Sunday, February 1, 2015

32. Interstellar Club

"The Factors chose the long, slow ways between stars. They are well aware of the Pandora gate networks, but they shun them and advise us to do the same. They are an older, more widely experienced interstellar civilization, and they know something we don't."
Alexandria Ko
President-elect of the Interstellar Club

The Interstellar Club is formed from the remnants of several pre-Fall space agencies and interstellar projects. The Fall had two important effects for the future of interstellar travel: it destroyed the existing interstellar projects, and it revealed the existence of the Pandora gates. Both of these were large blows; much work and many important minds were lost, and gatecrashing provided instant FTL with no extra work needed on transhumanities part.

To some, however, the Fall also provided important lessons. Transhumanity survived for only one reason: we had spread off Earth into the solar system. Distribution ensured that no single disaster could kill everyone. Spreading beyond the solar system and into the galaxy will render transhumanity even more resistant to extinction.

The Pandora gates seem to provide what is easily the best option for interstellar travel; instantaneous and pre-made for our convenience. They are called "Pandora" gates for a reason, however, and there are many that mistrust them, fearing that something will follow a team back through them, that our use of them will be found objectionable by something more powerful than the Factors, or that one day they will simply all fail.

The Interstellar Club has its primary base in orbit around Neptune, with an automated factory and testing lab in the Kuiper belt. The club is politically neutral, but many of its members also identify as Argonauts and Autonomists. The club's approach to interstellar travel has focused around the creation not of ships, but of morphs, using self-repair and replication to act as a Von-Neumann machine; their prototypes are therefore called Neumanns.

Plot Hook: Communication with the club's plant in the Kuiper belt was recently lost, and an on-site inspection has revealed that a prototype is missing. It seems that someone, or a fork of someone, or perhaps something, sleeved into the Neumann and launched, apparently headed for Proxima Centauri. The players are asked to determine who it might have been what their motives were, and whether this could be a problem for transhumanity's future.

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