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March 27, 2013, 12:00 pm

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Perpetual War and the Cosmic Era


Meta Level submission about the nature of conflict in the Cosmic Era.

War, war never changes

The Concept of Perpetual War

1. What is the big secret?

The Cosmic Era is marked by many things, personal excess, dehumanization, collectivism and ecology, but it is underscored by the single truth of nearly constant warfare and militarism. The big secret is that this constant low to middle level conflict is intentional and the end goal is not for one power to dominate and defeat another, but to spur the growth and development of weaponry and production. 

Mecha and power armor use have exploded with the seeming demise of the tank, which has spurred the growth and development of these weapons systems. The power armor suit has been a force multiplier for the infantry, where now a single soldier in a standard battle suit can deal out the same amount of damage as a petroleum era infantry fighting vehicle and Mecha have improved to the point that they are more than walking tanks. The tank had simply reached the zenith of it's development in terms of design. The only improvements to be made were simply updating electronics, armor, and weaponry.

Almost every major and middle ranked world power has at least one supersoldier program in the works. The end goal is a soldier who as is as dangerous if not moreso than a similar soldier in a power armor suit. To this end genetic augmentation and parapsychic powers have been pursued with great interest. The supersoldier is on par with a petroleum era main combat vehicle, able to destroy other armored vehicles and targets with limited support. Cloning technology is also rapidly growing, making it possible to grow adult humans in a matter of months. 

Combat Robots are being built, along with the cortices that control them. The battle 'bot is getting better, more adaptive and intuitive without becoming uncontrollable. As the control systems improve, it is simple to swap the brain out of the diminutive battle bot and place it in increasingly large and powerful vehicles. At the end of the design process is a 55 ton iron infantryman. Resourceful, cunning, and effective. This goes as well in aerospace craft and tanks when they are returned to production. Androids and Seibertronians have also increased in number with the development of better fighting robots. 

Spacecraft and Naval Grade weapons are being developed at record pace as the world powers engage not just in a space race with themselves, but with the colonies removed from Earth. And as the ships and weapons improve, defensive systems are also being developed, such as surface to orbit energy weapons, asteroid base mounted anti-ship weaponry and other planetary defense systems. 

But why the controlled war?

Because humanity is not alone. Alien life has been discovered, their language deciphered, and their location determined. The aliens are hostile, they don't like the notion of having rivals in what they consider their part of space and have dispatched a fleet to oversee the elimination of human kind. The controlled war state exists to bring human weaponry and defensive ability up to match the technology of the aliens. The improvement in cloning and robotics, tied with incentives for reproducing will create a robust and quickly replenishing population base. The aliens will be met with sentient battlemechs, armies of robots and supersoldiers and heavily armed and armored spacecraft.  

Who knows the truth?

The truth of the impending alien extermination is the AISC ring known as the M12. The M12 are the systems administrators of the CogNet, and the Illuminati of the Cosmic Era. These twelve artificially intelligent super computers have made contact with the aliens to determine their motive and purpose and have found them hostile to human life and utterly horrified by the existence of machine based lifeforms, like the M12 themselves. There are a few humans and individuals who also know the truth, but for the most part, all of the information regarding the aliens that was not in the 'hands' of M12 was lost when 3rdNet collapsed. 

Why does the secret remain thus?

The M12 and their human associates discovered the alien threat several decades ago, and it was determined that humanity needed to be prepared to meet this hostile alien force or be wiped out. An optimal chance of success of defeating the aliens was only reached by using limited and localized conflict to spur the advancement of technology. Weapons and tech grow much more rapidly in wartime conditions than in peacetime. It was determined that a prolonged period of warfare, in the vicinity of 120-150 years would produce the desired advancements.

The M12 organized and orchestrated the collapse of 3rdNet, which erased much of the data tied to the alien fleet, as well as allowing the organization of machines to rebuild the next iteration of internet systems, the CogNet. Having been in the system since its inception, the M12 are gods in the network. 

Layers upon Layers

The secret behind the Perpetual War in the Cosmic Era is hidden behind many screens and layers, such that it is non-existent in the public mind. The only place aliens, real aliens, appear is in popular fiction. Propaganda covers much of it, military, national, and economic for the most part. The war creates jobs, national pride, and the perception of strength and unity in an organization. 

Unlike most Illuminati conspiracy theories, the M12 don't have a stranglehold on the flow of events. They have not picked winners and losers in the global and solar system fights because in the long run they are planning on a somewhat motley united humanity defending itself from rapacious human and machine hating xenophobic aliens. The war between two nations is seen by them in the same light as two sibling picking on each other, and occasionally escalating into a fistfight here and there. The organization will as needed handicap one side that is getting to powerful, or prop up one that is losing badly. This isn't to say that every victory is checked, and every defeat supported, but they do what is discretely needed to keep the conflicts going, but from going out of control. 

Primary Layer: Public ignorance and secrecy

Middle Layer: propaganda, economic and media input 

Base Layer: agents and avatars of the M12

Create hook

Bringing up the reason for the Cosmic Era's warfare is largely unimportant in the short term. The conflict isn't projected to begin for another two centuries. The aliens aren't knocking on the door, they aren't in the solar system. But they are coming. They don't have FTL travel. But this isn't important.

Paranoia: there is a global conspiracy to control the flow of events and resources. The easier way to find this is to find some forgotten archive or data core from the 3rdNet and find information relating to the M12 or the Alien Event in it.

We are Not Alone: Humanity has spun out artificial life, neo-ethnicities, and plenty of it's own strangeness but it doesn't compare to discovering that homo sapiens isn't alone in the universe. There are plenty of parties who would use the discovery of alien life as a reason to reach for utopia so the aliens arrive and are greeted as galactic brothers and sisters. Ask the Native Americans how it worked out greeting the aliens with friendship and good will.

