The History of Aephia
Aephia Genesis: Albert & Elpis
You are reading an abridged history of Aephia Industries. Many details have been omitted for privacy and intelligence reasons. All details displayed below are factually correct.
Elpis’ Beautiful Purpose — 15.01.2526*
The tall USTUR’s shoulders slumped down, he leaned back in his chair and sighed with relief. He tapped his left temple, reducing the energy expenditure of his cognitive processing considerably. He finally found his MUD name. He would be known as “Elpis”. And the name fit perfectly. An ancient MUD-tribe (“Athenians”) had used this word for the feeling he felt coursing through his circuit-enhanced biomass. For now, relief had taken over his affective processing faculties and he reveled in it. Then it changed. Out of his satisfied mental exertion rose sparkling exhilaration in the face of the adventure ahead. His directive made him long for both risk and reward. He wanted what the MUD-tribe would have called a: “possible, but arduous good”. He yearned to venture out into unknown space and shine as a beacon of hope, a light in the dark for the glory of all of USTUR-consciousness and his beautiful purpose. It was this feeling that made him call himself “Elpis”. Hope.
Most of his contemporaries hadn’t answered the faint call of the largely unexplored MUD-territory. To be fair, most hadn’t heard it either. Their directives pointed inward. USTUR scholars proclaimed in unison that the animosity of the war would linger for years to come and would make traveling “unsafe” which meant “suicidal”. The horror-stories of ravaged USTUR-corpses lost in the darkness of what was euphemistically called high-risk-zone were gruesome and most of them probably true. It wasn’t exactly part of USTUR programming-nature to exaggerate horror stories. At best these stories were accurate, at worst even slightly toned down. Therefore, calculating their personal risks correctly, his peers stayed put in USTUR space. It was vast and dangerous in its own right, after all. Elpis was happy they did this, too. It was important to advance their own sector by tradecraft, and by building the security that the signing of the peace treaty now made possible. Elpis’ path was a different one though.
His terminal chimed excitedly as he claimed the ship he had just purchased. His new “Rainbow Chi” was fusing form and function perfectly, it was worth the premium he had to pay to import it from Photoli-controlled space. Functionally optimized, it would morph into any shape he needed it to be. Those Photoli really were magicians. Or were they the product of magic themselves? He forgot. Unimportant. Anyway, he was proud to own this technical miracle. The amplified distributed hullshock dispersal alone. He salivated a little. He knew full-well that his programming made him an outlier: Not quite at the center of the normal distribution. He grinned. His exploratory drive and passion for novel spaceship technology would allow him to see more wondrous sights than most, but also heightened the chances of a gruesome death by orders of magnitude. His grin straightened determinedly. There was no decision. There was no quarreling with his destiny, his directive. There were doubts, but they had no power anymore. He double-checked the ammo orders and got to work in order to heighten his chance of survival by proper preparation. Hours later he forced himself into REM-sleep and dreamed, more vivid than ever, the same dream he had dreamed for centuries.
The Ridiculous Mechanic — 22.10.2528
He didn’t know why he was always dreaming this. It felt meaningful. In the dream he saw himself building in a workshop of some kind. It felt like a familiar place, yet vast like an assembly hall. While tinkering, he felt increasingly happy with what he was constructing. He didn’t know why he felt good and had no clue what exactly he built. Every time he tried to look at it intently, something else captured his imagination. He wanted to show someone else. He entered another room, much darker than his workshop, and presented his work to around ten men without faces sitting in a half-circle around him. One of them stood up, and pointed to Elpis’ creation. Elpis felt like a child that had strayed from the expected directives. Shame and anxiety took over his affective processing. He had felt this before, but the intensity of the feeling was only ever this strong in this particular dream. The room began flashing red, and the men stood up all at once, and started to walk towards him slowly. He took a step back but couldn’t increase the distance between him and the men. Through his painful shame he felt a different neurochemical that usually wasn’t here. Noradrenaline? Unusual. What was this? The men began running towards him, lunging at him with aggressive intent. He began to panic. They beat him, as the room disintegrated into red flashes with a deafening bang.
