Worlds of the Legacies Universe

The chief colony world of the Altair system, located 16.73 light years away from Sol. Colonized in 2205, this colony was named in honor of its founders greatest hero, Saint Thomas Aquinas. After a century of growth, this colony grew to become a major trading hub and tourist draw, due in large part to its vast oceanfront vistas and fertile stretches of land.

Because of its location relative to Sol, Aquinas is also a gateway to many inner colony worlds and trade routes. As a result, its capital of Roccasecca and its moons of Lucca and New Venice are major hubs, with large spaceports, extensive shipping facilities and a large service industry. However, this does not alter the overall feel of the colony, which observers describe as “kindly”, “tolerant” and “reverential”.

However, its main attraction is known as the Council of Altair, an interstellar organization dedicated to the exchange of spiritual and religious ideas. Established in 2267, this establishment became a meeting place for representatives of every faith to commune with each other and send their messages into deep space.  In time, the institute even drafted a declaration of principles, known as “Transcendental Philosophy”, which it hoped would form the basis of a universal religion.

The colony world of Alpha/Beta Centauri, and one of the largest population centers outside of Sol. Beginning in 2165, almost thirty years after the development of FTL, the colony was the first to be settled using advanced terraforming technology. In keeping with its classical theme, most major cities are named in honor of Greek mythology and history – such as the capital city of Piraeus and the colony moons of Mycenae and Ilium.

This is further demonstrated in the cities’ architecture, all major buildings having been designed in a neo-classical, contemporary motif. Though there are numerous underdeveloped regions that are considered eyesores by comparison, the inner regions of every major city are renowned for their appealing sense of aesthetics.

Attica has been the center of some controversy over the years. Within a generation of the first settlers arriving, stories began to circulate about the formation of a new religious sect. These believers claimed that artifacts which proved that Jesus had arrived and died on Attica were found in the mountain chain just outside of Piraeus. Investigations were mounted by the Vatican and other religious authorities, but the results were declared fraudulent and the matter dropped.

Nevertheless, this new breed of worship began to spread amongst the original colonists and gave rise to the Colonial Mennonite culture. Their impenetrable belief structure often proved to be a cultural barrier as new waves of colonists arrived and attempts at achieving consensus and conformity faltered. In time, this gave rise to the first of several conflicts which would later be known as the “Sectarian Wars”. On Attica, this involved the militarization of Mennonite settlements after a series of incidents were perpetrated against them by neighboring factions.

After years of conflict and escalation between rival militias and government forces, the TDF was eventually called in to put and end to the dispute. This and the nature of the conflict left deep scars on Attican society, especially between the major cities and the outlying settlements where the population remains largely Mennonite. Regardless, Attica remains the spiritual home of the Mennonite population and its beliefs attained recognition under interstellar law.

In addition, this world was also the sight of what would appropriately be named the “Attican Incident” by historians. This took place on the night of April 23rd, 2278, standard calendar, when a paramilitary group attacked the gubernatorial palace in Piraeus, killing dozens of civil service workers, guards and even Governor Kirin himself who was working late into the night. In response, TDF forces were dispatched to the system to dispatch this paramilitary group and restore order.

But of course, the local population did not respond well to the occupation, largely because many suspected the incident had been perpetrated by Earth itself to crush the independence movement which had been mobilizing in recent years. Due to ongoing tensions between TDF forces and the local, martial law was never rescinded and the occupying forces were not withdrawn.

These  events touched off many more “incidents’ that eventually culminated in the Terran Civil War. It would take roughly twenty years for the occupation to end, by which time forces loyal to the Alliance entered the system and dispatched the TDF forces. Governor Namguhng, an Earth appointee, was quick to welcome the Alliance as liberators. Thereafter, he made several positive moves which would see Attica integrated into the new interstellar government as a fully-represented member.

As one of two colony worlds in the Arcturus system, Haphaestus is renowned for being the industrial capital of the inner colonies and a haven for tourists looking to spend their hard earned credits. At least that’s the official story. Unofficially, Hephaestus is notorious for its high level of organized crime, its lucrative drug trade, and for being the murder capital of the quadrant, rivaled only by Rostov.

