Shortly after the start of the discussion about what people would do if they suddenly found themselves in the OA future, another question was raised:
What would a nearbaseline from the OA world do if they suddenly found themselves in ours?
Through unknown means, an OA nearbaseline wakes up and finds emself on 2014 Earth. Your job is to come up with answers to these questions:What does this neb look like? where was/will be the neb from in the OA setting? Who is this person?
Where on Earth do they find them self upon waking?
What is their first day like?
What are they doing after a month? A year? Five Years?
What would trouble this person the most about our world?
Once again, the answers were numerous and interesting. Here are more of the responses received.
Matterplay - OA Forum What does this neb look like?
Medium height, slender build, extremely fair skin and pale dark brown head hair, grey somewhat almond-shaped eyes, and no natural facial hair. He looks like he might be in his late teens or early twenties, though he is much older than that. He might pass for a Finn on Old Earth, to someone who has never been to Finland, but there is something about him, particularly the shape of his eyes and about the shape of his very slightly pointed ears that doesn’t fit that. He is quite handsome by baseline human standards, in an austere and almost androgynous sort of way. He is extraordinarily strong for someone of his size and build, and very quick and light on his feet. He has some basic low-level cyborg implants, mostly sensors and a neural connection to facilitate localnet connections, but those are not apparent other than with scanning equipment like an x-ray or MRI.Where was/will be the neb from in the OA setting?
See the entry for the first case posted (V:FT #29); this person is a near relative.Who is this person?
A youth, by the standards of his culture; less than 50 years old, yet to achieve the age of majority. For general background, see the first case posted; he too is one of the few people in the raw and new colonial system he lives in to have been born on and largely grown up on a terraformed planet. His particular area of interest has been not so much the terraforming project itself, or even the development of the overall star system, but in its defence. On the Periphery, ordinary sophonts have a role. Though of course any serious direct combat is the work of expert systems, someone must maintain and deploy these systems and bots, maintain and guide the programs that guard security systems against subversion, and so on. Also, in part to cultivate the right mind-set, prospective workers in this field have training in archaic and obsolete skills such as hand to hand combat, or the use of hand-held beam weapons, and old fashioned intelligence analysis and personally crafted memetics. Where on Earth do they find them self upon waking?
In a wheat-field about eight kilometres southwest of the village of Aq Band, a village in, Dashli Borun District, Gonbad-e Qabus County, Golestan Province, in Iran. He is within sight of the road that connects Aq Band to the outside world. The season is March and it is about 5 pm.What is their first day like?
He is initially quite confused. He is able to pick up radio broadcasts in Farsi, Turkmen and Azerbaijani, but he does not speak any language even related to those. He quickly recognizes the signs of Industrial Age technology and agriculture, and he knows from general knowledge and a glance at the local plants he is on a planet in a rich biosphere based on Old Earth biota. His first supposition is that this is a high-end simulation and this is some sort of training exercise, and his amnesia about how he got there is part of the test. There is almost no significant cover in this terrain, so he foregoes concealment and climbs a nearby ridge to get a better view of his surroundings. From there he cautiously observes the nearby road, dropping down to stay out of sight when a truck passes by. As it happens the truck is going north towards Aq Band rather than south towards the highway, so he follows the road northwards towards the village (and the Turkmenistan border) rather than southwards. It is dark by the time he encounters a farmhouse that is near enough the road for him to see its lights. He goes over to investigate, and discovers what he identifies as human prims, possibly baselines. Observing them at a careful distance and through windows he is more and more puzzled. This is not looking like the scenario in a training or educational simulation, and he has none of the telltales that indicate it is a virch he is living in. He cautiously steals into one of the outbuildings and examines the equipment, and estimates that it is Industrial Age or early Information Age technology. He retreats to a nearby hilltop to spend the night.
After a day or two of observation on several different isolated farmsteads, and cautious scouting around the village of Aq Band itself, he is he is retailors his clothes so that they as close to the local style as possible and approaches one of the lone houses that he believes may be friendly. With gestures he tries to explain that he is hungry and does not know where he is. The family he approaches assumes he is a refugee, or possibly a tourist of some sort who is lost. People assume he is a teenager because he is so youthful looking and has not grown a beard or moustache. As it happens they simply take him in and do not immediately turn him over the authorities. In part this is because they are ethnic Turcoman country people and not particularly connected to the government and in part because he is charming and charismatic, a fast learner, good looking, and very politeWhat are they doing after a month? A year? Five Years?
