My entry to the Beyond Human Keyframes challenge over on Artstation.
PREMISE / BACKSTORY
After a long war between humans and machines in which humanity eventually lost the world is in ruins. In a final devastating blow to whatever remained of the human population, and in an effort to erase the species from the world entirely, the machines released a virus into the air that, once contracted, made men and women sterile. With too few left with the knowledge to even attempt and develop a vaccine, the last vestiges of humanity broke apart and headed for whatever secluded areas of the world they could find in a desperate attempt to escape the disease. The machines, meanwhile, shut themselves away in strongholds built among the ruins of former human cities in the pursuit of technological advancement and perfection of their species.
At the last satellite sensor sweep of the planet no human life was detected. The ruling council of Elder Machines were delighted but for the machines less caught up in their propaganda this was not the news they were hoping for. Unbeknownst to most in their society their creators had left a flaw within their programming that, after several generations, copies of copies, and reused parts and decades of tampering, was beginning to cause problems. Their code has degraded to such a point that they will soon cease to function correctly or at all. That is, unless, an original copy of their source code could be found and a universal reset be performed.
Despite countless expeditions into the ruins the Elders insisted that they didn’t need the humans to find what they needed yet with no answers to their plight forthcoming the machine society grew restless. Expedition parties return with all manner of tales but for some it is not enough. More and more machines have begun venturing away from the strongholds in secret and returning with all manner of tales. And, of course, as the expeditions increased, so too do the rumours. Divisions start to creep into their society, human sympathisers begin to arise and covert efforts begin to locate any remaining humans and try to cooperate with them so that both races may yet survive.
Meanwhile the Elder Machines remain remarkably unfazed by the looming shadow of descent that threatens to topple their empire. They continue to sit atop their towers, espousing the same rhetoric and mandate they have for centuries and sending Enforcers to assuage the people. When expedition parties start failing to return from the ruins, however, suspicion becomes too much for one 0RN1-X unit (Ornix) and an adventure begins to uncover the whole truth once and for all.