But of course, much of these seedier aspects of the planet are confined to the inner regions of New Detroit. And in all fairness, the capitol itself is a major center for technological innovation, trade, culture and the arts. In addition to its many public theaters, festivals and performing arts centers, it is also home to the Interstellar Museum of Colonization, an institution dedicated to the preservation of historical artifacts and from three centuries of space travel and settlement.

The planet’s industrial capacities also extend into orbit. The Chimaeras Installation, one of the few major space installations in the quadrant, resides here. Not far from Chimaeras is the Aberdeen Shipyards, a major ship-building facility that sits in a wider orbit and its defended by  many remote platforms. Between these TDF assets and the planet, there is a veritable cloud of service platforms and stations as well as countless  communications and navigation satellites.

Hephaestus is also home to the Akuma, one of the most brutal and ruthless crime syndicates in the known universe. Garnering its power from the sale and transport of illegal narcotics, particularly Shine and various psychotropic substances, the Akuma has insinuated itself into just about every aspect of Hephaestus’ society. This reach extends beyond this system, reaching even into worlds nominally controlled by other syndicates.

Hephaestus is orbited by two moon colonies, New Luzon and Gloucester, both of which are major shipping hubs, a stopover for travelers, and even high-end real estate for Hephaestus’ elite. Gloucester is a particularly popular destination for those with money who are seeking an off-world place to relax. Literally all members of Hephaestus upper crust have property on this moon, including many of its mayors and council members. While New Luzon also remains a popular destination, its terrestrial domes are dedicated more towards family-friendly tourism, which stands in distinction to the kinds of entertainment people can get planetside!

The sixth planet of the Sirius binary star system, located approximately 8.6 light years away from Sol. Settled in 2182, the planet was quickly terraformed due to the presence of rich nitrogen soils and a relatively breathable atmosphere. In time, it became the known universe’s largest agricultural colony and even expanded to become the largest population center outside of Sol.

Settled predominantly by West and Central Asian families, the planet was named Khalafa in honor of the majority Sunni population. Though it has become an incredibly diverse colony in terms of its demographics, nationalities and faiths, the overall character of the planet has remained largely consistent. In terms of its art, architecture, and culture, Khalafa is a beacon of Islamic culture combined with modern technology.

In orbit around Khalafa rest the two colonies of Akheton and Memphis, which in turn are home to much of the planet’s heavy industry and mining operations. Regularly, drone ships coming to and from the system’s asteroid belt travel to these moons to dump ore for processing.

The system is also home to the Trinity Installation, one of the largest and most important installations in all of known space. It was here that representatives from every colonized system met after the end of the Civil War to draft the Interstellar Terran Alliance into existence. It is neighbored by the Riga Shipyards, one of the largest ship-building assets in Terran space.

The fifth planet of the 61 Cygni binary system, this jungle world was colonized in 2191, and quickly gave rise to one of the most successful social experiments in human history. Settled in large part by a select group of artists, scientists and intelligentsia, the world quickly earned the name Logos because of its commitment to learning and the empirical tradition.

This commitment only grew as time went on and the colony attracted more and more settlers, eventually achieving its truest expression with the creation of the Academician Institute of Higher Thought (aka. The Academy) in 2201. Initially an institute for higher education, it soon expanded to include elementary and early childhood development too. These programs were augmented thanks to the advent of cybernetic technology and virtual interfacing.

A further indication of the Logosian commitment to learning is reflected in the name of the planet’s capital, Alma Mater. Other major cities include New Oxford, Takshashila, Nalanda, al-Azar, Alexandria, and Niẓāmiyyah, all named in honor of centers of higher learning from various respective cultures, which also reflects the planets demographic diversity. And while each city has its own educational facilities, each maintains a chapter associated with the Academy in Alma Mater.

Through its extensive education programs and research facilities, The Academy went on to produce some of the greatest minds the universe ever knew, not to mention many technologies. Academy officials were also wise enough to ensure that every technology, process, or innovation to come out of their facilities was patented and licensed to ensure them a steady stream of profits. It is widely rumored that the Logos is able to sustain itself on this source of revenue alone.

