Prologue: A History of Violence

As he watched the unknowing baselines on the monitor, the Observer Riaz found himself muttering "Run, and don't look back." The village was about to be hit by bombs delivered by craft moving at speeds the poor things could barely comprehend, let alone avoid. But, the covert nano-surveillance probes that had been seeded across the planet could only feed data in one direction. The Observer's vessel possessed own arsenal was far more advanced than the instruments of destruction that baselines were capable of, but it was strictly for removing errant space debris and driving off the occasional interlopers.

A pair of jet fighters flew over the rural village, each dropping a pair of objects from their wings. The fighters pulled up as the clusterbombs deployed. Each of the bombs bodies' exploded outwards, sending a swarm of bomblets that vaguely reminded Riaz of utility fog for a nanosecond. As each package made contact with the ground, the high explosives in each detonated, scattering sharpnel in the pressure wave. One of them fell directly over the nanoprobe, destroying it.

It would be no matter. Another would be readied in a few hours. After watching several massacres like the previous one, Riaz found himself more interested in automated statistical analysis than direct measurements. The nanoprobes were all directly or indirectly connected to the terranova world's bio-computing strata. It would be easy to add a subroutine that had the nanoprobes record the casualty lists, military maneuvers, and other death and violence-related statistics. However, Riaz had consistently decided against it. As violent as it was, baseline wars were always interesting to watch.

This massacre was some unlucky farming village in the Rhineland Confederacy bombed to bits by the Gallic juggernaut. Most of the hardware they had was early Third Wave and Information Age. Most of the nations involved in the war had intercontinental missiles, but (mercifully) few nuclear warheads. Still, mass murder and genocide with more primitive tools was horrid enough. Riaz had personally been revolted by some of the bioweapons and poison gases used so far.

But, watching the carnage unfold was his job. As he watched the ignorant nation-states of the terranova attempt to exterminate each other, he and a few post-turing ai compared the viewed results with the virt simulation. So far, they had been fairly accurate, with the primary differences been the relatively high levels of aggression amongst most of the major powers. An ad hoc coalition of the Gallic Protectorate, Yisraeli Empire, and Gran Columbia had invaded the Free Asian Alliance, Rhineland Confederacy, and People's Republic of Bantuland. The defending alliance was not doing so well, with the Hindustani front on the subcontinent near collapse. However, it was likely that the defenders would win in the long term, since the racist philosophies and petty court politics of the aggressor nations would tend towards collapse either in the short or long terms. The socio-memetic analysis had been spot on, though.

Before it had been populated by baselines, Riaz had personally ensured that the linelayer drone-craft had geosculpted the system as close as possible to the "Classical Sol" configuration. His archai patron, Andart, had provided a solid computronium core that would form the basis of the terranova. Layer upon layer of geo-fill had been applied, with chemosynthetic nanomachines applied liberally to each new layer. The end result was, of course, a world almost identical to "Classic Retro Terra" in the historical archives, but with a processing node for the archai underneath. Once the oceans and landmasses had been set, the species required for a self-sufficient Terran classic ecosystem were lazrogened from the archai's primary tabernacle.

Several baseline ethnic groups were also lazrogened, and placed at "historically proper" places around the terranova. However, the social and cultural growth of certain groups was guided subtly by the archai below. Using the computronium core to rely orders, pass the order on to the deep-crust chemosynthetic nanomachines, and then finding their way into the water supplies of the primary groups, and giving them the "divine inspiration" to build their own nations.

A few were left to develop on their own, but they did match the virt simulation results most of the time. Hypothetical baseline history was presumably a fad among several archai in the Tek-Prog-Fed. But, it was allowing Riaz to get the upgrades he desired. Besides, history was something he had an immense interest in, after all. While much of First and Second Wave history was recorded, some gaps did remain. It was the job of him, fellow professional Observers, and the archai that supported them to figure out what those gaps may have been.

It was just after watching the massacre that Andart auxed him.

Why don't you intervene now if you feel so strongly? the archai's message rung in his head.

Because it would interrupt the experiment, he thought.

The most of the projections that we wanted to prove have been verified. As ranking Observer, you certainly are entitled to intervene in the conflict.

Yes, but as gruesome as it is, it certainly is interesting. Before the archai, post-turings, and posthumans existed, the only baselines did. To understand their psychology of society and violence is to see the origins of our own. We are to them as they are to the early hominids.

Many of the Classical baseline philosophers believed that they were more than beasts. Many of the late Third Wave and early Singularity philosophers believed the baselines were below them. But perhaps it was likely them projecting what they hated the most about themselves onto others.

That's how many of the horrid baseline states on this terranova are behaving. They're becoming more violent and rash since they feel unstoppable. If that perception was to change suddenly, they may do something rash. Like use those atomic weapons they've just developed. But, to understand the philosophy of violence, you must understand the physiology of violence. To understand how to mend something is to know how to break it. That is why I enjoy recording the martial arts and replicating the weapons of both historical and the hypothetical civilizations. Violence is something we all have capacity for. Whether it's with flint spears, firearms, or nuclear and amat bombs, the physiology and psychology of baseline violence are the direct or indirect origins of all terran-sphere sapients.

I have another Observer that you may enjoy working with.

Sivad Drachir, correct?

Yes. He will auxing himself in. Ensure the communications channels are kept open and secure. I don't want another Observer being compromised like last time. Sivad is a monocorp, so no need to worry about adding auxlinks to his workshell. He has a custom form he prefers, so don't just force him into a standard issue work-drone shell.

With that, Riaz ended the conversation and readied the receiver. The uploaded mind that would be transmitted soon would require the outpost's nanofabber to be ready to receive Sivad's body schematic. In a few hours, he would likely have someone new to talk to. Aside from the godlike archai that employed him and the obsessive post-turings, it would be good to have some company in the orbital outpost far above a world at war.

Perhaps Sivad would also enjoy watching baseline violence. Or at least have an interest in it, Riaz thought. But, one can always hope.