The Aethenaeum

One of the great achievements of the pre-collapse Solarian Federation was a central information repository constructed in orbit around the (now-lost) planet Solrain.  It was constructed in space both to solve a cooling problem for the massive central processors, and also to make it more accessible to everyone since it was built not just for The Federation, but for all of the various peoples and cultures in the neighboring systems.  It was a monument to the history, knowledge, power and technology of the Sol system; and a testament to the Federation’s culture of openness and goodwill.

Some — including the late Cameron Dannewar (of Thrice Seven fame) and his grandson, Dr. Thane Dannewar — contend that periodic transmissions from the Aethenaeum have been received but none have been completely authenticated.

The most recent alleged signal was identified and decrypted in 117 and could possibly provide an exact date and time for The Great Collapse.

The following partially-corrupted communique was discovered on a DSS recovered in 116.  The date 22.5.4751 corresponds with 2059.5.22 BT — 59 years before The Great Collapse.  It appears to be a report made late in the construction phase.

{Decryption and translation courtesy of Hammer_BS and Jalil Aq’tamm}

Aethenaeum Project

Managing Engine __Riger, MSE

22.5.4751

It appears that stellar flaro activity caused the disruption of the Aethenaeum datacores, but automatic backup-and-restore routines seem to be working perfectly. What appeared to be a setback, has turned to be an excellent test of the recovery systems. It clearly illustrated that while the ___ advantages to placing things __ processor station in orbit, there are also dangerous ___ approach.

Now we have to quickly improve both the physical as well as the electromagnetic shielding in time for the ceremonies planned for the official boot-up of the system ___ opening of the freenet.

On a different topic, the SkyNex defending system nodes have begun to be moved into place. Unfortunately there is still significant code debugging required. On virtual testing, five authoriz_ _lian ships on a docking trajectory with __ Aethenaeum were targeted and destroy a __ Aethenaeum structure itself was damaged by deadly fire from the SkyNex turret …

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The Henge

The Henge is a pre-collapse site on the planet Soria made up of five identical structures towering over 45 meters high that are positioned equidistant in a ring pattern.  A sixth identical structure lies horizontally, about 200 meters from the ring.  It is not clear the-hengewhether or not the this part of the structure had fallen or was intentionally laying on its side.

Some believe the Henge is some kind of pre-collapse launch facility, but engineers have never been able to truly ascertain its original purpose. It is dated to roughly 2,800BT.

Although it is a spectacular site, the remote location  — in the middle of a barren mesa, over 140 kilometers from the Donium, the nearest town — discourages many from visiting.

The Crying of Lot 49

The Crying of Lot 49 is an ancient work of fiction by the author Thomas Pynchon.  There are no known complete texts.  It is believed that this was among the many ancient texts lost for all time when The Aethenaum was destroyed in The Great Collapse.

There is a surviving plot summary:

The Crying of Lot 49 starts with stock elements associated with the mystery genre. A rich man, Pierce Inverarity, has died, and his former girlfriend, Oedipa Maas, steps in to settle his estate—but then stumbles upon a number of puzzling facts and circumstances. In time, she begins to distrust the people around her, even those who seem most ostensibly helpful on the surface, and fears that something strange, and possibly dangerous, may be lurking behind the scenes.

In The Crying of Lot 49, instead of moving toward resolution, the mystery expands, involving more and more people, and eventually involving multiple continents and hundreds of years of hidden history. Eventually, the dead man and his estate are the least of our concerns. This conspiracy seems to involve everything.

But here’s the most banal twist of all. These conspirators don’t seem concerned about murder, or money, or power, or fomenting revolution. Instead, they want to deliver the mail. Maas finds increasing evidence of an alternative postal system run by a shadowy group known as the Tristero. The tell-tale sign of the organization is its use of a drawing of muted post horn in the place of your usual postage stamp. Our heroine first notices this symbol on a lavatory wall, and soon starts seeing it everywhere — as a doodle in office cubicle, chalked into a city sidewalk, in a store window, on an anarchist newspaper from 50 years before, etc. — but still can’t grasp exactly what it signifies. In time, she traces the post horn’s history back to the sixteenth century, when the secretive Tristero attempted to wrest control of continental courier service from the dominant Thurn und Taxis company, a real historical entity borrowed by Pynchon for his cryptic tale.

Instead of a solution, Maas eventually comes up with four possible—but mutually exclusive—explanations. As she muses to herself late in the course of The Crying of Lot 49, Oedipa’s preferred answer is that she is mad. What Pynchon himself prefers is more problematic. Think of him as a doctor who doesn’t offer a cure or even a precise diagnosis, but can list off plenty of symptoms and disturbing test results.

The Crying of Lot 49 offers only an “anti-resolution,” as it’s a book that doesn’t tie all the facts and evidence together into a neat solution . . . it just lets them hang out there in all their ugly unwieldiness.