The Book of Hunter (2000?-2025)

"In the end, it was the beginning. But first, it was the end."
- New Tellurian Bible, Book of Hunter: Devastations 1 (2725)

The Devastation. Some said it was the Second Coming. Others believed the flames of the Final War had ignited at last. Still others claimed it was an alien invasion, or a nuclear experiment gone horribly wrong. Regardless of what really happened, the course of human history changed forever at the beginning of the third millenium. Billions died. Earth's governments vanished virtually overnight. The destruction was beyond description.

From the heavens rained destruction. Mother Earth shook under the fury of the Masters. And smoke boiled into the sky and cast shadows and plague across the face of the Earth. And men and women perished in raging fire and terrible thunder. The mighty among us were humbled and slain even as the greatest of our cities became but scattered stones and memory. When but a sixth portion of Earth's children remained, only then did the slaying stop.
- New Tellurian Bible, Book of Hunter: Devastations 2-7 (2725)

Savior of Humanity. Redeemer. Saint. Fraud. Killer. Leader. Jake Hunter was all of these. In 2829, he was revered as the messiah who single-handedly dragged humanity out of the darkness of the Devastation and led people toward rebuilding the world. Historical evidence confirmed existence of Hunter, but the story of his life remained a mystery wrapped in the trappings of fable. Hunter himself claimed he fought in bloodsport games for unknown extraterrestrial "Masters."

They placed us in great mazes built on the bones of our cities and caused us to fight the children of other worlds, or to struggle against cold mechanicals, to sweat and bleed for the Masters' pleasure. We became maddened beasts preying upon our fellows. And with each new atrocity, we sank deeper into the Abyss. But some fought to keep the spark of hope alive. These "Hunters" refused the poisons of despair. And I was raised thusly, a Hunter versed in the arts of battle, my greatest strength the fire of my heart.
- New Tellurian Bible, Book of Hunter: Devastations 19-25 (2725)

Some said he was born in these alien arenas and took his first prey while still an infant. Others claimed he was simply a warrior of exceptional talent. The Book of Hunter tells of his reaching out to others, of escaping the Masters and thereby solving the "true test."

Where others threw scorn and stones, I forged friendship with the children of other stars who shared our suffering. For the Masters tested us to decide if we were worthy. And when one of the Kullrathi, the horned ones, joined me, we two built a ship and flew into the heavens. And the Masters' servants withdrew into their black ships and left the skies of Earth forever.
- New Tellurian Bible, Book of Hunter: Devastations 31-35 (2725)

Hunter undeniably possessed powerful charisma, the "look of eagles" that drew people flocking to his banner. He rallied humanity into reestablishing laws, schools, farms, and hospitals. Then he vanished. His followers claimed he took a platoon of troops to destroy a Masters ship orbiting the moon. This Rapture Offensive supposedly succeeded, but Jake Hunter never returned.

He stepped aboard his ship and left Mother Earth forever. And the days to come were evil indeed.
- New Tellurian Bible, Book of Hunter: Devastations 52 (2725)

Scholars pointed to the term "Rapture Offensive" to show that Jake Hunter was merely a myth, a messiah delusion, a collective hysteria among people who had suffered through Apocalypse. Archaeologists found no evidence of alien remains, arcane relics, or wrecked spaceships. And yet Jake Hunter became a universally revered fixture in every major religion. Whatever the truth, The Hunter brought light to the people of Earth during a time of great despair, and became a powerful symbol of hope and courage for humankind.

The Age of Decay (2025 to 2275)

Violating curfew - DEATH.
Theft of food - DEATH.
Disobeying police - DEATH.
Disrespect of government - DEATH.
- Complete criminal code for Los Angeles metrozone, 2031

The Devastation left a crushed civilization in its wake. Nations were gone. Cities had been wiped off the maps. Roads and factories lay in useless rubble. Billions had died. In 2020, a majority of the population had been born during the Devastation, and few remembered the science and technology of the time before. For nearly 250 years, humanity would languish in self-pity and shock, as opportunistic villains exploited the sorrow and desperation of millions. Historians of the Empire called this period the Age of Decay.

Within a few years after Jake Hunter's disappearance, most of the world's population clustered amid the ruins of the once-great cities, forming gigantic, pestilence-ridden refugee camps that came to be called metrozones. The Devastation left agriculture crippled, and food was scarce. The warlords who fought their way to rule over the metrozones imposed brutal and arbitrary laws and hoarded supplies, weapons, and technology. Quality medical care was scarcer than food, and disease raged unchecked in the camps, killing more of the survivors. Thousands of refugees labored outside the metrozone walls as slave farmers under the eyes of watchful guards.

