2969 1000th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing.
Humanity had other plans for the thousandth anniversary of the first moon landing.
The 500th anniversary, 500 years ago, had been widely celebrated throughout the Sol system. A ship had just flown (effectively) faster than light. The interplanetary civilization was growing rapidly and beginning to reach out to the stars. Animated by a spirit of optimism humanity was celebrating its achievements.
Now, in the year 1000 "after Tranquility" everything is different. There is no optimistic mood, there are no celebrations. The Sol system has been occupied by aliens for 70 years. There first to come were Leccian hordes, then Rog-Ozar, after that Dellians. The solar economy collapsed, weakened by mismanagement, and worn down by interstellar wars. Only 75 years ago, solar powers employed techno-barbarians as mercenaries. Now the situation is reversed. Humanity itself is now serving barbarian tribes. Humans are forced to wage war for them and to raise the funds for the luxurious lifestyle of the occupying forces.
The new rulers dominate the planetary orbits and the higher Venus atmosphere. High-tech is still available there. Automatic repair systems keep most technical facilities in operation and human slaves look after of essential infrastructure. In the orbits technical know-how is still in demand. Yet even humans with technical training are not of much value. Others even less. All humans are serfs maintaining the technical infrastructure on behalf of their owners. However, there is no new development and no growth. On the contrary: the alien rulers live off the remains of a once thriving interplanetary economy. The economic output of the entire system has dropped to a mere three percent of pre-occupation levels. And since the Earth has been isolated, the new masters can use only one third thereof. So, all they have at their disposal is just one percent of the former productivity of the Sol system.
Not only the scale of the economy has fallen dramatically, but so have capabilities. Expensive high technology is no longer available. A century ago, solar shipyards had built thousands of ships each year with the most advanced propulsion systems in the sector (effectively) reaching up to 6000 times the speed of light. Now only a few ships are being built, mostly with reused parts from the scrapyard. Modern propulsion technology can no longer be produced. This would require a powerful industrial base able to deliver equipment of the highest precision. FTL propulsion systems are extraordinarily complex machinery. Their production requires an extensive supply chain of specialized companies: high-purity raw materials must be processed into nanostructured metamaterials, which are then formed into parts and aligned to picometer accuracy. These machines must retain their ideal configurations even at terawatt power consumption. But the few remaining shipyards do not master this technology anymore. What they still can produce is only good for an FTL-factor of 500.
500 times the speed of light: that was science fiction 1000 years ago. Even 500 years ago it was only theoretically possible. Technology is still better than at the 500th anniversary. Nevertheless, it is in decline. Most of the equipment now in use was produced at least 50 years ago. The infrastructure is getting old. Though it is maintained by slaves and AI, it is still wearing down over time. Autofabs and maintenance bots can only keep everyday technology running. But a networked, highly specialized economy is required to keep up high-tech production facilities and other sophisticated technology like FTL-drives. And when complex production systems fail, AI-based maintenance is not always good enough. Some repairs would require the technical skills of the original manufacturer or service providers with sophisticated know-how. These do not exist anymore.
Before the conquest, the earth had been the center of the Sol system. Humanity was new on the interstellar stage and its interplanetary civilization was still growing. Whereas older civilizations outgrow their home planets at some time inhabiting primarily interplanetary space, most humans still lived on the planet earth when the alien conquest happened. Modern technology and virtually unlimited energy allow for a population sizes in the tens of billions and the earth actually was at 40 billion.
From the point of view of the alien conquerors the earth was a risk with its thousands of megacities, some an endless sea of buildings, some reaching up to the stratosphere, others buried miles deep. Thousands of kilometers of floating habitats on the oceans and megacities deep undersea. An infinite mess of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, and attitudes. An uncontrollable chaos and far too many people.