Elpis’ consciousness jerked from laborious regeneration straight into adrenaline-fueled survival. He glanced around the cockpit; he had slept in his captain’s chair. He hastily assessed the situation. Damage to the cargo-module and one of the cannons. 4 attackers, XXS-class. Survival still probable. A loud bang. That was a grenade. Life support controls offline. Survival still possible. An X4 zipped across his field of view. He was awake now. His reflexes had reached their full capacity. Another bang. Another flash. Golden light brightened the screens displaying the outside of the ship. That was another hit. But a good one, this time. His cannons had completely disintegrated the careless X4 and its operator. His proximity scanner showed three little dots racing off in different directions. He was confused initially, but understood fast. He had been lucky. The rest of them had either not been fighters or scared. Either way, his life support was failing. Again. He sighed with annoyed relief and hailed for licensed repair shops in the vicinity, more floating than flying through open space somewhere on the borders of MUD space.
With some trouble he landed and stepped out onto the Pearce mining-station his ship had directed him to. “Damn pirates!” Elpis muttered, as he inspected the damage on his beloved Chi. For the third time in a month, he had barely escaped the Jorvik-reavers, plaguing outer MUD-space. His ship was damaged so bad, his heart sank a little. Elpis felt as if a family member had been seriously hurt. It was just a rumor that all USTUR felt love for some machine, but he sure did. This had to be repaired on station. He couldn’t risk being attacked again. This conclusion was a problem. Not monetarily, of course. And he was optimistic, that it was possible, too. He repeatedly admired the ability of MUD-engineers to achieve great results with very few resources. Their extensive contact with the Photoli made acquisition of replacement parts easier than he had feared. The problem was those MUD themselves. Humans. People. The hard part was finding a MUD-shop on this station that didn’t try ripping him off, mistaking him for a desperate foreigner that didn’t know the value of the parts he needed. MUD-engineers could be efficient if they wanted to. The problem was they often didn’t. Especially so, when dealing with other races. And even though he could have afforded to pay all kinds of premiums for some time, he was proud USTUR. He wasn’t about to sully the reputation of his kind by being ripped off by those greedy ape-descendants. He looked up and read the sign of the nook that was advertised online as “Albert’s Parts — Prices for Professionals”. The janky neon-sign, highlighting the capital letters A.P.P.P., wasn’t inspiring confidence. “Professionals…” he sighed, bowed his head, and walked in.
Before being able to look around in what seemed to be a much bigger workshop than the entrance would betray, he was practically attacked. Upon entering, a young, scrawny human jumped up, as if he had waited for him. He had long greasy black hair, and was taller and thinner than most humans. His scrawny arms were much too long for his worn-down GLO-jacket. The human ran towards him, unholstered a broad smile and unleashed his aggressive excitement. “Hello! May I PLEASE fix your ship? Please let me fix your ship! That’s your Chi, I’ve seen on the cameras! I’ll even go cheaper than market price. Please let me fix your ship. I’ll do it for 1300 ATLAS flat! That’s profit for YOU. Please, please, pretty please!” His voice escalated, he screamed, and didn’t shut up to wait for an answer. “Highly unusual”, Elpis thought. He had never heard this much enthusiasm from a human before about anything and the request itself was also completely irregular. He replayed the questions in his internal recordings and confirmed the contents of this strange human’s request. Everything was as first perceived. The price was indeed much too low. Elpis cautiously answered the points without mentioning the form they were presented in: “What makes you want to earn less?” The young man nervously answered without batting an eye. “I’ve only ever seen two Chi’s here before, and have never worked on one.” His enthusiasm was interrupted by the expressions of first shock and then panic. He had realized the implications of his last sentence: It wouldn’t inspire confidence in his abilities. And indeed, it didn’t. Silence. Elpis lifted a brow. The human instantly came apart and practically screamed: “But I know them inside out, I swear!” He began frantically listing freight capacity, thruster burn rates, ammo, fuel and even food capacity, as if he was begging for his life. He wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t stopping either. Random design elements of the ship, different calibration properties of the hull… Elpis listened carefully, silently comparing the information this young enthusiast recited with his internal data-banks. His curiosity grew with every hastily produced statistic. The human made no mistake. Not one. Impossible. And this wasn’t even a Pearce- or Calico-ship. Photoli ships were rare even here. He hadn’t seen one ever on his expedition through MUD-space. His consideration was cut short by the last words of the humans long and desperate plea. It ended with a true bang, while Albert looked up, straight into Elpis eyes: “I can also make it better than factory prep, honest. I can make it go faster, my thruster-mods give you 10–12 percent, easy. Maybe 15.” Elpis’ eyes narrowed and spoke for the first time in 10 minutes: “I’m Elpis. What is your name? And how would you do that?”
