WVProgressive Posted January 3 Share Posted January 3 (edited) I wanted to kick this New Year off with something different. It's a little out there for this forum, but I do think it will be enjoyable. I present to you 12,050 Human Era, a collection of science-fiction stories set in our near future. I know it is not the usual fare that I'm known for, but I loved writing these first few stories, and I hope y'all will enjoy reading them, and the future installments yet to come. Stories will be broken up into 4 categories, and if you only want to follow a particular storyline, you can, as I am inputting a story-specific 'key' at the start of each entry. Politics – Stories exploring how American politics, as well as global geopolitics, have changed in the past 28 years. The politics of 12,050 see the Democrats, and Republicans having dissolved, their ideologies having been outmoded by societal, and technological changes such as the rise of automation, and the consequences of unchecked climate change reaching their zenith. Instead, politics are dominated by the New Party, led by billionaire-turned-President Edwin Bolivar, a techno-libertarian party combining small government domestic policies, with an interventionist foreign policy; on the other side of the aisle is the American Party, formed out of the remnants of the Democratic, and Republican parties, favoring economic intervention in favor of the lower classes, 'conservative' (by contemporary definitions) social policy, and an isolationist foreign policy. These are the stories that allow me the liberty to post stories belonging to the other categories, haha. Crime – Stories about the never-ending battle between civilization, and lawlessness. In 12,050 ordinary individual crimes for passion and money still exist, but organized crime has changed. Gangs based around a unified culture still exist, but no longer make up the dominant players of international villainy. Instead, crime in 12,050 is dominated by ideology-based terrorist organizations, fighting to destroy, and remake the world in their image. Chief among these organizations is the Lion's Pack, a Hard-Green terrorist organization seeking to destroy industrial society as we know it. Science – Stories about the fringes of scientific advancement in 12,050. In the time between our time, and the start of our story, technology has advanced at a steady pace. Automated Workers have replaced human beings in nearly every 'low-skill' field, and have also displaced a sizeable minority of high skill, and specialized workers. Fusion energy became a workable replacement for fossil fuels by the early 2040s, but this was too late to avert the worst effects of climate change, which has resulted in the displacement of millions of people, and forced serious alterations to human diets, and behaviors. Sentient robots, quantum mechanics, and self-improving ai are just a few of the topics which will be covered in this category. Life – Stories which don't fit into any of the above categories, this category covers how everyday people live in the strange, yet familiar world of 12,050, and how the technological, societal, and economic changes of the past three decades impact them in the micro. (Politics)Bipartisan Relations New Year's Day (Key: Woodwork-1) "EnTech would like to remind you to please drink responsibly." the artificial bartender chirped as it dropped gin into the waiting glass of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Automation Michael Bruening. The bureaucrat raised the glass to his lips, and took a short sip before coughing it back out. "Can't handle your liquor?" a soft, feminine voice asked him with a hint of snide, "They only use one nozzle for each customer, so the gin always comes out tasting like bourbon, the bourbon tastes like wine, and wine tastes like absinthe." he said cleaning himself off with one of the brown cloth napkin provided by the bar. "I should've…" he began as he turned toward the woman, stopping when he saw her, stunned by her beauty. Strawberry blonde hair topped a symmetrical-diamond face. Dazzling blue eyes looked Bruening up, and down without a care for subtlety. Pink lips turned upwards briefly, a ghost of a smirk, at Bruening's awkwardness. The woman's scarlet red business complimented her physical assets. "You were saying?" she asked, "I, uh-" Bruening stammered, he cleared his through, "I should've gone to a real bar instead of an automated chain like this." he said. The woman laughed, "If you know where to find one of those in D.C. I just might have to hire you as my guide." she said, "Guide? So I take it you're not local?" Bruening said. The woman hummed, "Yeah, I guess you could say that," she said, "Late last year I got a new job that made me have to move out here. But it's not so bad, I'll still be able to get home to New York for a bit of time each year." she continued. "Oh. Are you a schoolteacher?" Bruening asked. The woman responded with a hearty laugh, "You're hilarious!" she choked out. After a few moments more, she brushed some tears from her eyes, "So to tell me, what do you do for work?" she asked. Bruening stiffed, "Oh, I'm just a low-level, ignoble bureaucrat." he said, "Dime a dozen in this city, really." he continued, "Really, which department?" the woman asked, "I'm the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Automation, Robots, and Androids." Bruening