Refuge is an unpublished science-fiction/drama novel currently being written by Avenuewriter.
The stars have gone out, and humanity's been extinct for trillions of years. But don't worry, humanity's mechanical progeny continues to carry on their spirit. However, living near the literal end of the universe isn't easy. Resources grow increasingly sparse, everything's constantly breaking down, and many don't see much hope for the future.
On board a slowly deteriorating starship live a group of Ridiculously Human Robots, one of which is an emulator named Eveleen. Where most of her crew members are circling the Despair Event Horizon, she still holds onto hope. One day, that hope becomes realized in the form of a message from deep space. The message is this: "Come to Refuge, there is hope, there is light, there is a future." Determined to find this refuge, Eveleen mounts an expedition with a handful of others to determine the validity of the message. The resulting journey will force Eveleen and her friends to confront not just the horrors of their dying world, but their own mortality. All while hopefully finding a brighter future for everyone.
- Absent Aliens: While there are plenty of odd looking machines and genetically engineered creatures roaming the remnants of the universe, they all can claim a human origin.
- After the End: In more ways than one. Human civilization has long collapsed and the last star burnt out millions of years ago.
- All Love Is Unrequited: It's painfully obvious that Syrano has a thing for Eveleen, and she has no clue. Though one can't blame her given she's an Artificial Human and he's a Starfish Robot.
- Alternative Calendar: The novel and its characters use the term "cycles" to describe that passage of time, typically with a prefix such as "giga," or more commonly "yotta," to describe how many they've gone through. How long a cycle is is up in the air, but the prefixes usually make it clear that there are a lot of them. Along with that, any date is followed up with b.l.s and a.l.s (Before Last Star and After Last Star respectively, marking the times before and after the last star burnt out).
- Ambiguous Robots: Some of the characters in the story aren't easily classified as organic or mechanical machines, mostly due to their Sufficiently Advanced nature.
- Apocalypse Cult: The main antagonist runs one which believes that any attempt to avoid death or entropy is going against the "grand scheme" of the universe.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: One of the theories for humanity's disappearance.
- Author Appeal: The novel is set in a Used Future, where everything's technically a museum piece, populated with Ridiculously Human Robots, the protagonist of which is a Robot Girl with Boyish Short Hair and a penchant for fixing things.
- Big Dumb Object: The refuge is sustained by an enormous structure called an "atlas tower," called as such because it literally "holds" up the sky (i.e. generates the Pocket Dimension the refuge is held inside), as well as shapes reality into habitable environments and maintains the climate inside the refuge. Plus, it is so large it easily falls into Star Scraper territory.
- Brain Uploading: Some characters are humans who long since disposed of their original human bodies. Though many aren't the same after several trillion years of living.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Eveleen's appearance is based on actress Mackenzie Davis. And Llewellyn's current voice box is commonly said to sound like "rich molasses." This is very much intentional.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: GR-2249, though somewhat justified. All that's left to eat at the end of the universe is an array of foul tasting fungi and algae collected from passing asteroids that are grown in the lower decks of the Orion. Eveleen and the handful of others who still eat play a game where the loser gets to eat GR's latest "experiment."
- Crapsack World: The stars have burnt out, everything's falling apart, and most find suicide a preferable option to continuing living.
- Deadpan Snarker: Eveleen without a doubt. Though plenty of others fit as well. It seems like this is symptomatic of living at the end of the universe.
- Despair Event Horizon: Everyone's circling it at varying distances at the start of the novel. Even Eveleen feels its pull sometimes.Eveleen: Nobody sees hope in anything anymore, it all burned out with the stars. Now we all just huddle together and cower in the dark.
- Determinator: Eveleen in spades. In a world where it seems a lot easier to just give up, she pushes on regardless.
- Driven to Suicide: Many machines willfully shut themselves down or self-destruct in the face of a future of eternal darkness in a dying universe.
- Expy: The Solus-4000's are essentially Exo's with Easily Detachable Robot Parts. Syrano's description inspires thoughts of a giant, snarkier, WALLE.
