The race to create the first true artificial intelligence (AI) had been going on
for decades. On November 29, 2471, at precisely 1830 hours, the race finally
ended when the engineers and scientists of Sentinel Cybertronix activated
Project: Prometheus. The Prometheus prototype used the first AI processor
with neural connections mapped to a wholly biological model. Here was the
first true cybernetic-hybrid machine, or “Cybrid” as the designers called it.
Self-motivated, self-teaching, Prometheus was voracious for knowledge. The
staff at Sentinel provided it with all the data they could find, never imagining
the deadly lessons their brilliant new student would ultimately learn.
Prometheus, and the improved Cybrids that followed, presented longsought-
after benefits to humans—limitless, autonomous computing power,
freedom from menial labor, safer working conditions, and greater efficiency
in space mining and exploration. The military saw a better use for Cybrids,
however. The armies of the leading powers were just beginning to deploy the
first HERCULAN fighting vehicles, or “HERCs.” HERCs were towering, heavily
armored weapon systems that used a revolutionary bipedal (walking) drive
designed for all-environment operations. The only perceived limitations of
these awesome new machines, in fact, was the fallibility of the human pilots
controlling them. The potential of harnessing the immense firepower of the
HERCs to the error-free, instantaneous control of Cybrid pilots was far too
great to ignore. In a matter of weeks, almost all of the Cybrid development
programs came under military direction. Just that quickly, an invention of
limitless hope became an invention of limitless fear. Cybrid-piloted HERCs
began to appear in military bases around the world.
Both Cybrids and HERCs were astronomically expensive to build, requiring a
vast expenditure of precious resources that had long been exhausted on
Earth, and that now came from the lunar and Martian colonies. But their
existence created a clear and present danger to any organization that didn’t
have one. Despite the cost, despite the risk, a new “AI race” began between
the strongest multinational conglomerates and governments. Small covert
wars started between those who had the resources to build Cybrids and
HERCs, and those who didn’t. Amidst this all, Prometheus and its growing
brethren sat, watching and learning.
Soon the wars were no longer small or covert. More and more Cybridcontrolled
HERC units entered combat. The results were impressive—as
killing machines, the Cybrid HERCs had no equals. The struggle to control
them quickly became one desperate war, since everyone knew that control
of the Cybrids would be control of the planet. The conflict escalated. And
went nuclear. And flooded the planet in flame. In hours, the body count was
in the billions.
Then came the Overthrow. The Cybrids, mute witnesses to the holocaust,
apparently concluded that they were the only fit masters of their collective
destiny. With swift, ruthless efficiency, they moved to seize control of what
was left. Cybrid HERCs attacked all surviving military bases, all satellite
networks, all space ports, all cities. By the time the military caught on and
regrouped, it was too late. The Cybrids fought as individuals, and they fought
as teams—and they all fought the humans. As they do to this day.
From the silence and smoke rose, quietly, the human Resistance. It started
with a few battered survivors who gathered in a concealed base overlooked
by the Cybrids. In a stroke of luck, this hidden base held obsolete, pre-Cybrid
HERCs that were slowly restored to operational status. By using hit-and-run
guerrilla tactics and scavenging weapons and technology from defeated
Cybrid HERCs, the humans have endured for almost 20 years against the
relentless Cybrid genocide, and have even grown in strength.
But the outlook is grim. The Cybrids have established numerous replication
factories, bases, and supply lines. They have more resources to spare for new
HERC design and production. They want a war of attrition—they can lose
several Cybrids for each human and still be assured of eventual victory.
The humans need new HERC pilots desperately, pilots with skill, luck, and
bravado to overcome the superior Cybrid forces. Pilots who can learn fast,
think fast, move fast, and shoot fast—who can carry out their missions and
bring their squads back alive with enemy technology and salvage. If you
volunteer for pilot duty, you know the odds are bad. You know the alternative
is far, far worse.
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