Chief colony of the Vega system, located on the eight planet, roughly 25 light years from Sol. Settled in 2183 by a largely Shia population from Central Asia, the planet was named in honor of the ancient Persian capital. Though much of the planet is dry and inhospitable, the planets exposure to solar radiation and vast supplies of aquifers made it a prime location for large scale hydroponics operations. In time, this drew a significant number of settlers to the planet, who were also able to turn their talents to small-scale terraforming.

Within a few generations, Pasaragad began to boast natural forests and lakes. Underground sources of water were also liberated to create large-scale bodies of water which further served agricultural operations. As a result, Pasaragad became a major producer of off-world delicacies such as dates, citrus fruits,palm oil, palm sugar, saffron, and other assorted fruits and spices. It’s strategic location close to Sol also made it a major trading hub once colonization efforts expanded beyond the inner worlds.

Pasaragad has also been the source of a great deal of controversy over the years. For example, a short-lived conflict between the settlers and the colonial government took place in 2223. This incident was the first in a series that would later come to be known as the “Sectarian Wars”, and proved to be one of the most bloody. It began after a self-declared prophet named Azan declared that the colonial government was a group of pretenders who were running the colony through graft and corruption. After his arrest by authorities, clashes began between his supporters and security forces, culminating in the intervention of the TDF.

The arrival of Terran Marines led to a short-lived peace, but soon, fighting was underway again as the occupation forces found themselves becoming the new target of Azan’s condemnation and his supporters anger. Not wanting the situation to spiral out of control, the Terran government arrived at a compromise with the settlers. In exchange for the removal of the current administration and several reforms, most of which were in tune with Azan’s religiously-inspired demands, the matter was settled and all TDF forces removed. Azan went on to become a prophet to the people of Pasaragad, the city of Azanabad being built in in his honor shortly after his death. Later generations would also call him the “Fourth Prophet”, claiming he had led a reinterpretation of Islam for the age of colonization.

During the Civil War, Pasaragad would also be a major hotspot for resistance and TDF forces. After the Attican incident led to the imposition of martial law on that planet, the people of Vega began to stage widespread protests against Terran authority. With the escalation of tensions in other systems, the TDF was dispatched here as well to keep the peace, but instead became embroiled in war. For years, resistance forces on Pasaragad and the moon colony of Kurosh were engaged in a series of back and forth with local forces. The situation became extremely bloody and led to widespread death and crimes committed by both sides.

This led to the rise of many popular sayings and quips. For example, after the Civil War period, the word Vegan was often associated with fanaticism or extreme dedication, “crazy like a Vegan” being the popular usage. It was also widely rumored that during the war, officers would threaten to send unruly or insubordinate soldiers to Vega as punishment. The heat, hatred of the locals, and likelihood of being shot at was usually enough to put anybody in line!

It was perhaps for this reason, or just in keeping with the fierce spirit of independence on the Vegan people, that it became the focal point for the independence movement once the war was over. Contrary to the Alliance’s platform of a better arrangement between Earth and its colonies, this movement demanded that all colonies be entitled to independence now and forever. Luckily, Alliance leader Jessica Freidman was able to win over the leader of the independence movement – Lev Parva – by insisting he form the opposition party in the first Alliance cabinet.

The seventh planet and second colony world of the 61 Cygni binary system. Named in honor of its cool climate, thriving industrial base, and predominantly Eastern EU population, the planet was named Rostov. And much like other industrial centers – i.e. Hephaestus – it has a reputation for many things, both positive and negative.

On the plus side, Rostov has been a major manufacturing center for the centuries, the home of the labor movement for the sector, and the source of many key technological innovations, often working in collaboration with Logosian scientists. On the minus side, it has also been the home of ruthless crime syndicates (the foremost being the Sadruzhestva and Lumbre cartels), labor disputes, drugs, and violent crime.

And yet, despite its reputation for hard living, the Rostovian people are amongst the most proud and nostalgic people in the known universe. Apparently, it is this very essence of hard life that makes them feel proud to be where they are from. The logic being that if life were easy on their world, anyone could live there.