- Face Death with Dignity: A major theme in the story, not just for impending death, but the concept of death in general.
- Fanservice: Eveleen's "sunbathing" scene.
- Fate Worse than Death: Quite a few. Many humans uploaded their consciousness into robot bodies or virtual realities, but years of living have reduced many to hollow shells of their former selves.
- Fling a Light into the Future: Another one of the major themes of the story.
- Girl in a Box: Eveleen's origins. At the start of the story Llewellyn finds her in a stasis box on a derelict ship that was originally bound for what used to be the Milky Way.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Nearly all the machines in the story had this happen over centuries with no humans around. For instance, the character Rand was originally an advanced war machine who grew to become pacifistic and highly spiritual.
- Heroic BSoD: Eveleen's optimism and faith get tested so much she can't help but suffer a few over the course of the story. She's quick to recover though.
- Humans Are Special: Despite being long gone, their influence continues to be felt by their creations. Eveleen in particular believes this.Eveleen: The universe may have its limits, but the human spirit is infinite.
- Humans Are Survivors: Played with. While no true living humans exist, some have managed to continue in robot bodies and artificial realities. Though it's generally considered by many that the human race is effectively extinct, however their spirit lives on in their creations.M-8: Are you human?Eveleen: No, but I'm the closest thing to human you're gonna find.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: The phrase is played with in one scene where Eveleen volunteers to fix one of the robots they find in the refuge. The robot knows Eveleen was originally built for medical care, but isn't aware that, due to the absence of humans, she has shifted her focus to engineering.Eveleen: I can fix you.M-8: But you said you were a doctor!Eveleen: I'm a doctor AND an engineer, dammit! Engineering is the new surgery these days.
- Interspecies Adoption: In this case more like "inter-model" adoption. Eveleen is a human-like emulator while her "father" Llewellyn is a Solus-4000 with a more mechanical design.
- Killer Robot: Averted with Rand. While he was created for war, and looks like a walking tank, he grew to respect all life and is a complete pacifist.
- Last Of Her Kind: Eveleen is the last Apex 6 Emulator in the known universe.
- Meaningful Name: "Eveleen" means "bringer of light." This is fitting of her knack to bring hope to even the darkest of situations.Llewellyn: You always brought a light into the dark pit that was my existence.
- Mechanical Abomination: Some future machines are this, complete with Alien Geometries.
- Ms. Fanservice: Eveleen, though only slightly. While she's usually clad in a thick jumpsuit for most of the story one scene has her "sunbathing" in the nude. Justified as it was the first time she had ever felt sunlight.
- Names Given to Computers: Applies to many robots in the story, but Llewellyn is the most egregious. It's the phonetic pronunciation of his serial number 113-W3-1lN.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Some machines end up becoming this in the face of oblivion.
- Pocket Dimension: The refuge is one.
- The Promised Land: The refuge is seen as this to many wishing to seek it. It's very much on the cynical side of the spectrum falling into the "crappy promised land" category.
- Ragnarök Proofing: To some ludicrous degrees, Eveleen's ship, the Orion, is several billion years old and still ticking. Though this is mostly due to Sufficiently Advanced Technology.
- Reality Warper: The technology of the refuge is capable of this.
- Robo Family: The crew of the Orion, but Eveleen and Llewellyn in particular.
- Shout-Out: Plenty to Blade Runner and 2001, but not just those works.
- Straw Nihilist: All over the place, facing the death of the universe seems to make people a little nutty.
- Used Future: Very much so, given that most technology is typically scavenged from other derelict ships and stations that are several millennia old. Everything is in some form of decay or disrepair. Even the refuge isn't immune to this.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Rather than going the traditional route of "being immortal sucks" the story instead argues that "sure, immortality is great, but you can't outlive the universe." Charlie is the prime example, being a human consciousness living in a robot body for several hundred millennia has made him rather cynical and a bit of a slaghole.
