2159 back story
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them. Synthetic humans have been used for illicit purposes, and while humankind has used technology to enhance its abilities, there has been no cure for the capacity of evil within the human heart. Crime continues to thrive.
The city is Hong Kong 2, the global capital of New Asia, a country that comprises nearly 80% of the world having absorbed most of Asia, the UAE, Europe, and the Americas.
Hong Kong 2 is one of several global megacites. Stretching mile after mile, the city encompasses a vast realm. In the center of Hong Kong Island, a second layer has been built hovering 50 stories above ground. Known as the TopCity Spanner, it has become the dividing line for humanity. Rising up from the spanner, 200 stories or more is TopCity, home to wealth and privilege. Below is DownTown, old, disadvantaged and dangerous. There, a renowned scientific prodigy, Dr. Sean Colbert, chief designer of the some of the most sophisticated and commercially successful synthetic humans, is sexually assaulted and left for dead.
The Lightstream Chronicles
is a cyberpunk, crime drama set in the year 2159. In addition to being a story with mystery and suspense, it explores themes of morality, religion, and the enigma of the human condition. It is about the interconnectedness of society, technology, and humanity.
It is a time when there is a single global government structure, New Asia, a trans-human/post human society that has embraced both human enhancement (through technology and genetic engineering) and the widespread use of synthetic humans and replicants. Affluent humans, should they choose, can live indefinitely. Society has realized many positive advancements from science and technology, but it is a time of dramatic contrasts. Disease has virtually disappeared, along with aging, and other human defects, especially for the wealthy (living in TopCity), but less so for the impoverished (living hundreds of floors below in DownTown). With laws against organized religion, the government has had to legislate to stave off a widespread moral decline. Humans, enhanced humans, and synthetic humans have coexisted for many years. Yet, as with all technologies, there are those who will find a way to abuse
Despite surveillance technology, known as “the mesh”, that can pinpoint any crime within seconds, stop it in the act, and often pre-empt it, somehow, this crime escaped undetected.
The details look all too familiar, taking on the same characteristics of a string of unsolved DownTown assaults, all of which passed undetected and remain unsolved.
Though not widely known, after the death of his mother, Sean was raised by his step father, HK2 Prefectural Governor, Takeshi Nakamura. This escalates the investigation to Priority 24, find the guilty and administer justice within a 24 hour period.
Chief Science Officer, Kristin Broulliard, her right-hand “synthetic” Toei-N, and human detective Jack Guren are left with few options. They must enlist the services of the newest, ultra-sophisticated, police detective; a T-Class “synthetic”, named Keiji-T, capable of determining guilt within 99% accuracy and carrying out the punishment; in capital crimes, this is death.
Designed and coded by Sean Colbert, Keiji-T is the first synthetic ever authorized to harm a human. Many believe this will set a dangerous precedent.
Because the government determines morality through legislation and organized religion is banned, there is no gray area; there is only the law. But some fear that only a foundational moral code should be used at the moment of truth — whether to terminate or spare a life.
With an escalating discussion among scientists and the lights (the ruling intelligentsia) to allow religiously based moral alternatives back into the public square, Sean tinkers with Keiji’s protocols and installs an illegal circuit intended to lie dormant. The circuit, is a compendium of the world’s religious texts, and has been banned for decades by the government. Sean has deduced that, if the day should
come that religion would be again permitted, the circuit could be infused and Keiji would be capable of weighing judgement within a moral framework.
When the circuit is accidentally triggered and infused, the case becomes a race against the clock that will test Keiji’s T-
Class technology, and his ability to carry out his authority in a capital crime.
As the clock ticks, it appears that not everyone wants Keiji to succeed. Questions arise: Who is tampering with “the mesh”? What about Keiji’s illegal circuit? Is everyone who they appear to be?
The Lightstream Chronicles is a journey into a world where man has replaced God, science has replaced religion, government has replaced private enterprise; a world where anything can be simulated, all things replicated, where pleasure is unlimited and death is optional.
For a time, the word post-human, or trans-human was in vogue, but this dissipated. Now the only discernible difference between humans and synthetics seems to be DNA. Everyone is enhanced to some degree. Enhancement itself, has come to mean, “...considerable intervention... beyond the basic human faculties and senses...”