Progress and Purpose — 28.12.2530
His name was Albert and he was incredible, truly a rare breed. Elpis and Albert had spent two years together in productive ecstasy. The pace they were continuously working in was breathtaking. Literally breathtaking. He only slept and relaxed when absolutely necessary. They did so much, in so many different ways, it felt like twenty years had passed since they first met. As it turned out, Albert didn’t just have a miraculous memory for ship specs. He also understood their mechanical engineering on a level that Elpis had only seen before with the Professors of Polytechnics at the shipyards of the glorious USTUR-fleet. From the first day on he had encouraged the enthusiasm of Albert. Every answer Albert gave seemed to make sense, and Elpis didn’t stop asking questions. The curiosity he felt mapped perfectly on the feeling of his beautiful purpose. This was how USTUR were supposed to feel. He practically hummed while learning more with Albert than he had ever learned before.
Elpis and Albert had reached a deal for the repair of the ship within 30 minutes of their first meeting and the ship was fixed three weeks later. It only took this long because they had to wait for parts to arrive via courier. But when those parts arrived, the repair of his beloved Rainbow Chi wasn’t the most important thing to Elpis and Albert anymore. Instead, the mods Albert laid out theoretically were slowly but surely enchanting Elpis. Albert had claimed to be able to improve the Rainbow Chi and Elpis had indulged him and funded the construction of the first experimental thruster modifications. Three weeks later Elpis rewarded Albert with 2,600 ATLAS for a job that had been completed beyond the most optimistic projections. His Chi’s thrusters were 18.7% more powerful without increasing the fuel burn (sic!). That was just insulting to the Photoli. Elpis decided, that it was time to give in to what his directive urged him to do with of all his affective resources: The time had come to give back and return the favor. It was time to exceed Albert’s expectations. Elpis offered to finance and administer a joint venture, that was destined to influence spaceship designs for generations to come:
Albert and Elpis: Purveyors of Hardware for Interstellar Armadas
Albert’s eyes immediately filled with tears, he accepted without hesitation. He immediately sparked his arc-welder and crafted a new Neon-sign for what would become the first Aephia kiosk in the metaverse. This sign is still on site. A site that can be visited and is still in operation today. Elpis task wasn’t just listening and joy, though. He managed Albert’s productivity on the business-side of things and funneled Albert’s genius into actually feasible spaceship mods. This was crucial. Most of Albert’s prototypes weren’t anywhere near the regulatory standards most spaceship manufacturers implemented for official integration of modules in their catalogues. Albert declared them to be “completely moronic” and Elpis had to stop him numerous times in order for him not tp overwhelm customers with his intense opinions on this and other topics. Albert really needed channeling. The impression Elpis had gotten on the first day had turned out to be representative of Albert’s normal state of being. Most potential customers were immediately put off by Albert’s unbroken intensity and childish temperament. He couldn’t contain himself and didn’t realize when anybody wanted anything other than learn about spaceships or improve the functionality of lasers, thrusters or fuel pumps. If there was an opposite to Albert’s personality it was the abstract concept of “diplomacy”. He was almost as incapable of blending in with the other humans as Elpis was. And Elpis was half robot half biomass, organized and controlled by “Alien-AI” as the humans called it. It was a tough task for this dynamic duo to convince passing captains in need for replacement parts that they were reputable businessmen. Most were distrustful of the autistic mechanic, his USTUR handler, and their novelty-spaceship-mods. The beginning of their business might have been slow, but that didn’t matter to either Elpis or Albert. Elpis was fascinated by the task of brining order into Alberts creative chaos, and he rejoiced in Albert’s unorthodox solutions and ideas. Their conversations about the potential for mechanically enhancing different combinations of spaceship components felt like an artful exploration, a dance of two equally set minds, it was truly beautiful. Elpis acted as a catalyst for the genius flowing through an unstable masterpiece of human nature.