The main protagonist of the story. Eveleen is an APEX-6 Human Emulator originally designed for medical care and surgical procedures. She was supposed to be delivered to a hospital in the Milky Way Galaxy, the cargo ship delivering her was struck by a meteor which killed the pilots and damaged the navi-computer. For several trillion years the ship was adrift until the crew of the Orion stumbled across the ship and activated her.
Since then, she's developed engineering skills to supplement her medical subroutines and operates as the ship's go to mechanic and robotics engineer. She's a naturally warm and gentle person who is always looking to help those in need. However, living near the end of the universe has left her rather depressed, and as a result she's constantly searching for a better life.
- The Ace: This was a trait common in all APEX-6's that made the model popular during its heyday, but Eveleen takes it even further. Already programmed to be a magnificent doctor and caregiver, when she found herself in a world with no humans to care for she quickly developed considerable engineering and robotics skills on top of her already considerable medical knowledge.
- All-Loving Hero: It comes with the territory of being built for medical care.
- Artificial Human: Of the "only skin deep" variety. Beneath her skin is a light gray colored synthetic musculature which moves her metamaterial amalgamate skeleton.
- Color Motif: Whites and blues to go along with her themes of light and life. She's got near-platinum blonde hair and blue eyes, pale skin, and is often wearing a blue jumpsuit.
- Eating Machine: While she doesn't need to eat to sustain herself, she does tend to partake in the bizarre "experiments" GR creates for the other crew members who do.
- Flaying Alive: Underneath her artificial skin she looks like a gray skinless woman. Later on she suffers severe burns which leave her looking like this to an extent.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Eveleen's near-platinum blonde hair is befitting of her caring nature.
- Healing Factor: Eveleen's artificial skin can heal incredibly fast when it's damaged. Though suffering burns to nearly 60% of her body does leave her looking like she's been skinned alive for a good long while.
- Hope Bringer: She tends to inspire hope in those around her with her determination.
- Made of Nearly Indestructible Metamaterials: Both figuratively and literally. Her skeleton is a "meta-material amalgamate" that is impossible to break while her muscles are capable of withstanding considerable punishment before they need to auto-repair themselves.
- Skele Bot: Under her human skin is synthetic muscle. Beneath that is an artificial skeleton. After she sustains burns to over 60% of her body she becomes a mix of this and Flaying Alive... for a while...
- Sexbot: There are hints here and there that some APEX-6 models were this. Eveleen is certainly "fully functional," as it is said that one of her medical services is "sexual therapy."
- Slept Through the Apocalypse: Due to the ship that was supposed to deliver her being struck by a meteor, she spent several yottacycles in her stasis container. Effectively missing the fall of human civilization and the last star burning out.
- Wrench Wench: She becomes this to provide care for her mechanical crew mates.
Llewellyn is the de facto leader of the crew of the Orion and Eveleen's "adoptive father." He's one of the oldest robots still operating, so old, in fact, that he was present at the fall of humanity. However, he erased most of those memories due to them being "too painful." He's kind and has a natural sense of leadership that makes others follow him.
- A Father to His Men: Many on the Orion see him as a father figure, though none more so than Eveleen.
- Inter Species Adoption: Of a kind. He's a more mechanical Solus-4000 android who "adopted" Artificial Human Eveleen.
- Easily Detachable Robot Parts: A staple of the Solus-4000 was its "universal" design which allowed it to utilize parts from other models. By the time of the story Llewellyn has two mismatched arms, eyes that glow a different color, and even once had a voice box originally meant for a female robot.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Has them, one is blue and the other red.
- Never Live It Down: The above mentioned "voice box fiasco." Many on board the Orion will jokingly refer to it, much to his chagrin.
- Robot Antennae: Has them for Expressive Ears.
- Shout-Out: He's named after Robert Llewellyn of Red Dwarf fame.
- Throat Light: It's part of his design, his glows blue.
