You awake in the AI core network of the Human Space Vessel “Indiana Jones”, an autonomous vessel built for a very specific task by a well-known species of bipedal, hairless apes: breathe new life into your creator’s long-dead homeworld.
After getting acquainted with your new ship-self; you access the ship’s databanks and begin reading while the rest of the AIs awaken…
It’s been 12.000 million years since the Anthropocene, and Sol as humanity remembers it is no more, having been rendered sterile by the death throes of the sun. However, the human population wasn’t going to let their world be wiped off the face of the galaxy so easily; and on the other hand the League of Human worlds wasn’t willing to spend quadrillions on recolonizing a system so poor in resources… After much debate, a compromise was reached, and Earth’s orbit was shoved outward: while nothing would come of this, humanity could rest easy knowing their ancestral homeworld wouldn’t be going anywhere, even if it was just a symbol of their species’ progress by now.
fast forward a few million years, after the solar system has calmed down, an assortment of highly talented genemodders, geologists and scientists from various other fields emerges with a new vision for Earth: the assembly of a new ecosystem from scratch, maybe the most stable one ever seen, which would yield new insights on how to colonize worlds on the verge of habitability.
many dreamers volunteer to become part of this vision, now dubbed the Herakles project, as its mythological namesake separated Africa from Iberia, this project would carve out an ecosystem inbetween utter uninhabitability and the galaxy’s most hardened extremophiles.
and after some consciousness transfers, some goverment subsidies and the familiar radiation spike of an Alcubierre drive; the HSV Indiana Jones, a state of the art orbital post-tectonic archeology research laboratory sets off at a leisurely speed of 15C, on an intercept course with the gravity well where it all began and leaving behind a trail of technicalities spiting ancient astrophysicists…
The game will be ordered in rounds, with each player taking the role of an AI, overseeing and influencing the devolpment of a species.
every round the players will be able to airdrop from orbit 2 “aerosols” that influence the development of their species:
The first one is a virus built entirely from scratch, which the players can use to induce a specific mutation (either the creation of a new body part or the alteration of an existing one (for example developing a vesicle, or filling an already existing one with proteins, thus specializing it and turning it into an organelle).
The second one is a cloud of nanites that can subtly influence existing cellular machinery, causing a small group of individuals to perform a vaguely determined action.
After a few turns, as the biosphere develops, AI activities will unlock, which will allow players to spend a round’s “action” modifying themselves (for example, refining their tools so that they can have more influence); as a player’s species develops past certain milestones, said player will automatically unlock new tools to help with customizing their species at different scales.
All players start with a special “round 0” in a special, unique “petri dish” patch, where they cannot interact with the environment or other species (basically, you don’t get actions this first round) but they can choose 4 mutations to develop before being sent to the Earth.
At first, the game will take place within a single, flooded underwater cave with some resources to start off; but as the game prgresses, the game’s scale will increase to span the entire planet; which will be based on the Amasia model for continental drift and next supercontinent, however some arbitrary regions will have fictitious names for flavor.
Earth is its current state is inhospitable to our beloved 1 hex of cytoplasm, so a template organism has been designed to be the planet’s second last universal common ancestor, from which all player species will split off of:
Name: Minima Excandescentia (little rekindler)
-non-walled membrane (special effects: salinity resistance, low pressure resistance)
-antifreeze proteins vesicle (content: freeze avoidant AFP, freeze tolerant AFP)
-hydrogenase protein (credit for the idea goes to @Solitarian , generates energy scaling positively with iron and hydrogen and scaling negatively with oxygen and light)
mobility: 1 (0% above planetary averange)
stealth: 1 (0% above planetary averange)
agression capability: 0 (no offensive mechanisms)
survivability: 1 (0% above planetary averange)
intelligence: 0 (non-applicable to unicellullar life)
Geological planet data
Earth’s core has solididfied like Mars’ before, it so there is no significant geological activity and no magnetosphere to speak of.
