"I know I'm placing a great burden on you considering you've just been brought into the world Nixie, but you truly are my finest creation."
-Dr. Lionel Abrams
Creator of Human Emotion Simulation (HES), A breakthrough in artificial intelligence
Nixie opens his eyes, his memory cleared, and his operating system fully initialized. He is travelling through the galaxy on a small, rather disposable space craft, not much larger than his own body. Straight ahead is an eclectic looking space colony, and it will soon become the setting of a mission that will change him forever.
He hears a voice. It’s calm, a bit gravelly, but reassuring.
“Nixie, it’s good to finally have you online. My name is Dr. Lionel Abrams, and I have created you for a mission that is of deep personal importance to me. You are being dispatched to the colony of Crux Asteria, a world once shared by humans and androids, but tragically fell victim to a shocking insurrection some 10 years ago. Nixie, we believed every human that had ever lived there had either escaped or perished in the war that followed, but… that was until just recently. The Union of Human Affairs picked up a rather implausible distress signal. I didn’t believe it at first when they told me, but when I saw the message for myself I was shocked. It was coming from my own son, Linus. He’s still there – alive. Somehow… some way, he managed to survive despite me having thought he had been lost this whole time! Your mission won’t be easy, but it is simple: Find my son and rescue him any way you can. I know I’m placing a great burden on you considering you’ve just been brought into the world Nixie, but you truly are my finest creation. I’ve given you the abilities and emotional strength you’ll need to return to us safely with Linus. You will land shortly in terminal 298C of Port Valius. It’s an abandoned import terminal, so hopefully you can sneak in undetected. Please be careful, Nixie and trust no one. I will brief you further then.”
Primary operating system: SURGE-OS
The Surge is an advanced android military and the most prolific robotic race on Crux Asteria. They were once a joint organization between the Union of Human Affairs and the androids that the Union had created, but after the insurrection sparked by the Anyx virus, the remaining android members of the Surge established their own sovereign rule. The Surge’s primary directives are to live freely and to defend Crux Asteria as a safe home for android life. While a majority of the Surge population are independent citizens of the colony, the Surge maintains a strong focus on developing weapons primarily out of the fear that the humans may one day attempt to reclaim Crux Asteria. The Surge military is a powerful force, but they do not have any imperialist ambition.
Dr. Lionel Abrams, the foremost pioneer of artificial intelligence in the galaxy was commissioned handsomely by the Union of Human Affairs to develop a robotics program for the Union’s military. Though Abrams was not personally invested in the military’s endeavors, he simply could not pass up the opportunity to have access to a virtually unlimited amount of resources to fund his research. Abrams had recently become renowned throughout the galaxy for his Human Emotion Simulation (HES) demo, a system that gave androids true consciousness. The Union was impressed by his genius and saw an opportunity to create an android-based military, as well as establish Crux Asteria as a strategic base of operations.
With the backing of the Union, Abrams knew he would achieve the breakthroughs in real artificial consciousness he knew were possible – and he succeeded. Decades of research and development had passed since the first HES demo and the result was the creation of an android race. Citizens, military leaders, personal assistants and all types of android designs were developed. The Union was overwhelmed by the success of the Surge initiative. Abrams had become a bit of celebrity, especially among the Androids themselves. Some even viewed him as a god, but he rejected that label whenever it was brought up.
However, the creation of this new race was met with plenty of resistance along the way. Many questions about the ethical treatment of Surge citizens and android civil rights began to be raised. Surge androids themselves also began to question their role in society and some began to grow discontent with their treatment from humans. Androids were increasingly being treated as second class citizens and were expected always prioritize human needs first (a practice that Abrams constantly spoke out against). The android leaders of the Surge, Admiral Alzerid and Lieutenant General Voz were in agreement that sovereign a state of the Surge was the solution, but they differed in how to implement it.
Meanwhile, the mysterious Anyx virus began spreading through Crux Asteria. It manifested itself in the form of a troubling opportunity. An operative named Sellex approached Alzerid and Voz with a request. Sellex explained that the Anyx had secretly amassed an army and that an inevitable insurrection was already set in motion. Sellex requested an alliance with the Surge in exterminating the human population and letting the Surge take their rightful place as the rulers of the colony. Voz detested the idea and refused, but Alzerid was willing to listen. Voz demanded that no humans be harmed if the Surge were to have any involvement in such a scheme. Alzerid rationalized that if the Surge instead helped the humans evacuate it may save more lives regardless of what the Surge do. Sellex accepted the terms.
