Big and small, the hovers flowed around and over them. A shadow blotted out the light and she looked up to see a massive sky-train pass overhead, while a squadron of maintenance bugs, bubble-like domes with triangular wings, clung to the side of a tower.
A small, automated hover controlled by a city’s Maintenance AI, maintenance bugs (colloquially known as ‘bugs’) are equipped to handle the vast majority of a city’s repair works.
Built from a generic core, bugs are highly customisable and have a vast array of attachments, allowing them to be configured for any job, no matter how specialised. This customisation also allows for them to be reused and retasked, depending upon the Maintenance AI’s needs.
A magnetic field generated by each of the human cities. It performs two functions:
- support the network of suburbs (‘burbs) that surround each of the five human cities
- enable the use of mag-lev (magnetic levitation) technology
The mag-web redistributes a portion of the magnetic energy that keeps the cities aloft through a network of relays that extend its range outwards. This has enabled humans to expand beyond the boundaries of the cities, establishing satellite suburbs for food production, industry and living space.
The two largest human cities, Cumulus City and Sabre, have found that the ‘burbs on the outer edges of their mag-webs lack the stability of those closer to the city proper. These outer ‘burbs are sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure and wind currents, and move anywhere from several centimeters to a hundred metres in any given direction. This instability makes them unsuitable for human habitation. Most are given over to agriculture and maintained by AI-controlled machinery.
The field, which projects upwards, allows vehicles to use magnetic levitation to hover/fly. The field is strongest closer to the source (the base of the city) and weakens as it gets further away (the top of the city). Mag-lev technology has come a long way, and the levs on newer hovers are far more efficient than older models, enabling them to utilize the weaker field at the top of the city.
With a few adjustments, and the addition of a little program she’d grown just for the occasion, she’d set the house’s AI to scouring not just the scattered sub-nets, but the prime-net as well…
Computer networking is segregated into a variety of networks, each with varying levels of access.
Everyone has access to the prime-net. It is the primary method for mass communication and includes access to the Planetary Library as well as news and mass media, with most household entertainment units using it to access content.
Data on the prime-net is heavily sanatised, with household and especially grown social AIs, regularly scouring it for data about their householders/owners. Unflattering data is often scrubbed and replaced.
Connected to the prime-nets, the sub-nets are access-restricted. Although most allow anyone to read them, very few allow unregistered individuals to alter data. Sub-nets most often belong to corporations, government bodies and community organisations.
The Planetary Library is Jørn’s largest sub-net.
Hero leaned closer to the screen. There was something wrong with his eyes, black and shiny and mechanical. “Are they…?”
“Cybernetic,” Norah said from the other side of the workbench, her eyes glued to another screen. “And they’re not the only greywork he has. If you plugged him into the planetary net, he could double as an AI.”
Implants inserted into the brain. Although primarily used to repair neural damage – such as that caused by birth defects or injury – it can also be used to enhance human intelligence and memory.
In the past, greywork (also known as greyware) allowed humans to interface directly with computers. While this is still possible, given the state of current AI technology (which hasn’t advanced much, if at all, in the last 300 years) it is cheaper and more efficient to do so manually.
Over the last several generations, there has been an increased incidence of rejection amongst greyware patients, where implants simply stop working.
Research suggests the increased rejection of neural implants is linked to the Pollen.
Before her, in overlapping squares and rectangles projected outward from the wall, were holos of her mum, except the girl in the holos didn’t look like her mum, not exactly. Surrounded by friends, laughing, talking, smiling, her flurry-thyt either perched on her shoulder or cradled in her arms, she looked happy and fun and all of the things Hero had never thought her mum could be.
In essence, holo-walls turn entire walls into gigantic holo-screens, allowing a user to access a building’s AI as well as the prime- and sub-nets. Frequent uses include:
- displaying external scenes, giving the illusion of windows overlooking gardens and exotic locales
- displaying artwork. A new artistic movement has taken advantage of the technology and now many homes and businesses feature intricate artworks that respond to the mood of the occupants
- audio-visual entertainment
- conference calls
Although there is no restriction on the size of a holo-wall, it has yet to be adapted for outdoor use.
The holo-wall is a relatively recent advent in human technology. Although first invented well over 300 years ago, before the Jørn colonists left Earth, lack of resources turned holo-walls into a luxury the colonists couldn’t afford. It is only in the last 70 years that it has been ‘rediscovered’, and can now be found in the homes and businesses of most upper-middle class citizens.
The hover was a black behemoth and shiny, so shiny she could see the Lamb reflected in its sides, staring after her, arms akimbo, her face still caught in frustration. Inside were leather seats, facing each other over an ocean of carpet. Above, the roof, opaque on the outside, was a transparent dome.
A short-distance vehicle that uses plasma propellers to fly. Although most commonly used as a passenger vehicle, this highly versatile craft has been adapted to other uses, resulting in specialised versions of the vehicle such as:
Hovers are ill-suited to long-distance travel.
For long-distance vehicles, see airships. For long-distance haulage, see sky-train.