On the contrary, the interplanetary part of a civilization is much easier to control. Only one billion people live in the orbits of Earth, Venus, Mars, and the outer planets, including mechs, androids, uploads, and autonomous AI. To begin with that is much less than the 40 billion on the earth. More important, in space all living beings are dependent on technology. In 1000 years, life support technology has become much simpler and more robust. The equipment can be produced cheaply by consumer autofabs while bots repair and clean the systems. Flexible field screens instead of mechanical hatches and seals shield from the vacuum. AI controls everything and makes sure that people in orbit can live almost as carefree as on the earth. Nevertheless, in orbit it is much easier to switch off life support or at least to threaten to do so. A lot of technology is required just for the breathing air. So, uprisings can easily be quelled by switching off life support in individual segments of a space station. Thus, an orbital population is much easier to control. The earth in comparison being an uncontrollable and dangerous place had to be neutralized.
Attacks on planetary infrastructure began as early as the Leccian coup. The Leccian hordes destroyed power plants and launch sites severely damaging space elevators. Subsequent rulers treated the earth even more ruthlessly cutting off the energy supply from the large solar farms in close sun orbits. Now the earth must do with much less energy. Virtually unlimited energy was essential for an infrastructure that enabled 40 billion people to live comfortably. Food production in vertical farms, transport and traffic, production of goods, access to orbit, everything needs energy and much of it is no longer possible. The earth still has energy, in fact much more than it did 1000 years ago. Modern technology and know-how are also still available. With limited resources not everything can be available for everyone anymore. Food is rationed. Medicine is expensive. Traffic is only regional and slow. Goods are no longer transported around the globe at 2000 km/h in vacuum trains. Much less is produced. The supply of raw materials has collapsed. The earth now lives off what was thrown away over 1000 years waste dumps now being the primary source of raw materials. Nanobots are digging through old landfills and since labor is cheap there are also human hands sifting through the rubble of past generations.
With energy in short supply and the technology failing, productivity has fallen dramatically. As a result, wages have been declining. At the same time, prices have risen because everything became scarce. Most people on earth are poor. The earth is now a vast slum where tens of billions are fighting for survival. Healthcare is poor. Medical technologies that used to be taken for granted are no longer affordable: corrective genetic engineering, synthetic biochemistry, non-invasive diagnostics, nano-based life prolongation, android-class prosthetics. None of these exists anymore. Diseases that had long since been defeated have returned. Life expectancy has fallen below 100 years. People are actually dying again. Permanent death is just as bizarre – as 1000 years ago – surgery without anesthesia and antibiotics. For a long time, death had been overcome. But now there is no more high-tech medicine for everyone. There are not any uploads either, no backups, no reincarnation as android or in a simulation. The population is decreasing – due to archaic, natural, final death – from more than 40 billion to 14 billion.
There are resistance movements on Earth. So many people are desperate to take action against the alien invaders dominating the skies. There is no shortage of volunteers. The urban guerrilla is well equipped. They have precision weapons and high-tech explosives. Physically and mentally they are capable of peak performances, the result of 1000 years of gene optimizations and nano-mods.
Most of them have several parallel thought processes, association boosters, increased tactical intelligence, and absolute orientation. Their motor skills are accelerated and aim-stabilized by optimized genes and artificial nerves. Some are able to activate an accelerated consciousness for a short time frame thanks to the bullet-time upgrade. Switchable savant aspects for various specializations are a matter of course. The AI of their neuro-implants feeds tactical data directly into the optic nerve marking potential threats autonomously. Most of them have artificial eyes which allow them to see UV and in the infrared. Even in absolute darkness they are capable of action because radar and ultrasound sensors create a realistic terrain model for them so see via neuro-implants as if it were bright light.
The situation-aware AI of their combat suits protects them in battle by localized reinforcement. Heavy combat equipment even has active countermeasures, a pellet storm shield or advanced reactive armor. A nanite matrix-based camouflage clothing makes them almost invisible even when in motion. The infrared signature is disguised by directed – and optionally deferred – radiation of body heat. Swarms of microbots detect and neutralize even hidden threats.
Any one of them could take on an entire infantry division from 1000 years ago.
The resistance forces would be far superior to the mercenaries of the alien conquerors. Their only problem is that the enemy avoids fighting on the planetary surface. The resistance cannot get into orbit and the alien rulers rarely get down to the surface. The new rulers of the Sol system have written off the earth. This state of affairs will remain for a long time.
At the 1000th anniversary of the first moon landing there is no celebration – and no hope.