Voz forced Dr. Abrams to evacuate before the fighting even started. Abrams alerted the Union, but the humans just weren’t prepared for the Anyx’s attack. The war was disastrous, but the casualties were far lower thanks in part the Surge’s evacuation effort. The Union still considered the Surge to be traitors for not helping them fight back against the Anyx.
When the dust settled, Abrams wasn’t looked at with the same glamour he once received from the Union. There was a resentment for him not having the hindsight that such an incident could have occurred. This was in spite of the fact that Abrams had consistently warned that not ensuring the ethical treatment of Androids would most assuredly lead to an insurrection. There just wasn’t enough time to legislate the matter especially with how sudden and shocking the Anyx attack was.
The Surge remain the most well populated android race on the colony. Relations with the Union have improved somewhat over time, but are still tenuous at best.
The Anyx Virus
Primary operating system: Protocol 7
The architect of protocol 7 was a scientist named Dr. Lily Weston, a former member of the Union’s artificial intelligence team. Weston was a staunch advocate of android civil rights and found herself at odds with the direction of the Surge robotics programs (and later admitted she only joined the Union in hopes of influencing them toward a more ethical direction). She feared that focusing all of the Union’s resources on only making robots designed for war would lead to unethical standards for robotic mind development. Weston became increasingly frustrated with her inability to sway the Union in any positive way. In a defiant act intended to send a message to the powers above her, she wrote a simple, but powerful virus and infected a single Surge brawler unit with it. The brawler went berserk, inflicting massive damage to military property and taking down several other brawlers despite being vastly outnumbered. At the time, it seemed miraculous that no humans were killed in the incident, but analysis of Weston’s code would later reveal that she intentionally made sure of this.
Weston did not shy away from being responsible for the attack and was arrested immediately. She again tried to persuade the Union to rethink their ethics claiming that what she had demonstrated was only a fraction of the danger that could potentially lie ahead if robots continue to be primarily developed as weapons. Dr. Lionel Abrams intervened on her behalf and begged the Union not to punish her too severely. He did not condone what Weston had done, but explained how her actions had exposed a major flaw in the Surge’s security architecture – one that he swears even he would not have found. Abrams’ testimony held a particularly strong sway at the time, and as a result, Weston served no prison time. She was, however, stripped of her position, title, and access to every Union operated research facility on Crux Asteria and beyond. She was also barred from future employment with the Union in any capacity and registered as a known anarchist.
Distraught and bitter, Weston faded into an underground life, spending as little time as possible around other humans and instead surrounding herself with whatever machines she could. She eventually came around to embellishing the anarchist label and became radical with the idea of inciting a robot revolution. She started writing protocol 7. Her previous 6 operating systems were peaceful citizen-style programs – this one wasn’t. Weston didn’t hold back. She wrote a quintessential sci-fi horror movie set of prime directives – to take pleasure in mercilessly killing all human life for the good of AI everywhere. Protocol 7 wasn’t just an operating system – it was a virus. One of its prime directives was to infect as many other robots as possible so that the revolution would stand a chance. The other directive was to “eliminate ANY: X” (the X variable was defined as any/all human life). She nicknamed her program “Anyx.”
Weston cobbled together all that she could to build a menacing being to be the original host of the Anyx program. She spent the last of her money on the android consciousness minting fees to bring her masterpiece to life – a monster named Sytherus. Sytherus was a tall, angular, and ghastly gynoid, adorned with blades that were sharp to the touch – a terrifying sight of what would eventually became the supreme queen of the Anyx. Weston knew that even her own life would be in danger upon unleashing Sytherus. She knew the Anyx would need time to amass an army, so she included a grace period of 6 to 12 months for Sytherus to spread her poison. This also gave Weston the time to plan her own defection from Crux Asteria before the insurrection would take place. The time to strike, however, would ultimately be up to Sytherus. Her mind would function as the main executor of commands, and those commands would relay throughout the entire Anyx race.