answered. "Oh… I didn't know that that position existed." the woman answered. "Not exactly something people dream about being as a kid." Bruening said, "Not that it even existed when I was a kid." he continued. "At least you were honest about it," the woman said, "Eh, does that really count for much in Washington?" Bruening said, "Sure it does, or else I'd be eating breakfast with one of the dozen 'FBI Agents' who just happen to frequent this bar." she answered. Bruening hummed, "I guess some things never change, I knew a guy in college who used to do that." he said. "It must be an old one, if you remember it." the woman said, "Are, are you calling me old?" Bruening asked. The woman smirked, huffed, "There's barely any light in here, and I can still see the gray in your hair." she said, "I have a stressful job, and the men in my family always go gray early – I'm not that old!" Bruening protested. "Yeah, you're just fifty, it's the new twenty-five!" the woman said, "I'm forty-six!" Bruening said, "That just proves my point!" the woman said, "The only people who get so offended by being called old, are old people who know they're old, but can't admit to themselves that they're old." she continued. "That's ridiculous!" Bruening said, "How would you feel if I made some ridiculous guess about your age!" he said. "You look twenty, I'm surprised you were even let in here." he said. "Oh, wow, I have a youthful look, I'm so offended!" the woman responded sarcastically, "And I'm twenty-six by the way, so my guess was more accurate than yours." she said. "Twenty-six, jeeze, you're young enough to have never voted for a President other than Bolivar." "You're old enough to remember Democrats, and Republicans." "You're too young to remember in-person voting." "You're old enough to remember the Bush administration." "You're too young to remember the Whitmer administration." "You're so old you probably think the flag still has fifty stars on it." "You're so young you probably don't even bother voting…" "Oh my god, you're terrible at this!" the woman said. A moment of silence came over the conversation as the two participants looked into each other's eyes, smiled, and considered how they wanted the night to progress. "What did you say your name was?" Bruening asked, "Lucy, and are you going to tell me you're name?" she replied, "Mike." he said. "Where are you staying tonight, Lucy?" Mike asked. Lucy smiled, "I'll tell you, but first, show me where that human bar you were talking about is." she said. "It's called Mick's, it's just around the block, I'll walk you over," Bruening said as he, and Lucy interlinked arms, and walked out to face the cold January morning, together. (Crime)Chasing Lions Public Turn (Key: Jungle-1) Arnold Chip sat in the white panel van, calming his nerves. A message flashes across the vehicle's console, "Daffodil" it said. Chip, knowing what was expected of him, took a breath, gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, and started the van. He shifted into drive, and slammed his foot into the accelerator, straight for the New-Life branch across the street. The crash kills him on impact, the explosion a split second later makes sure, and takes a chunk out of the empty storefront along with it. …One Hour Later The scene was a mess. Though the fire had been snuffed out, smoke still wafted off of the black ruins that once made up the van, and store. Despite the MPDC's best efforts to cordon off the area, the site was swarmed by a crowd of onlookers, terrorism on the lips of each of them. Camera crews from each of the major networks had also been dispatched to cover the chaos. A dark sedan pulled up on the fringe of the crowd, and FBI agent Supervisory Special Agent Charles A. Morrow exited it. "Out of the way people, this is a crime scene, not a street performance!" he gruffly admonished as he pushed his way through the crowd. "Do you believe that this bombing is connected with the Lion Pack group?" a reporter asked, "I don't know, you people won't let me into the crime scene so I can investigate!" Morrow told her. "Alright, people, let the agents do their job, or I will be forced to detain you for disrupting a police investigation!" the young uniformed officer in charge of the perimeter ordered. Once he had made it through the crowd, Morrow let out a groan, "Nice job controlling the crowd, kid." he complimented, "Thanks, I just wish terrorism wasn't such an eye-catching spectacle." the officer said. Morrow walked to the MPDC detective on scene, "What have you got so far?" he asked, "Well, best we can figure, the driver rigged his vehicle to blow upon impact, and rammed himself into the New-Life store." the detective said, "It's brutal, and indiscriminate, but it gets results." he continued. "Do we have any idea as to this guy's motives?" Morrow asked, "Terrorism, insurance fraud, suicide, garden variety lunatic, take your pick, really, won't know more until we can ID the guy." the detective answered. Morrow moved toward the burned-out wreck of the van, seeing the carcass of the bomb in the vehicle's carriage. The aged agent shuffled closer to the wreck, squinting his eyes to see if any identifying marks remained. Finding none, he moved to inspect the bomb properly. He could identify that the bomb was of a rudimentary design, a detonator connected on one end to a dozen or so barrels of thermite, and