of Synths to the workforce of the colonies of the Outer Rim many of the old problems were solved. The quality of life throughout the Outer Rim increased steadily. Resources were gathered and eventually each colony began thinking about space travel. Ever since the Great Reset each colony was focused on survival on their various planets and throughout all this time the colonies only ever had contact through constant communication. Neither of them were able to visit each other physically. The colony ships each of them arrived with hundreds of years prior were one-way ships that were dismantled for resources and shelter, so they could not be re-used. The colonies had to re-invent spaceflight on their own, which required a thought-out, complex infrastracture. The 9th and 10th century saw the construction of spacecraft, satellite networks, space stations, space elevators and moon colonies. Each colony proceeded in different ways, depending on the type of planet they were situated on, whether or not they had moons and many other factors. Even though at different speeds, soon every colony was able to send materials into space.

Through combined efforts the colonies developed their first FTL engines, allowing for travel over vast distances. In 998 AR a spaceship equipped with an FTL engine travelled from Colonia 14 to Colonia 7, over a distance of over 400 LYs to meet with the inhabitants of another colony for the first time in almost 1000 years. This event is considered to mark the end of the Building Period and is seen as the start of the Flourishing Period.

The Flourishing Period - 998 AR to 2404 AR

The Flourishing Period is a long lasting period of prosperity throughout the Outer Rim. In this period the planets of the Outer Rim slowly stopped considering themselves to be colonies, but instead accepted an identity of a civilization of their own. With the problem of space travel between the former colonies being solved, trade began to happen, opening the doors for further increases in the quality of life for the inhabitants of this part of the galaxy.

In 1012 AR all former colonies in the Outer Rim were united under a democratically elected government spread across all member planets. The government was not centered on any planet, but instead functions as a decentralized government council with each council member representing the matters of their home planets. The government was formed with the goal to increase the quality of life of the citizens of the Outer Rim as much as possible, without falling into the same traps of class or caste structures of the time before the Great Reset.

Throughout the Flourishing Period the Outer Rim experienced peaceful relationships between member planets. Technology continued to advance with the ultimate goal of making life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible. Member planets that were previously cut off from one another became accessible, leading to exchange of goods, tourism and the intermixing of cultures and species. Communication networks of planets became merged into one, galaxy-wide web, making it possible to make friends online with people living thousands of lightyears away. Advancements in technology and automation created less need to work, meaning more free time to be devoted on more important matters, like friends, family, education, art, music or hobbies. This increasing abundance in spare time led to a golden age of culture and creative expression as well as of scientific advances.

As the society of the Outer Rim advanced in their own ways, people began to think about the colonization of new worlds. There were many failed colonies out there, as well as an entire galaxy that must have been empty of all life, since the Great Reset. Or perhaps there were other survivors out there in the galaxy, who managed to survive and to thrive just as the Outer Rim had? With the populations of each member planet increasing steadily, things started to get slightly cramped. More living space would be necessary eventually, so in the 24th century preparations for new colonies were made.

The Pioneering Period - 2404 AR to ca. 2440 (Now)

In 2404 the first colony ship of the Outer Rim landed on a freshly terraformed planet and founded the first new colony. The colony was given the name "Renaissance" and has since grown into a thriving, prosperous settlement. The settlement of Renaissance marks the beginning of the Pioneering Period, which we are currently in.

Over the past 30 years dozens of planets have been colonized, each of them further towards the center of the universe than any of the other settled planets of the Outer Rim. The New Colonies have received their own seat in the governing council of the Outer Rim government and will receive full representation as member planets once their population reaches a high enough level. Most of the New Colonies function as agricultural worlds at this point, producing large amounts of food, both for themselves and for the other planets of the Outer Rim. In addition to planets being colonized, the Outer Rim has begun construction of asteroid mining facilities in newly colonized solar systems, adding the possibility of fully automated resource generation from asteroid mining in the future.

The population of the Outer Rim has developed a thirst for new frontiers. Over the millenia since the Great Reset the mystery of the cause for the disaster could never be solved, so there is hope that further expansion inwards could surface new opportunities for archeologists to dig up clues on what really happened.

There is still concern about exploration inwards of the galaxy stirring up dangers that led to the catastrophe in the first place, but it is slowly being outweighed by curiousity. There are ruins of an entire galactic civilization to explore. Perhaps there are even other survivors out there, who managed to hide away in some forgotten corner of the galaxy. The exploration, colonization and reclamation of the galaxy will show exactly that. Who knows, maybe we are not alone out there.