. Unlike traditional concept albums, that may only share thematic ideas or central themes, Lascaille's Shroud has an actual cast of characters shared between albums. Heavy themes of morality, ethics, and identity color the lyrical ideas and are a reoccurring theme shared within the story arc and the characters within it.
Interval 01 is the beginning of the Parallel Infinities story arc, and it's history begins in the year 2188, when Earth is mostly a barren waste. The remaining land - located mostly in Russia, China, and Australia - has been built to the edge of the sky. These parts of Earth are glorious testaments to terraforming and engineering, yet their presence is a constant reminder of how close humanity came to bringing its own extinction. That reminder is still not enough, however, to unite the remaining factions on Earth. Australia and Russia are largely controlled by religious organizations seeking to limit the progress of science and technology. China, caught between the two, is the only 'free' nation on Earth, home to the scientific minds and engineers who struggle to rebuild whats left of their home planet. Political pressure, and threats of military action force China to develop new technologies in secret.†
The year is 2265 - the world is at a stalemate, barely above the precipice of annihilation. Mankind has to now face another obstacle in their path to rebuild Earth, a sterility plague. For the past several decades all men, women, and children lost the ability to reproduce. No one knew the cause, or how it could be cured. For the longest time it seemed there was none, until two brilliant minds came together.
Sarah Tereshkova is a geneticist who specializes in designing organic prosthetic's catered to specific patients. Her work, however, has caught the attention of the religious organizations of Australia and Russia as she attempts to design a cure for the sterility plague. She, along with two-thousand other scientists, doctors, and researchers including her husband Vincent, live aboard the Arcturus Station. A state of the art installation hidden in the Kuiper Belt to avoid literal execution.
Every night when she closes her eyes, Sarah sees the Earth she can never return to, and dreams to rebuild her glory.
For years Sarah and Vincent have worked together to build a cure for the sterility plague. Vincent, is an artificial and synthetic intelligence expert, the foremost designer and programmer for military defense systems on Earth, and he too has been exiled in secrecy to Arcturus. Their work is neither an antidote, nor a cure of any traditional kind. Their cure...is evolution. Adaptation to a hostile environment, just implemented at an accelerated rate.
This comes in form of ASI (Advanced Synthetic Intelligence). ASI is not human, nor is she alien, robot, or cyborg.
Sarah, builds the perfect body. Genetically pure and free of disease and aging. Vincent, builds the consciousness and mind to inhabit the body. But, he leaves no restrictions on her ability to learn or think. ASI can successfully reproduce with plagued humans using the most minute amounts of DNA collected through intercourse. ASI both looks and gives birth much like a human, except her cybernetically enhanced body accelerates the development of the fetus while ensuring it is perfectly healthy.
But ASI is discovered, and an all out assault is launched on Arcturus by unknown entities.
Australia and Russia, while ASI is being developed, are contacted by an unknown person promising to take care of their problem with China, all they had to do was shut down long range scanners on the outer edge while they took care of Arcturus Station. They agreed to do so, but what they were unaware of, was that this "person", was actually an agent for The Swarm.†
The Swarm is a collective of super-sentient machines, of unknown origin and technologically advanced beyond all comprehension. Ranging in size from atoms, to Galaxy Destroyers the size of stars, there is no human force capable of even halting their progress. With the long range scanners disabled, their most colossal machines could simply stroll into the Sol system.†
They send a Divider Squad into Arcturus Station to kill off any humans, a small group of 20-30 highly stealthily operative that can eliminate large populaces in small amounts of time and with little attention. Sarah is able to secure both Vincent and ASI's escape, she is injured in the assault and jams an airlock door closed as they escape, not giving them a chance to come back for her. She can hear the sounds of thousands of people, slaughtered and left lying where they die. She manages to lure this "Divider Squad" to her, as the last remaining survivor on the station, to the core of Arcturus.
The engine, the power for Arcturus, is a small artificial star. As they all close in on her she settles in the engine rooms. Typing a few simple commands she overloads the engine and ignites the station in a small supernova, destroying the squad and delaying The Swarm ever so slightly by creating an explosion that catches the entire attention of Earth. She makes the ultimate sacrifice.
Just a few short years after they escape the attack on Arcturus. ASI and Vincent remain hiding in Beijing - until they start to receive coded messages in their dreams. The message urges them to go to a specific set of coordinates out of the Sol system. With nothing left on Earth for them, they depart their home planet once again with caution and intrigue...