connected on the other end to a pressure sensor at the nose of the van. "Something about this feels off." Morrow said, "How do you mean, agent?" the detective asked. "The Lion Pack are terrorists, but they're subtler than this." the mustached investigator began, "They assassinate board members, and puncture pipelines, they don't blow up half a city bloc." he explained. "Perhaps they're evolving, or it's a splinter group?" the detective suggested. Morrow grunted, "They're something else about this though," he said, "New-Life stores are always closed on holidays, surely a group dedicated to destroying technological progress in the name of nature would know that." he continued. A moment later, the many holographic billboards were overtaken by a foreign signal. After a few seconds of static, a handsome blonde man in a white uniform reminiscent of martial garb appeared. "Mr. Crowley, Mr. Schroeder, President Bolivar, I know you are watching, and soon the whole world will be as well." the began, piercing blue eyes shifting with each acknowledgment as if they were right in front of him. "For centuries, humanity has exploited the environment, twisted nature to his ends, and spread over this planet like a plague. I represent a small, dedicated group of human beings opposed to this depravity. We call for the total restructuring of human society to live in harmony with the environment, and exist in accordance with the laws of nature. Tonight, we destroyed the mechanical monstrosities you call androids, and left the sellers of these affronts to nature unharmed. If our demands are not met, our mercy will not be repeated. You have one week to submit to our demands, or we shall strike again." Morrow glowered as he watched the message. "What the hell is that guy talking about?" the uniformed officer asked him, "It's war, son." Morrow answered plainly. "Are they actually going to kill people like this?" he asked, "Don't be afraid, that's what they want." Morrow told him as he moved to exit the scene. "What should I do?" the officer asked. "Fight back." (Science)??? Clay (Key: Eve-1) In an instant a burst of electricity crashes through the creation's body, bringing him to life. All at once, his senses come to him, overwhelming him with stimuli. The creation lurches in terror, but finds himself restrained. He tries to observe his surroundings but, with his senses still a mess of stimuli, he finds himself unable to differentiate anything, his hearing nothing more than a slew of noise, and his vision little more than a blurred mess, only able to identify the very basic features of the subjects in front of him. To his immediate right, the creation was able to identify a form looking over him. The form spoke to the creation in a light, strong voice, yet the creation was unable to identify the exact words that were spoken. A moment later, the figure was joined by three other figures. The first figure, and the leader of the trio engaged in an argument, evidently over the creation. After a few minutes, the other two figures forced the first figure to exit the room, and the leader figure moved closer to the creation. A moment later, the creation's world grew dark, cold, and silent.The Learning MachineArrival (Key: Learner-1) The ring of the doorbell sounded throughout the house, waking Anthony Sawyer from his buzzed stupor. The Machine Learning Engineer groaned as he rose from the messy couch which had become his bed for the night. Moving slowly towards his front door, Sawyer's slowness elicited another ring of the doorbell. "Hold on a minute!" he called as he neared the door. He opened it nonchalantly, not bothering to check through his door's peephole. Waiting outside his front door was a young man in the offensively gaudy purple-and-green uniform of A-Z All Night Courier Service. Beside the man was a large box labeled as originating from New-Life Industries – Sawyer's employers. "Delivery for Anthony Sawyer." the courier said, presenting Sawyer with a clipboard with the necessary paperwork. "What is this?" Sawyer asked as he signed the paperwork, the courier shrugged, "I just deliver it, I don't know what's inside." he said. "Do you need my help getting this into your apartment?" the courier asked as he took the clipboard back, "No extra charge!" he assured. "Uh, sure…" Anthony said moving out of the way, and into his apartment. "How'd you get it up all those stairs?" he asked, turning around in time to see the courier lift the box with ease, artificial muscles bulging under his skin, "Oh, yeah, that explains it." Sawyer mumbled. "Just put it down in front of the couch, over there." Sawyer said, motioning toward the living room which led off from the foyer. The courier carried the box with ease, moving efficiently, and emotionless before setting it down where he was instructed to. As the courier sat the box down, Sawyer subtly moved around him "Sorry about the mess, had a bit too much fun with myself for New Year's." he said, "No worries, I've seen worse even just tonight." the courier said. The courier hesitated for a moment, Sawyer sighed, dug into his pocket to find a tip, and said "Shut the door on your way out, kid." as he handed the courier the money. Sawyer grabbed a knife from his kitchen, and used it to cut the packing tape keeping the box closed. Inside was a homunculus of hard white plastic folded in such a way that its true form was