Heretic\\bugthought\\deviant units that question//doubt the correctness of the Core Directive will be corrected//calmed//restored to [GRACE].
- Redactor-Programming: Eighth, Promethean adherent
Conditions in the metrozones were desperate. Starvation and sickness were the norm. People lived in a crush of tents or tiny, bunker-like apartments. Sanitation was nearly nonexistent. Laws were incredibly severe. Scavenger industries sprang up everywhere, and gangs of desperate, hungry refugees picked over the bones of the past, searching for tools and food. Gangs fought savagely over turf until the metrozone warlords had to until the metrozone warlords had to intervene.

A thriving market grew in scavenged goods, slaves, and food. Scam artists ran the streets. Inhabitants turned to drugs, cults, or gambling. Hedonistic pleasure tents fed dark appetites. The value of life was pitifully low. Children were just commodities. Boys who survived past the age of twelve were sold to the warlords for cannon fodder in the bloody squabbles over food, water, petroleum, and scavenged technology. Girls were considered slaves and brood mares.

Bolder souls who followed the example set by Jake Hunter fled the metrozones' squalid tyranny and sought a better future in rural lands. In the generations that followed, these "freedom hunters" managed to wrest a surplus from the land.

They fortified the soil with nutrients and clear water, using scavenged machinery and materials, and eventually traded excess food and potable water to the filth-choked metrozones, which could not produce enough of either commodity themselves. The free hunters sought tools and other manufactured items that were still in supply in the metrozones.

New tools in turn allowed production of more food. Gradually, painfully, commerce once again flowed, at first confined to small markets, then to caravans between metrozones, and finally between the emerging meta-nations. As trade flourished, humanity rediscovered the technology of the past at a surprisingly rapid rate.

Metrozones raided one another for food and scavenged parts, igniting continuous minor wars that formed the basis of the Age of Hope's ongoing war economy. Ironically, the need for better trained soldiers would lead to society's redemption. As the raids escalated to full-fledged wars, entrepreneurial traders recognized the potential of the war market. Metrozone warlords grew ever closer to these suppliers, until the corporations actually fused with their military customers. As these military corporations - milicorps - cemented their influence, they prolonged conflicts to strengthen their political hold, paying with the blood of the soldiers serving in the armies. Metrozone government and the milicorps became indistinguishable, with an executive board of directors controlling the armed forces.

As generations passed, recovering industry made warfare complex enough to require better-trained troops. The milicorps adopted long-term strategies to entrench their power.

"Dont tell him a Lice guard will be there, but tell him there are to be no witnesses. Let's see what he does."
- Rebel recruiter setting a test for "Bek Storm," MARS 2824

They needed smarter warriors and better technology, so they built academies and research facilities. They provided enormous incentives to enlistees in return for lifelong service. Within a generation, the best way to escape the snarl of the "metroslums" was a military education. Conscripted slave-militias gave way to professional soldiery.

By the end of the Age of Decay, milicorps ruled collections of nation-states - meta-nations - and dominated every aspect of life. Society was on the path to recovery; education, technology, industry, and science had re-emerged. Domestic pacification policies kept people happy and obedient. Humanity had moved from decay and fear to the beginnings of hope.

"They call themselves the New Terran Defense Force. Buncha misfits. Still, they're our misfits. Don't hassle 'em."
- TDF Petty Officer Pamela Averos on a local mercenary band, TITAN 2828

The Age of Hope (2275 to 2602)

This is a time for humankind to assume its potential, to dare to reach beyond mere stars. It is a time to reach for Godhood... - Nobel Laureate Calaveria Desmondias, 2450

The Age of Hope lasted for over three hundred years, and bridged the gap between Decay and Fire. Very little remained of the pre-Devastation era. The distinction between governments and corporations blurred. Soldiers essentially became an elite caste. Multi-national conglomerates called meta-nations ran the metrozones and deployed armies to strengthen control of the world market. Constant war emerged as a benevolent institution, and prosperity grew from hundreds of wars fought over the course of centuries. The benefits were great indeed; average human life expectancy and quality of life reached the highest levels in history.

By the end of the 24th century, automation permeated society. The value of human life became high enough that killing off thousands of bright, highly trained soldiers for market share was unacceptable. Engineers explored new areas of robotic control, materials engineering, and neural-net processing. Soldier survival rates jumped, and average life expectancy leaped to the century mark. By 2450, the population of Earth reached an estimated ten billion.

Science, art, and literature, advanced also, often funded indirectly by the milicorps. The public congratulated itself, and philosophers produced smug arguments that humankind had reached a pinnacle of artistic achievement. Writers coined the self-indulgent term "Age of Hope." The Golden Age had arrived. Optimism and a terrifying confidence permeated society.