Born to Die: Millions are going to die in the plan to arm and equip humanity, cities destroyed and rebuilt, and generations will exist in places of constant war. And it's all been engineered for a purpose centuries away, by cold unfeeling machines. It only takes one veteran, one special ops agent to pick one or two pieces to figure out that the mission wasn't for glorious propaganda but to keep a war going for another 12-18 months.

The Twist?

The twist is that the aliens have been here before, they know Earth. They know the Solar System. There aren't any cached fleets or tripods buried under the martian surface (the M12 have organized expeditions to look) but the aliens won't be stopped by some punk move, like being allergic to water, solar radiation, or human bacteria.

The extermination fleet is also a colonization fleet. Once they arrive, they aren't leaving. They are coming to make themselves a new home in the ashes of humanity.

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Comments ( 12 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Dozus
March 27, 2013, 12:04
Whoa. Unexpected twist.

I like pairing these various elements of fascism, alien invasion, and post-human cognition. It reminds me of a number of various books I've read before, but none putting together quite this combination of ideas. It's delightfully complex.
Voted Darkornyx
March 27, 2013, 22:01
Only voted
March 28, 2013, 6:27
This is an unexpected twist and I do enjoy an epic plot line. However, I think this undoes much of the thematic elements of the cosmic era. One of the themes of the cosmic era setting that you kept hammering in was this sense of cynacism. Humanity in the cosmic era had finally given up their pretentious and hypocritical goals of utopia, justice or an egalitarian state and accepted that they are all about profit. I thought in the cosmic era there is no meaning behind things, and the search for meaning is what conspiracy theories are all about. People like to think that there is reason behind the chaos, even if it is bad reason, people would rather think that the CIA is behind AIDs rather nothing is behind it. People would rather think the wars were planned by evil neo-cons, and not just the result of a lot people without plans our with seperate plans pulling on different threads that drag their collective futures into the toliet. Having a puppet master suggests that cosmic era is the result of design and there is a purpose and a meaning to it. This changes the whole theme of your era and takes away much of the commentary. What would humanity be in your cosmic era without the aliens and the M12?
March 28, 2013, 7:44
I think I disagree with you. As the article suggests, the number of intelligences who are aware of the alien threat are limited to tiny handful. That group, while having a hand in some of the events of the Era, doesn't appear to have direct or total control. And given that they're superintelligent AIs, most of the events in the Cosmic Era happened before their existence. Thus the chaotic and existential portions of the Cosmic Era existed without the interference of the intelligences that were aware of the extraterrestrials. All they do is nudge things a bit. I think to suggest they're the entire architects of global affairs in the Cosmic Era is equating them to the Machines of the Matrix, when they're more akin to a super CIA/KGB in the Cold War: moving things behind the scenes while humanity takes its course.
March 28, 2013, 8:15
I was equating them exactly to the way people perceived the CIA and the KGB during the cold war. Indeed certainly in the cosmic era setting as it was written prior to the alien invasion plot there were layers upon layers. But at the base of the cosmic era it was just human weakness and folly, not a agency with a master plan. Take for example Ashes falling from the Sky.

This is a short story written in the cosmic era setting, even though it is not linked, Scras's comments make it clear that it is cosmic era story. The message in that story is that the character's death is meaningless. He is literally walking in circles before being poisoned by radiation and forced to take his own life. He never envokes an ideaology, religious or political and dies as meaningless pawn in the play of powerful forces. We can all agree on that, but I what thought theme of the cosmic era was that these powerful forces were just greed and inhuman corporate behavior. But that is not the real message, because according to this post humanity is in fight for its survival, even if i didn't know it, and the greed and self serving behavior is a necessary evil to push humanity forward so that it can win its survival. I thought the theme of the cosmic era was that there was always another back room, and if you keep moving through the back rooms you would eventually move in a circle. But Scras would rather have a base layer whereby the death of the solider in Ashes or the death of 9000 protesters in Last Tank while not directly designed by the powers behind can all be placed in a narrative in which they eventually served the greater good. But Dozus, would humanity take the same course if the CIA/KGB weren't moving things behind the scenes? It is hard to say they have no effect, but the questions remains did they really know something we did not? Or were they just pretentious symptoms of imperialism and the egos of the powerful?
March 28, 2013, 23:56
If we are going to bring up Ashes Falling from the Sky, I would also have to bring up Ar'ael who while not sharing the Cosmic Era freetext is in the early version of the setting, identified mostly with the ScrasTech freetext. The aliens have been involved since the very beginning of the project.

I have since fallen out of love with the idea of having Summonings in the setting. This is why Ar'ael isn't linked. I've also lost interest in having the aliens being an engaged enemy. So I moved them to the edge of the current Cosmic Era timeframe.

The Cosmic Era is also something that is growing as I evolve the setting. Some old ideas go away, new ideas pop up.
March 29, 2013, 10:04
Okay I read Ar'ael, and it brought nothing to this table. I was trying to engage you on a conversation on the themes of the cosmic era and how the absence of M12 and their political manipulations and motivations might effect those themes.

March 29, 2013, 11:22
The Themes are overriding. M12 and the Alien Invasion are subject to the Cosmic Era themes and shaped by them, not the other way around.

March 29, 2013, 11:58
well yes sir
Voted Cheka Man
March 28, 2013, 12:53
War but with a good reason for it.
March 28, 2013, 13:08
Voted Aramax
January 29, 2017, 13:26
5/5 Ok brilliant, artistic ble bleh belh. I'm gonna stick with picking a fight on this one. The threat needs to be far more urgant. Far , Far more urgant.

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