And of course there are several features about this planet that deserve mention. It’s rugged landscapes remain some of the most beautiful and inspiring in the galaxy. It’s capital of New Petrograd contains some of the most beautiful architecture in the quadrant. And it’s artistic and literary scene remains one of the most inspired. In short, Rostov may be a cold and ruthless world, but its inhabitants have found ways to turn that to their advantage.

And that’s my universe, in a nutshell. Hope you enj0yed the little tour, because most of it remains relatively undeveloped in terms of putting it into book form. I intend to remedy that, in time, which seems to be the one thing I don’t have enough of! But there’s only so many hours in the day right, and right now I got multiple projects vying for my attention. More to follow from this and other universe. See you soon!

The Matrix: Revulsions!

The Matrix: Revulsions!

With the final movie hitting theaters, fans believed we were coming to it at last! The explanation as to what it all meant in Reloaded, whether their was a Matrix within a Matrix, how would Zion survive, why Neo was able to destroy those squiddies, and who the hell that Bane guy was now. Most or all of these questions would have been easier to answer if the second movie hadn’t left people befuddled and confused. But at least now, with the third movie, some of that confusion might be dispelled. And I for one was eager to find out who was right in the whole “what’s going on” debate!

The Matrix: Revolutions
As it turned, none of us were! The answers we were waiting for turned out to have nothing to do with any of our theories, and we were quite unhappy about that! Not just because we were wrong but because ultimately, the explanations for why things had happened the way they did in movie two… kinda sucked. The critics felt much the same way, with most reviewers panning the film and it earning roughly half of what the sequel had. When describing it and how it wrapped the series up, words such as “anticlimactic” and “unsatisfying” were often used. Most people I knew just called it dumb! And the reasons were obvious.

1. Weak Opening:
So the movie started with Neo finding himself in limbo which is basically a part of the Matrix. (Note: Mobile station is an anagram for Limbo, which was what Neo – anagram for One – was in. Get used to it, the franchise is full of them!) So in addition to the questions about the squiddies, how he’s supposed to save Zion, and whether or not the Oracle is the enemy, there’s the added question of how the hell he could find himself in the Matrix when he’s not jacked in. Meanwwhile, Morpheus, Trinity and the crew of the Hammer are trying to find him, and the Oracle tells them they got to find YET another program who’s being guarded by the Merovingian in order to get to him. Didn’t they do this plotline already? And reusing one so early in the movie is a bad sign, makes the audience think the whole movie’s going to be a rehash of the last one. And after some needless action sequences in the Merovingian’s night club, which just seemed like an excuse to do the one thing they hadn’t tried yet (fighting upside down!) they find Neo and they are free to pursue all the other plot threads they left open.

2. Weak Explanations:
The movie reached a climax of sorts around the time that Neo reached the Oracle and asked her for explanations. There I was in my seat thinking “Here we go!” Finally, we’d get to see what all that stuff was about. And what the Oracle said was interesting at best, lame at worst, and disappointing somewhere in the middle. So apparently Neo was able to stop those machines because “the power of the One extends to the Source” which is, apparently, where his powers come from… Uh, okay. So Neo has powers that enable him to control machines in the real world as well as in the Matrix… Why? Come to think of it, why does he have powers at all? The way the Architect explained it, his powers were a systemic anomaly, suggesting that they were just exhibited in supposedly gifted individuals that cropped up from time to time. But why the hell would those powers extend to the Source, aka. the machine mainframe? And what the hell did she mean when she said they CAME from the Source? Does that mean the Source willed Neo and all his predecessors into being? Did it do this just so it’d have something to do? Or is he just some kind of super-cyberman who defies all comprehension? Seriously man, this was just weak! Compared to all this, what my friend said (hey Sam!) about Neo being a program actually made sense!

