Project Zero Dawn was the code name for a massive, top-secret terraforming system designed to restore life to Earth after its extermination by the Faro Plague. It was implemented in tandem with Operation: Enduring Victory, a military campaign designed to delay the advance of the Faro Plague until the project was completed.
Faro Automated Solutions was a major technology company that manufactured and sold products ranging from computers and personal devices to automated combat robots. One of their major defense products was the Chariot line of robots, marketed as Peacekeepers. However, an unidentified glitch was discovered in a swarm which severed command-and-control functions and caused them to become self-aware.
Coupled with the ability to take over enemy machines, self-repair, self-replicate, and consume biomass as fuel, the "Faro Swarm," as it became to be known, posed an existential threat to the survival of not just human civilization but Earth's ecosystems as a whole. Ted Faro, the CEO of Faro Automated Solutions, approached well-known robotic scientist and once co-worker Dr. Elisabet Sobeck in a vain effort to shut the rogue machines down. Dr. Sobeck realized the absolute hopelessness of the situation and proposed a radical solution that came to be known as "Project Zero Dawn."
Project Zero Dawn was a massive global network of underground bunkers and automated manufacturing and cloning facilities dedicated to terraforming and restoring the inevitably ruined Earth into an ecosystem once again capable of sustaining life. When the Earth became livable once more, humans and animals would be reintroduced to a rejuvenated ecosystem. At the center of the system was a hyper-powerful artificial intelligence system called GAIA, who would oversee operations as long as needed. Zero Dawn's main goal was to create GAIA and her sub-functions, as well as the facilities that she would use to shut down the Swarm and restore the Earth. Many of the facilities GAIA would employ would be built, not by the Zero Dawn team, but by GAIA herself. These included the underground Cauldrons, which would create the machines; GAIA used these machines to restore Earth's biospheres and reintroduce life.
As the Faro Swarm was predicted to wipe out all life within 15 months, Project Zero Dawn was never intended to save humanity. The scientists working on the endeavor (known as Alphas, Betas, and Gammas) were slated to, after the system was completed, live out the rest of their lives in a comfortable hermetically sealed bunker known as Elysium with enough resources to last 100 years, being the last living organisms on the planet as the Faro Plague decimated the environment outside.
The personification of Mother Nature, GAIA was the core of Project Zero Dawn. Capable of making the trillions of calculations required to control the terraforming systems autonomously, GAIA's primary function was code-breaking to deactivate the Faro Swarm and overseeing operations to make the Earth eventually come back to life. GAIA's main computer core was housed in GAIA Prime, a massive bunker holding all computer systems needed to manage the task. GAIA was assisted by nine sub-components each dedicated to a single task.
- See also: Subordinate Function
Although its original goal of preserving the cultural history of humanity was sabotaged, Project Zero Dawn was successful in its primary mission: disabling the rogue machines that killed the Earth, rebuilding and reseeding life back onto it. Present day humanity and the nascent civilizations that now inhabit the world owe their existence and survival to the original team that sacrificed everything to make it happen, including their lives.
- The central AI and its nine subfunctions are named after deities of Greek mythology (with the one exception being Minerva, a Roman deity), mirroring their task.
- Gaia, primordial goddess of the earth.
- Aether, primordial god of the heavens.
- Apollo, god of the sun, prophecy, music, and poetry.
- Artemis, goddess of the moon, hunting, and the wilds.
- Demeter, goddess of the harvest.
- Eleuthia, goddess of childbirth.
- Hades, god of the underworld and the dead.
- Hephaestus, god of the fire and forge.
- Minerva, goddess of wisdom, ingenuity, and battle.
- Poseidon, god of the seas.