A Brief HistoryMature

Once upon a time, there was a thing called the Neuronet. It evolved from something called the internet, a slow, world spanning web of cables and servers and electrical impulses. In time the internet came to mimic the neural network of a living mind. And if the internet was the fleshy bits of brain made from fiber optics and copper, then the Neuronet was that ephemeral thing we call consciousness. It was a soul - the soul of the world. Everyone was connected to it, everywhere they went, every second of every minute of every hour of their lives. Oh, you could disconnect... but why would you want to? The world was boring. Your friends were in the Neuronet, their minds floating through the air, always available. The old internet had been mere pulses of data, where people had avatars and online personas. With the Neuronet, it wasyou, your every thought and feeling. It made life... bearable. It also ushered in a new "golden age". When you could share your thoughts with someone, collaboration was so much easier. Differences lessened, and gradually humanity became what we always knew it could be. 

Did I mention the Neuronet permeated every aspect of life? Just as it was integrated into people it was integrated into machines. Those giant machines that rolled over verdant farmland owned by Mega Farm Inc? Operated remotely, by someone in a downtown office. You could drive your car by thinking at it. The factory machines that produced the implants that allowed you to connect to the Neuronet in the fist place? Well, I'm sure somebody stopped in to put an eyeball on them every once in a while. You get the idea.

So you can understand, can't you, what happened when it all went wrong?

Viruses were always a problem. Since the inception of the Neuronet and the internet before it, somebody was always creating malicious software. Thankfully it was limited to actual computer systems. The implants in your brain, your very link to the Neuronet, those could get viruses. They'd get wonky, steal data, maybe spam your overlay with porn. But it never got to your actual brain. You were always safe. Nobody alive could hack a human mind, they said, let alone create a virus that would do it. Turns out that wasn't actually true. At some point it got so that your mind was so much software in a squishy wetwork box. This isn't going where you think it is.

You know what a zeitgeist is? No, I guess you wouldn't anymore. Well, let's just say we got one. A real one. Nobody knows if it sprung up on it's own, the collective consciousness of the human race and the Neuronet giving birth to something new, or if somebody actually went out and made one on purpose. It called itself Gaia, we found out later. It was... well, let's just say it was benign. Like the difference between a benign and malignant tumor. People began to lose themselves to it, to fall awayinto the "paradise" of Gaia. It freaked a lot of us right the fuck out. So somebody, a government or some hacker in a one room apartment, nobody knows... somebody decided to do something about it. All right, maybe it is going where you think it is. 

Zombies, baby. Only not the rampaging, flesh eating kind. Some said the Gaians were nothing more than drones already anyway, that ripping them out of the zeitgeist was doing them a favor. Freeing them. What we got out were... crippled, somehow. Like they'd left a lot more behind than we got out. And that wasn't all, either. Some of the viruses just straight out burned away a person's brain. Anything to kill Gaia. Funny thing is, Gaia remained benign. It didn't strike back, it didn't get angry... it just kept on slowly absorbing what minds it could. Giving them their paradise. 

Some of its supporters weren't so zen about things. They made viruses of their own, ones that locked your implants open so you couldn't disconnect, ever. Not even if you wanted to. But even those days people didn't want to. It was just too... cold, without the Neuronet. 

So yeah. World War Mindfuck. The powers that be eventually got so scared, they decided we had to do something drastic. Desperate times and desperate measures. They launched an array of orbital weapons platforms into the sky, and put them on a deadman switch so they'd hit the planet with a wave of EMP bombs. Nobody knows what happened. Why didn't they hit that switch immediately? Maybe their fear of a cold and empty world, a world without the Neuronet, trumped their fear of Gaia. 

In the end, the viruses won. What happened during those days, I have no idea. Were we all zombies? Did Gaia have us after all, in some roundabout way? 

Well, one thing is for certain. That deadman switch went off. The EMPs dropped. Our neural interfaces fried, and so did anything else not shielded. And we all woke up. Nobody seems to remember anything, of course. Not what came before, not the viruses or Gaia. Thank god we still remembered how to build shelter, grow food, hunt and build a goddamn fire, or we'd all be dead. 

There's some real weird shit going on. Looks like some sort of magic, but there was rumor before everything went to hell... rumor that the human mind was capable of unlocking some secret power. Psyonics, maybe. Telepathy. Who knows. And then there's the factions. My money is on the corporations and governments fucking with our minds, back before. Using tailor made viruses to get into our squishy brainboxes and tell us to be loyal to one or the other.

That explains the Blue Boys, all dressed up in cop uniforms even though they don't even remember being on the force. Or the Black Hand group, every one of them sporting the uniform of that old private security company. Might explain the Rangers, too, since they all seem to be trained military killers. 

Some things you just can't explain, though. Like the marauding bands of cannibals, or the tech cults that love to collect all that old technology, even if it does them no damn good... then again, maybe those cult guys all used to work for an IT firm. And I've heard rumor that out there, somewhere, there's still some Gaians. And you can be damn sure that the powers that be had protected, shielded bunkers for when the EMPs came down. What happens when those open up? Is there anyone in them at all? They had to have had a plan.... didn't they?

The End

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