Story & Lore in The Ascent feature the contexts and origins behind significant jargons, mechanisms, culture and living conditions in the futuristic world of Veles. In a distant future where extraterrestrial races coexist in outer space, and the world powered by far more sophisticated technologies, life as we know it are incomprehensibly different. Near sentient machines such as SI's and AI's have taken over, new social structures such as Habs have Indents have formed, and superior technology like the Cyberdeck and ICE power softwares. Understanding these core components in The Ascent narrative will enable players to fully immerse themselves into the game's complex sci-fi universe, and stay up to date with the necessary knowledge to progress in the story. This page serves to include all knowledge and details regarding Story and Lore that compose The Ascent narrative.
The Ascent Story & Lore
Artificial General Intelligence - heavily regulated, hyperintelligent, and as powerful as they are rare, the AGIs are the crowning achievement of the Aphoran civilization, and used throughout the known galaxy. They are truly self-aware, conscious and completely artificial beings. Only a few exist, and they are rigorously controlled. They also require unfathomable amounts of energy to operate, which is another reason they are so rare. Sapiens have yet to bring their own first AGI online, but not for lack of trying.
AI & SI
AI or Artificial Intelligence, is a collective name given to a slew of different automated and semi-sentient systems, ranging from simple valve-control mechanisms to advanced personal Imps. The more powerful and autonomous systems are called SI - Sentient Intelligence (see below). It should be noted that none of these solutions is TRULY sentient, self-aware and conscious the way an AGI is.
A massive structural wonder designed to house hundreds of thousands of beings, while also managing their different needs. Veles has several arcologies rising above the Dusk, with the one belonging to the Ascent Group being the largest. On the lower levels the habStacks stand crowded together and indents live out their meager lives rarely seeing the outside of the arcology they call home. While at the upper levels top management enjoy spacious accommodations and even real sunlight.
Most habbers have “augs" or "chrome", i.e, augmented body parts, large or small -- be that a cerebral socket for enhanced dataNet access, a mechanical digit replaced after an accident, various audio-visual enhancers or full on limbs with different specialized tools and implements built in. Some augs are weapons in themselves, while others allow direct interfacing with advanced weaponry of different kinds.
Augs are installed by Grafters - medical specialists focused on aug integration and attachment. Some are skilled enough to design their own augs rather than rely on mass-market products, but others are less accomplished, and mutilations and deaths resulting from failed grafts are not uncommon on the lower levels of the Dusk.
Many augs can be hacked by experienced hackers, which is another reason many augmented habbers avoid direct interfacing with the Net and ensure that their augs are shielded against wireless intrusion.
A habber is someone living in a habitation stack -- the most common form of living space allocated to most indents.
A habitation stack is what most indents call "home". Each stack contains a multitude of habitation units designed to cater to the bare needs of an organic being. HabStacks are organized into StackClusters, and controlled by a stackBoss backed up by a control SI.
Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, or ICE, are what often stand between a cyberjockey and his target data. These aggressive firewalls come in all shapes and forms. Some will instantly neurfy your brain, while others might settle for reporting your location to the nearest corpSec post. Hackers employ ICE-breakers to cut through these defenses preferably while remaining unnoticed.
There are more Imps on Veles than sentient organic beings. Short for "Personality Imprint" an Imp is in essence a semi-sentient, limited intelligence system and they are employed everywhere, both as personal assistant and as systems controllers on all levels of the Net. Some are more powerful than others, and not all have "personalities" as such. These are usually just called SIs (Sentient Intelligence) rather than Imps.
Almost everyone in the dusk have their own personal Imp (also called LIAs or Limited Intelligence Assistants) helping them manage the day to day challenges of ordinary life in the Dusk, and its common for Imps to mold themselves around their owner's personality, often as a counterweight of sorts. They can be upgraded in different ways through additional modules and they can also be rest if their personalities become too quirky. Most people develop strong bonds with their Imps and a reset is only a last resort solution.
Some coders specialize in Imp creation and modification and many like to put personal touches on the Imps and modules they create. Their shops can be found all over the Dusk.
An incredibly complex process whereby an SI blank is given its skill set and focus (and personality, if applicable). SIs can later be re-imprinted (most commonly to transfer ownership between corporations), but this delicate process requires AGI assistance.
InCon is short for Independent Contractor. These are "free" laborers, not bound by indentured contracts, and available to take on work with any given multiCorp. They are also free to travel across the Dusk (through some many areas still require special permits). Most Indents aspire to one day earning their Independent Contractor status.