There are a host of human enhancements, and nano-level implants that have become common place mostly to adjust brain function and regulate body chemistry; spike adrenalin, induce sleep, reduce stress, enhance sexual activity, release pheromones, communicate telepathically, enhance athletics, muscle tone, elimination of excess fat, etc. Everyone can have the body they want, including more fingers, toes, or other innovative additions, and if it isn’t available from their own DNA, it can be spliced in the lab to enable the growth of fur, a tail, or limitless combinations.
Through luminous implants in the fingertips, and a learned syntax of “taps”, humans and synthetics are able to message, converse, access the Lightstream, (the evolved Internet), share information and emotions via touch.
2159 - Synthetics
In 140+ years the largest global industry is the development of synthetic humans. Known as “synths” they number in the millions throughout the world serving in civil service jobs, manufacturing, law enforcement, the military, domestic service, and also for companionship. They are available in hundreds of different configurations and designs, from deliberately non-human to virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. Some synthetics are so life-like that they are legally required to identify themselves and their “class” status upon before interacting with a human. A complex set of laws has been written and rewritten to accommodate these new designs providing rights and protections for both humans and synthetics.
Based on the hypothesized robot code of the 20th century* there are governing restrictions for each model of synthetic that is manufactured, based on it’s class designation.
Tampering with or subverting the authorization codes of a synthetic for the purposes of criminal activity, known as “twisting”, is illegal.
Penalties for twisting and other crimes range from memory erasure, to indeterminate stasis, and death.
Replication is also widespread for everything from food to hard goods. Many insist that there is a difference between a real and replicated apple, thus, “pure-stuffs” are still sold.
Replication in humans is called “progenation”. This is under strict government control to insure that only fully enhanced, and socially beneficial humans are replicated and to insure that population planning limits are enforced.
Gifted surgeons, scientists and other “social contributors” can be replicated and leased to other parts of the world where their specific skills can be utilized for maximum affect. Due to high demand, territories throughout New Asia bid on such individuals. The government has begun to designate certain promising births as “progens” which insures that they will be able to procreate without restriction upon reaching maturity.
Virtual realities, called “immersions” are also accessible via the Lightstream and activated via the fingertips. This is known as the “V”. The V has greatly decreased the need for travel and is seen as a valuable opiate for the citizenry.
Working citizens are paid with New Asia Credits NAC, which are used to purchase basic necessities; food and shelter and premium V.
Most V experiences are combinations of human thought patterns and are created by V designers. It is also possible to record real-life experiences that duplicate every sensation and then replay these, or sell them for credits. Buy and sell, Experience Exchanges and brokers are commonplace.
Some travel still occurs though it is expensive. Long distance travel that a century ago took hours can now be made in minutes on magnetic levitation shuttles or hydrogen jets.
Medicine has eliminated nearly all forms of disease. Genetics has enabled zero-defect births and isolated the genes that cause aging. The aging gene can be switched on and off (usually in a human’s 2nd decade), through a simple medical procedure.
The wealthy can afford to have themselves replicated and stored as back up in the event of accident or overall wear and tear, Their consciousness can then uploaded into the replicated self. Though some contend that the soul is left behind in this process, many aspire to have this option.
Most organs can be grown in the laboratory for emergency replacement. Some humans, known as “agers” have decided not to have their aging genes modified, relying instead on technology and “original” genetics. Their life expectancy is usually only 150 years even after replacements.
The body area network (BAN) generated by implanted technology enables both long distance communication to occur telepathically, and (through the accretion of millions of BANs, especially in cities with high population density ), there is the manifestation of the “mesh” : an electronic picture of everything and everyone at any given moment. This is monitored by synthetic sentinels (oblivious to personal privacy) and used to pre-empt crimes or “take pictures” of crimes in process. A network of thousands of drone interceptors can be accessed to intervene within seconds.
There is also a selection of deviant, black-market V experiences, usually highly perverse or illegal variations on murder, rape, etc. These are obtained from human victims who are “headjacked” to extract the experience. If the victim survives the
crime, headjacking can result in partial or total memory erasure, and in some
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