Oh, and the bit about Neo’s mind breaking off and running loose in the Matrix? Also weak! Apparently, he “wasn’t ready” for these abilities, so that’s why he went comatose after killing those squiddies, woke up and found himself in Mobile (Limbo) Station. Yeah, because that’s what happens when you’re the One and you use your abilities prematurely, you go to a train station! I know that the Wachoswki brothers were trying to be cool and mysterious when they wrote this, but this is just inexplicable nonsense! To top it off, we never did get an explanation as to how the Oracle could be on humanity’s side when thus far, all she’s done is lead them into a seemingly hopeless situation. When Morpheus and Trinity confront her, not once do they ask the obvious: “Why did you lie to us, bitch? Why did you say the war would end once Neo went to the Source when in truth, it meant the war would continue and the whole cycle would just repeat itself?” Not asked, not answered. The Oracle just acts like this was all part of the unfolding plan and she’s just telling them what they need to know. Sure, she did tell Neo he’d have to decide between saving Trinity and Zion, which was true, but everything else still felt like lies, or at the very least, convenient half-truths.

3. Obvious Biblical References: In this movie, the mythological references were not only way over the top, but obvious as well! In movie one, much of the mythology was biblical in nature. In movie two, it was more classical. Third time around, it seems like the wheel came back around and returned to biblical. But holy shit was it obvious here! First, there’s the part where Neo is blinded during the fight between him and Bane/Smith. Not only is this an obvious allusion to the biblical Samson, Bane even comes right out and says “A blind messiah!” Are you kidding me? Did the art of subtlety die somewhere between movie’s two and three? No, I can’t defend that. Movie two was never subtle! And the part at the end where Neo decides to sacrifice himself to save Zion? Of course, this particular biblical allusion was building up all throughout the whole of movie three. Scarcely a person in the audience expected Neo to live, especially after Trinity died. But by the end, when Neo’s dead body was being ferried off by the machines, all splayed out Jesus-style? C’mon, Wachowskis!

4. That Lame-ass Death Scene: Trinity survived movie two, which I believe I mentioned was kind of hokey, only to die here. And it took place after she delivered Neo to the machine city, which basically meant she died as soon as she was no longer of use! As if that wasn’t enough, her final farewells dragged on foreeeeever. Seriously, I heard people snickering in the theater, it had gotten so cheesy! Yes, I’m sure there were plenty of people who might have found it touching as well, but I refuse to believe Carrie Ann Moss actually cried when she first read this part of the script! More like she confronted the Wachowskis and said, “You can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it!”

5. Smith Gets Comical: I’ve already mentioned how Smith had most of the best lines in the first movie, right after Morpheus. Part of what made his dialogue so cool was the fact that it was cryptic and delivered in a real cool, badass way. Aside from his incredibly even tone, which made him sound all the more menacing, Weaving showed himself to be an expert at catching the right look. That hard stare, those arched eyebrows, that cruel mouth – he was bad reborn! Then the second movie came out, in which he was still pretty bad. He even had some decent lines, even if they were a little monosyllabic. Remember “Me too…”, or “More!” Or how about “The best part about being me is there are so many of me”. Those were pretty good and captured the essence of Smith’s growing megalomania. But by this movie, he so overdid the evil madman routine that it just got creepy, even laughable. For example, that drawn out scene where he smashes the Oracle’s dish and then does that evil laugh as soon as he assimilates her… That was painful to watch. Oh, and lets not forget that long, hammed-up lecture he gave Neo when they were fighting at the end: “Why Mr. Anderson?! Why do you persist?!” Seriously, he was yelling through clenched teeth! I seriously hope for his sake he was choosing to have fun because he found the dialogue so crappy!

6. Final Fight!: At this point, the movie already had outdone itself in weird, over the top special effects. But that big-time, burly brawl at the end of the movie? That was just plain overdone! Sure, Smith and Neo are both superhuman by this point in things, but did their fight have to resemble a battle between two Supermen? Did you not rip off that franchise enough already with all Neo’s flying? Hell, Link even said it in movie two: “He’s doing his Superman thing!” In any case, the action itself was terribly over the top, and was made worse by Smith’s antics which, as already noted, had gone from cryptic to comical! That, plus all the CGI – which always makes a scene look fake – made this entire scene feel totally superfluous. Mainly I just waiting for it to end so we could see how Neo was going to die and whether or not he would take Smith with him!