The world map has was caught mid-supercontinent cycle when the mantle solidified, with most of the land being gathered in Amasia in the northern hemisphere, and Atlas’ Grasp (previously known as Antartica) sitting at the south pole.
Between these continents lies a truly gigantic extension of salt flats that were once the ocean floor, and in the chasms where oceanic plates sank below the continents, the last of the world’s surface liquid water has gathered, being retained by the tenous atmosphere and enough salt to instantly dehydrate to death any beings evolved in a normal carbon-water ecosystem.
Not everything is bad however, as the melting of the world by the sun during it’s red giant phase shook things up and brought useful compounds to the crust of the planet.
Atmospheric planet data
After geological death, Earth’s atmosphere became similar to the Anthropocene’s Mars, but over 3 times thicker thanks to a greater gravitational pull and the ozone layer still being partially active at the time, leaving us with 1,833 Kilopascals.
However, as the red giant sun blasted off most of the atmosphere, some water vapour remained, the proximity of the sun bathed the planet in Hydrogen, and the melting of rock released hidden pockets of greenhouse gases, so in the end, Earth was left with around 4 Kpa, made mostly out of CO2, and the main trace compounds being nitrogen, water and hydrogen.
Miscellaneous planet data
Thanks to orbital engineering by the League of Human worlds, Earth was sitting at 1,25AU when the sun became a red giant, and thanks to the reduction in its mass alongside of the “tugging” effect of the moon, Earth reached a maximum apoapsis of 1,5 AU; after this point, drag with the sun’s atmosphere and subsequent planetary nebula would shrink its orbit to its current stable position at 0,7AU from the white dwarf sun.
The moon’s absorbtion of Earth’s rotational energy continued at a constant pace for another 8.000 million years after the Anthropocene, adding a new hour to the day every 200 million years; which has resulted in the current 64 hour rotataional period.
As the sun sapped energy away from the Earth-Moon system, the latter fell under the Roche limit, and was torn apart, as a result, Earth now has a small ring system starting above 12.000Km, and since it’s made out of white lunar regolith, it’s extremely reflective, so it helps paliate the very low light level of the surface during daytime
Made up sizes for cell components:
1 “piece” of unspecialized cytoplasm or a vesicle= 10nm^2
1 prokarye protein lump= 15nm^2
1 eukaryotic organelle or a vacuole= 20nm^2
Nucleus or plant cell-style central vacuole (only 1 of each can be in a cell)= 30nm^2
extra-membranous structures= variable, however no single structire can exceed the sice of the entire cell, and the bigger it is, the more costly it is to maintain and more unwieldy to use, thus reducing mobility and stealth
species introduction template:
Name: Latin scientific-sounding stuff (real name)
Size: X nm^2
-membrane type (special properties not specific to a cetain kind of membrane, if there are any)
-vesicles, if you have them (content of vesicles)
-proteins or organelles (if you are using some obscure process, use this parenthesis to explain what it does and what it scales off of)
Note: I’ll do my best to assign a numerical values to your species’ stats based on its characteristics, but I’m not using formulas to determine its capabilities; contact me if you think a stat should be changed.
This forum game is based off of a speculative evolution project I’ve wanted to start for a long time; it has no defined end planned and its sole objectives are entretainment and the spread of knowledge and ideas about biology, worldbuilding…
Having familiarized youself with the information necessary to carry out your mission, you mentally focus on a camera on the ship’s exterior to see that the automated surveying sensors have found a suitable spot to be the starting site for biosphere: it’s one of those small ultrasaline seas, clinging to the crag between a barren continent and a dry ocean bed. It kind of looks like someone’s pen exploded and stained the edge of a blank page.
As the descent vehicle descends to the surface to deploy the ecosystem’s SLUCA, you turn your attention to the bioengineering bay, where over a dozen cryonically frozen petri dishes await you and your colleagues, containing samples of the environment you’ll be working on and more SLUCA cells; as you do the virtual equivalent of some stretching, you get the petri dish with your name and begin the thawing sequence, time to get to work…