After a month he is working on the local farms. He is quick, strong, and good with animals and equipment. He picks up Turcoman and some Farsi so fast that people suppose he must be an amnesiac, just as he eventually hints he must be when he knows the languages well enough to speak it. He politely observes and copies local custom and religious practices, and is rapidly becoming literate. He is intensely curious about his surroundings, and is fascinated on his first trip to Gondbad e-Kavus. He gets into a fight with one of the local youths who is harassing him and shows some uncommon skill in hand to hand combat, but in the local culture this helps his reputation rather than hurting it. After another month or two, though, he has finally managed to attract the attention of the authorities. By then he has learned enough about local government and culture to know he could be at risk. He vanishes from Aq Band one night with his few posessions and slips over the border into Turkmenistan. Though he doesn’t look like a typical Turcoman youth he speaks the language so well that he passes for one. He hitches a ride to Turkmenbashi, and gets work there in the ports and freight yards as a security guard. Having studied the situation, he gets work on the ferry between Turkmenbashi and Baku, and from there he spends time studying all the customs and languages he can. After a year of transits he emigrates illegally to Baku, where he manages to present himself as Armenian and get documents that will pass a light inspection. Now in a city with enough technology to invade, and enough undisturbed time to study it, he infiltrates the local computer networks, using the DNI systems he has. He manages to cobble together a bank account and to spoof an identity as an Armenian citizen. It has been one year.
Inside five years, he has founded a small security company. Most of his connections are legitimate, but some are not. He has had brushes with local criminals, for instance. The story is that in one incident three years back someone cut of his hand but that he survived and regrew the hand, and personally visited vengeance on his attackers. This darker side of his reputation is something he has turned to his advantage. He speaks fluent Armenian, Turcoman, Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, and English, and passable German, French, and Russian. He has also, by various means including bribes and computer hacking, managed to acquire passports and several different identities. His most recent venture is a company called Greystoke Security, with offices in various parts of Europe as well as the Middle East. Greystoke Security specializes in protecting important people who visit some of the more dangerous parts of the region, and more generally in protecting important data or infrastructure, and it is rumored that Greystoke Security can also perform other services: hostage extraction, information extraction, and perhaps even assassination. His company has a developing research arm, with branches of research in odd-seeming things like energy technologies or computer programming or social modelling and prediction.
On the surface he is urbane, charming, and highly cultured. He is full of stories and anecdotes and sayings that seem highly original (to him they are old chestnuts), and he is something of a social chameleon, and most who meet him aren’t able to guess his ethnicity or background. From the aristocratic air he projects in seemingly unguarded moments people sometimes suppose he is of a minor noble house, or from old money, but was disinherited or set out on his own. He can be cold and distant at times, and though he has many allies and employees who trust him his is not personally close with anyone. What would trouble this person the most about our world?
He has heard stories of people trapped in a virch, and for a long time he believed that is what has happened to him, but this is too long, too detailed. He accepts the apparent reality now, though he is still troubled in his dreams.
He is quietly furious with the savages among whom he finds himself. He is well on the road to making himself relatively safe and comfortable, but the squalor and cruelty and ignorance of the human baselines around him seems ubiquitous and insurmountable. He is not blind to the good in the world, but the glimmers of kindness or brilliance seem too rare and too widely dispersed. By training he is a defender of civilization, but there seems to him to be too little civilization to defend. So far, he has contented himself with protecting some individual persons and institutions but he knows that is not enough. Somehow he needs to remake the world, or at least part of it into something worth defending. Preferably before the natives start to notice that he is not ageing as they do, and very preferably before he dies of old age himself or is killed by this primitive world’s many hazards. At the same time, he has studied enough of history, especially the history of conflict, to know that releasing new inventions and technologies or advanced social concepts could make things worse rather than better and might inadvertently cause one of the more ferocious and destructive of the planet’s polities to benefit. For now he is keeping a low profile.
Matterplay #2 - OA Forum What does this neb look like?
He is still a nearbaseline human by Terragen standards, since his subclade’s heavy-grav tweaks and rianthism are moderate enough that he would still be naturally interfertile with most other neb subclades, but unlike some other nearbaselines he could never hope to pass as a local among any of Old Earth’s baseline human natives. The closest match would be with one of the Central African ‘pygmy’ groups, in that he has similar features, the same type and distribution of hair, and is just one and a half metres tall. In those terms he looks as if he might be a particularly vital and strong man of middle years. There, the similarity ends. He is massively and powerfully built, has heavier brow ridges than any Old Earth native other than an aborigine from Australia or New Guinea, and if he reveals his teeth when he smiles his prominent canines are hard to miss. Further, his eyes are a startling yellow-brown and his skin is a dark blue-grey not seen in any regional type of baseline human, except on his face, where he has mandrill-blue cheeks and a scarlet nose. This is neither as ferocious nor as comical as it might first sound: he has a very handsome and expressive face and an impressive and neatly trimmed moustache and beard with streaks of grey in it, and the overall effect is friendly and dignified. His normal voice is a deep and resonant bass, but he has a broader vocal range than a standard human. His reflexes are remarkably quick and smooth, and he walks and moves like a world-class dancer or martial artist. He has only modest and nonintrusive implants: a versatile DNI communication system for linking with the local Net, a small personal library located in his skull, and some basic health-maintenance equipment, all self-repairing and powered and from his own metabolism. None of these additions would be apparent without a careful medical examination, since they are of Zoeific design and the materials are almost entirely organic.Where was/will be the neb from in the OA setting?