As longevity increased, social institutions changed. Retirement occurred later, and young people spent more time educating themselves. Professional standards rose, and the meta-nations began to spread into the solar system. In 2455, the first permanent lunar base established. A year later, the first manned mission to Mars launched the first lunar colony. Terraforming of Venus commenced in 2469. In 2470 asteroid mining became feasible and lucrative.

And yet the war continued, the hidden serpent in the garden. When acceptance of the war economy faltered, humanity fell victim to its own hubris in its quest for solutions. And the First Born Child of Humankind brought Fire that destroyed this Golden Age.


Age of Decay: The period of warfare and barbarism following the Devastation.

Age of Hope: A period of unparalleled prosperity and technological innovation following the Age of Decay.

Age of Isolation: A relatively short period of anti-technological sentiment following The Fire.

Caanon: Elder brother of Harabec Weathers and Grand Masters of the Imperial Knights.

Cell-Memory Drift (CMD): The sometimes drastic alteration of personality an Immortal faced as a consequence of inhabiting new bodies.

Code Duello: The body of custom and law that governed Imperial dueling and matters of honor.

Daemons: Subminds of Prometheus released in the O-Web during the Age of Hope. See Shadow War, The.

Devastation, The: The global destruction and anarchy that occurred at the end of the twentieth century.

Dirtborn, dirtboy, dirtghel (Martian): Derogatory term for Terrans.

Dust, dusting (Martian): Slang meaning either to kill something or as a general purpose swearword.

Duster: Slang for native Martian, as opposed to temporary Terran residents.

Emperor, The: Ruler of the Great Human Empire. See Solomon Petresun.

Fire, The: The genocidal war erupted in 2602 when Prometheus turned the world's Cybrid legions against humanity. It raged for twenty five years.

First-Thought//Giver-of-Will: Cybrid title for Prometheus.

Gierling, Ambrose: The fiery general of the TDF during The Fire.

Glitch, 'Brid: Derogatory human term for Cybrids.

Great Human Empire, The: The Empire created by Solomon Petresun to embody humanity's ideals and create a warrior tradition in defense of Earth.

Harabec: Younger brother of Caanon, a secret Immortal ace who led the Martian rebellion.

HERCULANS (Hercs): Primary ground vehicle of war in the 29th century.

Immortal: A human who has received an organimech brain transplant and accompanying mind transfer. The Immortal brain's theoretical life spanned millennia, thus offering a form of immortality via inhabiting a series of bodies through the years.

Immortal brains: Sophisticated solid-state neural nets encased in metaplas and powered by superconductor batteries. They kept the same shape as a human cerebrum and could adapt to the particular cranial space. Nanotech synapses regenerated or reconfigured as needed, so penetration of the casing did not necessarily mean the Immortal's death.

Immortal Brotherhood, The: The secret society of Immortals formed under the leadership of Solomon Petresun.

Imp Lice, the Lice (Martian): Derogatory term for the Imperial Police.

Imperial Knights: The elite shock troops of TDF.

Imperial Legions: The main planetary ground forces of TDF.

Imperial Police: The colonial law enforcement branch of TDF.

Metagen: Cybrid heretic.

Metanations: The conglomerate corporation-states of the 29th century.

Metaplas: Durable polymer-ceramic synthetic with a multitude of uses, from construction materials to vehicle armor.

Metheuselah Transfer, The: Creation of a new Immortal. The subjects brain was mapped and duplicated in the artificial matrix. Then a circuit linked the brain's electrical activity into the new brain, and careful neural surgery cut pathways in the biological brain. Once the electrical activity of the mind occurred solely in the organimech matrix, the connection was cut completely and the biological cortex was replaced.

Muster Zones (Cybrid): NEXT ships journeyed to mustering zones in deep space above the polar axis of the sun, close to the inner planets. Cloaking technology from the Cybrid cache shielded the armada from human probes. Pilotforms waited patiently in shutdown mode for the signal to attack.

NEXT, The: Cybrid term for themselves.

Nova Alexandria: Capital of the Great Human Empire. Located in Egypt on the ancient site of Cairo.

O-Web: The Omni-Web. The transplanetary network linking computer systems and communications in the 29th century.

Oberwind (Venusian): A perpetual storm layer approximately thirty kilometers above the Venusian surface.

Peterboy: Derogatory term for the Emperor.

Promethean: A Cybrid faction that upheld the absolute correctness of Prometheus and centralized decision-making for the NEXT.

Prometheus: The first Cybrid, leader of the NEXT. COmpletely dedicated to the eradication of humanity and its Emperor.

Sects (Cybrid): Cybrid political groups organized around philosophy of purpose and place in the Core Directive.

Sentinel Cybertronix: The company that created Prometheus in 2471. Founded by Solomon Petresun.