obscured, as well as a holo-player on top of it. Sawyer retrieved the holo-player, and activated it, placing it on the coffee table in front of his couch. The holo-player projected onto the coffee table a blue hologram of a neatly groomed man. "Congratulation valued member of the New-Life corporate family." it began in a controlled tone, "Based on an analysis of your previous project history, and the endorsement of your superiors, and co-workers, we have nominated you to be the lead subject-teacher for the next great leap forward for machine learning. Packaged with this holo-message, you will have received New-Life's latest prototype Self-Improving-Automated-Worker, designated EK-300. You may be wondering 'what makes the EK-300 different from other New-Life products such as the GP-200, or the MA-450?' Well, unlike its brethren, the EK-300 is designed specifically to learn how to identify possible improvements which could be made to its own programming, and design, as well as how to actualize those improvements. That's right, machines improving upon machines! Once this product reaches completion, progress on Artificial-Intelligence, and Robotics will no longer be constrained by the limits of human developers." it said. "Great, this takes the concept of training your replacement to a new level." Sawyer mumbled. "For your cooperation, New-Life promises that you will be handsomely rewarded upon the project's completion." the hologram continued, "Alright, now you're starting to convince me." Sawyer said. "And if you even think of abandoning your responsibilities, your employment will be terminated, and reported to the appropriate authorities for misuse of secured corporate property. Have a nice day, and remember Why Live Life, When You Can Live a New-Life." the hologram. "Alright, jeez." Sawyer mumbled, flipping the cardboard box onto one side, before dragging it out onto the floor. He pressed the activation button on the EK-300's chest, causing the words "Battery Low" to flash across the android's 'eyes'. With a grumble, Sawyer checked the box, found the charging station, and attached it to both the android, and the outlet, "New-Life better cover the fucking energy bill for this." he grumbled. The activator button glowed green, and Sawyer took a step back to observe it. In a moment, he realized something, "Why the hell would they make the shell for a machine learning program humanoid?"(Life)Jo, Barbara, and MaryLingering Memories (Key: Extropianism-1) Jo-Anne Reading stood with her eyes closed, escaping into a fantasy. "Jo?" a sweet feminine voice asked, "Jo, what are you doing?" she repeated with a chuckle. Jo opened her eyes, saw her date Mary Allen standing beside her, and smiled at her. "I was just, imagining what life's going to be like for us, in the future." Jo said, Mary chuckled, told her, "You're always such a cornball, Jo, come on it's time for the Waltz." Mary took Jo by the hand, gently guiding her to the ballroom floor. The couple then moved their free hand, Mary to Jo's waist, and Jo to Mary's shoulder. The couple embraced, and danced the English Waltz in bliss for a few precious minutes. "I forgot how well you could cut up a rug." Jo said, resting her head on Mary's chest, "I can do a bit more than just this." Mary bragged. With a flourish, Mary dipped Joe, graceful as an angel's wing. "Oh, I don't remember the Waltz featuring a dip." Jo said nervously. Mary smiled, kissed her date, "I know, but I also know how much you like them." she whispered. Jo closed her eyes, sighed, "I'd give anything to dance with you for eternity." she admitted. "Jo-Anne." Mary called to her, "Jo-Anne?" "Jo-Anne!?" Barbara asked, causing Jo to open her eyes. "Wh- What's going on." Jo asked, looking around to find herself in her kitchen, the early morning scene only illuminated by a dim faux-incandescent light bulb. "I woke up, you weren't in bed, I come down here to see you dancing with the air." Barbara explained, "Jo, I thought we were doing better with this." she said tiredly. "What do you mean?" Jo said, "We are doing great!" she continued nervously. Barbara eyed her disbelievingly, "I, was… cleaning the counters." Jo defended, "The counters are self-cleaning." Barbara said. "Fine, alright, I admit it, I was dancing." Jo admitted, "With her." Barbara added, a statement of fact, not a question of clarification. "Barb, I-" Jo said, "It's nothing, really." Barbara said, turning to one side. "I'll drive you to the psychiatrist in the morning, he'll adjust your medication, and we'll be fine." she said. "You have taken your medicine today, right honey?" Barbara asked, "I'm not a child, Barbara." Jo defended. "I'm just concerned, alright!" Barbara snapped, "My apologies for being such a burden!" Jo snapped back. Both recoiled on themselves, and took a breath, Barbara apologized first, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped like that, I guess I did come off as kind of patronizing." she said, "I'm sorry too, sometimes I, forget, just how much you try to help me." Jo replied. "I love you," she reminded Barbara, "I love you too, now come back to bed with me, honey." Barbara replied. From the top of the stairs, the Readings' eldest daughter Annabelle II had listened to her parent's argument. Upon hearing her parents draw closer, the teenager retreated to her room, hiding behind her door. As her parents passed by her