06 - Saving Us From Ourselves

Saving Us From Ourselves

Mere treaties, such as the ones following the Solar War, would be worthless against the new superweapons, but something had to be done. Thus, the REFOLA project was started by the most elite agencies. The Project's goal was simple: Rescue Existence From Opposing Lifeforms' Attacks. Contact had not yet been made with alien races, but the REFOLA team was tasked with protecting civilization from them, in addition to human threats.

To keep a constant reminder of the near-omnipresent attacks, the REFOLA Station was located in the very core of the sun. This also allowed for easier testing of new means of survival against the most infernal conditions humans could find. Although the sun's core was the most extreme environment found, the invention of the fusion accelerator could make one even harsher. REFOLA had experimented greatly with fusion acceleration on remote asteroids and the results were impressive, but there was no way to contain the fusion once it had started; it had to dissipate on its own, but not before destroying its location in a great explosion. Extrapolation is complicated, but it was clear that a weapon capable of making an asteroid burn hotter than a star would have unthinkable results if used on planets.

REFOLA's espionage network surpassed all the others combined, but in a solar system so vast and with so many people, there was no way to prevent the superweapons from being used after their inevitable independent discovery by others. So they built bunkers hundreds of miles deep within the planets, capable of holding out for months after an attack on a neighboring planet; but they would not survive an artificial supernova. With no suitable means of protection from fusion accelerators and portals as the only faster-than-light travel, REFOLA turned to other means of survival.

If a safe place cannot be found or made in your world, then you have two options; either find another world or make one. The people of REFOLA worked in parallel on both these projects; one team struggled with cross-dimensional travel, while the other worked on making a virtual world capable of holding human consciousness. While the latter team made steady progress, the former hit the ironic roadblock of needing such power that the only way to generate it would be using the feared fusion accelerators on the sun itself. Of course, it would be completely insane to put fusion accelerators and the sun in the same experiment, so the cross-dimensional team was quickly disbanded and much of their research destroyed to keep anyone from even thinking about it.

With cross-dimensional research abandoned, a renewed focus was placed on the virtual reality team and theories of consciousness were soon being tested by building entire artificial intelligence systems around them. In spite of all the intelligent behavior they built in the computer systems, actual consciousness was clearly lacking and the "intelligence" was more like a database of answers than a thinking machine. The system knew everything, but understood nothing. It handled objective questions perfectly, but had no opinions, thoughts, or feelings with which to approach the subjective. If the problem fit a known pattern the system solved the problem flawlessly, but the artificial intelligence was helpless against novelty. With enough time, the AI could have been made indistinguishable from human and the virtual reality could have hosted human consciousness, but there was never enough time to save everyone; the weapons were already there.

Next: The Solar Apocalypse