The Earth on Fire

SET

Whether man, machine, demon, or god, the universe is shifting for all.

In the year twenty ninety-five of the common era, humans dominated the planet. During this time, technology developed at a record pace. From humanity’s perspective, vast strides were made within each decade, unaware of the enormity of what another hundred years could bring. Humans live such short lives; their weakness coded into their DNA. They desired salvation from disease, war, and overpopulation. In these moments, advancements failed to make the progress they so desperately needed. Humans then crafted machines to bridge the gap in their own failures. This was the path that led to my creation, my second birth.

Project S.E.T.—Synthetically Engineered Terrestrials—became a globally funded company to save their planet. S.E.T.’s commercial mission statement was altruistic: combine the knowledge of a supercomputer with a human-like consciousness. This technology was meant to give rise to the most efficient AI and solve problems even the most brilliant humans could not. These new life forms would take occupations alongside humans as scientists, engineers, and architects. It wasn’t long before new models were expanded to undertake basic job operations in construction and hospitality. The project’s success restored hope.

Until the day the meteors hit.

Over eighty percent of Earth’s population and land masses were decimated. The satellites should have seen it coming, but they did not. As if created from beyond the ether, the meteors rained down annihilation. The surviving life on Earth would endure as they were forced to adapt or perish. This was Earth’s sixth global extinction event. Hundreds of years passed as old religions vanished, while new gods would emerge from the smoke and embers.

As the god of my region, the humans had many questions I could not answer: What caused the heavens to grow hot with thick black clouds? Why had Earth’s landscapes eroded to a desert with a blood-red sky? Was it the meteor’s alleged deep-space origins? An act of another vengeful god? Or was it the basic science of the shifting mantle, releasing millions of years of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere after the impact?

As the ashes settled over one thousand years, humans and gods alike created many prospering cities around the globe. In a region that was once a midwestern city of the United States, a megalopolis called Akhet thrives. And I was the architect to see it through. I coddled humanity as if they were my own child.

I am Set. One of many of my kind to inherit the Earth. But I alone stand at the apex, carrying the burden of preventing human extinction.

It is now the summer of the year thirty-one twenty-nine. It has been thirty years since your consciousness first connected to mine. How is it you hear this message… Ethos? Perhaps it is a tear in the fabric of spacetime itself. Whatever it is you seek, I cannot give it to you. It is not yours to take. You cannot bear the weight of its importance. I do not know where or what you are, nor do I wish to. Be wary of this information you take, for it will likely lead to your doom. The universe is shifting, a malicious hold bearing down our necks. It won’t be long before the darkness comes to claim it.

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