Okay, some stuff was good in this film. That battle scene where the machines reached Zion, that had some good parts to it! The action was pretty intense and it did have the right feel. Sure, there was the part where Kid (that’s his name, no fooling!) commandeers a mech and shoots the doors to Zion open, saying “Neo, I believe!” right before he shoots. Oh, and of course the part where Link’s wife and some militia women are popping off rockets and taking down the big drilling machine, but then start to get cut to pieces by squiddies shortly thereafter. Those were pretty cheesy, not to mention a pretty cheap attempt at making the audience care about some tertiary characters. But hey, the action was cool so I can forgive. I can even forgive the Aliens rip-off with the mec suits (known here as APU’s) since they are cool in ANY context AND were put to good use! Oh, and and that whole squiddy/hovercraft chase scene? Also not bad! It was fun and tense, and as opposed to the lesser characters dying in Zion, the audience actually seemed to care about what happened to Morpheus and Naobi (as always, played by Jada Pinkett Smith). Her badass delivery and sharp wit also made the scene believable, but dammit did they have to repeat that crappy “There are some things that do not change… and some things do” line?

And you might even venture to say that part of why this last movie seemed so disappointing was because they did a pretty good job of making things seem hopeless in Reloaded. In addition to being confused, I seriously went away wondering how the good guys could possibly win at this point. Yes, the plot was underdeveloped because of pacing problems and too many action scenes being piled on, but the whole concept of the Matrix being centuries old and there being several predecessors to Neo was still borderline genius! After movie one, with what seems to be an open and shut plot, they had their work cut out for them making it seem like everything was about to take a turn for the worst. And yet, they managed to pull it off! From movie one to two we went from thinking Neo was invincible and humanity would win to believing Neo was helpless and humanity screwed. So you might say there was little inspiration left for when it came time to brighten things up again, to find a way to make the good guys win that was plausible and consistent with the whole theme of prophecy and “this has all been foretold”.

But alas, the weak ending where Neo dies and the machines for some reason decide to leave Zion alone cannot be so easily forgiven! That, on top of all the other flaws in this movie meant that this franchise was ending on a groan and not a hurrah. Seriously, why did the machines leave Zion when they were an inch away from wiping it out? And why, for that matter, did the Architect promise the Oracle the “red pills” would be set free from now on? That was never part of the agreement! Neo said he wanted peace, not that all humans who couldn’t accept the program should henceforth be set free so there would be no reason to go to war. Makes sense, but why would the machines accept it? Because they felt honor bound to acknowledge Neo’s sacrifice? Because they promised they wouldn’t? What kind of machines are these? Honor, promises, solemn oaths; these are HUMAN things! They are based in emotion and ethical insight, not mathematics or cold calculation! And you call yourselves machines! Pah! I spit on your machineness!

And let’s not forget what kind of moral this all amounted to: that humanity and robots need to live in peace. Sure, the whole concept of human-machine interdependency came up repeatedly. It came up first in the original when Morpheus explained how humans power the Matrix, and how this was ironic given humanity’s historical dependence on machinery. It was resurrected in that needless scene where Councillor Hamann (that old dude from Zion) takes Neo tot he bowels of the city to look at the machines and reflect on the irony of THAT. But to take that to the point where they must learn to live in peace and harmony, Kumbaya-style, just seemed lame! And as the Architect said to the Oracle: “How long do you expect this peace treaty of yours to last?” Good question! As it stood, the only thing protecting Zion from exterminations was this treaty; but in time, humanity was likely to recover and expand, at which point they’d be wanting to shove a great big EMP up the Matrix’s ass! Any calculating machine would know this, hence why they would have finished the job when they had the chance! But at this point, no one was looking for practical. They were looking for over…

The Matrix: Revolutions, people. A disappointing but not terrible ending to a very promising franchise. Perhaps, like with Highlander, there really should have only been one. Or perhaps they shouldn’t have tried so hard to top everything from the first. In truth, I think that if they had just taken their time and gone with those rather genius ideas – the ones about rogue sentient programs and how the Matrix and the whole One thing were a lot more complicated than originally foretold – the sequels would have been much better. But, as I said, greater people than the Wachowskis have tried to make lighting strike twice. Who can blame them for not succeeding?

The Matrix: Revolutions:
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Plot: 5/10
Direction: 6/10
Total: 6/10