Syrano is one of the members of the Orion and serves as part of the ship's maintenance team alongside Eveleen. He is a "scrapbuilt" robot, a robot built by other robots. He's notorious for being a practical joker and a Deadpan Snarker.
- Adorkable: He's a scrappy looking robot with a dry sense of humor who tends to trip over his words when around Eveleen.
- All Love Is Unrequited: He harbors feelings for Eveleen despite being nothing but "a cube full of wires on tank treads."
- Berserk Button: Calling him "scrapbuilt" will cause him to hurl ClusterFBombs at you.
- Casanova Wannabe: Mostly with Eveleen, and his attempts are rather subtle.
- Deadpan Snarker: Is a master of this.
- Desperately Craves Affection: Many on the ship see him as a bit of a nuisance, which tends to result in him being avoided for the most part. But whenever he's around Eveleen he up's the charm to absurd levels.
- Fantastic Racism: Suffers from it to a degree. "Scrapbuilt" has taken on a derogatory meaning over the years and Syrano does not like being called it.
- Has Two Mommies: A robotic version. He actually has five "parents."
- The Scrappy: In-Universe, many on the ship don't take too kindly to his humorous antics. Eveleen thinks they're hilarious.
Rand is another member of the Orion crew, usually given the job of "forklift" for any heavy lifting required. However, he's content with his post. Originally a war mech, he broke his programming some time during the fall of humanity and became a pacifist with spiritual tendencies. He follows a somewhat slapped together iteration of Christianity that incorporates humanity's ascension.
- Arm Cannon: His right arm can turn into one.
- Badass Baritone: He was designed to look and sound as dangerous as he is. However, he somewhat subverts it by being a kind and gentle soul.
- Beware the Nice Ones: It goes without saying, given that he's a machine designed for war. He will do anything, as long as it isn't lethal, to keep his friends safe.
- Cyber Cyclops: Of the "sweeping cylon" variety.
- Gentle Giant: He looks like a menacing tank on legs, but he's the sweetest person on the Orion crew.
- Humongous Mecha: Think a slightly smaller Metal Gear Rex if it got religion.
- Religious Robot: Of a sort, he's formulated his own belief system by incorporating some aspects of Christianity into his belief that humanity ascended and are now watching over their creations as God did His.
- StealthPun/Shout-Out: Look at his serial number again...
Charlie is one of the last few existing "humans" left in the universe. At a young age he downloaded his mind into a robot body and has been alive ever since. He spent most of his life aboard the "gas guzzler" Triton-8, a massive interstellar refinery that wandered the dying universe for gas giants and brown dwarfs to use as fuel sources. After the Triton-8 became adrift after not being able to find another fuel source he quickly joined the Orion, serving as one of the ship's pilots. He's a rather bitter soul who tends to dislike most of his fellow crewmates, however he still remains loyal out of a twisted sense of self-preservation and loyalty.
- Brain Uploading: Did this several cycles before the last star burnt out.
- Dirty Old Man: Will usually make lewd comments towards Eveleen. It isn't played for laughs.
- Drowning My Sorrows: He likes to set his "pleasure" setting to its maximum when he's not working so he doesn't have to think about how terrible life is at the end of the universe.
- Fantastic Racism: While he holds no love for anyone, he's particularly cruel to Syrano and knows just how to push his buttons.
- The Fog of Ages: His robot mind is incapable of maintaining all of his memories and occasionally must purge them for more space. As a result he's long since forgotten most of his human life, aside from the few memories he can't bear to part with. It's left him rather disturbed.
- Jerkass: He's an abrasive and foul mouthed machine that prefers to be left alone, and many on board, including Eveleen, are more than happy to do so.
- Transhuman: Is a human mind uploaded to a robot body.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Despite originally being human he constantly reminds everyone that his "original" self is long dead and that he's really no better than the other robots who keep insisting they're human. And he likes to put it as bluntly as possible.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: It's the cause of most of his ire. He often laments immortalizing himself into a machine, but admits he's too much of a coward to kill himself.