In the year 2130, sixty-two years after the twin punches of world wars IV and V, humanity tasted peace once again. They struggled to rebuild while enduring radiation storms, famines, droughts, and a devastated atmosphere. They were toughened by the struggle, and, for a time, they survived.
But the cities never stopped burning. Radiation rode the smoke plumes into the stratosphere for years. Rads coated the farmlands. The rivers. The tundra. The oceans. Civilization retreated and retreated until there was nowhere to go but the underground.
The surface died.
Years went by. Mammoth machines carved tunnels under the remains of the old nations and a new era of humanity began, but it couldn’t last long. There was plenty of water, but not enough food or fuel for so many survivors. Life could not thrive in the darkness.
Humanity needed a miracle.
When the drilling machines punched through to existing chambers deep underground, scientists discovered an ancient technology that offered the hope they sought. The giant vaults were empty except for countless people-sized bore holes on the stone floors.
Who built them? Why were they there? When were they last used?
The dwindling number of survivors set forth to discover those secrets before their time ran out.
What they found would forever change humanity. Twenty-second century technology was fused with the exotic machinery of the mystery holes to activate ancient warp gates to the surface. Portals which could help them get the scarce resources they needed to survive another week, month, and year.
But humans couldn’t even spend a minute on the surface, so they built humanoid drones to do the dirty work.
Scientists sent the prototype machines through the gateway instead of living flesh. They picked up test loads and tried to bring them home. The strange portals scrubbed radiation from incoming objects, but the electronics were fried by an electromagnetic energy pulse at the same moment.
More of their dwindling resources were spent on revisions…
To solve their problem, they experimented with small quantities of the futuristic technology and created robot explorer 2.0. They discovered adding human DNA to the internal systems was the key to canceling the effects of the EMP. Designated as Underground Robogenetic Survivalists, URS for short, they became the tip of the spear for exploring the surface and bringing back loot.
Humanity once again had a chance.
As you might expect, all these decisions had a cost. The newly discovered materials only provided the resources to build 10,000 of these metal adventurers across the entire planet. It might have been enough if they all came back, but this was challenging.
There was a 24-hour time limit to each gate before it shut off and reset. Some robots stayed out too long and went missing.
The guidance system took time to perfect. Some gates opened hundreds of feet above the surface, or below, before the eggheads got it right. More URS bots were lost.
After these early mishaps, the URS robots seemed to become self-aware. They returned through the gates with simulated feelings, emotions, and attitudes. They behaved like real people. They even dressed themselves.
They wanted humans to take better care of them.
That was difficult once the guidance systems went berserk. Without a full understanding of who built the mysterious technology or how it operated, scientists often had to use their best guesses. One gate linked to the surface, but 60 years in the past, during the worst of the world wars. Another gate went to the future, where life was reborn on a lush new world. Still other gates went to faraway places…possibly outside our entire universe.
Running out of time, the last humans depend on the URS program for their day-to-day survival, but the Underground Robogenetic Survivalist bots also rely on their living friends to get them to safe landing sites and help bring them back in one piece. They share the same DNA as their post-apocalyptic partners, and now they all want the same thing: find a new home for humans and bots alike.
And that home is out there, at the other end of one of those gateways.
Are you ready to jump through with them to find it?
Allowing a traveler to go through space, time, and dimensions. Later learning that it was unpredictable where they would end up. The hole would remain open for 24 hours and in which there was no return afterward.