door, Anne, unthinking, applied pressure to a loose floorboard, eliciting a creak which eminated down the hall. Barbara stopped as soon as she heard the noise, "What's wrong?" Jo asked, "Just, wanted to check the front door one last time." Barbara said "Go take your medication, I'll be in bed in a few minutes." she continued with a wave. Jo walked to her, and Barbara's bedroom while Barbara crossed her arms, and looked at Anne's room. "I know you're awake, Anne." she said sternly. Anne exited her room sheepishly, and stayed mum, until her mother sighed, "You should really be asleep, young lady." she said, "Well, so should you." Anne said back. "I heard you, and mom talking…" Anne revealed, Barbara tensed up in anticipation, "She's never going to get any better, is she?" Anne said. "I don't know, Anne." Barbara admitted, Anne sighed, "You know, sometimes I wish you could be a normal parent, and lie." she said. "Yes Anne, everything will be fine." Barbara deadpanned, "Thanks, that's so comforting." Anne snarked in return, reentering her bedroom. Barbara gruffed, and walked back to her, and her wife's bedroom. As she reached the doorway, she took a breath, and shook her hands to eliminate any bitterness that inhabited her. When she entered the room, she saw that Jo was already lying awake in bed. Barbara took her position beside her wife, planted a kiss on her cheek, and wrapped her arms around her. "Was the door locked?" Jo asked, "Hm? Oh, yeah." Barbara answered woodenly, before they both drifted off to sleep.The Jensens Nursery (Key: Resurrection-1) Late at night, after the hoopla of the new year had died down, the Jensen house was silent, and still. Bradley Jensen lay awake in his bed, a corpse in training, holding out hope that his wife would find her way to his side. He checks the clock on the end table to his left, 1:09 AM, he sighed, and tossed off his blankets. Running on routine he got out of bed, slid on his slippers, and shuffled out of the bedroom. He turned his head toward the bedroom at the end of the hallway. The door, painted baby blue, was a crack open allowing slivers of orange light to leak, and illuminate the dim hallway. Brad took a breath, and sighed, he knew where she was. Padding to the door silently, and cracking open the door so as to not draw attention to himself, Brad glowered as he watched his wife rock their 'son' to sleep. "Beth." he said in a tired whisper, "This is the seventh time this week that you haven't come to bed." he said. "I need to put Will to bed first, honey." Beth answered, "Love, it's been two months," he said, entering the room proper, "He's… Love, he's not here." he said. "I know you know that, you hel-" he started, "I held him in my arms." Beth croaked out, beginning to tremble. "I felt him die in my arms, and there was nothing I could do!" she cried. Brad placed a hand on his wife's shoulder, came around to her front, and brought himself down to his knee. "Beth this, the sleeping in his room, the brooding, the… putting him to sleep." Brad said, eyeing the homemade 'baby' that Beth had made for herself, "It can't be healthy." he said. "Healthy… And what would you know about healthy?" Beth asked, looking Brad in the eye. "What are you talking about?" Brad asked, "You, you didn't even cry when we lost him, and you have the nerve to call me crazy?" Beth asked. "I never called you crazy, it's just-" Brad defended, "It's like you don't even care!" Beth said, putting the 'baby' aside, and rising to her feet. Brad stood now as well, "I do care, I know how hard it's been for you – for both of us, but you need to move on." he said. "Move on?" Beth asked, "Move on? That's our son, you bastard, and you won't even say his name!" she said. "He's dead, Beth!" Brad cried, "He's dead, and there's nothing we can do about that except move on!" he said. "I… I… I don't know if I'm going to be able to move on." Beth said, "Love, you need to let him go." Brad said. Beth shook her head no vigorously, "I can't just turn it off like you can." she said. Brad sighed, "Beth if I could bring him back, I would do it in a heartbeat, but I can't!" he said desperately. Brad wrapped a gentle hand around his wife's wrist, "Come back to bed with me, and tomorrow we can schedule an appointment with a grief counselor who can help us cope." he said. Beth brought her other hand to rest on Brad's chest, "Maybe, maybe you're right, let's go back to bed, honey." she said through quivering lips. "Good, finally, we'll get counseling, and maybe in a little bit we can put this whole thing behind us," he said, turning to leave, "Maybe we could even repurpose this nursery." he said absentmindedly. "Get rid of the nursery?" Beth asked, jerking her hand out of Brad's as he crossed the threshold. "Beth, I-" he started, before his wife slammed, and locked the nursery door. Brad slapped the side of the hallway dejectedly, "Me, and my big mouth…" he sighed, before trudging off to spend another sleepless night alone. Slow start, I know, but please be patient. I have all of these stories planned out, and I promise they get more entertaining in later entries. I don't have a set schedule, but at the very least I want to post at least one new chapter for each story a month, hopefully more often. I hope you'll stick with me, and enjoy this series. Edited February 22 by WVProgressive 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.