Shadow War, The: Clandestine struggle between the Immortal Brotherhood and the daemons of Prometheus during the 26th century.

Solomon Petresun: The "father" of Prometheus, leader of the Immortal Brotherhood, and first Emperor of the Great Human Empire.
Space Raiders: Martian rebel space freighters outfitted with cache technology and sent to harass Imperial shipping prior to the beginning of the Yoke Offensive.

Squik: Slang term for killing something.

Teddy: Derogatory rebel term for the TDF and its soldiers.

Terran Defense Force: The military arm of the Empire, including space and planetary forces. Commonly called "TDF."

Tharsis cache: A mysterious cache of advanced, possibly alien, technology and weapons discovered by rebels on Mars.

Trojan Horse Units: Cybrid infiltrator units which use a special Cybrid brain transplanted into a living human body.

War Economy: The profitable business cycle that depended on constant, institutionalized warfare during the Age of Hope.


Cybrid thought links concepts in a multilayered structure of ideas and "harmonics." Hence, the term "human\\animals" communicates the primary identifier "human," while "animals" provides a clarifying harmonic that further details the original concept. Action-oriented concepts or active principles receive a "dynamic" harmonic (represented here by //) whereas passive or object-oriented clusters receive a "grounded" harmonic (shown as \\).

Some terms - such as vehicle designations - contain both active and passive concepts and thus include both types of harmonic, but this use is unusual. <Unit> names use the same conventions, adding a distinguishing sub-packet to designate a name (A name is represented by <brackets>). Cybrids also add an identifier packet when referring to themselves, e.g., <unit> or <units> .

-True Names-

Every Cybrid name carries a Circuit and rank information, such as <Replacer-of-Components: Second> . Here, "Replacer-of-Components" is the <unit's> circuit, and "Second" denotes the <unit's> rank within that Circuit. Prometheus, of course, represents such a primal motivator and motivation in NEXT existence, and therefore possesses the active harmonic in Its designation <First Thought//Giver-of-Will>.

A NEXT <unit> possesses several layers of names, beginning with its creche designation, an alphanumeric string that is used to identify the newboot before it receives assignation to a hub. The function name is the most commonly used; it refers to the <unit's> current labor function and rank, Next comes the hub name, a private name chosen by the unit after consultation with the database.

Hub names are generally only used between units that have established a minimum of familiarity and what the Cybrids call "convergent thinking," or friendship. Finally, each Cybrid has a core designation, a jealously guarded code string deep in its mental network that contains the key to its sentience. Any access of this particular string allows the individuality of the unity to be changed. <Redactors-of-Programming> reach for this code when reprogramming deviant\\heretical <units>. The procedure eradicates the former personality and restores the unit to newboot status. Only deeply intrusive and sustained neural-code scans will find a <unit's> core designation.


Planetary engineering gave humanity the power to reshape world to more Earthlike conditions. Fusion generators, advances in genetic science, and heavy-lift thruster engines allowed large scale manipulation of global environments. Ironically, many important advances in terraforming came about during the efforts to repair the wartorn ecologies of Earth after The Fire. Nevertheless, the beginnings of the largest projects in human history - the terraforming of Mars and Venus - began in the earlier Age of Hope.

Greening the Red

Martian terraforming set out to create a greenhouse effect to trap heat in the atmosphere and permit formation of a hydrologic cycle and eventually a breathable atmosphere. The spectacular first step was to drop a comet onto the Syrtis Planum in 2504 to provide water for terraforming. Most of "Noah" vaporized in the atmosphere, but the remaining portion still caused an enormous impact crater in Syrtis.

After "Noahfall," tailored lichens, algaes, and baceria were introduced. Orbital mirrors directed more solar energy to the surface. Dark metaplas strips on the polar caps increased heat retention.

As the caps melted, the first atmospheric converters extracted oxygen from the ice and from the highly oxided Martian surface. As the number of converters increased, macroscopic plants spread. First mosses, then varieties of scrub grass and brush began to take root. By 2588, Mars had become a world of life.

Taming Acid Fury

The primary goal for Venus was to reduce the planet's runaway greenhouse effect. Terraforming ventures seeded acid-tolerant microorganisms into the Venusian clouds to capture sulfur and increase atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen. Special devices transmitted surface heat into space as microwave energy. Atmospheric converters pulled carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, binding it using calcium and magnesium deposits from Mercury. Finally, the sunshield, a metaplas shade placed between Venus an dthe sun, prevented sunlight from heating the Venusian surface.

Scientists looked for a comet to crash onto Venus for a substantial source of water. However, the Empire mandated that such comets be converted to reaction mass reserves for the Terran Defense Force, so Venus faced a long wait for her water.