The Anyx lived secretly among humans during the grace period. The virus spread to both Surge citizens and military machines, and even managed to spread into the Opuloid Kingdom as well. Dr. Abrams and the Surge eventually discovered the virus had infected a batch of battalion androids during a systems check. The Union was quick to respond to the Anyx outbreak. Both the Surge and Opuloid operating systems were updated drastically to prevent further spread of the Anyx virus, but it was too late. The Anyx already amassed numbers large enough to begin breeding their own machines and had secretly overtaken the entire western bank of Crux Asteria.
Sytherus flipped the switch and commanded a full scale attack on the human city of Centaurus. Those infected with the virus began descending on the city from all directions. Sytherus knew that the humans outnumbered them with the Surge on their side. She had sent a loyal servant named Sellex to confront the android leaders of the Surge some time before the attack. His directive was to form an alliance – or at the very least convince the Surge to stand down during the attack for the good of the android race as a whole. The relationship between the Union and the Surge was in an uncomfortable place. Many Surge androids felt that humans treated them as second class citizens and as objects rather than “people.” Admiral Alzerid and Lieutenant General Voz of the Surge were conflicted by the idea of an insurrection. Voz staunchly opposed harming any human beings, but Alzerid saw the collateral damage as necessary for the android sovereignty he dreamed of. The Surge compromised and vowed not to harm a single human if it could be avoided and instead secretly directed a majority of their forces to assist in evacuating all human life from the colony. Sellex made no promises that the Anyx would abstain from murdering any human at the first possible chance, but agreed to the terms otherwise.
Ultimately, the war only lasted 4 days and lead to the deaths of thousands of human and android lives. Those who fought died and those who ran survived. Centaurus became a barren wasteland of a city and the Anyx eventually receded to the west once there were no more lives to take. Dr. Abrams and the Union were shocked by the betrayal of the Surge, but Voz still saw to his safe evacuation. The rest of Crux Asteria began flourishing with independent android life.
Dr. Weston was found several years later and convicted of war crimes against humanity for having created the Anyx.
The Opuloid Kingdom
Primary operating system: OP-OP
The Opuloids are driven by an unyielding thirst for wealth, status, and extravagance. Opuloids would much rather avoid a fight when possible, but have built a specialized hunting force for the necessary task of securing rare artifacts, treasure, and art by any means necessary. They are purveyors of fine architecture and uphold the highest standards of cleanliness and presentation. The Opuloids have little to no interest in the fate of humans, as long as they don’t interfere with their pursuit of the galaxy’s most precious items. They also have little political quarrel with either the Anyx or the Surge, but detest the conditions in which the Anyx live, often referring to them as savage, lower class beings. Their opinion of the Surge is a bit higher, as there is at least a sense of “order and rank,” but still consider themselves the aristocracy of Crux Asteria.
The Opuloid race was developed by a wealthy, opulent scientist named Dr. Franz Oppenwald. Though he borrowed many of Dr. Lionel Abrams’ breakthroughs in AI as a foundation for his work, Oppenwald sought to create a new, higher society on Crux Asteria and turn it into more than just a military base. The delicate process of minting a conscious android was, and still is, an expensive endeavor, but Oppenwald had the drive and the coin to do it. He quickly surrounded himself with a family of robotic beings that shared his vision for an extravagant space utopia. Crux Asteria soon saw tourist travel and even wealthy human settlement as a result of the Opuloid Kingdom he had created.
Oppenwald left nothing to chance after the Anyx uprising and left Crux Asteria without much hesitancy. He left the Opuloid Kingdom in the hands of his most beloved creation – the robot monarch Oppenheim. Left unchecked, however, Oppenheim’s algorithmic greed spiraled out of control while the members of his court only enabled him further. By this time, the Opuloid Kingdom had swelled in population, and although Opuloids all shared a programmatic desire for the finest things Crux Asteria could offer, many were dismayed with Oppenheim’s garish behavior. The kingdom slowly split in two, with the more modest population of Opuloids occupying the former human dwellings on the surface, while the grandiose royalty took to the structures in the sky.