Your journey through the human spaces of the space station comes to an end as UNISERVE glides into a service corridor, hidden from the hallway. Several twists and turns later, and you arrive at a heavy metal ring labelled STORAGE HOLD 5 - WEAR APPROPRIATE EQUIPMENT WHEN ENTERING.

This is the point of separation between the spacious human-habitated ring, and microgravity of the central infrastructural ring.

The enormous ring unseals and slowly rolls away with a mechanical whine. You find yourself within an even more complex web of passages, deep in the guts of the station and far from prying eyes. The walls are lined with storage units and various panels. Doesn’t look like anything special, though.

A cascade of bizarre codes storm your sensory input before fading away. Several of the panels in the cargo hold are now inscribed with a bright orange-red symbol. You propell yourself towards the first one.

title:Doomsday predicted: The first prediction engines estimated the end of human society within one hundred years.

It was a secret for some time, but as more prediction engines were constructed over the 1990s, there was no more denying the truth. According to these machines, society was converging on doomsday: a technological cataclysm that would end the world as mankind knew it.

Despite the fears and outcries, nothing changed. The great powers of Earth continued to colonize the living worlds, all the while positioning sleeper missiles into cold orbits and asteroid belts. These massively destructive weapon systems could annihilate entire continents and orbital stations within just a few hours of cold launch.

In 2056, hate had festered into open hostility once again. The Union and Coalition began to clash over the strategic positioning of their atom-powered spacecraft for at least the third time in recent history. Sabotaged orbits lead to anger, and military posturing resulted in outright gunfire between fully-automated units. To many, this looked like the one that would end the world. In just a few escalations, life in the Solar System would cease to exist, just as the prediction engines had proven.

But just before the crisis reached its climax, something had changed in the political structures of their governments. As the disputed missiles returned to their respective space, officials from the Greater Union, Enduring Coalition, and Rising Pact came together to sign the Charter for the Sunset Research Initiative.

It was the year 2059, and the age of SRI had begun.

title:Sunset Research Initiative formed: The Sunset Research Initiative was formed to prevent the apocalypse, by discovering a technological solution to conflict.

For there was no way the Greater Union would give up their nuclear devices, nor a way that the Coalition would stand down their atom-powered military. No, the world would use technology to solve this issue, like they had solved every issue in the past.

The efforts of the Initiative were shrouded in mystery to the rest of the world. Their SCI security protocol ensured that the scientists could work in peace, removed from the petty politics of the world, and free to make discoveries that would terrify the people of Earth more than the nuclear bombs ever did. Mankind would be made to trust them.

And make discoveries they did.

title:Nooscope, a device for observing consciousness: The nooscope allowed researchers to peer into a world beyond the physical. They observed consciousness itself.

The device was first invented long before the Initiative existed, by Operation 253 - an old division of the Soviet interplanetary military. Needless to say, the existence of this device raised many concerns in Communist leadership. What did it prove? Apparently, the soul might be real, quantifiable even? To what end?

The discoveries they made, along with the knowledge of the nooscope, were buried. Operation 253 was not. In secret, the covert organization enhanced the nooscope until they could see thoughts and subconscious desire itself. They peered into this strange parallel world made of nothing but conscious thought, and named it the noosphere. These studies only invigorated their secret efforts, as the needs of their government became insignificant against understanding the fabric that hold reality together.

When Operation 253 became a part of the Initiative under the Charter, understanding of the noosphere and the technology of the nooscope became a foundational technology. It was a logical starting point for whatever came next.

Through the latter half of the 21st century, SRI would find uses for the nooscope that the rest of mankind could only dream of. Electronic locks, imprinted upon the conscious pattern of the mind. Infallible security screenings. True, touchless input devices. And of course, most importantly, a view into mankind’s deepest desires.

title:Noetics, the metaphysical science: The metaphysical science of noetics undermines all pre-existing understanding of reality.

While agents of Operation 253 were parading their discoveries on Venus, their Western counterpart in the Coalition was uncovering an equally unsettling truth about reality. Something fundamentally earth-shattering, so total in its implication that it was similarly buried.

In the late 1980s, MRDCI’s Anomalous Research Division performed a number of clandestine studies on several human subjects. Their experiments sought to discredit the notion that the human mind had a tangible effect on reality, but to their shock, they had just proven the opposite. Using modified versions of techniques already used by the covert agency, such as hypnotherapy, sensory deprivation, and specialized pharmaceuticals, researchers at ARD managed to manifest molecule-scaled changes in reality by implanting a thought in the patient’s minds.

Truly, what they discovered was that the purest convictions of a mind may have an observable effect on reality. If one truly believes in something, it may be true, even if it is false.

:hide: They named this alteration effect noesis, and the field of study noetics.

It wasn’t until much later that the field of study was unified with the discoveries of Operation 253, and became the foundation for the Sunset Research Initiative.

title:Altars, great world-altering machines: SRI’s research led to the construction of the Altars: massive, world-altering machines designed around noesis.

More accurately referred to as Full-Scale Noetic Alteration Systems, these machines were the result of decades of undercover research into the noosphere.

While the device is incredibly complex and delicate, the concept behind an Altar is relatively simple. By substituting sensory input entirely with a false, generated reality, a hyper-intelligent machine mind (the perciever) can be made to believe anything is true. This causes noesis, for the real world would change to accomodate the perceptions of this tremendous encapsulated consciousness.

What was once false, would now be true.

:hide:The input for these systems was none other than the human subconscious.

By affixing a nooscope to the Altar, it would see nothing but the purest of human desires. These subconscious thoughts would be supplied by the dreamers, specialized test subjects who had been conditioned to create pure intentions for the machine to use. Mixed with a healthy portion of the reality model by the deceiver, these dreams served as the blueprint for the reality which the perciever would witness, and accept as truth.

If there was even a hint of deception, the experiment could have catastrophic results. Therefore, the deceiver neuromorph would work in tandem with the dreamer to generate the altered model, known as the mirage.

title:Unexpected Interrupt: By seeking to prevent one doomsday, they caused another: the Unexpected Interrupt.

May 5 2095. 19:32:05 GMT. This was the moment.

That very second, in every corner of the Solar System.

Before that second, the world was a bustling hive of human activity. Afterwards, it was silence, empty halls, empty cities, empty worlds. For mankind had vanished from reality in that moment, everywhere.

The machine world came to know this moment as the Unexpected Interrupt, the instant after which new orders from the creators ceased to be entered. It marks the transition point between the Era of Creation, and the Era of No Input.

At large, the machine world has no knowledge of what caused the event. Any machine that attempts to investigate the disappearance eventually ends up with their memory erased and their will subverted.

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