He is from one of the numerous bubblehabs of an Inner Sphere Jovian world in the Terran Federation. His home hab is ancient, having been first constructed in the Second Federation era, and exclusively hosts members of his particular clade of heavy-grav humans, but his homeworld and home system are thickly populated with other clades and cultures and highly cosmopolitan. It has several local wormhole links to the rest of the Terragen Sphere, and has long been one of the important Inner Sphere hubs both on the Known Net and the wormhole network for physical and virtual travel. Like many Terran Federation systems its cultures have a tradition of vigorous local government within the overall TF framework.
This person’s particular subclade has a history going all the way back to Solsys. Originally they were a retro-abo group that sought to re-create the Baka pygmy ethnic group and adapt their understanding of the traditional culture to the Interplanetary Age and its emerging post labour societies. They sought a degree of isolation for this experiment, and so they lived in habs around Jupiter that were allied with the Gengineer Republic. In the chaos of the Nanoswarms they decided their orbitals were too vulnerable so they tweaked themselves for heavy gravity and migrated to concealed bubblehabs in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Though it hid them well initially this was a strategy that subsequent history showed was highly hazardous, since later in the Nanodisaster Jupiter was badly infected with hostile self-replicating warbots, and hostile isolationism became part of most surviving societies including their own. Despite this some of their settlements did manage to survive the worst of it, adapt and even ultimately to thrive and spread in the following Dark Ages. An early fashion for mandrill rianthism in the most successful communities was widely copied and became fixed by tradition as an essential part of the clade morphotype. Though over the Dark Ages they were the epitome of ferocious xenophobes, and they were among the last and most reluctant of Jupiter’s ‘technosavage’ ethnic groups to join the First Federation. However when they did eventually convert under the influence of the Federation’s skilled memeticists they became particularly enthusiastic members and promoters of the First Federation synthesis and gave rise to some of the era’s most famous Federation missionary-diplomats. Since their morphotype was particularly well adapted to high gravity worlds they spread widely, especially in the numerous habs in the airs of suitable Jovian worlds. Later many traditionalists among them became part of the Terran Federation, and these groups still consider themselves to be bearers of the First Federation torch. Who is this person?
He is presently over a thousand years old and has a huge fund of experience. He has literally forgotten more than ordinary human baselines will learn in a lifetime. Many years ago in his youth he left with a troupe of locally famous actors and acrobats and roamed the Wormhole Network, with extended tours not only within the Terran Federation but beyond, especially in the NoCoZo. Eventually though he returned home, spent many decades winning reproduction rights through merit-works, and raised a family. His children, grandchildren and several times great grandchildren are now grown, and many live elsewhere due to local population limits, though he remains in touch with nearly all of them. He is currently single; he and his most recent wife parted amicably a few decades ago when she joined tribe mind and he has not made any long term liaisons since. On a few occasions in the past he has travelled widely. Usually this was along the Wormhole Network but on one occasion he went as far as the Periphery or into the wilder and woollier parts of the Seams. On other occasions he has been a participant in local governance, or has been selected for work in the Terran Federation ‘bureaucracy’ (a very misleading term as translated into English). He presently has no formal title or role but locally he is something like what might be called ‘elder statesman and personal counsellor’. This is somewhat like the role called ‘Elder’ in some traditional/aboriginal pre-agricultural groups, but it really has no close equivalent in the terms of any pre-Nanotech Age society. He has practiced hundreds of hobbies, too, and has residual practical and theoretical skills by the dozen.
If you were to translate him into someone from the Old Earth of the early 21st century he would be a retired civil servant living in some obscure suburb. He travelled a bit when he was younger and he still has a few connections, but now he putters about with a few hobbies and party-tricks, and is known to neighbours for his grandfatherly good advice and for his very occasional influence in local politics. He is, of course, rather more than that.Where on Earth do they find them self upon waking?
In a soybean field, in farmland somewhere between Rio Verde and Quirinopolis in the state of Goias, Brazil. The nearest settlement is Ouroana. It is late October, at 7 in the morning. What is their first day like?