Slang for Indentured Laborer. The vast majority of the low and mid-tier workers on Veles are indentured -- paying off the price of passage to the planet by serving long-term contracts with any given multiCorp. The contracts are often designed so that an Indent becomes completely dependent on their employer, and many end up indebted even after the original contracts ends, prompting extension after extension until some live out their entire lives as indents. Indents are tightly connected to their employers and their travel often restricted.
Slang for Lower Level Habitation Stack - the often squalid living quarters housing millions of workers on the lower levels of an arcology or the city at large. Life in the LoHabs is tough, and while not outright lawless anyone straying into these areas should be able to handle themselves in a fight.
A skilled cyberjockey, hacker, etc. Anyone adept at manipulating the dataNet to their needs.
A stack (stack cluster) superintendent, work-shift manager and overall caretaker all rolled into one. The larger the cluster, the more clout a stackBoss has.
What the habbers like to call "stasis tech" or "time freeze" was in fact born out of experimental teleportation technology. It has been believed by scientist that complete teleportation of physical objects should be possible, but so far all attempts at building a functioning teleportation device have at best ended up with very unstable machines. Attempting to use one of these might as well implode you, as scatter your constituent atoms across the entirety of cosmos, as actually transporting you from A to B. Or you might up arriving with your arm attached to your forehead.
But some gains have been made, and especially with stasis tech, where the inverted quantum effect arising the instant before a teleportation is set to happen is locked in place--effective freezing all targeted matter in time and space. This has since been weaponized by intrepid inventors, and can be used effectively in combat as a crowd control measure. Just don't expect the controlled crowd to necessarily survive the experience intact.
The one thing uniting Veles across all corporate borders is the massive, all-encompassing data Net. Velesians sometimes call it the "Tangle" because of its intricately complex nature, so layered and elaborate that not even the AGIs have been able to map all its odds and ends. The Net grew together with the Dusk in fits and spasms as each corporation expanded their own intranets and began connecting them. Private citizens further added to it by setting up their own servers and networks, and piggybacking on the whole thing is the underWeb, maintained by the crime syndicates for their nefarious dealings.
There are many ways to access the Net, but for anything private most sentients prefer a wired connection as wireless can too easily be hacked and manipulated. Wireless is still used for remote drone controls and the like, but any operator worth her salt has multiple contingency plans in case of unwanted intrusions. For the same reason few but the most skilled hackers use direct cerebral-link interfaces in order to avoid the risks of malicious code directly entering their brainstem. Instead they use different kinds of helmets, glasses, monocles and other similar devices to jack in.
The Net is also the realm of the AIs, from the limited mono-tasking algorithms who roam around freely to the massive, hyper-intelligent AGIs of Aphoran design of which there are only a few known to exist, tightly controlled and regulated. Or so it is believed.
The Interlink maglev trains connect major zones in the arcology. Departure times vary some across the different shifts, but are regular enough that waiting times are usually low. With security being somewhat sketchy onboard the trains and around the stations, more affluent habbers tend to use other means of transport.
The RBM-5 Tokamak
The tokamak was one of the first fusion reactors to be installed in the arcology, and it has been upgraded and augmented many times since its inception. The torus type plasma containment chamber forms the reactor core, to which numerous systems have been added and/or jury rigged over time. The reactor has been slated for a complete replacement for at least sixty-nine standard, but it seems to constantly slip down the prioritization schedule. The denizens of the deepStink are happy with this as it allows them to siphon off pow from the chaotic grid surrounding the reaction.
Rerouting of major powerlines and the installment of additional security systems around the new area has caused unexpected fluctuations which the reactor SI is desperately trying to juggle aaginst the already dangerously overloaded power grid. No wonder the poor thing shut itself down.
Universal Credit, the standard currency on Veles and in the Common.
Project MensShen is an experimental wormhole-gate, based on Nyal Mince's Quantum Portal algorithm - in turn derived from the Einstein-Rosen bridge concept. If proven functional, a MenShen gate will be able to connect any two points in the universe and open up a traversable portal between them - making instantaneous travel across unfathmable distances possible.
The Ascent Group first heard of Mince when he presented his findings at an experimental physics symposium on Mars. Then Chief Technical Officer Dakyne saw enormous potential in what Mince suggested, and convinced the board to pay an exorbiant amount to hire and ship the young scientist to Veles, where the Ascent Group has its headquarters. CTO Dakyne immediately initiated a huge, top secret R&D project with the stated goal to manufacture and test a wormhole gate, and the project was given the codename "MenShen".
Aware that a breakthrough would cause tremendous and fundamental change throughout the known universe, the Ascent Group board strove to keep the MenShen project utterly secret - to the point of engaging the services of Onyx Void for their materials and personnel needs. Onyx Void is one of the most influential criminal organisations in the Common, and by acting through them the Ascent Group could keep their doings secret from rival corporations.