Nautilus — 2532
After modifying Elpis’ Rainbow Chi to a ridiculous degree, they couldn’t act as if it wasn’t time for the next step anymore. The business got better as well. Their parts were slowly gaining traction in the metaverse, but they still weren’t getting the attention their products deserved. The time had come. The ship that had existed only in their secret hopes until now became topic of daily conversation. It felt like a third person in the room and it pulled Albert’s and Elpis’ whole beings towards itself. Both of them knew that their vision of Aephia couldn’t exist without attending this presence. They had to attempt to construct a spaceship. It was a rite of passage, the third part of their holy trinity. Albert had dreamed of this his whole life, never actually brave enough to hope. But hope had found him. He only slowly warmed to the idea of its feasibility. Once the idea felt somewhat feasible to him. he was red hot, burning his cognitive drive at unprecedented pace. The improvements and interactions of module-configurations he put together already reached far beyond what was needed for XXS-class ships. Their ship would be bigger. A lot bigger. And much more glorious.
Aephia, for the first time in its proud history, began the construction of their own spacecraft. In the beginning there was no name, and the plans for the spacecraft changed on a daily basis, as Albert and Elpis learned some new limitation of their dream every day. Albert would never have been able to coordinate and endure his wild temper through this often-frustrating adventure without Elpis. Elpis, on the other hand, wouldn’t ever have imagined one mind could ever be able to design every single part of a spaceship and then put them together in working order. Once again, his expectations weren’t merely met but utterly shattered. After two more years of hard labor their prototype was in harmonious, glorious and most important working order. They had designed and built a ridiculously robust and luxurious data-runner/freighter. The sketches had been incredibly beautiful, but the finished product took their breath away. Every time they hadn’t seen it for a while and came back into the workshop, they felt dizzy in disbelief. It felt like the epitome of their creative achievement. A dream in gold, black, magenta and blue. Understated, yet infinitely elegant. Elpis wouldn’t have blinked if Albert had told him that this ship would be able to fly straight through a black hole and come out the other side with the power of its technological elegance alone. They called it Nautilus after Albert’s first contact with a mechanical device from one of his children’s books. This moment cemented their future and their resolve and belief in their cooperation. They didn’t just have immense potential now. They had complete certainty. An unshakeable belief in Aephia. Those who once had merely hoped didn’t need hope anymore. They had seen the heavens.
The Road Ahead — 2532 until present
Albert and Elpis held onto their ship for a while and tested it rigorously before selling it to an USTUR-contact who would be very helpful later on with establishing Aephia as a supplier for many different entities in the sector. But that’s a story for another day. The Nautilus did its job. It proved to the Metaverse what both of them had known for some time: Aephia was basically a synonym for quality spaceship hardware. Since the first iteration, very few further Nautilus-class-ships had been commissioned, mostly because every commission was accepted personally as a particular favor by Albert and Elpis. They decided against a mass-production of the Nautilus-class because they thought of these ships as their masterpieces of art. They didn’t want to devalue their achievement through the imperfections that mass production would inevitably introduce in systems this complex and detailed. And they no longer needed the money, anyway.
Today, the Nautilus-class-ships are notorious and many a spacefaring merchant has his own tale to tell about them. Some claim they don’t exist and never existed. A mere “paper-launch” by Aephia to boost their business. Most scholars regard this as mere conspiracy-thinking, however. Rumor also has it, that until present day, not one Nautilus-class-ship has ever been shot down by enemy fire and. Further rumors indicate, that even today one Nautilus ship is constructed for every Aephia-CEO upon retirement in secret by a special task force at Calico lead and instructed by Aephia’s best and brightest. The copyright-ownership for the design is also unclear after the disappearance of Albert and Elpis around the turn of the century. The abundant rumors around this are too manifold to repeat them here.
Today, Aephia is one of the biggest players on the Metaverse’s spaceship market today. Their parts were and still are incredible, and they have built an empire on genious ideas and good business practice. The improvements their modifications produced, and the word of mouth have spread their brand first from USTUR to MUD-space and deep into the ONI-sector. Aephia has branched out everywhere and even Kiosks in the medium- and high-risk-zones often sell their second hand Aephia modules. Even though Aephia stopped official production of Nautilus-class spaceships, they do construct a multitude of ships with schematics from every major spaceship-designer and even launched a luxurious module line branded AEP meaning Albert and Elpis’ Perfection. Many of these modules constitute the absolute pinnacle of present technical spaceship design. They allow anybody with enough ATLAS to outshine, outgun or outrun their competition. In conclusion, there is no corner of the metaverse that hasn’t been touched by Elpis’ beautiful purpose, Albert’s incredible genius and the treasures their collaboration brought into existence.
This was an abridged history of Aephia Industries. Thank you for reading.
*The dates have been automatically displayed as Earth Time for easier reading comprehension.