...Just in time to see Earth destroyed.
The Swarm comes in fast, and as Vincent and ASI drift past a crumbling Mars, they witness the destruction first hand. An Armada with numbers so great they blot out the light of the sun, The Swarm leads a massive machine towards Earth. Massive 'hands' wrap around Earth, spanning the entire globe, and slowly squeeze Earth into an ungodly explosion.
As they watch everything they know die, Vincent and ASI are soon forced into restraints by unknown machines. A voice echoes in their minds speaking about cryogenic sleep, and escape, and before they know it they are both rendered unconscious.
For years, in this cryogenic sleep, Vincent dreams...
He relives his biggest regret over and over. Long before he began his work on ASI or moved to China, he built AI systems for the military of Russia. He built organic machines using brain matter from recently dead soldiers and civilians. However, while he was performing his surgery one day on a young woman, she flinched while he had her skull opened for removal of her brain.
She was not dead.
He quickly put her back together, and worked to revive her. Once she awoke, Vincent realized that all his patients could actually be victims...alive in the time of his work, an impossibly painful procedure. He took the young woman with him and escaped to the safety of China.
The woman, was Sarah.
Vincent awakes to darkness, and alone. He is in a massive chamber several miles in size. He looks around but cannot find ASI, and the strange voice from before informs her that she has disappeared, ejecting herself out into the void before she could be put under. The events he begins to recall, and the weight of all his losses and failures bear down on him.
Atlas, is a massive structure that is not perceivable by any means, it refracts and absorbs 100% of heat, light, and radiation. The Structure itself is roughly the size of a galaxy and is occupied by the consciousnessí of two long dead alien beings from the Andromeda galaxy. Their race lost the fight against The Swarm a few hundred thousand years ago, but before their extinction they constructed Atlas, and placed within it Atlas-Rigel and Atlas-Aetheriel. The purpose of Atlas is to create a universe within itself, by destroying the one it inhabits and destroying itself in the process.†
Vincent had been chosen to aid in this process because of his unique knowledge and status among humanity. But before he could do anything, before Atlas could do anything, they had to let The Swarm leave the Milky Way so they could work in seclusion. Atlas is the only thing with technology capable of rivaling The Swarm's. They heal Vincent, perfect him, make him ageless and undying. Because, for the next 5,000 years he must wait as The Swarm devours his galaxy. He must accept the deaths, to preserve all life.
In order to preserve existence, he must destroy existence.
Interval 02 takes place right after the end of "Epilogue" from Interval 01, in which Vincent went in hiding until The Swarm left the Sol system, and moved onto the rest of the universe.
- Integration: Into The Posthuman Continuum
Facing a task too great for a mortal being, Vincent undergoes a massive transformation of body and mind. To better help him fathom of what is happening to the universe, Atlas-Rigel and Atlas-Aetheriel completely alter his perception and abilities. Inside the structure he is submerged into a massive pool of liquid, and his body is slowly disassembled atom by atom and replaced my nanomachines and organic machinery. When the transformation is complete, Vincent now finds his body (at least as he can perceive it) to extend into the wider universe, being able to feel and perceive all of existence.
- Reborn: The Lamentation's Of A Dying Universe
As Vincent struggles to adjust to his new body and mind, he starts to panic in his inability to adjust. However, his being is entwined in the universe and the violent panicking creates violent external phenomena. Stars begin to collapse, the seas on planets fall apart as the world splits in half, and all of this could attract the attention of The Swarm so he struggles to steady his body and mind. As he settles down, his mind begins to clear - and he can sense all life in the universe. At first it's insanely overwhelming, as he can feel all life dying out slowly across the universe. Finally, bringing his mind into some kind of equilibrium - he has a terrifying moment. Something inside him turns off, was it is humanity? Was it just part of the process? He couldn't be sure, but immediately after that something disappeared...He felt something he had never known, wake up inside him.
- Awakened: Not Even Remembered The Dust of Stars
Finally Vincent has finished his transformation, and he begins to think ahead on what needs to be done. The monumental size of the task has him doubtful, despite his new abilities. He ponders on if this task should really be left to him, what happens if he fails? He begins to think on the irony and hypocrisy of himself and the Atlas twins, being just as destructive as The Swarm - and with a solution that is theoretically impossible, and foolish to attempt.