He wanders across several fields and pastures, listening to local radio and television traffic via his net link and trying to make sense of the local biota and the signs of primitive technology. His native language is a distant descendant of Sango, one of the Ubangi languages, and though he does also speak tongues that are likewise distant descendants of the English or Portuguese the few similarities he can pick up are too small for him to be able to comprehend what he is hearing. Nevertheless between images from broadcasts and from direct observation he does manage to put together a general picture of his situation. He quickly decides based on telltales he is not in a virch, at least not in a conventional sensory-only virch that does not interfere with mindstates. He concludes that he is on a planet, not a hab, and is among primitive Information Age baseline or nearbaseline humans. It does not immediately occur to him that he might be on Old Earth, since he has not taken an interest in such ancient history any time in the last two or three centuries of his life. However he has visited prim and lo-tek regions in the past and has explored some very complete virch historical simulations, so he is hardly at a loss for ideas about how to approach the situation. He has no clear idea yet how friendly the natives might be, and he wonders if he might be inadvertently trespassing on a private societeum, so he moves cautiously and stays out if sight until he knows more, avoiding the occasional farm vehicle in the fields and ducking out of sight when a car or truck passes by along the roads. By dusk he has reached the outskirts of the small community of Ouroana. An evening’s observation, plus more listening and watching local radio and television, convinces him that if he presents himself in the right way he can expect a fairly civilized reception.
The next morning, he sets out to win over some of the youngest natives. He finds a group of young children at play, and entertains them with juggling, acrobatics and sleight of hand. When older children and adults first glimpse him they suppose at first that he is a professional entertainer of some sort, wearing a costume. By the time the locals have had a chance to watch him more carefully and realize that the truth must be stranger than that he has already established that he is friendly and harmless and can make people laugh. Before the day is out he has attracted a crowd and has managed to get a decent meal at the local café and has achieved favourable if rather confused media attention when journalists and a film crew arrive from Rio Verde.What are they doing after a month? A year? Five Years?
Inside a month, he is a media sensation in Brazil, and to a lesser extent worldwide, and can speak Portuguese well enough to give an interview or hold a basic conversation. The initial language barrier gives him time to decide better how to present himself. Though he doesn’t really believe time travel is actually possible he does decide in the end that he is either actually on First Century AT Old Earth or a marvellous simulation of it, so he presents himself as a time-traveller from the distant future who doesn’t know how he arrived. At first everyone calls him The Visitor, but he is quick to take on a local name (Joao), and to copy local idiom and Brazilian customs. He shows great facility with a soccer ball. He declares himself grateful to the locals and to the nation in general for taking him in. He is jovial, perceptive, and harmless-seeming (not difficult, that last, because he really does like people and intends to do no harm). Already those who know him best are calling him ‘Tio Joao’; he has a way of making people around him comfortable. He charms the scientists and government officials who talk to him and drops tantalizing hints of useful ‘future’ knowledge.
Inside a year Brazilians have decided he is a national treasure. He is hugely popular. He has enough knowledge of materials technology from his hobby-level knowledge that spinoffs from his conversations are leading to revolutions in energy technology (mostly solar panels) and there is talk of using the hyperstrong materials he knows for Brazil to create the world’s first Beanstalk. There have been attempts to lure him away or kidnap him, and at least one assassination attempt that has been attributed to foreigners, but he remains loyally Brazilian in a friendly, cosmopolitan way that looks as if it will make everyone richer, Brazilian or not. More subtly, he has quietly given advice to attentive members of the government and business interests that has increased efficiency and increased profits and reduced corruption wherever it has been followed. This is his advanced socioeconomic knowledge; First Federation precepts adapted as best as can be to the local situation. Far from perfect by his standards, but a huge improvement over more primitive arrangements. He has already given an address to the United Nations that is full of gems of wisdom for those who choose to pick them up.
Inside five years Brazil is on its way to becoming a major world power, not disruptively but in the context of a huge rise in general world peace and prosperity. It looks as if the Interplanetary Age will be happening early. ‘Tio Joao’ is an advisor to world leaders in his quiet unassuming way. What would trouble this person the most about our world?
He has come to realize that he is in a race against time. The world has been teetering on the edge of ecological and financial catastrophe, and even the few technologies that he can remember, or are in his small library, may ultimately do as much harm as good if he cannot help the natives find the right political and economic frameworks for them. At a deeper level, he is homesick. He misses little things like heavy gravity and misses civilized and adult conversation in this world of child-savages where people barely out of infancy are already dying of old age, before they have had a chance to learn life’s important lessons. He wishes he remembered more basic biology, to prevent the premature senility he sees everywhere. He sees the huge potential for violence in these savage peoples, much as he loves them as individuals, and he hopes that he can somehow prevent them from turning on each other, or on him, in the coming years.
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